You call yourself wisdom catcher. What is that, anyway?? :)
I believe life is our teacher and lessons are found everywhere.
Did you always want to be a writer and artist?
No! I tell this story in my About page. Truthfully, I thought I would work for a corporation and make my way to the top through my tenacity. Less than a year into my first job, I realized was not meant for that! Looking back, I mean WAY back, I was always the writer. Always the maker. Always the befriender. Always the rooter for the underdog. I think it was merely a matter of time before I would be drawn into the "emotions" business and my brain surgery in my 20's happened to be the gateway to my true calling.
Did you go to art school?
I did not. I started with my desire to create my own greeting card line wayyyy back in the beginning. I had no idea what I was doing but the very authenticity of the effort connected with buyers for my simple creations. From there, I practiced. Refining, refining until I landed with an artistic style that worked for me and complimented the messages in my books and other creations. I paint mostly with watercolors and acrylics. Sometimes I use collage. I always encourage people to see what comes from their own heart before automatically assuming it’s not good enough.
Where do you get your ideas?
By listening. By paying attention to the universal emotions that connect us and giving voice to those. Our stories are vastly different but our emotions are not. Marketer Seth Godin once wrote a piece entitled, “Millions of words and only six emotions.” He said our stories are merely costumes for the six emotions built deep in our soul: Anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. I would also add love. I want my work to inspire connection between people: For people to think, “Wow - that's how I feel, too.” When we feel seen and understood, we feel loved. And more love helps everybody.
Do you have a favorite book of yours?
I have a couple! And they are the books to which I have the most emotional attachment. I love Hooray for You, I Love You So... and If I Could Keep you Little because they are inspired by meaningful stories and /or happenings from my own life.
What’s your best part of your job?
Many things. Landing on a good idea. Figuring out how to bring it to life. Hearing from people who have bought or received one of my books. Speaking with groups to share inspiration, ideas and connection. Watching people own their uniqueness. Helping workshop participants create something beautiful and meaningful. Basically, whenever I feel like people can feel their own feelings through my work — mission accomplished!
And your least favorite part?
Taxes! Truthfully, sometimes my least favorite part is that last 4-5 pages of artwork I need to do when finishing a book. Writing is my first love and art (surprisingly) is probably down the list a bit. I'm a writer and communicator. I'm an idea girl. Totally jazzed about ideas. Feels like play. Execution and follow through is the real work!
Do you ever get writer's block?
All the time. Even more common is starting a book and then stalling on it because I cannot figure out where it goes after the first 1-2 pages. I've had to abandon many ideas when I just couldn't make it work in my mind. I do save these efforts, however. You never know when you'll look back on some paragraph you wrote and see something completely new within it! I always re-read something in the morning as well. It's amazing how crystal clear things look in the morning!
Do you have advice for me if I want to publish my own book?
I do get asked this from time to time and I don't think I'm the best advice-giver on this topic and here’s why. I self-published my first book in 1997! This was LONG before it was easy to do so (through programs like CreateSpace and Blurb). After running my own business for 16 years, I sold my entire book line to Chicago publisher Sourcebooks, Inc. Basically, I've never had the experience of working with an agent or sending query letters to various publishers seeking an acceptance of a manuscript. What I can say is this: It's all about distribution. It's easier than ever to get your book made. This is the “easy” part. But who is going to buy it and how will you reach him or her? And even before that to know your objectives. Why do you want to publish this book? To make money? To touch lives? To see your name in print? This, too, may inform your publishing journey. These are the resources I often refer to and I'm sure there are many more! Alexandra Franzen, a Portland-based writer, pondered this same question and offer some great food for thought.
The Write Practice is a blog I have contributed to and that helps writers of all levels keep at it. A great place to ask questions and get advice! I'm also a fan of Jeff Goins who is encouragement personified for aspiring writers everywhere. Again, tons of tools and advice for getting published. John Kremer is a longtime advocate for the independent author and has a jam-packed website of resources. And lastly, here is great FAQ from Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators about next steps for writers.
When I had my own company from 1995-2010, we created many products from cards and books to ceramics and jewelry! I have created new partnerships for the following: My BOOKS are published through Sourcebooks, Inc. and my CARDS through Shade Tree Greetings for wholesale and consumers. Jewelry is here.
Here's a few specific things people contact me about and the scoop on them.
Grand-o-Grams —This is a paperback book of 40 postcards that grandparents can send to their grand kids. They are available here and here. Many gifts shops around the country still carry this little book but I don't have an easy way to access such a list.
Celebrate Plates — This was a line of ceramic plates I had created that featured several styles: Happy Birthday, Star of the Game, Good Luck, Love and a Giving Plate. We stopped making these and I don't think they are around except at maybe Ebay.
Greeting Card Box — This was a “customer favorite” product I created for Books are Fun. It was a recipe-style box that had 30 greeting cards in it, divided by category. Books are Fun offers certain products through its exclusive distribution channels and when they sell out, they are gone as is the case with this one! If you still have a box, however, you are welcome to fill it with my cards through Shade Tree Greetings!