Perfect Picture Book Friday – Fluffy McWhiskers

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

I have the cutest book ever to share with you today. Literally! 🤣

Unfortunately you’ll have to wait a few weeks to read it, but you can preorder it (or reserve it at your library) now!

Title: Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion

Written By: Stephen W. Martin

Illustrated By: Dan Tavis

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, November 2, 2021, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: self-acceptance, friendship, humor

text copyright Stephen W. Martin 2021, illustration copyright Dan Tavis 2021, Margaret McElderry Books

Opening: “Fluffy McWhiskers was cute.
Dangerously cute.
Yes, Fluffy McWhiskers was so cute that if you saw her. . .
you’d explode.”

Brief Synopsis: Fluffy is an adorable kitten. But she’s so adorable that anyone who sees her spontaneously explodes into balls of sparkles and fireworks! How will she ever find a friend?

text copyright Stephen W. Martin 2021, illustration copyright Dan Tavis 2021, Margaret McElderry Books

Links To Resources: Explosive Science Experiments Kids Can Do At Home; 20 Cute Recipes For Kids; Cottonball Kitty Craft

Why I Like This Book: Sometimes, a book is just plain fun, and this is one of those books. I mean, not really. It’s not really fun! It’s serious! Spontaneous explosions happen! People KABOOM into balls of sparkles and fireworks! Fluffy is dangerous! In an effort to save people, she tries to make herself less cute. But a bad haircut just makes her cuter. And wearing a bag over her head just makes her ridiculously cute. Even exiling herself to outer space doesn’t cut it. What next? I won’t tell you because you should read the book! But beneath the silliness and hilarity is a story about wanting to protect others, learning to accept yourself, and finding friendship where you least expect it, as well as the suggestion that cuteness is in the eye of the beholder. The art is bright and fun and adorable. Fluffy is SO CUTE! But you already knew that. 😊 Young readers will love Fluffy. How could they not?

text copyright Stephen W. Martin 2021, illustration copyright Dan Tavis 2021, Margaret McElderry Books

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific blog links (and any other info you feel like filling out 😊) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Would You Read It Wednesday #394 – Which Newbie You Be? (MG)

Hi Everyone!

It’s officially Autumn!

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Autumn! The pleasant days and cool nights, the colorful trees and crunchy leaves, the tang of woodsmoke in the air, and the season for miniature candy bars 😊 What’s not to love? Although I have to say, I have NO idea how we got to September 22 so fast! Wasn’t it August like, yesterday?!

Whether or not yesterday was August, today is Would You Read It Wednesday and I’m so glad you’re here!

Let’s start of the fun by announcing the winner of Rebecca Mullin’s darling board book, ONE TOMATO! (You all remember Rebecca – she was on Tuesday Debut last week. That link will take you there if you want another look at her book 😊)

And… the lucky winner of ONE TOMATO is… Bru Benson!!!

Bru, please email me or use the contact page above to email me so I can get your snail mail address and send you your book! I know you’ll love it! 😊

Nothing like talking about garden vegetables and thinking about how Autumn brings miniature candy bars to make you want Something Chocolate, so how about a little indulgence? Today I’m thinking Tiger Butter, which is a creamy fudge-type candy/bark made from chocolate, white chocolate, and peanut butter. Yum! Sounds like breakfast to me! 😊

Tiger Butter

The recipe website says it makes a great holiday candy, but it looks to me like it would be delicious ANY day! 😊

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Kelly who says, “I live in eastern Washington on the mighty Columbia River. I homeschooled my son and daughter, then finished my degree in Early Childhood Education. I worked with the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program before retiring and pursuing a career in children’s literature. I am a determined literacy activist who tutored ESL students in college. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2000 and am a passionate mental health and neurodivergent  advocate.”

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Which Newbie You Be?

Age/Genre: MG

The Pitch: The author uses weather metaphors to tell the story of resilient teen with a “can-do” spirit juggling the secret of her bipolar disorder as a newbie, negotiating the stigma of mental illness, middle school friendships, another newbie and parental conflict, to show hope through a life-altering move to a small town. Someone with a broken leg or diabetes does not have a stigma attached to their illness, why should a person with a brain disorder?

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Kelly improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in November, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Kelly is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to trying out that Tiger Butter recipe which looks simple enough that even I might be able to pull it off. If I fail at the recipe, Tiger Butter sounds like a good title for a picture book, so it’s all good 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Chirp!: Chipmunk Sings For A Friend

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday once again, my friends!

And guess what? I may have finally fixed the glitch in the link list! (And by “I” I mean my far more intelligent and tech-savvy daughter 😊) Fingers crossed it works right this time, after 2 weeks of wrong and more wrong!

So! To the books!

Back to school time is making friends time, and my Perfect Picture Book for today is all about friendship!

Title: Chirp!: Chipmunk Sings For A Friend

Written By: Jamie A. Swenson

Illustrated By: Scott Magoon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, July 13, 2021

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, perseverance, cooperation

Opening: “Chipmunk lived on a rock.
Most days she sat on her rock, chirping from dawn. . . until the stars shone down.”

text copyright Jamie A. Swenson 2021, illustration copyright Scott Magoon 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

Brief Synopsis: Chipmunk spends her days sitting on her rock and singing the songs in her heart, but sometimes she wishes for a friend who could sing with her.

text copyright Jamie A. Swenson 2021, illustration copyright Scott Magoon 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

Links To Resources: songs for kids about different emotions; recipe – friendship snack mix; discuss – what makes a good friend?; draw a picture or write a poem or a story about your best friend.

Why I Like This Book: This is such a sweet story about finding friends! All on her own, Chipmunk sings to Rock, and then to Pinecone and Rock, but though they are excellent listeners, they’re not quite the kind of friends she is hoping for. Eventually, her singing brings Raccoon along and a friendship begins (unnoticed!) as she and Chipmunk try to move Log to where Rock and Pinecone are (Chipmunk thinking that Log might be a friend.) But Log is too heavy even for Chipmunk and Raccoon together, so they sing about their frustration…and that brings Moose along. Once again, friendship begins unnoticed as Moose listens and then offers to help. Finally, Rock and Pinecone and Log, and Chipmunk and Raccoon and Moose are all together in the same place. Rock and Pinecone and Log do what they do best – listen! – while Chipmunk and Raccoon and Moose sing together, a true friendship having formed through their cooperation. The story is simple and sweet, with little notes of humor (favorite line: ““Like a rock, a pinecone, and a log in a pod,” said Moose. 😊) The art is delightful. I especially like how every time Chipmunk sets out to find another friend she literally dashes off the page 😊 A lovely story about finding what matters.

text copyright Jamie A. Swenson 2021, illustration copyright Scott Magoon 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific blog links (and any other info you feel like filling out 😊) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Would You Read It Wednesday #393 – The Good Wolf (PB)

Howdy Friends!

