Tuesday Debut – Presenting Heather Gale!

Woo hoo! Woo hoo!
Time for something new.
Woo hoo! Woo hoo!
Tuesday Debut!

How’s that for a theme song?

It doesn’t have a tune yet . . . but that’s just a minor detail 🙂

Here on Blueberry Hill the weather forecast is less than optimal.  Rain, snow, ice and other cr** . . . er, precipitation threatens to make going outside something to avoid unless you have a very good reason to want to fall down your mudroom stairs and introduce your hindquarters to the driveway, so today’s debut picture book is perfect! It will carry us away to the island paradise of Hawai’i!

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior
written by Heather Gale
illustrated by Mika Song
Tundra Books
October 1, 2019
Nonfiction, Ages 4 – 9

Ho_onani-cover
An empowering celebration of identity, acceptance and Hawaiian culture based on the true story of a young girl in Hawai’i who dreams of leading the boys-only hula troupe at her school.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Heather!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

HEATHER: This story came after watching the PBS documentary A Place in the Middle, but it took a while for me to consider it as even a possible picture book.
I had used the documentary to help wind down after a day of research for that next picture book idea. Yet while watching Ho’onani and Kumu Hina face their struggles I was transfixed, swept along with the story and the power of emotions it evoked.  When Ho’onani turned to face her community, I held my breath as if I were amongst the awed silence of the crowd.  And when Ho’onani opened her mouth to begin the chant usually reserved for males, I whooped it up, both proud and relieved she had pulled off her biggest challenge.

The next day I could not stop thinking about each character in the documentary.
I watched and re-watched A Place in the Middle, never getting tired of feeling those same emotions. When this happens, I think you have no choice but to write the story. It’s under your skin and won’t let go until you do.

 

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

HEATHER: Initially I’d promised the producers, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, a no-commitment rough draft within 6 weeks.  But it helped that by the time we’d met, I already knew where the story would start and where it should end. I’d never written and researched so hard in my life to meet that deadline, but it worked. They got their first draft and I got their green light to carry on.

After that the revisions took almost a year.

My best advice to anyone is to not start a story until you know those two key moments. They’ll keep you going when the writing process gets rough.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

HEATHER: I must have gone through at least 150 revisions and this is the time to ask for help from your critique partners and writing buddies. Listen to their comments and suggestions and if more than one person is saying the same, you know you have to go back.

As you learn the mechanics behind a story, you’ll also discover your own revision process, and which ones are your favorites.

Mine are adding emotion and deleting.

I may already have one or two emotions in a draft, but there comes a point when the story needs a whole lot more. Thankfully, at this stage of the manuscript you’ll know your character inside and out, so this part is fun.

As I read scene by scene, I imagine my character’s face and gut reactions to the situation. I’ll jot them down and return for a more serious edit.

After emotions are added my next favorite is deleting.

Distilling a draft to 1000 special words is a challenge.

Every word matters.

Every sentence should feel unique.

Every paragraph has the potential to build a scene.

Like decluttering a room, there’s a sense of lightness with deleting which makes a story even better.

I start with spacing out the sentences. This gives me some working room (aka thinking or doodling space).

Then line by line, I’ll check the timing of events. I’ll ask myself does this follow and is it logical?

Then I check the sentence itself, looking at the structure.

Have you noticed sometimes when you split the sentence in half then swap their order it’s so much stronger? Or move one word to the end and you’ve got a WOW sentence.

Next, I look at each word in the sentence.

And here’s where my thesaurus is used to check each word conveys the best meaning I intended.

Perhaps there’s a better word with a deeper meaning. Or, the word is perfect, but in that sentence, it’s a tongue-twister.

And then I like to use words that surprise the reader and are easy or fun to say out loud.

If, after doing all this, the paragraph adds no story value, it qualifies for a total strike-through.

It’s hard to explain but when there’s a line through all that hard work, the story often pops through the noise and clutter.

 

 

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

HEATHER: I’m slowly learning when my manuscripts are almost ready for submission.

I always read my manuscript out loud to our two dogs (because my two kids are grown up now). This is an incredible way to discover those fancy words you found in thesaurus don’t quite work when placed together.

IMG_0716

I’m lucky to have two work buddies, Molly and Cooper who are best friends. They love daily hikes in Toronto’s ravines, their daycare, and swimming beside me as I kayak.

I check off any sentences where my brain did a ‘huh?’ and question any gaps in the timing of events.

On another round I’ll hunt for emotions in the scenes. I want to walk in that person’s shoes, feel their frustrations and their achievements, get goosebumps and a lump in my throat.

Then, my best tool is the pitch.

Because my working pitches seem to always start off 4-6 sentences long, until I‘ve got one that’s whittled down to one or two sentences, I know the manuscript is not ready.

I tweak and hone that pitch every 3-4 revisions.

Once everything is as close as I can get it , I save my work in a folder, stash it away, put the timer on and wait two weeks.

And . . . tah-dah! This is when you’ll know if your story is ready to submit.

With fresh eyes I’ll read my story out loud, looking for all the same things as before. I want to laugh, to tear up, have the words swimming in front of me.

I want the story to unfold, unrushed yet not too wordy.

And when that happens there’s no way to describe the feeling except you know you’ve given your story the best possible chance.

Your manuscript is ready to face the big wide world.

I have two workspaces that inspire my writing process.

Here’s my view from the cottage:

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 8.12.13 PM

 

SUSANNA: That is inspiring all right!  But I’m not sure I’d get much work done with a view like that!!! 🙂  When and how did you submit?

HEATHER: I’d submitted this story to one agent while seeking representation and then to a publishing house through an earlier conference connection.

Both times Ho’onani: Hula Warrior was turned down but coming up was our annual Pack Your Imagination conference hosted by CANSCAIP in Toronto.

We have an opportunity to skip the line with Canadian publishing houses which is a fantastic opportunity. I decided to hold this manuscript back from further submissions because I had to know what was wrong with this story!

 

 

 

 

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

HEATHER: I was the last person slated to meet Lynne Missen, the Publishing Director for Penguin Young Readers at the CANSCAIP conference. You can take being last as good news, bad news, or part of the lucky draw so as I sat and waited. I’ll admit, I was nervous.

And then it was my turn.

As I listened, waiting for the, ‘here’s why your story isn’t working,’ I struggled to understand why Lynne was smiling.

Lynne must have repeated it three or four times before her words and their meaning sank in – they loved my story!

We got to work right there, going through the manuscript, tweaking areas, discussing ideas and my 15-minute slot turned into the best 30 minutes I could’ve ever imagined . . . working on a story that my heart was so vested in.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

HEATHER: We popped a bottle of bubbles and had a barbeque with my hubby, kids and dogs.

 

 

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

HEATHER: The contract was just what I expected, an advance, followed by a percentage in royalties and for me, the best gift ever – 10 author copies! (I’m one of 6 kids so my siblings all got a dedicated and signed copy.)

 

 

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?

HEATHER: Samantha Swenson is such a gifted editor who, through some word tweaks made the story pop, and that’s when I saw the potential they’d seen all along.

 

 

SUSANNA: How about your experience of the illustration process?

HEATHER: I was so lucky with having Mika as my illustrator.

From the beginning I saw all her sketches, and my thoughts and ideas were sought out while any questions I had were explained.  Mika captured each child in the documentary at the right moment while Kumu Hina looked the same yet different as she too experienced her emotions.

I had one illustration note in the story at the end and that was only because Ho’onani’s sister is not mentioned in the text.

Here’s what I wrote:

One person stood.

[illo: Kana smiles]

Ho'onani - illo note and illustration

and here’s how that illustration turned out!

 

 

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

HEATHER: I saw a mix of advance reviews while others were sent to me soon after being released.

I think the best part about reading a review is, you get to see how the rest of the world views your story.

I’ve learnt so much about Mika’s illustrations from reading reviews.

For example, one review commented on Mika’s technique as a way to convey information to children.

“Boldly outlined watercolor and ink artwork by Song (A Friend for Henry) conveys visual information with strength that suggests Ho‘onani’s own.”

Publishers Weekly
https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7352-6449-6

And then I read, “Watercolor and thick, angular black lines against a combination of white, open spaces, and blue or tan backgrounds elevate and emphasize Ho’onani as the central character within each spread.

As well, the use of bold colors at times helps some characters become more noticeable in crowd scenes.”

Canadian Review of Materials

https://www.cmreviews.ca/node/952

And here’s another wonderful comment on Mika’s illustrations: “The boys filing past in the background, and the empty pair of flip-flops left in the hallway, are pale and weak in comparison to Ho’onani’s profound sense of self as a hula warrior.”
E. Schneider at Imaginary Elevators
https://imaginaryelevators.blog/2019/09/03/she-is-who-she-is/

With each of these reviews I went back to my copy and noticed the same.

 

 

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

HEATHER: The process from signing the contract to a first copy was almost two years. That sounds like a long time, but it wasn’t. We were always moving forward with the next steps.

 

 

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

HEATHER: Tundra Books has gone above and beyond in their efforts to get this book noticed by various communities.

From trade reviews to tradeshows, to advertising to promotions, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior has been included or is their featured title.

 

 

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

HEATHER: I’ve reached out to picture book bloggers I know and asked for any opportunity to be a guest post or have the book reviewed.
I’ve also figured out Twitter and become more involved.

And I plan on doing school and library visits – my first is in NZ!

 

 

SUSANNA: Wow!  NZ?!  That is AMAZING!  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?
HEATHER: The whole process took me six years along with a lot of online and class courses, some conferences and then just hours in the chair, practicing and honing the craft.

I actually started my serious writing with a psychological thriller which I wrote one year during NANOWRIMO (National November Writing Month). And, I still like that story and maybe one day I’ll get to revise it.

 

 

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
HEATHER: This book has taught me a lot about the industry and I’m in awe. We have so many dedicated, passionate professionals who work with picture books and once a manuscript is sold, there’s still so much more that happens behind the scenes before it reaches the shelves.

 

 

SUSANNA:  Heather, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate all your insights, and the helpful information you shared about your writing process!  Wishing you the very best of success with this and future books!!!

 

Heather-head-shot

Author Heather Gale

You can visit me over at
https://heathergale.net/

and my social media links include:
https://twitter.com/writergale
https://www.facebook.com/heather.gale.311

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

You may purchase Heather’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

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

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Dawn Young!

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

I realize of course that it’s the 22nd of October – 9 Nights Before Halloween, and 64 Nights Before Christmas – but if it’s okay for the local Stop & Shop to be putting out their holiday items already then it’s okay for us to share and enjoy today’s debut picture book!

I’m thrilled to introduce Tuesday Debut-ess Dawn Young and her fabulously fun picture book, The Night Baafore Christmas!

The Night Baafore Christmas
Written by Dawn Young
Illustrated by Pablo Pino
published by WorthyKids, Hachette Book Group
October 2019
fiction, ages 4-8

hi res for blog - jacket

It’s Christmas Eve and Bo can’t sleep, so he starts counting sheep. But when the sheep get a glimpse of the Christmas goodies, they scatter, wreaking holiday mayhem all over the house. With a house full of sheep and a mess to clean, will Bo get to sleep before Santa comes? Find out in this hilarious story of a night before Christmas gone baa-dly wrong.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Dawn!  And thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us today and share your journey to publication!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

DAWN: The idea for The Night Baafore Christmas began a long time ago, when one of my daughters was having trouble falling asleep because she kept worrying about bad things after watching the movie Barnyard. Every night I’d tell her to think good thoughts and imagine herself at fun, happy places like the circus or the zoo.

With that in mind, I wrote about a child who, struggling to fall asleep due to bad thoughts, went to those same fun, happy places. But a story about a child going from adventure to adventure felt flat and needed something more, so I had the child attempt to count sheep to fall asleep. Soon, those mischievous sheep were tagging along on the adventures. At that point, the story had some spark but things went from flat to frenzied and I knew I needed to tighten the story.

Also, I wanted the story to start on a more positive note, so instead of having the child worry about bad things, I had the excitement over an upcoming event, like the eve of a birthday or a holiday, be the reason the child couldn’t fall sleep. I played around with both, but found myself heading down the birthday path. Then, after seeing the holiday mishap contest on Susanna’s blog, I shifted to Christmas, and wrote a draft of what is now The Night Baafore Christmas.

[And now a brief message from our sponsors – enter the Halloweensie Contest (which opens in a week)! You too could write a new story or find a new angle on a work-in-progress that might be worthy of publication just like Dawn!

…aaand back to our regularly scheduled programming…! 🙂 ]

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

DAWN: Years! I began writing the story in 2008. Getting feedback from my critique partners and creating dummies were a big part of getting the book to where it is today. I love to write in rhyme, and I wanted this story to be in rhyme. Knowing that most publishers prefer prose because too often (they say) they see rhyme that is subpar, I worked on my perfecting my rhyming skills. Also, I wanted this story to be fun and funny, so I focused on wordplay and humor.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

DAWN: This story went through many, many, many revisions. Even after adding the sheep, the story went through rounds and rounds of revisions. Early drafts were written in first person, and now the story is in third person. Playing around with POV is a great exercise.

Also, originally, the sheep appeared by number randomly to mirror the craziness of the story. Then, I received feedback suggesting I number the sheep in ascending order when the action escalates and in descending order when the momentum slows down. I revised accordingly, and it worked great and gave the story a smoother flow. I’m grateful for the feedback!

For me, critique groups/partners are key to the process. We look to our critique partners for feedback to help us revise our stories, and their suggestions are invaluable. I find that I make a great deal of progress with my manuscripts when I, not only consider the feedback I get, but also the feedback I give. When I do a critique, I think my inner self is trying to speak to me through someone else’s work. Often, I find myself saying, Wait I just did that same thing!  A critique you’re doing for someone can act as a mirror, enabling you to reflect on your own writing as well.

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

DAWN: When that nagging, unsettling, “something’s missing,” “if you stop now you’re cheating,” “you can do better than that,” feeling, the one that keeps me up at night, is gone, then I know the manuscript is ready for submission.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

DAWN: Unagented at the time, I read on Kathy Temean’s blog that WorthyKids was seeking submissions for holiday stories, so I subbed the old-school way, via snail mail! Shortly after the submission, I assigned with my (now) agent and she handled the contract.

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

DAWN: Four months after I submitted, I got an email from the editor asking if the story was still available. I was ecstatic! Then around ten months later I got the offer.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

DAWN: I cried, the happiest of tears, and eventually I went out to dinner with  my very supportive husband.

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

DAWN: At the time I submitted to WorthyKids, they were a smaller publisher so I figured the advance might be on the lower side. I really liked the publisher and the timeline for publication was unreal. I signed the contract in Nov 2018 and they gave me a Fall 2019 pub date. I felt so fortunate. In the meantime, WorthyKids became part of Hachette Book Group, so my small publisher isn’t so small anymore.

SUSANNA: What was the editorial process like for you?

DAWN: They requested two minor changes and that was it.

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about your experience of the illustration process?

DAWN: The illustration process was unlike most I’ve read about. The editor suggested that I send her names of illustrators that had a style similar to what I was envisioning for the book. One of the names I gave her was Pablo Pino. Since they had Pablo in mind as well, they asked him and he said yes. His illustrations went beyond what I could have ever hoped for. They’re are beautiful, fun and funny. I feel so fortunate that Pablo Pino is the illustrator. The Night Baafore Christmas couldn’t have been in better hands!

One way in which illustrator’s vision departed from mine was that I envisioned the sheep’s numbers to be on their bodies, but Pablo put their numbers on tags around their necks, and I’m so glad he did because they’re visible but subtle. Having big ole numbers on their backs may have overpowered the page.

I saw digital files of the entire book before it went to print and I was blown away! The editor asked for feedback. Other than saying Wow more times than I can count, I think I had only two (minor) comments.

I did have art notes. Looking back I can see that they weren’t necessary.

hi res for blog dancing

text copyright Dawn Young 2019, illustration copyright Pablo Pino 2019 WorthyKids/Hachette

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

DAWN: No, not yet.

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

DAWN: Ten months.

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

DAWN: It just released on Oct 1st.

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

DAWN: My publisher has been amazing. They made the most lively, fun, festive trailer, and they’re contacting book reviewers, making memes, and doing a great deal of promotion.

 

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

DAWN: I had flyers, bookmarks, stickers and a banner made. I reached out to bloggers asking them I could be featured on their blogs to share my journey and the book’s journey. I will be featured at bookstores in November and December and I’m booking other events as well.

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

DAWN: I started writing in 2007, but at the time, my kids were small, and I was busy with toddlers and very involved at their school, so I’d say I was more of a part-time writer. Around 2010, I got really serious about writing and began attending conferences and writing retreats, taking classes, joining critique groups and writing ALL the time. Strictly a rhymer, I thought it would be best to branch out and be more diverse with my style, so around that time, I started writing in prose as well. In 2018, I sold my first picture book, Counting Elephants, which releases in March 2020 and sold The Night Baafore Christmas shortly after.

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

DAWN: Way back when, I submitted the very early versions of this story and they got their share of rejections, as they should have. Those versions were nowhere near ready and should not have been out in the world ‒ much like a 13 year old behind the wheel of a car! The rejections I received were a blessing. As much as I dreaded them and resented them, they made me work harder, thinker deeper and get more ingenious. I learned to welcome them. I have a quote I like to remember when things aren’t going as expected: “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

I learned that getting published requires more patience and persistence than I ever thought I had.

I also learned to celebrate the positive things. Back in 2013, I submitted this story to an editor who spoke at a conference I attended. Shortly after I received a rejection letter from her, but this time, I also got positive feedback. The editor called the story “fun and engaging” and she called my writing “fresh” and had other nice things to say.  Even though it was a rejection, I celebrated her encouraging feedback, and to this day I still have her letter on my desk.

I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a fabulously generous and thoughtful kidlit community. The support and encouragement is incredible. No one knows a writer’s life like a writer does.

SUSANNA: Wow, Dawn!  Such a lot of wonderful, helpful insights you shared with us today!  I especially enjoyed your thoughts on critique groups/partners, when you know your manuscript is ready, and what it’s like to be a writer and part of the writing community.  I’m sure our readers will all have their favorite parts as well 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers!

Young headshot

Author Dawn Young

Dawn Young bio:

Dawn graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, and later with an MBA.  For years, Dawn worked as an engineer and, later, manager at a large aerospace company, until her creative side called her to pursue her dream of writing children’s books. After reading and writing hundreds of corporate documents, none of which were titled The Little Engineer Who Could or Don’t Let the Pigeon Fly the Airbus, Dawn is thrilled to now be reading and writing picture books instead.

Dawn is also a math enthusiast. When she’s not busy writing and reading, she can be found doing math problems, sometimes just because… In high school, Dawn’s dream was to have a math equation named after her, but now, she believes having her name on the cover of books is a million times better! Dawn lives with her husband, three children and golden retriever in sunny Arizona.

https://www.facebook.com/dawn.young.1865

https://twitter.com/dawnyoungPB

https://www.instagram.com/dawnyoungbooks/

www.dawnyoungbooks.com

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

You may purchase Dawn’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

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

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Susan Richmond!!!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, everyone!

