Here’s a treat for you! A picture book author that I introduced to you last year as Clarbojahn Presents…. Author Joanna Marple! There she gave her story behind the story of Snow Games her picture book at uTales. It was part of her blog tour then. Now I’d like to interview her for my “Interview Series of Authors”. I am truly honored for Joanna to have spent time with me answering these questions about her book and writer journey..
1—Joanna? You wrote a children’s picture book called Snow Games. Could you tell us a little about it?
It’s a winter tale in rhyme about four woodland friends who decide on a bit of friendly competition over some snowy games. The woodland winter games get underway, but faced with Bear’s strength, Squirrel’s speed and Owl’s self-confidence, what is a wee mouse to do? Fortunately for Mouse, his creativity and his friends’ team spirit mean an enjoyable end to the midwinter’s day escapade.
2—You ended up getting it published by utales a digital publishing company. Can you tell us a little bit about your decision? Did you try querying and sending it out to traditional publishers, too?
This book I wrote very specifically with uTales in mind. I am on the point of starting to submit to agents, and am more than aware that this process is uncertain and long. So meanwhile, I wanted to pursue a publishing opportunity on an eBook platform in order to have this experience as well as the opportunity to collaborate with an illustrator and have some promotional experience. I go into detail about why I chose uTales here, but the main reason is that there is some quality control.
3—Can you tell us a little about the process of submitting to uTales?
I have written a lengthy post about it here. In short, once you have a very well revised manuscript, you find your own illustrator, and on completion, you download your illustrated manuscript onto the uTales website, where it is submitted first to the uTales Quality Editorial Panel. This panel can and do suggest improvements before the story is accepted (or not) for publication on the platform. My collaboration with WINTER GAMES’ illustrator, Maja Sereda was a real highlight of this experience for me. Not only do I adore her artwork, but she has become a good friend.
4- How did you get the idea for the picture book?
I was out snowshoeing in the mountains above Nice last winter and saw two different sized animal tracks in the snow. I pictured a bear and a mouse playing winter games together. As the idea was incubating, I decided that it should be a foursome friendship group, and added Owl and Squirrel.
5 How long from idea to actual book did it take? Did you do many revisions?
Six months. And I certainly undertook many, many revisions, working especially on rhythm, rhyme and meter, before the final version.
6–Did you take classes?
I began writing children’s books two years ago and prepared myself by doing the online Picture Book writing course, Just Write for Kids, by Emma Walton Hamilton. This gives a tremendous grounding in the basics of this genre and I believe I saved myself months and months of elementary mistakes by doing this course. I highly recommend it.
7–Do you belong to a critique group?
I am looking for an in-person group right now, but do belong to an online group. Over this past year I have been working with several critique partners, which is an essential part of my writing process. I have also worked on several manuscripts professionally with my mentor, editor Emma D Dryden of drydenbks.
8–You have another book as well don’t you? Could you tell us a little about that?
I have no other books published yet, but I have just finished the sequel to SNOW GAMES, called MIDSUMMER MISCHIEF. This time around Bear, Owl, Squirrel and Mouse sneak off for some summer fun, only to stumble upon a forbidden, hidden location and a friend in need. I am work on many picture book manuscripts at the moment, as well as a contemporary YA.
9—Can you tell us a little about the marketing you have done for it? Is this something libraries can carry or bookstores? Do you have a horror story for us?
My marketing was three-pronged: using my social media networks mentioned below, but trying not to overwhelm people with too much self-promotion; a blog tour; school visits. I have no horror stories at all, and thoroughly enjoyed the book promotion.
Libraries could take out a monthly subscription and have access to all the uTales books including SNOW GAMES. I hope to have a print version of this book available in the future.
10— When are you most creative and do the most serious writing?
I write best first thing in the morning after the sun has risen, and with a good cup of French coffee.
How can we get in touch with you? Are you on face book, twitter or linked in?
What is your favorite social media network that you are on the most?
I use all these networks in different ways, but frequent Face Book the most. I have had some superb interactions, learn much and have made some wonderful friends through Face Book.
Author Bio:Joanna grew up surrounded by the architecture and awe of the University of Cambridge, UK, immersed in the books and the landscapes of the Brontes, Tolkien and Beatrix Potter. Her tall tales were not always appreciated as a young child, but her passion for storytelling remained unscathed and was fueled by the peoples she encountered during her humanitarian work across the continents. More recently her years as school librarian in Southern France relit the fire for children’s literature. Her stories focus on her love of the natural world and the richness of the cultures she has encountered in her travels. She lives presently in Nice with two quirky cats and a stream of visitors from all over the globe.