How’s the first week of school going for everyone? Hopefully your school buses are showing up!

Things are busy in my neck of the woods, but I got a surprise visit from my sister, so that was amazing! (Too short, but I guess every visit is. We should live closer!)

Also, in my quest to discover that which is nonessential but endlessly entertaining, I found out that Violet’s DNA test claims she is a mix of 24 breeds including 9% Chihuahua, which is why even though she looks like this:

she still clearly thinks she’s a lap dog 😊

It’s all in how you see yourself, right? 😊 I’m pretty sure there are a whole lot of good picture book ideas in that!

I don’t know about you, but I see myself having a little Something Chocolate right about now. Chocolate Oreo Cheesecake Chocolate Cake anyone? Why yes, thank you, don’t mind if I do! 😊

Oreo Cheesecake Chocolate Cake

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Hannah who says, “Hello, there! I’m Hannah, an army wife, mother to three boys, and children’s writer. I love writing for kids because it brings out the kid in me 😊”

Find her on the web at https://www.hannahlapehnbooks.com/

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Good Wolf

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: All Wolfington wants is to be included, but when he goes into town, grandmothers hide, pigs squeal, and sheep faint. Fed up with the big bad wolf stereotype, Wolfington sets out to prove that his heart is bigger than his stomach.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Hannah improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in October, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Hannah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to reading the pile of picture books on my desk – some new, some just new to me – but all of them look good!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Rebecca Mullin!

Welcome, Everyone!

Today’s installment of Tuesday Debut will be of special interest to those of you who want to write for youngest audiences. Although we usually feature picture books, today’s debut is a board book. I thought we might all learn a thing or two from debut-ess Rebecca Mullin about first-time publishing in this fun and wonderful format.

Rebecca has generously provided a copy of her book as a giveaway, so one lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win the book! Please comment on this post by Sunday September 19 at 9PM Eastern to qualify for the random drawing!

And now, without further ado, please join me in welcoming Rebecca Mullin as she kindly shares her journey to publication of ONE TOMATO – a book she wrote for her daughter and which was illustrated by her niece!

One Tomato
Written by Rebecca Mullin
Illustrated by Anna Mullin
Rubber Ducky Press, May 1, 2021
Counting board book for 2-6 year olds

Count the vegetables as you harvest the garden beginning with one ripe tomato!  Ants, moles, bees and other garden friends join in the fun. Watch for the sneaky yellow dandelion. Learn about growing healthy foods while counting to ten in One Tomato! 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Rebecca! Thank you so much for joining us today. We’re all excited to hear about publishing a board book. Where did the idea for this book come from?

REBECCA: One night while cooking dinner I asked my daughter to pick a zucchini from our garden. She came back with a cucumber! We needed some help with vegetable identification! So, I contacted my niece, Anna Mullin, to make a poster of the vegetables we grew in our garden.  At the time, Anna was a senior biology major at Earlham College and had a side-hustle doing commission artwork from her website, ANNAEM.com. She created several beautiful posters which I hung in my kitchen. Now that would be the end of the story except that my mom, who owns Kids Ink Children’s Bookstores in Indianapolis saw the posters and said  “that looks like a board book.” 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book? And how long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your book?

REBECCA: The initial writing of One Tomato took a couple of weeks.  But in reality I spent my whole life working on One Tomato. I’ve been an avid gardener and reader my whole life.  I began working in my mom’s bookstore in 8th grade and have since logged thousands of hours buying books for the store, selling books to customers, reading at storytimes, hosting author events, writing book reviews, and of course packing, unpacking, and lifting lots and lots of boxes of books (not sure how the manual labor piece helped in writing – but I sure do remember the back aches!)

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

REBECCA: Honestly, I never thought it was truly ready for submission.  At some point I just couldn’t see how to make any improvements so decided I’d just give it a try!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

REBECCA: I submitted directly to Rubber Ducky Press without an agent or query. 

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”?  When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”? 😊

REBECCA: The “yes” came slowly.  I submitted by email and got a reply within days that the publisher was “interested.” We spoke on the phone a few weeks later at which point I understood that my book needed some significant changes to fit within the Rubber Ducky brand. I submitted a revised edition several months later and was subsequently invited to visit the publishing house. (Covid delayed this visit by 3 months.) The “yes” came when I met with the publisher, distributor, editor, sales manager and probably a few others…it was such an exciting blur! 

The book launch

SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

REBECCA: Three weeks. 

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

REBECCA: Standard royalty contract and 10 copies of the book included. 

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

REBECCA: After signing the contract I thought the book was finished….rookie mistake!  The editor asked for several major changes that required re-writing and re-illustrating.  Honestly I thought the changes were outrageous. You want to substitute corn for spinach? You want pumpkins instead of dandelions? But once the changes were made it undeniably made the book better.

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

REBECCA: Of course, my experience with the illustration process was unusual because I worked with my niece!  We met several times and layed out all the pages of the book across a table to see the flow of the story.  Anna sees color and composition in an entirely different way, I learned so much working with her!

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

REBECCA: The initial interest in the book was in December 2019 and the publication date of One Tomato was May 1, 2021. However, the book was delayed by shipping and customs issues and did not arrive until the end of July! Boy was that an agonizingly long wait! The print run was 3,000.

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

REBECCA: Rubber Ducky Press has an incredible sales team and marketing staff. One Tomato is now available in bookstores, libraries, Ingram warehouses, and Amazon. 

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

REBECCA: I’ve found some great gardening items to promote One Tomato! I had custom tomato seed packets printed and paired these with a child sized watering can with a One Tomato image to use as a giveaway at the book launch.  Also, I’ve printed stickers and postcards for promotional purposes and my publisher produced a really nice sell sheet for gardening and book stores. Additionally, I’ve reached out to gardening centers and seed catalogs as another avenue to sell One Tomato.

