Posted in Ask the Librarian

Jennifer Barber

Name of Library East Clayton Elementary School @ecereads 

Media Center’s Website

What kind of librarian are you? Definitely not a traditional one..The library is the heart of the school where children feel welcomed and loved. At my school, the kids want to stop in and get a book. As they are getting new books, they are chatting with me about the ones they want me to purchase or telling me their likes and dislikes about the one they just read. As a librarian, my main goal is providing quality literature for the students to enjoy! When they visit the library, they get a book that they absolutely love so in hopes they go home or back to class to read the book! My school library is twenty-three years old and my drive is to keep it updated as much as possible with the little money that they give me! So as a librarian, I have to advocate for a place that I feel may disappear which makes me so nervous! With the updating of books and resources for not just the kids but the teachers also, my library gets the opportunity to be enjoyed and appreciated! So when kids grow up, they hopefully will know what a library is and take their kids to the library to enjoy books! When the students arrive, we have community time in which we may share some of the books that we have read, read a picture book together that deals with a concept or standard that connects with the grade level that I am working with, and the students will head into stations such virtual reality, Legos, Merge Cubes, 3D printing, green screen recording, or Apps on the ipad. All the stations are centered around the book that we are concentrated on. WHile students are working on their stations, we rotate through to check out books! 

How long have you been a librarian?  This will be my third year in the library however my 18th year in education! Prior to becoming a librarian, I taught 12 years in second grade, 2 years in third, and 1 year in 5th grade! 

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? So this is an interesting story on how I became a librarian..I have always had a love for books as a classroom teacher, parent, and even growing up as a kid. Three years ago, our school librarian retired two weeks before school started. My principal emailed the staff on a Sunday night, letting us know that the librarian was retiring and she would begin looking for someone to fill her position. When I read the email, I asked myself..”I wonder if I could do that job?” The next morning I visited the office of the principal and the assistant principal was with her at the time. I inquired about the position and she asked me if I wanted the job. The words were YES and she turned to me and gave me the job position. I remember asking her..”Do I have an interview?” She replied, “No, if you do all the amazing lessons and get the kids to love you like you do in your regular classroom; I do not have to worry at all that I gave you that position.” My main goal is helping our youth enjoy reading. I hate that the kids think reading is homework. I couldn’t see myself heading back into the regular classroom. I love having the opportunity to work with over 700 kids weekly.

How do you pick books for your library? You shared that your library was in desperate need of updating! So my first priority is making sure that the resources match the curriculum. When I entered this position, my nonfiction collection was a 2002 collection. A priority for the collection was updating the nonfiction to have books that have current facts and books that the kids could relate to and enjoy in nonfiction. My Donors Choose Projects are fiction books and graphic novels. The kids love them and we did not have any graphic novels in the library when I became a librarian. With the help of Donors Choose, Grants, and Donations, we were able to put a whole new section in the library of graphic novels! We had a successful book fair which allowed me to purchase new picture books. Unfortunately, the library is an older library so there is constant upgrades in our books. This year throws another challenge with a budget cut in our state money. So I will have to write a few more grants to get the kids their LOVES! I also work at purchasing books that showcase ALL types of cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and topics. I want the children to have a diverse thinking and reading can help form that thinking! 

Do you have a favorite author? Oh..this is a challenging question! There are so many! For chapter books, Alan Gratz! I absolutely love historical fiction so his books have that and a wonderful message tied together! In October, he is coming to Raleigh and I am counting down the days! For picture books, my favorite would be Dan Santat. After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up) is my ultimate favorite! 

Can you suggest a new or lesser known author to check out? When I entered into this position, I started to follow a lot of authors on twitter. Ame Dyckman and Josh Funks’ books were not in my library! They are amazing! I have placed a lot of their books into the library and my teachers use their books for instruction also! 

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? Surprisingly with 700 kids, I am able to personalize in helping them find books. If a kid likes Pokemon, I show him/her the Pokemon books! After he/she is finished reading those, I might encourage a book that takes in a video game world. In my lessons, I often teach about authors and showcase all their books that we have in the library. With the centers in the library, I can take small groups and assist them in finding their book. It does help to have read a lot of books so I can chat with them about the book to know if they are interested in it. The catalog on the computer is a great help so I can type in a subject area and it will populate the books that are related to that subject. 

