Hi, WONDERers! Have you missed us? We may not be blogging as much lately, but all of us here at Wonder of Words are still reading as many amazing children’s books as we can. For today’s interview on Finding Inspiration, I spoke to Roxanne Troup, author of the newly released picture book, MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME. Hi, Roxanne. Congrats again on your picture book release! How did you get the inspiration for your story?
Roxanne: A couple years ago, I discovered a new publisher looking for agricultural books, and since I grew up in an agricultural community, I thought it might be a good fit. I set to brainstorming different stories that might work for that publisher and discovered a hole in the market—pecans. I knew a little bit about pecans. They grew wild and in backyards where I grew up, and we harvested them in buckets. But I wondered how the commercial pecan industry worked. Did everyone collect pecans in buckets? So, I started researching. After running across a YouTube video of a farmer harvesting pecans by tractor (from hundreds of trees at a time), I knew I had my topic. I couldn’t get the image of that farmer shaking his trees out of my head—pecans fell like thundering rain!
Candice: I grew up with pecan trees in the backyard and have vivid memories of picking up pecans–the pies my mom would make were definitely worth the effort! What is your favorite part of the creative process? Did you learn anything about your own process while you were working on this book?
Roxanne: That first flush of IDEA is heady and addicting, but then I have to figure out how to make that idea work. And that, is WORK! I don’t know that I discovered anything “new” about my process with this story as it’s not my first (even though it is my debut fiction). But every story—and the way it comes to the page—is different. For this particular story, I had quite a few stop-and-start drafts, meaning I started but never finished them. But each time I started a new draft, I added some important storytelling element or figured out what wasn’t working and tried a new way of fixing it. It wasn’t until my fifth draft that I finally completed the story. (Does that make number five my actual “first draft”?)
Candice: Haha, no way! All that hard work still counts and kudos to you on not giving up! Do you have other creative outlets or hobbies? Do they cross into your writing?
Roxanne: Oooo, that’s a good question. I like lots of creative things: crafting, singing, gardening, interior design. I don’t know that any one of those things crosses over into my writing (though gardening might seem like it with this title), but my favorite part about each is the planning/dreaming stage. And that definitely crosses over. I plan out/dream through many aspects of my stories before I ever sit down to draft—which might explain the whole start-and-stop habit. When I realize something isn’t working according to plan, I stop; and often, don’t start up again until I have puzzled my way through that obstacle.
Candice: Great answer. Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?
Roxanne: I think being quiet is a huge creativity booster.
Our brains don’t like being idle, so when we force our bodies to be quiet, our brains fill in that space with all kinds of things—to do lists, conversation replays, dreams for tomorrow, and eventually (if we don’t short-circuit the process by ending our quiet time to do all those things on our list) creative ideas.
Candice: Can you tell us about a future book project you’re working on?
Roxanne: It hasn’t been announced yet, but I do have another informational fiction picture book in the publishing pipeline—this one, about space.
Ooh, space! So exciting! We wish you the best in your writing and publishing journey. Thank you for sharing your tips on creativity and your inspiration for this book.
MY GRANDPA, MY TREE, AND ME (Yeehoo Press) released April 11th. You can find it online at bookshop.org which helps support independent bookstores, and at https://www.roxannetroup.com/pecan.html to also check out fun book activities for your little readers. Request a copy at your local library or indie bookstore.
Author, ghostwriter, and speaker, Roxanne Troup writes kids’ books that celebrate wonder and family. With a background in education, she also writes engaging nonfiction for all ages. She grew up along the waterways of Missouri, surrounded by farmland and legends. Her childhood home, built in the late 1800s, was often visited by members of Jessie James’ gang and full of stories about hidden passageways, underground tunnels, and false floors. In that house, Roxanne learned to read and create her own imaginative stories. Today, she lives in the mountains of Colorado but still loves old houses and history. She is the author of over a dozen books for kids, including My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me. When not writing, Roxanne enjoys hiking with her family, cheering at her kid’s sporting events, and reading a good book. She loves to visit schools to water seeds of literacy and teach about writing. (And sometimes remembers to water the plants in her own garden.)
Illustrator Kendra Binney was raised in a small mountain town with no shoe stores. Most of her time was spent barefoot treading through the minuscule world of spiders, snakes and all things hiding in the grass. Though her paintings have been exhibited, sold, and published around the world, Kendra herself spends most days in a small studio in Portland, OR. There she paints, daydreams, and paints some more.
Hello, Word Wonderers! Kidlit writers know that the best way to write for children is to think like a kid and what better way than to explore your own childhood memories? It’s a great way to tell the story that only you can tell and today we have guest author, Candace Spizzirri, on the blog to share the inspiration behind her debut picture book, FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE. Welcome, Candace!
Candace With An A: Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Candice! I’m delighted to be here. In 2018 I participated in StoryStorm, a month-long story brainstorming event run every January by author Tara Lazar, where kidlit creatives try to come up with an idea a day.
One idea was “a story about fishing with a parent/daughter or grandparent/granddaughter.” It rumbled around my brain until I wrote a rough draft in June of that year. Turned out it was a story about fishing with my own grandpa!
FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE, beautifully illustrated by Beverly Love Warren, launched on April 19, 2022, with Clear Fork Publishing. Yay! The inspiration for this story came from many fishing trips to Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, with my beloved Grandpa Henry. Although it is truly about Grandpa and me, I use my granddaughter Skye’s name as the main character. This story is about one day in particular when Grandpa had a special surprise for me. FISHING celebrates the love between generations and is the story of my heart!
Candice With An I: How funny! That year’s StoryStorm was particularly inspirational–it’s when I brainstormed my picture book, CHOMPSEY, too! I loved reading your Author’s Note in the back of FISHING and seeing your picture from when you were four years old. What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Candace: Sometimes a title will “pop” into my head from out of the blue. If my heart races a bit and it makes me smile, I know I have a viable idea for a new story. This initial creative spark is my favorite part.
But I also enjoy the revision process- working on story structure, character development, beginnings/endings, and especially finding the right words. The melodic sound of the right words in just the right order when read aloud is a delight.
I pay close attention to rhythm, rhyme, wordplay, alliteration, onomatopoeia, repeating refrains/phrases, and the use of literary devices such as metaphor and simile. I love making up songs and playing the “what if” game when writing a story where I let my imagination run free. What fun!
Candice: Fun indeed! Do you have other creative outlets or hobbies? How do they cross into your writing?
Candace: I’ve always had a creative side. As a young girl, I adored art classes: painting, sculpting, and projects of all kinds. Other outlets and hobbies include interior design, cooking, gardening, hiking, fishing, traveling, and dancing. My love of fishing and outdoor activities led to FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE. My enjoyment of travel inspired FINLEY: A MOOSE ON THE CABOOSE.
I have a manuscript about flowers starring a young girl named Lily Rose who, like me, loves collecting stems of all kinds. I also have a work in progress entitled CLUCK-CLUCK DANCE about a dancing chicken. And guess what? That chicken is me. 😉
Candice: I remember CLUCK-CLUCK DANCE from the Writing Magic class we took together! It was so much fun to read aloud. Do you have any tips you’d like to share about creativity?
Candace: Fan the creative flames. Look for inspiration everywhere! I find ideas for stories in everyday moments like walks out in nature, overheard conversations, animal antics, and the funny and often spot-on things my grandkids say.
Creative moments can come at any time, from anywhere, so you have to be ready. A few years ago, I had a story idea while driving home from the grocery store. I pulled to the side of the road (safely) and jotted down plot points and character details on the back of my receipt.
Candice: Love that! Grocery shopping drains me too much for any brainstorming, lol. Can you tell us more about your upcoming book?
Candace: My next picture book, FINLEY: A MOOSE ON THE CABOOSE will release on April 18, 2023. The idea for this story came to me two years ago on a trip to Alaska. I fell in love with the gorgeous scenery which looked like a postcard in every direction. While visiting the town of Talkeetna, a moose wandered about to the enjoyment of tourists, then disappeared into the woods. In this quaint town, I happened upon a little shop called Once in a Blue Moose and the spark for Finley, a moose who longs to ride the rails, was born.
Sandra Sutter, the owner of Gnome Road Publishing, [and Wonder of Words co-host!] liked a pitch for Finley on a Twitter pitch party. After a revise and resubmit, she contacted me saying the acquisitions team fell in love with Finley Moose. The amazing award-winning team of Chantelle and Burgen Thorne are illustrating. I can’t wait to share FINLEY Moose with the world!
Such a talented team! Congrats! Thank you for sharing your tips on creativity and finding inspiration, and best of luck with both FISHING and next year, FINLEY!
You can find FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE online at bookshop.org which helps support independent bookstores, and on the publisher’s website. Request a copy at your local library or indie bookstore.
Candace Spizzirri grew up in a small town in New Jersey with tree-lined streets and old Victorian houses. As a child, she spent hours playing at the park, catching minnows in a nearby stream, and exploring the woods at the end of her street. Passionate about education, Candace is a co-founder of an elementary school and high school in Southern California where she now makes her home. She loves spending time with her husband, grown children, daughter-in-law, and four grandkids. Candace’s debut picture book, FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE, illustrated by Beverly Love Warren was published by Clear Fork Publishing/Spork on April 19, 2022, and will be followed by FINLEY: A MOOSE ON THE CABOOSE, illustrated by Chantelle & Burgen Thorne in Spring 2023 with Gnome Road Publishing. Learn more about Candace at candacespizzirri.com and follow her on Twitter at @CCSpizzirri1 and on Instagram at @CCSpizzirri.
Beverly Love Warren grew up on Long Island, New York. She is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology where she studied illustration. After graduating, she worked as a paste-up artist and taught art for grades K-8. Later, she became a member of SCBWI and illustrated children’s literature.
Currently, she lives in Washington state with her husband. When she is not illustrating, you can find her writing stories, hiking, sewing, or enjoying time spent with her three children and six grandchildren.
So much of creativity is the ability to make space for yourself. It’s too easy to talk yourself out of an exciting project before you even begin because someone else has already accomplished it. The ability to push that mind trap aside and allow space for your creativity to bloom is why I was immediately interested in this picture book debut by another Alabama author, Shae Owens Holley. Welcome to the Wonder of Words, Shae! What inspired you to write Rue the sparrow’s story, IT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE BEFORE?
Shae: I wrote “It’s Already Been Done Before” around 9 years ago as an unfinished rhyming story with no defined main character at the time. I was inspired by my own personal struggle with self-comparison as a creative entrepreneur, a photographer in the middle of juggling a business and a toddler. The world of social media was taking a toll on my time and mental health. I quickly realized I was literally talking myself out of doing projects I wanted to do because I was watching others do it better – so I told myself, why bother? It’s already been done before! As we allow doubt and feelings of overwhelm change and rule our mind, creativity, effort and work suffer and cease. In most industries, especially those of a creative essence, whether it’s photography or writing or artwork, we are constantly bombarded with self-inflicted comparison. It shuts down our creative license because we already have allowed it. Those thoughts became the inspiration for this story, which was really just a framework at the time. It was only in recent years when I made the characters animals instead of humans and the setting in a forest. I wanted the characters to be relatable to all people and ages so I opted out of the human element.
Candice: The quote you included at the beginning of your book is perfect: “Comparison is the thief of joy”–Theodore Roosevelt. It’s so true. What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Shae: Actually putting the book together and seeing the layout with both text and illustrations was my favorite part! I love design, so being able to contribute and tweak things along the way was really exciting to me. My book (and maybe most children’s books) would not be what it is without the artwork bringing life to the words and giving them a relatable face. I definitely learned the importance of editing – even with a one-page poem – and realized why this process takes time. This can obviously take years. A book isn’t a blog and cannot be changed or corrected in real time.
I would also add that the beginning is also my favorite part of any creative process – that moment when you actually start and form the idea. I think getting to that point is one of the hardest, but once you begin, the world is your oyster.
Candice: I agree on the importance of artwork in picture books! Do you have other creative outlets or hobbies? Do they cross into your writing?
Shae: I was a professional photographer for twelve years which influenced WHY I wrote this story – but photography definitely inspired the illustrations and to whom I choose to outsource the artwork. I also love to be outdoors and hike so I’m sure the fact that my characters are woodland creatures was influenced by my love for being amongst trees.
Candice: I loved the artwork! (Probably because I too love to be outdoors amongst the trees.) So vibrant and fun. Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?
