I'm sure you all realize what day this is...
The last day of September!!!
And I'm sure you all realize what that means...
Halloween is only 31 days away!!!!!
Of course we will be celebrating with the 3rd Annual Halloweensie Contest, guidelines to be posted very soon (which means when I get around to making them up :)), but to get us in the mood we have an interview with debut author Charlotte Gunnufson today and she will tell us about her picture book, Halloween Hustle! A copy of the book will be one of the prizes in the Halloweensie contest, so you'll want to know all about it.
First, let me introduce you to Charlotte who says:
I grew up in Minnesota and suffered all the things a middle child normally suffers: my older sister tricked me into eating a worm (You mean spaghetti doesn’t grow in the ground?), my little brother blew out the candles on my birthday cake, and they called me Miss Prissy—which, I have to admit, was true when I was a kid. Clearly, I’m trying to make up for lost time.
I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with my husband Scott and Isaac and Ellen. Perry is all grown up and living in Minnesota. Besides writing, dancing, and Halloween-ing, I love crossword puzzles and playing board games and charades with family and friends.
I’m happy to be a member of SCBWI-Iowa!
Welcome, Charlotte! Thank you so much for joining us today! We're all delighted you're here! Can you start by telling us a little about how you came to writing and what your typical writing day is like?
CG: I actually came back to writing. My first poem was published when I was in elementary school (in an Archie’s comic book). I wrote in my teens and early twenties and then stopped writing for 15 years. As crazy as it sounds, I was inspired to start writing again by a movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. (Yep, that’s how it’s spelled and watching it made me feel like I’d been wasting time.) I started writing again the next day. I write for kids because I love their earnestness and exuberance! I like writing humorous stories with word play, rhyme, and lots of exclamation points!!!
I try to write every weekday and protect my writing time like a mama bear protects her cub. I don’t wait for inspiration because that time can be spent writing. Bonus: a (mostly) consistent schedule helps me be ready to write and knowing I’m going to write keeps my mind open to stories ideas (which are lurking everywhere!). I usually do my best writing in the morning. I try to hold my internal editor at bay for a few hours because she can work long into the afternoon and evening.
CG: I had been writing for kids for a little over a year and relentlessly trolling for story ideas. I opened a bin of Halloween decorations and an art project my son Isaac made way back in 2nd grade caught my attention. (I keep as much of my kids’ artwork as space permits. Okay. Perhaps a bit more than space permits.) I began writing a poem about a dancing skeleton, thinking I’d submit it to a children’s magazine. But then Skeleton discovered he wasn’t just dancing; he was dancing his way to a Halloween party. And, hey, there’s his buddy Frankenstein, and why don’t they just hop on that bus…and the poem stretched into a story.
SLH: Is Halloween Hustle your first published book? What was the road to publication like?
CG: Halloween Hustle is my first book, though I’ve been lucky enough to have my work appear in Highlights, Highlights High Five and Hello, Cricket, Ladybug and other children’s magazines. I submitted the manuscript to several publishers and either received rejections or [Cue crickets]. I hadn’t given up on Halloween Hustle, but I’d moved on to other stories.
I didn’t receive the proverbial call. More than a year after I’d sent out the manuscript, I received a package from a marvelous and multi-talented editor at Marshall Cavendish, with abundant notes, whole pages crossed out, and a letter saying the story had potential for their list. I revised (and re-revised), and the manuscript was acquired by Marshall Cavendish, which was subsequently acquired by Amazon Children’s Publishing.
Writing other stuff
During this same time period…
My daughter Ellen grew from kindergartener to fifth grader.
My son Isaac grew from fifth grader to high school junior.
My son Perry grew from college freshman to having a real job and a house.
A grain of advice humbly offered to fellow writers: Don’t waste a nanosecond waiting. Be brave, be fierce, and keep writing.
SLH: Do you have an agent?
CG: I do not have an agent but believe that having an agent the way to go. I’ve queried about a dozen agents with various manuscripts. I’ve received a few requests for additional material (which, of course, I happily obliged!) but haven’t received an invitation to sign with an agent. I’m working to develop a body of publishable manuscripts. It’s a WIP (Work In Progress).
SLH: What have been your marketing strategies so far?
CG: Since Halloween Hustle is my first book, I’ve invested oodles of time and not inconsequential funds in promoting it. I developed fun, free, kid-friendly stuff for my website: a giggle-inducing book trailer and dance-along video as well as Halloween-themed crossword puzzles, word searches, and mazes. Illustrator Kevan Atteberry created cool coloring pages and graciously shared his work so that visitors to the website can send Halloween e-postcards to their friends. I hired Taylor Ridling to design the website. Alisabeth Von Presley created the book trailer and dance video, including the music, vocals, and voice over. My son Isaac designed bookmarks for the small price of not having to clean his room.
|Illustration copyright Kevan J. Atteberry 2013
SLH: What is YOUR favorite kind of dancing? :)
CG: I am a dancing fool and could never choose a favorite! I teach Zumba Fitness® which is Latin based with a dash of Bollywood, African dance, hip hop and more. I get to see students trade in stress for Samba!
It makes my heart happy to see kids dance at the Halloween Hustle parties because they really get into it. It’s so good for them to move, and when they “get the steps,” they gain confidence. They cheer and always ask to do “Purple People Eater” again.
Well, Charlotte, it has made us happy to have you visit today! Thank you so much for coming!
Folks, you can find Charlotte at the following places online:
SCBWI profile: http://www.scbwi.org/MemberProfile.aspx?u=3001724829287979
Facebook "Fan" page: https://www.facebook.com/booksbycharlotte
You can view her book trailer HERE
You can purchase Halloween Hustle at the following online retailers:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/halloween-hustle?store=allproducts&keyword=halloween+hustle
Powell's Books: http://www.powells.com/biblio/9781477817230
And don't forget! One fabulous writer will win a copy of Charlotte's delightful book for writing a great entry in the Halloweensie Contest coming soon to a blog near you.
(Uh, that would be this one. :))
Have a hip-hoppin', Hustlin', Halloween's-comin'-soon Monday, everyone! :)
(And if you have any questions for Charlotte, it's possible she can be prevailed upon to swing by and answer them if you leave them in the comments :))