My Writing Process - A Blog Tour! June 2, 2014 18:41 3 Comments

I'm delighted to participate in this blog tour that enables authors/illustrators to share their process and latest work by way of their blogs. It's kind of like a chain letter for authors/illustrators who blog, only much nicer and without creepy death threats for not participating!

Many thanks to my lovely and uber talented friend Samantha Berger for tagging me on her post and giving me the opportunity to share. Samantha is the author of over 70 (Yes, 70!) children's books including CRANKENSTEIN, MARTHA DOESN'T SAY SORRY, MARTHA DOESN'T SHARE, PRINCESS POTTY, PIRATE POTTY, and the upcoming WITCH SPA and SNOOZEFEST. I met Samantha at an SCBWI conference years ago (and here we are at the Black & White Ball at last year's SCBWI Summer Conference) and I've been in awe of her ingenuity, quick wit, and overall brilliance ever since. She's a tough act to follow, but I will certainly try my best! I’ll answer a few questions, then pass the baton to two others! Here goes:

What am I currently working on?
One of my favorite things about being an author/illustrator is that I get to wear many different hats so there's never a dull moment.

I'm constantly promoting my existing books with a current emphasis on the latest picture book that I illustrated, SLEEPYHEADS, written by Sandra J. Howatt and published by Beach Lane Books, Simon & Schuster. I recently finished the art for a picture book that I wrote called THE WHALE IN MY SWIMMING POOL that will be out next year from FSG, Macmillan. I'm working on two PEEK-A-BOO themed board books for Cartwheel, Scholastic. I will also be illustrating two picture books PEEP & EGG: I'M NOT HATCHING and PEEP & EGG: I'M NOT TRICK OR TREATING written by Laura Gehl for FSG and a third picture book PUG & PIG, written by Sue Gallion for Beach Lane Books. In between all of that I also run a stationery and gift company that I started way before I even got into publishing. In fact, it was through my stationery company that I got my foot in the door of publishing when I met my first publisher at the New York International Gift Show seven years ago!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I'm often told that my work appeals to both children and adults. Young children love my bold, round, colorful shapes and adults appreciate and find joy in the clean lines and simple silhouettes that are inspired by Japanese pop art and Scandinavian design. I've also been told that my work is sweet but not overly saccharine. I'm always working on finding the perfect combination between simple, yet fetching art, and lively, playful text.

Why do I write what I write?
I am constantly drawn to creating books for very young children. It's such a privilege and so exciting for me to be right there at the start when young children are first discovering the joy of books and everything is new to them. At that age, books are also more about the joyful and loving connection between babies/toddlers and their grownups which means a lot to me. I believe that if you make reading time fun and special right from the start, your child will develop a lifelong love for reading and books. To me this is both fulfilling and meaningful work.

How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
It varies depending on the type of project I'm working on. I'm usually bouncing between board books and picture books that I've written to illustrating other authors' picture book texts. A lot of my early book ideas were inspired by my greeting card designs. YOU ARE MY CUPCAKE is based on a line of my New Baby cards and WE BELONG TOGETHER off of a line of my Wedding cards. Even my latest board book, MY LUCKY LITTLE DRAGON, is inspired by a line of Zodiac cards. With my board books it usually starts as a concept with some simple text and doodles. Here is the concept sketch when I first came up with the idea for YOU ARE MY CUPCAKE back in 2009:


After this phase, I will do more detailed sketches to size, scan, and take it to finish. For picture books with a recurring character I may do character studies first like this one from THE WHALE IN MY SWIMMING POOL:


With picture books I also like to create a visual storyboard like this one from SLEEPYHEADS. This helps me plan the general layout of each page and text placement without having to worry too much about the details at this point. I also jot down any other ideas or questions I may have for each page.


Generally, the books that I write myself start with a concept, then I write the words, and then I draw the pictures. As I'm writing the words, I have pictures in my head. When I start drawing the pictures, the text may change. It's a constant dialogue back and forth between words and pictures. Sometimes, actually, most of the time, it feels like a chaotic process but somehow it all works out beautifully in the end!

Next up on the blog tour:

Melissa Guion
When I first came across Melissa Guion's art at the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show, my heart just melted. She is the author and illustrator of BABY PENGUINS EVERYWHERE and the follow-up to that book BABY PENGUINS LOVE THEIR MAMA. These are two of the sweetest picture books you will EVER see and in person she's as warm and funny as she is talented. You can follow Melissa on her website at, facebook, and twitter.

Trisha Speed Shaskan
Trisha Speed Shaskan is an award-winning author of over 40 books for children including SERIOUSLY, CINDERELLA IS SO ANNOYING! THE STORY OF CINDERELLA AS TOLD BY THE WICKED STEPMOTHER and HONESTLY, LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD WAS ROTTEN! THE STORY OF LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AS TOLD BY THE WOLF both illustrated by Gerald Guerlais, TRULY WE BOTH LOVED BEAUTY DEARLY! THE STORY OF SLEEPING BEAUTY AS TOLD BY THE GOOD AND BAD FAIRIES illustrated by Amit Tayal, and the upcoming PUNK SKUNKS which will be illustrated by her husband Stephen Shaskan (what an incredible duo these two make!). Trisha is every bit as clever and fun as her books and I have been lucky enough to call her a friend ever since I met her at an SCBWI conference a few years ago. You can follow Trisha on her website at and facebook.

Melissa and Trisha will post answers to these questions about their work next week so be sure to check back on their blogs! Isn't this fun? Thanks for letting me share! xo-Joyce

Read Melissa's post here:
Read Trisha's post here: