Katie: I’d like to welcome our guest children’s author today, Jennifer Gladen. Jennifer has had works published in “Voices for the Unborn,” “Once Upon a Time,” and “Stories for Children. Her debut book is “A Star in the Night,” and is due to be released by Guardian Angel Publishing soon.
Jennifer, can you please tell us a little more about your publishing credits, and how you came about writing the stories that appeared in the above-mentioned introduction.
Jennifer: Thank you for having me, Katie. Sure. Voices for the Unborn is a local Philadelphia Pro-Life newspaper. My poem, titled “What Could’ve Been”, is a poem on what our world could be missing out on as a result of abortion.
Some of my stories and articles that appeared in Stories for Children are “Mrs. Martin’s Marigolds”(A story about a girl and her grumpy neighbor), “More Than a Pretty Picture” (An article about what makes a rainbow), and “Shivering Sally and the Scary Sounds” (A story about a girl, a thunderstorm and some “scary sounds” in her new house). These appeared in the first volume of SFC.
My two articles in Once Upon a Time were “Going Out” and “Through the Ashes”. Both are articles geared toward perseverance and dedication to the craft of writing.
Lately, though,I have been focusing on writing picture books, such as A Star in the Night, I’ve also started a Catholic E-zine for children titled My Light Magazine. You can learn more about us at http://mylightmagazine.com . Our goal is to help children familiarize themselves with God and their faith on a deeper level.
Katie: What inspired to go from writing articles for children to creating a book for children?
Jennifer: It is amazing where the writing muse can take you. In my case, it’s taken me all over the spectrum. A Star in the Night started out as a magazine piece, but I soon realized that I was in fact writing a picture book and not a magazine story. The best stories come when you listen to your characters.
Katie: “A Star in the Night” is your debut book. Please share a brief synopsis of the story as well as the length of the book is and the targeted age group.
Jennifer: “A Star in the Night” is a Christmas story. On a cold Christmas Eve night, David rushes from the mall to buy Mr. Rennetti’s special Christmas cookies. After visiting the store and buying the only two cookies left, David makes his way home. On the way, he has three encounters, which makes him rethink the meaning of Christmas. David is challenged to make tough decisions – even ones that Mom may not approve of. All the while, a sparkling star seems to be following him.
Katie: What inspired you to write “A Star in the Night?”
Jennifer: This is an amazing story. Kindness from others inspired me to write this story. I have three children. My middle child is a liver transplant patient and my youngest has chronic severe kidney problems. The kindness in our community amazed us. Everywhere we turned, people wanted to help. I wanted to share and teach this kindness to the world.
Katie: Your character, David, has to make some tough decisions in this book, decisions that his mother may not agree with. Were you worried about how the book would sit with parents who read this book?
Jennifer: I was very worried about one of the decisions David had to make. At the same time, I knew that David’s good heart would shine through. I tried to focus on the reasons why he made his decisions, and am confident most parents would see that.
Katie: How long did it take you to write “A Star in the Night,” and what was the most difficult aspect of writing the book?
Jennifer: It took me close to a year to write the book. Once I had my first draft, I knew I had many things to consider and changes to make. Sometimes it takes this long just to get to know your character.
The hardest part in writing this book was handling David and his decisions. I wanted it to be realistic and fun at the same time.
Katie: How long did it take you to find a publisher for your book? To what do you credit your manuscript getting chosen for publication?
Jennifer: It took me about six months to find a publisher. There are many things I credit to having my manuscript chosen. I made sure my manuscript went through my critique group repeatedly. It helps to have many eyes looking at it.
I also listened to my publisher. Lynda Burch from Guardian Angel Publishing believed in my story and had a few suggestions before she accepted it. I realized how experienced she is in the publishing world and took her advice. I was also honored she shared the time to point these things out to me. I know editors are busy people.
Katie: Please share a couple of tips that could encourage writers who are seeking publication for their books.
Jennifer: Sure. I find that having a critique group is very important. Sometimes we are biased about our own works and we need other pairs of eyes to look at it. It helps to run the manuscript by the group a few times –after each revision you do. It will surprise you what is missed one time and found the next.
Persistence is another key. It’s easy to loose hope after getting rejection after rejection. Keep polishing that manuscript and get it out there.
I also can’t stress enough, from my brief experience in editing at My Light Magazine, is for you to make sure your manuscript is ready for an editor to see it. Is the story finished? Are there questions unanswered? Make sure it is ready to be seen.
Katie: Jennifer, thanks for being my guest on my blog today.