In honor of tomorrow night’s super blood wolf moon, we are pleased to present an interview with Laura Roettiger, picture book author of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON (illustrated by Ariel Boroff). In this interview, Laura discusses her picture book debut and the advice she has for aspiring picture book writers. Enjoy!
Question: What are you most excited about ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON being published right now?
Laura: The most exciting part for me is the idea that children will be able to read it. I know many writers imagine being rich and famous, but honestly I just want children to love my book and for it to make a difference in their lives. As a reading specialist, I knew I was making a difference every day. The feedback was immediate and I still am in touch with so many wonderful families whose children I taught and some of the children who are now adults.
Q: What’s been most challenging to you with publishing ALIANA?
Laura: I didn’t follow the rules and normal path of writing and submitting. I am fortunate that it’s working out, but I wish I had joined Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 right away when I decided to commit to being a writer. I submitted before the book was ready, but luckily I found Eifrig Publishing and their mission aligns well with my personal goals and the messages of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON.
Q: How did you come to write this book?
Laura: ALIANA is inspired by my own daughters, my students at Carlos Fuentes Charter School in Chicago, and the brightness of the full moon now that I live in the Rocky Mountains, far away from the light pollution of the city. I had written with and for my students for many years, but this was my first project that I wrote with the intent of publishing.
Q: What’s the one thing you hope a reader would take away from reading ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON?
Laura: I have a few different takeaways for children and the adults who love them. The biggest one for children is that creativity and curiosity are to be celebrated. Related to that for parents, is the message that creativity can be messy and you should embrace the messiness.
Q: What have been some of your most unexpected sources of inspiration for writing?
Laura: I am inspired all the time by everything — nature, my puppy Charlie, children, music, and reading to name a few things. I am currently participating in Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm which is a January initiative where you brainstorm 30 ideas for books in a month. It sounds challenging, but some days I add 3 or 4 ideas to my list.
Q: For kidlit writers just getting started, what is the single best piece of advice you could offer them?
Laura: Join SCBWI, find critique partners, and read widely in your chosen genre to learn what makes a story work and what makes it not work. Learn the industry by attending conferences, following agents and authors you admire on Twitter, and taking writing classes. I am active in several Facebook groups related to writing and follow many picture book and other review blogs. I consider this part of my “work day.”
Q: What’s up for you next in your writing career?
Laura: I have four manuscripts that I think are query ready on four very different topics. One of them is inspired by Charlie, and maybe it’s because I love him so much, but I think it’s really good. I also have three or four others that still need revision and plan to write new drafts each month. I don’t have an agent and I’m planning to query with the intent of finding one this year. As I mentioned earlier, I am a member of 12x12 and this year I am the gold level. This means I will have access to agents through 12x12 so I am cautiously optimistic.
Q: What’s one thing you want to share that readers might not know?
Laura: If you can buy the book for yourself or as a gift, that’s fabulous. I know it’s not possible to buy every book you might want, but there are many other ways to support authors. Some of the best ways are:
- Request that your library buy the book, and if they already own it, put it on reserve.
- Ask your local bookstore to carry the book.
- Turn the author’s book face out at your local bookstore.
- Suggest the book to specialty retailers.
- Add books to your “want to read” list on Goodreads.
- Review books on Goodreads and Amazon
- Talk about book to your friends in person and on social media, so they know you love it. Word of mouth encourages other people to buy, borrow and read them.
Laura Roettiger has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. She has three children of her own whose curiosity and creativity led all of them into STEM related professions and a ridiculously cute dog named Charlie. Her debut picture book ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON (illustrated by Ariel Boroff) will be released by Eifrig Publishing on February 19th, 2019. To find out more information about Laura, check out her blog: https://lauraroettigerbooks.com/blog/.