Perfect Picture Book Friday – Ninja Boy’s Secret

Hurray!  It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday once again!

Today I have a book I’ve been wanting to share since November, but what with missing PPBFs for the contests and holidays, and posting holiday-themed books etc, it’s taken me until now.  It’s a special book and I hope you’ll get the chance to read it!

NinjaBoysSecret

Title: Ninja Boy’s Secret

Written & Illustrated By: Tina Schneider

Tuttle Publishing, September 17 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: being yourself, music

Opening: “Ninja Boy did not want to be a ninja.
He did not want to be still as a stone.
He did not want to climb trees just to disappear into the leaves.
He did not want to slink across rooftops on silent cat feet.

Brief Synopsis: (from the jacket copy) “What do you do when you’re a Ninja who marches to a different beat?  With his faithful dog in tow, Ninja Boy makes his way from silence to song as he finds his voice and his calling.”

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text and illustration copyright Tina Schneider 2019, Tuttle Publishing

 

Links To Resources: the back endpaper has illustrated definitions of some of the less familiar words in the story; the story mentions sonatas and concertos – listen to one of each and talk about what you hear; draw a picture of what you most want to be or do; write a poem about something that matters deeply to you – perhaps in the form of haiku since the story is Japanese; make musical note snacks(recipe); make Do-Re-Mi Music Cupcakes (recipe)

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text and illustration copyright Tina Schneider 2019, Tuttle Publishing

 

Why I Like This Book: This is a book for anyone who has ever wanted to be themself, in spite of what others might expect of them.  Without belligerence or negative confrontation, Ninja Boy simply reveals who he is.  He cannot be his father.  He must be himself.  And there is so much joy and rightness in who he is, that his father not only accepts him, but embraces his difference.  Ninja Boy has his own way of bringing joy and beauty and goodness into the world.  And shouldn’t everyone be encouraged to do that? The art perfectly matches the story, and I love the the musical notes and staffs, the parts of the violin, and other little  details that are tucked within it.  This is a lovely book to share with any little individual you know 🙂

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Theresa Kiser!

Hi Everyone!

I’m excited to share today’s Tuesday Debut because it’s something we haven’t really done before (although Karen Kiefer – Drawing God was similar in some ways.)

One of the fun (and educational) things about Tuesday Debut is that we get to learn about different paths to publication with different kinds of publishing houses.

I know that many of you are interested in writing for the religious market, so I’m thrilled to introduce Theresa Kiser who has published her debut picture book with Holy Heroes.

Title: A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors
Author: Theresa Kiser
Illustrator: Chris Pelicano
Publishing House: Holy Heroes
Date of Publication: October 2019
Nonfiction
Age Range: 0-3

HH LiturgicalColors-Mockup1

Synopsis (from the publisher’s website): Written in delightful rhyming verse by Theresa Kiser and illustrated by Chris Pelicano (the long-time illustrator of Holy Heroes’ products!), this board book will walk children through the different liturgical colors of the Catholic Church and where they will find them in the Mass. The rhythm of the poetry is tuned to a child’s ear, so you may soon find your little ones “reading” the book themselves! 

 

SUSANNA:  Welcome, Theresa!  We’re so glad to have you with us today!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

THERESA: My infant son’s FAVORITE book was a book about colors, and the liturgical colors are an important symbol in the Catholic faith. Holding my son, I knew I wanted him to understand how each of the liturgical colors points to God’s love, so I started brainstorming and drafting ideas.

 


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

THERESA: It took about a month to get through the first draft. First I researched the liturgical colors, and jotted ideas down on papers that–because I had an infant–ended up strewn all over the house. I brainstormed while nursing, and then, when the baby was sleeping, sat down to revise one stanza at a time.

 


SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

THERESA: The biggest decision point for me was deciding on the structure and the rhyme scheme. Once I decided that each verse would begin “COLOR is for___” with an ABAB rhyme scheme, I worked through each verse on its own until the work felt ready as a whole.

 

 

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


THERESA: I always ask for feedback from other professionals in the field. Once I had done that with positive results, and felt proud sharing it, I knew it was ready to submit.

