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#GrowYourWriting Creator Interview: Author and Aspiring Illustrator, Bridgitte Rodguez

Welcome to #GrowYourWriting Creator Interviews blog series in 2024. I’m thrilled to feature talented kidlit creators this year and shine a spotlight on their beautiful work and inspiring journeys.

Today I’d like to welcome Author and Aspiring Illustrator, Bridgitte Rodguez. Her picture book A WALK THROUGH THE REDWOODS was published by Reycraft Books in 2023 and is a delightful stroll through the vivid imagery of the giant world of redwood trees.

You can connect with Bridgitte on X/Twitter, Instagram, and her website.

Stay tuned all the way to the end of the interview for your chance to win a copy of Bridgitte’s book, A WALK THROUGH THE REDWOODS.

1 – What inspired you to pursue a career in children’s literature, and when did you start creating?

In early 2020, before the pandemic, the idea to write for kids popped into my head. I can’t remember exactly what was the catalyst for kidlit, as I’d been toying with wanting to be a writer for the better part of a decade, but really didn’t know what type of writing to pursue or even how to go about it. Then something clicked. And I thought, Hey I can write for kids! I like kids, the stories are short, and they can be about anything. I immediately began research on how to write for kids, which led me to join SCBWI. And then I went from there. Learning and writing.

2 – Can you share your kidlit journey thus far with our readers?  What writing/illustrating credentials, awards, contest wins, or other recognition would you like to share?

I started querying way too soon! I wouldn’t call it a mistake, it got me to jump into the deep end, and not be afraid to send my work out there. I received form rejections, of course, and some more personal ones that the story idea was good, but the writing needed some work. I kept at it. I had decided that I didn’t want an agent. So I sent various manuscripts to publishers that didn’t require agents. I joined many groups to grow a network and gain further insight into the kidlit business including: Storyteller Academy, 12×12, and The Writing Barns Courage to Create. I also took classes with The Writing Barn and the Highlights Foundation. And I read and read lots and lots of kidlit! It is almost all I read now. But there are so many great stories out there, it is super fun research. In May of 2021, I sent out a manuscript to Reycraft Books and promptly forgot about it. Then in October 2021, I received an email from Winsome Bingham at Reycraft, asking if I would like to speak with her about the manuscript I sent in. Of course, I said yes. When we spoke she told me that she loved my story, but that it read too much like a magazine article, and the other three editors, didn’t see a vision for it. But Winsome did. She championed my story. We worked on it together. And then they offered me a contract a few months later. That book, my debut picture book, A Walk Through the Redwoods, illustrated by Natalia Bruno and published by Reycraft Books, released September 12, 2023.

3 – What part of the process, from the first draft to submissions, do you find the most challenging, and how do you overcome that?

I have a huge mental block when it comes to writing query letters! They feel too much to me like a cover letter for a job, which was my least favorite part of applying to jobs. I felt the resume should speak for itself, as the manuscript should. However, I have come to realize that the query can provide more information about the manuscript. The agent/editor is not in my head, so sometimes, you need to connect the dots. The query letter allows you to explain the subtext of the manuscript, any themes that may not readily be apparent, as well as show your seriousness in pursuing this business. I try to not overthink them, and just write as if I’m talking to the editor/agent in person.

4 – I love the thoughtful way you considered structure for your story! That gives me so many ideas which brings me to our next question. Can you tell our readers more about your journey from ideas to publication?

I tend to write stories from my life and my family. I have never been much good at making things up! And am always impressed with people who can write completely different characters and worlds. My stories tend to center on family, nature and culture. I get the ideas from experiences that I have. I like my stories to take readers on an experience. As a kid, we didn’t really go anywhere or do anything. I think that is why I loved reading. I could go a million places in a book and be whoever I wanted to be. So that is what I write.

5 – What overall advice would you like to give aspiring kidlit creators to grow their writing?

Keep working on your craft. Write because you enjoy it, and eventually someone else will enjoy it too.

6 – What’s next for you as a creator?

I’m going to continue to write and pursue finding an agent! Having gone through the publishing process without an agent, I now see the value of one! The process wasn’t difficult, per se, but ultimately the editor/publisher don’t work for you, they have their own interests. But an agent, is your advocate, they work for you, and are on your side. Not to mention they do the not fun task of negotiating contracts and making sure you get paid.

Guess What? It’s giveaway time! Bridgitte has graciously offered to giveaway one copy of her book, A WALK THROUGH THE REDWOODS.

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post below! Entry period closes on Jan 28, 2024 at 12am PST. One Winner will be announced January 29, 2024.

1 Bonus entry is available for anyone who shares this post on twitter, follows, and tags  @kidsbookwriting  and @C_Alemshah on X/Twitter.


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