You are reading this from all over the world today, and I’m so glad you’re here!  For some of you spring is just around the corner, and for others autumn approaches without any appreciable change in the weather, but here in the northeastern US, the trees have bedecked themselves in all their colored finery and the birds are on the move – some south to warmer climes, some settling in for the duration, checking out all the local bird feeders in order to select the best place to spend the winter 🙂

It’s a great time to enjoy today’s debut picture book!

Bird Count by Susan Edwards Richmond
illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman
Peachtree Publishing Company, Inc.
October 1, 2019
Fiction PB
Ages 4 to 8

Bird Count_cover

Ava is excited when Big Al, the leader of their Christmas Bird Count team, asks her to record the tally this year. Using her most important tools—her eyes and ears—she eagerly identifies and counts the birds they observe on their assigned route around town.

 

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

SUSAN: Bird Count is based on the National Audubon Society’s annual bird census called the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). After being part of my town’s CBC for years, it occurred to me what a wonderful citizen science topic it would be for children, since there’s no age limit for participation. My original idea for the book was as a kind of seek-and-find, with more emphasis on counting than on birdwatching concepts.

 

Susan Edwards Richmond_birding with scope

 

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

SUSAN: I brought several drafts to my critique group over the course of a few months before feeling it was ready to send out. One of my early versions included parts of a poem I’d written about the count well before sitting down to write it as a picture book. So if you count those notes, the initial writing process took a couple of years.

 

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

SUSAN: As my critique group suggested, I paginated the final draft and crafted it until I was happy with the content of each spread. Then I polished the text, a couplet on each spread.  When my critique group didn’t have any more suggestions I felt I could use, I was ready!

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

SUSAN: I didn’t have an agent, so I selected two editors from houses I knew did great picture books on science topics, Charlesbridge and Peachtree Publishing Company. I had met the Charlesbridge editor at a conference, but an author in my critique group, Melissa Stewart, suggested I try her editor, Vicky Holified, at Peachtree. Because it was a picture book, I mailed off the complete manuscript.

 

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

SUSAN: Vicky, the editor at Peachtree, initially liked the book idea but rejected the manuscript. Still, she wanted to work with me. After three complete rewrites over the course of a year without an offer, I wasn’t sure I could keep going. My critique group saved me!  I brought in the email with my editors’ latest round of extensive comments, and they walked me through each point, helping me see how I could address her concerns.

I was waiting to hear the results of Bird Count’s second round of acquisition meetings, when Vicky wrote that she’d like to address a few more questions over the phone. After that call, I waited again. Finally, days later, I heard from the vice president that a contract was in the works. I was so grateful I’d persevered I was in tears. I have my critique group to thank, and my editor, who believed in the book so much that she spent a whole year working with me without knowing if it would ever be published.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SUSAN: Bottle of champagne—toasts all around!

 

talkin birds

Talkin’ Birds

 

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

SUSAN: Since this was my first book, and I didn’t have an agent, I didn’t know what to expect and felt pretty much on my own. I was so happy to be published, and I didn’t know what was normal!  I had a friend who was a lawyer look it over, and then signed. Later I found out that the advance, author copies, and rights were typical for a picture book for this house. I received 15 author copies and had my advance paid in three installments—at signing, at the point the book was sent to production, and on publication date.

 

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

SUSAN: As I mentioned earlier, there were heavy rounds of revision before the contract. My editor had a strong vision for the book, and I’m now grateful for all the hard work we did together. I had envisioned it as a much simpler counting book, featuring birds in a variety of habitats. But Vicky was intrigued by the mechanics of the count itself and wanted to highlight all my birding knowledge. It seemed like a lot of information to put into one picture book. But we did it—and it works!

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

SUSAN: My original manuscript included just a few art notes—only where I thought the spread wouldn’t make sense without it. I’ve learned that you can almost always get rid of an art note. The illustrator has so many original ideas to contribute and usually does “get” the irony or subtlety in your text, and will probably come up with something way more interesting than you imagined!

I was lucky that my editor included me in the process from the beginning, asking me for ideas about illustrator and illustration style, and later providing time for me to review sketches as well as full color illustrations. Because the book had a lot of science content, she wanted to be sure I felt the birds and habitats were portrayed accurately. Fortunately, my illustrator Stephanie Fizer Coleman, is also passionate and knowledgeable about birds!

BirdCountArtTease1

illustration copyright Stephanie Fizer Coleman 2019

 

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

SUSAN: I have a publicist at Peachtree, Elyse Vincenty, and she’s wonderful. Peachtree mails out dozens of advance copies to reviewers, bloggers, and influencers. She forwarded the Kirkus Review to me as soon as it came out. I’ve also seen advance reviews on Goodreads and on a few blog sites. It felt amazing to read so many positive reviews!

 

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

SUSAN: It was accepted for publication in fall of 2015, and I received my first advance copy in April of this year. So three and a half years! Four between offer and release date.

 

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

SUSAN: I’m lucky that Peachtree does a lot of promotion for its books—which doesn’t mean you don’t have to do a lot of your own as well. But my publicist, Elyse, sends out review copies, communicates with the sales force about unique markets (for example, nature centers and bird stores), facilitates book placement at conferences, and helps authors carry out their marketing ideas.  Peachtree chose Bird Count’s cover as the cover image for their Fall catalog, which was incredible, and it has a two-page spread inside. They also do a great job presenting books on their website, including publishing a Teacher’s Guide for which I wrote the text, posting author bios, and linking to author websites.

 

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

SUSAN: No matter who your publisher is, expect to do a lot of marketing! The first thing I did was join Twitter; the second was join an author debut group—since this was my first children’s book—called On the Scene in 2019. The larger your community, the larger your promotional voice will carry.

In addition, my husband produced a book trailer for Bird Count, which Elyse arranged to have released by the Nerdy Book Club. You can see it there at https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2019/08/31/book-trailer-premiere-bird-count-by-susan-edwards-richmond/ or on my website. I had two sets of bookmarks, and a postcard designed and printed. I also developed a list of markets which I thought might sell my book, and got creative about expanding it. It’s not my job to sell to stores, but when a manager expresses interest, I give the information to my publicist, and she has a sales rep contact them. I also set up most of my own author appearances, including the launch, signings, story times, etc., although Peachtree arranged for me to sign at the NEIBA Discovery Show in Providence, RI, during my book release week, which was very exciting.

 

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

SUSAN: Honestly, it was more than 15 years. Although I became even more focused in the past 6 or 7.

 

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

SUSAN: My path to children’s book publication was longer than most, I think. Could I have gotten there faster? Maybe, but you also have to embrace your own journey. I raised a family and developed a local poetry following in the interim, as well as found my dream job—teaching at a Mass Audubon preschool.

All of my experiences led me to where I am today, with my first children’s book out from a fantastic house, represented by an amazing agent, Stephen Fraser at Jennifer de Chiara Literary Agency, and surrounded by a wonderful, generous writing community.  Doesn’t get any better than that.

Thank you so much, Susanna, for interviewing me about my publication story!  It’s been wonderful speaking with you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Author Susan Richmond

Website: www.susanedwardsrichmond.com
Twitter:  @SusanEdRichmond
Facebook:  Susan Edwards Richmond
Link at Peachtree online: https://peachtree-online.com/portfolio-items/bird-count/

SUSANNA: Thank YOU so much for taking the time to visit with us today, share your experience, and participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers!  I know I speak for everyone when I say how much we appreciate it and that we all wish you the very best of success with this and future books!

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

You may purchase Susan’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

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

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Kiefer!

Hello, Everyone!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut!

One of the things I love about Tuesday Debut is what a wide variety of picture books we get to see – fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, subjects that range from hay-making machines, to reaching for the moon, friendship, loneliness, lullaby bedtime books, clouds, and bugs.

Today we have a debut topic – a gentle, thoughtful book about a little girl who attempts to draw God.

Drawing God
written by Karen Kiefer
illustrated by Kathy De Wit
Paraclete Press
religious fiction, ages 5 and up
October 8, 2019

Karen1

Picasso’s artistic inspiration takes hold of young Emma’s faith imagination in this beautifully illustrated debut picture book about how we all see God differently.

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Karen!  We’re thrilled to have you!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

KAREN: It was an ordinary run to the grocery store, or so I thought. There I was, standing next to a mound of stacked peppers in the produce section when I overheard two little kids, a whisper away, talking to each other. “My mother said you shouldn’t talk about God at school, because it makes people feel uncomfortable,” said the young voice to the other. I stood still, shaking my head, as I uttered, “Oh— no,” under my breath. Needless to say, I felt uncomfortable.

For the next several weeks, that conversation would not leave my mind or heart. In a world propelled by wonder, invention and advanced communication, could “God talk” eventually become extinct?  It seemed to be an astonishing possibility. All I could do was pray about it, asking God to intervene. Then on a quiet Sunday morning, out of the blue, I began to write the children’s story, “Drawing God.”

 

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

KAREN: The process was pretty fluid, one sitting, about 2 hours THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME. Writing is usually such a challenging and complicated process.

I sat in my bed with my laptop and started typing away.

I began to write a story about a little girl named Emma, who visits an art museum and is so inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso that she decides that she is going to draw something “beyond spectacular.” Emma decides to draw God.

I remember tapping on my keyboard, just waiting to see what might happen next. I began typing…

Emma escapes to the comfort of her bedroom and draws a brilliant sun. “It was so dazzling and radiant my cheeks throbbed. Its rays were so long they poked at my heart.” Emma knew she had drawn God. The next day, Emma takes her drawing to school to show her best friend Peter. But Peter looked at Emma and said, “ Emma, that’ s not God, that’s the sun.”