Shae: I think not boxing yourself into one avenue is key to unlocking creativity. We can become so consumed with defining ourselves by what we do, that we become ‘that one thing’, but we are so much more complex. Sometimes constraints and limitations make you more creative because you have to utilize what is available. Also, realizing creativity can be found in all things, from cooking, parenting, to even rearranging a junk drawer. We just have to embrace life experiences and even times of quiet or waiting for the next thing, and see the routine from another angle. I’m not sure if any of that is an actual tip, but my advice is to look for the beauty in routine and make something from it. Pay attention to the details of your life, your house, expressions, the way light changes the same object throughout the day, the little things. I also get inspired by music – listening to songs that speak to me actually helps me write or paint at times and can help spark creativity.
Candice: I’m still searching for my creativity in rearranging junk drawers, lol–and I love that you included mundane tasks in creative ventures. Do you have another book project you’re working on that you could give us a hint about?
Shae: Sure! “It’s Already Been Done Before” is my first published children’s book. I’ve written parts of two or three other books but this has been my only children’s book and was the most complete which is why my publisher pushed this one first, besides its message. My next project is a bit ongoing as it’s inspired by my daughter who is eleven. It will be a compilation of memories and poems but written for a larger audience. One of those coffee table books that’s already been done before, you know? 😉 But that is what makes it unique – that it is personal, it is written from my experience and thoughts, and despite being a theme that has truly been done, this version has not.
Candice: That’s absolutely right! It’s the parts of ourselves that we pour into books that makes them stand out–even if they’ve been done before.Thank you for being here, Shae. Congrats on your debut children’s book and finding creativity even in mind traps!
Shae Holley is an entrepreneur, environmental engineer, blogger, photographer, recipe-destroyer, and tea addict. She loves sharing the message that we have all been given unique gifts and God-given talents. Although they may be similar to others, we cannot compare ourselves or cease effort simply because it’s already been done before. You may find her at shaeholley.com.
Welcome, Word Wonders to today’s post on inspiration! This time I’m interviewing three authors AND an illustrator at once and it’s because they all worked together on the sweet story of friendship, PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM by Callie Metler, Shirin Rahman, Melissa Stoller, illustrated by Kate Talbot. I’m eager to learn more about the creativity behind this collaboration so let’s jump right in!
Hi, Ladies! Thanks for joining us on the Wonder of Words blog. What was the inspiration behind this story?
Melissa: First, Candice – thank you so much for inviting me to your blog! I enjoyed answering these questions about creativity!
I am so lucky to be working with Callie Metler and Shirin Rahman on this project! PLANTING FRIENDSHIP: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM (illustrated by Kate Talbot, Clear Fork Publishing) has been an absolute pleasure to work on together. Shirin brought the idea to Callie and me, and I will be forever grateful that she did. I have met them both in person (on separate occasions – we still all need to meet together!) and I knew that we would bond perfectly as a group. The inspiration behind the story is to tell a tale of three girls of different faith traditions that would mirror our faith traditions (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim). We wanted to show that, although the three girls in the story are different, they are more alike than they realize at first, and their differences and cultural heritages should be shared and celebrated. The backdrop of the story is the first day of school, and their teacher, Ms. Blume (obvious nod to Judy Blume!) starts a planting project. As the plants bloomed, the girls’ friendship blossomed. Illustrator Kate Talbot’s artwork is just exquisite and she brought her own unique vision to the story and elevated our words!
Callie: The inspiration for Planting Friendship came from Shirin. She wanted to create a book about three girls coming together and so we worked on it together and brainstormed what the story came to be.
Shirin: I have thought about this story since I became a mother. I strongly believe that if children grow up knowing and respecting different faith traditions- and all differences- our world will be better for it. My children are my inspiration. I did not want them to experience the challenges I faced as a child. I want every child to feel they belong. I want every child to be proud of their identity and heritage, while appreciating all others.
Our world is enriched by all the diverse faiths, cultures and traditions–we are one human family.
It’s an important lesson that children need to learn before they begin school. Picture books are so important. They can play a crucial role in a child’s development. I hope our book has a positive impact in the world.
Kate: Callie approached me in late 2020 to ask if I’d be interested in illustrating Planting Friendship: Peace Salaam, Shalom. Upon reading it, I instantly knew I wanted to be involved. The message and the timing of the book seemed perfect and I was excited by the challenge of creating three unique main characters.
Candice: It’s such a great idea! What is your favorite part of the creative process? And what was your favorite part about working with co-writers? Did you learn anything about your own process?
Melissa: As far as the creative process and writing – I enjoy it all. I love brainstorming ideas and find stories all over, especially by observing nature, strolling through my NYC neighborhood, and mining my family history. Also, I enjoy revising and teasing out the heart and themes of a manuscript. Those are not always evident in the first draft and I rely on my amazing critique partners as I work through the story.
For this project – it was an absolute joy to work with Callie and Shirin. We have an amazing energy together. We met almost weekly to write, revise, and polish the manuscript for PLANTING FRIENDSHIP. And we continue to meet to work on the next book, BUILDING BRIDGES: PEACE, SALAAM, SHALOM, as well as the third picture book to complete the series. My favorite part about working with co-authors is the collaboration itself – bouncing ideas off each other, engaging in meaningful dialogue, and the deep friendship that has resulted. We shared a lot and also had many laughs throughout the process! I learned that I LOVE working with co-authors! When illustrator Kate Talbot joined the project we became a true #DreamTeam and I’m so blessed that our work together is continuing!
Callie: I love the discussions and the partnership. We each added something special to the story, and communicated what was important to us for the story.
Shirin: I love writing stories for children. I’m so grateful to be able to live this dream. Working with Callie and Melissa has been such a joy, that I am so thankful we are continuing this collaboration indefinitely! I could not imagine a better team to work with. We schedule zoom meetings and figure out the story together. I am constantly amazed by the ideas we come up with. After every meeting, we all agree that we accomplished a lot. I have learned that I am much more productive when we talk over plot possibilities. The ideas seem to flow better when we brainstorm together.
Kate: I adore working in colour, so for me, the final stage of colouring and rendering my art is my favourite part. For me, this is where the magic really happens and bringing these three gorgeous little girls to life left me with a permanent smile on my face.
