Anu D. Misa is an author and illustrator of children’s stories. Besides her love of writing, illustrating and reading, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and spending time with her family. Anu is also an avid traveller and has been to more countries than she can count on her fingers and toes! While she enjoys these adventures, she always appreciates coming back to her home in Toronto, Canada. Travelling gives her insights into family life around the world and provides the sparks that result in many of her stories! Interestingly, English was not Anu’s first language and as a child learning through picture storybooks was so important to her, it left a lifelong impression. Anu has come a long way from those early years learning to read, graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in Economics and working in the field for many years, while always making time for her creative passions. Now she delights in the challenge of writing and illustrating stories that captivate children and adults alike. 

Anu Misa author and illustrator of children's story books Ella Says

My creative process

I know you have been humming with anticipation to learn how I wave that magic wand that results in a puff of smoke and a fully formed children’s picture storybook! Well, maybe not literally humming, but perhaps you have been wondering. We all know that the creative process is unique to every individual and to some extent depends on the specific undertaking. Below, I am sharing my process – each time I journey through it, I continue to refine it and make it more and more my own!

How I do what I do



  • First things first – I must have an idea. That idea needs to tell a story that: is relatable for both children and adults; conveys an important life message or learning moment; and, has good tension and an appropriate climax to make it interesting.

  • It won’t be a surprise that lots of ideas bubble up to the surface but not many of them pass the test.

  • When a good idea does make it through, then, I am ready to take the first step in the writing process which isn’t about writing at all … it’s about pitching the idea to a trusted friend that can be a good sounding board and critic. If the idea gets a green light, then I move on to the next stage.



  • Now, I am ready to write. I set aside as much uninterrupted time as I can so that I can write the entire first draft of the story at once. It isn’t perfect, but, it is important for me to develop the full story in one sitting. Words won’t do justice to that especially good feeling of having that first draft completed. 

  • There is always a small part of me that worries that I just won’t be able to find the story somewhere deep in my imagination. Worrying that I will be faced with that blank screen with absolutely no words materializing!

  • I put this draft aside for a while so that I can reread it with a fresh mind. 

  • At this point I will also likely start to have some ideas about the illustrations and how I want to present them.



  • The next phase really involves many iterations with mostly incremental changes. Sometimes, there is also some restructuring and rethinking of elements of the story. I like to make sure that I space out this activity with plenty of intervals between readings. I rely heavily on my subconscious to mull over things and surprise me with improvements! This is the stage where I ensure that the story has a good flow and that the characters and ideas are all well developed, without anything seeming to be out of place.

  • Once I feel I have a good first draft, I share the story with someone who can edit it. Sometimes this leads to rewrites of certain sections but mostly it’s about tightening and brightening the language.



  • At this point I develop a page-by-page story board, deciding what text will go on what page so I can begin planning the illustrations.

  • This stage is important because I design which pages will be single or two-page spreads.

  • I sketch first draft ideas of the illustrations. It is helpful to see the full array of planned illustrations in a storyboard with a more strategic view before I begin delving into the detail of the illustrations.

  • Language will continue to be tweaked as well if needed to ensure alignment with planned illustrations.



  • Once I am happy with the storyboard, I begin developing the elements that will be used in the storybook’s scenes. I use electronic tools to develop the elements.

  • Then I begin developing the scenes that will appear in each illustrated page of the book, drawing upon the elements that I have already created and building on them to complete the scene.



  • Once all the illustrations have been developed, I will incorporate the text for each page.

  • I always prepare illustrations assuming that they will be printed, even if I am only initially planning to issue an electronic book. This means that the illustration’s resolution is high enough for print.

  • In addition, when I add the text, I keep in mind the necessary margins for printed formats.

  • Finally, I develop the book cover. 

  • And, voila, the book is done. The mystery is gone. Now you know the secret to my magic trick!