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An Interview with Margaret Dilloway upon receiving an offer of representation.

Margaret Dilloway (eekmod on QT) has signed with agent Elaine Markson of Markson Thoma Literary Agency.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was 5. I wrote my first little picture book in kindergarten, and a novel starring my friends in junior high.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
After my first book didn't sell, I lost confidence in myself. My husband, Keith, and my professional manuscript editor, Jane Cavolina, told me to keep on going. It was very difficult, because I had to take on other paying jobs, take care of three kids, and write the novel.
Then this isn't your first book?
No. It's the first that's gotten this far. I had a different novel with a different agent that didn't sell a few years ago.

I also wrote BLUETOOTH FOR DUMMIES. The publisher canceled it, due to the low Bluetooth interest back in 2002. But at least they let me keep the advance! In addition, I've written two plays that were produced in local juried festivals.

How long have you been working on this book?
I count from my youngest child. I was on bedrest while I was pregnant with her, she's nearly 3, so it's been 3 years.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I went to California State Summer School for the Arts in Creative Writing, and I took a short story class once.

I've never completed any other formal writing class. I did start one or two, but I dropped out. I have a B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, Claremont, CA.

Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Yes. I write for two to three hours every evening. My goal is 10 pages a day.

I don't always get there, but that's my goal. When my husband gets home, he takes over the kidlet duties and I get to work.

How many times did you re-write/edit your novel?
4, I think. Too many. And there's another big edit coming.
Did you have beta readers for your novel?
Yes. I recommend getting people to read the entire thing, as opposed to being in a group where they read one little bit at a time. If everyone notes the same problems, then it's time to consider change.
Did you outline your novel, or do you write from the hip?
I wrote this from the hip, but I think a general outline would have helped out and cut down on how many rewrites I did. I had too many themes going on initially, which made it harder to write. I wanted to say something about everything! Now I remember KISS-- Keep It Simple, Stupid! This next time, I'm outlining.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I began querying for this book a year ago, and after a couple of comments, I decided to rewrite it yet again. I had a different agent before with my first book, but we parted ways for this one.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
They were based on the types of books they rep and what they are looking for.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Send out your work and forget about it. If you fret, you'll go crazy. Don't take rejection personally; everyone has different tastes, and you have to find the agent whose tastes match yours. You're not going to be a fit for everyone, just as you're not going to be friends with everyone on the planet.

You should also go to a conference to talk with agents face-to-face. That's where I found my first agent. They read one page of your manuscript, and tell you whether to send in the rest. It's still hard, because there you get rejected face-to-face, and sometimes it's pretty cold. I had one turn away from me while I was still talking to her. But at least you won't have to wait for the rejection! Bring your suit of armor.

Would you be willing to share your query with us?
It's so short no one believes it works.
HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE is about a Japanese war bride and her daughter.
Here is your chance to plug your book. Tell us a little about it.
HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE is the story of Sue, a half-Japanese housewife living in San Diego whose life as a stay-at-home mom is getting a bit tough to bear. When her mother, Shoko, wants to make one last trip to Japan but becomes too ill to travel, Sue goes in her stead to find Shoko's long-lost brother and reunite the family. In the process, Sue finds out more about her mother and herself than she imagined possible, and what it really means to be an American housewife.