amwriting, author interview, books, children's books, PathBinder Publishing, picture book author, picture books, Ritu Anand, support an author, writing journey

Kara’s Dreams

I have some good news to share in this week’s post. A fellow writer, Ritu Anand, who I had the good fortune to meet online while we were both participating in Renee M LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab course, is welcoming a new book into the world.

Kara’s Dreams is about a little tree, Kara, who dreams of standing as tall and as strong as Utsa, an elder tree, who’d been standing for more than 200 years. Kara fears that she won’t be able to make her dreams come true.

Kara is frightened of wind, of water, of earth, and of night

Kara seeks out Utsa for guidance. The elder tree gives Kara the strength to overcome her fears, and to believe that she will reach her dreams.

Kara’s Dreams is available at Barnes & Nobles.

It will also be available from Amazon on March 15th, at https://www.amazon.com/dp/195508808X

Ritu graciously agreed to share a little bit about herself, and her book journey with us.

About the author:

Ritu Anand started writing when she could hold a pencil, but life kept getting in the way. For the past four years, she has chosen writing as her career. She draws her inspiration from nature and her scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahibjee.

Ritu lives in Sarasota Florida with her loving husband. Her interests include reading, writing, singing Indian classical music, dancing to Bollywood music, traveling and playing golf.

Interview Questions:

Do you write every day?

Yes, I write every day, before the world starts chatting with me. I jot story ideas while watching kids dig the white sand, on Siesta beach.

When did you start writing? What drew you to writing?

I started writing when I could hold a pencil. As a young girl, I used to write on newspapers, inside old books, new ones, on walls and even furniture. My muse made me do it.

At a very young age, I was drawn to words on a page. Words moved me. They seeped through me, made me happy, sad or thoughtful. Secretly, I thanked authors for giving me the privilege to belong to their world.

What was the first piece you published?

The first piece I published was a literary translation of an excerpt of a speech in Punjabi. My grandfather delivered a riveting message about the concept of Universal Brotherhood of Man. A Sikh Journal published my article and it was distributed to all the Sikh temples.

Do you have a special place where you prefer to write?

My preferred spot at home is the big chair in the corner of my living room.

Do you have a critique group?

Yes, I belong to more than one critique group. When I attended the Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Academy, I befriended Heidi Yates, Lakshmi Thamizhmani, Connie Dow and Adrienne Pankey. They were my first critique group. Their critiquing of Kara’s Dreams was beyond helpful and I gained tremendous strength from their words of encouragement.

Meera Sriram, award winner author of Dumpling Day, A Gift for Amma, The Yellow Suitcase and other books, guided me as a developmental editor. I feel privileged to be able to reach out to her and view her as my mentor.

As I am working on writing a middle grade novel, I joined another group formed by Mindy Weiss of the Florida SCBWI.

Without the help of critique partners, I wouldn’t be able to improve my writing.

How has your writing changed over the years?

I feel passionate about writing and bring my heart to it. I just have to feel my own writing. When I first started writing, I had a hard time recognizing myself in my writing. I didn’t know how to connect with the world through my writing. Once I decided to focus on the immediate, the tangible, I found a way to communicate with the world. I have a broad view of the world we live in. I always see the forest first, then the trees. But once I started seeing, smelling, hearing, touching and tasting the immediate, I started to recognize ‘me’ in my little world and that led me to expand my view to the bigger outer world.

Do you have any writing advice that has helped you?

Read, read and read. In my imagination, I love living in the fictitious world of my characters, talking to them, and riding the waves of enchanting discoveries. Unleash your imaginative power. Observe sounds in nature. Watch an iguana project his tongue forward and retract it inside his body. Compare him to the way humans project their tongues forward to lick dripping ice cream, and slurp it in their mouths.

Thank you, Ritu, for sharing your writing journey and your good news about Kara’s Dreams.

