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.
I have fallen off the earth, it seems. Like the rest of the world, I’ve been adjusting to a new life where my kids are on the computers all day attending zoom classes and doing homework in virtual classrooms. Posting on my blog has dropped in priority. However, I’m beginning to think we need another computer, because I really miss my writing time! (Actually, I’m making 10-yo late for her class which starts in two minutes, so I guess this will be short.) 😬
For many, this has been a great time to hunker down and write. For others it has been a time of anxiety and fear, and zero writing is getting done. For even others, it’s a time of adjusting schedules and finding a way to get in writing again (like me!). Times like these can mean a lot of guilt for some. Guilt for escaping from the realities of life. Guilt for NOT escaping from the realities of life. Guilt for having time and ability to write when others don’t. Guilt for not writing when you feel like you should. So. Much. Guilt.
I can’t be productive in any way with guilt, so I gave myself permission to take a break. If I write, great! If I don’t write, well that’s great, too. Right now, my focus is on my kids. Helping them cope in a time that is pretty stressful. They worry about school. They worry about friends. They worry about the world. They worry about their dad who still goes in to work everyday in a high risk environment (he’s a physician). I perhaps can’t fix the world right now, but I can make my home a little spot of peace for my kids. Give them some stability in a world that seems to have very little of that.
I hope that you will all give yourself permission to be the person you need/want to be right now. No guilt. We’re all doing our best. Big hugs, and stay safe!
Welcome back to my special series of Lost Resumes!
To celebrate the release of my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), on Monday, March 2nd (next week!), I’m sharing 5 Lost Resumes from characters who both did and didn’t make it into my story.
I hope you enjoyed the first three Lost Resumes. But if you missed, I’ve included a link to all of the resumes at the bottom, so be sure to check them out.
Today we are moving on to Lost Resume #4: King Midas!
I had to do a bit of research for this one. I mean, who didn’t grow up hearing the story of King Midas? But turns out, I was pretty clueless. I’m certain I must have learned his story came from the Greek Myths at some point. But adult me had completely forgotten that tidbit.
When I mentioned this at the dinner table, my kids (ages 16, 13, and 10) went off on a deep discussion of a plethora of minor gods, comparing the Roman versions to the Greek, and I clearly need to start reading more Rick Riordan. My husband and I just sat there with mouths hanging open. Okay, not really, because we were eating dinner, but mentally, our mouths were definitely hanging open.
As I keep saying, I don’t actually know why my publisher did or didn’t choose each resume. But I feel fairly confident that King Midas didn’t make it in because he is from the Greek Myths, and not from the fairy and folk tales they were going for. And I suppose it’s also possible that this resume isn’t as funny as the others. Maybe. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Be sure to come back tomorrow when I share Lost Resume #5! The final one. In the meantime, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my book, and a copy of a book by one of my fellow Debut Crew members! And if you want to check out the other resumes, follow the links:
Lost Resume #5
Have a great day!
Good morning! This week I’m gearing up to celebrate the release of my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), on Monday, March 2nd!
For those who were here Monday and Tuesday, welcome back to my special series of Lost Resumes!
As a reminder, I’m sharing 5 Lost Resumes from characters who both did and didn’t make it into my story. I hope you enjoyed Captain Hook’s and Snow White’s Lost Resumes! I’ve included a link to all of the resumes at the bottom, so if you missed them, be sure to check them out.
Today we are moving on to Lost Resume #3: Grandma Sweets!
Wait. You don’t know who she is? No, no, no. Of course you do. She is none other than the witch from Hansel and Gretel! Though really I should have made you guess based on the resume itself. Ahem. But here we are:
This one was a lot of fun to write. I mean, it’s Grimm, but there we are. A lot of fairy tale characters are a bit Grimm. (I know, I know, I’m so punny!) Maybe I shouldn’t admit this part, but it was really fun to put myself in the witch’s shoes and think about what she might do to get the job. We already know she’s pretty cunning just based on the fact that she lives in a consumable house.
Like I mentioned yesterday, I don’t actually know why my publisher did or didn’t choose each resume, but I’m guessing there were a couple of reasons for this one. First, the witch has no real name to speak of. I tried to look it up. But even if I had found something, no one would have known it. “Call me ‘Grandma Sweets'” was the best I could do.
Second, the Grimm factor. Maybe they worried parents don’t want to read a resume to small children about someone who wants to eat them. I don’t know. Just a theory.
