This week we have Gayle C. Krause whose debut picture book Rock Star Santa will be released this winter with Scholastic. Rock Star Santa depicts a unique Christmas Eve involving a child and a different side of Santa. Gayle also writes MG and YA historical fiction, fantasy and contemporary novels. She is a reviewer of children’s books for Children’s Literature.com and holds a M.S. degree in Elementary Education.
Now let’s start the interview, Gayle. When you received your offer, you …
I took the news very calmly, thinking that if I got too excited or celebrated too much something might happen to nix the whole thing. It was like living in a fantasy world and each time I thought about my book being published by a major publishing house, I felt great inside and somehow managed to find a special energy that spilled over into my daily life.
So now that you have a contract, what’s it like to be on the other side–on the verge of publication? What does it feel like to be official?
It’s overwhelmingly reassuring that my writing qualifies to be published at a big house and it encourages me to continue with my WIPS and create new ones for the future.
Tell us a little bit about your path to publication.
Shortly after I started to write seriously, I started an online critique group with SCBWI members I had met at a conference. We faithfully submitted to each other every month for two years. Occasionally, we still run things by each other as we have all become published in one way or another. I also attended a nationally acclaimed writing workshop and the members formed a critique group of our own called Cliff House Writers. We continue to meet twice a year for weekend writing seminars. My first publication was in Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul 2 and magazine publications shortly followed. My story “Cookie Lessons” has been selected to appear in the Stories for Children Anthology coming out later this year. I;ve attended numerous SCBWI conferences, a HNS conference and the Rutgers One on One Conference, where I met my editor for Rock Star Santa.
And here’s our favorite question. How many rejections did you receive IN GENERAL (not just for these books) before you landed your first major publishing contract?
- I didn’t keep track because it was too depressing.
- I didn’t keep track because I am not that organized.
- They don’t make a number that big.
- I plead the fifth.
Tell us about one of your most heart-breaking rejections and about one of your best.
Heart-breaking – I had a MG historical fiction novel at a small publishing house that the editor I was working work all but assured me was on the road to publication, having passed several rounds of the editorial staff. Then out of the blue, the publisher decided NOT to publish it and the editor was stunned, as was I. (This was my first experience with almost getting published)
(Bummer!!!! Snoop says. That’s the worst, man.)
Best – An editor of a large house sent a personal rejection letter praising my contemporary novel, but suggesting the MC needed more depth. Though she rejected the manuscript she included her phone extension. I assume that was her way of saying, contact me when you revise the manuscript.
How long did it take to sell your books, from putting the first words on the page to receiving an offer? Here are your choices.
- 0-3 months
- 3-6 months
- 6 months to 1 year
- 1 year – 2 years
- 2 years – 3 years
- 3 years+
- The manuscript has been around longer than I have.
Prior to selling your books, what were you doing, Gayle?
Working a full-time job unrelated to writing as a Teacher of Early Childhood Education at a Career and Technical Center and a Community College, training prospective teachers.
Now that you’ve sold some books, you plan to …
I plan to pursue a full-time writing career concentrating on picture books and novels.
Tell us about a typical day in your writing life.
I write from 8:00 AM to 12:00 P.M. each day when the house is quiet. In the evening, after dinner, I check websites and submission guidelines for targeted houses and/or agents.
(Snoop offers a suggestion to readers: to learn more about targeting editors and agents, see our article in the WFCAT crash course.)
What are some of the new things you worry about now that you have a contract?
A children’s editor once told me, long before I was offered my contract, that the second book is the hardest to come by. Sometimes that comes to mind, but I’m trying to prove her wrong by writing, writing, writing and submitting, submitting, submitting.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Research! Research! Research! I don;t just mean for historical information or veracity of facts needed for the writing process. I mean read all of the message boards and numerous internet connections. They’re invaluable. And get involved in a critique group either online or in person. And Write! Write! Write!
Describe an Ah-ha moment you’ve had that influenced your writing in a positive way.
I recently took an online course where I used one of my completed manuscripts for the homework assignments and through this course was able to see some shortcomings in my writing and am now revising the entire manuscript for sensory applications which make a huge difference in the story.
Aside from WRITING FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS: A CRASH COURSE<—shameless plug, are there any other books on craft you recommend?
Finally, Snoop wants to know: where do you get your ideas?
Rhyme explosions are popping in my brain all of the time. These are the seeds for my rhyming picture books. With my novels, the main character comes to me first and then depending on the genre, I either research historical facts or I go straight to writing. And when I write it’s like reading a book. I never know what’s on the next page.
(Me either, says Snoop. I never know what the next page is going to taste like.)
This concludes our interview with our latest author the glamorous Gayle C. Krause. We wish Gayle much success with her picture book. You ROCK! To see what Gayle’s up to these days, visit her website at http://www.gayleckrause.com.
Also, fellow AOTV author Chris Rettstatt’s first novel, the first in a gorgeous fantasy series KAIMIRA is in stores now. To learn more about Chris’s writing journey, read his AOTV interview.