Tuesday Debut – Presenting Caroline Perry!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Today I’m thrilled to introduce Caroline Perry whose debut picture book is exceptionally timely. THE CORGI AND THE QUEEN, releasing today, was written and in production long before the sad event of September 8, 2022, but with the Queen’s passing this lovely book is an uplifting tribute to her and her beloved dogs.

The Corgi and the Queen
written by Caroline Perry
illustrated by Lydia Corry
Godwin Books/Macmillan
publication date 11/22/22

Even a monarch needs a best friend and Queen Elizabeth II found one in a corgi pup she named Susan. From princesshood to queendom the pair forged an unbreakable bond, with Susan even participating in Elizabeth’s wedding day and joining her on honeymoon with Prince Philip. Over the course of her remarkable seventy-year reign the Queen had more than thirty corgi companions, and almost all were direct descendants of her cherished Susan.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Caroline! Thank you so much for joining us today. We’re really looking forward to hearing about this book! Where did the idea for it come from?

CAROLINE: Everyone knows that the Queen adored corgis, and that she had many corgi companions throughout the course of her life. I’ve been a journalist for many years so I always look for the ‘why’—what was it that made Elizabeth love these dogs so much? What was the defining moment or relationship that formed this incredible attachment? When I started my research it wasn’t long before the ‘aha’ moment struck. The story of the young Princess Elizabeth and Susan was utterly enchanting, and it answered the ‘why’ quite succinctly!

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

CAROLINE: Many months! I really immersed myself in the story, researching Queen Elizabeth’s young life in particular. Susan was by Elizabeth’s side for so many of the defining moments in her life—during World War II, when the princess served in a women’s regiment; when Elizabeth married Prince Philip; when her beloved ‘Papa’, King George VI, died, and when she was crowned Queen at the age of 25. Susan was also there when Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, who is now King Charles III. I really sought out the ‘heart’ of the story, and for me, this was Susan being hidden in one of the carriages Elizabeth and Philip rode in on their wedding day, and Susan joining the newlyweds on honeymoon. From here, the rest of the story flowed very naturally as the ‘heart’ is like the book’s North Star.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CAROLINE: I always thought that the concept of a story ‘finding you’ was a myth but in this case, it grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let me go. Of course I had several critiques on the manuscript, and I made many edits along the way, but the version in the book is not hugely different from my original draft. This story really let me know how it wanted to be written!

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

CAROLINE: When I knew that it was a story that I would love to read to my children! As it’s a longer picture book, I had also asked for ‘beta reads’ from a librarian, and from some older elementary-aged kids (not friends, who will always tell you that your work is great, even when it isn’t). The feedback I received was, overwhelmingly, “we want this to be a book, so please make sure that it becomes one!” At this point I knew that it was ready to be sent out into the world.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CAROLINE: I submitted the manuscript to a handful of agents. Allison Remcheck at Stimola Literary Studio replied very shortly after she received it, and she asked if we could set up a chat. She was so enthusiastic about the book, and I loved her personality and the way that her vision for the book was exactly aligned with mine. I knew that she would be the perfect partner so even though I had interest from another agent, I was absolutely delighted to accept Allison’s offer of representation!

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

CAROLINE: We got an expression of interest from my editor, Laura Godwin, a day or two after the manuscript had been subbed. This was in December, when publishing pretty much shuts down, so I knew that nothing would happen over the holidays. In early January we were told that the manuscript was going to acquisitions, and on Friday of that same week, the offer came in!

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

CAROLINE: I will never forget “the call” as it happened on what had been an incredibly difficult day. My husband works as a travel agent, and his business was decimated by the pandemic. On this particular day we’d had some really bad news and I was trying very hard to hold it together for my three young kids, who were all being homeschooled at the time. A local playground had just re-opened after many months of closure so I took the children there, hiding my sadness behind oversized sunglasses (and a mask, of course). When my phone rang and I saw my agent’s name on the screen, I think the world stopped spinning on its axis for a moment or two. Allison told me that we had an offer, and this time my tears were happy ones!

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

CAROLINE: It was six months between accepting the offer and signing the contract.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

CAROLINE: Takeout pizza with my kids, and a glass of something fizzy when they went to bed!

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

CAROLINE: I’d spoken to a few published authors before my contract arrived so I knew roughly what to expect from a Big 5 house. My agent is brilliant at negotiating and this is an area where good agents are worth their weight in gold. Book contracts are long, complex and wordy and I was very grateful to have her deal with that side of things!

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

CAROLINE: My editor didn’t request any specific changes. We made some tweaks but there were no significant revisions. Laura had a wonderful vision for the book and she loved the story as it was, which was incredible!

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

CAROLINE: Before Lydia was brought on board I was shown some of her sample sketches. Within seconds of laying eyes on her work I said, ‘yes!’ I absolutely loved her illustration style and I felt so lucky to have an opportunity to work with her. A few months after signing the contract I got to see some of Lydia’s rough sketches, which really blew my mind! I only had a couple of very minor suggestions for changes, which the editor agreed with, but I honestly couldn’t have been happier with the work that I saw. About six months before publication I received a printed ARC in the mail, and seeing mine and Lydia’s book laid out, with the text and stunning color illustrations, was an experience I will never forget.

I don’t think I included a single art note in this manuscript! As it’s a biography, I knew that the illustrator would want to do her own research into the aesthetics of the people and places in the book.

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

CAROLINE: I actually stumbled across my Kirk-us review by accident! I was very happy to see that it was positive. And I just found out that I got a lovely Booklist review, too!

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

CAROLINE: My publication date was brought forward twice so I was lucky to get it earlier than I had anticipated! It was only 23 months between offer and ‘on sale’ which is a pretty short timeline in picture book publication.

I don’t actually know how many copies are in the first run printing!

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

CAROLINE: They’ve sent digital ARCs to book bloggers and reviewers, and liaised with various trade publications. They sent out a press release and set up an interview with People.com that was picked up by Vanity Fair and a host of other news websites! 

SUSANNA: Wow! That is amazing! Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

CAROLINE: I’ve really thrown myself into the book promo! Lydia Corry and I worked together to make a book trailer. We shared some very emotional moments in the aftermath of the Queen’s death, when we had to change the trailer text to past tense. I have also printed bookmarks and stickers (designed by the amazing Lydia!) and I learned how to design and print posters, vinyl signs, headers for bags of dog treats, and an array of materials for an event called ‘SoCal Corgi Beach Day’. I hired a booth, set up some really fun photo props, and offered a ‘Wheel of Paw-tune’ spin for people who pre-ordered the book. It was a LOT of work but so much fun, too. I got to cuddle dozens of corgis, and speak to some wonderful people who love the breed as much as the Queen did. I have also designed a website, set up author accounts on Instagram and TikTok, and become something of a whiz on Canva! I’ve organized interviews and podcast chats, and arranged a few book signing events in Los Angeles. I’m really excited about those!

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

CAROLINE: I’ve been writing professionally for the entirety of my adult life—I had my first piece published in a national British newspaper during my second year at college. I submitted an article (via fax!) to an editor and it was published, but with someone else’s byline. When I contacted the editor to gently point out the mistake I was offered an unpaid internship by way of an apology, and I grabbed that opportunity with both hands. I started at the very bottom of the chain, cleaning out filing cabinets, picking up editors’ dry-cleaning and delivering mail to senior journalists. It was very high-stress environment with long hours with no time for mentorship but I always made myself useful, staying later than I needed to, and I let all the editors know that I would be more than happy to cover any event that nobody else wanted to go to. An arts editor finally agreed, and allowed me to review a very obscure play in a tiny theater above a pub in North London. I haven’t stopped writing since!

In terms of picture book writing, I started in earnest way back in 2014, when my eldest child was four. I was reading so many picture books to him, and I just fell in love with the genre. I was curious to see if I could translate my writing skills to the picture book format so I devoured the contents of my local library’s picture book shelves and wrote, wrote, wrote… I had a couple of ideas which became manuscripts and I sent one out to half a dozen agents. I got a champagne rejection from one of these agents, but the rest were bog-standard form passes. Once the initial stings had subsided I realized that I had made that classic ‘new writer’ mistake: I’d just gone out too soon. I hadn’t found critique partners yet, and the story I’d queried was cute, but it wasn’t new or fresh enough to make it stand out. I took all of this on board and stepped back for a while to deal with some life ‘stuff’, and to have my younger two children! All the while, I continued reading picture books as if it was my job to do so.  I returned to PB writing seriously in 2018, when my youngest kiddo was two. I signed up for Susanna’s (brilliant!) course, joined the 12×12 community, and found some fantastic critique partners. It took me around 18 months to write and develop three manuscripts that I believed were query-ready. If you include my ‘gap’, it’s been an eight year journey. 

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

CAROLINE: Gosh, so many things. I’ve learned that you need rhino hide skin to cope with all the rejections. You need the patience of a dozen saints, as publishing moves very slowly (even more so since the pandemic). And even if you think you’ve written the best manuscript of all time, you need to KEEP WRITING! I also think that all up and coming writers should console themselves with the fact that there is a ‘sliding doors’ element to this business. Talent and great ideas are, of course, paramount, but sometimes it’s also about landing in the right inbox at the exact right time. It’s really hard to know what a particular agent or editor is looking for at any given moment, or to second-guess what they need to fill a hole in their lists. They might just have signed someone who wrote a book with a similar theme yours, or perhaps they’ll pass on your manuscript as they’re allergic to dogs, or don’t like lyrical books, or they’ve got too many titles with animal protagonists? Rejections aren’t always personal, or a judgement of the quality of your work, sometimes it really is just the market at that precise time. Also, I would caution authors against writing to trends, as by the time your manuscript has landed you an agent, and then been considered by an editor, and gone through the (often lengthy) acquisitions process, it’s likely that that trend will have passed, or that the market will be saturated with books written by people who had a head start on that zeitgeisty idea. Write what you know, and write with your 4-8-year-old audience in mind. Will they find your manuscript interesting? Informative? Moving? Hilarious? What is it about your book that will make it stand out on a crowded display, and compel a customer to spend $18.99 (plus sales tax!) on it? It’s a very competitive market, so read hundreds of recent picture books (yes, hundreds, or however many your library has in stock!) Make use of the ‘book request’ feature, most libraries are very accommodating when it comes to acquiring titles that users suggest, and see what has caught editors’ eyes in the past three years or so. ‘Classic’ books are wonderful, but many of them would never be published today. Bear this in mind when you’re reading for research.

