Friday, December 31, 2010

An Author’s New Year Message

An Author’s New Year Message
By Gayle C. Krause

A new year is upon us.
May our hopes and dreams come true.
Be that contracts or agent reps
or a new book or two.

May the novels that we wrote this year,
the picture books and poems,
impress a famous editor
so that they each find homes.

May your work be recognized
with honors and awards.
And may discussions of your stories
fill the buzzing author boards.

So don’t give up your dream, this year,
fight on with pure resistance
through rejections and passes,
you must continue with persistence.

So when next New Year comes around
and the newbies are still dreaming
you’ll be embraced by loving fans
and your smile will be beaming. J


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Do Your Characters Dictate Your Story?

Some writers outline every detail of their story and follow it religiously. Others write whatever comes into their heads as their fingers hit the keys. I’ve done it both ways, though I must say I prefer the latter.

But my question remains the same. Have you ever experienced a character who insinuates themselves into your story or takes the story in another direction than what you had planned?

I certainly have. And I think it’s a cool phenomenon.

In one of my earlier fantasies I had a villain cornered in a cave. Soldiers, with weapons, were advancing on him from one side and wizards, armed with magic, had him covered on the other. He had no escape (as far as I knew). Then lo and behold he moved a rock in the cave, flipped a lever and a rocket type machine rose from the cave floor. He climbed aboard, flicked a switch and roared out of the cave above the good guys’ heads and escaped through the sky.

Nope, that wasn’t planned. It just happened. He wasn’t ready to be captured because he had more mischief to cause and more scenes to be in, only I didn’t know it at the time.

In a more recent contemporary novel my MC had no best friend. But a voice kept insisting she be in the story. She started off texting her, then calling her, then visiting her, until she wormed her way into the story as a full-fledged character. She was her best friend from her old hometown and her powerful voice made an awesome addition to the story.

That wasn’t planned either.

Another thing that characters do behind your back is change their behavior. Do you ever find that the characters you have drawn up don’t like the voice or personality that you have assigned to them?

Twice I have had characters change on me and wasn’t even aware the change was coming until I got to the climax of the story. In one instance, the MC’s best friend’s brother went from being a secondary character to being the actual villain.

And in another, an insignificant secondary character became an undercover agent for a secret organization and his role was all an act. He went from being a total jerk to being one of the good guys.

How that happens I’m not sure, but it even happens to me in picture books. A few months ago, I wrote a Halloween story about a cookie-loving vampire who had four monster friends, one of which was a girl skeleton. She was the least vocal in the original picture book. But that’s because she wanted out of the story and wished to be featured in a story of her own. Two weeks later, my focus went from the vampire to the skeleton and now I have a much stronger Halloween picture book ready to make submission rounds.

So tell me, do you have characters, who dictate their roles in your stories? I’d love to know some of your experiences with your characters.

Please leave your comments below. J

Oh, and here are some books I’d recommend for developing those outspoken characters.

45 Master Characters, Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood

Breathing Life Into Your Characters by Rachel Ballon

And my favorite….

Bullies, Bastards and Bitches; How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell

Friday, December 17, 2010

Interview with Karen Orloff - author of "I Wanna New Room"

Welcome Karen. I’m so happy you’ve stopped by to give my readers the scoop about your new book.

1. Can you tell us your latest news?

My third picture book, “I Wanna New Room,” illustrated by David Catrow, (G.P. Putnam) came out on Dec. 2. This is the companion book to “I Wanna Iguana” and I’m thrilled it’s finally out.

Great. It should be as big as the “Iguana” book

2. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

When I was just starting out, before I had anything published or had even made a sale, I met Bobbi Katz, a well-published children’s book author and poet. She was very kind to have me over for lunch and looked at some of my work. I was grateful that someone with her experience in the field was willing to help me out. Over the years, we’ve kept in touch, and have shared good news about our sales and publications. When I think of someone who has been a kind of mentor to me, I think of her.

That’s pretty cool. Not every new author gets invited to lunch with a well-established published author.

3. What was your first published title and what was it about?

My first book was “I Wanna Iguana,” (G.P. Putnam, 2004).  It’s written entirely in letters from Alex who wants a pet iguana, to his mom, who is not too keen on the idea.

4. What inspired you to write your first book?
My kids, who were young at the time, wanted a pet and we had some issues with getting a dog or cat because of my husband’s allergies. So, we decided to get two baby iguanas. Even though I wasn’t all that excited about this idea, my kids never tried to convince me with letters. That part was pure fiction.

5. How long did your journey take to publication and what were some significant events along the way?

     In 1987, I left my full-time editing job to stay home with my first child. When I read picture books to him, I started thinking seriously about writing for children myself. I wasn’t an illustrator, however, therefore never thought I could write picture books. So I wrote a middle grade novel! I sent it to a couple of places and got rejected, then put it away, discouraged. A little later, I discovered that lo and behold I could write picture books without illustrating them! I started writing and submitting stories. It took a good ten years before I finally got a “yes!”

Yes. It’s harder than most people know. Some think it’s easy to write a picture book. They have no idea how much hard work goes into each word of a picture book manuscript.

6. Who/what were your sources of inspiration along the way? How did it/ he/she/they help you the most?

 I would say that my writing buddies have been the best source of help and inspiration for me. They are the only ones who understand the hard work involved, the long journey, and are also the only ones who will be brutally honest with me when something isn’t working. They have made me become a better writer and have also kept me going when I felt like I wanted to give up.

7. What was the best thing about getting your first book published?

 Having a professional validate that my work was actually worthy of publication. Walking into a bookstore and seeing my book on the shelves for the first time. And, of course, hearing kids laugh in the right places when I read the book out loud to them!

