Thursday, May 2, 2013

Author Spotlight: Jodi Stone

Today we have the wonderfully talented and super sweet author/illustrator Jodi Stone! I'm so excited because her illustrations are beyond adorable. She has such a unique style - her drawings are sure to brighten your day!  Jodi was kind enough to let me interview her, and it was so great having a chance to learn more about her...

Welcome Jodi! Tell us about your newest book:

My current book release is An Easter Bonnet for Lily.  It is about a young girl named Savannah.  Savannah loves holidays, and Easter just so happens to be her favorite.  Yet on this Easter day, Savannah is feeling a little sad because everyone is too busy.  Her family is wrapped up in preparing for the upcoming Easter festivities, and Savannah feels left out.  Across town, in the magical land of Tulip, Easter bunny Lily is also having a tough day.  She is feeling awful because her ears get in the way of everything she tries to do.  When Lily and Savannah's paths cross, unexpected friendships are formed and lessons learned about the beauty of life and love.  

I had a chance to read it, and I really enjoyed it.  What inspired you to write this book?
I was actually inspired during the Fall of 2012 during the Christmas holiday preparations.  I love the holidays, and am an avid party planner.  I was thinking how quickly the holidays passed, and suddenly watching my three girls decorating a gingerbread house inspired me.  All I could think was how special family time is at the holidays, and that I shouldn't feel sad when Christmas was over, as Easter would be fast approaching.  

Are you working on anything new?
I am working on several projects.  I am under contract for two more releases through Anchor Group later this year.  I have a Halloween book and a Christmas book coming out in the Fall.  The stories are complete, so now I am focusing on the illustrations.  I am also working on extending a short story into a children's book and will work on those illustrations as well.

You are busy! Have you always loved to write? When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It is hard to actually call myself a writer.  I still feel humbled when someone wants to read my work.  I suppose I started truly writing though after I married.  I was young, 22 years old and left home for the first time.  Feeling overwhelmed, I needed a channel for my thoughts.  Thus, the gift of writing appeared and I haven't looked back.  My first children's story, however was not written until after my first daughter was three years old. She was having a birthday party, and I thought it would be amazing to read a story to her and her friends that involved her as the character.  She loved it, and my love of writing for children began.  I still have that story.

I'm sure you will both treasure that story always! When and how do you find time to write in your daily life?
That's a tough one.  I write whenever inspiration hits.  Sometimes I will write at night after my kids are tucked safely in bed.  Sometimes I will write a sentence or two in my journal that might or might not inspire a story.  Sometimes I will draw an illustration first, and the story will follow.

Any advice to aspiring writers?
Stick with it.  All writers were "aspiring" at some point.  I still have rejection letters.  I'm not sure why I kept them, but maybe it is a silent motivator to prove to myself that you can do anything you put your heart and mind to.  

Yes - we all need that little extra reminder now and again. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I must write everything on paper first.  Not the entire story, but I must use pen and paper.  Old fashioned, maybe but for some reason, writing first helps my process along.

Pen & paper? What's that? ;) Who are your favorite characters you have written? 
For me, this answer comes easily, because in every book I've written my three daughters are the characters.  I switch around who the main character is, but they all appear at some point.  My daughters are Brooke, Alexis and Savannah and I did not change their character names.  My girls love that they are in books!  They are in all of my books, but my two most recent publications are through Anchor Group Publishing and are entitled, 'An Easter Bonnet for Lily' and 'Savannah's Story'.

Do you use a pen name, do you use your own, or is your work out in both ways?
I write under my given name, Jodi Stone.  I worked a long time to get to the point of actually becoming a published author and illustrator.  I want to shout my name to the world!  

Yes! Shout it out!! Is there a writer you would love to co-write a book with?
I have had fun writing short stories with a couple of authors that are also with Anchor Group, but I don't know about co-writing a book.  I suppose anything is possible.  I am a huge believer of endless possibilities.

Do people judge a book by its cover?  Who makes yours?
I think maybe, sometimes they do.  I always look at the cover before the interest to pick up a book hits.  I make my own covers, as I illustrate all of my own books, so I do focus a lot of attention to the covers.

