Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The Dragon Has Swallowed a Knight!

Hear ye! hear ye! 

For this day, my Good Lady, Penny Klostermann is visiting 
The Storyteller’s Scroll with a message of good cheer about her crafted picture book, There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight. I met Penny at The Poets’ Garage and she’s a fabulous rhymer. 

Verily, it is so! Good morrow, My Lady, ‘tis most splendid thou hast agreed to visit.

1.   Can you give us a snapshot of your work, other than There Was An Old Dragon, which is currently overtaking bookstores with a fierce roar!

Along with picture books, I also enjoy writing poetry. I have to admit that I'm not very good about submitting my poems for publication. I have files of them, but have submitted only a few. My first published poem came out this past spring The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations for National Button Day (November 16th).  

I have several picture book manuscripts out on submission and many more manuscripts that I'm polishing. I did start a new story last week. I'd been thinking about it for years. It was inspired by a true Show and Tell story from my teaching days. 

2.   Since you have a teaching background with older elementary kids, what draws you to the pre-school age group? Do you have any plans to write for older readers?

     Actually, I spent most of my teaching career in elementary. I 
     taught Pre-K-5th grade. I’m drawn to picture books because they are
     such a unique form. The marriage of text and art is something very
     special. It’s exciting to me that someone will take my text and bring
     another half of the story.

         As far as writing for older readers, I have thought about it and jotted
         down a few ideas, but that's as far as I've gotten. I spend my time
         studying picture books and perfecting my manuscripts. I know if I 
         want to write for older readers that it will be a whole new learning 
         curve . . . but maybe someday.

3.   Could you tell us what resources or writing classes have helped you in getting just the right formula for Dragon?

I have to give the most credit to my critique group, the Picture Bookies. There are eight of us. Four are in the US and four are in the UK. I have been with this group since I starting writing seriously. Their feedback was invaluable as I worked on Dragon.

As far as classes, Susanna Leonard Hill's, Making Picture Book Magic, is wonderful. It's a great roadmap for writing a manuscript. For me, her class has been such a useful tool. I refer to the class materials as I'm writing, and then find a way to stray away from the roadmap and take my story "off-road" to give it a unique element or twist.

Although I’d already written Dragon when I took this class, I’ve found Renée LaTulippe’s class, The Lyrical Language Lab, very helpful, as I think about the language in all picture book manuscripts I write.

I follow a slew of blogs, but if I started naming them I know I'd leave someone out. I think we're lucky to have so many blogs filled with writing tips. Whether it's a review of a book or an interview with an author or another writing-related subject, I find nuggets to file away and apply to my work.

4.   With my Rock Star Santa book, I sat down and wrote a rough draft in a half hour. How long did it take you to write There Was An Old Dragon?

My rough draft took about two hours. And when I say rough, I mean rough :-) It started out as a poem for a poetry challenge. I saw promise and tweaked it over the next two years.

5.   Any advice for aspiring picture book writers that think creating a parody manuscript is easy? I would think that it is actually harder to make the story fresh and original.

A special challenge when writing a parody is finding a way to make the story stand out. I wanted to give a nod to the original yet change it in a unique way? I do think it's hard to make it fresh and original so I asked myself, "What can I do that hasn't been done?" I feel I did this in a couple of ways but most especially with my ending. As far as I know, there is not another “swallowed the fly” parody with an ending like mine. 

6.   Do you work on more than one picture book manuscripts at a time?

Oh yes. Right now I have three at the forefront. For me this works because I can switch projects when I'm stuck. That way I always have something to work on.

7.   What’s next for you, my good lady? Any new stories in the pipeline?

I have another picture book coming out Spring 2017. The title is A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE. It's about a well-meaning chef who accidentally cooks up ingredients essential to famous fairy tales—Snow White's apple, Jack's magic beans, and Cinderella's pumpkin. This makes the happily-ever-afters a bit challenging. Ben Mantle will be illustrating this one, too. I can't wait to see his illustrations. 

        Verily, we thought it might be fun to play 

Two Truths and a Lie
        Penny has listed three events. Two are true, and one is a lie.

         1. I spent many days of my childhood on a clippity-clopping horse 
             that loved to trot almost as much as the knight's clippity-clopping

         2. I revised much of this manuscript while singing in the shower to 
             the traditional tune of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.

         3. At one point, I mentioned to my editor that I had moved a baby 
             crow from the danger of my street to the safety of my yard. 
             This story made its way to Ben Mantle and the crow made it 
             into the illustrations.

         How many of you can guess which is the falsehood?

         Thanks so much for stopping by to visit with us. Adieu, My Good Lady
         and much success in your writing endeavors.

       There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Fly  
can be purchased at

Texas Star Trading Co.-signed copies

        Thank you so much for having me, Gayle.

        You are very welcome, Penny.

        Penny is happy to give away a signed copy of There Was an Old 
       Dragon Who Swallowed a Fly.
        Just leave a guess about which statement is the lie in the comments
        below and will choose a winner by September 5th.


  1. I have no idea LOL so I will just guess #2.

  2. #3, though you can't miss the crowin the book, so my guess is I'm wrong! Ha!

  3. I will guess number 2, although I could see the possibility of truth n all of them.

  4. I will enter number 1, since it hasn't been taken yet.


  5. I choose #2. How many showers would it take to revise a manuscript?

  6. I'm guessing #2! (Although I really wanted to say #3.)

  7. #3. Definitely #3. Great interview, Gail and Penny! I sure am looking forward to COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE.

  8. #1! I say no clippity clopping for you :)

  9. Some good guessing going on! And of course since all three have been guessed...there are some of you who are correct :-)

  10. My guess is #2. Fun and interesting post!



Fall Frenzy Writing Contest 2020

 I entered this last year and it was a great writing experience. This year’s rules: 1. Choose a fall image from Lydia Lukidis’s blog