Posted in Author Meet Up, Graphic Novels, Illustrators, Meet the authors

Ed Cho & Lee Cherolis

This is a double interview with both the writer and illustrator of Little Guardians series. Make sure to read all the way through for both interviews!

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Ed Cho, writer for Little Guardians

Website/social media: http://www.littleguardianscomic.com  Twitter: @edcho7000

When you were my age, did you like to read and/or draw? I drew and wrote comics extensively when I was a kid.  I made up my own super hero knock off stories.

What was your favorite story? As a kid I was a huge fan of Star Wars.  Still am. 🙂

How do you get your ideas?  Inspiration is a fickle thing.  I get a lot of story ideas while doing mundane tasks like washing dishes or mowing the lawn.  The takeaway here is kids should do more chores around the house.  🙂

Is it hard to write and/or illustrate a story?  It takes a lot of time and work to complete a story and be totally happy with it.  Patience is key.

Do you have a favorite among the things you have done?  Seeing Lee illustrate Little Guardians is a dream come true.  I love the interpretation he gives to the story. The collaboration makes it better than the original script or if I tried to draw it.

What is the coolest thing a fan has said about your series? It’s a treat whenever a fan says they like our books.  We have a few Soma and Elk fans out there so it’s nice to hear they enjoy a specific character.

Why do you think kids should read comics/graphic novels?  The visual nature of comics makes it so easily accessible.  Hopefully the cool looking characters can encourage kids into a life long love of reading.

Any recommendations for kids?  Bone by Jeff Smith is a great all ages series and a big influence on Little Guardians.  I’ve recently gotten into Raina Telgemeier books like Smile, Sisters, and Drama.  They are great!  Check them out!

Silly question round:

Pop or soda – Soda

Pen or Crayon – Pen

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Lee Cherolis, Artist for Little Guardians

Website/social media: www.littleguardianscomic.com

www.twitter.com/leecherolis

www.facebook.com/leecherolis

 

When you were my age, did you like to read and/or draw? Absolutely. I read all kinds of comics and books. Lots of sci-fi and fantasy fiction, as well as super hero comic books. I played a lot of video games as well and got started drawing because I loved to try to draw my favorite video game and cartoon characters.

 

What was your favorite story? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy will always be my favorite.

How do you get your ideas? I’m always inspired by the work of artists I admire and it fuels my motivation to make awesome art. So I fill my social media feeds with amazing artists that I can look up to a drive my self to improve my own work.

Is it hard to write and/or illustrate a story? It is very difficult. you have to approach it seriously and with earnest conviction. If it’s just something you don’t really care about it will show in your work and you’ll have a hard time connecting with an audience.

Do you have a favorite among the things you have done? Little Guardians is my favorite project I’ve ever worked on.

What is the coolest thing a fan has said about your series? A father told us his sons loved our comic because it helps them practice their English as a second language. I think that was one of the coolest things a reader has ever told me.

Why do you think kids should read comics/graphic novels? Simply put, comics and graphic novels help promote reading and inspire creativity. More creative kids making art and telling stories is a good thing and I want to help promote that with my comics.

Any recommendations for kids? Cleopatra In Space by Mike Maihack is a fantastic graphic novel series I recommend to everyone. (Bridget note: ME TOO!) Also check out Hilda by Luke Pearson. the Hilda books are beautiful and a lot of fun!

Silly question round:

– Pop or soda – Soda

– Pen or Crayon – Pen

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Amy Grachow

When you were my age, did you like to read?
 I’ve always loved to read.  When I was younger, I read biographies of famous women like Marie Curie, Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale.  When I was a bit older, I read novels by Charles Dickens like Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and all the novels of Edna Ferber.
What was your favorite story?
My favorite was So Big by Edna Ferber.
How do you get your ideas?
 I decided to write my children’s book series “On A Planet Named Up-In-The-Sky” based on another planet because I could make up characters like Ms. Ella Robophant and Braver-Than-Brave and all kinds of strange and wonderful things like meatball flowers, lollipop stamps and pink jellyfish clouds.  I’ve always loved writing poetry so it was natural for me to rhyme the story.
Is it hard to write a book? It’s a lot of fun, especially since I was able to write it with my son, Keith.  It’s also a lot of work to edit your story.  We were constantly re-writing and cutting things out to make the story make sense.  It was certainly worth it for me.
What author do you really like right now?
 I like adventure, mystery novels by Steve Berry and Clive Cussler among others.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

If you want to be an author, go for it!  Don’t worry about whether it’s perfect, just write what interests you and you can always edit it later.

