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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Passion for Picture Books, Tina M. Cho, Interview

This week I am excited to shine the spot light on Tina Cho.  Tina has been a long-time Pens and Brushes member and never misses a beat.  In 2010, she  moved from Southern California to South Korea.  During this time frame, she never missed a critique.  Her dedication to her family and her writing are nothing short of admirable.  Tina has taught kindergarten and has two beautiful children.  Those experiences have deeply enriched the feedback we get as members.

Tina, what drew you into writing picture books?

I fell in love with picture books during my years teaching elementary. I really like the books that leave me with an “ahh” Ymoment at the end. As a teacher, I couldn’t wait to get the Scholastic Book Orders so that I could order discounted or free picture books! I’ve always thought it would be neat to write one, but I never tried until 2008. That’s when I researched how to write for children, joined a critique group, and learned the craft of writing. So having a picture book with my name on it is my dream---to leave a legacy for my children.

 Tina is there an area of the story that you get satisfaction in developing and exploring?

After I get a great idea, I enjoy putting together the story arc using a template. I feel I write better if I’ve plotted the storyline first. I like to see how everything fits together.

Is there an area that is frustrating or difficult to develop? Endings are hard for me to create. An ending must bring satisfaction, a hint of surprise, perhaps a twist, and beg the reader for repeated readings. Therefore, it must be carefully planned.

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

As a teacher I fell in love with Jan Brett’s books, illustrations, and how she always visited the country her book was about. I’d love to visit her studio and see how she puts together her books.

Finally, what was your favorite picture book as a child?

One of my favorite picture books that I still have is Little Rabbit’s Loose Tooth by Lucy Bates. I think I liked it because the rabbit was creative with her loose tooth, and all kids like reading books about their loose teeth. My favorite ones to read to my kids are Skippyjon Jones books, Fancy Nancy books, Gingerbread Man books, and a new author I discovered Oliver Jeffers and his books like Lost and Found. His earlier ones about the penguin and boy are so perfect for my son. Isaac sleeps with a stuffed animal penguin. The books I chose have great voice or heart.

Tina, Thank you for joining me on this blog, Passion for Picture Books.  It has been such a pleasure to have you in the group and watch your writing career take off.  You bring such a supportive positive attitude to our group and our lives.  I am very grateful for you in so many ways.

Tina M. Cho is an author of 20 beginning readers or guided reading books from Lakeshore Learning and Compass Media. Her latest published project, “5 Minute Filler Teaching Cards for Grades 3/4 and 1/2” came out February 2012, from Lakeshore Learning. Tina is currently writing two nonfiction books for girls for Legacy Press/Rainbow Publishers. She also rewrites and edits for Mirae Publishing, a publisher of English language textbooks in Korea. She has written other stories and articles for children and teachers which are listed on her blog. Tina is participating in the 12x12 in 2012 challenge, writing 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months, headed by Julie Hedlund.

Tina is a former elementary teacher and currently homeschools her two children, Anna, a 4th grader, and Isaac, a 1st grader. She and husband Jackey live outside of Seoul, Korea. Tina grew up in Iowa and has lived in Virginia, Arizona, and California. When she’s not teaching or writing, she likes to scrapbook, play piano, read, shop, and attend Bible studies.

You can follow Tina on Facebook 

and read her blogs at: 

Tina's Tidbits: A Writer, Teacher, & Mother's Heart

Educational blog

Devotional blog

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Passion for Picture Books, Barbara Bockman, Interview

This week, I am honored to introduce a newer member to Pens and Brushes, Barbara Bockman.  Barbara brought her Masters Degree in English with a great deal of modesty and her love of animals to our group.  With all of her experience in writing, she under plays her abilities and makes us feel like equals.  

Barbara, how did you decide that you would start to write picture books?

I am drawn to picture books because of the two elements that make them up: words and pictures. The story of a pb should be as meticulously written as a hundred thousand word novel and can be just as satisfying. I enjoy the challenge of attempting to say what I want to in as few words as possible. At this point, I’m a work in progress. The art -work of picture books is as varied as the number of artists. I hope I will always be happy with the illustrator my publishers choose for my stories. The hard part of writing picture books is in providing the illustrator with ideas so he can contribute his equal share in the collaboration.

Is there an area of the story that gives you the most satisfaction in developing and exploring?

I think conflict is the area of the story that I get the most satisfaction in developing. It wasn’t always like that. When I started writing for children, I wanted everything to be comfortable and sweet.  I think one of the best pieces of writing advice I got was, “a situation does not a story make.” Now when I think of a situation I want to develop into a story, I work on creating some conflict that will propel the plot to the “sweet” ending I want.

Is there any particular area that you find the frustrating or difficult to develop?

I’m never sure that I have fleshed out my characters enough and that is frustrating. It’s not that I don’t know them. It’s probably because I know them so well that I take a lot for granted and assume the reader can read-between the lines.

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

I would love to spend the day with Maj Lindman, the author of the Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr books and the Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka books. I remember one story in particular when the boys fell into a vat of chocolate and were covered in chocolate batter (or maybe it was gingerbread).  The stories are funny and sweet and have heart. Of course, as I do not speak Swedish, I might have a hard time communicating with Ms. Lindman.

What was your favorite picture book as a child?

My favorite books when I was very young were the Raggedy Ann and Andy books. I think it might have been because I had the dolls and enjoyed playing with them.  The books were very colorful and the plots of the stories were not too complicated. And I loved the titles of the books: The Camel with the Wrinkled Knees, Betsy Bonnet String, Beloved Belinda. These books might have been the source of my appreciation for language and word play.

Barbara, thank you for joining me on my blog.  You quickly engaged with the group and despite your busy schedule with book releases and signings manage to be present for each member and all of our weekly exchanges.  You model great finesse as a busy author for all of us in Pens and Brushes. 

Here is a little more about Barbara:

Barbara was married for 38 years to the most wonderful man she ever knew. He was a Lt. Colonel in the Army. They lived in various places, such as Japan, Germany, Virginia, Kansas, and West Point. Besides their daughter and son, her husband had a daughter and son by a previous marriage. Altogether she has eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Barbara taught elementary school for several years and then completed a Masters Degree in English, She taught English at Pensacola Junior College in Florida.  Barbara enjoys crocheting and needlepoint as well as gardening for butterflies. Her house is over-run with books, especially books for children.

To learn more about Barbara you can go to her website at : Barbara Bockman

You can purchase her book wounds at: Muse It Up Publishing

Her book Fantastic Flight can be purchased at: Guardian Angel Publishing