Deborah Gross’s Studio Tour

Today on Tuesday Tours we get to take a peak into Wisconsin illustrator Deborah Gross’s studio where she produces illustrations for a number of publications such as National Geographic School Publishing, Compass Publishing, and Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine. Deborah is  the SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator for the Wisconsin chapter. She’s been illustrating for ten years and was recently chosen as a finalist for the Tomie dePaola illustrating contest through SCBWI! She’ll have a chance to enter a final round of illustrations, competing against fifteen other artists for a chance to win a free trip to New York City for the annual SCBWI NYC conference. We’re wishing her loads of luck and would love to see her fly out to the Big Apple come February!


DebraGross12Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I’ve been working as a children’s illustrator for about 10 years. Most of what I do is for the classroom, such as early readers, foreign language dictionaries, and testing materials. I work both traditionally, with watercolor, colored pencil, ink, and digitally.

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process
I’ve had my studio space for around 15 years, but it is definitely not the only place I create art. While raising my five kids I learned to work in all areas of the house, during lots of noise and activity, and with endless interruptions. Though I do all of my painting and digital work in my studio, I still prefer to sketch and work on initial ideas in my favorite recliner or on the front porch.

I bet your children and grandchildren provide lots of inspiration!

Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
Definitely, my day always starts with a mug or two of coffee! If I have the time, I like to check the news and weather, maybe even get dressed before I get to work. If my deadlines are tight, I just grab my coffee and go to work in my jammies.

Being able to go to work in your PJs is definitely a perk :)

Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working? What are you reading/listening to now?
I can spend a lot of hours drawing and painting, so I need to vary what I’m listening to in order to keep my sanity. I listen to a lot of Pandora, with some of my recent favorites being my Ed Sheeran, Amos Lee, and Celtic Radio channels. If my project does not require a lot of concentration I’ll watch television, mostly random talk shows or HGTV.

DebraGross7I can see HGTV being an inspiring station to watch while working.

Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I have the first painting I ever did as a child, a print of Mickey Mouse painting himself as Walt Disney and a few things my kids made when they were young. My space doesn’t leave much room for collecting things, which is both a tragedy and a blessing.

What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
That’s a hard question, since there are so many parts of the illustration process that I use tools for. I would say my newest acquisition, a Cintiq tablet, is probably the tool I use the most. Even if the illustration is created traditionally, it will be delivered digitally, and the Cintiq makes that process easier and faster. You can hardly beat that!


What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Find a space where you feel at home. It can be simple or fancy, whatever suites your taste and your budget. As long as your art materials are at hand, the lighting is good, and you feel relaxed and creative, it will be perfect.

Yes! Let the creative spirit move you, no matter where you are!DebraGross6


When Deborah isn’t working on her illustrations, she’s most likely holding one of her 10 grandchildren.

What is your greatest source of inspiration to you as an artist?
I am constantly inspired by the work of other amazing illustrators. I have a very large library of children’s books by some of my favorites and I spend countless hours looking at images online, mostly through the black hole known as Pinterest. I’m also very fortunate to have 10 grandkids to play with, read to, and draw with. DebraGross4

What colors inspire your creativity?  Are those colors incorporated in your space?
I don’t really have specific colors that inspire me, I guess I would say that I’m more inspired by color groupings. I like to study the use of color in illustrations by some of my favorite artists. I also go to to play around with color palettes.


If you could transport your studio to another geographical location, where would it be and why?
My wish list here is very simple, I would love to transport my studio upstairs. The current location in my basement tends to be cold and lacks a view of the outside. For the time being I do all my initial work upstairs and head down to the studio to paint.

DebraGross3What are you working on now and where can we find out more?
I continue to work on illustrating educational materials for the classroom, which will be seen by countless students, but is really impossible to plug. The most exciting thing I’m working on is the Tomie dePaola illustration contest. I was chosen as one of 15 semi-finalists, and am currently waiting for art specs to the final part of the competition. It’s a great example of what the SCBWI has to offer! You can see more of my work on my website

Thank you so much, Deborah! And congratulations on being a finalist for the Tomie dePaola illustration contest. Good luck–we’re rooting for you!

