Photo by Joe McGarity
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This week’s Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by Majestic Limousine. Ride in Royal Style. www.MajesticLimousineRC.com
On the Eve of Thanksgiving, the Fantom Penguin caught Linda Boyden entertaining a group of youngsters at the Redding Barnes & Noble. He asked her what was going on.
“Well, Storytime is a half-hour presentation of stories, songs and finger-plays for the pre-school set. Barnes & Noble does it every Wednesday at 10:00. Redding Library does a number of them. The one I go to is Tuesdays at 10:30.”
When she was accused of being a published author of children’s books, she did not attempt to deny it.
“And a recovering school teacher. I taught primary grades for about thirty years and then one day my husband came home and said, ‘We’re moving to Maui,’ and I went, ‘No, we’re not,’ but we did and at that point I said, you know I’m not going to teach any more. I’ve always wanted to write. I’ve got loads of written stuff. Let’s see if I can do it. So, it took a number of years but I sold my first book in 2002.”
How difficult is it to sell one’s first book?
“It’s kind of like this: The publishers are not accepting any submissions that are unsolicited and what that means is they only want submissions from agents. I do not have an agent. I’m like the majority of writers who don’t have agents. So the agents then say, ‘We don’t want you unless you’ve proven your marketability,’ in other words, sold a lot of books. So, it’s Catch 22. But it hasn’t really stopped me. I mean, there are ways. I belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, which is an international organization that has conferences all over the world and so I go to them and I learn how to hone my craft. I learn how to present and what is selling. So, I’ve been really, really lucky to sell three books since 2002.”
Boyden’s first book is called Blue Roses.
“That book is about a little girl and her grandfather who share a love of gardening, but then when he dies in the middle of the book it’s the lessons that she’s learned that help her to heal. So, it’s done quite well in the sense that I get a lot of fan mail from parents who say, you know, we’ve used your book as a tool to help children either understand about losing someone you love or after someone has left. And so it helps kids to heal.”
Isn’t that a little heavy for kids?
“Yeah, I’m gonna write a picture book. It’s about death. But you know, that aside it is a very needed topic. And a lot of parents don’t know how to talk about it with their little kids and then all of a sudden a grandparent dies or even in some cases the loss of a pet. They have said, ‘We’ve read your book because, you know, our dog died’ or what have you. It doesn’t matter. It’s still the same kind of grief. My book ends on a bit of hope, a little touch of fantasy which I think seals it for the kids. It gives kids hope. And it was based on a dream I had in 1978 when my own grandfather died and I couldn’t go to his funeral. He came to me and he was in a beautiful garden, not of blue roses but of all beautiful colors and his face was smooth, not wrinkled. I mean, think about it. My grandchildren will never know what I look like without wrinkles. You know, it’s just how it is. But in this he was glowing he was so happy and he told me to stop crying, that he was happy and then I woke up and I thought, ‘Well that’s a really nice message for kids,’ so that one was published in 2002.”
“Here in Redding, there is an organization called Writers’ Forum. I’ve belonged since 2004 and we meet from September to June every second Saturday of the month and there’s a website. I urge people who are interested in writing or learning more about writing to hook up with us. Every month except June and December there is a speaker of some sort. For example in January we’re going to have some San Francisco agents come and give a full-day workshop. So, all that information is on the website.”
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