Kathleen M. Blasi writes books for young readers, including Hosea Plays On (illustrated by Shane W. Evans), A Name of Honor, and Are Organized Sports Better for Kids than Pickup Games? Active in the children’s writing community, Kathleen has served as Co-President of Rochester Area Children’s Writers & Illustrators and is former Co-Director of the Rochester Children’s Book Festival, for which she and her Co-Director received the 2015 New York State Reading Association Literacy Advocate Award. Kathleen lives in western New York, where, along with writing, she enjoys fostering the curiosity of young storytellers. Kathleen is the auhor of MILO’S MOONLIGHT MISSION written by Kathleen M. Blasi, published by Yeehoo Press. Today we chatted with Kathleen about her journey of being an author and getting published.
How did you first get published?
Many years ago, a woman (who has since become a close friend and writing partner) joined our local writers/illustrators group. During our round-robin introductions, she mentioned that she had just sold her first historical fiction manuscript to an educational publisher. I had just completed a middle-grade historical piece myself, so I tracked her down and asked about her experience. I submitted my piece, and six months later, I got “the call” from her publisher. It was thrilling!
What brings you to children’s books?
I think it’s all about hope. I believe we owe it to children, even in the midst of a tough, realistic story, to offer some element of hope. I enjoy the innocence and open-mindedness of children, in general, and it makes the possibilities seem endless as a creator of stories for this audience.
What was your inspiration for MILO’S MOONLIGHT MISSION?
The story idea originated with a real moonlit adventure I had with my own family, when we’d heard about an upcoming meteor storm that was predicted to be “spectacular.” We got up at 4AM and headed outdoors with blankets and chairs. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever witnessed.
What surprised you the most during the creation of MILO’S MOONLIGHT MISSION?
I remain surprised at how long it took me to figure out that the story was not truly about the meteor storm,. Equally magical that night was the special time we spent together. We experienced something out of this world, right in our back yard, grounded in our close relationship with one another.
What is your favorite thing about being an author?
I love the revision process. First drafts are exciting, as the ideas flow, but then the necessary resulting mess can be daunting. It’s like a puzzle. I enjoy figuring things out and finding just the right word to make a sentence sing. If I’m allowed to have 2 favorites, I must say that working with children during author visits and workshops, being a part of their seeing themselves as writers, is wonderful. Writing is deeply personal, so I believe anyone can be an author, as everyone has a story to tell. To see that come to fruition, working with students, is rewarding.
What do you find difficult working as an author?
The blank page. It’s intimidating. Self-doubt creeps in: What do I have to say? Who will care about what I have to say? I’m not ashamed to say that sometimes I have to set a timer and not allow myself to get up from in front of my pad of paper or my computer until it goes off. Writers’ time-out. It’s very effective!
What do you do to shake the rust off or get new ideas?
Read, read, read. Pay closer attention to the world around me, especially seemingly little things – that to children are really the big things.
What’s up next for you?
I’m hoping to soon find a home for a picture book set during World War II.
What advice would you like to share with aspiring authors? Don’t give up! Just show up to write. When the right words come, it seems magical, but it’s not magic getting to that point. It’s hard work. Keep trying, and connect with other writers to help make you better at your craft. Don’t compare yourself to others. Be your own measure of success. This is so, so hard to do—particularly in the age of social media. Finally: read, read, read!
Thank you Kathleen for sharing your journey with us!