Hi Connie. We are so pleased to have you as one of the members of our community. Congratulations on your debut picture book, FROM A TO Z WITH ENERGY! You have such an interesting background in dance, and we love how you’ve incorporated that passion into your new book for kids. Thank you for answering these questions and giving us more insight into your creative process.
Where were you when inspiration struck for your story?
I was walking on a trail near my home. I had recently written a four-stanza action verse about the first four letters of the alphabet, and was going to submit it to Highlights along with some other verses. But as I was walking along, I thought, Why stop with D?
Once I opened that door, a lot of new ideas began to come to me. E is for the Energy you need to run and play! F is for the Fun you’ll have while moving every day!
These 26 stanzas eventually became my new picture book.
What other jobs or careers have you worked in prior to becoming an author?
I feel so fortunate to have had a long career in the field of dance. I went to Denison University and was one of that school’s first dance majors. I received my MFA degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I performed professionally for twelve years in the US and Latin America, and have been a dance teacher since I was a teaching assistant in both undergraduate and graduate school.
I began to format and compile my creative dance lesson plans to share with teachers of young children.This eventually became my first book: Dance, Turn, Hop, Learn! Enriching Movement Activities for Preschoolers, followed by a second one, One, Two, What Can I Do? Dance and Music for the Whole Day, both published by Redleaf Press. I also began to submit verses to Highlights and to write articles about movement for magazines and journals.
What other responsibilities or activities do you have as a writer?
I have been a presenter since I wrote my first book for teachers in 2006, offering workshops to teachers and others in the early childhood education community. In these presentations, I demonstrate ideas and techniques for bringing dance into the classroom for brain breaks, for lively and playful activities, and for teaching subjects and concepts through movement.
How did you get started writing for kids?
Writing picture books and other works for children is the result of a natural evolution. I often use rhymes, stories, and books in my dance classes to inspire children’s imaginations.
I wrote several verses and some stories in my two books for teachers, and continued to do so after I finished my second book. I began to wonder if some of them could be ideas for picture books.
I went to (and continue to attend) workshops, conferences, and online classes to learn about writing picture books; joined SCBWI, Authors Guild, and other organizations; and helped to form a critique group.
Once I changed my focus from writing for teachers to writing directly for children, I found my voice.
What’s your favorite thing about writing for kids?
Kids are my favorite people! I have spent so much wonderful time with my own children, with my grandchildren, and with the young students in my classes during my career as a dance teacher. I am always honored when I can enter a child’s world of imagination, and see things through his or her eyes.
I look forward to sharing From A to Z with Energy! with children, and together finding new ways to dance along to the story.
What would you like readers to know about you?
My favorite dance quote: There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them. (Vicki Baum)
I have created several flash mob dances!
I do a lot of traveling. I have children in three different parts of the US. Also, my husband and I have spent a lot of time in Latin America, we have friends there, and we try to travel to that area whenever we can.
I like to sew, and I love to read!