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12 X 12 Featured Author August 2017 – Robin Currie

12 x 12 Featured Author August 2017 – Robin Currie

12 x 12 member Robin Currie12×12 peeps!

Back in simpler times, I was a children’s librarian. (“Simpler” also meant that books were on stone tablets and shelving was awful!) I published a number of books in the fields of library program resources and children’s Bible stories. Then I answered the call to ordained ministry and shifted my writing to weekly sermons until 2008. Innocently, I wandered back into children’s publishing and found a whole new wonderful world of self publishing and competition, agents and platforms.

Alert: Steep learning curve! But this Brave New World also has access to expert advice and supportive colleagues—on 12 x 12. Every year I am astonished to produce 15-20 entirely new stories that I had no idea were inside me. Thank you 12 x 12’ers for the structure (I love teeny little badges!) and feedback and encouragement! And letting me attend fantastic webinars in my purple “Feline Groovy” sparkly cat nightshirt!

Experience as Inspiration

Gandalf in The Hobbit intrigues Bilbo Baggins with: “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure.” This is the invitation we as authors give to every child who opens a book. As we experience this world, we gather  stories to share.

Whenever you get the chance – GO! Wherever you go – LOOK!

Look Near. What wonders are in the back yard or the neighborhood park or an hour drive away? A glance out the window in Chicago winter gave me the idea for a kid view of a snow day set in sunny Birmingham, AL.

Look far. Ask for the stories behind statues. In Salzburg, I found a random tribute to a cow inside a castle that grew into the exciting adventure of a bovine heroine.

Look inside. My folks died six weeks apart. My story on the first Thanksgiving after grandma dies speaks to the comfort of tradition for children in a world of change.

Look in the library. Wander the library travel section. I became fascinated with the rock outcropping in the Australian outback called Uluru. That glimpse became a story of a bush dance band at the base of the mountain with native animals playing local instruments. (This year I finally saw Uluru.)

Look for differences. How does each culture adapt to its unique environment and traditions? What are the stories that teach lessons from generation to generation? In Vietnam I saw multiple statues of a crane standing on a turtle. The explanation became my folk tale of mutual assistance.

Look for similarities. What does every child experience that transcends culture and location? I fell in love with the not-so-pretty porcine knows as an javalina in the southwest. I wrote a sibling rivalry story between two very different sibling javalinas and a sudden desert monsoon.

Look behind. Pictures and notes and lists and emails and blogs of your adventures can be mined for inspiration. What made you laugh or cry or gasp or gag? Flipping through the pictures of a trip to Southern Indiana for a wedding I found a miniature horse at Churchill Downs and wrote the story of his comfort and companionship with the race horses.

Look ahead. The bucket list still has Japan, but I read all I can before going. I found a true news clipping about ducks in Japan used to weed rice fields that let me to write one about a duck family displaced by urban renewal who relocate to be well fed and useful.

What’s next? I am off to Greece to volunteer in a Syran refugee camp in September…..

Grab your passport (or library card!) – adventure and inspiration await those with eyes to see!


Tuktuk Tundra Tale by Robin CurrieNow meet my little piece of the arctic! (where, by the way, I have never personally been!)

Tuktuk began life on paper as a nameless rat who wanted a warm place to sleep. He was very boring. Then my critique group got hold of him over the course of several years plus research on the arctic, added dialog, conflict, suspense, and, finally, a name! Tuktuk came to life in 2016 in the art of Phyllis Saroff through Arbordale Publishing. Tuktuk was included on the Kansas NEA Reading Circle catalog and the Spanish edition is reviewed in School Library Journal.




Robin led the children’s departments of Midwestern public libraries providing reference services and literacy foundations to the smallest patrons and supporting their parents. Mid-life, she was called to ordained ministry as a parish pastor. She continues to read to children on international volunteer trips and in local preschools. She writes stories to read and read again!

Robin will be giving two lucky winners a signed copy of either the English or Spanish version of TUKTUK! Go write those drafts!


This Post Has 190 Comments
  1. Ooooh Robin your candid sharing of how you find inspiration for your stories really resonates with me! It’s very similar to how I try and seek my own PB ideas. Particularly through travelling to new places – it always ignites new stories. I work in the travel industry and feel a passion to share the world and it’s fruits with children!! This is also a rather timely post for me to read… my ideas had hit a dry spell. Now time to get those juices flowing once again. Thanks for such an inspiring insight. I look forward to reading TukTuk 🙂

  2. I think you’ve lived life pretty fully, and you have lots to share in your stories. Thank you for telling us about your journey. I love your video. You have so much enthusiasm and love of life. Congrats on your debut!

