Friday, September 29, 2017

Writing Guru Katie Davis and a PRIZE from Sharon Chriscoe!

When I first met Katie Davis she bought me a coffee and a cookie. It was a wonderful cup of coffee but the cookie was plastic. Katie made the coffee shop owner apologize. I never did get a cookie that day. That's exactly what will happen the day I meet Katie Davis! (Look at Katie's picture--she obviously thinks it's funny).

Katie's Brain Burps Podcast was absolutely wonderful (I'm sorry to see it go!) You can listen to old podcasts here! Her new podcast Writing for Children is here! Katie and her husband have taken over the Institute for Writers and the Institute of Children's Literature! Her book Kindergarten Rocks is the book in the photo. Katie is one of the organizers of the Picture Book Summit and awesome at-home writer's conference. Today is the last day to sign up! Hopefully I've done a good job of sharing this elsewhere, so if you are joining you aren't doing this in a rush! You can also sign up for their free Top 10 Tips download here:

Look for a PRIZE at the end of this post!


Dani: What is the most important thing you learned from hosting the Brain Burps Podcast?

Katie: Maybe not surprisingly, the most important thing I learned is related to writing on a regular basis. How? Muscle memory. Sitting down week after week to record the show made me better and better. Same goes for writing. Keep at it, keep doing it, every day, week after week, and you'll improve. Gotta get that butt in the chair!

Dani: How did you get involved with the Institute of Writers/ Institute of Children's Literature?

Katie: I was on faculty at a Highlights Founders Workshop and heard it was closing after almost 50 years of teaching. I know so many writers who learned through the school and subsequently got published, I thought it was a tragedy for it to close! I talked to my husband about it, and we set out to learn more. The thing that pushed us over the edge into taking it over is that there is no other writing school like it out there, even though there are so many now. You get a one-to-one instructor (like having your own editor!), and the content-rich courses are approved by the Office of Higher Education, and you can get college credits.

Dani: What are some of the things that those involved in kidlit should know?

Katie: Take your craft seriously. Make sure that people from whom you're learning really know their stuff, and have legit street cred. Stick with it if you love it. Read, read, read traditionally published books, especially in the genre in which you want to publish - whether you plan on traditional or self-publishing.

Dani:  How have all the things you do inform your own work?

Katie: Everything gives me ideas. I read an article in the NYT about an Irish road crew who refused to take down a tree in order to build the road because the tree was rumored to be a fairy lair. I wrote The Curse of Addy McMahon, a middle grade novel about a girl who blames all her bad luck on an Irish grandad who may have done just that. When my daughter graduated kindergarten she said, "Kindergarten rocks!" And that sparked my biggest selling picture book, Kindergarten Rocks! I am a complete dentalphobe (!), so I wrote Mabel the Tooth Fairy and How She Got Her Job.You just need to keep your mind open to everything you do. What's in the world around you? What impassions you?

Dani: Tell us a little bit about the Picture Book Summit that's coming up.

Katie: If you want to write, or are writing picture books, you are not going to want to miss this. It's going to be amazing!

If you attend you'll get the opportunity to submit to a bunch of the agents and editors who have participated in our pre-recorded interviews. I love these sessions because although editors and agents have different questions from each other, we ask the same questions to each group, so you get to hear many different takes on the same issue.

We have the best of the best: legendary author/illustrator Tomie dePaola (talk about your life informing your work!), the New York Times best-selling author Carole Boston Weatherford, whose book's have received three Caldecott Honor Medals, multiple Coretta Scott King awards and honors, two NAACP Image Awards...I could go on. And for our wrap-up keynote, Adam Rex, whose bio sends me into giggles every time: "Adam Rex wrote and/or illustrated all the books you like including the New York Times bestselling Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, the New York Times bestselling School’s First Day of School, and also a number of titles about which the New York Times has been strangely coy."

We also have workshops, and our unique, oddball feature, we dance––it IS an all-day, online conference so we decided to make it fun and get everyone moving during breaks. Yes, it's all online! That's one of the key things about Picture Book Summit. It's a jam-packed, one day conference (always the first Saturday in October). No planes to take, hotel stays, and no rubber chicken meals in order to attend.

I feel so, so lucky to be in this business. You need to work hard, study, and not give up. Persistence is key, and a thick skin. Revision, passion, and love of the written word will take you through rejections and the harder days ... at least it has for me. (That, and those dark chocolate covered caramels with sea salt––but that's a whole other story.) Whether you come to Picture Book Summit, attend the Institute of Children's Literature, or learn on your own, study the craft. Work hard at it. It's worth it.

Dani: Do you have any other words of wisdom to share?

Katie: Whether you come to Picture Book Summit, attend the Institute of Children's Literature, or learn on your own, study the craft. Work hard at it. It's worth it. Remember you've chosen a tough but lovely business to be in. Oh, yes. It's a business, please do remember that, too-lots of folks seem to forget since it's so much fun.  

Follow Katie:




One lucky winner will win An Autographed Copy of "Race Car Dreams" illustrated by Dave Mottram and written by Sharon Chriscoe and Swag! Sharon Chriscoe donated this prize!  Visit Sharon's Website here:

To win this prize you must have completed your dummy this month.

Let Katie know how much you liked her post below, and let Sharon Chriscoe know how much you love her prize!


  1. Thank you Katie for encouraging us to stay on track! Persistence I can do, like wise shaking negative responses but quelling that inner voice telling me I'll never be good enough is the hard one...but some day, I will over come because its my path. Thank you keeping the Institute for Writers open for us responding to the creative challenges.

  2. Thanks for continuing to inspire us with your knowledge and enthusiasm, Katie. Thank you, Sharon, for the opportunity to win RACE CAR DREAMS–it looks adorable.

  3. Love the examples from everyday life. Stories are just waiting to be found!

  4. Too bad I work on Saturdays. Thank you for the bit of inspiration today!

  5. Been following you on social media for awhile, nice to put a face to your name! Thanks for all you do for the community!

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  7. Thank you for sharing Katie! I am looking forward to the Picture Book Summit. :)