Tuesday Debut – Presenting Megan Lacera!

Welcome to another edge-of-your-seat episode of Tuesday Debut, especially thrilling today because it involves ZOMBIES!!!

Don’t be scared 😊

My fierce guard dogs and I will protect you 😊

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This is a fun Debut because it’s a wife/husband author/illustrator team – something we haven’t seen here yet. Their book was also released simultaneously in English and Spanish – something else we haven’t seen here yet!  So without further ado, let’s welcome debut author Megan Lacera and her author/illustrator husband, Jorge Lacera!!!

ZOMBIES DON’T EAT VEGGIES!
LOS ZOMBIS NO COMEN VERDURAS (Spanish edition available simultaneously)

By Megan and Jorge Lacera
Illustrated by Jorge Lacera
Lee and Low Books/Children’s Book Press
April 2, 2019
Picture book/Fiction
Age Range: 4-8

 

SUMMARY

Mo Romero is a zombie who loves nothing more than growing, cooking, and eating vegetables. Tomatoes? Tantalizing. Peppers? Pure perfection! The problem? Mo’s parents insist that their niño eat only zombie cuisine, like arm-panadas and finger foods. They tell Mo over and over that zombies don’t eat veggies. But Mo can’t imagine a lifetime of just eating zombie food and giving up his veggies. As he questions his own zombie identity, Mo tries his best to convince his parents to give peas a chance.

 

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

MEGAN: We wanted to create a zombie book. We love zombie movies, classic horror films. The idea of Mo Romero’s character came to us—a zombie kid who wasn’t sure he wanted to be a zombie. He didn’t fit “the mold.” We zeroed in on his food choices (he’s not into zombie cuisine…he loves vegetables!) because it felt like such a stark contrast to the rest of his world and provided great conflict. We were also very excited to explore Latin-inspired dishes…the result is a lot of puns that keep us (and kiddos) laughing.

mrsromero

 

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

MEGAN: From the very initial conception to the publication date…about five years. That is for a fully illustrated book.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

MEGAN: Tons! On our own, we revised the manuscript dummy countless times. Because we are an author/illustrator duo, our process is very collaborative. We work on the text and art simultaneously, each influencing the other. Once we signed with our agent, we revised again before submission. After finalizing our publication deal with Lee and Low, we went through about ten rounds of revision. Most of these edits at this point weren’t major revisions, more about refinement.

 

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

MEGAN: When we loved it! We had put this story through so much…critiquing the heck out of it, tearing it apart and building it back up….until one day we felt it was ready to fly.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

MEGAN: We are represented by John Cusick at Folio Jr. Interesting twist…we originally signed with his wife, Molly at Folio. A few months into the partnership, Molly moved away from agenting into book scouting and we transitioned to working with John. He handles the submission-to-editors process, negotiates the deals, and much more. He’s excellent.

 

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

MEGAN: From the time we went on submission, to the time we received the offer from Lee and Low, it was about several months. Our agent let us know that there was interest from a few editors, and that those editors would be bringing the project to their acquisition meetings. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at one of those meetings! (SUSANNA: yeah, seriously!)

We received the “call” over email—because the offer letter from our now editor (Jessica Echeverria) was forwarded to us. It was perfect; Jessica understood our vision and intentions for the book so clearly. She connected with the characters from the beginning. And she/Lee and Low offered us a two book-deal which was something we didn’t ask for, but definitely wanted.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

MEGAN: We went out to dinner with our son! We share a lot of we do with him (in age-appropriate ways, of course) and he was excited to celebrate “the big deal.”

zombiefamily

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

MEGAN: As the author and illustrator, we were happy with the contract terms as this is our debut book. The second book being included was great, because it means that we have the chance to build on all we’ve learned with the Lee and Low team on book 1.

For a few more specifics, the deal is for World Rights. We maintain the copyrights to our work. We receive royalty percentages for both the author and illustrator. We are afforded 20 author copies.

Our agent is entitled to 15%, which is the industry standard.

 

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

MEGAN: As mentioned earlier, we went through about ten rounds of revisions with our editor. Many changes were about sharpening; either maximizing the power of a page turn or ensuring a character’s personality was coming through.

The biggest change was to the climax of the story. In our book, Mo Romero is a zombie kid who loves vegetables. He’s different from other zombies, like his parents. As we revised, it became clearer that Mo has to accept his own differences, whether his parents do or not.

 

SUSANNA: Please tell us about your experience of the illustration process. We’re especially interested because it is different from most authors’ sue to the fact that you work as a team!

MEGAN: We get to see everything! Being an author-illustrator team means that we collaborate very closely, which is not like the typical picture book process. Our submission was a fully illustrated dummy (though not final color), and we revised from there.

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Because we submitted this way, we did not include art notes. We do work very closely together to create a cohesive vision for the book.

