Margaret Welwood has taught English as a Second Language for over 25 years. She has met many immigrant and new Canadian parents, and has seen how eager they are to help their children succeed. Margaret has written this report to help those with very young children prepare their little ones for success in school. She and her husband have raised five children, and now they’re watching two grandchildren grow up into fascinating little people.
Margaret has enjoyed helping adults and children improve their language skills for many years. She is also a freelance writer and editor. Margaret edited a non-fiction book which won first prize from Writer’s Digest magazine, and has had over 100 magazine and newspaper articles published. But her favorite stories are about her grandchildren! Visit her Grandma’s Treasures blog and read about two-year-old Tommy, who stalked the primeval forest, striking terror into the hearts of saber-toothed tigers and T-Rex alike. His cousin Tina, Florence Nightingale of the 21st century, did pregnancy testing at the age of six. Come join the party! Then check out Margaret’s first-ever picture book for children at Grandma’s Bookshelf.
Margaret Welwood -interview
What inspired you to write about early learning?
I was teaching English as a Second Language at our local college, and I wanted to help publicize the program. Our immigrant parents were really keen to help their children succeed and I thought the book might give them some good ideas.
Then when I wrote my first book for children, Scissortown, I wanted some low-cost, no-cost ways to promote it. I updated the early learning e-book and my son, Steven, laid it out. I put it up for free on Smashwords I’m very pleased with the number of downloads it’s getting, and of course it has links to my website and blogs.
What other writing have you done?
I’ve written a lot of magazine articles on business, education, art, health, religion . . . I helped to edit Obtaining Salvation by Walter W. McNaughton, and I edited To Teach, To Learn, To Live: The Complete Diabetes Education Guide for Health Care Professionals by Diane O’Grady, RN, RSN, CDE, Second Edition (2006). The diabetes book won first place in the reference category of the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards (2010).
What is your writing process?
For children’s fiction, I never decide it’s time to write a book. The idea comes, and I “watch” the characters in my mind and write down what they do. I also direct them.
Tommy and Tina in Scissortown are my grandchildren, acting as I think they would act in a fantasyland setting. The other children’s stories all have an element of truth in them, whether it’s the character they’re based on or something that happens.
For magazine articles, I’d look for something exciting for the “hook,” then organize the info and add transitions.
I’m working on my online profile to prepare for marketing Scissortown. I have three other stories written which I hope to self-publish in the future.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I spent a while trying to get an agent or publisher and had no success. I almost signed up with a self-publisher till my husband reminded me that even with the “two for one” the salesperson was offering, I’d still have to buy the books! So now I’m publishing in the truest sense: contracting out the artwork, layout and printing.
Another reason to self-publish is that I get to work with the illustrator, Coralie Rycroft. As I say in my writing blog, “if we weren’t working together, how would she know that the Slicers and Dicers who wreak havoc in Neat and Tidyland are clueless rather than malicious? And how could she have suggested replacing the sawdust with downed kites and helped me sort out the ill-fated spaghettis?”
What did you read as a child?
I loved science fiction. My mother used to park me in the book section of The Bay and I’d read until she was done her shopping.
What are your favorite children’s books?
Ones our children enjoyed when they were young, like the Narnia books, Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories by Arthur Maxwell, and some much simpler ones like Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, Where is the Keeper? by Mabel Watts and Groundhog’s Day at the Doctor by Judy Delton.
Also, some of the books that have gone over well at the day care or with Tommy and Tina, like Little Croc’s Purse by Lizzie Finlay, Barnaby the Bedbug Detective by Catherine Stier, Rosie and Tortoise by Margaret Wise and Do You Want to Be My Friend? by Eric Carle.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Read the kind of literature you would like to write. I read so many magazine articles when I started writing for magazines, and I’ve read a lot of children’s stories over the years.
Read about your craft. When I first started writing magazine articles, How to Sell Every Magazine Article You Write by Lisa Collier Cool was a great help. Since I’ve gotten into writing for children, Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul and You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracey Dils have helped to guide me through the maze.
Take advice from others, whether they think of themselves as writers or not. Both Coralie and Steven have helped me with the storyline for Scissortown. One of Steven’s ideas helped to foreshadow the hero’s identity and develop the wordless commentary provided by the kitten. And Coralie has come up with a beautiful idea for foreshadowing the ultimate solution through the artwork.
Network. It was so helpful to have input on our cover design, both from professionals like editors and other writers, and from grandmas, moms and others who might buy Scissortown. And it’s also the way I’m developing my list of potential customers.
Find more about Margaret Welwood at www.grandmasbookshelf.net