Emerging Author: Bits About Me (Plus a Giveaway!)

Today is exactly one month until the official release of my debut picture book The Peddler’s Bed on September 1! I’ve been counting down the months with special posts.

On June 1, I shared an interview with the super-talented illustrator of The Peddler’s Bed, Bong Redila. Kirkus Review said his “palette has the color and clarity of stained glass…”. I agree! His art is fantastic! And did you know that Bong is color blind! To read his interview, click here. (To read Kirkus Review’s positive review of The Peddler’s Bed, click here!)

On July 1, I posted an interview with Jami Gigot, the author and illustrator of Mae and the Moon, which releases on September 8. I was very pleased to interview Jami as both of our books are being published by Ripple Grove PressMae and the Moon has received several great reviews and I can’t wait to read it. To read Jami’s interview, click here.

This month, I thought it would be fun to share a few bits about my childhood with you, in pictures. (Maybe it’s more fun for me than for you, but I hope you enjoy it.) 

I was born in 1971. Here’s me (on the right) with my dad, mom, and twin sister.

Here's me at age 2 1/2.

Here’s me at age 2 1/2. Am I too young to be thinking about writing yet? Probably. But the seed is in there somewhere, waiting to be cultivated. My grandmother was a writer and a self-taught poet, so I’m convinced I inherited the “writer’s” gene from her.

Here's me at 4 years old.

Here’s me at 4 years old. Am I thinking about writing now? I’m not sure, but I do know that we always had books in the house, so I’m definitely developing my book love.

I'm nearly 9 in this photo. I still look cute; what the heck happened to me?! Well, I'll spare you my awkward teen years. Trust me, you do not want to see those photos! :) (I really should burn them one of these days.)

Now I’m thinking about writing for sure. I’m nearly 9 in this photo and I love to write stories! (I’ll spare you my awkward teen years. Trust me, you do NOT want to see those photos!)

As I was going through a folder filled with old school papers and drawings I did as a kid (Thanks, Mom, for saving all of them!), I came across several books I had made. I loved making books! Sadly, my artistic skills are lacking, but A for effort, right?

The Purple Cow

The Purple Cow (Yes, that’s a cow and a jug of milk.)

The Pumpkin Patch Caper (Those look like squashed pumpkins, right?)

The Life of My Sam (It’s a cat on a chair, really it is.)

It makes sense that emerging authors would fall in love with writing at this age. We’ve already developed the ability to physically write. We’ve been exposed to books, hopefully at home as well as at school. And we’re participating in creative writing in class on a regular basis. At age 11, I was given an autobiography assignment in school. How much could an eleven-year-old have to write about her life? Surprisingly, quite a bit (all in cursive, I might add). And because I loved to write, I loved the assignment.

I still have that autobiography (thanks, Mom) and as I was rereading it, I discovered, in a section entitled “What I’ll Be Doing in 1998”, that I planned to be an author and that I wanted to write children’s books about animals. I hadn’t remembered writing that. When high school and adult life took over, I forgot my childhood aspirations and my life went in a different direction. But eventually, I circled back around to writing. I certainly wasn’t an author by 1998-it took more than a decade longer than that-but now I’m finally back where I belong, making books.

Do you know an emerging author?

If you’ve read this far, thank you for sticking with it and taking a quick walk down memory lane with me. 

Now for the giveaway:

In celebration of the release of my debut picture book The Peddler’s Bed on September 1, I am giving away a signed copy! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post!  On September 1, I will choose a winner at random and announce it here on Frog on a Blog. Along with the book, I’ll be sending the winner 2 blank books to share with an emerging author or two, to help them get started writing and illustrating stories of their own. If you share this post on social media, and let me know in your comment that you did, I’ll give you an extra chance to win!

You may want to subscribe to my blog so that I can contact you via e-mail if you win. Subscribing brings every new blog post directly to you. You’ll receive book reviews, author and illustrator interviews, and lots more picture book fun right in your inbox. It’s easy to subscribe, just put your e-mail in the Subscribe box located in the sidebar to the right.

(Giveaway open to U.S. residents only)

{a rainbow of blank books}

{a rainbow of blank books waiting to be filled with the colors of imagination}

Final Final Cover

I am also running a Giveaway on Goodreads from August 1 until September 1. Check it out for another chance to win a copy of The Peddler’s Bed!

For more information about my book, click the My Books tab at the top of the page.

