Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Visit With Author Lori Mortensen

I'm very excited to give a warm and friendly, country welcome to author Lori Mortensen!  Congratulations to Lori ~ her picture book, Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg is on the New York State Reading Association's Charlotte Book Award primary ballot.  Lori has graciously agreed to share her reading and writing life with all of us.  I've asked Lori to complete some sentences and questions.  

In this photo, I’ve just received my author copies of Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg.

Readers should read Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg because . . . once they start talkin’ like Cowpoke Clyde, there’s a mighty fine chance they’ll wind up talkin’ like a cowpoke all day--and then some! Yee-haw!

 I came to write Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg . . . because of my neighbors’ dogs. Every once in a while, their two big dogs would escape from their backyard and race down the street towards the creek. Minutes later, they’d be chasing after them. As I watched the drama unfold, I couldn’t help thinking that somebody chasing a dog could be fun story. When the somebody turned into Cowpoke Clyde, the story and Dirty Dawg took off! 

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This is a picture of my bookshelves. In the large bookcase are all the picture books that inform and inspire me--there are many! The books on the table are some of my published books. It’s always a treat to watch it grow.

My favorite place to read is the comfy swivel chair in my office. It’s the perfect spot--by my bay windows, by my bookshelves, by a little table where I stack my library books. Then, when I have a moment, I settle down and plunge into another literary adventure--until my cat wants to go outside, anyway!

Here is the book trailer created by the awesome illustrator, Michael Allen Austin:


    A book that has touched my heart . . . would have to be Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Cleary. Although I read it many years ago when I was in grade school, I’ve never forgotten how close I felt to Ellen as she navigated her way through fragile friendships and heartbreaking faux pas. Would everyone discover her awful woolen underwear? Would she and Austine ever be friends again? Would she ever win her teacher’s approval and be chosen to clap easers? Inconsequential questions to the world at large, but oh so important to that one character--and all the readers who read along.

   I collect my ideas and inspiration for writing . . . from everything around me. It may seem clich√©, but ideas are truly everywhere. The trick, I’ve discovered over the years, is to pay attention to my thoughts and that spark of interest.  For example, I got the idea for my picture book Cindy Moo when I saw a figurine of a cow sitting on a crescent moon at my local thrift store. As soon as I saw it, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to write a story about how the cow got there? (It was!) For Chicken Lily, the title came first based on a pun for Chicken Little. Then, I thought--what if I wrote a story about a chicken--that’s chicken? When inspiration seems scarce, however, sometimes you just have to sit at the computer and make something happen.  

    Readers should know . . .  success in children’s literature (and any other endeavor) is the result of persistence. One of my favorite quotes is by Calvin Coolidge:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

For most authors, the path to publication is paved with rejections. But if they keep going, gradually, the writing gets better. After a while--success! Then, more rejections and success. To me, writing is like climbing a mountain--it is one of the most challenging and exhilarating journeys I’ve ever undertaken.

 What am I currently working on? As an author, I feel as if I always have several plates spinning at once. Some manuscripts are in different levels of production. Some manuscripts are currently out with my agent. Some manuscripts have made the rounds and have not found a home. After a time away from these manuscripts, I take another look. Why were they rejected? Can they be improved? I hope so! With luck, revision, and persistence, I’m eager to find out.
For my upcoming book, Chicken Lily, I visited some of my friend’s chickens. That was a lot of fun and I discovered that chickens are much more interested in clean straw and feed than writing poems! (They’re very soft too!)

Happy Book Birthday today to Chicken Lily!

Coming soon . . . May 3, 2016!

I'm much obliged to Lori for stoppin' on by to take a "Book Break!" with me!  Come on back soon, ya hear?

Be sure to mosey on over to Lori's website! 


  1. I love the quote by Calvin Coolidge, how appropriate for our school! I found her choice of mentor texts to be very interesting. This supports the idea that a mentor text is a book you love and choose to lean on for your own writing.

    1. is your dads name jimmy? and moms charmaine? if so... this is taraz. i havent seen lori mortensen since i was in my early teens and am not sure if your the right lori or not.