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

CAROLINE: It’s been a long journey and I have definitely allowed imposter syndrome and feelings of ‘compare/despair’ to take up residence in my head sometimes. The best way to banish these thoughts is to keep writing, keep improving, and keep going! I have dreamed of seeing my name on the front of a book since I was a new reader myself, and I still can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to be a published author.

SUSANNA: Well, published you are! And by the looks of it, you’re off to a great start! Thank you so much for sharing your journey to publication with us, Caroline. I know we all learned a lot. And I speak for all of us when I say best of luck with this and future titles!

Author Caroline Perry

Website: www.carolineperryauthor.com
Twitter: caro_perry
Instagram: @carolinelperry
TikTok: @carolinelperry

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Jocelyn Watkinson – The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Katie Mazeika – Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid (nonfiction)

Shachi Kaushik – Diwali In My New Home

Carrie Sharkey Asner – Blueberry Blue Bubble (self published)

Gela Kalaitzidis – Ozzie & Prince Zebedee (author/illustrator)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Gela Kalaitzidis!

Hello, my friends!

I realize that we’re still kind of in the middle of Halloweensie, since, due to unforeseen circumstances I have not been able to devote myself to the judging as I should (though I PROMISE I am working on it – do not blame my fellow judges, it is all me holding up the works!) But meanwhile, Tuesday has rolled around and so I have to bump Halloweensie from the top of my blog to make room for today’s wonderful Tuesday Debut. I put links on all the mentions of Halloweensie so you can hop yourself back to it easily if you still want to read entries!

But for the moment, let’s take a little Halloweensie break. I am thrilled to introduce today’s debut-ess, Gela Kalaitzidis, and her gorgeous debut picture book, OZZIE & PRINCE ZEBEDEE!

Title: OZZIE & PRINCE ZEBEDEE
Publishing House: Flamingo Books
Release date: Oct. 11, 2022
Genre: Fiction.
Age Range: 3-7

Ozzie & Prince Zebedee is a tale about the burpy repercussions that arise when you accidentally swallow your best friend in anger and a story of love, forgiveness, and empathy.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Gela! Thank you so much for joining us today. I got one small peek at your art on Instagram one day and was instantly smitten, so I’m delighted to have you here to show your work to everyone! Where did the idea for this book come from? / How long did it take you to write/illustrate this book?

GELA: In one way, I would say it took me 33 years to write this book. When I was around 16 years old, I wrote a similar story. It was about a boy suffering from insomnia and while he was walking around at night, he ran into different creatures. Among them were a dragon and a prince. Many years later I remembered that story and rewrote it. My critique group helped me see that the heart of the story was with the bickering side characters, and slowly the manuscript evolved into what it is today.

(An illustration sample from 1989 and the final spread in 2022)

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?


GELA: This book has been through hundreds of revisions. I’ve taken the manuscripts to endless amounts of writing classes, retreats, critique groups, and conferences. I also paid for a six-month mentorship with Giuseppe Castellano through the Illustration Department. I believe it was money well spent having a professional Art Director guiding me through my first picture book. When I finally sold the dummy to Flamingo Books (Penguin Random House) there were almost no changes. My editor (Margaret Anastas) had a few brilliant ideas for some text changes and my art director (Kate Renner) added one spread, but that was about it.

text and illustration copyright Gela Kalaitzidis 2022, Flamingo Books

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

GELA: My agent Deborah Warren at East West Literary Agency found my art portfolio at the SCBWI summer conference 2019. A week after the conference she contacted me and asked to represent me as an illustrator. It took me a while to show my dummy to her, I wanted it to be perfect before sharing it. Nowadays I submit more unfinished work and we brainstorm together around the manuscript and illustrations.

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

GELA: Deborah Warren sent the dummy to maybe eight/nine publishers before I got the final YES! I don’t recall ever giving up hope on the book. A lot of the rejections were very thoughtful and inspiring. I was already working on other projects so Ozzie & Zeb’s submission process almost felt like their own journey, not mine. That’s why I was so surprised when Flamingo Books and Margaret Anastas finally gave me an offer.

SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and signing your contract? And how did you celebrate signing?

GELA: I got the offer in October 2020 and signed the contract on March 2021. If I remember right, I think there was a bottle of something bubbly shared with my husband to celebrate. It was a big party for the whole family!

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

GELA: I had worked so hard on the creation of the book so I had never really given a future contract a thought. I’m very glad that I’m represented by such an experienced and talented agent as Deborah Warren. I know that she fought for the best deal a debut author could expect. The original delivery date happened to coincide with an important family event so I asked Deborah to renegotiate the deadline. She also did some changes in the contract to royalties, foreign world rights, etc. I was included in all the negotiations but had very little input. I was just happy to get my book out in the world.

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

GELA: My agent and editor shared the Kirkus review slightly before it was published and I was beyond happy. Getting positive feedback from the picture book industry felt like a major accomplishment.


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


GELA: I got the offer in October 2020 and held the first copy in my hand exactly two years later. The print run was announced at 50,000 copies. Since it’s my first book I have nothing to compare these numbers with. It sounds like a lot of Ozzies and Zebedees to me.

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book? / Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.


GELA: The marketing and promotion were a complete mystery to me. I never had a meeting with a publicity team so I created my own little animated book teaser, I made a batch of small online banners that I used through different platforms. I also posted behind-the-scenes photos and tried to be seen and heard online as much as I could in the months leading up to the book’s birthday. I had the most fun with two cut-outs of Ozzie and Prince Zebedee that I kept with me on my summer vacation. I posted small social media updates with my main characters “on tour”, it was very well received. But the biggest marketing efforts probably happened on PRH’s side I just never really knew what they were doing. Somehow, my book reached the Barnes & Noble best picture book of the 2022 list. That was huge!

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up-and-coming artists?)


GELA: I’m pretty sure that Ozzie & Prince Zebedee would never have reached the bookshelves if it wasn’t for my amazing critique group. I believe sharing your work with friends and family who can give you honest and supportive advice is one of the most valuable things in this career. Another lesson has been to focus on what I can do, and not to stress about the things that are out of my control.

Author/Illustrator Gela Kalaitzidis

www.gelakalaitzidis.com
IG & Twitter Handles: @gelakalaitzidis

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for spending some time with us today and sharing your journey to publication, Gela! Such a wonderful opportunity for everyone to learn! Here’s wishing you all the best with this and future titles!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Jocelyn Watkinson – The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Katie Mazeika – Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid (nonfiction)

Shachi Kaushik – Diwali In My New Home

Carrie Sharkey Asner – Blueberry Blue Bubble (self published)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Carrie Sharkey Asner!

Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Debut!

Today, we get to learn all kinds of helpful things from Carrie Sharkey Asner, who has a lot to tell us about the self-publishing route to publishing a picture book.

Let’s jump right in, shall we? 😊

Blueberry Blue Bubbles
written by Carrie Sharkey Asner
illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski
self-published
October 18, 2022, fiction, ages 4-8

A bubblegum blower blows a blue bubble.
But what happens when the bubble gets bigger, and bigger and bigger?
Packed with humor, and filled with lively alliterations, this book is sure to have them begging to
hear it again and again!

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

CARRIE: I realized I didn’t know much about picture books, so I took a lot of courses (including Making Picture Book Magic) and read many books.  One repeating concept was to use strong verbs/nouns and not use many adjectives or adverbs.  I thought, “I’ll show them” and ended up with a book with an increasing list of “B” words to describe a growing bubble. I would suggest trying out different things to see what works best for you and the book.

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

CARRIE: It took me about 10 months from thought to self-publishing.  I have a folder for each potential book idea and then add to them as I think of additional information. Many folders just have a sentence or two.  Then I write a really rough draft and put it up for a few weeks. I revise it and put it back for another few weeks. Then I repeat it several times. Taking breaks seems to work the best for me.   I also shared it with 3 critique groups and 2 editors and made changes after their input.

Carrie’s writing assistants, Joule and Aurora. . .
. . . and Pixel (but not at the same time – Pixel does not tolerate dogs! 😊)

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

CARRIE: After the 3 critique groups, I had a critique/developmental edit and then a more in-depth edit with one editor and then I worked with an editor in our self-publishing class for the final edit.

Once the illustrations were back, I read the story to a 4-year-old.  The book has a repeating line “I want it bigger.”  After a couple of times, she was saying it with me and by the end, she was almost shouting it.  Then she said my new favorite word – “Again!”.   We read it 6 times.  That encounter really helped me think it was ready to go. 

SUSANNA: At what point did you decide to self-publish rather than submit to traditional publishers?  Did you try traditional first? Or did you have specific reasons for wanting to self-publish?

CARRIE: I have several friends who have self-published and strongly suggested I go that route. I had heard that even if I went the traditional route, I would still be responsible for most of the marketing.  I also wanted to pick out my own illustrators.  Those are the main reasons for me to self-publish.  

SUSANNA: How did you find an illustrator?

CARRIE: I absolutely LOVE my illustrators.  I had two books that I sent out at the same time – a fun one and a sweet one.   I felt I needed two very different styles of illustrations.  Early on, I joined many Facebook author/illustrator groups and I saved any illustrations that I wanted to look at again. I followed illustrators on Instagram and looked through SCBWI  and Reedsy and Fiverr illustrators. I spent hours trying to find the ones I thought were the best fit. After reviewing them many times, I decided on one that I found on Instagram and one from Facebook.  I contacted them and was thrilled and surprised when they said they could work on my books.

SUSANNA:  Did you and the illustrator have a contract of any kind?  What types of items did it address?

