Tuesday Debut – Presenting Candice Marley Conner!

Nothing is better than a good Tuesday Debut except. . .when you get to announce the winner of a PB MS critique offered by the last Tuesday Debut!

The randomly chosen lucky winner of a PB MS critique from Christine Van Zandt is MDK45!

MDK45, come on down! (You’ll have to contact me, I think because I don’t have contact info for you! 😊)

Now! Onto today’s Tuesday Debut where we get to meet the lovely and talented Candice Marley Conner, hear about her journey, even get to see some of the original notes she wrote in her journal which were the first seeds of her debut picture book, SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL! (How can you not love a squirrel named Sassafras?!)

Ready?

Let’s go!

SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL
written by Candice Marley Conner
Illustrated by Heath Gray
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing
June 8, 2021
fiction, 4-8

With her scraggly, bristly tail, Sassafras is teased right off her tree branch. But when danger strikes, what makes her different might just help her save the day.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Candice! Thank you so much for joining us today! We are excited to hear all about how SASSAFRAS came to be! Where did the idea for this book come from?

CANDICE: The idea for this book came from a stroller-ride and a neighborhood squirrel. My one-year-old (now ten) was teething, I was writing my first young adult novel, and we both desperately needed to get out of the house. I’ve learned that anytime I hit a writing block, or my kiddos start whining, that fresh air is best at fixing what ails us. On our walk, we saw a squirrel in a neighbor’s yard that had the scrawniest, stubbiest tail I had ever seen. Immediately, the brainstorms began: squirrels use their long tails for balance, so could this one leap from limb to limb? Squirrel tails signal danger, etc, so did this one have a hard time communicating? And on the other side of the coin, what advantages could this squirrel have by being different? By the time we returned home, Sassafras’s story was ready to be put down on paper.

Candice’s work buddies – her son playing with the squirrels
in the square across from their local independent bookstore,
The Haunted Bookshop

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

CANDICE: The initial draft wrote itself in my head, then all I had to do was get it written down in my journal before the idea-spark disappeared. The problem I ran into was that I’d never written a picture book manuscript before. I was writing YA and had written poetry, short stories, and what I thought was middle grade (spoiler: it was not, lol) in college. I had a LOT to learn about concise writing and page turns and everything that makes picture books re-readable. Even character names! Initial drafts had cutesy alliterative names like Sam and Sally for the side character squirrels, though those quickly changed when I realized my kiddo audience would expect better 😊 (disclaimer: alliteration is my fave).

Candice’s writing journal showing original notes for SASSAFRAS! Wow! How cool is that?

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CANDICE: The main idea stayed the same but it went through a lot of tightening. I love alliteration and word play so every picture book I read to my daughter showed me how to do this by example. Then I learned about making book dummies through SCBWI and that helped me with tension and page turns.

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

CANDICE: I did make the mistake of submitting too early before I learned everything I needed to. Such as show versus tell. Children’s author, Ariel Bernstein, offered a picture book manuscript review to pre-published authors on twitter, and while I didn’t win, she graciously gave me great tips on how to show and cut the tell. So I kinda did win in that regard since my next query resulted in a yes 😊

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CANDICE: I submitted directly to publishing houses and received form rejections. Probably because I hadn’t learned everything I needed to yet. I didn’t have the writing community I do now and that makes such a difference. In the meantime, I had finished the YA mentioned earlier and signed that with an agent. She mainly represents YA and adult so when I stumbled across MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing on Facebook and connected with one of their authors who had a great experience with them, I asked her if I could submit and she gave me the go-ahead to query.

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

CANDICE: MCP is a small publishing house so it didn’t go to acquisitions. I submitted my manuscript and cover letter August 3rd, 2017 and by that afternoon the editor responded to make sure I knew it was royalty-based.

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

CANDICE: Yes, it was an email about three weeks later which I was grateful for as phone calls make me nervous, haha! (< that was nervous laughter just thinking about a phone call)

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

CANDICE: She sent the offer a couple days before the contract. I have awesome critique partners who were already published so they helped me look over the contract and I signed it on September 1st, 2017.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

CANDICE: Lots of spontaneous dancing with the kiddos, wine cheers-ing with the hubs, exclamation points in that day’s journal entry, and a blog post I had been eagerly waiting to write for five years. My parents sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to celebrate.

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

CANDICE: Yes, MCP was very upfront that since they’re a small house, the contract would be royalty only. A couple of my critique partners had told me stories about authors not able to pay out their advances so I was okay with it. Especially since my royalty percentages were higher—25% on both hard cover and paperback. I also receive two hard cover and two soft cover author copies. I did have to re-sign a contract last year as originally the contract was for one book printed traditionally, and another in dyslexie font which makes the books more accessible to dyslexic readers (both kiddo and their adult readers), and due to COVID making things so hard on everyone, MCP decided to focus solely on dyslexie font. That was fine with me because printing in dyslexie was a main draw to this company. The only thing that wasn’t expected was the publishing timeline. SASSAFRAS was originally set to come out in 2019. Such is life and publishing!

SUSANNA: That is so interesting! Completely by chance, the week before last our debut – Michelle Vattula – was also published by MacLaren-Cochrane, and also had her book printed in dyslexie. You two are the first to have mentioned that in your debuts! Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

CANDICE: The editor was happy with my vision so nothing changed there and then small changes (i.e. grammar, word choices, etc) once I received my pass pages.

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

CANDICE: I was able to see character sketches and my opinion was valued as I was able to choose which sketch went with which character. Early sketches showed the squirrels with what I thought was a crazed look in their eyes (lol) and the art director was very good at relaying my concerns to the illustrator. 

I didn’t include any art notes in my manuscript though I did include page breaks, which some publishers don’t like but MCP prefers, thank goodness 😊

interior spread pp. 12-13 of SASSAFRAS – text copyright Candice Marley Conner 2021,
illustration copyright Heath Gray 2021, MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?

CANDICE: No, though I didn’t expect to with a small publisher.

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

CANDICE: I signed on September 1st, 2017 and held (hugged) my first copy May 29th, 2021! MCP is print-on-demand, so I ordered copies and my local indie bookstore ordered too, based on how many preorders have come through so far.

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

CANDICE: MCP listed my book on Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. They maintain a website and social media where they post about their authors, illustrators, and books. They’re also good at sharing their author and illustrator’s posts on Facebook.

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

CANDICE: I was a member of the debut group #NewIn19 and while I obviously didn’t debut with them, I learned SO MUCH about marketing/promotion. And many have offered to review SASSAFRAS which is incredibly kind since it’s two years later.

