All posts by Dylan

COVER REVEAL: IT’S NOT JACK AND THE BEANSTALK by Josh Funk, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor PLUS Interview!

Hey Edwardian & Josh! Thanks for joining me here to talk about your new 2017 book, It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, and especially for the honor of revealing the cover here!

Dylan: Tell us a little bit about It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk.

Edwardian: It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk is a twist on its namesake fable.  However, we come in contact with characters that seem to have other ideas about how the story should be told.  It’s quite funny because we all know how the story goes, but our characters seem to take over their own story.

Josh: It’s not just a Mixed-Up Fairy Tale – it’s a META-Mixed-Up Fairy Tale – where YOU – the reader, the teacher/librarian/parent/grandparent/caregiver/2nd Cousin-three-times-removed – get to interact DIRECTLY with the characters in the book (and hopefully appear foolishly entertaining doing so).

Dylan: Tell us a little bit about your process.

Josh: As writing picture books isn’t my day job, I generally try to find time in the evenings, mornings, weekends, lunch breaks, coffee breaks, and bathroom breaks to brainstorm ideas and write. Once get an idea that really excites me, I usually make the time to write a whole first draft in the following few days, sharing with my wife, kids, and cats throughout the process. Once it’s done, I’ll share with some critique partners and revise and then share with more critique partners and revise and revise and share with my agent and revise and then send it out to some publishers to be rejected a few dozen times. Every once in a while, though, I trick a poor editor into turning one of my stories into a book… (sorry, Marilyn).

For this story, specifically, my kids played a HUGE role in building the text. There are essentially three characters with speaking roles in the story (with one slight exception): Jack, the Giant, and the Reader. As I developed the story, I often played the role of ‘Reader’ while my oldest played ‘Jack’ and my youngest played ‘the Giant.’ It was a blast to read this with my kids around the dinner table, at family gatherings, and to the cats. I can’t wait to perform it at Readers’ Theater at their school next September!

Edwardian: For this book, I was given Josh’s manuscript to read.  This is to me the most important phase because of the exploration needed to figure out the characters and the world they live in.  My background is in animation, so I treated my rough sketches like storyboards, but keeping in mind the text would also play a part like a character in the story.  When you read the book, you’ll see that the reader is a part of the story so its text is purposely considered and placed within each composition. One thing I enjoyed at this stage was seeing what worked or didn’t work within the context of the story once the visuals were in place.  Josh was always open to ways to improve the story or to edit things as I was illustrating the pages.  I think that kind of collaboration is a fantastic motivator to me as an illustrator, because I feel like I’m contributing more to the story instead of just being limited as just the illustrator.

After the rough sketch phase, we dive into the rendering (color) pass.  This part tends to take the longest.  Since I also have to figure out the general colors for object, characters, environment there is lots of decision making I have to do make sure color pallets make sense and are still fun and whimsical.  Something I was mindful too was the use of lighting to tell time.  Since we are experiencing the story in a single day, having these differences in lighting to tell time helped aid to move the story along.

Once the color phase is finished, we move into final adjustments after the designer places the text in the illustrations.  Then Voila!  It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk is born.

Dylan: Edwardian, have you always been into Illustration?

Edwardian: Actually, to be honest, I kind of fell into it. I’ve always loved children’s books, but I had always thought it was something you had to go to school for.  But what I do as a visual development artist for animation is very similar in how I approach working on illustrations.  After having been let go at my last full time studio job, I had taken this as an opportunity to cast my net wide and see where else my art could take me besides animation.  I had applied to several illustration agencies, and I was fortunate to find my current agency The Bright Group.  I had been with them a couple weeks before I got my first book gig.  And each book I’ve worked on has been such a labor of love, especially It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk.   I knew then that this was going to be an adventure into something I never imagined I could get to do.  But boy am I glad I had been let go from my old job, cause now (along with freelancing for animation studios), I get to do this rewarding and fun job of illustrating children’s books.

Dylan: Josh, have you always been into writing?

Josh: No! At least I never thought I was. I wasn’t a huge reader as a kid. But I married a voracious one (reader, not kid). While we dated, we read books out loud to each other (often kidlit, like Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket). I started listened to lots of audio books on my long day job commute in the early to mid-2000’s. And when I had kids, I read a ton of books to them. It was only about five and a half years ago when I wrote my first really really REALLY bad picture book manuscript.

