Why did you become a writer?
Writing brings me joy! I have been a writer for as long as I can remember. I still have the diaries from my childhood as well as an entire box full of letters that I wrote to my husband back in our high school days (he adores me and saved every last one). What is more, I continue to write to the same pen-pal I have had since I was fourteen. I decided to write for children, however, when my favorite college professor—Dr. Marjorie Hancock—told me I should. If she would have said, “Tammi, you’d make an excellent sky-diver,” I would have agreed to it. She is one of those people who can make a person believe in herself.
What do you have to do to become a writer?
One of the most important things to do is read, read, read. The more you read, the better you write. Make time to write. The more you write, the better you write. Revise then revise some more! Develop great characters that people can’t help but care about.
How do you get published?
It’s different for everyone. Some people acquire agents to help them find a publisher. Others do a lot of research about publishing companies and strive to seek out a good match for what they write.
What is a typical work day like?
A typical workday? Ha! I have two kids who are constantly going in thirty directions. On top of that, I do a ton of school and library visits and speak at both writing and educational conferences. I wish I had a typical day. :) For the most part, my days are spent revising a current manuscript, brainstorming, checking email/Facebook/etc., critiquing a manuscript, reading at least a couple of picture books, checking email/Facebook, etc., tweaking a presentation, preparing for a school visit, working on a blog post (for me or someone else), checking email/Facebook/etc., answering questions for an interview, sneaking in thirty minutes on the treadmill, waiting, wondering, and hoping.
Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas are everywhere. A writer's job is to keep her eyes and ears open to them. The idea for COWBOY CAMP literally knocked on my door. One evening, a young boy showed up on our doorstep. He explained he was selling newspaper subscriptions to raise the money he needed to attend a cowboy camp. To me, he looked like the un-cowboy. I knew I had a story.
What advice would you give someone who wants to write books?
Learn everything you can about the craft. Read and write as much as possible. Analyze other picture books. Join SCBWI. Find a critique group who takes writing as seriously as you do. Believe in yourself and never give up.