Author Carolyn B. Fraiser on Abandoning Yourself to Research- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

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Hello world!!

Hope you had a fabulous summer. My book Blissfully Bookish blog is back!! For this Q & A, please welcome an author I met a while back, Carolyn Bennett Fraiser. She ended up winning a critique from me for Fall Writing Frenzy, and I remember telling her it would definitely get published! Here she is, discussing her new book MOON TREE: The Story of One Extraordinary Tree illustrated by Simona Mulazzani and published by Reycraft Books.

BUT first- YAY! Carolyn is generously giving away a FREE signed copy of her book MOON TREE. To be eligible to win, please enter the Rafflecopter contest by clicking HERE. Contest ends June 17, 2022.

Please describe the journey to publication for this MOON TREE: The Story of One Extraordinary Tree.

Back in March 2019, I decided to take a trip up to the Pisgah National Forest to scout out some ideas for a magazine article I wanted to write. I visited the museum at the Cradle of Forestry and just happened to walk by a tree called a “Moon Tree.” I literally stopped and back pedaled. I was intrigued by the story and dove into research.

That summer, I experimented several different versions of the story – including one that you critiqued for Fall Frenzy that same year. I landed on the final version when an agent suggested that consider using a lyrical voice, which flowed so naturally for me. I began submitting the project again during the summer of 2020 and people began responding – I was even selected for a valuable mentorship with Vivian Kirkfield through #PBChat! I knew I had hit the right combination for this story. The following spring, Reycraft Books picked up the project to release this fall, which is very fast.

AND….I just found out that MOON TREE was chosen as a Junior Library Guild Gold’s Standard Selection so I’m very excited about that!

Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?

Well, the story itself was fascinating. Can you think of anything cooler than a moon tree? Even the name catches your attention! The history behind it just grabbed me, but what ended up being the “it” factor for me was the realization that the story didn’t just belong to one person, but it belonged to several individuals, each who played a key role in the story – Stuart’s dream as a little boy, the forest researcher who didn’t give up on the seeds, a third-grade girl who asked a question, and the teacher who encouraged her entire class to answer it. Without any one of them, the story might not have ever happened or may have been lost to history!

What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?

Oh, it varies from project to project. MOON TREE was unique. It was the first time I completely abandoned myself to the research. The history behind it just grabbed me and I went down SO many rabbit holes. I didn’t even know about the key role the third-grade class played until I was about half way through my research process. I can’t imagine the story without it! After all the pieces have been gathered, I have to let a story sit for a while. There are so many storylines a writer can follow, especially in nonfiction. I have to give each story time and space for those details to settle and for the heart of the story to emerge like it finally did with MOON TREE.

Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.

In a forest of ordinary trees,

One sycamore

has a secret

few people know,

a story unearthed

in the stars.

It all begins with…

One ordinary boy

who dashes among the trees.

At home, he watches

war planes soar

in the Oklahoma sky

and dreams that one day,

he will fly.

He grows up to be…

We’re agency sisters at EMLA! How did you manage to sign with your agent Tara Gonzalez?

Yes! I am thrilled to be working with Tara, and I love being a part of the EMLA family. During the same time I was writing that final draft of MOON TREE, I was submitting other projects. I connected with Tara through our SCBWI Carolinas regional conference, which was held online due to the pandemic, and submitted another project to her. When the offer for MOON TREE came in, I followed up with her and a few other agents who had projects of mine. She fell in love with MOON TREE and a few other lyrical nonfiction picture books I had written and the rest was history!

Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?

This month, my first educational market book MOONS, part of the OUR SOLAR SYSTEM series by BrightPoint Press, was released. I couldn’t have timed these two projects any better if I tried! Sometimes it just happens that way. I also have a second trade picture book that is scheduled to come out through Familius in the Fall of 2024, but it’s very different. It’s about how young children can be involved in modern-day homesteading.

Please share your favorite books from 2021/2 that have inspired you.

I have been reading a lot of middle-grade novels in verse lately. I love the rhythm, imagery, and emotion that these authors are able to convey in such a few words (much like picture books!). Two recent releases I’ve read are ALONE by Megan E. Freeman and THE PLACES WE SLEEP by Caroline Brooks DuBois. As much as I love writing in free verse for picture books, working on a full novel of poems feels very daunting to me! I love reading authors who accomplish this well and each book I read helps me hone in my skills as a lyrical nonfiction picture book writer.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to other writers?

Simply write because you enjoy writing and learning new things. Don’t write for the joy of publication. Sure, publication is great, but the joy you find there is fleeting. It only lasts a moment. But if you enjoy the process – writing and learning how to write better – that alone will keep you motivated. When the rejections flood in and when the joy of publication fades (and it will), you will continue to write because you simply love it.

And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

I had to really pause and think about this one! And the only answer I could really come up with is probably very cliché! I think I would be a cat in a library (or a bookstore). What could be better than long afternoon naps surrounded by books!

BIO

Carolyn Bennett Fraiser is a writer and graphic designer for non-profit organizations and the author of more than 1,600 articles published for adults. She has been featured in several children’s magazines including Fun for Kidz, Clubhouse, Devozine, and Unlocked for Teens. Her books include MOON TREE (Reycraft Books, 2022) and OUR SOLAR SYSTEM: MOONS (BrightPoint Press, 2022). Currently Carolyn volunteers on the administrative team of her local SCBWI regional chapter and teaches creative writing workshops for teens in her hometown of Brevard, North Carolina.

LINKS
WEBSITE:               www.carolynbfraiser.com

SOCIAL MEDIA:     @carolynbfraiser on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

PRE-ORDER LINKS:

12 thoughts on “Author Carolyn B. Fraiser on Abandoning Yourself to Research- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

    Susan Johnston Taylor said:
    August 30, 2022 at 8:52 am

    Congrats, Carolyn! Looking forward to reading this book.

    Like

    Melissa-Jane Nguyen said:
    August 27, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    Wonderful interview! This books sounds gorgeous ❤

    Like

    Elia Ben-Ari said:
    August 26, 2022 at 9:39 am

    This certainly makes me curious to read The Moon Tree! Congratulations on your book and the JLG endorsement!

    Liked by 1 person

    seschipper said:
    August 26, 2022 at 12:21 am

    This sounds like a wonderful story. Looking forward to reading it! I also love your words of wisdom regarding the reasons to wrtie! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    yangmommy said:
    August 24, 2022 at 8:14 pm

    This is one of those stories that wish I had come up with!🙂This will surely fly off shelves & take root in the hearts of many readers!

    Liked by 1 person

    KatyD said:
    August 24, 2022 at 6:37 pm

    I’m excited to read this book! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

    carrieandtodd said:
    August 24, 2022 at 2:06 pm

    “The history behind it just grabbed me, but what ended up being the “it” factor for me was the realization that the story didn’t just belong to one person, but it belonged to several individuals.” – loved this story-behind-the-story

    Liked by 1 person

    Jessica Milo said:
    August 24, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    Lovely interview!!! So cool that you happened upon the Moon Tree at the museum. Your excerpt you shared is wonderful! Can’t wait to read this story!

    Like

    Amanda West Lewis said:
    August 24, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    I agree entirely about abandoning yourself to research. Some writers hold research off until they know what the story is. I submerge myself in those rabbit hole to FIND the story! Looking forward to finding out more about the Moon Tree.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      August 26, 2022 at 12:57 pm

      Yes! Sometimes it takes a while before you know the focus of your story!

      Like

    Stephanie Owen said:
    August 24, 2022 at 11:23 am

    I love little story gems like this. There are so many hidden treasures in our world.

    Liked by 1 person

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