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Update - Winners Announced! Celebrate Appreciate a Dragon Day with Jodi Moore PLUS a 20-Book Giveaway!!






UPDATE 2/1/2024: Thanks again to Jodi Moore, Flashlight Press, and all of you who read along with us this month! It was a blast having you stop by.


The winners of this dragon-sized 20-book giveaway, who will receive a paperback copy of Jodi's adorable book, When a Dragon Moves In, are:...




  1. Michelle S. Kennedy

  2. Pamela Hansen

  3. Barbara Seregi

  4. Donna Rossman

  5. aubreyalliethewriter

  6. Rob Sudano

  7. Andrea Carroll

  8. Carol Peszko

  9. Pamela Powell

  10. Laura Cooper

  11. Sue Ford

  12. Lori Tecler

  13. azizaevans

  14. owens

  15. Anni Matsick

  16. Amy Houts

  17. mjdulaney

  18. Kim Collazo

  19. Lisa Wheeler

  20. Danielle Hammelef



#SeasonsOfKidLit will be in touch with the winners shortly with more details! If you didn't win this time, stay tuned! We have more interviews and giveaways with Flashlight Press and their amazing creators coming soon.


 

1/16/2024


Welcome, readers, writers, and dragon lovers, too! Today is Appreciate a Dragon Day and we have an exciting way to celebrate. The incredible Jodi Moore is here talking about her popular and heartwarming dragon series with illustrator Howard McWilliam and Flashlight Press! When a Dragon Moves In, When a Dragon Movies In Again, and I Love My Dragon follows an imaginative young boy whose dragon friend joins him in building sandcastles, flying kites, roasting marshmallows and welcoming a new sibling to the scene. The boy and his dragon always have a great time together, even when his parents question the dragon's existence. Want to know more about Jodi, her loveable dragon books, PLUS want a chance to win your very own copy of When A Dragon Moves In? Read on...





Q: Hi, Jodi! Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit. We’re thrilled to host you, and to hear all about your dragon books with Flashlight Press - we're HUGE fans of them. First, can you share a little bit about your journey in becoming a children’s author? 


A: Aw, thank you for inviting me. I’m such a fan of your books as well! It’s truly an honor to be here. 


Like many, I fell in love with books on my mother’s lap. Recently divorced, my mom worked outside the home during a time when most mothers did not (the early ‘60’s.) But each night, she brought home a different story for us to share. To this day, I associate books with love.


I began to ‘write’ stories as soon as I could hold a crayon, penning adventures in pictures before I even learned my letters. Reading continued to be my refuge as I grew up, and developing my own stories allowed me to create a safe space in an often-confusing world.


My enchantment with picture books was reignited after we had our two sons. The feeling grew with each book we read. With each sweet word. With each giggle. And I thought, maybe I could produce something to make others feel so loved and safe as I’d felt as a child...


So, I wrote. And I received rejections. Some were extremely encouraging! 


But I let the ‘no’s level me. 


I didn’t stop writing of course. When you’re a writer, you write. I wrote articles for magazines. I even worked as a Contributing Editor for an international trade publication.


Thankfully, my husband Larry realized I’d buried my true desire. 


Now, it’s important to share that both of our boys had creative aspirations from the time they were toddlers: Steve, as a performing artist, and Alex, as a videogame designer. And while we were supportive, I can’t even begin to tell you how many other adults tried to discourage them from following their dreams.


“Don’t let the ‘no-it-alls’ win,” I’d tell them. “We believe in you. Don’t ever give up on your dreams!”


(Insert Proud Mama Brag: They didn’t. And they’re both very successful in their chosen fields!)


But I digress. Fast forward to our boys packing for college...


“I think it’s time do what you were meant to do,” Larry said.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Write for children.”

I sighed. “It’s too hard.” 



Both boys looked at me in surprise.


“What? Have you been lying to us all these years?”


I was simultaneously busted...and set free.


Then Larry laid the gauntlet: “Take the four years the boys are in college and hit this hard. If you aren’t published by then, you can reevaluate.”


So, I did. I attended seminars and workshops through Highlights and SCBWI. I read books on craft. I read a ton of picture books. I joined critique groups and read blogs and made friends in the kidlit community. I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.


