1) Hi Jessica! Tell us how you decided on becoming an author?
Hi Rosie! Thank you for the interview! I first wanted to become an author when I was in 6th grade. An author, Laura Jane Coats, visited my elementary school. I had the honor of helping to make a large banner to welcome her to the school. The school had an assembly where the author talked about her book, Marcella and the Moon, and I was so impressed. I began dreaming of someday writing my own book based on the conversations I had with my mom when I was little about my toys. I was worried about what would happen to my toys when I grew up. I wanted to keep my toys with me when I moved out of the house, but I knew my sister would also want to keep her toys. If the toys were separated, wouldn't they miss each other? My mom told me not to worry because the toys would find each other. How? Through The Underground Toy Society of course! We talked about The Underground Toy Society all the time, and I thought it would be great to someday write a book about how toys help each other. I never actually sat down to write the book until after my own children were born. My kids were receiving a lot of gifts and toys, yet wanting more and more stuff to clutter our home. They would not listen to clean up their toys. They did not want to donate any toys. The overabundance of toys in our house gave me the final piece of the puzzle I needed to complete my first book, The Underground Toy Society.
Well, for the first book, I actually did the illustrations. While showing the book to some friends at church, one of the moms asked me who did the illustrations. I told her I did, but she commented that it would have been neat if my girls had done them. My original intentions were to publish one book. I never dreamed that I would come up with more than one story idea for more books. Then, my grandmother brought an old picture of my mom with her doll to my house to show my daughters. When I saw the picture, I realized that I had forgotten all about my mom's doll! Then, another story was born, The Underground Toy Society Saves Peggy. I thought about what my friend at church had said, and thought it would be wonderful for my girls to try to help with the illustrations. That was a challenge for all of us. First of all, I am a control freak. Things need to be the way I want them. Yet, working with little girls and telling them their drawings need to be redone doesn't always work so well. We worked together and I tried to give them extra time to complete the pictures. If something needed to be redone, I would be as positive as I could be and give suggestions instead of commands. I wanted them to keep their love of drawing and not bring them down, but inspire them. They are really making progress with their artwork and drawings, especially my youngest daughter. The only trouble is getting them motivated to draw pictures for my books. I do not force them to draw, but I wait for them to be inspired. Both of them have actually started writing and illustrating their own books!
It's funny you should ask this because book marketing is still a mystery to me! After stressing myself out with marketing, I decided it was better to have fun with it. We love being in parades. The toys wave to the crowd and it is so heartwarming to see the people waving back at teddy bears and stuffed animals. My daughters help me create YouTube videos with their toys. I take photos for Instagram that usually have something to do with toys, kids, or parenting. I also love creating graphics using Canva.com. It is a great program with a lot of free templates and pictures. I use Facebook events a lot to promote free download days from Amazon when my books are on Kindle Unlimited. Recently, Beary and Ellie took a road trip to promote Beary's book, The Underground Toy Society Helps Beary Bear. I think I had more fun than my kids while taking pictures for the road trip. The best results usually come from Facebook events for me. Results are in the form of free downloads of my books, with a few reviews posted on Amazon. It doesn't necessarily result in further sales, but the book reviews are extremely helpful. Book reviews keep me motivated to write more books.
Signed copies of my books are available to purchase on my Website.
My books are also available on Amazon.
I am on numerous social platforms:
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