She is also the author of the children’s iPad app “Magic Story Factory,” which helps young children create an interactive ebook. She currently lives in Omaha, NE with her husband and two young boys where she loves shopping, wining, dining and cheering for the Huskers! Her children's young middle grade book "Tall Tales with Mr. K" is available both in print and as an ebook in all formats.
Kathy will also give away a FREE ebook copy of “Tall Tales with Mr. K” to one lucky person who leaves a comment!
Welcome Kathy. I’m so glad to have you here. Can you tell your readers something interesting about your favorite character?
I loved school as a child and admired all of my teachers. One of my favorites was my fourth-grade teacher, and the character Mr. K is loosely based on him. He was a former major-league baseball player for the New York Yankees and was incredibly tall! Some of the methods Mr. K uses in the book were derived from him. For example,
Mr. K’s “sticky seat” was taken from my teacher who actually used tape to prevent one student from standing up all the time. My teacher was rather mysterious like Mr. K, as well as kind and funny and students loved him. Not to mention he could hit a baseball clear out of the school playground and across the street!
How absolutely fun to have a Major League Baseball player as a teacher! And so wonderful you carried this into your story. Love it. So, what was your favorite book as a child? Tell us about it and how it influenced you as a writer.
One of my favorite book series was “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton. I loved the creativity behind the idea that little people lived in the walls and actually borrowed everyday objects. To this day, if I misplace something I say “the Borrowers” took it!
I also loved the “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” books by Betty MacDonald. Again, it was such a creative, humorous premise. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle was a lovable woman who helped “cure” children of their bad habits using very unconventional
These types of books grew my love for reading and became my points of inspiration as a writer of children’s books.
I too loved the Borrowers. What a great storyline. Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?
I love writing for young middle grade (ages 7-10) because they have made the transition from early readers and beginning chapter books to shorter novels. They are excited about reading and devour books. I also incorporate an element of magic into my stories because this age is when suspension of disbelief is at its
Middle grade is such a fun age. I love their appetite for good stories. What type of writing process do you follow?
I’m an incredibly organized person. I’m an avid list maker and like to keep my house tidy and picked up. However, don’t ever look in my closets! That’s where the chaos is
kept until things are literally falling out and then I have to organize them out of necessity. My writing process is very similar. I have lots of ideas that I keep tucked away in my head until one day something comes spilling out and I know it’s time to sit down and write about it. From there, I try to create a rough outline, but it always ends up changing. And I never know the end of a story until I get to it. I also love the revision process. It’s so satisfying to take something you think is written well and make it even better!
Right now I’m completing another young middle grade fantasy and I plan to write a middle grade fantasy series for boys—a market that I think has a lot of room for growth and one close to my heart since I’m raising two boys!
LOL. I almost hid my head in shame when I read you were so organized. I think I’m chaos in the making. Glad to see you have a closet similar to mine.
Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?
Keep writing, attend conferences, join critique groups, network online, and don’t be afraid to self-publish on sites like Smashwords.com and Amazon. It's a great way to stay motivated and build a presence. Most of all, don’t stop what you love doing!
Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of work to become successful, so it
won’t happen overnight!
Please tell us about your new book. How did it come about and will you share your favorite excerpt/scene?
“Tall Tales with Mr. K” is about a group of third-graders who think the teacher’s lounge is where teachers eat candy out of vending machines, watch TV and get to play video games. They don’t expect it to be a tropical island where they are kidnapped by pirates, a circus where they learn the flying trapeze or a crime scene where they solve a jewelry heist!
I mentioned the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books before, and I wanted to write a children’s book using a similar premise and style. I wanted to use a familiar setting for kids—school—but I wanted to add an element of mystery, and there’s plenty mystery surrounding the teacher’s lounge! I also tried to come up with unique ways of helping kids solve common issues they face in school at this age, such as struggling with reading, math, etc. but doing it in a fun, creative way. I incorporated the style of making each chapter of the book its own story but connecting them all at the end.
“I noticed you weren’t too happy during reading group,” Mr. K said. “What was wrong?”
“I don’t know. It was just hard,” Max said, looking at the floor.
“That particular book was hard?”
“Yes. No. All of it’s hard. I just don’t like to read.” Max felt a lump in his throat. He swallowed it back to keep tears from forming in his eyes.
“I know reading can be really tough,” Mr. K said. “Sometimes it helps if you don’t think of it as just reading words on a page.”
“What do you mean?” Max said. He looked up, all the way up, at Mr. K.
“I like to think of reading as though you’re decoding a map—a treasure map. The page of the book is the map, and the words are the symbols on the map. Once you’ve figured out what all the symbols mean, then you know--”
“Where the buried treasure is!” Max said.
“Exactly! And in the case of books, the treasure is the story.”
“It sounds cool, but I don’t know if I can do it,” Max said.
“Why don’t we find out?” said Mr. K, turning toward the door of the teacher’s lounge.
“We can’t go in there. Students aren’t allowed,” Max said.
“You are if a teacher is with you. This is where we’re going to unlock the secret behind reading a treasure map.” Max stared at the door with the big “Teacher’s Lounge” sign beside it. He wasn’t sure what to expect. Mr. K turned the handle, and Max followed him through the forbidden door.
Max stumbled through the doorway. He thought he’d be faced with startled teachers eating their lunches. Instead, he found himself—outside. And not just outside the school but outside on a beach. Soft sand surrounded his feet. He looked around and saw blue ocean water as far as he could see. Mr. K stood beside him wearing a tan, wide-brimmed hat. A pair of binoculars hung around his neck.
“Where are we?” Max whispered, scrunching his nose to keep his glasses up. “How did we get here?” He turned around to look for the door to the teacher’s lounge. Nothing was there but a thick jungle with mountains behind it.
“We’re on an island known for its buried treasure,” Mr. K said. “And I happen to have the treasure map.” He held up a plain, brown hardback book. He handed it to Max. Max opened the book. Each page was filled with a different picture of a treasure map.
“You mean we’re going to hunt for real treasure?” Max asked, stunned.
“As long as you can decode the map,”Mr. K said. “And as long as we can stay away from them.” Mr. K nodded toward the water. Max turned and saw the dark outline of a giant ship sailing toward them. At the top a black flag with white skull and crossbones waved in the wind.
“Is that a pirate ship?” Max said.
“We better get started before it comes to shore.”
I have your book and can’t wait to read and review it. Watch for it sometime soon on my blog. The excerpt sounds wonderful! Now, how can your fans find, follow or friend you?
You can go to my blog at http://ksrwriter.blogspot.com. I provide tips, information and interviews for authors. You can also find me on Facebook (KSR Writer), Linkedin
(Kathy Rygg) Twitter (kathyrygg) and Goodreads.
My book is available both in print and for kindleon Amazon.com, for Nook on Barnes and Noble.com, and for iPad, iPhone and iPod on iTunes and for Sony, Kobo and to download to your computer on Smashwords.com.
Thank you so much for hosting me today, C.K.! I had a fantastic time!
Thanks again for joining me. It was my pleasure to have you here and find out so much more about you.
Remember everyone; Kathy will give away a FREE ebook copy of “Tall Tales with Mr. K” to one lucky person who leaves a comment! So, increase your odds and say hi! Good