Hello, my friends! Welcome back!
Here we are, ready to start another school year and pick up all our writing and reading pursuits once again 😊
I’m so glad to see you all, and I thank those of you who showed up for the random summer Tuesday Debut posts to support those new authors. It was much appreciated by them and by me!
Now, somehow it’s September! How did THAT happen?
It’s been such a busy summer, the time has just flown. It feels like June 1st was five minutes ago! I got to do lots of wonderful things, including spending time with my children and grandchildren and my parents and siblings, being walked by my dogs, and taking full advantage of the coffee/maple twist creemees at Cookie Love in Vermont 😊 I hope you all had happy summers as well!
September and back-to-school always feels as much like the New Year to me as much as the actual New Year. And what better way to kick off than with today’s debut-ess, Jocelyn Watkinson, and her delightful picture book THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY? (Publication is set for September 13th, so please feel free to pre-order your copies at the links provided below!)
THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY
Author: Jocelyn Watkinson
Illustrator: Marcus Cutler
Sleeping Bear Press
September 13th 2022
Age Range: 6-7
In order to save their bacon, The Three Canadian Pigs face off against the big bad wolf and his team in a dramatic hockey game. In true Canadian fashion, after the pigs trounce their foes, they patch up their differences with delicious Canadian delicacies and friendship.
SUSANNA: Welcome, Jocelyn! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re really looking forward to learning about your journey to publication. Where did the idea for this book come from?
JOCELYN: I was drawn to writing kidlit when I moved to the U.S. from Canada in 2018. Since I wasn’t working yet, I was spending a lot of time being a mom and reading non-stop to my then three-year-old son. I was working on a different fractured fairytale and was reading it to my mother over the phone who still resides in Canada, who then out of the blue suggested to put a Canadian spin on The Three Little Pigs! Once I figured out (pretty early on) that the Wolf would want to eat their “Canadian Bacon,” the puns just stared flowing! The plot took a little while to come together, had many different endings and plot twists and took even longer to put together since it is written in rhyme.
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
JOCELYN: I started drafting this story in mid-2019. When I surprisingly won the Halloweensie 2019 contest (thanks Susanna for hosting such a super fun and challenging contest!) I was able to get an early version over to Alayne Christian at Blue Whale Press where I received very valuable feedback that helped build the stakes and the tension of the story. From there I relied on critique partners and the professional critique services of Shannon Stocker to really amp up the story, tension, perfect the meter and rhymes. It sat for a while (while the pandemic began), and then I used the manuscript to apply for the 2020 PBChat Mentorship. Again, surprisingly, I was selected by Lori Degman as a mentee and she and I massaged it until we felt it was ready for submission.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
JOCELYN: “Many” is an understatement. I believe total, there were 47 versions of this story. Writing in rhyme and perfecting meter takes a lot of effort and re-writes to get correct, and then of course there are all the times I didn’t get the arc correct or the ending! With the help of some amazing CPs, mentors and my editor Sarah Rockett, we finally got the story that everyone was happy with.
SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
JOCELYN: I thought it was ready many times and every time I thought it was ready, someone would find a way to elevate it or correct a plot hole of some kind. But I think that is how it is for your first book, you really think it is ready so many times before it is. Even after so many wonderful CPs and professionals looked at this manuscript with me, it took until I was working with my wonderful editor to get the ending and twist just right!
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
JOCELYN: My submission process was very unique. As I was a mentee in the PBChat 2020 Mentorship program, the end of our mentorship ended in a showcase where editors and agents were invited to preview the available manuscripts. On the very last day, Sarah Rockett from Sleeping Bear Press, reached out to inquire about reading the entire manuscript.
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”?
JOCELYN: I was told within a few minutes of sending it to Sarah that it would be previewed by the larger acquisitions team and then was offered just over a month after that! I considered this quite a quick turnaround because the this was over the winter holiday season.
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”? (Best moment ever! 😊)
JOCELYN: About a month after I submitted it to Sarah, I was told they had interest in buying the manuscript! And yes! Best day ever!! And I do think it was relatively quick. Because of the unique submission process this manuscript went to, it was sort of an exclusive to any of the professionals that were invited to the PBChat Showcase.
SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?
JOCELYN: There wasn’t too long of wait here either. I think it was only about a month between getting the “email” and receiving the contract.
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
JOCELYN: My husband surprised me with champagne and mint chocolate chip ice cream cake! My wonderful writer friend surprised me with a lovely flower arrangement too!
SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?
JOCELYN: I absolutely loved working with Sarah Rockett from Sleeping Bear. Originally, the story had the Wolf being invited to move in with the pigs which was a bit unearned since he hadn’t really redeemed himself. So, we agreed to have them just share a meal together and watch some hockey, basically, apologize and make amends, become friends! Her outside perspective was so helpful because as writers we are so in the weeds with our projects, especially with rhyme, that it is hard to see the forest through the trees. I am so so so happy with the final product. 😊
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?
JOCELYN: I was very happy with the illustration process. It was important to me that a Canadian illustrator was used so that a lot of Canadian detail would get into the illustrations. Since the story is about a lot of Canadian silliness, Marcus was able to incorporate a lot of Canadian inside jokes into the art. Additionally, I learned that Marcus is a BIG hockey fan which I’m sure helped.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
JOCELYN: Offer came in on January 8, 2021 and first copy in hand was August 1, 2022
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
JOCELYN: I discovered CANVA and made my own book trailer as a teaser at first.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
JOCELYN: I know I am one of the lucky ones. I started writing seriously in February 2019 and the offer to purchase this picture book was offered in January 2021.
SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)
JOCELYN: You don’t have to have every piece of your story figured out, and by that, I mean, pagination, illustrations, page turns etc. There is a much bigger team behind the scenes who are experts. Rather than spending time on where a page turn should happen or what the illustrations should be, work on upping the language in your story, make us fall in love with your characters or coming up with fun plot twists for your endings that make us want to open the book immediately and read it again. The author, while typically out front, is only one part of the puzzle; illustrator, designer, editor, etc. It’s a team effort!
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us today, Jocelyn, and for sharing your publication experience. It is so helpful! Wishing you all the best with this and future titles!
Readers, if you have questions for Jocelyn, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Jocelyn’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)
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)
Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)
Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)
Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)