"For the first time in the [26-year]history of the survey—conducted five times since 1982—the overall adult literary r... More

Author Showcase

Spring 2007 Featured Author Lynda Bulla

RT: Each of your books — The Churkendoose, The Old Clock on the Wall, Freedom Rings, and Katydid — are each dedicated to one of your grandchildren. Is there a natural connection between the story's theme and the grandchild to whom you dedicated that book?

Lynda: Yes and no. The Old Clock was my first published book. My granddaughter Jennifer has dyslexia and didn't want to learn to read. It was too hard. So I wrote the poem and when it became a book, it was a natural thing to dedicate to her. If you do one, you have to do all, so the rest of the books are falling into place. Each one is dedicated to a grandchild, based on nothing more than who was next in line. I hope that each book is special to that child and that future generations will say, "My Nana wrote this."

RT: You are grandmother to six, are the other two grandkids anxiously awaiting "their story"? Do you have themes in mind for those books?

Lynda: Actually, I'm a grandmother to seven now. I have all the manuscripts written, no I have to get busy and publish them. Each child knows they have a book coming, and they look forward to seeing their picture in their book. My Next Book The Little Drop of Water will be skipping Tony, the next one in line (chronologically), because I have something special in mind for him. So the order right now is this: The Little Drop of Water is Garrett's book (age 5); Under the Big Yellow Leaf is dedicated to Connor (age 2); and How Embarrassing will be for Tony (age 13). I don't know why, but it seems to be the right match to me.

RT: Have your grandchildren helped you with the stories? Has your work inspired them to try their hand at writing?

Lynda: Two of my grandchildren are writers. It is mostly poetry, but they are articulate and very bright.

RT: One of your goals for your books is to give parents stories they can share with their children to help teach them values. If you could look across each of your books and draw one message, what do you believe would be the most important?

Lynda: Storytelling for the sake of story telling. Communicating with our children is one of the most important jobs we have. How we deal with life is learned at the dinner table. Our value systems, our life experiences, our joys, and our sorrows are part of what we need to share with our youth. With or without books, stories need to be a big part of every family, every day. It is how we pass on to the next generation our mistakes and our triumphs. Books are a springboard for knowledge, but how to act and deal with life's challenges come from observing the adults who inhabit a child's world.

My books are not graded, as I believe children can understand more than we give them credit for. In the past, children were exposed to Shakespeare, Socrates, Plato, and the Bible from a very early age. Now they read what is "age appropriate." Words, big and small, make up our vocabulary. Without words to describe our thoughts, how can we create? So there can never be too many words in a story, as there are never too many stars in the sky. A story has just enough words to tell it completely. From that, others will follow.

RT: In November 2002, you ran for a School Board position in your local district in Fresno County, California. What motivated you to seek that position? Looking back now, almost five years later, do you see an opportunity to create a children's book based on your experience?

Lynda: I believe that if you want to complain about a system, you must first try to fix it. I ran for the School Board as a way of trying to give back to the community, and as a way to fix problems. Because of an error by the election office, I did not get elected. I think now, I'm glad. There are many lessons to be learned throughout one's life, and community involvement is an important part of the lesson.

RT: You created Katydid Publishing as a vehicle to publish your books. Do you see the company as a vehicle to help other writers, whose work has been turned down by the New York Publishing Houses? Do you accept manuscripts from children's authors, and if so, what are your criteria?

Lynda: Right now, Katydid Publishing is only publishing my own books. I won't say that will never change, but for right now that is all I'm doing. I have helped local aspiring authors self-publish their works. I lead them through the maze of getting and ISBN (International Standard Book Number), copyright law, Library of Congress information, and sales tax forms to get them launched and on their way. The biggest challenge for a self-published author is distribution and recognition. Most of us do not have marketing degrees, and that would be helpful. That is why places like the Reading Tub are so important. They help us showcase our work to a much broader audience than we might otherwise have.

RT: On your website you note that you are continually jotting down ideas for future books. What kinds of things spark your interest as ideas for children's books? If you looked back on your notes, would you see a pattern?

Lynda: I see stories in everyday life. Little Drop of Water, next in line for publication, is about the adventures of a drop of water from ocean to mountain top and back. Under the Big Yellow Leaf, still a manuscript, is about the seasons and the hidden world around us. How Embarrassing is about involuntary reflexes and some of the multicultural beliefs that stem from such things as burping, itching, and blushing. I like to take the ordinary and make it shine. It's like Katydid says: "WYSIWYG — what you see is what you get." So if you are looking for stories, you will see them. Close your mind and you will miss all the opportunities for stories that exist in the world.

RT: Do you find it hard to select an event and build a story around it? What is your process for crafting a story? Do you have any ideas that are coming close to publication?

Lynda: Finding a story in any event is the easy part. If a story is meant to be, it almost writes itself. The challenge comes with editing. I, like most writers, tend to think my words are golden. It takes some time and distance for me to be able to properly prune a story. Then, after many hours of rewriting, it will get fine tuned even further when it gets to the illustrator. The words and pictures need to meld. Because it takes about nine months for a story to become a book, the moment of delivery brings a great sense of joy and accomplishment.

RT: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Lynda: When I was a Library Assistant for Fresno County Library, I came to appreciate how books can influence people. The written word is a powerful form of communication. Unlike the spoken word, which can be readily forgotten or misinterpreted, the written word can be read, re-read, and digested until the reader has a firm understanding of the author's intent. My intent as an author is to influence young lives. I hope my books will start dialogues between adults and children so they can reconnect, and so that children can put into words their own concerns and challenges. If my books have a positive influence on a child, then it is doing the job for which it was created. What more could we ask of anyone?

Website: http://www.katydidpublishing.com


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