For those that are new to the Boley Books Family, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself . . .
I’m Kami Boley—the featured author and creative director behind boleybooks.com. If you would like to learn more about me and my projects, please visit our website or email me—firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!
Today, I am pleased to explore the fun and exciting world of creating Children’s Fiction with Author / Illustrator Konnilaree Sanders.
Author / Illustrator
Konnilaree was born and raised in Mesa, AZ to a huge family. She grew up writing and drawing until she earned her degree in Accounting. When she became pregnant with her second daughter, she decided to be a stay-at-home mom. She loved this new job more than anything in the world, but it has been a whole new challenging experience. She decided to use this new skill in combination with her love of writing and drawing, and Stories by Mom was born. These books are a collaborative work of her entire family
She has been married to her husband, Charles, for over a decade and is very happy. Their oldest daughter, Abigail, is 6, and their second daughter, Eleanor, is 3. They also have 2 dogs, 5 cats, 4 chickens, and a dozen fish that will eventually make their way into these stories.
1. How did you discover you were a writer?
Before I could write, I could draw. I liked to draw stories. It was more than a dog. This dog had a mission to find his bone. I fell in love with books at a young age and began “copying” them. I still have a copy of my first-grade version of the Velveteen Rabbit. When I learned the term author/illustrator I slapped them on everything. I would write and draw in notebooks because I wanted them to be like a real book. I continued to write in school, earning a few young author awards, and the chance to read my stories in front the class and school.
But, then school came and went and I fell into the accounting field. It was a completely noncreative profession but a profession that pays. I still remember when I was earning my degree; my English teacher returned one of my stories and asked what I was going to be when I grew up. When I responded accountant, he said that it was a waste of a talent. I didn’t believe him, but that always stuck with me. Of course, another teacher asked the same thing as I dissected an owl pellet. I said an accountant. He said perfect, I never saw someone so methodical. But, that was still a skill I took with me to the writing world.
When I left my job to be a stay-at-home-mom, I was able to dabble again. My skills were rusty, to say the least. I started doing children’s books for my kids. They loved the rudimentary stories and pictures. But, I never thought I could illustrate or write 28-32 full-color pages. But, I kept at it. Each book has been a little more defined and little improved.
2. How many books have you written and what are their titles?
Three Published Children’s Books:
“I Miss You All Day All Week” – About a little girl who misses her dad.
“Naughty Ned and Wild Hair Sue” – About a little girl who refuses to brush her hair.
“Talking Tiger is Tough” – Two sisters who love pretending they are tigers.
3. What is your favorite childhood book?
One of my first favorite books was, “The Very Worried Walrus” by Richard Hefter. It was part of the Sweet Pickles Series from the 1970s. The series had 26 volumes. Each was a letter of the Alphabet with a corresponding animal; A-Alligator, B-Bear, C-Camel and so on. Each character was unique. The characters had personality imperfections that moved the story forward. The made the books identifiable.
I was a worrying child, so I identified with the Worried Walrus. In the story he faces his fears of the “could happen,” and he is better for it. The character learns to live a little and not worry so much; a positive message for those of us who suffer anxiety.
I also love the whole series because of its format of Alphabet-Animal relationship. It spoke to my sense of organization. In a way that was also anxiety reducing; it was predictable and comforting in its rhythm and composition. Plus I love alliteration.
4. Tell us about a pivotal book you read as a teenager?
I will go with a classic high school read, Jane Eyre. It was an inspiring read for several reasons. The book was written in the 19th century by a female author, Charlotte Bronte. I love the strength of the story and I love Jane. I love how she is self-driven and won’t let others compromise who she is. Plus, I am a bit of an anglophile.
5. What is your writing kryptonite?
I have a few weaknesses that stop me from writing; kids, self-doubt, character anxiety, and Google.
One of my biggest distractions is having two young children at home. First, it is the daily struggles all moms/parents have, dealing with the million questions and requests and to-dos. But I want to be sure they get quality time. It is a reason why I focus on children’s books. That way they get to a part of the process. We talk about ideas, they pose for pictures and things like that. I can easily talk myself out of working on my novel because I get mom-guilt if I work on something too long.
The reason my novel has taken so long is that I stop writing due to self-doubt. I read a lot of articles and books on How to Write, then think, “I can’t do that.” So I have to put those books down and push through the doubt.
What is character anxiety? I love my character too much to put her through something so awful. There is no story without conflict, but sometimes I have to walk away and process their destruction; too much empathy.
When I do elect to work on the novel, I have to research. This leads to the rabbit-hole that is Google.
