I’d like to introduce you to another one of my successful writing buddies. I met Eugene Gagliano at the 2008 Highlights Foundation Summer Workshop at Chautauqua. Gene already had several published books, but came to the conference to see some old friends and get his creative juices going. Well it must have worked for him, because his book MY TEACHER DANCES ON THE DESK made the 2010-2011 Delaware Diamonds Book List (grades 3-5 category) children's choice award. You may recognize Gene’s name from your children’s AR (Accelerated Reader) list. He also was nominated for the Western Writer’s Spur Award in 2006-2007 for his book FOUR WHEELS WEST and nominated for the Indian Paintbrush Award in 2005-2006 for the SECRET OF THE BLACK WIDOW. Gene doesn’t have a blog (yet), but he has a wonderful website and I hope that you will hop over and check it out.
Me: So Gene, tell us about your most recent books.
Me: What is your best advice to aspiring authors?
Gene: My advice to aspiring authors is to practice, be persistent, and patient. Read, read, and read the kinds of books you want to write. Join writing organizations like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and read their bulletins, attend writing workshops, conferences and join a critique group. Networking is very important. Enter writing contests and apply for grants. Write what you feel most passionate about and believe that you can do it. Think of your rejection letters as building blocks to success.
Me: Gene, some writers have a strict writing routine, do you?
Gene: I usually like to write in the morning from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. If I’m under a contract or working on a middle grade fiction manuscript, I’ll work longer. In the afternoon I prefer to do my reading of bulletins, “how to books”, or library books. I also spend time on marketing and preparing for author presentations.
Me: Are you an outliner?
Gene: Yes, I am. When I begin a middle grade fiction book I try to state the premise of the book in a short paragraph. I make character descriptions, and then I make an outline of about a dozen possible chapters for the book. It gives me a place to start. I use the outline as a basis for the story, but I’m very flexible and once the characters take over things usually change.
Me: By the way, what is the name of your next book and when does it come out?
Gene: My editor at Sleeping Bear Press just let me know that my newest work, a board book for preschoolers titled Little Wyoming, should be released at the end of June. My other contracted book is still unnamed. Zachary Pullen, who illustrated Eve Bunting’s latest book titled Finn McCool is the illustrator. It should be released by late summer.
Me: Gene, I’ve heard that it’s important to be visible to your readers; do you go on school visits? Book signings? Library visits?
Gene: YES! As a retired elementary teacher I look forward to my school visits which are entertaining, instructional and inspiring. I’ve done over 74 school visits in my home state of Wyoming. I enjoy presenting at public libraries and do book signings. I have presented at state and regional IRA conferences, teacher conferences, book festivals, library conferences, and SCBWI workshops in Colorado, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
I hope you enjoyed my visit with Eugene Gagliano and that you will check out his books (and of course buy one or two)… I’ll be doing two drawings on Monday, May 24th at 5:00 for signed copies of MY TEACHER DANCES ON HIS DESK. To win a copy you must be a follower and leave a comment on this post. (It would be really sweet if you would pass on the word...)
FYI... Jackee at Winded Words is hosting a 1,000 words a day challenge for the rest of May. I’m in what about you?