Another children's book for summer reading. We're talking to April Robins, one of the co-authors. Don't you just love this picture someone drew of her?
I decided that I wanted to do something useful once again after retiring and thought of writing. I considered writing a novel for years. I had a number of children’s book ideas in my head so I went that direction instead. I wanted to write with my family and they only wanted to be involved in children’s books. I may work on the novel again in a year or two.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Oh I have done a lot of them. One that comes to mind today concerns a flood. I was a software consultant for the State of Missouri. I wanted to get home for the weekend. The only way to get to the airport was to cross a long bridge over the river that had flooded. There were sandbags holding the water off the bridge. I wore a lifejacket in the car as I crossed the bridge.
Sounds scary. When did you first discover that you were a writer or illustrator?
In the fifth grade but I ignored the urge since I could only come up with one book idea. My teacher had asked us to write a short fictional story. I wrote about a cat and everyone loved it. So I thought in my mind that I had found my calling.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I have only had time recently to read children’s books, but I enjoy mysteries and romance.
There are a lot of mystery and romance books being published in the Christian market today. What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I have eight published books which include “A Message of Love,” “Lovely Little Lamb,” “Keeper of Happy Faces,” “Where is My Bennie?” (English & Spanish versions), “Zachary Goes Treasure Hunting,” “I’ll Tuck You in, Deer,” and “The Beautiful Princess Without a Face.” Two books are in production; and over fifty stories are at some stage of development, most of which will never see print.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Recently I haven’t done such a good job of that. I love writing the stories. Just give me a topic, and I will give you a book. However, I never realized the extent of work required to get my books into the hands of readers. I spend all my day at the computer getting the name “April Robins” visible.
How do you work together as a team?
At Robin Falls, I am the author and my family plans the role of writer. I always come up with the story, and they re-write it. You have to not have ownership of your work if you want to write as a team. We take turns editing the manuscript until everyone is satisfied.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of, besides family?
First I would have to say my software consultant career. Then I love the idea of leaving our wonderful little stories behind for my family to pass on.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A Cat. They get to lie around and sleep all day then prowl all night.
What is your favorite food?
Is it hard to break into the children’s market?
Very difficult, if not impossible. Of the thousands of submissions to a publisher in a year only around 100 become books.
What advice would you give to an author wanting to do that?
If you are over forty, I would get my work reviewed by other writers; get it edited by a professional; find a good artist on guru.com; and submit it to AuthorHouse or BookSurge. If you are under forty, I would submit my manuscript to traditional publishers. They say it takes 3 to 10 years for a book to be published traditionally.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
A Message of Love takes readers on a journey back in time with Linda, all the way to 1959. Linda, then 8 years old, cherishes the time she spends with her grandmother as the two of them work on a memory quilt. As Granny pulls scraps of material from a box, Linda fills a notebook with a sample of each piece. While Linda takes careful notes in the special notebook, Granny tells a family story related to the scrap. From pieces of her father’s WWII fatigues, to Granny’s Pink Lady apron, to the angel costume that she wore in a school play, each scrap – and story – fascinates Linda and passes on the things Granny values most in life: God, family and country.
For Linda, memories of a slower and gentler time come flooding back. She recalls singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes with Granny as they washed the selected material on scrub boards in the backyard, and the excitement of the quilting bee when the notebook was finally completed. It was a time when the small things in life were the most important; when people looked forward to their Saturday shopping and attending church on Sunday.
Linda’s mind suddenly returns to the present when she remembers the stories that her grandmother told her about the quilt containing a message. Will Linda find a note? Or were her grandmother’s words just symbolic for the fact that the quilt had its own story to tell? The answer will cause Linda to follow in Granny’s footsteps with her own grandchild, and capture the hearts of readers young and old.
Most families own a quilt. Many of those quilts are family heirlooms with special meanings. This story is about a quieter time in life during the 1950’s. Family values and life before high tech is displayed through beautiful illustrations. The subtle story with a sentimental ending will be a great bedtime story for parents or grandparents to read to children. Simple words and colorful pictures hold a child’s attention and make it ideal for an early reader. This children's picture book is for parents and grandparents with small children ages 2-8 and early readers age 5-10.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Go to my website at http://www.robinfalls.com/. From there you can go the “Contact Us” page and see all the forums I belong to or go to the “Writers’ Corner” and see all the Yahoo Groups I am a member of. My latest adventure is with FaceBook, which is a lot of fun. If you join, ask me to be your friend. I love having friends.
Thank you, April, for spending this time with us.
Readers, it sounds as if her web site contains a wealth of inf0rmation for you.
Leave a comment here for a chance to win a copy of A Message of Love.