Where am I Sleeping Tonight? (A Story of Divorce) (Boulden Publishing, Fall 2008) is a book for elementary students about shared custody. Mark and his younger brother Evan have confusing living arrangements, ever since their parents’ divorce. This shared custody agreement, two days at one house then two days at the other, leaves them feeling confused, frustrated, and even a little angry with their parents for getting a divorce. But with time, effort, and the assistance of Mark’s parents and teacher, Mark starts to come to terms with his parents’ divorce, and decides he wants to be someone his younger brother and others can count on.
Tell us something about yourself.
I taught fourth grade for 35 years. I was one of those dedicated passionate teachers that defined myself through my teaching. I retired in June and now in addition to writing, I supervise student teachers at a local college. But it’s the writing, which I started only 8 years ago, that allows me to continue communicating with children.
What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for this story came through my experience as a teacher. Over the years, more and more of my students experienced the pain of divorce. This touched me. But there was one boy who had a schedule like the main character, and I had to write this story. I think I also wanted to get across the fact, as I do in my classroom, that you always want to be someone who can be counted on, that no matter what goes on in your life, you need to be responsible. I believe that responsible and caring citizens can make the world a better place.
How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?
I started this story in February 2004, and started submitting it about six weeks later, which was too soon. I’m definitely learning to slow down and hold on to pieces longer before submitting. My first rejection was a personal note. My eighth time sending it out, I got great feedback from an editor. Her comments moved me to the revision that I believe sold the book. I brought it to my critique groups and revised some more. Revision is key to good writing. About two years after I started to write it, I sold the story to the twelfth publisher I submitted to. There was a call for submissions in an SCBWI Bulletin from Boulden Publishers for family stories, stories about divorce, and some other topics. I sent in my manuscript by e-mail, and heard 6 weeks later that he was interested. The book came out another two years after that. Writing takes patience!
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I didn’t know! It just came to me about 8 years ago. I started writing when the need to write came over me. I do believe I started writing in preparation to leave teaching. I look forward to seeing where my writing adventures will take me.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
To me the hardest part of writing is choosing the perfect words to express what you’re thinking or want to communicate in the most effective and beautiful way.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I read a lot! I read picture books to see what is being published in the field I write. I have a book next to my bed, and one always playing on CD in my car. I read books that are recommended and get good reviews. I want to see how other people string words together. It’s part of the homework of being an author. But it’s homework I love!
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I have over 30 other picture books I’ve written, and have many more that I’m working on. I work simultaneously on a few pieces at once. I write mostly from the heart of a teacher trying to help children learn life lessons and know the joys of reading and learning. In February 2010, one of my stories, “The Library Is The Perfect Place”, was in LibrarySparks Magazine in their web resources. I had wanted it to be a picture book, but when they offered to buy it for their magazine instead, I realized I just want the story read by others and decided to sell it.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Persevere. You must continue to submit your manuscripts and work on your craft.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I’ve done a number of book signings and readings, and connected with readers through the internet. It’s always wonderful to interact with strangers who might be touched by your work. I also contact organizations that I believe may be interested in my book, relating to divorce or counseling.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
You can purchase the book at Amazon
or Boulden Publishing http://www.bouldenpublishing.com/
and of course, see if your local independent bookseller carries the book or will order it for you.