You know those picture books you just fall in love with from the start? The ones with beautiful writing with lush illustrations? That’s Debra’s book. From day one, I knew Debra was destined for greatness. With writing like that, how can she not be? I’m just thankful she let me come along for the ride.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
I try to write or revise something every day, even if it’s just a few words. I do get most of my writing done at home in my “writing nook” when my boys are at school, but on many days I’m surprised at what I can get done squeezing in a few minutes here and there, waiting in line at car pool, while dinner is cooking, etc.
What do you love about writing picture books?
I love the challenge of writing an entire story in just a few hundred words. I love the rhythm and art of picture books and the idea that some day a child will sit in the lap of an adult and share the world created by my words and the art that an illustrator created to go with them. And I love writing all different types of picture books – fiction and nonfiction, lyrical, funny, and sweet. I never, ever get bored writing them.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
Because I love reading them so much—my youngest son is 11 but I still check out 5 – 10 picture books from the library every week. They are the perfect package of words and art and I can’t imagine ever NOT reading them. And hopefully some day I will have one (or many) that others will read!
What is the hardest part about writing picture books?
Writing an entire story in just a few hundred words. Leaving room for the illustrator to create the art for those words in even better ways than I can picture in my mind.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
I love to be outside taking walks, riding bike, or in my garden. And of course, just hanging out with my family.
Do you belong to any writing organizations?
Definitely SCBWI. I also belong to many Facebook KidLit groups. Both the SCBWI message boards and the Facebook groups have been an invaluable resource and community. I am so grateful the Internet exists to give me that community since writing can be such a solo endeavor!
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
My website is www.debrashumaker.com. I am also on Twitter with @ShumakerDebra. In addition, I co-host the #PBPitch party on Twitter three times a year. Check out its website at www.pbpitch.com.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
In the winter—a log cabin in the mountains somewhere with big windows to watch the snowfall. In the summer— a cottage with the ocean or a lake outside my window.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
My Mom’s favorite saying to me and my sisters while we were growing up was “Patience is a virtue.” Though that saying was not written for writers, it is a phrase I tell my self over and over again because the publishing industry is SO slow!
Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board? If so, what’s on them?
I listen to classical music when I write – I can’t have other words in my head fighting the ones I need to write. But a few days a week I listen to our Team Nat song “Legendary” to get my blood pumping before I sit down and write!
Drink of choice when writing? When not writing?
Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon when writing. A nice glass of wine in the evening is always nice!
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
Having a partner in my journey to be published. I love Natascha’s drive to help her authors and illustrators find success.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Keep writing, keep revising, and keep working on craft. Develop thick skin and hang on tight—it’s a tough and bumpy ride. I queried agents on and off for six years with eleven different picture book manuscripts before Natascha said “Yes.”