Janice McMorris is the author of Ivy and the Hummingbird, a children’s picture book about how bravery can lead to new discoveries. Janice has worked as an editor, preschool teacher, and art docent. Now she enjoys gardening, playing with her grandchildren, and writing inspirational children’s books. To celebrate the release of her debut publication, we sat down to chat about the writing process.
MIRIAM LAUNDRY: Hi Janice! Congratulations on the release of Ivy and the Hummingbird. Can you tell us who this book is for and a bit about how you started writing it?
JANICE MCMORRIS: Ivy and the Hummingbird is for children ages three to eight years old. Writing a children’s book has been a dream since childhood. Most recently it became a desire to leave a legacy for my grandchildren and to share a meaningful story with all children.
ML: And what inspired you to write this story in particular?
JM: This story honours my mother. Mom loved hummingbirds. She taught me about hummingbirds, and now I feel close to her when I see one. I learned in the months prior to her passing that she had helped and influenced the lives of more people than I ever knew.
There was a woman I never met who came in like an angel and supported us. She said she felt called to do it after mom had helped her so much when her husband died. There are far too many stories to tell here. Mom volunteered at an organization called The Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. A portion of the funds from Ivy and the Hummingbird will go to a fund that was set up in her honor by her church called Madeline’s Child.
ML: It’s so wonderful that you’ve decided to honour your mother with this book and continue her legacy. Why did you decide to share this message with young readers?
JM: I find that spending time learning about things in the natural world is so important and hummingbirds are amazing creatures! Some of the best days I spent as a preschool teacher were when we took nature walks, planted seeds, quietly listened to the birds chirping, or some other nature-based activity.
In my work with children, the exploration of something in the natural world was often the most meaningful. I observed that children were often afraid of things that were new or startled them, until they were able to better understand what it was that felt scary. To grow to love and appreciate and even care for our natural world, we need to gain understanding and make those connections.
ML: As you worked on publishing this book, did you learn any important lessons yourself?
JM: I learned to trust the process and to do each small step as it came along. I also learned to keep going even when life threw challenges in the way.
ML: That’s very true. Perseverance is so important, especially when publishing. I find some of the most motivating times during the publishing process are when someone reads your book for the first time and has a positive reaction. Did you have any early readers for Ivy and the Hummingbird?
JM: My daughter read my manuscript to my grandson before any illustrations or even sketches were done. I thought that would not be much fun for him. It turns out, he asked for her to read him Grandma’s hummingbird book many times, even with no pictures!
ML: Support can make such a difference to an author. It was such a pleasure to work alongside you in Publishing Mastermind, and I always like to ask authors what inspired them to join the program when they were just starting out. Why did you decide to join Publishing Mastermind, and what was the biggest value to you?
JM: I felt that it was my best chance to accomplish my goal of becoming a published author. The biggest value of Publishing Mastermind is the supportive community, the step-by-step process, and accountability toward accomplishing my goals.
ML: If you could give an aspiring author advice, what would it be?
JM: Take the steps and move forward! Share your message and let the process happen. Do not get stuck waiting for it to be perfect.
ML: Well said. Lastly, what do you hope parents and children take away from your book?
JM: I hope parents and kids take away the idea that sometimes new things are scary, but when we learn more, we gain understanding, and sometimes even love or compassion. Also, that family connections through the generations are important to who we are in the world. And of course, that hummingbirds are awesome!
ML: Amazing. Thank you for chatting, Janice, and congratulations again on publishing your first children’s book.
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