As the bustle of the holiday preparations comes to a close and the celebrations with family and friends begin, all of us at 24 Carrot Writing would like to wish you peace, joy and simplicity this holiday season and in the year ahead. We close our years having been through a mixture of setbacks and successes, but let us never lose sight of the growth and forward movement we make toward our creative dreams and goals.
This week, take time to clap loudly and applaud all you’ve completed in 2018. Light a tray of tea lights for all those little things you’ve done day in and day out to create a better life for yourself and those around you, and bask in the glow of those accomplishments.
We’ll meet you back here in January for our continued journey together in the new year. Until then, many blessings to all of you this season.
Francine, Kelly, Amanda, and Annie
Hosted by Annie Cronin Romano
Welcome Laura, and congratulations on the publication of your debut picture book, PORCUPINE’S PIE!
How did you come to be a children’s book author?
I’ve always loved to read, but it wasn’t until I taught third grade and used picture books as teaching texts across the curriculum that I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing. I was fascinated by how a 32-page illustrated book could encourage, inspire, or inform. I was hooked!
Can you share the inspiration for PORCUPINE’S PIE? Was there a particular reason you chose a porcupine as the main character of your story? And do you enjoy baking?
I was inspired by Tammi Sauer’s post during PiBoIdMo 2014 (Now Storystorm, hosted by Tara Lazar), which challenged writers to frame a story as a How-To Book. My brainstorming that day included this jot in my notebook: “How to make porcupine pie (or a pie for a porcupine)”. Even though it did not evolve into a How-To Book, that was the humble beginning of PORCUPINE’S PIE!
Since the title came first, I think it was the alliteration of Porcupine’s Pie that spoke to me, rather than there being a particular reason that a Porcupine became my main character.
I do enjoy baking and the idea that food brings people together was an important theme for my story.
Tell us about your road to publication for PORCUPINE’S PIE. Was it bumpy? Lots of twists and turns? Smooth sailing?
I got serious about writing for children in 2011 when I joined SCBWI. I’ve written about 90 stories and received approximately 120 rejections since I started tracking them in 2015. I wrote my first draft of Porcupine’s Pie in 2014, won the Beaming Books Picture Book Writing Contest in 2016, and am holding it in my hands and sharing it with kids in 2018. A long journey, but well worth it!
In terms of your writing process, do you plot before you write or are you more of a pantser?
Both! For Porcupine’s Pie, I brainstormed a few possibilities for the plot since my idea started with the title. But as I drafted, I veered off my plotted path and came up with a much better story.
What do you love most about being an author?
Connecting with kids and being a small piece of the puzzle that gets them excited about reading and writing. And being part of the amazing kidlit community.
What is the most challenging part of being an author?
What were some of you favorite books as a child?
I was going through my childhood picture books recently and rediscovered Panda Cake by Rosalie Seidler. It struck me how similar the title is to Porcupine’s Pie! That book must have planted a story seed in my head long ago.
What are a few of your favorite books as an adult?
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
We’d love to know what you’re working on now. Any projects coming up?
I’m pleased to share that my next book, a nonfiction picture book biography about Mister Rogers will be published in Fall 2019 by Atheneum. It is called Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers, illustrated by Brigette Barrager.
I always have multiple manuscripts in progress. Some of the ones I’m working on now involve robots, rabbits, and puppets.
What advice would you give to writers out there in the query/submission trenches?
If you are serious about getting published, do everything you can to improve your craft, build your personal kidlit community (i.e. critique group), and, importantly, cheer others on. Once your stories are the best they can be, submit, submit, submit! Compile a list of agents and editors you’d love to work with. Track your submissions. Celebrate your rejections. (It means you’re getting responses!) For most people, it takes years to connect with the right agent or editor for your work. Be determined. Be persistent. Be in it for the long haul.
Where can people learn more about you and your book?
You can find me on the web at laurarenauld.com and on social media:
Twitter - @laura_renauld
Facebook – @kidlitlaura
Instagram - @laurarenauld
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with 24 Carrot Writing, Laura!
Laura Renauld is a former third grade teacher who now spends her days imagining and creating. When she is not writing picture books about porcupines, pirates, and pickles, Laura can be found on a trail, at the library, or in the kitchen. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their two story-telling sons. This is her debut picture book.
By Kelly Carey
Often, when a family member, friend, or acquaintance learns that you are a children’s writer they comment back, “I’ve always wanted to be a children’s writer,” or “I’ve written a children’s book too”. As a seasoned member of the KidLit community you will want to be helpful and encouraging while still providing realistic and practical advice and information.
The following blog is a post that you can share with folks you meet who want to become children’s book writers. Share it as a way to kick-start their writing journey and provide them with the first step information every writer needs to move from thinking about being a children’s writer to becoming a children’s writer.
Becoming a Children’s Author
The dream of becoming a children’s author is a wonderful bubble that floats into the heads and hearts of many creative people. The trick is to take that dream and make it a reality.
There are three key first steps that every dreamer needs to take in order to kick start their writing journey and move it from a thinking about phase to a doing phase.
Step One: Write
The first step to becoming a children’s author is to write.
This may seem like common sense, but this is the point where many writing dreams sit stagnant. Aspiring writers may think about a story, and have a desire to be a writer, but often they will not take the time to sit down and put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
To become a published writer you have to sit down and write. It can’t be on a whim or as a hobby. It has to be a real endeavor. Until you decide to make writing a priority, everything and anything - kids, family, chores, appointments, friends - can and will derail your efforts and interrupt your progress. Think of writing as a job that requires your undivided time and attention.
To put true intention into your writing ambition, layer measurable goals into your dream:
For help setting your writing goals check out the posts under the Writing Goals section of the 24 Carrot blog archives.
Step 2: Find Your Tribe
Writing can be a very solitary business. You’re not working for a company. There is no boss or co-worker. It is you alone with a laptop or a notebook. BUT you cannot work in a vacuum. You will need a group of fellow writers on your journey for the following reasons:
There are some practical ways to find your writing tribe. For example:
Engage in the community of writers in order to find valuable critique partners and a support system. For more help finding a writing tribe, check out the posts under the Writing Community section of the 24 Carrot blog archives.
Step 3: Read
There is a difference between reading a book as a reader for enjoyment and entertainment and reading a book as writer. Readers will enjoy a book, while writers will study why a book was enjoyable. In order to become a published writer, you need to read like a writer.
There are three primary reasons why writers read in their genre:
For more help becoming a writer who reads, check out the posts under the Read section of the 24 Carrot blog archives.
If you have been thinking about becoming a children’s writer take these first steps.
Write, Find a Tribe, and Read.
Good Luck on your journey!
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