Welcome to my blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome an award winning author who creates emotionally resonant work with very few words, Valerie Bolling. Here she is discussing her new book, Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun!, a picture book illustrated by Sabrena Khadija and published by Abrams.
BUT first- YAY! Valerie is generously giving away a FREE copy of her book or a 15-minute AMA. To be eligible to win, please enter the Rafflecopter contest by clicking HERE. Contest ends October 28, 2022.
Please describe the journey to publication for Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun!
The first draft of RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN! (illustrated by Sabrena Khadija) was written in 2018. It was titled CITY FUN at the time of submission, and during the publication process, its title was changed to the current one.
In June 2020, Meredith Mundy, Editorial Director at Abrams Appleseed, acquired the book as part of a two-book deal. The sequel to RIDE, ROLL, RUN is BING, BOP, BAM: TIME TO JAM! and will be released next fall.
Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.
You have a skill for saying a lot in few words. How do you render your stories so sparse yet emotionally connected? What’s the editing process like?
Regarding emotion, I try to make thoughtful choices about words so that I can convey what I want the reader to feel. Fortunately, amazing illustrators have created art that beautifully contributes to telling each story and helps depict the emotions.
Please share your favorite books from 2021/2 that inspire you.
- My Hands Tell a Story by Kelly Starling-Lyons & Tonya Engle
- Good Night, Oppy! By James McGowan & Graham Carter
- Fly by Brittany Thurman & Anna Cunha
- Abdul’s Story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow & Tiffany Rose
- American Desi by Jyoti Gopal & Supriya Kelkar
- Big Wig by Jonathan Hillman & Levi Hastings
- Look and Listen by Dianne White & Amy Schimler-Safford
- A Costume for Charly by CK Malone & Alejandra Barajas
- So Not Ghoul by Karen Yin & Bonnie Lui
- This Field Trip Stinks by Becky Scharnhorst & Julia Patton
And so many more …
What is the best piece of advice you would give to other writers regarding revision?
It’s hard to narrow this down to one piece of advice, because I teach entire workshops on revision to both children and adults. If I give just one tip, I would say that it can be helpful to focus on one story element at a time. For example, you may want to read through your manuscript, looking only at language or at pacing. Sometimes it can be difficult to try to focus on everything at once. Looking through a specific lens may enable you to see something you didn’t previously and help you refine that particular aspect of the story.
In addition to RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN!, which Kirkus Reviews described as “pure joy,” Valerie Bolling is the author of TOGETHER WE RIDE, which has received starred reviews from the Horn Book and School Library Journal, and LET’S DANCE!, a 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite award winner and CT Book Award finalist. Sequels to her 2022 books (TOGETHER WE SWIM and BING, BOP, BAM: TIME TO JAM!) as well as a Scholastic Acorn early reader series, RAINBOW DAYS, are slated for 2023.
Since I use so few words in my books that feature sparse, rhyming text, there’s not a lot to edit. That’s the good thing about being minimalist with words from the start. I was fortunate that my edits for LET’S DANCE! and TOGETHER WE RIDE were minor. I removed two stanzas from LET’S DANCE!, and only two words were deleted from TOGETHER WE RIDE – and that didn’t happen until we saw the words paired with the art. For RIDE, ROLL, RUN, however, I added words because Meredith wanted more text. Thus, I increased my word count from 50 to a bit over 120.
A graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, Teachers College, Valerie has been an educator for 30 years. She currently works as an Instructional Coach and also teaches picture book writing classes. She is a WNDB mentor and deeply immersed in the kidlit writing community, particularly involved with SCBWI, the 12X12 Picture Book Challenge, Black Creators HeadQuarters, and Diverse Verse.
Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing.
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