However, ever since becoming an author, I’ve looked back and realized that I actually did enjoy writing. In middle school, B.J. Novak and I wrote a 150 page radio show script together, along with a few short stories. I also wrote some goofy editorials for the Newton South High School student—run newspaper (The Lion’s Roar). And in college I learned to play guitar and I wrote lots of songs (more They Might Be Giants-quirky than Eddie Vedder-poetic rock). So maybe the answer is ‘Yes?’

Dylan: What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Josh: There are so many exciting things about being an author, it’s hard to pick just one. The first time seeing an artist’s illustrations of something I wrote is amazing! Having my name on the spine of a book on a library shelf is surreal. And sometimes, just cracking myself up with a silly joke that I’m writing into a story is exciting. But the most exciting? It’s got to be interacting with readers; whether it’s via skype or in person, talking to kids about reading and writing is my favorite favorite.

Edwardian: That’s easy, when I’m designing a new character for the book.  You’ll notice in this one that I took liberties on fairy tale character cameos in it.  There is even a kind of “Where’s Waldo” game to find all the fairy tale characters I’ve placed throughout the book.  It was my fun way of doing little Easter Eggs to make people go back and really look through the illustrations.

Dylan: What inspires your creativity?

Edwardian: When someone on social media tells me how much they look forward to seeing my posts every week and that it brightens their day, is gratifying.  I don’t need to be the most popular artist with the most followers, but having people that let me know I bring them joy is enough and makes me want to make more art.

Josh: Yes! I love Edwardian’s weekly posts from all the illustration challenges he does! If you don’t already follow Edwardian Taylor on Instagram, you MUST! Edwardian’s and other artist’s illustrations always inspire me! I love scanning through illustrators to see what they’re up to on social media. There is so much talent out there in the kidlit art world, it’s incredible!

Other things that inspire me include my kids, spying on people in coffee shops, reading other amazing picture books, and lots and lots of coffee!

Dylan: What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

Edwardian: I’m a huge Meatloaf fan.  Not the meal (which is still good), but the actual rock star Meatloaf.  He actually lives in his hometown of Dallas, Texas.  But I’ve yet to have any run-ins with him.  I remember when I was little, my dad had Meatloaf’s “Bat out of Hell” on cassette tape.  I had kept it for myself, and would listen to it all the time on my boom box.  When I was in junior high my first CD purchase was Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell 2. I can’t help to sing along when one of his songs comes on.

Josh: Hmm… I’m kind of a sharer and don’t really hold much back (that’s not what readers don’t know – they probably already do – I’m just saying it’s hard to think of things that I haven’t already shared before). To stick with Edwardian’s theme, the first cassette tape I ever bought was The Coasters’ Greatest Hits (I was a big Yakkety Yak (Don’t Talk Back) fan in 2nd grade. The first CD I ever bought was DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s Homebase. And now I think I might have overshared…

Dylan: If you weren’t writing or illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?

Josh: Sitting in a cubicle (which I do do). Or maybe teaching ballet.

Edwardian: I’d probably still be working as a visual development artist for tv, games, and feature films.

Josh: Hee hee … I said ‘do do.’

Dylan: What can readers expect from you in the future?

Edwardian: My first book RACE! written by Sue Douglass Fliess comes out this year.  And I’m currently working on an unannounced book series with the writer of “Secret Life of Pets” and the “Minions” movies, Brian Lynch. I’ve also been working on studio projects with Sesame Street, Dreamworks TV, Universal Studios, and Out of Order Studios, so keep a look out for any announcements on social media for those.

Josh: Before It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk releases on September 19, 2017, THE CASE OF THE STINKY STENCH (sequel to Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast) will be served to readers on May 2! Have you ever opened the fridge and noticed that something didn’t quite smell right? In this episode, Inspector Croissant recruits the help of his uncle, Sir French Toast, and Lady Pancake to search for a mysteriously stinky culprit and save the fridge from destruction. And while nothing is announced yet, 2018 might be my busiest year so far …

Dylan: Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Josh: At this point, I think I’ve shared too much.

