Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Author and Illustrator: The Ultimate Artistic Compliment

We all know on the surface at least, that authors of children's books are only half finished when they complete a story book.  Without the magic dust that illustrators provide, our books are half-baked.

Dixie Phillips

Today it is my pleasure to introduce author, DixiePhillips, and illustrator, K.C. Snider, to my readers.  Both ladies are published by Guardian Angel Publishing. They will answer many of the questions asked of me by those who enjoy a peek into our lives.  I call writing and illustrating the slowest of the performing arts.  After you've heard from these two artists, I think you'll agree!

Please have a look at the trailer for Journey's Promise at the bottom of this post.

We will begin with Dixie and go immediately to much the same question for K.C: 

NS  When did you know you wanted to write for children?

DP   I’ve always had a deep love for the little ones in my life, but I never had any secret aspirations of being a children’s author. My writing evolved from a need in our church.  I am a pastor’s wife and when my husband and I moved our two small children to a rural community in northern Iowa, I knew our new church’s children’s ministries needed some desperate help. I started writing special occasion programs for the children of our congregation. Hearts were stolen as the children ministered through drama and song. People encouraged me to send my ideas to publishers. At first, I was reluctant, but finally submitted some of my ideas.  I discovered there was a real need in other churches for children’s ministry resources, too.

NS  Have you always been interested in illustrating, drawing, etc., K.C.?

K.C. Snider
KC  I was about 10 when I realized how much I liked to draw. I loved Norman Rockwell’s work and tried to emulate his illustrations.  I basically started illustrating stories from Oregon’s School of the Air by OPB where they would read stories over the radio and we were supposed to illustrate s0ome part of the story and send the art in to the OPB teacher.  I used water colors that you could buy in a tin from the grocery store and drawing tablet paper my mother would buy for me.  That’s how I knew this is what I wanted to do and I was good at it.

Eventually, I graduated from the School of Arts in Eugene, Oregon.  I began teaching art classes at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon and Linn Benton Community College in Corvallis, Oregon at the same time.  Overall, I taught art for 17 years at these colleges.  After that, I went out on my own as a portrait artist to Western wildlife fine arts.  There is not a medium I have not worked in at one time or another.  I got back into illustrating full-time about 7 years ago around the time fine arts sales began to decline due to the economy.

NS  Where do you get your ideas? (Everyone wants to know this!)

DP  The air is jam-packed full of inspiration if we just take the time to listen. I keep my ears and eyes open to what is happening around me. Stilts the Stork was written after I read a newspaper article about a bird with a nest on a golf course. She sat on a golf ball, thinking it was an egg.   Angel Eyes was written after our little girl asked, “Mommy, what did the angels think when Jesus died on the cross.” I’ve discovered my best ideas come from listening to children’s conversations.   Stubby’s Destiny was written when I met with a little girl who was convinced she had no divine destiny. She felt like she was always at the wrong place at the wrong time.

NS  Where do you get your ideas, K.C.?

KC  I have to read the manuscript, first, to get ideas swirling around in my head.  That is part of the Creative Mind; I give it time, don’t push it and it will come to me.  Sometimes they solidify when I do my research on a particular story on the internet.  For example, I found pictures of storks on the internet and those combined with the poetics of the story and the cartoon to “see” a cartoon stork.  Along with input from friends and co-workers, that is how “Stilts the Stork” was born.

NS   How do you organize your writing day, Dixie?

I am OCD when it comes to writing. You can usually find me with my laptop working on some writing project. I am a songwriter and ghostwriter. I usually write every day. I’ve discovered the only way to become a better writer is to write. I’m also a life-long learner. I enjoy honing my writing craft and growing as a writer.

NS  How do you organize your illustrating day? 
K.C.  I set my own pace and I am very, very diligent about keeping to my schedule.  I work best later at night when it’s quiet.  I sleep in, then start back up with my first cup of coffee in late mornings.  I do not get started until about 10:00 AM.  But I can be caught researching or painting until after 1:00 AM.  My Publisher knows she can call me at midnight, no problem, and she has!  I do take my breaks to stretch and go for walks so my backside doesn’t begin to spread! 

NS  This book seems a bit different from your others, Dixie. Tell us about it, please.

DP  A few years ago, my niece, Christa, and her husband, Muhsin, began their adoption journey. They traveled to Ethiopia and fell in love with a little girl named Journey and her baby brother Maddon. After the siblings came to America and mastered the English language, Journey wrote a story about life in the orphanage and her adoption experience. Christa was moved by Journey’s story and invited me to help Journey develop it and make it a children’s picture book. From the beginning, we realized it was a very special story. I presented it to Lynda Burch at Guardian Angel Publishing and she accepted it right away. Christa and Mushin hope to use their adoption experience as a platform to help other families adopt children needing a home and family to love. They hope to schedule speaking engagements across the United States for Journey to share her experience and new book: Journey’s Promise.

NS  Dixie’s book is so lovely.  How/why did you illustrate the book the way you did.

KC  I wanted the children to look as close to the real children as possible since this is based on a true story.  I drew on my background as a portrait artist to present the characters as they really looked at the time… and today.  I worked with Dixie to get the pictures as close to realistic as possible.  I researched Ethiopia and the orphanage from where the children came as well as pictures of the characters at the time.


NS  Where can my readers get in touch with you?

DP  I love to make new friends. Readers can read more about my writing at There is a contact page there.

NS  How can Readers get in touch with you?

KC  My blog is  and my web site is and my email is  The illustrated books I have done for Guardian Angel Publishing can be found under “,” “Children’s Bookstore,” scroll down to “Book Categories,” click on  “Artists and Books” to my name “Snider, K.C.”

Official trailer for "Journey's Promise," an illustrated storybook Dixie Phillips and Journey Dai Muhammad. Illustrated by KC Snider. Published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

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