The best part of this blog tour for me, is getting to brag about my amazing friends. Elizabeth’s debut picture book, HENNY, is one everyone should take under their wing, or arm, depending on your personal anatomy. Her next book is about a cutey pie pig named, Peddles.
When another talented, ridiculously prolific, dog-loving friend, Lisa Owens, tagged me, I figured I’d give these questions a shot. In the butt. But first, go read about Lisa’s writing process on her blog. I learned more cool things about Lisa, and her writing process is truly interesting and inspirational. And she isn’t at all whiney.
Lisa L. Owens has been working in children’s publishing since 1993. As both an author and editor, she’s had a hand in creating hundreds of books for every age group from PreK to YA. Her latest books—two nonfiction titles in Rourke’s new U.S. Regions series—are due out this summer, and she is currently working on a YA historical novel that she hopes to complete by the end of the year. To learn more about Lisa’s work, visit her author site and blog — and feel free to connect with her on Twitter, where her handle is @LisaLOwens.
What am I working on?
Animal stories, of course. There’s a picture book for very young kids with foxes and rabbits (a thriller). A bird book, a pony book, a dog book, and a book about a girl and her dogs. I’m not saying much about them, am I? Wait and see!
I’m also teaching Insight Book classes and workshops. Samples and descriptions are posted under the Insight Book category on this blog, way down there on the lower right. If you just want to look at pictures, visit my Pinterest board, or Behance portfolio. I love making and sharing these little books, and seeing what people come up with. Write me if you’d like to fly me to your island retreat for a workshop.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
We all give our own twist to things. Only I do what I do, only you do what you do. I hope my sense of humor comes through in my work – but they have a sense of humor too. I use bright colors – but so do they. When writing about animals, their safety and well-being is my touchstone, but again, so is… theirs. I love to make visual jokes – but… There, I’ve failed to answer the question – but then, sometimes, so do they.
Why do I write what I do?
I love animals so much they make me cry, or go goo-goo ga-ga over them. If my husband didn’t love our animals like I do, my blithering about their adorableness would surely lead to divorce. So, no-brainer here, I love to write about animals. I especially like to take the animal’s side and try to represent their point of view. Don’t Lick the Dog, came from an urgent need to protect my sweet poodle, Andy, who was afraid of children.** When dog-loving kids rushed up to Andy, he would try to hide behind me or crawl into my arms. All 70 pounds of nervous big baby. I wished more kids knew how to approach dogs politely. Andy did make friends with the kids next door, proving we can all grow and change with a little help – and patience, from our friends.
How does my writing process work?
Sometimes I have an idea for a story, but mostly I start with a name or character who pops into my head that I can’t let go. Or I draw someone. I take my little pals with me on walks, driving, eating, and when I’m trying to fall asleep. Incubating, thinking, asking them questions like you would a new friend.
There’s nothing pretty about my process. I’ve tried to tidy up. To use only one sketch book at a time, or for each project. I’ve tried to label and save drafts instead of just writing over them. It never sticks. I write and draw on anything, anywhere. My table has stacks of paper and folders seeping pages, scraps from my car notebook and sketches. I have folders of these book projects on the computer too. Inside each folder are more folders. Folders for research and references, including saved web pages to go back to websites and photos; scans; dummies; text; finished art – with folders inside for psd’s and jpgs. By the end of a project, I have an enormous file that will be gleefully and ruthlessly weeded out later. Delete is one of my favorite key commands.
For dummies, I start with a large sheet of paper (these big guys get folded up and shoved in the folder too). I draw whichever page I see most clearly, then branch out from there. Sometimes that’s the first page. I’ll noodle around and draw the same scene in different ways. My sketches have written notes all over them, reminding me to do something when I get further along. I try not to make super tight, finished sketches ever. I’ve found that the tighter my sketches, the harder it is for me to break free in the final art. My formula, if there is one, goes something like: think about it, draw it, sleep on it, draw it, forget it, then draw it with music.
*If your guess was, “Why do I write what I do?” you were right. I got to talk about my dog.
**When asked whether he liked children, W.C. Fields responded, “Ah, yes, I like them boiled or fried.” Andy would have licked that.
I’m thrilled to introduce my agent/guru/mother hen and children’s book author, Erzsi Deàk of Hen and Ink Literary. You can read her answers to these four little questions on her blog, Hen & Inkblots. Her latest picture book, illustrated by Doug Cushman, PUMPKIN Time releases from Sourcebooks, fall 2014. Erzsi’s book, PERIOD PIECES: STORIES FOR GIRLS, was a Bank Street pick and her articles on the world of children’s publishing have appeared in CHILDREN’S WRITERS & ILLUSTRATORS’ MARKET. Starting the French chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) in 1995, Erzsi eventually ran the international arm of the SCBWI for nearly ten years, developing and mentoring writers, illustrators and publishing programs in 28 countries. She founded and organized the SCBWI Bologna Conference and was awarded the SCBWI Member of the Year in 1999 and 2008. In 2009, she began working with La Martinière Groupe in France, acquiring approximately 40 titles a year for their Le Seuil and La Martinière Jeunesse imprints. Erzsi edits the SCBWI BULLETIN international page, “Here, There & Everywhere,” and interviews writers and other publishing professionals on her blog at Erzsi Deàk.
Read about my Hen & Ink sister chick, Sarah Towle‘s writing process too. Sarah Towle writes creative nonfiction histories that bring the past to life through first-person storytelling and interactive games. Her concept combines the traditional power of narrative with the latest in technology and represents a new direction in digital publishing. Sarah’s debut StoryApp, BEWARE MADAME LA GUILLOTINE, A REVOLUTIONARY TOUR OF PARIS, is a bilingual treasure hunt to the French Revolution guided by murderess Charlotte Corday. It launched in July 2011 to raves, especially among teachers, warranting publication in formats used in libraries and schools. It is now an interactive eBook for iPad, and—just this week!—the print edition went live on Amazon. Sarah is currently offering a FREE pdf of the book in exchange for a review. CLICK HERE to request your copy. You can learn more about Sarah at her author website. Also, her burgeoning twin digital imprints, Time Traveler Tours & Tales, are open for author submissions.