Interview with Author Raven Howell, Awareness Tour +Giveaway

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Join me for an interview with award-winning children’s author and poet, Raven Howell, whose new picture book, A Flock of Fun, features tips and tricks from friendly sheep for falling asleep at bedtime. But before you read her fabulous interview, don’t miss her giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win a Raven Howell book prize pack!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • A copy of A Flock of Fun autographed by Raven Howell
  • A copy of Glimmer autographed by Raven Howell
  • A copy of Shimmer autographed by Raven Howell
  • A copy of So You Want a Puppy? autographed by Raven Howell
  • A copy of Greetings! autographed by Raven Howell
  • A copy of My Community autographed by Raven Howell
  • A Flock of Fun throw pillow
  • A Flock of Fun jigsaw puzzle
  • A pair of sheep socks

Nineteen (19) winners receive:

  • A copy of A Flock of Fun autographed by Raven Howell

HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

Visit this page and fill out the required fields on the form. It may take a moment to load. You can also gain daily bonus entries.

Giveaway begins March 2, 2020, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends April 2, 2020, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are eighteen years of age or older in their state or territory of residence at the time of entry. Void where prohibited by law.

This post is presented by Rosco’s Reading Room in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Doodle and Peck.

Doodle and Peck is responsible for prize fulfillment.

For a full list of the giveaway’s rules, visit this page.


INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR RAVEN HOWELL

Q. Hello, Raven, and welcome to my blog! It’s great to have you here. First of all, I’d like to comment on how very prolific you are. Can you tell us how many children’s books you’ve written? How many are you typically working on at any given time?

A. Hello, Shana, and thanks for having me!

I have ten children’s book releases and up to two hundred poems that have been published in kids’ magazines over the past 25 years. My agent has four of my manuscripts she submits varyingly.

I would say most months I have two to three manuscripts on my desktop screen that I’m playing with. I may add something, re-think the ideas, tweak just a little, or spend several hours solely writing.

Q. That’s a great way to keep things fresh and to continue to put out new work. Next, can you tell us what your favorite childhood book was?

A. I loved picture books growing up and was lucky to live in a bilingual home. I had books in both languages! A couple of the books that ended up with worn down, loved-all-over pages were The Snowy Day and Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever. Also, The Madeline books intrigued me. I always considered the text, and certainly the artwork, very unique…and a bit strange. So much of it was on a scribble-slant, angular, a true distinct style.

Q. Neat! How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?

A. I wrote stories and poetry from childhood. After graduating from business school, I was a songwriter and worked full time at a few big record companies in New York City. I learned a vast amount about publishing there before transitioning to writing verse for greeting cards. At that time I became a new mother and our family grew.

After about a year, knowing my strength had always been writing whimsical children’s work, I decided to focus solely on that. I worked relentlessly for many years to get my first acceptances, balancing the writing, submissions, and motherhood. Once I started getting published and wiser with age and experience, the journey took on a light-heartedness without the strain of having to prove anything to myself. In hindsight, I’ve always been a full-timer.

The “full time” for me means barely having enough minutes in the day to keep on top of everything. 😉

I have no typical day, yet here are some snippets of what may occur: a couple of quiet hours of writing and inspiration at dawn, then phone calls, administrative work, book mailings/post office, giveaways I may be involved with, library story times, off to a school assembly. I may be booking a poetry workshop at an indie bookshop, emailing back and forth with an illustrator for most of a day, working with a children’s charity organization, answering my editor’s questions, texting a teacher a thank you for inviting me to a book presentation, writing poems and submitting for kids’ magazines, scheduling book fairs and children’s festivals and putting them in my calendar, careful to not overbook anything.

Having balance including sleep, family time, and a healthy diet and activity is a priority for me. And so I sleep when I can and if midnight strikes and I need to get back to it, I do. Neither my publishers, nor the illustrators I’m honored to collaborate with, are all here on the East Coast, so it keeps me on my toes. Luckily, my husband also has a busy, around-the-clock schedule, so it works for us.

Q. Sounds like a lot to juggle. How long did it take you to find your voice as a poet?

A. My first, memories are those of preschool age–rhyming, writing poetry, and imagining my own fairy tale stories. My grandmother, who was my caretaker at that age, would jot the words or verses down for me when she could. I have always been aware of that “voice” within. In fact, I don’t know what it’s like to not have it! Ha!

Q. That’s wonderful. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

A. Presently, I’m working on a Christmas idea, finishing a rhyming Valentine’s inspirational book for children and parents, and am pulling together a “poem in two voices” compilation.

Q. How many hours a day, on average, do you work on your books?

A. Every day presents different opportunities for me, but when the inspiration strikes, I go for it! Should I not be home or near my laptop, I type quickly into my IPhone’s notes. I’m known to write my books on star-lit mountain tops during dawn hikes or in the midnight hour when the coyotes are howling hillside.

Once I start working on my manuscript, I may stay with it anywhere from a half hour initial creative blast to an 8 hour editing marathon.