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Sarah Wassner Flynn

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Sarah Wassner Flynn has authored several children’s nonfiction books for National Geographic. Her most recent titles include This Book Stinks!: Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash (out March 2017), Awesome 8 Extreme (out April 2017), and 1,000 Facts About the White House (out September, 2017) as well as Animal Records and Awesome 8. She has also contributed to the New York Times-bestselling National Geographic Kids Almanac for several volumes, as well as the popular Weird But True series books, including Weird But True GrossWeird But True Food, and Weird But True Christmas.

A competitive amateur triathlete, Sarah has twice earned All-American honors from USA Triathlon and represented Team USA at the 2016 International Triathlon Union World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico, placing 10th in her age-group. She often contributes to USA Triathlon Magazine, Triathlete Magazine, Girls’ Life Magazine, and other health and fitness-focused websites and publications.

Sarah lives, writes, and trains in the suburbs of Washington, DC with her husband and three small children.
When you were my age, did you like to read?
Of course! While I loved to play outside and spent many, many hours riding my bike around my neighborhood or digging for worms in my backyard, I always ended the day with reading. My parents are big both big readers and encouraged me and my three sisters to read often. It seemed like we were always going to the library to return and pick up books; I loved scanning the shelves for new titles and discovering authors that appealed to me. At your age, I think I was very much into Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume…authors whose books are still read today!

What was your favorite story?
 What environmental book do you recommend for kids?
As a young kid, I loved anything by Richard Scarry–and now I share these books with my own children! They are timeless, interesting, and so much fun to read.

As I grew a bit older–say, third or fourth grade, I got into Judy Blume, as I mentioned above. I probably read Superfudge five times in a row!

As for an environmental book, I have to recommend my brand new book published by National Geographic, This Book Stinks: Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash. In it, you can read about how trash is impacting our environment and what’s being done about it. My mission with This Book Stinks is to inspire all kids to become “waste warriors” since reducing the amount of trash we send to landfills is a huge, important step in protecting our planet. Plus, there’s a bunch of cool infographics and feature stories on all things trash–it’s a fun read, if I do say so myself. 🙂

How do you get your ideas?
My ideas usually come to me when I least expect them. I’m a triathlete, so I tend to have my best “a-ha” moments when I’m swimming, biking, or running. When I limit distractions of my phone, computer, and other screens, I can focus so much better! And since I mostly write books for kids, I often talk to kids to hear about what they are interested in.You guys are full of amazing thoughts and ideas!

why do you write about the environment for kids?
The more kids know about the environment, the better off we will be in the future. You have the power to make changes now that will, hopefully, shift things for the better years from now. Plus, many issues having to do with our environment are quite complicated. It’s even hard for adults to understand! In This Book Stinks, I break down certain topics like landfills, climate change, ocean waste, recycling in an approachable, informative way. I hope that both kids and adults can learn from and enjoy the book.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written?
This Book Stinks was quite a labor of love, and I am so proud of the finished product. Other than that, while I have enjoyed every book I’ve written for National Geographic, my favorites are probably Animal Records and 1,000 Facts about the White House. The Weird But True books are always a blast to write–and I have some upcoming books on sharks and mythology that I am very excited about.

What author do you really like right now?
I’m actually working on an article about the Harry Potter series right now, so I guess you could say I’m all about J.K. Rowling! I admire everything she’s done and see her as such a creative force.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Write as much as you can! I discovered my love of writing very early on and would write stories about anything and everything. Some were silly, some didn’t make sense, and there were plenty I never actually finished. But for every story I wrote, I was able to develop my voice, learn more about the craft of writing, and figure out the best way to communicate thoughts from my heads into a cohesive story. Just like any habit or career, the more practice you have, the better you will be.

Also, write about what you love. Crazy about Star Wars? Come up with your own characters or recreate one of the stories with your own plot twists. Same goes for nonfiction writing: If you are passionate about baseball, do some research into your favorite player and write about his life. When you are excited about what you’re writing about, the words will fly out of your head and onto the screen.
Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Kara LaReau

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Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and at Scholastic Press. Among other celebrated titles, she edited Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and the Mercy Watson series. She is the author of picture books such as UGLY FISH and OTTO: The Boy Who Loved Cars, illustrated by Scott Magoon, and NO SLURPING, NO BURPING! A Tale of Table Manners, illustrated by Lorelay Bové; a chapter book series called The Infamous Ratsos, illustrated by Matt Myers; and a middle-grade trilogy called The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters, illustrated by Jen Hill.  Kara lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband and son and their cat.

