Stats? Name, location? Do you have a day job?
Lauri Fortino, Syracuse, NY
How did you hear about Ripple Grove Press? What was the submission process like for you?
I’m a member of the CBI Clubhouse and receive their monthly online newsletter. Each issue includes publishers and/or agents that are accepting submissions at that time. Ripple Grove Press was featured in the September 2013 issue. After reading what they were looking for and checking out their website, I decided to take a chance and submit. I submitted three or four manuscripts, separately of course (and only after I sent an inquiry asking if it was okay to send more than one). I received a phone call from Rob Broder at RGP one month later. They wanted to publish The Peddler’s Bed!
What’s your work style? Early morning, late at night? All at once, bits at a time?
Since I am still working full-time as a library assistant, I definitely work on my writing bits at a time, primarily in the evenings. I’m usually working on something writing related (revising, critiquing, blogging, researching, submitting, etc.) between 7 pm and 9 pm. But you never know when the muse will strike, so I have a notebook with me wherever I go, and one by my bedside, and one in my desk at the library too. My mind is always on picture books and I’m constantly jotting down sentences and paragraphs, as well as titles, character names, and ideas for new stories.
Who are some of your creative idols?
I’m a great admirer of children’s librarians and teachers who are charged with the unwavering task of getting books into the hands of young readers. They share their passion for books with children and they find creative ways to make reading fun. Children’s librarians incorporate music, movement, and play into their story hours. And teachers come up with all sorts of imaginative ways to instill a love for books and reading in their students. One teacher I know covers the walls of her classroom with the book jackets from picture books. I love that!
Where does your inspiration come from?
I am most inspired by nature, animals, my dog, children, and the kindness of others. Kindness and friendship are recurring themes in many of my stories. And I often include animal characters as well, sometimes as main characters, and at other times, supporting characters, like Happy, the little man’s dog in The Peddler’s Bed.
What are the biggest wins/challenges writing for children?
The biggest challenge for me as a children’s book author, especially since I’m just starting out with my first book, is trying to get my next book published. The biggest win so far is getting to know and becoming a part of an incredible community of people who love children’s books as much as I do-authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers, publishers, agents, bloggers, etc.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I am working on four new stories, one about a child who is bullied because she has big feet, one about an American miniature horse in the circus who dreams about being a cross country race horse, another about a flying horse the size of a dragonfly who grants a young boy’s wish, and one more about the life cycle of a butterfly, told in a rather unusual way. I have also been working on submitting several of my completed stories to publishers and agents, as well as promoting The Peddler’s Bed.
What’s your favorite picture book, besides your own, of course?!
This is difficult to answer because I love so many, both classic and new. But here’s an extremely short list: More recent favorites: Hey, Duck and Just a Duck by Carin Bramsen, Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski, Moonlight by Helen Griffith, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach, and all of the Goose and Bear series by Suzanne Bloom. For classics: Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow, The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown, and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, which pairs poet Robert Frost’s words with the dreamy illustrations of Susan Jeffers.
To read more by Lauri Fortino, check out her blog: Frog on a Blog.