Watering an and seed packet promotion

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication?

REBECCA: Read everything available in the genre and age range for which you are writing. 

Author Rebecca Mullin

Instagram: @ReadOneTomato

Link to publisher product page:

Link to activity page

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and expertise in board book publishing with us today, Rebecca! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you every success with this and future titles!

Readers, if you have questions for Rebecca, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! And don’t forget to comment on this post by Sunday September 19 at 9PM Eastern to qualify for the random drawing! Someone will win a copy of this cute book!

You may purchase Rebecca’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Pokko And The Drum

Woo hoo! It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

The perfect time to make a list of books and then hustle off to the library after school to set yourself up for a weekend of great reads!

The book I chose for today is one that I think fits perfectly with heading back to school where it’s so important to both be yourself and be part of the community!

Title: Pokko And The Drum

Written & Illustrated By: Matthew Forsythe

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, October 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: individuality, community, persistence

Opening: “The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum.
They had made mistakes before.
Like the slingshot.
And the llama.
And the balloon.”

text and illustration copyright Matthew Forsythe 2019, Paula Wiseman Books

Brief Synopsis: Pokko’s parents give her a drum but quickly realize that might not have been such a great idea! Wanting a break from the noise, Pokko’s dad sends her outside. Before long, Pokko has inspired an instrument-playing following, and what started out as banging has become such a joyful noise that even her father has to admit it turned out well after all.

text and illustration copyright Matthew Forsythe 2019, Paula Wiseman Books

Links To Resources: get some friends together and make your own band – what different things can you use as an instrument? Draw a picture or write a story or poem about something that makes you who you are – do you play the drum like Pokko? do you dance or sing or play soccer? For a drum-related snack, make cupcakes for the drum and pretzel stick halves with mini marshmallows dipped in chocolate for the drumsticks!

Why I Like This Book: I love Pokko! Such a confident, poised little character! She plays her drum through the emerald forest gathering followers in a Pied Piper-esque way and plays her drum with such joy that her father goes from “We’re just a little frog family that lives in a mushroom, and we don’t like drawing attention to ourselves” to “And you know what?…I think she’s pretty good!” 😊 There is plenty of humor. Her mother is comically engrossed in reading a book throughout the whole story no matter what else is going on – even when she’s being swept away by the crowd! And a small mishap causes Pokko to tell the Wolf, “No more eating band members or you’re out of the band.” Pokko asserts her own individuality while also bringing the community together. Such a delightful book!

text and illustration copyright Matthew Forsythe 2019, Paula Wiseman Books

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific blog links (and any other info you feel like filling out 😊) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week! I hope it works right this week… something is hinky!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Would You Read It Wednesday #392 – Chick-A-Gator (PB)

Hi there, Everyone!

Happy First Day of School! (for those of us who didn’t start in August 😊)

And in the spirit of getting back to things we love, welcome back to the one and only Would You Read It Wednesday!

I know that now that you’ve gotten your little munchkins up and out of bed, dressed in most if not all of their clothing (who really needs socks AND shoes?), fortified with at least a few mouthfuls of healthy breakfast (poptart anyone?), and onto the school bus with a solid percentage of the stuff they’re supposed to have with them – let’s face it, you are the epitome of parenting excellence! – there is nothing you want more than to join in the Would You Read It fun! (And not only because of the Something Chocolate you’ve been craving all summer!)

Before we jump into today’s pitch, I want to let you all know that I have open dates for both Would You Read It and Tuesday Debut. If you’d like to share a pitch and get helpful feedback from our wonderful readers, or if you’re an author or author/illustrator with your very first ever picture book debuting, please use the contact page to give me a holler and let me know!

Available Would You Read It dates are:
September 29
October 6, 13, 20, and 27
November (10?), 17, and 24
December 1

Available Tuesday Debut Dates are:
September 21 and 28
October 26
November (9?), 16, 23, and 30

November 9th and 10th are question marks because of the Halloweensie Contest. . . which is another question. Do you guys want to have it again this year? Let me know in the comments if you’re for or against! 🎃

All that planning has put me in the mood for Something Chocolate! How about you? I think Cookies ‘n’ Cream Sandwich Cookies sound just right for back to school 😊

Recipe HERE at delish

I mean, is there any way to go wrong with Chocolate Chip Cookies baked into Oreos? I don’t think so! Grab a glass of milk (almond, cashew, soy, oat, or cow – whatever floats your boat… or your cookie sandwich) and enjoy!

Now that we’re properly fortified, let’s have a look at today’s pitch which comes to us from Elizabeth who says, “I am a retired teacher and was writing for the magazine market before trying my hand at picture books. I have two adult children, one being a published writer. Was she inspired by hearing the typewriter click, click, clicking as a child? 😊 I wrote this story with tongue in cheek when I imagined how such a creature might look. I’m a midwesterner who grew up loving fairy tales, horse stories and mysteries. As a child I always had my nose in a book. That’s a habit I can somewhat indulge in my retirement.”

Find her on the web at elizabethwestra@gmail.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Chick-A-Gator

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-6)

The Pitch:

I bet you’ve never met a chick-a-gator. Neither had the hens in the chicken coop. When one hatches from an egg, pandemonium breaks out. None of the hens accept him; they make him sleep outside the fence;They run whenever he comes near; his rooster father disowns him. But there’s more to Chick-a-gator than they know. One night he performs an heroic act that changes their opinion of him. He is hailed as a hero. He’s half chicken and half gator with a mighty roar. He’s the Chick-a-gator!

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Elizabeth improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on Would You Read it in the dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings (as listed above!), so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback from our readers and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Elizabeth is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to everything back-to-school! It feels like New Year’s, doesn’t it? Which I guess, if you celebrated Rosh Hashanah yesterday, it IS! 😊

Don’t forget to give me a shout if you want a WYRI or Tuesday Debut date, and let me know if you want to have Halloweensie this year!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Listen

Hello again, my friends!

Welcome back to Perfect Picture Book Fridays!

I know we’ve seen each other on and off over the summer for Tuesday Debuts, but it’s great to be back to the regular routine. I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and is filled with enthusiasm for the coming school year and inspiration for lots of new stories!