Join us next week when artist and teacher Todd Mrozinski gives a look inside his studio in The Nut Factory, which he shares with his wife Renee Bebeau.

Russ Cox’s Studio Tour

Today on Tuesday Tours we get to take a peak into illustrator and author Russ Cox’s cozy Maine studio. In addition to his work in children’s picture books, Russ has his own studio called Smiling Otis Studio, where he’s worked with a number of clients including, Warner Brothers, Hershey, American Greetings, and A&E. Russ will debut his first picture book as an author and illustrator next Spring with his book Faraway Friends (Sky Pony Press)—an action packed story that follows Sheldon and his dog, Jet as they try to build a spaceship to carry them to Jupiter, the place Sheldon believes his best friend has moved. 

Russ Cox4Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
Hello, my name is Russ Cox and I play banjo as well as juggle moose in the quaint town of Pittsfield, Maine. I also illustrate, and now write, children’s books. My wife and I, plus our 4 cats, moved up to Maine 6 years ago after living in an old city row home (early 1800s) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We always loved Maine, so when our last kid adventured into the world, we bought a little house in Pittsfield.

My creative mediums are my sketchbooks, which I try to draw in daily, good old pencil and paper, along with my Macs and various software including Painter, Photoshop, and recently discovered Manga Studio. I still like the feel of pencil to paper. There is an emotional connection for me to using those two tools. Although I have started doing thumbnails and preliminary sketches on the computer to save time. I like Painter for sketching. It has more of a natural feel. As far as my banjo playing and moose juggling, they are works in progress.

DSCN1138How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
My studio space is very small and cozy, more so than my old studio in Pennsylvania which was three times the size. I like that I can almost reach everything in my studio by just wheeling around in my chair.
Wait, did that sound lazy? Having my tools and books within arms reach does save time and helps me stay in a creative groove. Whew, I think I redeemed myself after feeling lazy.
I have a wall dedicated to hanging pieces of art, story ideas, storyboards, etc. that are in various stages. This allows me to step back and view the work as a whole. I use Trapease Display Rails to hold the paper in place. My closet door has postcards from friends and artist I admire. It is called “My Wall of Inspiration”. You can learn so much by looking at the work of others, but you don’t want to get bogged down in doing that so much that you lose sight of your vision and goals.
Great advice! Inspiration is wonderful, but self-comparison can definitely cause the creative process to stall.

Describe a typical work day. Are there any rituals you have before you start creating? 
Recently, I started doing a new ritual where after I work out in the morning, I spend at least an hour on my own projects and stories. This helps me keep moving those projects along in case my agent needs samples, a new picture book dummy, and/or manuscript.
On Fridays, I go to our local library to write. It gets me out of the studio for a few hours, plus the the librarians are wonderful for feedback on story ideas or completed manuscripts and dummies.
Russ Cox2I really love that you have a library day each week! What a great place to work and also stay informed about what’s out there.
Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working? What are you reading/listening to now?
I often listen to iTunes, Spotify, Coffitivity, and sometimes my small studio TV when I working at night. It is nice to hear people talking when you work by yourself so much. The Nerdist is one of my favorite Podcast. Music-wise, I listen to anything from The Ramones (great for sketching) to Old Time music to The Who to to alternative to comedy. The books on my nightstand are Jim Henson’s biography and I have started reading the Harry Potter series. Yeah, I know, I am a little behind the times.
Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you? 
My instruments. When I get stuck or need a quick break, I grab a banjo, guitar, or the bass and play. It helps clear my head so I can solve the problem, or if I am stuck.

