Judy Snider, Joan’s sister lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband, Gil, and two silly cats. She is the author of the CWA award-winning children’s picture book, Goldy’s Baby Socks, and on a team of authors of The Scared Purse.
The Writing Mama Interview with author Judy Snider
VS: What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?
Judy: It is easier now that my kids are in their 20’s and out of the home. I get up very early, and some of the best writing I do is in a sunny place with a glass of water or coffee and my silly cats nearby. When my oldest was a baby, I took a write-away-course, and would write when he took his naps. Some of my best writing was at a table while I waited in those days for them at parties, video arcades, etc. I work out of my home on projects, so working with my sister on our latest book, and the phone usually did Cady Driver, our illustrator.
VS: How long have you been writing?
Judy: I wrote my first story when I was in third grade, then poetry, children’s books, etc…I was hooked on writing, and especially like writing children’s books…ones that speak to the heart and are humorous!
VS: What inspired you to write?
Judy: I was raised in a home with lots of books, and my two sisters and I would read magazines, comics, etc as a children. My kids had lots of inspiration to the world of kid’s books and funny stories; I felt that I could get my feelings out by writing poetry. I have a stack of manuscripts I have written through the years.
VS: Is your family supportive of your writing?
Judy: Yes, they always have been! My husband wrote a medical thriller, my kids love to read, and mostly they have always said, “Go for it!” My one son once said when I was hesitant to approach a publisher….
“Mom, what’s the worst that can happen…they may say, “NO”.
VS: What was the first thing you ever published?
Judy: Goldy’s Baby Socks, in English and later in Spanish with Xlbris Press in 2005. It is a humorous and kind story about a family that adopts a stray cat and all the fun that follows. My illustrator on that book was Thomas McAteer (we won the Cat Writer’s Associations Muse Award) and we found kids still love to read that book, and it makes them laugh.
VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book?
Judy: Sure! Cady Driver our illustrator, my sister Joan and I wrote, I Love You, Be Careful. It is a gift picture book ideally for parents of daughters, fathers and mom’s of daughters, new brides, and new moms. Kids like it too; due to the repetition and blue bunny in each scene. It starts with a couple going to the hospital for the wife to have a baby, and the husband saying, “Be Careful”, and goes through a little girl's life of be carefuls (and her brother going off to the military in one scene) and ends after many scenes like the first time driving a car, first time with training wheels off the bike, etc. and the parents saying in each scene, “Be Careful”. The book’s last scene is the original couple in their middle ages at the same hospital, watching their daughter carrying her baby and her husband saying, “Be Careful”. The grandfather also says to his wife, “Be Careful”. No matter what language, or country, we all seem to say be careful to our loved ones as they do something or leave….our kids, our husbands, our girlfriends, etc.
VS: What do you enjoy most about writing?
Judy: I love the most working on a book with an illustrator, a co-author, etc. I am in The Cape Henry Collegiate Writers Group (I used to work in a lower school library for 8 years) and The Hampton Roads Writers Group. Getting together with other zany women has made writing fun--it is still hard work, but fun! The Cape Henry group did The Sacred Purse, a book of women’s stories, under the editorial guidance of Debi Wacker.
VS: What is the difficult part of writing?
Judy: Making sure you know who your audience is, editing over and over, and all the details that put a book together. Details are very important in doing a book. On ours, I conferred regularly with my illustrators and co-author/co-authors.
VS: What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Judy: Get used to rejections from editors/publishing houses. Not everyone will like your work.
When you get a rejection, be sad, pick yourself up, and send it on to someone else…Don’t give up!
VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
Judy: I am working with my sister and a talented woman in Chicago on a script Marsha wrote from our story outline. Cady is working on another book, and Joan is working on a picture book called The Porch Fairy.
VS: What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues-traditional vs. self-publishing or POD’s?
