Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Michelle Eastman

The Legend of the dust bunnies

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Michelle Eastman to talk with me today about her book, The Legend of the Dust Bunnies. Michelle loves kids’ books, especially children’s picture books. She enjoys getting lost in the magic of the words as they flow into the illustrations. She loves picture books so much, that she wrote her own: The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Her debut book was recently named a BRAG Medallion Honoree, and it has been a #1 Kindle book on Amazon’s Best Sellers list.

Michelle is also the founder of the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On which encourages people to donate new or gently used books to kids in need. She recently launched a special initiative called MARCHing Books to Kids. Throughout the month of March, she is encouraged people to donate books to the VNS of Iowa Storybook Project. The program provides new books to children of incarcerated parents. Each month, a volunteer records the parent reading a book. The CD and the book are then given to the child to keep. Book lovers and children’s authors from around the country donated books. And authors in Greece and Australia and the UK have also donated books to the project. More than 300 books were collected.

Michelle began her career as an elementary teacher in the West Des Moines School District. At Iowa Public Television, she wrote educational content for the K-12 Connections Team, serving teachers and students in two-hundred Iowa school districts. Her dream to publish a children’s picture book began on a “fairy-wing” and a prayer. With the encouragement of friends and family, she is now living her dream as a children’s author. When she’s not chasing dust bunnies, or her cat, she likes to cuddle up with a good book and her son. Michelle and her family live in Waukee, Iowa.

Thank you for talking with me today about your book, Michelle. How did you discover indieBRAG?

I discovered indie BRAG while researching the indie publishing world.

Please tell me about your book, The Legend of the Dust Bunnies. A cute title by the way…

The Legend of Dust Bunnies will open your eyes to a world of dirt and dust that you never knew could be so magical and fun! Did you know that Dust Fairies come into our homes at night and sprinkle dust, spread spider webs, and even spit crumbs into the carpet? They do! It’s true! Well, not all fairies. Artie is different. He doesn’t like messes, and he doesn’t fit in. At first, Artie is lonely and unsure of what to do, but then he takes matters into his own hands. When given lemons you’re supposed to make lemonade, right? This story does one better, it turns DUST into DUST BUNNIES. The Legend of Dust Bunnies is the story about how and why a misfit Dust Fairy turns dust into cuddly dust bunnies and the joyful aftermath that follows. It will have families looking at dust bunnies in a new light, and may actually give kids an excuse NOT to clean their rooms. Artie’s tale helps kids realize that we all have unique gifts, and not everyone fits in with the crowd.

What genre does this fall under and what is the age group for this?

It is a rhyming picture book for ages 4-8.

Tell me a little about the Dust Fairies.

The dust fairies are a mischievous bunch of fun-loving sprites. While we sleep, they frolic and play, leaving behind dust and debris. That’s why no matter how often we clean our houses, the dust always finds its way back. Sometimes, a fairy will accidently leave behind his/her beloved dust bunny. If you find one, be sure to treat it with care. Whatever you do-don’t toss it out. The dust “…fairy who lost it will be worried sick and rush back to claim it, “lickety-split.” The Legend is a handy excuse for kids to avoid cleaning their rooms. It works for grown-ups too.

What is the main message in your story you want readers to grasp?

The main idea is to be true to yourself, and beauty can be found in unexpected places. Artie was unique among his peers, and his talents didn’t quite match what a dust fairy should do. He saw the beauty and value in things his peers discarded, and he used them to create something wonderful. Although my stories have a message or a moral, I like to gently sprinkle the lesson throughout the story and let the reader interpret it for him/herself. Kids are smart cookies; it’s always fun to hear what they think is important about Artie’s experience and how it relates to their lives.

Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?

I generally write in our home office. But, I take a pad and pen with me wherever I go. I have come up with some of my best ideas while sitting in the stands at my son’s swim team practices. I also take advantage of my hands-free phone. When an idea comes to mind while I am driving, I email myself a quick note. Hopefully, I understand what the note means by the time I get home. I learned long ago that ideas I am positive I will remember later, are always the ones I forget!

My process has changed a bit over time. I used to write everything by hand on notepads. It got to be quite messy and inefficient. Now, I write most of my drafts on Word. I print out every revision with a time and day stamp, so I can keep track of the changes I’ve made. Sometimes I go back and rescue a scrapped idea, but I generally don’t look back once I have deleted or abandoned something in the manuscript.

Have you ever gotten stuck on a scene? What did you do about it?

Writing in rhyme presents its own unique set of challenges. I tend to get a bit obsessive about getting the rhythm just right while moving the story along in a natural way. I have learned that it is best for me to take a break when I get stuck (easier said than done).

How did you decide on a title?

Initially I wanted the story to be about magical dust bunnies. As I began fleshing out the story, the dust fairies took over. I had to come up with a title that represented both elements, so I decided to create a “legend” about how dust bunnies find their way into our homes. The story is about a misfit dust fairy named Artie. So, that’s where the “a fairy’s tale” part of the title came in.

Who designed your book cover?

The book’s illustrator, Kevin Richter created the cover and the entire layout and design of the book. I connected with Kevin via Elance. He is an incredibly talented guy, and he’s a pleasure to work with. He is in the UK, and I am in Iowa. All of our communication has been via email. Despite the distance, it has been a wonderful collaborative partnership.

What are you working on next?

Kevin and I are in production of our newest book in the Dust Fairy series. The second book is about a misfit fairy, named Aggie, who plays the bagpipes (I know-it sounds crazy. That’s why I love the picture book genre.). Aggie wants to join the dust fairy band. She is not as dainty and graceful as the other band members, so she struggles to fit in by striving to be “perfect”. In the end, she discovers that she does not have to be perfect to find her perfect fit.

Do you stick with just genre?

The Legend of Dust Bunnies is my first published book. I stick mainly to the children’s picture book genre. I would like to tackle a non-fiction picture book at some point.

Where can readers buy your book?

I sign and ship copies via my website

You can find it on Amazon

It’s available at Barnes & Noble

Thank you for this opportunity to share my experience. I am always happy to answer questions or lend a hand to indie authors. People can contact me via my website or through my blog.

 A Message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Michelle Eastman who is the author of, The Legend of the Dust Bunnies, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Legend of the Dust Bunnies, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

 

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