Friday, January 13, 2012
The Writer's Block Interviews: Gail E. Hedrick
1) Describe your journey as an author/writer.
I wrote poems and greeting cards the whole time I was growing up, but was afraid to dream bigger and think of myself as a writer. After college, marriage and several different types of jobs, I became a mom. I have loved reading my whole life, wanted to share that with our kids, and read to them a lot. I also was feeling a bit restless and thought I’d like to get my master’s degree. The only problem was I couldn’t decide what to major in! It was too expensive a decision to make lightly, but I knew no matter what I studied I would have to know how to write. So, why not combine a love of children’s books and the quest to learn how to write? I enrolled in the Institute of Children’s Literature Basic Writing Course. I guess I did all right as when my instructor suggested I submit my first completed lesson to a magazine, it sold! I have continued taking courses, writing and selling pieces on a very part-time basis, never being able to write full-time. However, about 18 months ago, I was ‘down-sized’ and finally had the time I had been hoping for to write. Things sort of snowballed, and within a few weeks, I had a contract for 4 non-fiction pieces for a wonderful ‘tween magazine for girls, sold a short story, a movement education Halloween verse, and my first book for kids! The exciting thing about the book is that is part of the growing phenomenon of e-books, so who knows where this will lead? I have since returned to work, but now on a part-time basis, so I may write and edit as my main job.
2) Do you specialize in any particular genre(s)?
One of my philosophies is fitness for kids should be fun, and can be incorporated in little bits and pieces if parents encourage it. So, I guess my activity verses would be considered a specialization. Besides that, I enjoy writing different things and have sold non-fiction pieces, fiction, and verse.
3) What was your first published work?
A ‘how-to’ on babysitting tips for middle-grade readers, to Happiness magazine.
4) Tell us about your middle-grade mystery, Danger at Baird's Den. Where can our readers buy it?
I am a former resident of North Carolina and Virginia, and after we moved to Florida, I began reading about an alarming amount of drug trafficking that was occurring across that region. Some of it was happening through areas of the mountains, and since we’d lived in the western mountainous regions of both states, it got my writer’s mind working. What if drug dealers were in the tiny resort town where we lived? We knew some people who were about to buy a bed and breakfast, so what if the main character was a middle-schooler, her family lived in a B&B, and she gets sucked into…. The story took off at this point and became the mystery in the mountains that Danger at Baird’s Den is now.
The 4 and 5-star reviews, both on Amazon.com and the publisher’s website, have been encouraging. The book was recently re-launched with cool new cover art, and is available on Amazon.com, Solstice Publishing.com, and Smashwords.com.
5) What led to your decision to publish with Solstice Publishing?
One, they were interested in my book! Two, it was an intriguing opportunity to be a part of a new division of a growing company, and become part of the e-book phenomenon.
6) When and why did you start to do freelance work?
After my first piece sold many years ago, I began to see a possibility for supplemental income from my writing. It was only in the last two years I began to look at other types of income in the writing field, such as editing and reviewing.
7) Tell us about your current projects?
Currently, I am revising a middle-grade book for girls dealing with coming of age issues, and have contracts for two non-fiction pieces for a ‘tween magazine. I also am an editor and reviewer for a mystery shopping company, and a part-time administrative assistant for a Lifelong Learning Academy.
8) How do you promote your work? What strategies have been the most successful?
Admittedly, this is an area I am struggling with. It’s hard for me to ‘toot my own horn’, so promoting has been difficult for me. Also, ebook promotion is a brave new world, so I am open to suggesetion. What has worked is having bookmarks with cover art, reviews, and purchase information on them. This way you do something to sign and give away at events like authors’ days at the local library. I have a website, which has been somewhat helpful, but I am considering a blog in order to get people to my site. I probably should be planning some school visits, but I welcome suggestions from any ebook authors on what they do to promote their work.
9) What advice would you give to budding writers?
Find a critique group and listen to constructive criticism. Everyone’s work can be better, so develop a thick skin and welcome the revision process.
10) What is your definition of success as a writer?
Wow, what a great question. I think, for me, it will be having a book in print. Barring that, to know I may have made someone smile, laugh, or get up off the couch and wiggle, because of my words-that is success as a writer.
Gail Hedrick is a former physical education teacher, YMCA administrator, swim coach, gymnastic coach and judge, and developer of a preschool movement education program. As a mom, Gail read to her two boys every chance she could. This sparked the desire to learn about writing and she enrolled in courses from the Institute for Children’s Literature. She just intended to learn to write, but when the teacher encouraged submitting her first completed lesson to a magazine and it sold, Gail was hooked!
Gail writes about everyday things that kids deal with like setting the table, studying, following directions, facing fears or being a friend. She writes a lot about movement as in not sitting still. Bounce a ball, go for a run, play with a hula hoop or roll in the grass – she’s not too picky, but really believes everyone needs to wiggle around everyday. She also writes for parents on everything from dental health and money-saving ideas for the holidays, to car trips with kids and the hardest thing of all, letting go.
Gail lives with her husband in Florida. She collects seashells and sometimes a rock from every place they visit. She likes to walk, swim, bicycle, exercise, kayak, and read, of course!
Books by Gail: Danger at Baird’s Den, Solstice Publishing
Find her at: www.gailehedrick.com