I submitted. Yes, I received rejections. Yes, I cried a few times. And then, I received a ‘yes’ (!) from my amazing editor Shari Dash Greenspan of Flashlight Press.


I know ‘they say’ it takes one yes. But I wouldn’t have survived the ‘no’s without all of the precious support – all those telling me “yes, you go, girl!” – along the way.


I guess that’s a lengthy way of saying that while writing may be a solitary activity, the journey is most definitely not!


Q: This is so inspiring! I love how your family didn't let you give up and encouraged you to pursue your dreams.


You’re the author of the adorable and popular books, When a Dragon Moves In, When a Dragon Moves in Again, and I Love My Dragon.  Can you share a little bit about each book in the series?


A: I’d love to!


When A Dragon Moves In features a young boy who builds the ‘perfect sandcastle’ at the beach...and a dragon moves in! He’s thrilled with his magnificent new friend, until he realizes no one believes him. That’s when the mischief ensues. Is the dragon real or simply a figment of the boy’s imagination? It’s up to the reader to decide! 


When A Dragon Moves In Again features the same family, only this time, a new baby moves in! The boy is enchanted by his new little brother...until the baby captivates – and steals the attention of – his dragon! Is there room in the ‘castle’ for three? 


I Love My Dragon is a board book for the tiniest of Dragon lovers, safe for little hands and teething gums. ;) 


I love writing in second person (“If you build the perfect sandcastle...”) so that readers can truly immerse themselves in the fantasy.


 Images provided by Flashlight Press.


Q: What inspired you to write the series and what tips do you have for others looking to incorporate the perfect blend of humor and heart into books? Incorporating both is challenging but you pull it off perfectly!


Aw. * sniff * Thank you! Inspiration sometimes comes when you least expect it.

Remember how I mentioned that Larry challenged me to take the time the boys were in college to write for children? 


When A Dragon Moves In was inspired by a real sandcastle...and created while we were in throes of Empty Nest Syndrome (admittedly, this is a chronic condition for me.)


Building sandcastles with our boys was an activity Larry looked forward to each summer. Understandably, the first time we trekked to the beach without them was a sad day for us. But Larry brought his sand toys anyway and started to construct. He soon had the “assistance” of an army of children. When one little boy stuck a piece of seaweed in the mouth of the castle, Larry smiled. “That looks like a dragon tail. Our castle is so cool, a dragon moved in.”


And the clouds parted, and the angels sang. A story concept was born.


As far as tips for incorporating humor and heart, I think the most important suggestion is a universal writing suggestion: write from your heart, sharing your own truth, experience, and passion. Invite readers in. Sharing honesty and emotion is how we connect with others. It’s what makes us laugh. It’s what makes us love. It’s what makes us heal.


It's what makes us whole.


Q:  Howard McWilliam is such an amazing illustrator (we're huge fans of his!). What are some of your favorite spreads from the series and why? Did you incorporate any illustration notes for him to follow or did he come up with the spreads on his own based on your manuscript? 


A: Okay, I admit it. I have a fan-girly crush on Howard McWilliam. Isn’t he brilliant?

Most people don’t realize that in a picture book, the illustrator tells 50% (or more) of the story. And if it weren’t for Howard’s unique vision, imagination and creativity, this series never would have come to fruition. 


You see, I really did want the readers to decide whether or not the dragon is real or a figment of the boy’s imagination. And I’d had professional critiques (from editors of two of the ‘big’ publishers); one who insisted I portray the dragon as real; the other who claimed I make it clear the dragon as imaginary. 

Needless to say, I was pretty depressed and confused after that conference. I remember thinking, when Flashlight Press rejects it (yep, not if, but when), I have some work to do.


Only, I didn’t get a no this time. I received a...drum roll ... MAYBE.


It seems Shari thought the story was cute, but she couldn’t tell...was the dragon real or imaginary?


* gah *


Before I could talk myself out of it, I typed, “I want the reader to decide” and hit send. I expected the rejection to arrive within seconds.


Only it didn’t. One month later (that’s seconds in ‘publish-speak’), she emailed, posing this question: How do we illustrate a creature that may or may not be there?


