Write On! speaks with members Barbara Ransom and Joel Harris, who just published their first children’s book Smooshy Strawberries. Ransom is a teacher by trade; Harris has been a full-time artist since 2003, and is also a musician and poet. The couple lives in Venice, California, and discusses collaboration, their creative process, and self-publishing through Create Space.com.

How did you two meet? When did you decide to collaborate?
Barbara: We met on the Venice Boardwalk over two years ago, when I bought a painting from Joel. Honestly, we decided to collaborate after a spiritual advisor, Ellison, at Mystic Journeys Books, suggested it.

You are both artists and writers, yes? How do the two creative elements work together?
Joel: Barbara sees the story in words and I see the images.
Barbara: We inspire each other and bounce ideas off each other.

Why did you write/design Smooshy Strawberries?
Joel: Barbara was trying to teach her two older children the importance of honesty, and she decided to write a story about it.

How did you come up with the idea? What was your process for writing it?
Barbara: My oldest daughter, Sami, had to write an apology letter to her principal, so we felt the story would be “real” to her. Cate, my younger daughter, loves strawberries. I came up with the storyline, then we sat down together and wrote it on the computer. We edited it a lot
and sent it to some people to give us their input and feedback. Finally, Joel sketched out the drawings and we converted it to a file to upload it to Create Space.

What was your favorite part of creating the book? The greatest challenge?
Joel: The final illustrations were the most fun. The most challenging was moving past procrastination.
Barbara: The most fun was collaborating and working together. We act like little kids and laugh a lot. The most challenging was finding the time to do it. We both work and have three kids between us.

Why did you choose this method of publishing?
Joel: I published my other book
Journal: Into the Heart of the Amazon in Search of Truththrough Create Space, as well. It is a simple and easy process to follow.

What’s the next project?
Barbara: We are writing a quirky, different ABC book for kids. So far the illustrations are AWESOME!
Joel: The book depicts the current state of the planet.

Advice for writers and artists?
Joel: Stay focused on your inspiration instead of distractions and fears.

What do you know now that you wish you knew before creating Smooshy Strawberries?
Barbara: I guess I wish I knew how easy the process would be because I’ve wanted to write a children’s book for years. The self publishing websites make it as simple as possible.

Harris and Ransom with daughter Lucy Rose.

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  2. Mary Alice Ramsey 10 years ago

    Hello Barbara & Joel, I’ve just read “Smooshy Strawberries”, I was given a copy of the book by Barbara’s mother whom I met on 09/09/09. I’m working on a book on the O’Leary family history & a cousin, Dick O’Leary gave me your mother’s phone number. we spent a lovely afternoon together & she gave me a copy of the book. It is wonderful. I couldn’t share it with my grandchildren because I wanted to include it in my research on the O’Leary’s. Since you are an O’Leary descendant you are included. I wish I had lived during the time your gg-grandmother, Ellen Frances O’Leary Bundschu. She was a delightful lady and I think of your mother in the same manner. You may contact me by email, if you would and I can add you to the web site to see all the information I’ve collected on our family. I wish you the best, kindly, MaryAlice Cronin Ramsey

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