Rachel Dillon, Author of Through Endangered Eyes: A Poetic Journey Into the Wild, Launches her Blog Tour!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009
& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Rachel Dillon was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Art, emphasizing in Graphic Design. Outside of art, Dillon held a special interest in evolution and extinction and took several classes in paleontology, and geology. Her passion for animals grew as she learned more about endangered species.

Learn more about Rachel by visiting her website: www.racheldillon.com and her blog, http://throughendangeredeyes.blogspot.com.

Rachel's illustrations, based on Australian Aboriginal acrylic dot painting, are so unusual we had to let you know that prints are available here. Both the World Wildlife Fund and the Folsom Zoo Animal Sanctuary benefit from the sale of Rachel’s book and art.

Through Endangered Eyes A Poetic Journey Into the Wild (Hardcover)

By Rachel Dillon (Both author and illustrator)

There are 1208 species on the Threatened and Endangered Species List compiled by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. How many can you name?

Take a journey across land and sea to meet twenty-one endangered and threatened animals, from the mighty polar bear to the tiny Corroboree frog, the massive humpback whale to the mysterious snow leopard. Through beautiful paintings and intimate poems, you will learn about the lives of these amazing animals and why they are in danger. Pole to pole and across all continents, this book includes species from the green sea turtle to the giant panda, the Chinese alligator to the Mexican spotted owl. If the stunning art and poignant poetry move you to learn more about these intriguing species, there are activities and organizations listed to help you in your search.

5% of all of my book and art profits are donated to the World Wildlife Fund and the Folsom Zoo Animal Sanctuary.

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Rachel's book, Through Endangered Eyes: A Poetic Journey Into the Wild, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

---------------- Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Hi Rachel! We are so excited to have you join us for a blog tour for your first book Through Endangered Eyes. Before this, you were mainly an artist not a writer. So tell us, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did you decide to become a writer and search for an idea or did the idea for the book come to you and you said, "Well, now I have to write too."

Rachel: I don't remember what prompted me to write Through Endangered Eyes, it just seemed to happen. This books combines all that I love: children, writing, painting, and animals. I had the idea that if I organized my thoughts and poems about endangered animals, and submitted a couple of my paintings, maybe someone would be interested in making it into a book.

WOW: Your book is a perfect fit for this month--National Poetry Month. Poetry has always been a challenge for me. What made you decide to write your book in verse?

Rachel: Great question! I have always been one to write poems to express emotions, but have never been trained to write poetry. I wanted to make the book fun to read and not just give a bunch of animal facts. Poetry is such a wonderful way to get children to ask questions. I put the factual information in the back of the book, to answer their questions. All of a sudden, when I added the "For the Parents" page and the "For the Teachers" page, it felt like my book was becoming more than just a children's book on endangered species, it was becoming a valuable learning tool.

WOW: You mentioned adding teachers and parents pages later in the process. How long did the book take you from conception to publication?

Rachel: I started the book in 2002, when my daughter was six months old. I remember writing poems on scrap paper in my car driving to and from work and daycare. My first publisher, Stemmer House, sent me a contract in 2004. In 2005, the asked me to take the book from 9 species to twenty. I completed the book (about draft number 5) in 2006. My first editor, Craig Thorn, sadly passed away shortly after that and I was released from my contract in February 2007. I was crushed.

Within two weeks, I submitted to 14 publishers. I lost count of the rejections and started to give up hope. My knight in shining armor, Al Kryson from Finney Co., Windward Publishing, called me in February 2008 wanting my book. I tried to act so cool on the phone, when inside I was screaming and jumping up and down!

They suggested changes, so I sent a new draft in April 2008. Then in August 2008, they felt the book would be better if I added more information, so I created an opening page, the polar bear page, a for the parents page, and a for the teachers page. In November 2008, more changes! And yet, my book became better. Finally, my Christmas gift was a call from the publisher with an estimated release date of Feb. 2nd, 2009.

WOW: I have a feeling we won't have to wait seven years for your second book. Is it difficult writing your second book while promoting your first?

Rachel: I'm planning a series about endangered species with my next, Through Desert Eyes, focusing on 21 desert endangered species. It does slow the process down when I am spending a lot of time promoting my first one but in another way it's helpful.

The excitement about the next book is growing as I share my new title at current book events. I am learning which illustrations my readers connect with most; and I'm questioning the number of species to include. I am going to take the next month of events and really feel my audience out and see what they teach me about my book.