What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
My light box. I use it more than my computers. I b
ought it at a print shop that went out of business. It is big enough for me to do larger pieces of artwork. Plus, one of our cats likes to sleep on it.
What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Make the space your own. Let it be inspiring. You will spend most of your time in the space so it has to be comfortable and inviting. I feel that a work space is always evolving, just like a creative person. In the next few months, my space will change as I add a few more pieces of furniture like a flat file and more postcards.
Very true. I think it’s a great motivator to have a creative space that evolves with projects and personal growth.
What age did you become interested in art and who encouraged you to pursue your dream?
As far back as I can remember, I was always drawing. Living out in the country in Tennessee there was not a lot of activities close by, so I would spend hours drawing and painting, and also marveling at the skills of other artist. Such as, the artwork in Mad magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Little Golden Books, Warner Brothers Cartoons, and the artwork of Mary Blair. Every member of my family encouraged my art, and they still do.
It’s wonderful you had so much support, and to see it made such a big impact on what you do in the world.
What colors inspire your creativity? Are those colors incorporated in your space?
I was into bright, bold colors, but now I am gearing my pallet into a more vintage scheme. Less saturation except for some key colors or accent color. I think Dan Santat, Lane Smith, John Rocco, and Shaun Tan have beautiful color schemes. Yes, you can see those vintage type colors through my studio.
What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?

Well, I just finished all of the artwork for my first book that I wrote and illustrated called Faraway Friends that comes out April 2015 via Sky Pony Press. I am very excited about it!
Russ CoxThe next book in the Freddy the Frogcaster series (Regnery Kids) comes out in September and I have begun work on the third book. I illustrated Lynn Plourde’s new book, A Merry Moosey Christmas, which comes out in October (Islandport Press). Plus there is a new project that I am very excited about doing, but I can’t talk about just yet. You can see more of my work at
Thank you, Russ, for the wonderful interview and tour! Best of luck on all of your new books. 
Join us next week, when we hear from Wisconsin illustrator Deborah Gross who was recently selected as a semi-finalist for the SCBWI Tomie dePaulo illustration contest. 

Artist & Author Programs for 2014/2015

I’m currently booking for the 2014/2015 school year. If you’re interested in having me visit your school, please contact me to schedule a program.

I love visiting schools to share my experiences as an author and an illustrator. I have a number of presentations, workshops, and art residencies available. Below is a preview of some of my programs, but a higher quality PDF of my full program listing can be viewed here – Andrea Skyberg Author Visit Program Sheet (Full Version) 2014

Author visit_Andrea Skyberg

Andrea Author Visit Image_4Andrea Author Visit Image_2Andrea Author Visit Image_3Andrea Author Visit Image_1


Cynthia Lord’s Studio Tour

Today on Tuesday Tours I’m eager to share author Cynthia Lord’s backyard writing shed because it’s so darn cute and looks like the perfect place to write. Cynthia is a former elementary and middle-school teacher who broke into the world of writing for children with her deput mid grade book Rules, which later went on to win a Newbery Honor award. Rules is a beautiful story about a family’s attempt to deal with difference and acceptance in the face of autism, and the community that surrounds them. Cynthia’s other novels, Touch Blue and Half a Chance are equally engaging, addressing issues of belonging and friendship. My daughter’s school chose Touch Blue as an all-school-read book a few years ago, and my family loved reading it together. Cynthia is also the author of the Hot Rod Hamster series, illustrated by Derek Anderson, including the new Hot Rod Hamster Monster Truck Mania, all published by Scholastic. In addition to sharing her studio with us, today’s also special because Cynthia’s releasing her newest book Shelter Pet Squad. She lives in Brunswick, Maine with her family, a dog, a guinea pig, and two bunnies.


Cynthia Lord4Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I’m a children’s book author of picture books, early-readers, chapter books and middle-grade novels.

How long have you had your space, how did it come to be, and how does it affect your creative process?
I write my books in my backyard writing shed. My first book, Rules, won a Newbery Honor in 2007, and this shed was the present that I bought myself. It was the best money I ever spent on my writing career because it makes such a wonderful difference to have my own space. My family joked that my little shed was like Thoreau’s Walden Pond cabin. So we’ve named my shed “Walden Backyard.”