Interview Alert: Jami Gigot

Today is exactly 2 months until the release of my debut picture book The Peddler’s Bed on September 1! And I couldn’t be more thrilled! I can’t believe it’s been nearly 2 years since I submitted the manuscript to Ripple Grove Press; time sure flies! Last month, I interviewed Bong Redila, the illustrator of The Peddler’s Bed. This month, it’s my pleasure to share an interview I did with author/illustrator Jami Gigot. Jami’s picture book Mae and the Moon comes out September 8, also from Ripple Grove Press. It looks spectacular and I can’t wait to read it!

Please enjoy Jami’s fabulous interview! 


Q. What inspired you to write your debut picture book Mae and the Moon?

After my kids were born, I wanted to capture these amazing fleeting moments of our lives and also started thinking a lot about my own memories as a child. I started to write and draw bits of memories, words, silly poems and stories, trying to see things from a child’s point of view. When my daughter Mae was a toddler she once told me that the moon was following us, and we would often (and still do!) spend time looking at the sky searching for it, so I wrote a poem one night that inspired this particular story. I have always wanted to pursue creating my own ideas and stories and have an incredible passion for picture books, so decided to give it a go! 

hugMoonCircle (2)

Q. Have you always been a creative and artistic person? Besides writing and illustrating children’s books, in what ways have you used your creativity?

I would say so, yes. I’ve always kept journals full of random thoughts and drawings, but they have just been my personal little books, and focusing on illustration and writing to this level and sharing it in this way is quite new to me. I went to school for film and animation and have spent the last several years working on feature films as a visual effects artist, so I mostly work on the computer in a 3D environment, and in collaboration with many other talented folks. For a few years, I also ran a business called “The Grateful Thread” with my husband where we designed and sold rock n’ roll inspired soft toy guitars and monsters, which was good fun. I love the process of making things and I also love learning, so it’s not uncommon for me to have several projects on the go, from painting, to upholstery, to trying to learn the ukulele. There are just not enough hours in the day! 

Q. What part of the process did you like best when you created Mae and the Moon?

Really, I enjoyed the whole process very much. I love the moment when after staring into space and thinking so hard my brain hurts, I’ll get the little sparks of an exciting new idea that helps move the story along. My favorite part of illustrating is getting to the place where the image is really starting to work and I can envision more clearly where I would like it to go.  I spend a lot of time drawing, erasing, and redrawing trying to get the character expression and posing right, changing the composition, and exploring the color palette, so my drawings often look pretty messy, but I need to try things out to get it right. Once I feel like the composition and initial sketches are working then it’s all about building it up bit by bit. 

rocketBuildSketch (2)

rocketBuild (2)

Q. How did you hear about Ripple Grove Press and why did you decide to submit Mae and the Moon to them?

When I felt I had a dummy book in a state that was ready to send to publishers I did a lot of research into potential publishing houses. I don’t have an agent and most of the big name houses won’t accept unsolicited materials, so I targeted a few of the mid and smaller ones. I found Ripple Grove Press online. It is run by a married couple Rob and Amanda Broder, and having run a business with my husband before, I admire them for taking a risk and following their passion. I read an interview that Amanda had done and she mentioned a few of her favorite picture books, which really matched my personal taste, so it seemed like a good fit. 

Q. Do you have a favorite picture book, favorite picture book author, or favorite illustrator?

So many! I love everything by Arnold Lobel, Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, and Roald Dahl. There are so many amazing illustrators there and I’m constantly discovering new artists.  Some of my long time favorites are Moebius, Mike Mignola, Hayao Miyazaki, Dave McKean, Tove Janson and Shaun Tan, and some more recent favorites include Daniel Salmieri, Jon Klassen, Mac Barnett, Julie Morstad, David Weisner, the list could go on and on. 

Q. Why do you feel picture books are important?

The time spent between adult and child connecting through a world of wonder, learning and imagination is incredibly precious. Picture books cross all sorts of different styles, mediums, and cultures; they inspire children and bring out the child in adults. 

Q. Where can fans connect with you online?


Twitter @jlgigot

and I occasionally blog on Tumblr  https://www.tumblr.com/blog/jamigigot

Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring picture book authors or illustrators who are trying to get published? 

Keep writing and/or drawing! The act of working itself will spawn more ideas and take you to new places. Experiment with your craft and push yourself to improve. Seek out advice and constructive criticism from individuals with more experience than you and don’t be afraid to change things.

Jami Gigot