-If you could portal into any book, which would it be? When I was little, my mom always read me the book, Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs. The book was way better than the movie! I would portal back into that book as a kid! 

Posted in Meet the authors

Miranda Paul

1. When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you?

There were several books that inspired me when I was young. One of them was Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. The book spoke to me because—believe it or not—Miranda was NOT a popular name where I lived in the 1980s. People always messed it up, misspelled it, or called me Amanda or Melinda (in fact…I got an email from a friend addressed “Dear Amanda” just last week). As a kid, I wanted to change my name so badly to Michelle or Kristen. Today, I wouldn’t give up my name for anything.

2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you?

On the kidlit side, I read two books that made me cry! One is called Hand in Hand by Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum, and the other is called A Map Into the World by Kao Kalia Yang. I’m also a huge fan of anything written by Aisha Saeed and Jacqueline Woodson. On the adult side, I like to read nonfiction. I find myself impacted by true stories and facts. I’ve recently read books about genetics, astronomy, and people’s life journeys (called memoirs). I also read a book about how to deal with difficult people, and though it wasn’t my favorite, it did help me to think about how to be polite and kind but still address my concerns or needs. Speaking up was something that was hard for me as a shy kid, but I have grown up to become much better at communicating. In fact, I have a book coming out next year called SPEAK UP that is all about the ways we can find our voice and make a difference.

3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like?

That’s a tough one. My writing days don’t always look the same. I used to think that was a bad thing, and when I became a “real” writer I’d have a daily schedule and stick to it. Then I learned that when life has its ups and downs, its interruptions and moments of peace, I’m living my life rather than watching life pass by. Adventures and changes help keep me sharp physically and mentally, and because of those things, I’m a better person. When I’m a better person, I’m a better writer. If all I did were write, if I didn’t experience life or interact with people, what would I write about? Would my writing be ordinary or dull? I try to do a lot of writing in summer and winter, and I do more school visits and revising in spring and fall. When I’m home, I write more in the morning—I get tired pretty early at night. It’s a good thing to establish habits and routines, and some people need them to stay motivated or finish their work, but I guess I’ve mostly had enough passion and motivation to find ways to write on planes and trains and even in the shower.

4. Is there a newer or less know author you think kids should know about?

Oh, there are so many! There are several newer voices—especially Chrystal D. Giles, Sylvia Liu, and Carole Lindstrom—who have published a poem in a book I edited called Thanku: Poems of Gratitude. Marlena Myles illustrated it, and I think everyone should be on the lookout for more of her art. There are so many more I’d like to name, but this interview could get really long…

5. What is a cool thing about being an author?

Working in pajamas! Meeting kids (kids are pretty cool)! Getting to bring my cats to work! Getting letters from readers! 

6. Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold.

There are cupcakes and pens, and occasionally rainbows. I haven’t yet found a pot of gold, but I’m holding on to hope. Seriously, though, there are tough things. It’s not always easy to make a living, even if your books sell well. There’s also a lot of hard work and rejection. Every book I’ve made has taken years, not months or weeks like some people think. Some authors really struggle with staying motivated to finish a project, because you often work alone and don’t get paid until you’re completely done.

7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic?

I’m a co-founding member of an organization called We Need Diverse Books (www.diversebooks.org). One of my upcoming books, Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, benefits the organization with every sale. I think everyone’s role is to think about diversity and try to be inclusive. We can examine our own thoughts, words, and actions. We can be readers, supporters, sharers, buyers, and even writers of books. I run a Mentorship Program for WNDB that pairs new or upcoming voices in children’s literature with an established mentor, usually an author, to help guide them. So far, I’ve been able to help pair 37 mentees with a mentor, and many have gone on to sign with agents or publish books. It’s satisfying to be a small part of the big work that needs to be done. But we can always do more.

8.  If you could portal into any book which would it be?

Either IN THE CANYON by Liz Garton Scanlon and Ashley Wolff, or GRAND CANYON by Jason Chin. I loved my visit to the Grand Canyon a few years ago and I’d absolutely love to visit again.

If you wanted to ask about books coming up next, I’m extremely excited for an upcoming book called Little Libraries, Big Heroes. It’s about Little Free Library cofounder Todd Bol and how he spread his idea of sharing books all over the world. The book releases on September 3 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books) and is illustrated by the incredible John Parra. I hope everyone will check it out, and maybe put their copy inside a Little Free Library!

Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Brooks Benjamin

Online presence (website/social media)
www.brooksbenjamin.com
Twitter: @brooksbenjamin
Instagram: @thebrooksbenjamin

  1. When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you?
    Yes! Bridge to Terabithia had a huge impact on me. I grew up on a little farm in the middle of nowhere and I really connected with Jess. But then I got to the end of the book and got so mad at Katherine Paterson for what she did to Leslie. I vowed to never read the book again and maybe even form an anti-Terabithia club or something. But I couldn’t stay away from that story for some reason. It had rooted itself in my heart and it wasn’t going anywhere.

2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you? Recently, I can’t get enough of Ronald L. Smith’s books. He writes the most wonderfully creepy stories and his latest, The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, has quickly become one of my most favorite books of all time. And it’s the one that inspired me to begin working on a spooky story of my own.

3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like?
It’s positively glamorous. I’m talking fluffy fleecy robes, cereal in diamond-studded bowls with milk that has the little gold flakes in it, imported coffee, you name it.
wakes up
Oh, sorry, what was the question? My typical day? Got it. Well, I’m also a full-time teacher, so most of my day looks like me running around, making weird jokes and goofy faces, trying to make kids laugh while I teach them stuff. Which is odd because that’s also how I look when I write. I do that for one hour before I go to work. I have my cereal (normal bowl, normal milk), my coffee (it’s from Kroger), and a head full of ideas freshly plucked from dreamland.

4. Is there a newer or less known author you think kids should know about?
Absolutely. Greg Howard should be on everyone’s to-read list. His first MG book, The Whispers, is positively phenomenal and he’s got a new MG coming out next year that is going to be so much fun!

5. What is a cool thing about being an author?
Connecting with young readers will always be my absolute favorite thing about being an author. Emails, letters, drawings, all of it. And when I’m lucky enough to meet readers in real life? My smile practically wraps the whole way around my head. Which is scary. It scares people. Especially me.

6. Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold.
Well, there are cupcakes. But that’s because I like cupcakes and I buy them sometimes. Mainly because being an author is hard. One thing every author faces is rejection. For every book we have out there, there are probably two or three (or more!) that never made it. Rejection stings. And when you’ve got anxiety like I have, sometimes that sting carries a bit of poison that soaks into your brain, infecting every thought you have about your writing. Sometimes it can feel like you’re sinking. But luckily I have the most amazing wife who is a pro at helping me stay afloat. And my agent is so relentlessly supportive. I’m very grateful to have them on my side.

7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic?
You know those cheerleaders who toss the other cheerleaders into the air so they can do some amazing flip kick twist move? I think that’s my role. Not doing the flip kick twist move, but heaving others into the air so they can do it. I want to find those books my students need and show them off. I want to lift up those voices because, unfortunately, a lot of times they don’t get the attention they deserve.

8. If you could portal into any book which would it be?
This is such a tough question! There are so many books I want to live inside. But if I had to pick just one, I guess I’d go with the Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series by Sayantani DasGupta. There’s so much magic and action and adventure. There are also plenty of monsters, but I know I’d be safe because Kiranmala is exceptionally good at kicking evil’s butt.

Posted in Meet the authors

Erica S. Perl

Online presence (website/social media)

https://www.ericaperl.com/

https://www.facebook.com/erica.perl

https://www.instagram.com/ericaperl/

  1. When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you?

    I love realistic fiction, so I read a lot of books by Judy Blume, Norma Klein, Paula Danziger, Beverly Cleary, Louise Fitzhugh, and E.L. Konigsberg. I also loved Daniel Pinkwater’s THE HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY, Sydney Taylor’s ALL OF A KIND FAMILY books, and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A LITTLE PRINCESS. But my favorite book was then – and is still – E. B. White’s CHARLOTTE’S WEB.

2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you? I am currently reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s SHOUT, which is a very powerful book. I also recently read two very funny picture books: HORSE MEETS DOG, by Elliott Kalan, illustrated by Tim Miller and THE GREAT INDOORS, by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Ruth Chan. Both definitely fall in the category of “books I wish I wrote”! And I recently finished Donna Gephart’s THE PARIS PROJECT, which comes out in the fall. I highly recommend it. Great characters, terrific voice, funny, and moving – you’ll love it.

