“Does editing ever end?”
Author Penelope Kaye has dipped her quill into several markets, but her passion is children’s picture books. That’s not a market I read OR edit, but Penelope’s advice is truly limitless — it doesn’t matter if you’re writing children’s books or writing adult novels, keep reading for great writing tips!
Thank you so much for being here. What do you write? How did you pick your genre?
I actually write in several genres—Christian nonfiction, children’s picture books, poetry, devotions, articles, and newspaper columns.
My favorite is picture books, both Christian and secular. I began writing seriously in my late 20s, to the point that writing consumed me. When I committed my life to the Lord, the desire for writing completely left. About two years later during a worship service, I saw a picture of a large number of children swarming me and Jesus handing me a gold pen. I knew God was calling me to write stories for little ones. My desire for writing returned, but it took many years before I learned to write from God’s heart.
How long does it take you to: write the book? Edit it? Finalize it?
For a picture book for pre-schoolers, it takes about two hours. For my adult works, it’s usually months.
As far as the editing process, does editing ever end? Honestly, it’s hard to give a specific time frame for that question. I go back over the manuscript numerous times. I read it aloud. I read it backwards. I read it to others to get their feedback. Then I leave it alone for a few days and come back to it for more editing. (For my adult books, at this point I engage a professional editor.)
All of this can take days, weeks, even months before I feel it’s ready to submit to a publisher. And then when I think I’ve reached perfection, another round of edits comes from them. But it’s always rewarding to see the beauty of your heart’s desire when you hold your first copy.
Which was harder: the first book or the following books? Why?
My hardest book was the first one, Making Crooked Places Straight. I had to include a lot of personal examples so readers could relate to the topic of spiritual warfare. Consequently, I had to deal with a lot of spiritual warfare while sharing painful experiences.
How do you prepare to write your books: pantser, plotter, both, something completely different? Describe your strategy.
I derive my stories from titles, and the titles for my books come from literally anywhere—conversations, sermons, workshops, when I’m out and about or on the internet. At the same time, I hear or see a phrase that grabs my attention and I immediately get a picture of a scene or a character, which then drives the story.
Why did you decide to use a hybrid publisher?
I work with hybrid publishers so I’m able to keep all of the intellectual property, which is extremely important to me. I can create other items to sell or give away without a publisher’s approval. Hybrid publishing also gives me the final say in the layout, formatting, editing, etc.
If I’m not happy with any aspect of the direction things are going, I can freely share those concerns with my editor. I don’t sign off until I’m satisfied. I’m not a perfectionist, but I do strive for excellence.
Hybrid publishing also frees me from the actual printing, uploading files, contacting major distributors, etc. I do have the bulk of the responsibility of marketing, but every author does at this point.
I’ve worked with hybrid publishers for all of my books, and each time has been a tremendous learning curve. But it’s been worth it. This latest project especially became a team effort, and we had a great flow of suggestions back and forth that resulted in a beautiful picture book.
What advice do you have for new authors?
Attend writer’s conferences. Several of them. You may have the gift of writing, but if you don’t understand the craft of writing, your manuscript will go nowhere. I never would have had an award-winning book without the knowledge I gained from conferences. I cannot even begin to place a value on them.
How did you find your freelance editor? How would you describe the experience?
I have worked with two freelance editors. I actually met my first one at church. She was a retired college English professor, and I had wanted to meet her for a long time. We attended different services, so I kept missing her. One day we connected, and I asked her if she would be willing to help me with my manuscript. Long story short, circumstances allowed me to sit with her for hours editing page by page, line by line for five chapters. The knowledge and understanding I gained was phenomenal. Took my manuscript from grade-school level to a doctorate level.
I connected with another editor (for the same manuscript) after one of my endorsers recommended I engage a professional editor to polish things up. Again, she provided outstanding work.
What does your revision process look like?
Messy. I cut and paste; shift words, sentences, whole paragraphs; backspace repeatedly; delete words, sentences, whole paragraphs; and sometimes start all over.
If, in the midst of the messiness, I can’t make the words gel, I print off the page and cross out, draw arrows, scribble, write notes until I’m satisfied. Then I go back to the computer and add it to the text.
A teacher who loves to write, Penelope Kaye has taught in a variety of venues over the years. Her writing includes poems, newspaper columns, and children’s church curriculum, as well as writing and choreographing several children’s holiday programs. Author of the award-winning book Making Crooked Places Straight as well as a writer’s how-to book called Land Media Interviews Without a Publicist, she annually reviews children’s picture books for the highly respected High Plains BookFest. With more than thirty visits to Yellowstone National Park, she is thrilled that the setting of her first picture book, I Do Not Like the Rotten Egg Scent in Yellowstone National Park, encapsulates her vivid memories of majestic landscapes, unpredictable buffalo, Old Faithful eruptions, and, of course, the rotten egg scent. Penelope lives in the Mountain West and enjoys walking, completing word puzzles, and eating blueberries anytime of the day.
Link for website: https://ps2710.com/
Link specific for children’s books: https://ps2710.com/just-for-kids-books-new
Link for children’s letter: https://ps2710.com/letter-just-for-you
Link for children’s freebies: https://ps2710.com/justforkidsresources
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/Penelope-Kaye-author-718916071559856