JORGE: As an artist, my perspective on art notes is to keep them very minimal. Only if there is something truly key to understanding the story that isn’t conveyed in the text. If you have a vision for something, definitely bring it up with your editor. But in general, I think you have to trust the artist and let them bring their own brand of visual storytelling to the project.

ZDEV Gif

 

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

MEGAN: We received a starred review from Kirkus about two months prior to publication. It was amazing! We were stunned and probably read it about 30 times, just to make sure it was real. The reviewer really seemed to get our sense of humor which felt wonderful.

 

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

MEGAN: Hm…nearly two years!

kaiwithzombies

Quality control – kid tested, kid approved by Megan and Jorge’s son 🙂

 

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

MEGAN: Lee and Low has sent ZOMBIES DON’T EAT VEGGIES! to multiple media outlets, reviewers, and promoted the book on their social media accounts. We don’t know everything they’re doing behind the scenes, though we can say that their marketing and publicity team is wonderful to work with.

 

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

MEGAN: We made our own book trailer—including the voice-over work! Travis Jonker (Elementary school librarian, writer of THE VERY LAST CASTLE) was kind enough to premiere it on his blog. You can watch the full trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz8PArUO5Cs

We’ve shared the trailer in many places and use it often when contacting booksellers, librarians, and media outlets. It took a lot of time and resources, but it’s been a great way to share the story. People love video!

Blog tours—yes, we’re happy to be a part of your blog today, Susanna! We’ve also appeared on several other blogs and will continue to share our story this way throughout the year.

Promotion is an on-going event. We reach out to out least one potential outlet each day…including local magazines, book influencers, pop culture-related sites and more.

We will be attending the Texas Library Association Conference the week of April 15th.  We will be doing a panel with several other authors on BIG EMOTIONS IN PICTURE BOOKS. It’s going to be a lot fun—if you’ll be there, we’d love to connect!

Over the coming months, we’ll be visiting schools to share ZOMBIES and our journey as professional creators. We’ll also be doing story times at bookstores and libraries…and more events in the works!

 

SUSANNA: WOW!  You guys are amazing with the marketing/promotion! One potential outlet every day?  I need to step up my game! 😊  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

MEGAN: We’ve been working professionally in entertainment, gaming, and toys for about 15 years. During that time, we’ve always been collaborating on various projects so it’s a bit hard to say. As far as our picture book collaboration journey, it’s been about six years from initial exploration to publication.

 

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

MEGAN: The journey to publication is thrilling, challenging, gratifying, frustrating, and fulfilling. It’s a roller coaster—the highs are amazing and the lows can be quite low. We’ve learned to be patient and kind with ourselves—if you’re on this bookish journey too, prepare for adventure!

 

Megan and Jorge Lacera

Website: http://www.studiolacera.com

Twitter: @Jlacera @MeganLacera

Facebook: @MeganandJorgeLacera

Instagram: @jlacera

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

Readers, if you have questions for Megan and Jorge, please post them in the comments below and if they have time I’m sure they’ll respond!

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

Indiebound
Indiebound Spanish Edition
Amazon
Amazon Spanish Edition
Barnes&Noble
Barnes&Noble Spanish Edition

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

– 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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – A Morning With Grandpa PLUS A Giveaway!!!

I am beyond thrilled to be sharing today’s Perfect Picture Book!

First off, it’s a lovely book that celebrates both the loving relationship between a grandfather and his granddaughter and the importance of mindfulness and the mind/body connection.

Second, it was written by my friend, author and illustrator Sylvia Liu,and is her debut picture book as an author, and it is always wonderful when a Perfect Picture Book has been written by a friend!

Third, it comes with special treats! 🙂

Treat #1 is that Sylvia is joining us today to personally provide the “Resource” section of the post.   She is going to explain in detail how  you can expand on her picture book at home and in the classroom!

Treat #2 is that she is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky winner!

So let’s begin by meeting her!  Hi, Sylvia!

Sylvia Liu pic © K Woodard Photography

Sylvia Liu, author of Morning With Grandpa, also a talented illustrator, and also the co-creator of the not-to-be-missed website Kidlit411 (Photo Credit – Copyright K. Woodard Photography)

Sylvia Liu is an environmental lawyer turned children’s author and illustrator. A MORNING WITH GRANDPA is her debut picture book as an author. She is inspired by oceans, aliens, cephalopods, and more. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with her husband and their two daughters. Visit her online at enjoyingplanetearth.com.

And now, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to her Perfect Picture Book: A Morning With Grandpa!

MorningWithGrandpa_cover

Title:  A Morning With Grandpa

Written By: Sylvia Liu

Illustrated By: Christina Forshay

Lee & Low Books, April 2016, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: relationships (grandparent/grandchild), mindfulness, tai chi, yoga

Opening: “Mei Mei watched Grandpa dance slowly among the flowers in the garden.  He moved like a giant bird stalking through a marsh.  His arms swayed like reeds in the wind.