  3. Inspiring post, Robin. Congrats on your story, TukTuK. Ideas are sometimes elusive and you’ve given terrific tips on how to find them. I watched your video and felt rejuvenated and encouraged. Happy travels!

  4. I love the way you find a story in all the “world”. You really bring out the statement of finding a story everywhere. Good wishes for your travels and the books you will write that will share your travels with us.

  5. Thank you for the great advice about adventure. Even if it makes one late for meals. Oh, yes, javalina are fascinating creatures, as is the monsoon. Your stories look like great fun.

  6. Thank you Robin on such a great reminder of how we invite children on an adventure with our stories! I love your reference to Gandalf’s invitation to Bilbo. I think I might have to put that up somewhere in my studio as an inspirational reminder of why writing is so important. I also really appreciate all the different ways you find inspiration in the world around you. It’s refreshing to think of just how many places and ways we can look to find the starts of stories. Thanks again!

  7. Thank you for your words of wisdom, Robin. I love your advice, Wherever you go – LOOK! It made me want to explore old pictures, notebooks and to travel everywhere and any way possible!

  8. Thank you and a question. 🙂
    Thank you so much Robin for your excellent advice! I was also intrigued by the fact that you wrote children’s Bible stories, and wondered what kind of advice you have for those who would like to write similar stories, and enter the religious market.
    Thank you!!

    1. Sorry to be slow responding – grandchildren have been opening my eyes for the last 2 weeks! I published in the Christian market when it was relatively easy – back in the mid 90’s. (Can you say GEEZER?) It has been difficult to break back in now without an agent and/or a big name platform. I do attend the nearest Christian Writers Conference and try to “network.” Sometimes writing SS or VBS curriculum or magazine devotions can connect you. Good luck – those stories really need to be told!

  9. Robin,
    I loved hearing about where you were inspired. I have an idea for a story and was concerned that I couldn’t write it because I haven’t been there. Tuktuk inspired me that if I have the basics of a story with conflict obstacles and a satisfying ending, I can research my way into the story.
    Good luck on your trip to Greece. Wonderful that you are working with Syrian refugees. It will be fertile ground for more stories.

  10. I love that you find stories in the places you go. Thank you for offering us a glimpse into your process.

  11. Love how you look at life & have used your travel & life experiences to gather ideas for writing. Wonderful post!

  12. Robin, you certainly pay attention to the world around you, think about it, and come up with some unique story ideas. Congratulations on your books and thank you for sharing your story.

  13. “Look” — what a great piece of advice. It’s one of the first words we learn and it’s a perfect way to find inspiration and ideas. Thanks, Robin.

  14. Robin- you truly are an inspiration to me! It is an honor to know you- and be part of your critique group, and learn from your wealth of knowledge from traveling around the globe. Wow! Amazed, impressed, totally in awe!

  15. Thank you for sharing the inspiration behind some of your stories. What a full and beautiful life you’ve lived! I often struggle to come up with new ideas, but you have shown me that ideas are all around us if only we take the time to look.

  16. Thank you for the inspiring post, Robin! I love how you found inspiration from real journeys as well as journeys inside books. Congratulations on Tuktuk! I’m looking forward to reading it one day.

  17. Robin! I love your energy and love for the life you have!! I think you are ‘present’ in the moments you experience which helps you notice and see all of your wonderful ideas for your stories!

    Thank you for sharing the inspiration for those ideas here !!

  18. Robin, you are full of life and exude adventure. What a varied background you’ve had. And I love you and your cat. I have two. I appreciated your sharing the journey of your story, and with advice from critique groups and research, you ended up with a winner. We need to remember good stories don’t happen overnight, but take work and attention. Happy writing and traveling.

  19. What an inspiring history. Your resourcefulness is amazing! Very helpful to see how you can birth a story! And what an interesting life you lead. I wish you well in your new adventure!

  20. WOW you’ve found a fabulous way to travel and create adventures for children to read. Loved seeing the development of your stories. You showed beginning, middle and end. Lovely post thank you for sharing your journey.

  21. Thanks for the inspiration. You helped me realize that the themes in my recreational reading and my writing are quite similar. I have a few new ideas to consider now, too. Good luck in Greece.

  22. Congratulations, Robin. I really loved this—”Whenever you get the chance – GO! Wherever you go – LOOK!” Such great advice. And I loved that you gave examples of how you’ve taken your own advice. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  23. You are absolutely right – there are stories all around us, in the smallest of places as well as large. Thanks for the reminder.

  24. Your travels sound amazing! Thank you for the encouragement to look for adventure, even right outside our own window. Congratulations on your success and safe travels!!