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

THERESA: Catholic publishing houses are generally small, so I could query directly without an agent. I was very lucky that my friend–who had done illustration work for this particular publisher in the past–guided me through the process and helped me submit. He ended up being the illustrator that the publisher chose for the book!

 

 

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

THERESA: The publisher let my friend announce the good news! It was very exciting! Afterwards, the publisher requested some revisions and additions, and after some back-and-forth, the final text was approved!

 


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

THERESA: I was really lucky to know the illustrator ahead of time, and doubly lucky that he 100% understood the vision for the book. The liturgical colors are tricky to convey in illustration because you have to show both the color as represented in the church AND the meaning of that color.

Once he was assigned by the publisher to illustrate the book, Chris sat down with me and graciously asked what I envisioned when I wrote the text. Honestly, I had no idea how he would pull off without, as he put it, “drawing the inside of a church five times.” This is where trust in the illustrator’s expertise comes into play, and it definitely paid off! Chris did a great job showing not only what each color would look like on liturgical vestments, but also what it means for a child’s relationship with God.

Colors-BB-3T

 


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

THERESA: This was a small house with an amazing turnaround time. It was just six months from contract to print, and the publisher kept me well informed as production went along.

 

 

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

THERESA: If anyone out there has a story or manuscript that they believe there’s a market for but won’t be accepted by larger houses because it’s too “niche,” I’d just encourage you to do your research and use the specificity of the text to your advantage. Somewhere out there, someone is looking for the same kind of specific book, and we’re lucky enough at this time in the publishing world to have access to many niche publishers with different missions, as well as the opportunity to Indie-publish if you have done your research and are ready to take that on.

Sometimes publishing in a “niche” market can feel a little unusual when working on picture book craft. Most workshops and conferences focus on general market texts, and often advice regarding agents and submission strategies stems from an assumption that authors are looking for publication with a large house.

I hope that my experience shared here will encourage writers of “niche” books, such as small religious markets (like the Catholic market) that publication is possible, and readers in that niche may be waiting for your book!

We have more opportunities now than ever, so don’t discount your book if it is for a specific audience. Don’t be discouraged or give in to resistance…Write! Create!

Because somewhere there’s a child who will benefit from your book.

 

 

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Author Theresa Kiser

Website: www.theresakiser.com
Twitter: @AuthorTKKiser
https://www.facebook.com/tkkiser

 

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 your experience, and wish you all the best of success with this and future books!

THERESA: Thank YOU, Susanna!

 

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

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

Holy Heroes (order from publisher’s website)
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

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)

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – A Place To Land: Martin Luther King Jr. And The Speech That Inspired A Nation

Woo hoo!

Perfect Picture Book Friday has rolled around again!

Although this book came out a few months ago, I’ve been waiting to review it for today – a perfect Friday for this Perfect Picture Book about Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream Speech since we will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday.

A Place To Land

Title: A Place To Land: Martin Luther King Jr. And The Speech That Inspired A Nation

Written By: Barry Wittenstein

Illustrated By: Jerry Pinkney

Neal Porter Books, August 27 2019, nonfiction

I don’t normally include awards, but this one has won so many I thought I should mention them 🙂

Selected for the Texas Bluebonnet Master List
Winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children

A 2019 Booklist Editors’ Choice
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Nominated for an NAACP Image Award

Suitable For Ages: 7-10

Themes/Topics: history, civil rights, following your dreams, inspiration and revision

Opening: “Martin Luther King Jr. was once asked if the hardest part of preaching was knowing where to begin.
‘No,’ he said.  ‘The hardest part is knowing where to end.
It’s terrible to be circling up there without a place to land.’

Brief Synopsis: (From the publisher)  “On the night before the historic March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. debated, worked, and wrote late into the night, trying to decide what to say— and how to say it. This little-known story celebrates not only the famed ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, but the influences of many other pioneering Civil Rights leaders who helped shape those famous words.”

Links To Resources: the book itself is a resource, both in the true story it tells and in the substantial back matter which include both a note from the author and note from the illustrator along with short bios of the Willard Hotel Advisors, “Other Voices”, and “Who Spoke At The March On Washington.”