Judy: I give many talks on How to get Started Writing. I suggest they get Writer’s Digest Magazine, Get the Writer’s Digest book on publishing houses, agents, tips, and also join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators if they want to write children’s books. There are wonderful traditional publisher and wonderful ways to do self-publishing and POD’s. I suggest they approach some agents once their work is very ready to submit, then if no luck there send to editors they may meet at a conference or suggested in one of the magazines. It takes longer to get it done by a traditional publisher, so if you want your work out faster, I recommend Print on Demand or Self-publishing. You must have a marketing plan in effect before you even start your book: Who is your audience? Where do you see it being sold? Etc. With traditional publishers as well as self/pod’s you must market your book. I love marketing the book, and we are proud of it! Book signings are fun, and school visits really fun! We hope to get our current book in Hallmark Stores someday-our dream!
VS: How to do see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic, and print on demand?
Judy: More books will be POD’s, electronic books on the computer, kindle, phones, will continue
To grow. My husband’s book seems to sell the most these days on Kindle, etc….
VS: What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?
Judy: Get a pad of paper, Ipad, computer, etc. and when you have the energy and free, time write a little each day…I raised two very active children, worked part time as a social worker, yet I loved writing and found it to be a relaxing wonderful part of my day. Of course, when the kids were ill or other life’s events popped up, I did not write. My course through The Institute of Children’s Literature was good for me. Now there are many courses available online, lots of writer’s tips, writer’s groups of mother’s online, etc……good things these days!
VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Judy: Good characters, main character goes through a crisis, crisis is solved, main character grows due to crisis and happy ending….I like happy endings…..I like fun and nice characters who treat people and animals nicely! Our stories are heartwarming too…..this one makes people happy teary (I Love You, Be Careful).
VS: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?
Judy: Find a cozy place when you have a few minutes, while kids napping, etc. and work on your book. I always spent lots of time with my kids during the course of a day, read to them a lot, had them make up stories, had them draw their own pictures if they choose, and writing really was a part of my household…
Yet, loved those quiet moments by myself when I could sit in a sunny room, listen to music, eat some chocolate and just write a little….ah…..
VS: Thank you Judy for sharing some valuable information and insight on being a Writing Mama. Now we have a another wonderful interview to share today as well. I was able to ask Illustrator Cady B. Driver of I Love You, Be Careful a few questions as well. Here is a little bit about Cady.
Cady Driver paints portraits and murals, teaches art and donates her work to charitable organizations. She has also illustrated Icky, Sticky Pancake World by Patrick Wynn. You can view more of her work online at http://www.ArtByCady.com or contract her at Cady@ArtByCady.com. She currently resides in Raleigh, NC wither husband and homeschools her three children.
VS: What inspired you to illustrate?
Cady: Honestly, I never imagined that I'd be an illustrator, it just kind of happened on a whim that I had.
VS: Do you consider yourself a born illustrator?
Cady: Not really. I hadn't really given it much thought until it happened, but after I got the job, I absolutely loved it!
VS: Have you ever suffered from writer’s illustrator's block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?
Cady: Oh, yes, definitely! Most of my illustrator's block for me comes from not being able to find the time to start an illustration. I can overcome it pretty easily by just forcing myself to start sketching and then it all flows from there.
VS: Have you had any training to become an illustrator?
Cady: No, none at all. I am entirely self-taught in all of my artistic endeavors.
VS: What type of books do you mostly illustrate?
Cady: I love children's books that are sweet and have heart in them. My first book, Icky, Sticky Pancake World was a lot of fun to illustrate because of all of the fun imaginative elements that it had. I Love You, Be Careful was wonderful because I identified with every page being a mother and the book that I'm currently illustrating, The Gift by Bridget Knouse is close to my heart because it's about adoption.
VS: What is the most difficult part of illustrating?
Cady: The hardest part of illustrating is starting out with that blank white page. Sometimes, I sit there and stare at the page attempting to envision the scene that the words are describing. I approach the scene from multiple angles and with different emotion. Usually a certain pose or idea will strike me and if it fits in with all of my vision for that page, then I just go for it. I don't usually have to re-sketch anything after I find an idea that I like.
VS: Do you find it hard to balance your personal illustrating time with your other job(s)?
