I'm thrilled to welcome today's multi-published children's author to the blog, who told me all about their journey to publication and plans for the future!
Check it out...
“Jane of all trades” pretty well sums up who Barbara Renner is. Her college degree is in education, but she’s worked as a bookkeeper, retail store owner, banker, college instructor, high school teacher, and writer. She and her husband have lived in Phoenix, Arizona for over 40 years where they raised two children and explored the state camping as a family. After Barbara retired from teaching, she and her husband started going to Minnesota for the summers as “Sun Birds” to escape the summer heat. The career Barbara enjoyed the most was teaching. As part of her Masters in Education degree, she received a reading endorsement from Arizona State University. Now her passion is writing children’s picture books that are considered Informational Fiction. The teacher in her keeps trying to escape, and she loves to visit schools as a guest author.
Barbara has written eight picture books, four about Lonnie the Loon growing up, three about Quincy the Quail and his family, and one about Trumpeter Swans. The second Trumpeter Swan book will be published the summer of 2020. Barbara’s books are stories about kindness, friendship, and teamwork and include interesting facts about the wildlife. All the books have QR Codes so the reader can listen to the animal calls using a QR Code Reader App.
What kind of books do you enjoy writing?
I love writing children’s picture books. My main characters so far have all been birds or waterfowl, and I really enjoy researching them so my stories make sense, and I include interesting facts about the wildlife. My books can be used in classrooms and libraries as teaching tools.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
As a little girl, I wrote silly little stories that my friends and I acted out. Then as an English teacher, I taught writing. When I was in business, I wrote newsletters and articles for business journals. It wasn’t until after I retired from teaching that I became serious about writing children’s picture books.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
I have been extremely lucky. I used a hybrid publisher for my Lonnie the Loon books and found a young illustrator just starting out. She did a wonderful job. The hybrid worked out well to get me going, and was not very expensive, but I have since broken away from them and self-publish on my own now. The illustrator for my Quincy the Quail books was a young college graduate. She was fabulous. I am most proud of my Trumpeter Swan books. The stories are shorter and peppier, and my illustrator is an author/illustrator who does award-winning work.
What’s been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
Marketing my books - I wouldn’t say it’s the hardest, but it’s the most time consuming and challenging. The most enjoyable experience is having children and parents tell me they love my books. It’s also rewarding to have a group of children listening to me read my book, asking questions, and telling me they liked the story. It’s heartwarming to hear people say “there’s Quincy” when they see a quail running around.
Would you go back and change anything?
I wouldn’t have jumped in to writing and publishing a picture book so quickly - I was too anxious to experience immediate gratification. I should have done more research about the publishing industry.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10?
I have several manuscripts that I am querying in hopes of finding an agent to be traditionally published.
For the past six years I’ve printed desk calendars for friends and family that contain pictures of my dog and words of wisdom that matches his expressions. Since “Larry’s Words of Wisdom” has been such a big hit on social media, I am now working on a book by the same name. It will not only contain Larry’s photos and his words of wisdom, it will also include tidbits of information and trivia about dogs. A percentage of sales will go to the rescue organization where we got Larry. I’m hoping this book will be available by the end of the year.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to new writers just starting out?
Do your research. Study your craft. Take classes. Attend workshops. Read books in the genre you want to write. Join a critique group, or two. Have your manuscript edited. It takes a lot of study and dedication to write a book.
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? – Ketchup, on everything.
Night or Day? – Day, because I can play outside. I used to be a night owl, but not anymore.
Inside or Outside? Outside, definitely. However, I’m somewhat of an introvert, so inside isn’t so bad.
Dogs or Cats? - Dogs, of course.
Twitter or Facebook? - Facebook, to keep up with friends and family. Twitter for fun.
e-book or Paperback? - Paperback, I love holding books.
Sun or Rain? - Sun, it’s where I gain my strength.
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Keyboard, I depend too much on the computer.
Comedy or Drama? - Comedy. Or, dark, humorous drama.
Chips or Chocolate? - Chocolate, unfortunately.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!