I’m starting off the school year with a book I think everyone – kids, teachers, and parents – will find helpful and enjoyable as they’re settling into their new routines.

Title: Listen

Written By: Gabi Snyder

Illustrated By: Stephanie Graegin

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, July 13, 2021

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: listening, attention, empathy

Opening: “When you step out into the big, wild world, sometimes all you hear is. . . NOISE!”

text copyright Gabi Snyder 2021, illustration copyright Stephanie Graegin 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

Brief Synopsis: The world is a noisy place, but what happens if you just stop, close your eyes, and listen?

Links To Resources: the book has a nice section of back matter that tells about the sense of hearing, and different kinds of listening; stop what you’re doing, close you eyes, and listen – what do you hear?; go for a walk and pay attention to the sounds around you – what do you hear?; talk about sounds you like and sounds you don’t like, times when you like noise and times when you like quiet.

text copyright Gabi Snyder 2021, illustration copyright Stephanie Graegin 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

Why I Like This Book: This lovely quiet book encourages children to pause, take a breath, stop the constant busy-ness of the world around them, and listen. Filter out the noise – literal and figurative – and focus on what matters. It helps them understand the importance of mindfulness and attention in the context of daily life. In the course of the story, the child goes from hearing the cacophony of noises in a busy street, to separating them out, to hearing “words of joy” and “words that sting” when a classmates feelings are hurt, to hearing the voice inside her, and the “hush and whispers” of nighttime. The art is perfect for the story, soft and appealing with lots of lovely details. A book every child will enjoy!

text copyright Gabi Snyder 2021, illustration copyright Stephanie Graegin 2021, Paula Wiseman Books

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific blog links (and any other info you feel like filling out 😊) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week! And if you posted books over the summer, please feel free to add them here as well! And my apologies – I did something wrong and the links aren’t showing up, so I copied and pasted them below and will try to fix the problem for next week!

9/3/2021 6:19:04OUTSIDE, INSIDEhttps://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250798350LeUyen PhamsameRoaring Book Press2021Perseverance and hope during a trying time is universal and waiting is a part of life. universal. Waiting
9/3/2021 8:51:4730,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flaghttps://patricianozell.com/2021/09/03/ppbf-30000-stitches-the-inspiring-story-of-the-national-9-11-flag/Amanda DavisSally Wern ComportWorthBooks20219/11, American Flag, community
9/3/2021 10:56:22Cougar Crossing: HOW HOLLYWOOD’S CELEBRITY COUGAR HELPED BUILD A BRIDGE FOR CITY WILDLIFEhttps://jilannehoffmann.com/2021/09/03/cougar-crossing-perfect-picture-book-friday/Meeg PincusAlexander VidalBeach Lane Books2021Wildlife conservation, LA history, ecology
9/3/2021 13:52:55Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anninghttps://archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com/2021/09/mary-annings-curiosities.htmlLinda SkeersMarta Álvarez MiguénsSourcebooks Explore2020fossils, biography, nonfiction
9/3/2021 13:54:12Avocado Askshttps://sallysbookshelf.blogspot.com/2021/09/avocado-in-search-of-self.htmlMomoko AbeDoubleday Books for Young Readers2021imagination, identity
9/3/2021 13:57:00The Bug Girl: A True Storyhttps://archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com/2021/08/two-great-bug-books.htmlSophia SpencerKerascoëtSchwartz & Wade2020insects, nature, STEM
9/3/2021 14:00:14The Thingity-Jighttps://sallysbookshelf.blogspot.com/2021/06/what-if-you-found-thingity-jig.htmlKathleen DohertyKristyna LittenPeachtree2021mystery, fun, invention
9/3/2021 14:05:22Too Shy to Say Hihttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.com/2021/09/03/too-shy-to-say-hi-by-shannon-anderson/Shannon AndersonHiroe NakataMagination Press2021Bashfulness, Friendship, School
9/3/2021 14:09:07Not Littlehttps://julierowanzoch.wordpress.com/Maya MyersHyewon YumNeal Porter/Holiday House2021Size, bullying, self-awareness
9/4/2021 1:03:28Just You and Me: Remarkable Relationships in the Wildhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/just-you-and-me-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfJennifer WardAlexander VidalBeach Lane Books2021Symbiotic relationships, nature, and conservation.
9/4/2021 1:05:27Big Bear Was Not the Samehttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/big-bear-was-not-the-same-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfJoanna RowlandJohn LeddaBeaming Books2021Friendship, trauma, hope, and healing.
9/4/2021 1:06:57Unraveledhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/unraveled-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfLeanne HatchLeanne HatchHoliday House2021Growing up, loss, and holding on to memories.
9/4/2021 1:09:04I Love You With All My Heartshttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/i-love-you-with-all-my-hearts-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfLindsay BonillaEleonora PaceThe Creative Company2021Love, family, and animals
9/4/2021 1:10:42Little Leonards’ Fascinating World of Astronomyhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/little-leonard-s-fascinating-world-of-astronomy-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfSarafina NanceGreg PaprockiGibbs Smith Publisher2021Astronomy, space, and STEM,
9/4/2021 1:12:36When Grandfather Flewhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/when-grandfather-flew-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfPatricia MacLachlanChris ShebanNeal Porter Books2021Birding, death, and healing.
9/4/2021 1:14:28The Perfect Planhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/the-perfect-plan-the-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfLeah GilbertLeah GilbertBloomsbury USA2021Creativity, collaboration, and determination.
9/4/2021 1:16:11Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventions Inspired by Naturehttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/mimic-makers-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfKristen NordstromPaul BostonCharlesbridge2021Nature inspired inventions, creativity, and problem solving.
9/4/2021 1:17:34Little Bat in Night Schoolhttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/little-bat-in-night-school-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfBrian LiesBrian LiesHMH Books2021First day of school, friendship, and bravery.
9/4/2021 1:21:01I Want A Boathttps://www.mariacmarshall.com/single-post/i-want-a-boat-perfect-picture-book-friday-ppbfLiz Garton ScanlonKevan AtteberryHoliday House2021Imagination and adventure.
9/4/2021 21:04:55THE GREAT STINK: How Joseph Bazalgette Solved London’s Poop Pollution Problemhttps://viviankirkfield.com/2021/09/03/perfect-picture-book-friday-the-great-stink-how-joseph-bazalgette-solved-londons-poop-pollution-problem-plus-giveaway/Colleen PaeffNancy CarpenterMaraget K. McElderry Books2021History of London, Pollution, STEM

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Wyle!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

I’m really excited to share today’s post with you. For anyone who is interested in self-publishing, who has maybe played around with the idea but not really known where to start, or who thinks they might be interested in giving it a try at some point, I think you’ll today’s post extremely informative. I certainly learned a lot!

