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  • Writer's pictureEllie Royce

What's Your Story? Michelle Lord

Michelle Lord writes powerful stories for children. This month in conjunction with International Women's Day, she shares her own story with us.

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. But within that bigger story are lots of little ones, chapters, scenes and volumes… Michelle Lord, what’s your story?

The Beginning

I grew up in Carson City, Nevada, the oldest of three sisters. Ever since I could talk, I never stopped asking questions. These questions led to my passion for reading, research, and writing. To this day—to my family’s dismay—I still interrupt movies and conversations with Who? What? Why? I can’t help it, I always want to know more!

When I was hospitalized at five years old, my parents were unable to stay with me due to work and the care of my younger sisters. One day, my aunt brought a pile of books to the hospital. They were truly my greatest comfort, especially FROG AND TOAD TOGETHER, ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY, and THE LORAX. And I’ll always adore how Frances sang about her love of jam in BREAD AND JAM FOR FRANCES. If only I could carry a tune…

As a child I also devoured in nonfiction. I spent lots of time reading my Mom’s first aid manual [the gorier the pictures, the better] and looking up record-breaking achievements in THE GUINESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS. I love stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

I wrote and illustrated my own books, LOVE IS… and FREDDY THE FLY, with encouragement from my second-grade teacher. Teachers rock!

The Middle

When my three children were little, I read many picture books to them. I adored the perfect combination of art and words!

I decided to write my own stories. I joined SCBWI, attended several Highlights for Children workshops, and took Anastasia Suen’s Picture Book Workshop online. And a good critique group can help turn specks of sand into pearls.

My first book LITTLE SAP AND MONSIEUR RODIN was published in 2006 followed by A SONG FOR CAMBODIA in 2008—both with Lee and Low. I’m drawn to stories about real people and events.

As with the middle of manuscripts, there are struggles. My two picture books out this year went through three editors—and the third left at the time of publication. I feel like my books are out in the world without an editor to champion them. I’m an introvert and it isn’t easy for me to toot my own horn. The flip side to the creativity of writing, is the business. I’m working at improving in this area.

Today, March 8, 2020, is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Coming from a family of sisters, I have a great interest in the lives of women and my stories often reflect this. A GIRL CALLED GENGHIS KHAN celebrates the achievements of Maria Toorpakai Wazir in sports. She defied the Taliban by pretending to be a boy in order to play the sport she loved. When the Taliban found out and threatened her family, Maria practiced the game in her bedroom every day for three years! She went on to become one of the top female squash players in the world.

PATRICIA’S VISION: THE DOCTOR WHO SAVED SIGHT is a picture book biography I wrote about Dr. Patricia Bath. Born in the 1940s, she knew from a very young age that she wanted to become a doctor even though she’d never met a female doctor. I interviewed Dr. Bath through a series of telephone calls. She was passionate about restoring and improving people’s vision around the world, especially in underserved communities. Despite racism and sexism, Dr. Bath became the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent for her invention of the laserphaco, a device and treatment for cataracts using lasers.

Check out International Women’s Day at for ways to get involved. The goal is to end discrimination against women and create a gender equal world. So, celebrate and circulate women’s accomplishments today—maybe by sharing a book or two with a child in your life.

The End, (which is always actually a new beginning!)

I hope that children enjoy my most recent book that explores plastic ocean pollution, THE MESS THAT WE MADE. Children are the future, and it’s important that they care for the environment.

My current goals are as follows: to find an agent who shares my vision, get a fiction book published, finish my second screenplay, and publish more stories about everyday superheroes like Maria Toorpakai and Dr. Patricia Bath.

Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story and your inspirational books with us, Michelle, not just for International Women's Day but for every day of the year.

That's it from me for this month , but I'll talk to you again soon...

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