Your covers are fabulous! What is your greatest challenge as an author? 
My greatest challenge is fear.  I am always afraid that when I write a book that it might be my last.  I would love to have a career for a lifetime as an author, but there is always that fear that the stories will stop coming.  I am blessed to call myself an author, and I pray that continues.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
That would be the letters I received from a school where I spoke.  I received letters from several of the students that were so beautiful, and some that told me I was an inspiration.  

I have to agree with you there. Hearing from readers is the best part of this writing journey. What is the best advice any one has ever given you?
My mom always gave the best advice.  When I was going to college, I felt as if though I would never graduate.  I love being a mother and wife, but I always knew I wanted something I could call my own.  One day, I was talking to my mom and she told me, "school will be there no matter what age you are.  You will get there if you continue on this path.  But if you stray from that path you will not get there.  Same with your writing.  You will become an author as you dream, but only if you keep trying and working at it."
I have never forgotten her words.  I know she would be so proud.

Indeed - great words to live by! Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Absolutely!  My children are a part of me, and I try desperately to hold onto the magic they feel in my own heart.  I think everyone should believe in magic, no matter what the age.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An interior designer.  Which is funny because I couldn't keep my room clean as a child, yet I thought I wanted to design others' rooms.  I loved to decorate though, and still do.

Well I wanted to be Marie Osmond and I can't sing lol! Who is your favorite super hero and why?
Iron man.  I love that someone with a weak heart proves himself strong and couragous.  We should all realize our weaknesses yet work on our strengths to improve.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a dollhouse builder.  This might sound funny, but I love dollhouses.  I have three at home that I've built myself, and a fourth I'm working on.  I am also addicted to party planning and chapstick.  Lol.

Wow - I need some of your energy!! Cats or dogs.
Dogs.  Most definitely.  I like other people's cats, but my two dogs are a part of the family.

Pc or Mac?

Coffee or tea?
Both.  Coffee in the morning, and tea for tea parties with my girls.

Can I come to a tea party with your girls? What is one thing you could not live without?
Just one?  Chapstick.  No, chocolate.

Do you have any hobbies?
I have several...the dollhouse building I mentioned; reading; movies; going to the theatre as much as possible; and finding any excuse for a party to hang with family and friends.

If you could have a super power what would it be?
I would have a magic wand.  Perhaps that's not a super power, but it would be a sense of power.

If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
Jane Austen.  My mama and I read her books together, and ever since the first read of Pride and Prejudice, I fell in love with that time period when she was alive.  I would love to walk in her shoes and see how and where she found her inspiration.  Yet, I would only want that for a day because they did not have running water, and for a hot bath I cannot do without.

Or the Internet! So yes, I think one day would be plenty for me as well. Anything additional you want to share:

I am a huge believer of magic.  I believe in God and family and friends and the comfort they all bring.  I am a believer in dreams.  If you follow yours, you never know where they will lead.  I believe in fairies, and pixie dust because they make me smile.  And I believe life is a gift, one we should treasure always.
I also create paper dolls and greeting cards that are illustrated by myself.  I often give them away as swag and with giveaways.  Those will be found on my facebook page (link below).

Thank you for taking a little time to get to know who I am!  There are a few links to my sites:  
I have two books as of right now through Anchor Group Publishing with more to come...

I also have several books out through Solstice Publishing:

I have a short story also  in the Anchor Group Anthology, 'Unhappily Ever After'

Thank you Jodi!! It was so nice to have to here today!

About Jodi Stone:

  I am a published author and illustrator with Anchor Group Publishing.  I also have published books through Solstice Publishing.  So far, I have published seven children's books and two more are set to be published later this year with Anchor Group.  I illustrate greeting cards and paper dolls as well, and love every minute of it.
  I recently graduated from the University of South Florida (December, 2012) with a Bachelor's Degree in English/Creative writing.  I am planning on using my degree to teach, and hope to be working on my Master's soon.  
  My family and I have established libraries in six local dialysis clinics where we have raised over three thousand books in the past four years.  The library was established in honor of my late mama, who passed away in February of 2008, and was on dialysis.  
  I love many things:  my family, my friends, and writing is a huge part of who I am.  



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