Please join me in welcoming Karen Wyle, who has generously shared her knowledge and experience with the process of self-publishing her first picture book, YOU CAN’T KISS A BUBBLE!

You Can’t Kiss A Bubble
Written by Karen A. Wyle
Illustrated by Siski Kalla
Published by Oblique Angles Press (Karen Wyle’s Imprint)
Publication date July 23, 2021
Fiction/Nonfiction/neither?/both? See description
Age 3+

What can and can’t you do with a bubble? Using simple words, and a mixture of silly imagined scenes and more realistic ones, this book looks at both the charm and the transitory nature of bubbles, and helps its young audience appreciate how we can take joy even in the impermanent.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Karen, and thank you so much for joining us today! We’re excited to hear about how you brought this story to life. Where did the idea for this book come from?

KAREN: I wish I could remember where the idea for this book came from. I don’t, in fact, remember the origins of most of my (not yet published) picture books — but I do remember the first. I was sitting on my front deck, pregnant with my older daughter, enjoying the oak trees in the front yard and scouting around my chair for acorns. The eventual title sums up where that moment led: Mommy Calls Me Acorn.

I would guess that another of my books, Catching Mommy’s Shadow, came from walks I took with one of my daughters.

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

KAREN: It’s been some years since I first wrote the text, but I believe it came quickly. This may also be the text for which the original draft is closest — very close — to the final version. I suspect those two facts may be related.

More often, I reread a picture book manuscript at intervals of anything from weeks to years, tweaking a word here and line order there. I try to remember to save multiple versions, so it’s easier to compare the latest changes with what had contented me the time before. I sometimes revert to an earlier version.

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for publication?

KAREN: I haven’t used professional critiques or editorial services. I did have an agent for my picture books many years ago, and discussed which books had most promise and what edits might be needed. For my novels, I typically recruit beta readers, and send them a list of questions as well as soliciting miscellaneous comments. I may do this for future picture books. For this book, I more or less held my breath and jumped into talking to illustrators. I felt somewhat  more confident when all three illustrators from whom I requested (paid) samples had nice things to say about the text.

SUSANNA: At what point did you decide to self-publish rather than submit to traditional publishers?  Did you try traditional first? Or did you have specific reasons for wanting to self-publish?

KAREN: As I mentioned above, I did try the agent route for my picture books, with no result. By the time I started writing novels in 2010, I spent most of the year between rough draft and publication researching agents, publishers, and the traditional publishing process. By the end of that time, I had decided self-publishing offered me more: control over every aspect of the process, shorter pre-publication times, and more flexibility. (The fact that I’ve published novels in three different genres, short stories in two, and now am publishing picture books demonstrates that flexibility.)

I waited to publish a picture book until I thought the technology available to indie authors at reasonable cost had become suitable for that purpose.

SUSANNA: How did you find an illustrator?

KAREN: I  joined several Facebook groups for children’s book authors and/or illustrators, and looked through the many portfolios and Instagram accounts listed in response to other authors’ posts there. I also looked through portfolios on Behance (and possibly another site whose name I’ve forgotten).  I had so much fun immersing myself in all that creativity!

Then I contacted a few illustrators to ask whether they would provide paid samples, and if so, what they’d charge. I paid three illustrators for samples: I sent them the text and asked them to pick a line to illustrate, one that would give me a feel for how the bubble(s) and the child would look. Of those three, I decided Siski Kalla’s style was just right for this book. (I hired one of the others, Barbara Dessi, to illustrate the picture book I plan to publish next, When It’s Winter.)

FOLLOW-UP FROM SUSANNA: I asked Karen if she would be kind enough to share the FB groups that had been helpful to her and she replied:

KAREN: I spend the most time in “Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators: Publishing, Marketing and Selling.” The other I visit frequently is “Children’s Book Illustrators.” I am also a member of “Children’s Book Author Community” and “Children’s Book Author Social Media Marketing.”

SUSANNA:  Did you and the illustrator have a contract of any kind?  What types of items did it address (if you can share a little – doesn’t have to be too specific, but in terms of what people might want to think about if they were to do it.)

KAREN: Siski and I do have a contract. She sent me her standard contract, and I asked questions and suggested a few tweaks. The contract covers which rights Siski transferred to me and which rights she retained; the number of illustrations; the price per illustration and total price; the illustration schedule; the payment schedule; a consultation and approval process; and cancelation provisions.

SUSANNA:  Are you able to give a ballpark figure of any kind (or a specific one if you’re so inclined ☺) about the cost of the illustrator?

KAREN: For twelve double-page spreads and one cover illustration, I paid 2,050 euros.

SUSANNA: What was the illustration process like since you were directing it? Any particular challenges?  Anything you particularly enjoyed?

KAREN: It would oversimplify matters to say I “directed” the illustration process. My only previous collaborations had been with cover designers, where that description would apply — but a picture book’s illustrations are, I believe, at least as important as its text, and the process must allow for both contributors’ creative vision. (There were times I needed a gentle reminder of this principle.)

Siski was very patient with my many questions and requests. I’m embarrassed, looking back with the completed book in hand, at just how many.

Some of my lines were abstract enough that settling on the right illustration involved some back-and-forth. It was an absolute joy to see my words so richly and imaginatively realized and extended.

illustration copyright Siski Kalla 2021

SUSANNA: How did you format your book for publication?

KAREN: I had already chosen a book format (8.5”x8.5”) before hiring Siski. I did some online research about cover designers, including asking other members of the Facebook groups for suggestions, and hired Jacob Dunaway to do the interior text and turn Siski’s cover illustration into a complete cover. Jacob and I discussed title placement, title font, and interior font. He did mockups of the interior with two different fonts he recommended, and I picked one. Jacob then worked with the various printers’ cover templates.

