Author: Stephanie Burkhart
Book Title: First Flag of New Hampshire
Publisher: 4RV Publishing
PENNY: Please tell me how long you've been writing and why you decided to become a writer.
STEPH: Gosh, I always remember writing something ever since I was little. I remember watching a show in the 1970's called "The Electric Company" and they used to do a Spiderman skit. After the show, I'd go to the kitchen table and make comic books based on the skit. In high school, I wrote my own science fiction stories, but I didn't really pursue writing until I wrote "Destination: Berlin" a novel inspired by my trip to Berlin in 1988. That said, I've been writing for at least 35 years, commercially about 10 years.
As for making a conscience decision to write, I always wanted to. It's in my bones. I self-published a few stories in the early 2000's, but I knew I had to work on my craft. I entered several Writer's Digest competitions and did well. In 2009, I was offered a contract with 4RV Publishing for my children's story, "The Giving Meadow." I also was offered a contract for my paranormal romance, "The Hungarian" with Desert Breeze.
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, thought I'd love to be full time. I have a full time job as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. I usually write my stories at work during down time. I do some writing at home, but I'd say 80% of my story writing occurs at work.
PENNY: What influences your writing?
STEPH; I teach the 3's at my church's Sunday Little Church program and I take a lot of inspiration from the children. I also draw inspiration from my sons who are ten and five.
PENNY: Is this your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?
STEPH: My first published children's work is "The Giving Meadow" with 4RV Publishing. I also write romance and a little horror.
PENNY: Why did you choose to write a children's story?
STEPH: I think it chose me. Children's stories come to me organically. I find if I force a children's story, it doesn't work, but if I let come naturally, it writes itself.
PENNY: What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
STEPH: I wanted to write a mystery and I looked at my native state, New Hampshire, since colonial New England has a lot to offer. After a little research I choose to write about the flag. It was one idea inspiring another, like a seed that has a little water and then sunlight. The seed sprouts, has a little more water, and after a bit you have a flower blooming.
PENNY: What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
STEPH: With traditional publishing you have a "team" approach – the writer, the artist, the editor, etc., and I like the team approach. As an author, I can learn a lot from the editor and artist. It's all about creating the best product you can. With self-publishing, you, the author, take everything, the art, the editing onto yourself, so you have to be very meticulous. There's merit in self-publishing, but you have to remember there's no team. It's all on you. It can be a challenge.
PENNY: What's your marketing strategy?
STEPH: I reach out on social media. I have a twitter and facebook account. I'm on Linkin'd In. I blog. On occasion, I'll get an ad or two on a review site. It's challenging on a limited budget.
PENNY: What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
STEPH: Agents are the gatekeepers to traditional publishing. I believe the author can cut out the agent in publishing efforts, but you've got to work hard. For example, Scholastic is in the schools, and they only take agented work. Heck, that's a big reach. Without that, I have to work harder to be noticed. If my book is in a scholastic flyer it's easily noticed.
PENNY: Where can people find out more about you and writing?
STEPH: You can visit my website at: http://www.stephanieburkhart.com
I'm also frequently updating my facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/StephanieBurkhartAuthor
PENNY: Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
STEPH: The best inspiration is children, their smiles, laughter, and tears. I'd like to think that kids can teach me as much I can teach them. Be open to your experiences with kids and you'll grow as a writer.
PENNY: Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available:
First Flag of New Hampshire is now available as a print book. It's a YA story, but I see the appeal from 4th grade on up.
Alyssa has to take American Studies for college prep, and she hurries to the first class. She's paired with classmate Miguel De Soto to find the first flag of New Hampshire, but the flag has flown only four times in New Hampshire's past. Can Alyssa and Miguel track the flag through history before time is up?
BOOK TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIyKiMxpdU8
BARNES & NOBLE:
Hunt For the Flag Giveaway:
Answer the follow questions about New Hampshire. I’ll pick a winner to receive a Spring book bag (made by my talented friend, Lori Powell), full of goodies to include chocolates, a magnet and more.
QUESTION: What year did New Hampshire adopt the current flag?
BONUS: The USS Raleigh is the ship on the New Hampshire flag. What New Hampshire seacoast city was it built at?