Welcome to the first Tuesday Debut of 2023, everyone!
We have a very interesting book journey to share today! Although Tuesday Debut is for picture books, this is a book that started as a picture book and then went off in another direction and I wanted to share it because I think it’s important for us as writers to be open-minded about our work. Sometimes a book we envision one way might work very well another way! Today’s book started out as a picture book manuscript but ended up being published as a graphic novel. Amazing, right? And maybe something to think about if you’ve got a picture book manuscript that isn’t quite working as a picture book! So without further ado, please help me welcome Mindy Hudon and her no-longer-a-picture-book graphic novel, Kodi’s Adventures: How I Learned to Defeat the Time Snatcher!
Kodi’s Adventures: How I Learned to Defeat the Time Snatcher
by Mindy Hudon
illustrated by Barbara Szepesi Szucs
ASHA Press; Kids’ Edition, January 06, 2023
This graphic novel is a tool to help children better understand how they can be successful in time management—a critical life skill. Readers will identify with Kodi’s setbacks and successes as he learns how to recognize his “time snatchers,” how to take control of his time, and how to become an effective time manager.
SUSANNA: Welcome, Mindy! Thank you so much for joining us today. I am really looking forward to hearing about how this book came about, and I know our readers are going to find it very interesting! Where did the idea for this book come from?
MINDY: As a speech-language pathologist (SLP) specializing in executive function skills, specifically time management, I wanted to write a book to help children understand how to see and feel the passage of time. In my practice, I realized that young children could not comply with adult requests around time, which caused havoc and frustration for both children and adults. I first developed a children’s clock, the Bee A Time Keeper® clock, to provide children with a tool to see and feel the passage of time. My clock led me to write a children’s picture book to support children to identify their time snatchers. First, I joined your Making Picture Book Magic course, which was the smartest thing I could have done. I learned so much about writing children’s picture books, publishing, and connecting with other published and unpublished inspiring authors. The connections that I made through this process were priceless! I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and attended a couple of conferences. Based on what I had learned, I decided to submit my children’s picture book manuscript to traditional publishers.
Although I received great feedback from the publishers, they all said it was not what they were looking for. I have to admit, that burst my bubble a bit. I was feeling defeated at that time so I justI placed the manuscript in a file and moved on.
I continued to follow the authors that I had met in this process, who inspired me. I am so grateful to the authors that took the time to talk with me and encourage me to continue my publishing journey. They gave me great advice including submitting my manuscript to educational publishers, which I did, but again my manuscript was not the right fit.
One night, I was reading an email I received from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) about the first children’s book they published by one of their members. It ignited a spark in me as I remembered what a mentor and friend of mine, Elisa Schmitz, founder of 30Seconds.com and author of “Become the Fire: Transform Life’s Chaos into Business and Personal Success,” always said, “do what you know.” So, as an ASHA certified member, I attached my children’s book manuscript file and submitted it to ASHA Press.
A week later, ASHA Press contacted me stating that they loved the time management concept of my book, but would I be willing to write it into a graphic novel for middle aged children. I was ecstatic and of course I said YES, without even knowing how to write a graphic novel. But, this opportunity was what I was looking for, so I turned my efforts into reading and learning all I could about writing a graphic novel for middle schoolers.
SUSANNA: Thank you for your kind words about Making Picture Book Magic, Mindy! I am so glad if it helped you on your writing journey! How long did it take you to write this book?
MINDY: I was fortunate that ASHA Press provided me with two outstanding mentors to help me through this process. We would meet virtually every month to review my pages and make suggestions and changes. The concepts and ideas were mine, but they provided direction with ASHA guidelines in mind.
Once I found a good graphic novel template, I outlined my chapters and started visualizing and writing. Writing a graphic novel for middle grade children is very different from a children’s picture book. I went from writing about a 500 word picture book to a 106 page graphic novel with over 350 panels. In addition to the dialog, I also needed to write a visual description that the illustrator could take to create the artwork for each of the 350 plus panels. It was a lot of work, but I have a newfound respect for graphic novel authors and I absolutely love writing this medium!
I connected with a SLP colleague who also wrote comics. She taught me so much about this medium and its amazing impact on learning. Also, this process made me remember that as a struggling reader myself as a child, comics were what I felt most comfortable reading. Graphic novels and comics are a powerful medium that helped me grow into a better writer.
The entire writing process from the day ASHA Press contacted me about rewriting my children’s book into a graphic novel to my book being published on January 06, 2023 was about a 3 year process.
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
MINDY: Yes! Especially if you count the revisions I made on my children’s picture book before I submitted it to the traditional publishers and then the transformation into a graphic novel. Don’t be discouraged by publishers asking for revisions. It only will make you a better writer. Be mindful of your own vision, but be open to new possibilities that publishers may suggest.
SUSANNA: That is very good advice, Mindy. It can be hard to do, but it’s always important to keep an open mind. When and how did you submit?
MINDY: I do not have an agent. I just jumped into submitting my picture book manuscript as I described above. When I submitted the children’s picture book, I researched to find publishers that accepted manuscripts. I sent both a query letter and my manuscript. As I stated, this process did not work for me. For ASHA Press, I was already a member of this organization, which was a criteria for submission. I then followed their application process. One thing that I have learned when submitting manuscripts is that you need to follow the publishers guidelines as stated, otherwise they will probably not even accept your application.
Below is a picture of my sons, Marshall and Mitchell and our dog Kodi when they were young. I borrowed the title of my book from my son Marshall, who wrote a story in third grade about our dog and created it into a short film called: Kodi’s Adventures.
SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?
MINDY: After meeting with ASHA Press in the Fall 2019, Covid-19 happened and life as we knew it was halted. My own family was impacted drastically by the pandemic. I had sick family members to care for and as a SLP in the schools at the time, I was Zooming non stop with students. My writing process was put on the back burner. I finally met with ASHA Press again in May 2020 to discuss the details of the contract. I signed the contract in September 2020.
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
MINDY: Was I excited about signing the contract? Absolutely, but due to the pandemic and its impact on my personal and work life, it was hard to celebrate at that time. It is a surreal feeling to finally be published. There is nothing like seeing your name on the cover of a book! I highly recommend it! My book is being released on January 6, 2023. I finally feel like I can breathe again and plan to celebrate my accomplishment with my family and friends!
SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
MINDY: I received a standard contract from the publisher. Although all I wanted to do was sign it and accept it as it was, my husband suggested that I contact a lawyer. I am glad that I did, because I was able to ensure that I received what I felt was reasonable as a new author. ASHA Press is a small publishing house. I received less than 5K in advance of the book being completed. For me, it wasn’t about the money, it was about reaching my goal of publishing a book to help children, parents and educators. However, I did ensure that I own the copyright for the manuscript and receive some minimal compensation after an agreed upon amount of books are sold in addition to the money I received in advance. I received 10 free copies of the book, which I cherished and shared with my family.
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?
MINDY: After my manuscript was written, I was fortunate to be included in choosing an illustrator. I am in awe of Barbars Szepesi Szucs work. She took the words that were in my brain and created illustrations that were just as I had visualized. As a talented illustrator, she added more creative aspects that took the book to the next level. We then needed to edit each of the panels as she created them to ensure they were exactly what I had imagined!
text copyright Mindy Hudon 2023, illustration copyright Barbara Szepesi Szucs 2023, AHSA Press
ASHA Press’s marketing goals are focused towards their members. My goals are more broad. I have been networking and building my own marketing plan geared towards not only SLP’s, but children, parents, therapists and educators. That was a slight obstacle for me, but manageable. ASHA Press has been amazing to work with! I am so proud and honored that they are the publisher of my first book!
For the most part, my art notes were incorporated into the book. One art note was not included in the end, which I was concerned about; however, it doesn’t appear to impact the purpose of the book.
SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?
MINDY: First of all, it is hard to put your work out there to be seen by the world. This entire process is very intimate and to have it viewed by other readers is very intimidating, especially when it is reviewed by fellow colleagues in my field. I did an Instagram Contest during the ASHA Convention in November 2022. The book was available for purchase for ASHA members only. I was excited when a fellow colleague, who is a time management coach, won my contest and provided me with an amazing review. In addition, ASHA Press submitted it to another SLP influencer, who also provided a very positive review.
ASHA Press recently notified me that they submitted my book to Kirkus, but I don’t believe it has been reviewed yet.
SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?
MINDY: I was offered the opportunity to write my children’s picture book into a graphic novel in the fall 2019. I received my 10 free printed copies in October 2022. I am unsure how many books have been printed. I believe because it is a small publisher that it is less than traditional publishers.
SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
MINDY: I have received great guidance from the ASHA Press marketing team. They have provided me with graphics and suggested social media content. They are planning other marketing promotions including emails and postcards to members.
SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.
MINDY: I decided to submit my book to Mom’s Choice Awards and Readers Favorite Book Reviews & Award Contest. I was honored that my graphic novel received a Mom’s Choice Award. Readers Favorite contest winners are notified in September 2023. However, as being part of Reader’s Favorites, I have already received a very positive review for my book. If you are able to, I highly suggest pursuing reputable book award organizations to receive honest reviews and media attention.
I am in the process of working on flyers and developing a website. I have been trying to build my social media presence, which has been slow.
SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
MINDY: Wow…I think at least 25 years. When I was home on maternity leave with my twin sons, I wrote an infant language enrichment guide for parents. I contacted a website called iParenting.com and the founder, Elisa Schmitz, asked if I would be her speech and language expert adviser. Of course I said yes, which started my writing career. From my connection with iParenting, I was published in newsstand magazines, interviewed on blogs, and even worked for a short time as part of the Walt Disney Internet Group. When Elisa sold iParenting to Disney, I then followed her to 30Seconds.com where I continue to be a contributing writer. At that time, I started learning more about writing children’s books and took online courses, including Making Picture Book Magic.
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?)
MINDY: Never ever stop following your dreams. Do what you know! Write with children in mind, not publishers. Be flexible to new writing mediums. Be open to new possibilities.
SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
MINDY: Everyday I have the honor to work with individuals who challenge me to see beyond the boundaries of my training as a speech-language pathologist. It is through these experiences that I have grown personally and professionally, which ultimately has led me to write this book. Providing children, parents and educators with books that inspire them to conquer their challenges and grow through them is my primary goal as an author.
Author Mindy Hudon
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for sharing your time and experience with us today, Mindy! What a great opportunity for us to learn! Here’s wishing you all the best with this and future titles! Readers, if you have questions for Mindy, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!
You may purchase Mindy’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)
Carrie Sharkey Asner – Blueberry Blue Bubble (self-published)
Gela Kalaitzidis – Ozzie & Prince Zebedee (author/illustrator)
Caroline Perry – The Corgi And The Queen (nonfiction)
Kizzi Roberts – The Elves Go Marching (self-published)