Welcome to my book blog. For this Q & A, please welcome the talented author Connie Dow. She published her book, From A to Z with Energy with Free Spirit Publishing. She explains her journey below. Connie is generously giving away a FREE copy of her book.
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Can you describe the journey to publication for this book?
I had written a poem about being active that was four stanzas long, for the letters A through D. While I was editing it, I thought about expanding it. That led me to a lot more ideas, and before I knew it, I had a picture book manuscript.
I started researching publishers that might be interested in a story that would inspire children to be active. Dance has many benefits, and also addresses many social-emotional learning (SEL) concepts, such as problem-solving, impulse control, and creativity. I came across Free Spirit Publishing and submitted to them. They were interested in the ways I tied dance/movement activities to SEL and also early literacy skills. There is a guide for parents and teachers at the end of the book about the benefits of dance, plus ten extra movement activities.
Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
My background as a dancer, my long career in dance education, and the many children I have taught and know are often the inspiration for my stories, and that is the case with this book.
Please share some of your writing process.
I start with an idea, and think about whether I want to try the idea out in prose or rhyme. Once I have a rough draft of a story, I embark upon the long process of editing, sharing it with my critique partners, and getting it ready to submit.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Wanting to be a writer and wanting to share ideas about teaching movement happened simultaneously. I had been teaching creative dance for many years. I had saved many of my lesson plans, and wanted to compile them into a book to share with teachers. I submitted the manuscript to Redleaf Press, and they offered me a contract for a book, and then eventually a second book. In addition to ideas for integrating movement into the classroom, the books also include information about the benefits of movement, ideas for classroom management, and modifying movement to include all children in the activities.
Where do you see your career headed? Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?
I love writing for children. I have many other manuscripts I am working on, and I am venturing into narrative nonfiction with a true story about a dog who works with children as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Indiana!
Please share your favourite kidlit books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts. Pick one classic and one contemporary book. What is it about them that moved you?
I love books that show the endless possibilities of the creative process. One classic that I love is Harold and the Purple Crayon, written and illustrated by Crockett Johnson. This simple, lovely book shows that a child can go anywhere with just his crayon and his imagination. I have used it many times in my dance classes with children as an inspiration for exploring movement.
The more recent book What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom is a beautiful treatise on how we should see our ideas as special, to be tended and cared for, and that they can ultimately go in many different directions. I love to think of young children hearing that message and treasuring and nurturing their own ideas.
What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers?
One incredibly valuable resource is fellow writers, who are very generous with their help and support. Connecting with other writers is a way to be a part of a community, even though you are spending much of your time alone at your desk!
And a bonus Q- If you could be any flavour of ice cream, which one would you be and why?
Definitely coffee. It is my favorite ice cream flavor, and I associate coffee with positive energy and rich yumminess!
I began dancing when I was very young, and have been dancing ever since. After attending Denison University, and then earning an MFA degree from the University of Michigan, I danced professionally in the US, Venezuela, and Guatemala. During my long career as a dance educator, I have taught three-year-olds having their first dance experience, to senior adults in wheelchairs, and every age in between. In addition to my picture book From A to Z with Energy! (Free Spirit Publishing, 2019), I have written two books for teachers, Dance, Turn, Hop, Learn! Enriching Movement Activities for Preschoolers, and One, Two, What Can I Do? Dance and Music for the Whole Day (both published by Redleaf Press, 2006 and 2011). I also write articles for magazines and journals, and verses for Highlights magazines.
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