Cady: Yes, it definitely can be hard to juggle all the aspects of my art business with kids, a husband, a house to keep, etc. My art business has a lot of different branches. I paint murals, donate murals to sick children, paint portraits, donate portraits to parents that have lost children, teach acrylic and watercolor art to children and adults, and this Thursday is my first real large art exhibit. I'm really excited about that, but it took a lot of time to prepare for.
VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
Cady: I am currently working on a children's book about adoption called The Gift, by Bridget Knouse. Bridget and her husband have adopted two sons and have a heart for orphans and foster children and she wanted to write a book about how every adopted child is a gift from God to their adoptive parents. It sometimes makes me tear up just thinking about it. It's going to be a beautiful book.
VS: Tell us about your illustrating space?
Cady: My workspace is in our bonus room and that room is also our schoolroom. My children are a little bit older and they are now able to do a lot of their schoolwork independently. We spend a lot of time in the schoolroom doing schoolwork and painting while we listen to Story of the World or Jonathan Park. It works out nicely.
VS: Do you do first drafts on a computer or by hand?
Cady: Always by hand. There are a lot of illustrators that do all of their illustrations on the computer, but I love to have paint underneath my fingernails at the end of the day.
VS: What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to illustrate?
Cady: Generally, I do a whole lot of thinking and chewing on an idea before I even sit down with my pens and paints. I imagine the characters from different angles, the expressions that might be present on their faces and I even imagine what time of day it might be in the illustration. Sometimes, I browse through other children's books to get inspired or to get the feel of the mood of the book.
VS: What well known illustrators do you admire most?
Cady: I have always admired Eloise Wilkins' style of illustrating. Her work is just so happy and really captures the innocence of childhood. You don't see that very often anymore. I also really love Jan Brett's illustrating style. Her attention to detail is astonishing and as an illustrator, I am in awe when I read her books to my children. Sometimes I get so caught up in examining the details in her work that my kids become impatient and encourage me to: "Stop looking, Mom, and turn the page!"
VS: What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Cady: I attempt to get paint around one painting a week. It keeps my paints wet and it keeps my creative juices flowing. When our family got back from Vietnam last month, I got off of my schedule and didn't paint for almost a month! That almost killed me! That is very unusual for me. When I finally picked up my brushes last week, I whipped out two portraits in a week. One came out great and the other was terrible, but at least I felt like I had gotten back into my groove again.
VS: What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Cady: I have a huge corkboard hanging above my desk and easel. I like to hang my favorite pieces of work on it to admire for awhile before they get framed. After a while, I get used to them and I shuffle them around, frame some and hang some new ones up. I like to hang my older and newer pieces because it shows me how I've changed in style and technique. It's encouraging to know that even without training, with practice, anyone can become better when they are doing something that they love.
VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Cady: I think that in the grand scheme of life, it's not how successful you are with your craft, it's who you touch in the process. Some of my best work has been the work that I've donated to sick children or to families that have lost a child. I believe that God has a purpose for all of us and at the end of the day the only thing that will matter is whom we've reached out to and shown God's love to.
VS: I thank you Judy and Cady for taking the time to share with me and my readers about being an author and illustrator in the World of Ink.
From the moment we are born, someone is telling us to be careful. No matter what country we call home or what language we speak, these words follow us our entire lives. You might hear parents, friends, family or children lovingly say this phrase at least once a day. Think about all of the times that a loved one goes off to school, play or work, and you say, “I Love You, Be Careful!"
I Love You, Be Careful is a heartwarming and uplifting book. There is a page to personalize it as a gift for adults or children. The book’s beautiful illustrations capture poignant memories and cause one to reflect on all the “Be Careful” moments in life and smile.
I Love You, Be Careful
ISBN Number(s): softcover-978-1-4535-6115-7 and hardcover-978-1-4535-6116-4
Publication Date: Fall 2010 –I Love You, Be Careful
Publisher Website: http://www.xlibris.com
You can follow the I Love You, Be Careful World of Ink Tour at