WOW: Speaking of teaching, you've mentioned two mentors that have taught you a lot about publishing. Who are your mentors and what have they taught you?

Rachel: I got published without having another children's book author to talk to. There were so many times I wished someone that was in my situation could pat me on the back and say, "Don't give up." It has certainly helped having Hope Marston and Linda Boyden in the promotion stage of my book. They both encouraged me to do as many readings as possible at schools and libraries.

My publisher arranged that I chat with Hope, who writes the My Little Book series about animals for Windward. She shared many things including how important it is to start your next book when one is at the publisher.

I connected with Linda Boyden, who is both a children's author and the editor of the newsletter of the Northern California Chapter for Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, when I was trying to get an article about my book in the newsletter. Not only did I get the article but an experienced mentor. Linda has also been in this business a long time and shared advice on where to spend money when advertising my book, and what didn't work for her.

WOW: Even as many people in the publishing industry are surrendering to the bad economy you've set an impressive goal of selling 3000 books by December 2009. What made you set this goal and how do goals affect you? Do they make you work harder?

Rachel: Just think how many kids would be reading my book if 3,000 were sold in one year. The more kids know about endangered species, the more I hope the world might change.

Goals drive me. I tend to get distracted by other things when I don't have a goal or focus. The downside of goals, is how I feel if they aren't met. Sometimes, I cut myself some slack but usually I feel sad. But maybe having high expectations helped me get published in the first place.

WOW: Before you get back to work, do you have any words of wisdom you want to pass on to WOW readers?


1. Be patient.
2. Research. You'll cut your rejections if you find out what the publisher wants.
3. Stay positive during editing. I have probably gone through hundreds of manuscript changes, not to mention changes to my illustrations before my final book was completed.
4. Lastly, believe in your work. If you believe what you have created is amazing, someone else will agree.

WOW: Want to join Rachel on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

April 1, 2009 Wednesday
Rachel will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Rachel's book!

April 2, 2009 Thursday
Rachel will be stopping by Christine Verstraete's blog, Candid Canine, for a creative post. A combination of a few interview questions, a couple of illustrations and a poem.

April 3, 2009 Friday
Rachel will be stopping by The Fatal Foodies blog for an exclusive interview! Rachel will also be sharing some of her poems and illustrations.

April 7, 2009 Tuesday
Rachel will be stopping by Anne-Marie Nichols popular blog, My Readable Feast, to chat about how her concerns about endangered animals inspired her to write and illustrate a children's book.

April 9, 2009 Thursday
Rachel will be stopping by Carolyn Howard-Johnson's award winning blog, Sharing With Writers (a Writer's Digest 101 Best Sites), for a guest post about finding a publisher and getting published!

April 10, 2009 Friday
Rachel will be stopping by Day By Day Writer to chat about how she balances her writing life with her regular life, and her path to publication. This should be inspiring!

April 13, 2009 Monday
Rachel will be stopping by Jessica Kennedy's blog for a book review, and an exclusive author interview on how Rachel's books are used by educators. This is a topic Jessica is great at getting information about--just take a look at her informative article featured in WOW's February issue, How To Create a Teacher's Guide for Your Children's Book. This should be a fascinating stop!

April 14, 2009 Tuesday
Rachel will be stopping by Joanne DeMaio's blog, Whole Latte Life, to chat about Balancing Home Life with Creativity. Rachel be available to answer questions, so be sure to stop by for a chat. There will also be a surprise giveaway! One lucky winner will either win set of Rachel's notecards or a print. You'll have to stop by to find out.

April 17, 2009 Friday
Rachel will be stopping by Mayra Calvani's blog, Book Talk Corner, for an exclusive author interview! This is a new partner of WOW's, and a fantastic site that's part of the Today.com network. Be sure to stop by and see all that the offer.

April 20, 2009 Monday
Rachel will be stopping by Margo Dill's fabulous blog, Read These Books and Use Them, for an author interview! The thing I love about Margo's blog is she always incorporates great ways for parents and teachers to use the book by suggesting creative exercises, projects, and crafts. Not to miss!

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Rachel Dillon's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Rachel Dillon's gorgeous book, Through Endangered Eyes: A Poetic Journey Into the Wild.


K said...

Wow Rachel, you are a true inspiration for writers through your dedication, persistence, and endurance! Your commitment to seeing your book through helps me to keep working on my book, knowing that it may take years to see it in print. My background is in rainforest biology (botany), so I am very excited to read your book. Thanks for the great information!

