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).

Welcome, B.j.!







Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

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?



As a poet, I have an affinity for any of the cumulative rhyming forms such as There Was an Old Lady....  I have several works in progress using this form. But when I saw a baby gator riding waves in a local lake, Gator was born. The other manuscripts went on the back burner and I focused on bringing Gator to life.

What was your road to publication...long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?




I was published as a poet before being published as a PB author. And that road has been relatively short and sweet. My first poem was published in 2010 in the SCBWI Bulletin and I have gone on to publish over 100 poems in major children’s anthologies, magazines, and online venues, both in the States, UK and Australia. 

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?



Advice I'd give to my younger self and to aspiring authors as well: try not to get discouraged.  I’ve gone through years of despair when I could have been using that time more productively. One of those works in progress that I spoke of above? It just recently dawned on me how to fix it, years later. This also recently happened with another work in progress which I had completely given up on ever being able to fix. 

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? 

childrensauthorbjlee.com
bluewindow.com
facebook.bjaylee.com
twitter @bjlee_writer
instagram.com/b.j.lee

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.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

34 comments:

  1. Thanks for this wonderful interview! And BJ, thanks for the advice and congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for stopping by, Myrna! 💚🐊 Nice to see you here!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congrats, BJ. So excited for you. Yes, those languished mss need to be looked at now and then.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kathy! Appreciate that! Yes I need to get back to my languishing manuscripts :-)

      Delete
  4. Enjoyed the interview! Congratulations, BJ. You are one successful, busy lady. And I love that you're learning the digeridoo. All my best to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jill! I certainly am busy, but I like being busy. The digeridoo is surprisingly difficult But it is quite meditative. All the best to you my friend!

      Delete
  5. Congrats BJ, been hearing about this book for a while, looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Lydia! I appreciate that!💚🐊

      Delete
  6. BJ, your book is adorable! What an interesting life you've led.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Dianne! I guess my life has been fairly interesting and you haven’t heard the half of it! 😳

      Delete
  7. Gator and moth controversies sound quite concerning, and I would like to read up on them!

    ReplyDelete
  8. 🤣 Yes I think you should, John! It’s critical! Thank you!🤗🐊

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congrats on your book. I love cumulative tales.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for sharing today. I also enjoy writing poetry and hope to have more published as well as someday picture books. Congrats on your success and I'm excited to read your work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Danielle! Good luck with all of your writing! 💚🐊🤗

      Delete
  11. Wow, what a journey. Lovely how you were able to turn an inability to physically write to a whole new career path. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Sara! Yes it has been quite a journey! In a way, I’m kind of glad the bicep tendinitis happened because otherwise I would not have learned how to write poetry! ❤️

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congratulations on your new book! What a journey and great advice to never give up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Susan! I always want to be on that writing journey! 📚🌺

      Delete
  14. I love this style of story and can’t wait to add Gator to my collection. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your insights for those of us still trying to get published.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks so much Julie! 🐊💚 Never give up!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lovely! My grandson is in love with the this story-so I know he will love reading a new version with some teeth! Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Angie! The illustrator, David Opie, did an amazing job! I like that – a new version with some teeth! :-)

      Delete
  17. Congrats on your picture book!! It sounds like a fun read-aloud story and the illustrations are charming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Linda! It is proving to be a fun read aloud, And I agree, the illustrations are charming!

      Delete
  18. What a fun book to read with my son who loves all animals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Linda! I hope he enjoys it! 💚🐊

      Delete
  19. Congratulations! Can't wait to read this one. Perfect with all the gators here in Florida.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you, Ashley and congrats on winning it!

    ReplyDelete

Template developed by Confluent Forms LLC; more resources at BlogXpertise