Posted by Sally Matheny on Mar 4th, 2013 | 7 comments
Gleaning Gold: Writers are Flexible
Interview with Samantha Bell
by Sally Matheny
Writers begin their writing journeys at all ages. If you happen to be raising a family and working another job, there is definitely a need for flexibility. Even older writers work their writing in between caring for others and life’s daily events.
Life is a gift. Each blessing and each problem arrives with a purpose. While detours take us by surprise, God has the master map. Perhaps what seems trivial or even overwhelming to us will shape us into the people He wants us to be and into the writers He wants us to become.
Samantha Bell is an artist, illustrator, art teacher, and a writer. Add a husband and four children (ages 8 – 16) into the mix and Samantha is learning a multitude about flexibility.
Eighteen years of teaching art and illustrating nine books for other writers has prepared Samantha for writing and illustrating her own books, It’s Birthday Time Jake and The Perfect Pet. (Guardian Angel Publishing). Samantha has other manuscripts in the works. Sylvan Dell will soon publish one.
In addition to writing articles, stories and poems, published in various magazines and devotionals, Samantha also serves as an assistant editor for DevoKids.com.
A former conference speaker for the SCBWI-Carolinas Conference, she will be presenting a workshop for the Write2Ignite! Conference this year.
Samantha, you wear many hats! What does an average day look like for you? Do you have a set routine or a flexible one?
I don’t think we ever have an average day. My children attend a homeschooling co-op twice a week and I teach a couple of classes there. Sometimes I teach classes at our local Hobby Lobby as well. Other days are spent running to commitments – music lessons, dual enrollment classes, scouts, and basketball games. In between all of the scheduled events, life just seems to happen. So while I would love to have a daily routine to stick to, I have yet to find one that will work. Guess I’d have to call us a flexible family.
How long have you homeschooled your children? What are your kids learning by watching you work as a writer and illustrator? (Not just skills but what life lessons?)
I’ve homeschooled all along. My oldest is a junior in high school now, so that would make twelve years so far. I hope they are learning good things by watching me work.
One thing I hope to teach them is how to persevere, even when things aren’t going as well as you intended. This is so applicable to many of my projects – when the timing, execution, or even final result isn’t going as I had planned. And it’s so applicable to life as well – from achieving goals to building relationships. I want them to see that they don’t have to give up.
Do you have any helpful tips for writers/illustrators who struggle to juggle family with work?
If you hear of any good tips, please let me know! It seems I’m always struggling with that, especially since I do all my work at home. I’d like to say I set aside certain hours to work, but it never quite happens like that. Because we homeschool, I’m on call all hours of the day. My projects just get squeezed into the schedule whenever they can. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Share with us how your career began and has progressed over the years.
I first decided to write for children after taking a class in children’s literature. As part of our assignments, we had to read a lot of children’s books. I would look through the picture books and think, “I could do that!” But little did I know how MUCH I would have to know before I could. I took a correspondence course, got a nibble or two, and then set everything aside when my oldest children were young. I started writing again in 2004 when a friend asked me to join her online critique group. My next step was to join SCBWI and start attending conferences. I received my first acceptance a couple of years later, and more soon followed. But I know that so much of what I’ve been able to do is because of the writers and illustrators who have shared with me what they have learned. There is so much information online – I’m also learning from other writers and artists I’ve never even met.
What types of medium do you work with as an illustrator? What’s your favorite?
If you look at my books, you’ll see I try a variety of mediums. I think it’s because I haven’t settled on a favorite yet. I’ve worked with watercolor, cut paper, oils, and pen. I have two projects I’m working on right now – one is in pastels, and the other is done with scratchboard. Can you tell I just can’t decide?
What advice would you offer to new writers and artists?
Learn, learn, learn all you can, and then learn some more. Then take what you’ve learned and use it. And never give up. There are days when you will become so discouraged and can’t wait to quit. But if God has given you a passion to create, don’t let it go. Learn some more, then try again.
How is God working in this season of your life? What are you learning?
I am learning to be quiet and seek Him. Life can become so hectic, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of it all. But, I’m learning to get back to seeking (and finding) God’s answers, His direction, His peace, and His plan, no matter what’s going on around me.
Thank you, Samantha. It is a blessing to have you on the Write2Ignite! Leadership Team. We look forward to hearing more from you at the Conference.
Samantha has great ideas for artists “ages 3-93” on her website: art-made-easy.com.