I’m excited to introduce picture book author CAROL GUCHEK. Carol and I met over a year ago, when she emailed me about a poem I had published in the SCBWI Bulletin Magazine. We corresponded then lost touch, until last week when Carol was cleaning out her emails and stumbled upon my address. With three published books and a fourth in the making, I wanted to give Carol the opportunity to share about herself and what she has written:
GUCHEK: I’m so happy to meet you as well, and thank you for this opportunity to advertise my books.
Once I’ve come up with an idea for a story, I research words. I make a list of any words that come to mind or that I find in my research that are related to my idea, i.e., for my popcorn book I’d list words like, popcorn, smell, taste, oil, hot, pot, crunchy, popping, fun, white, etc. Then it might take me a couple of years to compose my story incorporating my list of words with lots of revising and more revising. I use a rhyming website to look up words that rhyme with other words in my story and try to get the rhyme and meter as perfect as I can. To do that I write my verses and next to them I write the meter, that is, the stressed and unstressed syllables in a line. It looks something like this:
The corn explodes duh DUH duh DUH
right from the lid. duh DUH duh DUH
My sister’s scared.duh DUH duh DUH
She ran and hid.duh DUH duh DUH
The type of poetry I write for my children’s books is a Quatrain, which is a stanza or poem consisting of four lines. Lines 2 and 4 must rhyme while having a similar number of syllables. So that is the style for every book I’ve written. I really don’t waver from that since it seems to come naturally.
ENGLE: Tell me about your most recent publication. What’s it about? Where did the story idea come from?
GUCHEK: My last children’s book is called Beach Walk. It’s about a little girl taking a walk on the beach and the things she finds along the way. As a child, we had family visits to the beach every summer. My parents would rent a house at the Jersey Shore for a week. Other times we would take day trips to the beach. Then after I got married and had kids, we would also rent a house at the Jersey Shore for a week during the summer months, as would my sister with her family. Many times we were all there at the same time. Kids love the beach. They love to take their shoes off, feel the warmth of the sand between their toes. They like to run through the sand, go exploring, look for shells, listen to the lullaby of the waves, and feel the salty spray. I feel that reading Beach Walk will take them on a nature-filled adventure, excite their senses and leave them looking forward to their next visit to the beach. I think this book makes a perfect addition to any child’s collection of beach books.
ENGLE: What’s the most difficult part of the writing process or anything unexpected you encountered while creating this book?
GUCHEK: The most difficult part of the process for me is probably creating the best rhyme and meter I can. A lot of my time is spent on trying to make rhymes feel natural in their context. In other words, words or phrases are not used purely for their rhymes. I have to experiment with the phrasing until it doesn’t feel forced.
ENGLE: Are your books self-published or traditionally published, and are you agented? Explain how that came about.
GUCHEK: My books are all self-published and, no, I do not have an agent. When I wrote my first book, Popcorn In My Soup, I did submit my manuscript to a couple of publishers. After a couple of rejection letters, I decided I didn’t want to go on for months or maybe years hoping someone would publish my books. I wanted to be able to see them in print for my children and grandchildren. That was when I decided to self publish. I published my first two books using Lulu.com. That was a real learning process. For my first book, I had to do the whole setup and design myself but, in the end, I had a professional, bookstore quality book. Then with my second book I had a different illustrator (found him on Craig’s list) who was just wonderful, not only with his great, colorful illustrations but with all the help he gave me in setting up my book again on Lulu.com. When I was about to publish my third book, my illustrator suggested I look into having this new book printed by a printing company and selling the books through my website (which he designed). The pricing to have my books printed was much more economical than printing through Lulu. It was very expensive for me to purchase my own books through Lulu. So I went ahead and found a printer that had the same quality as my first book and much better prices. So I had my first two books reprinted and had my third book printed and I keep an inventory of books so that I personally mail books out to anyone ordering them through my website.
ENGLE: Tell me about your book awards and the ceremony. I’m so excited for you and want to hear every detail.
GUCHEK: Unfortunately, I have not received any awards yet. Hopefully one day…
ENGLE: Now that you’ve wet our whistles, where can we find your book? Do you have a website/facebook/twitter you’d like to share?
ENGLE: And finally, if you could be a Muppet, which would you be and why?
GUCHEK: Since I’m still a child at heart and have many stuffed bears and pandas, I’d probably like to be Curly Bear from Sesame Street. She is a girl bear and a little sister. Although I am not a little sister to my brothers since they are younger, I do have an older sister. I always thought that, if I could come back in another life, I’d like to be some little kid’s teddy bear or panda since I especially love pandas. Who doesn’t love a stuffed bear?
Please be sure and check out Carol’s work and pick up a copy or two of her books. I’m sure she’d love to hear what you think!!