Everywhere. You just have to open your eyes and look at the world in a different way. My stories are sparked by all kinds of things: words, conversations, news stories, museum exhibits, other people’s books or articles. For example, my book CLEANING DAY AT THE FIREHOUSE was inspired by a field trip I took with my son. ELIZA BING IS (NOT) A BIG FAT QUITTER was inspired by my daughter and our experiences in taekwondo class.
Nope. Not even if you say “Pretty please with sugar on top.” One of the most surprising things about being published is how many people ask if I will give them a book. I wish I could. Honest. But I have to buy my own copies, too! I’m happy to send autographed bookplates or bookmarks, though. [A note to those looking for a donation: I know there are many wonderful causes out there, but I am unable to donate books or my time to everyone, so please don't ask. I love to "pay it forward" but I also prefer to help organizations and people who are already near and dear to my heart. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.]
Wow. Good question. And a tough one since every writer I know pretty much took a different path. First, READ! Like all the time. Second, WRITE. Every day - even if it’s just in your head. And don’t worry if it isn’t any good. Consider it practice. Third, take yourself seriously. If you treat yourself like a real writer and tell people you’re a writer, then eventually you will see yourself that way and so will other people. And finally, if you want to be published, learn about the business. Here are a few great places to get started:
This site is wealth of information and operated by industry insider/editor Harold Underdown. He’s also the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Children’s publishing. Harold Underdown’s The Purple Crayon
Debbie is one of my critique partners and author-illustrator extraordinaire! Her site also has a bunch of helpful tools, such as picture book layouts. Inky Girl
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is the professional organization for writers/illustrators. There are local chapters everywhere and events. There is also a message board where people are willing to help. (Scroll down on the home page and look for GO TO BLUEBOARD button.) SCBWI
Josh Funk's Guide to Writing Picture Books (a great collection of writing lessons) Josh Funk Books
A wealth of outstanding workshops and retreats for writers. The Highlights Foundation
Read. Write. Read and write some more. The sites listed above are for grown-ups, but there’s a lot of great information if you’re willing to look for it. You can also check out these books:
THE YOUNG WRITER'S GUIDE TO GETTING PUBLISHED by Kathy Henderson
SPILLING INK: A YOUNG WRITER'S HANDBOOK by Ellen Potter
WRITING MAGIC: CREATING STORIES THAT FLY by Gail Carson Levine
RIP THE PAGE! ADVENTURES IN CREATIVE WRITING by Karen Benke
All the time. They are just part of the business. Try not to take them personally. Cry a little, stomp your feet or have some chocolate chip cookie dough and then move on.