What inspires you to write?
Nature has always been a huge inspiration for me. Taking slow walks outside helps me relax and focus on my surroundings. It is in those surroundings that I might hear a squirrel chattering, see the huge eyes of an owl staring at me, or smell the aroma of wild honeysuckle on a vine. These sensual moments tend to stir my creative process. I also get inspiration from interacting with children. Trying to visualize this world through their eyes puts things in perspective for me.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I was taught to “Write what you know.” My picture book, LILY AND BUTTONS, is actually based on the true story of an orphaned buffalo calf and an orphaned longhorn calf. They formed a deep bond. When Lily was accepted by the longhorn herd, I knew it was a great story of inclusion. As in LILY AND BUTTONS, my characters need to be relatable to children. I want children to see a little of themselves while reading and to know how my character may feel. I also want children to laugh with my characters. Lily and Buttons have some fun adventures that will bring smiles to my readers.
Tell me about your protagonist. What’s your favorite trait and/or weakness?
My favorite trait about Lily in LILY AND BUTTONS is her unconditional love. She knows no bias or difference between her and any other animal in the barn. She is devastated when she is placed with the buffalo herd and Buttons is placed with the cattle herd. Children can relate. They, too, see others not with their eyes but with their hearts.
What are your current/future projects?
I am currently working on a project that I literally picked up on one of my walks. I stumbled across a broken branch that had three holes in it. Each hole was about two inches in diameter. I kept looking at those holes and imagining various animals making their nests inside. I knew I had to have this branch, so I dragged it home where it sat on my porch for weeks. Every time I passed it, I visualized bits of an adventure taking place. Fast forward to today, and that branch is now a manuscript from the tree’s perspective of having three fighting families living in him. All he wants is to be a family tree. Trouble arises in the form of a beetle invasion. The three families put aside their differences to save their tree and their homes. Finally, the tree gets his wish. The characters are funny and engaging.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
I am a bit old-fashioned in this area. I still like the feel of a pencil gliding over the paper as I write my notes. Once I gather all my notes, I begin the extremely rough draft with paper and pencil. My mind tends to flow smoother this way than when I type on a keyboard. I always leave the first draft to simmer for a few days before I begin the revision process. I try to write in the morning, but only after I have had my coffee.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
The best advice I can give is to enjoy the whole creative process. If you have an idea that keeps coming back to you, write it down. If it wakes you up at night, get up and write it down. No matter how small or simple, these ideas can quickly grow into the perfect book that will inspire others.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?