‘What are you doing, Gong Gong?’ asked Mei Mei.

‘I am practicing tai chi,” said gong Gong.  “This form is called White Crane Spreading Its Wings.’

Brief Synopsis: (from the publisher) Mei Mei learns tai chi from Gong Gong and teaches him yoga. While their styles are different, they enjoy their time together.

Links To Resources:  Today’s resources are detailed below in a special note from author Sylvia Liu.

The Benefits of Tai Chi and Yoga for Kids By Sylvia Liu

As stressed out and busy adults, we know the value of taking a moment out of our hectic days to calm our minds, meditate, or just breathe. Mindfulness relaxes, de-stresses, builds immunity, and promotes mental and physical health.

Tai chi and yoga are mind-body practices from Asia (tai chi originated in China and yoga in India) that promote health through body movement, breathing, and mindfulness. Meditation and qi gong are others.

When I wrote A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, my goal was to share a fun grandparent and grandchild story involving tai chi or qi gong to introduce children to these lesser known practices. I have since learned that children benefit from these practices in so many ways:

  1. Learning mental stillness helps counteract the sensory overload that comes from 24/7 entertainment, excessive screen time, and over scheduled lives.
  1. Tai chi and yoga instill discipline, concentration, and body awareness.
  1. Tai chi and yoga provide physical exercise and challenges in a non competitive way. Yoga increases strength, flexibility, and coordination.
  1. Both tai chi and yoga are rooted in natural forms and poses. Practicing these disciplines help children connect with nature.
  1. The calming, concentration, discipline, and self-confidence that develop with these practices can reduce symptoms of ADHD.
  1. Purposeful movement and concentration help put children in a learning state of mind.

Teachers and parents, when you read A MORNING WITH GRANDPA with your students and children, here are a few activities you can try that are fun and provide stress relief (for you and the kids):

Belly Breathing

Have you ever noticed a baby breathing? Their bellies go up and down, naturally breathing in a way that provides the most oxygen to their bodies.

Breathing to your diaphragm or belly is an integral part of these practices. For this exercise, sit comfortably. Breathe through your nose and slowly fill up with air, directing the air to your belly. Your belly should expand slightly. As you breathe out, empty your lungs first and then your belly. Do a slow count while breathing in (maybe to 3 at first, but later you can count to 5 or more) and breathe out to the same count.

Touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth as you do this breathing exercise.

Relaxation Breathing

 I learned this from yoga: if you exhale for a longer time than you inhale, your body will automatically relax. This is because it causes your vagus nerve to send a signal to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls rest, relaxation, and digestion. (If you take a quick, short breath, you generate the opposite response, signaling your sympathetic system to pumps up your heart rate and get your adrenaline going for a “fight or flight” response).

Inhale to a count of two, hold for a count of one, and then exhale gently counting to four, and hold for a count of one.

Try the Poses

Look up tai chi or yoga poses on YouTube or check out the back matter in the book and give some a try.

Thanks, Susanna, for letting me stop by your site as part of the blog tour for A MORNING WITH GRANDPA!

(Thank YOU so much for joining us, Sylvia, and for offering the giveaway!!! 🙂 )

Further Reading:

The Benefits of Yoga for Kids

Say Yes to Yoga for Kids with Attention Deficit

Studies on Tai Chi Show Many Benefits for Children

A Simple Breathing Exercise to Calm the Mind & Body

Why I Like This Book:  In today’s busy world where so much of our time is spent indoors staring at screens, a book that celebrates physical movement, mindfulness, and being outdoors in nature is so welcome!  And what a wonderful and inspiring role model for young readers!  I think many kids will be up on their feet trying out the tai chi forms and yoga poses demonstrated by Gong Gong and Mei Mei 🙂  I like that both adult and child have something to offer the other, something to teach and something to learn, and that they take each other seriously and are willing to try each other’s activities.  I also think it’s wonderful that Gong Gong accepts that Mei Mei is trying, even though her exuberance might not be quite the way tai chi is usually performed, and doesn’t chide or discourage her, and that she in turn treats him with the same respect when his older body has a hard time with poses that she is strong and flexible enough to manage easily.  The descriptions of the forms are written in lovely, evocative language.  The art is also lovely, making the garden look bright and appealing and making the forms and poses look like fun 🙂  This book won the New Voices Award and it’s no mystery why – it’s a delightful book that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I do!

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

Now for the GIVEAWAY!!!  One lucky person will win a copy of A Morning With Grandpa!  Just leave us a comment below by Tuesday May 3 at 5 PM EDT telling us about your favorite exercise (no that was not intended to be an oxymoron 🙂 ) and/or way to relax!  Names will be tossed in the Randomizer and a random name will be selected at random and announced randomly on Wednesday or Friday 🙂

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see your delightful picks for this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!!