It’s Tuesday, everyone! And you know what that means!
It means that today is the first day of Autumn!
Also, it just so happens to be Elephant Appreciation Day! So here are some elephants for you to appreciate 😊
But even more exciting than those things is that Tuesday means it’s time to meet a debut author and have a look at her brand new picture book whose book birthday is TODAY! 😊🎉🧁🎈
I’m delighted to introduce you to the talented Nancy Roe Pimm and her very interesting book about a refugee from Afghanistan who becomes a pilot and travels across five continents!
FLY, GIRL, FLY: SHAESTA WAIZ SOARS AROUND THE WORLD
written by Nancy Roe Pimm
illustrated by Alexandra Bye
September 22, 2020
Nonfiction ages 5-10.
“You must believe in yourself and allow your dreams to soar.” –Shaesta Waiz
Shaesta Waiz, a refugee from Afghanistan, dreamed of doing great things. But first she had to leave a refugee camp with her family to make a new life in America, overcome gender stereotypes, be the first in her family to go to college, and overcome her fear of flying. After becoming a pilot, Shaesta made the flight of a lifetime by crossing five continents, making thirty stops in twenty-two countries.
SUSANNA: Welcome, Nancy! We’re so thrilled to have you here with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?
NANCY: I wrote a middle-grade biography titled, The Jerrie Mock Story: The First Woman to Fly Solo Around the World. While I interviewed Jerrie in her Florida living room, she told me a young woman named Shaesta Waiz had visited the week before. Shaesta was an immigrant from Afghanistan, and she sought advice since she too wished to fly around the world. As Jerrie told me about Shaesta, she put her finger to her temple and said, “Shaesta is a smart girl. She is going to do it.” Shaesta and I met at an airshow where I was promoting The Jerrie Mock Story and she was planning her circumnavigation of the globe. When Shaesta completed her historic flight, she asked me to write her story.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
NANCY: It took me two years to write Fly, Girl, Fly. Different versions of this manuscript made it through all of the editorial hoops at two different publishing houses, only to get rejected in acquisitions. Acquisitions is the last hurdle to clear on the path to publication, and it is strictly a business decision and a numbers game at that point. I’m glad I kept moving forward despite the rejections. Sometimes you must fly through turbulence to get to the blue skies ahead.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
NANCY: I went through lots of revisions with many versions of the manuscript. But looking back, I was able to pull out the best aspects of each revision to create one manuscript that shined. Nothing is really wasted. During the journey to publication I received editorial feedback from professional editors, and I found the experience priceless. Once I signed the contract with Beaming Books, we went through three months of revisions.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
NANCY: I begin with a very messy first draft. After a few revisions, I bring the manuscript to my monthly critique group. I also love taking my work in progress or WIP to a writer’s retreats. One of my favorites is a weekend retreat given by award-winning picture book author and editor, Michelle Houts.https://michellehouts.com/home-old/editorial-and-consulting-services/
With Fly, Girl, Fly I also hired professional editor and award-winning picture book author Jenn Bailey. After lots of feedback and many revisions, I felt it was ready to submit. (Jenn Bailey can be contacted through reedsy.com)
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
NANCY: I do not have an agent. I have eight published narrative nonfiction books and almost all of them were submitted directly to editors who accept unsolicited material. I painstakingly go over each query letter, and my nonfiction proposals go through numerous revisions before submission. I’ve met a few editors at SCBWI conferences and that is how Fly, Girl, Fly came close to publication twice, but crash landed. So, I tried something different—PBPItch, a twitter platform where you can pitch a story idea to editors and agents on certain days of the year. If you a get a “like” from an agent or editor, you need to look up the submission guidelines on their website and send your manuscript for consideration. Another twitter pitch event is #Pitmad
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?
NANCY: Fly, Girl, Fly had spent six months with one editor and three months with another before I finally submitted my pitch in June 2019. I revised a few times for Beaming Books and the contract came in September via email while I was on vacation in Paris. It is always nerve-wracking negotiating the terms without an agent, but the folks at Beaming Books were wonderful.
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
NANCY: After I virtually signed the contract on September 23, 2019, I climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, gave thanks, and raised my hands in victory—for climbing the steps and for getting a book deal. Best moment ever! I also popped the cork on a bottle of champagne!
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
NANCY: This is my debut picture book so I didn’t know what to expect. I hear most picture books take two years or more after the contract is signed. My publisher worked quickly and one year later, September 22, the book is released. I was given a nice advance, 10% royalties, and 20 free copies of the book.
SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?
NANCY: I had a great experience. The editor and I went through several rounds of revisions, and we were both very respectful in our back and forth. The editor suggested I focus on how Shaesta took on new challenges and built her confidence. Shaesta overcoming her fears was an integral part of the story. We worked together to bring Shaesta’s inspirational story to life in forty pages.
SUSANNA: Tell us a little about your experience of the illustration process?