6. What is the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I am a stay-at-home mom and a teacher’s wife, so my funds are limited in what I afford. Luckily, my editor exchanges her time for a signed copy of the book for her daughter. She is an English teacher who actually edits it with her young daughter. They are amazing. They caught errors that I was blind to. They also prevented me from publishing a less than a great book.
But, another high-cost item was buying my own ISBN. The first time I published a book, I just took a free ISBN, and not even from Create Space. I rushed into self-publishing and made a lot of mistakes. It wasn’t arrogance but lack of confidence that I could actually publish a book that people would actually buy.
But, I got serious about it and bought a ton of books and scoured the internet for resources on self-publishing. I produced a much better product. Actually, I did so much research that I am trying to sort through it all to write something for new authors to use as a resource.
7. How do you choose the names for your characters?
My first two books were for my kids, Abigail is my oldest child (I Miss You All Day All Week), and Sue is the middle name of my second child (Naughty Ned and Wild Hair Sue). Cate and Lily (Talking Tiger is Tough) were named for the tiger theme, Cate (Cat) Lily (Tiger-Lily).
I think names are important to how you visualize a character. It is also important to pick names in the right time period, and culture. So with my novel, I pull out my leftover baby name book to find ones that sounds right. Then I researched to find out if they were plausible for the time period and region. Looking up surnames is just as important as first names. It can signify heritage and culture.
8. Do you hide secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I love hiding stuff because I love finding stuff.
I read a saying the other day that resonated with me, “Don’t give your readers 4, but 2+2.” There is something so satisfactory in figuring the book from the small foreshadows or hidden clues given right before the reveal. Of course you think it is your own brilliance, but actually, it is the result of a great author leading you there in a beautiful orchestra of words. I am not talking about myself as the author here but as the reader.
I also love or noticing a quotes or references and you say to yourself, “Ooh I know what that it is!” It feels like you are on the inside. You are part of the special group. I think a basic human reaction.
9. What activities do you enjoy when you’re not writing?
Outside of the obvious, reading, I like to create. I draw, paint, sew, crochet and bake. I love doing things with my kids. I am their first teacher and take any moment to teach them and included them. Two things I wish were my hobbies is gardening and music. I gave up on music a long time ago, but I try to garden every season.
10. What was your last project?
“Talking Tiger is Tough” was my last published book. But I am always working on blog posts with original artwork, poems, and projects. This takes up a lot of time that interrupts my working projects.
11. What is your next project?
“A Duck in the Dark” is my working title. It is about a little boy who meets two ducks who happen to be shadows. They help alleviate his fear of the dark. Again it is a book in my style that I unwittingly obtained. A kid meets a problem and friend and they work it out in silly games.
I am always working on longer fiction. I have completed a few chapters here and there. It’s been a long-term project. My children’s books are prioritized because my kids love them.
But, I really want to do more. So I have been putting the kids to bed and staying up late to write. I want to see it to the end. It is in the John Irving Style of character building and interwoven stories. He is my favorite author.
It is about three generations of women and the impact they have on each other. It takes place in the 60’s, late 70’s and today-ish. So with three main characters, decades of time, multiple locations, historical references, and skills beyond my current knowledge, it is a lot of research to get it right. It might not even work as one book, but I will try. I love historical fiction and books with a resonating theme. I am writing a book that I would love to read.
12. How can readers connect with you?
Visit www.storiesbymom.com it is where you can see and follow the various social networks I am on, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Amazon Authors, and Goodreads. You can also email me email@example.com Also follow my blog, I have a variety of articles, resources, illustrations, short writings, kid’s stuff, mom stuff. I just post what I enjoy.
“Naughty Ned and Wild Hair Sue” is a silly story in a child’s make-believe world. We all know the importance of good grooming habits, but sometimes it takes a harebrained story to remind us. The story begins with a wild little Sue. She loves to play, and her hair loves to tangle. One day her favorite kite snags her hair. Her mom was able to pull it out, but Sue refused to let her mom brush it . . .
Abigail is a little girl who is worried about missing her father while he works. They spend time together to think about the adventures to be had when the weekend comes.
“I Miss You All Day All Week” is a story that combines the difficult emotions of separation anxiety with a child’s whimsical imagination to create a fun way to cope with her fears of saying goodbye . . .
We want to thank you for joining us today for this lovely Introduction to Konnilaree and her imaginative work.
Please remember . . . the best compliment you can give an author is to follow, read, and leave a helpful review.
We have many awesome interviews with authors and other creatives coming soon to entertain and educate stay tuned.
Happy Reading and Writing!!
Kami Boley and the Boley Books Team