Local artist and author Sarah Frances Hardy is a woman who is following her dream of writing and illustrating children’s books. Her first book, Puzzled by Pink, was published by Viking Children’s Books in 2012 and she hasn’t looked back since.
Hardy is originally from Jackson. She and her husband moved to Oxford from Tupelo 13 years ago and Hardy said they loved the city from day one.
“Oxford is just amazing and very open to artists and writers and creativity in general,” she said. “I believe that once a community has a core base of creative people, it feeds off of that. And it’s for certain Oxford is filled with talented and wonderful people.”
Hardy knew from the time she was a young child that she wanted to be a writer and even in college when she was majoring in art, she would catch herself writing children’s stories in the margins of her notebooks.
“And every once in a while I would send something out and get rejected and not do anything else with it for five or six years,” she said. “My background is really in fine art and art was my major in college. I’ve shown in galleries and really enjoyed that, but when I started having children, the travel and everything just got to be too much and after my second child I just had to put the brakes on and change direction a bit. I still painted all the time; I just couldn’t travel and show like I had done before.”
When her youngest child was born Hardy made the decision to follow her childhood dream of writing and illustrating children’s books.
“It was something that I had always wanted to do,” she said. “And I thought to myself, if I don’t do this and really try hard instead of just sending out a manuscript every five years; I’ll never know if I can actually do it or not.”
Hardy said she began going to a lot of children’s writing conferences and really learning how to illustrate because it was so different from fine art. She began to practice what she’d learned and started sending out manuscripts, but once again she began to collect rejection slips.
“I told people that I could wallpaper my den in them,” she said, “and I could have.”
But Hardy was persistent and anytime she got feedback on her manuscripts, she’d use it to try and improve her work.
“I landed an agent in 2009,” Hardy said. “And in the spring of 2010, my agent sold my first book, “Puzzled by Pink”, to Viking. The book was sort of Wednesday Adams meets Fancy Nancy. It came out in 2012. My second book which is called “Paint Me” came out in 2014 and my latest book “Dress Me” will be out this May.”
As Hardy has seen her dreams come true with the publishing of her books, she’s excited to be teaching an upcoming class that begins Thursday, February 12 through the University of Mississippi’s Division of Outreach and Continuing Education. She’s hoping to help others achieve a few dreams of their own.
“The class is called: So You Have an Idea for a Children’s Book? Now What?” Hardy said. “I am so excited about teaching this class. And we do still have some slots opened if anyone would like to register. It’s four consecutive Thursdays – beginning the 12th and continuing February 19, 26, and March 5. We’re going to talk about how to create interesting characters, conflict and tension and a little about plotting, and then we’re going to focus on voice and using the appropriate voice for a certain story. And finally, the business side – where to send your manuscript, how to format it and other facts people need to know to market their work.”
Hardy invites anyone who has ever had the desire to write a children’s book to join the class.
“It’ll be fun and people will definitely enjoy it and I hope learn a lot,” Hardy said.
For registration information, visit Ole Miss Outreach and register online.
Angela Rogalski is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.