Why I Like This Book: As a writer who often searches for the right words, the right way to say something, the right thing to say, I really appreciate this look at how Martin Luther King Jr. crafted his famous I Have A Dream Speech.  Not only will young readers learn about the facts surrounding the writing of this speech – the people whose thoughts contributed and the history of the moment – they will also learn something about the writing process – about considering, articulating, revising, perfecting (as much as possible), and finally delivering a finished piece.  About the uncertainty of wondering, have I said it right? Have I done the best job I can do?  I think it’s encouraging for children to know that adults also write and revise, wonder and doubt, struggle to get things right.  And in this case, not just an adult, but a famous, influential historical figure.  It’s also really interesting to hear about this famous speech from this perspective – the crafting of it – rather than just the finished words themselves.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Ciara O’Neal!

Hi Everyone!

Wow!  It’s been a while since we had a Tuesday Debut, hasn’t it?!

That is partly because of the writing contests and the holidays, but also partly because I only have Tuesday Debut posts when people want to share their first-ever brand new picture books.  (That said, I have a lot of availability in the coming weeks, so if you’ve got a debut picture book you’d like to get a little attention for, email me! 🙂 )

But we’ve got one today – the second self-published one we’ve had the opportunity to learn about here – so some interesting and different information.

Please help me welcome Ciara O’Neal as she shares her debut picture book Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone!

 

Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone
Written by Ciara O’Neal
Illustrated by Alicia Young
Published November 2019
Fiction, ages 6-10

Flamingo Hugs Cover Painting_font2

Hugs are hard for a clumsy flamingo. But with daring disguises, delightful dances, and a few more tricks up her feathers, this bird is determined to win a little love from zoo-goers everywhere!  

SUSANNA: Welcome, Ciara!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We’re delighted to have you and opportunity to learn a thing or two about the self-publishing process for picture book writers!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

CIARA: Flaminga’s story arose during a very loooooong trip to the ER with my daughter. After rejecting kisses from my stuffed flamingo keychain, our star was born! My daughter and I whiled away the endless hours by brainstorming all the different ways a flamingo might try to win affection. And, voilà Flamingo Hugs came to life. I still have my daughter’s first sketch of Flaminga in her hat. Alicia drew a wonderful rendition of it in our book!

Idea generation is one of my favorite phases in the whole process of creating picture book magic. I find that I am a very visual person. So whenever I want to find inspiration, I take a walk around my corner of the world. I try to look at ordinary things from odd perspectives. Sometimes, it’s hunkering down in the grass or leaning against a tree. (There might have been that time I flipped upside down on my kids’ playground. But we won’t talk about that.)

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

CIARA: Some stories demand I tell them from beginning to end in one sitting. Flamingo Hugs and many of my other picture books materialized in a matter of hours. But that being said, NONE of those stories look anything like the original draft. Especially not once my incredible critique partners got to them. (Love my critique partners!)

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CIARA: All of my stories go through MANY rounds of revision. But I think my favorite stage is probably my second round of revisions. (My first round always focuses on plot, stakes, and character development.)

During the second round, I research. I find picture books with similar themes, Youtube videos, and Pinterest pins to help me develop my language. I create a list of verbs, nouns, and adjectives that fit my manuscript. I begin playing with the words, generating jokes, and flushing out “the world” in my story.

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

CIARA: This question is SO difficult to answer. I’m not sure there is a right one. I feel most confident about my story when my critique partners only give me words to tweak as opposed to fixing plot holes, etc.  Once I reach that stage, I have done several paid critiques.

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?

CIARA: A little over a year ago, I decided I wanted to finally chase my dream of being an author. I wrote my first few manuscripts and began querying agents and traditional publishers. During that time, I started sharing my stories with my dad.

We had so much fun brainstorming and dreaming up what characters would do. One day, he told me he believed in my stories and wanted to help make my dream a reality.  Together, we decided my clumsy flamingo needed a little self-publishing love, and here we are!

SUSANNA: How did you find an illustrator?

CIARA: I found my first illustrator, Alicia Young, after searching the SCBWI page. I saw her illustrations and fell in love!

