I'd like to give a warm welcome to Rhonda Gowler Greene, author of The First Men Who Went to the Moon, which is on the New York State Reading Association's Charlotte Book Award Intermediate ballot.
1. I wrote The First Men Who Went to the Moon because I had written other books in the same circular, poetic pattern (example - The Very First Thanksgiving Day) and they were successful. I thought- What other historical event could I write about? The journey of Apollo 11 popped in my head, maybe because I actually watched the first Moon landing and walk on live TV when I was a kid.
I didn’t write the story with the 50th anniversary (2019) of the Apollo 11 mission in mind, but I was excited and pleased that the publisher (Sleeping Bear Press) worked hard to get the book out in time for the worldwide anniversary celebration.
2. Readers should read my books to…
a) learn interesting facts about historical events (such as in The First Men
Who Went to the Moon),
b) have fun with reading (in No Pirates Allowed! Said Library Lou), and…
c) look for good writing craft.
3. My favorite place to read is next to a fireplace. I’m lucky because the house my husband and I moved into a couple of years ago has fireplaces in the kitchen, living room, and a bedroom. I love to curl up in a cozy chair with a good book right next to a warm, glowing fire- even in summer!
4. A book that has touched my heart is Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. It’s beautifully written. Plus, I love free verse novels. It won the Newbery Award a while back, in 1998. There are actually so many children’s books that have touched my heart. Another one is Mr. Putter & Tabby Write the Book by my favorite author, Cynthia Rylant. (I got to meet her once!) I love all her books, but this one really hits home. It’s so warm and funny. And I’m going to squeeze one more in, a newer one—The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart. Wow, I couldn’t put that one down. I predict it will be a contender for the 2020 Newbery Award.
5. I collect my ideas for writing most often when I’m reading other children’s books. My house is like a library! It’s absolutely full of kids’ books, from picture books to novels. I study the books and read them like a writer. I jot down my ideas on any paper that happens to be near me. I’ve learned if I don’t write down an idea the very moment it comes to me, I usually forget it. I keep these ideas in a file folder. Or some, I’ve put in a computer file.
6. A project I’m currently working on is a picture book about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I don’t know yet if an editor will want to buy the manuscript, but—fingers crossed!
7. Readers should know I got 220 rejections (for about a dozen different stories) before I ever sold a manuscript. That was over twenty years ago. The First Men Who Went to the Moon is my 28th book. I think it takes three P’s to get published—
Passion, Persistence, and Patience. Though I still get lots of rejections and it’s very frustrating at times, I don’t give up.
When signing my Apollo 11 book, I always add– ‘Dream Big! Reach for the stars!’ To accomplish any major goal, I think it requires dreaming big, working really hard, and not giving up. It takes that for me to get a book published. And on a much larger scale, it took that (and a team of 400,000 people!) to land humans on the Moon and get them safely back to Earth.
Thanks so much for the interview!
Thank YOU Rhonda!
Watch the book trailer for The First Men Who Went to the Moon . . .
Make sure to visit Rhonda's website!