Last week, I wrote about Gilhula’s debut children’s picture book, Pika Bunny and the Thunderstorm. This week, you’ll hear directly from the author!
First, she wanted to share her journey to creating this story and the other adventures of Pika Bunny. She writes:
While tutoring math in my home in Knoxville, TN, one of my students looked around at my small downstairs and innocently asked, “So, what do you do all day before tutoring?”
I just looked at him and smiled. What I wanted to say was, “Oh, I write children’s books that no one is ever going to read.”
But I kept thinking about his question. More importantly, I kept thinking about my answer! I decided to be brave and find a professional to help me in areas where I did not feel confident. That was the best move I could have made.
So, writers, be brave! Follow your dreams. Keep working, and reach out for help when you need it.
Now, here are the rest of Gilhula’s thoughts.
How would your advice for new writers differ from advice you would offer writers who have been in the game for a while?
The advice I would give to a new writer would be some of the same advice that I gave to myself.
- Just write. If you have a story to tell, tell it.
- Show your work to someone. Notice that I didn’t say, “Share your work.” Share sounds too intimidating. But don’t hide your work in a drawer for twenty-five years like I did, either!
- Pay a professional to look at your work on an artistic level, for consistency, and for editing and grammar in general.
- Join SCBWI or start networking in your area to meet people and share experiences.
- You are never too old to start. (I’m 52.)
When you take a break from writing, is it a full and total break or is your mind constantly parsing the world for fodder? What does that parsing look like? How does it make you feel as an artist? As a human being?
After college, I was a modern dance choreographer and instructor for almost twenty years. My creative brain has always worked while I am sleeping. The minute I awoke, I already had concepts and some of the choreography. Even today, as I have been a math tutor for almost fifteen years now, I will wake up with an answer to a problem that I didn’t have time to finish the night before.
In the morning, I will have my coffee and work on the latest ideas that I have for a book or my current project. After that, it is a total break for the day as I give try to give my students my full attention.
As an artist, I’ve always been told that I don’t think like everyone else. When I was younger, I didn’t like that comment, because I wanted to be like everyone else. Now that I am older, I embrace the difference.
As a human being, one moment I can I feel like I’m freely walking and weaving a path between art and humanity, and the next I feel like I’m tripping on air.
From your perspective as an author, what do you feel is the biggest challenge to the publishing industry today? Is there a way to solve that challenge?
Since I’m just newly published, I do not have a full understanding of the industry. But I can say that money and promotion are probably the biggest challenges.
What books are you currently reading?
Currently, I am reading books by my cousin, Scott Christopher Beebe, who does not believe in editing whatsoever. His writing is exposed and raw. Some of his thoughts progress halfway down the page before you see any punctuation.
These books are not my usual choices, and not my usual choice of words (and types of adult themes). But there is something transparent and crude about how he thinks that is intriguing and sometimes haunting.
Most days I like to read books on topics that I would not typically write about, like mystery.
Which authors do you think are underappreciated in the current market, and why? Which new writers do you find most interesting, and why?
I gravitate to new writers of children’s picture books that aren’t getting the big publishing house launches. Those writers who must create everything to launch their own work into the world intrigue me because of their sheer passion.
Finding the discipline to keep writing can be tough. Which “get writing” techniques are most effective for you?
Since I wake up with the actual drive, my tactics are more of getting the ideas to stop and slow down. Then I can evaluate and experiment. Not every idea is a good one on its own, but it may be the start of something that I want to pursue and explore.
Can you give us a sneak peek into your current project?
The next step in the Pika Bunny Learning Series is to illustrate the second book. Adrianna Allegretti is working on the illustrations now for Pika Bunny Has a Big Question. This one is due to drop in spring of 2018. It will be published by Apollo Publications.
A really different project is also underway. The illustrations for that are by Alexandria Walker. Mother’s Best is a rhyming picture book that is not part of the Pika Bunny series.
Anything else you think people should know about you, the book, or your process?
If there is a magic formula for writing, it would have to consist of investing the time and effort to write, being willing to display your soul (just a little at a time), trusting others to help you, and believing in yourself.
That’s my talented cousin for ya! Kudos, Wendy. You deserve every aspect of your success to be found in every moment that you find yourself here on earth. And thanks for the shout out! xoxo
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