Monday, September 30, 2013

Blog Tour Interview

To those of you who are stopping here on today's blog tour, welcome! I'm thrilled you are sharing time with me.

As you can see, this is a "school" themed blog...a "life in the forties, fifties, and sixties" themed blog based on my first book, Lessons Learned: The Story of Pilot Mountain School, although I can't help but insert a post or two about other topics that blip across my radar.

Like now, as I answer questions about my writing journey.

My newest book was released by Albert Whitman and Company a few weeks ago, a children's picture book, When Christmas Feels Like Home. It's Eduardo's story, completely fiction but based on what I've seen and experienced moving into new cultures, answering the ageless question, "When will this strange place feel like my home?" Big concept, I know, but you're never too young to need reassurance.

My love for children's literature goes back to my early years waiting for the bookmobile every other Thursday at the post office. I'm sure I would have checked out the entire supply had there not been a limit. Then at Appalachian State University here in North Carolina, a class in children's literature sparked my dream to publish. I wrote my first manuscript, used it as my final project for the class, put it a drawer and went on with my teaching career. I read back through it recently and realized one thing, in the drawer it will remain. I chalk that one up to practice, practice, practice.

I've grown professionally since that first attempt, thanks in large part to the information I've gleaned through attending conferences and online workshops sponsored by SCBWI, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Through that I have a wonderfully brutal critique group that won't let me get by with mediocre writing. I've met in person and interacted online with many authors in the writing community here in the Carolinas and beyond the borders as well. I've revised so many manuscripts that when some of those same online buddies ask about one, I've had to think which version they are referring to before I can respond. The drawer of castaway manuscripts is stuffed to the brim, believe me.

I'm beginning a new project this week, a short nonfiction about a crusty moonshiner filled with unbelievable stories, including redemption. Needless to say, it's not children's literature. Neither is my recent release about my mother's cousin in the Salvation Army, Called to the Mountains: The Story of Jean L. Frese.

I write what interests me.

It's that simple.
Next Monday, the blog tour continues. Drop by and visit these authors on October 7 (or now!):

Sarah Maury Swan at
Tricia Martineau Wagner at
Linda Phillips at:

And please drop by and visit with me again.

Catch of the day,



  1. Dear Gretchen,
    Thank you for joining the Blog Tour.
    I am very proud of you. My goodness 3 books in a short time! Adult and children's books. You are very talented.

    1. Hi Joan, thanks for your encouraging comment. Three books in one year doesn't tell the entire story. It's more like six years in the making and everything happening at once. It's been one extraordinary year.