I set up a preorder campaign through my local indie for signed copies, and plan on doing a book signing, then story time in a nearby park so we can all social distance and be in the open air. Also, there are tons of squirrels which is perfect for my book and my squirrel-loving seven year-old. I also had stickers made (I used StickerMule—great quality) to give out then and a coloring sheet downloadable on my website. I’d love to do stuff with Girl Scouts too since my daughter is in Girl Scouts so figuring out how to get fun patches made is next on my list of things to do 😊

I adore fun facts so I also did a social media-wide #SevenTilSassafras marketing plan where I shared a squirrely fun fact a day the week before SASSAFRAS debuted. The teachers commenting on the posts about sharing the facts with their students TOTALLY made my day.

KidLit411 has a great resource on their Facebook page where bloggers who are open to interviews can post their contact information (including this one! 😊 You rock, Susanna) so I was able to jump on some calendars to share SASSAFRAS and my YA (which actually debuts TODAY!)

SUSANNA: Oh wow! How exciting! Better get a quick plug in for that too, as long as you’re here 😊 (THE EXISTENCE OF BEA PEARL (Owl Hollow Press, June 15, 2021)) ) How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

CANDICE: I’ve been writing my entire life but I really got serious in 2011 when I became a stay-at-home mom. So, six years to sell, ten years to have book-in-hand!

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

CANDICE: I learned that the time in the trenches (whether it’s query or submission) is so incredibly valuable. I used that time to build my writing community, to accept help and advice from other authors, then pay it forward anyway I can by mentoring young writers, volunteering with SCBWI and twitter contests, and supporting the author-friends I’m meeting along the way. It’s important mentally to have people in the same writing-boat you’re in. So embrace that trench-time, up and coming writers!

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

CANDICE: SASSAFRAS has been out for one week today! Woohoo!

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

CANDICE: A former boss of mine is big into motivational plaques and he gave me one many years ago that I keep on the bookshelf in my office. It’s a quote from Moliere that reads: “Perseverance: the greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” And right next to it is a post-it note with a quote from Jess Keating: “The obstacles ARE the path.” Those two quotes help get me in the right frame of mind on the tough days 😊

Candice’s work space with motivational quotes

CANDICE: Thank you so much for having me and Sassafras, Susanna!

SUSANNA: Thank YOU so much for taking the time to share your experience and expertise with us, Candice! We all really appreciate it and wish you the very best with this and future titles!!!

Author Candice Marley Conner

candicemarleyconner.com
http://www.instagram.com/Candice_marleyconner
http://www.twitter.com/Candice_marleyc
http://www.facebook.com/cmarleyconnerauthor

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

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

Indiebound
The Haunted Bookshop (signed copies available!)
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)

2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #6!

Look at us! Half way through June and up to Week #6 in our Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge! Can you believe you’ve written at least 5 brand new stories so far (I know some of you are writing more than one per week!) with two weeks of inspiration still to go? Who knows how many new picture books might be getting their start during this challenge!

So let’s fire up the old brain cells and show Week #6 who’s boss!

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)

Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #6 for Week of June 14:

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, and concept stories in particular settings! 😊 This week, we’re going to explore the importance of relationships and emotion!

Picture books are often about relationships – parent/child, sibling, friends/enemies, child/pet, grandparent/child, babysitter/child etc. and those relationships can cause emotions or be affected by emotions.

Choose a main character from Column A, a second character from Column B, and an emotion from Column C and write a 100-word story for kids where the story centers around the emotion between them.  (For example, 2 friends where one is jealous of the other, or a child who feels angry toward his beloved dog for chewing up his prized baseball glove, or a child who feels nervous about visiting her elderly grandmother who is wrinkly and smells like mothballs but whom she is supposed to love.)  Feel free to make “siblings” a dog and a cat, or “friends” a dinosaur and a goat, etc – you don’t have to stick with all human characters – write monsters, fairies, and aliens if you like 😊

Column A – Character 1 (MC)Column B – Character 2Column C – Emotion
RosieGrandma or Grandpa (Gran, Grand Dad, Oma, Poppa, etc)awe (looks up to/hero worship)
TuckPet (any kind – your choice)jealousy
MaisieFriendanger
ChipSibling (older, younger, twin, step)sadness
BentleyMom or Dad or Stepbetrayal
EsmeBabysitter (any age or gender)boredom
EnzoDragonworry, anxiety, nervousness
XanderDinosaurjoy
DylanFairy Godmotherlove
AprilEnemypride
August/Auggie/Gus  resentment

  • 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 a guideline
  • If you’re deeply inspired by a name, relationship or emotion that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
  • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which relationship and emotion you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.
  • I am ready to be bowled over by your creativity and talent! 

    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 #6 stories!

    Gus – Robin Currie

    My Sister’s For Sale – Rose Cappelli

    Esme And Enzo, Aquatic Besties – Candice Marley Conner

    Alice And Ollie – Joyce Uglow

    Enzo The Pelican – Lyn Jekowsky

    Tuck And Pops – Marty Findley

    Anna And Granna – Marty Findley

    Mighty Maisy – Jen Subra

    Dance! Dance! – Leslie Degnan

    Gus Gets A Pet Dragon – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    Big Dog – Marty Findley

    Chip Goes Blip – Laura Bower

    My Grandpop Can Fix Anything – Susan Schipper

    The Chosen One – Sue Lancaster

    Fire Circle – Sarah Hawklyn

    The Festival – Erika Romero

    I Have A Poem For You – Padgy Soltis

    A Fork In The Road – Jill Lambert

    Birthday Surprise – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    How A Radio Flyer Brought Two Unlikely Friends Together – Erin Cleary

    Maisie And Dana – Sarah Meade

    Dylan Loves His Friend – Barbara Renner

    The Tooth Fairy And The Dragon – Aly Kenna

    Grammy’s Twinkles – Dawn Young

    Date Night Betrayal – Allison Strick

    Maise Marigold Mariah Munder Would Not Let Her Face Go Under – Sara Kruger

    Maisie Astounds – Jeannette Suhr

    Dear Tooth Fairy – Nicole Loos Miller

    Creating Joy – Jeannette Suhr

    I Don’t Need A Babysitter – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    According To My Grandma – Marta Cutler

    Bentley’s Bad Behavior – Susan Summers

    A New Day – Mia Geiger

    Rosie’s Great Gramma Mary Onion – Sally Yorke-Viney

    Maisie’s Big Brother – Marty Bellis

    The Fairy Godmother Problem – Ashley Sierra

    The Most(ly) Boring Babysitter – Amy Leskowski

    Love – Lauren Scott

    Maisie’s Surprise – Deb Sullivan

    Little Dragon Worries – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    The Green Dragon – Marta Cutler

    Betrayed – Colleen Owen Murphy

    Hearts More Like Me – Elenore Byrne

    Little Gus Giraffe Goes To Tokyo – Dianne Irving

    I Hate Puppies – Deb Buschman

    Not The Enzo But A Beginning – Bru Benson

    The Great Escape – Katie Schwartz

    Monster And Alien – Brenna Jeanneret

    Late For School – Again – Michelle S. Kennedy

    Xander And The Dinosaurs – Linda Schueler

    Esme And Rex – JC Kelly

    Enzo’s Fire – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    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! 😊

    Perfect Picture Book Friday – Lost In The Woods

    It’s time once again for Perfect Picture Book Friday, and I have a story to start things off!

