Lori Alexander is the author of picture books BACKHOE JOE (Harper, 2014) and FAMOUSLY PHOEBE (Sterling, 2017) as well as the FUTURE BABY board book series (Scholastic, 2019). She also writes non-fiction for older readers. ALL IN A DROP, a chapter book biography of scientist Antony van Leuwenhoek releases in fall 2019 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, followed by A SPORTING CHANCE, a biography of Ludwig Guttmann, the founder of the Paralympic Games, in 2020, also from HMH. Visit her at lorialexanderbooks.com and follow her on Twitter @LoriJAlexander.
Why I Became a Children's Book Author
I never though about writing as a career until I began reading stacks of picture books to my own children in the early 2000s. Click Clack Moo. Knuffle Bunny. Little Pea. They were so clever and so beautifully illustrated. I wanted to be part of that world! But I quickly shooed the writing bug away, assuming that you had to be an illustrator or know an illustrator to be published. When story ideas wouldn't leave me be, I began doing a bit of online research. To be traditionally published, all I needed was a well-crafted story. The publisher would take care of the rest. It would take me a few more years to learn my way around the business, write, revise, join a critique group, sign with an agent, face rejection, and repeat. But I'm so glad I stuck with it!
My favorite picture book was called Christina Katerina and the Box (by Patricia Lee Gauch). How I loved the main character and her wild imagination! She came up with the most glorious ideas for an empty refrigerator box. When the box became worn, or smashed in places, Christina Katerina would think of something even better. After the poor box gets soggy in the front yard, a lovely twist ending keeps the story going.
Walk the dog, head to the gym, watch a bit of TV with my kids, or simply take a day off from writing.
I still like to run ideas by my kids, especially my daughter who continues to love picture books, even though she's nearly a teen. But when I need real advice, I turn to various critique partners who know the business of writing for kids. When a manuscript feels close to ready, I share with my agent and hold my breath for her feedback :)
Any time I have a good idea! It's tough to sit behind a blank Word doc when I'm not feeling inspired. But fleshing out a clever idea to see if it has what it takes--so much fun!
Cooking, baking, exercise (because of the cooking/baking), watching my son's sporting events, volunteering at my kids' school, movies, travel...especially when beaches are involved.
Yes! I'm so excited about an upcoming board book series with Cartwheel, an imprint of Scholastic. The "Future Babies" series includes the titles Future Astronaut, Future Engineer, Future CEO, and Future President. Allison Black's illustrations are perfect for very young "readers." I also have two nonfiction chapter book biographies coming out with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The first is titled All in A Drop and tells the story of Antony van Leeuwenhoek, the first person to discover microscopic life (way back in the late 1600s). No one believed him at first, but he continued to make groundbreaking discoveries with microscopes of his own design for over 40 years. The second book is called A Sporting Chance. It tells the story of Ludwig Guttman, the Jewish neurosurgeon who escaped Nazi Germany for England, changed the standard of care for people with spinal injuries, and founded the Paralympic Games.