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Sunday, April 29, 2012


SURPRISE!  Barbara Bockman interviewed me on her site  Diane's Interview.  Please feel free to leap on over, check it out and leave a comment.  Thanks!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Passion for Picture Books, Mark Ceilley, Interview

This week I am excited to introduce Mark Ceilley,  another long-term Pens and Brushes member.  Mark just completed a MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.  Mark has always been a very strong critique group member and given excellent feedback.  I have watched him continue to grow with each of his critiques over the course of his education.  In addition, Mark has a long career in  elementary education.  His passion for children's literature comes through on many levels.  I am proud to have Mark on my blog this week.

Mark what is it that drew you into writing picture books?

I was drawn to picture books when I took a children’s literature class in college.  I had an enthusiastic professor who loved children’s books.  I was introduced to many wonderful books and authors.  Later when I taught elementary school, I grew to love picture books and appreciate the form with its rhyme, rhythm, language, humor and extraordinary illustrations.  Eventually I took writing classes and began writing my own picture books.

When you are writing a manuscript is there a particular area that you get satisfaction in developing and exploring?

I get satisfaction from writing a rough draft, from the very first idea, all the way to the last sentence of a story.  I also enjoy the revision process where I can change the story around, add, delete, etc. until I have a story that is written well enough to take to my writer’s group.  After my writer’s group gives me feedback, I like editing and revising again by incorporating their suggestions.

Mark is there any part that is frustrating or difficult to develop?

Sometimes writing the first draft is frustrating for me.  I’ve often had what I think is a great idea, but once I start writing; I can’t get much further than a few sentences.  The frustration escalates when I can’t figure out what to do next and I end up with an unfinished story.  When that happens, I let the story sit for a while, go on to another idea, and create a new story.

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?

I’d choose to spend a day with Mem Fox.  I admire her writing and the many books she’s written for children.  I think she is a master when it comes to picture books.  I would learn all I could from: rhyming, use of language, simplicity of words, revision and anything else she could teach me about how to write picture books.

I am curious Mark, what was your favorite picture book as a child?

I enjoyed reading The Pokey Little Puppy.  My grandmother had a copy at her house and when I’d visit I’d reread it over and over again.  I also loved Dr. Seuss.  (The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham.)

Mark, I really appreciate you being on my blog, Passion for Picture Books.  Your presence in our group is a tremendous asset with your writing skills, and your background.  Your willingness to share the knowledge that you have gained in your Masters program has been very generous.  Thank You!

Mark is a teacher and writer.  He has taught elementary school for 20+ years.  His story, Jackson, Jackson, Make Up Your Mind was published in Spider magazine in July/Aug. 2009.  Mark has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University.  In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, yoga, gardening, swimming, cooking, movies, and meeting friends for lunch.  To find more out about Mark, visit his website at Mark Ceilley .