NANCY: A big lesson I learned is that picture books are a 50-50 proposition with an author and an editor. An illustrator does not want to see any illustration notes. This is how it was explained to me: “Would you want the illustrator to tell you what to write and what not to write?” I did not send any illustration notes. I did see sketches, and I asked for a few little tweaks. The publisher sent me a digital advanced reading copy (ARC), and I was blown away! Alexandra’s illustrations were stunning. She really portrayed Shaesta’s spunk when needed, and at other times—her fear
- Dreaming Big
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?
NANCY: I just saw a nice review from School Library Journal:
K-Gr 3-Pimm’s debut picture book introduces readers to an inspirational young pilot named Shaesta Waiz, who was born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan. Waiz’s family was able to break free from the camp and move to America. Waiz, who grew up in California, defied expectations in many ways. She overcame language barriers at a young age, studied hard to become the first in her family to graduate from college, and became the first certified female pilot from Afghanistan. At the age of 30, she became the youngest woman in history to fly a single-engine aircraft around the world. Waiz’s story encourages children to never give up. This book could serve as an engaging read-aloud or an enjoyable solo reading experience. Bye’s colorful illustrations are emotive and elegant. Readers will be inspired to chase their own dreams. An author’s note and a personal note to children from Waiz are included. VERDICT Recommended for any classroom, library, or home collection.Kristin Unruh, Siersma Elem. Sch., Warren, MIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
NANCY: It only took one year from the signing of the contract to holding the book in my hand. My debut picture book arrived one week ago. I hugged it. I looked at my name on its spine. I smelled the book and felt the raised lettering that spells the words, Fly, Girl, Fly on the cover. I’ve never piloted a plane myself, but I felt like I was flying then!
SUSANNA: It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?! What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
NANCY: Beaming Books sent media releases to flying magazines and parenting magazines. They pitched to major media outlets like Newsweek and TIME, as well as bloggers such as The Children’s Book Review and Mr. Schu Reads. The publisher also sent the book to all awards committees who may be interested.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
NANCY: I formed a launch team to help spread the word about my new book. I also made promotional material in the form of book marks and flyers. I hope to promote my book through my interactive virtual author visit. I started a newsletter to introduce readers to Shaesta Waiz and share stories that are not in the picture book. You can subscribe to my newsletter at: https://mailchi.mp/4a1c99c8b497/nodream2big. I wrote a magazine article for Girls in Aviation magazine. Although I try to do what I can, it is more challenging due to the pandemic. Many of the book fairs and author presentations are now cancelled. On a positive note, I am having a virtual book launch party with Cover to Cover Bookstore. Shaesta Waiz lives in Dubai, and she normally would have had to miss out on this event. But since we are all Zooming these days, Shaesta will be a featured guest at the book launch party! Please join us on Saturday, September 26 at 11:00 a.m. ET. The more the merrier! Register on the link below!
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
NANCY: I wrote my first book, Horses, Horses, Horses, at age ten and a picture book, Penelope the Platypus, nearly twenty years ago. Neither of those books ever got published. In those twenty years, though, I have written a couple of novels, and had a bunch of magazine articles and seven nonfiction books published. But the idea of getting the elusive picture book published continued to haunt me. Five years ago, I took action. I studied Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul. I took out my highlighter and read it cover to cover—twice. On each library trip, I checked out 30 picture books. Award-winning picture book author Will Hillenbrand gave me great advice. He said, “Read tons of picture books, take your favorites, and type the text into your computer to learn the rhythm and understand the flow of the picture book.” I went to Society of Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating (SCBWI) conferences and took every picture book breakout session. If you haven’t joined SCBWI, I highly recommend it. I always learn a lot, grow in my craft, and I love the meeting fellow authors.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
NANCY: There really are no short-cuts. I’ve made many mistakes along the way, but I learned from each and every one. I’ve learned to love revising. Like a potter with clay, we must remove the impurities and get the lumps out. Then you can begin to knead and shape. When you are happy with your creation, fire away! It’s ready to send! I’ve almost given up on many occasions, but I always found a way to say yes and work even harder. In closing, I wish you the best in your journey and I’ll leave you with a few pointers to consider.
- Develop your craft (Highlights Foundation, SCBWI conferences, 12 by 12, SCBWI digital webinars, Children’s Book Insider)
- Join a critique group
- Read a lot and read as a writer
- Use mentor texts
- Keep saying, “Yes!”
- The three P’s Perseverance, Patience, and Persistence
- Channel your emotions into your story. The writer’s heart needs to connect to the reader’s heart.
And most of all…never…Never…NEVER give up!!!!
SUSANNA: Nancy, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your experience. We all benefit from hearing about other authors’ journeys! I know I speak for everyone when I say best of luck with this and future titles!
NANCY: Thank you, Susanna Leonard Hill, for giving me this opportunity to celebrate my debut picture book and to share with fellow writers. I very much appreciate it!
Readers, if you have questions for Nancy, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Nancy’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
– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries
– sharing their books on social media
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!
Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)
Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)
Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)