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

What an amazing idea for a book! Very much looking forward to reading it :)

Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas, M.Ed. said...

Rachel, this is a great idea for a book! I have three granddaughters and, as a poet, I am always looking for good books to add to their libraries. Can't wait to read yours!

How did you decide on the Aboriginal Art? It's beautiful!

Peace, L

PeacheReader said...

What a Great sounding book! I think both children and adults would love to read. Love the art choice too.

Mary Jo said...

I'm a huge advocate for combining medias, in this case art and poetry. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, especially the struggle through rejections.
I'm wondering if you would ever consider a book on domestic animals? With all the horrific news of puppy mills and underground dog fights, might this be a topic for another edition?
Mary Jo

Unknown said...

I am a book reviewer (and freelance writer, et al), and have a website/blog/column titled PlanetHabit.com, and am very interested in all things environmental, especially living things. I'm excited about your book and that it will be a series.

I've always appreciated the children's poetry of Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein and love that you've written your book in verse accessible to children. Combined with the Aboriginal dot art, how could this book not become a classic? I also admire your tenacity and flexibility, which undoubtedly made publication possible.

One thing that especially amazes me about children's environmental writers is this: how do you balance the relating of sometimes disturbing information about the environment while not provoking sadness, panic, or despair in children, and keep the tone child-like with its intrinsic freshness and innocence?

Keep up the good work! ~Deb K

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Rachel.
Thank you for sharing your story. So many people have no idea of just how difficult this whole process is, nor how dedicated one must be. Congratulations, and continued success.
Kathleen in VA

Jodi said...


Do you have a favorite illustration? Is it the tiger on the cover? Ladies, I think we should all vote on our favorite illustration from the book--check them out at www.racheldillon.com . I've been bugging Rachel to go to CafePress and offer some t-shirts of her work. I vote for the zebra family illustration.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I love that Rachel combined poetry with her creative artwork of animals! It seems that younger kids have a natural affinity for lyrical language, but somewhere along the way, they associate poetry with "difficult to understand"...but I'm convinced that the more poetry kids read, the more they'll come to a lifelong love and enjoyment of it!

Wonderful concept, Rachel.

Tracie Hansen said...

Rachel is a talented author, a compassionate writer, and a wonderful person. It is so nice to see great things happening to great people. Keep on truckin', Rach.


Sybil said...

Rachel, congrats on your blog tour--I'm having a blast with mine. Looks like a great book!

Michelle Kafka said...

The book looks and sounds very touching.

14 publishers and you kept on submitting. Good for you!

Good luck on your tour!

LuAnn said...

What a wonderful book! You certainly are adding a great contribution to children's literature.

Rachel Dillon said...

To all that took the time to comment on my book. Thank you so much for your kind words and interest!

K Zook - I am so grateful for your comments. And, endangered rainforest species are in line for my third book, so I'll have to

contact you for any ideas? Keep on writing!

Linda - Hi there! I decided to paint with the Australian Aboriginal Acrylic Dot painting technique about 15 years ago. Australia

has always been a special country to me, with family there. My third trip to Australia was when I was a Sophmore in college, at

the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I fell in love with the style and texture of acrylic dots and my style has evolved over the

years from that simple place.

Mary Jo - It is so strange that you mention a book on domestic animals, I was discussing that with someone just yesterday. There

are so many types of domestic animals in trouble, it would certainly warrent a book. I appreciate the idea, since I wasn't sure

how one might put that together. I have a cat and a dog right now, planning on adopting another cat, and these animals touch

my heart every day. It breaks my heart to hear about the trauma some domesticated animals go through. If you haven't read

"Elephants That Weep," I recommend it.

DB - You have a great question about teaching a sad and disturbing trend to kids, and how to do that without scaring them.

When I read the book to kids, I am quite up front that these animals need help, which is the main purpose of the book.

Children's passion and desire to want to do the right thing, is what I feel we need in the forefront of our minds as adults. I do an

activity with the kids after I read the book. I unrole a full-size drawing I did of a California Condor - 9.5 ft. wing span. I give each

child a paper feather and ask them to stick it on the bird. I want the children to realize that one feather doesn't seem like much,

but when you put them all together, it can make the bird whole. It is a powerful symbol that the little things combined that can

change the world.

Jodi - favorite illustration, hmmmm, I vote for the chinese alligator:)

Unknown said...

What an awesome idea for a book. As a poet, artist, animal lover, and environmentalist, I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Rachel said...

wow, I can already tell this book is going to be great- I am a writer of fun poems myself!

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