Today, my guest is 4RV author, Stephanie Burkhart. Stephanie's picture book, The Giving Meadow, is now available.
PENNY: Please tell me how long you've been writing and why you decided to become a writer:
STEPH: Well, if you count my Spiderman comics I wrote when I was 5, I've been writing since. Writing is in my blood. It's as essential to me as the air I breathe. I can't deny it – only let it out. Professionally, my first book, "Destination: Berlin" was a "sweet" military romantic suspense published in 2001. Since, I've self published and now I'm working with small press companies which I enjoy. Several of my short stories have been recognized as honorable mentions in the Writer's Digest Annual/Popular Fiction Contests.
PENNY: Are you a full time writer or a part time writer and how do you organize your writing time?
STEPH: I'm a part time writer. I juggle a lot of hats. I work full time as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD and I usually do the bulk of my writing on down time at work. On my off days, I also set aside an hour or two at home.
PENNY: What influences your writing?
STEPH: My experiences. For my children's writing, my children, Andrew, 8, and Joseph, 3, inspire me, along with the children I help to teach in my church's preschool. (I help teach the 3's) For my romances, I draw on my imagination and my travels through Europe.
PENNY: Is this your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?
STEPH: "The Giving Meadow" is my first children's book. My first book was "Destination: Berlin" in 2001. The majority of my published work is romance, but I've also been recognized for my horror, mainstream/literary, and thriller/suspense short stories.
PENNY: Why did you choose to write a children's story?
STEPH: It choose me! –grin- I help to teach Sunday preschool at my church, Blessed Kateri Catholic Church. We call it Little Church. I teach the 3's. Every year we put on an Easter play. "The Giving Meadow" was our 2009 Easter play for the children.
PENNY: What was the process of creating this book from first idea to the final published book?
STEPH: I sat down with my fellow teachers, Shirley Chang and Maureen Dunahoo and we came up with the play. The transformation a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly is something little children can understand. "The Giving Meadow" also goes deeper and explores concepts as sharing and friendship as well. I showed Vivian (Gilbert Zabel, Publisher, 4RV Publishing) because I wanted her feedback and she offered me a contract. It was a pleasant, unexpected surprise. I signed the contract in May 2009 (I think!) Last summer I chose the illustrator and "The Giving Meadow" was published in June 2010.
PENNY: What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
STEPH: There are pros and cons to each. I've enjoyed my self publishing experience, but I've really had to work hard at it. It's important to use an editor when self publishing. You have to research that along with cover artists, and marketing. It can take away time from writing. Simply, you have to put out a quality project when self publishing. You can't rush to publication and miss a step. Traditional publishers give that "guarantee" that this a quality project. Still, I've found I have to work to market the project.
PENNY: What is your marketing stragedy?
STEPH: Start local. With "The Giving Meadow" I hope to touch bases with local bookstores for a reading and book signing. I also hope to do something with the local library. I don't have the luxury of getting out there because I've got young children and limited babysitter options. I also hope to do Internet marketing with a blog tour and using such sites as Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Groups, and Writing.com to network.
PENNY: What are your thoughts on children's writers needing an agent or not needing an agent?
STEPH: Agents are the gateway to traditional publishing. I think if you're a strong writer, and have done your research, you don't need an agent to make a sale.
PENNY: Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
STEPHANIE ON AMAZON:
PENNY: Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
STEPH: Keep it easy.
PENNY: Please give us a brief synopsis of your book and when and where it's available.
STEPH: "The Giving Meadow" is about a caterpillar who hatches from an egg in the meadow and meets new friends along with the way. His friends learn the value of sharing and caring.
The story is now available. Here are the buy links:
BARNES & NOBLE:
STEPH: Penny, thank you so much for having me today. It was a pleasure to visit your blog.
Stephanie, thank you for being my guest. I've enjoyed getting to know you and more about your writing.