Although I officially met today’s featured debut author, Karen Bonnet, at Book Expo America in May, something tells me our paths may have crossed a year or so ago while I was attending an Arts in Education showcase on Long Island — I have a distinct memory of chatting with an author there about whale bones. :) Indeed, the PTA circuit is a viable venue for authors looking to promote age-appropriate books for kids, who get very excited when a “real-life” author comes to talk with them about writing and books and, yes, whale bones.
Name: Karen Bonnet
Name of book: Whale Island and the Mysterious Bones
Book genre: YA Fiction/Adventure
Date Published: January 2011
Publisher: Legwork Team Publishing, Hauppauge (self-published)
What is your day job? I am a public relations and marketing consultant with KLB Services, my own business.
What is your book about? Whale Island and the Mysterious Bones is an exciting adventure story for children 8 to 12 that encompasses two themes: the profound significance of communicating and co-existing with animals and ocean inhabitants, and understanding true courage after children confront their fears. The story begins with Katey and Will Longley, a sister and brother who journey to a remote island thousands of miles across the globe, after a storm capsizes their uncle’s boat near Cape Cod. They have the misfortune to meet Captain Sharkley, a shady individual who kidnaps them and uses them in his quest to find mystical whale bones on an island from which no one has returned alive. The children escape the captain’s ship, along with the captain’s nephew, Bartholomew, and a crew member. They reach Whale Island, a beautiful but dangerous island with unusual plant and animal life, and they uncover the island’s amazing secrets, including the ancient whale bones.
What was the most challenging part of the writing process? Developing the characters so that each one had their own voice and personality, and ensuring that I would be able to evoke emotion in the reader who identifies with a character.
What motivates you to write? I enjoy creative writing, as well as feature, human interest stories. Each of us has an interesting “story” if you dig a little deeper and get to know the person. Writing is almost therapeutic for me… While I’m writing, I’m pretty much focused on only that and shut everything else out. That’s when ideas flow.
Did you experience writer’s block? I did have writer’s block every now and then, but found the best way to avoid it was to have no distractions and to have a clear mind free of worry. Not always easy to do, but that worked for me.
How long did it take you to write this book? It took about five months to write and many years editing it – after each rejection letter came, I would edit it again and again.
Why did you decide to self-publish this book? I sent my manuscript to about eight traditional publishers (large and small) and two agents. After waiting six to nine months to get a response each time and then putting it on the “back burner” – because life sometimes gets in the way – I decided it was time to try a custom publishing company. I was tired of the endless waiting to hear back from the traditional publishers. Custom publishers like Legwork Team Publishing use the very same process as a traditional publisher in their editorial and graphic design styles, and they are thorough and professional as well.
What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? There is so much involved even after the book is done and released. Marketing and promoting the book is so important and very time consuming for authors who are published traditionally and for those who choose self-publishing.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? I loved when the ideas flowed and everything came together. It was always exciting when a new idea popped up that would complete a chapter or start a new one.
Is there another novel on the horizon? Yes, I would like to write a second novel, as Whale Island and the Mysterious Bones was written to be one in a series.
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? I designed all the marketing materials for my book which I use to promote it. I’ve done book talks at schools and book stores – all of this involved a great deal of phone calls. I also wrote a proposal for schools, which is where I’d like to continue presenting my book/workshop. The Nassau County Library System now has 8 to 10 of my books circulating at various libraries. I also went to the Nassau County PTA Showcase to promote my book to PTA representatives and have gone to various craft/spring festivals as a vendor. I had a book signing at the 2011 Book Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan in May. Promoting your book is the most important thing you can do to spread the word to your audience.
Oprah has famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? Yes, I agree that if you are in the right place at the right time, and are prepared, it will bring you greater success. Since my book has only been released for the last six months, I feel that I’ve only reached “the tip of the iceberg” with the number of contacts. I hope to make a lot more and reach many readers.