It's another terrific Tuesday and you're back at KidLit Oasis. Thank you for visiting! As you know, this is the place to refresh your spirits, recharge your creativity, and get a literary mood boost.
Are you comfy and cozy? Are you ready to welcome this week's guest? The multi-talented Author and Librarian, Kena Sosa is here to share some wisdom, insight, and inspiration with us!
Welcome, Kena! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
A: It’s strange how the most healing practice in my life is writing and my most major writing accomplishments seem to partner with downturns, like writing was there for me during my harshest trials. I discovered how easily words took me out of my pain as a teenager. I was grounded and thought I would literally die of boredom. I found a typewriter and let it free me. In publishing I started out writing travel pieces and articles as well as reviewing children’s books. I wrote and wrote and wrote, for myself mostly but after moving to Dallas and attending SCBWI, I thickened up my skin and started submitting.
There were rejections, as there are in life. I kept trying. My first book was released by 4RV Publishing in 2015. It was such a victory, and then months later, my household tore apart. It was painful to meet people and force a smile, but I knew this was my chance to prove that I could be an author. I am immensely thankful to the authors I met during that first year who shared their expertise, their techniques and their stories with me. Their kindness and friendship kept me from giving up. I wrote my second book based on what I learned during a travel and research grant, but many found the subject matter a bit controversial for a picture book. 4RV took it on, but had me rewrite it as a chapter book, a new challenge for my squirrel-like attention span. How right they were! That book, Kindertransport-a child’s journey, earned my first award as an author, a Children’s Literary Classics Award in historical fiction in 2018. Soon after my third book, The Unhuggables, emerged after my son asked me what would happen if you hugged a porcupine. That book, under River Road Press, won an award as well, The Enchanted Page Book Award in 2019. With each heartbreak, a victory, and with these experiences I can say, it has been a life worth writing about.
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: I think one measures challenges in the same way one measures success, through the lens of perspective. I have always struggled the most with the gaps between projects. Like Tom Petty sang, “the waiting is the hardest part.” You are filled with anticipation, excitement, or anxiety simply waiting for an acceptance or rejection, waiting to see a finished product, waiting to find out how your creation will be received.
Coming in at a close second is editing. It is so necessary like going to the dentist, but never something one looks forward to as a writer. To get through it, I try to make the journey of editing like a mental puzzle, to challenge myself to make it better by arranging the pieces in ways they work better.
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: As far as my writing process goes, I always keep a scrappy notebook. Whenever a little spark flickers at me, whether it is a name I like, a phrase or a plot twist, I jot it down before I forget. I don’t typically sit down to write an entire story from conception to birth in one sitting. It needs time to grow and develop. So, I let those snippets sit in the notebook until they find each other organically and weave themselves into a story I can tell. That’s when I take a seat and let the story tell itself from start to finish. I give it a day or two to settle, and then from the scrappy notebook, where the story may be written in the margins, backwards or upside-down, however it decided to be, and type it up. I edit mostly during this stage. Once it is in the e-world, I employ tools to help me polish it up.
I just learned recently that Word will do a readability check for you which tells you the reading level of your manuscript, including incidents of passive voice and counts the number of words per sentence. My inner child may write through me; however, she writes too mature for her age. This tool helps me figure out how to rewrite and adjust my voice to the right audience before it is ever seen by an editor. There is also a citation checker built in. I am a firm believer in working smarter, not harder so any trick to get things moving is a plus in my book.
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: Although many aspects of life have slowed, I am still coming down off the thrill of winning the Enchanted Page Book Award in 2019 for The Unhuggables.
Considering current events, most of us have not held in-person events and have turned to technology to pursue our dreams as authors. I have been learning to adapt like the rest. I worked on improving my website and updating my social media presence as well as opening my mind to more unconventional opportunities.
Meanwhile, these days appear to be the perfect time to speak less and read more. I can help with that. I am happy to announce that I am anticipating a new release in 2022! I can’t wait for you to read it!
Thank you, Kena -- I can't wait to read your new book! It was a pleasure having you on the blog! I wish you all the best on your journey and many more successes!
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Connect with Kena Sosa:
Twitter: : @sk_kso
School librarian by day and writer by night, Kena Sosa adores words. She also loves playing the drums. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Our Lady of the Lake University and her master’s degree in bilingual education from Southern Methodist University. Her first children’s book, Rey Antonio and Rey Feo, was born of the celebration of her childhood in San Antonio. Her second book, Kindertransport: A Child’s Journey, is about the escape of children on the Kindertransport train just before the outbreak of World War II. Kena Sosa has lived in Japan and Mexico, but sharing stories with her two sons and other eager readers has been her favorite adventure yet!
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a
award-winning children's author, speaker, and writing coach on a mission to inspire children not only to read and write more, but to use their creativity, follow their passions, dream big and believe in themselves.
Rosie visits schools and shares her inspirational journey as an immigrant from Bulgaria and how she became a published author, encouraging kids to persist, push through rejections, and hold a high vision for themselves.
Rosie's upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain, will be released in March 2021. It's a story that celebrates imagination, the love of books, and new friendships.
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jessica Schmeilder of Golden Wheat Literary.