Edwardian: If you want to follow me on social media, I’m on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr @edwardiantaylor  I also have my blog/website www.edwardiantaylor.com.  And finally my online store, where I sell various prints, stickers and art books www.edwardiantaylor.storenvy.com

Josh: Oh, yeah, you can follow me, too on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook @joshfunkbooks or on my website at www.joshfunkbooks.com. Thanks for reminding me, Edwardian! And thank you, Dylan for inviting us to reveal the cover of It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk.

Edwardian: Yeah. Thanks, Dylan!

And NOW…. here’s the cover!

Funk-JackandtheBeanstalk-21814-CV_FT%20reveal.jpg

Stacy McAnulty Interview and GIVEAWAY!

Hey Stacy! Thanks for joining me here to talk about all you have in store!

Absolutely. Let’s do this.

Tell us a little bit about your new book, Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s The Favorite.

Mr. Fuzzbuster was Lily’s first pet. It’s always been Lily and Fuzzbuster, Fuzzbuster and Lily. But now, there are new pets in the house, and they all think they’re Lily’s favorite. Fuzzbuster wants Lily to decide once and for all. Who is the favorite?

McAnulty-MrFuzzbusterKnowsHesTheFavorite-21153-CV-FT.jpg

What inspired you to do this book?

My mom and my brother. I’ve always been my mom’s favorite, even if she’s never actually said, “Stacy you are my favorite.” I just know it to be true. My brother probably disagrees. When we were younger, we used to torment my mom, begging her to declare one of us the favorite. She would joke and say to me, “You are my favorite… (insert looooooong pause) daughter.” And of course, she’d say to my brother, “You are my favorite… son.”

Have you always been into writing?

Yes and no. I loved writing in 4th, 6th, 11th, and 12th grade. But I’ve always struggled with the basics of writing like spelling, grammar, and typing. That’s right. I’m admitting it here to you. I can’t type. So if I had English teachers who appreciated creativity, I was in heaven. If the class centered on sentence structure and spelling, I suffered through. I was naturally better at math, though writing has always been in my first love. To keep with the theme, I guess I should say, writing is my FAVORITE.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Selling a new manuscript is the heart-pounding, jump-up-and-down, all-7’s-on-the-slot-machine exciting part. What author doesn’t love to hear, “We want to publish your book!” And this doesn’t happen all that often. I get at least ten no’s to every yes. And some manuscripts never get a yes. The sale is the most exciting part, but it’s not necessarily my favorite part. (It’s in the top three.) I also love that moment when a story comes together. Whether it’s finally nailing the ending or rewriting the beginning. That’s an incredibly satisfying feeling. I also love when a reader connects with one of my books. Positive reviews are nice. Stars are great. But when a kid says “This is my favorite book,” or when they send you a letter begging for a sequel, my heart melts.

What inspires your creativity?

  1. My kids.
  2. A general curiosity about life.

First, having kids has given me a new perspective on the world. Children see things differently and think all things are possible. Blow a big bubble, maybe I can fly. Kids imagine and believe.

Second, I think I’m a naturally curious person. I want to learn how the brain works. I want to know if dinosaurs had feathers. I want to try all the hot sauces at the taco bar. Curiosity leads to creativity in all things—writing, engineering, science, cooking, EVERYTHING.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

When I visit bookstores, I like to rearrange shelves. I’ll move one of my books or one of my friends’ books to a more prime location. Don’t tell the store owners. This is our little secret. (Also, I always buy a book—or three—when I go to a bookstore. I think it’s good karma. And I LOVE books.)

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

I used to be a mechanical engineer. I designed first class airline seats. Engineering, like writing, calls for creativity. I would consider returning to engineering. Maybe I could work for Pampered Chef or OXO. I’d love to design kitchen gadgets. Other careers I’d consider: middle school science teacher, a writer for a late-night TV show, a neurologist (seriously, we know so little about the brain), a dog trainer, a paleontologist, or a bookstore owner. Life is too short, isn’t it?

Is 2017 as busy of a year for you as 2016 was?