Advertisement
Amal, author interview, Author/Illustrators, books, children's books, children's writing, Clavis Publishing, illustration, Key Colors Competition, picture book author, picture book illustrators, picture books, support an author

MY KEY

I’ve been away from my blog for awhile, but I’m very happy to be back at it, especially because today I’m posting to share the news of a good friend’s well earned success. Below is the cover of her newest picture book which won the Gold Medal in the Key Colors Competition hosted by Clavis Publishing, Inc.

Book description:
When two ordinary objects land on a city sidewalk a little girl’s dull day becomes an odyssey of new places and unusual faces. Led to the library on a dragon boat she spies erudite elephants who open her eyes to the beauty of books, faraway lands, and a group of bats with hidden musical ambitions—who need her assistance.

My Key is available through these two sites as well in most bookstores:


Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1605376892/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=publiweekl05-20

Link to Indie books stores:https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781605376899?aff=PublishersWeekly

Author/Illustrator Bio:

Amal’s work covers a spectrum of books, magazines, posters and cover art. Her work is influenced by a lifelong interest in multi-culturalism and any excuse to research a good story.
Her fascination with various materials stems from her studies in the conservation of art on paper and is often incorporated into her work. Amal’s art has been featured in museums that include pieces now held in private collections. She received her MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco and is the 2020 Gold Medal Winner of Clavis Publishing’s Key Colors Competition. Her work in children’s books has been recently shortlisted for a regional IBBY Award. To learn more about Amal check out her website and Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/amalillustration/
Amalillustration.com

As I thought many readers would be interested in Amal’s creative process along with the book journey of MY KEY, Amal very generously agreed to an interview as well.

Interview:


 Do you remember what drew you to illustration initially? And later on, what made you choose a career as an author/illustrator?


I’d an older sister with a unique method of babysitting: She’d leave me either in the local Baltimore library or Walters Art Museum where, in both places, I was most attracted to large books. Those in the museum were under glass because of their delicate pictures while those in library seemed to cry out for any picture at all. I felt I had at least one task in life…

Do you write/illustrate every day?
I draw just about every day but it doesn’t necessarily translate into an illustration. And I write every morning.

Do you have a special place that you prefer to write, or to illustrate? How do you break up the two creative tasks or do you combine them? Would you be comfortable with providing a photo of that place?

I’ve taken over what we never called a living room and created a studio for writing and illustration in the same spot, more or less. I write on one side of the room then swivel around to my drafting table to swap jobs.
For the most part the day is split between writing in the morning and drawing/painting in the afternoon.

Do you flesh out the setting of your stories completely before sitting down to write or to illustrate? Do you have any techniques that you use to help you see your character’s world view?


The setting is often the place that helps prompt the story so it’s often there already, but a physical loose outline, where I can insert pages as needed and some sort of map—literally a map that moves the character from point to point—is incredibly useful.
Before getting into an illustration though I go over the text several times, then close my eyes to all distractions. Something always appears, eventually, but no real special technique for world view other than experience and observation. There are probably better ways to go about it but these are tools already at out fingertips.


Do you handwrite your first drafts or go straight to the computer? Similarly, what is your illustration process?


I do hand write the ideas because I use the computer as little as possible—my eyes hurt. Illustration is usually totally done with traditional materials: paper, pencil, charcoal, canvas, paints… When visual adjustments need to be made I try and do this by hand as well unless there are spots within the composition where I’d like to add layers and for these I do some stitching in either Photoshop or Procreate to do it.

How many drafts on average does it take for you to feel comfortable that you have a finished piece?


Two billion?

How has your writing/ your illustration changed over the years?


In both cases I started off doing a lot of work for educational publishes with tight parameters that at first you think, well,  there’s no way I can get anything interesting out of what feels like a myriad of rules, but then you do and quickly realize the benefits of limitations. The danger happens when the shackles are off—I now apply my own limits or rules which frees me up from a lot of potential confusion and, weirdly, gives space I didn’t before feel I had to both the writing and the art.

Where did you get the idea for My Key from?


It was the memory of a day when I was so bored I thought I’d split in two and I wondered how I’d go about making an illustration that depicted boredom. Redrawing from original sketches I got to a place that felt right and the story took off from there.

Are you presently working on another project?


I’m working on a rather hefty illustrated middle-grade novel.


