AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT presents the talented and super creative Michelle R Eastman!
I am so excited to interview Michelle and find out how her fairy tale picture book became such a wonderful and enchanting story. Michelle is the author of children’s picture book “The Legend of Dust Bunnies ~ A Fairy’s Tale,” fantastic writer, and blogger extraordinaire!
Michelle began her career as an elementary teacher and went on to write educational content at Iowa Public Television. When she’s not chasing dust bunnies, or her two cats, she likes to cuddle up with a good book and her son. She and her family live in Waukee, Iowa.
Let’s get started and get to know Michelle a bit better!
Michelle, where did your original idea for the Dust Fairies originate?
I wrote a version of the story in college. However, that story was about magical dust bunnies who came to life. The version it became, 20+ years later, focuses on Dust Fairies who come out at night and create messes in our homes. The Legend of Dust Bunnies will open your eyes to a world of dirt and dust that you never knew could be so magical and fun! Did you know that Dust Fairies come into our homes at night and sprinkle dust, spread spider webs, and even spit crumbs into the carpet? They do. It’s true. Well, not all fairies. Artie is different. He doesn’t like messes, and he doesn’t fit in. At first, Artie is lonely and unsure of what to do, but then he takes matters into his own hands. When given lemons you’re supposed to make lemonade, right? This story does one better, it turns DUST into DUST BUNNIES.
“The Legend of Dust Bunnies is the story about how and why a misfit Dust Fairy turns dust into cuddly dust bunnies and the joyful aftermath that follows. It will have families looking at dust bunnies in a new light, and may actually give kids an excuse NOT to clean their rooms.”
Tell us a little about your writing process for your first Dust Fairies book? and How that has evolved or changed for the second book?
I generally write in our home office. But, I take a pad and pen with me wherever I go. I have come up with some of my best ideas while sitting in the stands at my son’s swim team practices. I also take advantage of my hands-free phone. When an idea comes to mind while I am driving, I email myself a quick note. Hopefully, I understand what the note means by the time I get home. I learned long ago that ideas I am positive I will remember later, are always the ones I forget!
My process has changed a bit over time. I used to write everything by hand on notepads. It got to be quite messy and inefficient. Now, I write most of my drafts on Word. I print out every revision with a time and day stamp, so I can keep track of the changes I’ve made. Sometimes I go back and rescue a scrapped idea, but I generally don’t look back once I have deleted or abandoned something in the manuscript.
Kevin and I are in production of our newest book, Dust Fairy series. The second book is about a dust fairy, named Aggie, who plays the bagpipes (I know-it sounds crazy. That’s why I love the picture book genre.). Aggie wants to join the dust fairy band. She is not as dainty and graceful as the other band members, so she struggles to fit in by striving to be “perfect”. In the end, she discovers that she does not have to be perfect to find her perfect fit.
Do you write every day? Or how does your life /career / family revolve around your writing / connect with your writing/ influence your writing?
I am a binge-writer. I tend to hyper-focus for weeks at a time, and then I take a break. My son influences my writing. He actually inspired the main character, Artie, in my first book. Although the main character in my second book is a girl, she shares many traits with my son.
Tell us how you have developed your style of writing and where you hope to see this style evolve as you continue to work and grow as an author.
My first two books are rhyming picture books. I hope, at some point, to step out of my comfort zone and write a story that does not rhyme. I am also interested in writing non-fiction picture books.
What part of your writing process captivates and emotionally charges you?
I have worked with illustrator, Kevin Richter, on both of my books. I find it captivating that although I can write words that tell a story, the story truly comes to life with the illustrations. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with him.
How do you divide your time between writing and social media for marketing and PR / or what lessons have you learned to make this process make sense and run day to day more smoothly?
I am not a good manager of my time, and I struggle with balancing writing and marketing. I promote in the traditional ways: Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, Goodreads, etc. I also reach out to reviewers and librarians online. I have found much more “success” with face-to-face sales than I have found online. I have sold roughly 6 times the number of books at book signings/events and by making local connections. I contact local media to help promote my upcoming events and ongoing literacy initiatives. I’ve asked to local bookstores and public libraries to carry my book, and I have begun visiting schools and libraries for author visits.
What draws you in and inspires you in other writers work?
I enjoy and am influenced by old-time fairy tales. I try not to teach an overt lesson or moral with what I write, but I hope kids relate to my stories and come away with something meaningful to them. Dr. Seuss is one of my favorites. He was a master at weaving the morals into his stories so the message is only whispered to you.
What is “success” to you?
Success is an ongoing, evolving process. What I defined as success a year ago looks much different than it does today. I discovered very early on that comparing my “success” to the success of others is a sure-fire way to rob oneself of the joy that should come with pursuing your dreams.
What kind of encouragement or jump start ideas do you give to someone who has been developing their writing and style but hits a wall / slump or just feels like they are getting no response out there in the world?
I have written, off and on, throughout my life. Writing was a big part of my professional career, but my creative writing was not something I shared with anyone. I had wanted to write a children’s picture book for many years. But, honestly, I did not have the confidence in myself to pursue publishing my work. About a year and a half ago, I began researching the business of traditional and indie publishing. I slowly began to realize I was up for the challenge of publishing one of my stories. I have found myself in many slumps throughout this journey. It can be overwhelming, frustrating, and lonely. The best thing I ever did was reach out to and connect with other writers and artists. There is a remarkable support network online. It helps to surround yourself with positive people. Learn everything you can from people in the know. But, don’t forget to pay it forward and back. Share what you’ve learned with others and do your best to support their efforts.
Join the Dust Fairies on their messy nighttime adventures, and discover how one misfit uses his talent to create something legendary. His story will have families looking at Dust Bunnies in a new light, and may actually give kids an excuse NOT to clean their rooms.
You can also check out the book trailer HERE.
Michelle books can be found at:
Michelle personalizes and ships books via her web site www.michelleeastmanbooks.com