I had six books hit shelves last year. This year, I only have five. I’m slowing down in my old age. I’m also working on my books that publish in 2018, including my first novel. Lots going on behind the scenes. I’m fortunate to be doing what I love.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

Well, I just got a puppy in January, so I imagine a puppy book will be forthcoming.

More concretely, I have three chapter books in the Goldie Blox series coming out in 2017 (two in May and one in September). And a picture book titled Brave, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, will be available in October.

51neBs0jt8L.jpg

51-tSnz9g4L.jpg

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

I think the world would be a better place if we all could…

* Read More Books

* Adopt a Dog or Two

* Volunteer for a Cause

* And Eat Doughnuts Every Friday with Someone Special

Maybe not the secret of life, but these activities can bring joy and grow our hearts.

Also, did you know Mr. Fuzzbuster loves writing notes? He wants to send cards to young readers across the country. Maybe he will be your favorite.

More information can be found at http://www.stacymcanulty.com/fuzzbuster-email

Stacy_McAnulty_01.jpg

STACY MCANULTY is certain she’s her mom’s favorite. Her younger brother disagrees. She’s the author of Beautiful, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. Originally from upstate New York, she now lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, with her three children, two dogs, and one husband. She doesn’t have a favorite. You can find her online at www.stacymcanulty.com.

EDWARD HEMINGWAY is certain he’s Stacy McAnulty’s favorite illustrator, although the illustrators of Stacy’s other books may disagree. Edward himself is the author and illustrator of the children’s books Bump in the Night, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, Bad Apple’s Perfect Day, and Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus. Originally from Bozeman, Montana, he now lives in Brooklyn where he teaches creative writing at the master’s level at SVA in Manhattan. If he has any favorite students, he’ll never tell. Learn more about him online at www.edwardhemingway.com.

Giveaway!

Two Lions is offering a copy of MR. FUZZBUSTER KNOWS HE’S THE FAVORITE to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses). All you need to do is retweet this blog post with the hashtag #MrFuzzbuster and you’ll be entered to win! Retweet by 10 PM  CST on February 10th!

2016 Picture Book Recommendations

Several students in my university courses and colleagues and friends have asked which books published in 2016 I’d recommend. Whether you’re someone building a classroom wish list, a Christmas wish list, or any other kind of list, these are some books from 2016 that I want to highlight. Enjoy!

29934235.jpg

This is a very timely picture book about welcoming everyone with open arms. Publication couldn’t have happened at a more appropriate time. The warm story has a message that is sure to resonate with children.

28595028.jpg

When I read this book, I wanted to give Drift the snowman a hug. Again, a subtle message about being happy when you give what you can spare to those who need it.

28953466.jpg

A fascinating story about Ezra Jack Keats written with rich language and accompanied by extraordinary illustrations. There really is not much more to say.

28818295.jpg

I knew very little about Ada Lovelace before I read this book. And I believe she’s a woman that everyone should know a little something about. And Fiona Robinson’s illustrations? They seal the deal.

28687249.jpg

I am a sucker for Christmas books. I am a bigger sucker for heartwarming Christmas books. This one carries so many great messages with it, and Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations are the perfect match for this Christmas story that is sure to be passed on for years to come.

28687145.jpg

You know how I feel about Christmas books, and this is another standout from the year. It’s all about making the best out of a sad situation.

28954098.jpg

I first became familiar with April Pulley Sayre’s photographs in Raindrops Roll. Now she’s back, this time with a flurry of winter photos and poetic language. I want to spend the day with April taking pictures. I think I could learn a thing or two.

23310669.jpg

Candace Fleming takes what’s known about a very unknown creature and weaves together rich and wonderful poetry, accompanied by Eric Rohmann’s oil paintings. This book made me and the readers I shared it with want to know even more about the giant squid.

25689022.jpg

This is a title that made me say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Genius idea executed perfectly. I hope these two continue to make books together.

28588065.jpg

One day there was a gigantic package outside of my office. “What on earth is that?” The return address was from Candlewick… I opened it up to find this oversized treasure of a book. While the text is simple, the illustrations are what make this book stand out- along with its size.

28963889.jpg

After reading Mother Bruce to my children’s lit class in the spring, the students wondered if there were plans to write any more Bruce books. Thankfully, the answer was yes. Ryan T. Higgins did not disappoint in the sequel, and I understand there’s even more to come.