(Bridget note: Super jealous! I can’t wait to read The Paris Project!)

3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like? I have two dogs so most days I run or walk with my dogs first thing, because it helps me focus (and helps them conk out so I can write). Then I hit my desk and write. I break for lunch and often I cook or read or daydream for a while before coming back to my desk to do some more writing or some editing of stuff that I’ve written. And on Friday afternoons, I go to Improv class!

4. Is there a newer or less know author you think kids should know about? I think kids should know about Alan Silberberg, who is my co-author on a top-secret book project. He is also the author of books including MILO, STICKY NOTES AND BRAIN FREEZE and MEET THE LATKES, both of which you should check out. He is a very good writer (and illustrator) and he is VERY funny.

5. What is a cool thing about being an author? I love doing school visits. It is fun to spend the day talking with kids about books and writing. And librarians are the best (and not just because they treat authors like rock stars!), so it is always cool for me to have the chance to pick their brains about books they love and books they wish existed.

6. Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold.It’s NOT??!!! (Just kidding – I know it’s not). I find it hard when I get stuck. You know, when you’re writing and everything is going great and then you hit a wall. I usually try to take a break and work on something else, then come back when my brain is fresh. Often, the answer will come to me when I stop trying to force it. But I am an impatient person, so waiting is not easy for me

7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic? I am very excited to see so much diversity these days in books – in terms of characters, authors, topics, settings, and more (and to see all kinds of diversity – race/ethnicity/religion/gender/size/ability and much, much, more). It’s so important to hear from people whose experiences are different from yours, yet who might be more like you than you would imagine. Book access is also hugely important. For many years, I worked for First Book (www.firstbook.org), which is a national non-profit organization that has provided millions of books to kids. I’ve seen firsthand how book access can change lives.

8. If you could portal into any book which would it be? Harry Potter! Book One, specifically. My favorite Harry Potter is Book Four, but I wouldn’t want to be there for all the stressful parts. But, I’ll take the Hogwarts Express and a chocolate frog any day

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Posted in Meet the authors

Donna Gephart

Online presence (website/social media)
Twitter: Dgephartwrites

1. When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you?

When I was 10 I decided to become a writer. My favorite books were Mr. Popper’s Penguins and The Hundred Dresses.

2. Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you?

I love Dusti Bowling’s books!

3. Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like?

I try to wake early, walk my dog and write for several hours. I love taking long walks in the woods to let my mind work on story problems.

4. Is there a newer or less know author you think kids should know about?

Linda Urban is a great writer, especially her book A Crooked Kind of Perfect.

5. What is a cool thing about being an author?

So many cool things. I love getting to meet young people and sharing my passion for reading and writing with them.

6. Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold.

Oh, if only it were rainbows, cupcakes, pens, pots of gold and unicorns. Writing means a lot of time alone, working hard to express the ideas in your head in a way that young readers will connect with.

7. Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic?

I work to get books into the hands of young people who need them most through donations and organizations that provide books for young people. I personally diversify my own reading lists and recommend diverse books and authors.

8. If you could portal into any book which would it be?

It would be fun to join my character Olivia Bean on the set of Jeopardy!

Thanks so much!

My new book coming in October is The Paris Project:

Posted in Meet the authors

Padma Venkatraman

Credit: Connecticut head shots

Author website/social media:

Website: http://www.padmavenkatraman.com

Twitter: @padmatv

Instagram and facebook: Venkatraman.padma

1. When you were my age (10), did you like to read?

I didn’t like to read, I loved to read! I had a tough childhood, in which books were a saving grace.

2. What is a book that made an impact on you?

Several books had an impact on me… and here are a few that come to mind. THE SECRET GARDEN, for example, was wonderful in some ways (I loved the magical element, the garden and the robin) and awful in others (many aspects of the story drip with racism and ableism). I liked a book called THE SPRIG OF BROOM because it was one of the few that wasn’t overtly racist (except in that it was populated entirely with white characters). I also enjoyed a book called 31 BROTHERS AND SISTERS – because it was the ONLY book I had as a kid that featured a dark skinned girl who defied gender norms in her society; as a child, I assumed the book had been written by an African author; as an adult, though, I discovered the book wasn’t and that it had limitations I hadn’t been sensitive too as a child…despite all that, it was the one example – the only example I had – of the kind of book I wanted to write in that it was the only one I came across that actually had a protagonist with dark skin who was in some ways like me, a girl who rebelled, a girl who had a burning desire to forge her own way in the world, a girl who fought to express her independence.