Cynthia Lord2

Are there any kinds of rituals you do before you start creating?Cynthia Lord
My dog, Milo, loves to come out to my shed with me. I pack up my laptop and say to Milo, “Let’s go work!” He runs right out to the shed.  I unlock the door and give him a treat and then sit down to work. Milo usually sleeps while I work, but his enthusiasm starts every work session on a happy note.

Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working? What are you reading/listening to now?
I have a CD or musician that I listen to for each novel. The musician for my current novel is Spencer Lewis. I picked up a few of his CDs when I was doing a school visit in Vermont, and his music captures the rural northern New England essence of the book I’m working on.Cynthia Lord9

Cynthia Lord5

Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
My writing shed is full of things that inspire me—kids’ choice awards, items that go with my books, things that children have made for me. Because Rules has a rubber ducky on the cover, people give those to me. I have well over 200!

Cynthia Lord8

Wow! That’s a lot of rubber duckies! They make a fantastic display. I bet you’re going to have to add some new shelves soon, especially after people see your collection ;)


If you could magically transplant your writing shed to another location for half of the year, where would it be?
I grew up on a lake in New Hampshire, and I love to kayak. So I would move it to a quiet lakeside in northern New England somewhere.

Cynthia Lord11

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
I would say do it! It’s easy to put your own needs last, especially if you’re a parent. Starting my day early in my writing shed sets my whole day right. I’m a better mom and a better writer for honoring my need to have some space and time of my own.

Yes! As parents we often make spaces for our children and visiting company, yet we often we forget about making a place for ourselves. 

Cynthia Lord10

Cynthia Lord12

What colors inspire your creativity? Are those colors incorporated in your space?
I like soothing colors and nature. So my writing shed has wood walls. Rocks, sticks, and shells line the windowsills. Outside the window, I see my gardens and bird feeders.


Cynthia Lord3You travel a lot while visiting schools for author visits. How does being in a new place affect your writing?
I can’t write well on the road, so I try to arrange my year into three months of writing, followed by three months of speaking, etc. I do very few events in the summer and winter—that’s my writing time. In the spring and fall I do lots of events.

Cynthia Lord7

What a great way to organize your writing life with the speaking part of your career! I think working at them equally in concentrated amounts of time would help hold your focus on both ends.

What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
This month I have a chapter book series starting called Shelter Pet Squad. It stars a second grader who can’t have a pet of her own and so she volunteers in her local animal shelter. In each book, she will help find a home for an animal. The first book is called Jelly Bean, and he is a guinea pig. You can find me at

What a fun concept! My daughter’s been asking for a pet for quite awhile. I finally gave in and said she could get a guinea pig. Maybe I should’ve had her volunteer at the Humane Society instead!  Thanks so much for sharing your writing shed with us, Cynthia. I’ll be picking up a copy of the Shelter Pet Squad on our way to pick up our new pet :)

Join us next week when author and artist Russ Cox shares his cozy corner in Maine where he creates his clever characters and stories.


Publishing in the Age of DIY: The Pros & Cons of Self Publishing

This Thursday, August 28th at 6:30pm, I will be part of an SCBWI event at the Wauwatosa Library, as a panelist addressing the topic of self publishing. The two other fabulous authors who will be joining me are Angie Stanton, author of the bestselling contemporary romance YA books Rock and a Hard Place; Snapshot; Dream Chaser; Snowed Over; and Love ‘em or Leave ‘em and JoAnn Early Macken, author of Baby Says “Moo!”; Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move; Sing-ALong Song; and Waiting Out the Storm. If you live around the Milwaukee area, I hope you will join us! Self Publishing Panel Flyer

