I'm happy to participate with Lauren in the wonderful author group, #SeenIn19, and I'm delighted to feature her on the blog today! I look forward to getting my copy of her adorable picture book, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (illustrated by Nate Wragg, Two Lions, releasing June 2019). Here are her thoughts about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection.
STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.
First, thank you for having me and congratulations on your upcoming book RETURN OF THE MAGIC PAINTBRUSH with Clear Fork Publishing!
Sometimes inspiration hits me like a bolt of lightning at the most inopportune times -- on a massage table (YES! self care is wonderful), in the shower, in the bathroom (I know, I know, TMI), on the phone with a friend, scrolling through email, during a walk, and while I drive. Other times, inspiration sidles in and whispers, whispers, whispers until I notice it. I’ve learned (the hard way) the importance of capturing those moments before they fade away. Ideas aren’t just about a topic -- they are living, breathing beings. I typically write down everything I can about my idea so that I can capture the essence, feeling, and spark before it fades away.
The idea for ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES originally appeared during Paula Yoo’s National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee). The draft I wrote in 2016 has changed shape and form SO many times since then. In fact, the book that is swimming to shelves June 1st has the original voice and concept, but that is it.
The initial story seed for Rosie and Charlie came from my desire to write a picture book using a “how to” structure. In fact, for NaPiBoWriWee that year, I challenged myself to write manuscripts in all different structures (a la Tammi Sauer’s 2016 ReFoReMo post entitled: How to Do the Structure Strut). The original idea then morphed and changed one summer while I sat at the pool during swim team. I was one of the Parent Reps who ran the team (NOT a job for the weak), and I hid in a corner revising Rosie and Charlie’s story. Ideas flooded me as I listened to the swift strokes of swimmers and wiped pool water from my face. If you’ve ever been a swim team parent, you know the trials and tribulations of keeping track of goggles, intense summer friendships, overcoming fears, and eating more sugar at swim meets than you thought humanly (or dragonly) possible. Needless to say, my role as swim mom and parent rep offered an abundance of inspiration for this story.
I have a variety of other books that are either out on submission, ready for chiseling, or waiting (and often screaming) for attention. These ideas have sprung out of the ether while reading, driving, and in moments I dragged myself away from my computer to experience real life. These ideas have also emerged out of an intense desire to add more inspiration, hope, and love into the world.
CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
Creativity has always been important to me. As a young child, I loved making up songs and dances. I danced around a tree in front of our house singing about unrequited love (at 5 years old). I devoured book after book, pretending to be characters like Pippi Longstocking. For as long as I can remember, I’ve written short stories, picture books and poetry. I wrote calligraphy on wedding invitations as a teenager. As a therapist, I’ve invented new games and creative ways to help children and families explore strengths and tackle challenges. And as a parent, I’ve tried to capitalize on creativity instead of panic, which has worked, oh, perhaps 50% of the time.
As I’ve aged, my desire to live creatively has increased. I find that exercising my creative side is the key to finding a higher level of contentment in this crazy, mixed-up world.
CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
I must admit, I’ve never finished To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, but I love this quote from the book: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
As a psychotherapist, I’ve worked hard to walk in the shoes of the children (and parents) with whom I’ve worked. I attempt to think about their point of view as if I were looking at the world through their eyes. I believe twenty years of trying to look at the world through others’ eyes has helped me to connect more effectively to young readers in my writing. I strive to create stories that will resonate with children, tickle their funny bones, and offer a perspective that feels authentic to them.
I stay connected with the wonderful KidLit community through SCBWI, 12x12, ReFoReMo, NaPiBoWriWee, StoryStorm, Twitter and #PBChat. I am a judge with Rate Your Story and run a critique business, which is a wonderful way to connect with kidlit authors. I am also a member of numerous critique group. My critique partners have enhanced my writing journey in immeasurable ways. We support each other, celebrate successes, and push each other to be the absolute best we can be. I am beyond grateful to each and every one of them.
Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who loves reading, drinking tea, and devouring chocolate. Lauren currently lives in Colorado with her husband, Josh, their two dragons...er, daughters, Sarah and Danielle, and Hudson, the dog. Her picture book, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES, is swimming to shelves near you in June 2019. Lauren also writes books in the mental health field. She is the author of A Week of Switching, Shifting, and Stretching, and My Sensory Book. Lauren’s latest book, tentatively titled: Emotion Regulation: Helping Children and Adolescents Take Charge of Their Feelings will be available soon. Her writing goals are simple. Read voraciously. Embrace feedback. Grow each day. Work hard. Be passionate. Write courageously. Touch children’s hearts.
CONNECT WITH LAUREN:
- Website: www.LaurenKerstein.net
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurenKerstein
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurenkersteinauthor and https://www.facebook.com/laurenkerstein
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurenkerstein