Tuesday Debut – Presenting Patti Richards!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, my friends!

Today I’m delighted to introduce the lovely Patti Richards and her picture book, MRS. NOAH (someone whom I think we can all agree we ought to hear more about because surely she was instrumental in making sure the ark was properly packed! 😊) For all of you considering entering the upcoming Halloweensie Contest, take note of the fact that Patti’s second book, MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE due out from Little Lamb books in 2022, was a direct result of the Holiday Contest entry by that name that she wrote and entered a few years ago! Isn’t that cool?

Let’s turn now to MRS. NOAH and see what Patti has to share!

Title: MRS. NOAH
Author: Patti Richards
Illustrator: Alice Pieroni
Publisher: Little Lamb Books
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Genre: Fiction
Ages: 4 to 8

Synopsis: Noah can’t wait to show his bride the enormous ark he’s just completed. As amazing as it is, Mrs. Noah knows it can be more. She sees beyond the wood and fasteners to the home it has the potential to be—and so, she gets to work! With care for each animal and its needs, Mrs. Noah hammers, gathers, knits, and schlepps this floating house into a loving home. And while she starts the project on her own, teamwork will see it through.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Patti! Thank you so much for coming to our little corner of the blogosphere today to share your journey to publication! We’re so excited to learn from you! Where did the idea for this book come from?

PATTI: I was packing my family for our first cruise—a 50th anniversary celebration for my parents. With all the stress of getting a family of five ready for a big trip plus taking care of the pets, paying bills, cleaning the house, I was stressed to say the least. In the middle of all of the preparations, I thought, “If getting us ready for a three-day cruise is this crazy, how in the world did Mrs. Noah get an entire ark ready for her family and all the animals?” I laughed out loud at the thought, and the idea for MRS. NOAH was born.

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

PATTI: I wrote the first draft of MRS. NOAH in 2018. But the story actually got its start with the idea, so from idea to first draft took about six years. I know that seems like a long time, but other projects and life kept getting in the way. But I’m a firm believer in God’s perfect timing in life and in writing, and I think MRS. NOAH needed to simmer for that long for me to be ready to write the book. 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

PATTI: I had (still have) 13 versions of MRS. NOAH before I submitted it for the first time. I say “still have,” because I never discard a version/draft! Once the contract was signed, I’ve revised a few more times plus made final edits, so the grand total now is 15 versions. In talking with other writers, I do think the way I save drafts is sort of unique to me in that even one or two small changes…a period or comma here or there, a new word or rearranged sentence…means a new draft. I know not all writers do things this way, but for me, it’s super important to see the entire evolution of a story as well as be able to go back and find passages, sentences or word order that I liked better in earlier version. If I took a look at most of my story files right now, there isn’t one that doesn’t have multiple drafts—I think my most-revised story to date has somewhere around 35 versions. I guess I’m one of those odd birds that actually enjoys revising! LOL!

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

PATTI: Sometimes I decide that a submission is ready because there’s an opportunity to submit it. Does that make sense? MRS. NOAH had been revised and tweaked with my critique group 13 times over the course of a year, so when #FaithPitch was happening, I thought, “Why not?” Because, honestly, with that many versions a writer really should be at the point of submission if for no other reason than to get feedback, even if it’s just a “No,” so you can look at your story with new eyes. That may seem contrary to popular advice or opinions, but I say this to encourage each of you to believe in your work and yourselves enough to take that next big step. Never submit your first draft. NEVER! But if you’re on draft 10 or 13, go ahead and send it out. That first submission is always the hardest, and the rejection, if it comes, will be painful, but it’s all part of the process of learning and growing as a writer. 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

PATTI: I don’t have an agent (still working on that😊). I mentioned #FaithPitch before, and even though I always thought of MRS. NOAH as a mainstream book, I thought it might also be a good fit for a faith-based publisher, so I decided to give it a try. That first go-round I didn’t get any love, so I put it away and waited. By the time #faithpitch came around again, I actually had a second story called MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, ready to go and pitched both of them. But again, no love! So instead of putting my second story away, I decided to go ahead and submit it to Little Lamb Books, the sponsor of #FaithPitch, because I thought it would be a good fit for their house. That was in February of 2019 during their open submissions window. Fast forward to September, and it was time for the second #Faithpitch of the year. I decided to give MRS. NOAH another try and it got a heart from Rachel Pellegrino, publisher at Little Lamb Books. You can imagine my surprise when just a week or so later, I got an email from Rachel letting me know that they had found my submission from February as they were taking one last look at what had come in and they loved MILLIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. In the same letter, Rachel mentioned that she had liked MRS. NOAH on #FaithPitch and could I send her that one, because if she loved it they wanted to offer me a two-book contract! I was over-the-moon excited! I sent her MRS. NOAH, and here I am in 2021 getting ready for my first fiction picture book release with a second one with Little Lamb Books coming in 2022.