FOLLOW-UP FROM SUSANNA: I asked Karen if she could define and detail what Jacob did for her a little further and she replied:

KAREN: I would call Jacob Dunaway a book designer. He did the text and page formatting, as well as the cover, for all three editions (hardcover, paperback, Kindle) of the book. I believe the cost of hiring him depends on the details of a particular job — and in fact, as this job evolved, I volunteered to pay more than his very reasonable initial fee. I don’t know whether he has a website.

SUSANNA:  How did you select a printing service?

KAREN: I was already familiar with Amazon/KDP and IngramSpark. I used KDP for a Kindle and a paperback edition, and IngramSpark for paperback and hardcover editions. I wanted to find a printer that offered quantity discounts for paperbacks and/or hardcovers, and I didn’t want to have dealings with companies in China, so I did some research about US printers, sent emails to some and submitted quote requests to others, and ended up going with Formax Printing for additional hardcover copies. They were very helpful throughout the process of getting the book properly formatted for their purposes

FOLLOW-UP FROM SUSANNA: I asked Karen if she could kindly share a little more information about her printer research and IngramSpark and she replied:

KAREN: US printers have requirements as far as minimum page count, minimum order size, etc. – too much to go into here, but just so readers know to check that. With that caveat, I investigated (in no particular order): Emprint/Moran Printing, based in Louisiana; Smith Printing Co., based in Minnesota; Bookmobile, also based in Minnesota; Bang Printing, also based in Minnesota; AlphaGraphics Carmel, based in Indiana; Bridgeport National Bindery, based in Massachusetts; Braintree Printing, also based in Massachusetts; Signature Book Printing, based in Maryland; Snowfall Press (base of operations not recorded); Dekker Bookbinding, based in Michigan; Versa Press, based in Illinois; and BookBaby, based in New Jersey (consulted only about printing, not their other services). (More than the “couple” of names I now see you asked for . . . .)

I first learned about IngramSpark a number of years ago. They’re the “other” POD (Print On Demand) printer, competing with Amazon’s KDP — although they apparently do some of KDP’s printing as well. They provide hardcover as well as paperback books, which KDP doesn’t (so far). They distribute to quite a few retailers, including Barnes & Noble. Their distribution arm, Ingram Group, is well known and respected enough to give additional credibility to indie authors trying to get books into bricks-and-mortar bookstores. They allow authors to select a wholesale discount of (something like) 30% to their recommended 55%, and to allow returns. Without such a discount and return policy, it’s not likely a bookstore will purchase books. For You Can’t Kiss A Bubble, I chose the 30% discount rather than 55%, as the higher discount would have required me to price the hardcover edition too high.

SUSANNA: Did you do a print run so you’d have inventory, or is your book print-on-demand? (And where is your book available – online bookstores? brick and mortar bookstores?)

KAREN: IngramSpark’s prices for the paperback were low enough that I could order inventory for direct sales, while I relied on Formax for hardcover inventory. The book is available on Amazon and on Barnes & Noble. IngramSpark also makes the book available to many retailers and to libraries. If anyone wants to pick up a copy at a brick-and-mortar bookstore, they should be able to ask the bookstore to order it.

SUSANNA:  How long was the process from writing through publication of your book?

KAREN: After all the years where the book sat in an electronic “shelf,” the journey from first deciding to publish it until its actual release took seven months.

SUSANNA:  Were you able to get your book reviewed by Kirkus, SLJ, Hornbook, Booklist etc?

KAREN: I haven’t tried for reviews from any of those you listed. I have approached a long list of children’s book bloggers, requesting reviews or other mentions — with some success. 🙂

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

KAREN: Rupamanjari Majumder, author of Magic in Wonderland, is the woman behind the Comfy Corner podcast. She is a member of one of the Facebook groups I joined, and she told me she was starting to make videos in which she reads picture books. She offered to make one for this book, and I jumped at the chance. In the end, she decided that her four-year-old daughter should be the one reading. I love the charming result. (She also got an animator to add drifting bubbles.)

I’ve printed up flyers to pass around the neighborhood, mentioning a “neighbor discount.” I’ve also designed a bookmark and some stickers, and purchased some small bottles of bubble solution. When I find events to do, I’ll pass out some or all of these extras.

I’ve also posted advance peeks at a few illustrations on my blog (“Looking Around”), and then posted the links to the blog entries on Facebook and Twitter. On release day, I posted about the book in a few different Goodreads groups.

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

KAREN: It’s been an immensely educational process — and I’m eager to do it again!

SUSANNA: I always ask contributors to Tuesday Debut to share photos of their work space and writing buddies if they’d like to, and Karen said:

[KAREN: Alas, my work space is a pile of clutter with a desk and PC inserted in it. I share it with my husband, which I guess makes him my work buddy, but I’ll let him remain anonymous.]

SUSANNA: Hahaha! I guess we’ll just have to use our imaginations to picture it 😊

Author Karen Wyle

Website: http://www.KarenAWyle.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenAWyle
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/KarenAWyle
Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/kawyle
Blog, “Looking Around”: http://looking-around.blogspot.com/

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Karen! It is wonderfully inspiring to hear about how you took charge of your own writing and created this beautiful book! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you all the best with this and future titles!

Readers, if you have questions for Karen, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Karen’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Jenna Waldman!

It’s time for the first Tuesday Debut for August!

I hope you’re all enjoying it from your shady hammocks with a glass of lemonade or iced tea! If you happen to be at the beach, keep your eyes peeled for sharkbots 😊 because today’s debut-ess is the one and only Jenna Waldman who has kindly come to tell us all about how her SHARKBOT SHALOM wound up at your local bookstore! 😊

SHARKBOT SHALOM
Written by Jenna Waldman
Illustrated by Sharon Davey
Apples & Honey Press
August 1, 2021
Fiction, Ages 2-5.

Time is running out before Shabbat, and so is Sharkbot’s charge. He’s already at charge level TEN . . . NINE . . . EIGHT. . . . Count down with this cheerful shark robot as he sets the table, stirs the seaweed soup, and braids kelp into challah loaves. A Shabbat recharge is just what Sharkbot needs. But will he be ready in time?

SUSANNA: Hi, Jenna! So great to have you with us today!

JENNA: Hi, Susanna, It’s fantastic to be visiting with you!

