Author, donor talks writing

“Vanita Oelschlager, the College of Education literacy program’s new writer-in-residence, spoke to students early Wednesday morning on how the she goes about writing a book. Oelschlager spoke about incorporating her life experiences and time helping her husband Jim, who has multiple sclerosis.”

Vanita Oelschlager, the College of Education literacy program’s new writer-in-residence, spoke to students early Wednesday morning on how the she goes about writing a book.

Oelschlager spoke about incorporating her life experiences and time helping her husband Jim, who has multiple sclerosis. Through her presentation, she previewed her new books not yet in print and some of her first works to show how she incorporates her husband, family and life experiences into her writing.

Oelschlager and her husband Jim donated $10 million to the University of Akron in 2000 to create the Oelschlager scholarship fund and summer leadership program. At the time, it was the largest single donation ever received in the university’s 130 years.

The first children’s book she printed and sold, which was in 2006, is titled My Grampy Can’t Walk.

She said it is based on her husband, who uses a wheelchair due to MS, and it incorporates many things that relate to him such as the stock market, Dilly bars and the wheelchair.

Four year olds ask what stocks are and of course they can’t understand, she said. Stocks are Jim’s business so I put that in.

There is also a picture of a Dilly bar in the book because it’s Jim’s favorite food, she said.

However, the book is expensive to print. Oelschlager said this is because of the colors used and because it is printed in America.

It cost almost twice what it cost to print a book, she said. My husband says every time you sell a book, it costs me money.

She told students that in order to write and be published, a person has to have money.

If you’re going to do the small-press thing you have to have the money to get it started, she said.

She said she now prints from China because it costs $5 a book to print in America and only $1 in China.

Oelschlager said she volunteers all of her time when writing, but still has to pay the artists and the printing expenses.

While printing is expensive, the author did find ways to make a profit.

She composed a book of poems about multiple sclerosis titled Air Mask, which she said was made at a much lower cost. The profits go to MS research and the book is dedicated to professional caregivers.

Oelschlager said she does most of her writing very early in the morning.

It comes to me in the middle of the night; it’s very weird, she said.

She also said she works in the early morning hours because her husband needs personal care and help running his company full-time.

I write between four and six in the morning, she said. I get up at four and try to write then because that’s what I really love doing.

Another major part of her children’s books is the artwork. A lot of her work is complimented by the art, she said.

The hardest part is the pictures, she said.

Oelschlager has three artists, including her daughter, to illustrate her books.

She also said she adds jokes for adults in her books.

In every one of my books I need a little bit of adult humor to keep them entertained, she said.

On the last page of Poppy, whose main character is a rooster by the same name, Poppy is forced to move back to a farm where Oelschlager said he would be happy.

He’s the only rooster in the hen house, all the hens are around him, Oelschlager joked at the end of Poppy.

Students in attendance were also treated to a preview of what Oelschlager has planned for the future.

Some of her latest works not yet in print include Made In China, Let Me Bee, What Pet Will I Get, Francesca and Big Blue. They are all children’s books.

She joked, that Made in China may not be a go, because of problems with lead being found in toys coming from China.

Oelschlager told students who are interested in writing to go to their professors for help. She also said students should think about writing chapter books.

There is a huge need for teen books, she said. All my grandchildren are old enough now so they are like ‘write a chapter book.’

Oelschlager said she only writes books intended for 4 to 8 year olds.

Early childhood education major Ken Boston said he was glad he attended the presentation.

She was very interesting and very encouraging with the group, he said. To be honest, our early education teacher made us go, but I’m glad I went.


” #1.1361541:2079964693.jpg:20071108_oelschlager1_md.jpg:Vanita Oelschlager shows the audience one of her latest children’s books, Made In China.:Melissa Dunfee”