That is a great feeling so many new writers only dream about. J

8. What was the hardest thing?

Assuming that it would be easy from that point on to sell another book.

Nothing in this business is easy. You must work for everything you get!

9. What is your most recently released book about?

In “I Wanna New Room,” there’s a new baby girl in the house and Alex is annoyed that he is forced to share a bedroom with his obnoxious brother, Ethan, who “sticks crayons up his nose and barks like a walrus.” All he wants is some peace and quiet and a place of his own! Is that too much for a growing boy to ask?

10. How have you changed from your first published book to now?

On good days I am more confident about my writing ability, and on bad days I’m completely frustrated and think I will never sell another story. But mostly I’ve come to learn that publishing is a business, it’s not personal when you get rejected, you have to have a thick skin, and you’ve got to be in it to win it!

How true. That in itself is a valuable lesson for a new writer.

11. What are your current projects?

My fourth picture book, “Talk, Oscar, Please!” comes out in March 2011 from Sterling Publishing. It’s written in rhyme and is about a boy who wishes his dog could truly communicate with him. I’ve also written another in the series of “I Wanna…” books and am keeping my fingers crossed that this one will get picked up.

Great. Sounds like you’ve spent your creative time wisely. J Congratulations on two new books.

12. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love when kids write to me or come up to me at school visits to tell me they like my books. It’s great when they ask when I’ll have another one out! Kids (and their parents, too) are the greatest fans and I am so very appreciative and grateful that I get to write for them. Thank you for reading my books!

13. Bit of wisdom to share:

If you really want to become a published writer, KEEP WRITING, KEEP SUBMITTING, AND DON’T EVER GIVE UP! Even when the years go by and you have a stack of rejection letters, like I have. Keep those letters as a reminder of where you’ve been and where you’re going.

14. And for fun, something that not a lot of people know about you: 

I was so shy as a child that I was afraid to raise my hand, even if I knew the answer.

Thank you for sharing your writing and publishing experiences with us, Karen. Good luck with "I Wanna New Room" and your other picture books. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Well the day has come when an autographed copy of ROCK STAR SANTA will be flying through the sky to the winner. I’d like to thank all of you who participated with sharing your special Christmas moments.

I so wanted everyone to win. Luckily, chose the winner. I counted up the number of entries and plugged them into the randomizer and it selected #11 as the winner.

Congratulations ***KELLY***. What a lucky break for Kelly. She is my newest follower and if she wasn’t the last to enter she wouldn’t have won. So it only goes to show that “the early bird doesn’t always catch the worm, especially if he’s a wiggily sort.”

Kelly, please e-mail me: krausehousebooks (at) yahoo (dot)com with your full name and address so I can send the autographed book your way. Please include any name(s) you would like the book made out to.

Lucky second chance! If I don't hear from Kelly within 5 days, a new winner will be picked and ROCK STAR SANTA will arrive before Christmas! 

Sneak Preview: Stop back on Friday for an interview with a fabulous picture book author. Her new book, the second in a series, has finally arrived in the bookstores. You going to “WANNA” learn all about her!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vote for The Dreamweaver at Storybird

Hi folks:

Just found a cool website that allows you to write your own picture books by using an illustrator's artwork as the prompts.


Weekly competitions and prizes. This week my picture book, The Dreamweaver, is a semi finalist. I'd appreciate your votes.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ROCK STAR SANTA "Give Away" Just in Time for Christmas!

Well, here it is December 1st already and my 100th post has arrived with a special treat. Christmas is right around the corner and I’m giving away a signed copy of ROCK STAR SANTA on The Storyteller’s Scroll. Many fans have contacted me about how to get a copy and this “GIVE AWAY” is one sure way to get it for your favorite child or for yourself.....

All you have to do is to be eligible is:

  1. post a comment about “what you love most” about the Christmas holiday.

  1. become a follower of The Storyteller’s Scroll

It’s that simple. Then will select a winner. You have two weeks to post a comment and the drawing will take place on December 15th, so I can send the book to the winner in time for Christmas.

If you haven’t already read the book, here is a tease –

It’s Christmas Eve. The tree is lit and children await Santa’s arrival, only they’re not tucked snuggly in their beds dreaming of sugarplums. They’re stomping and clapping at a Christmas rock concert where Santa is the “star.” Santa’s snow-white hair is in a ponytail and he’s ready to rock. The rowdy reindeer band includes Donner on electric bass, eerily resembling Keith Richard. Blitzen has a Paul Stanley-like star painted on his eye as he plays the drums, and you can’t help but notice the resemblance of Comet to Slash, as he shoots across the stage.

But Santa is “THE MAN.” He takes the stage, ready to sing and the lights suddenly go out. The child wakes to find himself in bed. He thinks he dreamt the awesome concert until Christmas morning when he finds a torn concert ticket in his jeans.  Confused, he stares at a silver snowflake, like the kind that covered the concert stage, flittering outside of his bedroom window. A note from Santa thanking the boy for being his biggest fan hangs on his window and green sequins from Santa’s vest glimmers on the boy’s floor. ROCK STAR SANTA is an original, modern day retelling of a Christmas classic, but what happens on this night before Christmas is rockin’.

I’ll start the Christmas ball rolling. What I love most about Christmas is –

The smells of the season!

·      The balsam tree that sends off a fragrance when the lights are on.
·       The molasses crinkle cookies and spice breads baking in the oven.
·      The cinnamon candles burning on the mantle and dining room table.
·      The logs burning in the fireplace.
·      And of course, the Christmas dinner.

If you'd like to get ROCK STAR SANTA as a Christmas present, you can email me for more information at

“ROCK ON!” blog readers! Rock Star Santa loves you <3

Energized to Write for the New Year

 So happy to be attending the SCBWI National Conference this week. My peer critiques went well two nights ago, and energized me to see the p...