Perfect Picture Book Friday – Big Cat, Little Cat

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

I have a such a touching book to share with you.

I’ve shared it before, but this was a hard week – my beloved Scouty crossed the rainbow bridge – and though this book is about cats, not a dog, it’s still the book I feel like sharing today.

Perhaps this lovely book particularly appeals to me because its message of loving, losing, and new beginnings strikes a chord with me right now, but I think anyone and everyone can appreciate what it has to offer.  I wish I could show you the whole thing – every page! – but you’ll just have to trot right out to the library after PPBF! 😊

Big Cat Little Cat

Title: Big Cat, Little Cat

Written & Illustrated By: Elisha Cooper

Roaring Brook Press, March 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-6 years

Themes/Topics: friendship, cycle of life

Opening: “There was a cat who lived alone.  Until the day a new cat came…”

big cat little cat 2
copyright Elisha Cooper 2017

Brief Synopsis: Two cats become friends and do everything together until one day the older cat has to go…and he doesn’t come back.

Links To Resources:  draw a picture of you and your pet; write a story or poem about your pet; how would you describe your pet to someone who had never met it?  talk about what love means – is love for a pet the same as love for a sibling or friend or parent?  what are some things that let you know you love someone, or that someone loves you?  has a pet you loved ever died?  how did it make you feel?  what did you do to feel better?

Why I Like This Book: I LOVE this book.  It is the most beautiful, perfect, sweet book I’ve read in a long, long time.  186 words of sheer genius.  The kind of book every writer (well, at least this one!) dreams of writing.  A full, emotionally satisfying, complete story arc in less than 200 words.  Simple, yet so evocative.  Wonder and delight, learning and play, joy, contentment, friendship, love, grief, endings and beginnings – it’s all here.  The art is  a perfect complement – simple black and white drawings that convey personality, action, expression, and just enough detail, with one page in gray to show sadness, and a soft glow of pale butternut on just three pages to show warmth and contentment.  The text and art are also thoughtfully spaced to give time and distance where needed.  A lovely book to gently help children understand life, love, loss, new life and new love.  And writers, if you haven’t seen this book, rush out and read it – seriously I am not kidding! – a fabulous example of how to do it right!  Definitely in the “wish I wrote that!” category 😊

big cat little cat 3
copyright Elisha Cooper 2017

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 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 #398 – Do Your Thing, Peking (PB)

Hello there, my friends!

It’s Would You Read It Wednesday!

Which camp are you in?

Wow! It’s Wednesday already?

or

“It’s only Wednesday?”

I’m in the first group this week because I’m still somewhere back around last Friday! 😊

But I know just the cure for that.

I bet you can guess. . . 😊

Something Chocolate!

Since Halloween is practically here, let’s indulge in some Hocus Pocus Cookies – so bright and cheery and, most importantly, so CHOCOLATE! (They also have “slime” in them – meant to be delightfully gross for the youngsters in your life 😊)

Recipe HERE at The Soccer Mom Blog

DELECTABLE! don’t you think? Let’s have seconds! 😊

Now then, onto today’spitch which comes to us from Jan who says, “I’ve been writing picture books for two years and meeting regularly with three critique groups. I’ve attended Susanna’s class, “Making Picture Book Magic”, as well as several conferences and many webinars. I’m in my second year with Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge, and I read about 10-20 picture books every week and many with my grandsons. They are my motivation for seeking an agent and getting published. I’m on twitter as @jansuhr.”

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Do Your Thing, Peking

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

The Pitch: As the zoo’s only peachick, Peking struggles to discover what makes him unique. He can’t swing like Monkey or waddle like Penguin or trumpet like Elephant. He looks at his reflection in the lily pond and doesn’t see anything spectacular. Peking visits the zoo’s animals, tries to copy their talent and asks their advice. Peking’s specialty does surface with time and patience and he becomes brighter and bolder than anyone could have ever imagined.

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 Jan 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 January, 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!

Jan is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to more Hocus Pocus cookies! I need a little magic this week.

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Patti Richards!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, my friends!

Today I’m delighted to introduce the lovely Patti Richards and her picture book, MRS. NOAH (someone whom I think we can all agree we ought to hear more about because surely she was instrumental in making sure the ark was properly packed! 😊) For all of you considering entering the upcoming Halloweensie Contest, take note of the fact that Patti’s second book, MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE due out from Little Lamb books in 2022, was a direct result of the Holiday Contest entry by that name that she wrote and entered a few years ago! Isn’t that cool?

Let’s turn now to MRS. NOAH and see what Patti has to share!

Title: MRS. NOAH
Author: Patti Richards
Illustrator: Alice Pieroni
Publisher: Little Lamb Books
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Genre: Fiction
Ages: 4 to 8

Synopsis: Noah can’t wait to show his bride the enormous ark he’s just completed. As amazing as it is, Mrs. Noah knows it can be more. She sees beyond the wood and fasteners to the home it has the potential to be—and so, she gets to work! With care for each animal and its needs, Mrs. Noah hammers, gathers, knits, and schlepps this floating house into a loving home. And while she starts the project on her own, teamwork will see it through.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Patti! Thank you so much for coming to our little corner of the blogosphere today to share your journey to publication! We’re so excited to learn from you! Where did the idea for this book come from?

