WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
I’ve met today’s guest at our regional NESCBWI conference and she’s attended my Writer’s Loft nonfiction picture book writing webinar – so, when I saw she had a new book launching this May called 30,000 STITCHES: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE NATIONAL 9/11 FLAG, I knew I wanted to feature her on the blog so that all of you could learn more about her. And we are the FIRST STOP on Amanda’s book blog tour! Yippee!!!!
Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator who uses her words and pictures to light up the world with kindness. Amanda is the author of 30,000 STITCHES: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE NATIONAL 9/11 FLAG and has poetry and illustrations featured in The Writers’ Loft Anthology, FRIENDS AND ANEMONES: OCEAN POEMS FOR CHILDREN. When she’s not busy creating, you can find her sipping tea, petting dogs, and exploring the natural wonders of The Bay State with her partner and her rescue pup, Cora. You can learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavisart.com and on Twitter @amandadavisart and Instagram @amandadavis_art.
Just look at that cover! You can totally see why we need to find out more – so, let’s get started!
ME: Welcome, Amanda! Thank you so much for stopping by to share a little bit about yourself…and your story. Here’s the first question…who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
AMANDA: Thank you so much for having me, Vivian. I can remember reading Jan Brett’s books. The Mitten, was one of my favorites. I loved looking for the hidden stories in the detailed borders of her illustrations. She is local to me here in Massachusetts, too. I also loved Corduroy by Don Freeman, Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, and Clifford the Big Red Dog series by Norman Bridwell. I enjoyed search and find books such as, Where’s Waldo, and the I Spy and Magic Gallery series. When those 3D images in the Magic Gallery books came into focus, I was always amazed! I’m still a big magic fan. When I reached middle school, the Scary Stories and Goosebumps series were some of my favs! Funny how thinking about childhood favorites can transport you back in time.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
AMANDA: When I first dove into the world of children’s books (about 10 years ago), I had so much to learn! Trying to balance working full-time as an art teacher while learning how to write and illustrate children’s books was no joke! Here’s a couple things I wish I had known:
1. For author-illustrators who may just be starting out, you don’t need to illustrate your whole picture book dummy with full color when submitting to agents and editors. I made this mistake with my first dummy. I used colored pencils and made finished spreads for each page. This was extremely tedious and time consuming. Most agents and editors only request 2-3 colored illustrations with the rest of the dummy as black and white polished sketches. Be sure to check each editor and agent’s submission guidelines for details before you submit.
2. If you’re writing nonfiction and submit photos to agents or editors with your manuscript, make sure you can secure permissions for those photos as this will likely be your responsibility. I have numerous photos in the back matter of 30,000 STITCHES and was fortunate to have worked closely with my sources who provided me with useful information that enabled me to secure those permissions. And, if you can, try to use photos that are part of the public domain so you don’t run into issues with having to pay a licensing fee to use the photo in your book.
3. Lastly, I of course wish I knew that one day I would indeed get published! There are so many ups and downs that it would be nice to have a crystal ball that could show us that one day our dreams will indeed come true. Even without knowing this, I always believed it was possible. I truly feel that with enough hard work and determination, we can do whatever we put our minds to. We can learn anything. Writing and illustrating for children is no exception.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
AMANDA: I usually write on my laptop, at my dining room table, which to the dismay of my partner, has transformed into my paper and paint filled office/studio area. I also have a dedicated art space in our basement, but I prefer more natural light, which we don’t get much of down there. My favorite creation partner is my rescue pup, Cora. When I’m working she’s usually sleeping on the couch behind me or curled up on her dog bed at my feet. She’s the best! ☺
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
AMANDA: I tend to write first drafts as the muse strikes. I find that when my mind is free and clear, ideas flow more freely. Most of my ideas come when I let my mind wander. Most of my mind wandering takes place through meditation, nature walks, sitting near the ocean, in the shower, or when I’m driving, ha! I have oodles of notes and phrases in my Notes app on my iPhone for those moments when ideas strike. I’m much more intentional with my revisions and schedule time to revise. Most of my ideas for revisions stem from suggestions and brainstorm sessions with my critique groups. With their feedback in mind, I often feel inspired to revise and schedule a time to do so.
ME: Why do you write for children?
AMANDA: As children’s book creators, we have an opportunity to empower children to learn more about themselves, others, and the world around them. This is my philosophy as an art educator as well. This is a huge responsibility and a very important job. With nonfiction for kids, I love the idea that we can make little known topics accessible to children. I hope that my debut, 30,000 STITCHES, empowers parents and educators to talk to children about difficult events in our history and current day society. We can’t shield children from all the bad in the world, but we can help them understand it and show them how to work through it. We can teach them how to cope…how to move forward…and how to unite. We can remind them of the bright spots within the darkness and of the good in humanity. The fact we, as creators, can provide readers with the opportunity to explore these ideas through our stories is something truly special.
ME: WOW! Thank you so much, Amanda. These are definitely sweet words of wisdom and I happen to know that you have something else to share with us that is very sweet.
AMANDA: This is not quite a ‘cookie’ recipe as I’m not the biggest baker but I would categorize it as a yummy sweet treat and with Passover underway, it’s also quite festive! In my family, kugel is eaten as a main dish but it could also be enjoyed as a dessert. I’m half Jewish so this is a staple in my family; especially during the Jewish holidays. Hope you enjoy it!
Aunt Bev’s Apple Kugel:
Oh my gosh…noodle kugel…one of my favorites! My mother-in-law used to make it also! True comfort food! Thank you so much, Amanda…the recipe is awesome and your insights are much appreciated.
Dear friends, please don’t forget to leave a comment because the lovely Amanda and her publisher are giving away a copy of 30,000 STITCHES. If you share this post on social media, you earn extra tickets in the giveaway hat. And before you leave, please check out the charts of the virtual book blog tour and other events that Amanda will be participating in. Remember that the best way to thank an author is to buy her book, review her book, ask your local library to purchase copies for their collection, and tell friends about it.
It’s been a busy week for me…announcing the winners of the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest, and starting to distribute the 51 prizes! What a joy that is! Who knows what will transpire from these opportunities…doors that are opened because people where brave and put their work out there. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend! Sunday is Easter and the last day of Passover! The very best of holidays for those who celebrate.