Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the Author: Marsha Diane Arnold

Today’s Meet the Author is  Marsha Diane Arnold. She is the author of Lost.Found.

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Author name:Marsha Diane Arnold

Author website/social media:www.marshadianearnold.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarshaDianeArnoldAuthor/

Tell me a little about yourself:You can read about me at http://www.marshadianearnold.com/meet-marsha/biography/chapter-2-kansas. I have you starting at Chapter 2 as I need to update Chapter 1, which has me still living in California! I live in Florida now, near my daughter’s family. 

         I grew up on a farm in Kansas, surrounded by wheat fields, cows, and lots of cousins, uncles, and aunts. I love being surrounded by family and nature. At my husband’s and my new home in Florida we have big oak trees, a pond, and lots of lizards and cicadas. My daughter and her two children, Grainne and Baby Flint live close by. One of Grainne’s and my favorite things to do is to feed carrots to  the three ponies on the lane.

I love to travel, scuba dive, hike, garden, and, of course, read and write.

When you were my age, did you like to read? Absolutely. Reading was one of my favorite things to do as a child. But I’m a late bloomer as far as writing goes. I didn’t start writing until I had children of my own. 

What was your favorite story? I loved books about animals. Still do! When I was very young I enjoyed The Poky Little Puppy.When I was older, my favorites were Lassie Come Home, about a collie who travels a long way to find her family, and Black Gold, about a little horse who did big things.

How do you get your ideas? Ideas are all around us. I get ideas from lots of different places. The Pumpkin Runner came after reading a magazine article. Quick, Quack, Quick was inspired by my son. The idea for my recent book, Lost. Found., came to me in a dream.

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? It’s always a challenge. Some of my stories take months to write. But I recently wrote a story in just one day. My agent loves it and is submitting it to editors now.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? I don’t really have a favorite book of my own. They are all like children to me. I do have a special place in my heart for my first book Heart of a Tiger, about a small kitten who has a dream to give himself a name like that of the magnificent Bengal Tiger on Naming Day. One of my favorite characters is Lily inPrancing Dancing Lily. She is such fun! When I visit schools the children and I get in a conga line and dance, just like Lily. And my recent book Lost. Found. is special to me as it’s full of funny animals and shows that if we come together even unraveled things can be knitted back together again. You can see the book trailer for Bear and his friends, from Lost. Found., on my home page: http://marshadianearnold.com.

What author do you really like right now? I really like the work of illustrator Erin E. Stead and the writing of Philip Stead. Philip’s book A Sick Day for Amos McGee is so dear. One of my all time favorite books is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? I’d suggest enjoying all the activities a kid enjoys and also reading lots of wonderful books. Of course, if you like to write, you can enjoy telling, writing, or drawing stories for yourself, your family, and your friends. Have fun! 

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Jodi Moore

Author headshot

Yesterday, I reviewed Jodi Moore’s When a Dragon Moves in. Today, she answers my questions..

Author name: Jodi Moore
Author website/social media:
Website: http://www.writerjodimoore.com
Twitter: @WriterJodiMoore
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Jodi-Moore-Childrens-Author

Tell me a little about yourself:
When I was a toddler, my mom worked outside the home (like many mothers do), but each night, she’d bring home a book for us to share. Early on, I learned to associate books with love. I started “writing” stories as soon as I could hold a crayon. Now I’m so excited to have my own books I can share with others!

My husband and I have two talented (now grown) sons. We share our home in central PA with a dove who loves to coo and laugh (yes, doves laugh!) and is a very patient listener when I read my stories aloud to her. Over and over.

My favorite things are (not necessarily in this order): my family, friends, connecting with my readers, books (reading, writing and adopting), theater, music, dancing, traveling, animals, the beach and chocolate.

When you were my age, did you like to read?
Oh yes! I don’t think I was EVER without a book. Library day was my absolute favorite day of the week.

What was your favorite story?
This is a hard question – I had so many. Of course I loved anything Dr. Seuss (I still do!) And I remember having a huge book filled with Disney stories. In elementary school, I read anything I could find featuring animals (especially horses.)  I devoured the MISTY OF CHINCOTEAUGUE series. I also loved ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS.

In addition, there was one story that affected me in a way none other had before. DON’T TAKE TEDDY is about a young boy who is trying to protect his older mentally challenged brother from being sent away to an institution. I think I read it in third grade and the characters have lived within my heart ever since.

How do you get your ideas?
In so many ways! I use my imagination, I observe the world around me and I talk to other people. Books, movies and television also inspire me.

I got the idea for WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN during a day at the beach with my husband. Larry and our boys always loved building sandcastles together. The first time we had to go without them (they had just left for college), we were sad, but Larry brought our sand toys anyway. Of course he soon had a lot of little helpers! One of the kids pulled a piece of seaweed out of the water and placed it in the doorway of the castle. Larry said, “That looks like a dragon’s tail. Our castle is so cool, a dragon moved in!”

Dragon Hi Res Cover

And I thought…what a great idea for a story!

The sequel, WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN, is a fun look at sibling rivalry and brotherly love. Of course I had our own two sweet sons in mind when I wrote this!