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

CIARA: Alicia and I did have a contract. I did a mini-interview with her before we agreed to work together. During the illustration process, we spoke often. It was important to me to find someone that I clicked with and shared my vision for the story.

SUSANNA: Are you able to give a ballpark figure of any kind about the cost of the illustrator?

CIARA: Illustrators are fabulous people! But they have to eat too! When it comes to cost, you will get what you pay for. Spot illustrations can cost anywhere from $20-$45. Elaborate full spreads can cost even more depending on the time needed to complete the page.  It’s hard to give a ballpark figure because each story calls for a different number of spot illustrations and spreads. So needless to say, self-publishing with great illustrations can be costly.

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

CIARA: The illustration process was thrilling. Each email from Alicia was like Christmas morning. She is so creative and such a joy to work with. That’s not to say we didn’t do our fair share of revision, both my words and her illustrations. But it was one of my favorite parts of this journey!

SUSANNA: How did you format your book for publication?

CIARA: My beautiful illustrator formatted my story. Most illustrators I’ve had contact with an offer this as part of their services.

SUSANNA: How did you select a printing service?

CIARA: Alicia also helped me find our printing service. She had published with them previously. We were both impressed by the price, quality, and turn around time.

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?)

CIARA: I did a print run.  My book is also available on Amazon and through my personal website. I have it for sale in a few indie bookstores. I also tote around a few copies to sell at fairs, schools, etc. I even had it for sale at Christmas Tree farm. 🙂

SUSANNA: How long was the process from writing through publication of your book?

CIARA: For Flamingo Hugs, the whole process took about eight months.

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

CIARA: I have a book trailer that I created. Here is the link, https://ciaraoneal.weebly.com/flamingo-hugs-arent-for-everyone.html

I also created an educational guide to accompany my book. It is on the link above as well. Feel free to check it out. In my guide, there are coloring pages, word searches, stationery, and lesson ideas.

Aside from the trailer and guide, I have visited several blogs, sent out postcards to schools, and visited fairs. Near Valentine’s Day, I will be having a little giveaway. It’s all very exciting.

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

CIARA: I would love to definitely thank you. Last October, I found your “Would You Read It?” It was my first foray into the “critiquing” world. Your supportive community gave me the confidence to keep writing and dreaming!

Ciara Logo_yellow swirl background

Social Media-
Twitter- @ciaraoneal2
Instagram- authorciaraoneal
Personal Website- ciaraoneal.weebly.com

 

 

SUSANNA: That is really wonderful to hear, Ciara – that Would You Read It helped you in your writing pursuits!  Thank you to all our generous, helpful readers for their part in that.  And to anyone who is considering submitting a pitch to Would You Read It, maybe this will give you a little incentive 🙂  Thank you so much for joining us today, Ciara, and for sharing all your helpful advice!  We so appreciate it and wish you all the best with this and future books!

Readers, if you have questions for Ciara, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! (And if you’re interested in the other self published Tuesday Debut, please see HERE)

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

 

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (Self Published)

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Counting Sheep

Hi Everyone!  Welcome back to Perfect Picture Book Fridays!

I know we took a bit of a break between the Holiday Contest preempting regular posts and then the holidays preempting everything 🙂 , so if you have posted Perfect Picture Books over the last few weeks you are welcome to add them all to today’s list!

As you all know, I am partial to books about counting sheep 🙂

cant-sleep-without-sheep

So I am thrilled to share a new one with you!  And, not only will I share the book with you on PPBF today, the author, Pippa Chorley, has generously offered to give away 2 copies in celebration of her launch to the US market this week!  If you’re interested in winning a copy, she asks that you like and comment on post, and share this post on social media tagging her on Twitter:@PippaChorley and/or Instagram: @pippachorley!   And if you’d like to learn a little more about her journey to publication with this book, please check out Tuesday Debut – Presenting Pippa Chorley!

