Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kate Allen Fox!

HI everyone! Welcome to today’s episode of Tuesday Debut!

I love books that introduce me to something I previously knew nothing about, and that’s what PANDO: A LIVING WONDER OF TREES has done. If you’re new to Pando as well, you’re going to love this! So I’m thrilled to welcome our debut-ess, Kate Allen Fox, who wrote this wonderful book!

Pando: A Living Wonder of Trees
written by Kate Allen Fox
illustrated by Turine Tran
Capstone Editions
August 15, 2021
Nonfiction, ages 8—11

Pando is an inspiring tribute to a Utah grove of quaking Aspen trees connected by their roots to form one of the world’s oldest and largest living things.

SUSANNA: Hi Kate! Thank you so much for joining us for a little chat today. We’re so glad you’re here, and grateful to have the opportunity to hear about your journey to publication. Where did the idea for this book come from?

KATE: I was driving home after a hike when I remembered something I had read or heard about trees connected by their roots. When I got home, I Googled it and became absolutely fascinated. Walks in nature often allow my brain to find creativity (as does driving). Both activities are supposed to activate the “default network” of your brain, allowing you to work out problems, and they definitely work for me!

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

KATE: It took about two or three months to write and revise (with a lot of feedback from critique partners and the 12×12 forum). During that time, I changed it from informational fiction to nonfiction and consulted with an expert on the topic. This is unusually fast for me, but I was very inspired and single-minded about it. I had a feeling that was the manuscript that would breakthrough for me.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KATE: So many! I started with an anthropomorphized tree in a fictionalized version. That version just didn’t work, but somehow I couldn’t put the story down. I asked myself, what about this concept is intriguing to me? I realized it really was the nonfiction aspects of the tree.

Asking that question led me to the right structure for my story, and I still ask myself that when I’m wrestling with how to approach a manuscript.

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

KATE: People on the 12×12 forum and critique partners started saying things like “this will be a book!” I hadn’t heard that from other writers before, so I assumed it was ready to go. And, it was close!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KATE: I was unagented, so I focused on submitting to agents. I entered contests and didn’t win, but contests helped me hone my manuscript and research agents. I saw agents looking for lyrical nonfiction, submitted, and started getting positive responses within a few weeks.

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”?

KATE: The acquisitions meetings at the publisher were cancelled or rescheduled a couple of times so it took about two months.

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

KATE: I got the email about 5 months after we went on sub. It went to several houses and sold without revision. I got the email while playing with my sons. It all felt pretty surreal.

Kate and her boys 😊

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

KATE: About 3 months.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KATE: I didn’t. This is something I need to work on! I did donate a portion of my advance to the Western Aspen Alliance to support Aspen conservation, which felt like a meaningful marking of the book becoming “real.”

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

KATE: My advance was under $5,000 with royalties of 7% of net sales for hardcover and paperback, and 18 author copies. Publication was required within 24 months (though it ended up being a fair bit less than that). I didn’t have many expectations going in (I knew several people who had received no advance), and I was (and am) happy with my contract.

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

KATE: We did two rounds of edits. The text stayed mostly the same, but some things changed, particularly after illustrations started. For example, I had a spread where I compared the weight of Pando to polar bears and other creatures, but the art director noticed that it looked strange to have polar bears on the same spread as a forest. We also converted the backmatter into text boxes, added a timeline, and added some new backmatter. I absolutely love all the changes and am so grateful that a wonderful team brought this book to life. It’s so much more than I ever imagined.

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

KATE: I saw the beginning sketches and then color spreads later in the process. From the very start, I was absolutely blown away by Turine Tran’s art.

My editor shared those two rounds of illustrations with me along with her comments and comments from the art director, asking if I had anything to add. I saw my job as ensuring the illustrations were as accurate as the text, but it was already so wonderful (and accurate) that I didn’t have much to add.

I don’t think I included any art notes, and I’m so glad I didn’t. Turine and the art director came up with things I couldn’t have even imagined.

text copyright Kate Allen Fox 2021, illustration copyright Turine Tran 2021, Capstone Editions

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

KATE: I haven’t seen any yet, but hope to soon!

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

KATE: About 18 months.

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

KATE: Capstone has created marketing videos, submitted me to present at conferences, and obviously marketed it to bookstores, libraries, and schools.

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

KATE: I’m doing a blog tour, working with organizations focused on Aspen conservation, and scheduling events with bookstores. I’m also part of the wonderful promotion group, the Picture Book Scribblers, which has been a wonderful experience for me to learn with other debut authors and from more experienced authors.

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

KATE: Less than a year. I realize that’s quick. I think when I found picture books (and then lyrical nonfiction), I found a genre and form that fit my voice, and things fell together quickly.

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?)

KATE: I think it’s important to keep experimenting and finding joy in the process. If you aren’t feeling inspired, try other genres or forms until you find a “spark” that makes you want to keep going.

SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?

KATE: It’s not out yet, but I’m hoping this happens!

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

KATE: Writing is a team sport. I wouldn’t be here without the support of other writers, and I have found so much community in the process. If you don’t have a critique group, find one, even if it’s just to have someone to commiserate with when publishing is hard.

Author Kate Allen Fox

Katefoxwrites.com
Twitter/Instagram: @kateallenfox

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Kate! We so appreciate you sharing your time and expertise, and wish you all the very best of luck with this and future titles!

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

You may purchase Kate’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 Sequeira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Ana Siqueira!

Welcome! Welcome!

Come on in, find a comfy place to sit, get a nice cup of coffee (or whatever you’d like to drink,) and let’s get ready to learn all we can from today’s Tuesday Debut, Ana Siqueira, who has come to share her journey to publication with us! Maybe learning about BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS can help us with our quest for success! 😊

BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
written by Ana Siqueira
illustrated by Geraldine Rodriguez
Beaming Books, 07/13/2001
Fiction PB, 4-7 years old

Bella wants to find out what she’s good at. But she quits everything she (barely) tries because she’s a desastre. She must learn it’s okay to try again or she won’t be good at anything. #growthmindset

SUSANNA: Welcome, Ana! Thank you so much for coming to chat with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

ANA: I got inspired by my daughter who is a gifted and perfectionist girl. She would quit if she was not the best. I also studied growth mindset and I wanted to write a book to show kids making mistakes is not only okay but important for the process.      

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

ANA: It took me about 10 months. My first version had a girl in a writing competition. Maybe this story is also a little bit about me and all writers out there – Don’t Quit is the message, right? I got help from my amazing critique partners and two professional editors.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

ANA: As I mentioned before, this book went through many revisions. I am a true believer in revisions and trying new suggestions and feedback. But this was the second book I wrote (after my 20-year hiatus when I moved here).  So I got a professional critique and that helped me a lot. I decided to change the writing aspect to baking. Then, it was a competition. I removed the competition and add the Abuela. So, this new version went through a complete transformation, but I learned a lot from this manuscript.

