Ronica, welcome to my blog today. Can you give us a brief overview of The Time-for-Bed Angel?
Ronica: It’s a humorous picture book about a guardian angel who watches over a rambunctious, accident-prone boy. The boy uses one ploy after another to avoid going to bed, leading one to wonder who will conk out first—the boy or his guardian angel? The book ends with a satisfying snore, which is what I hope for my small listeners, since this is a bedtime story.
Katie: With all the other publishing credits under your belt, what inspired you to write a picture book, and this one in particular?
Ronica: At the time, I was writing for teens, but I had a four-year-old son at home. He was always reluctant to go to bed, so I tried to establish a bedtime routine by reading stories to him at night. One story turned out to have a “monster in the closet,” and I think the story scared my son. He began to act fearful of the dark. One night I brought up the idea that he had a guardian angel, but he didn’t know what a guardian angel was. I explained. As I left his room that night, I realized I’d never read a bedtime story with a guardian angel but that seemed like it’d be far more comforting and sleep-inducing than a bedtime story with a monster in it. I checked the books in print, and when I could find nothing like this, I wrote it.
Katie: As you were crafting this story, what were some things that you learned about creating a picture book that are peculiar to picture books?
Ronica: I learned that the illustrations have to carry part of the story, so the text has to be minimal and yet contain a story the pictures will flesh out.
Ronica: I stewed about it for several months before actually sitting down and writing it. I think I wrote my first draft in a few hours one day, but then I rewrote it several times over the course of trying to sell it, and the publisher made changes too. From beginning idea to publication, I think it was eight years. It gets hard to remember because I was writing other books and magazine stories during this time also.
Katie: I have read many editors who say not to submit rhyming picture books because so often that is done poorly by authors. Is this book a rhyming book? Why or why not?
Ronica: This isn’t a rhyming book. I don’t see myself as particularly poetic, and knowing that poetry is hard to do well, I’ve never tried writing a book in rhyme.
Katie: With regards to a picture book, what is a “dummy” and did you utilize one in creating this picture book?
Ronica: A dummy is basically a mock-up of how the book might be laid out—what text would go on what page and what pictures might accompany it. A dummy can be helpful in seeing whether you have too much or too little text, checking the pacing of your story, etc. I have used dummies before but didn’t with this book.
Katie: Do you have a writing schedule? If so, what is it? If not, why not?
Ronica: No, I wish I were that disciplined. I tend to write in spurts, working around my family’s schedule. I’m getting published regularly, so I guess it’s working.
Katie: Do you plan on writing future picture books? Why or why not?
Ronica: I have written other picture books and am trying to sell them. I think I will write more because I really enjoy them, but right now, I’m working on another teen novel and an inspirational romance besides magazine writing.
Katie: What advice would you give to authors wanting to break into picture books?
Ronica: This is one of the toughest writing areas to break into, so really educate yourself about it. What works? What doesn’t work? What’s been overdone? There are tons of books on children’s writing, and many of them will save you time in the long run if you study them. I know they saved me time.
Katie: Thanks for being my guest. Ronica’s book can be ordered through your local bookstore and is also available at Amazon.com. Check out her blog at http://ronicastromberg.wordpress.com.