Author Lisa Rose is the host of the Missing Voice Picture Book Discussion Group and the author of Shmulik Paints the Town from Kar-Ben Publishing. Lisa Rose loves swimming, yoga and ice cream and if you keep reading below, you’ll learn more about this inspiring author from Detroit…
As an author that writes in different genres, (I’ve read you write non-fiction too, and longer works) explain to our readers how you go from one genre to the next. Is it easy, difficult, time consuming, something you’d suggest others tackle?
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing. I realized I want to do more than just write a book. I want to create unique reader experiences. I am always looking to innovate. This creative force has led into different genres.
When and how did picture books find their way into your magical bag of writing tricks?
Actually, I started off as a playwright. Then I went to education school at the University of Michigan and became interested in creating children’s stories. I taught first grade for many years and had to read many, many, many picture books—this helped me better develop my craft and desire to write them.
How many actual stories, complete texts, do you think you’ve written, including stories that are just first drafts, or what some would say are barely a first draft?
Wow! Tough questions! I’ve been writing over half my life—and I’m 44. I probably have well over hundred.
I’ve seen you remark that a picture book author should never throw a story away, why is that? Shouldn’t some stories just be thrown away? Take my picture book which teaches the metric system and features two workers in a toy factory who measure bellybutton lint, I mean, really? I hear the trash can calling, can’t you? 🙂
Belly Button lint is very funny to kids! Yes—I think you can sometimes find diamonds in trash cans—once there was a spark that inspired you. The spark can hit you again in a different way and BOOM! The story you struggled with finally reveals itself to you. Some stories take longer to cook.
A lot of writers give the tip that to be successful; one needs to write every day. What one writes may be drivel, but at least some words were scribbled or typed on a page. Do you write every single day? Do you have a writing schedule or a typical day or a typical week?
Writing is a way of life—you are always thinking…some of my most productive times are early in the morning when I’m working out. I’m a mother of a daughter with special needs. Sometimes—my mom job interrupts my writing. I do set goals for myself—I know what I want to accomplish each day or week.
Jewish picture books are on the rise—why is that?
Harold Grinspoon wanted every Jewish child to have Jewish books in their homes so he began The PJ Library. Families with kids’ ages 6 months through 12 years old with Judaism as part of their lives are welcome to sign up. PJ Library welcomes all Jewish families, whatever your background, knowledge, or family make-up, or observance may be. They send a book a month to children all over the world.—so they need a lot of books! Shmulik Paints the Town was sent to 26,000 homes in North America.
Wow! I had not heard of the PJ Library. That sounds like an amazing organization.
You also write silly secular picture books and I wonder if you can share some of your favorite silly books you remember as a child.
When you were pursuing publication, did you make any mistakes that you can warn prospective picture book authors about? What are some of the, “Thou Shall Not’s…..” when pursuing a publisher or an agent?
I’m sure I made a ton! But I do remember back in the ancient days of mailing queries, I put an agent name inside an envelope and addressed to a different agent. The agent responded by sending a “Dear Linda” response back to me.
I see on your website that you offer very affordable critiques to aspiring picture book authors. I can only imagine there are some who might receive your critiques and want to argue against your PROFESSIONAL opinion, giving justification on why their picture book needs to be 2000 words or why their book needs to be in first, second AND third person or why they must include two full pages of illustrator notes, or do those things never happen?
It has not happened to me with a paid critique—but it did happen in a writing groups.
Finally, can you give our readers a few of your favorites . . .
Movies: The Wizard of OZ, Shawshank Redemption, The Princess Bride—I can watch these over and over and over.
Unhealthy Foods: Gummy Bears
Rap Songs: Lose Yourself by Eminem
Travel Spots: Any Beach—I love swimming!
70s TV Shows: The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley
Athletes: Michael Phelps, Janet Evans, Lynne Cox. Lynne is also a writer and one of the greatest open water swimmers in the world. I was introduced to open waters swimming by another Amazing open water swimmer Martin Strel.
Thank you so much for your time Lisa!
And don’t forget to click the picture below for a “look inside” of Shmulik Paints the Town by Lisa Rose or to purchase Shmulik Paints the Town…. you’ll absolutely love this book!