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

ANA: After 10 months of working hard on it, I got a like at a pitmad event. I revised it a few more times and even though I was not 100% it was ready, I decided to submit it to Beaming Books. And I got an offer.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

ANA: I submitted it directly to the publisher – Beaming Books- on October 22nd, 2019. And a few hours later my mom died. I truly believe my mom has helped me to make this decision to submit it.

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”?

ANA: After two weeks, I got an email from Naomi Krueger letting me know the book was going to acquisitions. Wow. I was so excited. Two weeks later I got an offer.

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

ANA: After the offer, I queried some agents with an offer of publication e-mail. And my agent Andrea Walker replied in hours. Then, we had the call. We clicked and I wanted to accept it right away. I asked for a few days, but I couldn’t wait too long and I told her YES! I got another offer after that. Oops. But I am very happy with Andrea Walker and her efficiency. After getting the agent, it took about a month to sign the contract.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

ANA: I went to dinner with my family. We went to my favorite Thai restaurant.

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

ANA: To be honest, I didn’t have a clue, so I didn’t know what to expect. Since my first contract was with a small publisher, the advance was smaller than the ones I got with my new deals with Simon and Schuster, and HarperCollins. But I was very happy to get a nice deal. The royalty percentage was negotiated by my agent and they’re standard.

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

ANA: I loved working with Naomi Krueger. We did work on a few, small changes, nothing big.

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

ANA: I loved the illustrator chosen from the beginning. Geraldine Rodriguez is fabulosa. Naomi Krueger consulted me about the main character and other details I would like to have included. I saw some sketches and the cover right away. I’m still in love with Bella and I know I’ll have to get a Bella doll.

text copyright Ana Siqueira 2021, illustration copyright Geraldine Rodriguez 2021, Beaming Books

I did include some art notes. For example, when she says her frosting was like cocodrilo skin, I included a note to let them know it was burnt. But for this story, I did not need that many art notes. For my second book about the Bruja, I needed a lot of art notes, since the girl is an unreliable narrator. She says, for example, she is in a cauldron with starving cocodrilos, and she’s really in a bathtub with toys.  So I’m in favor of using art notes when needed.

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

ANA: Not yet. I hope I will get some good reviews. Crossing my fingers.

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

ANA: I got an ARC copy by the end of May 2021. The offer was November 2019. So one year and a half. So exciting!

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

ANA: Social Media Campaign, National trade and library advertising, publicity campaign, special promotions to schools and public libraries, and more.

en la escuela en India

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

ANA: I have been trying to participate in events such as Panels, Conferences, NerdCamps, etc. I also did a giveaway campaign with Las Musas. I am in two debut groups – Story Jammers and 21fortheBooks. I will have a blog tour during July. My virtual book launch with Tombolo Books and The Writing Barn will be on July 17th at 11:00 Central Time.

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

ANA: After my long 20-year hiatus (I had books published in Brazil), it took me one year. I restarted writing in January of 2019 and I sold my book in January of 2020.

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?)

ANA: Learn as much as you can before trying to submit and query. You wouldn’t expect to learn how to be a talented pianist in a few months, the same happens with writing. If you can pay for professional critiques, they can help not only with the story being critiqued but by teaching you a lot. Some affordable editors are fabulous such as Lynne Marie and Angela Burke Kunkel.

Author Ana Siqueira

website: https://anafiction.com/


SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Ana! We so appreciate you giving us the benefit of your experience and wish you the best of luck with this and future titles!

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

You may purchase Ana’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Darshana Khiani!

Welcome to another chock-full-of-information, super-informative, wildly-inspirational episode of Tuesday Debut!

I’m so glad you’re taking a few minutes out of your beach time to join us today (or maybe you’re joining us from the beach – even better! 😊) This is definitely a must-read because today our debut-ess, Darshana Khiani, mom, dog-lover, engineer, Making Picture Book Magic graduate, writer, and fashion consultant, is going to teach us all, HOW TO WEAR A SARI!

How to Wear a Sari
Written by Darshana Khiani
Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Versify, June 22, 2021
Fiction Ages 4-7

A spirited young girl is tired of being seen as “little” by her family. She decides the best way to do this is to teach herself how to wear a sari: then she’ll make her grand entrance … and everyone will have to notice how grown-up she’s become.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Darshana! Thank you so much for coming to chat with us today. We are all very excited to hear about your journey to publication! Where did the idea for this book come from?

DARSHANA: In the Fall of 2016, I was planning my outfits for the upcoming Indian holiday season. I love the elegance and sophistication of saris but unfortunately have never fully got the hang of draping one. I began wondering what it would be like if a young girl tried to wear one. If I had so much difficulty surely it would be even harder, possibly comical for a kid to wear one. The bulk of the story, the middle and the climax, came fairly quickly. I drafted it in a 2nd POV. This is interesting since that summer I had been studying 2nd POV picture books for another story. And while I didn’t get anywhere with the other story, the 2nd POV seeped into the sari story.

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

DARSHANA: From first draft to going on submission about ten months. This is quite fast for me. Most of my stories usually take 18 months or longer. My usual process is to hand write the first crappy draft and put it away for at least six months before coming back to it. When I pull the story back out, I’ll do another 1-2 drafts before sending it to my critique group. And then it’s the revision cycle until I feel it’s ready for my agent.



Darshana’s work space

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

DARSHANA: This story went through 11 revisions before going on submission. While it was on submission for about 9 months, I also drafted two other versions that were in 3rd POV for an R&R from an editor. An R&R is a revise and resubmit, which can happen if an editor likes the story but is asking for major changes. In this case, my agent felt the original version in 2nd POV was stronger, so we didn’t submit the alternative versions to the R&R editor.

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

DARSHANA: I don’t ever feel like I know for sure when my manuscript is ready, at least not until I hear my agent say it’s ready to go. 😊 However, before I send my story to my agent, I make sure there are no big picture issues, pacing is good, language it tight, and there is enough to illustrate on each spread. I also rely on feedback from my critique group. We’ve been together for years.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

DARSHANA: I have an agent, so I sent it to her.

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

DARSHANA: The story went on submission in July of 2017 and 9 months later in March 2018 it sold. It went to a total of ten houses over that time. Again, this is fast for me. My two other books that sold took two years each. One which sat with an editor for an entire year (in fairness it was during COVID). When the story sold, I got a call from my agent, but at the time I was at work talking to a colleague, so it went to voicemail. (I still have that voicemail on my cell). I called her back and was floored to hear the story had sold. I couldn’t believe it! I had been with her 18 months and had received plenty of rejections on three other stories before this one sold.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

DARSHANA: I honestly don’t remember as it was kind of delayed. In the beginning I kept worrying that the publisher would change their mind or something, so I didn’t tell many people. Also, I didn’t realize it could take months before you actually get your contract. The publishing world is so different from the business world I know, where a person doesn’t even start working until they’ve signed a contract. Eventually, I think I celebrated with some champagne, cheese, and crackers with my hubby. I remember my critique group gave me a potted plant and some chocolate.

Reading to Nala – everyone enjoys a good story!

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


DARSHANA: My contract was in line with what’s expected for a debut author at a larger house. If you are interested in the money aspect of picture book writing I would recommend Hannah Holt’s survey from 2017.  My agent was happy with the offer, so I was too. I did ask for author consultation on the art in case the illustrator didn’t have a South Asian background. The publication timeline did change a few times. Initially, the editor said they were targeting a release for Fall 2019, which would’ve been super-fast. However, it took several months before getting an illustrator on board, hence the book was pushed to Fall 2020. Then there were some internal company deadlines that were pulled in, so the book was pushed to Summer 2021.

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

DARSHANA: We did a few rounds of revision, but it was mainly on clarifying “why” the main character was choosing to wear a sari. I was happy the editor and I had the same vision so not much else changed.

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

DARSHANA: I did see a full dummy sketch, which was wonderful. The art was gorgeous with so much energy and expression. I had a few culturally related comments. I explained my concerns to the editor, and later the art was adjusted. In my manuscript, I had some illustration notes such as indicating the “friend” in two of the lines meant a pet, but I didn’t specify what type of pet. The climax is a wordless spread, so I did have an art note there and for the end spread.

Climax Art Note: (illo: wordless spread – MC falls in a colossal way. Family members taking notice. Older sibling taking photos.)

End Spread:

You now have a spot in the hall of fame album, along with the rest of them. (illo: MC is snuggling with a grandparent while looking at the family album. Album contains pictures of mishaps by family members from their youth.)

text copyright Darshana Khiani 2021, illustration copyright Joanne Lew-Vriethoff 2021, Versify

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

DARSHANA: Nope, I didn’t know you could get that. I saw the reviews once they were posted.

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

DARSHANA: Offer to book in hand, 3 years and 3 months.

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


DARSHANA: I believe most of it has been the usual of what they do for their front list books, in terms of promoting the list to their educator list and media outlets. I will say I did get an author spot at a recent ILA conference and a guest blog spot on an educational website through the publisher, so that was nice.

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

DARSHANA: My illustrator recently created some printable activity sheets and I am currently working with an outside marketing person to develop a library kit. I did setup a blog tour that spans two months, of which this interview is a part of. Another thing that I did was build my network of booksellers, librarians, and influencers. Since 2016 I had been publishing South Asian Kidlit lists containing the upcoming season’s books on my blog. In Summer 2019, I realized this information would be useful to book buyers for stores and libraries. I started a South Asian Kidlit Newsletter and began reaching out to booksellers and librarians. This way when it was time for my book to launch, I already had a small install base that would know about my book. Along those lines, I would encourage everyone whether you are published or not to think about what your strengths are and how you can help others. What kind of service can you provide? 

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

DARSHANA: Seven 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?)

DARSHANA: Try to find something about writing or the community that you can hold on to, such that it can keep you going through the hard times. My journey started 11 years ago and there were many ups and downs. What kept me going was the kidlit community. It was so different from the “work” environments I had been in and brought me such joy. I couldn’t imagine not having the kidlit community it in my life; it helped keep me going. Several years ago, I realized how much I had grown as a person through the conversations happening in the ether on diversity and inclusion, through learning about human behavior via Story Genius class and countless other topics just by following my curiosity. I don’t see how I could be the person I am today had it not been for my entering the writing world. I’m excited to think about how much I’ll grow as a person or what I’ll learn over the next ten years.

SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?

DARSHANA: Too early to tell, but fingers crossed that it does. 😊

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Darshana! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the best of luck with this and future titles!

Author Darshana Khiani

Darshana Khiani is a second-generation Indian American who grew up in rural Pennsylvania and now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and a furry pooch. She is an author, engineer, and a South Asian Kidlit Blogger. Her picture book debut HOW TO WEAR A SARI released in June 2021. When she isn’t working or writing she can be found hiking, solving jigsaw puzzles, or traveling. You can find her online at the following places:

Website: www.darshanakhiani.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/darshanakhiani
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darshanakhiani/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@darshanakhiani

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

You may purchase Darshana’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!

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Becky Scharnhorst!

Ladies and Gentleman!

Welcome to the greatest show on earth: TUESDAY DEBUT!

*cheers!*
*applause!*
*confetti!*

Today it is my pleasure to introduce the lovely and talented Becky Scharnhorst – mom, hiker, dog lover, ice cream enthusiast, Making Picture Book Magic graduate, friend of bears, and writer – and her fabulous debut picture book, MY SCHOOL STINKS! whose book birthday is TODAY!

My School Stinks!
Written by Becky Scharnhorst
Illustrated by Julia Patton
Published by Philomel Books
Date of Release July 6, 2021
Fiction
Ages 4-8

Not even deep breaths and happy thoughts can calm Stuart’s nerves after he finds himself in a new school with classmates who are REAL animals. Told through journal entries, this hilarious back-to-school story proves friends can come in all shapes, sizes, and species.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Becky! We are so thrilled to have your here with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

BECKY: As someone who has struggled with anxiety, I tend to catastrophize everything. Even though things rarely turn out to be as scary as I imagine, there are still times when it’s hard to calm my anxious thoughts. I wanted to address that in a humorous way. When I wrote this manuscript, I lived at a camp in the middle of a forest in Northeast Pennsylvania where wild animal sightings were a regular occurrence. Watching my children’s fear over backyard bear sightings turn into excitement was what inspired me to plop Stuart into a classroom full of wild animals.

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

BECKY: The short answer is it took me 6 weeks to write this version, but the idea started in 2016 when I wrote a rough draft of a manuscript for an upcoming workshop at the Highlights Foundation. It also was a story about a young boy who ended up at a school for wild animals, but nothing else was the same. The first night of the workshop, the leaders challenged us to rewrite the beginning of our story with a different format, setting, or POV. I changed the setting from a school to a camp and I wrote it in letters home rather than 3rd POV. I loved the change so much that when I went back to my room later, I rewrote the entire thing! For the next two years, this manuscript was a camp story. After I met my editor Cheryl Eissing through the Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference, it went through a couple rounds of revisions before she took it to her team at Philomel in July of 2018. They loved it but thought the camp setting was too niche, so they asked me to change it to a school setting! My School Stinks is nothing like the original school story, and in fact, more closely resembles the camp manuscript.

Becky’s writing space (her favorite for summer time)

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

BECKY: Again, it’s complicated! I think I have over 70 versions of the camp story on my computer, which is the story that got the attention of my editor and helped land me my agent. But My School Stinks only went through a handful of revisions. So, it depends on how you look at it. I believe the only reason I was able to write My School Stinks so quickly is because I spent two years with these characters in a camp setting.

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

BECKY: To be honest, I had a hard time knowing when this manuscript was ready to send back to my editor. After two years of working on it, I was attached to the camp version which made it difficult to be objective. I relied solely on my critique partners to tell me when it was ready. In fact, I didn’t even show my agent after I signed with him. It had been a few months, so I assumed Cheryl was no longer interested. It wasn’t until Cheryl reached out with a few edits that I finally showed James. He called immediately to tell me he loved it, so I read it again for the first time in months. It was only then I realized I liked it just as much as the camp version.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

BECKY: I did not submit this manuscript to anyone except Cheryl, and I did not have an agent when I sent it to her. She had specifically requested the rewrite, so this manuscript was an exclusive submission to her. By the time she made the offer, I did have an agent which was great because he was able to handle the contract negotiations.  

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

BECKY: I had just run into the grocery store to buy some cheese, but the kids wanted to wait in the car. When I returned, they said I had gotten a couple calls from New York, but they accidentally hung up on whoever had called! I suspected it might have been my agent, so I checked my email. Sure enough, there was a message from James saying he had tried to call. I apologized for the chaos, and he called back right away to share the good news.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

BECKY: By the time James called back, we had pulled into the parking lot of a local custard place. After all the screaming, jumping, and hugging, we celebrated with giant bowls of custard.

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

BECKY: I was happy to have an agent by the time Cheryl made her offer because I didn’t know what to expect in terms of an advance, royalties, or author copies. I do think Cheryl’s offer was in line with typical offers for debut authors from bigger publishing houses, and I was happy with what my agent negotiated for me. I was especially excited to get 30 author copies!

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

BECKY: By the time Cheryl made the offer, we had already gone through one round of revisions on the school version so there were barely any changes after that. Cheryl had a great vision for this story and almost every one of her ideas resonated with me. I’m extremely grateful to have her as my editor because I feel like she understands what I’m trying to do, and her suggestions always make my writing better.

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

BECKY: I was lucky enough to be involved from the very beginning. Cheryl recommended a few illustrators, and I was thrilled when Julia Patton signed on. I absolutely adore her work! Cheryl shared the cover, sketches, and final art at different points in the process and always asked for feedback. However, my reply emails were usually just filled with joyous interjections and far too many exclamation points.

text copyright Becky Scharnhorst 2021, illustration copyright Julia Patton 2021, Philomel

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

BECKY: My editor shared reviews from Kirkus and Booklist with me, and I was happy to see both were positive.

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

BECKY: It took about 27 months. I think 2 years is typical, but because My School Stinks is a school story, they wanted it to come out in the summer which made the wait a little longer.

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

BECKY: My publisher sent pitches for My School Stinks to national and regional media, as well as major trade publications including Kirkus and Booklist.

Becky’s backyard bear sighting. . . inspiration for the next picture book? 😊

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

BECKY: One of the most fun and helpful things I’ve done is to join a promo group called Picture Book Playground. We help promote each other’s books on social media, write reviews, and do library requests. In addition to sharing news about My School Stinks on Twitter and Instagram, I set up a few guest blog posts, and I ordered bookmarks and notebooks to be used for giveaways and pre-orders. I also planned an in-person book launch event at Lion’s Mouth Bookstore in Green Bay, and I’m doing a couple library events for our Summer Reading Program. Finally, I plan on adding some teacher and parent resources to my website by the end of summer.

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

BECKY: I think I wrote my first manuscript in 2014, but I didn’t get serious about writing until after I attended the Highlight’s Workshop in 2016. I got my first offer in February of 2019, so about 5 years total.

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?)

BECKY: I think one of the most important things this story taught me is to not be afraid to try something new. I did not find the voice for this manuscript until I rewrote it as a camp story. Even though it didn’t end up as a camp story, the process of rewriting it taught me a lot about my characters. Also, find an awesome critique group!  It’s nearly impossible to be objective about your own writing, especially when you’ve been working on something for a long time. Fresh eyes are critical to the writing process.

SUSANNA: If your book has been out for at least one statement cycle, has it earned out yet?)

BECKY: My book comes out today, so it hasn’t earned out quite yet. But wouldn’t it be great if it did?

SUSANNA: That would be awesome! We’ll all do what we can to keep those copies flying off the shelves! 😊 Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series, Becky, and for paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate your time and expertise and wish you all the best of luck with this and future titles!

Author Becky Scharnhorst

Website: https://beckyscharnhorst.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/beckyscharn

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beckyscharn/

Becky grew up in Northeast Wisconsin and spent most of her childhood playing in lakes and reading books. Shortly after receiving a BA from Luther College, Becky spent a year working as a children’s bookseller at Barnes & Noble. She soon discovered she enjoyed reading picture books more than anything else. Much, much more.

Now Becky spends her days writing children’s books and working at her local library. Her debut picture book My School Stinks will be published by Philomel Books in 2021, followed by This Field Trip Stinks (2022) and How to Get Your Octopus to School (2023). When she’s not reading or writing, Becky can be found hiking through the woods with her dogs, losing a game of monopoly to her kids, or biking to the local ice cream shop. She currently lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband, two kids, and a few too many pets.

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

You may purchase Becky’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Ashley Belote!

Good morning, everyone!

Why is it I feel as though we just talked?

Oh! I know! It’s because it took me so long to get the Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge finished up that I posted it at 11 PM last night and now here we are on Tuesday Debut scant hours later! 🙃

(If you missed the prize giving, check HERE because I know this post will bump the last Mix ‘n’ Match post for top of the blog!)

But now, get comfy because you are in for SUCH a treat! Today’s Tuesday Debut-ess, Ashley Belote, is an illustrator, and she’s going to show us her process so that those of us who always look at picture books from the writing side of the desk can better understand how our work gets illustrated, and those of us who are also illustrators can learn a whole lot!

FRANKENLSIME
Written by Joy Keller
Illustrated by Ashley Belote
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan)
Release date: 7/13/21
Fiction
Ages 4-8

A young slime scientist is surprised when her latest creation comes to life in Frankenslime, a funny and clever picture book twist on Frankenstein.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Ashley! We are so thrilled to have you here today to share your journey to publication as an illustrator! We don’t get to hear the artist’s perspective very often, so this is really special! What was it about Joy’s book that made you want to illustrate it?

ASHLEY: When I first read FRANKENSLIME, I was instantly inspired! Joy does a great job setting up scenes and creating exciting page turns. I find those aspects appealing in terms of illustration because there is room for me to bring in some surprises and explore the world beyond the text. In order to generate ideas, I got to know the characters. Victoria Franken is the main character, and she is accompanied by her sidekick, Igor the dog. Victoria loves to experiment in her slime lab and isn’t afraid of failing. She has big ideas and explores her imagination. I put myself in her shoes and thought about what my ideal slime lab would look like. When I was a kid, I taped drawings and notes all over the walls because I wanted it to look like an office space. I felt like Victoria would do the same thing! Igor is the comic relief, so I made sure to make him the butt of several visual jokes. Thankfully, he’s a good sport 😄.

SUSANNA: As an illustrator, how do you go about taking someone else’s words and turning them into art for the book?

ASHLEY: It is so much fun to take the words from someone else and bring them to life visually. When developing characters and the world around them, I like to sketch out all kinds of ideas and decide what I like and dislike about all my options. I’ll take the aspects I like and keep working from those ideas until I have something that I am completely satisfied with.  I have a background in 2D animation under the direction of Don Bluth through his animation university and one aspect I learned from him is that the character development process is based on appeal. We were taught that every frame of a character needed to be an appealing drawing. If a single drawing is not cute, on model, or appealing, the entire sequence can be thrown off. Illustration is the same way. Appeal is even more important in books because those images are stationary. With Igor, I went through several trial-and-error designs as shown below.

IMAGE A (sketches of Igor)
IMAGE B (color spot illustrations of final Igor)

In terms of Victoria’s world, it needed to be somewhat realistic and then somewhat imagined. Joy writes in a way that lends itself well to illustration. She left room for me to bring ideas into the artwork by providing just enough information about the space in the text. Victoria’s attic lab was one of my favorite places to design. I wanted her to have a space that was recognizable as an attic, but I wanted it to contain imaged elements as seen in the scene below that depicts her experiments with rainbow cloud slime, intergalactic space slime, and glow in the dark zombie slime.

IMAGE C (pgs10-11, spread from book)

I love blurring the line between real and imaginary. I mean, this is a picture book, it needs to be fun!

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write/illustrate this book? Did you go through many revisions?

ASHLEY: From start to finish, the illustration process took several months. I went through three rounds of sketch revisions and then a few rounds with color samples. I learned SO much during the revision process. My art director, Mallory Grigg, was fantastic to work with. She shared notes with me in a way that let me know what I needed to change with the freedom to experiment. Her exact words when speaking about the color palette were, “think candy store colors.” I loved that!

When I start sketches, they are extremely rough. Below is the sequence of sketches I used when working on one of my favorite spreads from the book.

The initial idea began like this:

IMAGE D (rough sketch of 12-13 A)

I work in Procreate and using layers is a key element in my process. I took the opacity of the above image down, created a new layer on top of it, and began fine tuning the concept. Here is the revision:

IMAGE E (refined sketch of 12-13 B)

Then, during my rounds of sketch revisions, I made a few more adjustments to leave room for the text (that’s very important!) and ended up with the final version here:

IMAGE F (final sketch of 12-13 C)


Once that was approved, I added color to bring it to life! Ta-da!

IMAGE G (color spread of 12-13)

This entire process served as an amazing learning experience. I cannot stress enough the importance of listening to your art director. They are there to guide you, and their direction will make your art better. The editor, Holly West, had a great overall vision for the project and I am extremely grateful for the experience as a whole.

SUSANNA: How did you go about getting chosen to illustrate? When and how did you submit? When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

ASHLEY: I got this project though SCBWI! I have been a member of SCBWI since 2016. I love this organization for so many reasons. I enjoy the conferences and webinars and have served as the Illustrator Coordinator for the Carolinas region since March 2020. In 2019, I attended our Carolinas regional conference and had a portfolio review with Mallory Grigg, an art director at Macmillan. I also signed up for an intensive she was teaching. During that seminar, she mentioned that she hires illustrators via Twitter and often tweets calls for illustrators. She then told us that she had recently tweeted about needing an illustrator who could draw anthropomorphic slime. I thought that sounded like so much fun! Once the conference ended, I decided to go for it and created a sample. I replied to her tweet with the image and ended up receiving an email about the project afterwards. I have never been so excited in my entire life. I was working at a book festival when I got the email so everyone in the Charleston, WV Civic Center probably heard me scream, haha.

Here was my sample!

IMAGE H: (FS sample)

I was also signed by my amazing agent, Moe Ferrara from BookEnds Literary agency, as a result of this deal.


I celebrated the signing of my contract with ice cream!!! I LOVE ice cream, especially cookies and cream, so this warranted a tub of my favorite, haha.

SUSANNA: How do you, as an illustrator, feel about art notes?

ASHLEY: Personally, I don’t mind art notes. There were only a couple in the manuscript for FRANKENSLIME, and they were important for me to know. I think art notes are fine when they contain information that affects the progression of the story or include important details that can’t be inferred from the text.

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

ASHLEY: I just saw a review from Booklist! My first review ever! It’s a little surreal seeing reviews out in the world, it’s so exciting!

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

ASHLEY: I am a member of an amazing picture book debut group called Picture Book Playground. We have been working together for over a year and have become fast friends in this fun industry. We do cover reveals, book videos, and celebrate the good news from the group.

I’m very active on Twitter and Instagram, sharing process pictures, news, and sketches. I currently have a few virtual events set up as well as some in person signings. I just started an event page on my website: https://www.ashleybelote.com/. I am so excited to share this book with kids! I taught art classes at an art center for a while so I’m really looking forward to getting in front of some classrooms and showing them how to draw the characters from the story. I love doing illustration demos and interacting with budding writers and illustrators! If anyone would like me to come and speak with their class, let me know!

I am also doing a virtual book launch hosted by SCBWI Carolinas on July 22nd at 7 p.m. via Zoom! If you would like to join, here is the link to sign-up!

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0D4DAFA728A4F8C43-july

The more the merrier!

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

ASHLEY: I have been drawing since I was 2 years old, so I’ve been working towards this goal since then, haha. I have spent years in school and studying the industry to learn my craft. One of the best experiences I had was attending the Simmons College class, The Whole Book Approach, instructed by Megan Dowd Lambert at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art back in 2013. That class was really the first time I realized this could be a career and I have been working towards this point ever since.

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 artists?)

ASHLEY: I can’t even begin to share all that I’ve learned. One of the most important lessons I can share is the importance of community. This community can be comprised of critique groups, promotional/debut groups, or even personal friends/family. I have never felt more supported than I have these past few months and I’m so grateful for all those who have been sharing this journey with me.

As for advice for up-and-coming artists, keep drawing! This dream is possible and the best way to achieve it is by practicing your craft. You must be passionate about this because its long hours of trial and error. It’s important to stop second guessing yourself, let those feelings go and find comfort in your style because there is not one single person out there who can draw what you draw or imagine what you can imagine. You have something special that only you can present, and the world needs to see it!

illustrator Ashley Belote

Website: https://www.ashleybelote.com/
Instagram: @AshleyBeloteIllustration
Twitter: @AshleyBelote1

Thank you so much for having me on the blog! This whole process has been a dream come true and I’m so grateful for the community that supports kidlit creators.

Cheers, friends!

Ashley

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Ashley! We so appreciate your time and expertise and everything you gave us the opportunity to learn! And we all wish you the best with this and future titles!

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

You may purchase Ashley’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

2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge – The End!

We made it, my friends!

7 weeks of writing – check! √√√

And we are going to CELEBRATE!

Dance along with the animal marching band!

Illustration by Dana Atnip 2013, used with permission, all rights reserved

Help yourself to some ice cream. . .

text copyright Susanna Leonard Hill, 2017, illustration copyright Daniel Wiseman 2017, Little Simon

. . . and ask bunny for a balloon – you know you want one! 😊

Now that you are dancing with a balloon while eating ice cream, let’s talk about how amazing you are! 😊 For starters, you are extraordinarily coordinated! 😊

But let’s look at the stats, shall we?

7 weeks of writing!

74 writers who participated in at least one week!

47 writers who completed the whole 7 Week Challenge!

4 writers who wrote 1 or more extra entries – 1 who wrote 5 extras!

some number I didn’t have time to count of writers who participated last year and this year (I’ll have to add that in…!)

394 stories written altogether!

And more than 2200 comments you left for each other to support, encourage, admire, and cheer each other’s efforts!

I mean, that is something to be proud of! You guys all did a fantastic job, writing so many wonderful, entertaining, creative stories filled with humor, heart, cleverness, rhyme, nonfiction elements, and unexpected surprises while simultaneously supporting each other! Way to go!

When any of these stories turn into published picture books, I wish to be informed! 😊

So now it’s time for my favorite thing! Handing out prizes!

Since 47 people completed the challenge and I didn’t have that many prizes, I got creative so everyone who qualified could get a prize.  Of course, you have all already gotten a prize just by writing all these new stories, getting your creativity flowing, getting to read everyone else’s work, and getting to tell people how much you loved their stories while hearing how much they loved yours!  I hope a whole pile of new books will come out of this little fun fest 😊

I put all your names in one hat, and all the prizes in another, and randomly drew a name and a prize to go with it until I ran out.  The prizes are all listed below so you can see them in all their glory and appreciate the talented and generous people who offered them. And then the names of the winners and the prize they won are listed at the bottom. I’m hoping it will be clearer this way then it was last year!

Scroll along and look for your name to see what you won, and then email me using the handy contact form on my website (or my email address if you know it) subject line Prize and I’ll get everything sorted out with the mailing and getting in touch with critiquers and etc and whatnot!

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 gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, suggesting them for school visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

⭐️ Picture Book Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, the lovely and talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

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⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

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⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

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Jen Raudenbush

⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from the lovely and talented Sara Kruger!

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Sara Kruger

⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

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⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

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⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

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⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

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⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner


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⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month) (x 3)

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⭐️WHAT’S THE STORY CARDS created by yours truly 😊 Inspiration for writers to download and print. The ultimate mix ‘n’ match. You’ll never be stuck for an idea again! (x 13)

⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

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⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

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⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

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⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

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⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

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⭐️A copy of PHOEBE DUPREE IS COMING TO TEA! by Linda Ashman

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⭐️A copy of THE LITTLE KITTEN by Nicola Killen

⭐️ A personalized signed copy of MOON’S FIRST FRIENDS by yours truly

⭐️ A personalized signed copy of MARS’ FIRST FRIENDS by yours truly

⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness (x 3)

Magnetic Poetry - Little Box of Happiness Kit - Words for Refrigerator - Write Poems and Letters on The Fridge - Made in The USA

⭐️Picture Book Writers Rock! Mug for the writing fuel of your choice! 😊 (x 3)

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⭐️Writing Journal (with a side of prompts 😊) (x 6)

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  1. Katie Schwartz – What’s The Story Cards
  2. Bru Benson – Making Picture Book Magic Self Study
  3. Allison Strick – What’s The Story Cards
  4. Jill Lambert – Making Picture Book Magic Self Study
  5. Barbara Farr Renner – What’s The Story Cards
  6. Rose Cappelli – BINDU’S BINDIS
  7. Lauri Meyers – Making Picture Book Magic Self Study
  8. Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf – WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT
  9. Ashley Sierra – Zoom Chat with Becky Scharnhorst
  10. Susan E. Schipper – Writing Journal with Prompts
  11. Dawn Young – What’s The Story Cards
  12. Colleen Owen Murphy – SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (personalized and signed)
  13. Amy Leskowski – Picture Book Writers Rock Mug
  14. Sarah Meade – SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE
  15. Sue Lancaster – Writing Journal with Prompts
  16. Dianne Irving – Writing Journal with Prompts
  17. Deb Buschman – Picture Book Writers Rock Mug
  18. Elenore Byrne – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Jen Raudenbush
  19. Padgy Soltis – Picture Book Manuscript Critique and Audio Recording from Sarah Meade
  20. Erika Romero – What’s The Story Cards
  21. Robin Currie – MOON’S FIRST FRIENDS (personalized and signed)
  22. Brenna Jeanneret – How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro Webinar
  23. Michelle S. Kennedy – What’s The Story Cards
  24. Nicole Loos Miller – THE LITTLE KITTEN
  25. Marty Bellis – Picture Book Writers Rock Mug
  26. Susan Summers – Writing Journal with Prompts
  27. Sally Yorke-Viney – Magnetic Poetry Little Box of Happiness
  28. Marta Cutler – What’s The Story Cards
  29. JC Kelly – What’s The Story Cards
  30. Sarah Hawklyn – What’s The Story Cards
  31. Ashley B. Pedigo – Magnetic Poetry Little Box of Happiness
  32. Lyn Jekowsky – A FLOOD OF KINDNESS
  33. Jen Subra – Magnetic Poetry Little Box of Happiness
  34. Laura Bower – What’s The Story Cards
  35. Sara Kruger – Writing Journal with Prompts
  36. Bevin Rolfs Spencer – Picture Book Manuscript Critique OR Query Letter Critique from Jenny Buchet
  37. Isabel Cruz Rodriguez – THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT
  38. Lauren Scott – What’s The Story Cards
  39. Linda Schueler – Writing Journal with Prompts
  40. Hannah Roy LaGrone – Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Penny Klostermann
  41. Aly Kenna – PHOEBE DUPREE IS COMING TO TEA!
  42. Marty Findley – Picture Book Manuscript Critique OR Query Letter Critique from Sara Kruger
  43. Mia Geiger – MARS’ FIRST FRIENDS (personalized and signed)
  44. Jeannette Suhr – 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann
  45. Joyce Uglow – MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD
  46. Erin Cleary – What’s The Story Cards
  47. Deb Sullivan – What’s The Story Cards

Please be a little patient – it’s going to take me awhile to sort out 47 prizes but I will do it as quickly as I can! 😊 And if anyone thinks I screwed up (entirely possibly given the juggling act life is right now 😊) please let me know!!!

I hope you all had as much fun with the Mix ‘n’ Match as I did!

And although I hope to see you here for Tuesday Debuts through August 3, things will quiet down here on the blog for July and August, so have a wonderful, happy, healthy, writing-filled summer everyone!!! 💕

Hang On. . .!

