Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Welcome to our newest blogger, Carol Coven Grannick! ~ by Patricia Toht

The GROG has added a new blogger to its roster:

Carol Coven Grannick!

PT: Welcome, Carol! How did you get started as a writer?

Carol: As a child, it seemed natural for me to write, to put thoughts and emotions to paper. From childhood on, poetry and wonderful stories delighted and moved me, and the most natural thing in the world seemed to be for me to create the same. I suppose without putting it into words at the time, it felt like this - this thing, this experience is 'me.'

As far as I've meandered from full-time writing, being a writer has always figured into my multi-faceted identity. But there did come a time, once I was writing for children in a committed way, when I said to myself that whether or not I ever became book-published, I was a writer, and would keep writing. For several years, I put submitting on the back burner, and that freed me to write exactly what I needed and wanted to write. I still do. The deepest joy is in creating and re-creating.

PT: What inspires you?

Carol: Everywhere I go, everything I do, every moment of my life, can inspire a poem or idea for a picture book. It could be something a child does or says, something I observe or experience during the day, but it's always something visceral and something that my brain sees in language. An idea comes from this kind of response to anything - always something that catches me, sparks a sensation of wonder, even awe. Something tiny, but breathtaking, whether beautiful, joyful, painful, sorrowful, will catch my attention, and I'll hear an opening line of a poem, a title or opening lines for a picture book.

Advice Image source and CC link
PT: You've written quite a bit for newsletters and blogs. What are your favorite bits of advice for writers?

Carol: It's true that I've written lots of articles on the writer's inner life for newsletters and blogs. In fact, before I had a professional interest in the writer's inner journey and the strengths needed for persisting on the journey, I wrote columns for my high school paper, and later longer papers and articles that always leaned "internal." 

I never offer advice that I don't take myself, and so the small pieces of advice I'd offer - as a writer and clinical social worker - are these overarching things:

  1. trust or learn to trust your emotions and refrain from judging them; 
  2. if a pessimistic framework seems to inhibit your work, choices, and life, learn - with help and practice - to reframe language into a heartfelt, optimistic framework; and
  3. when preoccupied with the self-absorbing issues of working at being creative, make certain that your life has "other-balance" - focusing on what you can do for others or the greater good.

PT: Which books and authors are among your favorites?

Carol: Many authors have impacted my writing life, from the ALL OF A KIND FAMILY books I received as a child and classic picture books like BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL, MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS, and THE STORY OF FERDINAND, to the extraordinary books I discovered at Skokie Solomon Schechter Day School, where Irene Sufrin had created and shared a magnificent K-5 library that took my breath away and turned my writing journey toward children. I read and re-read Jerry Spinelli, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Applegate, Kerry Madden, Karen Hesse, Lois Lowry, Claudia Mills, Deborah Wiles, Frances O'Roarke Dowell, Richard Peck, and so many more I don't have room to mention.

PT: Tell us a little about your upcoming book. What was your path to publication?
Esther Hershenhorn

Carol: My middle grade novel in verse, REENI'S TURN (Fitzroy Books, 2020), is a story of becoming, as one of my mentors, Esther Hershenhorn, so aptly said - really, a story of a shy, self-conscious preteen girl becoming the girl she'd like to be, without giving up the person she already is. It is a body-positive story that challenges the cultural notion that who we are, what we achieve in our lives, and what we even allow ourselves to want, is dependent on the size and shape of our bodies. 
The seed story for the novel appeared in Cricket Magazine in 2001, and inspired the award-winning experimental film, La Folia (Filmelodic, 2018). For now, I'll say that REENI has been through many years and more drafts and versions than I could have imagined, with me facing plenty of obstacles not unique to our business, but important to learn from, and to share. The degree of help and support I received from so many people in so many different arenas was a true gift. I took a turn toward independent, traditional publishers in early 2019, and found my good (and best) match with Fitzroy Books and publisher/editor Jaynie Royal.
Carol spent time this summer on a creative retreat, led by
Esther Hershenhorn in Landgrove, Vermont.

PT: Do you prefer the initial writing or the revision process?

Carol: I prefer revision, hands down! I love revising and have learned to revise with the eyes of a stranger. The benefit of putting away a manuscript for some period of time cannot be overstated. Our brains need the distance in order to see clearly.

PT: What's next for you?

Carol: I believe I've circled back to where I began my writing life - with poetry, whether verse or poetic prose, it feels like where I belong.

Heidi Bee Roemer
Poetry for the very young is my primary focus right now. When I began writing full-time, for the first time in my life, in July 2018, I took an intensive class with Heidi Bee Roemer. I felt like my brain exploded into a garden. I couldn't stop writing poetry for the very young, and I didn't want to! My inspirations were, and still are, the beloved children at the cutting-edge early childhood center where I'd worked for six years, and continue to serve as a volunteer story-reader. Heidi is a wonderful teacher, and a loving and supportive mentor. My classmates and I continue to exchange valuable critiques online.

I'm also working slowly and carefully on a poetry chapbook for adults that deals with an experience in a major hospital that jeopardized my husband's life, and had a major impact on me that I'm still processing.

PT: Wow, Carol! What an interesting journey you've had. Your path and persistence are an inspiration to me. We're so looking forward to having you join us on the GROG!

Hello, Carol!

************ WINNER ALERT!!! ************

Congratulations to Andrea Page,
the winner of Michelle Schaub's
new picture book/poetry collection,

Andrea, please contact Michelle via her website


  1. Welcome to the GROG, Carol. Great to meet you virtually and learn of your journey to publication. Yes, we ned to keep that joy in our writing.

    1. Carol's spirit reminds me of Jane Yolen's book, TAKE JOY. A wonderful read, if you haven't already discovered it, Kathy!

  2. Welcome Carol & appreciations Patty. I expect to return again to this deep & thoughtful article. I looked up the movie Carol mentions & it sounds like something I want to spend time with. Beautiful message. I look forward to 2020 & Carol's debut novel-in-verse, REENI's TURN. I am a longtime fan of Ms. Esther. The peaceful workshop scene you share is a meditative eye balm I needed this morning! Thank you for signing up with us & congratulations on what's ahead next year for your character's launch into the wider world.

    1. I'd like to see that movie, too, Jan! Sounds interesting.

  3. Welcome Carol, and congrats on REENI's TURN. I can't wait to read it!!

    1. I'm looking forward to its release in 2020. Carol, is there a specific date yet?

  4. Terrific interview, Patty and Carol! Welcome to Carol and not only do I look forward to reading REENI's TURN, but I look forward to enjoying the insights you share here on the GROG Blog!

  5. Welcome to our blog, Carol! Enjoyed learning about you.

    1. We groggers are a far-flung group, Tina! Good thing we can connect virtually.

  6. Hello! Thanks for sharing your journey, Carol. Looking forward to reading your posts!

  7. What a colorful, fascinating interview, Patty and Carol. Welcome to a super supportive group of bloggers.

    1. Thanks, Sherri - yes, Patty's questions were thought-provoking and made responding easy!

  8. I loved this interview, and really appreciated all your insight into the writer's life, Carol. We met a long time ago when I was in the Illinois chapter of SCBWI. I remember how thoughtful and positive your were--it's obvious that spirit has brought you far. Welcome to the GROG--I'm sure we'll all benefit from your insights.

    1. Thanks, Julie! How kind of you to recall! And thanks for the welcome - I'm so happy to be here!

  9. Hi, Julie:
    Thanks so much—I do remember meeting you long ago. It's kind of you to remember me this way...I'm persistent if nothing else! Glad to be back in touch on the GROG!

  10. Patricia Toht, Kathy Halsey, Jan godown annino, Michelle Schaub, Eileen M., Tina Cho, Jilanne Hoffman, Sherry Jones Rivers:
    I couldn't reply, but I'm sending a group "thank you" for your responses to Patty's wonderful interview questions. I'm happy to be here, and look forward to adding to the already-wonderful posts you all provide.

  11. Patti: Thank you for introducing everyone to Carol.

    Carol: How wonderful for you to join the GROG Blog. The many wonderful authors you enjoyed over the years are some of my favorites, too. I look forward to reading your middle grade novel, RINNI'S TURN.

    All the best.
    Suzy Leopold