CARRIE: I wanted to have the rights to the illustrations.  So I had a work-for-hire contract for one and the other one also had a Fiverr page which basically has a work-for-hire contract so we worked through Fiverr.  We had a time frame set up – one was much faster, and the other would send a new illustration every week.      I had them sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of the contract.

I also used a graphic designer to place the text and help with the cover.  Everything I read stresses how important the cover is.

SUSANNA:  Are you able to give a ballpark figure of any kind (or a specific one if you’re so inclined 😊) about the cost of the illustrator?  

CARRIE: One of them was ~$3500 and the other was ~ $1800. 

SUSANNA: What was the illustration process like since you were directing it? Any particular challenges?  Anything you particularly enjoyed?

CARRIE: I actually gave them a lot of freedom and I am so glad I did. They had a copy of the manuscript and I intentionally put in very few art notes. They came up with ideas that I never would have thought of.  They did rough sketches and then we tweaked them from there. 

SUSANNA: How did you format your book for publication?

CARRIE: The graphic design team also did the formatting.

SUSANNA:  How did you select a printing service?

CARRIE: I followed what many of the self-publishing people I know to do,  print-on-demand. Amazon for the eBook and soft cover. (Amazon does not have a hardcover option for lower-page number picture books).  

Many also use IngramSpark for the hardcover which can be sold on Amazon and for hard and soft covers for other sellers besides Amazon.  I have looked into using an offset printer for better pricing, but I feel I should see how my books sell before ordering the large minimums.

SUSANNA: Did you do a print run so you’d have inventory, or is your book print-on-demand? (And where is your book available – online bookstores? brick and mortar bookstores?)

CARRIE: Right now, it will be print-on-demand.  My launch day is October 18 and will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

SUSANNA:  Were you able to get your book reviewed by Kirkus, SLJ, Hornbook, Booklist etc? 

CARRIE: I’m looking into the review process soon.  

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

CARRIE: I had a song commissioned for the book from a musician on Fiverr.  It was so much fun!  I started a website with help from my sister and we have the song plus a few activities to go along with the book. I am planning on adding more educational activities – something that teachers could use along with the book if they wanted.  I also started a launch team so hopefully, it will help with reviews.  I’ve reached out to other “bubble” picture book authors and hopefully, we can work out a group project for Bubble Week which happens the first week of Spring.

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

CARRIE: It is a LOT of work, but it is also really fun. The internet is full of resources that people can use and I would highly recommend critique groups – for both the feedback and the friends that you can make.  I am so grateful to my family for their support.

Author Carrie Sharkey Asner

Website:  www.CarrieSharkeyAsner.com

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Carrie! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from you! Wishing you all the best with this and future titles!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Jocelyn Watkinson – The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Katie Mazeika – Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid (nonfiction)

Shachi Kaushik – Diwali In My New Home

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Shachi Kaushik!

Hi, Everyone!

Welcome to today’s edition of Tuesday Debut!

I’m thrilled to present debut author Shachi Kaushik and her beautiful book about Diwali, DIWALI IN MY NEW HOME! She has a lot of great tips and advice to share, so let’s get right to it! 😊

Diwali In My New Home by Shachi Kaushik
Illustrated by Aishwarya Tondoon
Published By: Beaming Books
Releasing: September 27th, 2022
Age: Early Grades (5-8 years)

Priya loves being with family and friends to watch fireworks and celebrate Diwali. But this year Priya and her parents are living in the United States, and no one seems to know about the holiday. Priya misses the traditions in India. But as the day passes she celebrates the day with her neighbors. And even though the celebration is different this year, it’s still Diwali.
 



SUSANNA: Welcome, Shachi! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today and share your journey to publication. We can’t wait to hear about it! Where did the idea for this book come from?

SHACHI: For the past few years, I had been doing Diwali events for children at the RoundRock Public Library. This event grew bigger and bigger each year. Seeing the joy on children’s faces bought so much satisfaction to me that I wanted to write a Diwali book. The story of Priya is drawn from my own personal experience. The ideas are always floating around us. We just need to catch one and make it our story.
 
SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?
 
SHACHI: Most of my manuscripts are a result of the Writing Barn classes. For me taking classes are a self-investment. These classes keep me focused, I learn new techniques, I get to make new friends and most importantly one can find their critique group. I took classes from The Writing Barn, The Storyteller Academy, SCBWI and the monthly 12×12 webinars. 
 
SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?
 
SHACHI: The rough draft of this manuscript had 1200 words, which now is under 500. So there have been several revisions. The first draft is never your final draft. I wrote drafts from the point of view of first person and third, in past tenses and present tenses. Once I have my manuscript I do storyboarding where I put the layout the text onto thirty pages. This helps me see the story more clearly and helps with my edits. One can use Canva or sticky notes for storyboarding.



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

SHACHI: I took my manuscript to different of critique groups and took a lot of feedback.  I eventually submitted it for the Austin 2019 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference where this manuscript was nominee of Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award. At that time, I knew I could start submitting it to agents.
 
SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?
 
SHACHI: I first submitted this manuscript for LEE & LOW BOOKS – New Voices Writing Competition. When I did not get a response for three months, I signed up with an agent and the manuscript went out for submissions.
 
SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?
 
SHACHI: This book got a number of rejections, and it took almost 9 months when the ‘Yes’ came my way. But it came from three publishers. One of them wanted me to make changes, which they did not quite like and rejected. In the end I had two offers. The 9 months were worth a wait.
 
SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

SHACHI: We all want to hear that good news as early as our book is out for submissions, but it doesn’t always happen. I got several rejections for this book. At one point I rebranded my book, by changing the title and changing the name of the main character. The book was earlier titled ‘Diwali Away from Home’ and the main character was a boy character which now is a girl.
 
SUSANNA: How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

SHACHI: I got the offer in June 2021 and signed the contract in July 2021.
 
SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?
 
SHACHI: I had moved from Austin to Toronto, without my husband behind.  Due to covid restrictions, Toronto was still under a a lockdown. I celebrated virtually with my husband eating pizza and later celebrated the big news with my new friends in a new city, Toronto.



SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?
 
SHACHI: When I had two offers, I evaluated both the publishing houses on the publication timeline and the marketing of their books.  I signed the contract with Beaming Books and negotiated on the number of author copies.



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

 
SHACHI: My editor Andrea Hall made the process helpful. Andrea gave notes with explanation which helped me learn why the change was necessary.  There were a few changes that I had to make, and nothing major that would make the story go off track.
 
SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

 
SHACHI: My publisher involved me from the early process. They shared Aishwarya’s work and asked what my thoughts were. I loved her work. It was colorful and beautifully detailed. Knowing that Aishwarya is from India, I was happy cause she too celebrates Diwali and could bring out all the colors of festival. 
The illustrator and art director did a wonderful job in bringing the story to life. I added my personal elements to the story with my words and similarly Aishwarya added her personal elements and touch to the story with her art.

It was lovely to meet Aishwarya and hear what her thoughts were when she read my manuscript and how she filled the story with colors. In the cover you see the character wearing a sweater with a sun, the sun is the sign of Beaming Books.

I did add my notes because I wasn’t sure if the illustrator would be someone who would have experienced the holiday. Aishwarya did get a few notes but not all.



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

SHACHI: The Kirkus review wasn’t so great. It said, “A book about Diwali that doesn’t quite crackle.” First, I was disappointed but as a creative I’ve learned not everyone will like your book.  I get more satisfaction when an immigrant tells me that they relate to the story and share their experience. 

SUSANNA: Reviews can be tough. It’s wonderful that you were able to focus on what was important – your readers! How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

SHACHI: 15 months.

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

SHACHI: Beaming Books is good with their promotion. They meet you in advance and have one on one with you to discuss the marketing plans. The publicist has reached out to several bookstores for events, made connections with media companies for my book. 

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

SHACHI: I joined a picture book promotional group, and we help each other promote. I did create a book trailer. As my book is on the holiday Diwali, I’ve made a special Diwali Kit, which has my book, bookmarks, stickers and a few Diwali goodies.

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

SHACHI: When I started writing I thought of self-publishing, but when I came out of Carmen Oliver’s class at the Writing Barn, my perspective changed. I started writing seriously in January 2019 and sold my book in June 2021.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up-and-coming writers?)

SHACHI: Read, Write, Critique, go out for events and have patience because it takes time.

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

SHACHI: One thing I’ve learned if you can believe it, you can achieve it. Just keep working towards it.

SUSANNA: That is great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Shachi! We all wish you the best with this and future titles!

Author Shachi Kaushik and illustrator Aishwarya Tondoon. Shachi was finally able to take a trip to India and met her in Jaipur.

website: www.storiesbyshachi.com
Facebook: storiesbyshachi
Twitter: @KaushikShachi
Instagram: storiesbyshachi

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Jocelyn Watkinson – The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Katie Mazeika – Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid (nonfiction)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Katie Mazeika!

Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s edition of Tuesday Debut!

Today’s debut-ess, Katie Mazeika, is both author and illustrator, so she knows both halves of the picture book publication journey. Let’s have a look at her fascinating book, ANNETTE FEELS FREE: THE TRUE STORY OF ANNETTE KELLERMAN, WORLD-CLASS SWIMMER, FASHION PIONEER, AND REAL-LIFE MERMAID, and hear about how it got from idea to bookstore shelf!

ANNETTE FEELS FREE: THE TRUE STORY OF ANNETTE KELLERMAN, WORLD-CLASS SWIMMER, FASHION PIONEER, AND REAL-LIFE MERMAID
by Katie Mazeika (author and illustrator)
S&S/Beach Lane Books, Sept. 13/2022
Nonfiction PB Biography, ages 4-8

The incredible true story of “The Original Mermaid,” Annette Kellerman, a girl who wanted to dance, swim, and feel free—and who grew into a woman who fought for the right to do just that!


SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Katie! It’s always a treat to have an author/illustrator because we get to learn about both sides of the picture book writing process. Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

KATIE: I did an illustration of Annette Kellerman in 2017 as portfolio piece. At the time I read a little bit about her, and found her story intriguing.  I think I related to Annette’s disability, having lost my eye as a toddler, and so I continued researching her.

