Blog Archive

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Writing and Illustrating: An Interview with Kelly Pulley

You started off illustrating children's books for other authors. What made you decide to illustrate and write your own books?
I’d been illustrating the Beginner’s Bible books for quite a few years. We had published a lot of books in the series, but I’d never seen one written in rhyme. I had no writing experience at all, but I thought, how hard could it be? 

Well, it was hard. That first story was Food for a Fish, which was published by David C. Cook in 2012, first as one of 4 books in a series and then in the Magnificent Tales Treasury of Bible Stories.

How did you go about finding a publisher?
I sent book proposals directly to contacts I had made through illustrating, thereby bypassing the slush pile.  In other words, I cheated. Finding an agent was much more difficult.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
I would say the hardest thing for me is everything. I wish I could have a great story all planned out in my head before I sit down at my computer. But I usually have just a simple idea when I start. Then it’s a matter of writing, rewriting and more rewriting. When I feel it’s finished it sometimes doesn’t resemble what I started with. If it weren’t hard it wouldn’t be much fun or rewarding.

What does your editor remind you to do most often?
I’m not sure if there is one thing I hear more frequently than anything else, but the thing that comes to mind is to add more layers to my stories or add an extra twist. I think I’ve been scolded for doing about anything and everything that is possible to do wrong during the writing process. My punctuation is atrocious. Actually, I’m quite adept at making errors.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
That’s easy, my wife. She believes in what I’m doing and she’s my biggest fan. There’s no way I would still be at this if it weren’t for her ceaseless support and encouragement.

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it?

I’ve received a ton of rejection letters. The form letters are the worst, because you don’t get any feedback, so you have no idea why the story was rejected. I’ve found that if I’ve been pitching a story for a year or so and I haven’t found a publisher, it’s best to put the story aside. I can always return to it later and rework it, or just write it off as a learning experience.

What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing?
That a publisher would like my stories enough to publish them!

What frustrated you the most? 
That a publisher wouldn’t like my stories enough to publish them! 

What do you know now about writing that you wished you had known sooner?
How long the whole process takes. Spending months (or longer) writing and rewriting a story, then more months (or longer) searching for an agent or publisher. And when you finally find a publisher it still takes up to a couple years before your book hits the shelves. 

What is some of the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give?
With picture books every word is important. If it’s not essential to the story, it needs to go.   

Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add?
Don’t wait to start writing until you have the perfect story in your head. Just write. Let the story develop as you write. Few of my stories–other than my Bible stories–end up anything like I originally had in mind.   

What is the next book that will be coming out? Can you give me a short

I have several stories that I’m very excited about that I haven’t yet begun pitching to publishers.  One is about a rhinoceros and mouse that plan to have tea at the mouse’s house. The rhinoceros finds neither the house nor the story acceptable and takes matters into his own hands.

I also have a Christian series that is ready to pitch that is meant to show kids how to use the Bible to answer questions about fear, forgiveness patience, helping your neighbor, etc.

That’s it for today’s interview. If you’d like to learn more about Kelly’s books, here are some links to get you started.