I've been asked to join a blog hop with incredibly talented writers. I am not the best blogger around, and so I wondered when pondering, what do I have to offer? I concluded that the best thing that I can offer to the writing world is the introduction to three of my good friends who are incredibly gifted writers. First of all a big THANK YOU Lori Mortensen, author of the fabulously funny Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg, along with many other fantastic stories. I've just purchased Clyde for my library and it is one of my all time favorites, the rhyme is impeccable, the story excluded meticulously, it is a visual treat! The writers that I will introduce are some of my favorite people of all time. Incredibly talented, wonderful people. Donna Earnhardt, author of Being Frank, by Flashlight Press, Jenni Bielicki, my friend and critique partner, first place winner at Writers' Day with her story Starry Kalahari, and my friend Jodi Moore, the writer of When a Dragon Moves in, Flashlight Press, and also Good News Nelson, Story Pie Press. But first, the questions that I've been asked to answer. Thank you for reading!
What are you working on right now?
I have been working on a few new picture books, some in prose, some in rhyme. I had taken a break from rhyme for about a year or so, but recently, it has returned with such gusto that I've barely been able to catch my breath. Writing rhyme is one of my greatest passions, along with spending time with my children, husband and grandchildren. It fills my heart and soul and brings me such joy. It is like a great love. I worked 1/2 of 2012 and into 2013 on a picture book titled No Fun in the Sun for Santa. This is a story about Santa and his 10 elves and the trouble the elves cause while on vacation. It is a rhyming countdown book, illustrated by the talented Maria Pearson, illustrator of over 50 books. We worked hand-in-hand for the entire year and it was a delightful experience. Santa will be out next year, published by First Ideas Corporation, a new book/plush company, and will be released as a boxed set, with an 8X8 hardcover book, along with a plush Santa lifeguard. I am also looking forward to a release next year of my book, The Lake Where Loon Lives, published by Islandport Press, illustrated by Brooke Carlton. Loon is a story about a loon on a lake, and a boy that catches a fish, that causes a ruckus and splash and a swish, all while Loon tries to protect the chicks that ride on her back. It is written as a cumulative rhymer, think, (The House that Jack Built), it was so much fun to write, and I am looking forward to working with my editor, Melissa Kim, on promotion. My agent, Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary is hard at work submitting a few stories of mine, and so we wait with bated breath.
Why do you write what you write?
I have an incredibly deep love for children, I owned my own daycare from 1991-1997, and I've worked with Portland Nannies as a nanny to many fabulous families. I have always loved writing, and have written since high school, where I filled up pages and pages and book after book with poetry. But it wasn't until 2004, when I attended a school visit at my daughter's kindergarten class in West Baldwin, Maine, by author Lynn Plourde, that I seriously thought that perhaps I could fulfill my dreams. I have been writing now for close to 9 years, joined SCBWI in 2005, and every day is a new adventure. I have met the most wonderful people on my journey and consider myself blessed to know them. Kids lit is a large/small business and by that I mean, publishing seems large, but writers of children's literature know each other, or know of each other, usually. It is a fantastic business, and I am always delighted when I am introduced to new talent and when I meet a new friend. The first thing I always do is buy their books. They have worked long and hard to get where they are, and it is a way to show my support for their talent. I am building a fantastic library for my grandchildren. I have been helped by many writers along the way, and so I try to pay that forward.
Why do you write what you write?
Writing picture books seems to be where my heart lives. I love children of all ages, but in particular children around the ages of 2-7. I connect with this age, find them funny, curious, imaginative, and delightful. You always know where you stand with a child, they tell it like it is. I think if everybody could remember what it is like to be a child, the world would be a much more peaceful place. Children live in the moment, enjoy living, laughing, and make-believing, and the land of make believe is a fantastic place to be. When I write, and can go inside a world that wasn't there minutes before, it helps me heal a deep part of myself as a child. I try to make the world a better place by writing "funny," and make a child laugh, and by believing they can be anything they want to be. Certainly, if I can become a writer with the obstacles stacked before me, THEY can be anything they want to be as well.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is finding something unique to write about in your own perspective, with your own voice, something that hasn't been done a million times before. It is believing in yourself enough to continue on in the face of adversity, honing your talent, and fostering others along the way as well.
Without further ado, I'd like to introduce to you my writer friends, you're in for a reading extravaganza when you add these books to your library.
Donna Earnhardt, author of Being Frank, by Flashlight Press. I have known Donna for many years, we exchange stories every once in a while. She is a fabulous writer, each word carefully selected to create a unique story. She is a writer and a home-schooling mother. I admire her gifts, and her talents. When she sent me Being Frank several years back, I KNEW it had to be a Flashlight Press book. I was beyond ecstatic when I found out that Being Frank had been acquired by Flashlight Press. I have added it to my library and am so glad that I did. Being Frank is a story about a boy that is---well---FRANK. He tells it like it is. He learns along his journey that some things are better shared with more sugar and less pepper, an exquisite read, and a MUST HAVE book for any library.
Jenni Bielicki, author of Starry Kalahari, Jenni is a very good friend of mine, and my critique partner. We have written together now for about 5 years. She is a gifted rhymer, a true wordsmith. Her story Starry Kalahari, an incredible read, written in rhyme about the nocturnal life in the Kalahari Desert has won several awards, first place in Writer's Day, and second place in the Barbara Karlin Grant. It is just waiting for the right home. I will be so excited, and cheer the loudest for Jenni what that times comes. Jenni is thorough in her writing, chooses every word very carefully, is a patient reviser, and leaves no stone unturned in her quest for a perfect rhyme, and a perfect word. I admire her talent and can't wait to see her books in print.
Jodi Moore, author of When a Dragon Moves In by Flashlight Press, and Good News Nelson by Story Pie Press. I have known Jodi now for a few years, as I said, writers know each other or know OF each other, and in her case, I sought her out. I had heard such good things about Dragon. I knew instantaneously that Dragon had to be a part of my library after my very first read. My grandchildren ask for it over and over again. It is a story about a little boy on a beach who thinks he sees a dragon, does he or dosen't he? That is the question in this fantastic book. The dragon and the boy spend the day together, the illustrations are exceptional, and the story is well written. Jodi is a major talent and I can't wait to see her career unfold. She presents wonderful school visits, with a lively Dragon head prop that her talented son made for her. She is not only a great writer, but a lovely person inside and out.