How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs... and How to Avoid Them

Thursday, January 3, 2013

HIGH FIVE #24: Interview with Author Carrie A. Pearson and her Warm Winters...

A Warm Winter Tail
Here’s a big HIGH FIVE congratulations to you for your debut picture book. 

Thank you!!

Title: A Warm Winter Tail
Author: Carrie A. Pearson
Illustrator: Christina Wald
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Date: September 2012
Word count: 375
Jacket Flap
Do you ever wonder how animals stay warm in the winter? Well, they wonder how humans do too! In a twist of perspective, wild creatures question if humans use the same winter adaptation strategies that they do. Do they cuddle together in a tree or fly south to Mexico? In this rhythmic story, take a look through an animal’s eyes and discover the interesting ways animals cope with cold.
Sounds wonderful!

Question ONE: 
What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.
What? Only three? Okay, I’ll play.
  1. Miss Twiggley’s Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox (this is a recently re-released childhood favorite about how people can become more than they think is possible)
  2. Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow (I’ve always loved the idea of miniature worlds that might exist without our knowledge)
  3. I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff and David Catrow (The dry sense of humor in text and illustrations tickles my funny bone)

Oh, I really love I Wanna Iguana, too! There's a sequel, you know... I Wanna New Room.

Question TWO: 
What was your reading routine like when your children were younger?
When my three daughters were younger, my husband and I read daily and nightly to them. Reading was one of the activities I could always count on to entertain all three children at the same time! We loved the cuddle time but also enjoyed the idea of “story” and would make up our own stories as we walked in the woods, on long car trips, or before bedtime. Because of the four and a half year age span from oldest to youngest daughter, they were exposed to books each age group might not have been otherwise.
 
Books for long car trips! I'll have to try that one. Books on tape are nice.

Question THREE: 
How might teachers use your book in the classroom?
Each Sylvan Dell book includes three additional pages of educational information called “For Creative Minds.” A Warm Winter Tail incorporates animal classification, animal matching activities, adaptation strategies, etc. The information has been fully vetted by experts and meets several state standards in science and language arts. The Warm Winter Tail page on Sylvan Dell’s website provides a link to standards.

Those Creative Minds sections do seem to be pretty thorough.

Question FOUR: 
What was your road to publication like?
I had always been a writer in the business world and had read hundreds of stories as an early childhood teacher before that. In 2005, I began to write down my ideas for stories. When the reaction from friends and family was positive, I decided to learn more about the business and craft of writing for children. I joined SCBWI, attended conferences, started submitting, and began to receive the first of many rejections. In 2007, I won the SCBWI-MI Picture Book Mentorship Award judged by Newbery Award author, Lynne Rae Perkins. The award validated the time (and money) I'd spent on writing and gave me encouragement to keep going. In 2010, I sold my first publication -- a nonfiction article -- and in 2011, I sold A Warm Winter Tail to Sylvan Dell Publishing. I had mistakenly submitted to large publishing houses because I thought a sale there would mean I'd really “made it.” I've since learned that a smaller house, like Sylvan Dell, can be an excellent partnership because of the attention paid to each title. I did revise A Warm Winter Tail manuscript many times and when I realized it was going to have rhyming elements, I paid for a professional critique with Lisa Wheeler. A good writing friend, Joseph Miller, helped fine tune the structure. I am happy to say that my editor requested very little revision so all the effort prior to submission paid off. I did not include illustration notes per se, but did structure it a bit differently on the page because each spread called for a different baby and mama animal. This is what one spread looked like in manuscript form:

[baby red fox]
How do humans keep warm in the winter, Mama? 
Do they wrap their tails tight
‘round their bodies just right 
as heaters to chase out the chill?

[mama red fox]
No fur tail for draping,
for covering and caping;
their blankets are cotton and wool.

Oh, I just love it! And the story of slowly growing toward success is inspiring.

Image of Carrie A. PearsonQuestion FIVE: 
What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?

  1. Make a decision: do you want to become published or write as a hobby? Either is fine; but if you want to be published, your road must be different. It must be intentional, focused, and narcissistic at times. (Actually, a lot of the time.)
  2. It isn’t enough to be passionate. You must educate yourself on the craft of writing and the business of publication. Earmark funds for conferences, webinars, and critiques.
  3. Find a critique group or partner who promotes your goals and is positive even when the critique is not so good.  Include people who are further ahead on the learning curve than you in your circle. Watch and learn from them!    
Thanks so much for joining me today! I really like the tip about making a decision. I think it's definitely an important one. Hope to see another book with your name on it in the near future. And be sure to wear your coat, hat, mittens, and scarf to stay warm this winter. We want to turn as many deer heads as possible, right? 

4 comments:

  1. Terrific, informative interview. Thanks for posting it. I can't wait to see the book. The cover is beautiful.

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  2. I love the tips for writers. I am the one farthest along in my critique group. Hmmmm. Good for them. Not good for me!

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  3. I really enjoyed following Carrie's blog tour when WINTER TAIL was released - and now this terrific intervew! Thanks Christie and Carrie.

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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