Dragon Again Hi Res cover

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? It is, but it’s wonderful and worth it!

My stories often play out like movies in my head and I have to find the right words so my readers can see it too. Or sometimes a character comes into my heart, and I have to work hard to find the right way to tell his/her story. I have one story that I’ve rewritten over 100 times, and it’s still not right. Yet. ☺

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated?
Admittedly, I don’t. My books are like my babies. I love them all!

What author do you really like right now?
Again, such a tough question, as there are so many talented authors and powerful books out there! Each time I read something, I seem to have a new favorite.

But some authors make me race to the store whenever I hear they have a new book, such as Jacqueline Woodson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Gary Schmidt, Chris Crutcher and Garth Stein, to name a few!

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
First, read, read, READ! Then dream. Explore your world. Play! (Even grownups have to remember to play if they want to be authors.) You have to experience life to have something to write about.

Then write, write, WRITE! Consider keeping a journal or diary. That kept me writing every day. And they’re so much fun to read afterwards!

Finally, no matter WHAT your dreams are, no matter WHAT you want to be when you grow up…don’t listen to the “no”-it-alls. Your dreams matter. Your words matter. YOU matter! Only you can tell your own story. And the world needs to hear it.

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the Author: Mike Maihack

One of my first reviews was Mike Maihack’s Cleopatra in Space series. I love this series and even dress as Cleopatra. It is really hard waiting a year for each new book, but it is worth the wait. Learn a little more about Mike below…

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Author name: Mike Maihack

Author website/social media:mikemaihack.com, @mikemaihack

Tell me a little about yourself: I’m a cartoonist, dad, and graphic novelist who has a fondness for ice cream and cats, though not necessarily combined.

When you were my age, did you like to read? All the time.
What was your favorite story? I seem to recall being really into Roald Dahl and the Bunnicula books around your age. I don’t know if Bunnicula is still around. It was about a vampire rabbit who sucked the juice out of vegetables. Now I’m trying to remember how the author managed to have so many books based on that concept…
I also read a lot of comic strip collections at the time, like Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, and Far Side.
How do you get your ideas? From reading a lot of books and comics, watching a lot of tv and movies, and going on adventures outside.

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? Yes, but worth it.
Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? “The one I’m currently working on” will hopefully always be my answer. In this case it’s true! Really happy with the fourth Cleopatra in Space book that’ll be out next spring. It’s called The Golden Lion.
What author do you really like right now? JK Rowling.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Always share your stories, even you don’t think they are any good.
PS. This is what he really looks like…
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Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Deborah Underwood

For my new feature, I am interviewing children’s authors/illustrators.My first is Deborah Underwood!

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Author name: Deborah Underwood

Author website/social media: Website: DeborahUnderwoodBooks.com    Twitter: @underwoodwriter

Tell me a little about yourself: I’ve been writing for kids for the last 15 years. I’ve written 13 picture books (I think–I lose count!) and 28 nonfiction books, plus I co-wrote the six Sugar Plum Ballerina chapter books. I live in Northern California with my kitty Bella. When I’m not writing, I like singing and baking vegan desserts!

When you were my age, did you like to read? Yes! Reading was probably my favorite thing to do. I read all the time: at meals, during school recess, at home in bed, and even in the bathtub! (This wasn’t a great idea. You can tell which were my favorite books when I was a kid because they all have wrinkled pages from being dropped in the tub.)

What was your favorite story? I had so many! I loved RAMONA THE PEST, HARRIET THE SPY, A WRINKLE IN TIME, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, and a book called THIMBLE SUMMER. And lots of others! It’s fun to visit schools today and find out kids are still reading and enjoying the books I loved when I was a kid.

How do you get your ideas? I don’t have any one way to get ideas. Sometimes I get them by sketching (that’s how I got the idea for the Cat books). Sometimes something I read gives me an idea. And sometimes they come to me when I am sitting quietly by myself.

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? Yes, but it’s worth all the work. My first draft usually has some good ideas but a lot of things that can be improved. It can take months to get even a short picture book text right—sometimes even years! But I want my books to be the very best they can be, because that’s what I think kids deserve to read.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? They’re all so different, and I am happy to have written all of them. I have a special fondness for GOOD NIGHT, BADDIES, which just came out, though. I think Juli Kangas’s illustrations are so wonderful! And I recorded a lullaby to go with it, which was really fun! You can hear it here: deborahunderwood.bandcamp.com

What author do you really like right now? Oh, there are so many of those, too! My friend Pamela Turner writes great nonfiction books for kids. Two of my favorite picture books are ME..JANE by Patrick McDonnell and Z IS FOR MOOSE by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Three things: 1) Read a lot! 2) Start writing. The most important part of writing is actually doing it. A lot of people say they want to be authors, but they don’t write anything because they are afraid their stories won’t be any good. The secret is that a lot of stories aren’t great when you first write them down—it’s the rewriting that makes them good! 3) Make some time for quiet. Sometimes you get the best ideas when you’re staring out the window and not thinking about anything in particular.

Thank you, Deborah! I will have a review of GOOD NIGHT, BADDIES very soon!

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