Today we're just beaming about the release of Dianne White's new picture book, Blue on Blue (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster)! The stars just keep coming, from Kirkus, Booklist, Publisher's Weekly and beyond. Here's a peek:
It’s a bright, beautiful, blue-on-blue day, but a storm is on its way, and soon …
Rain on rain on rain is pouring. Will the sun ever be back?
We're thrilled to be talking with Dianne, a member of 2007's Whirligigs, on the blog today. Welcome, Dianne! So, tell us . . .
What was the spark that ignited this book?
In large part, I credit Kathi Appelt for setting me off in a good direction. I’d submitted a number of manuscripts to her for my first packet of the post-grad Picture Book Certificate program and many of those used dialogue. Kathi asked me to Please! write something without dialogue. Blue on Blue was the result. It was quickly written one Sunday afternoon, the day before I was scheduled to share a manuscript with my VCFA picture book colleagues. Being under a time crunch, I fell back on a lesson I’d done with students many times – I collected “rain” words, thought about the beginning, middle, and end of my story, and wrote. I shared the manuscript with the group and some time later, after a few word-level tweaks, sent it off to Allyn Johnston, who had recently launched her new S&S imprint, Beach Lane Books. When she called a few weeks later to say she wanted to acquire the manuscript, I was over the moon!
Tell us about your writing community. Are you in a critique group?
After living for years in Southern California where I had the opportunity to grow as a writer in the good company of my SCBWI colleagues from two different regions (LA and Cen Cal), I moved to Arizona and was left without a face-to-face critique group. I continued to share manuscripts by email with a few trusted friends from CA and VCFA, but I longed for a “live” group. Recently, some wonderful local writers and I have started two different critique groups that meet once every 3 to 4 weeks.
What authors do you love for their sentences? How about plot? Character?
Speaking strictly of picture book authors, I’ve been a long-time admirer of Cynthia Rylant’s work. Her versatility, language, and ability to get to the heart make her a favorite. Of course, my list includes many, many others. So to mix things up, I’ll mention just a few contemporary children’s poets whose work I admire – Joyce Sidman, Alice Schertle, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich.
Do you write in silence? If not, what’s your soundtrack?
I DO write in silence. Sort of. I read everything I write aloud, so I guess I write to the sound of my own voice. It helps, somehow. I even occasionally record what I write so I can hear the words in a slightly different way. Sort of like the auditory version of tricking yourself by changing the font or size in order to “see” a manuscript differently. I need to hear it differently.
Who were your advisors at VCFA?
While I was at VCFA, I had the joy of working with some of my most favorite picture book authors – Phyllis Root and Marion Dane Bauer in my first and second semesters and Kathi Appelt during a post-grad semester in the Picture Book Certificate Program. I also had the pleasure of working with Jane Resh Thomas and Tim Wynne Jones in my third and fourth semesters.
What is your favorite VCFA memory?
My best of memory of VCFA is – dare I say it? – hanging out in the wine pit in the evening with my classmates. It was those many evenings spent laughing and enjoying one another’s company that cemented some very special friendships that continue to this day. Those friendships have come to mean everything to me, both professionally and personally.
The value of the wine pit can't be overstated! :) Thanks so much for stopping by, Dianne! Welcome, Blue on Blue!
Dianne White has lived and traveled around the world and now calls Arizona home. She holds an elementary bilingual teaching credential and a master's in Language and Literacy. In 2007, she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Visit Dianne online at www.diannewrites.com!