    You might remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that I had fenced my yard to keep Violet out of trouble and protect the baby animal population of Blueberry Hill? So, Tuesday morning, I opened my newly gated yard and set off out the driveway with my dogs. I’ve been leashing them (due to the aforementioned baby animals), but hadn’t clipped their leashes on yet because we were still in the driveway.

    We got about 100 feet and Scout started barking and Violet went charging into the woods!

    Instantly, a doe came charging out at Violet, head down bounding straight toward her, front hooves striking out!

    I knew at once the doe had a fawn she was protecting and my dogs were going to be in serious trouble if I didn’t get them away from that doe lickety-split! So I whistled and hollered and they totally ignored me. Scout kept barking, Violet and the doe kept charging each other, and I kept hollering at Scout and Violet. it was quite the scene for 6 AM on a Tuesday morning 😊

    Luckily, Violet cottoned on to the fact that she might have taken on more than she bargained for. She hesitated and then came when I called. Scout was quite a bit farther away from the doe, but I was able to catch her too. We went back in the house for a few minutes to let the doe calm down and then braved the gauntlet (leashed this time!) and managed to get past, though the doe was none too happy!

    Later on, I went out to run an errand, and as I pulled back in the driveway in the car, I saw the doe with the fawn beside her – absolutely brand new! – the teeniest tiniest little fawn I’ve ever seen trying to stand up on his little toothpick legs. He or she was significantly smaller than Violet. It was amazing!

    The doe has apparently decided my front yard is where she’s going to remain, so getting in and out the driveway with the dogs is an ongoing challenge, and I haven’t seen the baby again, but I know s/he’s there 😊 And I am thankful for my new fence – without it I wouldn’t be able to let the dogs out of the house at all without their leashes!

    So after that, there was no doubt about what Perfect Picture Book I would share today!

    I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

    Lost In The Woods: A Photographic Fantasy

    Written By & Photographed By: Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick

    Published By: Carl R. Sams II Photography, June, 2004, Reality Based Fiction

    Suitable For: ages 5 and up

    Themes/Topics: Animals, Patience, Seasons (Spring), Trust

    Opening: “The Spring frogs sing-singing with a thousand trilling voices were silenced by the rising sun.  New life came into the woods before the sun touched the tops of the trees.  He slept quietly in the tall grass on the north edge of the meadow where the trees start the forest.”

    text copyright Carl R. Sams II 2004, photo copyright Jean Stoick 2004

    Brief Synopsis:  The woodland creatures are worried that a newborn fawn might be lost.  “Mama said to wait right here,” the fawn whispers.  “She will come back.”  But the other animals aren’t convinced and offer their advice and help.  Does the doe come back?  What do you think? 😊

    text copyright Carl R. Sams II 2004, photo copyright Jean Stoick 2004

    Links To Resources:  The book itself is a resource.  Page after page of gorgeous photographs of woodland creatures will introduce children to animals and birds they may never have seen, especially if they live in the city.  The very last page of the book challenges readers to look back through the pictures and see if they can find a number of hidden animals.  Activity pages, Lesson Plan.  If you’re lucky enough to live in a rural area, go for a “deer drive” in the evening, cruising slowly along back roads, and see how many different animals and birds you can spot 😊

    text copyright Carl R. Sams II 2004, photo copyright Jean Stoick 2004

    Why I Like This Book:  I love this story!  It’s simple and sweet.  On the first page where the fawn appears, he is a tangle of fragile limbs.  His spotted fur helps him blend into the forest floor.  By the last page, he has mastered those rascally legs and can be seen bounding through the meadow grass with such joy you can’t help but smile at his airs above the ground.  But the best part is the photography.  It’s breathtaking.  Absolutely stunning!  The fawn’s fur looks like you could reach out and touch it.  You can see his eyelashes!  And there are so many other animals pictured – chipmunk, goslings, a tree frog whose camouflage is amazing!, cardinal, red-winged blackbird, raccoon, and many others.  I know I’m an animal lover (and therefore biased :)) but I think this book is exquisitely beautiful and one that anyone would enjoy!

    I hope you like it!

    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! 😊

    Oh, and P.S. This might be the last PPBF before the summer. Or I might do one more next week. And I might have one or two during the summer 😊

    Would You Read It Wednesday – Nothing But Pitch Picks (February, March, April, and May!)

    Ready for a fun-filled Wednesday, everyone?

    There’s no new pitch today, so we’re going to devote ourselves entirely to chocolate and pitch picks galore!

    Let’s jump right in, shall we?

    There are 4 Pitch Picks with a poll for each. Please read through each group of pitches (3 for Late Feb/Early March, 3 for Late March, 4 for April, and 4 for May), decide which one in each group that you think is best and most deserving of a read and comments from editor Erin Molta, and vote for it in the poll that follows that pitch group! And let’s try to get the voting done by Sunday June 13 at 9PM Eastern so it’s out of the way before next week’s new Mix ‘n’ Match challenge prompt! 😊

    Late February/Early March

    #1 – Deborah – The Bitter Tastebud (PB 4-8)

    Amargo is a bitter tastebud who can’t stand to take another sweet, salty, or lip-puckering bite. But he is outnumbered and so is his vote on the CRAV-O-METER. Amargo must figure out how to change the vote or continue eating the food he detests.

    #2 – Bru – THE STORY OF CITRONELLA (PLEASE HOLD YOUR NOSE) (PB 4-8)

    In the Stinkbug Kingdom, Bee-utiful Citronella, an orphan worker bee, doesn’t smell which starts the stinky stepsister feud. She has choices; unveil who she is (Hard), go incognito lacking an invitation to meet the prince (Harder), or stay with the smelly stepsisters, Burnbetta & Rottina forever (Really?) With the stench of a wise-cracking fairy godfather, Citronella herself overcomes her fear of smelling different and learns certain odors (or lack of) do have their advantages.

    #3 – Robin – But When She Opens the Door… (PB 4-8)

    On an Irish March day, Katie O’Shea and her feline assistant, Shamrock, are surprised by the fickle weather shifting dramatically each time she opens the door. In rollicking read aloud rhyme, Katie keeps changing clothes until a look at the calendar reveals the perfect outfit!

    Vote for the pitch you like best!

    Late March

    #1 – Sally – Broccol-trees And Mac & Cheese (PB/Toddler Board Book 3-6)

    Broccol-trees and Mac & Cheese is a rhythmic romp of playful poetry for manic and messy mealtimes! With sixteen silly scenes, it is a complete menu of mushy appetizers, flying entrees, dancing vegetables and dessert designs on tables and trays. This book serves as a reminder for parents to giggle, not grimace, when their little one gives them a chocolate pudding grin and promptly puts the bowl on his or her head.

    Full of love, laughter and foodie fun, this can be read as a smorgasbord of silliness or served up a la carte to read the same delicious poem over and over again. It’s sure to please parents’ palates and tickle toddlers’ funny bones and bellies!

    #2 – Diana – Wait For Cate (PB 5-8)

    Cate promised her team she’d finally be on time for the championship kickball game. But when she encounters the new girl in her class, stuck in the sand on the playground in her wheelchair, she has to make a BIG decision. Should she help or hurry on by? The clock’s ticking.

    #3 – Jamie – Goldilocks: A Very Tired Tale (PB 4-8)

    Goldilocks is exhausted and knows deep down there is a solution, but she can’t quite put her finger on it. Mares? Pears? Stairs? Hijinks ensue as Goldilocks puts her quest for rest to the test in this fractured fairy tale.

    Vote for the pitch you like best!

    Let’s take a break for a little Something Chocolate! Twix Cookies look like a good choice, don’t they? I mean, what could be better than a combination Twix bar and cookie?

    Mmmmm-mmmmmm! Scrumptious! Perfect for dunking in coffee (hot or iced!) or a tall cold glass of milk! Please! Help yourself to as many as you like and let’s keep reading and voting!

    April

    #1 – Carol – Princess Lucille’s Castle (PB 3-5)

    Princess Lucille gives you a tour of her castle beginning at the moat and drawbridge and takes you through each room to the exit where you can buy princesses souvenirs.

    #2 – Marta – OH NO SCORPIONS!! (PB 5 – 8)

    Roz and her Mom have planned the Best Most Special Mom-Daughter Holiday Ever in Mexico—until the hotel manager announces they have scorpions! Petrified, Roz is so convinced the tiny terrors could be hiding anywhere she “sees” them everywhere, from the beach to her shoes! Her shrieks of alarm leave hotel staff and guests in an uproar and the holiday close to ruin. To save it, Roz must conquer her fears, not just for herself but ultimately for her Mom.

    #3 – Angela – Buddy And The Blue Crew (PB 3-8)

    On Buddy’s first day at school, all he really wants to do is to just blend in.  But the problem is, he seems to be the only Blue-Footed-Booby in town!  And it doesn’t take long before the other kids start to notice.  When Buddy meets Bill – a kid with an even crazier feature – will Buddy be able to convince the other children, and ultimately himself, that there’s so much more to him than his bright, blue feet? 

    #4 – Diane – Stop! Stop! (PB 4-7)

    Friend’s, Sumaya Seahorse, Polly Puffer Fish and Delphin Dolphin each find themselves tangled, caught or trapped in a ghost net, a plastic ring and a sunken bottle. To escape they rely on each other and the handy help of Charlie Crab, Sally Swordfish, her seven sisters and Harriet Hag Fish. Together they must come up with a creative recycling solution to tidy their ocean home from the unwanted waste. 

    Vote for the pitch you like best!

    May

    #1 – Patricia – TY’S TREASURES (PB 4-7)

    A crystal.  A marble.  A feather.  Ty growing collection of treasures is causing problems for his family.  But  where can he stash them?   Not in the toybox. Not in the closet. Not in the bed.  Mom wants them outside. In his search for a worthy spot, Ty observes birds, squirrels, even his dog hanging on to their treasures.  But a visit with his grandma helps Ty discover the difference between a treasure and a memor,y and that there is a place for both.

    #2 – Katie – FRIENDS ‘ROUND THE BEND (PB 4-8)

    After friends laugh at his stinky bouquet, Prairie Pup Pip faces the fact that he has a no-good nose. His journey for a cure takes him from the prairie to the forest, encountering other misfit critters. His spunky spirit inspires his new friends, but his trailblazing days may be finished when he is unable to smell his way home.

    #3 – Sandy – Simon Soars (PB 7-11)

    Simon, a timid turkey vulture at Aviary Academy, eats formerly living earth creatures (F.L.E.C.) to the dismay of his classmates.  When the jawing jays begin to tease and taunt, even Simon’s impeccable sense of smell and much hooted-over accomplishments won’t help.  Simon hatches a plan to teach his classmates that rank fetid funkiness isn’t something to cry foul over.  Suddenly FLEC is no longer BLECH! 

    #4 – Caitlin – Lucy And The Fearful Monsters (PB 4-7)

    Lucy longs to participate in the fun happening around her, but her fears keep getting in the way. She clings to the edge of the pool, holds tight to the first monkey bar, and hangs back at the petting zoo. Lucy takes to art and draws her fears as monsters. When her monsters start showing up in real life trembling with fright and begging for her help, Lucy must help them cope with the very same anxieties she faces herself.

    Vote for the pitch you like best!

    Thank you all for reading and voting – I know that was a lot all at once! You are all wonderful and the pitchers and I appreciate you so! ❤️

    All the pitch participants are looking forward to seeing how the votes come out!  I am looking forward to that too!!!

    Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

    Tuesday Debut – Presenting Christine Van Zandt!

    Tuesday Debut is always fun, but today it’s even more fun than usual!

    First, we have a humorous nonfiction book to enjoy!

    Second, our Tuesday Debut-ess, in addition to being an author, is a freelance editor, and she’s offering a PB manuscript critique (one book, 1,000 words or fewer, text only) to one lucky person! All you need to do to qualify is leave a comment on this post between now and Sunday June 13 at 5PM Eastern and your name will be tossed in the hat for a chance. One random winner will be drawn and announced next week! If you’d also like to share this post link on social media, that would be lovely 😊

    But now, without further ado, allow me to introduce the lovely and talented Christine Van Zandt and her debut picture book, A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNDERPANTS!

    A Brief History of Underpants
    written by Christine Van Zandt
    illustrated by Harry Briggs
    becker&mayer! kids
    June 1, 2021
    Funny nonfiction picture book with STEM
    For ages 4-8

    From bloomers to boxers, everyone wears underwear! One part humor, one part history, A Brief History of Underpants explores the evolution of fashion’s most unmentionable garment.

    SUSANNA: Welcome, Christine! Thank you so much for joining us today. We can’t wait to hear about where the idea for this book came from!

    CHRISTINE: My (then) third-grade daughter came up with the topic after I volunteered at her elementary school’s week-long Book Fair in 2018. Nonfiction books were prominently featured, yet kids resisted the awesome titles, complaining that nonfiction was boring. I set out to prove them wrong!

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

    CHRISTINE: I loved my daughter’s suggestion and looked into whether similar books had been published. Finding that my ideas were different enough, I began researching the history of underwear, taking lots of notes, trying to figure out how to pull that info into something enjoyable for kids.