The words and images came together for ANNETTE FEELS FREE (and with my current picture book biography). Once I began researching Annette, as an illustrator, I couldn’t help but visualize her story. Certain events stood out to me, and I knew I wanted to illustrate them for the book. For example, Annette swimming in the Melbourne Aquarium as a teen (the first spread of the book) and the confrontation between Annette and the police officer on the beach.

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

KATIE: To get to the first polished dummy was probably 9 moths. But it was in spare time between other illustration projects. Once we sold ANNETTE and I could focus on it full time I finished the art in about 3 months.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KATIE: I did one giant overhaul of the dummy. After some feedback I made some major stylistic changes. Once ANNETTE sold my editor and I spent time going through the text and removing anything unnecessary or expanding where it was needed. And after the final art was turned it we did the same-fine tuning the images to make sure they read clearly and there was plenty of room for text.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KATIE: I am represented by the wonderful Sorche Fairbank at Fairbank Literary Representation. She helped me with putting together a proposal and then she submitted that, with the text and dummy to a list of editors she thought might be interested.

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

KATIE: It was right before my birthday. I got a text from Sorche that said “call me!!” with a line of swimmer emojis. When I called her I learned that Allyn Johnston at Beach Lane wanted to acquire ANNETTE.

ANNETTE went out just after Covid hit. No one was in the office, then everyone was working from home but there were questions if publishers were acquiring. So I was unsure of what to expect.

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

KATIE: It was a long time between the offer and contract (4-5 months)-which I understand is typical but Covid didn’t help.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KATIE: A special dinner with my family.

SUSANNA: Many of us are authors, so we understand the concept of text revision, but can you give us an example of how you go about making editorial illustration changes?

KATIE: These are “before” and “after” versions of the same spread:

text and illustration copyright Katie Mazeika 2022, Beach Lane

The first image is a scene I did for my first dummy for ANNETTE FEELS FREE. It was one of the 3 final spreads in the dummy. I posted this spread on Twitter in April 2019 with a pitch for DVpit. That was how my agent found me. With her insights, I strengthened the text, and then I decided to redo the artwork. My style evolved, but the composition didn’t change much. Notice the brighter color scheme in the second image. It’s much more engaging and kid-friendly. Sometimes there is a germ of a good idea in a weak piece of art or writing, and fresh eyes can make all the difference, whether it’s somebody else’s or your own, after a period away. You can see that difference here:

text and illustration copyright Katie Mazeika 2022, Beach Lane

Here are a few other images from the book:

text and illustration copyright Katie Mazeika 2022, Beach Lane
text and illustration copyright Katie Mazeika 2022, Beach Lane
text and illustration copyright Katie Mazeika 2022, Beach Lane

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

KATIE: My first review was from Kirkus. I was a little nervous because I had heard Kirkus can be tough in reviews, They called ANNETTE  “Swim-pressive”. Then I learned that ANNETTE was a Jr Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. That was a very gratifying. It also means kids everywhere will read about Annette. So I was all smiles when I got that news.

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

KATIE: It took about 18 before I had a copy the final digital book-all put together as a PDF. It was another 3-4 months before I received my first print copy.

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

KATIE: I guess about 7-8 years from when I was able to focus on illustrating seriously to getting my first book published as an author/illustrator. I had several books previously as an illustrator.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming artists?)

KATIE: Read the deals in PW Bookshelf. Look up the illustrators in those deals. Ask yourself what is in their portfolios that you are missing in your own.  

SUSANNA: Very helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Katie! We wish you all the best of luck with this and future titles!

Author/Illustrator Katie Mazeika

https://twitter.com/kdmaz
https://www.instagram.com/kdmazart
https://www.facebook.com/kdmazillustration

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Jocelyn Watkinson – The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Jocelyn Watkinson!

Hello, my friends! Welcome back!

Here we are, ready to start another school year and pick up all our writing and reading pursuits once again 😊

I’m so glad to see you all, and I thank those of you who showed up for the random summer Tuesday Debut posts to support those new authors. It was much appreciated by them and by me!

Now, somehow it’s September! How did THAT happen?

It’s been such a busy summer, the time has just flown. It feels like June 1st was five minutes ago! I got to do lots of wonderful things, including spending time with my children and grandchildren and my parents and siblings, being walked by my dogs, and taking full advantage of the coffee/maple twist creemees at Cookie Love in Vermont 😊 I hope you all had happy summers as well!

September and back-to-school always feels as much like the New Year to me as much as the actual New Year. And what better way to kick off than with today’s debut-ess, Jocelyn Watkinson, and her delightful picture book THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY? (Publication is set for September 13th, so please feel free to pre-order your copies at the links provided below!)

THE THREE CANADIAN PIGS: A HOCKEY STORY
Author: Jocelyn Watkinson
Illustrator: Marcus Cutler
Sleeping Bear Press
September 13th 2022
Fiction
Age Range: 6-7

In order to save their bacon, The Three Canadian Pigs face off against the big bad wolf and his team in a dramatic hockey game. In true Canadian fashion, after the pigs trounce their foes, they patch up their differences with delicious Canadian delicacies and friendship.

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

JOCELYN: I was drawn to writing kidlit when I moved to the U.S. from Canada in 2018. Since I wasn’t working yet, I was spending a lot of time being a mom and reading non-stop to my then three-year-old son. I was working on a different fractured fairytale and was reading it to my mother over the phone who still resides in Canada, who then out of the blue suggested to put a Canadian spin on The Three Little Pigs! Once I figured out (pretty early on) that the Wolf would want to eat their “Canadian Bacon,” the puns just stared flowing! The plot took a little while to come together, had many different endings and plot twists and took even longer to put together since it is written in rhyme.

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

JOCELYN: I started drafting this story in mid-2019. When I surprisingly won the Halloweensie 2019 contest (thanks Susanna for hosting such a super fun and challenging contest!) I was able to get an early version over to Alayne Christian at Blue Whale Press where I received very valuable feedback that helped build the stakes and the tension of the story. From there I relied on critique partners and the professional critique services of Shannon Stocker to really amp up the story, tension, perfect the meter and rhymes. It sat for a while (while the pandemic began), and then I used the manuscript to apply for the 2020 PBChat Mentorship. Again, surprisingly, I was selected by Lori Degman as a mentee and she and I massaged it until we felt it was ready for submission.    

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JOCELYN: “Many” is an understatement. I believe total, there were 47 versions of this story. Writing in rhyme and perfecting meter takes a lot of effort and re-writes to get correct, and then of course there are all the times I didn’t get the arc correct or the ending! With the help of some amazing CPs, mentors and my editor Sarah Rockett, we finally got the story that everyone was happy with.

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

JOCELYN: I thought it was ready many times and every time I thought it was ready, someone would find a way to elevate it or correct a plot hole of some kind. But I think that is how it is for your first book, you really think it is ready so many times before it is. Even after so many wonderful CPs and professionals looked at this manuscript with me, it took until I was working with my wonderful editor to get the ending and twist just right!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JOCELYN: My submission process was very unique. As I was a mentee in the PBChat 2020 Mentorship program, the end of our mentorship ended in a showcase where editors and agents were invited to preview the available manuscripts. On the very last day, Sarah Rockett from Sleeping Bear Press, reached out to inquire about reading the entire manuscript.

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

JOCELYN: I was told within a few minutes of sending it to Sarah that it would be previewed by the larger acquisitions team and then was offered just over a month after that! I considered this quite a quick turnaround because the this was over the winter holiday season.

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

JOCELYN: About a month after I submitted it to Sarah, I was told they had interest in buying the manuscript! And yes! Best day ever!! And I do think it was relatively quick. Because of the unique submission process this manuscript went to, it was sort of an exclusive to any of the professionals that were invited to the PBChat Showcase.

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

JOCELYN: There wasn’t too long of wait here either. I think it was only about a month between getting the “email” and receiving the contract.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

JOCELYN: My husband surprised me with champagne and mint chocolate chip ice cream cake! My wonderful writer friend surprised me with a lovely flower arrangement too!

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

JOCELYN: I absolutely loved working with Sarah Rockett from Sleeping Bear. Originally, the story had the Wolf being invited to move in with the pigs which was a bit unearned since he hadn’t really redeemed himself. So, we agreed to have them just share a meal together and watch some hockey, basically, apologize and make amends, become friends! Her outside perspective was so helpful because as writers we are so in the weeds with our projects, especially with rhyme, that it is hard to see the forest through the trees. I am so so so happy with the final product. 😊

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

JOCELYN: I was very happy with the illustration process. It was important to me that a Canadian illustrator was used so that a lot of Canadian detail would get into the illustrations. Since the story is about a lot of Canadian silliness, Marcus was able to incorporate a lot of Canadian inside jokes into the art. Additionally, I learned that Marcus is a BIG hockey fan which I’m sure helped.  

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

JOCELYN: Offer came in on January 8, 2021 and first copy in hand was August 1, 2022

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

JOCELYN: I discovered CANVA and made my own book trailer as a teaser at first.

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

JOCELYN: I know I am one of the lucky ones. I started writing seriously in February 2019 and the offer to purchase this picture book was offered in January 2021.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

JOCELYN: You don’t have to have every piece of your story figured out, and by that, I mean, pagination, illustrations, page turns etc. There is a much bigger team behind the scenes who are experts. Rather than spending time on where a page turn should happen or what the illustrations should be, work on upping the language in your story, make us fall in love with your characters or coming up with fun plot twists for your endings that make us want to open the book immediately and read it again. The author, while typically out front, is only one part of the puzzle; illustrator, designer, editor, etc. It’s a team effort!


SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us today, Jocelyn, and for sharing your publication experience. It is so helpful! Wishing you all the best with this and future titles!

Author Jocelyn Watkinson

Website: www.jocelynwatkinson.com
Facebook: @jocelynwritesinrhyme
Instagram: @jocelynwritesinrhyme
Twitter: @JoceWatBooks

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

John Bray – The End

Tuesday Debut – Presenting John Bray!

