Welcome to Tuesday Debut, my friends!
Today I’m delighted to introduce the lovely Patti Richards and her picture book, MRS. NOAH (someone whom I think we can all agree we ought to hear more about because surely she was instrumental in making sure the ark was properly packed! 😊) For all of you considering entering the upcoming Halloweensie Contest, take note of the fact that Patti’s second book, MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE due out from Little Lamb books in 2022, was a direct result of the Holiday Contest entry by that name that she wrote and entered a few years ago! Isn’t that cool?
Let’s turn now to MRS. NOAH and see what Patti has to share!
Title: MRS. NOAH
Author: Patti Richards
Illustrator: Alice Pieroni
Publisher: Little Lamb Books
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Ages: 4 to 8
Synopsis: Noah can’t wait to show his bride the enormous ark he’s just completed. As amazing as it is, Mrs. Noah knows it can be more. She sees beyond the wood and fasteners to the home it has the potential to be—and so, she gets to work! With care for each animal and its needs, Mrs. Noah hammers, gathers, knits, and schlepps this floating house into a loving home. And while she starts the project on her own, teamwork will see it through.
SUSANNA: Welcome, Patti! Thank you so much for coming to our little corner of the blogosphere today to share your journey to publication! We’re so excited to learn from you! Where did the idea for this book come from?
PATTI: I was packing my family for our first cruise—a 50th anniversary celebration for my parents. With all the stress of getting a family of five ready for a big trip plus taking care of the pets, paying bills, cleaning the house, I was stressed to say the least. In the middle of all of the preparations, I thought, “If getting us ready for a three-day cruise is this crazy, how in the world did Mrs. Noah get an entire ark ready for her family and all the animals?” I laughed out loud at the thought, and the idea for MRS. NOAH was born.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
PATTI: I wrote the first draft of MRS. NOAH in 2018. But the story actually got its start with the idea, so from idea to first draft took about six years. I know that seems like a long time, but other projects and life kept getting in the way. But I’m a firm believer in God’s perfect timing in life and in writing, and I think MRS. NOAH needed to simmer for that long for me to be ready to write the book.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
PATTI: I had (still have) 13 versions of MRS. NOAH before I submitted it for the first time. I say “still have,” because I never discard a version/draft! Once the contract was signed, I’ve revised a few more times plus made final edits, so the grand total now is 15 versions. In talking with other writers, I do think the way I save drafts is sort of unique to me in that even one or two small changes…a period or comma here or there, a new word or rearranged sentence…means a new draft. I know not all writers do things this way, but for me, it’s super important to see the entire evolution of a story as well as be able to go back and find passages, sentences or word order that I liked better in earlier version. If I took a look at most of my story files right now, there isn’t one that doesn’t have multiple drafts—I think my most-revised story to date has somewhere around 35 versions. I guess I’m one of those odd birds that actually enjoys revising! LOL!
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
PATTI: Sometimes I decide that a submission is ready because there’s an opportunity to submit it. Does that make sense? MRS. NOAH had been revised and tweaked with my critique group 13 times over the course of a year, so when #FaithPitch was happening, I thought, “Why not?” Because, honestly, with that many versions a writer really should be at the point of submission if for no other reason than to get feedback, even if it’s just a “No,” so you can look at your story with new eyes. That may seem contrary to popular advice or opinions, but I say this to encourage each of you to believe in your work and yourselves enough to take that next big step. Never submit your first draft. NEVER! But if you’re on draft 10 or 13, go ahead and send it out. That first submission is always the hardest, and the rejection, if it comes, will be painful, but it’s all part of the process of learning and growing as a writer.
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
PATTI: I don’t have an agent (still working on that😊). I mentioned #FaithPitch before, and even though I always thought of MRS. NOAH as a mainstream book, I thought it might also be a good fit for a faith-based publisher, so I decided to give it a try. That first go-round I didn’t get any love, so I put it away and waited. By the time #faithpitch came around again, I actually had a second story called MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, ready to go and pitched both of them. But again, no love! So instead of putting my second story away, I decided to go ahead and submit it to Little Lamb Books, the sponsor of #FaithPitch, because I thought it would be a good fit for their house. That was in February of 2019 during their open submissions window. Fast forward to September, and it was time for the second #Faithpitch of the year. I decided to give MRS. NOAH another try and it got a heart from Rachel Pellegrino, publisher at Little Lamb Books. You can imagine my surprise when just a week or so later, I got an email from Rachel letting me know that they had found my submission from February as they were taking one last look at what had come in and they loved MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. In the same letter, Rachel mentioned that she had liked MRS. NOAH on #FaithPitch and could I send her that one, because if she loved it they wanted to offer me a two-book contract! I was over-the-moon excited! I sent her MRS. NOAH, and here I am in 2021 getting ready for my first fiction picture book release with a second one with Little Lamb Books coming in 2022.
SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?
PATTI: I had “the call” with Rachel a few weeks after I got the initial email, and by Thanksgiving, I had the contract in my hands!