Candice: Do you have other creative outlets or hobbies? If so, do they ever cross into your writing?
Melissa: I love being creative and crafty! My kids and I especially enjoy holiday art projects like decorating a menorah for Hanukkah, making a seder plate for Passover, or baking macaroons for Purim. I also love collecting – I collect shells, sea glass, beach rocks, driftwood, and snow globes. During the summer, I’m always painting shells or making found beach object projects. I think that any creative pursuit does cross over into writing – as I’m creating I’m also thinking and mulling over story plots! Creativity involves using your imagination so whether it’s doing a craft or writing a story, the mind is always active and finding new solutions or ways of doing things, and working around any problems that may arise.
Shirin: I love to paint and I’m learning to draw, as it has always been my dream to write and illustrate my own books. I don’t know if it will take another ten years or more, but I’m content with the journey of learning for now. It’s a way to change gears and still be creative, when I am seized by the dreaded writers block
Callie: I love to play computer games, read, and paint. They often cross over into my writing.
Kate: While I was the illustrator on this project, I am also a writer, so when I’m not at my iPad sketching, I’m busy dreaming up story ideas.
Candice: Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?
Shirin: For me, creativity is sparked by moments of quiet solitude. Mornings are my favorite times, when I watch the sunrise with a cup of tea. Writing morning pages helps clear my mind and prepares me for a good day of creativity
Melissa: I love finding creativity in my life in small ways throughout the day. I have adult coloring books, tiny blank canvases, and markers on my desk, and I use them if I have a few minutes. And by reading kidlit, keeping a writing idea journal, and always trying to add a spark to an existing manuscript, I hope I am keeping my imagination and my creativity alive. And of course, my book, SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (illustrated by Sandie Sonke, Clear Fork Publishing) is all about creativity! The theme is letting go of perfection and finding your own creativity – whatever form that may take. And for fans of Scarlet, the sequel, RETURN OF THE MAGIC PAINTBRUSH is coming soon. Sandie’s illustrations are just gorgeous! I’m so excited for readers to be immersed in that world surrounding creativity and imagination once again!
Callie: Creativity can come in any form. The trick is to see and accept the magic in the world around you and to capture that to pour into your writing.
Kate: Like all creatives, I struggle with motivation at times. I’ve found, that for me, the best way to counteract this is to have multiple projects going at once. This means that when I hit a seemingly impassable creative wall, I shift focus for a couple of weeks before circling back. I’ve found that while sometimes I need to push myself, other times, the best thing to do is take a break.
Thank y’all for joining us and sharing your thoughts on inspiration and creativity!
Consider adding PLANTING FRIENDSHIPS to your holiday gift-giving list! Support local by requesting at your indie bookstore or purchasing online at bookshop.org (book specific link) to benefit your favorite indie.
Call to Creativity: have you ever thought about co-writing? What strengths of your own could you share with others?
Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection – Return to Coney Island and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush;Ready, Set, GOrilla!; and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories. Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written with Callie Metler and Shirin Rahman, illustrated by Kate Talbot), released from Clear Fork Publishing in 2021. Melissa is a Blogger and Course Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, and a founding member of The Book Meshuggenahs. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and long beach walks.
Shirin has lived on three continents and sees herself as a global citizen. Through sharing stories from her heritage, she hopes to inspire an appreciation for all the diversity of our beautiful planet. A member of SCBWI since 2010, Shirin is now represented by Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Literary Agency. http://www.shirinshamsi.com @ShirinsBooks
Callie Metler is the owner of Clear Fork Media, and an author and illustrator of several children’s books. She lives in Stamford, Texas with her two sons, and enjoys looking out her office window at the trees and nature in the local town square. http://www.CallieMetler.com
Kate Talbot is a Children’s Book Author and Illustrator who has a passion for quirky stories, especially when told in rhyme. She has a degree in filmmaking and spent several years as a Film Producer (the highlight of her career was spilling an entire tray of drinks in Russell Crowe’s lap before falling butt-first into a fountain). In 2011, she made the shift to children’s writing and illustration, when she moved to Germany with her Spanish husband. Until recently she lived there with her family, but has now relocated to New Zealand. https://www.katetalbotbooks.com
Welcome, Word Wonderers! We hope everyone had an enjoyable, safe summer as we prepare for Back-To-School! Today’s guest is Kira Bigwood, with her debut picture book, SECRET, SECRET AGENT GUY, out now. And let me tell you, my youngest has been in spy-mode ever since we read her story together!
Candice: Hi, Kira! Thanks for being here today to talk about your creative process. When and where did you get the inspiration for your story?
Kira: Thanks again for having me! I was inspired to write SECRET, SECRET AGENT GUY in 2018 by my own sleuthing children. They got a spy kit for Christmas, complete with night-vision goggles and motion-detecting alarms. After being booby-trapped for like the zillionth time, I knew there was a story in this. Kids love spies! Heck, grown-ups love spies! I wanted to come up with a “sticky” concept that I hadn’t seen before, so I channeled my day job (advertising copywriter) and landed on this lullabies-for-spies idea. Once I had my concept, the story sort of wrote itself (which does not usually happen for me!).
Candice: Oh gosh, yes. I have been snuck up on so many times since my son and I read this book together. Everyone loves spies! And I like that phrase, “lullabies-for-spies.” Clever. What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Kira: My favorite part is what I call the “concepting” phase. Coming up with big ideas…good or bad. It honestly doesn’t matter, because ideas breed ideas breed ideas, and eventually, you’re bound to come up with something cool (a statistical fact!). I’m not an illustrator, but I do enjoy drawing (thanks to my artist mom and architect dad for that gene). So a lot of my initial concepting involves jotting down ideas for titles or themes, and then doodling those out a little. I don’t share my drawings with anyone (and they don’t inform any illustration notes I may include), but they do help me start to visualize the story and figure out where it should go.
Candice:You’re absolutely right. Bad ideas can be just as helpful as good ones to get creativity flowing. Do you have other creative outlets or hobbies? Do they cross into your writing?
Kira: I like to make stuff…cute invites and decorations for parties, clues for scavenger hunts, elaborate Halloween costumes (that was my 2-year-old dressed as Richard Simmons), homemade cards and poems…I’m kinda addicted to making people laugh, or feel loved or just acknowledged, through the written word. I suppose that would be the crossover…making stuff that makes people feel something.
