Friday, March 21, 2014

Interview With Angie Karcher

Angie Karchar is one of the wonderful wonderful writers I've met recently. I think it was actually because of Meg Miller that I discovered her. We both won wonderful paintings of ourselves (mine is to the upper right of this blog). I don't want to take up too much of your time with my text. I'll let Angie tell you about herself in her own words. Enjoy! 

Meet Angie Karcher
I live in Indiana with my husband and four teens. Yes, I said 4 TEENS…can you imagine? I am blessed with an understanding husband who lets me chase my dream of writing. Married 23 years in July, we have found a great balance of organized chaos!

I love reading on the beach, swinging in a hammock, sitting by a campfire and traveling.

My first book signing at 

Barnes and Noble November 2012
As a family, we have skied in Vermont, steamed lobster in Maine, watched the Macy’s Parade in NYC and the fireworks over The Statue of Liberty, camped on the beach in Destin, Florida, and stayed in a North Carolina cabin with water fed directly from a mountain stream with a 100 foot waterfall.

My favorite beagle, Gracie and miniature dachshund, Lucy are my writing assistants! I write by the light of the moon and sleep during the daytime, like a vampire. They just sleep all the time as they don’t know whether it’s day or night.

I am the author of 2 non-fiction books for kids. WHERE THE RIVER GRINS is a history, resource book for 3rd graders about the city I live in. It is used in all 3rd grade classrooms in Evansville to teach local history. THE LEGENDARY R.A.COWBOY JONES comes out this spring and is a MG biography about a 70 year old jockey who still races horses.

I have a passion for writing humorous poetry, historical fiction and rhyming picture books. I encourage parents and teachers to read rhyme to children frequently as it encourages language development and fosters a love of reading.

I am the creator of RhyPiBoMo, (Rhyming Picture Book Month) a writing challenge for children’s writers to improve their poetry and rhyming skills, in April.

Dani: What is the first book you remember your parents (or other family members) reading to you?

Angie: I remember lots of Dr. Seuss books being read to my brother and me. I’m sure that’s where my love for rhyming came from! We went to the library every week for story time and checked out bags of books. As for a specific book, I think hearing Charlotte’s Web read to me by our school librarian, had the greatest impact on me. It opened up a world of magical, talking animals, heart wrenching sadness and love. I wrote my first book for Young Authors in 3rd grade and it was a mystery about a missing animal.

Dani: Who is your greatest supporter in your own picture book journey?

Angie: Definitely my family! As I mentioned, I work crazy hours as my brain seems to work better at night, so I write from about 8:00pm to 4:00a.m. I take my youngest son to school at 7:00 and then sleep until noon…then repeat. This is a challenge on the weekends as I am always either working or sleeping. I do always make time for them but while we are together, I am usually yawning. I think this work/sleep pattern started when my kids were young and I needed 8 hours of uninterrupted work time. If you can imagine what it’s like having 4 teenagers, try to imagine 4 kiddos under age 6. I barely remember those blurry days!

Dani: Cake or Pie?

Angie: This is an easy answer…I am a cheesecake girl! I took my oldest daughter to New York City last spring and we stayed in this adorable studio apartment in Manhattan. It happened to be right across the street from a Magnolia Bakery. I had New York cheesecake every day we were there. It was life changing!

Dani: Where did you get the idea to do RhyPiBoMo?

Angie: I submitted a rhyming manuscript to a well-respected agent last fall and she liked it but said that she only accepts rhyme from poets. I asked her what criteria she had for someone to be considered a poet. She said “Someone who reads poetry daily, writes poetry daily, studies the craft of poetry writing, and is a member of poetry organizations and critique groups. ” Hmmm…I had been writing children’s poetry and rhyming picture books for years and am a 12 year member of SCBWI but I certainly didn't fit into all those categories. I was also frustrated with the typical response at conferences from the faculty, other writers, and the world in general that if you write in rhyme, you are not a serious writer.

I am a serious writer. I thrive at writing rhyme. It is my passion and I have nearly stopped submitting rhyme altogether because of the advice given. I do realize that editors receive tons of really terrible rhyme and that is the reason for their jolting response. It was time to do something about it! So, while participating in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo I began to think about a rhyming challenge for writers to help us improve our writing and study the craft of writing poetry/rhyme instead of continuing to feed the editors what they don’t want. April was the perfect month as it is National Poetry Month and although many authors are busy with spring school visits, it was before summertime and all that entails.

So, April it was! I researched to see if there were any other rhyming picture book events and quickly came to see that there is very little for writers of rhyme and poetry at all. RhyPiBoMo (Rhyming Picture Book Month) was the perfect title because it even rhymed in an AABB pattern! I happened to be taking The Hero’s Art Journey Class with Mira Reisberg and Maya Gonzalez, so I held a logo contest within that group of wonderful artists and Gayle Wing O’Donnell won. She created the gorgeous Willy S. on his parchment background and quoted him saying “The Rhyme’s the thing wherein I’ll speak the words and let them sing.” My heart melted. I had a title and I had a logo…I was off to the races!

I created The RhyPiBoMo Facebook group and writers joined by the dozens…I had 100 members in nearly a week. We have suggested lists of rhyming picture books. We have a list of editors who accept rhyme. Dawn Young is busy setting up critique groups now. If you are interested in joining a rhyme/poetry critique group please join the Facebook group ASAP. It is a very supportive community and I hope it will stay active long after April is past.

Dani: What does Rhyming Picture Book Month entail?

Angie: Writers who are interested in improving or learning the craft of writing poetry and rhyming picture books will register to participate in this 35 day event Starting March 30th and ending ion April 3rd. I needed more than 30 days.

First, participants read and agree to the daily activities listed on the pledge. Once they feel that they can meet these requirements, they register for the event by completing the comment form and leaving a comment about the event.

By commenting, this makes them eligible for the daily prizes that will be awarded on Sunday for the previous week. This will allow folks to catch up and comment by Saturday night each week.
For example: If you are out of town Monday – Friday and can’t participate, come home Saturday, get busy reading the posts, the daily lessons, the picture books and writing the poems. When and if you have caught up on each day, then go and comment for those days. This will make you eligible for a prize drawing on Sunday. If you don’t comment daily, you are not eligible.

The goal is to keep people involved and not get behind so much that they give up and quit. I’ve had questions about participation. It is completely on an honor system but basically, if you participate on Tuesday, comment on Tuesday. If you don’t get caught up, don’t worry about it and move on…catch up later.

Dani: Tell us a bit of what you had to do to get this project going.

Angie: I first had to gather a group of wonderful bloggers. I started a wish list. Ruth McNally Barshaw, Tara lazar and Corey Rosen Schwartz helped me make a few connections by introducing me to some of the bloggers through email. It was honestly very easy to find people to sign on. It certainly helped once I had Jane Yolen and Lee Bennett Hopkins to add credibility to my event. The more bloggers I got…the more bloggers I got!

Once the calendar was full, I started writing the daily lessons. I am still finishing those up now and I’m learning so much. I’d say this begins to cover the “Studying my Craft” portion of my checklist to become a poet. Next, I created a blog. Angie Karcher ~ Writing, Storytelling, Poetry and Illustration

Apparently the best way to learn how to blog is to host a huge event for writers! I am a Learn-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-girl so I learned how to use Wordpress, how to network on social media and much, much more. A year ago I think I had about 12 followers on Facebook and I didn’t have a clue what Twitter was.
Oh, and there were prizes to gather and a poetry contest to organize with judges. It has been a huge undertaking but I have enjoyed every minute of meeting amazing authors and many wonderfully supportive folks who also have a passion for children’s rhyme and poetry.

Dani: Can you let us know who some of the planned guests are for this event?

I can actually tell you who all the guest bloggers are…Here is the calendar!

I think from start to finish, it only took me 3 weeks to fill all the bloggers spots and I actually had to turn a few authors away and promise them spots for next year, as they heard about the event and wanted to participate. These guest bloggers are amazingly generous people to donate their time and many of them donated prizes and some even donated critiques. The rhyming community is a tight knit group of writers that I am happy to say have embraced me and RhyPiBoMo warmly.

Dani: What do you hope that people get out of RhyPiBoMo?

Angie: I hope people decide if they are truly a rhymer or not. If you participate in this event and look forward to the next day’s lessons, guest blog posts, poem writing and picture book reading then you are probably, innately, a rhymer! If not, that doesn’t mean that you should give up on the dream of being a rhyming picture book author, just that you will have to work twice as hard if it doesn’t come naturally to you. Like a musical talent or a gifted artist, writing poetry and rhyme is also a gift that is a part of your being. There are many musicians and artists that have studied their craft over a lifetime to the point that they are considered a professional. They had to start somewhere.

My goal is for writers who participate to see how difficult writing quality rhyme truly is and decide if it is something they still want to pursue. I also want to help them learn more about this genre of children’s literature that I’m afraid to say my new friend Lee Bennett Hopkins said is likened to “The step child of the language arts.”

I have a huge focus on poetry during the daily lessons. This is because rhyme is just the teeny-weeny tip of the rhyming picture book ice burg. Most of the good stuff is concealed under the water as poetic styles, techniques and forms. I believe that it is essential to have an understanding of what it is we are doing to do it well…and to be a professional. I’m checking off a few more boxes on my way to being a professional poet. I’m so happy to have this wonderful group of writers join me on my journey!

Check out Angie on the Web:

Twitter account: @Ankar2013




  1. Great interview, guys! I'd heard of RhyPiBoMo and it was interesting getting to read all of the behind-scenes info. Best of luck to Angie!

    P.S. I'm also a Hoosier- maybe I'll see you at the conference in April?

  2. Thanks for a great interview Dani and Angie! I will be looking forward to reading you books as soon as. I get my hands on it. Dani, you have an impressive guest blogger list and lesson plan prepared for RhyPiBoMo!

  3. I'd heard of RyPiBoMo, so it's interesting to find out the story behind it. Thanks for the interview!