What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
I’ve written in different genres over the last nearly 40 years and children’s picture books is just my latest. That all started back in 2008 when I rewrote one of my short stories for my god-son’s new little daughter. I had decided to get Kameela, who was 8 at the time, a Build-A-Bear so had the idea of turning the two princesses in the short story into bears, making them brother and sister and renaming them after Kameela and her brother Dayshawn.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Actually, I’m working on two at the moment. One is a sequel to Pegasus (right now the working title is Another Dragon’s Tale) and the other will be called Button Nose the Sad Little Bear. The former will be a new adventure with Pegasus and the two little bear cubs at the end of the first book while the latter is based on my childhood teddy bear that I recently found on eBay after a 2½ year search. It will be very cute.
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
No, after 4 decades I don’t find them useful for me at all. A few years ago I was trying to find an agent and the woman told me I should be joining critique groups but she never read any of my work. How would she know if I needed to join such a group? Many years ago, my college professor for English Composition loved my work and told me I didn’t need to be in that class. Of course, I needed the credits.
Can you remember your first reading book?
Wow! I had tons of books growing up and my favourite book was Cinderella, illustrated by Catherine Barnes. The first book I remember reading on my own though was Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I remember I was in 4th grade and it took me 10 months to get through it!!!!! I know, reading was a bit hard for me at the time. Of course today I could read the whole book in a couple of hours!
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
Actually, no I don’t. I just don’t normally snack between meals although once in a while I’ll have a piece of chocolate.
Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.
I’d say half and half. I try to keep it organized but sometimes it gets out of hand. I normally type at the kitchen table so it also depends on what I’m doing that day and how much extra stuff I need for that day’s work.
Are you published in the traditional manner or self published? Share your journey.
I am self published. I tried for over 16 years to break into the “traditional” publishing industry but had no luck. I was always getting comments like “It’s good but it’s not what we’re looking for.” In late 2007/early 2008 I was looking for a publisher for my Pegasus story when I came across the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. I sent in my Cinderella manuscript but didn’t make the semi-finals. However, I did “win” an account with CreateSpace, a print-on-demand self-publisher that’s a part of Amazon.
I decided then to become my own publishing company and started Nephthys Publications in November, 2008. I had also hired a woman out of Michigan to do the art for Pegasus while Stephanie Zuppo was going to do Cinderella. In early December, 2010, I published the original version of Pegasus. Unfortunately, no one seemed to like the black and white artwork so I had Stephanie redo it in full colour. I retired the original version and published the present, final copy in July, 2011. To date, it has won 7 prestigious book awards and my sales have been quite brisk as well.
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
Ooooh, that’s a tough one! I guess when I first started Johanna Spyri would have been one because I loved her style of writing. Today I’m thinking A. C. Crispin and the late Lloyd Alexander. Ann is the award-winning science fiction author and has been a friend for nearly a quarter century. I met Lloyd at my last job – it was a UPS Store and he would send his manuscripts from there to his agent. One of my co-workers had told me so much about him and we hit it off right away. We were good friends until his death and I miss him. He really enjoyed my Cinderella book, too.
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript?
The first thing is to start with a good story idea and a strong desire to put it on paper. No matter what, don’t give up. I’m talking about the dreaded writer’s block, which I’ve just recently experienced. I got through it, though, and my book is back on track.
I always use Word to type my stories and keep the spell checker on at all times. It makes it a lot easier. When I finish I always have several people read over the manuscript – like the saying goes, four eyes (or more) are better than two! It’s easy for me to miss things because the story is in my head so the extra eyes are helpful.
The last thing I suppose would be the publishing. If you can get an agent and go the traditional route, I say go for it, but there’s always self publishing. You can even go direct to eBook, without doing a physical book. The industry today is great and offers writers lots of opportunities.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
Ooooh, good one! Well, Pegasus would be animated, so to play the voices, I could see James Earl Jones as the voice of King Everton and the adult versions of Dayshawn and Kameela would be Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana.
As for my Cinderella book, which I hope to have out before the end of the year, I’d go with Emmy Rossom, Josh Groban, Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman and Mark Strickson in the key roles.
I was on my way to the supermarket, when … Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
One day last year, I was at the Post Office paying my bills when I happened to meet one of my former customers from my last job. Helga asked about how my book was doing so I showed her a copy and she bought it right there. While we were talking, who should walk in but our local weather man or meteorologist (sorry, Dave!), who I had also gone to high school with!
A school reunion!
About the Author
Born in 1960, author Gina LoBiondo grew up loving faerie tales. She began writing stories of her own when she was 13 and continues to do so today. After 16 years of trying unsuccessfully to break into the “traditional” publishing industry, the opportunity arose for her to self-publish; she began Nephthys Publications in November, 2008, as a way of doing just that. Her first foray into this exciting business is Pegasus — A Dragon’s Tale, winner of 7 prestigious awards, with her next book — her own retelling of the Cinderella story — expected sometime in 2013. She is also planning a sequel to Pegasus for 2013 and another children’s book called Button Nose the Sad Little Bear. Check out her personal website at http://www.ginalobiondo.com as well as the illustrator’s site at http://www.stephaniezuppo.com.
Since publication, Pegasus has won the following awards –
15 November, 2011 – The Pinnacle Book Achievement Award – Winner
Category – Children’s Interest
22 May, 2012 – International Book Awards – Finalist
Category – Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Fiction
27 June, 2012 – Gelett Burgess Awards – Winner
Category – Fables, Folklore & Fairytales
25 October, 2012 – Mom’s Choice Award – Winner (Silver)
Category – Juvenile Level 1 (Ages 5-8) Books: Fantasy, Myths & Legends
16 November, 2012 – USA Best Book Award – Finalist
Category – eBook: Children’s Fiction
25 February, 2013 – B.R.A.G. Medallion Honouree — Winner
Category – Young Adult/Children’s
5 May, 2013 – Indie Book of the Day – Winner
The book is available from the following sites –
www.ebay.com ( Item # 120395492294 )
— and also available as an eBook on Kindle and Nook for $2.99.