1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a children's book author.
I’ve been writing for over 25 years. I have won 4 awards with 8 books published, and 2 more on the way this year. I started writing for children 3 years ago and I feel that it is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I wanted to educate and involve my readers into my stories, not just entertain them. I found a niche, took a risk and went with it. I’m so glad I did.
2. Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary, tell us about your publisher, and also how you got the idea for this book.
My new release is book 2 in my Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Adventure Series called Mineral Mischief.
This story is about a missing mineral. The detectives must talk to each suspect, who all collect a specific type of rock and mineral, and learn a little bit about them to determine who committed the crime and why. The book is filled with extra activities including various experiments the reader can perform to further understanding, the rock cycle, terminology and a ‘Did You Know’ section.
My publisher is North Star Press. They have been a great help to me over the years and have not only believed in my stories, but also believe in me and my abilities as a writer.
The idea for this story was simple. The story for developing the series is much funnier. But for this book I wanted to make a connection with my readers and make it something that children will be learning about in school. Some children like rocks, some think their boring, some love to collect them. This story appeals to every reader because I approach the topic from various angles. I also incorporate a discussion about bullying, which one of the characters is involved with. The character also finds a solution to this problem which children can benefit from.
3. What is a typical writing day like for you?
I wake up early, go right to my computer and begin to write for a few hours. I will periodically write or review my writing throughout the day, if there is time.
4. What do you enjoy most about writing for children?
I love that I can make a difference in a child’s life. If I can make them laugh or put a smile on their face with my words or characters, then I did my job as a writer and it makes feel good about what I am doing.
5. What is the most difficult part of writing for children?
Making sure I keep the topics age appropriate to my audience and incorporating various levels of interest.
6. Tell us about the marketing process for authors. What do you do to market and sell your books?
Marketing your book for an author is a full time job. There are new books coming out everyday, so to keep your book on everyone’s mind you must market it continually. I do many things to market my books all year long. My publisher, of course, does their job with it, but I do on-line marketing through hundreds of various blogs through other people, do interviews, reviews, press releases, author events, radio shows, TV shows, schools, giveaways, blog tours, writing workshops, my blog, my website, and lots more. I do various things to get my name out there to the public and all work well in their own way. I think no matter what you do it helps with getting exposure but nothing beats getting out to the public. People are buying you, not just your book. I have done over 250 events since my first book was published. I have 8 now.
7. Do you make school visits? If so, please describe a typical school presentation.
I do author visits all the time throughout the year. My presentation all depends on the audience. I have 6 children’s books I go to elementary and middle schools with. But for this particular book, Mischief Mineral, I go to schools talking about rocks and minerals. I have samples of the rocks I talk about. I also do one of my experiments from the book, and will talk and discuss the book including the audience.
8. Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can listeners go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?
My books are available through bookstores big and small, including Barnes and Nobles, Amazon.com, your local bookstore, and of course, through my website at www.reneeahand.com I also have a book blog. I am a book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books and review books through them as well as through other publishers and authors. My blog http://thecryptocapersseries.blogspot.com has some of my reviews on there. I also include updates about all of my books on there as well.
9. What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on book 5 of my Crypto-Capers Series, The Peacock Diaries, which will be coming out in the Fall.
10. What is your best tip for aspiring children's book authors?
The best tip I can give is to know your strength as a writer and to promote yourself based on that strength and knowledge. The children’s industry is a dog eat dog world, and we find ourselves wearing milk bone underwear. Everybody wants to have the next big thing. Some writers get that dream, many more don’t. Lots of good writers get lost in the fray. As a writer you have to find out what works for you, your audience, and what makes you different from everybody else. Anybody can write a book now a days, but only the writer can make it stand out, be memorable and everlasting in the mind of its readers.
I have a giveaway going on. Information is below.
Giveaway #1 is for those readers who comment on Renee’s blog stops during the tour. One comment per person, per blog, through the length of the tour. Giveaway #2 is for those who purchase a copy of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Adventures Case#2 Mineral Mischief, between its release date of April 1st, 2011 and July 1st, 2011. Proof of purchase must be submitted to Renee via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to mail or fax a copy of your proof of purchase, please contact Renee via email for that information. Additional rules and guidelines can be found at the end of this post.
GIVEAWAY #1 (for people who comment at every stop during the VBT)
An autographed copy of Case#2 Mineral Mischief
Earth Science Posters on identifying rocks and minerals
National Audubon Society Field Guide (800+ pages) of Rocks and Minerals
Retail value of Giveaway #1 is $60 (rounded to nearest dollar)
GIVEAWAY #2 (for those who purchase a copy of Case# 2 Mineral Mischief between April 1st, 2011 and June 1st, 2011)
An autographed copy of Case #1: The Great Pie Catastrophe
4 boxed sets of rock collections which include a box of each of: Igneous, Metamorphic, Sedimentary and Minerals. There are 12 specimens in each box. These learning sets are a great learning tool for kids to learn about various kinds of rocks and their properties.
Retail Value of Giveaway #2 is $100 (rounded to the nearest dollar)
Here are the rules and guidelines for these giveaways:
1) For Giveaway #1 you must leave a comment on the hosting blog with a working email address for the author to contact you if you win. Only the first comment with your working email address is used to determine eligibility (one comment, per blog).
2) You must be a member of author’s blog and website at http://thecryptocapersseries.blogspot.com and www.reneeahand.com (This goes for entering both giveaways).
3) You are eligible to win Giveaway #2 if you purchase a copy of Case#2 Mineral Mischief between April 1st, 2011 and July 1st, 2011 and provide the author with proof of purchase via email, mail, or fax prior to July 1st, 2011. Case#2 is available through, Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, and at various bookstores big and small, and various places on-line including my website.
4) All giveaway winners will be selected using Random.org.
5) Prizes will be shipped via USPS with appropriate insurance.
6) Author, blog hosts, and tour group are not responsible for lost or damaged goods.
7) The same person cannot win both giveaways.
Good luck to all who enter!
Thanks Renee for sharing this information and for the great give away for our readers. The next spot on your tour can be found at http:BiblioReads.blogspot.com