Hello, Everyone, and welcome to another exciting episode of Tuesday Debut!
First, just a quick note: The Halloweensie Contest finalists will be announced for your reading and voting pleasure on Thursday. Since I wasn’t able to get them up before the weekend, and I already had today’s Tuesday Debut and tomorrow’s Would You Read It scheduled, I thought it was best just to wait until Thursday when we could have an uninterrupted stretch of days for reading and voting. The winners will be announced on Monday. I’m sorry to have kept you all waiting so long, and truly appreciate your patience. The judging was extremely difficult, and kept getting interrupted with family stuff and work deadlines and other things of that nature which have a tendency to suddenly appear out of nowhere when you’re trying to get something done! If by some chance you’ve been under a rock and not seen the Halloweensie Contest entries, hop on over and have a look – well over 200 amazing stories await your enjoyment!
Now then, allow me to introduce today’s Debutess, Melissa Stoller! She shares her first picture book with us, but has a series of chapter books already to her credit (The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection: Return to Coney Island and The Liberty Bell Train Ride) as well as another picture book forthcoming any minute (Ready, Set, GOrilla!)
MELISSA: I’m so happy to be included in your new blog series, Susanna! You know I am a huge fan of your Making Picture Book Magic course and of your books!
SUSANNA: I am thrilled to have you, Melissa, and you are very sweet to say such nice things. There will be a little extra something chocolate for you in your holiday celebrations this year 🙂 Now then, let’s have a look at your beautiful debut picture book!!!
SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH
Written by Melissa Stoller
Illustrated by Sandie Sonke
Clear Fork Publishing/Spork
October 16, 2018
Fiction, Picture Book
Scarlet paints perfect pictures with her magic paintbrush until the brush is lost, and she fears she’ll never be able to paint again. When the brush is found, will Scarlet’s own magical creativity emerge?
SUSANNA: LOVE that gorgeous cover! 🙂 Where did the idea for this book come from?
MELISSA: The idea for SCARLET came to me when I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City gazing at my favorite Impressionist paintings. Standing in front of a Monet canvas, I wondered what it would be like to have a magic paintbrush and paint like Monet. Over time, I thought of other questions: Would the brush would help me paint everything perfectly? What would happen if I lost the brush and then found it later? And what would I do if I wanted to paint something and the brush wouldn’t let me? These questions became the basis for my story.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
MELISSA: It took several months to write this story. My mother is always my first reader! And then my children and husband weigh in as well. I have trusted critique partners who helped me dig in through multiple drafts to focus on the theme and underlying layers. And I also had a professional critique as well. Through it all, I kept refining and shaping the story.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
MELISSA: I like to write in many drafts, making large and small changes as I go along, so my work always has many iterations.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
MELISSA: I knew my manuscript was ready when my critique partners all came back saying “this one is done!”
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
MELISSA: My publisher Callie Metler-Smith from Clear Fork Publishing was already publishing my chapter book series, The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection. Turns out Callie and I both love Impressionist paintings so I pitched her my art history-based idea and that manuscript became a book!
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
MELISSA: I definitely celebrated with my family and there were lots of smiles and tears of gratitude!
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
MELISSA: This was my second contract with Clear Fork so I knew what to expect.
SUSANNA: Tell us about the editorial process…
MELISSA: Mira Reisberg is editor/art director at Clear Fork/Spork. I know Mira well from many Children’s Book Academy courses and I was thrilled that she loved the manuscript and would be editing and art directing. We did several critiques and Mira offered many excellent suggestions during the editorial process. And I know that she worked closely with Sandie Sonke on the art. I am so proud of the final book!
SUSANNA: Tell us about your experience of the illustration process?
MELISSA: Mira selected the amazing artist Sandie Sonke as the book’s illustrator. I couldn’t be happier with this collaboration. Sandie’s vision surpassed my expectations. I just love all the details she added in the illustrations and I love the expressions on Scarlet, the magic paintbrush, and the adorable animals. One benefit to working with a small publisher is being involved throughout the process. Mira and Callie consulted me about the illustrations and I saw the art at various stages which was very exciting.