PATTI: I was packing my family for our first cruise—a 50th anniversary celebration for my parents. With all the stress of getting a family of five ready for a big trip plus taking care of the pets, paying bills, cleaning the house, I was stressed to say the least. In the middle of all of the preparations, I thought, “If getting us ready for a three-day cruise is this crazy, how in the world did Mrs. Noah get an entire ark ready for her family and all the animals?” I laughed out loud at the thought, and the idea for MRS. NOAH was born.

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

PATTI: I wrote the first draft of MRS. NOAH in 2018. But the story actually got its start with the idea, so from idea to first draft took about six years. I know that seems like a long time, but other projects and life kept getting in the way. But I’m a firm believer in God’s perfect timing in life and in writing, and I think MRS. NOAH needed to simmer for that long for me to be ready to write the book. 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

PATTI: I had (still have) 13 versions of MRS. NOAH before I submitted it for the first time. I say “still have,” because I never discard a version/draft! Once the contract was signed, I’ve revised a few more times plus made final edits, so the grand total now is 15 versions. In talking with other writers, I do think the way I save drafts is sort of unique to me in that even one or two small changes…a period or comma here or there, a new word or rearranged sentence…means a new draft. I know not all writers do things this way, but for me, it’s super important to see the entire evolution of a story as well as be able to go back and find passages, sentences or word order that I liked better in earlier version. If I took a look at most of my story files right now, there isn’t one that doesn’t have multiple drafts—I think my most-revised story to date has somewhere around 35 versions. I guess I’m one of those odd birds that actually enjoys revising! LOL!

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

PATTI: Sometimes I decide that a submission is ready because there’s an opportunity to submit it. Does that make sense? MRS. NOAH had been revised and tweaked with my critique group 13 times over the course of a year, so when #FaithPitch was happening, I thought, “Why not?” Because, honestly, with that many versions a writer really should be at the point of submission if for no other reason than to get feedback, even if it’s just a “No,” so you can look at your story with new eyes. That may seem contrary to popular advice or opinions, but I say this to encourage each of you to believe in your work and yourselves enough to take that next big step. Never submit your first draft. NEVER! But if you’re on draft 10 or 13, go ahead and send it out. That first submission is always the hardest, and the rejection, if it comes, will be painful, but it’s all part of the process of learning and growing as a writer. 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

PATTI: I don’t have an agent (still working on that😊). I mentioned #FaithPitch before, and even though I always thought of MRS. NOAH as a mainstream book, I thought it might also be a good fit for a faith-based publisher, so I decided to give it a try. That first go-round I didn’t get any love, so I put it away and waited. By the time #faithpitch came around again, I actually had a second story called MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, ready to go and pitched both of them. But again, no love! So instead of putting my second story away, I decided to go ahead and submit it to Little Lamb Books, the sponsor of #FaithPitch, because I thought it would be a good fit for their house. That was in February of 2019 during their open submissions window. Fast forward to September, and it was time for the second #Faithpitch of the year. I decided to give MRS. NOAH another try and it got a heart from Rachel Pellegrino, publisher at Little Lamb Books. You can imagine my surprise when just a week or so later, I got an email from Rachel letting me know that they had found my submission from February as they were taking one last look at what had come in and they loved MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. In the same letter, Rachel mentioned that she had liked MRS. NOAH on #FaithPitch and could I send her that one, because if she loved it they wanted to offer me a two-book contract! I was over-the-moon excited! I sent her MRS. NOAH, and here I am in 2021 getting ready for my first fiction picture book release with a second one with Little Lamb Books coming in 2022.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?


PATTI: I had “the call” with Rachel a few weeks after I got the initial email, and by Thanksgiving, I had the contract in my hands!

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

PATTI: I had MRS. NOAH out on submission for one year before it was picked up by Little Lamb Books. Of course, the caveat is that there are very few faith-based publishers that take unsolicited manuscripts, so MRS. NOAH went out to about three other places in total.

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

PATTI: Just a few weeks!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

PATTI: I honestly can’t remember now, but I’m pretty sure it involved a happy dance or two and copious amounts of chocolate cake!

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

PATTI: The contract was definitely what I expected. There were no surprises, but that was primarily because I’ve been in the submission trenches for a long time and have done my homework about contracts and what to expect. Little Lamb, like many smaller independent publishing houses, does not give an advance but in turn pays higher royalties than other places. Rachel presented me with a well-crafted contract that was easy to read and understand. It also helps to have a husband who is an attorney, and we went over the contract together to make sure everything was as it should be. If you don’t have an attorney in your family and don’t have an agent, I would strongly suggest having someone who is an expert in contract language take a quick look. Contracts are always written from the perspective of the publishing house, so it helps to have someone who has your best interest at heart give it a read through.

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

PATTI: Because I had been working on MRS. NOAH consistently for a year and the arc was solid, there were no major changes to the story during the editorial process. However, because MRS. NOAH is a rhyming story, I had some work to do making sure every line matched in terms of syllable count and emphasis. When it comes to rhyming stories, there are different schools of thought about the need for equal number of syllables per line vs. equal number of beats. Poets and rhyming picture book writers with a musical background (like me) tend to listen and write for beats. Others, from a more formulaic background are sticklers for syllable count. So, there was a little back and forth about those changes, but the final product is exactly as it should be and I’m so proud of it!  

