Author and educator Kathy Stemke writes fun, educational books for children. Her titles include Moving Through All Seven Days, Trouble on Earth Day, and Sh, Sh, Sh, Will the Baby Sleep? She's also the author of the Wonderful Water Explorers series. In addition, she's a regular contributor to Helium and Associated Content. For more information about her work and her books, visit her website.
Thanks for the interview, Kathy. Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I write poetry for self-expression. I’m working on a book of poems about life from a dancer’s point of view. Here’s an example:
An Empty Stage
Coiled torso frozen on an empty stage,
a living sculpture trapped in place
with no gown of tulle to hide her age
only weeping knees below her waist.
Framed in light, her insides groan
with pent up passion poised for release,
she now waits long and alone
for rhythm to carry her to peace.
But I remember her unencumbered
prance, so light for one held down
by unfulfilled dreams remembered,
floating above her tattered gown.
Tell us about your children's books.
My first book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was an outgrowth of a blog post. This book inspires movement as children learn about the days of the week. The lyrical rhymes also teach them how to spell each day! The activities at the end of the book are designed to reinforce the concepts as well as give impetus to movement exploration.
I plan to write a series of picture books with environmental themes. Trouble on Earth Day is almost ready to be released. This is a fun and educational story about a squirrel who helps a new friend while learning to recycle. This book is full of great recycling ideas, craft projects, and worksheet pages.
I recently completed the second book in this series titled, Wonderful Water Explorers. This book opens up conversation about water preservation with a story of a thirsty bluebird named Charlie, who has lost his ability to sing due to a lack of water. When he meets up with his squirrel friend, Shelby, they set out on an adventure to find fresh drinking water and to bring back singing to the forest.
Guardian Angel Publishers will publish my book titled Sh, Sh, Sh, Will the Baby Sleep? In this action-packed story a boy named Zachary must keep his new baby sister asleep. In the process he finds out that he loves her very much. This book and the activities included in the back focus on teaching children about consonant blends. Teachers will love it.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on my third book of the environmental series, which is about air pollution, as well as a picture book about dancing wood fairies.
I’ve also started my first YA fantasy novel. Although I’m still fleshing out my characters and plot, I’m very excited about this story.
What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?
Because my books have teacher activities in them, I belong to several teacher groups online. This is a great way to keep in touch with what teachers are looking for in the books they buy for school, as well as develop friendships.
My free Movement and Rhythm Newsletter reaches over 350 teachers and parents each month. I continue to add subscribers everyday.
I belong to a wonderful virtual book tour group, Writers on the Move. This is a good way to develop an online presence, and develop friendships with other authors.
I do library and school visits in my community. I plan on writing a teacher tips column in my regional newspaper. While giving away great educational activities to the community, I will let them know about my books.
What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Take an online course on writing, which will teach you the basics of writing, and give you support. There are several great authors who offer coaching clubs and even critique your work as you learn. There are also week-long online conferences with several brilliant teachers to inspire you.
Read good books in the genre you want to write. Explore what makes those books so special. Take what you like from these successful authors and develop your own voice.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?