PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about yourself.
Tina: I was that child that LOVED to write stories on paper (yes, on paper), draw pictures, hole punch them, tie with string and yarn, and read to the younger kids in my neighborhood. The crinkling sound of the pages was my favorite sound in the world and still is! I even made paper doll characters to act out the scenes. This was a huge door opener into babysitting and eventually teaching. My favorite books were series books, The Little House and Nancy Drew series were my favorites. Peter Pan was my favorite fairy tale. When we saw the former Olympic gymnast, Kathy Rigby, play Peter Pan in a live show, I thought I met the real deal. I was young enough that it left a lasting impression on me. Chocolate is a part of my daily diet, especially when trying to write! I make no excuses for this habit, lol!
PictureBookBuzz: What inspired your book, WALKOUT?
Tina: WALKOUT is one of two stories I wrote within two weeks following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Parkland, Florida. As a teacher facing students every day, I was struck with such sadness that kids today are not able to grow up in the carefree, safe settings I did as child of the 70s. With so much in the news these last several years regarding school shootings, I thought there had to be a way to let children know that you can be a leader without being violent or hurtful, verbally or physically. I also thought for young children, this must be such a scary and confusing time. They need to know help will arrive and there will be trained adults to help them to safety.
PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about your main character.
Tina: Maddie is a girl with heart and determination. She wants to advocate for anti-school violence when the principal announces their school would not be participating. She does this not to be disrespectful but to make a point that she and her friends can try to help a good cause. It is her compassion and empathy that drives her to include her friends in this adventure, especially her friend Stella.
PictureBookBuzz: What are you currently working on?
Tina: I am currently working on other picture book manuscripts and a chapter book or middle grade novel. I am in the drafting phase and not sure yet which way it will go. I find the stories have a common thread which is to inspire children to be the best person they can be by being themselves, including others, and standing up for what you believe in.
PictureBookBuzz: If you could give advice to writers who haven’t published yet, or an earlier version of yourself, what would you want to share?
Tina: All of my advice is from other wonderful authors I have met in the Kid Lit community. Take your journey one day at a time. Always ask questions, network with other writers, take classes, become involved in writing and critique groups, and help others as much as they help you. A writer cannot become a writer alone, it is through consistent work on his/her craft and working with other writers that one learns and grows!
PictureBookBuzz: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
We are a group of picture book authors and illustrators whose first picture books will be released in 2019. Read about our roads to publication here.