(The trailer for Sea Turtle Summer can be found at the end of this post.)
She and One Pelican at a Time and were featured in the PBS Tampa (WEDU) special, GulfWatch. Pelican was nominated for a Global eBook Award and has won the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Nancy’s travels take her extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education. She and her husband live in Tampa and St. Louis.
I understand you were a university professor teaching classes about children’s and young adult literature before you started writing. How did the leap from teacher to author come about?
I thought fleetingly about writing for children through my years as an academic, but it never seemed the right time. After teaching children’s and young adult literature, though, the idea crystallized. The day after my granddaughter, Leah, was born, I wrote my first children’s book, I Held You on the Day You Were Born. Since then I’ve never looked back, and those pent-up books flow faster than I would ever have expected. So, in a real way, Leah (who is now five) is the true catalyst behind my writing.
What makes you passionate about writing for children?
My entire academic career has been about children, from teaching young kids to teaching pre-service teachers. It was, I think, a natural segue to begin writing for them. The combination of my love of all things books and the real joy I feel about children and their growing awareness of new ideas led me to this passion.
Congratulations on the publication of your latest children’s picture book, Sea Turtle Summer. What was your inspiration for this story?
My morning walks on Clearwater Beach provide me with so many ideas, particularly for the Bella and Britt Series. With Sea Turtle Summer, I walked by a cordoned off area of the beach that contained a sea turtle nest. The orange tape and the affixed state seal warning about the serious consequences of tampering began the process in my mind.
Clearwater Beach, always voted one of the three best beaches in the world, is a sea turtle’s nightmare if she happens to lay her eggs there. There is so very much activity—from sun worshiping, to volleyball games, to kids’ digging sandcastles (hatchlings cannot get over them), the problem became defined. The tension was set up. All we needed was a sea turtle laying her eggs in an unfortunate place, and Bella and Britt were back on the job!
I understand you get up at dawn everyday and by 6am are already pounding away at your keyboard on the balcony of your beautiful, gulf-view Clearwater apartment. Tell us more about your writing schedule and writing process, especially for Sea Turtle Summer.
It is true that I’m at my computer around six each morning and has become a joke with friends who always look at the time I send or answer emails! I do find that time to be more productive for me than any other.
I’ve learned to parcel my days into bunches of hours, each bunch dealing with one area. For instance, my best creative writing is early in the morning. About mid-morning, I turn to marketing and do that several hours. Later in the day, I go back to writing, many times on a different manuscript. I tend to finish about 5 PM, but my computer is sometimes on my lap in the evening as well.
My blog does take some time almost daily. I publish new posts three times a week. I try to write them in groups and usually have seven or eight ready to go. I enjoy blogging and find writing for adults helps keep my mind focused in a different way. In that regard, it’s a worthwhile exercise.
What do you do when the words ‘just won’t come out’? Do you stay and force it until something begins happening on the page?
Free Association is the name of that game for me. I don’t fight writer’s block anymore. Rather, exercise or running errands or doing anything not related to writing helps greatly. When I’m disengaged from writing is usually when engagement happens. An idea, a notion, a nugget of a thought will pop into my consciousness and, as if by magic, the block is finished.
Do you have any tips for aspiring children’s authors?
Yes! Don’t write in a vacuum! Join a writer’s group—immediately. It is the best thing you can do for yourself. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is beyond valuable for the new writer, and local groups are everywhere.
Realize you have to promote your own book, and you must do it constantly. The days of sitting back and letting your publishing house do it are over! I have a friend whose name you’d recognize here. She’s had thirty two books children’s books published. Recently she told me that she still gives one day a month to marketing.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
I’d be delighted to share my web and blog addresses and tell them where my books can be purchased.
Web site: http://www.nancystewartbooks.com
Blog site: http://www.nancystewartbooks.blogspot.com
The books are sold at: Guardian Angel Publishing, amazon.com, barnes & noble.com,Fictionwise and my web and blog sites, where you can obtain a personalized, autographed copy.
Thank you, Nancy!
Thank you so much, Mayra, for hosting me. I enjoyed being with you and your guests.
Mayra's Secret Bookcase is a marvelous blog, and it is my hope you will take a look at it!