Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Children's author, Dixie Phillips Visits Write What Inspires You
Time goes by ever so quickly and the growth of an author's career may seem a long time between publications, but with talent and perservance the changes do occur. Join me in welcoming children's author, Dixie Phillips as she chats about her latest children's picture book, Stilts the Stork and true inspirational events from her life.
DMc: Congratulations on your latest children's book release, Stilts the Stork. I had the privilege of watching illustrator K.C. Snider demonstrate her artistic talents in St. Louis at the Children's Museum in the Fall of 2010 and I was immediately mesmerized by Stilts! Please share with our readers the premises of Stilts the Stork and how you developed this engaging story.
DP: One morning I was reading an article in the newspaper about a stork that built a nest near a golf course. She discovered a golf ball and thought it was an egg. All day the story danced around in my head. I thought it was such a unique tale and my creative juices started flowing. I sat down and wrote a silly poem about a stork named Stilts and her obsession with becoming a mother. She gathers a family of “eggs” and turns the whole golf course upside down. It’s a “tickle your funny bone” story and written in rhyme. Stilts is very “ditzy.” (not to be confused with Dixie) **grin**
DMc: What was the collaboration process like with Ms. Snider?
DP: K.C. is delightful to work with. This is our second book together. She also illustrated my Christmas story— Baby Jesus is Missing. We always keep in contact by phone or e-mail when we’re working on a project. I just can’t sing K.C.’s praises enough. Her illustrations made my story come to life. When I saw the first pictures she created, I was blown away. They were just perfect. She captured every inch of my text and then some.
I remember one time K.C. and I were talking about how we envisioned Stilts and one of us mentioned Stilts should be wearing high heels. K.C. put her magic paintbrush to work and created a masterpiece. I laughed out loud the first time I saw Stilts wearing high heels and sunglasses.
DMc: Please share with us your background and how you became a children's book author.
DP: My story should inspire others who dream of one day becoming an author, but don’t know how their dream is going to come true.
My husband is a minister and I began writing dramas for the children of our congregation. Someone suggested I submit my dramas to a couple publishers. I was elated when I received a letter stating they wanted to purchase my plays.
My writing started growing in different directions. I started selling articles I had written to Sunday school papers, Christian magazines, and anthologies. Before too long I was ghostwriting books, while continuing Work for Hire assignments.
One day a troubled young girl came into my office and told me she had been “born wrong.” The courts had taken her away from her parents and she was placed with her grandparents. Even though my heart broke for her, my words didn’t seem to get through. She was defeated and convinced she would end up making the same mistakes her parents had. After our visit I sat down and tried to think of how I could help her. Inspiration struck and I wrote Stubby’s Destiny –an inspirational story about a defeated donkey who thought he was born wrong. He wished he was a stallion and could carry kings on his back. Things got worse when someone tied a rope around his neck, but moments later he was chosen to carry the King of Kings on his back—his divine destiny!
Months later, I was surfing the web, I stumbled across Guardian Angel Publishing. I submitted Stubby’s Destiny. Later, I received an e-mail from Lynda Burch from GAP accepting it for publication. GAP has given me the title children’s author.
DMc: What is your driving force in developing such heartwarming characters?
DP: I grew up with two precious grandmothers who invested in my life. They always had little quotes and sayings to help me understand their point of view. They were living examples of the truth tucked in this motto: You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. Both of my grandmothers are gone now, but their influence continues still today.
My maternal grandmother lived in a poor neighborhood called Oak Park. Any of the property in this poverty-stricken location was considered of little value, because the lowlands caused frequent flooding. Many, who lived on high ground, considered Oak Park to be a thorn in the side of their fair city, but this attitude didn’t faze Grandma. She had a heart oozing with God’s love and she was determined to help the neglected and forgotten children of Oak Park. Her home became a soup kitchen, barber shop, safe house, and homeless shelter. If anyone from her neighborhood had a problem, they knew they could count on Grandma. She housed frighten children, battered wives, and after many years of listening to various problems over a hot cup of coffee and a slice of her homemade pie, Grandma became a seasoned counselor. Most people understood her mission, but there were some folks who were prejudice against her simply because of where she lived. I can remember her saying, “It’s not where you live, but how you live that matters most.”
Grandma’s love for people continues to be a driving force in my writing. I want my life to count for something of eternal value. I hope my books plant a seed of hope in the heart of a hopeless child and transplant a smile on the face of a hurting child.
Grandma always sang, “If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or a song, if I can show somebody that is traveling wrong. Then my living shall not be in vain.”
It is very exciting to think the seeds of influence from my books will live longer than I do and produce a harvest of wisdom and help ignite a vibrant faith in the heart of child, which will change a generation and time my eyes may never see.
DMc: How can our readers learn more about your illustrious career?
DP: They can visit my blog at http://www.writing4littleones.blogspot.com/ or go to our ministry website at http://www.floydslighthouse.com/.
Dixie, beyond the scope of your writing, you’ve provided such a heartwarming insight into your personal life and experiences. Thank you for sharing.
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.