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Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
In 1983 I started writing when a friend asked me to read a few pages from a historical romance she was writing. I told her what I thought about it and she asked me to help her write the book. We did finish it and sent it to an agent who was kind and sent the manuscript back with a detailed account of what was wrong with it. My friend went on to other things while I found that I loved writing and did not want to stop. I’ve been writing for years now.
Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
I divide my time between rewriting stories I wrote some time ago and drawing and painting pictures for my books. I would say it's all part time.
What influences your writing?
My father wrote every weekend for as long as I can remember though I never thought of writing myself while he was alive.
Is this your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?
No, I have two other children's books out: Janoose The Goose, another picture book, and The Great Snowball escapade, a chapter book for 6 to 9 year olds. I've also written short stories that I am working to get published into one book
Why did you choose to write a children's story?
I have many stories to tell for children. I had a fun childhood and many stories have come out of it.
What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
This process can go on for years depending on what other projects I'm working on. I work on two to three books at a time.
This story: The Spy Game, is about a puppy my brother's dog had and my brother, Ike, wanted me to keep. The dog's name was Sidney Reilly, based on a spy series Ike and I watched together. At the time I had a dog and didn't think my older dog, Snoopy, would be happy with a new addition.
Ike felt sure this dog was for me, and he kept it with that in mind. When the puppy was 11 months old, Ike died of a heart attack and Sidney came to me.
Though this did not happen in real life but in The Spy Game I have a picture of my brother bring Sidney to the boy, Eddie's house to live.
In the story, Eddie would love to have a puppy to play with. A puppy would pull on a rope. Catch a ball and lick your face. But his Uncle brings Eddie an older dog named about a famous spy.
What can you do with an old dog? It probably couldn't learn new tricks, and the only thing this dog did was stare. It's what they find to do together that makes them the best of friends.
Once I decided to write this story, the writing took about two months and drawing and painting the pictures took about eight months.
What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
After years of submitting manuscripts to the traditional publishers I was giving up on getting published.
I tried one of those print services which was a disaster. The print service had made a mess of my book and the galley was not ready for printing yet they told me it was done. Then Print On Demand book printing came along and was affordable to get books into print so I decided to self-publish, doing the job better myself. I started my own publishing company, Book Garden Publishing, LLC.
What is your marketing strategy?
What I've done was to get advice from other authors. Found ways to keep my name and books out there. I write articles on writing, publishing and marketing.
I have added a signature at the bottom of email with my books information, and sites. And when I have a new book coming out, I ask book reviewers for a review and ask the reviewer to post them at Amazon, B&N, Etc. or post the reviews yourself.
I have a children's radio show on Blog Talk Radio. I help other author’s promote their books and in return get them to do the same for me. I do guest blogging and blog tours. I blog regularly and tweeting and network where I can find readers such as readers groups and sites like Goodreads. I have found that networking on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter doesn't help sell books. You can find good friends on those site though.
Here's information on my radio show:
Book Garden Radio
It's Story Time is NOW on BOOK GARDEN RADIO! ~Book Garden Radio brings you It's Story Time: an International Children's Reading Radio Shows; and The Authors' Words: where you will hear authors read their favorite part from their book. Q & A to follow. ~~ It's Story Time airs live two to three times a month 10/11AM est, 9/10AM cst, 8/9AM mst and 7/8AM pst ~~You can listen live at show time or on demand at anytime you like at BLOG TALK RADIO. ~~~ INDEX OF ALL IT'S STORY TIME Shows are listed at:http://itsstorytimeforkids.blogspot.com/p/shows-index-by-dates-if-links-are.html Show's Site:www.thebookgarden.net ~~~~~ALL books that appear on It's Story Time are copyrighted by the author.
What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?
I've had an agent and it wasn't a good experience. There are many authors who have had agents and got the help they needed, so I think each author has to make that call themselves.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?
Start by reading books on publishing. Research publishing on line as well and know all the facts up front. Work out a budget for each step of the way: book design, printer, marketing and distributors. Compare prices of books in your field to get the best idea for pricing your book. Don’t over price. Know that there are thousands of books published a year and how hard it is to sell books today. Don’t send money you don’t have. Join publishing group like self-publishing@ yahoo.com to hear discussion on whats hot and what’s not.
So glad I could be here today, Penny. Thank you for having me on your blog. Sincerely, JD Holiday