Author Spotlight: B.j. Lee
Feb. 22, 2019
Today we are excited to feature debut picture book author B.j. Lee! B.j. is the author of THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH, illustrated David Opie (Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. January 28, 2019).
I was formerly a music librarian at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. It was here that I started writing a novel. Yes, I thought I would be a novelist. Fast forward to 2006. I had shoulder surgery which left me with severe bicep tendinitis for two years. I’m talking knife-stabbing pain every time I moved my arm. It was difficult to even hold a pencil. I went into a major depression because I couldn’t write. My husband said “write poetry” but I didn't know how. However, he had planted something in my brain.
I started studying poetry and picture books, then very slowly started writing the stuff with the aid of Dragon voice-activated software.
Congratulations on your picture book THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH. How did you come up with the idea?
What was your road to publication...long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?
My picture book road to publication, however, has been long and windy. I won second place in the SCBWI RIsing Kite Contest with a manuscript that has yet to sell, while Gator was accepted for publication in 2016.
What projects are you working on now?
I have many many projects I'm working on, including both fiction and nonfiction picture books, fiction and nonfiction poetry collections and a verse novel.
What advice would you give your younger self, and it this the same advice you give to aspiring authors?
As writers, we should be always learning, always honing our craft, always trying to understand what editors want, and then writing (or re-writing) it for them.
What is something most people don't know about you?
I'm a musician. I have taught piano, I sing jazz standards, play djembe drums on the beach, and am learning digeridoo. I even had a stint as lead singer in a local rock and roll band.
Where can people find you online?
I blog about poetic forms at TLD: michellehbarnes.blogspot.com/search/label/poetry%20forms%20series
I am a former college music librarian turned full-time writer and poet. My debut picture book, There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth, is releasing on February 1, 2019 with Pelican Publishing. Additionally, I am an award-winning children’s poet with over 100 poems and stories published/forthcoming in major anthologies and magazines. Anthology credits include Construction People (Wordsong, 2019), I Am a Jigsaw (Bloomsbury, 2019), National Geographic’s Poetry of US (2018), National Geographic’s Book of Nature Poetry (2015), One Minute Till Bedtime (Little, Brown, 2016), Moonstruck (Otter-Barry, 2019), Spaced Out (Bloomsbury, 2019), Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble (Bloomsbury, 2019) and many others. Magazine credits include Spider, Highlights, and The School Magazine. I blog at Today’s Little Ditty, where I am an authority on poetic forms.
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