Hi Amazing Mix ‘n’ Matchers!

I know I promised prizes today, and I will get them done!

But it will not be in time for the morning post.

Sorry about that!

Too much to do, lately!

I will do my best to get them posted as early as possible, but probably can’t get back to work on the prize distribution until after 2 PM, so. . . .

. . . have some lemon bars. . .

. . . and some fresh raspberries. . .

to tide you over until I get back with the goods!

See you with prize news ASAP!!!

(and thank you for your patience!)

2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #7!

Can you believe it?

We’ve arrived at Week #7!

The last week of the 2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge!

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini is a 7 week writing challenge for anyone who needs a little boost, a little inspiration, or a little encouragement to get writing. . . or maybe just a little fun!

You get to write your own story, enjoy and be entertained by everyone else’s stories, and get yourself in the running for some awesome prizes (please see the end of the blog post for a list of all the prize goodies which continues to grow!)

To be eligible for the prize drawing you must enter all 7 weeks.

For a full description of the challenge, to read the Week #1 entries, or to add your Week #1 entry, please go HERE (Week #1)

To read the Week #2 entries or add your Week #2 entry, please go HERE (Week #2)

To read the Week #3 entries or add your Week #3 entry, please go HERE (Week #3)

To read the Week #4 entries or add your Week #4 entry, please go HERE (Week #4)

To read the Week #5 entries or add your Week #5 entry, please go HERE (Week #5)

To read the Week #6 entries of add your Week #6 entry, please go HERE (Week #6)

Before we get to today’s challenge, one little housekeeping detail:

If you want to qualify for the prize drawing, you must have completed an entry for each of the 7 weeks and posted them on the appropriate week’s post by Saturday June 26th at midnight Eastern time in order to qualify, so that I can post the winners on Monday June 28th! So take note of that deadline – all 7 completed and posted by Saturday June 26th at midnight!

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #7 for Week of June 21:

So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, writing a cumulative story, a picture prompt with random words and a secret, turning songs into stories with themes, concept stories in particular settings, and relationships and emotions between characters! 😊 This week, since it’s the last week, it seems fitting that we do something with endings.

But not just anything. . . 😊

Endings do not exist in a vacuum. In order for endings to feel satisfying – make readers, laugh, cry, gasp with amazed delight, or sigh with satisfaction – the ending must feel connected to the beginning.

So. This week, choose a beginning from Column A and an ending from Column B and write a 100 word story for kids that fits between them using a tidbit of onomatopoeia from Column C if you want to (just for fun 😊).

Column A – BeginningsColumn B – EndingsColumn C – Onomatopoeia (optional)
Once upon a time…And that is why she/he tucked it very carefully into her/his pocket.splish, splash, sploosh
When [Character Name] woke up, a thunderstorm was brewing.  “OH, NO!” (or, “HURRAY!”)Then he/she snuggled close and whispered with a smile, “I love you more than marshmallows.”kackata-kack-krack-POP!
It all began when the mermaid’s tail got caught on the handle of [Character Name]’s umbrella.Never let an alligator get in the way of your plans!plink-plank-plunk
She/he wasn’t always a bad piggy.So he/she/they rushed back out of the woods shout-singing Ain’t No Bugs On Us until he/she/they was/were really, truly, sure it was true!slurrrp
There was a sloth who lived all alone.[Character Name] knew summer was here at last!buzzz bzzz-bzzz
[Character Name] was all ready for the beach!Aunt Ruby was right.  It had been a better day!splop
We’re finally on our way! We’re having the best time ever! Until…Inch by inch, step by step, they made it all the way to the tippy top.chirp
Holly, Molly, Ollie, Wally, and Little Boo packed a picnic and set out in search of adventure.And so he/she/they did.bee-beep
On the Fourth of July, Max went into hiding.And they lived happily ever after.murmur
[Character Name] had a problem with watermelon.Shushshush, the waves whispered. Shushshush.hissss

  • Stories can rhyme or not – totally up to you.
  • You can go under or over 100 words if you want to – also totally up to you! – 100 is just a guideline.
  • If you’re deeply inspired by a beginning or ending or some onomatopoeia that isn’t here, go for it! – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing! Please just tell us what you’re using at the top of your entry.
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which column items you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, title, and word count.
  • I have been so enjoying reading all your amazing stories every week – so many different, creative, delightful, entertaining stories! – that I’m sad this is the last hurrah for this year!

    So come join the fun! Get some writing done! Encourage your kids (or students) to give it a try! Or just have a good time together reading what other folks have written!

    Ready, set, WRITE! 😊

    (And remember, for full details on the 7 week challenge you can check HERE)

    Check Out The Week #7 Stories:

    Beach Baby – Bru Benson

    The Worm’s Halloween Adventure – Marty Findley

    Perfect Piggy – Robin Currie

    Watermelon Woes – Rose Cappelli

    Beach Bound – Sue Lancaster

    The Unexpected Ride – Dawn Young

    Sloth Finds A Friend – Jen Subra

    The Fairy And The Thunderstorm – Erin Cleary

    Will Summer Begin? – Erika Romero

    Max And The Fireworks – Sara Kruger

    Melodia’s “Mis” Adventure – Susan E. Schipper

    Untitled – Lauren Scott

    Max And The Alligator – Marta Cutler

    Duck’s Creek – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Sam’s Trouble With Watermelon – Lyn Jekowsky

    Game, Game, Go Away! – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    Watermelon Delight – Jeannette Suhr

    The Fear Of Fireworks – Amy Leskowski

    Merchant Pips – Elenore Byrne

    The Very Slow Sloth – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    Sloth And The sUAS (Small Unmanned Aircraft System) – Laura Bower

    Why Piggies Have Curly Tails – Jill Lambert

    Dorothy’s Umbrella – Brenna Jeanneret

    Beach Adventure – Ashley Sierra

    Sloth And Bee – Linda Schueler

    Maddy Wants More, More, More – Sarah Meade

    Climbing Up – Marty Findley

    This Little Piggy – Marty Bellis

    Sloth And The Bees In The Tree – Barbara Renner

    Munch Goes The Pirate – Aly Kenna

    Marianna And The Mermaid – Sally Yorke-Viney

    Undersea Soiree – Nicole Loos Miller

    Ella’s Wild Ride – Michelle S. Kennedy

    A S’more By The Fire – Allison Strick

    The Ant Raid – Deb Sullivan

    A Wagonful Of Trouble – Susan Summers

    A Nap And A Watermelon Field – Jana Mattern

    Rules For A Pig-Perfect Life – Joyce Uglow

    Wanted: ESPR – Colleen Own Murphy

    Not So Bad After All – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    Watermelon Problem – Mia Geiger

    A. Sloth Or Not A. Sloth – Katie Schwartz

    Saltwater Kisses – JC Kelly

    Where There’s A Skate There’s A Way – Sarah Hawklyn

    The Prince And His Alligator – Deb Buschman

    The Lonely Sloth – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Tilly’s Mermaid – Dianne Irving

    Untitled – Padgy Soltis

    PRIZES & PRIZES OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES!

    When it comes time for prizes, names of all those who complete the challenge will be drawn randomly and matched with prizes drawn randomly until we run out! 😊

    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 gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazone, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, suggesting them for school visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

    ⭐️ Picture Book Critique from Penny Parker Klostermann, the lovely and talented author of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House 2015) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (Random House 2017)

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    ⭐️ 30 Minute Q&A with Penny Klostermann

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from Jennifer Buchet, debut author of LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork/Spork May 11, 2021)

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    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique from Jen Raudenbush, agented writer of picture books, middle grade, and poetry. (Represented by Natascha Morris of The Tobias Literary Agency)

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    Jen Raudenbush

    ⭐️ Picture Book MS Critique OR Query Letter Critique (Winner’s Choice) from the lovely and talented Sara Kruger!

    Sara Kruger

    ⭐️ 30 minute Zoom chat about anything industry related (manuscript, query letter, best practices for querying) with Becky Scharnhorst, amazing author of MY SCHOOL STINKS (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

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    ⭐️Picture Book Manuscript Critique with Audio Recording by author and poet Sarah Meade Sarah will do a written critique of your manuscript and include an audio recording of her first read-through of the manuscript. The audio recording is to help the author hear how the story flows and/or where a new reader may stumble when reading aloud.

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    ⭐️ Webinar: How To Write Powerful First Pages Like A Pro by author and editor Alayne Kay Christian

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    ⭐️ A copy of Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Writers, donated by Nicole Loos Miller

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    ⭐️ A personalized signed copy of SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 2021) by Candice Marley Conner
    

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    ⭐️ Making Picture Book Magic Self Study Class (any month)

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    ⭐️A copy of A FLOOD OF KINDNESS by Ellen Leventhal

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    ⭐️A copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe by Vivian Kirkfield

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    ⭐️A copy of THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT by Penny Parker Klostermann

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    ⭐️A copy of SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE by Cathy Ballou Mealey

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    ⭐️A copy of BINDU’S BINDIS by Supriya Kelkar

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    ⭐️A copy of PHOEBE DUPREE IS COMING TO TEA! by Linda Ashman

    ⭐️ Magnetic Poetry – Little Box of Happiness

    Magnetic Poetry - Little Box of Happiness Kit - Words for Refrigerator - Write Poems and Letters on The Fridge - Made in The USA

    ⭐️Picture Book Writers Rock! Mug for the writing fuel of your choice! 😊

    ⭐️Writing Journal (with a side of prompts 😊)

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    Perfect Picture Book Friday – Phoebe Dupree Is Coming To Tea!

    This is it, darlings!

    The last Perfect Picture Book Friday for the summer!

    (except for maybe one or two I might do randomly in July 😊)

    So what’s better for a summer read then learning how to host the perfect tea party?

    Title: Phoebe Dupree Is Coming To Tea!

    Written By: Linda Ashman

    Illustrated By: Alea Marley

    Publisher: Candlewick, June 1, 2021, fiction

    Suitable For Ages: 3-7

    Themes/Topics: making the best of things, friendship

    Opening:
    “Have you met Phoebe – Miss Phoebe Dupree?
    Phoebe’s as perfect as perfect can be.

    Phoebe is speedy.
    Phoebe is smart.
    She’s equally brilliant at science and art.

    She sings like a bird (she’s never off-key),

    And Phoebe Dupree is coming to tea!”

    text copyright Linda Ashman 2021, illustration copyright Alea Marley 2021, Candlewick

    Brief Synopsis: Abby wants her tea party to be as perfect as the guest of honor, but things don’t go quite the way she planned!

    Links To Resources: Host your own tea party! Decide on a day and time, make and deliver invitations, dress up, decorate for the party, prepare food and beverages, serve the “tea”, and enjoy!

    text copyright Linda Ashman 2021, illustration copyright Alea Marley 2021, Candlewick

    Why I Like This Book: This story is charming from start to finish! Abby is so earnest in her desire to put on the perfect tea party for Phoebe, so anxious to do things just right. She plans every detail and it all starts so well! But then one thing leads to another (as often happens in life! 😊) and suddenly her perfect tea party is in chaos. Things have a way of working out if you’re willing to go with the flow, though, so it all turns out unexpectedly well. The art is adorable and just right for the story. The rhyme is signature Linda Ashman – flawless to read aloud. An all-around fun book that young readers will really enjoy (and that grown-ups won’t mind reading a million times 😊)

    text copyright Linda Ashman 2021, illustration copyright Alea Marley 2021, Candlewick

    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 – A Pocketful Of Pitch Winners!

    Good Wednesday, my little chickadees!

    Today is a celebrating kind of day!

    For the second week in a row, no new pitch, but instead a plethora of pitch winners (and plenty of chocolate!) 😊

    Since we’re celebrating, let’s START with Something Chocolate! Never mind leaving it for half way through! Fie on that, I say! How about some Brownie Pudding?

    Brownie Pudding

    Recipe HERE at i am baker

    Sounds like a delicious and nutritious breakfast to me, how about you??? 😊

    Now, then!

    Sound the trumpets!

    Scatter the confetti!!

    Bang on the drums!!!

    Have some more Brownie Pudding!!!!

    Because it’s time to announce the Pitch Pick Winners from February, March, April, and May!

    For Late February/Early March the winner is. . . ROBIN with her pitch for But When She Opens The Door…!

    Woohoo!

    For Late March the winner is DIANA with her pitch for Wait For Cate !

    Stamp your feet!

    For April the winner is ANGELA and her pitch for Buddy And The Blue Crew!

    Clap your hands!

    And for May the winner is PATRICIA and her pitch for Ty’s Treasures!

    Woohoo and stamp and clap all at the same time!!!

    Congratulations Robin, Diana, Angela, and Patricia on your stellar pitching! Your pitches have been sent to editor Erin Molta for her thoughts and comments and I’m sure she’ll respond as soon as she is able!

    Congratulations also to all our other pitchers! You all did a great job writing and revising your pitches, and you were brave to share your work for evaluation from your peers and so that we could all learn!

    Thanks so much to all the talented, generous readers who take the time to read and comment on the pitches and help our pitchers out! And thanks to all of you for reading and voting!

    I hope all of you feel that you ended up with stronger pitches than you started with!

    Since I don’t currently have anyone else signed up for Would You Read It and I need a summer blog break to attend to some other things, this will be our last WYRI post until September. But we’ll be back! If you’d like to reserve a space in the fall, sign up any time! 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.  The fall is wide open, so get your space now for helpful feedback on your pitch and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

    Meanwhile, let’s just have s’more chocolate!

    Frozen S’Mores

    See what I did there? 😉 😆

    Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! 😊