Kelly DiPucchio’s Studio Tour

I’m happy to feature children’s author Kelly DiPucchio’s writing studio on today’s Tuesday Tours. Kelly has written some of my favorite books and I love how she addresses the use of of mediation when creating art. I met Kelly at the SCBWI Fall Conference in Wisconsin and her keynote had me taking notes, nodding in agreement, and laughing out loud. Meeting her was a highlight of my weekend. Her books are all wonderful, but my favorite is Grace for Presidenta brilliant and layered book, and one that after you read it, you say YES! Its about time that’s been addressed, and in such a clever way! Her Crafty Chloe books are creative (of course), but also filled with heart and small gestures of kindness that are brilliantly woven within a playful and engaging story. One of her hilarious new books, which will be published in Fall of 2015, is called Everyone Loves Bacon (illustrated by Eric Wright and published by FSG). And just like bacon, I have to say, everyone love Kelly DiPucchio, although, unlike bacon, her work would be listed in the healthy category, because it’s good for the soul :)


Kelly Dipucchio5

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I am a picture book writer living in Michigan with my husband of 23 years, our three children, and a 14-year-old Bichon Frise who is the reigning queen of the DiPucchio castle. My other interests include reading and studying esoteric books, meditation, holistic health, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, nature walks, travel, red wine, and watching really bad reality TV.

Kelly Dipucchio

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process? We have lived in our home for nearly 17 years and during that time period my office space has undergone two complete makeovers. In the room’s previous incarnation, there were a lot of toys and trinkets and clutter. The walls were painted dark teal and I had these colorful heavy Moroccan drapes on the window. It was very bohemian chic. That atmosphere served me well for a while, but a few years ago I was ready for a change.  I really wanted to work in a space that was cleaner and lighter. I wanted a room that I could walk into and immediately feel like it was my own sanctuary.  So I packed up all of the clutter, donated a ton of books, and had the room painted.

Kelly Dipucchio4

I love my new space. It’s so peaceful. My favorite piece is the old, repurposed china cabinet I’m using as my book case. I’m very careful about only filling my new space with things that make me happy, like my bulldog lamp and meditating frog statue. Since I was a child I’ve always loved collecting stones and crystals so I created my own little makeshift altar on my window seat.

Kelly Dipucchio2

I have signed art pieces from LeUyen Pham and Heather Ross on my wall alongside The New York Times Children’s Best Sellers lists. I also have a framed email, dated Dec. 24th, 2000 on my wall from my agent, Steven Malk, in which he responded to a submission and offered to represent me. Receiving that email was a huge turning point in my career and so I like to keep it up there to remind me of those early years when all of this was just a pipe dream.

Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
I wish I could say my day begins with Qi Gong exercises and a kale and acai smoothie but my morning ritual usually goes something like this: Coffee, email, coffee, Facebook, coffee, Twitter, coffee, Instagram, coffee, Words With Friends, coffee, writing.

Kelly Dipucchio3

Do you listen to music while you work?
I never listen to music while I’m writing. I am easily distracted and even instrumental or background mood music can be bothersome to me when I’m working on a story. I like it quiet so I can hear all of the voices in my head.

Kelly Dipucchio8When you write, do you type your ideas out on the computer, start on paper, or storyboard/map out your text? Walk us through your process.
I always begin any new story with a notebook and pen. Or a paper napkin and pen. Or a gum wrapper and pen. Once I have a complete first draft scribbled in a notebook, I’ll begin the long process of revising it on my computer. I usually end up with multiple versions, countless bloopers, and several alternate endings. Every now and then I’ll get what I call a story download. Those are like gifts from the universe that require very little revision.

Yes, I love when that happens!

Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
Shortly after I sold my first picture book to HarperCollins in 2001, I purchased a limited edition numbered serigraph from the Secret Art of Dr. Seuss collection. The piece is called A Man Who Has Made An Unwise Purchase. Making an expensive and frivolous purchase like that was completely out of character for me, (insert husband’s laughter here) but I really wanted to buy something special with part of my first advance check.Kelly Dipucchio7
When I heard the story behind the painting, I felt even more drawn to the quirky piece. The story goes that Theodore Geisel painted the picture for his editor at Vanguard Press. After being rejected from 27 companies, Dr. Seuss finally found someone who was willing to make an unwise purchase on his non-traditional work. Whenever I look at that enormous, yellow Sneetch I am reminded of the six years it took me to sell my first book and also how important it is for me to continue creating the stories I want to write without worrying about the market.

