And now for something completely different…

Thanks to my beautiful friend, the amazingly talented Brenda Reeves Sturgis (author of the fantabulously funny TEN TURKEYS IN THE ROAD, and the upcoming NO FUN IN THE SUN FOR SANTA and THE LAKE WHERE LOON LIVES), I’ve been invited to participate in a Blog Hop, a cyber celebration of sorts where various authors get the chance to answer some thought-provoking questions and then introduce three others to spread the camaraderie, the information and the inspiration.

Pensive me

My challenge is to answer the following four questions for you. 

What are you working on right now?

Because I find that working on another project helps to clear my mind when I’m suffering “writer’s block”, I always seem to be working on several manuscripts at once.  I’ve had a contemporary YA in my head (and in my heart) for many years now, which is now in its 459th revision. (Okay, I’m exaggerating; it’s only in its 294th, sheesh.) My one-line elevator pitch (in case anyone is reading this on an elevator) is:  Sometimes a mistake is the best thing that can ever happen to you.

And of course I’m always working on my beloved picture books. Look into my brain at any time and you may find spiders determined to take center stage, giggling dragons, magical moons and hills that (literally) come alive. (Did I mention that I got to meet the real Julie Andrews at an NYSCBWI conference? *swoon*)

How does this differ from other works in the genre?

Because it came out of my brain and no one else’s.

*GASP*

Did I really say that???

Yes, I did, but before you all think I’m an egomaniac (I was going to clarify here why I’m not, but that seemed egotistical), let me explain. This question speaks to one of the most important points I share with students during my school visits. Each one of us has our own distinct voice. Therefore, each one of us has our own unique stories to tell. No one can share exactly what is in my brain, my heart and my soul except me.

That being said, I do read a TON of YA and picture books to make sure I’m not writing something that is already abundant or “overdone” in the market. And if I find something similar, I ask myself what I can do to put a little spin on it to make it different.

That’s why one of the most important things a writer can do is READ. Luckily, it’s also one of the most pleasurable things.

Why do you write what you write?

The world can be a confusing place, sometimes bursting with joy, other times overwrought with sadness, like a maze filled with rich clues yet often seemingly impossible impasses. I write to help myself understand it and I invite others to join me on the journey.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

My ideas always seem so perfect in my head. Yet, my job as an author is to find the proper words to express these concepts so others can understand them. How do I make the characters come alive? Convey their emotions? Paint the scenes? How do I capture the warm security of a hug? The chewy, sweetness of a fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie? The breathless anticipation of that first kiss?

As a writer, we make a promise to our readers. And the only way to deliver on that promise is to write with honesty, tenacity and heart. We can’t hide behind pretty words. We need to examine our own naked truths.

As Red Smith said, “Writing is easy; you just open a vein and bleed.”

I’ve got my bandages ready. * rolls up shirtsleeves * Let’s do this.

And now, * drum roll please * it is my honor and pleasure to introduce you to three UBER-talented and beautiful (inside and out!) authors, all of whom I am blessed to call friends, the first one having the additional distinction of also being my editor and publisher for GOOD NEWS NELSON.

Mary Rand Hess, my brilliant Story Pie Press editor, is author of the critically acclaimed THE DAY I MET THE NUTS among other fine stories. She makes her home in Loudoun County, Virginia with her husband, two wonderful (slightly mischievous) sons, and two characters of the canine variety named Ruby Tuesday (you know, the one The Rolling Stones sing about), and Benny Bob.  Home is where she write stories, screenplays, and poetry…edits other authors’ fabulous stories, creates mixed-media art, composes on the piano, and still pretends she’s going to be a rock star someday.

Carla Mooney, my awesome Story Pie sibling, is an award winning children’s author. She has written dozens of nonfiction books for the educational market. She has also written several fiction books, including her heart-squishy picture book, SAMSON’S TALE, published by Story Pie Press.

Courtney Pippin-Mathur, my fantastic Flashlight press “sister”, is an author/illustrator (and we all know how jealous, um, I mean awed and amazed I am by illustrators!) She discovered her love for drawing by re-creating the characters from her favorite animated movies. It wasn’t until college and an awesome teacher that she realized she could draw for a career. She switched from government to Studio Art and never looked back. After graduating with a Studio Art degree she got married, had a baby, and moved to the east coast. Since then, she has honed her style (wacky, vivid watercolor illustrations), taught a few art classes, sold some paintings and had twin boys to keep their sister company. Her first picture book, MAYA WAS GRUMPY (that guarantees to make you anything but!) was published this year by Flashlight Press.

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4 thoughts on “And now for something completely different…

  1. LOVED this, Jodi. I has the sincere pleasure of meeting you in South Jersey at Lynn Berman’s Kidsville Event many months ago and you made such an impression on me. I am an illustrator of children’s books and was awed by your talent AND humor! Hope to meet you at another event in the future:)

    1. Aw, Anita. 🙂 You are so sweet – right back at cha!!! I loved hanging out with you during the Kidsville mascot’s birthday celebration…and hope we can meet up again soon too. Do you ever attend SCBWI events?

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