Edith's books include: Annushka's Voyage," pub. by Houghton Mifflin. "Bring Back My Gerbil," Scholastic "The Boy Who Stuck Out His Tongue"-- Barefoot Books "The Crow" about the Crow Nation of Montana, Scholastic
What drove/inspired you to get started?
I was inspired to write children's books because I'm also a playwright and a writer-friend told me that children love to read dialogue, so I started a MG novel with a lot of dialogue, actually too much. Once I began writing for children, I loved the genre. I wear both hats now..
Do you have any specialized training?
I studied playwriting at the Yale School of Drama which helped not only with playwriting but writing for children as well.
Has this been something you've always wanted to do?
I always wanted to have books published. I was a closet writer in H.S.--wrote bad poetry to my boyfriend. I also wrote short stories in college.
Have there been any obstacles along the way?
There were many obstacles along the way, e.g., I actually didn't believe I would get published. I had to exorcise my own demons before I finally believed in myself. Getting published helped a lot. I wasn't lucky enough to have parents who encouraged a life in the arts.
Before you got the all important contract, how did your friends and family react to your goals? Were they supportive?
My first career choice was acting, which my father thought was a very bad choice. I studied acting in Manhattan, did summer stock and some Off-off Broadway but I found that life very difficult. You get rejected in person! I turned to writing--wrote plays before I wrote children's books. Luckily, after I got married, my husband was, and continues to be, very supportive. So are my children.
Now that you have a book/books in print, do you get different reactions from friends and family?
Now that I have books in print, I get a lot of positive feedback from friends and family who have bought my books, used them in their classrooms, etc. I wish my parents had lived to see my published books, especially since they inspired two of them.
How did you land that very first book deal?
My first book deal took years in the making. I kept writing and getting "nice" rejection letters, but I sent out manuscripts for about six years before I received an acceptance from Clarion Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin. That was a happy day, indeed!
Did you have any misconceptions in the beginning about the whole book process?
I thought it would be a lot easier to get published than it was. Fortunately, I belonged to a great writer's group in CT. I moved to NM 5 years ago, and I still keep in touch with my writer friends in CT. I also get critiques from friends here in NM.
How would you describe your work? What's the most important thing you'd like others to get out of it?
Each of my four published books is something I was interested in at the time and still interests me. After reading my books, I would hope other people get a sense of the importance of friendship and family.
Do you have an agent? If yes, please explain how you acquired your agent and how do you think having one has helped you? If you don't have an agent, would you consider getting one?
I have an agent, but she's semi-retired now. An editor at Bantam, Doubleday, Dell suggested I get an agent. I asked her to recommend somebody, and that was how I acquired my agent. At this point, I have a lot of contacts in NY, and elsewhere, so I'm less dependent upon my agent. I have to add that I sold each of my four books. My agent did the contracts, collects royalties, etc. The market is much tighter now, and many publishers don't accept unsolicited manuscripts, so it's probably more important to have an agent. But even without one, you can sell a book. Follow the guidelines when they ask for queries and stay the course.
Describe your relationship with your editor (s) (art director if applicable).
I had different editors with each of my books. I even had 2 or 3 editors on one books. Most editors, especially these day, play musical chairs, but I have an ongoing relationship with my first editor. She was at Clarion, and she's now at Holt. I just sent her a manuscript. I also have a relationship with the editor at Scholastic who bought "Bring Back My Gerbil."
How do you most often communicate with your publishere-mail, phone, or snail mail?
Most of my communications with my publishers are now e-mail. It started with snail mail and phone calls but e-mail is easier and more efficient. Editors seem to prefer it, too.
What books do you have in the works now?
I have several manuscripts currently being considered: two easy readers, two picture books, a non-fiction book abt. harbor seals and a MG novel titled "The Summer of My Salami."
Is there anything you'd do differently with your new projects?
I know editors don't often like multiple submissions, but I always tell them if it's a multiple submission. Early in my career, I had a MG novel with an editor for almost two years. I didn't even send it to a 2nd editor. I was too afraid. The editor who held it so long ultimately said it needed more editing than she had time for. Big mistake.
Do you do any author events? If so, please describe what they generally consist of.
16. I do lots of school visits, as well as presentations at fund raisers and book festivals. I love doing those. I also love to visit an area where I go to a different school several days in a row. I did that in Prescott, Arizona. I also loved being part of a big fund raiser in Dallas and loved being part of the recent book festival on Amelia Island, FL.
How important do you think author appearances are for you and your book(s)?
17. I think it's very important for an author to get out and talk about his/her book to students, teachers, librarians. Story hour at book stores is good, too, but you have a built-in audience at schools. Unless you're a well-known author, concentrate on schools and libraries.
What's the best thing about publishing a book? What's the worst?
The best thing about publishing a book is you can hold it in your hands. It's like having a baby. The worst part is after it's published, you have to worry about reviews, about your book going out of print. But the good outweighs the bad.
Any last words of encouragement for beginners?
I always tell beginners to use the 3 "P's" -- patience, perseverance and postage. Also, read a lot and never give up! If you have any questions, ple. let me know. Also, when you get a chance, pls. confirm you rec'd. this. Hope so.