It was then I realized the challenge my manuscript posed. Together, Shari and I researched and brainstormed. We read and discussed. 


I agonized and ate chocolate.


Thankfully, I’m blessed with an editor who thinks like an artist, and an artist who imagines what most would consider impossible. Once Shari relayed her vision and placed the story into Howard’s skilled and loving hands, Dragon took flight.


I like to say that Howard crawled inside my head and drew what was in my heart, but in actuality, he created something my heart had yet to even realize. 


Howard produced spreads where both options were not only possible, but they were also visible. They were plausible. They were adorable! We saw – we smelled – the smoke from the dragon’s nostrils…or was it from the dad’s barbecue?


Howard infused color into my concepts, sprinkled seasonings into my settings and breathed life into my characters. He made my dream come true, by transforming my simple words into something simply magical.


Do I have a favorite spread? Why, that’s like asking if I have a favorite kid! I love all of them! But if I have to choose something to share...


See? Simply magical.


Images provided by Flashlight Press.



Q: What’s one question you wish we would have asked you about your dragon books?


A: That’s a tough one! But if I may, I'll expand and elaborate upon your first question...


You see, the journey doesn’t stop with publication. When I do a school visit, I always ask, “Is a book truly happy if it doesn’t have readers who love it?” 


Kids are awesome. They get it. They always yell, “NO!” 


For this reason, I’m so grateful to all the booksellers, librarians, teachers, bloggers, social media influencers, parents, grandparents (and other assorted members of family and friend trees!) and last, but not least, to our precious readers! 


If I could, I’d reach through the internet and give you all a big hug! But since I can’t, please give yourselves one for me. Go on. I’ll wait.


Ahh. That’s nice. 


Love it! Thanks again for joining us, Jodi! It was such a pleasure having you with us today. We thoroughly enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at how your series developed.


Readers, want to know what we thought of Jodi's dragon series? Click here to see our review! You can also find our reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.




Q: Would you like to leave a treat for our readers?


A: Yes! Flashlight Press is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, and I’m thrilled to share they would like to gift copies of the (new, 2023!) paperback edition of When A Dragon Moves In to 20 of your readers! 



In fact, they’re going to be celebrating (and offering giveaways) all year long! You can find out more and peruse all of their fabulous books by visiting www.flashlightpress.com.


20 Books?! Talk about a dragon-sized giveaway!


Giveaway Instructions: Readers, to enter this giveaway please 1) like and share/RT this post on social media and 2) thank Jodi and Flashlight Press for stopping by and for their AWESOME treat! Dragon GIFs are appreciated and welcomed, too. ;)


Giveaway winners will be drawn and announced on or about 1/31.


Note: Books will be shipped in the US only. Winners must have a US address.


A closing note from Jodi:


Before I say goodbye, I’d like to share one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes:


Today you are You.
That is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

What this means to me is that no one knows or can write the story you hold in your heart better than you can. And the world needs your stories! Don’t listen to the ‘no’-it-alls. That first ‘yes’ must come from you!


Thank you again for inviting Dragon and me to share our journey with you!



About Jodi Moore:

For years while growing up, author-illustrator Jodi Moore was told – sometimes admonished –

that she “thought like a child.” Now, she sees it not only as a compliment, but as her mission.

Jodi is a member of SCBWI, a student (and professional critiquer) at Storyteller Academy and participated in the 12x12 Online Picture Book Challenge as a member and & 'Critique Ninja' from 2016 through 2022.



She is author of the award-winning WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN, WHEN A DRAGON

MOVES IN AGAIN and I LOVE MY DRAGON (illustrated by Howard McWilliam, published

by Flashlight Press.) The proud and (admittedly) neurotic mother of two incredibly talented sons, Jodi never ceases to be amazed at how far the umbilical cord really will stretch. She lives in PA with her best friend/husband, Larry, and an ever-changing bunch of characters in her head.


For more about Jodi, check out the following links:



For more about Howard, check out his website at: https://www.howardmcwilliam.com/


For more about Flashlight Press, check out the below links:



To purchase Jodi's dragon series on Amazon or to leave a review for it, click here.



 










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