Get to Know Our Writers: Jodi Rizzotto

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1) How long have you been a member of SCBWI? What’s the most impactful thing you have learned from being in SCBWI?

The first time I heard about SCBWI, I was in the labor and delivery room with one of my teacher friends. Her husband was on a mission trip, so I was her labor coach until her mother made it down from Ojai. When her mother got there, we had lots of time to wait so we talked about writing. My friend’s mom is a picture book writer who belongs to the Central Coast SCBWI. She encouraged me to find my people by joining and being active in my regional chapter. 

The most impactful part of being in SCBWI is that I don’t feel like I’m writing in the dark anymore. 

Before I joined SCBWI, the words “query” and “pitch” were a foreign language to me. Since then, I have learned so much about the business side of publishing as well as getting insightful feedback through the writing retreats, conferences, and critique groups. It is true that “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

2) What genres do you write in?

Besides writing YA and MG fantasy, I also write short stories for adults and children.

3) What is your writing process like?

My writing hours are fluid since I’ve retired from teaching elementary school, but I favor the mornings when my mind is still fresh. I try to write at least 1-3 hours a day except Sundays. 

4) How long have you been writing? How did you first get into writing for children?

I have written all my life, starting with a “horror” magazine about vampire flying horses in fourth grade, to seriously working on children’s books starting in 2001.

5) Did you go to school for writing or take classes?

Although my master’s degree is in teaching, I have taken writing courses at UCR and UCLA. I highly recommend the UCLA Extension Writing Program.

6) Do you have a dedicated writing space?

Since my children are grown and flown the nest, I can often be found writing at my kitchen counter. However, I also write on my back patio or at a picnic table if my husband and I are camping.

7) What would be your dream book to write and get published?

My dream book is one I’ve already written but not yet published. THE OVERNIGHTER is a YA Contemporary Fantasy about a teen girl who goes on a Harley trip with her mother and discovers that her missing father has been turned into a demon, and she needs to learn magic to restore him to her family. I love riding Harleys with my husband in our Harley Owner’s Group and would love to share the Harley world with young people.

8) Have you published any books?

Although I haven’t yet published a novel, several of my short stories have been included in anthologies, including Magic Portals, Rabbit Hole Vol 5, Never Cheat a Witch, and Analogies and Allegories Magazine. I have two short stories that will be published in October and November in Particular Passages Autumn Breezeway and Particular Passages Closed for the Season. 

9) Do you illustrate as well or have any plans to do so?

I am not an illustrator, but my first college degree was in Drawing and Painting. 

10) Any tips for writers that are starting out?

My advice for writers starting out is to attend writing conferences, take writing courses, and join a critique group. You may think you know how to write, but putting together a professional quality book is a lot of work. Revise, revise, revise. Learn to process criticism without taking it personally or throwing your laptop against the wall. If you persevere, your writing will improve. 

11) Do you currently have an agent? If so, how did you end up with that agent?

Long, long ago in my writing life I had a bad agent. A bad agent is one who doesn’t really know what they’re doing and lacks connections in the publishing industry. Not worth it. Currently, I am actively seeking an agent who will share my creative vision and be my champion when needed. 

12) Have you won any writer awards?

I haven’t won any awards, but I’ve gotten close. My YA Fantasy College of the Crones won an Honorable Mention at the first Tahquitz Writing Retreat in 2017. That book is currently available to read on Kindle Vella. 

13) List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

Interesting things about me: My loves are my husband, Harley riding, camping, and talking to other writers. My husband, Frank, and I have 6 children and 9 grandchildren. I am privileged to babysit my daughter’s two-year-old twins once a week, although I need a full day to recover.

14) Where can people find you?

You can connect with me on:

My website

Facebook Jodi Rizzotto, author

Twitter (X) @rizzotto_jodi