3. Is it hard to come up with book ideas?

Nope. I wish I could live long enough to finish writing all my book ideas, but as it turns out, even if I managed to write a book a year until the day I drop dead (and I plan to drop dead at the age of 101 with a pen in my hands), I won’t be done with all my book ideas…

4. The Bridge Home talks about a less nice side of India. A lot of the books I have read about life in India are not so nice life. Do you have book suggestions that show the nice side? (I hear it is really pretty, colorful,busy)

I like to think THE BRIDGE HOME show both sides of life in India – after all, the characters manage to find laughter and courage in the toughest situations – which is pretty wonderful, no? Anyway, here are suggestions for the nice side – I think my novel A TIME TO DANCE explores a nice side, for the most part, as it looks at Indian dance and a mostly functional family and solid friendships. There are also many lovely books that show the nice side of Indian culture – I just read a charming little book that’s coming out this fall called COUNT ME IN by Varsha Bajaj which shows a totally nice South Asian Indian American family; as for books set on the Indian subcontinent, one of my favorites is RICKSHAW GIRL by Mitali Perkins which is about a very lovely Bangladeshi family; THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING is a joyful romp by Uma Krishnaswami that’s set partly in India; Deepa Agarwal is an Indian author who’s been writing fantasy inspired by Indian tales for decades, such as the book BLESSED, but I’m not sure how easy it is to get her books in the United States…

5. What author or book have read recently that impacted you

Margarita Engle is an author whom I admire and someone I care for deeply; she is so generous. I read SOARING EARTH – a companion to her acclaimed and award-winning memoir in verse ENCHANTED AIR.. and it’s one of the few sequels I’ve read that is just as wonderful as the first book. It came out this spring, I think, around the same time as THE BRIDGE HOME.

6.Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?

In this day and age of twitter, I’d like to mention a few authors who aren’t on social media (because I hope and think kids should be aware of them and I’d like to make sure we don’t forget their marvelous work just because they aren’t on the internet): Donna Jo-Napoli is a prolific author, who, among other things, has written books that relate to Greek Mythology that are really interesting – such as the young adult novel THE GREAT GOD PAN. An Indian-American author who comes to mind as I write this note is KASHMIRA SHETH; she’s pretty well known, but I think it’s important for us to celebrate people like her, even as we welcome new authors into the field. Mildred Taylor’s ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY is a classic, in my opinion, and a book I hope kids are aware of – and again, an author who isn’t on the internet I don’t think. CAROLYN COMAN is a superb author, whom I think kids should be aware of; her novel WHAT JAMIE SAW is pretty incredible and an absolute gem of a book. To me, Coman is one of the immortal names in kidlit. As for authors who are on all things twitter and whom I do think are pretty well known, but here’s a shout out to them, just to be sure – Dan Gemeinhart, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Phil Bildner, Ann Braden, Brian Lies, Kristy Dempsey, and the incredible Kathi Appelt, author of THE UNDERNEATH which is a superb book.

7 What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read, read, read. Don’t worry about whether adults around you think a book deserves acclaim or awards – have the strength to form your own opinions. Most important of all, don’t be in a hurry to see your name in print – it’s not publication that makes an author and author, it’s love of the written word, love of the process that makes a person an author. Material success isn’t always a reflection of a book or an author’s true worth – there’s a lot of luck in this field. I became an author because of my desire to communicate and to increase compassion in the world because to me, a book isn’t merely something that entertains, a book is a magical key that unlocks empathy…that’s not to say everyone who is an author needs to feel this way, but it’s just to say this is where I come from.

