Hello. I'm Lori Mortensen and I write books for children
Growing up ...
Did I start writing when I was little? Nooo! In fact, since I started kindergarten when I was four, reading and writing was a confusing mystery--especially all of those vowel sounds--A, E, I, O, U--Whaaat? But after a while, I caught on. And when my third grade teacher, Mrs. Hall, read to us after lunch recess, I fell in love with books such as Ellen Tebbits, Charlotte's Web, and A Wrinkle in Time. I've been a reader ever since. That was a first big step to becoming a writer because writers always love words.
This bug was drawn by Chicken Lily's Nina Crittenden
Catching the bug
When did I catch the writing bug? Interestingly, I don't remember ever being asked to write a story in school. A lot of boring reports, but never a wonderful, make-it-all-up-in-your-head story. Growing up, I figured whoever wrote all of those exciting stories must have lived far, far away from my home on Jennie Drive. It wasn't until I began reading to my own children, that I wondered ... What could I write?
I've been writing ever since!
Max was my dear office buddy for nearly 20 years. We picked him out of a box when somebody was giving away kittens at Safeway. (He's lucky we didn't name him Safeway!) Sometimes, he'd pose with my latest release. Sometimes he'd leap into my Christmas card. Sometimes he sat where he didn't belong--like my desk--and worked his way into many of my stories. It was always exciting with Max around. Although he's gone, he'll always be in my heart.
Did you know?
Cindy Moo has a lookalike. I didn't either until I met Butterfly Tully. She has the same brown patch over her eye, and the same brown and white coloring. And she obviously likes books!
Do authors and illustrators hang out together?
People think writers and illustrators get together all the time. After all, their names are on the same books. But that's not how it works. Most of the time, I never meet my illustrators or even talk with them. First, I write the manuscript and send it to my agent. Then, my agent sends it to different publishers. When a publisher buys it, they choose the illustrator. Yep, that's what I said. Now, it's the illustrator's turn to tell their half of the story through their awesome illustrations. However, sometimes I do get to meet my illustrators. Just recently, I met Chloe Bristol who illustrated Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey and Rob Sayegh, who is illustrating our upcoming picture book, Arlo Draws and Octopus, at Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore in Berkeley, California. A few years ago, I happened to meet Matt Phelan who illustrated If Wendell Had a Walrus at an American Library Association event in San Francisco.
Chloe Bristol, Rob Sayegh, and me!
Hanging out with Matt Phelan.
My writing tips for young authors
Read a lot!
Go to the library and read even more! (I've always loved the library!)
Think about the stories you read. Why do you like them?
Write a little every day. The more you do it, the better you'll get.
Just have fun and see where your story goes.
Write the kind of story you'd like to read.
Everyone has a birthday--and so do books! Their birthday is the date they're released into the world. My new picture book, Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey had a book birthday at Mrs. Dalloway's bookstore in Berkeley, California. There were some awfully fun people there--Kwame Alexander, Chloe Bristol, Mintie Das and many others! Thanks Mrs. Dalloway's!
Lori Mortensen is an award-winning children’s book author of more than 100 books and over 500 stories and articles. Recent picture book releases include Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey (Versify), Away with Words, the Daring Story of Isabella Bird (Peachtree), If Wendell Had a Walrus (Henry Holt), Chicken Lily (Henry Holt), Mousequerade Ball (Bloomsbury) illustrated by New York Times bestselling illustrator Betsy Lewin, and Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range (Clarion) a sequel to Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg, one of Amazon’s best picture books of 2013. Yee-haw!
When she’s not hiking around bird watching, camera in hand, she’s tapping away at her keyboard, conjuring, coaxing, and prodding her latest stories to life. Today, she lives in the foothills of Northern California with her family and the wonderful assortment of birds that come her way.