SUSANNA: Did you include any art notes with your manuscript?
MELISSA: I didn’t include art notes with this manuscript. In fact, Sandie created a cute story line with the dog appearing in many illustrations that I had not even contemplated. I do include art notes in other manuscripts if they are integral to an understanding of the story.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
MELISSA: I signed the contract in November 2016 and the release date is October 2018.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
MELISSA: I am in the process of having a book trailer produced, and I have lots of swag including bookmarks, stickers, postcards, magnets, and a t-shirt. Kids love swag! I’m also having an educator guide created for teachers and librarians by Deb Gonzalez.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
MELISSA: I started on this KidLit writing journey in 1997 when my oldest daughter was one! Seriously! I joined SCBWI that year and attended many workshops. And I have a file drawer full of rejections. After that initial burst, I worked on many other writing projects, including parenting articles and a parent-child book club resource book. About five years ago I got immersed again in writing for children. I started taking more classes and joined several critique groups. I started submitting picture books and ultimately signed my first contract for my chapter book series. My next picture book is Ready, Set, Gorilla!, illustrated by the very talented Sandy Steen Bartholomew.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
MELISSA: It’s so amazing to hold the finished book in my hands! My message to pre-published writers is to keep going. Work hard; study your craft through in person or online courses (like Susanna’s Making Picture Book Magic which I took twice!); attend conferences; participate in writing challenges and workshops; make connections with other creatives; establish relationships with trusted critique partners; and just write and submit!
I’m so happy to be featured on your blog, Susanna! Thanks, again for chatting!
Find Melissa online at:
Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Melissa! We are all very grateful for your time and expertise and wish you the very best success with ALL your books!
Readers, if you have questions for Melissa, please post them in the comments below and if Melissa has time I’m sure she’ll respond.
You may purchase Melissa’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)
We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:
– purchasing their books
– recommending their books to friends and family
– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians
– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores
– sharing their books on social media
– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.
Thank you all for stopping by to read today! Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday! Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 🙂
Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts? Check them out!
Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them
Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons
Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution
Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy
Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie
Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude
84 thoughts on “Tuesday Debut – Presenting Melissa Stoller!”
Reblogged this on Eleanor Ann Peterson and commented:
Amazing Melissa Stoller and her picture book Ready, Set, Gorilla! . Congrats Melissa and Sandy!
Thanks so much, Eleanor! I can’t wait for your debut book!
I just received Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush. Yay! The illustrations are beautiful.
Thanks for your enthusiasm for Melissa, Eleanor, and for sharing the news of her book!
Congratulations Melissa and Sandy ! A joy to watch parts of the process along the way and such a beautiful and relevant story for children ! Happy Book Birthday !!
Thank you dear Tina! I appreciate my critique partners so much!!! xox
Thanks for stopping by to read, Tina, and for leaving such a nice comment for Melissa and Sandy 🙂
Wow! This sounds like a magical story and I love that it’s focused on art. Thank you for sharing your writing journey, Melissa and congratulations to you, too!
Thank you, Katie! I am blessed to live in NYC near the MET and so many great museums and I have been visiting them often since I was a child! I couldn’t be happier that I was inspired to write an art focused story!
I hope you’ll get a chance to read the story, Katie!
Thanks for stopping by to read, Robin! Although you probably see Melissa in real life, living so close to one another 🙂
We haven’t bumped into each other but I know she’s in the hood. Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!
Thank you, Robin! And I do hope to meet you in real life!!
Always great to hear from a debut author! Thanks!
Thank you, Karen! I know, I love reading the stories behind the debut stories! Thanks for stopping by!
I hope it was helpful, Karen! Melissa had a lot of great things to share!
I like how your love for Impressionism inspired this book, Melissa. Creativity always leads to more creativity! Congrats!
Thank you, Candice. And I like that – “creativity always leads to more creativity!” I agree!!
Thanks for stopping by to read, Candice! I love that Melissa was inspired to write about art in this way. It’s one of my favorite things about writing – that we all find different things interesting and inspiring! I’m afraid if I wrote about art, it would be about how my mom used to drag me to the Met when I was a kid and I lagged along behind her just hoping it would be over soon! I had NO appreciation as a child 🙂
Just seeing this now, Susanna! I am laughing. Next time you’re in NYC let’s meet at the MET and maybe you will enjoy it!!!
I love that a museum visit inspired your debut #PB, Melissa. Congratulations on your continuing success!
Thank you so much, Patricia! I am doing a museum class with my mother tomorrow . . . always on the lookout for new ideas, LOL!
I love that too, Patricia! See my comment for Candice above – it would be silly to repeat myself! 🙂
Super “Debutess” interview! Love Scarlett and her magic brush. Congrats Melissa!
Isn’t Scarlet just darling, Cathy? There is something about that cover that REALLY appeals to me!
Thank you so much, Cathy! And I’m so excited to get a copy of WHEN A TREE GROWS! Congratulations to you, too!
Looking forward to reading both of your picture books!
Thanks so much, Lauri! I really appreciate it! Nice to see you here!!
They are both delightful – you’re in for a treat, Lauri 🙂
This is a thoughtful and wondrous new series Susanna! I have to go back to your first one and catch up.
Melissa, congratulations again on your PB debut! I look forward tor reading it. And thank you for letting us into your world.
Thanks, Traci. And I agree . . . Susanna has put together a wonderful resource with this new series! Thank you for visiting my world!
Thanks, Traci! I’m glad you like it! Here’s how I think up stuff: I ask myself, what do I wonder about and what do I want to know? And then I assume that if I’m curious about those things, someone else probably is too. Sometimes I’m right, and sometimes it appears that my mind follows a path not frequented by others 🙂 But Tuesday Debut seems to be a good one 🙂
Love getting to learn more about you, Melissa! Love Scarlet and I can’t wait to read the next in the Snowglobe series also.
Thank you, sweet Vivian! My second book in the Enchanted Snow Globe Collection series will be out spring 2019! I can’t wait! It’s set against the backdrop of 1915 Philadelphia and stars the Liberty Bell! And I am excited for you – 2019 here you come!! xox
Melissa is really taking off with her writing, isn’t she, Vivian? As are you! What talented company we get to keep around here!
Congratulations, Melissa. Thank you for sharing your journey into publication.
Thank you, Lisa! It’s been a fun journey with a lot of twists and turns for sure!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lisa! Melissa is great, isn’t she?!
You surprise me with every blog, Melissa–each one I learn something new about your process with this story! 🙂 I love this story & wish you all the best with its success
Oh, that is so lovely. Thank you! I’m glad to hear that I am not too repetitive LOL! But seriously, it really means a lot that you took the time to comment.
Ah, you’re welcome! I wish I had time to comment on many blogs, but then I wouldn’t be able to work, LOL! Small steps 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Jenny! There is so much to learn, and it’s so nice of Melissa and the other participants in this series to share their experience so we can all gain from it!
Congratulations, Melissa. I love the idea of a magic paintbrush.
Thanks, Corine! I know, me too! I sometimes wish I had a magic pen too!!! But as Scarlet knows by the end of the story, not really!
It IS a great idea, isn’t it, Corine? I could certainly use a magic paintbrush – maybe it would enable me to paint something people could actually identify 🙂
Congrats on the debut, and thank you for sharing the steps of the journey. I can’t wait to have a drawer full of rejection letters.
Yes . . . those rejections mean you are on your way! Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate the kind words.
I hope you’ll have a beautiful acceptance letter to frame before too long, Maureen!
Wonderful interview and I love hearing about the inspiration for a story and then the journey it travels until it’s a real book! I’ve ordered your book from my library and received notice that it’s been purchased. The next email will be letting me know I can come get it!
Congratulations on this beautiful book!
Thank you so much, Laura! I am so happy to hear that. Libraries are the BEST! Please let me know! And also what state you are in! I hope the children who use your library love the book. So appreciate this!
Melissa, I’m in Colorado and have asked the Boulder library to buy your book. They have purchased other picture books at my request. 😊
Thanks for asking your library to order the book, Laura! That is so helpful to authors! I’m glad you enjoyed hearing about Melissa’s book’s journey! 🙂
As a fellow Monet fan I am already intrigued! Actually, everything about this book is appealing and I look forward to reading it. Thanks for sharing your journey!
Thanks, Ingrid. Actually, I was in Philly this weekend and visited the Barnes Foundation. What a collection that is! There was an incredible Berthe Morisot exhibit as well! I hope you enjoy the book!
Oh wow! What an experience! So happy for you. 😃
I hope you get a chance to read the book, Ingrid!
Thank you for having this wonderful interview, ladies! And I super appreciate all the publishing insight, especially calling up pre-published and sharing your journey. I am so excited for this book!
Thanks, Kaitlyn. I love reading about other authors’ journeys. I’m so glad this was helpful. And I too love Susanna’s new blog feature!
Me too! You ladies and Vivian Kirkfield inspired me to start doing them too😊 https://twitter.com/KaitlynLeann17/status/1063309676538847232?s=19
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Kaitlyn! There is so much we can learn from each other!
Congratulations Melissa and I love your book.
Thank you so much, Diane! So appreciated it. This makes me smile!!!
Thanks for stopping by and reading, Diane! I’m glad you love Melissa’s book! 🙂
Melissa is terrific, and I’m so excited to see her new books. Great interview.
Thank you so much, David! That is super nice! Smiling over here!
Melissa IS terrific, David, and I’m so excited for her success. Glad you enjoyed the interview!
Melissa, I am delighted to *meet* you and your darling book about a girl and her magic paintbrush! I hope to find the book someday so I can spend some time in that world. 🙂 Great interview–thank you for sharing your process and for being so encouraging to other authors. I’ve saved this post so I can refer to it during my own journey. All the best to you! And Susanna, thank you for all you do here for fellow writers and illustrators in the children’s literature realm!
I am so happy to meet you as well, Debora. And I’m really glad you found this interview helpful. I have saved a ton of blog posts over the years and I do refer to them! Thanks for letting me know! All the best with your writing!
It is my pleasure, Debora! And I’m grateful to the debut authors who are willing to take the time to share their experience so that we can all learn from them. When you aren’t published yet, there’s a lot you don’t even know you don’t know! 🙂
I’m lucky enough to call Melissa a friend and CP. She is as talented and gracious as she seems! I knew the first time I saw this ms that it was special.
Right back at you, Sherry! You know I think your debut ROCKS! I love my critique pals! SO happy we are on this journey together!
I love that you guys are friends and CPs and that your debut picture books ended up being featured back to back on this series! 🙂
We had no idea! Happy coincidence!
Thank you so much, Suzie!!!
Thanks for stopping by and reading, Suzie!
Thank you very much, Annette!!!
Thanks for coming by today, Annette! I don’t recognize your name, so welcome! I hope you’ll visit again 🙂
Congratulations Melissa! Thank you for sharing your writing process with us-it is so encouraging to hear about how a story is “born”! Can’t wait to read it! (and I am now looking forward to having my own drawer full of rejections!) 🙂
Melissa has a drawer, I have wallpapered the house, Debbie 🙂 We all have our rejection collections! They are just steps on the way to the one that really matters – the ACCEPTANCE!!! 🙂
Thanks so much, Debbie! Yes, I also love to read about how authors get their ideas . . . they really come from everywhere! And yes that rejection drawer is such a big part of this process, isn’t it? Good luck with your projects!