Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meet Jodi Moore, author of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN

When and where do you write? 

Is it okay to answer “whenever and wherever I can”? * grin * While I do have an office in which I do most of my writing, I also tend to be on the road quite a bit. What’s great about being a writer is that you can take it with you…and create on almost anything. I travel with a laptop and always keep a notebook close by, but I have been known to jot ideas down on receipts, envelopes, my hand…even on steamy shower doors! One never knows when inspiration will strike!

One thing I have forced myself to do is to recognize and treat my writing as a true JOB. My husband and I have our own business and we have two (now grown) boys. When I first began, I would make sure everything else was done before I “allowed myself” time to write. Although it was my dream, I considered writing time to be a luxury. Now, in addition to being my passion, it’s a responsibility: a treasured, beloved responsibility, for which I hold myself accountable.

How do you find inspiration? 

Inspiration is everywhere! You just have to open your eyes, mind and heart to it. When I do school visits, I talk to the students about the power of observation, imagination and reading. I spend a lot of time cultivating (and enjoying!) all three!

Of course it helps to have a solid and loving support system to nurture that inspiration. I could not be more blessed to have the encouragement of my family – and my writer buddies (aka my “extended family”)!

How did you find the inspiration for "Dragon"?

WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN, my first published picture book, was written when my husband Larry and I were in the throes of empty nest syndrome (admittedly, this is a chronic condition for me).

That Labor Day was our first time visiting the beach without our two sons, who had left for college a week earlier. Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact we were missing our boys, my hubby brought his satchel of sand toys, determined to carry on the family tradition of crafting a sandcastle.  Of course, it didn’t take long for him to attract a little army of helpers, as children gravitated toward the “construction site” in droves.

(Note: I spent my time that afternoon flitting around to the ever-growing gaggle of anxious moms, explaining why a mature man would be building a sandcastle, seemingly alone, resulting in luring their precious babies toward him. Apprehension was replaced by relief and understanding smiles when I explained the whole Empty Nest thing.)

At one point, one of the toddlers stuck a piece of seaweed into the mouth of the castle. Always positive, Larry took one look and said, “Hey! A dragon’s tail! Our castle is so cool, a dragon moved in!”

And the heavens opened and the angels sang…a story was conceived.

Which illustration or character is your favorite?

Wow…that’s like asking me which of my kids I love best. Impossible to answer…’cause I love them ALL equally! Howard McWilliam is absolutely brilliant in his depiction of all my characters. That man somehow crawled inside my head and my heart and brought my story life through his magnificent artistry. I love everything he did!

How long did it take you to write "Dragon"? 

I allowed the story to germinate in my head for about a month and then, it just seemed to write itself. I so wish my other stories would come to me as easily!

How many revisions?

That’s hard to specify. We had more of a back-and-forth “discussion”, changing a word here, expounding upon an idea there. At one point, I rewrote the story in both first- and third-person; however, we all agreed that we liked the second-person tense feel of it. We felt it invited the reader into the story in a more active and personal way.

That being said, I can honestly say that Shari’s suggestions and edits made it so much stronger!

Do you have an agent?

No, but I would love to have one. To any agents who might be reading this, I am sensitive, romantic, have a great sense of humor, and enjoy long walks on the beach.

Where/how did you meet your editor?

I discovered Shari Dash Greenspan (my awesome Flashlight editor) through reading the delightful comments about her on Verla Kay’s BlueBoard (Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Chat Board)  
While everything I read was UBER-positive, it still doesn’t do her justice. She is an absolute dream editor.

How did you receive the good news?

Most people talk about getting “the call”. I got “the email”! Which probably was the best thing for my editor, seeing I most likely would have blown out her eardrums. Yes, I screamed that loud.

What did you do to celebrate?

Believe it or not, my entire family was away when I found out. Remember, our “nest” was empty and my husband had just flown away on business. But we all Tigger danced, laughed, cried and screamed over our cell phones that evening. The next day, I received a big bouquet of flowers from my husband with the note: “I believe in Dragons; I believe in you.”

Did I mention how wonderfully supportive my family is?

We finally got to celebrate together a couple of weeks later on Thanksgiving Day. What could be more appropriate?

Was there anything that surprised you about the editorial/publishing process?

I don’t know if I’d really call it “surprise”, since I’ve heard so many positive things from fellow authors, but I was – and still am – in awe of the loving and meticulous care that is given during the process. People compare the launch of a book to the birth of a baby. After going through this process, I can see why. There are so many people, working so hard – giving so much – to bring someone’s dream to life. I am grateful beyond words.

Any additional comments or thoughts?

I’m so excited to announce my second picture book, GOOD NEWS NELSON, will be “delivered” soon (expected due date December 2012 from Story Pie Press)! This tale features a young paperboy, who realizes that sometimes it’s not enough to just deliver the news; sometimes you have to do something about it to make the world a better place. It reinforces the fact that little kids can make a big difference!

Finally, I cannot thank you enough for hosting this giveaway and for helping to spread the Dragon love! Sending you buckets of heart-squishy hugs! May all of your sandcastles be perfect ones.

Jodi, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us here at The Itsy Bitsy Writer! I love WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN and I look forward very much to GOOD NEWS NELSON!

Stay tuned for the winner of the Itsy Bitsy Summer Give-Away. I'm dealing with a few small technical difficulties, but we will have a winner VERY SOON. 


  1. Hee hee. "long walks on the beach" No wonder I don't have an agent yet. I didn't realize I should be woo-ing them ;)

    Lovely interview ladies.

    1. My thoughts exactly. I better get my "woo" on. : )

  2. Jodi and Elliah, I cried reading this! Great interview!

    1. I loved Jodi's answers, too. I must admit I got all teary-eyed when I read the note from her husband.

  3. We checked this one out at the library and absolutely loved it! Great interview! :D

  4. Elliah...I can't thank you enough for hosting this wonderful giveaway - and ME! - on your fabulous blog! TONS of Dragon love, hugs and *smoochies* headed your way!!! <3

    Holly, Myrna and Kai...thanks so much for your sweet comments! (In addition to the *giggle* from Kai!) ;-) Love to you all too!!!

    1. You are welcome, welcome, welcome. Your answers were so great. They were more than perfect and oh so inspiring.

      Thank YOU.

  5. LOVE this interview! The story behind the inspiration for Dragon is so fabulous. And the note from your husband?? That is the sweetest thing ever. Congratulations on your success with Dragon and on your upcoming second book!

    And congrats to lucky winner, Robyn! :)

    1. Isn't Jodi amazing? I loved the note from her husband, too! So cute.

    2. Thanks, Diana! Yup, my hubby's a keeper. ;-) <3