The guest on my blog this week, author Jodi Moore, is a positive ray of sunshine. Just like her books, her answers to my questions had me cracking up and clutching my chest at all the sweet feels!
And I knew I found my donut bestie as soon as I read her response! Keep reading, I promise she is all that and a bag of sprinkles!
Everyone knows I have to start with this question first!
If you could be any donut, what would you be and why?
What a fun question! Hmm. I really had to think about this one. I mean, if I’m eating a donut, I want it to be chocolate. Or one of those fluffy, cream-filled ones. Or maybe both.
(I like the way you think, Jodi!)
If I could be any donut, I think I might want to be a French cruller. Not because they’re fancy, but because I’m a people pleaser. Crullers are light and airy and have nooks and crannies to cradle every bit of sugary glaze, so those enjoying said donut don’t miss a single drop of sweetness.
In reality, I think I’m a funnel cake. Sweet, but admittedly a bit of a tangled mess.
Aren't we all funnel cakes in the end? Life is messy, glad you embrace it! Speaking of messy, the path to publication is also complicated. Tell us about yours.
My journey is a bit of a long and winding road. Although I spent most of my childhood and teenage years writing, it was never presented to me as a viable career option. It wasn’t until I started reading to my own boys that I realized how much I missed sharing stories.
I began writing picture books.
I began submitting.
I began getting REJECTIONS.
Although some were positive (what we call “champagne rejections”), I only saw the “no”s. They crushed me. I buried my dream and busied myself writing articles for magazines instead.
Despite my own issues with confidence, my husband Larry and I both recognized how important it was to nurture the dreams of our children. Both boys displayed talent and an interest in the arts at an early age, and we cheered them every step of the way.
“If it were easy,” we’d assure them, “everyone would do it.”
Before we knew it, they were accepting their high school diplomas. Empty nest threatened to hit hard.
“It’s time for you to get back to your passion,” Larry said. “Writing stories for children.”
I shook my head. “It’s too hard to get published.”
“What?” Both boys were incredulous. “Have you been lying to us all these years?”
Busted. They called me out.
Larry issued a challenge. “Hit it hard for the four years the boys are in college,” he said. “Go to conferences, hone your craft, submit your stories. If you aren’t published by the time the boys graduate, we’ll reevaluate the situation.”
So I did.
And I got rejections. And they stung. But I kept at it.
Finally, I took WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN to a conference, where I received two professional and conflicting critiques. (Yes! That happens! This is a very subjective business.) One editor told me I had to make sure the readers knew the dragon was real. The other? She proposed I revise the story, so readers knew the dragon was imaginary.
I remember thinking, “When (not if) I receive my rejection from Flashlight, I guess I’ll have some rewriting to do.” But I didn’t get a rejection. And my brilliant editor, Shari Dash Greenspan, not only saw my vision, she embraced it and took it to another level.
But it wasn't until she placed it into the skillful hands of my amazing illustrator, Howard McWilliam, that the heart of Dragon was fully realized. After all, in a picture book, the artist tells 50% of the story!
Fast forward four years after Larry’s challenge: Our family celebrated two degrees…and one Dragon.
Because one yes is all you need.
To date, my children’s books include the award winning When A Dragon Moves In (2011), When A Dragon Moves In Again (2015), I Love My Dragon (2019), all three from Flashlight Press and Good News Nelson (2012) which was published by Story Pie Press.
I am currently seeking the representation of an editorial agent, which is another long and winding path of its own.
There are so many challenges, but I think the hardest thing for me was getting out of my own head. And way.
Although the path may be lined with rejections, you can’t let the “no”it-alls define or discourage you.
I know that is something I struggle with when I receive a rejection whether it be "form" or "champagne". Just keep writing, right?
Very inspiring, my friend. Let's keep the inspiration flying. What inspired your books?
More specifically, the first Dragon story was literally inspired by a sandcastle that my husband built. Remember how I mentioned Empty Nest? The first time we visited the beach by ourselves, we were admittedly a bit sad.
But Larry decided to bring his sand tools anyway. Of course, the other children on the beach were more than happy to help!
One little guy pushed a piece of seaweed into the door of the castle. Ever encouraging, my husband said, “That looks like a dragon’s tail. Our castle is so cool, a dragon moved in!”
Then, the heavens opened and the angels sang. The idea for When A Dragon Moves In was conceived.
May I direct you to the nearest library?
My favorite books.
No, I take that back. The book is that good.
Let your story rest (I call it “marinate”) before you make any changes, whether they be suggestions from treasured critique partners, professional editors or self-driven.
Work on something else.
Take a walk.
Take a bath.
In a related note: don’t “save” over the originals (yes, that would be plural – each update is a new original), but date each revision and keep them in a separate file. You never know when you’ll want to refer back to something, keep it the way it was or even use a deleted scene/sentence/character in another story!
After all, there’s only a one letter difference between previous and precious. ;-)
Okay y'all did I not say Jodi is one positive ray of light in the kidlit world?! Here are some ways to catch up with her!
Her website! (Her site really is great. Go click the previews of her books. So cool!)
And did I mention that her book of When a Dragon Moves in Again is about to be released? You can pre-order here.
Comment below or retweet to be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of Jodi's I Love My Dragon!
Go forth and sprinkle joy and kindness!