  25. Thank you for sharing your journey so far! I expect there will be many more published books to come.

  26. Thanks, Robin. Always interesting to hear an author share the stories that have come through life experiences.

  27. I love that you find inspiration so easily from your travels and adventures and the things you see in nature.
    Thanks for the suggestions.

  28. I love that you find inspiration so easily from your travels and adventures and the things you see in nature.
    Thank you.

  29. That’s the thing isn’t it? You have to keep those creative eyes open and not become deadened by the news or everyday life. Thanks.

  30. Thank you for sharing. In our busy day to day lives is is hard to remember to stop and look for those little pieces of inspiration.

  31. Robin, I have made a habit of reading the post at the beginning and the end of each month. I am glad I did because I find myself being more observant in my everyday travels. Thanks for the post and the opportunity to read your book. Tuk tuk .

  32. I really needed this inspiration today Robin. Thank you for sharing and reminding us there are stories at every turn if we are observant. I wonder how many times I’ve passed by a potential story because I wasn’t paying attention to the little things. I love those “off the beaten path” inspirations. Best wishes on your trip to Greece.

  33. I love the idea of life for ideas and inspiration, and using that concept to drive one to look for adventures! The mere prospect of adventure is inspirational and full of promise. Thankfully, as a military spouse, my life, and the lives of my children, have been filled with adventure. I always say that our frequent travels and our 5 years spent living in Europe are magical and filled with stories. When I’m feeling in need of an idea for a draft, I chat with my kids, or reflect on our travels, and something inevitably pops into my head!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with our 12×12 crew. We truly are a supportive bunch- how wonderful!

  34. Thank you Robin! I enjoyed hearing about your unique path into the picture book world. Your experience and your natural curiosity have taken you far. 🙂

  35. Thanks for a great post, Robin! I also love that line from the Hobbit – “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure.” And I love your wonderful line, “Adventure and inspiration await those with eyes to see.” I look forward to reading your books!

  36. Love your advice. I’m definitely a passport and book kind of girl – often at the same time. Where better to read some new books that on a plane to somewhere new 🙂

  37. Different seasons in life provide unique adventures. Thanks for sharing some of your experiences. I too have enjoyed some corn goodness in Iowa! Go Hawkeyes! All the best with Tuktuk. Keep going!

  38. Such curiosity and persistence for the story to keep evolving! Thank you for sharing your many viewpoints and adventures.

  39. Great post Robin! Thank you for the terrific advice on where to find ideas. I totally agree with you that inspiration is everywhere… we just need to slow down… and… remember that old adage to… “stop and smell the roses.”

    Congratulations on TUKTUK, I can’t wait to read it!!

  40. I love all your fun, interesting, and quirky sources of inspiration, Robin. I’m fascinated and motivated by them! I also liked learning about your process with Tuktuk and am excited to read it. Congrats on your deserved success!

  41. Thanks Robin, it just goes to show there are stories all around us we just need to look. All the best with your PB.

  42. Thank you for your inspirational post, Robin. A wonderful reminder to pay attention to the amazing world around us. I look forward to reading Tuktuk. Best wishes on your next adventure

  43. Hi Robin, thank you for your fun post with lots of ideas for sparking ideas. I particularly liked ‘look behind’ and ‘look ahead’ – great inspiration for my next 12×12 drafts.

  44. I really enjoyed reading about the wide range of inspiration behind your stories. Love how you incorporate details from as near as your backyard and from as far as your travels take you. Thanks for sharing!

  45. Robin, I love your advice to look for inspiration in all places, including within. Thanks for sharing some of your own journeys that led to your stories!

  46. So true. So very true. Look all around yourself and your surroundings and discover stories that seep out on paper. Thanks for all the great avenues of ‘where to look’ ‘where to see’

    Kris Kuykendall

  47. How wonderfully inspiring! Thank you Robin for reminding us to really look around and open our eyes, minds and hearts, both as writers and as human beings.Good luck with Tuktuk and enjoy Greece (I am native Greek and just came back)!

  48. Wow. I love how you listed ideas on where to look for stories and then share your story that you found in that way. You’ve been resourceful. I can’t wait toread some of the stories. I’ve been to Salzburg several times and haven’t seen that cow. Now I want to go there again to try and find the sign (though I guess the cheaper approach would be to just buy your book.) 🙂

    Thanks for the informative and inspirational post, Robin.

  49. Thank you for sharing your writing adventure Robin! It seems inspiration is all around us. Thank you for the example to slow down and look around for the stories that surround us.

  50. I’m always thrilled to find another librarian who also writes for kids! To me, it seems like a natural evolution. I love how you recommend libraries as places of adventure–because they really are! Like you, I try to aware of everything around me, no matter where I am, from the silly to the bizarre to the inspiring to the mundane and thinking, “There’s a story here somewhere!”