One half-eaten sandwich. Two sisters. A crew of lady pirates. Hold on to your booty.-2

When you were my age, did you like to read? I LOVED to read. I especially liked reading at night, when I was supposed to be sleeping. (I still do.)

What was your favorite story? I didn’t have a favorite. But here are just a few authors I liked: Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, Beverly Cleary, Norma Fox Mazer, and the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

How do you get your ideas? I try to be observant, to keep my eyes and ears open, as my ideas come from funny or interesting things I notice in my everyday life.

Is it hard to write a book? VERY hard, but in a fun way, like a puzzle.

What author do you really like right now? Too many to count! There are so many terrific books out there right now. Currently I am reading Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder, and it is very good.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read a lot, write a lot, and keep those eyes and ears open for new ideas!

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Crystal Dawn Velasquez

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http://www.crystalvelasquez.com
Facebook.com/CrystalVelasquezAuthor
Twitter: @cvelasquez6
Instagram: crystalvelasquezauthor

When you were my age, did you like to read?
 Yes, I LOVED to read. I would sometimes get made fun of because I always had my nose in a book, but I didn’t care. One of my favorite things to do used to be to go to my local library and take out as many books as I could carry. I didn’t always get through them all, but I had fun trying!

What was your favorite story?
 I had a few favorites. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, and of course the Nancy Drew books. I loved Dr. Seuss, and I was into reading poetry and short stories–especially if they were scary.

How do you get your ideas?
 All kinds of ways. Sometimes from reading newspapers or magazines, or from conversations with friends or family… Sometimes reading a book or watching a movie will give me an idea, or often I’ll pull from something that actually happened to me or someone I know.

For example, I wrote a book called Your Life, But Better in which the main character is asked to be a model in a runway show. Well, as a kid, I lived next door to a girl whose aunt was a clothing designer, and she really did ask me to model in her show one year. In my book Maya & Miguel: My Twin Brother/My Twin Sister, Maya is trying to win her mother a trip to Hawaii for her birthday by entering an essay contest. When I started writing that book, I was in Hawaii, and in fourth grade I did win a trip by entering an essay contest, so I just combined those two things.

For Just Princesses, it helped to bounce ideas off my mom. I wanted to write a story where the princess gets to be the hero. Since she is so young, I thought that was more likely to happen if her parents weren’t there to take charge. Then I thought, what if none of the grown-ups were there? That would mean she has to step up and rescue the adults. What would that be like for a princess who’s used to playing the typical princess role and being taken care of?

Why do you write graphic novels for kids? This is really two questions: why do I write for kids, and why did I write a graphic novel for kids.

I never thought I’d write for children, actually. When I was in college studying creative writing, the focus was on writing for adults. But then I got a job in book publishing and met my friend Stephanie Elliott. She was an editor at a company that produced kid’s books, and she ended up giving me my first chance to write a book in a series she was working on. Even though that project didn’t work out, it gave me a taste for writing for younger readers. It was fun, and inside I still feel like a kid most of the time anyway, so for me it was a good fit. Plus, back then my niece and nephew were still little and I loved the idea of writing books they would enjoy reading.

So I started looking for more opportunities to write for kids, and eventually I was hired to write the Maya & Miguel books. Since then I’ve really fallen in love with writing kid’s books. It lets me see the world with fresh eyes, explore my imagination, and hopefully influence kids in a positive way. Plus, I get to do school visits and participate in book festivals and events, which is always fun. I love getting to meet the kids who read my books and hearing what they think.

As for graphic novels, I never thought I would write those either. But a friend of mine from high school was working with a comic book company that wanted to start a line of graphic novels for kids. He recommended me to them. I pitched them an idea that they liked, and Just Princesses was born.