25893953.jpg

We need quality books that help even our youngest readers begin to develop a sense of empathy for those in our communities and around the world who don’t live like us. This is an amazing example of that kind of book.

28101612.jpg

A big struggle for me as a teacher of the primary grades was to help students understand that there are always different ways of looking at things. As Dr. Phil would say, “No matter how flat you make a pancake, it will always have two sides.” – While this book is an exceptional title that can be used to talk about different ways animals see the world, it will also help develop a mindset that there are more than one ways of looking at something.

23872955.jpg

From burping in church to throwing sand at people, this dragon is up to no good. A hilarious story with a warm ending that readers will lavish.

28954173.jpg

I would use the song Five Little Ducks to teach my students the “take away one” subtraction notion. After using it for several years in the classroom, the song became stale and if I had taught another year, I would have gladly welcomed a fresher song. However, Denise Fleming has put her signature style onto this classic, and it makes it one I’d welcome back into my classroom with open arms.

28588028.jpg

There are so many great themes and issues weaved throughout the pages of this book, but the one that stuck with me the most was that even in situations where you don’t get exactly what you want, you can still be happy. That’s a tough thing for children to understand. This book helps them with that mindset.

27206454.jpg

Each illustration in this book is so unique and detailed that I would hang each one in my home if I had them. Evan Turk’s style won me over long ago, and this book is no exception to the high quality we’ve come to expect from him.

27833832.jpg

Hannah Harrison knocks it out of the park once again with her expressions and a timely message for all children. You can never have enough books about forgiveness, being a friend, and standing up for what’s right.

27414472.jpg

I read this one over and over again when I first got a copy- it highlights that very special bond between a grandparent and a grandchild, and is eloquently illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.

25785795.jpg

It’s common to bubble up with a big dream, only to have it popped by someone who doesn’t believe in you. You know what they say, if people aren’t laughing at your dreams, you aren’t dreaming big enough. This book encourages dreaming big and reaching for the stars.

26796307.jpg

I am not a fan of most “dark” picture books. However, this one is not too dark, and reminds us to never underestimate the power of the underdog.

28411941.jpg

This book became an instant favorite- Gilbert Ford’s unique diorama illustrations come together to tell a fascinating story about the invention of the toy slinky. There’s a video out there that shows how Gilbert intricately worked to bring these illustrations to life.

28963877.jpg

I enjoyed this book when I first read it. And then I heard Mo Willems read it aloud at ALA, and I became enamored with it. It’s all in the delivery- be sure to rehearse this one before you deliver it to the ears and eyes of young readers.

27245931.jpg

I’ve said before that Stacy has a knack for writing picture book texts. She had several released this year, but this one stands out for me as a favorite. There is so much cleverness in this story, and another one with a resounding message.

26109112.jpg

A sentimental book that reminds kids that whatever they’re feeling- it’s OK to feel- and somewhere along the line, it’s something that everyone has felt at one point or another.

27206403.jpg

When I interviewed Ben Clanton on my blog earlier this year, I learned one thing: I am not the only one in the world who opens the mailbox each day with an eager desire to see what is possibly inside. Liam, the main character of this book, feels the same way, and learns an important lesson.

25898520.jpg

The language in this book is so perfect. Writing such exquisite poems about something so seemingly simple is no small feat.

27206486.jpg

This book addresses the ever important question- Ah, so you want to be king? You want to be in charge? – Desires to rule and be greedy have their consequences. This fits right up there with Where the Wild Things Are and Yertle the Turtle. 

27431978.jpg

So many children try so hard to avoid going to bed. 10-5- or even 1 more minute of staying awake will satisfy them until the clock runs out. This is a book many children can relate to. It’s Lisa Graff’s debut in picture books, and I think it’s a format she should continue to write.

25897880.jpg

Dads. They are often stereotyped in picture books, but this book gets to the heart of the matter and delivers a knock out text that truly captures what they are and the special relationships children have with them.

26240666.jpg

As a person who was afraid of dogs as a child, I could relate to Hannah. But this is a book about more than being afraid of dogs- it’s a book about conquering any fear.

