August 3, 2021
Note From Rochelle
It’s been a wild week! Mightier Than the Sword debuted as a #1 New Release on Amazon last Tuesday. Yay!
I’ve been on a virtual book tour this week, stopping at blogs all over the Internet. If you’re interested in reading more about the book or watching the book launch, check out the links at my children’s book website tour page: https://rochellemelander.com/resources/
Today’s post features my debut group buddy Katie Munday Williams whose amazing book Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel comes out today. You can read more about our debut group in our post, How to Find and Form a Debut Group.
Writers@Work: Writing Picture Book Biographies
An Interview with Katie Munday Williams
Welcome to the blog, Katie. Can you tell us about your new book, Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel.
Thank you for having me, Rochelle, I’m thrilled to spread the word about my book! Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel is a picture book biography about Anne Bradstreet, a Puritan woman who ended up becoming America’s first published poet. Anne faced many barriers in becoming a writer, but her courage and perseverance made such an impression on me that I wanted to make sure others were aware of her significant contributions to both writing and feminism.
What inspired you to write about Anne Bradstreet?
My mother found out a few years ago that we are directly descended from Anne Bradstreet. As I was turning over story ideas in my head, I suddenly realized that Anne would be the perfect person to write about! She lived in a time when women were not only discouraged from being writers, but were discouraged from voicing, or even having, their own opinions. And even though her poetry is over 400 years old now, it still resonates with readers, especially the poems that focus on her home and family life.
What kind of research did you do for the book—and how did you go about it?
I was lucky enough to find a primary source that gave me TONS of information on Anne and her life–Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America’s First Poet by Charlotte Gordon was not only a very interesting read, but a very useful resource! I also read lots of Anne’s poetry to get a sense of her personality and writing style, as well as other books on Puritan women of that time.
Can you talk about your publishing journey—and how you found a publisher without having an agent?
Getting published without an agent is definitely not impossible, though it does feel a bit like winning the lottery! In my case, I entered #PBpitch, a twitter party that focuses only on picture books. If you’re not familiar with Twitter parties, authors “tweet” a brief pitch about their story. Agents and editors can then peruse the pitches and “like” the ones they’re interested in. If you get a like it means you can submit to that agent or editor. In my case, I got “likes” by two editors. One of them passed, but Beaming Books loved the story and wanted to publish it. I would still like to get an agent though since navigating contracts and finding publishers who accept unsolicited materials can be very daunting.
What have been the most helpful tools for you in developing as a picture book writer?
The wonderful thing about writing is that there are SO many fantastic resources available, many of which are free. I started out by joining as many free forums as I could find. That quickly morphed into joining SCBWI and finding critique groups. No matter what genre you write, critique groups are key. Not only do they provide invaluable feedback on your manuscripts, but they support you through the many ups and downs of writing! For me though, I think the single most helpful tool has been Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Picture Book challenge. 12 x 12 was a true game changer. The forum is great for getting/giving critiques (often from published authors), there are monthly webinars and submission opportunities, and there are countless resources available.
What are you reading?
I’m currently reading Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. It’s similar to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, but takes place in the Aude region of France where my parents are currently living.
About the author. Katie Munday Williams is a Public Health Nurse, Lactation Consultant, and Author. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA with her husband and two children where they enjoy digging for sand crabs and attempting to bring the entire beach home with them in their pants. Poet, Pilgrim, Rebel: The Story of Anne Bradstreet, America’s First Published Poet is her debut picture book.
NOTE: The books links lead to the Write Now! Coach bookstore on Bookshop.com. Write Now! Coach receives a small percentage of your purchase, which helps to support this blog.