I had never written a graphic novel before, so it took me a while to get used to it. I had to learn to let the art do most of the talking and to choose scenes that would move the story along and be interesting for the illustrator to draw. It was harder than I thought it would be. You can probably tell just from this interview that I talk too much! Ha ha… So doing more with fewer words was tough. But thankfully, I was working with the awesome team at Silver Dragon Books (Jennifer Bermel, Dave Franchini, and Jessica Rossana), as well as the very talented illustrator, Manuel Preitano, and the wonderful letterer Matt Krotzer. They all helped me through the process and in the end, the story came alive on the page exactly the way I had pictured it in my head, which was so cool. Since then I’ve gotten to try my hand at writing comic books for Zenescope, and I hope I get to write more graphic novels in the future.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated?
 Maya & Miguel: My Twin Sister/My Twin Brother remains my favorite because it was the first book I had published. It was always my dream to walk into a bookstore and see a book with my name on it. My Twin Sister/My Twin Brother made that dream come true. But I probably had the most fun writing Just Princesses.

Do you think diversity in books is important for kids and why? Diversity in books is so important! When I was a kid, very few of the books I read featured anyone who looked like me–a curly-haired, brown-eyed, brown-skinned Latina. It made me think that someone like me couldn’t be the main character or hero in a story. You start to feel invisible and unimportant. I’m not sure I could put my finger on that when I was younger, though. I just thought that’s the way it was and always would be. It wasn’t until later in high school and college that I read books like The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and started to see that I was welcome too. This is part of why I loved writing Maya & Miguel–which starred two kids who were of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage. My family is Puerto Rican, so it felt good to represent them in this way. Later, I wrote the Hunters of Chaos series, in which the four main characters are Mayan, Chinese, Native American, and Egyptian.

We’re all in this world together, and we each have unique experiences and stories to share. Art should reflect that, and every kid should know that they have value. The more we read and learn about one another, the closer we get to real unity and understanding. Seems to me that is more important now than ever.

I once got an email from a mom, thanking me for writing the Maya & Miguel books because one of the characters, Andy, was born with one arm–just like her daughter. She told me that when her daughter saw that there was a character like her, who was able to do all the things the other kids did, she was excited and happy. The people who created the characters for the show deserve the credit, which I told her, but for me it proved how much every kid longs to see themselves on the page, just as they like walking in someone else’s shoes sometimes.

With movements like We Need Diverse Books, I see the change happening. My hope is that more people who have been left out will get to write, edit, and publish these stories. Then we all win.
What author do you really like right now?
 I always recommend my friend Tracey Baptiste and her book, The Jumbies. The sequel, Rise of the Jumbies, is coming out in September and I can’t wait to read it! When I got the chance to write a graphic novel, I started reading them to get a feel for how it’s done. I came across Dana Simpson’s Unicorn books, starting with Phoebe and Her Unicorn, which is so funny, and the Max Crumbly books by Rachel Renée Russell. I love it when a book makes me laugh. But really, I am reading all the time, so this list could go on and on.

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

Here are a few of my go-to tips:

* To be an author, you have to start by being a big reader! Read as much as you can, and read lots of different kinds of books. That’s a good way to learn from people who are already doing it, and to figure out what kind of writer you want to be.

* I recommend keeping a diary. Not only is it great writing practice, but it will help you remember details that you can use in your writing later on. (I’ve kept one since I was 13, but I wish I’d started sooner.)

* Work on growing your vocabulary and grammar. Words are your tools as a writer, and you want as many tools as you can get.

* Show your work to other people. I know that can be scary, but that’s part of being an author and you have to be a little bit brave. Even negative comments can be good if they make you work harder. There’s always room to learn and grow.

* Don’t be afraid to fail. Most writers will tell you that their first drafts are kind of terrible. (Well, mine are, anyway.) But it’s so much easier to edit something you’ve written and make it better than it is to face a blank page. Get something down on paper, then go back and fix it. (*Side note: It helps to read it out loud.)

* Finally, write! Do it as often as you can, and don’t just wait until you’re inspired either. Sometimes if you start writing, inspiration will come. In the meantime, don’t get discouraged. Keep at it and eventually you will have created something you’re proud of, something no one else could create but you.

Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Author/Illustrator: Lori Richmond

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Website/social media
www.LoriDraws.com
Twitter: @loririchmond
Instagram: @loririchmonddraws


When you were my age, did you like to read?


Yes! I used to stay up late every night and devour the Nancy Drew mystery stories.

What was your favorite story?

My number one favorite was THE CLUE IN THE OLD STAGECOACH. I know what the cover looks like, and I probably read it 100 times. But now I can’t remember the storyline!
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How do you get your ideas?