  51. Robin, thank you for inspiring me! Passport, journal, camera, wide-eyed wonder, heart, and soul! Ready to write!
    On to the next stage of the journey!

  52. Thank you so much, Robin…for the inside peek at how your writing journey unfolded. I love that TUKTUK had a journey of his own and I love that it was your critique group that helped launch him on a successful adventure.

  53. I always love seeing where people get their inspiration! And love that you don’t let never being to a place prevent you from writing about it–this is always a fear of mine!

  54. This is a great post, Robin. Look, look, look!!! Your book “looks” pretty wonderful. Thanks you for the opportunity to win, and for being here!

  55. Great post – thanks for sharing your inspirations. Always interesting to hear some of the personal details behind people’s work .

  56. Fantastic post! I love all the *directions* for inspiration. And your last paragraph with your “boring” character was a blessing to me because I felt that my draft for this month was little short of “boring,” so… per your example, perhaps some further revisions can shape it into something wonderful!

  57. Inspiring post with reminders that being a writer means always acting like a writer, observing at all times. Thanks!

  58. Robin, your life seems to epitomize the phrase “carpe diem.” I am inspired! Thank you for sharing. I look forward to searching for your books!

  59. I loved hearing about how you get your inspirations. The brain works in mysterious ways sometimes, and I often can’t figure out where my stories come from, except maybe a location, an image, or a feeling. It sounds like you have many locations to inspire you!

  60. Thank you for the inspiring tale of your personal writing path, and well-constructed “how-to’s”. I am going to remember to use those look behind, look ahead, and so on. Congratulation on your success in taking kids on adventures!

  61. Robin, this is one of the most inspiring articles ever! I loved what you say at the beginning–the prize of 12×12 is all those amazing stories that were in there, just waiting to be told. Thank you for all the pointers and amazing inspiration. I’m so grateful! Best of luck on your writing and all your travels 🙂

  62. I like how you use the past, present, and future, known and unknown. You aren’t afraid to tackle anything. You are a character.

  63. Thanks Robin for the reminder that stories are everywhere we LOOK! I am travelling at the moment and try to note potential story ideas. Very inspiring@

  64. This post was so inspirational! Thank you, Robin, for sharing with us. I can’t wait to read about Tuktuk and your other stories.

    Pam (who will be keeping her eyes open for inspiration in unusual places)

  65. A great reminder that inspiration is all around! Some of our friends will be joining you in Greece in January to help with the refugee situation too. Best of luck to you!

  66. iNSPIRATION abounds with your post Robin! I am intrigued with your journey to writing stories by taking in your surroundings wherever you are at. You have shown not to take any thing for granted while brainstorming.

    Good luck with all future endeavors! And thank you for giving us more ideas to work on. 🙂

  67. Robin, thanks for sharing the things that bring you inspiration. It seems like my best ideas are sparked by the things, people and places I love the most. I am excited to read your arctic tale and I wish you the best on your adventure in Greece, what a wonderful opportunity!

  68. I love this post and the wisdom that comes from it – that inspiration can be found anywhere! It is so important to always keep our eyes (and ears open!). Congratulations on your success and best of luck volunteering at the refugee camp. So inspiring!

  69. What wonderful ideas Robin – and I especially love the snowy day out the window. You are having such great adventures – good luck with the volunteer role. Thank you for sharing – very inspirational!

  70. Thanks for the reinforcement that writing is itself a way of engagement with the world and one’s own particular life and experience. No dearth of places to look, whatever one’s boundaries happen to be at any given moment. Looking forward to reading your books.

  71. Thanks for such an inspiring post. You live life to the fullest. Wishing you a safe trip to Greece. Thank you for volunteering your time with the refugees.

  72. Thank you for your inspirational post, Robin! This last few weeks I’ve been lost for story ideas, now you’ve inspired me!

  73. What a great article on how to find new ideas for PB’s. I was feeling a bit stressed facing September with a blank page and a blank mind. I will be re-reading this article several times to hone my skills. Thanks Robin.

  74. Robin,
    What an amazing backstory you have and it seems many adventures that lie ahead of you.
    We share some similarities. It appeared from the photos that you spent some time in China. I was fortunate to do that also as part of an educational exchange. I made lifelong friendships there.
    My parents passed away eight days apart. The experience changes you for sure.
    I have copied the Gandalf quote you used and posted it at my desk.
    “I am looking for someone to share an adventure with.”


  75. I’m a little late to the party, but I’m trying to catch up. Thanks for your post and safe travels this month as you go on your next adventure.

    You gave us so many good writing ideas. I appreciate them all.

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