Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Travel and Taxes

Twenty years ago my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Hawaii and New Zealand. We lived in Brooklyn at the time. I worked as a children's book art director at Four Winds Press, but had originally moved to NYC study illustration at Pratt Institute. I was nurturing other illustrators in my job, but still hoping for my own picture book contract. My husband writes, so we decided to combine forces on picture book projects and make our trip tax deductable at the same time.

We collaborated on a whaling story set in Hawaii and submitted a dummy to Rosemary Brosnan at Lodestar Books. I worked with Rosemary in my first publishing job at Dutton and she had been pestering me since to show her my portfolio. The whaling story was not acquired, but Rosemary saw something she liked in my work and offered me my first picture book to illustrate, Juan Bobo and the Pig retold by Felix Pitre. At tax time the whaling story covered the Hawaii part of our honeymoon. My husband and I also came up with stories set in New Zealand. Perhaps some day I'll dust off my Maori story, A Paddle for Mokopuna, and I should definitely polish my dummy for my husband's funny kiwi story, Lester's Bug Hunt Goes Bad.

Whenever I travel, even within the U.S., I make sure there is some way I can make the experience meaningful for my work life (nudge, nudge, wink, wink—write it off!) When I moved to California after living eighteen years in NYC, I was thrilled to have research that took me back "home." Sky Dancers is about Mohawk high steel workers building the Empire State Building. I spent extensive time researching in the NY Public library as well as the ESB, and as a bonus got to reunite with dear friends, too. I enjoyed traveling to many Noguchi exhibits in New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles when I researched The East-West House, and recently gave a presentation at a Noguchi exhibition in Laguna Beach. All of these trips combined business and pleasure.

When I leave home to speak at conferences, give presentations, meet with publishers or editors, I save all my correspondence documenting our plans, a calendar of my appointments, and any pertinent receipts. If I travel for recreation I make sure to come up with new story ideas set in that location. There is nothing really shady about this. I'm a storyteller—visually and verbally. I approach life finding the narrative around me.


Lauren said...

Great post Christy! Storytellers and artists always carry their work with them wherever they travel, it would be difficult to leave your creative self at home when experiencing new places, foods and peoples! I loved reading how you got your first book contract~ what a wonderful story. Lester's Bug Hunt Goes Bad sounds like it ought to see the light of day!

Edie Hemingway said...


This post teaches me how to be more creative when planning both my vacations and my future manuscripts! And you definitely should dust off some of those old stories, polish them up, and send them out again. I think you've got some winners there!

betsy woods said...

I enjoyed this post, Christy. It speaks so succintly about the marriage of living and art, and the business of both. Thank you.

Mark said...

Christy, as others have noted artists/writers are sort of always "on the job" and I encourage you to continue melding vacations with projects -- the rest of us get to enjoy the fruits of these adventures!!

Diane Adams said...

Christy, thanks for the creative ideas for combining travel with work. We are constantly visiting our son in Salt Lake City. Any ideas for books besides the obvious Mormon ones?

David LaRochelle said...

Your advice about combining work and travel is very appreciated. I'm not as good at recording legitimate tax write-offs as I could be, and your post is a good reminder to keep aware of business-related expenses.