Please welcome children’s author Jean Ingellis to my blog. Her first children’s book, Waneta Walrus and her blue tu-tu, was released earlier this year.
What or who inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always written bits of stories and poems ever since the 7th or 8th grade when a nun took an interest in my writing and asked me to write some poems for her. Words just pop into my head for some reason. Usually I think they’d make good hoakie country music songs. Unfortunately for my husband usually late at night. I jot them down to get them out of my head so I can get back to sleep and especially as I won’t remember a thing about them in the morning. But the inspiration for this book is my grandson who I wanted to have something special from “Grandma”.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
Once the book was officially up for sale and someone that I didn’t know actually bought my book to read.
How much of yourself, your personality or experiences, is in your books?
I think a little of my personality is in my book. I think simple thoughts, love simple poems and stories and I think that comes out in my writing.
What is the best or worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)
The best advice I received was through writer’s blogs such as yours. The most important being expect rejections, don’t let them get to you and never give up. I knew I couldn’t get a query to a publishing company so I started with agents. Indirectly, the fact that I actually got e-mails back (which isn’t always the case and showed some effort on their part, even if they were pre-formed letters) was quite encouraging and gave me the boost I needed to go further on even though they were polite rejection letters.
How do you conceive your plot ideas?
In writing children’s stories there isn’t major plot ideas. However, I do like to have a character who overcomes some sort of obstacle and becomes a hero who also has something fun or interesting happen in the story. Always with a happy ending of course.
What inspired you to write this book?
After wanting to write a story for my grandson being the main inspiration, I think the inspiration for the character came from my love of the ocean and it’s aquatic animals. Seals are a favorite, kind of like the pet dogs of the ocean. An aunt even gave me a life sized seal statue for my family room that we call “Sam”. But there are already quite a few adorable seal books out there. So I decided on a walrus. After that I decided I wanted the walrus to be different. So I made the walrus a girl, gave her a tu-tu and going even farther, gave her only one tusk. I had thought that there is a world of children out there that are different themselves, or atleast feel different and could relate to Waneta in their own way.
How did you come up with this title?
I knew I wanted a walrus with a name that started with a “W”. I looked up names in several name books. Waneta appealed to me and I had never heard of that name before. After researching the name the interesting thing that I found was that there actually was an American Indian in our country’s history with that name, who incidentally fought with the British against the United States but later in life changed his sympathies somewhat. The name Waneta translates to “shape shifter” or “charger”. There were also two naval ships with that name. I added the sub title of “and her blue tu-tu” to differentiate between that story and other Waneta Walrus stories in the future. It seemed appropriate since this story tells how she came to want a tu-tu and how she received it in the end.
What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?
The most difficult scene to draw was the shark in two different pages. I was worried on the one page of the shark teeth being too scary for some children as sharks do have sharp teeth and that can be scary. But it was integral to the story as the shark was chasing and trying to eat Waneta. The other page I had to show how Waneta swirled and danced so effectively that she wore out the shark and was able to get away. How do you show in a drawing that a shark is exhausted from the chase? Well, you take liberties and give the shark a pink tongue hanging out. Everyone knows sharks do not have tongues, especially ones that hang out. But that along with the eyes closed, you just seem to know the shark is exhausted.
Have you started your next project? If so can you share a little bit about your next book?
My next Waneta story won’t be out for probably a year from now. I have it written already, but it’s the illustrations that take the longest time to do. It’s the story of how she meets her best friend by saving him. The two will also go on to have other adventures together in other future stories.
Were there any unexpected problems that popped up during the writing or publishing process? If so how did you fix them?
Yes. The biggest problem (and most time-consuming to fix) was the fact that I did not understand about DPI (dots per inch). Something that in digital books isn’t too much of a problem, but in the printing of the books seems to be a major thing. The program I used to draw the book was in 96 DPI. The basic requirement for printing is 300 DPI. I had to basically use a different program and cut and paste the old pages in. Then re-trace every picture and re-color them along with removing the words and re-writing them in the new program. A very time consuming mistake that anyone who is thinking of making a children’s picture book as an indie author and illustrator should know and understand before starting a digital drawing process.
If you could jump into any book, and live in that world, which would it be?
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I love gardens and flowers and would have loved to have been part of that project and friendship.
If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?
The first would be Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss). What an interesting way he put controversial subjects of the day (of importance) into amusing stories. The second would probably surprise you….Stephen King. Anyone who really knows me well knows there are just some scary movies or books I can’t even watch or read. When I was in high school I had to read his book, Salem’s Lot. The only way I could read the book was to go to the local beach, in broad daylight, with people around. The most interesting part of the book that I don’t recall being in the movie was the part where he described the baby who the vampires had gotten. (please forgive this quote as not exact)…”tossed into the corner of the crib like a used doll”. So many years now as I’m in my mid 50’s and that part of the book still gets to me even if I can’t remember the exact wording. what I envisioned in my mind through those words is still there. Until then I had never thought of baby vampires. Mr. King has an incredible mind. Scary, yet incredible and so much different than mine. The fact that he has the discipline to write so many novels and such varied ones, boggles my mind.
Waneta only has one tusk so she is different….and different can be a good thing. Why does she want a blue tu-tu? Follow her adventure to see how she becomes a hero and in the end finally does get her tu-tu after facing obstacles along the way. This story is written in a charming rhyming pattern. With 26 pgs. and a lower word count it makes it readable in one sitting. The story line makes it a fun read. Pictures that aren’t too overwhelming amuse children and allow you to create simple count & color games. How many yellow fish or clouds are there? What colors are in the ball or beach umbrella? Can you find the star fish on pg.18? A simple tongue twister like “long, sharp shark teeth” could make your child giggle. Subtle messages like teasing is wrong and having goals is great, but even if you only reach one you can still be happy are life’s little lessons that should be learned.
About the Author
As a child Jean Ingellis enjoyed simple rhyming so much that she would walk to the library by herself throughout elementary school to read the Mother Goose nursery rhymes book. She was born in Ohio but spent her younger years growing up in the Mid Atlantic region. In her mid 50’s now Jean has spent most of her adult life in the New England area raising her five children. After her children were grown Jean taught herself how to read music and play the acoustic guitar. Something she had always wanted to do since she couldn’t sing very well and just never seemed to find time to do when raising her children. She is still learning and plays a little better than she can sing. She has always enjoyed reading stories to children over the years. Her grandchild being her favorite to read to. Waneta was written especially for her grandson.
You can buy Waneta Walrus and her blue tu-tu on Amazon.