Anthonette Klinkerman, winner of the 2013 Reader’s Choice Award (Bronze and Silver Star), stopped in to tell us about her award winning book.
KJ ~ Tell us a little bit about yourself.
ANTHONETTE ~ I was born in San Diego and transplanted in Colorado. Among the many hats I wear, I am a public speaker, an author, and a public school English teacher. My husband and I have been married for fifteen years now, and our daughter is ten years old. I enjoy golfing, reading, and writing.
KJ ~ What are you working on right now?
ANTHONETTE ~ Currently, I am working on my blogging efforts, and enjoy writing about etiquette and manners, or lack thereof, in my WordPress blog, http://courtesybootcamp.wordpress.com/. I do have another children’s book rolling around in my head, and though I started writing it, I did not like the initial beginning so I tabled it for a while. It is going to be a seasonal book, a Christmas-time story, and I find it a little difficult to be disciplined about writing when it is so beautiful outside!
KJ ~ Battle of the Grandmas is your first children’s book (and winner of the 2013 Reader’s Choice Award), what is it about?
ANTHONETTE ~ It is a story about a little girl with three grandmas, and when the three grandmas accidentally buy her all the same present, they launch into a gift-buying battle for supremacy. The little girl emerges as the voice of reason and wisdom at the end, telling the grandmothers that she can’t play with all the stuff, or wear all the clothes. It is far more important to spend time creating memories with each grandma.
KJ ~ What was the hardest part about getting this book/story from the first ideas to publication?
ANTHONETTE ~ Rejection letters from the better-known publishers! Those were the worst, but the problem has been solved with self-publishing. (You can print your book idea in a matter of days with digital and print-on-demand printing.) It used to be called “vanity press”, but now it has become so respected, bigger publishers are now searching for new up and coming authors in the self-publishing realm.
KJ ~ Beside self-publishing this book you also found an illustrator. What advice would you give someone seeking this for his or her own book?
ANTHONETTE ~ Be very very careful when selecting your publisher. I am currently at odds with my publisher as once you turn over all of your files to them, it is extremely difficult and EXPENSIVE to get them back. You want to maintain as much control as you can over your book, so I would strongly advise anyone to get their own ISBN and to use publishing centers such as CreateSpace to keep as much control, and as much of your profits, as possible.
Marketing the book yourself is also a bit of a challenge, too, as you can’t possibly visit every book fair and book sale. It makes sense to then invest more money into a company that can do it all for you, as long as they are reputable. I found out after the fact that checking the Better Business Bureau is a terrific place to start when checking out a publisher.
As for illustrators, they are very expensive, and as one put it, you are creating a life-long relationship with them for as long as your book is on the shelves. I had a rather brilliant idea to hire a student artist to give him experience, and a great piece for his portfolio. There is a lot of hidden talent in school districts and art schools, so I would look there first.
KJ ~ Where did you get your inspiration for Battle of the Grandmas?
ANTHONETTE ~ It is a near-true story! When my daughter was very small, she received a personalized book in the mail from a grandmother. The very next day, the same size package arrived, and I opened it to find the identical personalized book from another relative. I thought, “What are the odds of that happening?”, so I sat down that afternoon and wrote the poem that is the story.
KJ ~ What does a typical writing day look like for you?
ANTHONETTE ~ As I mentioned before, I am not as disciplined as some about making an appointment with myself to have undisturbed writing time. The upside is I just listened to a webinar stating that writing the same time every day, posting thirty times a week, etc. is not the way to do it. I felt so much better after hearing that! Although, when I am struck by the desire to write, I am not to be disturbed! I close my office doors, stream some music on the computer, usually jazz, and let my fingers fly.
KJ ~ Do you have strategies for getting past those days that are hard to write?
ANTHONETTE ~ That is a tough one. I like reading to inspire my own writing, and sometimes social media, though a huge time-waste in some cases, trips some notion to write about something. Responding to people’s posts or links gets some ideas moving. Getting out and people-watching works even better for me as it is always interesting to watch a population that believes it is invisible behind their little screens. A coffee shop is a gold-mine for speculating as to what people are really doing when they are trying to look busy.
KJ ~ What are a few of your favorite books that you have read for pleasure?
ANTHONETTE ~ I recently completed The Book Thief and loved it. I hesitate to see the movie as the prose in the book was so lovely I am afraid the movie experience may ruin it for me! It was set in Hitler’s Germany, and is about a girl who takes to stealing books as the narrator, Death himself, is watching.
I really enjoyed The Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel in the past. It included The Clan of the Cave Bear, and several others. I waited over 14 years for her final book to come out just two years ago!
I also recently read The City of Thieves. Ironically, it is the same setting and time period as The Book Thief. While I did complete it, I wouldn’t rate it among my highest as there were instances where I thought the author was being gross just to be gross.
Truly, teachers don’t pleasure read until summer so I am looking forward to getting into a few books right now!
KJ ~ If you took a two-week vacation in any book or story, where would you go and who would you be?
ANTHONETTE ~ Another great question! I would have to go back to my all-time favorite story, Where The Red Fern Grows. I must have read that book as a Fifth grader, but I loved the simpler times of the 1920s; Billy, the boy running around the Ozark mountains in overalls and barefoot, the grandpa’s general store and its candy jars, the two red-bone coon hounds… I would be Billy. The end never fails to bring tears, though. I think I read it probably seven times through so the visuals are burned in my mind. It sounded like Heaven compared to the stress and strain of our daily lives in 2014 so this would definitely be my choice.
Coming August 15th: Karen Emanuelson, Beowulf Scholar and author who is working on her new series of books based in 6th century Scandinavia.