Celebrating Darcy Pattison’s Random Acts of publicity, I have interviews this week with authors and an illustrator-author. My first is Samantha Bell.
Samantha has illustrated:
Cathy’s Animal Garden: Enter at Your Own Risk (Alma Little)
Cinderfella and the Furry Godmother (Guardian Angel Publishing)
Burgher and the WoeBeGone (GA Publishing)
As I Watch (GA)
Growing Up Dreams (GA)
One Pelican at a Time (GA)
Shaping Up the Year (GA)
Samantha has written & Illustrated:
It’s Birthday Time, Jake! (GA)
Sandy: Where do you get your inspiration for your illustrations?
Samantha: My inspiration would have to be my children. They’ve posed for me for several books, and they’re always in my thoughts while I’m
working on a story. I think about how they might act or react as I’m drawing the characters, and I consider what they would enjoy looking at in a finished picture book. After I complete a sketch, I ask them to critique it, and they’ll tell me if they think something appears “off” or doesn’t look quite right. I’d like to say they’re my biggest fans, but, truth be told, they’re my best critics! 🙂
Sandy: As a wife and homeschooler of four children, how do you balance in writing and illustrating?
Samantha: Not very well. But I think that’s true for any mom with children at home. When I work on a project, I feel I need at least a
couple hours of quiet to get in the “creative mode” and work effectively, but uninterrupted time is often hard to come by. Instead, I have to find an hour here or a half-hour there whenever I can, usually after most of the kids have gone to bed. But when I’m really crunched with a deadline, I send everyone off for the day with my husband; they have a good time with dad, and I get some things accomplished.
Sandy: For today’s writers/illustrators, creativity is only part of the game. Can you address some things you have done on the business side (marketing, publicity, booksignings, etc.)?
Samantha: How true! The business side is something every writer and illustrator needs to learn about, and one I’m still becoming acquainted with. I’m not a salesman, so marketing is not my forte, though with the abundance of traditional books, self-published books, and
e-books, it needs to be something I can do well. Social marketing offers great opportunities; I just tweeted my first tweet on Twitter this month; I’m still learning all the ins and outs of that venue. And while I have a personal Facebook account, I also need to utilize it a lot more too. But I do enjoy teaching, so I’ve created a workshop for kids about how picture books are made, beginning with the author writing the story all the way to the final publication. I’ve presented it both as a library program and homeschooling program, and I’ve been asked to do it at a local school as well. Opportunities like that not only help promote my books, but they allow me to share my passion with the students and hopefully stir their passion, too.
Sandy: Where is your favorite place to be creative?
Samantha: I love being outdoors, and while that works for sketching, it’s not always easy for me to set up a place to paint outside. So in our home, I have a small room with two large windows that used to be the baby’s room (he’s seven now), and it’s full of my stuff. Some of my favorite things are on the walls; I have a clock that my oldest made when he was about four years old, some of the crafts my kids did over the years, a photo collage of our immediate family that my niece made for me, and my late dad’s architectural and engineering certificates. I also have the homemade cards my kids have made for me strung across the windows in lieu of valances. I have a bulletin board for reminders, three small bookshelves, a couple filing cabinets, a metal cabinet (featuring my kids artwork) to hold art supplies, a chair, a radio/CD player, a laptop, and two tables to work on, one being my dad’s drafting table. Really, it’s a small room — I have just enough room to turn around and take a few steps, but I love it!
Sandy: What three recommendations do you have for other writers/illustrators?
1. Learn, learn, learn! There are so many writers/illustrators who are willing to share what they know to help you succeed. Get connected at
conferences, workshops, online forums — and ask questions! Learn from those who are where you want to be, and find out how they got there.
2. Practice, practice, practice! As with anything you want to do well, writing and illustrating take practice. And the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
3. Don’t give up! It may take a lot of submissions and you may meet with a lot of rejections, but keep on trying. My kids and I looked up some quotes about failure when one of them wanted to give up, and here are two of our favorites:”Life’s real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up.” – Anonymous
“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” – Benjamin Franklin. 🙂
You can find Samantha at: