Jodi Moore, part II

Jodi won an award! Dragon wants to take all the credit.

Jodi won an award! Dragon wants to take all the credit.

Here is the second part of: Interview with a Dragon Trainer!  I mean, Author of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN, Jodi Moore.  You can find the first part of the interview here.

Interview with Jodi Moore, Part 1

Here is Part 2 of her interview. The members of the study group submitted the questions before the interview.


FUN TIDBIT: Jodi has a dragon that she takes with her, I think everywhere! 🙂

Dragon really does go everywhere.

Dragon really does go everywhere.

One question everyone wants to know is:

Who made the dragon?

Jodi Moore  My son Steve made the dragon for me. He has a BFA in Musical Theatre and learned some techniques in puppetry and “masking” classes. Isn’t Dragon beautiful? I’m such a lucky mom! 🙂


We thank Jodi's son Steve for being so awesome and creative!

We thank Jodi’s son Steve for being so awesome and creative!



Did you have any struggles/issues with the “long” beginning of the story – with not starting the conflict until almost halfway through? I loved it, but we have all been told not to do this.

Jodi Moore  Joanne, your question was the toughest one for me! I have to admit I never thought about this with respect to DRAGON. I just told the story that needed to be told. While I agree that it’s important to address the conflict before too much time passes within any story, I also feel it’s essential to build the foundation of why it should matter, of why we should care. With DRAGON, I want the readers to see the joyous relationship between the boy and his new friend. That increases the stakes (the tension) so much more when no one believes him.



How many illustration notes were included when you submitted to editors/agents? How many were included when the manuscript was given to the illustrator?

Jodi Moore  Because it’s always been grilled into me (at conferences, in books) to never give illustration notes, DRAGON was submitted without any.
So…you can imagine how shocked I was when Shari came back and asked me for specific ideas! Of course, now I realize it was because Shari wasn’t sure whether the concept of illustrating a character that “may or may not be there” was feasible.
What’s exceptional about DRAGON (and the uber-talented Howard McWilliam) is that if you look at each illustration, you’ll find a dual explanation of everything that’s happening, one highlighting the dragon as the “cause”, another offering something else as the reason.

Pretty awesome illustrations!

Pretty awesome illustrations!

Did you or the illustrator come up with the subtle background details? Did you help choose the illustrator? Did you have input in the illustrations?

Jodi Moore  Aren’t they wonderful? In the lottery of illustrators, I won big time.

As I said earlier, I can’t take any credit for the fantastic illustrations. While I may have provided art notes in the beginning (to see if the concept was possible), I didn’t have anything to do with any artwork past that.

So much of the humor in this book depends on the wonderful illustrations. Did you write very detailed illustration notes in your manuscript?

Jodi Moore  Thank you, but I can’t take any credit for the brilliance of the illustrations. That all goes to Howard and Shari and their amazing vision. Shari and I did discuss ideas in the beginning, but only to make sure the concept was possible. Then I released it to the sheer brilliance that is Howard McWilliam.

I actually wasn’t permitted to have any contact with Howard while he worked on the pictures. (Even though I would have just gushed about them the whole time…yes, I have a fan-girly crush on him.) 😉 It’s important to allow an illustrator to do what they do best. To give them their space and artistic license. After all, how would we feel if they told us to change our words? 😉

Howard took my vision, expounded upon it and raised it to a level that I couldn’t even have imagined! I’ve always been told a picture book is a 50/50 labor of love between writers and artists. I never quite understood that until DRAGON was born.

Speaking of other, school visits rock!

Speaking of other, school visits rock!



How has Flashlight worked with you in securing school visits, PR, developing your online presence, marketing your book, etc.?

Jodi Moore   Flashlight is great. DRAGON is on many state lists and has won several awards due to the fact that the Flashlight team submits for everything. I often get calls for visits due to the fact it is on a list. They also designed a bookmark and bookplate for me to use for marketing.  I worked for over 6 months on my school visit, where I share that “Building a strong story is just like building a sandcastle”…it’s based on a wish list from different teachers and librarians. We even go on an imaginary roller coaster ride to simulate a story arc!


Do you have any other books coming out……

Jodi Moore   WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN is due Fall 2015.

Sneak peek....ssshhhh

Sneak peek….ssshhhh

Woohooo!!! We can’t wait!  Thank you so much for your time Jodi! We loved having you!