Emma tries again and again to draw God, but her classmates can’t see God in any of her drawings. They actually find her attempts laughable.

Emma finally realizes, through a prayer answered, that she doesn’t need their approval.  “I knew I had drawn God. God knew I had drawn God, and maybe Picasso knew, too. That finally felt like enough.”

The story stopped there. But I remember feeling that urge to keep writing, because this wasn’t the end of the story.

Emma eventually returns to school on the following Monday, and something beyond spectacular happens. I won’t spoil the ending of the book, but when I finished writing, it was clear that if this story were ever published it might get more children and adults talking about and drawing God.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KAREN: I polished it up here and there over the course of the next couple of weeks. I had heard that there are successful authors that actually review manuscripts for a modest fee. I Googled around and came across Susanna Hill. It took a lot of courage to write the email to her and press send. Susanna was amazing, not only did she get back to me quickly, she offered me some minor edits and was so encouraging. She thought I had a book but now just had to find a publisher. My interaction with Susanna gave me the confidence I needed at a time when you are always second guessing the value of the work.

 

SUSANNA: It was a privilege to read your story, Karen, and I’m glad if I was able to help you find the courage to submit! 🙂  When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

KAREN: I felt comfortable that the manuscript was ready for submission shortly after my interactions with Susanna. I was literally Googling how to write a submission letter.

I knew nothing.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KAREN: Professionally, I’m the director of the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College. My job offers me many opportunities to form relationships with other professionals in the faith marketplace. I knew the editor of Paraclete Press and so I decided to start there. I sent him an email asking if he might be interested in looking at my manuscript. He responded, pretty quickly I might add, asking me to send it along.

I submitted it right away. I heard back within a few hours and he was very positive. He mentioned that he wanted to share it with a few other people to see what they thought.

About a week later, he mentioned that they were planning an emergency editorial meeting in the next week to review a few new manuscripts and mine was one. I was both excited and scared. That’s when self-doubt settles in. I wondered if it was good enough?

 

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

KAREN: A week later I got the call, it was unanimous, they wanted to publish the manuscript.

I was so excited. They didn’t want to make any changes to the story and wanted to keep the title, “Drawing God.”  However, they did want me to write a teaching guide, 1000 words or so, that they would add to the back of the book.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KAREN: It was all so surreal. I didn’t really celebrate because it still didn’t feel real.

 

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

KAREN: Had no idea what to expect. The contract seemed very fair. I wasn’t going to be making a lot of money and I would be paid in 3 installments. I was fine with that.

 

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

KAREN: The editorial process was smooth. The editor shared my vision for the book right from the start. I was so lucky.

 

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

KAREN: Again, I was very fortunate during this process too. I didn’t want to overstep, but I asked if I could recommend an illustrator. The editor assured me that they already had a group of great illustrators. I respectfully asked if I could send some samples from the illustrator who illustrated my first self-published children book, “The Misfit Sock” back in 2010.

I mentioned that we work well together. I also had to let him know that she lives in Belgium. He was very open, knowing that he believed we could TOGETHER make the book better. He reached out to Kathy De Wit and negotiated the partnership and sent her a contract. Kathy and I worked together throughout the process.

Regarding illustration notes, I did submit them in detail to the editor and he reviewed them, made a few changes and sent them to Kathy. The three of us worked together closely throughout the process. The editor kept things on track.

Here’s a sample of a sketch and a finished illustration.

Karen3

Karen2

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

KAREN: Seeing the reviews and features has been so exciting. The publishers has been wonderful about sharing every milestone with me along the way. Was reviewed by Kirkus and featured in Publisher’s Weekly. That’s hard to do for a children’s picture book.

 

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

KAREN: The process was about a year and a half. When I first saw the book, I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was. That was another surreal moment.

 

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

KAREN: The book just came out today, but I’m happy to say it is the #1 release in its category on Amazon.

 

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

KAREN: Paraclete Press has been WONDERFUL. They have put the entire sales team behind this book. They have done a lot of social media, produce a beautiful book trailer, helped with flyers.

 

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

KAREN: We had journals printed up, bookmarks, lots of different flyers, events, fun promotional giveaways. Had a big book launch.

 

 

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

KAREN: NOT SURE??

 

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

KAREN: TODAY, Tuesday, October 8, 2019, the children’s picture book, “Drawing God” will be released into the world. May it be a catalyst for more God talk and inspire children and adults of all faiths to connect their very own faith imagination, to realize the contagious faith that lives powerfully within and to embrace the truth that we all see God differently.

The release of the book will be followed by the celebration of the first World Drawing God Day, on November 7th.  This day will be a chance for our world to “draw” God, whatever that might look like, using the hashtag: #drawinggod.

Today I am reminded of the words of a friend who said that books can’t necessarily change the world, but the people who read them can. To future readers of “Drawing God,” my hope is that this book will make you a little more comfortable, knowing that there will be a little more God talk in our world because of you.

For more information, visit: www.drawing-god.com

Karen4

Karen Kiefer is the director the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College and has worked at the university in various roles collectively for over two decades. A mother of four daughters, Kiefer has taught religious education at the parish level for 25 years. She is the co-founder of the grassroots bread-giving organization, Spread the Bread, and the anti-bullying initiative, the Million Misfit Sock March. Kiefer wrote “The Misfit Sock” children’s book in 2010 and is the author of the new children’s book, “Drawing God,” published by Paraclete Press. This latest book has inspired World Drawing God Day on November 7, 2019.

(www.drawing-god.com)
Drawing God on Facebook
Drawing God on Instagram – @drawingg0d (the “o” in God is the number zero)

SUSANNA: Such an exciting day, Karen!  There’s nothing like seeing your first book in print, especially if it’s #1 in its category on Amazon!  Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today and share your experience so that we can all benefit from it!  I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best with this and future books!

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

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

 

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

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

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Christine Evans!

The ants go marching one by one
Hurrah!  Hurrah!
The ants go marching one by oneants
Hurrah!  Hurrah!
The ants go marching one by one
Christine debuts with some buggy fun
And they all go marching down
Into the ground
To curl up with a Tuesday Debut picture book!  😊 😊 😊

It’s Tuesday, everyone! And I can’t wait to introduce you to today’s Tuesday Debut-ess, Christine Evans, and her bug-a-licious book, EVELYN THE ADVENTUROUS ENTOMOLOGIST!!!

Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a World-Traveling Bug Hunter
by Christine Evans (Author), Yasmin Imamura (Illustrator)
Innovation Press
September 24, 2019
Nonfiction (biography)
5-10 years

Evelyn cover

Trailblazing entomologist Evelyn Cheesman embarks on eight solo expeditions, discovers insect species, and tangles with sticky spider webs in this biography about a hidden figure.

 

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Christine!  We’re so excited to have you here today!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

CHRISTINE: I knew I wanted to find an unknown woman in science to write about. When my google searches led me to a short article about Evelyn Cheesman I got a fluttery feeling and as I started to learn more about her I knew I had my subject.

 

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

CHRISTINE: I first read about Evelyn in around May 2017. It took me a few months to have a first draft. Then the revising and the revising and the revising began. I took the manuscript to conferences for professional critiques, to my fabulous critique partners, and I sold it in April 2018.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CHRISTINE: In that year from when I first started working on the manuscript (and even after the sale) I must have gone through around 50 different revisions.

I love putting my manuscripts through different tenses and points of view to help nail the voice. I also spend the revision process looking for places where I can add a repetition or refrain I can use. I love the one we landed on for Evelyn—which happened in the revisions with my editor after I sold it.

 

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

CHRISTINE: When I wasn’t getting any major issues back from my critique partners except line edits I knew it was time to send Evelyn out in the world.

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CHRISTINE: I entered a Twitter pitch contest and Asia Citro from Innovation Press liked my pitch. So I submitted to her and meanwhile I submitted to agents I thought would be a good fit. I signed with Elizabeth Bennett (Transatlantic Agency) and we got a formal offer from Asia a few days later. It was an exciting whirlwind!

 

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

CHRISTINE: I can’t remember. I have two small children so I probably had to carry on cooking them dinner and get them to bed before I could really celebrate!

C Evans 1

 

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

CHRISTINE: I didn’t know what to expect but my agent guided me through the process. I’m so happy I had her in my corner!

 

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

CHRISTINE: During the very collaborative editorial process we really nailed the structure and the repeated refrain. The final book looks quite different to the original manuscript.

 

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

CHRISTINE: I was thrilled when my editor shared Yasmin Imamura’s work with me and asked if I thought she’d be a good person to illustrate Evelyn Cheesman’s story. Of course I said yes! I got to review the book at both the sketch stage as well as later when the art was almost finished. And then again at the proof stage.

 

 

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

CHRISTINE: My editor shared some reviews from SLJ and Booklist which was really exciting to see. I can’t wait to hear what readers think!

 

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

CHRISTINE: I sold the book in April 2018 and here we are in September 2019 and I have a real book! That’s pretty quick in the publishing world – I’ve heard tales of five years for some people although I think two years is average.

 

 

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

CHRISTINE: I’m having a launch event at a local bookstore and have made bookmarks, buttons, and even custom cookies.

My biggest promotion tool has been my debut group, Picture Book Buzz. We have been promoting each other’s books, held giveaways, and even took over #PBChat on Twitter.

C Evans 2

 

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

CHRISTINE: Around two to three years — I started really writing with intent at age 36, got an agent and a deal at age 38, and now I’m 40 and my book is out in the world! I know that sounds fast but I’ve been writing my whole life in one form or another—I was a communications manager and wrote copy all day pre-kids and pre-moving to the US.