Hello, my friends! Welcome to Tuesday Debut!

In this world of supply chain delays, many a book is arriving at its publication date… only for there to be NO BOOKS! Such is the case with today’s debut. So frustrating for author, illustrator, and publisher! Especially with a debut! But no reason not to jump right over to your favorite bookstore and pre-order a copy. The latest update promises they’ll be in stock in a week or two. There are links to the book at Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (Indiebound not available) at the bottom of this interview so you can be sure to get your copy the moment it’s available. 😊

But now, I am thrilled to introduce you to John Bray, debut picture book author of THE END!

The End
Written By: John Bray
Illustrated By: Josh Cleland
Starry Forest Books, August 30, 2022
Fiction, Ages 3-7 (and adults, too!)

Perfect for fans of B.J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures, this picture book is bound to entertain young readers who love to ask questions, read funny stories, build blanket forts, and complicate the passage of time. With vibrant illustrations by artist Josh Cleland, The End is just the beginning of a re-read!


SUSANNA: Welcome, John! Thank you so much for joining us today! We are all very excited to learn about your journey to publication with THE END. Where did the idea for this book come from?

JOHN: My main inspiration was Semisonic’s late 90s “Closing Time” (written by Semisonic frontman, Dan Wilson). Specifically, this line: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” I know it’s a Seneca quote, but reading philosophy is certainly how I picked up on it as a teenager.

My life went through a host of big endings and beginnings in 2015 and that lyric was in my head the whole time. So, I owe a lot to Wilson’s excellent songwriting. The idea was mostly fully formed from the start. My final manuscript remains closely tied to my original draft. In fact, the beginning and the end are almost verbatim.

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

JOHN: When I sat to draft it, everything came out on the page in just a couple hours. But the total process, including revising and revising and revising, took a couple years. I was fitting it in around client projects (and probably procrastinating far too much) but kept coming back to it with fresh eyes until it reached its final form.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JOHN: Yes, I revise multiple times. The End saw more revisions than I can count, but probably about 3 major revisions before I decided it was ready for submission. The first draft, for example, was about 3 times longer than its final form, so a couple revisions were me ruthlessly cutting to reveal the core of the story. That’s been a constant practice for me. I tend to overwrite, so learning to cut is important.

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

JOHN: When it was 90% ready and a good friend said, “ship it.” I’ve come to accept that I’ll never think they’re truly ready, but when I think they’re almost ready and they’re grammatically polished, they’re probably ready to go. Sometimes you just need to believe in your effort or you’ll be revising forever.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JOHN: I’m currently un-agented and seeking representation and, while querying, I pitched The End for #PitMad on Twitter. Unfortunately, #PitMad ended about a year after my book made its way to Starry Forest Books, but I think there are similar initiatives in place. I tweeted my pitch in September of 2020, Allison Hunter Hill (my editor at the time) “liked” it, and I sent her the manuscript. So, The End is a #PitMad success story.

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

JOHN: From me first sending in my manuscript to receiving a publishing contract was about four months. That included a set of heavy revisions (one last rewrite to edit middle) and a lot of waiting because publishing is a busy world.

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

JOHN: Yes, it was an email (I probably would have let a call go to voicemail), and it came in two days before Christmas 2020. I looked at the email in my inbox for a few hours before I even let myself open it. I think I still have a screenshot of the unread email saved on my phone. It had been about 6 weeks since I sent the revisions and, as December drew on and holidays approached, I told myself I probably wouldn’t hear until the new year, if at all. Then there it was, landing in my email on a Wednesday afternoon.

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

JOHN: I can’t remember exactly, but I remember this being a quick process. A week or two maybe?

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

JOHN: In all honesty, I didn’t really. Historically, I haven’t been great about celebrating accomplishments because I’m always looking on to the next thing. I’m getting better at that. Slowly.

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

JOHN: Yes and no. But I only say that because I didn’t entirely know what to expect. The advance was lower than many of the highly publicized advanced you hear all about, of course, but it felt fair. Royalties were very new to me but, with a bit of research and a second set of eyes from a friend who worked in publishing (sales), they seemed fair as well. However, I think it’s always okay to negotiate, and that’s exactly what I did. As a result, the advance and author copies increased along with some of the royalties. Author copies were important to me because I’m very actively marketing The End and author copies are helpful with outreach.

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

JOHN: The process was straightforward. The biggest revision came because of feedback from my wonderful editor. That revision involved completely rewriting the middle 6-8 pages or so. That’s not what she asked for, but after spending time trying to rework the existing writing without any real progress, I deleted everything on those pages and started fresh. That’s what I should have done to begin with. I think having the old writing in front of me hindered my ability to see new ideas and help them take shape.

After that edit, the remaining revisions were small in scale (punctuation, word usage, and sentence placement on a given spread) but always up for discussion. And very, very detailed. Allison was great about talking through things. We even have an email thread that explored the etymology of the word “boredom.”

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

JOHN: It was a great experience. My input was welcome when discussing the overall feel for the book as we thought about potential illustrators, and I was looped in throughout the process after Josh Cleland came on board. I saw early sketches and spreads and passed feedback to Josh through my editor. However, it’s worth mentioning that most of the feedback was very minor. It was a bit of a nerve-wracking process knowing that my manuscript — a story that has lived only in my head for so long — would be read and visualized by someone I’d not met or spoken with, but Josh did a phenomenal job bringing The End to life.

text copyright John Bray 2022, illustration copyright Josh Cleland 2022, Starry Forest Books
text copyright John Bray 2022, illustration copyright Josh Cleland 2022, Starry Forest Books

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

JOHN: Yes! Kirkus gave a starred review!

SUSANNA: Congratulations! That is a real accomplishment! How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

JOHN: From offer to first F&G was about 18 months. But I also had the opportunity to see a final, hardcover copy when I attended the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington D.C. in June 2022. I spent a lot of time flipping through the pages, admiring the colors, etc. It’s beautiful.

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

JOHN: Starry Forest Books arranged for me to attend ALA for a book signing, sent copies for reviews, and continues to do a lot of outreach to influencers (social media and otherwise). They’ve also created bookmarks, assembled classrooms packs, made countless social graphics, and designed activity sheets. It’s been a real team effort, constantly tossing ideas back and forth with Kirsten Drew and Amy Dixon (in marketing at Starry Forest Books). They’ve both been incredibly helpful, and they’re always interested in hearing and supporting my many ideas for possible marketing opportunities.

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

JOHN: A good friend of mine, Sue Campbell at Pages & Platforms, helped steer many of my own efforts and has helped some of my ideas take shape, as well. On my end, I continue to engage in outreach to bloggers, podcasters, social media influencers, and others to try and spread the word and get The End into as many hands as possible. I’ve created stickers and an activity book, have reading events planned locally, and am working with librarians and teachers in more far-flung places to schedule events (virtual and in-person). A local bakery (Tiny Kitchen, also owned by a friend of mine; launching a book takes a community!) will also be making custom cookies for some of my upcoming events.

SUSANNA: Wow! So many great ideas! How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

JOHN: A good 10 years. Part of that is because I wasn’t actively trying to sell for the first several, but it was still a long, long road. I have a big pile of rejections.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

JOHN: Sit, write, repeat and remember one thing: Rejection does not mean you’ve done something wrong; it means you’re in the game. It’s part of the process. The only guaranteed way to avoid it is by not putting yourself out there. Knowing that might not soften the blow of a rejection, but it does help you move forward. A stack of rejections means you’re putting in the work.

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

JOHN: Everyone will approach The End differently. That’s the nature of books. It might be the best part about them. But I think it’s worth nothing that The End wasn’t written to teach kids about endings and beginnings. It wasn’t meant to be a lesson. It was meant to be an exploration of the concept, maybe a conversation starter, but, above all else, a fun story to read aloud.

Author John Bray

Website: johnbraybooks.com
Newsletter (with a free book — a creative collaboration with a friend of mine from several year ago — at sign-up!): johnbraybooks.com/newsletter
Twitter: @jhnrbry
Instagram: @jhnrbry

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, John! We all so appreciate this opportunity to learn from you and wish you all the best with this and future titles!

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

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

Indiebound (no link available)
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Rebecca Gardyn Levington – Brainstorm!

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Rebecca Gardyn Levington!

Hello, my friends!

I hope you’re all well and enjoying everything summer has to offer!

It’s been quite a while since we had a Tuesday Debut, but, HURRAY! We have one today!

I’m thrilled to introduce Rebecca Gardyn Levington, a graduate of Making Picture Book Magic and a frequent participant in the writing contests on this blog over the years, here today with her debut picture book, BRAINSTORM!, which I just love the whole concept of and I think you will, too!

Title: BRAINSTORM!
Author: Rebecca Gardyn Levington
Illustrator: Kate Kronreif
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Date of publication: August 3, 2022
Fiction, Age 4-8

BRAINSTORM! is a rhyming concept picture book that begins with a girl sitting at her desk at school, frustrated because she can’t think of anything to write about. As the girl stares at the storm brewing outside – kerplink! – a tiny thought falls from the sky. Soon the girl finds herself surrounded by a whirlwind of words, pictures, and ideas swirling all around her, and eventually gets caught in a happy downpour of her own creativity.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Rebecca! Thank you so much for joining us today! We can’t wait to hear all about how Brainstorm! came to be! Where did the idea for this book come from?

REBECCA: First of all, Susanna, Thank YOU so much for having me on the Tuesday Debut! I have been following this blog for YEARS and it’s such an honor to share my story with you and your readers. Thank you for all you do to help inspire and encourage us! 

As for where the idea for BRAINSTORM! came from….One rainy late October day in 2019, much like the little girl in my story, I had a terrible case of writer’s block. I was doing my best to keep my Butt In Chair, but my brain felt like the weather — cloudy, gloomy and gray. Instead of staring at the blank page, I found myself staring at the rain outside my window when I felt the drop of an idea…

What if…IDEAS poured down from the sky?… Like a…rain storm?…No! Wait! Like a….

                                    BRAINstorm!

I immediately began writing what I originally thought would remain a short little poem.

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

REBECCA: It honestly didn’t take long. Once I had the idea, the main core of the poem just poured out of me (pun intended!) It took a few more months of tinkering before it became a “real” picture book draft.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

REBECCA: As I said, BRAINSTORM! began as a poem. A pretty short poem– Just six couplets. I really thought that’s all it would be. It sat on my computer for a couple of months, but it kept calling to me, so I began tinkering. I wondered: what if it wasn’t just IDEAS that fell from the sky, but WORDS, like VERBS and NOUNS, and PHRASES and SENTENCES and CHARACTERS and PLOTS…. Suddenly, I found myself deluged in this amazing world where stories drizzled down and swirled all around us. I loved watching my MC play in the puddles! In the end, I saved 15 drafts of this story, so it definitely changed and grew over the months, but those initial six couplets (with some minor tweaks) are all still in the final version.

Rebecca’s work space

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

REBECCA: I have several critique groups and partners. I generally send a manuscript to one group at time, make changes, then send it to the next group and repeat. Once all my critique partners had seen it and no one had any major changes or suggestions, I felt it was ready.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

REBECCA: In summer 2019, Lori Degman chose me as one of her three #PBChat Mentees. Lori is an all-around amazing person (now good friend) and at the end of the 3-month-long mentorship she very generously offered to ask a few of the editors with whom she’d worked if they’d be willing to look at a submission from me. One of those editors was Sarah Rockett at Sleeping Bear Press.

So, in December, with Lori’s blessing and encouragement, I sent off my favorite manuscript at the time (not this one). Sarah ultimately passed, but said: “It’s really well done and I love your writing and rhythm…if you have anything else that is submission-ready, please feel free to send it my way.” I immediately sent her two more manuscripts (not this one) and heard NOTHING for months. Meanwhile, I had just polished up BRAINSTORM! and felt it was pretty strong. I wasn’t sure if I should send her a third manuscript, but I wasn’t agented at the time so my opportunities to submit were few and far between. I knew Sarah liked my writing, so I said “what the heck?!”

On March 6, 2020 (yup, just one week before we all went into quarantine!) I sent her an email, following up on the two previous manuscripts I’d sent and added, “Oh, by the way, I also have this new one called BRAINSTORM!…”  I attached it. And waited.

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

REBECCA: So, as I mentioned, I sent BRAINSTORM! to Sleeping Bear in March 2020, just a week before the world shut down, so I didn’t expect to hear back for a while…and I didn’t. Two months later, in May, I followed up again and Sarah kindly responded that, thanks to the quarantine, Sleeping Bear had fallen behind with everything. However, she did chat with her editorial team and they were, unfortunately, passing on the two other manuscripts I’d sent. (whomp. whomp). BUT, she added, she loved BRAINSTORM! and wanted to bring it to their next acquisitions meeting. (WHOOHOO!)

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic — yada, yada, yada — that meeting didn’t happen until August and then finally, on August 27, 2020, I got the email that Sleeping Bear wanted to acquire it for their 2022 list! (So, to answer your question, it was about 6 months after submission, and 3 months after being told it was going to acquisitions, before I got the official “yes”!)

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

REBECCA: Oops, sorry. I think I answered this in the previous question! I got the email on August 27, 2020! I remember standing in my kitchen with my phone in my hand and I just went mute and started shaking. My kids were at the table, obliviously eating lunch, and I think my husband asked me something, but I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t stop staring at the email! Finally, one of my kids asked: “Mom, are you okay?” And I told them the news! I just couldn’t believe one of my stories was FINALLY going to be a book!

SUSANNA: Such an amazing feeling! How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

REBECCA: Exactly one month. I was at a Highlights retreat with one of my critique buddies, Kelly Conroy, and I had been complaining all weekend how long it was taking for them to send the contract. Turns out, it had been sitting in my SPAM folder for an entire day! Since I was unagented at the time, I hired a lawyer to help me look through it. After a very brief negotiation, I received my final executed contract another month later, at the end of October. It seemed like it took forever to get the contract, but now that I’ve sold more books, I realize that two months from offer to executed contract is actually LIGHTNING FAST!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

REBECCA: I don’t remember celebrating signing the contract. I think by the time I’d signed it, I had already finished off all the champagne!  😊

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

REBECCA: My advance was lower than I’d expected, but because this was my first sale and because I didn’t have an agent at the time (and because I HATE confrontation) I was terrified of pushing back. The only thing I asked for was more author copies and a few changes to some of the wording. There was a part of me that believed that if I asked for too much the publisher would change their mind about the offer. Now that I’ve sold more books, I realize that was ridiculous. By the time you receive an offer, it has had to jump through SO many hoops that the publisher isn’t about to say “Oh, never mind then” if you respectfully ask for a little more. Publishers EXPECT to negotiate. I’ve learned now that it never hurts to ask. The absolutely WORST that will happen is that they will say “no” to that specific term. Since signing this contract, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with negotiation. (Although I definitely prefer having my agent do it for me!)

Oh, and one quick thing about royalties that may be helpful. I didn’t know this at the time, but some publishers pay royalties based upon the “suggested retail price” of the book and others pay based upon “net receipts,” so read your contract carefully! A 5% royalty is standard but ONLY if it’s based on “suggested retail price.” If you are getting royalties based on “net receipts” you want to be sure your royalties are much higher, or around 10%. Also, if you are unagented, I HIGHLY recommend all the incredible information available for FREE at The Author’s Guild. They have a “model contract” you can look at that is extremely helpful for understanding what is “normal” and what is a “red flag:” https://www.authorsguild.org/member-services/legal-services/model-book-contract/

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

REBECCA: Amazingly, there were very, very few changes to my original text. I think the biggest edit was changing the word “boots” to “shoes” because we weren’t sure what type of footwear the illustrator would choose for the MC. Ultimately Kate did end up having the MC wear boots, so we changed it back! There might have been another word or two that changed, but that was all.

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

REBECCA: I was thrilled when I heard that Kate Kronreif would be illustrating! I was sent initial character sketches for review and my editor, Sarah, and I had a Zoom call to discuss the initial black and white sketches, as well as the color sketches once they were available. Sarah asked for my feedback on the cover as well. I felt very included in the process and that my opinion mattered, and Sarah was always open and willing to answer all my questions along the way. Now that I see the final product, I realize how difficult this story must’ve been to illustrate! I mean, how does someone illustrate “An easy breeze becomes a blast/of funny phrases flying past?” Thank goodness both Sarah and Kate totally understood my vision and took it to the next level!

text copyright Rebecca Gardyn Levington 2022, illustration copyright Kate Kronreif 2022, Sleeping Bear Press
text copyright Rebecca Gardyn Levington 2022, illustration copyright Kate Kronreif 2022, Sleeping Bear Press

I didn’t include any art notes in this manuscript, but I had a few ideas in my head about how I thought an illustrator might interpret this story. For instance, I was imagining a sort of “Wizard of Oz” scenario – where things started off super gloomy and gray and ended up in a whirlwind of color. So, I was a little surprised initially when I saw all the color Kate put into the book from the very first spread. BUT, it is PERFECT! And I absolutely LOVE everything she did and now I can’t imagine it any other way! The book is vibrant, exciting and playful, which is exact want kids to feel when they are stomping around in their idea puddles!  The only part of the illustration process that I was directly involved with was, at Sarah’s request, providing Kate with lists of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, titles, sentences, “funny phrases,” “wacky plots,” etc. that she could use as inspiration and to weave throughout the illustrations.

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

REBECCA: Yes! I received a Kirkus review — and it’s a good one! You can read the full review here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rebecca-gardyn-levington/brainstorm-levington/ and here’s the condensed blurb:

“…The metaphor nicely captures the creative process—from the frustration of waiting for inspiration to the anticipation of something gathering in the distance to the sought-after deluge of ideas […] Entertaining reassurance and lighthearted encouragement for those tough first moments of putting pencil to paper.” 

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

REBECCA: I still haven’t received my author copies! Unfortunately, due to supply chain issues, my book birthday was bumped from July 15th to August 3rd! I was told I’ll be getting my copies at the same time as everyone else, so if that’s true, it will be almost exactly 2 years from book offer book in hand!

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

REBECCA: My publisher sent a digital F&G of the book to all the major advanced reviewers and put it up on Edelweiss. They also organized a pre-order campaign with a local bookstore and designed a bookmark for me to use, as well as activity sheets and a teacher’s guide. They also created an adorable trailer that they posted on social media. I also discovered that the Association of School Librarians in my state (NJ) is holding a conference in December and they agreed to cover a good portion of my costs to attend.

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

REBECCA: I reached out to a bunch of podcasters and bloggers (like you!) about a year in advance to set up my #BrainstormBlogTour (I realize now, I started a bit too early – I probably only needed to start about 3-ish months in advance!) Once I received the digital review copy, I sent it to fellow authors to post early reviews on GoodReads and Barnes & Noble (Amazon doesn’t allow reviews to be posted until the release date). I also applied to have a table at several in-person book festivals in my area this fall, and I have been hosting giveaways on social media.

In addition, I hired a professional web designer to re-vamp my website, RebeccaGardynLevington.com. I used Jenny Medford at WebsyDaisy and she did an INCREDIBLE job. I can’t recommend her enough.

Lastly, I am part of a wonderful debut group called KidLit Caravan (www.kidlitcaravan.com). We are 13 picture book authors and author/illustrators who support each other’s journey, promoting cover reveals, pre-order announcements, and book birthdays/launches on social media. We review each other’s books and request that our local libraries order them. One of our members, Carrie Tillotson (author of the adorable Counting To Bananas), is a whiz when it comes to graphic design and I hired her to create a “sell sheet” for BRAINSTORM! that I could take with me to bookstores and libraries when I introduce myself so that they can have all the relevant information at hand and (hopefully!) place an order for the book.