Candice: I can imagine thebook-themed parties! And making people feel something is such a great life goal. Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?
Kira: Fill the well! The more you experience in life, the more you have to draw from when it comes time to create. This can be going to the movies, walking in nature, people-watching, dog-watching, going to a museum, playing with your kids, taking a much-needed break from your kids…the key is to try to be as present as possible (ditch the phone!), absorb your surroundings, and dump it all in the well.
Candice: Creativity usually seems to inspire more creativity. Do you have another book project you’re working on that you could give us a hint about?
Kira: Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on a narrative non-fiction science manuscript—fingers crossed it will be my next book! I will say, this past pandemic year really cramped my creativity, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. So, while I wasn’t nearly as productive as I’d hoped to be (remote schooling, anyone?!), I’ve given myself permission to let it go and not focus on what I didn’t accomplish last year. Here’s to 2021, amirite?!
Candice: For sure! We appreciate you being here, Kira, and best of luck with your non-fiction science manuscript project!
Kira: Thanks so much for having me, Candice, and congratulations on your creative successes!
Be sure to request SECRET, SECRET AGENT GUY at your library or local indie bookstore. You can also find it online at bookshop.org (book-specific link) which also helps support local indies.
Kira Bigwood writes children’s books, TV commercials, and much to her 11-year-old’s dismay, notes for her kids’ lunchboxes. She was once edited out of a My Little Pony ad because she was missing her two front teeth (not that she’s still hanging on to that or anything). Luckily, she has all her teeth now, and a much more positive attitude toward the editing process. Kira is a graduate of the University of North Carolina (go Heels!), and lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. Her debut picture book, Secret, Secret Agent Guy, illustrated by Celia Krampien, has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Find Kira online at kirabigwood.com, on Twitter and Instagram.
Celia Krampien grew up in a house in the woods in a small town near Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. She studied illustration at Sheridan College and currently lives in St. Catharines, Ontario, with her partner, a mischievous cat, and a nosy beagle.
Call-To-Creativity: Observe the children in your life to see what they gravitate to. Could that inspire something new? Could you incorporate a favorite lullaby from your childhood? Let the good (and bad!) ideas flow!
Welcome, Wonderers! Today’s guest on finding inspiration is picture book author, Michelle Vattula. Michelle and I met in the New in ’19 debut group, though both of our books were pushed back to 2021. Happily, her book, THE STALKING SEAGULLS, released April 20th. I thoroughly enjoyed how her main character, Alec, uses his creativity and wits, along with sandcastles and beach ball blockades, to eat his sandwich at the beach in peace, though I had a good laugh at how the story ended.
Candice: Thanks for being here, Michelle! Where did you get the inspiration for THE STALKING SEAGULLS?
Michelle: I was on vacation in Florida visiting my parents. We took our boys to the beach. When the snacks came out, so did the seagulls.
Candice: Oh my goodness, yes. I totally felt Alec’s frustration. I had a Dorito snatched from my hand one time at the beach. It was almost IN. MY. MOUTH. Add injury to insult, the seagull’s wing even cuffed me on the back of the head when it stole my snack! They can be very determined. What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Michelle: When I initially get the spark for an idea and run with it. Once the idea pops in my head, I just sit down and write wherever I am. I have more notes on random pieces of paper, lol. The words flow out so much easier when the idea is spontaneous. The feeling of completing the story after dozens of revisions is wonderful too. I adore coming up with book titles. Sometimes I have the name of the book before I have the story.
Candice: Titles are tough for many of us so that’s great you have that super power! Do you have other creative outlets? Do they cross into your writing?
Michelle: I love to anything with music. I have been playing the piano since I was 5. Playing is extremely cathartic (when I have time to do it). I also love to dance. I do Zumba throughout the week. I have written a few manuscripts that have dancing in them. One funny, lyrical and has dancing cows. The other more serious about a mother/son relationship.
Candice: Zumba is so much fun though it’s been years (pre-kids!) since I’ve joined a class. Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?
Michelle: My creativity usually comes when I’m doing something mindless like walking, cleaning or taking a shower.
I always tell writers to take time away from the craziness of life because it allows your mind to focus on simple concepts without being overwhelmed. I also find that writing using emotion tends to work for me. I like to tap into deep feelings that people are feeling but don’t like to talk about.
Candice: Creativity usually seems to inspire more creativity. Do you have another book project you’re working on that you could give us a hint about?
Michelle: I have at least 5 more completed manuscripts and many more that are in their revision stage. I love to write about cows, but I have numerous ones that touch upon subjects such as mother/son relationships, aging family members, and participating in different cultural experiences.
All great and important subjects! Thanks again for being here, Michelle!
Michelle was born in Boston but grew up most of her life in Erie, PA. After She received her Bachelor degree from Miami University of Ohio, she ventured back to Boston for her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Northeastern University. Michelle currently lives in the beautiful rolling hills of North Pittsburgh with her Finnish husband, her two Golden Retrievers (one who is a therapy dog) and her two beautiful boys who are her true inspiration for writing.
Michelle’s debut picture book, THE STALKING SEAGULLS, was released by MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing on April 20, 2021. Michelle is part of the Western Pennsylvania SCBWI leadership team as their New Member and Critique Group Coordinator. She is also a proud member of the twitter group #Newin19. Michelle is represented by T.J Kirsch from JCH Literary. She is open for interviews and virtual visits.
T.L. Derby is a children’s book author and Illustrator. She has turned her love for writing and art into her career. Now she helps others to make their dreams come true as a publisher. She is educated with a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment and an MFA in Creative Writing. She is also an autodidact in illustrating, screenwriting, and painting for over 20 years. Her love for children makes what she does a gift from her to the world
Call to Creativity: What frustrates YOU? Use your emotions, like Michelle suggested, and brainstorm a story of your own!
Welcome, Word Wonderers! Today we’re chatting with children’s author, Charlotte Offsay, about her debut picture book that releases in just two weeks, THE BIG BEACH CLEANUP. I am so excited for this book. Growing up on the Gulf Coast and participating in coastal cleanups with my children make this story very relatable, and any story with the many-hands-working-together-as-one theme is sure to make my heart absolutely melt.