Both of my author-illustrated titles, PAX AND BLUE and BUNNY’S STAYCATION (coming in 2018), came from real life things that were happening in my family or with my children. There is so much inspiration in our everyday surroundings. The most important thing about making books is being a good observer and paying close attention to the world around you. Ideas are everywhere!


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Is it hard to write a book?
Since I consider myself an illustrator first, it is very hard for me to write and I have to go through many, many drafts. I’m good at thinking of ideas, but turning them into a whole story is something else. It can be frustrating, but all the do-overs ALWAYS make the book come out better in the end. It’s really important to keep at it and keep trying, especially if you really believe in your story.

As an illustrator, how do you get matched with an author?
An author’s manuscript is received by the editor, who works at the publishing house. The editor then meets with the art director and they go through illustrator portfolios and websites to find an artist they think will be a good fit for that story. The editor sends the manuscript to the artist for review. If the artist likes the story and is available to do the work, it’s great news!


Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated?

That is so hard for me to choose. I love PAX AND BLUE because it is my first book, but I also love BUNNY’S STAYCATION because it addresses an issue that so many modern families face — a parent who has to travel for work and leave their child at home. I hope my book helps little bunnies everywhere with that tough situation!
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How many books do you work on at one time?
I have 3 books coming out in 2018, so the past few months were a little tough for me with a lot of work to do. I prefer to only work on one book at a time, but sometimes schedules overlap and I have to get all the work done anyway. It’s a good thing the work is so much fun!

What author do you really like right now?

I am really obsessed with Jon Agee’s book LIFE ON MARS. I love it so, so much. I think it is a perfect book.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Are you already writing stores? Well, then, you’re already an author. Keep writing. Keep
drawing. Keep dancing. Keep singing. Keep creating. Don’t lose the joy you find in your art, you’ll carry it with you all the way to being a grown-up.

Annoying Little Brother question: how excited are you to be working with Tim Kubart? How did you get matched with him?
Haha! That is not annoying at all. I am VERY excited to be working with Tim! I haven’t met him yet but I can’t wait to! Our editor Nancy Inteli at Harper Collins thought my art style would be a nice fit forTim’s story. I read it and loved it, and the rest is history. Look for our book, OOPSIE-DO, next spring!

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Posted in Meet the authors

Meet Caroline Starr Rose

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Tell me a little about yourself:
I’m a children’s author who lives in Albuquerque, NM. I’m the mom to two teenage boys, am a former teacher, and a pastor’s wife. I love to read, to run, and marvel at this gorgeous world we live in!
When you were my age, did you like to read?
I loved the Little House on the Prairie series and any book about Ramona Quimby. I also looked forward to reading a chapter of a Nancy Drew book with my mom each day after school.

What was your favorite story?

I loved thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder as a young girl — how nervous she was when she went to school for the first time, how she traveled across the country in a covered wagon, how she lived in cabins and dugouts and houses her Pa had built, what it must have been like to grow up at a different time in history. I thought about Laura so much, I talked about her without using her last name. I’d tell my mom, “Laura did this” or “Laura did that,” and she’d think I was talking about someone in my class. Laura felt so real and so close that the fact she’d been born 106 years before me didn’t matter. She wasn’t just a girl from my story books. She was my friend.

What environmental book(s) do you recommend for kids?

Because I’m such a fan of poetry, I thought I’d share these picture book poetry collections with you:

How do you get your ideas?

Sometimes I have to work really hard for ideas to form, and other times they just come to me. Over in the Wetlands grew out of the years my family lived in Louisiana, from 2007-2010. I was fascinated by the animals and plants of this very unique part of the country and wanted to share them with readers everywhere. I was also surprised to learn about the loss of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. This was well-known throughout Louisiana and often discussed, but I’d never heard about it before moving there. I wanted to be sure the rest of the country understood how important wetlands are as ecosystems and how vital it is that we care for the ones that are threatened.

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Why do you write about the environment for kids? 

The world is a beautiful, amazing place. Everyday I find something to appreciate. I want to bring that same joy and appreciation to young readers.

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Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated?

That’s a really hard question to answer! All my books hold a special place in my heart.

What author do you really like right now?

I think Kwame Alexander is incredible.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Read and read and read and then read some more. Writer stories that matter to you. Stay curious! Ask questions! Wonder and enjoy.

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