Unlocking a World of Imagination

Children’s book author and Edmond resident, Tammi Sauer, never thought she would be competing against the likes of songstress, Kelly Clarkson. According to her young fans, Sauer is not only competing in the popularity contest—she’s winning!

Originally from Kansas, Sauer and her husband, Ron, now live in Edmond with their two young children, ten-year-old Julia and seven-year-old Mason.

“I think my family is proud of what I do,” she said.

What Sauer does is create entire worlds filled with thoughtful, colorful characters that have stories of their own to share.

Sauer said she has been writing ever since she can remember. She still keeps old journals and a box of letters she wrote to her husband during their high school days. Sauer said her favorite college professor at Kansas State University, Dr. Marjorie Hancock, encouraged her to seek publication for her work.

In the spring of 2003, she did just that. Sauer settled into writing books for young people, age four to eight, explaining that she cannot imagine a better audience.

“Plus, the fan mail is unbeatable,” she said.

“My dream is to right [sic] a book,” one young girl wrote. “Do not tell her this but I like you more than Kelly Clarkson,” she added.

As for the stories and characters themselves, Sauer said picking her favorite would be like picking a favorite child—impossible.

“They are all personal to me,” she explained. “I couldn’t possibly value one over another.”

Sauer described her characters as “imperfect.” She hopes readers will cheer for them throughout the story.

"By each book's end, I work to make the character save the day the best way he knows how," she said.

Sauer believes youngsters and parents alike enjoy her stories. She said her books contain heart as well as humor and can be more than just books to curl up with at bedtime.

“The more parents read to their children, the better readers their children will become,” she said. "In addition, reading books together creates warm memories, opens up channels for discussion and stimulates the imagination.”

Making a connection with editors, parents and children is Sauer’s favorite part of writing. Her least favorite part is waiting, which is a big part of the writing process. After finishing a story, Sauer must wait to hear back from her agent, then wait to hear from an editor who, hopefully, will want to acquire the manuscript.

If an editor offers an acceptance, then there is more waiting: waiting for negotiations to take place, contracts to be signed and for an illustrator to be chosen to complete the artwork. Then, the book is printed and sent to bookstore shelves.

“Generally, for a picture book, it takes from three to four years for an accepted manuscript to become a book,” she said.

Sauer’s children have not quite decided which of their mom’s books is their favorite. She said they offer a different answer each time they’re asked. They are, however, particularly excited about the upcoming release of No Bologna! which should be out in 2009.

Sauer did share a little secret—their added excitement over this book may have something to do with the celebration planned for the time of the book's release. She has promised to get them a frog of their own in honor of the story’s main character.

While writing is her day job, Sauer does get the chance to step back into the classroom from time to time. Having earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and having worked as a teacher herself, this is a role she comes back to both willingly and easily, although now she usually speaks to over 100 students at a time.

Sauer shares her love of books as well as her top ten writing secrets with children during these school visits. She also makes presentations at writer’s conferences and her Web site offers activities to help young readers explore their own creativity and really jump into her stories. Sauer believes students can benefit from these educational efforts.

“I think it’s good for young people to know that, if you believe in yourself and keep working at what you love, great things can happen,” she said. “I love to seek out the funny in a situation. I always tell students to celebrate the weird stuff in their lives because it’s good material for stories.”

Sauer’s fans often ask how they too can break into the business.

"I always give them the same advice," she said. "Read as many children's books as possible. Dedicate time to learning the craft. Study the Children's Writers and Illustrators Market Guide. Find a critique group. Network with other writers and dream big!"

Sauer’s first published book, Cowboy Camp, was released in 2005 and can be purchased at Best of Books in Edmond, Barnes & Noble stores nationwide and online. This book was a Barnes & Noble 2005 “Holiday Pick,” a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in 2006 and the premier title chosen by the Oklahoma Center for the Book to be featured at the National Book Festival in 2007.

For more information, including a list of forthcoming books, visit www.tammisauer.com and www.myspace.com/tammisauer.

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