Q. Wow! How long, on average, does it take you to complete a book? And at what point does an illustrator begin to work on one of your books?

A. I often spend years on a book before I consider submission. I believe it’s important to step away from it for a while, get a different perspective and then go back with a fresh eye. I’m a stickler for making it better, editing and revisions.

For A Flock of Fun, I submitted the book to the publisher in early 2018. The book was released January 2020.

The illustrator for my books is assigned by the publisher after the manuscript is accepted for publication.

Q. Do you usually start a new project with the basic ideas for the images in your head, which, then, guide the verse? Or do you start with the poem, which then guides the images that will be created?

A. Although I’m very visual, verse most often sprouts first. The images and illustrations for the story or poetry are the decorative leaves on the stem, giving the plant further definition. Together–hopefully it blooms!

Q. Interesting. Can you tell us something behind-the-scenes about your newest book, A Flock of Fun?

A. Sure! I’m thrilled to hear positive feedback from parents who connect with the theme of allowing children, or really anyone who is having trouble falling asleep, to have an exercise of some type to release the energy of the day. Letting go of our stress and concerns into dreamtime is important to falling asleep. That was the impetus for writing A Flock of Fun’s storyline. In fact, I‘m in the midst of a book tour now with a licensed therapist. After I read the book and share some conversation with the children, we craft cotton ball sheep while the therapist discusses sleep and calming techniques for restless children with parents and caregivers.

Q. That sounds like so much fun, and I’ll bet it’s very helpful to the children. Just one more question: is there anything that you edited out of this book, A Flock of Fun?

A. We edited the original title of the book. It was longer: A Flock of Fun When Day is Done. Now, we refer to it as AFOF–an easy moniker.

There was also a big shift in imagery/subject from the original version of A Flock of Fun that I submitted: the snails in the book were a replacement for a turtle! The original verses toward the middle of the story sounded like this:

“I dozed off thinking

Sleep’s a hurdle,

Tomorrow night

I’ll count one turtle!

The next night came

As did the turtle,

Like slow molasses,

Green as myrtle…”

Then we thought, would children know what myrtle is? Not at this age. My editor and I decided to keep it simple and straight-forward for preschoolers. Thus, a good tip for those aspiring in children’s writing: research and familiarize yourself with the age group you are gearing your piece for.

Having said that, I urge everyone of all ages to read through a picture book, whether an older classic or a brand new one. I guarantee you will find yourself smiling and feeling a warmth in your heart.

Kindest regards to everyone! Thanks so much.

Fantastic! Thank you for sharing with us today and for all of the wonderful tips. It’s been a pleasure.


ABOUT THE BOOK

A Flock of Fun

Written by Raven Howell. Illustrated by David Barrow.

Publisher’s Synopsis: A young child discovers the solution for falling asleep is not always quiet and silent, like counting slow, slimy snails. Sometimes, a room full of happy dances, shirts in a tie-dyed swirl, and mischief-making sheep are just the ticket!

Ages 3-8 | Publisher: Doodle and Peck Publishing | February 2, 2020 | ISBN-13: 978-1733717083

Available in Hardcover | Paperback

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Raven Howell is an award-winning children’s author and poet of nine picture books. She writes poetry for a variety of children’s magazines including Highlights, The School Magazine, Humpty Dumpty, and Cricket. Frequently sharing book presentations and writing workshops with children in schools and libraries, Raven also serves as Creative & Publishing Advisor with Red Clover Reader. Her family, long dawn hikes, being at the beach, and munching on warm butterscotch chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven are all sources of writing inspiration. Visit her website: www.ravenhowell.com.

OFFICIAL LINKS

Web Site: www.ravenhowell.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/atpearthkeeper/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/atpearthkeeper

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pickward/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raven-howell-5a813015b/


A Flock of Fun Tour Dates

Monday, March 2, 2020
The Children’s Book Review
Tour kick-off

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Word Spelunking
A fun guest post from author Raven Howell

Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Glass of Wine, Glass of Milk
A book review of Raven Howell’s A Flock of Fun

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Over Coffee Conversations
An interview with author Raven Howell

Friday, March 6, 2020
Confessions of a Book Addict
Enter the A Flock of Fun giveaway

Monday, March 9, 2020
Rosco’s Reading Room
An interview with author Raven Howell

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
The Children’s Book Review
A book review of Raven Howell’s A Flock of Fun

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Barbara Ann Mojica’s Blog
A book review of Raven Howell’s A Flock of Fun

Thursday, March 12, 2020
The Children’s Book Review
A booklist of bedtime books, including A Flock of Fun

Friday, March 13, 2020
The Fairview Review
A book review of Raven Howell’s A Flock of Fun

Monday, March 23, 2020
A Dream Within a Dream
A book review of Raven Howell’s A Flock of Fun

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
The Children’s Book Review
An interview with author Raven Howell

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
A book review of Raven Howell’s A Flock of Fun

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