 

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

CHRISTINE: I would like to encourage fellow writers to follow their passions outside of writing, read widely about what interests you, and follow the little nuggets of information that make you get a fluttery feeling. You never know where it might take you!

Christine Evans

Author Christine Evans

Website: http://pinwheelsandstories.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/christinenevans
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christinenevans/

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience with us today, Christine!  It’s so helpful for all of us to have a chance to learn from one another!  I’m sure I speak for everyone when I wish you all the best success with this and future books!

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!

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

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

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Nadine Poper!

Yee haw!  It’s Tuesday! And you know what that means!

Time to meet another brand new author and find out how she navigated the path to publication!

Today I’m happy to introduce Nadine Poper and her funny informational-fiction sea story, RANDALL AND RANDALL!

RANDALL AND RANDALL
written by Nadine Poper
illustrated by Polina Gortman
published by Blue Whale Press
release date Oct. 1, 2019
fiction picture book, ages 4-8

thumbnail_randall-randall-cover-ISBN9780981493879-highres

This very funny informational-fiction story about one of the sea’s naturally-existent odd couples illustrates how certain species depend upon their symbiotic relationship for survival.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Nadine! And thank you so much for coming to share your book journey with us today!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

NADINE: The idea for RANDALL AND RANDALL came while researching unusual animal relationships ( I actually Googled ‘unusual animals relationships’, I think). When I saw that a specific species of goby fish and snapping shrimp have this symbiotic relationship, a light bulb went on. I said to myself, “There is a story here!  I don’t know exactly what yet, but there is a story here.”

 

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

NADINE: Writing this story didn’t take too long.  The more I researched these two animals and their natural relationship, the idea for their friendship (and their slight moment of animosity) formed rather quickly. Their true behaviors in the ocean were so comical to me that the plot just rolled out.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

NADINE: RANDALL AND RANDALL didn’t go through a ton of revisions. I was pretty satisfied from the beginning with the overall storyline that came out of my head. The Spanish language needed to be tweaked often because I knew I wasn’t going to get it correct right away. That was probably where I spent most of my revision time, on the Spanish.

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

NADINE: I had taken it to my critique groups at least twice. I wasn’t getting a lot of advice or feedback that was major. t just felt that it was ready to submit.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

NADINE: RANDALL AND RANDALL is not the manuscript I queried to the editor Alayne Christian at Blue Whale initially. I had queried her with my book that is coming out November 1 titled PORCUPETTE AND MOPPET. It just so happens that R&R is coming out first. I do not have an agent but at the time I queried Blue Whale, I had queries out to agents. I saw that Blue Whale was looking to grow their list and I felt that PORCUPETTE AND MOPPET was what they were looking for.

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

NADINE: I received an email from Alayne two days after submitting saying that she would like to talk to me about it and when would be a good time. We arranged a call for two days after that email. I was offered a contract for it. I didn’t accept immediately since the manuscript was out to agents, one of which expressed interest as well. As the industry expectation and out of courtesy, I had contacted that agent to let her know of Blue Whale’s offer. After about two weeks, I had made my decision to sign with Blue Whale. During that time, I had sent Alayne RANDALL AND RANDALL, which she also wanted to sign. I was just beyond thrilled at this point!

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

NADINE: Honestly, I don’t think I did anything! How boring, right?  I should have made one of your amazing chocolate recipes Susanna from Would You Read It Wednesdays and celebrated with that!

 

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

 

NADINE: I didn’t have any experience with contracts so I wasn’t completely sure of what was acceptable, but it turns out that yes, the contract was extremely fair and is pretty much right on target with what I hear about other authors’ deals. Since I submitted right to a publishing house and without an agent, my royalties are slightly higher.

 

SUSANNA: Tell us a little bit about the editorial process?

NADINE: There weren’t too many big changes to the manuscript. Alayne had suggested some areas needed clarification since the one Randall is singing and then he goes into spotting a predator. The way I had it written, it seemed as if Randall was still singing when he wasn’t. The ending is stronger too because of a suggestion Alayne had made.

 

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about your experience of the illustration process?

NADINE: Aren’t the illustrations just so awesome??  From the beginning, Alayne had sent me a list of illustrators she had come across and whose worked she liked. I was encouraged to look at all their online portfolios and share my thoughts with her. We then agreed on Polina. I can’t quite pinpoint why I was drawn to Polina’s art, but that it just felt that my Randalls would be in good hands with her. I saw proofs and sketches along the way. I didn’t really have my own vision of what the characters or the setting was to look like. Polina’s attention to detail in the undersea world she created is impressively meticulous. That part I never imaged. As far as art notes, looking back, I think the copy I sent initially may have had one or two about the animals that the goby Randall was calling predators. I realize now that they weren’t necessary. So, no. I don’t think I had art notes.

R&R interior page

text copyright Nadine Poper 2019, illustration copyright Polina Gortman 2019

 

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

NADINE: Yes. Kirkus actually awarded RANDALL AND RANDALL a blue star. That was thrilling.

 

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

NADINE: The offer came April of 2018 and real copies will be available October 1, 2019. So 18 months from query to release.

 

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

NADINE: Blue Whale has created a book trailer and has sent the book out for reviews. Alayne is busy on social media too.

 

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

NADINE: Well, I started writing seriously in 2013 so about 5 years.

Porcupette and Moppet cover

coming soon from Nadine Poper

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Nadine!  We so appreciate everything you shared with us today and wish you the very best with RANDALL AND RANDALL and your forthcoming PORCUPETTE AND MOPPET!

 

nadine-poper

Author Nadine Poper

www.nadinepoper.weebly.com
PORCUPETTE AND MOPPET 2019 
RANDALL AND RANDALL 2019
“A clever introduction to a scientific concept with an accessible moral.”-Kirkus
Follow me on Twitter
Friend me on Facebook

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon

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, 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

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?

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Shannon Stocker!

Hello, Everyone!

So glad to see you all again!

I hope you all had wonderful summers, got the kiddos off to school, and are ready to return to writing, reading, teaching, and/or librarying refreshed and full of energy and enthusiasm!

Jumping back into blogging gear with a Tuesday Debut seems just right, because there is nothing like a brand new author sharing her brand new book to inspire us all!

I am thrilled to introduce today’s debut-ess, Shannon Stocker, and her entertaining picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAY!

CAN U SAVE THE DAY
By Shannon Stocker
Illustrated by Tom Disbury
Sleeping Bear Press
Pub date: August 15, 2019
Fiction
Age range: 4-8 (and up)

Can U Save The Day

SYNOPSIS:

Distraught by bullying consonants, the vowels decide to leave the farm (and the story), one by one. Once A, E, I, and O are gone, a mess of concerned consonants and stammering animals must face a pending (but humorous) disaster that can only be saved by U.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Shannon!  Thank you so much for joining us today.  Where did the idea for this book come from?

SHANNON: CAN U SAVE THE DAY began as one of those “moments-before-you-fall-asleep” ideas. I couldn’t shake the thought that a book with departing vowels would be funny, and animal sounds without vowels kept playing in my drowsy mind. Eventually, when a stanza came to me in rhyme while I was still trying to sleep, I got out of bed and started writing. By the next afternoon I had a great idea and a horrible first draft. In that drafting process, though, I googled a number of farm animals to play with the sounds they make as vowels departed (first A, then E, etc), trying to see how I could create fun noises and unusual rhymes (like “brk” and “crk” instead of bark and croak, though that particular rhyme didn’t make it into the final story). I played with words and sounds a ton during the writing process.

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

SHANNON: I wrote my first draft in late 2015 and it was purchased in spring 2017, so it took well over a year to polish this enough to be sold. Although I have an agent now (whom I adore), I sold CAN U SAVE THE DAY without an agent. I do think it can be harder to get an agent than a book contract. Subbing to houses that are open to unsolicited queries and meeting editors at conferences and online events is such a great way to get your work noticed.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

SHANNON: Since this was only the second manuscript I’d ever written, I don’t think I really understood how bad it was. I had no inciting incident, no real reason for the vowels to leave, and no stakes. But since I didn’t know any better, I subbed it to some agents and editors, got a few nibbles with great feedback, and kept revising. I worked with critique partners and revised more, and more, and more. Eventually I paid for a critique with my fabulous editor, Sarah Rockett (Sleeping Bear), and she made a few additional suggestions that really resonated. Fifty plus revisions after that first draft, I’m so excited that it’s actually come to fruition.

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

SHANNON: This is such a great question. When I’d just started writing, my critique partners were also newbies. When they all felt the manuscript was ready, I began subbing to a few agents (though in hindsight, I think we all jumped the gun a bit). Many people had told me that agents rarely respond, so I took the responses that I did get seriously. I didn’t really get constructive feedback from any agents but I did get positive remarks on my voice and the idea behind the story, so I took an online class. In one of the sessions, I had the opportunity to read the manuscript aloud and everyone loved it. I knew I was onto something.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

SHANNON: I submitted to my first agent in January 2016. I always submitted through guidelines as outlined on website/SCBWI/Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators/#MSWL/etc. I did as much research as I could to see if an agent would be a good fit, looking at their client list, books they repped, and houses to which they subbed, before deciding if I should query someone. I joined Publisher’s Marketplace and kept up with the picture book section religiously, too. I would also scour the internet for interviews and follow people on Twitter to see if I thought we’d gel, or to try and find some little pertinent pearl that I could mention in a query to show them I’d done my homework. Spring 2016, I got a nibble from an editor at a different house from Sleeping Bear (I’d subbed through the slush pile). She and I made revisions, then she took it to the other editors for approval. That’s really the first time I started increasing the stakes, focusing on the bullying theme, and she even had me take the animals off the farm. I learned a lot from her and really appreciated her insight. Unfortunately, someone on the editorial team felt the idea was too abstract and it got cut. So, I continued attending conferences, getting feedback, and revising. In early 2017, I paid for an online critique with Sarah Rockett (Sleeping Bear). She suggested I clean up the logistics of the manuscript and remove the vowels from all the dialogue when they left. She also wanted the letters to stay on the farm, and she wanted more tension. Once the manuscript went to Acquisitions, I received an offer for representation from my first agent. Unfortunately, that relationship ended shortly after it began due to some honesty issues. It was a really heartbreaking and confusing time; I liked her, personally, but couldn’t trust her. I didn’t know if all agents would be like that (they’re not). So I ended up selling the book myself, hiring a contract attorney, and asking my published CPs for advice.

