author Lisa Neuder smiling at camera and an image of her book The Sweet Friendship

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? Several years ago, I came up with the idea to write stories for children that conveyed valuable life lessons. These lessons, in my opinion, were not taught in school but were essential to know. For my debut children's book, The Sweet Friendship, I drew upon the themes of friendship and loyalty – these are concepts that affect everyone and are always challenging. Then we had the pandemic, which added another level of complication to our relationships. After writing my book, it was my hope that students would reflect on the definition of a friend and who are the people that they can count on.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? Journaling is a wonderful remedy for my writer's block. With journaling, I can relax and free write. It helps to write about the events of the day, or my emotions about a situation, or things that I am grateful for in my life. I have noticed that when I have journaled, a number of ideas or themes have emerged. I can always use these ideas for my current book or save it for another project later.

What is your favorite time to write? I love writing early in the morning, just prior to starting work. It is the most peaceful time and I am filled with ideas and creativity.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? The best piece of writing advice that I received is to follow your heart and write about your passions or interests. I try not write to satisfy a business model or a particular program. I write because I enjoy telling stories and hope that others can relate to what I am trying to convey and share.

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? I love the freedom to indie publish my books which I believe, carries valuable messages or lessons for my readers. On the business side, I enjoy talking to readers and listening to their interests and feedback about my books. It makes my day when I hear that my story was uplifting or hopeful for them.

Lisa R. Neuder's The Sweet Friendship, illustrated by Ema Lee Oshima, is out now.