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True Story Blog

5 Favorites from Ed Shankman and Dave O’Neill!

Illustrator Dave O'Neill and Author Ed Shankman.

Author Ed Shankman and illustrator Dave O'Neill are the creative team behind 12 children's books, and counting. From the award-winning I Met a Moose in Maine One Day to the newest title, Where's the Bathroom?Shankman and O'Neill create fun, exciting stories and characters for children and parents to share. 


So what are Ed & Dave's 5 Favorites?:

My favorite place to write/illustrate:

Ed: A lot of my writing takes place in my head — often in the car, in bed, or on a quiet walk — long before I write it down. (It's not unusual for me to jump out of bed at 2:30 AM to capture a stanza that finally falls into place in my mind or some inspirational idea that materializes by my bedside and nudges my shoulder until I give in, get up, and write it down.)

Dave: Anywhere when doodling, but at my home office desk when digitally painting and doing the graphic design work. I used to love drawing on the subway, but now I'd much rather color on the floor with my daughter.

My favorite mentor text:

EdDr. Seuss was a major presence in my childhood. He showed me the music of words. He showed me the enormous value of nonsense (a principle that has permeated my life ever since). Perhaps most important, he demonstrated, beyond any doubt, that the imagination has no limits. He pointed the way through that open door and I've been running through it, gleefully, ever since. I tip my hat to the master.

Dave: So much of what Chuck Jones did in his career drove me to create characters with lots of emotion and comedy. He used to describe looking in the mirror to accomplish this and I loved that idea. 

"You've got a million bad drawings in you; you better get started."― Chuck Jones


My favorite writing/illustrating tip:

Ed: I have two tips. First of all, as others have said: there's no great writing only great editing. So, capture the inspiration, then chisel it mercilessly until it glows. Folks often flatter me by saying that my rhymes sound effortless. They have no idea how much effort that takes. Secondly, to all those who say, "I once thought about writing a story," or, "I'd love to write," or, "I wish I could write", I have a mind-blowing suggestion: write.

Dave: Don't stop drawing ever. Do it every day, even if you hate what you are drawing. You absolutely have to draw each and every day.


My favorite marketing tip:

Ed: As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck." You never know who you may be talking to on line at the supermarket, who your colleague's father is, or who's going to show up at your next book signing. Talk to everyone as though he or she may hold the key to your success.

Dave: No one knows what you want to accomplish more than you do. You are 1000% in charge of your brand, your work and your titles. Engage with fans, be active online with them and above all, BE KIND. No one wants to deal with a grump. Be kind, give people your time and energy, and they will repay you the best way possible—by being a fan.


My favorite book event of the year:

Ed: My favorite book event has been our annual signing tour in Maine. We sign at stores in the beautiful towns of Freeport, Portland, York, Ogunquit, and Kennebunkport. We've become good friends with the store owners who always welcome us with open arms. Families come to tell us what our books have meant in their lives. What could be more gratifying than that? And in the evenings, between signings, we enjoy the beautiful aura of the great state of Maine.

Dave: My favorite book launch party was at LL Bean in Freeport to launch "I Met a Moose in Maine One Day". The team there made us "Moose" cake, had balloons and placed us right in the main lobby on their big 4th of July party weekend.

To learn more about Ed & Dave's work, visit their website

As always, if you have read any of the books discussed here, please consider writing a quick review using the links above.

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