8 As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

The most wonderful thing in the whole world is to hear from readers who’ve been touched or moved by your work. In a way, I feel like my books aren’t really mine. THE BRIDGE HOME belongs to Rukku, Muthu, Arul and Viji, to the real people who inspired the story and to the characters in my head and heart who are very real to me – every honor I receive is an honor for them, too. When I was in India, a boy broke down when he delivered the vote of thanks after my talk – and I heard later that he rarely ever expressed himself so seriously; so many children have been spurred to action because of THE BRIDGE HOME and that means a lot. Finally, I know of at least six children and two adults who drew enough strength from the book that they were able to move from tough situations in their lives to places of greater safety – and that is humbling and honoring in the most immense way possible. It is a priceless gift to that the book was one small positive step in their lives, one tiny element of change for the better in our world.

9 If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

THE LORD OF THE RINGS – despite all the violence – and I’d change it, so there were a bunch of heroines of color! It’s such a wonderful read, in so many ways, but there are a lot of problems in it, too – and I think it would be sort of boring to enter a book world in which everything was pretty much fine already … it’s more fun to think of a book world that needs change, a book world in which I would need to challenge gender-norms and racism and able-ism, especially a book world in which I’d have to ride horses and use magic while I did all of that! And after that, for rest and entertainment, I’d like to enter the world of THE JUMBIES by Tracey Baptiste, because that’s a world which is filled with magic and doesn’t need to be fixed!

Posted in Meet the authors

Laura Thomae Young

Website: http://www.laurathomaeyoung.com

Instagram: lltyoung

Facebook: Laura Thomae Young

Twitter: @Laura_Youngmex

When you were my age (10), did you have a book inspire or impact you?

When I was 10 I read all the time! My all-time favorite books which inspired me as a child, and that I still re-read every few years, are the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, with my favorite being Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I also loved Beverly Cleary’s books: Henry Huggins and Fifteen (she remains one of my favorite authors). These were about ordinary kids who encountered extraordinary circumstances.

Have you read anything recently that inspired or impacted you?

I have been reading The Miracle Equation by Hal Elrod, which is a sequel to The Miracle Morning. It’s about tapping into both faith and effort to reach your full potential. His books have helped me turn into a “morning person,” which is super helpful for getting up early to work on my book projects!

Can you share what your usual day as an author looks like?

I have an office job Monday – Friday, so my writing takes place over the weekends, and in early mornings. When I was writing my first book, Adulting Like a Boss, I got up early and wrote before I had to leave for the office. But for the children’s books, Serena the Sailboat, and the upcoming sequel, Serena Gets Rescued, dedicating the weekends to writing has worked best. My husband also writes, and we actually went away to a cabin in the mountains to work on books! That’s kind of cliché but we actually did it!

Is there a newer or lesser known author you think kids should know about?

I’m in a Facebook group with other new children’s picture book authors who are just getting started like I am, and it’s been fun to be on the same journey with them. We like to see each other’s books and compare notes. My favorite book from the group has been Where Do You Want to Sleep? by Stacey Rayz. It’s a hilarious book about a little kid who didn’t want to sleep in his bed, and explores where and how animals sleep.

What is a cool thing about being an author?

When I was growing up, I wasn’t the most popular kid, but I told my classmates to watch, because one day I would be writing books and speaking! There are lots of cool things about being an author – people are generally impressed when you say you write books – but seeing my name on a book – and knowing that I fulfilled a lifelong dream – that’s the coolest!

Is there anything hard about being an author? I know it is not rainbows, cupcakes, pens and a pot of gold.

Writing is the easy part. Marketing is hard. You have to say, “Hey look at me! Read my wonderful book! Write a review! Yea ME!!!” and that’s kind of embarrassing, because even though I’m very proud of my books, it seems strange to give myself shout-outs and ask people to buy something you created.

Book access and diversity in books is a big topic. As an author what do you think your role is in this topic?

I spent 12 years living in Latin America, and wrote my first book when we moved back to the USA. Living as a foreigner in another country influenced me to be aware of diversity in culture and language. Adulting Like a Boss features several young ladies who are learning to “adult.” These ladies come from different ethnicities, backgrounds, and religions because I wanted to expand beyond those who are “just like me.” In Serena the Sailboat, my characters are a sailboat and her animal friends, however, I hope that the diversity of their backgrounds is apparent. I am also very excited to support other children’s authors who are producing books for diverse audiences, such as a new author I’ve been following, Audrey Hinds, who has written about her own daughter in Hair with Flair.

If you could portal into any book which would it be?

No question about it!!! Absolutely I would portal into The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and meet Reepicheep the Mouse and Aslan the Lion!