Hello, lovely readers!
Thank you for visiting KidLit Oasis! This is the place to refresh your spirits, recharge your creativity, and get a literary mood boost!
Now, stretch your smiles wide and get comfy and cozy for a lovely chitchat because today we have another awesome creative on the Chitchat series... Children's author Keila V. Dawson is here to share some wisdom, insight, and inspiration with us!
Plus, check out the giveaway at the end of this interview.
Welcome, Keila! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
A: My road to publication was a sprint. After a friend challenged me to tick “writing a children’s book” off my bucket list, I wrote the first draft of my debut picture book, THE KING CAKE BABY, illustrated by Vernon Smith (Pelican Publishing 2015). I was fortunate to find an active local SCBWI chapter where I live who helped me revise the manuscript, encourage me to submit, and the book published two years later. As a newbie in the industry, I had no idea what I didn’t know. In retrospect, had I known what I know now about networking and book promotion, it may have been better to be the tortoise in the race. While playing catch up on creating a social media presence, taking writing craft classes, and networking with the kidlit community, I wish I would have written more stories. I submitted a companion story that passed acquisitions that is still unpublished so there’s never a guarantee even when you think you’ve jumped the highest hurdle.
A highlight of my journey as a writer has been working collaboratively for the past two years with Lindsay Metcalf and Jeanette Bradley on NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY. I am so proud of this project, especially since there were so many moving parts. And I think the support from our editor Karen Boss and the team at Charlesbridge deserve credit, too, for believing in this project and dedicating the time and resources to make it shine.
Having learned my lesson, I kept writing new drafts while working on NO VOICE TOO SMALL.
Q: What do you find most challenging in this business, either on the creative or publishing side of things? What do you find most rewarding? What helps you stay motivated?
A: The most challenging part of book publication is the juggle. I am constantly trying to balance writing new stories with research, revision work, contributing to the kidlit community, studying the craft, and keeping up with new releases while creating content for marketing. And figuring out where to target my energy and what promotion isn’t worth the investment of time or money. Promotion works, it’s just time-consuming.
What keeps me motivated is uncovering stories - especially untold stories – that add to narratives often left out of history books and school curriculum. I love research, and I lean toward nonfiction. And I can easily fall down a rabbit hole because I enjoy learning about other cultures, re-learning history and discovering different perspectives on stories outside of my lived experiences. Sometimes a story grabs onto me and it won’t let go. Those are the stories I feel compelled to dedicate time to research and write. I am working on a manuscript now with the help of others outside of the U.S. and we are all committed to it because it will hopefully inspire children to consider conflict resolution without resorting to violence.
Q: Could you share any craft tools or techniques that you find most helpful to you when working on a project? What does your revision process look like?
A: Something I learned in genealogical research is to research widely. After choosing a topic or subject, I search for academic publications and contact experts in the field to help me figure out different perspectives. With perspective, I can start thinking about the story arc and find those gems hidden in history that would resonate with kids.
For revision, I rely on trusted critiquers who give me their honest opinions. Again, for me, it’s all about perspective. Who’s story am I telling, why does it matter, and what do I want my readers to know?
Q: What's coming up for you next? Please tell us about any new releases, exciting news, upcoming events or anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
A: I will take part in San Francisco Public Library’s Kidquake 2020 on October 16th. And I’ll be at the virtual Buckeye Book Fair in November. Jeanette, Lindsay and I have one more virtual book launch event planned in Ohio where I live on November 14 at 11 am/EST with Cover to Cover bookstore. And it’s time to start promoting my next book, OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book, illustrated by Alleanna Harris (Beaming Books, January 26, 2021).
Lindsay, Jeanette and are already engaging with kids and schools with NO VOICE TOO SMALL. We are offering access on-demand (asynchronous) and live (synchronous) visits, suitable for classroom or at-home use. There’s an Activity Guide to use with the book I created using ELA Common Core Standards and other relevant content standards. Here’s a page with links to our collection of resources including “Young Activists Speak” videos, mini writing workshops, art class with Jeanette Bradley, and the No Voice Too Small pledge and more. We’re excited that the No Voice Too Small Book Club is featured in Flipgrid’s Discovery Library.
I’ll have more book news to share soon, and I’m excited about my work in progress.
Thank you, Keila! Wishing you all the best on your journey and I look forward to your future projects.
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Connect with Keila V. Dawson
Watch the book trailer below
Keila V. Dawson Lindsay H. Metcalf Jeanette Bradley
Keila V. Dawson is an author-educator and a former community organizer, educational consultant, and advocate for children with special needs. She is a New Orleans native and the author of The King Cake Baby and the forthcoming Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book (Beaming Books, January 2021). As an educator, she has worked in the U.S., the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt.
Lindsay H. Metcalf grew up on a Kansas farm, flew the coop for a career in the city, and migrated home to write downwind of the neighborhood cattle. Lindsay has two other forthcoming nonfiction picture books. She is the author of Beatrix Potter, Scientist, illustrated by Junyi Wu (Albert Whitman & Company, September 2020) and Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices (Calkins Creek, November 2020). An experienced journalist, Lindsay has covered a variety of change-makers as a reporter, editor, and columnist for The Kansas City Star and other news outlets.
Jeanette Bradley Jeanette Bradley has been an urban planner, an apprentice pastry chef, and the artist-in-residence for a traveling art museum on a train. She is the author/illustrator of Love, Mama (Roaring Brook Press, January 2018) and the illustrator of When the Babies Came to Stay (Viking, March 2020). Jeanette lives in Rhode Island with her wife and kids.
G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
Comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of No Voice Too Small
(U.S. only please)
The giveaway winner is. . .
Carrie Charley Brown!!!
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kid lit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System™ that is proven to help emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals.
Rosie's latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie also loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women's and moms’ topics, sharing her journey from a Bulgarian immigrant to a published author.
Find out more about Rosie's online courses, mentorships, and her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.