IMG_3934

Title: Counting Sheep

Written By: Pippa Chorley

Illustrated By: Danny Deeptown

Marshall Cavendish, January 20 2020, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-6

Themes/Topics: bedtime, ingenuity/problem solving

Opening: “One dark stormy night, when Sam couldn’t sleep,
Her mum suggested, “Try counting some sheep.”
Sam closed her eyes and pictured a flock,

But the white, woolly sheep were running…AMOK!
‘Please stop, please stop! Slow down, slow down!
I cannot sleep with you clowning around.‘”

Brief Synopsis: When Sam can’t sleep, her mother suggests counting sheep, but bedtime becomes bedlam as the sheep pile up and can’t be counted because Little Shep is unable to clear the fence.  One outrageous solution after another fails to do the trick until Sam comes up with just the right answer.

Links To Resources: If it was your job to get Little Shep over the fence, how would you do it? Draw a picture!; Counting Sheep Song (YouTube Video); 10 Sheep Crafts For Kids; Sheep Cupcakes (recipe); 16 Counting Activities for Preschoolers

Why I Like This Book: this story is cute, energetic and entertaining.  When Little Shep is unable to get over the fence, holding up the line and making it impossible for Sam to count herself to sleep, the sheep come up with one ridiculous proposition after another to solve the problem.  Of course they don’t think their ideas are ridiculous! and their suggestions are believably kid-like (I speak from experience having come up with similar schemes myself 🙂 ), seeming perfectly plausible to them and making for a humorous story and illustrations.  Ultimately Sam is the one who comes up with a sensible solution – the perfect answer to the problem – showing that sometimes a little careful thought is better than a lot of wild ideas. Young readers will enjoy watching the story unfold and wondering how will Little Shep get over that fence???!!!  The illustrations are light-hearted and fun, including such entertaining details as the “spring plan” 🙂

Screen Shot 2020-01-09 at 10.44.32 AM

text copyright Pippa Chorley 2020, illustration copyright Danny Deeptown 2020 – Marshall Cavendish

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂  And don’t forget!  You could win a copy of this delightful book by liking and commenting on this post and sharing this post on Twitter and/or Instagram and tagging Pippa (Twitter:@PippaChorley and/or Instagram: @pippachorley!)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Gifts Of The Animals: A Christmas Tale

Hi Everyone!

I know.

It’s been way too long since we had a Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Between Halloweensie, being away, Thanksgiving, etc, there either wasn’t time in the blog schedule or I didn’t have time.  I apologize to the faithful who have posted every week and invite you to add all of your recent titles to this week’s list to make up for my absence from the front lines!

Since the Holiday Contest opens Monday and will preempt all regular posts, and then it will be the holidays, I will likely not have another PPBF post here until January, so anyone who continues to post may add their books for the next couple weeks to this list as well (or add them to the first post in January – whichever you prefer!)

I can’t wait to show you the book I’ve chosen for today.  It is so lovely!  I think even folks who don’t celebrate Christmas will find it very appealing.

GiftsAnimals

Title: The Gifts Of The Animals: A Christmas Tale

Written By: Carole Gerber

Illustrated By: Yumi Shimokawara

Familius, October 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: holidays (Christmas), birth of Jesus

Opening: “The gentle beasts of sky and earth
prepare their stable for Christ’s birth.

The ox that stands in the drafty shed
drops straw into a manger bed.

Brief Synopsis: The Gift of the Animals shares the miraculous offerings the humble animals in the stable gave to the baby Jesus.

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text copyright Carole Gerber 2019, illustration copyright Yumi Shimokawara 2019

Links To Resources: The Friendly Beasts music video; make Christmas (or other holiday) cards for your friends and family to show them how much they mean to you; practice wrapping skills with boxes and paper from the recycling bin and make them into a pretty windowsill display.

Why I Like This Book: I am personally extra drawn to the story because when I was in kindergarten we sang The Friendly Beasts for the Christmas concert and I have always loved it.  This sweet and lovely story is beautifully written and illustrated – a real Christmas treasure.  There is something so appealing about each of the animals bringing something to make the baby’s arrival more warm and comfortable.  All of them find something perfect to contribute, even though they are just humble creatures.  Kids will love seeing all the animals and what each one has to offer, and the story’s message is one of love and giving.  One of my favorite pages (since I am a mother and have done this 🙂 ) is the page where “Mary counts His tiny toes and wraps the Child in swaddling clothes.”  I feel sure that even if the bible doesn’t specifically tell us so, Mary marveled over His perfection and couldn’t get enough of looking at Him the same way we all do with our babies.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful book as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Heather Gale!

