Lis Drage is the author of Differences and the brand-new children’s book My Arms Are Too Short! To celebrate the release of her second book, she and I sat down to chat about how she did it and what she learned along the way.
Read on for the full interview.
MIRIAM LAUNDRY: Hi Lis! Congratulations on the new publication. Can you tell us a bit about your new children’s book, My Arms Are Too Short!, and what inspired you to write it?
LIS DRAGE: My Arms Are Too Short! is for children aged five to nine years old. I started writing it about five years ago after my husband encouraged me to write a second book. I said, “I don’t have any ideas for another!”
So he started pointing out how literally anything could be made into a children’s book. One day I had this terrible itch in the middle of my back and I couldn’t reach it and in frustration I yelled “MY ARMS ARE TOO SHORT!!”
My husband poked his head out of the bathroom and said, “that could be a children’s book,” and now it is.
ML: He’s absolutely right! Almost anything can be turned into a children’s book. It is even better when an author’s personal experience inspires a story. What inspired you to be an author in the first place?
LD: I have worked with or spent my time with children pretty much all my life. I love their perspective, curiosity and their joy. I babysat all my teen years, worked in daycares, received my Early Childhood Education degree, and then had five of my own children - spending all my time with them and volunteering at their schools. And through all of it, one of my favourite things was children’s literature. I enjoyed reading children's stories and poetry, just as much as kids enjoyed being read to. So I guess it naturally progressed from that love of reading to children to writing for them.
ML: Your first book, Differences, tells a very important lesson. For your second book, you leaned more towards a light and fun story. What made you change course?
LD: This is a silly book, and with silliness comes laughter and imagination. I really think the world needs a little more laughter right now.
ML: Did you face any challenges or learn any lessons as you wrote it?
LD: I wrote it in rhyme. I seem to think in rhyme a lot. So of course, making everything rhyme, creating the right rhythm, making every word count, but also keeping it fun and playful. That’s always a challenge.
I also had to learn to let go of fear (which I’m still learning). This is a creation, and like anyone who creates anything, you’re putting a piece of yourself out there for the world to see and ultimately judge. So there’s the fear of judgement, the fear of failure, even fear of success. I definitely had a lot of fear to work through.
ML: Yes, it can be intimidating to put your creation out in the world. For this book, you had the support of your Publishing Mastermind group behind you. What made you decide to join Publishing Mastermind, and what did you like the most about it?
LD: I joined because I really needed the support that you get in the mastermind group, especially when it came to the launch and marketing of the book. That’s where my fear kicked in, and if I was doing it alone, it probably wouldn’t get done. With the mastermind group, there’s constant guidance and encouragement and accountability to help me move past my fears and get it done.
I definitely loved the group support the most. Your fellow authors are on the same path as you, some ahead of you, some behind. You each bring something different to the group and as you get to know each other better, you kind of end up being each other’s cheerleaders. There’s no competition, just encouragement and support.
ML: Mutual support and goals can make such a difference in a support system. I think more authors need to see their peers as allies, not competition. Do you have any fun memories from your time in Publishing Mastermind?
LD: I loved the moment I received the first illustrations from my illustrator Peter Kavanagh. When you write, you have ideas in your head, but you have to trust your illustrator to bring them to the page, and the first time I saw them, they made ME laugh. It was just a great feeling to see how much more the story came to life with the pictures.
ML: Yes, I felt the same way when I saw the illustrations in this book. I especially loved the last page. Aside from the amazing illustrations, what do you hope parents and children take away from this book?
LD: I just want parents and children to share some laughter. My goal was always to write books that parents would enjoy reading as much as kids enjoy hearing it, so I hope it just creates a happy moment in their day.
ML: I have a strong feeling this book will do exactly that. Before we sign off, is there any advice you have for the aspiring authors tuning in?
LD: It’s what every author friend told me: The world deserves to hear your story. Get it out there!
ML: Thank you, Lis, and congratulations again on your brand new children’s book, My Arms Are Too Short!
LD: Thank you, Miriam.
Watch the Full Interview:
Lis Drage is the author of Differences, the first book in the Lacey series. Her time spent in the Early Childhood Education field and twenty-five years as a stay-at-home mom led her to develop a deep love of children’s literature and poetry, which inspired her to write her own.
Her goal is to write stories that are positive, fun, and entertaining to both children and parents. You can learn more about Lis and the Lacey series at www.lisdrage.com