Alumnus finds passion in writing children's books

Lukas Swarts
Features Editor

SnipImageCMYK.jpg

A 2006 graduate of Rochester College, Julianna Blankenship writes and publishes children’s books in her spare time outside her work as a senior marketing specialist at a local financial institution.

Her second book, “The Rory Story” debuted on Nov. 14, 2018, and is based upon her dog, Rory, and her niece, Anna. The story follows the two over the course of the seasons with real life experiences and many adventures.

“I always wanted my own dog as a child, and now that I have Rory, it is almost like reliving the experience as a child, through Anna’s eyes in the book. Anna, in a way, is the child version of me,” Blankenship said.

She said Anna has said some funny remarks about Rory, and they are included in the story. Rory loves kids, and Anna loves dogs, so they are the perfect pair.

“Rory’s Story” follows up her first book “Sally Lumpkin’s Party: A Story of 6 True Friends,” which came out in 2008. This book is a rhymed children’s book, and the story is based off her college roommates at RC.

Blankenship said she is not done writing children’s books and has more books on the way. “I have a holiday story in the works, a finished manuscript that is being illustrated called Grumpy Cousins, as well as two more half-finished manuscripts and about a thousand other ideas that have yet to make it on paper,” she said.

She treasures the format of children’s literature. “No one is tying you down to logic, physics, limits or bias. In my opinion, children’s literature is the freest out of all genres. I do love graphic design and art, and I see children’s books as the most accessible form of art,” she said.

Blankenship’s degree at RC was a bachelor’s in business communication, and she said many professors had a major impact on her. Admitting to not always loving to write, she said, “after some classes with Lora Hutson and Danette Cagnet, I discovered that creativity is a muscle that can be made stronger with use. Eventually, I became a better writer because of practice and good instruction.”

Associate Professor of Mass Communication Lora Hutson said Blankenship’s attitude to life and work always featured a combination of curiosity and creativity. “All I had to do was give her a little of information, and she would run with it,” Hutson said. “She always had that sense of exploration, and she continuously finds new ways to communicate her thoughts with the world around her.”

Associate Professor of Business Danette Cagnet said, “Julianna was a mature and hardworking student, and she made the most of every opportunity. Additionally, Julianna had a deep faith that grounded her, and she knew to cherish the moments that count most.”

In addition to working in the marketing field after graduation, Blankenship continued her educational pursuits. In 2011, she graduated from Eastern Michigan with a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications with the goal of making her more competitive in the job market. “Graduating right before the recession was tough. Returning to get my master’s was a strategic move to make myself more competitive in the job market,” she said.

In addition to her full-time work with Cornerstone Community Financial Credit Union, Blankenship also teaches communication and marketing for RC and for Southern New Hampshire University.

In addition to creating children’s books, Blankenship enjoys other hobbies, such as collecting LEGO mini-figures, reading books, riding her bike down the Troy Trail, building LEGO sets with her niece and nephew, going to the movies, practicing archery and building objects out of wood.

“Most of my spare time is spent teaching classes, writing books or at the dog park with Rory,” Blankenship said.

She enjoys reading children’s books written by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri. Her favorites are “Dragons Love Tacos” and “Secret Pizza Party.” For books meant for older audiences, Blankenship enjoys reading books by Ruth Hogan.   

For those interested in writing books, Blankenship gave a word of advice. “Find a subject that you are passionate about, and let the story flow from there. Do not rush it, and learn from those whose work you admire. Keep a creative note page on your phone or a paper notebook with you to write down ideas, words, plotlines or other things that you want to include in your story,” she said.

Regarding her future goals as a writer, Blankenship said, “Eventually, if I can carve out time to produce and polish multiple manuscripts, I would like to seek out a literary agent to work with and write children’s books on a more consistent basis. As of right now, it is a fun hobby.”