Interview with Children's Authors Judy Snider and Joan Dickow
What inspired you to write?
A: Judy: I have written since I was in the third grade when I discovered the world of books and came up with a story called The Mystery Of The Green Hand…I was hooked on writing.
A. Judy: I love words, I love talking, and my parents read a lot, so books were always a part of my life.
My sister’s and I read magazines and comics growing up, and I always wondered who wrote the books
We read. My sister Joan and I had fun writing I Love You, Be Careful….writing is fun for me, always has been. Lots of work, but lots of fun! My husband is an author of a medical thriller so we have fun in our marriage talking about writing a lot.
Do you consider yourself a born writer?
A. Judy: I am a very visual learner, so reading and writing were there from the beginning I feel, along with a house full of books.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you cure it?
A. Judy: Goodness Yes! I go away from my writing, or in the case of my sister’s and my book, I would call her and she would use her creativity to jumpstart mine….or we would just laugh, and that always helped.
I think chocolate is a great cure for my writer’s block and my grown sons and husband, too.
Have you any training to become a writer?
A Judy: Yes, when my oldest son was a baby I took the Institute of Children’s Literature write away course during his naps. I would do an assignment and send it to my instructor for feedback. Working later in a children’s library in a school is also training in some way…you get to know what kind of books the kids like. My sister has grandkids so she got the “family” training too.
What type of books do you mostly write?
A. Judy: I love to write children’s books the most that are funny and speak to the heart! I have written many children’s manuscripts through the years before Goldy’s Baby Socks, and I Love You, Be Careful. I am in two local writer’s groups: Cape Henry Collegiate Writer’s and Hampton Roads Writer’s and with the Cape Henry Group we did a book called The Sacred Purse with Debi Wacker as the coordinator….fun again-Love to write with other women and attend groups!
Do your children inspire any of books, characters, or plots?
A. Judy: Oh, Yes, they have throughout their lives. They are in their 20’s now, but I remember driving them in the car with their friends and asking their opinion, reading stories to them on a daily basis, and they are zany and fun. Joan also has kids and grandkids, so they have definitely had a positive effect on her inspiring her to write this book and the one she is working on, The Porch Fairy. My goal in getting a book published was to read it to my kids and groups of kids and have them smile and laugh…it worked. My other sister Mary and I also are working on a idea for a movie with a talented writer in Chicago.
Can you share with us a little about your current book?
A. Judy: Joan’s, Cady’s and my book is a heartwarming and uplifting children’s picture gift book that shows the various stages of a child’s life from birth till they have their own child and all the “Be Careful” moments that we as parents go through with them. It really is for mother’s of daughters, father’s of daughters, new brides and new moms…yet kids love the repitition of I Love You, Be Careful with each illustration. Cady did a wonderful job of illustrating the book….people get happy teary and sentimental after reading the picture book.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
A. Judy: Editing, editing, making sure the words are kids friendly….Joan, Cady and I made a good team on this book, and we all are parents, so we had been through many moments of a loved one leaving the house and we say, “Be Careful, I Love You”. We still say I Love You, Be Careful to our husbands, kids, friends, etc. on a daily basis it seems.
Do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other job’s?
No, because I am an early bird, so I am most creative in the morning…..I make time to write.
Tell us about your writing space?
A. Judy: I write a rough draft on my couch in a cozy room with chocolate(wow, I have mentioned that a lot)
My two cats around on a legal pad of paper. Later in the book, I put it on the computer, check in with my sister and illustrator on this book, and that again is in a cozy but sunny room with lots of my familys pictures around and of course books. I have my own small collection of children‘s books I love. I thrive on sunshine indoors!
The world of children’s book publishing is extremely completive, with many authors hesitating between trying their luck with a traditional publisher or self publishing. What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues?
A. Judy: I get asked to talk on writing around town, and I really feel there is a book in everyone, if not more. For children’s books I tell people to join the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators, get the Writer’s Digest book on how to write a book, and who is taking what. I suggest trying agents and traditional publishers, and then tell them to also look into Print On Demands. I have loved Print On Demands, but getting a package that has the books be returnable is a must to get into bookstores,
And to make sure the book has a copyright and ISBN number. I give lots of other tips too!
How do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic, and print on demand?
A. Judy: There will always be books to hold in hand, but with the new electronic books like Kindle and the Booknook,, phone apps., etc. there is an amazing new way books are being read. I still like to hold a book in hand, but many of my friends and family use the new ways and love it. I think more and more people are self-publishing and doing print on demands. Our dream is to see our book in the Hallmark Line of books, as it is a good fit, we feel, and we love their books! If not Hallmark, some other avenue to get it out there were people can get it to give to kids, parent’s, new brides, etc….a plug: great for mother’s day….My other book I did with Thomas McAteer illustrator, I would love to see as a book fair book…fun, silly, kids laugh and love it.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
For this book and my others, the group process was an important part of it. For The Sacred Purse, the Cape Henry Writer’s Group would bat back and forth ideas for each chapter being woman as mother’s, sister’s, etc….Joan and I would go back and forth on the phone about the book all the time, and Cady Driver would send one of her beautiful illustrations and we would talk about it, and with Cady….by phone, we never have met her yet, and it was not until after Goldy’s Baby Socks was published that I met Thomas, the illustrator for that book.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
A. Judy: First person
What well known books do you like the best:
A. Judy: Somebody Love’s You , Mr. Hatch, the Froggy series, so many books….
I am always visiting the children’s section for new children’s books….so many good authors and illustrators!
Do you participate in competitions? Have You received any awards?
A. Judy : Yes, Joan , Cady and I have our book, I Love You, Be Careful, in a competition now for independent books published, and Thomas McAteer and I won the Must Award with The Cat Writer’s Association for Goldy’s Baby Socks which is in English and Spanish. We will enter more contest too.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc?
A. Judy: On our new book, All three of us are great at sticking to schedules, details, and love to do marketing on our book. It makes it easy to work on my books, because all have been done on schedule by all of us .
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago, but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
A. Judy: Get them out, edit, edit…it is amazing when I go back to my stack of manuscripts how I change things. Join a writer’s group for advice and fun. Ask one friend who is up on on your type of book to please read it….for kids books, ask your kids or their friends….actually ask more than one friend as like editors it all depends on personal preferences many times….does it appeal to them. Of course for editors will it sell, what is the market, etc.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
A. Have fun writing, don’t give up, research books like the one your writing, surround yourself with one or more writers, read blogs and other things on writing on the internet. I love our book trailer on You Tube for I Love You, Be Careful that Virginia Grenier did!
(Our illustrators website-Cady Driver who is also SCBWI member)