Please tell me a bit about yourself—your background in writing for children and in other genres.
I am an award-winning, best-selling author of fourteen children's books and three popular book series. I focus on writing fun, imaginative, colorful stories. For many years I was a freelance writer and wrote feel-good articles about children and families, but for the last three years I have been focused on my journey as a children's book author.
What inspired you to write children's books?
I am a mom of two teenagers, one of which has special needs. My son was a 25 week preemie and weighed 1 pound 11 ounces. He spent 143 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, NICU, and I would spend my days reading to him there. This instilled a love of picture books that he still has today.
What inspired you to write the counting book, Ten Little Sandpipers? How did this story come to be? And what about Ninja School Rules? They both come out August 2021, yes?
I wrote Ten Little Sandpipers after sitting on the beach one morning while my daughter was surfing. I watched the adorable little birds running back and forth toward and away from the waves and I thought that was a cute idea for a counting book. I started writing it right then and there. I wrote Ninja School Rules around my own family's experience with martial arts. My daughter is a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo and I have seen how important the lessons of respect, focus, confidence, and kindness are. I wanted to write a book about these important aspects of martial arts with a strong focus on friendship. These two books will be launched in late summer of this year.
How did you come up with your characters for these two books?
My illustrator, Nejla Shojaie, designed the look of the sandpipers, after seeing photos of real sandpipers here in Huntington Beach, California. The characters in Ninja School Rules are all based off real kids! The ninjas were chosen in a couple of ways, First, I had a social media contest where anyone could enter for a chance to have their favorite child featured in the book. That is how we chose the five ninjas on the cover. Second, as part of my Kickstarter campaign, there was a reward where you could pledge my campaign and feature a ninja of your choice. That's how the Ultimate Ninjas were chosen.
What illustrated scene from each book is your favourite, and why? How did you come to work with Nejla Shojaie?
My favorite scene from Ten Little Sandpipers is the sunset scene where the sandpipers are winding down their day. It is my favorite because it is based off the beautiful sunsets we have here in California. One of my favorite scenes in Ninja School Rules is the first page of the story when the new students enter the room and they are both excited and scared. It's how they look in real life the first time they come to try a class. Nejla Shojaie and I have been working together since my first book, Ruby the Rainbow Witch: A Picture-Perfect Rainbow Day. We connected on a website called Freelancer. I posted that I was looking for someone to illustrate a children's book and she was one of many that responded. I put out a challenge to my top 10 choices asking for a sketch of a 6-year-old happy little girl in a twirl dress. When I opened her email, I knew she was the perfect illustrator for me. She gets me and she does such an amazing job.
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