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

SHANNON: I actually got an email instead of a call! Every time I saw Sarah’s name in my inbox, my stomach dropped. I’d always heard about getting “the call,” so I didn’t want to get an email from her; I thought an email would equal bad news. Sarah had written to me at the end of April, 2017, to tell me it was going to Acquisitions. At the end of May, she wrote to tell me CAN U had made the 2019 list. My husband and I share an office and our desks face one another, but computer monitors obscure our view of the other. My jaw dropped and my voice slid up the musical scale as I let out a sort of “Greeeeeeeeg” whoop, and I stood up so he could see me above my monitor. He said, “What? WHAT?” My whole body just vibrated, I was so excited. I screamed, “THEY WANT MY BOOK!” Then I called my CPs and we all squealed and danced together. That’s such an amazing moment!

SUSANNA: It sure is!  It’s the moment we all dream about, and it’s just as exciting every time it happens – it never gets old! 🙂 How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SHANNON: I celebrated signing my book contract with a bottle of champagne and a family night. The whole family chattered about how fun the launch would be. We talked about party possibilities, maybe writing a song to go with the book (which I did), maybe doing a music video to go with the song (which we shot a week ago), and, of course, cake. You can’t have kids and a party without cake. It was hard for them to understand that all these things wouldn’t happen for two years, but somehow, they kept their excitement up that whole time. The launch was a blast!

Inspirations

Shannon’s inspirations

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

SHANNON: I’d done a lot of research about first-time authors and publication, so I knew there wasn’t a lot of money to be expected. Royalty rates and number of author copies allowed were both reasonable from Sleeping Bear; I’d definitely recommend people submit to them. The quality of their books is fantastic, and Sarah’s been so communicative. I was surprised by a publication timeline that was over two years away, but I’ve since come to learn that’s pretty normal for many of the smaller to medium-sized houses. Patience is non-negotiable in this field!

SUSANNA: Tell us about the editorial process…

SHANNON: Honestly, this may have been my favorite part of the whole process, outside of that initial rush you get with the first draft. Sarah knew exactly what she wanted from me, but she was always respectful of my vision. When I wanted something she didn’t, she clearly (and kindly) explained why we needed to move in a different direction. I never felt like I was losing my voice, and I never worried that the meter of the story would be lost (it’s a rhyming manuscript). It was an open, honest collaboration that led to a story I loved even more. We had several back-and-forths before we got to the manuscript on shelves today.

SUSANNA: Tell us about your experience of the illustration process…

SHANNON: Sarah initially asked me to send her names of illustrators that I liked, which pleasantly surprised me. I’d been told to expect I would have no input regarding illustrations, so I tried hard not to really envision my characters. I didn’t want to be disappointed. Still, that’s almost impossible to do! So when Sarah told me that Tom Disbury would be illustrating, I looked him up and was thrilled. I envisioned playful letters and animals in the same style and colors that he used. I hadn’t envisioned them on a simple, white background, but that’s why I don’t illustrate – I don’t have an eye for that kind of thing! I just love what he did with the book. Sketches came to me each step of the way in digital form until I received the final pdf of the book. What a fabulous moment that is!

work buddy

Shannon’s work buddy 🙂

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

SHANNON: I did, I did! We celebrated the Kirkus review because it was so positive, and I know Kirkus can be tough on authors. The last line of the review is, “Stocker’s wordplay is icing on the cake.” We printed it out and stuck it to a window right by our kitchen table. Because this industry is so tough, we celebrate each little step as a family. I think it’s important to get excited when something positive happens! SLJ’s review actually just came out last week (after the release), but it’s also very good. A snippet from that says the book is a “fun rhyming addition to elementary libraries and classrooms.” It also says CAN U “will guarantee laughs as a read-aloud and will teach a lesson in cooperation and respect and give some pointers on how to apologize.” I’m thrilled with the two reviews I’ve received so far!

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

SHANNON: I received an offer on May 30, 2017, and the book released on August 15, 2019. But it’s sooooooo worth the wait.

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

SHANNON: Sorry, can’t help here – the book just released on August 15th. I’d love to know this answer for other authors, though. Great question!

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

SHANNON: Being pretty new to the market, I’m still learning a lot about this. I’ve been in touch with Sleeping Bear’s publicist about a number of things, though, ranging from library readings to school visits to bookstore signings. I’ve been impressed with Sleeping Bear on so many levels. They really care about their authors and they want their books to succeed. They work directly with schools on book orders prior to signings, and they’ve submitted CAN U for a number of reviews that haven’t come in yet. The design team also helped with the bookmark, flyers, and activity sheets.

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

SHANNON: I love Canva, so I’ve used that for flyers and Twitter banners and things like that – it’s very user-friendly. But probably my favorite thing that I, personally, have done for promotion is to write a song to accompany the book (co-written with my Nashville friend, Scott Sandford). I’m a musician (singer/songwriter/guitarist/pianist), so it’s fun to combine my passions this way. Last weekend, we filmed a music video to go with the song—my brother-in-law, Mark, is editing and producing it. I’ve seen a couple clips and cannot wait to see the finished product! I bought little animal ear headbands that kids can wear during readings, so they can each have their own animal sound (or one person can wear the headband and lead their own group). The video will be hysterical. Lots of kids, but a couple adults have cameos when you least expect it. I also asked an illustrator friend, Scott Soeder, to do face painting at my launch (my illustrator lives in England). Scott was a huge hit and the kids loved having the animals and letters painted on their faces! I’m also doing a blog tour and a few podcasts; you can find a listing of all those events on my website.

SUSANNA: Your video sounds terrific!  I can’t wait to see it! 🙂 How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

SHANNON: Songwriting was my first love, but I always wanted to write picture books and novels. I finally gathered the courage to quit my job in the fall of 2015 and give my dream a chance. I sold my first picture book in May 2017. I feel pretty lucky—I know that’s not a long period of time in this industry.

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

SHANNON: For every success story there are hundreds of rejections, and that can be a tough place to live. Thick skin is mandatory. But, in my opinion, so are critique partners. I would not be the writer I am today—no, the personI am today—without my critique partners. When you get knocked down, critique partners do more than help you back up. They actually lie down and cry with you first, THEN they help you back up. They’ve been knocked down, too, so they understand. When things get tough, they remind you of all the wonderful reasons you love writing. They will point out the reasons a manuscript is working, but also why it’s not…gently, but firmly. They are my first litmus test, encouraging me when a manuscript is agent-ready…and helping me revise when it’s not. We’ve been through so much together already that I can call on any number of them if my world blew up, and they would be there for me. If you don’t have a critique group, I strongly encourage you to consider finding a partner or two. Check the SCBWI website, look for local people, go to conferences, join 12×12…do the work, but reach out to people, too. You shouldn’t necessarily initially expect to join a critique group with a bunch of agented, published authors, but rather look for other newer writers with whom you jibe…and look for writing that resonates with you. Then ask those people if they want to be your CP and form your own group. Or ask if they have a group you can join. Nothing is easy in this business. But it’s all so much more worthwhile when we band together.

thumbnail_462A2223

Author Shannon Stocker

WEB LINKS:
Twitter: @iwriteforkidz (https://twitter.com/iwriteforkidz)
Instagram: @iwriteforkidz (https://www.instagram.com/iwriteforkidz/)
Thanks so much for having me!!!

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Shannon! We are all grateful to you for sharing your experience and expertise and wish you the very best of success with this and future books!

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

You may purchase Shannon’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)
Amazon
Barnes&Noble
Indiebound

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 🙂

Bonus late addition – Shannon’s super fun music video!

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

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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Stacey Corrigan!

Hello, my friends!

We haven’t had a Tuesday Debut in awhile… I guess we’re all in summer vacation mode 😊 But I’m happy to say we have one today!  And what better than a little inspiration in the middle of summer?  Maybe you’ll head off to the beach after reading this post and find yourself scribbling down a great new idea!!!

So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to our newest debut-ess, Stacey Corrigan!

The Pencil Eater
By: Stacey Corrigan
Illustrations by Steve Page
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing
August 6, 2019
Fiction, ages 4-8

The Pencil Eater Cover

The Pencil Eater hunts for tasty treats but encounters some obstacles along the way. Frustrated by his efforts, The Pencil Eater visits an elementary school and a whole new set of problems await.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Stacey!  Thank you so much for joining us today.  We’re thrilled to have you!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

STACEY: I teach second grade and pencils in my classroom always disappear. About five years ago, I had just sharpened a bunch of pencils and the pencils were gone 15 minutes later. In frustration, I said, “Second graders are pencil eaters.” My students laughed. I wrote down the idea and started on my very first manuscript that weekend.

 

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

STACEY: It took 5 years to write the book in its current form. That original manuscript was terrible. I wrote what was more like a character sketch, thought it was brilliant, Googled “publishers accepting manuscripts,” and sent away. If you are new, don’t do that. Almost every picture book on the shelf has been through extensive critiques and revisions.

