Many thanks to author-illustrator Joyce Wan for inviting me to be part of this cool project!  

Joyce and I met at a kidlit hangout in Brooklyn last year.  She shared stickers from her adorable picture book YOU ARE MY CUPCAKE and Holly and I became instant fans of her sweet, yummy style.  If you can think of it, Joyce has designed it -- wooden cards, stationery, apps, refrigerator magnets, even plushies.  So talented!

 

Now on to the questions...

What am I currently working on?

I'm finishing a private commission this week.  It's an unusual project that involved drawing things I don't usually draw.  Things no one usually draws, in fact.  It has been really fun.

After this, I'm diving into a picture book about a baby hedgehog for Philomel.  A dangerously cute baby hedgehog.  That's all I can really share about it right now.

I'm also in the early stages of writing a biography of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Rita Levy Montalcini, which I plan to illustrate and then sell to some wonderful editor who really loves science...and women...and hair!

And I recently told my agent I'm interested in illustrating someone else's manuscript for a change, so I'm waiting for the offers to start pouring in.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I've been told my work has a certain balance of gentleness and fun.  It also has my name on it.

Why do I write what I write?

That depends on the project.  I wrote BABY PENGUINS EVERYWHERE and BABY PENGUINS LOVE THEIR MAMA to capture my experiences as a new mom before they got away from me.  I also love drawing baby penguins and the books gave me someplace to put them.

My hedgehog book is an attempt to get my sense of humor into a picture book, something I haven't succeeded at so far.  My sense of humor mostly comes out when I'm defacing Skymall catalogues.

How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

I go through the same steps as other picture book author-illustrators.  I write a story.  I make rough thumbnails.  I develop my characters visually in my sketchbook, where no one can laugh at me, and work on my color palette at the same time, sticking big blotches of color on the studio wall.  It sounds very active and methodical, but the truth is I spend a lot of time at the beginning just thinking.  It's like the log flume ride at Six Flags Great Adventure.  Once I go into the chute, things happen quickly, but it takes me a really long time to get into the chute.

That's me!

Next up on the blog tour...

Jen Corace lives much too far away from me, in Rhode Island.  She has illustrated lots of beautiful picture books including my niece's favorite, LITTLE PEA.  Jen's next project is TELEPHONE, by Mac Barnett. It comes out in September and I'm really excited to see it!

Bob Shea has no trouble making his books funny.  He wrote a book Holly loves called UNICORN THINKS HE'S PRETTY GREAT.  His next book is a collaboration with Lane Smith called KID SHERIFF AND THE TERRIBLE TOADS.  I'm super excited to see that, too.

If you want to see other stops on the tour so far, check out process posts by Mike Curato, Samantha Berger, Carin Berger, Elizabeth Rose StantonBen Clanton, and Jennifer K. Mann, or search for the #mywritingprocess hashtag on Twitter.

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This is a little unusual.  I invited Bob Shea to take part in the #mywritingprocess blog tour and he couldn't do it by himself, even though he's all grown up.  So I helped him, because that's what good friends do.  They help.  

Remember, this is going to be Bob talking.  If you don't like it, you might want to think about whether he's the one at fault.  If you do like it, you might want to consider whether you're actually responding to my awesome blogging.

BOB SHEA: Hello.

Melissa was kind enough to invite me to join this blog tour. Then she was like, “You have a blog, right?” and I was like, “Pffft, what kind of idiot do you take me for?”

I don’t have a blog.

I used to have a blog. Now I just mumble in Starbucks. I’ve increased my reach significantly.

Anyway, I tricked Melissa into thinking a bulb was out on my blog and maybe could she post my thing to hers. She fell for it. I doubt she’ll read this before she does, so keep your mouth shut one-person-that’s-reading-this.

So here we go. Just to warn you, it’s 3 a.m. as I write this. Maybe you could wait until then to read it. It’s probably better. And take off your glasses. And have a small window in the corner of your screen streaming Netflix.

What am I currently working on?

I just recently tricked someone into thinking I have a blog. It took most of the week. Tricking people is hard. Sometimes they are listening and not just nodding.


I am also working on an early reader series called BALLET CAT. It’s about a Cat who, get this — loves ballet. It’s all she thinks about. Ballet, ballet, ballet. It’s my first attempt at an early reader so I am pretty excited about it. That should pass though.

Also, I am finishing up a book written by a very funny author named Jory John. It’s very bold and graphic. The excitement for that one is not going away anytime soon.

There’s always a bunch of other things going on which sound great but are just things. A lot of my time is spent working on pitches or treatments or dummies which never go anywhere. It sounds impressive though and I always have something to say when my Dad calls.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Depends. Are you talking about the people I rip off? My work looks like they did it, but they had the flu really bad.

Other people, not sure.
 
My artwork is pretty graphic and bold. I try anyway. My writing is usually pretty absurd because that’s the type of thing I like.
 
 
Why do I write what I write?
 
Mostly to keep myself amused. That helps me judge if a story is working or not. I have a pretty strong sense of what’s funny and what’s forced in my own writing.
 
How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
 
I get up pretty early, not usually this early, but early, and work on something new. That’s always fun. I’ll sit and work out an idea in my head and write notes on not very special paper with a not very special pen.
 
Then I put that away and work on current projects during the day, always thinking about the other shiny, new thing I am excited about.
 
Then I get coffee and wonder why my studio is a mess.
 
I’ll usually overwrite. Too many jokes or long bits. I cull it down as I sketch the layouts. I used to write television promos. Those thirty second commercials that promote shows on a network. It really taught me to make points concisely.
 
Then I put it all together and make my next runaway smash hit book.
 
Thanks Melissa (as if she read this far) this was fun.
 

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