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

PATTI: All picture book writers should have a vision for what their book will ultimately look like. With that being said, all picture book writers need to hold that vision loosely. I could see Mrs. Noah as clear as day in my mind as I was writing this story, and I loved what I saw. But illustrators and editors often see things differently. So, when I got the initial sketches for the book, I was a little surprised. But a beautiful thing happened…as I looked at her and sent back my notes, got new sketches, sent back more notes, and got revised sketches, something lovely started to happen. I started being able to see my main character in a different way. She needed the changes I asked for, but she no longer needed to look like what I had envisioned from the beginning. This MRS. NOAH was just right for this book. I trusted the process, and I couldn’t be happier with the result! 

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?


PATTI: Things are super slow at Ingram right now because of the pandemic, so we haven’t been able to send review copies out yet. Hoping that happens soon!

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

PATTI: Hoping to have that first copy in my hand soon! If it happens on schedule (which seems to be changing daily because of what I mentioned above) it will be almost two years to the day of when I signed my contract.

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

PATTI: Little Lamb gives writers a lot of help when it comes to marketing, which is why a small house is so nice! They produce all of the swag and the book trailer, and have featured me on their blog several times along the way. They are also responsible for getting review copies where they need to go and will be entering MRS. NOAH in some contests on my behalf. I’m so happy with all the marketing support I’ve received.

I’ve done a few blogs and am planning a Facebook Live release on the day the book comes out and I’ll be planning some events as soon as I have the book in my hands. I’ve held off planning anything live until that first copy arrives just because so much of the when is out of our hands right now.

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

PATTI: Let’s see…I sold my first picture book to a publisher called MeeGenius in 2014. That was 14 years after I’d written my first book for children. I think it’s important to note that during those 14 years, and for many years after that I was also a full-time freelance writer. So, I was constantly balancing my paying work with my children’s work. I don’t want anyone to read this and think, “14 years! But I don’t want to wait that long!” I totally get it😊. But along the way I’ve had other successes that have kept me going, like winning awards in the Writer’s Digest annual competitions, the Katherine Paterson Prize at Hunger Mountain and a few others. I’ve also done work-for-hire writing which resulted in three nonfiction chapter books that released in 2017 and 2018. I’ve had a fiction story in Highlights Magazine and a nonfiction story in Fun for Kidz Magazine and last year I sold a poem to Cricket Media for Ladybug Magazine. The important thing is to keep writing, honing your craft and submitting. Do you need an agent to do those things? No. Do you need a picture book contract to continue working to become the best writer for children you can be? No. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all these years of writing, submitting, revising and submitting again, the joy is in the journey. I wouldn’t trade the people I’ve met that have become life-long friends, the patience I’ve learned and the commitment to craft I’ve developed for anything. Book contracts are the goal, but writing for children is about so much more than that. Be grateful for your calling. Love what you do, and love the children who will read your work someday. Learn all you can, and live your writer life well. Whatever that looks like for you!

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Patti! We’ve so enjoyed and benefited from the opportunity to learn from you! I know I speak for everyone when I say we wish you all the best with this and future titles!

Author Patti Richards

Social Media Links:

Website: pattigail1.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pgwrites5
Twitter: @pattigrichards
Instagram: @pattigrichards
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pgwrites/

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

Patti’s book will be available next week from Little Lamb Books, and if it is available in other places I will update these links!

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

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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Hardly Haunted

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

As some of you may have noticed, Halloween is coming! 🎃🧙🏿‍♀️👻

So what better time for a story about a haunted house?

This one is so cute scary! 😊

Title: Hardly Haunted

Written & Illustrated By: Jessie Sima

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, fiction, July 2021

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: being yourself, self-acceptance, holidays (Halloween)

text and illustration copyright Jessie Sima 2021, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Opening: “There was a house on a hill,
and that house was worried.”

Brief Synopsis:House has a problem. The evidence seems to suggest that she might be HAUNTED! How will she ever find a family who wants to make her a haunted home?

text and illustration copyright Jessie Sima 2021, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
text and illustration copyright Jessie Sima 2021, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Links To Resources: Haunted House Activities for Kids; Haunted Cookie Houses and Black Cat Cookies (and honestly I think you could easily do a haunted house cookie activity using chocolate graham crackers and icing if you don’t want to do all the gingerbread template baking!)

Why I Like This Book: Some kids like scary books. Mine were not in that category! 😊 So this is the kind of perfect Halloween book that I love. It hints at spookiness, and has a little suspense in the story, without being at all scary. After all, no one wants nightmares! The story is told from the point of view of the house, but there’s a delightful little black cat who appears on every page, adding to the story with her reactions. And while the house is concerned about her potential hauntedness, the art is so appealing that it makes her much more endearing than scary. Although this is a story appropriate for the Halloween season with its nod toward spookiness, it is also a story about being who you are and accepting yourself – always something kids can benefit from. Young readers will delight in this story and fall in love with the friendly little house…even if she is haunted 😊

text and illustration copyright Jessie Sima 2021, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

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 #397 – Hibernation Exasperation (PB)

Tra la! It’s Would You Read It Wednesday!

Which prompts me to ponder the following:

Pithy Polly penned a pack of perfect pitches,
A pack of perfect pitches Pithy Polly penned;
If Pithy Polly penned a pack of perfect pitches,
Where’s the pack of perfect pitches Pithy Polly penned?

Now say that 5 times fast 😊

Now say it 5 times fast with your mouth full of Something Chocolate (and try not to spit crumbs all over your keyboard 😊)

Hershey’s Chocolate Cheesecake Cake

All I have to say to that chocolate cake is YUM! Come to Mama! 😊

And the answer to where Pithy Polly’s pack of perfect pitches got to is, of course, right here, where a peck of practiced pitchers can always be found!