Last night I had a dream. It started out so scary. I was in a room, like a court room. And there at the judge’s throne was an agent. It was a man in a suit. The type that make me want to run and hide because they emit intimidation. In my dream, this agent was holding a manuscript I submitted. My reason for being there was to follow up.

I quietly squeaked out, “I was wondering if you, ummm, had a chance to, umm, consider my manuscript.”

He answered in a deep and loud voice, “Why should I?”

I paused. I could feel the heavy stomach, and wanted to disappear. Instead I said, “Because it’s a good story.”

His answer was so quick and abrupt. Just one word. “So.”

I said something back, and he said, “I need more of a reason then just a good story.”

I thought, and said a little louder, “I’m a great writer.”

Again he answered, “And?”

With a stronger voice, “I have a collection of manuscripts ready to submit.”


I spoke clearly. “I am a published writer, I studied with some amazing authors….” and I began listing all of my positive qualities….

After a pause, he nodded his head and said, “Then I will read it, and get back to you.”

I woke up realizing what is missing from my submission strategy. It’s just one word. Confidence. I’m not selling myself. I’m sort of selling myself, but honestly, I don’t think any confidence is showing through these queries. It’s not that I don’t believe in myself, it’s that I need others to believe in me. But that won’t happen until I show them why they should.

Those who are getting book deals and agents have that. They believe in themselves, and if they don’t, they act like they do. Others want to be around them, learn from them, feature them on their blogs…

Starting today I am going to put on my confident hat. I am a great writer. I have so much to offer to any agent or publishing house. I know how to market, I learned so much from my first book, I’m continually learning and growing and shaping my manuscripts, I have original ideas, and I believe in what I do, and I am building a great platform.

I wanted to share my dream in hopes that someone will read this and see that they also have a lot to offer. Sit down and make a list of what you have to bring to the table. You may not list it in a letter, but if you embrace it as you contact them, they’ll see it.

I’m looking forward to making more books and getting to make a difference in the lives of dreamers.

What I’m Working On

Thank you so much to Betsy Devany for tagging me in her blog post, “My Writing Process.” I met Betsy at Jane Yolen’s Picture Book Boot Camp.  You can read her blog post here:

1) What am I working on?

I have a lot of irons in the fire. I like to rotate what I’m doing. Each month I pick one to polish, one to rewrite, and try to create a new manuscript or two. I’m also in the process of searching for an agent, so I’ve spent a lot of time “stalking” different agents trying to learn who they represent, what they are looking for, what they love to read. I’m sending to just one or two agents a month as I search for one who I feel will appreciate me as a writer and help me take my career to the next level. It’s a very slow process. 🙂

My new manuscript is called Four Forts. It’s as close as I get to Fractured Fairy Tales, and is a fun kid twist on the Three Little Pigs… but with 3 fails, and one success, which is a sweet twist in the end. It includes a bit of sibling rivalry, the youngest child syndrome, and filling in the hours of a boring summer. It’s in the raw stage, and will head to it’s first critique round next week.

My rewrite is I Wanna Grow Up. It reminds me a bit of a bunch of comic strips. Each page has a punch line. It’s a very open manuscript where an illustrator can have a ton of fun with it.

I’m also working on a manuscript about welcoming a new baby. I know, been done, right? I have a fun royal twist on mine and it’s received great feedback so far. It’s pretty polished, but I’m sitting on it to see if I can find anything else to change before sending it out.

I’m also getting ready to rewrite the Great Art Project, which went through a round of critiques a few weeks back. I like to sit on the critiques before rewriting. This one does need a pretty big overhaul.

And of course, I’m still reworking Mad Kid Scientist into a chapter book. I ended up with a crazy hamster character that took over… so I’m sitting on it to see if I went a bit overboard, or if it works.

And I’m sending out No Need to Wake Mommy after it’s been greenlighted by a few groups. It’s a cute, whimsical book about a proud child who doesn’t want to wake mommy after she accidently falls asleep in a chair reading a book with no pictures (because we all know that’s why she feel asleep). Alex is thirsty, but that’s OK, “No need to wake Mommy,” he’s a big boy!

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It’s mine. 🙂 I know, not the answer an agent or publisher wants. When I write, I try to accomplish a few things:

1.) I want to get down to a child’s eye level. I was once told I was writing from a parent’s bird eye view. It was the best advice I was given, as I can now catch myself writing as a parent, vs writing as a child.

2.) I want my stories to be a read it again book, with some child interaction.

