Tell me about yourself.
Hello!! I live in Missouri, outside Kansas City in a small town called Belton. I am married and have three grown children. I homeschooled my kids from K-12 and it is the treasure of my life. It allowed us all to be creative and grow in our talents. I have taught art to many kids and still do today! I love putting art into the lives of children. So doing this amazing interview is much more than what I do, it is an opportunity to reach kids and inspire what they do!
When you were my age what did you like to read?
Being young with books is one of my favorite memories. I loved going to the library at my elementary school and going through the books. I would always pick out the ones with the pretty pictures. My favorite book to check out was Little Bear’s Friend by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. I actually would take it out over and over. I love the picture of Little Bear up in the tree looking out over the wide, wide world. He wanted friends and found a little girl named, Emily. I loved that book and the name Emily so much, I named my little girl after her. So much inspires us!
How do you get ideas?
My ideas come from what I love. I look around in my life and see things I know about, if it connects with kids and if I want to spend a lot of time on it! I will put many things together around one idea by drawing, finding words and playing around. Then I surround myself in it, mentally and physically and see what pops up. When I was writing To the Cider Mill, I sat many time in a real cider mill and watched everything, took notes and drew. Sometimes you just have to be in it!!
Is it hard to write/illustrate a book?
Yes! Any talent you have and want to develop takes hard work and that is a good thing! It is a passion that is brought out of us to present to others. That is what makes us who we are-no matter what your talent is! Writing for me, is harder than illustrating- writing has more rules to follow to do it well. Illustration has its rules, but you get to be more of you in your work. I am also a self-publisher and that is very different than traditional publishing. There is a lot more involved for me to get a book ready and out. All things take a lot of time for it to be ready. Because I write and illustrate it is a great day when you begin to see your work hold hands and run down the path together. Until that day-you keep working!
My book To the Cider Mill is easy to read and written in rhyme. Rhyme is another way to write and is pretty challenging. I really loved the process of writing the book, because it was something I did with my children, the topic was interesting to me, and I found many things to surround it. This is what you look for. I really loved the process of writing the book, because visiting a cider mill with my children is something we enjoyed.
To the Cider Mill is not a standard picture book- I believed there was a need for an interactive story that invites the reader to come along. Also come along and color the illustrations and the most of all, add their own art! Apples, pumpkins and scarecrows on a brisk fall day and getting to draw these things, too along side each illustration. With this book you don’t just read and put it down, you become part of it! I am working on another book with the same interaction and hope to have it out soon. I love getting kids to draw and maybe become an author or illustrator someday-this book is a great beginning!
What authors do you really like now?
I really keep the classics close. Beatrix Potter and her incredible writing and Peter Rabbit in the watering can! Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad’s green and brown pictures,simple stories and fun surprises. Eric Carle and his amazing art cut-outs-all different and all brilliant!
What is your advice??
Surround yourself with books of all kinds, do drawings from them, read everything, and keep your favorites close. Go to museums and see all the different art. Take a private art class and learn to use different mediums, like pencil, watercolors and pastels. Start a small writing group and read to each other. Start writing stories and drawing pictures for it now. I have my art class take a piece of paper and fold it to make four blocks on both sides and write and draw a story-that is something Beatrix Potter did. Re-tell a classic story with your own ideas!! Look around a room and find an object like a clock, put a face on it and tell a story around it! Be bold and be brave and read them to someone. Don’t be afraid to change your story and take advice from someone who knows. Most of all keep a sketchbook for all of it-take it along and see the wide, wide world, like Little Bear.