Featured Blogger: Elizabeth O. Dulemba

This month’s featured blogger was nominated by Vicky. Who says, “I nominate Elizabeth O. Dulemba. She has consistently featured kidlit authors and illustrators, as well as kidlit books, for many years. As an author/illustrator herself, she also provides many articles, links, and resources for those involved in the kidlit community.” Happily, Elizabeth was willing to answer a few questions about her work and her blog.

Tell us a bit about you and your blog.
I’ve been blogging since 2005. I knew the best way to draw followers would be blog consistently, so I started out participating in Illustration Friday – a new illustration each week. On the other days, I blogged about book signings and events, struggles and trials in my writing. A few years later, I added “Coloring Page Tuesdays.” I chose Tuesday to balance posting on Fridays. Six years later, it ended up being one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. The emails I receive from loyal followers have brought me great joy in this crazy business of highs and lows, and thousands of followers to my weekly newsletter – one of the best, unintended marketing moves I could have ever made. A few years ago, I also started hosting interviews, guest posts and giveaways with fellow authors and illustrators (on Thursdays and Saturdays to spread it all out). It’s been a wonderful way to stay on top of new releases and celebrate friends’ successes. And now my blog will be changing yet again as my husband and I move to Scotland, where I will be pursuing an MFA in Illustration at the University of Edinburgh. We’ll see what my blog becomes during this new adventure!

Why did you start blogging?
I’ve always kept diaries, so a blog was a natural evolution of documenting memorable events in my life. I’m especially glad I tracked my growth in this crazy children’s book industry. It helps to remember my mindset when I first began, to remind me how far I’ve come.

You’re an illustrator. Can you tell us a bit about how you come up with ideas for your books?
I’m actually an illustrator/author – my first novel came out in May (A Bird on Water Street)! I tell people that storytelling muscles are a lot like any other muscle – the more you work them, the stronger they get. So my issue hasn’t been so much where do I find ideas as how can I get them all down in one lifetime!? There aren’t enough hours in the day! I dream stories. I draw characters that need stories. I hear phrases that inspire stories. I connect strange ideas that lead to stories. They come from everywhere!

You also do apps! (I’m impressed.) What’s the difference between writing a book and designing an app?
I jumped into apps when they first began. Lula’s Brew was one of the first children’s book apps ever available. As a result, it was featured in the Apple app store for months and was downloaded over 10,000 times! One page ahead in the manual, I spoke about apps at conferences, was referred to as an ‘expert,’ and as a result, I kept a close eye on where I thought their future might lie. Soon, the field was flooded with apps, yet the searchability of them did not improve. I’ve since concluded that apps are simply a different sort of product, and that when most children hold electronic devices, they want to play games, not read. Books are still the best convertor of stories to my mind and still my first and strongest passion. (And Lula’s Brew is now a book!)

What’s the best kidlit/Middle Grade/YA/Teen book you’ve read this year?
Oh gosh – that’s a hard question! I’ve read some great books this year (mostly mid-grade)! THE WITCH’S BOY by Kelly Barnhill stands out, as does Deborah Wiles’ REVOLUTION. THE NIGHT GARDENER needs to be made into a movie! I’ve enjoyed the heck out of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle. But I’ve so many more left to read that I’m eager to get to! What a wealth of choices!

Thank you, Elizabeth! And be sure to check out her blog.