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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Penny Parker Klostermann Plus Giveaway

First things first, little bee books generously offered four books in a giveaway bonanza associated my interview & the release of Miranda Paul's The Great Pasta Escape. It is my great pleasure to announce the winners:

The Great Pasta Escape - Jill Proctor

The Great Pasta Escape - Teresa Robeson

Blobfish Throws a Party - Patricia Nozell

Trainbots - Jilanne Hoffman

Now, let's get on with today's post. This author says "She loves all kinds of books, but especially loves very silly picture books that make her laugh. She has been known to hug her favorite picture books and seriously hopes that someday her books will gain huggable status too." I have no fear that this wish will be attained.

Having admired her debut picture book There Was an Old Dragon who Swallowed a Knight and devoured her StoryStorm/PiBoIdMo posts, it is my great pleasure to have the chance to talk with the amazing - Penny Parker Klostermann.

Penny Thank you so much for stopping by to chat about your books and writing.

ME: Tell us a little about yourself. (Where/when do you write? How long have you been writing? What is your favorite type of book to write?)

PENNY: I write at home for the most part. If the weather is nice, I sit on my back porch to write. If it’s too hot or too cold outside (Get the fairy tale reference?? Just like porridge!) I sit on my couch with my laptop and peck away.

I’ve written bits of things since I was a child. But I started writing seriously with hopes of getting published in the fall of 2010.

I love writing silly, humorous books. I write in rhyme and prose and the story always seems to dictate which it should be.

How long were you writing and submitting before you signed with your agent, Tricia Lawrence? Any hints for those still seeking an agent?

I signed with Tricia the spring of 2013, so I’d been writing around two and half years.

I think my advice will sound familiar because I’ve heard it over and over again from writers who’ve signed with an agent. Be patient. Work on your manuscripts and make them the best they can be. Agents are inundated with manuscripts and you want yours to stand out. The only way to make a manuscript stand out is to take the time to learn all you can about writing and apply it to your work. Ways to learn include joining SCBWI, taking classes, and attending conferences. Be sure to find a critique group. And then the most important thing, in my opinion, is to read, read, read! Read all kinds of books but make sure you’re especially spending time reading books in the genre you wish to write.

The bottom line is you have to make it about the writing or you’ll never be ready to query an agent. When it comes to writing, we are lucky to have so many resources available on the Internet. Kidlit411 has a slew of resources. I’ve learned a lot from reading blog posts about writing and books. Kidlit411 gathers those valuable links for us. They also are a great resource for finding classes and learning about new books in your genre.

Thank you Penny, I love Kidlit411 as well. As a child, who was your favorite author, illustrator, and/or favorite book?

I loved Little Golden Books, Pippi Longstocking, and Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss was my very favorite.

What is something no one (or few) knows about you?

Oh goodness. I’m pretty much an open book. But here’s something. I taught elementary Physical Education for the better part of my twenty-six year teaching career. We had a climbing rope that hung from the tall gym ceiling. I could shimmy up that rope like a monkey until the day I quit teaching Physical Education.

Nice! I imagine you impressed a number of kids by doing that. How did writing A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale differ from writing There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight? Was one either easier or more challenging to write?

A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale was more challenging for me because I had to plot the entire story from scratch.

I had a road map with There Was an Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight since it was a retelling. It still had it challenges because it was in rhyme, but I didn’t do as many revisions on it as I did on A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale.

Were you concerned that there are so many fractured fairy tale books already published? Do you think there is room for more?

I wasn’t concerned about that because I felt an editor would judge it in terms of the story and not the fact that it fell into the fractured fairy tale category. I definitely think there will always be room for great fractured fairy tales. I’m trying to come up with another one myself.

That is great news for others wanting to write a fractured tale. Where does the inspiration for your stories come from?

Inspiration comes from so many places for me. From phrases/sayings I hear or read. From an animal I see when I’m out walking. From a joke or story I hear. From children’s illustrators online portfolios. From reading picture books. From blog posts.

Speaking of blog posts . . . I want to mention Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm (formerly PiBoIdMo, starts again in Jan. 2018). She challenges us to come up with at least 30 ideas in a month. I first joined the challenge in 2011 and have done it every year since. Each year the guest bloggers for the challenge have been amazing. It’s the most inspirational month of the year for me and I’ve come away with a whole slew of story ideas. I make a list every year and even add to it after the challenge under a “Post Storystorm/PiBoIdMo” list. I feel it’s very important that we record each nugget of an idea. Then we can revisit our list and see which ones inspire us enough to draft a manuscript.

What's something you want your readers to know about A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale?

If I ever got the chance to visit the magical land of fairy tales I would want to eat at The Brick House. Surely they serve something besides Pot-o’-Wolf Stew.

Why would I want to eat there? It looks charming! I love the awnings and the outdoor seating. And I believe I would go hog wild at the thought of having one of the three little pigs as my waiter!

I love your humor! That is such a funny recipe and image in the book. Any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?

I have many picture books that are in different states of drafts/revisions and I have several manuscripts out on submission. Some are in rhyme and some are in prose. I’m hoping just the right editor will fall in love with one or more of them.

Is there anything about writing, illustrating, or publishing you know now that you wished you had known when you started? Or maybe something you’re glad you didn’t know at first?

I wished I’d known it all! Ha! But in truth, I’m glad that I didn’t know it all because with writing (and probably everything else), learning is a little about acquiring knowledge and a lot about applying the knowledge along the way. I don’t think we’re ready for it all at once. When writers ask me how I got to this point, I tell them it is a journey that can’t be rushed. I share resources with them and encourage them to TAKE THEIR TIME.

This is cliché, but we never know it all — we keep acquiring and applying which makes us better writers. And that just the way the world works.

I think writers, like children, hate being told to "take their time." But you are right; this crazy journey operates at its own pace. What is your favorite animal? Why?

Cats. I think they have a lot of personality. I love their playfulness. I love when they curl up and sleep. I love when they sit in my lap, but I also love their independence. And I especially love what great characters they make in picture books!

Thank you Penny for coming by and sharing your wicked sense of humor with us. Can't wait to see your next book(s).

Thank you so much for having me, Maria. This was fun!

Be sure to comment on this blog and/or Friday's Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF post to be entered into the drawing for this fairy tale brew. Update - I have 2 books to give away!

To find out more about Penny Parker Klostermann, or get in touch with her:

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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