SUSANNA: Let’s start at the beginning. Where did the idea for this book come from?

JENNA: The idea for Sharkbot Shalom came from my pun loving mind one morning while herding my two boys in the car for school. “Shabbat shalom” is the typical Shabbat greeting (it’s also a song), but my kids loved sharks and robots—so the title was born. And yes, I did sing it to them, much to their dismay… I torture them with a lot of silly songs, it helps me brainstorm ideas!

I recently looked back at the original brainstorm I had for the book. I had Sharkbot rushing back home for Shabbat from a space adventure before his charge ran out. But I prefered the idea of Sharkbot preparing the meal himself, and using other ocean imagery and characters—it felt more natural.

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

JENNA: After coming up with the concept, it came together pretty quickly! I wrote a brief plot at the top of the document to keep me focused, and made a long list of ocean words for reference. I knew I had to move the countdown from 10-1, and conclude with the Shabbat meal. So, I wrote out the numbers (10-1) and paired them with potential rhymes. Then I filled in the couplets while making sure the story moved along. In the end, I didn’t want every couplet to end with the number, so I used the numbers to refer to things other than his charge: “The starfish waves five arms, “hello””, “Two candlesticks of coral pink”, etc. For this book, it really helped to create a “skeleton” and fill in the “meat”.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JENNA: Sharkbot Shalom was unusual in that it didn’t take many revisions. But! It’s also not a typical PB structure, the plot is simple, and it relies heavily on the counting hook. So, while there are many layers, it was fairly fully formed early on. Larry’s Latkes, on the other hand, took A LOT of revisions!

Speaking of revisions, I am forever grateful for my CP’s help—having your CP’s eyes on your work is invaluable. I’m also a member of Poet’s Garage, a group of incredibly talented poets. If you rhyme, working with people who do it better than you helps you to grow, and makes your work stronger.

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

JENNA: Remember those CP’s I mentioned? They will often let you know when your manuscript is ready! I also had a gut feeling, and felt like the hooks helped make it a solid, and marketable piece.

But sometimes, your CP’s and gut will tell you your manuscript is ready, and you still get rejections! It can take a lot of revisions and submissions until the right pair of eyes reads your work—keep chocolate handy (for the rejections…and maybe your gut is just telling you you’re hungry!)

SUSANNA: Really there is no moment when chocolate isn’t helpful for something 😊 When and how did you submit?

JENNA: I sent it to Apples & Honey Press, who had recently bought Larry’s Latkes. I sent them Sharkbot Shalom in January, and received the offer in February. This is an unusually fast turnaround!  Originally, Larry’s Latkes was going to be my debut, but Sharkbot stole its spot. (I hope they’re still friends!) Larry’s Latkes had done a lot of the work for Sharkbot. I had the connection to editors at Apples & Honey Press already, and that’s why I decided to send it to them first—and you know the rest!

I didn’t have an agent when I sold Larry’s Latkes or Sharkbot Shalom. I was a very reluctant query-er! It felt overwhelming to make a spreadsheet (shudder) and I kept feeling like my best work was still yet to come, and I should wait. True story—when I finally put together a spreadsheet of agents/publishers, I was approached by my now agent (Joyce Sweeney) through my participation in the #PBChat Mentorship Showcase. So maybe, just maybe, tackling that spreadsheet let the universe know I was ready.

SUSANNA: Maybe so! It sounds very possible to me. When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

JENNA: It went like this: manuscript sent, 1/12/20; received email with interest, 2/20/20; phone call with offer, 2/26/20; contract signed, 3/15/20. Again, it was super fast, and super unusual. Larry’s Latkes went through more of the typical publishing acrobatics, and then had its debut glory stolen!


SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

JENNA: Well, we all remember what was happening in the beginning of 2020? Two days before I signed the contract for Sharkbot, my boys’ schools were shut down. To be honest, I don’t remember celebrating. We were too deep in survival mode. I looked back at the emails my editor and I exchanged at the time, and we were checking in with each other, and asking about family. There were a lot of mixed emotions, that’s for sure. But if you look back at all the chocolate and cookies I ate during 2020, maybe I was celebrating all year! (Oy vey…) I’ll be making up for the missed celebration on Sharkbot’s Book Birthday with a day at the beach, and a nice meal.

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

JENNA: The contract was the same terms as Larry’s Latkes, so it wasn’t much of a surprise. My editor also shared the terms when we had the phone call, so I knew what to expect. I had my husband, who is an attorney, review the contracts. He made some suggested changes, but luckily, they were minor.

Apples & Honey Press is a small publisher, so I wasn’t expecting a large advance, and they have the typical 5% royalties. The contract included 10 author copies, but I wish I had asked for more. I have a third book coming out in ‘23 and I asked for 20 author copies, which they approved. You can always ask!

The final “work” deadline was written in the contract as well, but my editor has always been flexible with deadlines on edits when it’s been necessary (ie I’m going out of town, or another conflict) although I usually end up finishing edits early. It’s a good idea to have open communication with your editor, and ask if you need something, they’re people too!

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

JENNA: I adore my editor at Apples & Honey Press! It’s been a lot of fun to work with her on our (now three) books. There were several rounds of revisions for Sharkbot. The story stayed the same, but there wording was refined. For example—how did I not realize I said “ocean” in the first two stanzas?! Thank you, editor, for catching that!

The Shabbat meal included wine, and I was wondering if they would ask me to change it to, I dunno, underwater-grape juice? But thankfully we were in agreement that Sharkbot and his buddies were most definitely of legal drinking age.

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

JENNA: I feel lucky that Apples & Honey shared illustrations with me at several different stages. They shared the illustrator’s name before signing her (although I’m unsure what would have happened if I had said “no”—luckily, I loved her work!). I was able to share any comments I had with my editor, but there weren’t many.

The vision I had of sharkbot was nothing like Sharon Davey’s interpretation. (Her’s is FAR better!) I had visualized him as an upright robot (for Dr Who fans, think “dalek”, but not a diabolical murdering machine). Sharon also made the most gorgeous home for her endearing sharkbot character and his friends. I love the color palette, and his eyebrows!

text copyright Jenna Waldman 2021, illustration copyright Sharon Davey 2021, Apples & Honey Press

Sharon lives in the UK,  and we did not communicate directly about our book. We worked with the editors as our go-between. But we’ve connected on social media, and she is lovely.