    Next, I typed up first draft in a 32-page layout. The structure with pagination helped me analyze whether my text could work with art (for example, if I’d left enough room for the illustrator, or if maybe there was not enough to draw). Writing in two-page spreads placed focus on each scene and the subsequent page turn. This process works well for me whether writing nonfiction or fiction. I’ll gladly share my template, just email me.

    I’m in several critique groups and kept workshopping then revising, trying to find funny ways to bring a bunch of facts together in an interesting manner. I knew I was ready to start querying once my groups gave it a thumbs-up and when my manuscript represented what I’d set out to accomplish.

    It took 235 days from the first draft until I connected with a publisher via #PitMad (a Twitter pitch event). This is very fast and I was lucky that someone who was looking for a book like this found me. Since I worked directly with the publisher, this book was published unagented.

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

    CHRISTINE: Quarto decided to expand the book to 48 pages during the early months of the pandemic when libraries and bookstores were closed so I bought reference books—a lot of reference books. And hunted down underwear facts from every continent, back to the beginning of fossilized undies. I thought I’d have a hard time finding a fact from Antarctica, but that ended up being one of the funniest ones. I think the reason underwear is called “unmentionables” is because it’s not mentioned in reference books!

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

    CHRISTINE: I was thrilled Harry Briggs was chosen to illustrate the book; his style suited the book well. The publisher worked with me throughout the process, showing me the early sketches through to the final drafts.

    text copyright Christine Van Zandt 2021, illustration copyright Harry Briggs 2021, becker&mayer! kids

    Today’s tech world makes it easy to share things. Since the many styles of underwear had specific ways they looked in real life, I linked the publisher and illustrator to artifacts, reconstructions, and such.

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

    CHRISTINE: The publisher sent the reviews to me. I was curious to know how the book would be received so I read them immediately and, thankfully, reviewers are finding it funny and educational.

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

    CHRISTINE: It took about seven months—which I know is lightning-speed in the publishing industry!

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

    CHRISTINE: The publisher secured some fabulous opportunities for me including being featured in their April educator newsletter and in a podcast. I also have a column coming up in Shelf Awareness which has a readership of ~500k!

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

    CHRISTINE: I’ve been boosting the book myself too. It’s amazing how much time and money you can put into this aspect. Joining up with other authors has been beneficial. I belong to 21 for the Books (we’re all debut picture book authors) and to STEAM Team Books (a mix of experienced authors and some newbies like me) [LINKS https://oneforthebooks.wixsite.com/2021/authors and http://www.steamteambooks.com/].

    These groups provide a place to ask questions, swap information, and vent when needed. The pandemic changed things a lot. How do we sign books remotely? What’s the best way to film virtual author events? There’s a lot to learn beyond “just” writing and selling a book!

    I’ve had bookmarks and stickers designed and printed, as well as material for the classrooms such as a word search and “Beyond the Book” questions. Promotional materials are a way to engage elementary students or get the word out about your book.

    I purchased copies of my book and am donating them to elementary schools so if you’re a teacher for kids age 4-8, please reach out to me!

    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?)

    CHRISTINE: Regularly participate in one or more critique groups. Attend workshops or conferences to learn and work on your craft. Read, read, read, then write, write, write.

    SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Christine! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience, and your very generous offer of a critique!, and wish you the very best of luck with this and future titles!

    Author Christine Van Zandt

    Christine Van Zandt hasn’t found fossilized underwear, but loves digging up ideas that make great books for kids.

    She’s a literary editor and lives in Los Angeles, California, with her family and a monarch butterfly sanctuary. Visit her online at christinevanzandt.com.

    CONTACT INFO

    Website
    Twitter
    LinkedIn
    Facebook
    Instagram

    Readers, if you have questions for Christine, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! Remember, one lucky commenter will win a PB manuscript critique!

    You may purchase Christine’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 (dyslexia-friendly font)

    2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge Week #5

    It’s a hot, hot Monday in June, so what better way to spend the day then on a cool porch, in a shady hammock, or in the air-conditioned library with an iced beverage, your writing implements, and the prompt for Mix ‘n’ Match Week #5?!

    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)

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #5 for Week of June 7:

    So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, writing a cumulative story, a picture prompt with random words and a secret, and turning songs into stories with themes! 😊 This week, we’re going to have fun with concepts!

    Kids have a lot to learn about the world, and picture books can be education disguised as entertainment 😊. Think Z IS FOR MOOSE by Kelly Bingham, MOUSE PAINT by Ellen Stoll Walsh, and ROUND IS A TORTILLA by Roseanne Thong.

    For this week’s challenge, choose a concept from Column A and a setting from Column B and write a 100 word concept story for kids in which you utilize the setting to show your concept.

    Column A – ConceptColumn B – Setting
    ShapesHalloween
    ColorsBeach
    Numbers/CountingFarm
    AlphabetSchool
    TimeCar Trip
    Place/Location (in, on, above, under, around, through, etc.)Circus
    EmotionsCity or Country
    SeasonsAmusement Park or County Fair
    WeatherSupermarket
    • 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 a guideline
    • If you’re deeply inspired by a concept or a setting that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
    • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which concept and setting you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

    Can’t wait to see what amazing, creative things you guys come up with this week! 

    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 #5 stories!

    F Is For Fish Farm – Candice Marley Conner

    The Reason For Seasons (At The Beach) – Laura Bower

    Go To The Beach And Find. . . – Erika Romero

    Circus Countdown – Sue Lancaster

    ABCs Of Abstract Art – Christine Alemshah

    What Color Is Fall? – Jen Subra

    Toucan Counts His Berries – Marty Findley

    Weather Check – Dawn Young

    The Colors In The Farm – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    One Fine Bluebird – Rose Cappelli

    Road Trip! – Erin Cleary

    Wise Willie Wonders Where – Susan Schipper

    On My First Easter Party – Ashley Sierra

    Senses Dance At The Beach – Lyn Jekowsky

    Roller Coaster – Barbara Renner

    Alphabet Road Trip – Aly Kenna

    A Trolley Full Of Feelings – Elenore Byrne

    It’s Time For The State Fair – Joyce Uglow

    They’re Coming! – Jill Lambert

    The Colorful Car Trip – Deb Sullivan

    Are We There Yet? – Marta Cutler

    The Number Line – Colleen Owen Murphy

    Five At The Fair – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Are We There Yet? – Leslie Degnan

    A Win At Walmart – Sara Kruger

    Circus Opposites – Lauren Scott

    Runaway Stroller – Allison Strick

    Ghost Crabs At The Beach – Susan Summers

    Ups And Downs – Jeannette Suhr

    Sleepytime ABCs – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    I’ll Grocery Shop For You – Bru Benson

