Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Author Interview: Catherine Osornio

Meet Author Catherine Osornio!
Writing was never a career Catherine Osornio was looking for. Her interests while growing up were in math, science, cartooning, and eventually in film. It wasn’t until five years ago, while helping a friend develop her writing skills, that Catherine felt the Lord confirming a call to write.

Catherine has written both fiction and non-fiction stories for children's magazines and a private school's reading program. She has also written numerous inspirational articles for newsletters and an online newspaper. Currently she is in negotiations for her first picture book on American History. She is also working on two projects dear to her heart: an adventure series for boys, and a mystery series for girls. Catherine lives in Southern California with her husband and four children.

Featured Book: Alphabet book about American History (Title forthcoming)
Q: Congratulations on landing your very first book contract! How long did it take to go from your first idea to the actual book contract?
A: I took my writer group's challenge to write a book in a month, and encouraged by my author friend, I chose to write an alphabet book. Going onto Amazon.com, I used their advanced search tool to find publishers who were currently producing this type of genre. I made sure to choose companies who had at least five alphabet books in their catalogs. Once I created this list, I went to the publishers' websites to see if they were currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts. My list was now narrowed to five. Based on the type of alphabet books the company produced, I narrowed the choice down to one.

During this process I had been praying for some good topics to write about. I did not make this decision until I had found my prospective publisher. I noticed they had many books on holidays, but not one for the 4th of July. Looking through their submission guidelines, I noticed that they did not want picture books longer than 1,100 words. I bought five of their books and carefully read each one looking for patterns: how many words per letter; how was the topic covered; how did they handle difficult letters like Q and Z? I made notes of everything and used these patterns to write a rough outline. I researched using online materials and books from both my own library and the public library. I reworked and fine-tuned my manuscript until I had a rough draft to take to my critique group. Once I got their thumbs up and worked the changes, I sent out the manuscript to the publisher. This process, including pinpointing the publisher, took one month.

Six weeks later, the Editor-in-Chief e-mailed me. She liked the idea, but wanted an historical emphasis only (I had written about celebrating the 4th as well as the historical aspect). I got to work digging up more research materials. Three months later I took my rough draft to my critique group, and then sent out the final draft to the publisher. I heard back from the Editor-in-Chief about five weeks later, letting me know they were interested in the book and were working on the contract.

The total time from starting with my idea to hearing from the Editor that they wanted the book was seven months.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: I pray a lot for inspiration and I find ideas popping in my head. It also helps to have four curious children, with ages ranging from 7 to 13, who are constantly asking me about things that spark story ideas.

Q: As a child, what were your favorite books to read?
A: I devoured mysteries! I also loved biographies, particularly about George
Washington. I find it funny that my first book is about American History, particularly during the time frame of my favorite hero.

Q: Share one tip you would like to give to a children’s author trying to land a first book contract.
A: Target, target, target! It really pays to know the publisher and their product lines. If you give them what they favor, they will be more likely to look at your ideas. I doubt I would have been so successful if I hadn't studied the publisher as well as I did.

1 comment:

sherri crawford said...

Congratulations on your ABC book!!! I can hardly wait to see it. That will call for a critique group celebration for sure! I love the fact that you "pray a lot" for inspiration. As Christian writers that element is KEY. Thanks for your great advice on getting an alphabet book together. I'm working on one myself and may need to call on you for advice!
Sherri Crawford