 Is there any genre that you’d like to try that you haven’t, as yet?

Loads. I really haven’t worked in a wide variety of genres and if were up to me it would be mysteries all the way!

Is there anything you would suggest to those who are beginning their careers in writing or illustrating?


Don’t bother to procrastinate, don’t even clean the dishes, you’ll just get them dirty again. Start a routine where you begin your work soon after waking up rather than worrying about making time to work and not actually getting to it. Stop at the same time too.

Is there anything you would like to share with those who might be wondering if they should persevere?

If you feel queasy when you’re not doing it then your only option is to move forward. 

APH, characters, Charlotte Cushman, children's books, creativity, interactive story ideas, Jon Klassen, Mac Barnett, Paths to Literacy, picture books, Tactile Books, teaching, The Shape Trilogy, Typhlo & Tactus

Its All In The Touch

As a teacher for Pre-K students who are visually impaired/blind, I often adapt picture or board books for my students by adding tactile features to a published book. I modify many materials based on my students abilities and particular interests. It’s always a creative challenge.

And when I came across an article by Charlotte Cushman about the Typhlo and Tactus contest, which encourages those who are interested in creating tactile books to enter their contest, I thought I’d give it a shot. If you’re interested in checking out her article you can find it at http://www.pathstoliteracy.org.

I knew right off the bat that I wanted to create a book about shapes. Few of the shape books presently in the picture book market have story lines that my students have engaged with. The shape trilogy by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are exceptions. The other thing I knew was that an oval was going to be the main character in my story. Many of my students struggle with shape identification, whether its visual or tactile, but somehow they consistently know oval. That never fails to surprise me.

Oval is the only oval in Shapeville and he wants to fit in.

As a children’s book writer, creating the text of the story and visualizing what I wanted the tactile images, who were the story’s characters, to convey came a whole bunch easier than the making of the characters and their interactive tactile images. But thanks to some brainstorming and ingenuity from my husband, who builds fine scale models of aircraft and vehicles for a hobby, my ideas for manipulative images became a reality.

Together we made each character. John engineered their interactive elements, including a spinner and a seesaw!

After a lot of time and effort, It Takes All Sorts is ready to be sent off.

Wish us luck!

acceptance, amwriting, children's books, contemplation, differences, imagination, mindulness, perception, picture book author, picture book manuscripts, picture books, poetry

A different angle

What do things look like if you have different vision than me?

Photo by wendel moretti on Pexels.com

What I see is normal to me and what you see is normal to you,

though we see differently, it’s how we each know the world.

What do sounds sound like to you?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

What do textures feel like to you? What images

do they bring to your mind?

Shared differences open up a whole new perspective,

lead to good conversations and creative thoughts.

Stretching your mind to understand,

what you at first didn’t perceive,

feels, to me, akin to poetry.

As a teacher for visually impaired students,

I try to see from each student’s perspective.

I want to get a handle on what and how they may see.

I think about how the world is reflected back to them.

Photo by Tuur Tisseghem on Pexels.com

I do my best to mirror for them their infinite potential, their priceless beauty.

Thinking those thoughts led to a collaborative project that I’m presently working on.

When done it will reflect a beautifully different way of seeing.

This project, my students, have me contemplating the myriad ways to be.

And that’s a good thing.

amwriting, books, learning, picture book author, teaching, winter break, writing full-time, writing journey

End of Break Blues

Why is it so hard to go back to the regularity of day to day work/school routines after a break? It doesn’t matter if you had a good break either. Why?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I like my work as a teacher, most of the time, but still the last day of my break always feels the same. It’s like when the alarm goes off and you hit snooze . . . just five more minutes. Actually, how about five more days? The only thing that gives me comfort is that my students are thinking the same thing.

Photo by mohamed abdelghaffar on Pexels.com

Maybe sometime in the future I can work as a writer full-time then my days would be spent doing what I did on my break,writing, reading and thinking. How cool would that be?

Photo by u0410u043du043du0430 u0413u0430u043bu0430u0448u0435u0432u0430 on Pexels.com