    Weather Or Not – Marta Cutler

    At the Beach – Marty Bellis

    Counting the Colors of Sunset // Contando los colores del atardecer – Hannah Roy LaGrone

    Farm Time – Robin Currie

    Halloween Alphabet – Sally Yorke-Viney

    Alphabet Road Trip – Deb Buschman

    At Grandma’s House – Sarah Meade

    Not The Only One – Amy Leskowski

    Beach Day – Katie Schwartz

    At The Beach – Sarah Hawklyn

    Monday Mornings – Padgy Soltis

    Farm Life – Michelle S. Kennedy

    Seasons Market – Linda Schueler

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Roller Coaster – Nicole Loos Miller

    Ten Little Sea Creatures – Mia Geiger

    Head Down Under And Count To Ten – Dianne Irving

    The Halloween Seasons – Brenna Jeanneret

    “Is It Halloween Yet?” – Ashley B. Pedigo

    I Simply Cannot – JC Kelly

    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

    ⭐️ 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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    ⭐️ 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

    Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No

    It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, so get out your list-making utensils, whatever they might be (iphone note, broken crayon and old ATM receipt, whatever 😊), and prepare for a trip to the library! There are sure to be any number of books shared this week you’ll want to check out.

    I’m sharing one that was a huge favorite with my kids, back in the last millennium when they were little 😊 I hope you like it!

    Title: The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No
    Written & Illustrated By: Ainslie Pryor
    Re-issue March 1988, Viking Juvenile, Fiction

    Suitable For Ages: 3-7

    Themes/Topics: behavior (contrariness), humor

    Opening: “Have you heard the story of the Baby Blue Cat who said No?
    Once there was a Mama Cat and her four baby cats.
    Baby Orange Cat,
    Baby White Cat,
    Baby Striped Cat, and
    Baby Blue Cat.
    Mama Cat loved all of her baby cats very much.

    Brief Synopsis: Baby Orange Cat, Baby White Cat and Baby Striped Cat all behave the way little kittens should, but Baby Blue Cat is feeling ornery.  No matter what his Mama asks, he says, “No!”  But when he pushes his Mama too far, he apologizes and behaves… until his contrariness gets the better of him again 😊

    Links To Resources: Teaching Children A VocabularyFor Emotions; make cards with different emotions pictured and/or written  – e.g. a smiley face and/or HAPPY – and play emotion charades by letting kids pick a card and act out the emotions for the rest of the class or family and see if the observers can guess; talk about behavior – have you ever refused to do something just to be difficult? Do you sometimes do bad things and then feel sorry? Talk about how to say you’re sorry – resource HERE.

    Why I Like This Book:  The language is fun to read aloud.  (Years later, we still use the phrase “and here’s your delicious cupcake, YUM YUM” 😊 )  The line drawings are cute and engaging (right down to the smile on the fish sandwich 😊)  But mostly, anyone who has ever spent 3 minutes around a toddler will recognize and appreciate Baby Blue Cat’s desire to have some control, and some opportunity to be independent of his mother and siblings.  As I mentioned above, he’s naughty, but when he goes too far he’s genuinely remorseful.  Mama Cat loves her baby cats very much, and it is clear that Baby Blue Cat loves his Mama Cat too 😊

    I hope you enjoy it as much as we do at our house! 😊

    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! 😊

    Tuesday Debut – Presenting Michelle Vattula!

    Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

    Today our debut-ess is sharing her road to publication with a book that is perfect for summer!

    If you’ve ever spent time at the beach, you’ve undoubtedly had a face-off with a seagull over some item in your picnic! We once had a seagull carry off a whole bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Nantucket 😊

    Please join me in welcoming Michelle Vattula as we find out all about how she got published!

    The Stalking Seagulls
    written by Michelle Vattula
    Illustrated by T.L. Derby
    MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing
    Release date April 20, 2021
    Fiction, ages 3-10

    A battle between boy and bird with an outcome neither one anticipates.

    SUSANNA: Where did the idea for this book come from?

    MICHELLE: When writing, I pull my inspiration primarily from what I know and feel. The Stalking Seagulls was inspired while we were visiting my parents in Florida. We arrived at the beach and when lunch time approached, so did the seagulls. They were quite relentless, but they never got our sandwich. After that experience, the initial idea of a battle between boy and bird came to me. I will tell anyone who wants to be an author, write what you know.

    SUSANNA: What makes your book different from other published picture books?

    MICHELLE: One very special aspect of my book is that my publisher, MacLaren-Cochrane, publishes them in dyslexie (dyslexic font) which is a typeface that helps enhance the ease of reading for individuals with dyslexia, but can be read by anyone. There is certainly a gap in literacy for children with dyslexia and printing picture books in dyslexie is a step in the right direction.

    SUSANNA: That is fascinating! As someone who used to work with dyslexic students, I know how important it is to make reading as accessible as possible, so it’s wonderful to see publishers making this effort. How long did it take you to write this book?

    MICHELLE: One of the best things I did for my writing career was to join the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). This organization gave me the want and desire to write. I went to my first SCBWI conference in Pittsburgh and was hooked from that moment on. I began writing The Stalking Seagulls soon after that conference in late 2015, early 2016. The manuscript itself flowed easily. I think my biggest hurdle was that I wanted to “tell” everything. As an inexperienced writer, at the time, I was very wordy and was not allowing for the illustrations to help the story along. That is where my fabulous critique groups, who I met at the SCBWI conference, really helped me. It was completed and out on submission in a year and a half. I have to give a lot of credit to my husband, Sami, who allowed me to sit in front of my computer undisturbed or watched the boys when I would go out for my critique groups. By the time I arrived home the kids would already be in bed. I would then continue writing from the critiques I received that night. Having someone so supportive was truly a game changer for me.

    SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

    MICHELLE: Wow, this is a great question. As I stated earlier, I utilize my critique groups, even for the simplest of questions. I had and still have 3 active critique groups, and have had individual CP’s in the past. This particular story went through no less than 50 revisions. Some revisions were small and easy, while others changed the tone and direction of the manuscript.  I would often read it to my kids friends to see where they laughed and what they didn’t understand. If I ever got stuck, I put the manuscript away for a while so I can look at it with fresh eyes down the road.

    Michelle’s writing buddies 😊

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

    MICHELLE: When I realized that the ending was “perfect” (in my opinion, lol), the rest of the story truly fell into place. Ultimately, I find, when I can find a satisfying ending, the writing becomes easier since I already know where the story is going.

    SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

    MICHELLE: At the point of initial submissions, I was querying agents. This process can be so daunting because I researched each agent effectively. I needed to know what they wanted, what they didn’t and the best way to query them. Each agent is different, which certainly makes querying harder. I received a lot of rejections, but I was also receiving some genuine interest as well. Knowing that the interest was there, I decided to submit to publishing companies that would accept unsolicited and/or unagented manuscripts. This too was a long process, mostly due to the research needed to be done on each publishing company. I found MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing, queried my manuscript and received a response after 6 weeks. We set up a phone “interview” and the editor offered me a contract.