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

REBECCA: About four years. In my life B.C. (“Before Kids”) I was a magazine editor and then a freelance journalist so I’d already had hundreds of articles published in various magazines and newspapers. I stopped writing once I started having kids but, after almost a decade of full time Mommy-ing, I realized how much I missed playing with words. I discovered SCBWI and attended my first regional NJ conference in the summer of 2016. I was blown away. I finally felt at home. I knew writing picture books and poems for kids was what I was meant to do.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

REBECCA: Two things:

1) Put yourself and your work out into the world as much as you can. Enter ALL the contests (Like Susanna’s amazing Halloweensie, Valentiny, and Holiday contests, Vivian Kirkfield’s #50PreciousWords, Madness!Poetry, etc.), enter ALL the mentorships (like the #PBChat Mentorship Program), do ALL the Twitter parties (like #PBPitch, #PitMad and #PBParty), go to as many conferences and webinars as you can and join ALL the groups. Take advantage of professional critiques, if possible. If you don’t have an agent and have an opportunity to send your work to an editor, DO IT! (I sold my second book to HarperCollins via a submission opportunity after a conference and that helped me land my agent as well!). Be as active as you can in the KidLit community and always, ALWAYS be kind, respectful and supportive. The connections you make along the way will lead you to opportunities you can’t even imagine!

2) While you should, of course, write stories that come from your heart, it is crucial to remember that children’s book publishing is a BUSINESS. An editor may think your story is “cute” or “funny” or “heartfelt,” but before she can acquire it, she has to prove to all the financial and marketing people that your story will SELL. So you MUST think about “hooks.” Who is buying your book and WHY? Can your book be sold during a holiday? Can teachers use your book in a classroom (if so, consider adding back matter!). Does it have social-emotional themes that make it easy to explain a difficult subject matter? Etc. One thing I always do now is, once I’ve created my first draft, I stop everything, write my pitch and logline and research comp titles. As I continue to revise, I have a very clear idea of what the book is really about, what the hooks are, and how I will sell the idea to an editor.

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

REBECCA: So, this may sound completely counterintuitive to what I just said about “hooks” and marketability, BUT… When you have an idea that you feel you need to write about, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just GO WITH IT! Don’t stop to think too hard about marketability and hooks (yet!). Write what is in your heart. Get it down. BRAINSTORM! came to me in what felt like a rush of creativity. I couldn’t stop it. I had to write it! At the time I didn’t think at all about marketability. I was just having fun writing a poem. It wasn’t until after that I went back and said: “You know…I think if I add more of X,Y,Z, I bet teachers could use this in their classrooms….”  Once I realized that not only was this a FUN book for kids to read, but that it also had an educational “hook,” I knew I was on to something. 

Author Rebecca Gardyn Levington (photo credit Joy Yagid)

Website: http://www.RebeccaGardynLevington
Twitter: @WriterRebeccaGL
Facebook: @WriterRebeccaGL
Instagram: @RebeccaGardynLevington

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Rebecca, and for sharing your journey and answering our questions and giving us so much to think about! We so appreciate it! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the best of luck with this and future titles!

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

To pre-order a personalized signed copy of BRAINSTORM!, visit Rebecca’s local indie: https://store.wordsbookstore.com/preorder-signed-copy-brainstorm

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Patrice Gopo – All The Places We Call Home

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Patrice Gopo! PLUS A Giveaway!

My goodness! It’s been some time since we had a Tuesday Debut, hasn’t it?!

I have missed getting to showcase new authors! Please remember (and spread the word) that if you have a debut picture book coming out I’d be delighted to feature you. Just email me (contact form in the menu bar) and we’ll choose a date!

Today I am thrilled to introduce a talented writer whose early publication was as an essayist, but who recently came to picture book writing. I had the opportunity to read this book before it was even submitted and I loved it from the beginning, so I encourage all of you to get your hands on a copy and enjoy it! In fact, one of you could win a copy from Patrice! Leave a comment below by Sunday June 19 at 9PM Eastern and you will be entered in a random drawing for your very own copy! (USA addresses only, sorry!) Please join me in welcoming Patrice Gopo as she shares her journey to publication with her lovely picture book, ALL THE PLACES WE CALL HOME!

Title: All the Places We Call Home
Author: Patrice Gopo
Illustrator: Jenin Mohammed
Publishing House: WorthyKids/Hachette Book Group
Date of Publication: 14 June 2022
Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction
Age Range: 4-8

In her first picture book, author Patrice Gopo illuminates how family stories help shape children, help form their identity, and help connect them with the broader world. Her lyrical language, paired with Jenin Mohammed’s richly textured artwork, creates a beautiful, stirring portrait of a child’s deep ties to cultures and communities beyond where she lays her head to sleep.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Patrice! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re very excited to hear all about your journey to publication with this beautiful, lyrical book! Where did the idea come from?

PATRICE: Years ago, my oldest daughter took a nap on her great-grandmother’s bed in rural Zimbabwe. That day I remembered a childhood nap I had once taken on my grandmother’s bed in rural Jamaica. I recognized how my daughter’s story would, in many ways, mirror my story: a child who lives in one place but has cultural ties to other parts of the world.

I shaped that experience into an essay called “Before” (part of my first collection of essays, All the Colors We Will See). One day, as a friend was telling me about her picture book project, I had one of those moments when a lucid idea showed up, saying, “Here I am. Pay attention to me.” The idea: the essay “Before” would make a great picture book!

Honestly, I love how this idea came into being. There is so much space for us to re-imagine our creative pursuits in other forms such that new creations spring forth.

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

PATRICE: This idea to turn the essay into a picture book manuscript came to me in the summer of 2019. The challenge for me, though, was that beyond having read tons and tons of picture books to my children, I didn’t know much about the craft of writing picture books. I knew quite a bit about the craft of writing, but not specifically picture books. So, I needed to learn. I began studying craft books and eventually signing up for Susanna’s MAKING PICTURE BOOK MAGIC course.

I came to the page with a desire to illuminate how family stories of far-off lands help shape children, help form their identity, and help connect them with their broader world. However, up until taking Susanna’s course, I was struggling with how to use the ideas from my essay and transform that into a picture book. Susanna’s daily lessons gave me tools and empowered me with ways to bring forth a gorgeous manuscript! After several rounds of revisions, I completed my manuscript in the summer of 2020.

No matter how long we’ve been writing, I think there is always space to learn something more!

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

PATRICE: I did go through multiple revisions. Probably 6-8 before my agent sent my manuscript out on submission. And then a few more revisions with my editor. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a personal essayist as well. When I write essays, one of my favorite parts is revision. I find the generation process/the blank page a little frightening at times. But with revision, you already have the words there.

A technique I love to use in the revision process is cutting the essay apart into paragraphs so that I can physically rearrange as I sit on the floor. I brought that revision technique to revising All the Places We Call Home (and additional manuscripts I’ve written since then). There is something wonderful about cutting apart paper, moving sections around, and seeing what that will do to your story.

Ultimately, each round of revision gets us closer to what a story wants to be.

Patrice’s office

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

PATRICE: My agent told me that it was ready for us to go out on submission. Honestly, I wasn’t sure myself, so I appreciated the outside opinion. As writers, we can get so caught up in the number of times we’ve read a manuscript, and it can be helpful to receive input from someone with more distance. I should mention that I had a pre-existing agent because of my work for adults, my essay collection, etc.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

PATRICE: My agent submitted my manuscript to a handful of editors.

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

PATRICE: I actually didn’t find out that my book was going to acquisitions. My agent did let me know that we had interest in the manuscript. And about five weeks later, I received an offer. That was an excruciating time of waiting, knowing that someone was interested and then not knowing.

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

PATRICE: I did have to wait a bit as I mentioned above. However, I know this manuscript was picked up quickly when I compare to other stories I’ve heard.

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

PATRICE: This did take a while. About 5-6 months (this included several rounds of contract revision before I received the version to sign)

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

PATRICE: Ice cream!!!

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

PATRICE: I found Hannah Holt’s “Writing Picture Books: A Look at the Numbers” blog post extremely helpful (hannahholt.com/blog/2017/9/25/writing-picture-books-a-look-at-the-number-part-2). WorthyKids is an imprint of Hachette Book Group, so a large press. According to Hannah’s statistics, my advance fit right within the average and aligned with what I expected. Same with the royalty rates. I will mention that I asked for additional author copies beyond what the initial contract offered. I think that’s a wonderful place to negotiate, particularly if you plan to use copies of the book in your marketing and promotion efforts.

SUSANNA: I agree, that can be ver helpful! Great tip! Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

PATRICE: I decided to sign with my editor because she had both a passion for the story and a sense of what else it needed. We went through a couple of rounds of revisions, and I was thrilled to consider her input. One of the big elements I added was a third moment of “travel” in the book. Originally there were two, and that just felt incomplete (hello, rule of 3!!).

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

PATRICE: I have been so pleased with the illustration process!!! Jenin Mohammed is fabulous. While I did not have much input about the actual art (and I didn’t expect to have input), my editor and the art director cared about matching the right illustrator with this project. Since this book is based on a personal story rooted in my cultural experience, the editor and the art director were committed to choosing an illustrator who also had some connection to the story. Jenin Mohammed was the perfect choice. And her illustrations brought this story to life in ways I could have never imagined. I had an opportunity to see sketches along the way; those were such special moments, seeing your words become something more. The first time my editor showed me an image of the mother and daughter, I started to cry.

I don’t think Jenin’s vision departed from mine. Instead, I think Jenin could imagine so much more than I could. I just love the sense of color and movement I see in the spreads. I could never have dreamed of that, but they are exquisite.

text copyright Patrice Gopo 2022, illustration copyright Jenin Mohammed, 2022, WorthyKIds

I didn’t include any art notes. One thing, though, is that I asked for my contract to include a specification that the illustrations would be of a Black mother and daughter.

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

PATRICE: At this point, I have not seen any advance reviews.

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

PATRICE: The offer came in July 2020, and my editor sent me an early printed copy in February 2022. Such a special moment, opening that copy, sitting with my daughters, and reading this story to them!!

