Hello, marvelous readers!
Thank you for visiting the Oasis ― it's great to have you here! This is still 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 great creative on the KidLit Oasis series... Children's author Lauren Heller Kerstein is here to share some wisdom, insight, and inspiration with us! Plus, check out the giveaways, promo gifts, and other offers at the end of this interview.
Check out the double giveaway at this end of the interview, and if you missed my latest announcement, find it at the bottom of this post!
Welcome, Lauren! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
A: In 1980, I wrote and … well… illustrated my first picture book. I used wallpaper as the book cover, and it still sits on my desk today. (Thank you, Mom, for saving it!) I’ve always loved writing and reading, but I quickly realized illustrating may not be my strength.
Fast forward… I took writing classes in high school and college. I wrote when I could while juggling a very full career as a child and family psychotherapist. My publication debuts were actually professional books in my field, and I never stopped working on my fiction.
But… I wanted more. More time for fiction. More time for writing. More time for studying the craft.
So… about 6 years ago, I signed a contract that two of my closest friends wrote out for me on a napkin at dinner. I agreed to drop one of my consulting positions so that I could write more.
And then, I dug in. I joined SCBWI, carved out Wacky Writing Wednesday time, studied craft, joined Julie Hedlund’s 12x12, and began submitting.
I began submitting…
GROAN! My manuscripts were NOT ready.
So, I studied more craft, went to conferences, joined multiple critique groups, and took classes. About 160 rejections later (on many different manuscripts), I FINALLY landed an agent, and this is how…
I waited for an agent I loved, whom I had met a couple of years prior, to open up for submissions through 12x12. I selected a manuscript I thought she’d love after EXTENSIVELY researching the books she represented. Then I took months to revise, revise, receive critiques, and revise again.
SHAZAM! She offered representation! (It was a lengthy process including a revise and resubmit, but I won’t bore you with the details.)
Then she sent the manuscript out to a list of editors and rejection, rejection, rejection, until...
We sold Rosie and Charlie!
And from there… well… I revised, revised, revised until ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES swam to shelves June 1, 2019.
I have learned that this industry is 100% sheer will, determination, education, and persistence, and 40% luck and timing. (Please ignore the fact that the math doesn’t work at all!) It is a roller coaster ride, for sure. But, if you hang on tightly and keep on keeping on over and over and over again, you never know what magic may happen!
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 find the waiting most challenging. I try to focus on the fact that we have control over our craft. We have control over making our work THE best it can be. We have very little control over the rest.
I find the connections I’ve made with other kidlit writers to be incredibly rewarding. My critique partners are INCREDIBLE! The authors in my debut group are AMAZING! I also love the contact and interactions I’ve had with children (virtually and in-person). I write for children! It is thrilling to watch them enjoy Rosie and Charlie.
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: I write a lot of craft tools in my Quick-Read Crafty Tips, for my critique business, and in my #ReVISIONweek posts. I also have templates on my website.
The craft tools and techniques I use are generally different for each story, but the tools I consistently use for all manuscripts are:
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: The second Rosie and Charlie book will hit shelves on September 1, 2020. It is called ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT (Two Lions). Nate Wragg illustrated again, which is terrific! He’s so talented. I’m excited to share this book with the world! Let me tell you, helping a dragon settle for bed is an interesting and fun challenge!
I also have a book called, HOME FOR A WHILE (Magination Press), coming out in February 2021. Natalia Moore is the illustrator. This is a book from my heart. HOME FOR A WHILE is about a boy in foster care. It provides children and their caregivers the opportunity to explore and highlight the beauty of their unique characteristics. It is my hope that Calvin’s resilience and courage will help children as they find their way through their own struggles.
In addition, I have a number of picture books (fiction, non-fiction, humorous, and more serious) out to editors, so please cross your fingers, legs, and toes for me! I’m working on a few new PBs, revising a YA (slowly), and an adult novel that I began years ago has been screaming at me to pay it some attention. We shall see where that leads.
Thank you so much for having me, Rosie! I have enjoyed sharing this writing journey with you, and look forward to all of your future successes! I can’t wait to hold SUNDAY RAIN in my hands.
Aw, that is so sweet, thank you, Lauren! Fingers, legs, and toes crossed for your projects on submission! And thank you so much for being a guest, and for sharing such great insight and a wealth of resources and tips with the blog readers! I know everyone who reads this interview will be inspired by your journey.
Readers, please support our featured authors/illustrators by following them on Twitter, requesting their book through your local library, posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and of course, purchasing their books.
I hope you enjoyed this post — shares are appreciated. Thank you!
Connect with Lauren:
Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, Josh, their two dragons...er, daughters, Sarah and Danielle, and her rescue dogs, Hudson and Duke. She is represented by Deborah Warren with East West Literary Agency. Lauren's debut: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES splashed to bookshelves in June 2019. The companion volume, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT, is expected September 2020. Lauren also has another soon-to-be announced book upcoming in 2021 with Magination Press. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with Rate Your Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12x12. Visit her at www.LaurenKerstein.net, on Twitter @LaurenKerstein, Instagram @LaurenKerstein, or Facebook.
D O U B L E G I V E A W A Y!
One winner will receive a copy of Lauren's book (U.S. only), and one winner will get a picture book critique from her!
Leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. CT, Monday 5/11 to enter the giveaways
and indicate your preference. Winners announced the week of 5/11 -- look at the end of the next blog post!
Have you seen my latest announcement?
You are invited to this epic full-day, in-person workshop!
Imagine your picture book manuscript landing on Frances Gilbert's desk.
There are 8 top reasons for which she will reject your story faster that you can spell its title. BUT, there are at least 9 hooks that could potentially grab her attention!
Before you shop your manuscripts, what can you do to avoid these top rejection-bearing reasons, and hook her strongly enough with your project that she says "YES"?
The Write Universe Kid Lit Workshop will answer those questions and so much more! Plus, a limited number of written critiques from Frances are still available. The icing on the cake? A direct submission opportunity for the attendees!!!
Act fast and register today! Grab your seat HERE.
And the winner of Nell Cross Beckerman's critique is . . .
Susan Johnston Taylor! Congrats, Susan!
A copy of DOWN UNDER THE PIER goes to . . .
Myrna Grasser! Congrats, Myrna!
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.