2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Kristyn Crow

As part of our continuing series of 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference (www.foryoungreaders.com) faculty interviews with interviewer Carol Lynch Williams.

Here is a sneak peek at Kristyn Crow, picture book faculty.

CLW: Kristyn, if you had to introduce yourself in a  short bit of verse, what would you say?

KC: I was sittin’ at my desk fine-tunin’ a blog
in a house that was tranquil, with my sleeping dog
when off in the distance was a crashin’ sound
so I stood on my tippy-toes and looked around.

I heard…

SMASH BANG RATTLE-TATTLE “Quit that!”  BOOM!

SMASH BANG “Give-it-back-you-dummy!”  BOOM!

Well, my hands stopped a-typin’ and I said, “That’s that.”
Took a breath, shut my laptop, tossed my writer’s hat.
Bein’ a writer with seven kids is hard to do.
It’s a good thing I love bein’ a mama too.

Kristyn Crow is a picture book author who writes in rhyme.  When she was a child, her father often recited stories like The Jabberwocky in a way that was totally captivating. It made a big impression, and Kristyn was eager to create read-alouds that would delight children.  Her books have received starred reviews and award nominations.  She loves to visit elementary schools, where students play instruments to the beat of her stories. She’s married to a cop who pulls her over every chance he gets.  And she’s also the mother of seven creative children, two dogs who’d like to tear each other to bits, and a bunch of fish who could care less about anything but being fed.

(For more about Kristyn, visit her at www.kristyncrow.com)

CLW: Kristyn, thank you for answering these questions for me. I’m excited for people to get to know a bit more about you. Tell us how you got published—I know it has something to do with this very conference you are now teaching at.

KC: I attended the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop ten years ago.  I brought a strange, quirky manuscript about a jazz musician rat in the big city—not sure if it was any good. Through the connections I made at that conference, I was able to get in touch with an agent, who signed me on as a client.  A year later she sold Cool Daddy Rat to G.P. Putnam’s Sons. My agent Kendra and her associate Minju have been fabulous friends and mentors, and have continued to sell my manuscripts, handle the contract negotiations, and guide me in career decisions so I can focus primarily on writing.

CLW: If you could change one thing about your writing life, what would it be?

KC: I hate all the waiting in the publishing world.  It’s brutal.  Waiting months to hear back on a manuscript, waiting nearly a year (in some cases) to learn if the manuscript has been accepted, waiting six months for a contract, waiting a year to see illustrations, waiting another year to see the book in print…sigh.  If I were a nail-biter, my fingers would be eaten down to my second knuckles.  That would make it hard to type.

CLW: What is the funniest thing anyone has ever said to you about being a writer (you can include your own kids)?

KC: “Mommy, who is more famous, you or Dr. Seuss?”  I had to think about that one for a long time.

CLW: Please give us three writing tips.

KC:

  1. Crave feedback.  You NEED it.   Seek it out from reliable sources.  USE it.
  2. Don’t write a rhyming picture book manuscript unless the rhyme has a purpose.  (“Because I like writing in rhyme,” isn’t good enough.)
  3. Attend writing conferences as often as you can.   Network with other writers and make connections.  Meet people in the business.

CLW: Tell us how your class will run. (Like, in a short para what you plan to cover, and goals or something.)

KC: I’m going to start each class reading aloud several picture books that are outstanding examples of a particular concept, such as: character, word-play, powerful page-turns, structure, and immediate action.  We’ll discuss why those books work so well.  Then we’ll do fun writing exercises where we invent our own spunky characters, create text that swings, set-up plots with action, revise, and polish.  We’ll give each other constructive feedback and learn to be better critics for our own work.  The goal will be for everyone in class to end-up with one or two amazing manuscripts, irresistible to an agent or editor.  I’ll also talk about the marketing aspects of writing and share every single thing I had to learn in this business the hard way, so the folks in my class won’t have to.  I don’t want anyone to leave without believing they have an excellent shot at publication.

CLW: Thank you, Kristyn, for talking with us today. It’s cool getting to know you and I look forward to seeing you at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference this June.

Kristyn Crow will lead the breakout session “Picture Books: Write a Rousing Read-Along!” on Tuesday, June 15, 3 p.m. and Friday, June 18, 4 p.m.

2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Introduction, Kristyn Crow, Sara Zarr

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