Luckily, an editor took the time to write me a very nice rejection letter. She very politely told me that while my premise was good, I needed to work on my craft. I Googled “picture book craft” and discovered the KidLit World.

I shelved THE PENCIL EATER for a bit and found some critique partners. After a year or so writing other stories, I went back to THE PENCIL EATER. I gave it a plot, added some humor, and took it through several rounds of critiques and edits. Illustrator Steve Page and publisher Tannya Derby also shaped the story into what it is today.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

STACEY: I must have revised THE PENCIL EATER 100 times.  I found critique partners extremely helpful. I could not have gotten published without them. They are so supportive and knowledgeable. A couple of my CPs are also illustrators and taught me how to leave room for the illustrator. One suggested dummying out THE PENCIL EATER. That helped me cut a lot of words and I recommend using this strategy. To learn more about it, check out Wendy Martin’s post on Tara Lazar’s blog here.

 

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

STACEY: A couple of my CPs yelled at me (in all caps and everything) and told me to stop revising and to send it out.

After that, I read it to a class full of Kindergarteners who didn’t know me. They listened to it and loved it. One of them drew a picture of The Pencil Eater on their own. That pretty much cinched it for me. It was time to submit.

 

SUSANNA: I love that your CPs gave you a kick in the…, er, that is, gave you encouragement to send out your ms! 😊 Hurray for Cps!!!  When and how did you submit?

STACEY: I was a member of the KidLit411 Facebook Page and read a thread about MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing. I was impressed by Tannya Derby’s honesty and how she handled a tough situation, so I queried MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing. I followed their submission guidelines and heard back from them a few months later.

 

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

STACEY: I was having a terrible day and remember getting the email notification thinking, “Great, another rejection.” I opened the email, saw the word “Congratulations!” and burst into tears.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

STACEY: I cried a little, high-fived my family and called my parents to tell them. Then, we ran off to my son’s baseball game. I remember the reality of it set in while I was watching the game.

 

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

STACEY: As a small publisher, Tannya was very clear about the terms of the contract early on in the process so they were exactly what I expected. MCP doesn’t give advances but does have higher royalties so I am happy with the arrangement.

 

SUSANNA: How was the editorial process?

STACEY: Tannya involves both the author and illustrator in the editing process.  The whole book is a huge collaboration.

 

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about your experience of the illustration process?

STACEY: Tannya sent me digital illustrator samples and asked me to pick which one I liked best. I picked Steve. He nailed the visions I had of The Pencil Eater. In fact, an early version of my manuscript was The Purple Pencil Eater. I dropped the word purple, but Steve somehow knew that my MC was purple.

At first, I was super intimidated about giving feedback. Both Tannya and Steve have years more experience than I do and I didn’t feel comfortable making suggestions. But they were really good about asking me what I thought. It was the best experience. I think that’s what makes MacLaren-Cochrane a great publisher to work with.

 

 

SUSANNA: That sounds amazing, Stacey.  I know the amount of input authors and illustrators get varies from publisher to publisher and editor to editor, but it seems like you got to be very involved which must have been fantastic on so many levels – both artistically in terms of creating your book and educationally in terms of learning about the process.  Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?

STACEY: I haven’t yet.

 

 

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

STACEY: It took about 26 months.

 

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

STACEY: Promoting the book was one area I was nervous about. I am quite shy around strangers and am not much of a salesperson. I quickly learned though that so many people in my day to day life are willing to help. Friends, family members, my agent, my work colleagues, and members of the writing community have really come through for me and put me in contact with the right people.  My husband found a venue for my release party, a cousin wrote a grant to fund an author visit, another organized a summer park event around The Pencil Eater, my school is throwing a big event at the beginning of the year, and the list just keeps growing.

I have also been sending out flyers for Author Visits and have been doing blog tours all summer.

 

 

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

STACEY: It took me about two years. I credit that to having great CPs, good timing, and a little luck.

 

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

STACEY: Don’t give up. If you are serious about writing, learn the craft, find good critique partners, and believe in the process. Lots of the CPs and writers I started with are starting to get agents and get published right now. It takes time but it has been worth the wait!

Stacey Corrigan Headshot

Author Stacey Corrigan

Twitter: @StaceyCorrigan3

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Stacey! We are all grateful to you for sharing your experience and expertise and wish you the very best of success with this and future books!

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

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

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

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Marla LeSage!

So apparently this is the last Tuesday Debut on the schedule for about 6 weeks – must be summer! 😊 But that’s okay.  I think we can all use a break to lie on the beach and work on our tans (and by that of course I mean slather ourselves in SPF 1000 and chase around after the kiddos from dawn til bedtime 😊)

I’m thrilled to be sharing today’s author/illustrator and picture book because the book had at least some of its origins in the writing contests I run here on my blog!  How cool is that?

Marla entered two contests with stories that centered on the same wonderful character.  She placed in the 2015 Halloweensie Contest with Pirate Prepares For Halloween, and in the 2016 Valentiny Contest with Pirate Gets A Valentine, (in addition to placing and receiving honorable mention in several other contests over the years with other stories.) Eventually, she came to submit versions of those stories and lo and behold, this terrific picture book came to be!  When you read it, I’m sure you’ll be as glad as I am that she entered those contests! Who knows? The stories might not have been written without the contests! 😊

Pirate Year Round
Written & Illustrated by Marla LeSage
Acorn Press, May 31, 2019
Fiction ages 4 – 8

thumbnail_Final Pirate Year Round Cover web

In four seasonal stories Pirate faces her fear of the water, chooses a Halloween costume, gets through winter with the help of her friends, and steals the show!

 

SUSANNA:  Welcome, Marla!  So glad to have you aboard! 😊 🏴☠️ Where did the idea for this book come from?

MARLA:  When my son was about 4, he didn’t want to go to swimming lessons and told me, “I’m a pirate and pirates don’t swim!” It was such a great line I knew I had to use it in a story. I was still struggling to write a first draft when I came across your Halloweensie contest. The prompt: a halloween story for kids under 100 words using the words costume, dark, and haunted. I abandoned my idea for a pirate who didn’t swim and decided to use the pirate for my Halloweensie story instead. I thought it might be fun to have the pirate dress up as a ballerina. I was imagining a male pirate but in then end decided to make her a girl. My daughter was taking ballet lessons at the time and I suspect that influenced my choices. The story tied for 3rdin the contest! A few months later, you ran your Valentiny story contest and I was so in love with Pirate that I wrote a second story which placed 7thin the contest. But at that time I was not imagining Pirate in a book.

 

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

MARLA: Pirate Year Round contains four stories in one picture book which is a somewhat unusual format for the genre. It took me about two weeks to write each story. So about eight weeks total but the last two were written 2-3 years after the first two. It usually takes much longer for me to write a picture book manuscript. I have a few manuscripts I’ve been working on for years! But I think it really helped to have a prompt and a deadline.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

MARLA: Revising is writing, so yes, many, many revisions! To make your deadline, have good rhyme and meter, and a good story I thought about my entry all day long. I think I spent the two weeks with a paper and pencil in hand revising. When writing in rhyme I also keep the following handy: a rhyme dictionary, dictionary.com, and a highlighter to mark stressed beats. Keeping the manuscript or a scrap of paper on the bedside table helps too – the answer to plot or meter problems often reveals itself just as you’re about to fall asleep!

 

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

MARLA: I didn’t! The Halloween & Valentine stories were well polished but I had no intention of submitting them for publication, they were just fun stories that I’d written for your contests.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

MARLA: Because I am an illustrator I’d also taken advantage of the contest prompts to build my portfolio. I’d even used Pirate on a self-promo postcard that I sent out to publishers. I honestly don’t know if it was the Pirate postcard or another postcard that caught the eye of my publisher but based on the timing I suspect it was another postcard. Terrilee Bulger of Acorn Press contacted me about illustrating another author’s manuscript but mentioned that she’d noticed Pirate in my portfolio as well as the two stories on my blog and expressed interest in publishing them. I didn’t think too much of it at first but agreed to look at the manuscript she had contacted me about. When that project didn’t pan out she asked again about the Pirate stories. I sent the manuscripts and she liked them but asked if I envisioned them as separate stories or as four stories in one book. After some careful consideration and research I suggested that if it were to be a volume of stories, I would prefer to have four seasonal stories rather than two and pitched a spring and summer story. (In the summer story Pirate would rather do her chores than swim!)

 

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

MARLA: It really felt like it took forever to get the acceptance email! We’d been back and forth for months, I think, on the project she’d initially contacted me about. After I pitched the additional two stories the yes was fairly quick but then I had to write the stories and wait again for an official acceptance. Once I finally sent in the text for all four stories, the response was fairly quick – maybe a month? I’m not sure though – I accidentally deleted all the emails! It took a while after that to get the contract. At least it felt that way, but I think it was relatively quick for the publishing industry.

 

SUSANNA: Hahaha!  You made me laugh out loud with that comment about deleting all the emails!  Isn’t that just the way of things sometimes?! 😊 How did you celebrate signing your contract?

MARLA: I did a little happy dance, told my family & closest friends. Nothing big though! I guess I waited to have the book in hand to really celebrate – my daughter insisted I buy a cake for the book birthday & I have some locally brewed strawberry apple cider that I’m saving for after the book launch.

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 6.21.40 PM

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

MARLA: Based on feedback from fellow Canadian author/illustrators the contract was pretty standard. I had a generous timeline for completing the artwork and the royalties were standard for an author/illustrator (10%). The advance was small but adequate/fair. The contract was accidentally sent with an advance listed lower than we had agreed too but when I pointed it out, my publisher was very quick to respond and correct the error.

