Craft Chat with Janie Reinart
Chatting with Janie about children's books and writing is something we've done together since we first met at the WOW Nonfiction Retreat, 2014, with amazing writers, many who are now published authors. Today I'm kicking up my heels for Janie's debut picture book and the years of writers' craft that brought When Mud Makes Water to fruition.
Kathy: I notice lots of repetition and parallel structure in your lyrical text, such as “something from nothing” and the structure of “something is something until . . .” Here's an example ,“A bag is a bag until . . .” Was that a “happy accident” or did you plan it?
Janie: Kathy thank you so much for interviewing me on the GROG. The repetition and parallel structure was more like a “happy plan.” I wanted the text to be playful and invite the child reader to interact and say the lines with me.
Kathy: Please share the inspiration that photographer Nora Lorek and writer Nina Strochlic’s National Geographic piece had on your story. Many writers wonder how to get photo permissions. Did you reach out to the NatGeo team or did your publisher? How does that work?
Janie: The photos pulled me in and the story grabbed my heart. In my case after reading the article, I noticed that Nora was on Instagram. I gathered my courage and contacted her. Nora gave me her email and we began to correspond. She became my inspiration and resource. Nora asked to see my story when it was done. She loved the story and said it reminded her of this photo. When I clicked on the link it was the very picture of Nora’s that started the story for me. I wanted the picture in the back matter. It was so important to me for children in the USA to see that photo to empathize with children in other places in the world. Nora directed me to her agent in London. I purchased the photo.
Kathy: Illustrator Morgan Taylor’s work is evocative, yet realistic. What surprised you most when you first saw Morgan’s art? Are you collaborating with her for book promotion?
Janie: I saw sketches early on and was blown away by Morgan’s talent. Her use of color and the emotions captured in each picture takes my breath away. Morgan and I are collaborating on book promotion and hope to do some virtual author/illustrator visits together too!
Kathy: Janie and I would like to share a post that highlights illustrator Morgan Taylor's illustration background and process for this collaboration with Janie here.
Kathy: I know you’ve begun virtual author visits. Will you share some of your highlights and challenges for our readers, please? How did you tailor the visit to different age groups?
Janie: I love working with all ages. I divide my author visits: K-2nd grade, 3rd-5th grade, 6th-8th grade, and high school. I include singing and reading the picture book story with K-2nd grade. With 3rd-5th grade and up, I include a readers theater version of the story and more writing prompts. These are some of the best responses I received this year to the question--Why do we write?
“We write to change people’s lives.” 3rd grader in Minnesota
“We write to bring joy.” 3rd grader in Cleveland
“We write to express our emotions.” 5th grader in Cleveland
I loved a response from a kindergarten group in Cleveland. The students were sitting on a rug. Interspersed during the visit, I told jokes. There was always a pause--then they would literally fall on the floor laughing. It was so much fun to laugh with these students!
A challenge was having kindergarteners on individual computers. They all had to be muted to keep the noise level down. I also couldn’t see anyone when I was sharing my screen. The teacher sent me little videos of the kids following along singing and doing the hand motions.
Kathy: What are you working on now?
Janie: My husband and I previously traveled to France to walk in the footsteps of a saint. I am working on a rewrite of that story.
Janie revels in playing with words. As an author, educator, storyteller, and poet, words are her tools. Janie’s passionate about encouraging emergent writers of all ages to find their voice, share their stories, and experience the sheer joy of writing. She lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio with her charming husband. Janie relishes reading historical novels and poetry, writing picture books and singing, and delights in playing with her 16 grandchildren.