Be sure to come back tomorrow when I share Lost Resume #4! In the meantime, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my book, and a copy of a book by one of my fellow Debut Crew members! And if you want to check out the other resumes, follow the links:
Lost Resume #4
Lost Resume #5
Have a great day!
Hello, friends! I know it is a Tuesday, and I am not normally here on the blog, but this week is special, being the lead-up to the release of my upcoming picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson).
This week I’m sharing 5 Lost Resumes from characters who both did and didn’t make it into my story. I hope you enjoyed Snow White’s Lost Resume from yesterday. If not, you can find it HERE. Today we are moving on to Lost Resume #2: Captain Hook!
I really liked this resume. The tricky part on this one was that I needed to be careful not to confuse the Captain Hook character from J.M. Barrie’s book, with the one from the Disney movie. As such, I was forced into the extra work of reading the original PETER PAN (sometimes an author’s job is tough,* but as a professional, one carries on).
The reason this resume was not included,** is because after I sent in the eight resumes for consideration, I was asked to replace another character in the book. They felt the original character was too controversial for schools.
Can you guess who that character might be? I’ll give you a hint. It involved hygiene, and it was a male character. (I’m going to be honest here, I don’t think you’ll guess who it was! 😂) Anyway, Captain Hook became the replacement. Since we wanted resumes from characters who were not already in the book, the resume fell out of the running.
Yesterday, I said I might tell you who Snow White (and the 7 Dwarves) replaced, but since no one parried a guess, I will hold off until the end of the week. I gave no hint yesterday, but I’ll give one today. She replaced someone who also brought along a group, and who was in a nursery rhyme instead of a fairy tale. (My hints don’t make it easy, do they? 😂)
Have a wonderful week! And be sure to come back tomorrow when I share Lost Resume #3! In the meantime, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my book, and a copy of a book by one of my fellow Debut Crew members!
If you don’t want to wait, and just want to pre-order a copy of my book (I can hardly blame you for that!), you can find it on bookshop.org, which helps support local indie bookstores. Or if you don’t have a local indie, you can always find it on Amazon or B&N.
*I’m kidding, this part of the job is not tough at all. I LOVE when I’m forced to read a good book. 😉
**Well, one major reason, anyway . . . I don’t actually know all the reasons my publisher chose the four they did. I can only guess.
I don’t know how this happened, but my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), officially releases in exactly one week from today! (Aaaaaahhh!!) With the countdown to release day in full-swing, I wanted to share a little behind-the-scenes fun (and then host a giveaway!).
The first time I chatted with my editor at Capstone, my editor asked me what I thought about possibly including some back matter in the book. She couldn’t have known, but I am a BIG FAN of all things back matter in fiction picture books. I leapt at the chance!
Ideas came swimming into my head immediately. I told her I had a lot of characters who didn’t make the cut in the book. What if we did some character resumes for those lost characters?
She loved the idea, and so I got right to work, and sent her a sample later that week. That sample—a resume for Pinocchio—is now published in the final pages of my book. In fact, there are FOUR character resumes at the end of my book. I hope you’ll love them! (Here’s the tiniest sneak peeks.)
But guess what? I wrote way more than that. Yep. I wasn’t sure what Capstone would like, so I sent them 8 to choose from. But I wrote even more resumes than that . . . because I only sent them the 8 best ones. So over the course of this week, I’m going to be sharing FIVE of those lost resumes! Eventually, they will be available for download on my website, but for now, here is LOST RESUME #1 for your viewing pleasure. May I present SNOW WHITE!
Snow White did not make the cut because I didn’t think this resume was quite as amusing as the others. Thus, I never sent this one to my editor. In the end, it was just as well because Snow White, who hadn’t been featured in my book at the time of that initial phone call, went on to replace a different character. Oh, the intrigue in the fairy tale world!
Who got replaced you ask? Take your best guess in the comments! I’d love to hear. And maybe I’ll answer that question when I share the next Lost Resume!
But now, on to more fun stuff. With my release date being so close, I must, of course, celebrate with a giveaway!
So, to one lucky winner, I am giving not only a copy of my book, but a copy of a picture book written by a member of the 2020 Debut Crew (one book of your choice!)!! You can find a list of the authors and their books HERE. If the book you choose is not yet released, I will pre-order a copy of their book for you.
For any U.S. followers, I will gladly send a signed copy of my book upon request. If you win, just let me know!
Just use the handy dandy Rafflecopter link below to enter. Good luck, my friends!
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Over the holiday break, my boys and I had a chance to do some rock climbing on a climbing wall. You pull on the harness. They clip you in. You choose “Easy,” “Medium,” or “Hard.” And off you go.