SUSANNA: Tell us about the editorial process.

MARLA: There were no suggested changes to the story.

 

SUSANNA: Tell us about your experience of the illustration process…

MARLA: This is my writing and illustrating debut but I didn’t have a dummy when I submitted the manuscript, only 6 sample illustrations. And my sample illustrations were older. I felt that my skill had grown and my style had evolved so after receiving my contract I started the illustration process from scratch. Well, almost from scratch. I’d thumbnailed out the four stories to see how they might fit into a single picture book before pitching it as that. After I’d received the advance, I sent in a very rough dummy for approval and ended up asking for more pages to improve the pacing.

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 6.21.23 PM

It was really fun to complete my first fully finished illustration project. But I when I got to page 32 of painting I kept thinking – if you’d stuck with 32 you’d be finished by now! The book is 48 pages… Other than that little voice in my head it was perfectly manageable.

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 6.21.10 PM

The only surprise was the book cover. I’d drawn a white banner with a hand-lettered title & when I was sent the digital proof, the designer had made my banner bigger & red. He also added Year Roundusing the style of text I’d created. I was really surprised but I absolutely love it. It really pops now!

 

 

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

MARLA: I haven’t seen any reviews yet.

 

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

MARLA: From the date I signed the contract to the publication date was 11 months.

 

 

SUSANNA: What was your print run?

MARLA: The initial print run is 2000 copies.

 

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

MARLA: It hasn’t been out that long yet!

 

 

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

MARLA: I’m not certain, honestly. They offered to print bookmarks and invitations/posters for my book launch. And they do have someone who does promotion.

 

 

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

MARLA: I made a book trailer – I’m not sure how effective that is for marketing purposes. For me it was more about doing a fun project with my kids. You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubKpDA4vEes Did you notice that the cat looks just like Pirate’s cat?

I’ve done a couple of blog posts like this but with the goal of giving back to the writing community by sharing my journey. I do plan to do a blog post soon about Pirate’s cat (he’s based on a foster cat rescued from a feral cat colony). I also had an article about my debut in the Canadian Military Family Magazine – that was fun!

I’ve done a few school visits already & plan to do more this fall through my local Writers in Schools Program/Literary Festival.

A friend suggested I contact boutiques/stores in the province who might be interested in carrying my book – seaside towns especially. Life has been a bit hectic for me lately and my dedicated art/writing time is much tighter than I like so I’ve done it yet. But I still hope to if it’s not something my publisher has already taken care of.

 

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

MARLA: Five years!

 

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

MARLA: While my submission story is not what we expect when we start out on this journey, it is not uncommon and just goes to show how much luck is involved. It also shows that we have to be ready for that lucky moment – get yourself out there and be ready for luck to find you!

 

 

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

 

thumbnail_Pirate author photo

Author/Illustrator Marla LeSage with her scurvy crew! 😊

@marlalesage on twitter & instagram

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

You may purchase Marla’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)
Amazon (Canada)
Nimbus Publishing

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, 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

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?

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Sarah Hoppe!

It’s time for Tuesday Debut, and today’s debut is very nearly a double!

We have our lovely and talented debut author, Sarah Hoppe, and her debut picture book is one of the earliest to be released by the brand new Blue Whale Press, owned and operated by Alayne Christian and Steve Kemp.  Be sure to check out their site and submissions page!

But first, let’s have a look at Sarah’s beautiful book!!!

Who Will? Will You?
Author: Sarah Hoppe
Illustrator: Milanka Reardon
Date of Publication: August 2019
Fiction, Picture Book
Age Range: 4-8

Who Will Will You Cover Reveal Official

Lottie’s discovery of an extraordinary pup on the beach leads her to search all over town for someone to help.  It takes someone special to care for this very special pup.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Sarah!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

SARAH: The idea came to me, in part, due to my son’s love of nonfiction.  He always has a stack of nonfiction by his bed, for pre-bedtime perusal.  He loves animals and had a seal book he shared with me one evening.  A baby seal is called a pup, and so are some other baby animals.  I started thinking about a case of pup confusion and the story fell into place in my head.

 

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

SARAH: Though this is a work of fiction, it has a lot of animal facts within the story. The story structure was there, but it took a while to research the animals I wanted to include.  I also wrote some back matter. It was important to me to make the back matter fun, engaging, and most importantly, true.  I got books from the library, I poured over the internet.  It was fun, but I would get burnt out and take breaks.  That process took a while, working on and off with other things as well.

 

IMG_6046

Sarah’s writing space – so pretty 😊

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

SARAH: My story went through a few revisions.  Who Will? Will You? is different from my other manuscripts, in that it had a definite outline right from the beginning.  I’m usually a lot looser when I write, but with this story, I knew a had to happen, then b, then c. But, this is the one getting published, so maybe I should outline more!

 

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

SARAH: I knew it was ready when all the facts were there, the repetitive lines made sense, and I addressed the feedback from critique partners.

One of the many things critique partners are great for is bringing new mindsets.  Sometimes you don’t even see what’s wrong in your story.  My opening lines have changed, but the main character was initially racing while crab-walking.  I thought it was so cute, and showed off her spunky, daring nature. Several people who read it thought the main character was a crab.  I thought something like, Where on earth did you get that idea?  Then I re-read it with fresh eyes and realized I had written an ill-worded confusing paragraph.

 

SUSANNA: That is such a good point, Sarah.  We live with our stories in our heads – we’re the ones that invented everything – so it all makes sense to us!  It takes objective readers to show us where things might not be clear!  When and how did you submit?

SARAH: I am currently seeking an agent.  It is awesome, though, that are a lot of publishers who will accept unagented submissions.

I’ve sent many submissions directly to publishers through my writing journey.  I submitted Who Will? Will You? plus a query letter directly to the publishing house as well, through a writer’s group called 12×12. Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Writing Challenge is a fantastic group to be in.  I’d consider it a must for new writers.  So, some members of the group get a chance to submit through 12×12, and you bypass the slush pile.  That’s what happened to me with Blue Whale Press.

 

SUSANNA: I second a hearty two-thumbs-up recommendation for 12×12!  When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! ☺)

SARAH: I had received a couple of rejections, and the manuscript was out on multiple submissions when I got an email from Blue Whale Press.  They wanted to set up a phone call.  Well, I didn’t want to be overly optimistic, but I thought they wouldn’t call if they weren’t interested.  They weren’t going to call to tell me how horrible it was, right? Right?! Well, maybe they wanted me to revise and resubmit.  Either way, I was a ball of nerves.

But Alayne Christian at Blue Whale was so nice!  Blue Whale Press is a small publisher, and I felt that was perfect for my first book.  I knew I wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.  It has been a wonderful experience.

 

SUSANNA:  Alayne is amazing! I know you’ll have a great experience with her! How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SARAH: I called my mom!  Then I called my sister and my husband.  Then I danced around with my dogs.

 

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

SARAH: I don’t have an agent and didn’t know what to expect in a contract.  I became a member of The Author’s Guild and used their resources to study my contract before I signed. It was the right move for me and I’m excited about the results.

 

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

SARAH: There will always be revisions, but most of mine were pretty minor.  They asked for an extra (small) scene and made a couple of wording changes.  The back matter was shortened.

The most significant change was the title.  It’s completely different!  I submitted it with the title Little Lost Pup.  I honestly didn’t love it, but couldn’t think of a better replacement.  Well, they didn’t love it either and gave multiple suggestions.  I was strangely attached to something I didn’t really like.  I think it had been Little Lost Pup for so long, that it was hard to imagine it any other way.  Alayne was extremely patient with me.  She explained why she felt it needed a new title, and I agreed.  Then it became easier to let it go.

 

SUSANNA: I love the title you came up with, so, well done!  What was your experience of the illustration process like?

SARAH: One benefit of working with a small press is the amount of feedback I was able to give.  Alayne and I looked through artists’ portfolios together (via email) and picked our favorites.  I’ve seen sketches, rough copies and finished digital files.  I was asked my opinion on the look of the people and animals in the story. I’ve been included and valued every step of the way.

When I read a book, images just pop into my head. Yes, Sarah, that’s the magic of books, you know. Even if the author says a character looks one way, I have some image already there and it’s not leaving.

That’s how it was with Who Will? Will You?  For reasons unknown to me, in my head, the illustrations looked like Felicia Bond’s work in the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books.

I had looked at Milanka Reardon’s portfolio.  I knew her work was beautiful and I knew it was different from Felicia Bond’s style. Still, I wasn’t ready for the main character, Lottie, to come to life like she did.

Both Felicia and Milanka are talented illustrators, but Milanka was truly meant for this text. She created a world of pastel backgrounds and detailed expressions.  It was nothing like I thought but better than I imagined.

I didn’t submit the story with art notes, other than to specify the kind of pup at the beginning.  The reader won’t know what it is, but the illustrator needed to.

 

 

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

SARAH: About one year.

 

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

SARAH: Blue Whale has arranged interviews on blogs for me. They’ve created a beautiful book trailer.  Alayne featured it at an SCBWI event. And they have been submitting copies for reviews as promised.

 

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

SARAH: I’ve really tried to up my social media game.  I’ve sought and completed blog interviews.  I will do some local book tours next school year when the book is out.  I will reach out to the local writing group and the local library.

 

 

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

SARAH: About two years.

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Sarah!  It was generous of you to share your writing experience with us!  We all wish you the best of luck with this and future books!!!

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Author Sarah Hoppe

Twitter: @Sarahlhoppe

 

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

As yet, there are no links for purchase or pre-order, but please keep an eye out!  The book is due for publication in August!

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat