Please Welcome Gabi Snyder to my blog! I love Gabi. We met through a picture book group called 12×12, and are now both part of the Debut Crew. I confess, I may be fangirling to have her on my site. I actually read her book announcement before we met and thought it sounded brilliant! I’m excited for you all to learn more about her.
Now on to the interview! As always, I’m in green.
Hi Gabi, welcome to my blog!
Hi Janet! I’m excited to be here!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write children’s books?
Back in the day (early aughts), I studied English-Creative Writing at The University of Texas, with a focus on writing fiction for adults. After earning my MA, I took a succession of jobs that used writing (like grant writing and instructional design), but I wasn’t finding much time to do my own writing.
Fast forward to 2013: when my kids were little (3 and 5), we moved from Austin to Corvallis, Oregon. With a break from work following the move, I found time to get back to my own writing. Only, by then, reading daily with my two littles, I’d become immersed in the world of picture books and fallen in love with this form of storytelling.
Isn’t it an amazing form? I’m totally in love, too. Your book is so fun! Please tell us what it’s about.
TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE starts with a gate left open and a dog escaping her yard to join a poodle on a trike. Soon it’s three dogs on a scooter and then four dogs on a bike. With each new mode of transportation, a new dog is added to the fun. But what the pups don’t notice is that the original dog’s family cat is in hot pursuit.
It’s such a fun premise! I can just imagine kids giggling over that cat. What inspired you to write Two Dogs on a Trike?
If I had to guess which picture book I reread the most as a child, I’d name GO, DOG. GO! by P.D. Eastman. The silly dogs and sense of movement and fun in TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE are, in part, an homage to the P.D. Eastman classic. In TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, we count up to 10 and back down again while moving through different and escalating modes of transportation.
And the dog versus cat dynamic that plays out in the story was inspired, in part, by my childhood pets. I grew up with a cat we called Kinko (named for his kinked tail) and an assortment of dogs. Kinko was the undisputed boss. Now my family includes one daredevil dog and one cat who keeps us all in line.
Haha! I had cats growing up, too, and they definitely keep us all in line.
I love that your book leaves so much room for the reader to create a story. Sparse text books can be really tricky, and yours makes it look easy! I would love to hear about your revision process. Was the initial draft pretty similar to this, or what kind of edits did you have to make?
Great question! Unlike most of my stories, drafting TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE was fairly quick and painless. It came out mostly whole. Of course, my brilliant critique partners still had suggestions for taking it to the next level. For instance, looking back at my first draft I see that the first line of the story initially read “One dog on the sidewalk.” With help from my critique partners, that line changed to “One dog, all alone…”. And then, when working with my editor, Meredith Mundy at Abrams, she pointed out that Sandra Boynton’s book HIPPOS GO BERSERK opens with this line: “One hippo, all alone . . ..” I wanted my opening line to vary more from the first line of that Boynton classic, so we changed that line to “One dog stands alone.”
So fun to see the evolution! Thank you for sharing. I feel like I just got a peek into your secret lab. 😊
Okay, so hearing about the story, and knowing you have a dog and cat, any chance we can see a picture? Everyone loves pet pictures.
Camille (the dog) and Henry (the cat) love to help me write! Camille likes to drape herself across my lap as I type, and Henry keeps my manuscripts warm and furry.
Adorable! What a cozy way to write. 😸🐶
Finally, the art. I love the bold colors and the simple, yet intricate images (which is quite the feat!). The illustrator, Robin Rosenthal, conveys so much emotion and humor and makes it look effortless! What is your favorite image from the book, and why?
I am absolutely smitten with Robin’s illustrations. And I love the 80’s retro vibe of the fashion choices.
Aren’t those the best??! The 80’s rocked.
For the first half of the story, the dogs are oblivious to the fact that they’re being followed. When we reach “10 dogs,” there’s a realization. That last animal? Not a dog! The revelation spread and the one that follows are my favorite images in the story. And while my illustration notes made clear who that not a dog is, I didn’t specify where we are. Robin Rosenthal’s illustration for that spread is hilarious and unexpected! I gasped in surprise when I saw it, and yet it feels like the inevitable “of course!” choice. Truly perfection.
It totally felt inevitable! It’s a neat thing to watch an illustrator’s work not only bring a story to life, but add that extra to make it that much MORE.
Okay, one last question. Here on my blog, I have a fascination for personalized license plates. What do you think the dogs (and the cat!) in your story might choose for a personalized license plate? You have 8 characters. Go!
Those are purrfect! (I couldn’t resist! Haha!) Thanks so much for stopping in!
Thanks so much for hosting me, Janet! 😊
TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE will be released on May 19th. To learn more about Gabi, her book, and where to find her on social media, see below!
Reader. Writer. Lover of chocolate. Watch for Gabi Snyder’s debut picture book, TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, coming from Abrams/Appleseed in spring 2020, and her second picture book, LISTEN (working title) from Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books in spring 2021. Gabi lives in Oregon with her family, including one daredevil dog and the cat who keeps everyone in line.
If possible, consider buying TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE from your local bookstore. You can use Indiebound to find a local store.
If you don’t have a local indie or if they’re not able to take online orders, consider supporting local bookstores by ordering from Bookshop.
Wow, it’s been a while since I posted an author interview, but I have some great ones coming up this month to make up for it!
First up is Claire Annette Noland. We met through our debut author group, The Debut Crew. She is one of our fearless leaders, and I’ve been so happy to get to know her even better through this interview.
Her debut picture book, Evie’s Field Day, illustrated by Alicia Teba, comes out on May 1st. It’s a fun one, and you can find my review HERE.
But let’s get to it! As always, my comments are in green:
Hi Claire, welcome to my blog! Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write children’s books?
I’ve always been a reader. I became a writer in high school when I took a creative writing class and realized kid lit was my happy place. I decided I wanted a career focused on children and books and I’ve been able to do that as a bookseller, children’s librarian, reading specialist, kindergarten teacher, mom to four children, and now author!
Wow, your list of jobs is like my dream list! Kid lit is my happy place, too. Can you please tell us about your upcoming book?
Evie’s Field Day is about a girl who loves to win and looks forward to getting more ribbons at the annual field day. Unfortunately, things don’t work out as planned and Evie is not a very good loser. When she is finally ahead, she is faced with a decision. Should she race ahead and win or make a choice to stop and be a friend.
Field days are the best! But I totally get how Evie feels. It’s easy to get caught up in winning. What inspired you to write this story?
No one likes to lose but it is a fact of life. We can’t always win. As a child, I never seemed to win anything but games of chance, like BINGO. As a mom and teacher, I saw how frustrated and upset children can get when they lose. I want to encourage children to enjoy the game, focus on doing their best, and on being a good friend and teammate. I hope Evie’s Field Day will be help children to be good sports.
It’s a good lesson to learn young. Still, I love how spunky Evie is as a character. She reminded me of myself when I was a kid. I loved winning! Did you base her off of anyone you know?
Actually, she is a combination of my four children who each struggled with competitors and learned many valuable lessons in the process.
I love that! Kids are the best inspiration. And I also loved all the fun field day games in your book. How did you choose them? Did it require research?
Field Day is always one of the most anticipated days in the school year and the games included in the book are student favorites. I had many to choose from!
I guess it helps when you’ve been a teacher for a few years! The suggestions on teaching good sportsmanship in the back matter are great! Was that part of the initial drafts or your submission package or did it come later? How did you develop that?
Cardinal Rule Press has a very clear vision for the books they publish. They want realistic stories about children and the issues they face. They want to empower children as well as encourage parents and teachers. Each of their books have suggestions and activities that support the topic.
The back matter was developed after the contract was signed. I read many articles on sportsmanship and talked to coaches. I also included techniques that I personally developed as a teacher and parent.
Fascinating to see how the process works for different publishers.
So let’s talk about the art. I love how the illustrator, Alicia Teba, uses color to really spotlight the kids in the story and bring focus to the action. Was this something you had discussed with your editor/art-director beforehand, or was it a fun surprise? What was your reaction on seeing it?
I love the illustrations done by Alicia. The color palate was the brilliant idea of Maria Dismondy, publisher of Cardinal Rule Press. I was able to see the draft illustrations throughout the process and I am thrilled with each page. I especially love how Evie’s emotions are so clearly evident.
So clear! Now, I have to ask. The timeline is so long for picture books. You’ve been looking forward to release day for years now. How has COVID-19 affected your release day plans?
Evie’s Field Day was planned to launch in time for end of the school year activities. Unfortunately, things are turning out differently than planned because children are not at school. The book is being launched virtually and we are planning a big #AtHomeFieldDay on May 21st.
The field day will be celebrated on Instagram. Families can post pictures on Instagram with the hashtags #EviesFieldDay and #AtHomeFieldDay to be eligible for prizes. Here’s a blog post with some fun activity ideas: At Home Field Day- 10 ways to play, and here’s information from Cardinal Rule Press about the #AtHomeFieldDay contest. I hope many families will join the fun!
Sounds super fun! What a great way to celebrate. 😊
Okay, one last question. I have a fascination for personalized license plates. What do you think Evie might choose for a personalized license plate? You have 8 characters. Go!
Love it! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, Claire, I loved learning more about you and your book. Wishing it a very successful launch!
And for the rest of you, thanks so much for stopping in and reading! You can find all the links for following Claire on social media below, as well as links for where you can get your own copy of EVIE’S FIELD DAY!
Claire Noland is the author of easy readers, board books, and picture books for young children. She knows that everyone who reads is a winner and as a children’s librarian, reading specialist, and author, her life’s goal is to excite kids about books and reading. She writes from her home in Central California.
This is a Noah and the Ark story told from the point of view of the dove:
Olive is a gentle friendly dove who wants to help her friends Noah, his family and the other animals with her on the ark. She tries to soothe them during the rain and has an important assignment, to discover when it’s safe to venture from the ark after the flood.
With fun rhyming verses and bold artwork, kids are sure to love Olive. I appreciated her up-beat outlook (despite the hardships of the ark), and her spirit of serving others. It’s not just about enduring the hard stuff, but enduring it well. (Definitely something I strive to do).
Connie agreed to answer a few questions here today. Those who comment will be entered into drawings for two prizes, a signed copy of Connie’s first children’s book, ANIMAL SOUND MIX-UP, and a gold dove windchime. Just saying, but the windchime is beautiful! Visit her blog for the details.
And here we go!
Me: Congratulations on the publication of Olive and
the Great Flood! So what inspired you to tell this story from the perspective
of the dove?
Connie: I have read this story many times before,
heard it as a small child and was always fascinated about all those animals
going onto the ark and surviving the flood. Children always seem to enjoy
animals and stories about animals. I see things a little differently now that I
have grandchildren and have started writing for young children. It just struck
me how important the dove flying out to bring back the olive leaf was to the
story, and she suddenly had a personality and a mission!
Me: The dove is essential, for sure! And I love the character you created in
Olive. Your readers can see Olive’s efforts to help others and that she takes pride
in the important job she is given. Have you ever had an Olive in your
life—someone who influenced you by their service and good attitude? Can you
tell us about him/her? How did he/she influence you?
Connie: A teacher I had who was always
cheerful and seemed to really care about each student influenced me in a
positive way. As a shy, quiet child it was hard to express myself to others,
and she encouraged me in gentle ways much as Olive gently soothes the animals
on the ark.
Me: And now look . . . you are sharing your voice with countless others! My High School English teacher was like that for me. She probably has no idea the impact she made. Hmmm . . . must amend that. Anyway, so now that you have the opportunity to influence others, what do you hope your readers will take
away from Olive and the Great Flood?
Connie: I hope a sense that even the small
things you do during your life can make a big impact on others. Doing your best
and helping others can give your life greater meaning and joy. Also, remember
the promise of the rainbow and God’s love!
Me: I completely agree! The small things really add up. We shouldn’t be afraid to do what we can because we think it’s too small, or wouldn’t have a big enough impact.
So as I writer, I also wanted to talk a
little about you and your writing process. It’s such a personal thing for each
of us. What inspires you in your writing? Or put another way, how do you
develop your ideas?
Connie: My grandchildren and other children
inspire my writing for the young ones. Once an idea is born, it grows and
blooms into a story or dies a natural death. I think you and other writers can
relate to that. When it grows and develops it is worth all the efforts of
changing, redoing, editing, cutting and writing again that make it be worth
reading and enjoying.
Me: I can definitely relate. Many, many ideas never make it past the idea stage. But the ones that do are without a doubt a labor of love. Even so, I still struggle sometimes getting the story into readable shape. How about you? What has been your biggest struggle as an
Connie: My health and energy level have caused a
struggle at times. I have lupus and some other issues that leave me very
painful and drained at times. It is hard to focus and be productive at those
times. I find the promotion of my books much harder than the writing
Me: My aunt has lupus, so I’ve seen how draining that can be. It just makes me all the more amazed at your accomplishments and determination. And I can definitely see that about promotion. I feel I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me where promotion is concerned. So with all you are doing, what legacy do you hope to leave as an author?
Connie: Since I feel that my writing ability and
being a published author are because of God’s help and blessings, I hope to
leave inspiration, joy and a blessing to those who read what I have written.
Me: What a great legacy. If we could all just leave the world with a little more inspiration and joy, this world would be a better place. Okay, and now a fun question or two: If you could get any book signed by the author
(alive or dead), what would it be?
Connie: Can I say the Bible? It is one book,
but think of all those authors. Wouldn’t that be fantastic!
Me: It would be! A worthy choice, for sure! Actually, given the topic of your book, I had a feeling you’d say that. 😉 And of course, because this is me, you
knew I had to ask this . . . what would Olive’s personalized license plate be?
Have a great week!
Links for OLIVE AND THE GREAT FLOOD:
You can find her on her blog a http://www.susannahill.com
Back in August, one of my super sweet CP’s (Critique Partner’s), Angela Cervantes, published her debut middle-grade novel, Gaby, Lost and Found with Scholastic Press. If you haven’t read it yet, you should! It is a touching story about a girl trying to find her place when her life is flipped up-side down. Here’s the blurb:
Girlie: I’m trying to make people happy by playing with them and sharing my stuff. How do you make people happy?
Me: I love it! She definitely lives up to that. 🙂
Angela Cervantes is a poet, storyteller, and animal lover. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in various publications, including Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul. When Angela is not writing, she enjoys hanging out with her husband in Kansas and eating fish tacos every chance she gets. Gaby, Lost and Found is her first middle-grade novel. She is currently at work on her second book.
Now for the Giveaway! I have two signed (paperback) copies of Gaby, Lost and Found to give away to two lucky visitors. Just enter in the Rafflecopter below! The giveaway is open through March 31st. Good luck!