Throughout 2020, I’m interviewing the new authors & illustrators of Perfect 2020 PBs. Today, the spotlight is shining on author Lisa Katzenberger. Her first picture book, National Regular Average Ordinary Day, illustrated by Barbara Bakos, debuts from Penguin Workshop on June 23rd, 2020.
Congratulations on your upcoming debut! Give us a little teaser of what your book is about.
In National Regular Average Ordinary Day, Peter gets a severe case of boredom with all his usual games. To keep himself entertained, he decides to celebrate all the holidays under the sun—important ones, like National Ice Cream Sandwich Day! But when he’s faced with a day with nothing to celebrate, things take an interesting turn.
Love it! How did the idea of National Regular Average Ordinary Day come to you? Do you remember your lightbulb moment?
One of my writing gigs was working as a social media manager. I had to generate content for a few company’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds. One of the tactics was to find « national holidays » that tied into the company’s brand. I wrote a quick scribble about these holidays as one of my StoryStorm ideas and let the idea sit for a while. Then I tackled it as my December 2017 draft. The story just fell out of me. It went out on submission in February 2018 !
Wonderful. Can you tell us a bit more about your journey to publication? How long have you been pursuing this dream?
Oh gosh, since I was a kid. I learned about creative writing in third grade and fell in love with storytelling. I kept taking writing classes whenever I could in school, all the way through college and eventually in the evenings when I had a career as a technical writer. I wrote two and half really bad novels that will never see the light of day, but I did manage to have some short stories published.
Then when I had my kids and started taking them to story time at the library, I fell in love with a new format – picture books. I joined SCBWI and the 12×12 picture book writing challenge in 2015, and have been writing kidlit ever since.
Today, what do you like to write about, in general?
I’ve realized that my writing falls into a couple categories – either a heartfelt look at self-discovery or plain silliness. But I like to keep challenging myself and hope to grow in my types of storytelling.
What does a Typical Day in The Life of Lisa look like?
I have eight-year-old twins and they are my number one priority. But I make sure to carve out writing time, getting up at 5 or 6am to write before I have to get everyone up for school a few days a week. I also work freelance writing gigs from time to tome, so my schedule varies if I have work to focus on as well. Now that my kids are older, I can write while they play in the basement or read or are taking gymnastics lessons. No day is the same, and I just try to write in the cracks of time I have, a bit here and a bit there.
What feeds your creativity as an artist? Or helps you out of a creative “funk”?
Honestly for me it is just pure work and sometimes brute force. I make myself open the computer every day and face the screen. Sometimes I’m in deep revision mode or have notes from critique partners and I know just what I need to do. Those times are rare. A lot of times I let myself write really crappy, junky, yucky awful stuff. Then I let it sit and decide if there is a nugget of something worth revising or I just call it writing practice and let it go.
Any tips you can offer other creatives?
When it comes to writing kidlit, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is the best resource for learning about the writing craft, meeting other writers, and understanding the kidlit publishing industry. BUT I hear so many people say they can’t afford to join. You don’t have to be a member to attend many of their smaller local events, which are often free and open to the public !
Another must-go-to FREE resource is www.kidlit411.com. Scour the site for information and then join its Facebook page for questions and conversation.
Lisa, your dream of publishing your very first picture book is about to come true! What’s next? What do you still hope to accomplish in the future?
My next picture book, It Will Be OK, will be published by Sourcebooks in February 2021 and illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett. I have many other picture books in the works and a chapter book series that I hope to see published as well! And then just writing, writing, writing!
Any promotional events where we can look forward to meeting you?
I do have a few online events scheduled! I will be doing an online book launch party hosted by The Writing Barn on June 26 at 11am Central. And my local library is hosting a storytime for kids on June 25th at 2pm Central. More events will be coming soon! You can find additional details in my author newsletter if you’d like to subscribe!
Where can we go to find out more about you and your books?
Follow me on social media ! I love to engage with readers and writers ! You can find me on Twitter @FictionCity and Instagram @lisakatz17. For other details about me, check out www.lisakatzenberger.com. Find a way to say hi !
Thanks for being with us today, Lisa. Here’s wishing you continued inspiration and success!
Preorders are vital to a debut author’s career. To support Lisa Katzenberger and her new release, preorder National Regular Average Ordinary Day through any of the following retailers:
Great interview! I love how your job as a social media manager led you to your debut picture book! I’m looking forward to celebrating National Regular Average Ordinary Day’s book birthday soon!