Candice: Thank you for being here, Charlotte, and for writing such an accessible book on a global problem. Where did the original spark come from and how did it become the beautiful book we’ll hold in our hands in March?
Charlotte: Thank you so much for having me on your blog and for your kind words about The Big Beach Cleanup! The inspiration for this story stemmed from my desire to write a story about little hands joining together to make big change. I passionately believe that if enough ends join together, we can change the world. The story didn’t come together right away though and I struggled for a long time to find a way in. It wasn’t until a couple of back-to-back events with my two young children collided that The Big Beach Cleanup started to come to life. First my superhero obsessed son looked at me one morning and said, “I don’t feel like being a superhero today.” I jotted this down in my brainstorming journal as something to noodle on later and hurried my kids out the door (agreeing that I didn’t feel like being one either!). I later had a few environmental conversations with my children about some trash on the street on our walks to and from school.
It was these conversations that connected the dots for me and the idea of not needing to be a superhero, little hands joining together, and doing our part to protect our oceans collided. I went home and wrote the first drafts of what is now The Big Beach Cleanup. The manuscript went through extensive revisions and early drafts didn’t even include the sandcastle competition that the manuscript now revolves around! Luckily, my incredibly supportive critique partners were willing to stick with me through my countless drafts and along with an inspiring critique during an Inked Voices Workshop with Albert Whitman editor Christina Pulles, the manuscript was ready for submission. It eventually sold to that very same editor! Christina Pulles shared my vision for the manuscript and selected the perfect illustrator for our book – the talented illustrator and ocean activist, Katie Rewse.
Candice: I love that the story revolves around a sandcastle competition! Where would we be without our critique partners? And I got goose bumps when you said “if enough join together, we can change the world.” Such a powerful statement. What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Charlotte: Oh! What a great question! I guess the beginning stages of a new manuscript are probably my favorite. I absolutely love the feeling I get when an idea crawls under my skin and won’t let me rest until I’ve gotten it out. I become somewhat obsessive writing and rewriting, pulling every mentor text I can find and pacing my kitchen back and forth searching for the perfect words. I guess it’s that all-consuming feeling that I adore the most – the feeling that I have something that I just have to find a way to share with the world.
Candice: Do you have other creative outlets or hobbies? If so, do they ever cross into your writing?
Charlotte: Hmm, most of my creativity finds its way onto the written page and regardless of my wishing, my illustration skills are continually outdone by my first grader. In terms of hobbies, I am a big workout enthusiast and can be found in our home gym in the early hours of the morning. I love a good high cardio workout with extremely loud music. None of this has crossed over into my writing yet, but the question is getting my wheels turning!
Candice: Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?
Charlotte: I know a lot of people find creativity in different ways, some go for walks in nature, some make lists and mix humorous combinations, others try word associations and see where their minds take them. My story ideas tend to come from the things that I am most passionate about or the things in my life that I am most consumed with at that point in time. For example, I have another book coming out in September with Beaming Books called How to Return a Monster. It is a humorous how-to story about a young girl who tries to return her new baby sibling in the mail. At the time I began dreaming up that story I was consumed with how my daughter would react to her new baby brother being brought home and wanting to embrace/normalize all of her emotions!
My creativity tip is to think about the things in your life that matter most to you or that consume the most space in your mind and think about how you could approach that topic from a child’s perspective.
Candice: That is such great advice! How To Return A Monster sounds adorably child-centric. Can you tell us more about it and any other projects you’re working on that you could give us a hint about?
Charlotte: Yes, thank you for asking! I have two other upcoming picture books. How to Return a Monster which I mentioned above is being illustrated by Rea Zhai and is coming out this September from Beaming Books. A Grandma’s Magic is a picture book celebration of grandmothers and all the ways in which they are “magical.” It is being illustrated by Asa Gilland and publishes with Doubleday Books for Young Readers in Spring 2022.
Candice: Oh, I love anything magical and grandparents truly are! I’m excited for you, Charlotte, and appreciate you being here!
Y’all be sure to request THE BIG BEACH CLEANUP at your local library come March and preorder at your independent bookstore. If you prefer to shop online due to the pandemic, consider purchasing through bookshop.org. You can choose for your money to go to your local indie bookstore, or if you don’t have one in your area, it goes into a pot to be divvied out among indie bookstores.
Charlotte Offsay was born in England, grew up in Boston, and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two small children. Born into a family with a love of travel and adventure, Charlotte enjoys exploring new places and cultures. She is a former corporate finance client specialist who now spends her days caring for her family, volunteering in her local community, traveling, and using her experiences to fuel her true passion: writing. Through her work, Charlotte hopes to make children laugh, to inspire curiosity, and to create a magical world her readers can lose themselves in time and time again. Visit Charlotte on her website at http://www.charlotteoffsay.com and follow her on Twitter @COffsay or Instagram @picturebookrecommendations. Charlotte is represented by Nicole Geiger at Full Circle Literary.
Katie Rewse is an illustrator based on the south coast of the UK, in Bournemouth. She graduated with a master’s degree in illustration at the Arts University Bournemouth in 2017. When Katie is not illustrating from her little home studio by the sea, she enjoys exploring the coast with her husband in their camper van. Visit her website at www.katierewse.com.
Call to Creativity:Do you have a brainstorming journal? Now is the best time to start if you don’t! Write down ideas that capture your wonder and attention, then, like Charlotte suggests, look at it from a child’s perspective. How would eight-year-old you connect the idea-spark dots?
Welcome, Word Wonderers! Today we’re chatting with the co-author of MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD, Kirsti Call. I hope y’all are ready for some punny wordplay, because this moo-velous masterpiece delivers. Its playful rhyme is so much fun to read aloud.
Hi, Kirsti! How did y’all get the inspiration for your story?
Kirsti: My co-author, Corey Rosen Schwartz and I wanted to write a story that takes advantage of my background as a therapist. When we came up with the title MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD, we knew this was a story we had to write! And let’s face it, with the 2020 pandemic, we can all stand to read a story about bad moods es-cow-lating and then cow-miserating to feel better!
Candice: I love that you have a background as a therapist. I was actually wondering that as I read y’alls story the first time. And I absolutely adored that it was Mootilda’s act of kindness, her “cow-miserating” with the chickens, that got her out of her funk. Thinking of others has definitely helped my moods this crazy year. What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Kirsti: I love getting the spark of a new idea and writing a terrible horrible no good first draft– just writing down everything that comes to mind and allowing it to be THE. WORST.