Let’s have a look at today’s pitch which comes to us from Melisa who says, “By day, I work in the corporate world, but at night and on weekends I wrangle words into stories.  Writing has always been an interest of mine, and over the past couple years I’ve decided to give it the time it deserves. This story started as a seedling during Storystorm 2021 and I’m glad that it actually blossomed into something rather than dying on the vine.  I’m definitely a better writer than a gardener. Thank you for your help with my pitch.”

Find her on the web at Melisa Wrex (Twitter @mowrex)

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hibernation Exasperation

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-7)

The Pitch: We all have that one neighbor…Groundhog just wants to hibernate, but tiny miscommunications keep Beaver SMACK WHACK WHACKing at the door—offering ingredients for…soup?!  Groundhog has to figure out a way to get the message across before Beaver whittles hibernation season down to a mere nap. Back matter, colorfully narrated by Beaver, includes fun facts about groundhogs and the uniquely U.S. holiday—Groundhog Day. 

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 Melisa 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 January, 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!

Melisa is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the upcoming Halloweensie Contest, only 16 days away! In case you missed this year’s contest guideline, they are posted HERE. I hope you’ll all come join the fun!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Anne Appert!

Hey, Everybody! It’s Tuesday Debut time and we have such a treat today!

Our debut-ess for this week is none other than the lovely and talented Anne Appert, and because she is both author and illustrator, we’re going to get to see extra art to show us how illustrations evolve! While this may seem ho-hum to people who illustrate all the time, it is a thrill for those of us who can’t draw to save our lives (*raises hand* 😊). And I think it’s helpful for all writers to get a glimpse of the illustration process.

So let’s dive right in, shall we? Presenting Anne Appert and her delightful debut, BLOB!

Blob
written and illustrated by Anne Appert
HarperCollins, September 14th 2021
Fiction, ages 4-8

A humorous picture book featuring a blob (n. a creature that can be anything they want) who finally finds out who they really are after a series of small discoveries.

Blob is a creature of indeterminate kind. Blob can be a giraffe, cotton candy, and even an octopus. Its not until a negligent (albeit well-meaning) narrator continuously calls them Bob” that Blob starts to question who they really are.

After a series of funny yet enlightening discoveries about all the possible things they can be, Blob realizes that the best thing to be is . . .

Blob.

(With the L.)

SUSANNA: Welcome, Anne! Thank you so much for coming to share your publication journey with us today! We’re so looking forward to hearing all about it! Where did the idea for this book come from?

ANNE: This book started as a joke when people kept mistaking my stylized animal drawings as animals they were not. For example, a skunk was confused for a badger, a squirrel for a cat, etc. I said to a friend, “ Nobody can tell what I’m drawing, but at least they are cute and blobby.” Then Blob popped into my head. Followers on social media responded well to this character, and I decided that I needed to write this story! Luckily for me, their story flowed easily on to the page. You never know when a random conversation will turn into a full fledged book idea.

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

ANNE: I got the idea for the book in February/March of 2019, and by June had a full dummy ready for submission. This is not normal for my process. Usually I need to let a story sit for several months before I jump into illustrations and revisions, but this book just leapt out of my head. The first 6 pages of the book haven’t changed much since that first Instagram version of Blob. For me, it’s important to write the story first, then figure out what I am trying to say.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

ANNE: I’ve realized that I keep telling people we didn’t revise Blob a lot. That’s not entirely true, it was simply an easy book to revise and thus didn’t feel like much.  By letting that first draft flow instead of writing with a message in mind, I was able to approach revisions as the way to excavate what I was trying to say, then polish the text to make that message shine. I revised two times before submission and did one major revision with my editor. While the core of the story has remained the same, my editor’s revisions helped me find another layer of the story. We went back and forth on some final word choice decisions while I worked on the art.

Anne’s work space

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

ANNE: I worked with my agent to tweak the draft until the ending felt satisfying, which involved both text and art revisions. Usually, I go through a couple round of edits with my critique groups, then send to my agent. Once my agent gives me feedback, I don’t show it to my critique group again unless it needs a major rewrite. For Blob, I skipped the critique group step, because I felt that it was already in a good place and we already had a request from a publisher to see it.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

ANNE: First my agent submitted to an editor who saw the original Blob on twitter and requested the story. At that moment, I only had a manuscript and some sample illustrations. We waited to submit more widely until I had finished a full dummy. My agent sent it to editors at various houses and we got several rejections (including from HarperCollins.) Then I went to a portfolio review in NYC through the Children’s Book Illustrator Group where I met my editor (from HarperCollins). When she reviewed my portfolio, she kept coming back to the page with Blob illustrations that I had included. She emailed my agent the next day to get the dummy.

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”?

ANNE: One week! After my agent sent the dummy, we found out the next day the editor wanted to take it to acquisitions. The next week they made an offer! I know this is not usually how speedy publishing is, so I was very excited.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

ANNE: As previously mentioned, I got the call a week after finding out it was going to acquisitions. (And yes it was a call, not an email!) The dummy had been on submission for 4-5 months before that.

