A Cafe Chat with Ame Dyckman, by Lindsay Bandy

It’s officially Spring!! It may not feel like it quite yet, but it’s here, and the Pocono Retreat will be here before we know it, too! If you still need to register, just click here!

Today, the Eastern Penn Points Cafe is abuzz with the energy of Pocono 2016 faculty member Ame Dyckman! Ame has written several picture books, including TEA PARTY RULES, WOLFIE THE BUNNY, and BOY + BOT, and she’s got a whole buncha new stuff coming out soon! Learn more about Ame and her books by clicking on over to her web site.


At the retreat, Ame will be giving away a signed copy of both WOLFIE THE BUNNY and her forthcoming release, HORRIBLE BEAR, both illustrated by Zachariah Ohora! We’ll do a drawing at the retreat, so it’s in your best interest to come!

wolfie              horrible bear

And did I mention that you’ll get to meet this lady in the Poconos, too?


Hi there, Ame, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our cozy booth, what can we get you to drink?

Hey, Lindsay! Feels awesome to be here! (Except I shouldn’t have worn pleather pants—totally STICKIN’ to this cozy booth!) I’ll take a root beer float and an oilcan, please!

Do we have some WD40 in the back? Yeah? Great! Fear not, Ame, help and root beer floats are on the way! Can we get you a munchie while we’re at it?

Right now, I’m into Moon Cheese—little balls of dehydrated cheese that look like space rocks! I imagine astronauts eating ’em off toothpicks at a dinner party. (I’ll bring some to our Retreat. Moon Cheese, not astronauts. Prolly…)


You bring the Moon Cheese, and we’ll supply the toothpicks. Who knows….the costume party may even supply us with an astronaut! (ahem….costume idea…hint, hint!)

We’re super-duper excited to have you as one of our faculty members for the 2016 Pocono Retreat! You have some very fun and informative workshops planned. Can you give us a little teaser about what to expect?

Thanks, Lindsay! I’m super-duper STOKED to present and get to hang out with everybody!

In my “25 (or so) Traits of Fave Kidlit Characters—In 45 Minutes!” workshop, we’ll zoom through 25 (or so) categories of qualities and quirks found in favorite kidlit characters, looking for that universal SUMTHIN’ we can share with our own characters.

And in my “Let’s Create a Picture Book Character… Right Now!” workshop… WE WILL!

We’re lucky to have one big collaborative team as our faculty this year: You, illustrator Zachariah OHora, Zach’s agent Sean McCarthy, and editor, Leila Sales. What has been the most exciting part of working with these talented people?

I LOVE me a good brainstorm—and these three (my genius WOLFIE THE BUNNY and upcoming HORRIBLE BEAR! and READ THE BOOK, LEMMINGS! illustrator, Zachariah OHora; his fabulous super agent, Sean McCarthy; and my brilliant TEA PARTY RULES editor, Leila Sales) are all the owners of FANTASTIC creative brains! I learn something new after EVERY interaction with ’em!

tea party

As a writer of picture books who does not illustrate, what’s the biggest challenge of the collaborative process?

The biggest challenge (but also one of the most fun parts of the process!) is getting my text to work PERFECTLY with my illustrator’s illys and the design of the book. Sometimes, that means an art note in my manuscript for clarification, and sometimes that means I hafta change my text after sketches or final art or even after F&Gs are done. And that’s cool. The goal (“GOALLL!”) is to get the best text-illustration-design match possible.

If you could choose a theme song for your writing life, what would it be?

“KUNG-FU FIGHTING.” ESPECIALLY with picture books, you GOTTA be fast as lighting. PB writing CAN be a little bit fright’ning—unless you fight with expert timing.


Bazoomba! You are magically transported back in time to your mini-picture-book-reading self. What are you reading, Little Ame?

Maurice Sendak, Mercer Mayer, Jack Kent, Arnold Lobel, Ezra Jack Keats, fairy tales, world myths, and the back of the cereal box… ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

(Little Ame is also LAUGHING at Our Grown-Up Ame hair! What gives, Little Ame?! Now I don’t feel bad for YOU when You split Our not-pleather fuchsia corduroy pants in fourth grade IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY!)


Speaking of memories, times gone by, and drafts gone by, about how many times do you revise a picture book manuscript before it’s ready for illustrations?

Approximately 487 and-a-half, powered by my bestest Revising Team: my writing partner, Adam (Lehrhaupt); Caffeine; and SUGAR! Another dozen times when sketches come in, then when Copyediting says I made up too many words like bestest, then with final art, then at the 23rd hour before we go to F&Gs, then—


YAY! The oilcan finally worked! I’m not stuck to the booth anymore! (But I just got gum in my hair…)

Who stuck their gum under the table? Leila? Zach? Lauren? Sheesh. It wasn’t me, because I always sit on this side. Well, before any more catastrophes strike, let’s do rapid-fire favorites! Name your favorite…

Hair bow:

The green one I forgot to take off before I went on Space Mountain but it stayed on my head anyway ’cause it’s MAGIC. (Like this gum…)

Mode of transportation:

My pogo stick I duct-taped to an Aerotech Barracuda model rocket. (’Til it got confiscated. Knock over ONE row of port-a-potties at a Township picnic…)

Midnight snack:

Mongolian Beef. (Which can be traditional Mongolian Beef or just a quick burger with my buddy, Mönkhbat, who’s from Ulaanbataar and who still hasn’t adjusted to the time zone difference. QUIT WAKIN’ ME UP, MÖNKHBAT!)

Also, Moon Cheese. (Mönkhbat insists yak cheese is better, but his yak doesn’t arrive ’til next week.)

Movie star:

Tim Curry, circa 1975. And now. And always.

TV Show:

THE WALKING DEAD. Or TELETUBBIES. (Depends on my mood.)



You’re truly multifaceted. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us, Ame! We can’t wait to meet you and get our books autographed in the Poconos 🙂

Thank YOU, Lindsay! (Sorry I drank YOUR root beer float, too! SUGAR!) See ya—and maybe a yak and an astronaut or two—and EVERYBODY in the Poconos! Be ready to READ, WRITE, and (Moon) ROCK, Y’ALL! It’s gonna be FUN!


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3 Responses to A Cafe Chat with Ame Dyckman, by Lindsay Bandy

  1. Ame, you are TOO MUCH FUN!!!! I can’t wait to see you at the Pocono Retreat and hear your talks! This year is going to be phenomenal!!! I’m glad to hear there is still opportunity to edit late into the process. I always find that once I finish my art, I want to tweak or move words around. Thank you, Lindsay and Ame, for the great Monday morning read!

  2. Fantastic chat! I look forward to meeting Ame and attending two of her workshops at the Poconos Retreat (we only brushed by each other at a NJ conference a little while ago, but she seems like someone I’d like to meet!).

  3. Lindsay Bandy says:

    Reblogged this on Lindsay Bandy Books.

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