At this early stage in my artistic career, I'm often inspired by other artists and creatives who are doing their thing. I want to highlight some of them here and learn more about what inspires them and how they make it all work.
Sandy and I met in our local mom's group. Right from the start, she clearly was a person with a lot of energy that made things happen. (The first time at her house, I was blown away by the amount of projects she had completed). So it came as no surprise to me when I found out that Sandy had published her first book! She's the kind of person that brings ideas into reality on a daily basis. You can learn more about Sandy at her website and can find her book on Amazon.
Tell us first a bit about you and what you do.
I am first a wife and a mother of 2 (Charlotte, 5 and Matthew 2). My husband, my heart, Josh is a disabled Army veteran (left leg amputation below the knee). We met while I was raising money for injured men and women coming back from overseas with the Wounded Warrior Project/Soldier Ride, and he was at Walter Reed recovering. We fell in love and got married back in 08'. Charlotte came 09' and Matthew to follow. We have moved 5 times in that time and are now living in Stafford, VA where Josh got his current job as a System Safety Engineer. Aside from being a mom, I love to travel, garden, organize, and be crafty. Spending time with my family is always number one in my book. I am mostly at stay at home mom, running around with two kids, trying to maintain organization and peace. My other job (ha-ha), would be children's picture book author. In February of this year I had my first book, "HippoDuck Trouble at the Airport" published by Laredo Publishing.
When and how did you discover this outlet? Tell us about the shift from idea to action.
About 3 years ago, I discovered my daughter continually losing her stuffed animals (Hippo and Duck) to be a trying effort and almost another job. Every time we lost them, which was usually right before bedtime, she realized she could never sleep without them and we realized there needed to be duplicates. After almost losing them for good, or so we thought, I sat down with her and we talked about where she thought they went when they got lost. As frustrating as it was to lose them, the stories we were collectively coming up with were so fun. I needed to write them down. I knew nothing about picture book writing so I decided to take an online class. I used to work in a small theater for Julie Andrew's daughter (Emma Walton Hamilton) and she was offering a course of this nature as she had lots of experience from co-writing books with her mom. So 8 weeks later I finished the course with a better understanding about how to move forward (and an outline I had drawn up in class). I had a rough draft put together and then had my son Matthew, so it was all put down for awhile. I decided to pick it back up about a year ago (as we lost Hippo and Duck again). I went through the motions of changing the story, editing, and coming as close as I could to a final draft. After that was complete I started reading books and blogs on how to submit for publishing. After much knowledge, and a giant word and excel spreadsheet, I wrote my query letter and sent it out. After a few months, and LOTS of "No thank yous" I received a YES! And here we are today, a published author!
How do you manage your time and energy? How do you make your art a priority?
Managing time is tricky. As any mom knows with two small children you are always on the go. Our family lives in New York and Indiana so we travel a lot as well. I seem to be a quite high energy and positive person so if I don't get to it one day I know I will the next. I try to stay organized as best I can and I have note pads all over the house, in my purse, in the car...to write ideas down. Making writing a priority can be real hard, as being "mom" is a full time job...but with careful planning I can carve even a few minutes out of my day to write or be inspirited.
What struggles have you faced and how have you overcome those struggles?
The biggest struggle was going from one to two kids and moving at 8 1/2 months pregnant. I just didn't have the time. I knew I had a good idea but ran out of motivation for a bit. After doing the mom of two thing for a little and getting my bearings straight, when picking back up the book I felt a bit more "together" than before when I put it down. I now try to carve out sometime during each day to brainstorm. For me, that time could be in the car driving for 20 minutes, in the shower, or even folding laundry. I keep my notebooks handy and plentiful. Promoting my book is probably what I struggle with most right now because that lots of time...but that is another story.
Who or what inspires you?
My kids and their silly stuffed animals are what inspires me most. I have quite a good imagination so that helps too. Whatever I am writing about I mostly feel I need to be "in that place" in order to write (like the airport when I wrote, HippoDuck)
What impact does your work have on your children?
I think at first Charlotte wasn't that impressed. I read the book a hundred times to her trying to hear how it sounds out loud and she got bored. It just wasn't a big deal for her. A few weeks ago, while doing my book tour up in New York, I took her to one of my readings. I read to 7 second grade classes (150 kids) in the gym of a school. She sat in the audience captivated just as the others were and she became a celebrity in their eyes because she is in the book. Now, when we go somewhere and we meet new people, she always taps me on the shoulder and says, "Mom, tell them that you wrote a book". I love it! Matthew is too small to really understand right now. He just thinks that HippoDuck is his!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I have two mottos in life that have followed me through a lot. I am not afraid of the word "NO". I am not afraid of failure. You are going to hear it....so you might as well get used to it and expect it (especially in this business). BUT DON'T GIVE UP! Keep trying, stay positive, and who knows...you just might hear that YES...and then you have to be ready for the ride!
Such good advice! Don't be afraid of "NO" (that's a hard one!) Thanks, Sandy. Be sure to get your own copy of HippoDuck Trouble at the Airport here. Her website also has some fun coloring pages and other resources. Be sure to check it out too!