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

ANNE: I received the initial offer in November 2019. Then, there were some conversations with my agent and the publisher so I think it was finalized in December. I received the contract in May 2020.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

ANNE: One of my mottos is celebrate everything. I shared a bottle of bubbly with the family I live with and I bought myself some new notebooks. I was fortunate that I shared the news with friends before the pandemic hit even though I hadn’t signed the contract, so they took me out to dinner to celebrate. And since I celebrate everything, I did get to celebrate the offer with more family before the pandemic.

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

ANNE: To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I found reading the contract very confusing and was very happy that I had an agent to walk me through it. The advance was more than I expected because I forgot that as an author/illustrator I wouldn’t split it. I got 25 author copies and 10% royalties on hardcovers. Most things seemed pretty standard according to my knowledge of the publishing industry. The one thing I was worried about is that my contract has the wrong title for the book! Before I signed it, I made sure I wasn’t committing to this title, and my editor assured me that we were on the same page regarding this.

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

ANNE: We started editing the manuscript before I signed the contract. There were two significant changes to the original manuscript. The first was drawing out the name storyline. Originally, Blob didn’t insist on the narrator calling them the right name, and it was more of an afterthought. Thankfully, my editor realized that we needed to change this. We also changed the ending as the original version was vague and very open ended. We did one major round of revisions, and then did some word choice editing once we started working on the art. I feel so lucky that I had an editor who completely understood Blob, in some ways even more than I did.

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

ANNE: The illustration process was both fun and challenging.

The dummy I submitted was 32 pages (This is standard for the industry). My editor expanded it to a 40 page book, which gave us more room to explore the various themes in the story. It did mean I had to create more art.

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

I worked with an incredible designer whose attention to detail really allowed Blob to pop off the page. I decided to use a limited palette for the book, so when I got to final art, I had to make some tricky decisions in order to make that work. (There are only four colors in the book plus black and white. I do use the colors transparently on some pages, which creates more colors as they overlap.)

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

I drew the work digitally which meant I kept my fingers crossed that the colors would print the way I hoped. Printers vary, so it’s hard to be 100% sure. When I saw the F&Gs, I was very happy with the color. My favorite surprise was the spot gloss on the front cover! (Notice the way the painted L, e, and glasses shine)

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

ANNE: I was very nervous about what Kirkus was going to say which made it a huge relief when they gave BLOB a good review. I also got a review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Both likened Blob’s looks to sweets, which I found amusing. I didn’t get my SLJ review until after the book publication date. It was a good one as well, but a little less scary since I already saw how readers were responding to BLOB.

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

ANNE: I received the offer in November/December of 2019 and got my copies in August 2021. That was a surreal moment!

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

ANNE: HarperCollins promoted it on their social media accounts on publication day. They also did an influencer outreach campaign where they sent the book to different book influencers to review. I believe they also did outreach to educators and librarians. I’m sure there is more behind the scenes then I realize!

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

ANNE: For my own marketing, I reached out to several blogs to do a small blog tour (A Blob tour, if you will). I also created stickers and signed prints/bookplates for preorders. Because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, I didn’t do a launch event; however, I did team up with a local bookstore for signed preorders. (And you can still order signed copies from them if you would like! https://www.anneappert.com/books) In addition, I did a 10 day countdown with graphics I made for my social media accounts. Now I’m scheduling library visits. For these, I’ve created some activity sheets which I hope to add to my website soon.

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

ANNE: I went to college planning on pursuing writing for children afterwards. My degree is in illustration because, though I enjoyed making art, I felt I needed the training to be able to illustrate my books as well. I joined SCBWI soon after graduating, but it took a couple years for me to really get involved. While I was writing this entire time, I would say 2015 was when I started seriously learning and working at craft. in 2018 I signed with my first agent, and in 2019 I sold my first book. I do usually include my college years since it was always my plan to write and illustrate, which would make it 12 years from the time I started college to the time I sold my book.

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?)

ANNE: The most important thing for me was to get involved and make connections. The more people I met through organizations and groups like SCBWI, The Children’s Book Illustrator Group, 12×12, and the KidLitArt twitter chat, the more my craft grew in leaps and bounds. I quickly learned it wasn’t enough to be a part of these organizations, I had to participate and put myself out there. Through this, I was able to find critique groups, mentorship opportunities, and classes that led me to the connections that helped me sell my book. Most importantly, I found the people who are my friends. This industry has a lot of ups and downs, and having them to lean on has been the most invaluable part of this whole experience.

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

ANNE: In navigating the publishing journey, one of the best things for me has been asking a lot of questions along the way. Creating a book is a team effort, and everyone involved wants to make it the best book it can be. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent, editor, and designer (if you are an illustrator) questions!

Blob was very easy to write, and that was because there is so much of me in this character. The anxiety of having to decide what you will be when you grow up and getting called the wrong name over and over (I’m a twin) were two of the reasons I wrote this book. However, I didn’t discover this until after I had written the first draft. As Blob would say, be you, and you will find the right words to allow your message to shine, whatever that message may be.

Author/Illustrator Anne Appert

Website: https://www.anneappert.com/
twitter: https://twitter.com/Anne_Appert
instagram: https://instagram.com/anneappertillustration

Author/Illustrator Anne Appert disguised as Blob 😊

SUSANNA: So much wonderful information and advice, Anne! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We wish you all the best with this an future titles!

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

You may purchase Anne’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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Wheee-hee-hee! Witches In The Air! – Announcing The Guidelines For The 11th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

So, I know it’s Monday and I don’t usually post on Mondays.

But this is a special Monday.

