Today’s interview is with Nancy Strom, author of Scooter and Friends Take a Vacation!
1. What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?
- My author name is Nancy Strom and I live near Seattle, Wa – although I’m about to embark on a 6 month to a year journey in a motorhome with my husband and dog. We’re going to try and see every state in the lower 48.
2. What is the title of your newest book and what is the genre?
- Scooter and Friends Take a Vacation is a children’s picture book, which is written in rhyme and beautifully illustrated
3. What is the book about?
- The book is a story where four animal friends – a red fox pup, a hedgehog, a beaver, and a raccoon – go on their first vacation and find a bit more adventure and excitement than they originally anticipated. The story is a fun romp for the entire family, and contains some valuable life lessons. It celebrates diversity, through the inclusion of a variety of animals, both female and male. It shows children the importance of working together, and how teamwork is reworded. It shows the value of listening, taking advice, and to not be afraid to try something new.
4. Where did you come up with the idea?
- I have loved Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows since I first read it as a young adult. I have read this book to my grandnieces and nephews over the years, and taken them on many mini-adventures, as well. Also, over the years, I have written a lot of new lyrics to existing melodies for events like birthday and anniversary parties. So once I retired I thought it would be fun to connect three things I have enjoyed for so long – reading to children, taking them on adventures, and rhyming lyrics – by writing a children’s book that would be an animal adventure story written in rhyme.
5. How long did it take you to write it?
- Once I sat down and got started writing it went rather quickly. And then once I found the publisher with whom I wanted to work, I realized the work wasn’t finished but rather just beginning. From writing the book, and then going through the publishing process, it took a little over a year. (obviously, as a 2200 word children’s book, my timing was much shorter than what many will experience 😊)
6. Did you learn anything from the project?
- The entire publishing process was one huge learning experience: I found out about the evolution of the publishing industry, from 75 years ago when traditional publishing houses had a virtual monopoly on what got into print, to today- where 80% of fiction and non-fiction published is by one type of self-publishing or another. I’ve learned what the publishing process itself entails: everything from getting an appraisal to the editorial, illustration, and formatting processes.
And finally I’ve learned so very much about marketing my story – I’m taking a marketing class that I started in May of 2019, and I still have 2 sessions remaining!
7. Do you have an author website and/or blog? How about a book video?
- My website is nancystrom.com On the website is my Video Book Trailer, and a few blogs. There one can also find a celebrity endorsement, a Rotary president’s testimonial, beta reader reviews, etc. of Scooter and Friends Take a Vacation.
8. Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?
- ALLi – the Alliance of Independent Authors – is a goldmine, in particular for the novice to the self-publishing world. I found my publisher – Ocean Reeve Publishing – through ALLi. On the ALLi website there is a particularly valuable index where ALLi rates any publisher or individual associated with the independent publishing industry. One can find full-service publishers, as well as individual editors, appraisers, proof-readers, publicists, illustrators, formatters, marketing specialists, agents, etc. etc. I can’t say enough about how valuable this ALLi “find” was for me!
- Get an Appraisal done of your manuscript. The Appraisal I received was a systematic and objective study of the marketability of my book, as well as an assessment of the revisions, rewrites, updates, and changes that would be needed to ensure that my book would be of the highest quality.
- My illustrator, Carolyn Van Hosen, is a wonderful artist, who took a lot of time to find out what my vision was for my characters. She did my cover art, as well as my 16 full-color illustrations, and my animal portraits that appear on page 3 of my book. Once Carolyn had the characters as I envisioned them and I signed off on the final versions, I got the idea to have portraits done so that as we proceeded through the illustrations she could refer back to them as a guide. And I decided to put them on page 3 so the reader and those to whom they were reading could see the animals “front and center” and know what each looked like – like “meet the stars of our show”.
- The appraiser and the editors with Ocean Reeve Publishing are great. And an author can cherry pick what assistance he or she wants. No contract to sign with Ocean, you pay only for the service(s) you need/want.
(Number 9 below is a continuation of the interview questions.)
9. What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work?
Just for pleasure (as opposed to book club books) I love international intrigue – Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, David Baldaccci. And historical fiction by W.E.B. Griffin. He has several series, including two great ones on the OSS – one series takes place in the European theater and the other in South America. I have enjoyed each of Griffin’s series – he has about 10 different ones.
I also love stories with animals – The Art of Racing in the Rain is a big favorite of mine.
I would be very open to reading new authors and would definitely be willing to give reviewing their work a try.
10. What is your favorite book of all time and why?
- Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, because it is full of wit, wisdom, fun, and love. And when it comes to the movie version, there is none better than the A&E version with Colin Firth – he will forever be Mr. Darcy to me.
11. Fun Question: Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?
- I have a black lab named Molly. She is an absolute hoot, and a sweetheart, and we love her! My favorite cat of all time was named Newt. He was the son of a stray who adopted us (we live on a farm, which is a great place for cats and dogs), and Newt actually thought he was a dog. He played fetch; he went on walks with me; he came whenever I called him.
12. Fun Question 2: Do you own an electronic reading device? If so, what kind and how do you like it?
- I have a Kindle. It’s great for traveling, but I still love to hold a book in my hands when I’m at home.
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