Minnesota author discusses books, writing with GMR students

Two GMR students hold up a red canoe and one pretends to row the canoe as part of a short performance of the children’s picture book, “One-Dog Canoe,” guided by the author of this book, Mary Casanova, during her visit to the GMR School on March 11. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Award-winning Minnesota author Mary Casanova holds the microphone up to the mouth of GMR seventh grader Rhiana Utter, who played the Bear in a short performance of one of Casanova’s books, “One-Dog Canoe.” Casanova has published 38 books, many inspired by her life on the Minnesota-Canadian Border in Ranier, Minn. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Before getting her first book published, Minnesota native Mary Casanova received over 200 rejections. She applied a lesson she learned from water skiing— to get back up every time one falls down— to her writing.

Today, according to the biography provided on her website, marycasanova.com, she is an award-winning children’s author, publishing 38 books and having “many more under contract and forthcoming.”

She would express this message of not giving up and chasing one’s dream during her visit to the Greenbush-Middle River School on March 11. Visiting with kindergarten to ninth grade students, she also discussed her life and writing career, including some of the books she has written— from children’s picture books to young adult books— and guided some of the students to perform a short play of her children’s picture book, “One-Dog Canoe.”

Casanova mentioned how her family was large enough to make a hockey team, growing up in a family of ten in St. Paul, Minn. As for reading, Casanova said she wasn’t the best reader growing up, at least not as good of a reader as she pretended to be. But in high school, she did start to think about becoming a writer. Through writing, she could communicate more deeply.

“Words are really powerful,” Casanova said.

As previously mentioned, she received over 200 rejections before her first published book. So, she explained, she started writing for younger readers and followed a message that she passed along to the GMR students: to write about what one knows and cares about, from the things one loves and that trouble us.

“You all have experiences you can write about,” Casanova said.

She also gave the students other pieces of writing advice. She mentioned how writers should begin stories with strong openings and discussed how to get through “writer’s block,” explaining how writers can write drafts and revise later.

“Don’t let fear stop you,” Casanova said. “… Write faster than fear can stop you.”

To find out more about Mary Casanova and her books and to contact her, visit marycasanova.com. To see the complete story from her GMR visit, read the March 18 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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