A Monday I post on almost every year (except when I’m really behind schedule and end up on a random Thursday…😊)

And you know what I’m about to say, right?

Of course you do!

This isn’t your first trip around the blog! (See what I did there?)

So. . . .

. . .it’s time for our annual history lesson!

On this day in 1492 (well, ok, not actually THIS day because who really knows whether it was the 2nd Monday of October or perhaps a random Thursday?), good ole Chris Columbus, your friend and mine (we can call him Chris because we’re buddies), sailed the ocean blue (although, if we’re being accurate, while the Mediterranean is most certainly blue, the Atlantic, is just as often gray or green) and got credit for discovering America (even though it might actually have been Irish monks, the Vikings, or China), resulting in us getting to skip school and work on the 2nd Monday in October every year (which circles back to why we are friends!)

Across the wild ocean he sailed with the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria (the boat he was actually on), sporting (most likely) breeches, a doublet, stockings, shoes, and a short cloak. (I know he’s often pictured with a foofy hat, but really, that would be so impractical in the wild ocean winds, so let’s nix the hat.)

But do you know who doesn’t nix the hat?

Witches!

Really!

You hardly ever see a witch without a hat. It’s an essential part of their look.

And what, pray tell, I hear you asking, do witches have to do with Columbus?

Absolutely nothing!

But they have everything to do with

The 11th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!!!

~ for children’s writers ~

So! Are you ready?

THE CONTEST: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in word count) using the words glow-in-the-dark, goosebumps, and goodies.

  • Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny, sweet, or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words. Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people 😊
  • You can go under the word count but not over!
  • Title is not included in the word count.
  • Also, being super clear for this year, glow-in-the-dark counts as 1 word (even though it looks like 4 😊)
  • You may use the words in any form i.e. glowed-in-the-dark, goosebumpley, goody (“Oh, goody!”, goody-two-shoes etc.), whathaveyou 😊
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

And yes, I know 100 words is short, but that’s part of the fun and the challenge! We got just shy of 300 fantastic entries last year, so I know you can do it!

POST: your story in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12AM Eastern Friday October 29th (the day the official contest post will go up here) and Sunday October 31st at Midnight – the witching hour! (see, there are those witches again 😊)

  • For those of you who would also like to post on your blogs, please feel free to do so! You are welcome to include the link to your blog with your entry in the comment section of the Official Contest Post so that people can come visit your blog, but all entries must be posted in the comment section of the Official Contest Post between 12 AM Eastern Friday October 29th and Sunday October 31st at Midnight.
  • If you have difficulty posting your entry to the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! [susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com Please place your entry in the body of the email including your title and byline at the top NO ATTACHMENTS! and please do not submit any entries before the official opening of the contest at 12AM Friday October 29th. They will not be accepted.
  • I know how hard you all work on your entries, and how anxious you are to get them posted, but please try to be a little patient if your entry doesn’t show up immediately. Many comments have to be manually approved, and it sometimes takes me a little while to post entries that come in by email. I promise I will get to everything as soon as I can. I try never to leave my desk during contests, but sometimes it’s unavoidable 😊

THE JUDGING: in a grueling marathon over the following days, my devoted assistants and I will read and re-read and narrow down the entries to a finalist field of about 12 which will be posted here for you to vote on I hope by Friday November 5th (though if the judging takes longer than expected it might be a little later – we will do our best!) The winner will be announced Monday November 8th (good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise 😊)

Judging criteria will be as follows:

  • 1. Kid-appeal! – These stories are intended for a young audience (ages 12 and under), so we’re looking for stories that children will enjoy and relate to.
  • 2.  Halloweeniness – the rules state a Halloween story, so it must be crystal clear that the story is about Halloween, not just some random spooky night.
  • 3. Use of all 3 required words and whether you came it at 100 words or less.
  • 4. Quality of story – entries must tell a story, including a main character of some kind and a true story arc even if it’s tiny 😊  Entries must not be merely descriptions or mood pieces.
  • 5. Quality of Writing: check your spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.  If you’re going to rhyme, give us your best 😊  Use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  • 6. Originality and creativity – because that is often what sets one story above another.
  • 7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines, they won’t even read your submission.

THE PRIZES: So amazing! What wonderful, generous people we have in our kidlit community! Just wait til you see what you can win! (This list is still under construction, so there may be changes…!) (And in the interest of getting this posted I’m merely listing the prizes tonight – I will add details ASAP!)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids, 2019), COUNTING ELEPHANTS (Running Press Kids, 2020), THE NIGHT BAAFORE EASTER (WorthyKids, 2021), THE NIGHT BAAFORE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL (WorthyKids, 2021), and the brand new ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids, October 19, 2021)!

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonrhyming) by Janie Reinart, author of WHEN WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN (Blue Whale Press, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (biography) by Lindsey McDivitt, author of NATURE’S FRIEND: THE GWEN FROSTIC STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2018), TRUTH AND HONOR: THE PRESIDENT FORD STORY (Sleeping Bear Press, 2020), and A PLAN FOR THE PEOPLE: NELSON MANDELA’S HOPE FOR HIS NATION (Eerdman’s Books For Young Readers, 2021)

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Kenda Henthorn

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique (rhyming or lyrical) by Randi Sonenshine

⭐️ Picture Book Manuscript Critique by Danielle Dufayet

⭐️ Storyboard Notebook – a great way to draft your picture books!

