Meet Tiffany Strelitz Haber, Author Of Debut Picture Book The Monster Who Lost His Mean and A Giveway!

I know.  We haven’t done Oh Susanna in ages!  But awesome things keep coming up that I just have to slide in somewhere, one of which is today’s post about a great new picture book.  So… next week?

Today I am delighted to introduce you to Tiffany, but real quick before I do, let me just announce that the winner of Steven Petruccio’s gorgeous picture book Puffer’s Surprise from last week’s author/illustrator interview is Delores (thefeatherednest)!!!  Congratulations, Delores!  I hope you’ll enjoy this beautiful book!

Now then!  Everyone, please meet Tiffany!  I have to tell you, I found this interview so entertaining that I’m afraid you guys will never want to come back and read my boring old posts after it, so you have to promise not to throw me over 🙂

Tiffany Strelitz Haber & Co. 🙂

SLH:  When did you start writing for children?  

TSH:  When I was in third grade, I wrote my first “rhyming picture book”.  I continued writing for many years.  In fact, all throughout highschool, and a bit in college as well.  So obviously, when I was figuring out what I wanted to do for a living, I headed straight for the financial world!  I was never really one for connect the dots.  🙂   Anyway.  Yadda, yadda, yadda, cut to 24 years later (give or take)…chronically unhappy in the career I had been diligently building for over a decade, and feeling like it was ‘now or never’ to make a change, I realized I was barking up the wrong tree entirely.  I wanted to really love what I did for a living.  So I went back to what I had loved for so many years before, and started writing for kids.

SLH:  Do you have an agent, or did you submit on your own?  

TSH:  Agent.  I learned very quickly (by attending a couple of NJSCBWI conferences), that having agent representation opens doors otherwise closed to most authors.  It also allows you the freedom to really focus on writing (and later promoting) as opposed to spending countless hours researching publishing houses and editors, constructing query letters, physically printing, stuffing, stamping and mailing submissions out, following up and…well…you get the point.  

SLH:  Was The Monster Who Lost His Mean your first submitted PB or did you have others before that haven’t sold yet?

TSH:  I actually got extremely lucky.  My agent subbed two PBs of mine simultaneously to a variety of houses.  Several months later…within the same week, we had offers on both.  It was very exciting!  (SLH: OMG!  I think I speak for most of our readers when I say I could sure use a week like that! 🙂

SLH:  Tell us about the moment when you got THE CALL!!!  How did you feel?  What did you do?  Did you celebrate? Call all your friends and relations? 🙂

TSH:  Ok, so I was on a ski trip with a bunch of friends.  We were sharing a house and had been out super late the night before, so everyone was passed out on various couches and beds.  Anyway…for some reason, I found myself wide awake at 5 in the morning so I checked email on my phone.  And there it was.  We had an offer on MONSTER and as I leaped off the couch and looked around for someone to share the news with (read: tackle with uncontrollable zeal), I realized  I was surrounded by zombies.  There wasn’t a single soul within a half mile radius that wasn’t dead to the world and stickin’ to it.  So I kind of just muttered to myself in the corner for a while with a pre-dawn bloody mary.  Party of one, please!

SLH:  Do you have anything else under contract?  

TSH:  I have another rhyming picture book due out in April 2013.  It’s called, Ollie and Claire (Philomel/Penguin) and was illustrated by the amazing Matthew Cordell.

I also have a couple of stories in that critical, “at an editorial meeting” type phase where it could still go either way…but you know you’re close and you’re just kinda….waiting. (read: pacing, email-refreshing, obsessing)

SLH:  And please share where we can find you…

facebook:  (BIG facebook gal.  Let’s be friends!)
Twitter: @tiffrhymes
Blog: for tips and tricks on writing in rhyme, come check out
Just for fun quick questions:

Left or right handed?  right
Traditionally or self-published? traditionally
Hard copy or digital? hard
Apps or not?  not that I know of?
Plotter or pantser? plantser?
Laptop or desktop? lap
Mac or PC? Mac
Day or night worker? DAY
Coffee or tea? Coffee (and then suddenly tea for like…a day)
Snack or not? I want to meet the person who says “not”.  And then never talk to them again.
Salty or sweet? Salty.  Althought salty and sweet in the same bite is actual heaven on earth.  #ChocolateCoveredPretzels
Quiet or music? Quiet
Cat or dog? both
Currently reading? Helter Skelter

And now, my lovelies, Tiffany has generously offered a signed copy of her brand new, hot-off-the-presses, WONDERFUL book.  All you have to do is what the Rafflecoptor widget tells you to.  And may I just say that I hope the Rafflecoptor widget is going to show up somewhere – it probably will not show up where I intend it to, so look around, be ingenious and persistent, and hopefully you’ll find it wherever it chooses to appear 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveawaySo yeah – fill that in.  You get extra points for “liking” and “following” and things of that nature.  And just in case the widget doesn’t work, and I am off in the boonies of PA/VA/NC unable to fix it, please also take part in our fun contest in the comments – it’s supposed to show up as mandatory in the Rafflecoptor thingy, but like I said, my faith has limits…. 🙂 so I’m putting it here too:

Everybody knows the ‘M’ in MONSTER stands for Mean.  When one young MONSTER loses his…and becomes THE ONSTER, everything goes awry.  What does the first letter in *your* name stand for?  How would you feel if you lost it?  Answer below for a chance to win a signed copy of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN!

Have fun!  And if you have any questions or comments for Tiffany, fire away.  I’ll try to talk her into checking in from time to time 🙂

Happy Monday, All!


Summer Short And Sweets – Week 3

Hurray!  Hurray!  It’s a Summer Short & Sweet day! 🙂

badge created by Loni Edwards

First off, help yourself to some of these delicious cookies

and a glass of refreshing iced tea

because we can be more creative after a little snack 🙂

Now then, are you ready for today’s Short & Sweet?

I totally wrestled with this one and I hope it’s going to be fun and also work right… I guess we’ll see 🙂

So we have to go on the honor system again – no peeking! 🙂 – and I need you to get a piece of paper and a writing implement of your choice.  Then write down the following things in a list bearing in mind that everything below is supposed to be related so it can hang together:

1.  A noun (you know, a good old person place or thing)
2.  A color that describes that noun or some part of that noun you’d like to highlight (e.g. red, or, lavender, or, cerulean)
3.  A comparison to that color (in the manner of simile or metaphor e.g. summer sunset, or, shadowed snow on a January evening)
4.  Something that belongs to your noun written as adjective, adjective noun (e.g. wide, feathered tail, or, slim, brown limbs, or brass ratcheted gears)
5.  A verb ending in -ing that is something your noun could do (e.g. soaring, or, stretching, or, grappling)
6. Another verb ending in -ing that is something else your noun could do (e.g. sailing, or, reaching, or, frowning)
7. A place written as: preposition [a/an/the] adjective adjective noun (e.g. over [a] broad green valley, or, across [the] shimmering shining stream)
8. A description of something your noun could do in relation to something else, written as:  verb ending in -ing preposition adjective noun (e.g. scouting for silver salmon, or, basking on sun-baked sand, or, digging up acorn jewels) – (yes, I realize “for” is a conjunction, not a preposition, but you can use it if you want.  The reason I didn’t put conjunction is because the others – and, or, nor, but, yet – won’t work.  But use “for” if you want :))
9. Repeat #8 with another description (e.g. plunging toward immovable earth)
10. Repeat #8 with a final description (e.g. hoping for sweet success, or, diving for delicious dinner)
11. A simile for the action in #10 (e.g. like a rocket ship, or, like a bow drawn across singing strings)
12.  Your original noun from #1.

Okay!  Got your list?  What we are accomplishing here is part Madlib, part poetry, and will hopefully result in lots of descriptive poems (haha – like how I tricked you into writing a poem? :)) that will also serve as story sparkers by giving all the devoted readers specific, detailed, poetic descriptions of characters, settings, or objects that they could use in a story!  For those of you who write picture books, there are a lot of similarities between picture books and poetry, so this is good practice 🙂

Wasn’t that totally awesome how I snuck that up on you?

So now, all you have to do is type your poem into the comments using this template and your list:

I am [a/an/the] noun from #1
Color from #2 as [a/an/the] comparison from #3
With [a/an/the] adjective adjective noun from #4
Verb from #5, verb from #6
Prepostition [a/an/the] adjective adjective noun from #7
Description from #8
Description from #9
Description from #10
Like [a/an/the] simile from #11
I am [a/an/the] noun from #1

Here’s my example:

I am a falcon
Gray as a stormy sky
With powerful, peregrine wings
Soaring, sailing
Across the shimmering, shining stream
Scouting for silver salmon
Plummeting toward wavering water
Diving for delicious dinner
Like an arrow sprung from a huntsman’s bow
I am a falcon.

Here’s another one because I think this is fun 🙂

I am a birch
Silver as starlight on snow
With strong, slim limbs
Reaching, stretching
For the faraway, fickle moon
Gazing at kaleidoscope constellations
Soaking in the dewdrop dawn
Standing among my slender sisters
Like a dancer waiting for the music to begin
I am a birch.

