I'm back with ANOTHER book birthday celebration with ANOTHER incredible author buddy today!
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Kids who are up early in the morning can learn about predawn animal activities in rural, suburban, and urban gardens, using haiku, information sidebars, and a glossary.
As we all wake up, the outside world bustles with life! Discover new facts about familiar creatures—from fluttering moths and scurrying beetles to shy foxes and humming bees—as they go about their morning activities. In the city, the countryside, and the suburbs, nature can be found everywhere!
A series of haiku takes readers on a closeup, observational look at the amazing abundance of nature right outside our homes. Each stanza focuses on an aspect of the natural world or a creature going about their daily activities as the sun begins to rise. Alongside the haiku, informative text goes into depth about each subject—from how much honey a bee can make to the size of a hummingbird’s egg. Instructions to help kids create their own haiku poems, a unique form of poetry from Japan, as well as a glossary add value for a STEAM and Core Curriculum book that can be enjoyed both in the classroom and at home.
Check out the BRILLIANT Kirkus review here!
GRAB YOUR COPY RIGHT HERE!
Who are you and what do you write?
Hi, I’m Keely Parrack, I live in Northern California but grew up in England.
I have always written but did not consider being an author until after I’d been a retail manager,
An elementary school teacher, and a day care director! It took having a baby to make me think oh, I could combine my love of kids with my love of writing!
And I thought that will be easy. Hah!! (It’s not!)
So now I write poetry, nature focused picture books and young adult novels.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I’ve always written. My mum has a faded poem about a mouse I wrote when I was six! At school I was a big dreamer, all my report cards talk about my need to focus, but at secondary school – like High School, I was known as the best story writer – all dark weird stories! I blame that on my parents’ awesome bookshelves and my local library. Kafka, Camus, Garner, Susan Cooper, Gabriel García Márquez, I read everything I could. I wrote angsty poetry in journals as a teen and then into my University Days.
I studied English Lit, but never creative writing. The poetry was just for me, like therapy!
Then when I moved to the US I was really homesick at first, because I used to have loads of friends and a great social life and suddenly I had nothing, so I kept myself sane writing poetry and for the first time entered a Dallas poetry contest. I was one of ten runners up and read to an audience. Then I started writing for a freebie magazine called Bitter, reviewing music and concerts and writing opinion pieces. But then I moved to San Francisco, got a work visa, and started teaching in a day care center.
It wasn’t until three years later, after I had a baby that I got that eureka moment of why not write for kids??
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
In my head I am singing, ‘A long and windy road!’
At first, I thought it would be easy to write picture books – but mine were embarrassingly bad. Then someone mentioned SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and I went to a local event, met some fabulous people, and was invited into a critique group. They held my hand as I learned very slowly how to write a picture book. I also learned that I couldn’t write one and had more of a YA (Young Adult) voice so I started writing my first YA, an urban gothic set in Nottingham, UK. I also freelanced for some local papers and wrote kids articles for magazines and papers.
In 2008, I’d finished my novel and sent it out to five agents, and one of them signed me! That book got to acquisitions, but was turned down for being set in England. So I wrote another YA, a dystopian haunted twin story. That was called the most dystopian book ever, by one editor, and not actually dystopian at all by another! Lots of interest, but no bites.
All this time I was playing around with poetry on the side because it’s fun. I started noticing all the wildlife in my suburban garden, hummingbirds, squirrels, robins, woodpeckers, raccoons, even ducks crashing into the swimming pool, and I wrote haiku about them.
This turned into a rough draft called Dawn to Dusk in the Haiku Garden. At a SCBWI conference an editor from Random House loved it and had a couple of suggestions to make it stronger. Since my agent didn’t rep picture books, we amicably parted ways.
I spent the next eight years writing and rewriting another YA, a contemporary thriller, and fiddling with the poetry book on the side. Sending it out, getting rejections, fiddling some more and putting it away. Then I won an SCBWI award for best work in progress picture book, which made me think I’d better do something with it.
Meanwhile, I’d become a co-regional advisor for SCBWI, putting on local conferences and events for illustrators and authors, so when an editor from a small publishing house contacted me to see if she could do a talk about submitting picture books to them, I said sure, what kind of picture books? Would you be interested in a haiku picture book, that follows nature from dawn to sunrise? I was kind of joking, but she said yes, send it! And that’s how I sold my first book!
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
The hardest is persevering and pulling yourself up again when things don’t go how you want them to.
I think it really helped me that writing has always been something I do, so not writing would be like not breathing, or not reading, I just can’t not do it.
The most enjoyable has been all the people I’ve met. The kidlit community is amazing, so generous and friendly. I’ve met so many incredible people, authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, editors, agents, sales reps, book sellers. I feel truly blessed to have them in my life.
Would you go back and change anything?
At times I have thought, if only I’d sold that book back in 2008! But the thing is, I never would have written MORNING, SUNSHINE! And I loved writing that book and am so happy to see it out in the world.
So no, it sounds cliché, but everyone has their own path, mine is long and winding, but I’m enjoying the journey! And I have an awesome agent now, @taragonzalez, who I wouldn’t have met otherwise!
Where would you like to be in 5 year’s time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
In five years, I’d like to be here happy writing, with 2 or 3 YAs out and handful of picture books. With kids loving my books and being inspired to write and draw and be creative themselves.
In ten, a lot more of the same, and maybe living in another country, I do get itchy feet!
In the future? I love to be flexible and see where the wind blows me!
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Find you community, it’s much more fun than going it alone, Joining SCBWI will really help you with that and with learning the basics. Read the craft books but follow your heart and find your own original voice.
Oops that’s three!
And the important quick fire questions!
Ketchup or Mayo? - Mayo
Night or Day? – Can I have Twilight?? I love dawn and dusk the most!!
Inside or Outside? – outside unless I’m cozy inside reading!
Dogs or Cats? – Cats or my cat muse will turn on me – but I do love my friends’ dogs too!
Twitter or Facebook? - Twitter
Ebook or Paperback? - Paperback
Sun or Rain? – I love both - but living in CA I do get extra excited when it rains!
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? – Aggh tough one – keyboard for YA, notebook and pencil for pbs
Comedy or Drama? – Drama, but I love comedy dramas too like Fleabag!
Chips or Chocolate? – Chocolate every time!
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!