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS by Dawn Young

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of BRANCHES OF HOPE by Ann Magee

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of MIMIC MAKERS by Kristen Nordstrom

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of A PLAN FOR THE PEOPLE by Lindsey McDivitt

⭐️ Personalized signed copy of THE NEST THAT WREN BUILT by Randi Sonenshine

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Now!  Lay in a good chocolate supply (no better time than right before Halloween for THAT!)! Butt In Chair! Pencils, pens, or keyboards ready! Put on your pointy black thinking cap (you know, to get in that Halloween mood 🧙🏿‍♀️ 😊!)  And write those prize-winning stories!!!

I can’t wait to read them!!! 😊

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Beautifully Me

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

I always look forward so much to seeing what you all choose each week! There are so many amazing books out there! I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a hard time choosing only one every Friday – I always want to share at least five! 😊

Today I have a choice that is different in two ways. One, it’s written by someone who is a YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok celebrity, and I typically don’t review books written by celebrities of any kind. Two, its topic is one I think is important and there should be more books of this kind. See what you think – does it strike you as a Perfect Picture Book? I’m interested in opinions!

Title: Beautifully Me

Written By: Nabela Noor

Illustrated By: Nabi H. Ali

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, September 14, 2021, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: self-esteem, healthy body image

text copyright Nabela Noor 2021, illustration copyright Nabi H. Ali 2021, Simon & Schuster

Opening: “Salaam! My name is Zubi Chowdhury.
Yesterday, I woke up before the sun.
I knew it was going to be a special day.
It was my first day of school!

I put on my blue overalls and pink shirt with fancy puffy sleeves. Amma had made it just for me in Bangladesh. I twisted my hair into two pigtails with my lucky butterfly clops and slid on my bangles.”

Brief Synopsis: Zubi, a young Bangladeshi girl, is excited for her first day of school, but when everyone around her seems suddenly focused on their size she begins to doubt herself. Will kids make fun of her because she isn’t skinny? Her family helps her to see that it is who you are that makes you beautiful, not how much you weigh.

text copyright Nabela Noor 2021, illustration copyright Nabi H. Ali 2021, Simon & Schuster

Links To Resources: glossary of Bengali words used in the text; celebrate your strengths and the strengths of those around you! What are you good at? What makes you special? What makes you YOU? 15+ Fun SElf-Esteem Activities & Games for Children and Teens (scroll down past the explanation of what self-esteem is and how parents and teachers can help foster it in children to the activities and games.)

Strengths Finder Poster from Friendzy.co (You can download the free pdf there)

Why I Like This Book: This lovely book shows the importance of kindness and being yourself, and of celebrating all the unique characteristics that make you “beautifully you”. What makes us special is what’s on the inside – who we are – not the package it comes in. Although some reviews have faulted this book for “promoting obesity”, I feel that it promotes kindness, acceptance, and positive body image, and in today’s world where kids are bombarded with images of what they’re “supposed to look like,” it’s important for them to know that there are many different (and beautiful!) body types and that what is important is being healthy, and being a good, kind person who supports others. Every child can benefit from this book’s encouragement to find and honor their strengths.

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 #396 – The Worry Zoo (PB)

Guess what? It’s the first Would You Read It Wednesday of October!

So I wrote you a song to celebrate.

Yup, I did.

Just for you. (And the rest of the whole entire world that will soon be singing it because it is SO SO good.)

(And I’m not just saying that because I made it up and I’m so incredibly talented at songwriting. I mean, remember my theme song for Tuesday Debut? Woohoo! Woohoo! Time for something new! Woohoo! Woohoo! Tuesday Debut! I know you’re all still singing THAT one! Admit it. It was your shower song this morning.)

This one is going to be all the rage. Everyone is going to be singing it.

You all know London Bridge, right? That will be the tune 😊

So are you ready?

Aaaand…EVERYBODY!

Autumn leaves are turning gold,
Orange, red, bright and bold.
Autumn leaves are turning gold,
It’s October!

Apple picking, what a treat!
Smooth and round, crisp and sweet,
Gather all that you can eat,
It’s October!

Pumpkin’s insides have to go,
Carve out eyes, mouth and nose,
Light it with a candle’s glow,
It’s October!

Wowee! That is some kind of song isn’t it?

If that doesn’t require Something Chocolate, I don’t know what does! Let’s stick with our autumnal theme and have some Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread – you know, you can use those pumpkin insides that have to go, just like the song says!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

A few slices of that delicious and nutritious Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread and a few rousing choruses of my new song and I bet you’re ready to get down to pitching! Am I right or am I right or am I right?

Today’s pitch comes to us from Robin who says, “As a librarian and ordained clergy, I love to connect children with the right book for the right moment. I live in the Chicago suburbs where I write stories to read and read again. http://www.robincurrie.net/index2.html

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Worry Zoo

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)

The Pitch: “I have a Worry Zoo inside me.” A child imagines the unsettling feelings and resulting actions as various zoo animals. “it is crowded and noisy when they all come at once.” With help, the child discovers simple self-soothing techniques to tame the animals and become the Zookeeper.

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 Robin 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 January, 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!

Robin is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to when my new song hits #1 on every kind of chart that measures music popularity which I think is going to be by the end of the week! 😊😊😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Greenwald!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Apologies for the late posting! I hope everyone will still get to read about today’s debut-ess, Karen Greenwald, and her fabulous book, A VOTE FOR SUSANNA: THE FIRST WOMAN MAYOR!