    During this past year I was lucky enough to connect and sign with a great agent T.J. Kirsch @ JCHLiterary. 

    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”? 

    MICHELLE: Because I went directly through the publisher, I did not have to wait for yes, they told me right away.

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

    MICHELLE: I queried the manuscript in late July and received a contact in early September, so it was about 6 weeks. When I received the email that MCP was interested in the story, I read the email, shut my computer screen, smiled a big goofy smile and ran to tell my husband. It was like I won the lottery.

    Michelle’s support and inspiration!

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

    MICHELLE: I signed the contract within a week or so of receiving the contract.

    SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?  (If you care to share ☺)

    MICHELLE: I believe, after lots of hugs and phone calls/texts to loved ones, we went out to dinner.

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

    MICHELLE: MCP is a small independent publisher which changes some of the process that is usually discussed regarding larger publishing houses. I did not receive an advance on this book, but my royalties are higher than the standard 5%. I get a significant discount when I purchase my book, but do not receive free copies. Overall, the contract was pretty standard and not many changes needed to be made before signing it.

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

    MICHELLE: The Stalking Seagulls had gone through so many rounds of revisions prior to receiving a contract, that there was not too much that needed to be changed. I did go back and add more alliteration and some wording changes, but they did not expect much to be changed. 

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

    MICHELLE: I was very fortunate to be involved in the illustration process.  My editor provided me with various styles of sketches from different illustrators and I was able to choose the style I felt fit the story the best.  My editor definitely valued my thoughts and opinions regarding the style and continued to send me examples until I found the perfect one. After the initial sketches were done, I did get to see the proofs, via attachments, and I was allowed to give my thoughts regarding the page layouts and details when the book was in its final stages. I am so thankful that I was allowed to be part  of this process since most writers do not see or know the vision the illustrator has taken until the very end.

    text copyright Michelle Vattula 2021, illustration copyright T.L. Derby 2021, MacLaran-Cochrane

    As for art notes, I did include them in my initial manuscript. I believe that they helped the illustrator see my vision throughout the story. Certain pages/spreads needed a hint as to what I wanted to see. I am an advocate for art notes. Here is an example of one I used.

     “Incoming!” [Art note-Alec feigns throwing this sandwich, then hides his sandwich behind his back.]
    (Spread below is the resulting illustration)

    text copyright Michelle Vattula 2021, illustration copyright T.L. Derby 2021, MacLaran-Cochrane

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

    MICHELLE: The Stalking Seagulls was released on April 20th 2021. I received my first in hand copy April 25th.  MCP is a POD(print on demand), thus when the orders come in, the book is printed. 

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

    MICHELLE: My publisher has made sure that my book is accessible on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,
    Waterstone and every book retailer online.

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

    MICHELLE: I have done all the marketing and promotion for The Stalking Seagulls. I started with making my own website (www.michellevattula.com). Once I was given the ISBN number and release date, I made a sell sheet. I physically went to our local  bookstores and shops in other states to promote my book. I have done a podcast, interviews, blogs and media postings on instagram, twitter and facebook. Promoting your book is a constant, non-stop job. Since the book focuses on seagulls at the beach, I have researched bookstores along the most popular beach destinations and sent them a personal email with my sell sheet in hopes it would spark interest to carry my book in their store. I have contacted my hometown newspaper, The Erie Times, and they wrote a beautiful article on my book (https://amp.goerie.com/amp/5096158001). I have also contacted local schools regarding school visits, whenever those will be allowed again. My next step is to contact aviaries, local and national, to see if I can get my book in their gift shops. I am not the best in marketing plans, so I contacted my local SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). This organization is a free services that help match a retired executive with your small business needs, and for me that was marketing.  I am continuously seeking out interviews, bloggers and reviewers for my book as well. It can be a daunting and never ending job.

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

    MICHELLE: I have been writing for over 20 years. I am a licenced Speech-Language Pathologist and practiced for over 15 years in the gereatric population. In 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my life was put on hold for a year. When I was cleared and ready to go back to work, my heart was telling me something different. I told my husband that I wanted to follow my dream and become a children’s book writer and he told me that’s what I should do. So, I became serious about my writing and immersed myself into the publishing world in 2015. I signed my contract for The Stalking Seagulls 2 years later in 2017. 

    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?)

    MICHELLE: First, One thing I would tell any new writer, make sure you find a critique group that you feel comfortable with and trust their opinions. Having a critique group or critique partner  is crucial  to help your book in the right direction. Second, write what you know or feel. Lastly, expect a hard road with rejections and critiques you might not like, but cherish the little triumphs, the wonderful people you meet along the way and never give up on your dreams, they will come true with hard work, perseverance and patience.

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

    MICHELLE: The publishing world can be an unexpected one. My book was to be released, initially, in 2019, but was pushed back for a long time (COVID didn’t help) It took almost 3 years to get it released. There were some issues from the illustration aspect. It was frustrating, but certainly worth the wait. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your agent or editor. This is your book and the last thing you want is to lose sleep because you didn’t ask a question that is important to you. Even though you get a book deal, a release date and you have prepared everything you possibly could have, things still go wrong. My friends went to the local Barnes & Noble to buy my book and when they found it, all the pages were blank. I couldn’t believe it, there was my book on the shelves of B&N and they didn’t have any pictures!!! Thankfully the problem was remedied, but what a way to bring my head out of the clouds.

    SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to join us and share your experience with us, Michelle! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from you and wish you all the best with this and future titles!

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

    Author Michelle Vattula

    www.michellevattula.com
    Twitter @Mmvattula
    Instagram michelleciampavattula

    You may purchase Michelle’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

    2021 Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge – Week #4

    Good Monday Morning, Everyone!

    I know it’s Memorial Day and many of you are busy with family celebrations, parades, and honoring those who have done so much for all of us.

    But in case you also have the day off and a little free time. . .

    . . .let’s have some Mix ‘n’ Match fun because it’s time for Week #4!

    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)

    Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Prompt #4 for Week of May 31:

    So far we’ve played with character needs/goals, writing a cumulative story, and a picture prompt with random words and a secret!  This week we’re going to have some musical fun with themes! 😊

    Choose a song from Column A, a theme from Column B, and an important item from Column C (optional.)  Write a 100 word story for kids where your version of the song tells a story that shows your chosen theme (including your important item if you wish!) You may use the original song opening if you like, but you are not required to (just make it obvious in your writing and/or identify which song you’re using along with your title and word count), and if rhyming isn’t your thing you can write in prose as long as it’s still clear which song you’re working with.  You may add or subtract characters (e.g. Bob and Joe rowed their boat gently down the stream), change the destination (e.g. Row, row, row your boat up the mountainside), change the type of action (e.g. Row, row, row your boat wildly down the stream) etc… Anything you like!  Have fun with it! (For examples in kidlit, see Iza Trapani’s extended nursery rhyme songs.)

    Column A – SongColumn B – ThemeColumn C – Important Item (optional)
    Row, Row, Row Your BoatIt’s important to try new thingsNecklace
    The Itsy Bitsy (Eensie Weensie) SpiderEven when you’re bad, you’re still lovedTeddy bear
    Twinkle, Twinkle Little StarIt’s important to stay true to yourselfBlackberries
    Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it isPink Blankie
    The Bear Went Over The MountainIf you work together you can solve a problemStory book
    Here We Go Round The Mulberry BushYou don’t have to be big to stand up for yourselfMap
    It’s Raining, It’s PouringFriends should always stick togetherTractor
    Jack And JillBelieve in yourself and you can achieve your dreamsMoon
    Rock-A-Bye BabyIf you don’t succeed the first time, try againDaisy

    Post your story in the comment section below! (If for some reason you have trouble posting, you may use the contact form to email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you.)

    • 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 a guideline
    • If you’re deeply inspired by a theme that isn’t included you’re welcome to use it, just please say what it is at the top of your entry – the purpose here is inspiration and to get you writing!
    • For simplicity’s sake (and to aid skimming readers who might be interested in a particular thing) please say which song, theme (and important item if you choose to use one) you’re using at the top of your entry along with your name, word count, and title if you have one.

    I am SO looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with!  You continue to knock my socks off with your creativity every week!!!

    Now 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 #4 stories!

    It’s Raining! It’s Pouring! – Leslie Degnan

    Dreams Inside! – Robin Currie

    Jack And Jill’s New Adventure – Jen Subra

    Untitled – Lauri Meyers

    Charlie’s Search – Rose Cappelli

    Rock A Bye Daisy – Laura Bower

    Arachnid At Your Service – Jill Lambert

    The Itsy Bitsy Spider And The Moon – Erika Romero

    About Our Friends Who Tried To Row A Boat (Perhaps Under A Full Moon?) – Erin Cleary

    Untitled – Lauren Scott

    Believe In All You Imagine – Sally Yorke-Viney

    The Itsy Bitsy Puppy – Marty Findley

    All That Glitters Is Not Gold – Elizabeth Meyer zu Heringdorf

    Spunky Little Teddy – Joyce Uglow

    Flap Flap Flap Those Wings – Marty Bellis

    Dress Dress Dress For Rain – Amy Leskowski

    Mark And Grace – Colleen Murphy

    I Love Shopping With My Mom – Sara Kruger

    Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Pet Spider Gone – Aly Kenna

    Where, Oh Where Has My Story Book Gone – Ashley Sierra

    Ninja, Ninja, Little Sneak – Bevin Rolfs Spencer

    Jack And Jill Revisit Their Hill – Ashley B. Pedigo

    Jo And Flo – Christine Alemshah

    Little Lilly’s Blunder – Elenore Byrne

    Ride, Ride, Ride My Bike – Sue Lancaster

    Friends For Life – Deb Sullivan

    Fireflies – Lyn Jekowsky

    The Rescue – Marta Cutler

    Bear’s Fresh Start – Allison Strick

    Rock A Bye Zombie – Susan Summers

    Rainy Day Problem…Solvers – Susan Schipper

    To Grandmother’s House We Go – Jeannette Suhr

    It’s Raining, It’s Pouring – Dianne Irving

    Tinkle, Tinkle, Potty Stress! – Michelle S. Kennedy

    Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone? – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez

    Use Your Map – Padgy Soltis

    The Daisy – Barbara Renner

    Oopsy Daisy! – Marta Cutler

    Yummy, Yummy, Little Pie – Nicole Loos Miller

    The Bat Flew Over The Pumpkins – Sarah Meade

    Read A Book – Dawn Young

    Sun And Moon – Dawn Young

    The Itsy Bitsy Scratchy Spider – Bru Benson

    Wait For Me – Candace Kubinec

    Untitled – Sarah Marhevsky

    It’s Raining, It’s Pouring – Sarah Hawklyn

    Don’t Row The Boat Please – Linda Schueler

    How Much Is That Bicycle In The Window – Mia Geiger

    The Itsy Bitsy Tadpoles– Hannah Roy LaGrone

    Rock Star Baby Brother – Katie Schwartz

    Albert Went Over The Mountain – Deb Buschman

    The Itsy Bitsy Spider Is Bored – Brenna Jeanneret

    The Just Right Story Book – JC Kelly

    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

    ⭐️ 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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    ⭐️ 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

    Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Hike

    It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

    And that means the weekend is nearly here!!

    And that means it’s a perfect time for today’s Perfect Picture Book and a hike!!! (Something I’m always up for 😊)

    Title: The Hike

    Written & Illustrated By: Alison Farrell

    Publisher: Chronicle Books, October 2019, informational fiction

    Suitable For Ages: publisher says 3-5, but there’s a lot of information that would appeal to older kids

    Themes/Topics: nature, hiking, cooperation, group activities

    text and illustration copyright Alison Farrell 2019, Chronicle Books

    Opening: “We are going on a hike.”

    text and illustration copyright Alison Farrell 2019, Chronicle Books

    Brief Synopsis: Three friends and their dog set off on a hike, noticing a lot about nature and having adventures along the way.

    text and illustration copyright Alison Farrell 2019, Chronicle Books

    Links To Resources: The whole book is a resource – Wren’s notes throughout, and several pages at the end of the story devoted only to her notes and pictures – so there are a lot of resources to be found right there. Take a nature walk. Make your own nature notebook/sketchbook and write and draw the things you see. Go for a hike with your family. How To Make A Nature Journal/Notebook; Video: How To Make A Leaf Collage

    text and illustration copyright Alison Farrell 2019, Chronicle Books

    Why I Like This Book: I find this book so appealing! The story text is quite simple (hence the 3-5 age range.) But the art is full of birds, animals, plants, and all kinds of other things found in nature that you might see on a hike – tons of little details for young readers to look at and learn about. One of the children in the story, Wren, keeps a sketchbook and draws little pictures and jots down interesting facts. The kids have to follow the trail, using a map (and I love that it’s an actual map and not GPS on a phone!) The kids look like they’re having so much fun outdoors together, doing something real, physically active, and educational as well as entertaining. By the time they get home, the stars are coming out and the art includes phases of the moon and constellations. It’s really just all around delightful!

    text and illustration copyright Alison Farrell 2019, Chronicle Books

    (from the back matter)

    text and illustration copyright Alison Farrell 2019, Chronicle Books

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

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

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

    Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊 Go for a hike! 😊