Is it bunny eat bunny out there in the kids’ book world? Here’s the gal with the answers. Kathy Rygg writes children’s books, she’s a staff writer for a children’s e-magazine, a freelance writer/editor and active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has a degree in magazine journalism, worked for the McxGraw-Hill Business Publications division in New York City and was the editor of Women’s Edition magazine in Denver, CO. Welcome to Book Blather, Kathy.
Please tell us about yourself.
In addition to the above, I am also the author of the children’s iPad app “Magic Story Factory,” which helps young children create an interactive e-book. I currently live in Omaha, NE, with my husband and two young boys where I love shopping, wining, dining and cheering for the Huskers!
My children's young middle grade book Tall Tales with Mr. K is about a group of third-graders who think the teacher’s lounge is where teachers eat candy out of vending machines, watch TV and get to play video games. They don’t expect it to be a tropical island where they are kidnapped by pirates, a circus where they learn the flying trapeze or a crime scene where they solve a jewelry heist!
Were reading and writing always a part of your life?
Absolutely! I’ve always been an avid reader, especially with book series. Growing up I loved the Little House on the Prairie books, Beverly Cleary books and Nancy Drew. As early as kindergarten I would write (and attempt to illustrate) my own short stories. They usually involved princesses, witches, and knights on white horses.
Describe your road to publication.
I looked into a lot of different self-publishing options before deciding to publish on Smashwords and Amazon. I was really impressed with the distribution channels that Smashwords provides, and I liked the quality of the print option with Amazon’s CreateSpace. Of course the marketing aspect is challenging, but it takes time to build an author platform. I have been incredibly impressed with the support from the online author community, especially with opportunities like these!
What influenced your decision to write for children?
I really didn’t consider children’s writing until my son began reading chapter books. He devours books, and I pulled out all my childhood favorites for him to read. In doing so, I rediscovered how much fun the genre can be, so I decided to explore it. I was instantly hooked!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in the writing process?
It’s difficult to take off my editor’s hat while I’m writing. I can’t just create a first draft the whole way through. I tend to edit a chapter at least three times before writing the next chapter. The upside is I love the revision process. It’s such a great feeling to take something you think is written well and make it even better!
What are your current projects?
I have a middle grade novel being published by Muse It Up Publishing, which comes out in August 2012, and I am currently writing my first young adult novel.
I am also a staff writer for an online children’s emagazine, knowonder! where I regularly contribute short stories for children ages 3-10.
Where can readers buy your books?
Tall Tales with Mr. K is available both in print and for kindle on Amazon.com, for Nook on Barnes and Noble.com, and for iPad, iPhone and iPod on iTunes and for Sony, Kobo and to download to your computer on Smashwords.com.
You can also go to my blog at http://ksrwriter.blogspot.com. I provide tips, information and interviews for authors. You can also find me on Facebook (KSR Writer), Linkedin (Kathy Rygg) Twitter (kathyrygg) and Goodreads.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep writing, attend conferences, join critique groups, network online, and don’t be afraid to self-publish on sites like Smashwords and Amazon. It's a great way to stay motivated and build a presence. Most of all, don’t stop what you love doing! Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of work to become successful, so it won’t happen overnight!
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Excerpt from Tall Tales with Mr. K:
“I noticed you weren’t too happy during reading group,” Mr. K said. “What was wrong?”
“I don’t know. It was just hard,” Max said, looking at the floor.
“That particular book was hard?”
“Yes. No. All of it’s hard. I just don’t like to read.” Max felt a lump in his throat. He swallowed it back to keep tears from forming in his eyes.
“I know reading can be really tough,” Mr. K said. “Sometimes it helps if you don’t think of it as just reading words on a page.”
“What do you mean?” Max said. He looked up, all the way up, at Mr. K.
“I like to think of reading as though you’re decoding a map—a treasure map. The page of the book is the map, and the words are the symbols on the map. Once you’ve figured out what all the symbols mean, then you know--”
“Where the buried treasure is!” Max said.
“Exactly! And in the case of books, the treasure is the story.”
“It sounds cool, but I don’t know if I can do it,” Max said.
“Why don’t we find out?” said Mr. K, turning toward the door of the teacher’s lounge.
“We can’t go in there. Students aren’t allowed,” Max said.
“You are if a teacher is with you. This is where we’re going to unlock the secret behind reading a treasure map.” Max stared at the door with the big “Teacher’s Lounge” sign beside it. He wasn’t sure what to expect. Mr. K turned the handle, and Max followed him through the forbidden door.
Max stumbled through the doorway. He thought he’d be faced with startled teachers eating their lunches. Instead, he found himself—outside. And not just outside the school but outside on a beach. Soft sand surrounded his feet. He looked around and saw blue ocean water as far as he could see. Mr. K stood beside him wearing a tan, wide-brimmed hat. A pair of binoculars hung around his neck.
“Where are we?” Max whispered, scrunching his nose to keep his glasses up. “How did we get here?” He turned around to look for the door to the teacher’s lounge. Nothing was there but a thick jungle with mountains behind it.
“We’re on an island known for its buried treasure,” Mr. K said. “And I happen to have the treasure map.” He held up a plain, brown hardback book. He handed it to Max. Max opened the book. Each page was filled with a different picture of a treasure map.
“You mean we’re going to hunt for real treasure?” Max asked, stunned.
“As long as you can decode the map,” Mr. K said. “And as long as we can stay away from them.” Mr. K nodded toward the water. Max turned and saw the dark outline of a giant ship sailing toward them. At the top a black flag with white skull and crossbones waved in the wind.
“Is that a pirate ship?” Max said.
“We better get started before it comes to shore.”