This month’s spotlight is on Beryl Reichenberg, Beryl has been with Nightwriters for quite a while, but I for one, do not know her as well as I should. I’m sure this is true for our newer members. So with great pleasure, let’s get acquainted with, or re-acquainted with Beryl.
NW: “Who are you?”
Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself. Many of you probably know that I write and illustrate children’s books. You may not know that I am also a fiber artist. I have lived in San Luis Obispo for nearly 50 years, spending most of my life in California.
NW: Who is your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration is my grandfather. As a young child, I remember listening to his stories about the adventures of the three jolly fleas as we sat in an old rocking chair by the fireplace. Sadly, none of these stories were preserved. They only survive as warm memories from my childhood.
NW: Do you have a blog or website?
NW: What genre do you like to write?
I write and illustrate children’s picture books both fiction and non-fiction. Recently I began writing a chapter books for older children, ages seven to ten. Although I usually illustrate my books, I do collaborate with other artists, including a talented, eleven-year-old girl. Her delightful dragons in my picture book, A Real Dragon, are exceptional and well liked by my readers.
A small publisher, Oak Tree Press, published six of my books, and I self-published the rest of my stories.
NW: Tell us about your favorite story that you have written.
My favorite picture book is Ants on a Log, partly because it is a retelling of my son’s childhood and his dislike for vegetables. In my rendition, a young rabbit named Jack also hates vegetables until he eats a school snack, called ants on a log. (For those who don’t know, ants on a log is a celery stick, with peanut butter inside and raisins on top.) Eventually, Jack learns to like salads, vegetable pizza and even cooked carrots.
NW: Tell us about your latest project.
I usually have several projects going at once. I am reworking a picture book to self-publish with CreateSpace. Dancing Critter in the Trees is written in rhyme for young children three to six years old. In writing this story, I was inspired by watching a squirrel swinging through the trees attempting to grab peanuts from a bird feeder.
I am also s co-author on another picture book, Slideville Critters Become Champs. This story is about a unique baseball team, featuring a kangaroo, a cheetah and an elephant. These animals use their special skills to help their team win a championship. Our manuscript is finished, and we are currently collaborating with an illustrator.
My third project is a chapter book for children, ages six to ten. My Secret Kid Sister is a ghost story. It is a retelling of my nine-year-old granddaughter’s recent visit to the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. Like several other hotels around the country, this hotel is said to be haunted.
NW: Do you have a day job?
Fortunately, I am retired and can create to my heart’s content, although writing, publishing and marketing can seem like a full-time job.
NW: How does your family support you in your writing?
Charlie, my husband, is my in-house editor. He once worked for McGraw-Hill as an editor. His editing experience is of tremendous help, especially with proof reading my manuscripts and discussing story ideas.
My four grandchildren, ranging in age from six to eleven, represent the biggest inspirations for stories. Sometimes I ask them to read my manuscripts and offer suggestions from a child’s perspective. They are my biggest fans.
NW: How does NW help you?
NightWriters is invaluable. Early on, I joined a NW critique group and met several talented children book authors. They provided both useful advice and support. The general meetings are important learning experiences, especially the pre-program critique group. I also find the Cuesta Writer’s Conferences and the Society of Children Book Authors and Illustrators helpful.
NW: How do you handle rejection letters?
At first, I dreaded rejection letters. But over time, I realized that I had a number of options. I could send the manuscript to another agent/publisher,let the story ferment, revise my manuscript or publish it myself.
NW: Tell us something surprising about yourself.
I have a twin sister, but we are not identical.
NW: Besides writing, what are your other hobbies?
I am a fiber artist working mostly in paper and mixed media. I usually create three-dimensional, sculptural and book-art pieces. I belong to both the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art and the Gallery at the Network participating in many of their exhibits and juried shows and also exhibiting in other galleries and museums. On a regular basis, I teach local children paper craft and bookmaking. I enjoy traveling to foreign countries and have been all over the world. Charlie and I usually take two or more trips a year. For relaxation, I like to read, usually mystery stories or non-fiction history, archaeology and science.