To begin with, please tell me a bit about yourself—your background in writing for children and in other genres and/or other fields.
I am from the Minneapolis area of Minnesota in the United States- born and raised. My husband Will and I live outside of Minneapolis with our 2 kids Cami and Wyatt. I am a teacher and have taught everything from kindergarten-8th grade. I self published my first children's book in 2018. Since then, I have started my own publishing company, Hop Off the Press LLC, and have self published 7 more books in my series Cami Kangaroo and Wyatt Too. I am currently working on a new series called Young Change Makers!
What inspired the premise of your overall Young Change Makers series of books? How did this idea come about? And if you’re able to go into a bit more detail about what each of the books is about, that would be great!
It's been on my heart to do something where I would showcase kids doing amazing things in a series for a while now. Last winter, I had the idea to reach out to actual kids and feature them in a new book. I believe these stories will inspire and bring hope to others. I originally was only going to write one book, but I kept finding kids to feature so it's turned into 7 books, each featuring 12 kids. The kids help animals, people and the environment in different ways.
Where did you find these amazing kids to showcase?
I searched specific Instagram hashtags and created a graphic that said I was looking and posted it on social media.
Why do you feel it’s particularly important right now to feature these children making change?
The world can be a stressful, negative place. With everything that's been going on with COVID and other things on the news, people can get pretty depressed and sad. When I read about these kids I'm featuring, I am filled with hope and joy. I hope they inspire others like they have for me! They give me hope for the future.
Do you hope this inspires other children to strive and dream?
Yes! And not only children. I think they inspire adults too- it's never too late to follow your dreams.
What was the most challenging part of writing/creating this particular story?
All of the moving parts of a nonfiction book! There's me: the author, researcher and publisher. Then there's my illustrator, my formatter, my cover designer, my interior designer, the parents/families, my editors, my printer, my beta readers, my FB group, my launch team, my PR team and MORE! It's crazy!
Tell me about your first series of books — Cami Kangaroo / Cami and Wyatt Too...Where do your ideas for stories generally come from?
This series is based on my kids Cami and Wyatt. Each book focuses on a relatable topic: healthy eating, organization, screen time, kindness etc,- but in a funny, "non-preachy" way.
For the other children’s writers out there in my audience, could you share a little advice (perhaps something that feels particularly important to you right now) on either writing or marketing children’s picture books?
Oh gosh. There is a LOT that goes into marketing books. For the self published author, marketing is 90% of the job. When I first started, I knew NOTHING about marketing! So I learned. I read. I watched YouTube videos. I attended webinars and took courses. That's my advice for you! I have a blog on my website with tons of information about what I do for marketing.
How has the current pandemic changed or shaped how you write, how you publish (or your publisher), and/or how you market your books?
I haven't been able to do in person author school visits, they've been virtual. It's good in some ways because I am branching out and "visiting" schools across the country, I can do the visits from my own home and there's no traveling expense. However, I miss seeing the kids in person and I sell less books virtually than I do in person. I also haven't been able to do in person events: boutiques have been cancelled, farmers markets, author signings etc.
What’s next for you?
I am running a Kickstarter campaign for this new series, so I have been working really hard getting ready for that. A kickstarter campaign is a way for people to preorder the books. Then I will use those funds to pay for the printer and everyone helping me with the books! It's expensive!! If you want to learn more about the series and how to order or join the launch team, visit www.youngchangemakersbooks.com
Tell me an interesting fact about you—something outside of the world of writing, and something maybe not everyone knows about you.
Oh gosh, this question is HARD! I'm a pretty open book (pun intended)! Okay...reading is my most favorite thing to do and my favorite genre is young adult fantasy! I loved The Hunger Games, The Lunar Chronicles, Divergent...I'm always up way too late reading.