Ice Cream and Grandkids
Designing and Crafting
This lil piggy
Somewhere over the Rainbow
About Tricia Gardella
Because Tricia’s writing life has not been quite the norm, we will take it in phases.
1985 Tricia decided it was time to write, something she had wanted to do for her entire life. So she enrolled in a class at a local community college. It was her instructor who asked if she had ever thought about writing for children. She hadn’t but now can’t imagine why not.
1986 or 7 Tricia read about The Society of Children’s Book Writers (SCBW) [this was the year they added illustrators, thus the I, to the organization] and was determined to attend their annual conference. That summer she began gathering writing friends, many a part of her life to this day.
1991 First book, Just Like My Dad published with then Harper and Row which before the book came out would become HarperCollins.
1997 Casey’s New Hat published with Houghton Mifflin.
1998 Writers in the Kitchen published with Boyds Mills Press.
2000 Blackberry Booties published with Orchard Books.
1986-2000 Tricia became deeply involved in SCBWI. She became Regional Advisor of Northern California (after establishing this non-existing group.) She organized an annual conference for her region. She began a weekly picture book review called “Picture This” for her local paper and never missed one week during the years she wrote this column.
In 1997, she was chosen SCBWI Member of the Year. During this same period, Tricia also sold a number of stories to Highlights Magazine and other children’s magazines, as well as crafts and patterns to various craft magazines.
Then in the year 2000, the year Blackberry Booties was published, she and her husband bought a lovely building in a Gold Country tourist town in Central California. Little could she imagine at the time this would be the last book she published for twenty-two years? Her idea? She would set everything up and continue her writing life just as it had always been. Silly her. It wasn’t long before all her creative energies were going into all the things she could make and buy for her new gift shop/ice cream parlor. She tried to hold on to writing. She tried hard. But it wasn’t long before her writing and commitments were pushed back into the memories of a very special time. Here’s the Scoop/ Locals Make Good became her focus for the next sixteen years. Was it the ‘instant gratification’ she craved, as one of her writer friends suggested? Traditional publishing is a slow road to travel.
One day, she had enough ice cream and gifts. On leap year day 2016 she turned the business over to one of her cooks. Now what? Should she try to publish again? No, she was too old for the publishing rat race. So, she and her husband traveled. They worked on their home which had been neglected for sixteen years. Tricia went back to school and finished her degree in archaeology. Only took fifty-five years to complete that one. In 2018 the unexpected happened, her husband died. Now what? A trip overseas with each of her seven grandchildren. She had made it through three when COVID hit. Now what?
2020-2022. Because she loved to read, because she enjoyed binging on her many crafts, because she had no problem with alone time, she had no doubt a few months of restrictions would pass quickly. Silly her. Then one day her quest begins and before she knows what is happening she finds herself on the fast track back to her happiest of places — writing. In October 2021, after a trip to New York with some of her Write Sisters (who are still writing), she begins to write the Quest, a memoir. Now what? In January 2022, while dealing with some medical issues, Tricia spent a lot of time scrolling through YouTube and here she discovered indie publishing. She had never heard of it and hadn’t a clue how it would change her life. Oh, the things she needed to learn. But learn she did, and six months later her first indie book was published. Probably the only adult book she will ever write. One time an instructor asked, have you ever thought about writing for children? Now she can think of nothing else.
Today Tricia understands that picture books are her passion. Her favorite part of this indie publishing is that it is up to her to find the just-right illustrator for each of her books. It feels like Christmas every time she opens illustration samples from one of ‘her’ illustrators from around the world. And she loves how they see what she sees but in a different way. Her goal is to have three to four picture books published before the 2022 holiday season and then a steady stream from there which she will try to keep updated on her blog.
Many of the books Tricia writes are influenced by the ranch life she stepped into sixty years ago. She writes children’s books about ranch animals, ranch routines, and ranch relationships though quite often getting side-tracked to explore the myriad other sides of life. She has tried it all, and almost mastered some: canning, cooking, knitting and other fiber arts, rug-making, gardening, and various business ventures. But writing is her happiest of places and she is thrilled to be back after a twenty-year sabbatical. She has a BA in Ancient History and Classical Archaeology, three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, all giving her much food for thought. She lives with two self-centered cats in Central California.