FAQ

So you want to know a little more about me?

Well, here are the short answers: red, deep-dish pizza or seafood, Ravenclaw, left-handed, A Wrinkle in Time, and no. 

And here are a few longer ones . . . 

What does the W.H. stand for?

Wilhemenia Henrietta.

No, not really. But it's fun to come up with possibilities for those initials.

 A young "W.H. Beck" and her steed.

A young "W.H. Beck" and her steed.

The truth is "W.H. Beck" is a pseudonym, or pen name. My real name is Rebecca Hogue Wojahn, and some of my books are published under that name. However, I've never - not once! - attended an event where my full name was spelled correctly (much less pronounced correctly). There's just something about all those vowels and semi-silent letters that confuses people. I knew readers looking for my books might have a hard time with my real name. So, I took the "W" from my last name, the "H" from my middle name, and shortened my first.

Voila! W.H. Beck.

Why do you use a pen name?

Um, see the answer above ^.

So, what should I call you?

My students used to call me Mrs. Wojahn, my kids call me Mom, my own mom calls me by my sister's name, but most everyone else calls me Becky.

Do you have a pet rat?

 My rat-unfriendly coworker (right).

My rat-unfriendly coworker (right).

No. While rats do sound like wonderful pets, I have a dog who is not friendly to small mammals. I learned everything I know about rats from reading and research.

What happened to Snip at the end of Malcolm at Midnight?

I'm a school librarian at heart, so I'm going to suggest you read and find out! You might want to try Malcolm Under the Stars, Malcolm at Midnight's sequel. 

How did you get those photos for Glow?

I wish I could say I took them, but there are very few people in the world who have seen those creatures in person. My editor and I did a lot of photo research to find the images - including reaching out to a scientist who was at sea without internet access for several months. Most were taken by scientists studying bioluminescence or the ocean. My publisher contracted with them to use them in the book.

 Crystal jellyfish thumbnail from  Glow 's backmatter.

Crystal jellyfish thumbnail from Glow's backmatter.

Have you ever drawn anything for your books?

In fact, yes, I have. In the backmatter of Glow, there are tiny thumbnail drawings. I did those.

When do you have time to write?

I don't really, is the true answer. But if you like to do something, you make time for it (see: Netflix, going out to eat, scrolling through Facebook, watching sports, etc.). I try to fit in a few minutes before work on weekdays and a couple hours on the weekends. You'd be surprised how a page or two here or there adds up.

Where do you get your ideas?

Well, everywhere! But mostly in my reading and interactions throughout my days. I love traveling and learning new things, and I keep my ears, eyes, nose, and whiskers (as the Midnight Academy says!) on alert. If something makes me go "wow!," then I know it's something I want to spend time writing about. It helps to have a notebook handy at all times to jot down what I'm noticing. Eventually, those "wow!" moments coalesce in my brain as an idea for a story.

 Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland.

How can I get published?

This is a really long answer - whole books are written about this! - but generally, the steps are:

  • Read. A lot. All sorts of stuff, but especially recent books in the genre in which you'd like to publish. 
  • Write. A lot. Don't expect to be good right away. That's okay. Keep writing anyway.
  • As you write, study the craft of writing. That's right, more reading. Here are some of my favorite writing books.
  • Understand that publication is a business, and people like to make money in business. So, if you get rejected (and you will), don't take it personally. All it means is that it was not a good business match. You'll get better at making matches the more you write and read.
  • Additionally, as an business industry, writing for children has professional standards and expectations. The Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a great place to start learning about how to set yourself up for success.
  • Your writing education does not have to be expensive. While writers conferences are wonderful, they aren't essential. Instead, start by heading to your local library. You can check out all you need there - books on writing craft, the business of publication, and new books in the genre in which you want to publish - for FREE.
  • Finally, have fun! If it's not fun, there are far, far more lucrative ways to make money.