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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

PASSION FOR PICTURE BOOKS, Nancy I Sanders, Interview

     It is with deep gratitude that I am able to interview and share thoughts about writing picture books with Nancy I Sanders.  At the conception of Pens & Brushes Pens & Brushes, Nancy graciously offered to organize us, get us going, and to moderate.  She is an amazing writer and a champion facilitator so much so that when she left our group we choose to give  her Emeritus status.  Nancy is one of the most encouraging writers I have met. Her positive outlook is like a shaft of light that guides a novice writer down the path to publishing.  Nancy also excels in kindness and compassion.

     Nancy, you well know that picture books are a complicated art form.   What drew you into writing picture books?

I love the sweet innocence of childhood. Every day is a new day to explore. Every ordinary experience is a delight. Each “first” and each milestone is like a miracle to a child, filled with wonder and amazement. Simple days filled with sunshine and trees and playing tag and reading books are treasures a child can cherish forever. Picture books capture this innocence of childhood. Plus, they become vehicles in the hands of children to transport them into new adventures. As a child I loved picture books and when I had children of my own, my love was rekindled. That’s when my love was ignited into a passion to write picture books, too. Twenty-nine years ago!

When you are writing a pb manuscript, what area of the story do you get the most satisfaction in developing and exploring? 

I love the idea stage the best. I get zillions of ideas and I love to brainstorm these ideas and imagine the story and jot down all my ideas and let the characters start interacting and speaking to each other. The beginning of writing a picture book is my favorite part.

What area of the story do you find the most difficult to develop?

The ending of the story is tricky for me. Is the story arc strong enough? Did the main character change in a way that was significant enough? Was the use of language and word choice the best that could be to convey the concept and message I wanted to share? And in a nonfiction picture book such as D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet, was each big topic I covered presented in a kid-friendly and inspirational way? These are questions I’m constantly searching to answer as I work and rework and rework the text to finalize a picture book.

Nancy, if you could choose one pb author to spend a day with, who would that be and what would you want to receive from your time with them?  

One, just one?! I just had the awesome experience of spending four months in a mentoring group with other picture book writers. There were five of us and each month our goal was to read 20 current picture books published in the last 2 years and also write one brand new original picture book from start to finish. During these last few months I fell in love with so many new picture books, I hardly know where to begin to make this choice! E.B. Lewis! Mo Willems! Nick Bruel! Rob Scotton! Jerry Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and Andrea Davis Pinkney! Douglass Florian! My list could go on and on…

Okay, okay! If I’m gonna be pinned down and have to pick one—just one!—for this interview, it would have to be the book Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. Author Joyce Sidman and Illustrator Pamela Zagarenski. (Is it cheating to pick one author/illustrator combo? 
The poetry in that book combined with the quirky and fantastic artwork made me want to spend time with this duo to learn how to see the world through their eyes…they took ordinary things like cherries and birds and springtime and fall, and turned them into a sense of wonder and joy. They showed our ordinary world through the eyes of a child and this amazing book was born.

Nancy, do you have an all time favorite pb to read over and over again?

Pat the Bunny was a favorite book I read over and over to our 2 sons when they were little. It's a novelty type of picture book for the very young. It was one of the reasons I wanted to write children's books because I loved it so much and the reaction our kids had when we read it. I was thrilled when I got to publish 2 similar books for the Christian market: Touch and Feel Moses, and Touch and Feel Jonah.  Without the inspiration of Pat the Bunny, I don't think those books would ever have come to life!

Thank you for taking time to do this interview,Nancy.  You have always been a great and generous mentor for those of us who know you.  When Nancy comes across your writing path you will never regret the time you spend with her, even online.  You can find out more about Nancy at her website: 
                        Nancy I Sanders

Bestselling and award-winning children’s author of over 80 books, Nancy I. Sanders wrote a children’s column for the Writer’s online magazine from 2008 to 2011 that you can still access today. Known as an inspirational and motivational mentor by friends and fellow writers, Nancy truly believes that everyone can follow their dreams to be a successful children’s writer. In her book, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career, Nancy teaches writers how to manage their time and focus their energies so that they are writing each day with purpose in order to get published, earn an income, and satisfy their personal fulfillment as a writer. Nancy is available to give Virtual Workshops to you and your writer’s group so you can jumpstart your writing career to the next level. For more information, visit her site at Nancy Sanders Virtual Visits or e-mail her at Nancy's Email.


Mirka Breen said...

Nancy is as beautiful and gracious as ever. I do recall her brimming over with ideas. So nice to see her again here.

Tina Cho said...

Wonderful interview, Nancy and Diane. I enjoyed learning more tidbits about you!

Evelyn said...

I loved getting to have this little 'visit' with you, Nancy!! And I would echo all the things Diane has said about how generously you give of your time and many talents to help other writers and what an inspiration you are. I've felt so blessed by your friendship. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview. I love the idea stage best too! :)

I just discovered your blog through Laura's new annotated blogroll. I love the photography you have on here.


Diane Kress Hower said...

Thank You Erin. I am in the process of putting a show on in Ohio and will have my photo website separated out soon.

Thanks for visiting and hope to see you back soon.

Romelle Broas said...

Great interview Diane! I love your questions. And I especially love Nancy's answer to what drew her into writing picture books- the innocence of childhood...

Nancy I. Sanders said...

Thanks Diane for being such a sweet and gracious host!!!! And thanks so much everyone for your kind words. Best wishes to you all for your writing projects!