Please welcome Canadian picture book author Margaret Welwood to Rosco’s Reading Room.
Q. Hi Margaret and thanks for stopping by today. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your books.
A. “When God closes a door, He opens a window,” said a friend when I was laid off from my delightful, fulfilling career teaching English as a Second Language to adults.
And what a fascinating vista lay though that window! I fulfilled a childhood dream of becoming a writer, first writing freelance newspaper and magazine articles, and then editing a business magazine.
My job at our local college opened back up, followed by more happy years of teaching ESL.
And then it happened for good—the program closed . . .
And another quote took precedence: “Grandma, can you tell me a story?” I catapulted through that window and landed in Children’s Storyland. Here, I happily reside, marketing and editing picture books for children, and babysitting a charming three-year-old.
Q. What sort of books do you write?
A. Picture books with positive role models and Happily Ever After endings. My characters overcome obstacles by (sooner or later) making good choices.
Scissortown answers your most burning questions: 😊
What happens when the Slicers and Dicers invade a neat and tidy town, causing the townspeople to hide all their cutting tools?
And then what happens when nobody can cut anything at all?
Marie and Mr. Bee is the tale of a happy little girl who lives in a cabin in the forest, working and playing with her forest friends—until a not-so-busy bee entices her to neglect her work! Compassion, forgiveness, and a forever friendship follow.
In Little Bunny’s Own Storybook, a library-loving rabbit is crestfallen when his favorite place closes for inventory. However, he rallies and comes up with a solution that celebrates the creativity and initiative of children (both human and rabbit).
Q. WHY do you write what you write?
A. The stories are in me and they want out! I write for the joy of writing and sharing stories, to contribute to our household income, and to share my values and my faith.
Q. Where are you located?
A. In Northwestern Alberta, Canada, where playful snowflakes make graceful sculptures on our deck. I call this one “Snow birds.”
Q. Tell us something that you’re proud of in regard to writing/publishing/marketing or being an author.
A. I was pretty excited when the diabetes education guide I’d edited (second edition) won first prize in the reference category of the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards (2010).
I’ve been encouraged by the reviews of all three books, but Marie’s story has garnered the most touching ones.
Q. Wow, that’s impressive! What has been your biggest challenge?
First, what has worked well:
Perhaps our location—which *might* be considered remote to big city dwellers—has something to do with the incredible community spirit and support for local artists and writers. My very best venues have been the hardware store, a gas station, and a gospel concert, all in our town of 2,500! Town and area schools, museums and libraries have provided opportunities for sales, public readings, and book launches.
Both Scissortown and Marie and Mr. Bee come in two versions, with either a faith-based or a secular application at the end (Scissortown) or a faith-based or secular ending to the story (Marie and Mr. Bee). People like to have choices! Some customers let the child pick the version, while others will buy both versions to give to different people. The element of choice has been a strong selling point.
A small point: even tiny choices can make a customer feel valued. I carry several autographing pens in my purse so the customer can choose the color of the autograph as well as the name(s) of the child(ren). You might be surprised how people deliberate over the choice, often picking different colors for different children.
Now, the “work in progress”—online sales via Amazon and Ingram have been slow. However, Facebook has provided some of the best connections with reviewers, and I’m currently up to 35 Amazon reviews of Marie and Mr. Bee (Regular Version) and 44 of the Proverbs 12:14b Version. It remains to be seen whether more Amazon reviews will make a significant difference.
I’ve also read that reviews on that site are not enough, and that authors need to promote in other venues as well. So here we are on Shana’s blog! 🙂
Q. Agreed. It seems there is always more work to be done in the marketing realm than there is time in the day! But it’s great to see the strides you’ve made thus far. What are your plans for the future?
A. Editing picture books for children provides a satisfying complement to caring for the charming three-year-old. Once she’s in school full-time, I may go full bore with partially written manuscripts that are at present only faintly calling my name.
Featured Book: Marie and Mr. Bee, by Margaret Welwood. Illustrated by Coralie Rycroft.
Marie and Mr. Bee has been particularly well received for its themes of compassion, forgiveness and friendship. The story takes place in a magnificent autumn setting (the artist’s favorite season), and Marie’s cabin, furnishings and dishes reflect the artist’s own love of beauty and order.
But the story is more than that. The main character uses a wheelchair, a fact that is clear from the illustrations but glossed over in the text. Marie is an equal and beloved partner in work and play, and her animal friends make accommodations for her disability without comment. Children with disabilities and their parents find a positive and empowering message in Marie’s story.
Here’s a quote from one of my favorite reviews:
“Thanks to an engaging story, complemented by delightful illustrations, young readers will be so busy turning pages they won’t even realize they’re taking in some of life’s most valuable truths. All sorts of important ideas pop up while Marie and her friends play and work in the forest: the power of choice, the treasure of friendship, the capabilities of “disabled” children, what kindness looks like. Lots to talk about after story time.
Children, parents, and teachers will be glad to find that Marie and Mr. Bee confirms again the power of great storytelling to open up our world, teach us, and help us grow.” ~Kathleen Brown, Author
Amazon purchase links:
Marie and Mr. Bee
Q. Where can people keep up with you and buy your books?
A. I can be found at the following links on social media, my blog, my website, or by email at the address below.
Grandma’s Bookshelf (website)
Please e-mail me if you’d like to purchase my books directly, autographed to the child(ren) and in the color of your choice.
Thank you, Shana, for this chance to visit with your subscribers. I hope something in this post has been useful to you all, as readers, writers—or both. All the best to you. ~Margaret
It’s been wonderful spending time with you, Margaret. Thanks for coming on and sharing your work with us! All the best to you, too!
Please, readers, take a gander through Margaret’s pages and hit a Follow button to keep up with this wonderful author. Or try out one of her books and leave her a review. Thanks, as always, for reading. ~Shana