Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome author Kaye Baillie who released her picture book entitled Boo Loves Books, illustrated by Tracie Grimwood and published by New Frontier Publishing (Australia)/Lerner Books (USA). Take a look at her writing journey below.
But first, YAY! Kaye is generously giving away a PB critique (fiction or nonfiction, no rhyme, under 1,000 words)-simply comment on this blog post to enter, contest ends November 30, 2020.
In 2016 I read an online article about kids reading to cats at an animal shelter. I wrote a story based on the article and one month later sent it to an agent. Silent rejection. Did I get the story critiqued beforehand? No, I didn’t. I still had much to learn even though I had been writing for years and had one picture book contract with an Australian publisher. One month later I submitted to an Australian publisher and one more agent. Two more silent rejections.
The following month I paid for a critique with an editor at a publishing house in the US. I received encouraging feedback but no offer. Feeling discouraged, I put the story away for over one year. I decided to take another look at the editor’s comments. I decided to rework the story. I sent it to my new critique group formed through SCBWI. With their feedback I renamed the story, did more edits and prepared to submit it again. So then, two years after I wrote the story, I submitted it to four publishers – 3 Australian and 1 small US one. Almost four months later, one Australian publisher replied and said my story was delightful and asked if it was available! I replied ‘yes’! The book was released 1 May 2020 in Australia, UK and New Zealand and 6 October 2020 in the USA.
Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
As a children’s author, I’m always looking for inspirational true stories to write about. One day I read in the Huffington Post about a Book Buddies program where primary school students read to homeless cats at the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Pennsylvania. What captured my attention was the transformation of a boy who took part in the program and his loving attitude towards the cats.
What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?
It does vary. My process for writing picture book biographies involves lots of research. Once I have completed my research which can take months, I begin sifting through the facts and events to figure out what to put in the story. I also use mentor texts to look at page turns, language, words per spread, first and last lines etc. When writing fiction, I use mentor texts in the same way. A fictional story may require some research, but the writing isn’t restrained by telling the truth as it is when writing non-fiction. And the time to write a fictional story is usually a lot less. I do writing related tasks usually for 2-4 hours a day and I write in my studio out the back. When I have the story in good shape, I get my critique group to look at it and also send it to Rate Your Story. When I’m getting close to finished, I get a paid critique. Then, after final revisions I send it to my agent.
What differentiates your book from others with similar content currently on the market?
Boo Loves Books is about anxiety, being afraid or embarrassed about making mistakes and realizing that you can do things at your own pace in your own way. The story differs to others on the market as it has two settings: school and an animal shelter. Phoebe the main character sees that Boo also has fears and I think the way she solves the situation is heartwarming and extremely empowering for children. Plus, the story is based on a real program for reading to animals.
Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.
“This dog is a little bit scared. But he would never hurt you.”
Scared, thought Phoebe. Of me?
“Talk about the pictures,” said Miss Spinelli. “Your voice is all he needs”.
Where do you see your career headed? Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?
I have had three picture books released in Australia over the last two years. Boo Loves Books was originally released by New Frontier Publishing Australia, and they also released it in the UK, New Zealand and now it has been released in the US. My fourth picture book comes out in Australia, March 2021. After I signed with literary agent Essie White of Storm Literary in 2019 after meeting her at the SCBWI conference in Sydney, Australia, she sold my first picture book biography which is due out at the end of 2021 with The Innovation Press. I’m very lucky to have an agent who is happy to represent me just for those. I write picture book biographies and also fiction. Several stories are out on submission and I have just sent Essie my latest PB biography. I intend to keep writing picture books. It’s what I love to do.
Please share your favorite books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts. Pick one classic and one contemporary book. What is it about them that moved you?
Classic – ‘Goodnight Moon’ by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. I adore the mood created in the story and the gentle lyrical language. It’s also quite a mysterious book which sets it apart from others.
Contemporary – ‘Windows’ by Julia Denos and E.B. Goodale. I love this simple yet gentle story of a boy walking through his neighborhood at night. It’s lyrical (I love lyrical) with minimal word count and it has a warm comforting ending.
What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers?
Read your work out loud – OFTEN! Listen to its rhythm, voice and page turns. Rework the parts you are not happy with.
Licorice because it’s a bit different and I love it.
Kaye Baillie completed a Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing in 2005. Her favourite subject was Writing for Children and she eventually switched from her role as an executive assistant to children’s author. Her first picture book Message in a Sock won in the History Category in the Northern Lights Book Awards USA (2019) and was shortlisted in the Western Australian Young Readers’ Book Awards and the NSW Premier’s History Awards (2019). She has a passion for telling stories about remarkable people.
In 2020 Kaye had two picture books released. The Friendly Games with MidnightSun Publishing and Boo Loves Books with New Frontier Publishing.
In 2021 Kaye has two picture books due for release. When the Waterhole Dries Up with Windy Hollow Books and her USA debut Olive Dennis, Train Engineer with The Innovation Press.
She is an active member and the Assistant Co-ordinator of SCBWI Victoria, Australia and is a member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Kaye lives in a Victorian coastal town with her family.
https://lernerbooks.com/shop/show/20570 for book purchase
SCBWBI Bookstop Page https://www.scbwi.org/scbwibookstop-display/?id=701277
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