Introducing, Roxanne Troup...Our Newest Judge
We are pleased to Welcome Roxanne Troup to our talented group of Judges. Roxanne has unique experience in having successfully completed several work-for-hire projects (and a fiction book pending), but in having also been a Ghostwriter!
What brought you to children’s books? How long have you been writing?
I stumbled into the kid-lit field shortly after my last child was born. Though I studied to become an elementary teacher (and taught at the preschool level for several years), when my children came along, I wanted to stay home with them. My sister (who had recently begun freelancing) suggested I look into transcription as something to do while the kids napped. I wasn’t interested, but in the process of researching saw an ad for the Institute of Children’s Literature. As a single-income household living on my husband’s teaching salary, we couldn’t spare the money for that class so I began studying on my own. Everything I read said to “write what you know.” I only knew education and parenting. So I found some magazines in that niche and gave it a whirl.
I sent off the first thing I wrote—a magazine article for an education publisher—and it was accepted! “That was an easy $100,” I thought, so I tried again. But the publisher didn’t want my next piece...or the next. Neither did anyone else. So I decided to buckle down and figure out this thing called “story craft.” Occasionally, other magazines would purchase one of my stories which helped me know I was on the right track. Eventually, those publishing credits led to other freelance work and ghostwriting. But nothing felt as fulfilling as writing picture books—partly because that’s what I was reading to my kids (and had been reading for years both to them and to my students), but mostly because I fell in love with the interplay of art and text. Picture books were magical and I wanted to be part of the magic. So, since 2009, I’ve been working toward that goal.
Has your publication journey direction changed at all from the onset?
In subtle ways, yes. But rather than completely change direction, I would say my publishing journey has become more focused. I started writing not really knowing what I was aiming for; I just wanted to earn a little money while staying home with my kids. Over the years, I’ve discovered that not only can I make money writing, but that I am more fulfilled doing so writing for kids. So while I still freelance/copywrite/ghostwrite to make money, today, I only do that when my work connects to kids in some way. That philosophy has given me the freedom to say, “Sorry, I can’t help you” in my freelance work—protecting my time and mental energy to write my own stories.
Please tell us about the first book you published.
My first published book was actually ghostwritten, which I’d tell you about but then...you know the rest. My first credited book was published in 2017 in the education market. It’s a photo-illustrated nonfiction book about military working dogs and includes the story of Lucca, a bomb-sniffing hero who saved her platoon from multiple IEDs during the Iraq war. After being injured in the line of duty, Lucca retired, and now helps other soldiers suffering with PTSD.
My first fiction picture book is forthcoming from Yeehoo press. It tells the growth and harvest cycle of pecans through the relational lense of a grandfather and child.
What genres of books will you be open to rating for Rate Your Story?
Having published/ghostwritten in multiple genres, I’m open to both fiction and nonfiction picture books and board books, as well as magazine pieces and easy readers.
List five things you look for in a successful story.
Focus: a distinct through line
Perfect pacing/tension: understanding of story structure and page turns
Word choice that matches the topic/theme
Relatable character(s)/kid-friendly approaches to NF topics
Layers that allow for multiple entry-points for the reader
Name five subjects you love to read about.
Nature: atmospheric settings, adventure, basically anything outside
Relationships: especially families whether they are biological, multi-generational, found, chosen, etc.
NF: unusual facts and/or clever connections, unsung heroes
Name five subjects you don’t want to read about.
Food: unless it has another entry point, like family
First day of school
What author has inspired you most on your journey?
Lots of different authors inspire me!
Laura Purdie Salas and Matt Forrest Essenwine inspire me to persevere
(even without an agent).
Beth Ferry’s depth and breadth of work inspires me.
The idea-generation of Tammi Sauer...Tara Lazar’s approachability...Ryan Higgins’ and Ame Dyckman’s humor...Pat Zietlow Miller’s kindness...Vivian Kirkfield’s positivity...Kate Messner’s practicality...Pam Calvert and Lynne Marie’s transparency…
I could keep going, but you get the idea.
What do you feel is an important preliminary step before actually writing a story?
Outlining/storyboarding/story mapping/creating a story skeleton.
People call it different things, but you’re essentially thinking through the big moments of your story—the events that get you from point A (the inciting incident) to point B (the resolution)—in a logical, meaningful way. I do this all the time with my ghostwriting clients, but often forget to do it with my own work (which explains why I have so many half-written stories on my harddrive).
Please share a writing Tip for our Members.
Read. Read in your genre. Read recent. Read classics. Read. Read. Read. And when you find a book you absolutely love, type it out. Notice how the story flows in manuscript format. Notice what isn’t there. Notice what is. And apply the “what is” and “what isn’t” to your own stories.
Share a fun fact or two about YOU!
I learned to read when I was four, but didn’t grow up with picture books. My siblings are quite a bit older than me, so by the time I came along, most of the books in my house were for older readers. (My dad taught 5th grade, so we had lots and lots of middle grade and chapter books.) The only true picture books we had (outside of Disney storybooks and Little Golden Readers) were The Monster at the End of This Book and Socks for Supper by Jack Kent. Once I started school, my parents let me buy The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash and Gregory, the Terrible Eater—all of which I still own—but I quickly “outgrew” those books and moved on to chapter books like Pippi Longstocking and The Borrowers. It wasn’t until college that I discovered modern picture books (thank you Children’s Literature class!) and became enthralled with their magic.
Roxanne's Books - Please click on the Titles to Buy!
Detection Dogs on the Job (Child’s World, 2017)
Military Dogs on the Job (Child’s World, 2017)
Amazing Lakes Around the World (Capstone, 2019)
Amazing Waterfalls Around the World (Capstone, 2019)
Deep Sea Creatures (Enslow, 2020)
Nasty Parasites (Enslow, 2020)
What Would You Choose? (BookIn ICM, China, 2022)
The Circulatory System (Abdo Publishing, 2022)
My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me (Yeehoo Press, TBD)
Roxanne Troup writes hopeful kid's books that celebrate the wonder of childhood and beauty of family. With a background in education, she also writes engaging nonfiction for all ages; and has ghostwritten books for bestselling children's authors, TV and media personalities, motivational speakers, international authors, and business leaders. Roxanne lives in the mountains of Colorado and loves hiking with her family, cheering at her kid's sporting events, and reading a good book. She often visits schools to water seeds of literacy and teach about writing. (And sometimes remembers to water the plants in her own garden.) Her newest book, My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me, arrives Fall 2023 from Yeehoo Press.