When did you become a children’s book Author?
Recently. I’ve been working on children’s book ideas for maybe the last two or three years. “Wally” is my first children’s book, but also my first published book of any kind.
Do you have a writing background?
Nothing very official, but I do have a bit of one. I took several college creative writing classes, completed the Long Ridge Writers course for short stories and articles, and even worked as a freelance writer successfully for several years.
How did you come up with the story?
The title came first. I love alliteration and good end rhyming. We also have a dog named Wally. So, “Wally the Wake-Up Pup” came, and then I built the story around it.
How did you come up with the character?
Like I said, we have a dog named Wally. The character is a little more rambunctious than the real Wally. But, otherwise, they are the same dog.
How do you select names for your characters?
I always enjoy coming up with names. In this case, it was easy… but for other characters, I look to my own childhood or choose names that seem to exemplify that character in my mind.
Did you hire an illustrator or do the illustrations yourself?
I hired Hv Helmut through Mascot Kids after quite the process of looking through several artists’ sample pictures, portfolios, and several samples of Wally. His great work brought Hv Helmut to the top, and he’s made the book what it is.
Are you self-published or published through a publishing company?
Self-published through Mascot Publishing, a hybrid publisher.
From the day you came up with the idea for the story until you were holding your published book in your hand, how long did it take to complete this book?
Oh, man. Too long, but it was my procrastination that slowed the process down, nothing else. I came up with the idea three years ago, started working with Mascot in April of 2022, and the book will come out on December 5th of this year. Again, I was the slow gear in the publishing mechanism. I likely could have had it published by January of this year if I’d been a little more on top of things.
What made you want to publish a children’s book?
My son. My wife and I had a little boy back in August of 2021. Seeing him and remembering how important and how much happiness I got out of books as a child really made me want to share stories with him.
Any tips for future children’s book authors?
Find a story that makes you laugh, then share it. Also, and this is particular to picture books, don’t skimp on your illustrations. When it’s all said and done, what they do should enhance your story tenfold. Good illustrations can carry, to some degree, an imperfect story. But bad or mediocre illustrations can hurt the best story.
What was the best reaction from a reader so far?
When we got the proof from the printer and opened the package, my son’s reaction was a big “OOHH! Wa!” (he calls Wally “Wa”). He’d seen the PDF versions lots as I worked on it with Mascot, but that first reaction to a physical copy of the book was great. I’ve also had a couple reviews stating how much kids have enjoyed and laughed at the book. It’s very satisfying to know kids have already loved the book.
What is something you’d like people to take away from your book(s)?
Smiles and laughter. I think of how much joy I get when I hear my son’s tittering laugh… I’d love to make all children giggle and laugh.
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
Many of my ideas come from my own childhood. Things I remember being funny, awed by, or feeling the wonder of. Those are the things I’d like to write about so other kids can experience the same.
What’s your writing process like?
Not very disciplined at the moment. I try to catch a bit of time to write. But between my son, trying to do what I can to market the book, and projects on our little homestead, there isn’t much to spare. So, I just write when I can and try not to be too hard on myself about the amount of time spent.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I’m working on a sequel to Wally the Wake-Up Pup and a couple other picture books. I’m also slowly pulling the threads together on a YA fantasy novel.
What does literary success look like to you?
Being able to write stories kids and adults can connect with, laugh at, and are memorable. I think that in itself is a success. But of course, having my books do well enough to help support my family is also a dream of mine.
Do you read all of the book reviews you receive?
Yes. It’s easy right now, having only received a few. I think I will continue even when the book launches on December 5th. As I said, I love hearing that kids like it, and all the reviews have been very positive so far.
I do wish people understood a little better how Amazon’s review algorithm works and just how much a truly negative review on Amazon affects the ability of a book to be seen and sold. It especially gets to me when the review has nothing to do with the actual story but with the product’s condition on arrival, shipping time, etc. But I’m getting into the weeds here….
What was the hardest thing about getting your book published?
Probably finding and putting up the financial capital to have it done well. “Is this book going to be able to make back what the money we put into it?” and “Am I helping or hurting my family by trying to do this?” are questions that haunted me throughout the process. They still haunt me…
What is your favorite children’s book(s) of all time?
Man, that’s a hard one. Hmmm, as a child, I loved Audrey Wood’s Quick as a Cricket (I think it was the huge, full-page illustrations). Also, Who sank the Boat? By Pamela Allen, because it’s just funny and fun. Today, I enjoy Byrd Baylor’s thoughtful picture books with Peter Parnell illustrating. Also, love Andrea Beaty’s books like Iggy Peck Architect for the wonderfully done rhyming.