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”? (Best moment ever! 😊)
PATTI: I had MRS. NOAH out on submission for one year before it was picked up by Little Lamb Books. Of course, the caveat is that there are very few faith-based publishers that take unsolicited manuscripts, so MRS. NOAH went out to about three other places in total.
SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?
PATTI: Just a few weeks!
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
PATTI: I honestly can’t remember now, but I’m pretty sure it involved a happy dance or two and copious amounts of chocolate cake!
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
PATTI: The contract was definitely what I expected. There were no surprises, but that was primarily because I’ve been in the submission trenches for a long time and have done my homework about contracts and what to expect. Little Lamb, like many smaller independent publishing houses, does not give an advance but in turn pays higher royalties than other places. Rachel presented me with a well-crafted contract that was easy to read and understand. It also helps to have a husband who is an attorney, and we went over the contract together to make sure everything was as it should be. If you don’t have an attorney in your family and don’t have an agent, I would strongly suggest having someone who is an expert in contract language take a quick look. Contracts are always written from the perspective of the publishing house, so it helps to have someone who has your best interest at heart give it a read through.
SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?*
PATTI: Because I had been working on MRS. NOAH consistently for a year and the arc was solid, there were no major changes to the story during the editorial process. However, because MRS. NOAH is a rhyming story, I had some work to do making sure every line matched in terms of syllable count and emphasis. When it comes to rhyming stories, there are different schools of thought about the need for equal number of syllables per line vs. equal number of beats. Poets and rhyming picture book writers with a musical background (like me) tend to listen and write for beats. Others, from a more formulaic background are sticklers for syllable count. So, there was a little back and forth about those changes, but the final product is exactly as it should be and I’m so proud of it!
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?*
PATTI: All picture book writers should have a vision for what their book will ultimately look like. With that being said, all picture book writers need to hold that vision loosely. I could see Mrs. Noah as clear as day in my mind as I was writing this story, and I loved what I saw. But illustrators and editors often see things differently. So, when I got the initial sketches for the book, I was a little surprised. But a beautiful thing happened…as I looked at her and sent back my notes, got new sketches, sent back more notes, and got revised sketches, something lovely started to happen. I started being able to see my main character in a different way. She needed the changes I asked for, but she no longer needed to look like what I had envisioned from the beginning. This MRS. NOAH was just right for this book. I trusted the process, and I couldn’t be happier with the result!
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?
PATTI: Things are super slow at Ingram right now because of the pandemic, so we haven’t been able to send review copies out yet. Hoping that happens soon!
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
PATTI: Hoping to have that first copy in my hand soon! If it happens on schedule (which seems to be changing daily because of what I mentioned above) it will be almost two years to the day of when I signed my contract.
SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
PATTI: Little Lamb gives writers a lot of help when it comes to marketing, which is why a small house is so nice! They produce all of the swag and the book trailer, and have featured me on their blog several times along the way. They are also responsible for getting review copies where they need to go and will be entering MRS. NOAH in some contests on my behalf. I’m so happy with all the marketing support I’ve received.
I’ve done a few blogs and am planning a Facebook Live release on the day the book comes out and I’ll be planning some events as soon as I have the book in my hands. I’ve held off planning anything live until that first copy arrives just because so much of the when is out of our hands right now.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
PATTI: Let’s see…I sold my first picture book to a publisher called MeeGenius in 2014. That was 14 years after I’d written my first book for children. I think it’s important to note that during those 14 years, and for many years after that I was also a full-time freelance writer. So, I was constantly balancing my paying work with my children’s work. I don’t want anyone to read this and think, “14 years! But I don’t want to wait that long!” I totally get it😊. But along the way I’ve had other successes that have kept me going, like winning awards in the Writer’s Digest annual competitions, the Katherine Paterson Prize at Hunger Mountain and a few others. I’ve also done work-for-hire writing which resulted in three nonfiction chapter books that released in 2017 and 2018. I’ve had a fiction story in Highlights Magazine and a nonfiction story in Fun for Kidz Magazine and last year I sold a poem to Cricket Media for Ladybug Magazine. The important thing is to keep writing, honing your craft and submitting. Do you need an agent to do those things? No. Do you need a picture book contract to continue working to become the best writer for children you can be? No. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all these years of writing, submitting, revising and submitting again, the joy is in the journey. I wouldn’t trade the people I’ve met that have become life-long friends, the patience I’ve learned and the commitment to craft I’ve developed for anything. Book contracts are the goal, but writing for children is about so much more than that. Be grateful for your calling. Love what you do, and love the children who will read your work someday. Learn all you can, and live your writer life well. Whatever that looks like for you!
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Patti! We’ve so enjoyed and benefited from the opportunity to learn from you! I know I speak for everyone when I say we wish you all the best with this and future titles!
Social Media Links:
Readers, if you have questions for Patti, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
Patti’s book will be available next week from Little Lamb Books, and if it is available in other places I will update these links!
You may purchase Patti’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
– 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!
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)
Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)
Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)
Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)
Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)
Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)
Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)
Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)
Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)