Kelly -mirror:skyWhat an amazing way to spend your first advance!

What is your favorite book? What are you reading now?
My favorite book?! Snort! That is a ridiculously impossible question to ask an author!

I know, it is. Sorry. But, if you had to pick?
If you put a hot glue gun to my head and made me pick one I’d say, Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss because when I read that book as a child it changed the way I looked at the world. Currently, I’m reading Three Times Lucky by the lovely Sheila Turnage.

What colors inspire your creativity? Are those colors incorporated in your space? I have always been drawn to various shades of blue. I had a muralist paint a blue sky on my office ceiling and I love the calming effect is has in my work space.

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
My advice would be to surround yourself with colors and objects that make you happy or give you a sense of peace. I feel like we are most productive and successful when we allow the natural flow of creative energy from the cosmic pot of infinite potentials to come through us. Anything that makes us more joyful and/or tranquil can help facilitate that magical connection.

So true! It’s like the poet Khalil Gibran said about childrenThey come through you, but not from you. I would say creating anything is like that. The truly inspired creations come through us and are not from us.

What would you say is the greatest source of inspiration to you as a writer?
That’s difficult to answer because I’m inspired by so many different things!  One day I might be inspired by my brilliant, beautiful children and the next day a chocolate frosted donut might be my muse. If I had to single out a “greatest source” of inspiration I guess I would say it’s my insatiable curiosity for finding truth—truths that unite us through humor or adversity or love. I’m inspired to tell stories because I’m always trying to figure out the BIG story.

‘Dog Days of School’ by Kelly DiPucchio and Brian Biggs

Oh, I love that! 

What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
I had two new picture books come out this summer. Dog Days of School, illustrated by Brian Biggs, published by Disney-Hyperion and Gaston, illustrated by Christian Robinson, published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.  I’m really excited about both of these books and the response to them has been terrific.

Kelly Dipucchio9

‘Zombie in Love 2 + 1′ by Kelly DiPucchio and Scott Campbell

This January, the long-awaited sequel to Zombie In Love will be out. I can’t wait! It’s called Zombie In Love: 2 + 1 (Scott Campbell, Atheneum).  My website is You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Words With Friends, and at home with a cup of coffee.

Thank you, Kelly for such a lovely interview! I’m really looking forward to reading your newest books, especially Everyone Loves Bacon!

Please join us next week when author Cynthia Lord shares her adorable writing shed!

My Writing Process–Blog Tour

There’s been a blog tour going around the writing world, and the focus is on writing process. Kashmira Sheth invited me to share my writing process and I’m happy to have the chance, because I’m all about process! In fact the making of the book is the most important part for me. I love it all—the flash of inspiration, the rough draft, the countless revisions until I have a polished piece. The finished book is just icing on all the fun of creating it.
kashmiraBefore I share my process, I’d like to introduce Kashmira, who is the author of eight books, including picture books, middle grade, and young adult. Her most recent book Tiger in My Soup is a delightful story about a young boy who begs for his sister to read to him, but she’s too absorbed in her own book to pay him much attention. While eating his lunch, his imagination goes wild and he sees a tiger in his soup, leading to all sorts of chaos. This creative story garnished starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publisher Weekly. Please visit Kashmira at and see what she had to say about her writing process.

Here’s my Writing Process interview.

What are you working on?
I’m in the process of revising a number of picture book manuscripts and creating a dummy for one of them. But lately, most of my writing time is spent working on my YA novel Dreams of Trees, which is a contemporary fiction novel about Artie Miller, a sixteen year old girl who’s family is falling apart. Her dad’s death left her mom sinking deeper into alcoholism, and her grampa is overly concerned with Artie’s weight. The most trusted adult in her life, her gramma, is suffering from dementia and has to be admitted into a nursing home. Before leaving, her gramma gives Artie a deck of hand-painted tarot cards. But when Artie draws the same card over and over again, she wonders if the cards are trying to tell her something important, or if they’re just broken, like her family.


