Paperback Writer interviews Nancy Stewart, author of Join Nancy Stewart, author of the children’s picture book, One Pelican at a Time (Guardian Angel Publishing, January 2011) as she virtually tours the blogosphere in April and May 2011 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!
About Nancy Stewart
After having been an elementary school teacher, a management consultant with New Options, Inc. in New York City and a university professor of education, Nancy Stewart now writes children’s books full time. She, her husband and three sons, lived in London for eight years, where she was a consultant to several universities, including Cambridge.
Nancy travels extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is the US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education.
Nancy is the author of One Pelican at a Time and two other Bella books: Bella Saves the Beach and Sea Turtle Summer. All three will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing.
She and her family live in St. Louis and Clearwater Beach, Florida.
About One Pelican at a Time
Bella and Britt love living by the beach. When they find oil washing to shore from a gulf spill, they want to help but are told there is nothing for kids to do. But when their old friend, the pelican, becomes covered with oil, they help save his life by their quick thinking and action.
Q: Give us an example of a typical writing day.
My typical writing day begins around 6 AM. I’ve learned to parcel my days into bunches of hours, each bunch dealing with one area. For instance, my best writing is early in the morning. About mid-morning, I turn to marketing and do that several hours. Later in the day, I’ll turn back to writing, usually a different manuscript. I tend to finish about 5 PM, but my computer is sometimes on my lap in the evening as well.
Q: Do you work from an outline?
I don’t, as a rule. Sometimes, though, I will do a timeline, which helps greatly. For instance, I’m working on the biography of a special needs child and her involvement with a marine animal that profoundly has changed her life. That has to be accurate. It’s certainly different for me and is a challenge, but a good one.
Q: Biggest Career Surprise
My biggest career surprise just occurred over the past year. I left university teaching to write children’s books full time. It was, I must admit, a scary prospect. Once I did it, I never looked back, not once. I love what I’m doing as much as anything I’ve done professionally through the years. So much so, in fact, it’s a major surprise!
Q: Worst rejection you’ve ever received?
That’s an easy one, and the end of it just happened! About three years ago, I sent a manuscript to one of the best known agents in NYC. Not only did I received a form letter, he actually hand wrote a sentence on it saying, “Never send me anything again.” He did not have to worry about that. About a month ago, I got a friend request from this same agent! Did I friend him? What do you think!
Q: Who is your favorite author?
My favorite children’s author is Jane Yolen. She is a master at her game. She’s written over three hundred books, and each is a jewel. My favorite, as with many people I suspect, is Owl Moon. Why? The prose is so beautiful, it is really poetry. The spell Ms. Yolen casts in the book is haunting, filled with lonely and spare countryside, a night so cold that one feel it to the very marrow and the yearning of a child to fulfill her much longed for expectations. It is a beautiful story and gives real credit to her sagacious name.
Q: Time Frame: From start to finish
One Pelican at a Time was, from the very start, a book with a different timeline. The other two books in the Bella and Britt series, Sea Turtle Summer and Bella Saves the Beach, were slated to be out first. And then the oil spill happened. My publisher, Lynda Burch, of Guardian Angel Publishing and I agreed a book had to be written. So I began. We both realized there was real merit in having, if possible, the first children’s book about the incident. Never have I written so fast and as single mindedly as with Pelican. It was finished within six weeks, and it was the first children’s book published about the spill. We feel very good about that.
Q: How did you feel holding your book in your hands for the first time?
It was much more intense that I ever thought it would be! After all the work and planning and blogging and anticipation, there it was! Glorious, really.