3.) I look for ideas I haven’t seen on the shelves, read in a review, or pulled off the library. I do realize at this point there are no original ideas. But I try to find fun twists to make them mine.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because the idea pops into my head, and I start to “read” my story. If it’s fun, I write it down. My stories that make it into my stage 2 list are the books that flow out. They rattle in my head, and then the pressure becomes so strong that I have to get it out on paper.  Sometimes the pressure isn’t strong enough and I turn on the faucet…. unfortunately, sometimes the idea just trickles…. those stories very rarely get finished.

But for the most part, I write what feels right. I have a very diverse style. When I was at Picture Book Boot Camp with Jane Yolen, Jane asked us to submit 2 manuscripts before the camp. I sent her No Need to Wake Mommy, and Plip Plop. They are two very different stories. Jane made me smile when she said that I have an unusual range of writing abilities.

4) How does your writing process work?

A story idea will pop into my head. POP.

It begins to take shape. Sometimes it’s a character, or a refrain, or a plot.

Then it starts to grow, and grow, and grow… and I have to run to a computer to catch it before it’s gone.

The process can take 10 minutes, or it can take 24 hours. Unfortunately, if I have an idea and don’t get it out when it wants, it’s lost until it pops up in another context.  I do PiBoIdMo, but the only ones written are the ones I write asap, or the ones that keep coming back to me.

I’ve explained it to kids like feeling as if you want to vomit.

320px-smirc-puke-svgYou just don’t feel like you can do anything until you get it all out. But once you do, you feel so much better.


Yeah, I know, gross analogy! Sorry you asked?


And with that note, I’m happy to pass the baton to:

Sophia Mallonée! 
She is a former artist’s agent, wife to a photographer, mom to a toddler and writer of children’s books. She is also the founder and a contributing writer at The Red Door Blog for writers. In the past, Sophia has also written and edited for television. For more information about her, and to follow her Writing Process, visit

My other tag teamer isn’t feeling well, and I haven’t had a chance to find someone to replace her (Well, she’s irreplaceable!) So I’m going to share her blog with you anyway.

Donna Martin is someone who I know from Facebook. She’s always one of the first to help out comment when someone has a question or is feeling down. She also has a great blog. Go on over and visit her!


Inspired by Autism

One question I often get about my book It’s Almost Time is: what gave you the idea to write about clocks?

I didn’t wake up one day and say “I’m going to write about clock sounds.” It was a process that is close to my heart.

My son was always a bit different then the other kids. He observed things other kids took for granted. He was the first to tell a shop owner they had a light bulb out, that their clock was off, or that there was a buzzing sound. When at the mall, he was always drawn into the clock store. I never thought anything of it, hey, clocks are cool! We’d go into the store and Alex would spend a good 30 minutes watching the clocks. The worker there would take the hands and slowly move them up to the hour so the clocks would cuckoo-cuckoo, sing, or dance. He loved showing Alex the new clocks that came in.

One day I was working at the mall and Alex was with me for a few hours. They let him hang out in the clock store and tinker with a broken clock.

I searched for clock books. The only ones I could find were telling time books, and it wasn’t the same. So I sat down at my computer to capture the experience. I wanted to show all the different sounds, and introduce the different types of clocks. To Alex and I, clocks came alive when we walked in the store. Even my youngest loved going to the clock store.

Not long after, Alex was diagnosed with high functioning Autism. Alex found a friendship in clocks he couldn’t find in people. Clocks are safe, reliable, and sociable in a way he can relate too. They are all different, and none of them ask too much from each other.

When my book came out, Alex had an outlet. He loves coming with me on author visits and organizing the audience. He came up with the audience being all the clocks and recreating the clock store experience. I get tears in my eyes thinking of how comfortable he is in front of people when I take him with me to do visits.

Since my book was published, I’ve heard from other parents with children with Autism that they connect to the book. Who knew how many people love and relate to clocks as much as our family!

Alex starts high school this year. He has a small collection of clocks to keep him company, and some human buddies as well. I’ve learned so much from Alex and am a proud mom. I wouldn’t change anything about him. Those with autism make this world a little bit more special.  I’m blessed to be a proud mom of a child on the Spectrum.

If you are interested in reading more about Alex and when we diagnosed him, visit here:

“Tick-tick tock, it’s almost time. The gears are winding, getting ready to chime.”
It’s Almost Time, Kane Miller