And one more:

I am Sarah
Gold and brown like honey on toast
With hidden, heartfelt hopes
Uncurling, unfurling
From their secret silent space
Running with quiet concentration
Leaving behind even the fastest few
Flying on winged feet to finish first
Like fleet Atalanta
I am Sarah.

Ok, I’ll stop now because I’m really not very good at this even though I think it’s tons of fun 🙂

So do you get the idea?  You may of course tweak a bit.  If you need a different verb form or fewer adjectives or an extra word or one less line or two colors, etc. feel free to change it up.  The word prompts and template were just to make the job easier and less intimidating 🙂

I hope you’ll all have fun with this!  I can’t wait to see what you write!  And after my humble examples, I hope everyone will feel very brave about putting theirs up – I know without a doubt you can all do better than I did! 🙂

Have a great weekend, and please join me Monday to welcome Tiffany Haber as she talks about her debut picture book, The Monster Who Lost His Mean (which I just had the pleasure of reading and it is REALLY TERRIFIC and you should all get a copy for the littles in your life, or for yourself as an example of a well-done picture book in verse!!!)

Happy weekend 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday – The 49th Pitch!

Wow!  Do you know what I just realized?  This week’s pitch is #49, which means we’ve been doing Would You Read It for almost a whole entire year!  And week #52 – the WYRI Anniversary – is going to coincide with final week of the Olympics!  I have a feeling this calls for a celebration of some kind… I’m just not sure what 🙂  Feel free to make suggestions!  Especially if they involve chocolate cake 🙂 and open flame 🙂

All we need here is a little photoshopping so it says

I actually do have a special Would You Read It announcement today.  Remember that poll I took last week?  Well, some late voters changed the picture a bit.  The results indicated that the majority of you were happy either way, but a fairly large group were in favor of change, while only 3 people felt it should definitely stay the same.

So here’s what we’re going to try.  Beginning with July (you know, the month we’re in right now… last time I checked anyway… :)), any pitcher WHO WOULD LIKE TO (it is not in any way, shape, or form required!) may rewrite their pitch before the pitch pick based on the feedback they received from all you generous and helpful readers.  They will just have to get their rewrites in to me before the last day of the month.  Sound good?  I’m game to give it a try if you are.  If we all decide we hate it, we can always go back to the old system 🙂  But a lot of people have asked about it and would like the opportunity to improve, and I’m all for encouraging improvement 🙂

I would also like to take this opportunity to say how much fun I’m having with Summer Short & Sweets!  I’ve been amazed and gratified at how many people have been participating, and everyone is so creative and talented!  It’s such a pleasure to see what you all come up with that I find myself eagerly looking forward to Fridays!  Thank you all for being such great sports 🙂

But now, onward!  It’s time for today’s pitch which comes to us from the lovely Vivian whom I’m sure you all remember from last month’s incredibly informative guest post for the self-publishing mini-series, but just in case you don’t know her, here’s a little info:

Vivian Kirkfield has been involved in the care and education of young children for over 50 years.  From babysitting to teaching kindergarten and Head Start to raising her own three children while operating a home daycare, Vivian’s passion for picture books encouraged her to write her award-winning book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  She shares her mission to help every young child become a lover of books and reading during her school visits with kindergarteners and her presentations to parent and teacher organizations.  Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Challenge was the catalyst that started her writing picture book stories again…and now she can’t stop!  Many of her stories are based on her experiences as a teacher, mother and grandmother.  The Tomato Turner is a true story about her own family…and she plans several sequels…Confessions of the Tomato Turner and The Tomato Turner Returns.
Vivian’s book/author website:

And now, here is her pitch:

Working Title:  The Tomato Turner
Age/Genre:  Picture Book (ages 3-8)
The Pitch:  Stuck in the middle between a brainy older brother and an adorable baby sister, four-year old Peter is determined to do something spectacular that will make everyone proud of him – when he sees the basket of green tomatoes on the kitchen counter, he seizes the opportunity to astonish his family.

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

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Vivian improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in August, which is not very far away at all at this point, so we could really use some new pitches!!
Vivian is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!

And before we all go off to our wonderful Wednesdays, I wanted to mention a special upcoming treat!  My friend and fellow author, Tiffany Haber, had her debut picture book release yesterday!!!  Here is her book:

Awesome, no?!  And here’s where the special treat part comes in: Tiffany is coming over to visit with us here on Monday July 23 – that’s in like 5 days! – and along with what I’m sure will be a fabulously entertaining post, she will be giving away a signed copy of this exceptionally fun-looking brand new book!!!  Mine is on order and due to arrive tomorrow.  I can’t wait to read it!

Alrighty.  You’re excused.  Have a lovely day 🙂  Hope to see you Friday for Short & Sweets!