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

How’s that for a theme song?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

After that the revisions took almost a year.

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

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

Mine are adding emotion and deleting.

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

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

After emotions are added my next favorite is deleting.

Distilling a draft to 1000 special words is a challenge.

Every word matters.

Every sentence should feel unique.

Every paragraph has the potential to build a scene.

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

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

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

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

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

Next, I look at each word in the sentence.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

IMG_0716

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

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

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

Then, my best tool is the pitch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your manuscript is ready to face the big wide world.

I have two workspaces that inspire my writing process.

Here’s my view from the cottage:

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 8.12.13 PM

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

And then it was my turn.

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

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

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

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

SUSANNA: How about your experience of the illustration process?

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

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

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

Here’s what I wrote:

One person stood.

[illo: Kana smiles]

Ho'onani - illo note and illustration

and here’s how that illustration turned out!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canadian Review of Materials

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

Heather-head-shot

Author Heather Gale

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

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

 

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

If you can relate it to a holiday at all (which is a bit of a stretch 🙂 ) the book I’ve chosen to share today is a little more Thanksgiving-y than Halloween-y.  But even though Halloween comes first and is less than a week away, this book is too good not to share now 🙂

Fry Bread

Title: Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Written By: Kevin Noble Maillard

Illustrated By: Juana Martinez-Neal

Roaring Brook Press, October 22 2019, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-6 (but older kids and adults will find the back matter very interesting!)

Themes/Topics: heritage, tradition, family, community

Opening: “FRY BREAD IS FOOD
Flour, salt, water
Cornmeal, baking powder
Perhaps milk, maybe sugar
All mixed together in a big bowl

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 1.09.39 PM

text copyright Kevin Noble Maillard 2019, illustration copyright Juana Martinez-Neal 2019 Roaring Brook Press

 

Brief Synopsis: A celebration of how this no-single-recipe-fits-all community food draws families and friends together and provides continuity from generation to generation.

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 1.10.07 PM

text copyright Kevin Noble Maillard 2019, illustration copyright Juana Martinez-Neal 2019 Roaring Brook Press

 

Links To Resources: the back of the book contains extensive additional information that teachers and parents can use to round out the use of the book at home and in the classroom and that older readers will enjoy.  Topics include a recipe for the author’s own unique version of Fry Bread as well as information on Indigenous people, geography, history, and more.

Why I Like This Book: the text is simple, powerful, and accessible to readers of all ages, telling the story of how Fry Bread brings families and communities together and encourages tradition.  The back matter adds another layer with a great deal of very interesting information about a wide range of connected topics.  The art is warm and appealing, adding its own element to the story with illustrations of Native bowls and baskets, a wide array of physical appearances that can all be Native American, and a map that lacks the usual delineations in order to show how Indigenous people are in every population.  Beautifully done, and a wonderful addition to any library!

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 1.10.33 PM

text copyright Kevin Noble Maillard 2019, illustration copyright Juana Martinez-Neal 2019 Roaring Brook Press

 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

And get those Halloweensie entries finished up!  The contest opens Monday!!!  WOOHOO!!! 🙂

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Dawn Young!

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

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

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

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

hi res for blog - jacket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: What was the editorial process like for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

hi res for blog dancing

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

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

DAWN: No, not yet.

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

DAWN: Ten months.

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

DAWN: It just released on Oct 1st.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young headshot

Author Dawn Young

Dawn Young bio:

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

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

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

https://twitter.com/dawnyoungPB

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

www.dawnyoungbooks.com

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Susan Richmond!!!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, everyone!

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

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

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

Bird Count_cover

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

 

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

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

 

Susan Edwards Richmond_birding with scope

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

 

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

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

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

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SUSAN: Bottle of champagne—toasts all around!

 

talkin birds

Talkin’ Birds

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

BirdCountArtTease1

illustration copyright Stephanie Fizer Coleman 2019

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Author Susan Richmond

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

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God