Deerly Listen spread from ‘Squircle’ by Andrea Skyberg

How does your work differ from others of its genre?
My picture books are created using non-traditional illustrative methods. Often times there’s a three dimensional quality to the artwork. The themes in my books tend to be meditations on kindness and community. I’m very interested in telling a beautiful and engaging story, but also helping readers see a clearer path towards kindness.

‘Squircle’ by Andrea Skyberg

Why do you write what you do?
Usually I write a book to help myself understand something better. Not unlike how authors approach writing non-fiction, I begin my books with a lot of research—both theory and practice. For instance, when I was working on Squircle, I was trying to convey some of the lessons I’ve learned from Buddism and Eastern philosophy, while at the same time, learning them better myself. In order to do this, I read a lot, as well as practiced methods that would help me be more in tune with the present moment—like yoga and dance.

How does your writing process work?
When writing picture books I will have a phrase or a title flash into my head, like a bolt of inspiration. I write that inspiring thought or title in my book spreadsheet. Over time, I start to internally work out a method to shape a story around the idea. When I feel it has had enough time percolating, I attempt to write a rough draft. I’m definitely pressure prompted, so if I have deadline, this process becomes much quicker. After writing and revising until I have a decent quality draft, I start envisioning what type of illustrations would work the best with the story. I try to make conscious decisions on why I choose certain media for the illustrations. For instance, Squircle was done in thread and fabric to add another layer of meaning into the term interconnectedness—a main concept in the book.


When I write my YA novel, I visualize my characters, set them in a place,  and then watch them interact. As they talk to each other, I take notes—sort of like watching a movie and writing down what transpires. Sometimes I feel like I’m channeling Artie, and that she is a real person. It’s very entertaining!


Here are the three wonderful writers who’ll be following me as part of the My Writing Process Blog Tour:

Mom's Big Catch. jpeg

Marla McKenna’s book Mom’s Big Catch, has seen a number of printings, including customized team versions for Miller Park, Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field and official Blue Jays and Rays books.  In Mom’s Big Catch, a young girl named Ashley dreams of catching a ball at the baseball game. She doesn’t dare leave her seat during the game for fear that she might miss out. Good thing she doesn’t, otherwise she might have missed, Mom’s Big Catch!
Partial proceeds from Mom’s Big Catch go to the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation. Help save a dog’s life! Special thanks to Rick Springfield for his matching donations.

Marla’s sequel to Mom’s Big Catch, is Sadie’s Big Steal and it will be coming out soon! Visit Marla at


Greer-Eyes-of-India-Cover-Med-217x300Michael Greer’s mid grade novel The Eyes of India follows the adventures of Evelyn and her sister, Priscilla, as they try to make their way to the holy city of Varnasi. After getting separated from their tour group, the sisters travel through the jungle and into hidden villages of India. While the girls try to meet up with their parents, they make many unexpected friends during their adventure, each one encouraging them to follow their intuition and navigate with their third eye. The Eyes of India  recently won a Mom ‘s Choice Award. Michael is currently working on another book in The Adventures of Evelyn & Priscilla series, as well as a YA novel. Visit Michael at


Anatomy of a TrialJerrianne Hayslett‘s book Anatomy of a Trial emerged well after the gush of books that poured out of the O. J. Simpson murder case and hits on a major aspect of the trial the media have ignored–their own responsibility to the public. Thanks to Jerrianne’s unprecedented access as the Los Angeles courts media liaison to the trial, the judges, including Simpson judge Lance Ito, and the media, and to her obsessive note taking, the book is loaded with behind-the-scenes detail not found elsewhere and offers a balanced treatment of the still-hotly debated cameras-in-the-courtroom issue.
Currently, Jerrianne is working on a YA historical fiction, a middle-grade series and several picture book projects. After living in various places in the U.S. and abroad where she worked as journalist, trial court information officer, media-relations consultant, and freelance writer, she settled in the Milwaukee area and published her adult nonfiction book, Anatomy of a Trial. She now concentrates on what she loves–writing stories for young people. Please visit her at