Book Tour & Author Interview: KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL by SARAH LINX

Kitty's First Day of School

By Sarah Linx

Kitty the Calico is a young and curious kitten who is going to school for the very first time. Kitty quickly discovers that school is nothing to be afraid of. 

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About the Author: Sarah Linx

Sarah Linx is a young female author with a passion for writing, animals, creativity, and, teaching young children. She believes that teaching can be done both inside and out of the classroom, and comes in a variety of different ways. Sarah uses her passion for teaching and writing to help young students realize that learning can be fun and memorable. 

At the age of thirteen, each student in Sarah's middle school's class was asked to write a picture book to share with the school's younger students. The only guideline given to this class, was that their books had to be, "educational." Upon being given this assignment, Sarah knew that it wasn't enough for her book to be solely educational in nature. She realized her book had to inspire its readers, as that was what all good children's books were supposed to do. Children's books should allow readers to use their imaginations, to wonder, learn, and ask questions about what they see and read. 

Sarah found that the perfect inspiration for her book began at home. Her neighbor had just rescued a dog, and Sarah chose to write the dog's story. The result, was her first picture book, "A Home at Last." 

When her class was given the same assignment one year later, at the age of fourteen, Sarah wrote her second book, "Counting Kitties." After seeing the positive influence that both of her stories had on her school's younger students, as well as their teachers, Sarah knew she wanted to share her stories with as many children as she could. 

During the summer of 2015, "Counting Kitties," became Sarah's first independently published picture book. Sarah is currently working on additional picture book projects for young readers. 

How do you go about planning your stories?

This is an interesting one because my process isn’t something that’s typical of what most authors do. If there is anything I have learned it is that every author needs to find a process that works for them. It is okay to accept that what you do is different. Be proud of that. My planning changes quite a bit throughout my projects but they all have the common task of developing the basic theme or message before I write or draw. For my first book Counting Kitties, I was using a story I wrote for a middle school English project. The first thing I did was look at the story and see what needed to be evaluated again and then worked on the illustrations. My second book, "Kitty’s First Day of School” was quite the adventure. I had a bunch of drawings centered around the concept of school and wrote the story around my pictures. Usually the story comes first and the pictures come later. After that I did a basic outline of ideas of potential plots for each picture. Not only did this help me keep track of ideas, but it helped me with plot sequence. Half way through writing I found out I had more than I had pictures for. I drove myself crazy and wound up adding a bunch of things spread out through the book. It was what the book needed and I was even more proud as the author because that extra work was worth it.

What mediums do you use for writing and illustrating?

For writing, I use my laptop and word processor. For outlines I use traditional multi-colored gel pens and lined paper. I never understood why outlining on the computer never gave me the same results as pen and paper did though I can write stories on my computer most of the time without a problem. For illustrating I use a combination of colored pencils and markers. The mixed media brings an interesting visual element, yet are common mediums kids love to use. Since I write for kids I wanted to come up with a visual style that seems friendly. If a child reads my book and decides they want to draw or write, that would be the biggest honor for me.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?

I’m not 100% sure of what those could be. I need complete silence when I write yet I will get distracted if I don’t have the TV on in the background. I usually watch sitcoms or police dramas that I don’t have to pay attention to since I have seen them enough to give you episode summaries. If it is a new movie or show I haven’t seen, I won’t be able to work though. I need all part of my brain occupied I guess. When I write and draw I have to be near my family’s gemstone and crystal collection. Works wonders or maybe it’s because I believe it does. 

How did you select your platforms for publishing?

This was an interesting thing. Once again this was a decision that took me years to figure out and not something I could decide overnight. When I was 18 I started to research agents and publishing houses. Many of them were classic vanity press stories that ended badly so I needed to move on but grateful that I was learning. I decided to self-publish not because I was rejected but because I was certain I needed to get my stories out there. I had another creative writing project I was floating around along with “Counting Kitties.” Once I did decide on self-publishing, I was an 18 year-old that loves modern day media but really I had no idea on how to even start the publishing journey. I began to research self publishing and was surprised by how many options there were. I gave up on it for a few years because it was so overwhelming. A few years later, I had a few friends who recommended I try CreateSpace now known as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. This too was a steep learning curve but once I got the hang of it suddenly this was possible. When I got the automated email that Counting Kitties would be accepted pending approval of a proof I was like “Oh my… What did I just do?” It was the greatest feeling in the world. “Kitty’s First Day of School” was a tad easier because I had some ideas from my first book about formatting. It’s interesting because you are making a digital layout of the book for something that will become a print source not an ebook. Since then I have also gotten my first two books converted into ebooks and have played around with competing self publishing sources like LuLu and Nook Press by Barnes & Noble. In the digital age, e books make your books accessible to a lot more people. I am totally revealing my age here, but as someone who lived through the start, rise, and fall of iTunes media libraries, I was in childhood tech heaven when my books got their iTunes pages. It’s also a different experience to flip through your creation on your phone or computer and it looks as good as the ebooks I loved as a teenager. It’s a wonderful experience, and I always encourage people to find the platform that works for them.

What are you currently working on?

I have had a bunch of ideas that I have been experimenting with. I used to work at a local summer camp as a counselor so I wanted to write a book about going to camp. Somehow that turned into Kitty going to school. It always bothered me that I couldn’t get that idea to manifest, but someone recently asked what would happen if I brought my character Kitty in to explore summer camp. It would still be a standalone but seem familiar to anyone who has seen my covers or read my books. That’s a possibility I never considered but something I might need to experiment with. 

About a year ago my parents and I rescued a Pomeranian from a breeding mill. She could no longer have puppies at 5 years old so they were losing out on business by keeping her. She is just the cutest thing you will ever see. I was thinking about doing an alphabet treasure hunt book. When we first brought her home, she had no idea what grass was and one year later just figured out how to carry a stuffed toy. 

The project that is gaining the most momentum is actually my first creative writing project from middle school that inspired me to want to publish. I gave up on it because it seemed more complicated than my other books and thought it wouldn’t happen. I illustrated my first two books so I started to play around with ideas and I’m hoping to have it out by the end of the year. 

When I was in the 7th grade, my neighbor George who lived across the street rescued a grown Siberian Husky from a bad situation. It repeatedly got loose and escaped his yard. I was never sure of the full story but I made a repetitive sight word book about dog traits around her. I was inspired by what he did. He later gave his life for our country in the Iraq war but this would be for him. I also have a huge respect for all of our human and K9 first responders so I think of them when I work on this book too. I decided to call it “A Home at Last” because there are so many dogs out there who dream about finding forever homes with families that deserve their love. I write primarily for young children so if they want a pet or about to get a pet (presumably a dog) they should learn about what dogs do first. Lick, eat, dig, run, etc. This one is so close to my heart and I am excited about this one.

© 2018 by Shay Laurent. 

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