Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Debut Author Interview: Kristen Remenar, Author of Groundhog's Dilemma

Oh my! It's been a while since I've had an interview with a debut author. But as writers, I'm sure you are used to the waiting! We wait for a response from agents, editors, publishers, and if we're fortunate, the release of our new book. So what's one more wait to add to your list? 

Today's featured author knows a thing or two about waiting. Introducing Kristen Remenar

Kristen is the author of Groundhog's Dilemma, which is scheduled to be released in 2015 by Charlesbridge.  She has waited 13 long years to get her first picture book published. In this interview you will learn how Kristen's patience and perseverance got her a publishing contract. 

The 13-Year Wait: A Little Patience Pays off Big Time

It took you 13 years to publish your first picture book. Congratulations! While some people may be tempted to give up, you managed to stay strong and pursue your dream with patience and perseverance. Tell me about that.
Yes, perseverance has indeed been the name of the game for me. I joined SCBWI and sent out my first manuscript in 2000. A little over a decade later, I finally got the yes! Admittedly, life happened along the way to slow down the submission process but even though writing was often on the back burner, all the simmering resulted in something good.

"Don't rush to get something 'out there.' It takes time to learn to write and write well." ~ Charissa Weaks, Author

How many picture books have you written before coming up with the idea for GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA?
I've been writing since I was in second grade, and writing picture books since I was in college learning to be a teacher, but since I began to get serious about publishing in 2000, I wrote twelve picture books before I wrote what I called TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE and what will be published as GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA.
" really need to write 50 so-so stories, 30 okay stories and 20 good stories before getting to that one GREAT story." ~Bob Staake, author/illustrator

How many publishers have you submitted GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA to before getting a contract from Charlesbridge?
Submitting manuscripts (and facing rejection) has been one of the hardest parts of the process for me. I’m much more comfortable keeping my writing in my folders and considering myself an “undiscovered genius”, so Charlesbridge was the first to see this manuscript.

Image courtesy of Phaitoon /
Looks like you struck gold when you submitted your manuscript to the first publisher on your list and got a contract! Can you explain that? 
My editor, Yolanda Scott, at Charlesbridge had seen and passed on three manuscripts before she saw GROUNDHOG'S DILEMMA. Each time she said "no, thank you, but keep sending," so I did. So perhaps part of my success was building a relationship with an editor.

How do you deal with a rejection from an editor/publisher?
In the past, I would curse like a wounded sailor, soothe myself with chocolate, sob to my writing friends who’d then feel obligated to reassure me of my talent, vow never to submit again, and eventually send out something new. Now, I skip the vowing never to submit again.
"There is no such thing as failure. There is quitting or there is success." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

In the 13 years it took you to get a contract for your first picture book, did you ever think of giving up? 
I promised myself that I’d give my writing career 50 years, and if I hadn’t published by then, it might be time to call it quits.

What keeps you motivated?
It’s the one dream I’ve had since I was a kid that I can actually achieve. Solid Gold dancer? No. Published author – that I can do!


You are married to Matt Faulkner who has written and illustrated a number of children's books! What's it like having an award-winning writer/illustrator as your husband?  Does he give you any tips or advice on writing for children?
My husband is fantastically supportive. He gives only the advice I ask for. If my story is new and I just want someone to cheer me on, he does that. If I have a question about pacing or a section where I’m stuck, he gives terrific advice.

Illustrated by Matt Faulkner

What was your reactions when you found out that your husband was going to illustrate your book?
When my editor asked me how I felt about having Matt illustrate my first picture book, I felt so grateful because not only was she pairing me with such a talented artist, but that she was so considerate to ask me about it. Matt is so excited to be a part of this huge first experience for me. Yolanda has worked with Matt before, so we were hoping he’d be on her short list of artists.

Any plans on collaborating on a picture book together in the future? 
Matt and I have had fun working on some ideas together, but we’re taking the advice of Sarah Stewart and David Small, another wife/husband picture book team. Sarah writes, the editor edits, David makes art and treats Sarah like any other writer – Sarah doesn’t see the art until it’s done. I want to be married to Matt for a long time, so instead of watching over his shoulder, I won’t see (and won’t comment upon) the art for the book until it goes to the publisher.

Any advice for writers who are still waiting to be published? 
Give yourself 50 years before you call it quits!

Here are some fun facts about the creation of GROUNDHOG'S DILEMMA:

  • # of days/weeks/months to write the first draft: The very first draft was 2 weeks of tinkering.
  • # of years from draft to contract: 3 years 
  • # of months from submission to Charlesbridge to getting a contract: 10 months
  • # of revisions while in the hands of your editor at Charlesbridge: 2 before publishing, 2 since, and still counting!
  • # of years it'll take to get GROUNDHOG'S DILEMMA published: 3 years

Thank you so much, Kristen, for taking the time to share with us your story as a debut picture book author. I can't wait to read GROUNDHOG'S DILEMMA! But I guess I'll have to wait until 2015. That I can do!


  1. Thanks for sharing your journey Kristen. I always love those numbers at the end. Keep writing and keep going. :)

  2. Congratulations, Kristen. Can't wait to see your book on the shelves. :)

  3. I love your story and advice. I'll put myself on the 50 year plan too.

  4. Thanks for sharing this interview! Good encouragement to persevere!

  5. Another excellent interview, Bromelle! I love the debut authors ones the best and it is very encouraging to read about those who aren't overnight successes. :)

  6. Great interview! I just posted about Patience (The "P" Word) over at the Picture Book Academy. Waiting is definitely part of this business and it's nice to know we're not alone. A big Congratulations to Kristen on her book contract, and gratitude to you, Romelle, for finding her story and bringing it to life with all of the inspirational quotes as well!

    1. Looking forward to reading your "P" word on the PB Academy! I will link to it once yours is posted. I didn't see it yet.

  7. Inspiring and hopeful - thank you for sharing your story! And even more than that, CONGRATULATIONS! :)

  8. 50 years, huh? Best of luck with your book - many happy sales!

  9. What a great interview! I love all the quotes interspersed between the answers, too. 50 years, huh? I was giving myself 5-10 years.

  10. Thanks for a great interview, Kristen! 50 years? I gave myself 5 to 10...

  11. How cool that your hubby is your illustrator! Congratulations!

  12. Great interview Kristen and Romelle! I love hearing that this is a long journey and a commitment. It makes me feel a little better about those times when life gets in the way... you just have to keep picking it back up again.



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