I’m excited to welcome Janie Reinart to our Storyteller Academy blog so that you can get to know her a little better. And if you've never checked out ReFoReMo, hopefully this interview will spark your interest, because I can't recommend a better way to effectively utilize mentor texts.
Q: What is your background?
A: My background is in education, English, and theater. I’ve worn many hats: teacher, author, professional puppeteer, musical storyteller, and poet in residence.
Janie's Path to Picture Books
Q: What made you want to start writing picture books?
A: I love reading picture books. I shared them with my five children when they were young and continue reading them with my 15 grandchildren. It was a natural flow from writing puppet shows to writing interactive stories/lyrics for the musical storytelling to writing picture books.
Q: How long have you been writing? Are there any people or groups that have helped you along the way?
A: I have been studying and writing picture books for five years. My favorite groups for taking classes are: SCBWI, Storyteller Academy, Art of the Arc, ReFoReMo, Picture Book Summit, Lyrical Language Lab, Picture Book Blueprints & Manuscript Magic, The Writing Barn, Study Hall, and 12 x 12.
The past four years, my online critique group has helped and supported me along the way. We meet weekly (sometimes several times a week) on Google Hangout. A hug and shout-out goes to my amazing and talented critique partners Pamela Courtney, Kathy Halsey, Charlotte Dixon, and Melissa Rutigliano. With them I can write on!
Q: Have you ever felt frustrated by trying to get a picture book right?
A: When a story isn’t right, I start reading more picture books searching for a mentor text. The more you read the better you write. I look at it as a puzzle to be solved.
Reading for Research Month
Q: I’ve been a fan/participant of Carrie Charley Brown’s ReFoReMo since its first year. Could you tell our readers about ReFoReMo and how you help out with the challenge?
A: Carrie Charley Brown, Founder/Co-Coordinator of Reading For Research Month and Kirsti Call, Co-Coordinator are on a mission to help picture book writers reform writing by reading and researching mentor texts in the month of March.
Carrie and Kirsti believe it is necessary to read a wide variety of picture books to truly understand the form, the market, and the craft of writing them. The goal of ReFoReMo is to build reading background while learning how to use mentor texts. After reading the daily online posts, participants will read picture books and apply the things they learn to their own writing. Plus there are prizes.
The challenge is supported by educators, authors, illustrators, editors, and literary agents, in addition to a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction picture book recommendations.
There is still time. Come on over to the Facebook page and register. I am a Facebook group moderator and blog contributor and welcome you to the ReFoReMo family.
A: Melissa and Ariel’s lessons are enjoyable and jam packed with information. Discussions about the following topics have helped me with my work-in-progress (we are not finished with the class yet.)
- Knowing the heart of your story so you don’t cut it out,
- Letting the reader figure out the heart of the story—find it and earn it,
- Encouraging reader participation in your work (reminds me of my musical storytelling days).
Janie's Picture Book Deal
Q: You recently signed a contract for a picture book deal with Blue Whale Press. Will this be your first picture book? Could you tell us about it?
A: This will be my first trade picture book. Previously, I worked for hire with Learning Horizons, a subsidiary of American Greetings Corp. My publications included pre-school workbooks and a book about puppies for their “Know-it-all Series.”
I am delighted to be working with Alayne Christian at Blue Whale Press. UNTIL WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN is slated for a summer 2020 release date. And the talented Morgan Taylor will be illustrating the picture book. The story is dedicated to the refugee children in Uganda and celebrates their ingenuity in creating toys from found items. I’m including information about an international organization in the back matter, so readers can donate and help those in the settlement camp if they so choose.
Q: Do you have any advice that might help readers find satisfaction or joy in writing picture books?
This is one of my favorite quotes:
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~Roald Dahl
Watch with glittering eyes. Believe in magic. Play with words. Trust your voice to tell the story that needs to be told.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I have several projects I’m working on. (For now, I’m happy with how they are going.)
Q: Where can we find you on the Internet?
Group Blog--Grog : http://groggorg.blogspot.com