25862144.jpg

I see more and more classrooms adding Makerspace places to their routines and environments. What’s even better is when they add picture books to encourage that mindset- this is a great title to set up in your makerspaces to encourage thinking outside the box (pardon the pun) and using your imagination to its full extent.

25689014.jpg

I loved the made up language here, and the banter between two best frints. Antoinette has created a masterpiece that is guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of readers.

25332008.jpg

Julie Fogliano. Master wordsmith. Julie Morstad. Master illustrator.
What do you get when you combine the two?

25716588.jpg

It’s no secret that I’m a softie. Always have been, always (probably) will be. This one had me sobbing. Not just tearing up- sobbing. Such an important message about legacy and gripping tight the memories that precious loved ones leave behind.

25898513.jpg

In a world where continual change is almost guaranteed, we need more books like this- comforting children and reminding them to look to the constants of life for comfort. Matthew Cordell was the perfect match for this text by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

 

Waiting for Snow Blog Tour: Interview with Marsha Diane Arnold

Hi Marsha! Thanks for joining me here to talk about what’s up with you!

All thanks be to you, Dylan. I’m delighted to be here with you. You’re an inspiration and such a wonderful supporter of authors, illustrators, readers, and students.

Tell us a little bit about your recently released book, Waiting for Snow.

Waiting for Snow’s birthday was yesterday, November 1st, just in time to help impatient little ones pass the time until the first snowflakes fall. I’m so very happy about this book because I worked “alongside” two of our industry’s luminaries, my editor Kate O’Sullivan and my illustrator Renata Liwska. A writer couldn’t ask for anything more!

12961575_10207088448302778_618166531975965137_n.jpg

I think of Waiting for Snow as a meditation to patience, with sensible Hedgehog advising throughout, “It will snow in snow’s time.“ But Badger is such an impatient fellow, yelling at the sky, “Wake up, Sky! It’s time to snow.” Thankfully, he has friends who, after trying to fix the problem with tricks and superstitions, finally settle down to just be together and wait…”until…it was time.”

WAITING_FOR_SNOW_HI_Page_16.jpg

And you’ve done some board books for the first time, which will debut in 2017?

Yes, my first-ever board books, Baby Animals Take a Bath and Baby Animals Take a Nap, will be out in February 2017.  The illustrator is Phyllis Limbacher Tildes, who happens to be in my online writing group, so that is a nice bit of serendipity.

Screen%20Shot%202016-10-20%20at%2010.07.35%20AM.png

Screen%20Shot%202016-10-20%20at%2010.07.05%20AM.png

I’m really excited about these books, first because it seems every parent would want a copy to read at nap or bath time, and secondly because, although board books are usually for preschoolers, I can still share my research with older students during school visits. They’ll love the video I took of baby sloths at the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica. The sea otters’ “holding-hands nap” will lead to exploring how sea otters live in kelp beds. “Steam bath” takes us to the Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) keeping warm in hot pools during the winter in the snowy mountains of Japan. So many things to share!

Tell us a little bit about your process.

Let’s see – meandering, haphazard, now and then, interested in everything, brief flashes of inspiration – that’s about it. My office is fairly well organized, but my mind is not.

4B98DE2C-B6F2-48CF-AE95-8C978EF00C5C.jpeg

Have you always been into writing and illustrating?

Not at all.  As a child, I was a reader, but I would never have presumed I could write books like the wonderful ones I was reading.

I was a stay-at-home-mom; it was my pre-school children who inspired me to start writing. I wrote an award-winning weekly column, homegrown treasures, for ten years before my first picture book was published.

Sadly, I’m not an illustrator, but I so wish I were. My father and his five brothers were farmers, but they had a natural talent for painting and drawing. I simply don’t seem to have the patience for it. I really need to read Hedgehog’s advice in Waiting for Snow again.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Seeing your words in a beautifully illustrated book is pretty exciting in itself, but I’m also delighted when visiting schools and talking with students about writing, reading, and books. I’ve visited schools from Missouri to Puerto Rico to Germany to Kenya. That’s exciting!

Next week, I’m traveling to Alabama for a two-day visit. Walter Jackson School has been celebrating my 1998 book The Pumpkin Runner for five years with a special Pumpkin Run Day. It’s filled with pumpkin-related games and activities and a mile run in honor of my characters Joshua Summerhayes and Yellow Dog. I’ve Skyped with the school each year in honor of the day; I’m super excited to be there in person this year, to run alongside the kids and teachers.

What inspires your creativity?

So many things. Life is amazing, isn’t it? Nature and animals are always fascinating. Sometimes I’m inspired by woodland animals as in Waiting for Snow, sometimes it’s a morning dream (Lost. Found.) or a two-paragraph snippet in a magazine (The Pumpkin Runner).

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

My life is pretty much an open book; I don’t keep many secrets. You can read a lot about my life on my website. I even have it divided into chapters! You might start with Chapter 2, my Kansas years. (http://www.marshadianearnold.com/meet-marsha/biography/chapter-2-kansas)

Okay, let’s see, something my readers don’t know about me. I’m 68, but still love to climb trees, hike in forests, scuba dive, and stargaze. So, it might not surprise them that I also talk to animals, plants, and trees. But the thing they don’t know…sometimes the animals, plants, and trees talk back to me.

If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

I’d like to work with animals in some way. Maybe I could be my heroine Jane Goodall’s assistant, or be the wombat keeper at the San Diego zoo, a dolphin communicator, or a National Geographic wildlife photographer. Those things all sound pretty wonderful to me. And I’d have even more material to write books about!

What can readers expect from you in the future?

I had such fun writing about Badger and his friends in Waiting for Snow. I actually have two more Badger stories that I’m hoping will find a publishing home, if I can just be patient.

Soon I’ll be able to share news on two manuscripts that were just bought in August and September. But it’s hush-hush for now. Both of them are layered with fun, inspiration, and information. I’m looking forward to discover who the illustrators will be and am very impatient to have to wait to be able to share these stories at school visits.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Readers, young and old, hear my words. 🙂 

When I was a child growing up in my Kansas home with no running water or indoor plumbing, I would never have thought that as an adult I’d be writing children’s books that travel the world.

My very first book was about a small kitten, the runt of the litter, who had a big dream – to give himself a name like that of the Beautiful Bengal Tiger on Naming Day. When readers asked me what inspired the story, it gave me pause…until I realized that the kitten was me. I was writing my own story. I was trying to teach myself that it was all right to have a big dream and follow that dream.  As Little Four said, “In my heart I am bigger than what you see.”

The manuscript was rejected 13 times before I found the editor who loved it as much as I did. Remember readers, young and old, it only takes one “yes” to be on the way to where you want to be. Heart of a Tiger went on to accumulate many awards, including the Ridgway for Best First Book by a New Author and three state Children’s Choice Awards.

WAITING_FOR_SNOW_HI_Page_13%20copy.jpeg

As wise Hedgehog explains in Waiting for Snow, “Crocuses always bloom in spring, the sun rises every morning, stars shine every night. Sometimes they come late and sometimes early, but they always come, in their time.”

So, follow your dream. No one else can do that, but you.

1556254_10203655939732209_6980258784709011283_o.jpeg

 

WAITING FOR SNOW BLOG TOUR

October 31st, Monday – Cynthia Alaniz, Librarian in Cute Shoeshttps://librarianincuteshoes.blogspot.com

Nov 1st, Tuesday – Alyson Beecher, Kid Lit Frenzyhttp://www.kidlitfrenzy.com

Nov 2nd, Wednesday – Dylan Teut, Reading with Mr. Teuthttps://readingwithmrteut.wordpress.com

Nov 3rd, Thursday – Mia Wengen, Pragmatic Momhttp://www.pragmaticmom.com/home/

Nov 4th, Friday – Margie Myers-Culver – Librarian’s Quest – http://librariansquest.blogspot.com

Nov 6th, Sunday – Matthew Winner – The Best Book Ever (This Week)http://www.allthewonders.com/best-book-ever-this-week/

Nov 7th, Monday – Niki Ohs Barnes, Daydream Readerhttps://daydreamreader.com

Nov 8th, TuesdayBridget and the Books https://bridgetandthebooks.wordpress.com