by Christine Galeone
Although Annie Cronin Romano has been an avid reader and writer since she was a little girl, she didn’t pursue becoming a published author until she was in her early 30s. And she discovered, like many of today’s most successful authors, that the road to publication is littered with rejection. But after 12 years of querying publishers about her children’s picture book manuscripts and after receiving more than 300 rejection letters, she received the good news she had been hoping for. In 2017, after submitting some pitches to a Twitter pitch contest for children’s picture books – that she almost didn’t enter – she drew the attention of an editor.
The following year, her children’s picture book “Before You Sleep,” which was illustrated by Ioana Hobai, was published by Page Street Kids. Since then, her second book “Night Train: A Journey from Dusk to Dawn,” illustrated by Ileana Soon, was published earlier this year by the same company, which has a distribution deal with Macmillan. After years of dedication and determination, the Hopedale resident’s career is moving forward – full steam ahead.
Her most recent book follows the journey of a steam engine that wakes up at dusk and “works” until it completes its mission and arrives at its destination at dawn. The children’s picture book has been praised by “School Library Journal” and “Kirkus” for its lyrical text, evocative imagery and calming rhythms. And some of the writing skills she’s honed to write such books have been influenced by children.
The mom of three teenagers worked, for 14 years, as a speech language therapist in the public school system. Her first published book focused on each of the five senses. Cronin Romano said that story emerged from a five senses descriptive language skills exercise that she would give to her students.
“I just love writing for kids; they have the greatest imagination,” Cronin Romano shared. She later added that reading to her children when they were little and seeing how they reacted to different types of picture books also had an impact on her work. She noted “That shaped a lot of my writing as well.”
Another major influence on her writing has been the kidlit (children’s literature) community and the writing community, in general. She’s an active member of the Writers’ Loft in Sherborn and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She also belongs to a critique group and another group that encourages its members to set and share their personal writing goals and deadlines with other members, so they’re more likely to meet those goals because of the accountability factor. “It’s a very solitary pursuit,” Cronin Romano said. “But it definitely takes a community.”
She would recommend joining similar groups to aspiring authors. She said she would encourage them “to not give up, and find your people. It’s amazing how much that can help you with your writing and staying motivated.”
For Cronin Romano, who – in addition to several other picture book manuscripts – also has two middle grade novel manuscripts, the advice she has found to be among the most valuable words of writing wisdom come from a presentation the author Jane Yolen gave at a conference. “The advice she gives everyone is B.I.C. (Butt In Chair),” Cronin Romano recalled. “Until you actually sit down and start writing, the book’s not going to get written.”
For more information about Annie Cronin Romano’s writing, please visit her website, www.anniecroninromano.com. If you would like to suggest a Blackstone Valley author for this series, please contact Christine at [email protected].