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

PATRICE: My marketing team has been amazing. I’ll share some of what they’ve been doing, but I know that they’ve been doing even more that I’m not even aware of. (If you want to know more about marketing, I watched this great SCBWI webinar that was so helpful: www.scbwi.org/digital-workshops-video-archive/ | the video for April 21st | I believe you need to be a member to watch)

Some things they have done:

  • Creating shareable graphics (and a timeline for when I should share)
  • Sending out targeted email blasts
  • Placing targeted ads for the book (along with other titles from their catalogue)
  • Creating an Amazon keyword ad campaign
  • Working with a publicist to pitch the book, etc.
  • Creating gifts for the pre-order campaign
  • Giving away influencer copies of the book
  • Developing an educator guide for the book
  • Just being kind, friendly, wonderful, supportive and clearly loving this book!! I’m so grateful for my marketing team!!

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

PATRICE: I’ve also been working hard promoting this book. Many of these ideas came from either my marketing team’s suggestions or what I did when I promoted my previously published essay collection.

  • Reaching out to podcasts I’ve previously been on and pitching me/the book as a return guest
  • Writing guest blog posts for places I have connections
  • Reaching out to my network and letting them know about the book, encouraging pre-orders, etc. (I primarily utilize my newsletter for this, but I also post on Facebook)
  • Reaching out to indie bookstores where I have connections (and some where I don’t) to let them know about the book
  • Asking my network to suggest that their library system purchase the book
  • Teaching classes
  • Regularly posting about the book on Facebook
  • Booking several local events
  • Booking a couple of summer camp visits
  • Ordering stickers to distribute during events
  • Developing a downloadable simple activity for children (separate from the educator’s guide)

I know stepping into marketing can have its challenges for us authors who might feel more comfortable writing the stories. However, I believe that our words can impact a child’s life. Participating in marketing and promotion is one of the beautiful ways of connecting our stories with children.

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

PATRICE: 11 years (I started writing in 2009 and sold my first PB in 2020; however, it is important to note that I didn’t seriously start writing picture books until 2019)

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

PATRICE: Know yourself and know the story you are meant to tell/trying to tell. Over the past couple of years, I’ve received helpful feedback on this manuscript and other manuscripts. One thing, however, that stands out to me is the truth that people have subjective opinions. What someone doesn’t like, another person might love. Honestly, I find this somewhat confusing as I process feedback. Because of this, I think it matters that we have a deep sense of what the story is that we’re trying to tell. This deep knowing will help us weed through feedback, particularly if someone suggests a complete overhaul of our story. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a complete overhaul might not be the right thing at some point. However, I think if we know the purpose for why we are writing a story, we are better able to sift through feedback and determine what we let stick and what we should release.

SUSANNA: That is very good advice. Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

PATRICE: Recently, I came across a note I had jotted down many years ago—back when I was pregnant with my first child and before I knew that I would one day become a writer. I had written, “Write a children’s book about my child exploring their cultural background.”

I didn’t stick this note in a prominent place to guide my goals and return to, letting the idea imprint deeply upon my brain. Instead, a couple of scrawled words, almost throwaway words, and certainly long-forgotten words. However, I know All the Places We Call Home truly began as far back as there—and maybe even earlier. Whether or not my conscious mind knew this book would come to pass, something deep within was always aware. 

I believe the stories we want to tell are within, taking root, waiting for just the right time to join the world!

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

PATRICE: Thank you so much for inviting me to take part, Susanna. It’s been a real privilege sharing a bit of my journey. Thank you for all the ways you support picture book writers!!

Author Patrice Gopo

Please visit my website: www.patricegopo.com

You can also find me on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/patricegopowrites

You can subscribe to my newsletter here: www.patricegopo.com/subscribe

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Carrie Tillotson – Counting To Bananas

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Carrie Tillotson!

Good morning, and welcome to Tuesday Debut, everyone!

Today’s debutess is Carrie Tillotson, and just wait until you see how fun her debut picture book, COUNTING TO BANANAS is!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Title: Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book
Author: Carrie Tillotson
Illustrator:  Estrela Lourenço
Publishing House: Flamingo Books/Penguin Young Readers
Release Date: April 12, 2022
Fiction, Ages 4-8

A hilarious, mostly-rhyming picture book about a banana and narrator who can’t quite agree on what their book is about.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Carrie! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re looking forward to learning from you! Where did the idea for this book come from?

CARRIE: Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Susanna! The idea came from an interaction between my son and his swim instructor. Every lesson, my son had to perform a starfish float, where he lay on his back and floated for ten seconds. The instructor counted “One-two-three, four-five-six, seven-eight-nine, BANANAS!” and my son would laugh hysterically. One day, the instructor said, “Don’t you love my counting to bananas?” In that moment, I knew a picture book title was born.

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

CARRIE: I let the idea simmer for about a year before I even started writing it, because I had no idea what the story was about. But once I committed to it, I first journaled with a stream of consciousness approach to see what ideas bubbled up. From title idea in 2017, to first draft in 2018, to final draft in 2020, it took about 3 years.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CARRIE: I think I had about 16 drafts from start to finish, and often took months-long breaks in between some of them. One key for me and this manuscript was receiving a critique ninja visit from 12×12 Picture Book Challenge critique-ninja-and-author, Carter Higgins. Her feedback on a couple of things was key in helping me streamline one of the layers of the text that ended up just not being necessary.

Carrie in her blanket fort office with her writing buddy 😊

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

CARRIE: Ha! When one of my critique partners was like, “Why aren’t you sending this out?!”

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CARRIE: I attended the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Plus Conference in the fall of 2019, and had a pass to submit to agents and editors from that conference. I submitted Counting to Bananas to two of those editors and a handful of agents, and submitted other manuscripts to other editors and agents, based on their preferences and what they were looking for.

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

CARRIE: I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was about four to six weeks.

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

CARRIE: Because I submitted directly to editors from the conference, things went a little out of order for me. After I submitted the story, my editor requested an R&R. After that, she emailed to  say she was interested in taking the story to acquisitions, encouraged me to continue seeking an agent, and gave me permission to let agents know she was taking the story to acquisitions. I already had submissions out with several agents, so I was able to notify them of an editor’s interest. Shortly after, my now-agent Tracy Marchini set up a call with me, and happily, she and I felt like a great match! Once I signed with Tracy, it was just a couple of weeks until we had an offer for Counting to Bananas.

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

CARRIE: About 4-5 months.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

CARRIE: Oh, I’m sure I had ice cream – that’s how I celebrate everything!

SUSANNA: A girl after my own heart 😊 Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

CARRIE: The contract was pretty much what I expected, from having researched in other places like the Author’s Guild, and Hannah Holt’s author surveys. I was happy that my agent was able to negotiate some increases in various items on my behalf, and appreciated all her work during the negotiation process!

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

CARRIE: When my editor first asked for an R&R, the changes were pretty minor. Once the manuscript was acquired, we had one more round of revisions. My editor and I had a phone call to discuss, which was very helpful because it helped clarify a couple of questions I had about her comments. From there, revisions were pretty straightforward.

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

CARRIE: I LOVED seeing the illustrations take shape! I remember in particular being asked if it was OK with me for the fruits to have faces and personalities. I hadn’t considered that before, but was definitely OK with it. Once I saw the initial sketches, I was so glad I had said yes because I fell in love with all the hilarious fruit expressions! It was really exciting to get to see the process from sketches to final art, and I really appreciated the opportunity to give my own input at various stages, which I hadn’t expected going in.

text copyright Carrie Tillotson 2022, illustration copyright Estrela Lourenço 2022, Flamingo Books/Penguin Young Readers
text copyright Carrie Tillotson 2022, illustration copyright Estrela Lourenço 2022, Flamingo Books/Penguin Young Readers

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

CARRIE: Yes, I saw an advance review from Kirkus and it was thrilling! I was happy to receive a positive review, knowing that they sometimes have a reputation for being a bit blunt if they don’t like a book – and to have my book compared to one of Mac Barnett’s felt great!

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

CARRIE: The offer came in July of 2020, and publication was April 12, 2022, so just a few months shy of 2 years.

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

CARRIE: They have done so much, and I appreciate every bit of it! My publicist sent the book out for reviews and helped arrange a couple of virtual events with local bookstores, as well as preorder signing opportunities for me. And the marketing team helped create a downloadable activity guide, animated trailer, and adorable posts on social media. They probably both did so much more than I’m even aware of, and I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done!

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

CARRIE: One of the biggest and most helpful things I have done is to join a debut group of picture book creators, Kidlit Caravan. It has been really helpful to talk with other creators navigating the debut process to get ideas and see what others are doing. A few specific things I did were to create some bookmarks, which I plan to give away for school visits and at book stores, helped create the activities for the activity guide, and have appeared on a few blogs. I tried to keep my promotion efforts tied to things that would be fun for me, and not worry about the rest!

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

CARRIE: 8 years! After years of lurking on the SCBWI website and wanting to be involved in making children’s books, I finally realized that the only thing standing in my way was myself. That summer of 2014, I signed up for my first SCBWI conference, and I’ve been writing ever since.

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication? (Or what is your most helpful piece of advice for up and coming writers?)

CARRIE: Probably the most important thing I’ve done is to get out of my own way. Like I mentioned in the previous question, I thought for years that authors and illustrators were these amazing people, and I wondered how to be like them… until I realized the only thing stopping me was myself. So to everyone who has dreams they want to achieve, I say go for it!

Author Carrie Tillotson

Website: carrietillotson.com
Twitter: @carrietillotson
Instagram: @carrietillotson

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from you, and wish you all the best with this and future titles!

CARRIE: Thanks so much to you and your readers for giving new authors an opportunity to share!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

Julie Rowan-Zoch – I’m A Hare So There (author/illustrator debut)

Nancy Derey Riley – Curiosity’s Discovery (author/illustrator self-published debut)

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

Ann Magee – Branches Of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree

Amanda Davis – 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag (nonfiction)

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

Christine Van Zandt – A Brief History Of Underpants (nonfiction)

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye