Hello wonderful readers!! I am absolutely thrilled to let you know that I am part of a debut picture book group of wonderful authors and illustrators with books coming out in 2023. It has been a huge blessing to connect with these amazing individuals as we navigate this journey together. You can learn more about our group members HERE.
I am super excited to be hosting blog features for each of our group members so that you can get to know each one of us. Once a month, I'll be interviewing a fellow PB23Bunch group member. And most months we'll have a giveaway in connection with the post! Plus, you'll want to follow along now so that you don't miss these amazing books when they launch (plus many chances to win signed copies once we get our Author Copies!)
But that's all down the road. For now... join me for the very first PB 23 Bunch Feature with DK Ryland!!
Hi DK! I'm so excited to have you on the blog. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey?
Of course! I’ve always loved books, storytelling, writing, and art but I never thought it was a real pathway for me. I studied film in college and wanted to make wildlife documentaries – I even got to film on safari in Africa (where my obsession with giraffes began). But I focused most of my time and energy on softball – playing collegiately, professionally, and then overseas. After all that, I did the next logical thing and became a coach. I loved coaching, but not necessarily because of softball but because I loved working with kids. Once I realized I loved to teach, I got my teaching credential in English and that, as well as having kids of my own, led me back to writing, storytelling, and art.
Oh wow! That is all so cool. I didn't know about your life as a softball player and coach. I played through high school, but wasn't anywhere near good enough to go beyond that. We should chat some time about your softball life! I love that coaching brought you to teaching and eventually back to writing. That gave us a good glimpse, but could you tell us a bit more about what inspired your debut book?
Being an illustrator, many times story ideas will pop into my head as a visual image. Usually just a scene. In January of 2020, I took part in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm which challenges authors to come up with 30 story ideas in 30 days. At the end of the challenge, I had 37 picture book ideas and number 11 on the list read “giraffe does not fit into the book.” The image of a giraffe with an extremely long neck that continued off the page popped into my head. And there it stayed for a year and a half. I thought about it often and knew I wanted to make it a picture book, I just didn’t know what the story was yet. During that time, I was having a lot of conversations with my kids about problem-solving, so that theme started to creep into this story and give it some shape. One day I was finally ready to just sit down and write it.
Oh, I love that so much!! I'm a big believer in getting ideas down during Storystorm! And this idea sounds amazing. I'm so glad you made it into a full book! What message would you like for your readers to walk away with?
There are themes in GIRAFFE IS TOO TALL FOR THIS BOOK that I think are super important for kids - self love and acceptance, teamwork and problem solving - but mostly I want them to have fun reading it. The story encourages the reader to engage with the book in an interesting way and I love the idea of challenging the conventional.
I love that so much! Such wonderful layers. When does your debut hit shelves?
Eeek! I am so excited! We're going to be Fall 2023 buddies! I am so happy for you and cannot wait to get this book on my shelf! That announcement and those illustrations. WOW! Seriously, so good! Before I let you go, where can we follow you online?
Wonderful! Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
I also offer teacher guides for picture books. If you are a picture book author looking for a custom teacher guide, you can learn more about what I do here:
Oooh! That sounds amazing! Thank you, DK. I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on GIRAFFE IS TOO TALL FOR THIS BOOK!
DK is generously offering a PB Manuscript or Dummy critique - non-rhyming preferred to one lucky reader! To enter:
For bonus entries:
Tag 2 friends in THIS Tweet
Comment on this blog post
Good luck! Winner will be announced on Twitter April 6th.
About DK Ryland
DK is an author/illustrator whose debut picture book, GIRAFFE IS TOO TALL FOR THIS BOOK comes out in 2023 with Page Street Kids. She loves to draw animals and nature and enjoys quirky and subversive humor. Before becoming an author/illustrator DK filmed wildlife in Africa, was a collegiate and professional athlete, and taught middle school English. DK received a PBChat mentorship with Cori Doerrfeld in 2019 and was a PBParty finalist in 2020. When not writing and illustrating, you can find DK going on adventures with her husband and kids, playing sports, or reading a good book - while petting a cat or dog.
About PB 23 Bunch
The PB23Bunch is a group of 12 authors and illustrators with Picture Books debuting in 2023. We cannot wait to get our books in your hands!!