I really didn’t have any artnotes for this manuscript, other than that Sharkbot’s charge visibly decreases with each number (10-1). I was very curious about how Sharon was going to illustrate this, and she resolved it really well.

text copyright Jenna Waldman 2021, illustration copyright Sharon Davey 2021, Apples & Honey Press

In my two other Apples & Honey books, I was actually asked for more art notes so they had a better sense of my vision. After everything I’ve heard, this really surprised me. I don’t know if the notes were shared with the illustrator, or if the editors merely passed my thoughts along verbally—or not at all. 

Here’s a little secret fact in the Sharkbot illustration: Sharkbot lives at “55 Sandy Drive”. My childhood home was number 55. A little shout out to my youth!

SUSANNA: I love that little personal touch! So fun! Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

JENNA: So far, I’ve only seen a review from Kirkus, and—I still don’t understand what they are saying. Not that I argue they made a misjudgment, I just didn’t understand: “A guidebook for those who believe “think like a Jewish robotic shark” is good advice.” But it probably makes as much sense as a robotic shark celebrating Shabbat with his ocean friends! I’ll just shrug and keep on writing.

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

JENNA: Oh goodness! Well, 2/20/20 was the phone call offer, and on 4/8/21 I received an early copy my editor sent me. (See my stop motion video on Twitter showing the opening of the package). But I didn’t receive my author copies until this July.

I don’t know the print run from Apples & Honey, I should ask! But PJ Library will be sending out 30,400 copies of Sharkbot this Fall, I’m so excited!

PJ Library sends children, ages 0-9, free age appropriate books that speak to Jewish values, and traditions. We’ve received PJ Library books since my youngest was in preschool, about 6 years. Apples & Honey Press submits all of their picture books for consideration to PJ Library. I am so honored that they decided to include both Sharkbot Shalom and Larry’s Latkes in their program. Both books will be sent to five year olds this fall. The acceptance to the program happened before the initial print run at Apples & Honey Press. I actually had sent Larry’s Latkes directly to PJ Library (they are open for unsolicited submissions) at the same time I had sent it to Apples & Honey. They initially rejected it, but A&H said that they will often change their minds once they see it come together with the art—I’m so happy they did! 

SUSANNA: That is really fabulous! How wonderful that your books will go out to so many kids this fall! What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

JENNA: Again, it’s a small publisher, and they don’t do a lot of marketing/publicity. But they submit books for reviews, and advertise via their own website and social media, and get the book situated on Amazon and in local indies. They offered to host a virtual event, but I don’t have anything planned with them as of yet. They also send bookmarks and bookplates.

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

JENNA: I’m in a fantastic promo group called Picture Book Playground. It’s a group of 22 picture book creators, and their support has been invaluable! From helping to publicize our books on social media, to advice on a variety of topics, to emotional support for the ups and downs of publishing—I really appreciate them.

I have also created promotional stop motion videos for Sharkbot. You can find them on Twitter: @SarafinaDesign (my handle is a remnant of my old greeting card business). They were so much fun to make! I invited kids to draw what they imagined a “sharkbot” to look like, and it culminated in the cover reveal.

On August 1st with the PJ Library of Silicon Valley, we’ll be meeting at Natural Bridges Beach in Santa Cruz for songs, playing in the sun, learning about tidepools, and….the debut reading of Sharkbot Shalom! For the event I’ve made Sharkbot party hats, and little swag bags. Before I even signed my first book contract I was already looking up swag!

Along with more blog visits, I also have some bookstore visits in the future.

SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

JENNA: When I was pregnant with my first son, I used to meet a friend in coffee shops and we’d work on our own projects. She’s an amazing fantasy writer, and I was working on my greeting cards. In 2016, I was no longer feeling invested in my greeting card business (by then I had a second kid and no time). I wanted to focus on writing, and I asked my friend for advice in finding a writer’s group. On her recommendation, I joined Inked Voices for a while, and that led to 12×12 in 2017. I signed Larry’s Latkes around Thanksgiving in 2019, so it took almost exactly 3 years.

But, one of my dreams is to write AND illustrate a book…we’ll see how many years that takes…

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?)

JENNA: Oh hey, remember those CP’s I mentioned back in question 3 and 4, get yourself some of those! I’ve met them through 12×12, Twitter, my promo group, my agency, and more. They are out there, find them.

I’ve also said this on other occasions: spend time with kids! They are not only idea factories, and unfiltered commentators, but they are your target market. Well, parents are doing the buying, but are parents as much fun as a room full of 5 year olds?!

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

JENNA: It is most certainly a collaboration! From the author, to illustrator, editors, copyeditors, book designers, there are so many moving parts that work in the book making machine. Since I had an art background, it was a practice in relinquishing control, and making room for the other parts to turn. This doesn’t mean that you can’t comment on something that doesn’t feel right to you! But, perhaps, by stepping back and making space—you will end up with something amazing you never would have created on your own. For example, my editor is the one who suggested a relaxation exercise for the end of Sharkbot. It hadn’t even crossed my mind—but I love how it complements the book.

Also, I was motivated to write Sharkbot after selling Larry’s Latkes, and having the attention of Apples & Honey Press. I wouldn’t have written Larry’s Latkes if it weren’t for Susunna Hill’s Holiday contest in 2018. Contests are a fantastic way to find prompts and motivation (gotta love deadlines!), connect with the community, and another way to…find those CP’s I keep talking about ; D

Author Jenna Waldman

Jenna Waldman is the author of the forthcoming picture books, LARRY’S LATKES and SHARKBOT SHALOM. They will both be released in 2021 by Apples & Honey Press. Jenna is originally from Rhode Island, but now lives in the SF Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, their two boys, and two felines. Jenna is represented by Joyce Sweeney of The Seymour Agency.

www.jennawaldman.com
Twitter: @sarafinadesign
Instagram: jennawaldmanauthor

JENNA: Thank you SO much Susanna!!! I wouldn’t be here without you, literally!

SUSANNA: Aw, shucks, Jenna! You’re kind to say so, but I’m quite sure your talent and dedication would have won out with or without me! 😊 Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate it, and wish you all the best of luck with this and future titles!

Readers, if you have questions for Jenna, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Jenna’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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!

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)