It all started with an idea for an article. Then, Connie Dow took her idea and turned it into a picture book that helps kids move more. And now it’s officially out as her debut picture book!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Connie about her journey to publishing and what insight she had for other aspiring authors.
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From A to Z on Writing with Debut Author Connie Dow:
1. Your debut picture book, From A to Z with Energy, is officially out. Congratulations on the release! Tell us a little bit about the book?
For the last several years, I have written several verses for the picture book age group at Highlights magazines. That’s how A to Z with Energy! got started, too.
Originally, it was a four stanza verse from A to D about inspiring children to be active, that I planned to submit. Then, my ideas began to expand into the rest of the alphabet.
I challenged myself to think of an activity or an idea about a movement for every letter of the alphabet. More ideas came to me right away: E is for the Energy you need to run and play! F is for the Fun you’ll have while moving every day! And it continued until I got to Z.
2. Where did your inspiration come from for this book?
I have had a long career in dance and dance education. Many times in a classroom of young children, I have used books, stories, and songs to jumpstart children’s imaginations and prompt them to explore ideas through movement.
At first, I began to make up stories and write my own verses as a way to spark children’s creativity. Most of the things I have written and published center around this same theme of inspiring children to move and be active.
3. Walk us through the process you went through from idea to publication:
I searched for a publisher who might have an interest in a story about dance and creativity. That’s how I came across Free Spirit Publishing. They have a particular interest in social-emotional learning for the books
For a long time, I have touted the benefits of dance either through workshops for teachers, on my blog, and anywhere else people will listen! In my proposal to Free Spirit, along with my story, I described the natural synthesis of dance and social-emotional learning (SEL). There are so many connections!
By its very nature, creative dance (also called creative movement) stimulates imaginative movement exploration. Dance activities can also help children learn group cooperation, self-awareness, self-expression, body awareness, problem-solving, delayed gratification, working toward goals, impulse control . . . and the list goes on!
Free Spirit contacted me and said they were interested in the story I originally submitted to them, which is about a little boy who doesn’t want to join in the dance activity in his classroom. They asked me if I had any other stories they might look at.
I sent them several more manuscripts, and they chose the one that has become From A to Z with Energy! The book has a supplemental section for parents and teachers. I talk about the SEL benefits of movement, and list ten activities to enhance the story, as well as, get children up and moving.
4. Are you agented? If not yet, do you plan to be?
I do not have an agent yet. However, I might consider one in the future.
5. Do you have any new books in the works?
I have several new picture book ideas, both in prose and verse, that I am working on.
Recently, I came upon a wonderful true story, through the friend of a friend. It is about a Border Collie who was born in
The collie now lives in Indiana and works as a Therapy Dog. She also became a Certified Child Advocate. This makes her the first dog in two counties in Indiana to be officially certified in this role! They even held her an official ceremony at the courthouse–She sealed the agreement with her paw print. 😉
I love dogs and am enjoying writing about this clever dog, who brings comfort to people of all ages.
6. What’s the most challenging part of publishing?
WAITING! The submission process is slow.
Once I am lucky enough to have a publisher for my story, it is generally another two years from contract to publication. But I’m not complaining! I am thrilled to have this picture book come to fruition.
7. What was the biggest obstacle you ran into?
I had written two non-fiction books for teachers all about bringing dance into the classroom. However, when I started to have ideas for picture books, I needed to learn all about the genre.
First, I joined SCBWI. Then I began to attend workshops and writing conferences. I also read lots and lots of picture books, entered writing contests, and helped
It is a process that continues, and the more I learn, the more excited I am about writing for the younger market.
8. What was your favorite part of the process?
I was so excited to see my words come to life through the illustrations. I wanted the pictures to show movement, energy, color, and have it be playful and fun.
Much to my good fortune, Free Spirit chose the incredibly talented, Gareth Llewhellin, as the illustrator. His work exceeded my expectations. The book is bursting with color, energy, and movement!
9. What was one thing you learned?
I have always been inspired by children, their imaginations, and seeing the world through their eyes. Once I began writing, I found a voice that directly connected to young children.
10. What would be your best advice for someone hoping to get their book published?
One incredibly valuable (and free!) resource is other authors.
A critique group is essential, as are meetings and networking. There are a lot of online groups that are communities built around different aspects of writing — fiction, nonfiction, query letters, the submission process, picture books, middle grade, etc.
Writers are very generous with advice and help. It is wonderful to find a community while doing what is ultimately a solo venture: sitting at your desk and writing!
Thank you so much to Connie Dow for sharing her publishing journey with us! It was very helpful to learn the process it took to publish a book that is not only
You can now order From A to Z with Energy by Connie Dow online. Once you’ve purchased the book, be sure to get moving! Also, check out Connie’s website: www.movingislearning.com, for more
And for more writing tips, check out these articles:
- Interview with Debut Picture Book Author Rochelle Groskreutz
- The Importance of Finding Writing Groups
- Why All Writers Need to be Reading