Today's guest is Karen Casale, the very lucky writer extraordinaire. She writes, markets, submits, and sells! A former assistant librarian, she knows what it takes to keeps book safe. I think you'll enjoy her story. Read on! And be sure to give her a high five!
Author: Karen Casale
Illustrator: Cecilia Rebora
Publisher: Upstart Books
Release Date: October 2012
Word Count: About 900
Two Library Secret Service (L.S.S.) agents inform kids how to care for books in an off-the-wall, comical way. Don’t let your pets eat your library books; don’t let Mom or Dad munch on them either. Never let a ghost borrow your library book because ghosts have a habit of disappearing. The book is filled with tips and pointers for novice and seasoned book lovers alike.
What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.
- Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (because I feel like I am spying owls in the cold woods along with the characters)
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (because I just want to join in the wild-thing fun and gnash my terrible teeth)
- All the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems (because they are so funny and I love the reader interaction)
How often did you read to your children when they were younger; do you feel like you have an extra special bond with your children because of books? Did you read with them once they were older?
I still read with my 11-year old son, Evan. We read chapter books, novels and lots and lots of picture books. He loves reading with me. My other two sons are 19 and 16. I used to read all the time with them before bed. Even when they got too old for that, they would stand in the doorway and listen when I read to Evan. Every summer, we would choose a novel or two and read together taking turns. My kids know how important books are because we read so much. And they see me reading all the time.
That is so cool your older children stand and listen in.
How might teachers use your book in the classroom?
Teachers can use my book in the classroom to show students how to take care of any type of book, not just library books. I wrote this book when I worked as a library asst. at an elementary school library and wanted a book on book care to use with my K-2 students. I couldn’t find one that wasn’t ancient, so I started making a list and then wrote it.
What was your road to publication like?
Like I said earlier, I started this book because I couldn’t find one to use with my students. My husband is a Sgt. in the police dept. so I started thinking about the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service and came up with the L.S.S. agents and aliens and ghosts. From there it started pouring out. I probably revised about 10 times, until I felt like it flowed and had everything it needed.
I knew Upstart Books published books about the library and reading so I sent it in. I only sent it to Upstart and they accepted it. I guess I was really lucky, but I targeted specifically to them and it paid off. It took almost three years from idea to publication. My editor asked me to tone the book down a bit and make a few minor changes, but it pretty much stayed the same as my original work.
My illustrator, Cecilia lives in Barcelona Spain so we’ve only talked once through email after the book was published. I never used illustrator notes, but I worked with the art director closely and she had Cecilia revise some sketches because I wanted the characters to look like real Secret Service agents and I wanted ghosts throughout the book.
My goal now is to get an agent. Researching editors and publishers is a lot of hard work and I like the writing part much better. I am a member of SCBWI and that really helps. I have a few manuscripts out there now. My editor at Upstart is considering a companion L.S.S. book called Never Let an Alien in the Library. I have one book out to an agent and one query out with a small publisher.
Yes, I'd say extremely lucky! Sounds like you have a lot of exciting things on the horizon.
What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?
- After you write and revise, read your work out loud. You will notice parts to revise once again. You will hear the flow and find words that don’t work.
- Join SCBWI and go to conferences – it’s the best thing any novice or experienced children’s author can do.
- Go to the library and read every picture book you can to see what works, to see what’s new, to see what publisher is publishing what.
- You said three, but number four is Never give up!
Thank you SO much for being here with us today! And congratulations, again, on your debut book. My readers and I wish you all the best of luck with your book and all your future endeavors. Come back and visit whenever you can.