How We Paired Up to Write a Children’s Book
by Stephanie Wallingford and Dawn Rynders
authors of A Day at the Lake
Our paths crossed in 2005 while we both worked for a children’s publishing company where we had the opportunity to help create a lot of really great books. When our professional worlds overlapped, our personal lives did, as well. We both had 3 children, we both loved shoes, and we both really appreciated good children’s books. While working together we had front row seats to the unveiling of sparkling new titles and the shuffling through many not so sparkling submissions to find those gems waiting to be discovered. We spent lots of time talking about books–what we liked, what we didn’t.
While promoting our new titles and planning for upcoming seasons we were often asked for children’s books about lakes. We were surprised by the lack of “Lake Books” here in the Midwest where our landscape is speckled with bodies of water. Before we knew it we had decided to take our own writing experience, along with our childhood lake experiences, and write a book. From there the writing began– mostly over skim lattes at a neighborhood coffee shop. As we both moved on to other positions outside of publishing our friendship and writing continued, and we have plans to write several more books together.
You might wonder why you would decide to write a children’s book with two people. Why not just dive into it single-handedly. We both have done some of that on our own, but one of the best parts of working on a project with two people is the accountability to stay on a project and also having access to an instant editor.
What is our writing process like? Typically we get together for a brainstorming session, which includes everything from constructing couplets (some that are complete jokes) to structuring an entire book and noting illustration ideas. Then we work on our own to refine, improve, add and remove from the work we did together. Through lots of back and forth, a book begins to take shape, and then it is much easier to see what works, what slows the story (or characters) down, and what moves it forward.
The benefits of writing with a great partner are many. First of all, it’s a lot more fun! We laugh a lot. We catch up with each other and enjoy time spent with each other and the time spent writing. Eventually we do get down to working and having the immediate feedback and reality checks keep us from getting too far away from the goal of a project. You also have a built-in support system to share the hopes, concerns, goals, expectations and disappointments with as you go through the publishing process. The drawbacks are that it is hard to find time to get together! We both have busy lives with lots of activities and interests, and it is much harder to find time to work together than it is to sit down and write on my own.
Writing as a pair takes compromise, trust, willingness to listen, and the ability to share equally in the creative process. If you can do that, then that’s all it takes to put something you really love on paper!
About the Authors
Stephanie Wallingford was born in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1974 and lived in Maryland and Kansas before heading north to settle in Minneapolis, MN. Inspired by a family full of creativity and humor, Wallingford grew up writing poems, singing, playing the piano, and making messes with art supplies and scotch tape. Wallingford first majored in English and completed her coursework with a degree in Business Administration.
Wallingford lives in picturesque Minnetonka, Minnesota, with the love of her life and has three children, Allegra, Anissa and Aidan. Through years of reading with them and making up her own bedtime stories and songs, she began to write children’s manuscripts. A Day at the Lake is her first published work. In addition to writing, she enjoys trend spotting and reading about fashion, nutrition, technology and business and is an avid yoga practitioner and enthusiast.
Dawn Rynders has been a children’s literature enthusiast for most of her life. First, reading books as a child, next as a student studying them, then as a parent spending hours reading to her children, and finally as an author writing children’s literature. Dawn’s quaint childhood was filled with tagging along after her parents on the farm, riding her elderly Shetland pony, Trigger, and well-loved afternoons at the lake with her grandmother—all great subject matters for her writing.
After receiving her BA in creative writing at Dordt College, Sioux Center, IA, Dawn moved to Minneapolis, MN. There, tucked between the shores of Lake Minnewashta and Lake Minnetonka, she and her husband Eric raise and enjoy their three children, Henry, Beatrice, and Simon.
Erica Pelton Villnave’s involvement in children’s literature began at The Maryland Institute College of Art where she studied illustration. She loved the idea of using her artwork as a form of communication and to promote literacy among children. There are certain books that children cherish for a lifetime. As an illustrator, Erica is interested in creating picture books that will attract such interest and inspiration. Erica shares her home in upstate New York with her husband, her one year old son, two cats and two very large dogs. When she isn’t working on an illustration Erica enjoys working on other craft projects like painting furniture and sewing. She also loves exploring the outdoors, gardening and taking long road trips to places she has never been before.
A Day at the Lake will be reviewed by Kid Lit Reviews on March 30th. Click HERE!
Print: 978-1-938063-03-9 eBook: 978-1-938063-04-6
Join A Day at the Lake’s Blog Tour from Scarletta Press
Our newest picture book, A Day at the Lake, is going on tour! Well, a blog tour that is. The book follows three children as they explore the many wonderful things about spending a day at the lake, and with the winter we’re having, some fun in the sun is just what we all need! The book will release this Wednesday, but the tour will start on Friday. Until then, here’s a sneak peek at where we’re heading:
Friday, March 22:
We’re starting out the blog tour right here! We’ll be posting an interview with authors Steph and Dawn.
Saturday, March 23:
Bloggin Bout Books will have a review of the book!
Monday, March 25:
Kid Lit Reviews will be featuring a guest post by Steph and Dawn! Ever wonder what it’s like to write as a pair? This guest post will give you some insights.
Tuesday, March 26:
The Family That Reads Together will have a review!
Wednesday, March 27:
Colby Sharp on Sharpread will be featuring an interview with Steph and Dawn. This isn’t your typical interview though. His 4th grade class will be reading the book and coming up with the questions that they would like the authors to answer. How fun!
Friday, March 29: A Day of Giveaways!
Chat with Vera will have a review, and also a chance to win a copy of the book!
There’s a Book will also have a review and giveaway!
Saturday, March 30:
Head back to Kid Lit Reviews to read the review of the book!
We hope you enjoy the tour!