When Jennifer Mann
asked if I wanted to take part in a blog tour I said yes immediately. How could I refuse her- she hangs out with chickens and she writes about eggs! Actually, Two Speckled Eggs
is more about unexpected friendship but it is still a wonderful book. Jenn and I know each other from a Writers retreat that we go to in the dead of winter. I wish she didn't live on the other side of the country but lucky for me she keeps coming back to Vermont every year.
On to the tour!What am I currently working on?
My book Extraordinary Warren, A Super Chicken
came out in February, published by Aladdin, and I recently finished a second Warren book, Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day
which will come out in October. And in August, my picture bookFirst Day at Zoo School
will be published by Sleeping Bear Press. I am also busy writing and illustrating a chapter book series which will debut in 2015.How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My book Extraordinary Warren has been described as a combination picture book, early chapter book and graphic novel, which I think sums it up pretty well. I've heard some librarians and book sellers say they are not sure where to shelve it. Others say they are putting it where they put Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson books. This tickles me, not just because I love Mercy Watson and Kate DiCamillo is amazing, but also because it is illustrated by Chris Van Dusen who I sat next to in my high school art class. It's nice to be sitting next to him again so many years later!
First Day at Zoo School is more solidly a picture book but I still make use of panels and speech balloons. I guess you could call it a graphic novel for the very young.
Why do I write what I write?
I'm not really sure why I write what I write. And by writing, I mean writing and illustrating because for me they go hand in hand. The work that I feel really good about is the stuff that comes straight from me. If I am writing self consciously, or try to force my work into being something I think it should be, because others will like it or it might be more marketable, it usually falls flat. When I am just being myself and writing something that interests me and makes me laugh, it is usually more successful.How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
I seem to spend a lot of time staring out my window and taking my dog for walks. Sometimes it feels like I waste a lot of time, but I'm almost always thinking about what I'm working on. I think it takes a lot of space for ideas to formulate. Every story comes together differently, but I usually start with a synopsis or outline. Then I try to write it up as fast as I can and scribble out a few sketches. Once I have something to work with, I go back and really work on it. The story can change a lot along the way and sometimes ends up as something quite different than what I set out to do. That is what keeps it interesting! When the story is written and I'm happy with the sketches I move on to the finished artwork. I like to work in watercolor and gouache, but when I started the final art for Warren, it became clear that he was going to be happier with flat colors and simple lines. The best way to achieve that was to work in photoshop. I enjoyed it so much that when I did the final art for Zoo School, I did a combination of traditional and digital painting. I'm finding more and more that the story will dictate the way the art should look and be produced. I just have to listen to it!
Thanks for stopping by! Next week be sure to visit Amy Huntington
and Jennifer Goldfinger
Amy is the author/illustrator of One Monday
and has illustrated many books including Grandma Drove the Garbage Truck
and Grandma Drove the Snowplow
. I'm lucky to be in a critique group with Amy. She is working on a bunch of exciting new stuff and also keeps the most beautiful sketchbooks.
I know Jennifer Goldfinger from the same retreat where I met Jennifer Mann. East Coast Jen has written and illustrated several books including My Dog Lyle and A Fish Named Spot. She is working on several picture books and a middle grade novel. She is also a fine fine-artist.
Enjoy the rest of the tour!
This summer was a flurry
of chickens, alligators, pandas and mice.
|This morning I woke up to flurries of a different kind.|
|What happened to fall?|
It is up on Amazon now, but in February will be in bookstores everywhere!
I am lucky to be part of a wonderful critique group. One of us; Amy Huntington
had an idea that we should make a mural at Brown Dog Books and Gifts
in Hynesburg Vermont. So yesterday Tracey Campbell Pearson
, Liza Woodruff
and I did some painting. Here is Amy hard at work.
Mr. August! Thanks PAWSitve Pantry
for a beautiful calendar!
Our morning walks are colder now,
but they are golden.
Things are beginning to change.