Candice: Do you have other creative outlets? Do they work their way into your writing?
Kirsti: I make music with my family–we sing together every day. Here are my kids singing a COVID parody the family worked on. And here’s the MOOTILDA SONG my 14 year old daughter wrote–my 10 year old son is Mootilda’s voice and I’m the one in the cow dress. I plan to collaborate with my children to write songs for all my books. And one day, I’d love to write a picture book that has a song as part of the text!
Candice: Dang. I am SO IMPRESSED with your family’s talent and creativity! That is amazing (and hilarious. Totally related to the “introverted so it’s a bliss” line.) Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?
Kirsti: For me, creativity comes in the quiet moments. Letting my mind wander and giving myself permission to stop focusing on solutions allows more space for creativity. My best tips? Take a walk, listen to the sounds of nature, take a break from your screen. You’ll find your muse in the quiet moments.
Candice: Giving yourself permission seems to be key: to set aside space for creativity–to daydream, to write the ‘worst’ first draft. That permission is so liberating! Great advice. Creativity usually seems to inspire more creativity. Do you have another book project you’re working on that you could give us a hint about?
Kirsti: I’m working on boardbooks, picture books, a chapter book, middle grade and YA. Corey and I just finished a story about a daddy rooster who says Cock a doodle DON’T! And in March 2021, COW SAYS MEOW is coming out with HMH, and next Fall COLD TURKEY (also co-written with Corey) comes out with Little Brown.
Candice: Exciting things on the horizon! Congrats, Kirsti. Thank you for being here and sharing your creative insights and moo-sical talents!
Y’all be sure to request MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD at your local library and independent bookstore. If you prefer to shop online during these trying COVID times, consider purchasing books for holiday gift-giving through bookshop.org. You can choose for your money to go to your local independent bookstore, or if you don’t have one in your area, it goes into a pot to be divvied out among independent bookstores.
Kirsti Call co-hosts the PICTURE BOOK LOOK podcast and co-runs ReFoReMo. She reads, reviews, revises and critiques every day as a 12×12 elf, a blogger for Writers’ Rumpus, and a member of critique groups. She’s judged the CYBILS award for fiction picture books since 2015. Kirsti’s picture book, MOOTILDA’S BAD MOOD (Little Bee) debuted September 1st, 2020. COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) release in 2021. Kirsti is represented by Emma Sector at Prospect Agency. Visit her website at www.kristicall.com.
Co-author Corey Rosen Schwartz is the author of The Three Ninja Pigs and several other rhyming picture books. She lives in Warren, New Jersey, where she’s spent many years eating ice cream and visiting farms with her two moognificent children. Visit her at www.coreyrosenschwartz.com.
Illustrator Claudia Ranucci graduated with a degree in graphic design and illustration at the Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artisitche in Urbino, Italy. Her books have been published in France, Portugal, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Brazil. She currently lives in Madrid.
Call to Creativity: 2020 has been a trying year for all of us and of course, some more than others. But for this call, let’s look for the silver linings. Have you learned any new skills, new appreciations, or like Mootilda, a new perspective of thinking of her barnyard friends? How can you turn that silver lining into a picture book?
Welcome Word Wonderers, as we explore a colorful Indian market today with children’s author, Meera Sriram. Meera and I connected at last year’s Fall Writing Frenzy kidlit contest, so when I saw she would be releasing a gorgeous picture book set in a bustling Indian marketplace, I reached out to her. What better way to escape my own backyard and travel somewhere new to me?
Candice: Welcome, Meera! When and where did you get the inspiration for A GIFT FOR AMMA?
Meera: When my kids were little, I often searched for multicultural picture books for early learning. They were hard to find but the few we read were enriching in many ways. Since then, a book on colors set in a cultural backdrop was always on my mind. I grew up in India and every time I stepped out to the street, there was so much to take in – colors, textures, smells, chaos, sounds! But capturing and packing all of that into a picture book manuscript was the challenge. I had tried a few different drafts and given up. In 2017, I pulled out the manuscript and started playing with it, incorporating active as well as sensory elements. Soon, the colors and markets seemed to come alive.
Candice: That’s the hardest part about picture books–packing so much in while not overcrowding the story. You definitely found that balance! What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Meera: Revisions! A first draft usually makes me happy because I’ve actually acted on an idea. Then, at a certain point down the road you realize that the story has great potential. You start rolling up your sleeves and paying attention to hook, rhythm, imagery, and start to push harder to shape it up into something that’ll stand out. Sometimes, this happens when you get positive feedback or insightful direction from critiques. I love to discover and navigate the possibilities that open up during this process. With every iteration, words grow richer, plot tighter, ending stronger, and a small sprouted idea transforms into a full story arc.
Candice: Love this! I always say creative people are creative in a lot of different ways. Do you have other outlets or hobbies? How do they cross into your writing?
Meera: I love photography and very often I attempt to communicate through a visual composition. I used to photo blog for a few years, where the writer in me took a back seat and allowed a picture to speak for itself. To me, objects, light, and placement are equivalent to characters, plot, and setting. I also enjoy decorating interior spaces, and again, I try to include things like memorabilia and art to make the space feel lived in and to tell stories.
Candice: Leaving room for the illustrator is something I struggle with so it sounds like your photography interest helps with that–great idea! Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?
Meera: I believe we’re all creative all the time! Like when we cook or garden or hang a picture or play with a kid. Some of us pause longer and invest more because it brings us joy. If we let life happen and engage with the world, we’ll find countless ways to express creatively. I believe the important thing is to take the time to stop, listen, look closer, and soak in the moment.
Candice: Great advice–listen, look closer, and soak it in. Creativity usually seems to inspire more creativity. Do you have another book project you’re working on that you could give us a hint about?
Meera: Yes! Coincidentally, it’s about a very creative person. My next picture book, BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (Spring 2021), is a biography on Amrita Sher-Gil, the Indian-Hungarian artist who was a pioneer of modern Indian art. And I can’t wait to see the creativity Ruchi Bakshi Sharma will bring to the illustrations. I’m also working on edits for another picture book (yet to be announced) and I’m enjoying the collaborative process with my editor and illustrator. I have another idea for a book for which I’m trying to draw from within to find the best way to tell the story.
