Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Author Interview with Eugene Gagliano and a signed book give-a-way...

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.

Gene: My most recent books were released a month apart by Sleeping Bear Press, so I’d like to mention both of them. My Teacher Dances on the Desk is a collection of poems that I wrote while I was an elementary teacher. Most of the poems are humorous and address themes with universal appeal. V is for Venus Flytrap, a Plant Alphabet is written in a two tier format with a rhymed verse for each letter of the alphabet for younger children and sidebars with further or related information for older students to adults (really a book for all ages). A wide variety of topics is included such as carnivorous plants; fascinating and unusual plant facts; the importance of conservation and environmental stewardship; exotic species and their locations; and food crops and the world economy. The book is enhanced with beautiful watercolor illustrations by Elizabeth Traynor.

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?


  1. I absolutely love the concept of his V for Venus flytrap book - rhymed poetry and educational. There was a recent survey here in the UK and it turns out young-uns (pre 10 year olds) don't rate being environmentally friendly a priority - so more books like these please!!!!

    Thanks again for introducing me to a wonderful writer.

    Take care

  2. Great interview, Sharon! Gene is doing so well, with books coming our right and left - congrats to Gene!

    I'm not a serious poetry person, but I do absolutely love humorous children's poems - My Teacher Dances on the Desk sounds fantastic! But please don't enter me in the contest - I've won two of your contests now and I'm beginning to feel a bit selfish about winning so many great prizes!

  3. Hi, Gene! How fun to see you here on Sharon's blog ... and congrats on the fantastic work.

  4. Good morning, Kitty! That really surprises me about kids in the UK. My daughter is really concerned about the environment. Thanks for stopping in and reading about Gene. :) He's a lovely guy and writes wonderful books.

    Susan--He is doing well. :) Sleeping Bear Press must be very happy with him.

    Tess--Isn't it fun when your friends have published books....Oh wait, you'll be in that group before too long. :) Thanks for dropping in....

  5. Hi Gene! Congratulations on your books. I know you put in a lot of hard work and it's paid off!

  6. Thanks for visiting me today. I am so sorry to hear about your sweet kitty. I hope you don't mind being followed by a cat because I really like your blog and I really like writers!

  7. Amy--It won't be long and I'll be interviewing you. (Oh, I probably should ask you first...)

    Brian--Thanks for stopping by and I'd love to be followed by a cat! I miss mine...You have a lovely blog!

  8. What an AWESOME interview! Thank you, Sharon and Eugene. I'm so buying V is for Venus Flytrap. It's right up my alley... and maybe I'll even share it with my kids.... :o)

    And thanks for joining up with me (and spreading the word!) about my challenge, Sharon. It means so much!

  9. Thanks, Jackee! I thought V is for Venus Flytrap looked lovely too... My word count isn't correct...I wrote on paper today. I'll add it in tomorrow...

  10. I am checking my son's reading list :-) Nice interview with Gene. Thanks for sharing him your readers.

  11. Thanks for stopping in Jeff. :)

    Velva--I'm pretty sure it was C is for Cowboy on the AR list. Thanks for sropping in. :)

  12. Sharon, I really enjoyed this interview. I had not heard of Gene before, but you can be sure that I'll be reading his books just as soon as I can get my hands on 'em. And Monday is my BIRTHDAY!!! I would SO love to win his book for MY BIRTHDAY!

    Thanks for letting me know about another great author.

    ~ Yaya
    Yaya's Home

  13. These look like great books. I'd never heard of him but now I'll have to look for his books.

  14. Thank you for popping over to my blog ~ and I'm so glad the robins rebuilt their nest after the hail storm!

    So sorry about the loss of your sweet kitty! It's never easy losing our four legged friends that we love so much!
    xo Catherine

  15. YaYa--That would be cool if you won Gene's book on Monday. I'll be using random.org to choose a winner. Good luck and I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

    Sherrie--Thanks so much! It means a lot when an interivew rock star like you reads my interviews. :)

    Catherine--Thank you for stopping by. You have some great pics on your blog.

    It's really hard in the evenings and when I first wake up in the mornings. I guess I should be thankful I had him for 9 years...I am, but I miss him.