I have met Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton several times over the years. She has been an inspiration and she is a prolific writer. She gave many of us hope of publication with her tenacity and encouragement. It is my great pleasure to interview Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton for my blog.
When and why did you start writing for children?
I began writing for children the first year I was teaching school in 1977. I wrote with a friend and did everything wrong. I thought because I was a teacher I could just wing it. I read children's books every day--so I just figured I could write a book.
My first book had 2 main characters! Five tries at solving the problem, and I sent it out to 30 publishers at the same time. DA! After many rejections I decided maybe I needed to get some help. I joined a group of people meeting at the library and found out about several how-to books. Then I attended a conference, and started going to critiques groups. My first acceptance was five years into my writing career. I sold a Halloween article to Highlights Magazine. They still haven't printed it.
One of the best conferences I ever attended was Highlights Writers conference held at Chautauqua, New York. I met many very helpful mentors there. Kent Brown, Pat Broderick, Stephanie Gordon and Judy Enderle have all played an important part in my present publishing success.
Finally after 12 years of trying to get published my first book was accepted with Pelican Publishing. WHY COWBOYS SLEEP WITH THEIR BOOTS ON continues to be one of my best selling books. It is in its third printing and has sold over 40,000 copies. In the past twelve years I have published 31 titles with 4 more titles in the process of publication.
What advice can you give to newly published author?
The best advice I can give a newly published author is:
1. Figure out what you are comfortable doing to promote yourself and get at it. Contact your neighbors, friends, teachers, librarians. Offer to read your book to them so you can work on developing a professional program.
2. Research how your book can be used along with a school curriculum. If you need help with this ask a teacher and or librarian for some pointers. Put together a packet of extended activities. Teachers love this. They will help promote you.
3. Apply to speak at teacher/librarian/writers conferences. The more people that get to know you the more likely they are to tell someone else about you and your book.
4. DO something memorable. I wear a cowgirl outfit to go with my cowboy series. I have a trick rope and I'm not afraid to use it. People say, "Hey you are that cowgirl I hear about!" even though I have published many other kinds of books that is how people identify me. They call that branding. Get a brand people can remember.
What is a favorite book you would recommend?
I am a book collector. I have so many books my husband said we are going to have to buy a house just for my books. Instead I guess I would have to say my favorite authors are, Stephanie Gordon and Judy Enderle, Dandi Mackall, Patricia Polocco, and Eve Bunting.
What are you working on now?
I'm really ADHD so I am working on five different projects, all of them being picture books. I have 2 cowgirl books in process, 2 Christmas books, and a WW11 book. Actually I have a couple of others rolling around in my head and I am hoping one of them takes over and gets finished up here pretty quick.
What is your favorite dessert and why?
Anyone who knows me knows my theory is EAT DESSERT FIRST! I love chocolate anything, fruit cobblers,
strawberry's with whip cream, strawberry rhubarb pie, warm homemade tapioca, peppermint patties......Oh this is making me hungry. Excuse me for a minute...............
Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton has authored a total of 32 books. She has been published in the trade, educational, craft, and Christian market. WHY COWBOYS SLEEP WITH THEIR BOOTS ON is Laurie’s best selling picture book. It won the Premier Print Award given by Eastman Kodak and has sold over 40,000 copies since publication.
Laurie wrote and illustrated GOD BE IN MY HEART, 1999, and RED, WHITE, AND BLUE, 2002. The Huebner Museum of Children’s Picture Book Art honored Laurie by purchasing a piece of art from RED, WHITE, AND BLUE to display. It presently is the only piece of fabric collage. RED WHITE AND BLUE has been highlighted on Martha Stewart’s Radio Station.
The Children’s Book Committee of Bank Street College of Education has selected A Young Man’s Dance as among the best Children’s Books Of the year, 2007.
Laurie is an international speaker, addressing students, educators, and writers throughout the United States and Mexico.