WILL WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
FOR WRITERS, ILLUSTRATORS, PARENTS, TEACHERS, LIBRARIANS,
AND BOOK LOVERS EVERYWHERE
It’s always a joy for me when I connect with new kid lit folk…and often, it’s through other authors or illustrators who have been on my blog. That’s how I met today’s guest. She is the illustrator for Candace Spirrizzi’s book, FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE that we featured a while back for Perfect Picture Book Friday. And now Beverly has her author/illustrator debut picture book, HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE? launching March 1.
Beverly grew up on Long Island, New York. She is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology where she studied illustration and design. After graduating she worked as a paste-up artist and taught art for grades K-8. Later she became a member of SCBWI and illustrated children’s literature. Currently she lives in Washington state with her husband. When she is not illustrating, you can find her writing stories, hiking, at church or enjoying time spent with her three children and six grandchildren.
You can connect with Beverly here: https://www.beverlylovewarren.com and https://www.facebook.com/beverlylovewarren
ME: Hi Beverly! I’m so excited to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover…and I know you’ve provided some lovely coloring sheets for the kiddos and an absolutely yummy-looking cake recipe. But everyone wants to find out a little more about you.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
BEVERLY: I don’t remember having a favorite author or illustrator as a child. I do remember certain books that I liked, and this will date me, but I enjoyed reading the Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans and Dr. Suess. As I got older, I loved Pippi Longstocking, Charlotte’s Web, Island of the Blue Dolphins, My Side of the Mountain, Heidi, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, and any fairytales.
When I decided I wanted to illustrate Children’s literature there were several artists that inspired me – Michael Hague, Jan Brett, P.J. Lynch, Lisbeth Zwerger, Richard Jesse Watson and especially Trina Schart Hyman, whom I was able to meet at a book signing.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
BEVERLY: I wished I knew a bit more about the writing process and wasn’t so “green.” When I shared my first few drafts with others, I thought they would understand exactly what I was saying. But when I received their feedback there were comments like: “What’s he doing?” “What’s happening here?” “This isn’t making sense to me.” I came to understand that visually I could see everything about the story in my mind, but I didn’t convey it very well on paper. Many words had to be cut and yet the story had to be conveyed well enough that people could understand it, or art notes needed to be used. Now, at the other end, I’m learning about what is involved in marketing and wish I had known more of this earlier on.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
BEVERLY: Anywhere. I have a special notebook that I use to write all my first drafts in. Sometimes it travels with me. The inspiration for HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE? came to me while my husband and I were on a road trip driving through the mountains in northern Idaho. The forested area we drove through gave me the setting for MOUSE. Thankfully, I had my notebook with me at the time and was able to scratch out a story. Usually, I write my drafts in my notebook and the revisions on my laptop, all at the dining room table. I am also the illustrator for my book and work out of my studio which is a day-light basement in my house.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
BEVERLY: It can be any time, but normally it is in the afternoon and evenings for both my writing and illustrating. My mind is usually sharper in the afternoons and evenings. I use the mornings to get my household chores out of the way, so I don’t have to think about them for the rest of the day. And if I can, I try to get the evening meal prepared in the morning and set aside. Once I get going with my writing, revisions, or art, I don’t like to stop.
ME: Why do you write for children and what brought about the desire?
BEVERLY: When My children were little, I spent many hours at the library getting picture books. The art inspired me and drew me to want to illustrate children’s literature. Later, when my children were older, I found out about SCBWI and became a member. After a while I began illustrating children’s educational material. I had to read lots of non-fiction and fiction stories for grades K-6th. Between the exposure to this material combined with the books I had read earlier to my children a desire began to grow – I wanted to write as well. But military transfers with my husband’s job and other life changes put that desire on hold. Then in 2016 my husband and I went to New Zealand and toured the Weta Workshop in Wellington, where the props for the Lord of the Rings movies were made. That crystalized the desire to write and I took my first writing course about five months later.
I write for children because of the art and because stories speak. Words and art can help to shape a young mind. I love the concept – show don’t tell. I think showing children about life through stories helps them to retain what they learn, and it’s the same with much of life as well. My grandfather told me years ago that a wise person learns from the choices of others. Our lives unfold as a continual story that those close to us watch, observe, and learn from. So, it is with a book. A young reader sees a small snippet of the protagonist’s life and especially if they can identify with him, they will learn and hopefully use it to grow in their own life’s experience as well.
ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.
BEVERLY: Write what you love – humor, heartfelt, from a personal experience, or what you know. Try to show rather than just telling and persevere. Someone had said to me that it is wise to check your motive for writing because if the main reason is to make money you won’t last. It is best if your reward is knowing that you have put your heart and effort into something to benefit another – for us, it’s children.
ME: This is fantastic, Beverly. Thank you for sharing these valuable insights with us. I smiled when you spoke about visiting the Weta Workshop in NZ…I was there in 2019, staying with Diane Tulloch, one of my critique buddies. She and her husband took me there – and then we toured Hobbiton – it was AMAZING!
And now I know you have something else amazing for us…a very special recipe! Take it away, Beverly!
BEVERLY: It was the cake my soon to be mother-in-law made for dessert when I first came to dinner at her house. It is still a family favorite. My husband was very happy I was making it even though it was for your interview!
SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE
2 sticks of salted butter (8 ounces)
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups white wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp mace
1 cup sour cream (regular, not low-fat sour cream)
1 tsp vanilla (not imitation vanilla)
1/2 tsp almond extract
Grease and flour a 10″ tube pan or Bundt pan equivalent.
Mix flour, baking soda and mace and set aside
Cream together butter and sugar. Then beat the eggs into the mix, one at a time.
Beat in vanilla and almond extracts and then beat in the sour cream.
Add dry ingredients, beat until well blended
Pour into the tube pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
Let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing.
WOW! What a special recipe! I’ll bet lots of people try this!
A huge thanks to Beverly for her insights and coloring pages and also for the giveaway. Please leave a comment below – maybe you’d like to share which themed experience you’d like to visit: Hobbiton, Disneyland, or Harry Potter World?
We’ve still got a couple of blog posts coming up before #50PreciousWords goes live on March 4…we’ll be celebrating a book birthday for Amalia Hoffman on March 1st.