Let’s jump right in, shall we? Not another second to lose!

A Vote For Susanna, The First Woman Mayor
written by Karen Greenwald
illustrated by Sian James
Albert Whitman, October 1
Nonfiction
4-9 (and beyond!)

In 1887 the state of Kansas gave women the right to vote in municipal elections. But some men in the city of Argonia, Kansas didn’t think women should have a say in choosing their next mayor, so they put a woman on the ballot—as a joke. That woman was Susanna Salter—and soon the men would find the joke was on them! Narrated by a grandmother who remembered what happened on that election day, this is the true story of a woman who stood up for her right to vote and accomplished so much more.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Karen! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re all looking forward to hearing about how A VOTE FOR SUSANNA came to be! Where did the idea for this book come from?

KAREN: I believe I was researching another idea when I saw a sentence about Susanna Salter. Immediately, I was captivated. I’m a non-practicing lawyer with a background in government and politics. I was also raised in a very “girl power” environment. My parents instilled this in us. Reading this brief reference about a woman in 1887 that became the first to hold this position interested me—and the fact that her election arose as result of a prank, even more so. I had to investigate this! As kidlit writers, we are told that it is important to write the story you can tell. My passion for equality and my experiences in the political realm led me to Susanna’s history.

I did not start out writing this version. One and a half years into the research, I was introduced to members of Susanna’s city that shared pieces of the history I had not prior been able to access. Also, I “met” (virtually) her great-granddaughter who, along with her brother, entrusted me with copies of personal letters written by Susanna and other family members. Thanks to those precious documents I was able to write the version that became my debut book (and gained friendships along the way)!

As for my idea “process,” it is hard to describe. I look for certain elements in an idea, like whether it has been written about, and ask myself if I see broad appeal, if the topic child-friendly, and if I feel enthusiastic about telling this story. If I can visualize it in my head, I know I need to start researching.

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

KAREN: It took two and a half years from beginning to end, but under six months to write the version that became the book.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KAREN: Yes! I had four different manuscript versions—three of which were based on the fact that there was only so much information I was given access to…but, once I had more access I was able to write the story I knew needed to be told.

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

KAREN: I knew it was ready when I teared up writing the final words. It was very emotional, and I felt I hit the right note to wrap it up. As I typed the ending, I left open on my screen a letter Susanna had written. I felt like I was doing for her what history should have long ago!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KAREN: I submitted my manuscript in March and found out in April that it was going into acquisitions. But, it didn’t actually happen until August—that was one long summer of inbox refreshing! At the time of submissions, I wasn’t agented. In fact, I left my first agent a few months earlier when they switched houses and stopped representing picture books. I really didn’t enjoy the querrying process (does anyone?!), so I took a year off from it and spent that time working on this manuscript.

Karen’s writing buddy 😊

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”?

KAREN: I believe around four months.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

KAREN: I got an email and then call about it going into acquisitions. I was beyond thrilled! However, it didn’t go into the meeting until the beginning of August. I quickly sent out a couple of queries to agents. Two days later, I had “the call” with my agent Liza Fleissig (Liza Royce Agency). I learned about the offer by email. What a beautiful email! Lol!

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

KAREN: One month or more.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KAREN: Well, it was in the middle of the pandemic, so it was hard to go full out, but it did involve an impromptu dance party (so very kidlit-esque!) and the laugh-until-you-cry-until-you-laugh moment. I also held a Zoom family meeting!

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

KAREN: I had an extremely positive experience with the editorial process. I wound up having two different editors because the first changed houses I think around the time we finished the main revisions. Both editors were amazing to work with and extremely responsive. I don’t remember there being many changes to the manuscript. I felt extremely respected, listened to, and that my opinions were valued. I honestly can’t imagine having a better editor/author experience.

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

KAREN: I was able to share tons and tons (and tons—I delved deep!) of content, links to clothing styles, pictures, et al. As I mentioned, I had access to things nobody else would have since it came directly from  members of the family. This is the first and only book to tell Susanna Salter’s story, so I wanted to include as many details as possible. I studied not only Susanna and her family, but also the townspeople where she lived. I shared every one of these “swatches” of their world. I felt extremely respected in this process as well.

I included various art notes.

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

KAREN: I got a review from Kirkus and nearly cried with joy! Their verdict was, “Get it” and they called my book, “factually accurate and accessibly told.” This meant the world to me, especially because my topic involves election rules and processes unlike any we have today. The fact that they feel I made this landmark moment (that has been brushed aside by history) accessible to children feels incredible. I am extremely proud of being reviewed by Kirkus!

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

KAREN: One year!

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

KAREN: I am doing a blog tour and am being interviewed on some podcasts, too. The National Women’s History Museum hosted a launch I did with Nancy Churnin and Songju Ma Daemicke. I have an Election Day event I’m doing with them. I’m also engaged in many other avenues, but you’ll have to look around to see them! (Can’t give all my secrets away😉)

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

KAREN: It is hard to say because I’ve always been a writer in some form or function. In my “real world” job, I write articles for both print and online sources. However, picture book writing has been a focus for around five years.

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?)

KAREN: Write what you know, what you’re passionate about, what you feel others will connect to—and then take breaks from it and let it marinate!

Author Karen Greenwald

Twitter: @karenmgreenwald
Website: karengreenwald.com

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers. Karen! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience and 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

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

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)