Today on the blog I’m really thrilled to welcome my first children’s author, Jessie Stevens!
Hi Jessie, tell me a bit about you and your latest work.
I’m a mother of three girls and an avid reader. My first book What If Butterflies Loved Snow? is a picture book with illustrations by Madhwai Kayara.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Nocturnal, stubborn and volatile, I’m basically a Great Horned Owl.
How would you Twitter pitch your novel?
Magical bedtime conversations are one of the best parts of parenting. Read What If Butterflies Loved Snow? and start your own cozy conversation. Whatifbutterflieslovedsnow.com #whatif #motherdaughter #picturebook #winterlove
What are your top 3 tips for aspiring writers?
– Be willing to change the plan.
-Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, they aren’t like you and that’s a great thing.
-Try to have patience, you’ll need it – for everything.
Are you a panster or plotter?
Please refer to the “be willing to change the plan” tip above. Panster.
What does success look like to you?
Never having to wake up before 8am. I have yet to achieve success but one can always dream.
How do you choose your character names?
They just show up in my head and introduce themselves. I’m not certain I have anything to do with it.
Do you ever Google yourself?
Not very often, that’s scary!
What do you do when you get stuck with your writing?
Eat chocolate chips, workout, walk the dogs, move firewood, practice handstands… essentially if chocolate doesn’t work I need to get up and move.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The first one took about three years and it’s only about 350 words. I’m hoping the second goes a smidge faster. But as Madhawi and I recently discussed, we aren’t minimalists. We are more like difficultiests, and then I looked up Latin names of birds that migrate from Wisconsin to Suriname to write on a chalkboard in a fairy geography classroom. And no, we won’t explain any of that in the book and no I don’t have any idea when we will be done.
What’s your main weakness as a writer eg. SPaG, continuity etc?
Primarily commas, whether grounded or in the air. My spelling is worse than my grammar but spell check does wonders for us spelling deficient folk. (FYI I spelled four of those words wrong first go around.)
What do you find hardest/easiest about writing?
The part of editing that takes me the longest is finding the right words. Not the right idea but just the perfect concise words to say it in. You don’t get any extra words in a picture book. Each one needs to be just right. I will pull out a draft, change a single word, put it back, wait a week and do the same thing again.
Describe your writing process in 3 words.
Brain-dump, re-write, re-write
What’s been your biggest learning curve?
The technology. I work with an amazing illustrator, Madhawi Karaya, who lives in the Netherlands. How do you save files, how do you send files, what format should they be in, how do you format a book, where is the best place to video chat, how do you not always have a dead phone everytime you need to talk to each other? I wasn’t un-techsavy when I started but oh the things we have learned!
Do you prefer pen and paper, or is everything on the computer?
I prefer typing because I can’t read my own handwriting and my pen can’t keep up with my brain as well as my typing fingers can. However, as soon as Madhawi and I start working together and page turning and illustrations come into play I have to print everything out and have a physical mock book to see what works and what doesn’t.
Who’s your favourite author and why?
And then the so called author turned into a gibbering fool who could only say words like. Uh… What? But… One? Errr…
What’s your favourite book?
I also won’t choose a favourite child, please don’t ask me to!
I’ll read almost anything but I always come back to YA Fantasy, (I call them the Oreo cookies of my book consumption world) and historical fiction as my long time favourites.
How do you relax?
I like to physically relax with a book but more often I need a bit of mental relaxation and then I like to workout, anything from weight lifting to playing capoeira depending on the day.
And now for some silly questions just for fun…
Tea or coffee?
Tea in large quantities all day.
Beer or wine?
Whiskey. Preferably Bourbon but I’m flexible within the whiskey family.
Chips or curly fries?
Puppies or kittens?
Puppies because they grown up to be loyal dogs, kittens grow up to be cats who are not so secretly or very politely trying to take over the world.
Summer or winter?
“Mama, what if butterflies loved snow.”
So begins a story of the conversation between little Liza and her mama. Cozy and imaginative, this beautiful debut book by Jessie Stevens is illustrated by the gifted and versatile Madhawi Karaya.
Mother and daughter snuggle in to talk about what would happen if those beautiful little creatures did in fact bring their color and cheer to the cold, white, winter world in a warm, whimsical chat that carries the two of them right up to dreamland.
Jessie Stevens is a reader who can’t stop writing. A one-time vegetable farmer and full time poultry rancher, Jessie started telling stories to stave off the insanity of motherhood. Regularly seen on her blog Behind The Willows, “What if Butterflies Loved Snow” is her first collaboration with Madhawi Karaya. She lives in an apple orchard near the village of Cambridge, Wisconsin
A portion of profits from the sale of every book is donated to The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund. They are an organization that provides seed mixes and works to help landowners plant habitat specifically tailored to bees and butterflies. More information about this can be found on: https://whatifbutterflieslovedsnow.com/books-for-bees/
I love the idea for this book! So if you have little ones to read to, you can buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/What-If-Butterflies-Loved-Snow/dp/194568190X/