It sounds so simple, and really, the wall isn’t that high. But about halfway up, I caught a glimpse of the down. I had to refocus myself on simply finding the next handhold. Conquering my fears one step at a time.
Now, I knew he was safe. He was buckled in. The rope and mechanisms would catch him if he fell. I’d already done it myself, and I knew he could do it.
So I called to him, “Keep going! You’re almost there. You can do this!”
That is too hard for you.
You should stick to what you know.
But those are lies. If we refocus ourselves, take things one step at a time, and stop thinking about those fears, we can conquer them! Maybe not on our first try, but if we keep trying, it will happen.
Sometimes we need outside support, and that’s okay! That’s why you should surround yourself with people who build you up. People who believe in you. People who can see things from a different perspective. Find those people! Search them out, then hold them close. I know it’s made a huge difference in my life.
Conquering fears is hard. It can be scary. It can take time. LOTS of it! But I tell you what, that feeling you get when you finally make it is worth it.
You ARE good enough!
Nothing is too hard if you’re determined.
Learning new things is amazing!
What fears are you hoping to conquer?
I LOVE talking about personalized license plates. And I haven’t done it for a LONG TIME!! Turns out I’ve been saving some license plate pictures for the moment I finally realized this.
For anyone new to my blog, I love personalized license plates because I’m a people watcher, and personalized plates let you peek into the life of the car owner. It gives us a glimpse of who they are, and tells about a part of their life that is important to them. Half the fun is figuring out what it’s supposed to say. The rest of the fun is in the stories you make up to explain why that’s important to them.
And as a writer, I think it’s a fun way to build characterization. Do you know what your character would choose for personalized plates? If not, play the game!! You might learn something about them!
Without further ado, on to the pictures!
Up first: MONAMIE
Perhaps this license plate would confuse some people, but I happen to speak French, so I happen to know that this awesome license plate says Mon Amie! or My friend!
My guess would be that this is a very friendly French speaker, or more likely a French expatriate now living in Utah. But funny thing, I actually got caught taking this picture by the owner of the car! She WAS very friendly, and she was, indeed from France. I did have to explain myself, but she didn’t mind my interest, and was happy to meet a French speaker. 🙂
Up next: YRUHERE
This license plate cracked me up. I caught this picture while stopped at a light. Why ARE you here??! I was there on my way to a school visit, so a question I would soon be answering for hundreds of kids. As for this car owner, I would guess they have a wry sense of humor and mean to tell people to back off a little, OR (and more likely given the part of the country) they have strong religious beliefs and are asking the GREAT EXISTENTIAL question. Or perhaps it’s both!!
Next on the list: HRLYQUN
We have a Batman fan on our hands here, who apparently has a thing for Harley Quinn. Maybe they have a thing for the Joker. Maybe they identify with her hopeless love and tragic treatment by the man. But I like to think this is meant to be more light-hearted, and they just love the character and comic.
This one is a little less clear. LOVE to fly??? or LIVE to fly??? Or perhaps they liked that ambiguity because it’s both. The two do go together pretty well. I am guessing this is a pilot. ✈ It could be a professional career pilot, but I’m going on a limb and saying that they fly more for fun than for a job. Small planes. Maybe owns their own? Or perhaps I’m completely wrong, and they just love to drive fast. 🚥😊
Finally! My own: PBNJ
Yes, yes I did. My husband loved the idea, and encouraged this. Of course, symbols are not allowed, so no ampersand (&), but I think this worked out pretty well. People who know me have no doubt why I did this, and people who don’t know chuckle and comment: “You must really like PB&Js!”
Yes. Yes I do. In fact, I wrote a whole book about it! 😂
But I must confess, PB&Js really are a huge part of my life, and they have shaped a lot of who I’ve become. Especially as an adult. And though it may be cliché, and though I will have more books published in the future, THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY will always be my first. The one that sent me down the wonderful path of author-dom.
I want to know! What would be your personalized license plate? (7 letters max!)
Hi all! I haven’t been around much with all the fun stuff I’ve been doing lately (conference presentations, school visits, family fun, etc.), but in all of that, I had a chance to visit with Mindy McGinnis for her podcast series, Writer Writer Pants on Fire. It is out today!
So while I collect myself and work on getting a better post written, you can enjoy listening to a conversation between Mindy McGinnis and I on querying, agents, books, writing middle grade, and humor HERE.
Have a fabulous day, and I hope you enjoy it!