Candice: That sounds amazing! I love creative coincidences. Thank you for being here with us as we listen, look closer, and wonder at words, Meera. And congrats on A GIFT FOR AMMA’s release!
Want to travel within this lyrical, colorful story? Be sure to request it from your local library or independent bookstore. They do so much for our communities and need our support during this pandemic. You can find it online at bookshop.org which also supports local indie bookshops (you can pick your own local indie if they’re an affiliate. If not, it goes into a pot to be divided among indie bookstores.)
Meera Sriram grew up in India and moved to the U.S in 1999. An electrical engineer in the past, she now enjoys writing for children, leading early literacy initiatives, and advocating for diverse bookshelves. Meera is the author of picture books, The Yellow Suitcase (Penny Candy Books, 2019), A Gift For Amma: Market Day in India (Barefoot Books, 2020), and the upcoming title, Between Two Worlds (Penny Candy Books, 2021). She has also co-authored several kids’ books in India. Meera believes in the transformative power of stories and likes to write about people, places, and experiences less visible in children’s literature. For more information, visit meerasriram.com
Mariona Cabassa studied illustration at the Massana Art School and completed her postgraduate degree at the School of Fine Arts in Strasbourg, where she also learned how to speak French. She has illustrated more than 80 books in Spain and other countries. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.
Call to Creativity: is there a subject in children’s literature that you’d like to see more of on bookshelves? Think about ways you could put a new, creative spin on a book of colors.
Hi, Word Wonderers! Are your kids driving you bananas as we stay safe and stay home? Have they uttered the dreaded, whiney B-word? (Bored–ugh.) Send them outside with this gorgeous new picture book by Lindsay Leslie, DUSK EXPLORERS, out this past Tuesday. It’s an exciting adventure down memory lane for me and a lyrical manual on exploring and discovering how the familiar streets and yards change as night approaches. I’m eager to talk to Lindsay on how this story came to be and how she finds creativity in memories and the world around her.
Candice: Thanks for being here, Lindsay! Tell us about the inspiration for your story.
Lindsay: We’ve all heard folks in the children’s literature world say steer clear of rhyme unless you can do it really well. So, in 2016, I watched Julie Hedlund’s Verse Curse session as part of The Picture Book Summit to see what all the fuss was about. What I took away from the session was a fierce love of free verse–the lyricism and rhythm–rather than the rhyme. I’m not exactly sure what Julie said that sparked my idea for DUSK EXPLORERS during that session, but I think it was to drum up a memory from childhood that would translate to today. The first thought that leapt into my mind was the invigorating and freeing moments I had with my sister and neighborhood friends playing after dinner in the summertime. We played all the games, shared all the secrets, laughed all the laughs until the street lights blinked on and the sun disappeared. Another reason for my writing this story was I desperately want these moments for the children of today, for my children. I want them to have the unbridled freedom of roaming the neighborhood streets, so they can build their autonomy and self-confidence, and enjoy all that’s available to them just outside their front door.
Candice: Admirable goals and your story definitely accomplishes all that. I prefer the lyricism and rhythm of free-verse, too. My critique partners help me come to my senses when I get a random wild hair to write in rhyme. 😉 What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Lindsay: My favorite part is always the beginning and all the possibilities of a new story. Nothing thrills me more than having a cool concept pop into my mind and writing that first draft. I like to let my mind go and just drum up whatever it wants. Then the hard part begins. I think I’m terrible at editing on my own. I get pretty stymied. I work really well with the direction of CPs and my editors, so I know this is an area of improvement for me… to wrangle myself during the editing process.
Candice: Do you have other creative outlets or hobbies? Do they cross into your writing?
Lindsay: Loads! I’m crocheting right now. I love to free draw with my kiddos. I love strength training and cycling. I used to ride a lot before I had children, and now I’m enjoying long rides with them. I also love to bake pies, as I used to own a pie company back in the day. You would think I would have written a story inspired by those times, but nope. The right idea hasn’t come to me yet. I’m waiting, though. I think all creative outlets and hobbies inform one another in some way. I just couldn’t tell you how. I think that work is being done in my subconscious.
Candice: A pie company?! How fun! Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?
Lindsay: Truly listen and observe. I don’t think there is any one way to find creativity, but there are lots of ways to increase your chances of your mind being open to the function of thinking creatively. I think listening and observing do just that for me, and then I start asking the “what if” questions. Also, I’m really digging writing workshops right now. I need to take more. I’ve always been a coachable person, so taking a workshop kind of fills that bucket. It gives me a coach for the moment and I can get out of my own way.
Candice: One of the positive effects of the coronavirus are a plethora of digital workshops and I’m definitely taking advantage of those. Creativity usually seems to lead to more creativity. Do you have another book project you’re working on that you could give us a hint about?
Lindsay: Oh, I have many! I have about four picture books I’m currently writing right now. I also have a middle grade I’m trying to edit. (See above about being a terrible self-editor, because that’s where I am right now with it.) I actually wrote a picture book based on my MG WIP. How’s that for procrastinating on editing? I also have awesome news I wish I could share, but I can’t yet. Soon, I hope!
Can’t wait to hear more! Thanks for answering my questions, Lindsay. And congrats on DUSK EXPLORERS’ release!
Want this gorgeous book in your neighborhood? Be sure to request it from your local library or independent bookstore, they do so much for our communities and need our support during this pandemic! You can also find it at www.bookshop.org which also supports local indie bookshops (you can pick your own local indie if they’re an affiliate. If not, it goes into a pot to be divided among indie book stores.)
A diary keeper, a journalism major, a public relations executive, now a children’s author—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. She likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books. Lindsay is the author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, NOVA THE STAR EATER, and DUSK EXPLORERS (Page Street Kids). She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two sons, two fur-beasts, a guinea pig, and a tortoise.
Ellen Rooney, who also illustrated Her Fearless Run, loves illustrating and designing nature-related work. She has her BFA from the University of Victoria. A painter, printmaker, and collage artist, she resides in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband.
Call to creativity: sift through your childhood memories for exciting things kids today can do as they’re staying home. Comment with your brainstorms for a chance to win a non-rhyming picture book manuscript critique from me!