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”?


PATTI: I had “the call” with Rachel a few weeks after I got the initial email, and by Thanksgiving, I had the contract in my hands!

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

PATTI: I had MRS. NOAH out on submission for one year before it was picked up by Little Lamb Books. Of course, the caveat is that there are very few faith-based publishers that take unsolicited manuscripts, so MRS. NOAH went out to about three other places in total.

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

PATTI: Just a few weeks!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

PATTI: I honestly can’t remember now, but I’m pretty sure it involved a happy dance or two and copious amounts of chocolate cake!

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

PATTI: The contract was definitely what I expected. There were no surprises, but that was primarily because I’ve been in the submission trenches for a long time and have done my homework about contracts and what to expect. Little Lamb, like many smaller independent publishing houses, does not give an advance but in turn pays higher royalties than other places. Rachel presented me with a well-crafted contract that was easy to read and understand. It also helps to have a husband who is an attorney, and we went over the contract together to make sure everything was as it should be. If you don’t have an attorney in your family and don’t have an agent, I would strongly suggest having someone who is an expert in contract language take a quick look. Contracts are always written from the perspective of the publishing house, so it helps to have someone who has your best interest at heart give it a read through.

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

PATTI: Because I had been working on MRS. NOAH consistently for a year and the arc was solid, there were no major changes to the story during the editorial process. However, because MRS. NOAH is a rhyming story, I had some work to do making sure every line matched in terms of syllable count and emphasis. When it comes to rhyming stories, there are different schools of thought about the need for equal number of syllables per line vs. equal number of beats. Poets and rhyming picture book writers with a musical background (like me) tend to listen and write for beats. Others, from a more formulaic background are sticklers for syllable count. So, there was a little back and forth about those changes, but the final product is exactly as it should be and I’m so proud of it!  

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

PATTI: All picture book writers should have a vision for what their book will ultimately look like. With that being said, all picture book writers need to hold that vision loosely. I could see Mrs. Noah as clear as day in my mind as I was writing this story, and I loved what I saw. But illustrators and editors often see things differently. So, when I got the initial sketches for the book, I was a little surprised. But a beautiful thing happened…as I looked at her and sent back my notes, got new sketches, sent back more notes, and got revised sketches, something lovely started to happen. I started being able to see my main character in a different way. She needed the changes I asked for, but she no longer needed to look like what I had envisioned from the beginning. This MRS. NOAH was just right for this book. I trusted the process, and I couldn’t be happier with the result! 

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


PATTI: Things are super slow at Ingram right now because of the pandemic, so we haven’t been able to send review copies out yet. Hoping that happens soon!

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

PATTI: Hoping to have that first copy in my hand soon! If it happens on schedule (which seems to be changing daily because of what I mentioned above) it will be almost two years to the day of when I signed my contract.

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

PATTI: Little Lamb gives writers a lot of help when it comes to marketing, which is why a small house is so nice! They produce all of the swag and the book trailer, and have featured me on their blog several times along the way. They are also responsible for getting review copies where they need to go and will be entering MRS. NOAH in some contests on my behalf. I’m so happy with all the marketing support I’ve received.

I’ve done a few blogs and am planning a Facebook Live release on the day the book comes out and I’ll be planning some events as soon as I have the book in my hands. I’ve held off planning anything live until that first copy arrives just because so much of the when is out of our hands right now.

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

PATTI: Let’s see…I sold my first picture book to a publisher called MeeGenius in 2014. That was 14 years after I’d written my first book for children. I think it’s important to note that during those 14 years, and for many years after that I was also a full-time freelance writer. So, I was constantly balancing my paying work with my children’s work. I don’t want anyone to read this and think, “14 years! But I don’t want to wait that long!” I totally get it😊. But along the way I’ve had other successes that have kept me going, like winning awards in the Writer’s Digest annual competitions, the Katherine Paterson Prize at Hunger Mountain and a few others. I’ve also done work-for-hire writing which resulted in three nonfiction chapter books that released in 2017 and 2018. I’ve had a fiction story in Highlights Magazine and a nonfiction story in Fun for Kidz Magazine and last year I sold a poem to Cricket Media for Ladybug Magazine. The important thing is to keep writing, honing your craft and submitting. Do you need an agent to do those things? No. Do you need a picture book contract to continue working to become the best writer for children you can be? No. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all these years of writing, submitting, revising and submitting again, the joy is in the journey. I wouldn’t trade the people I’ve met that have become life-long friends, the patience I’ve learned and the commitment to craft I’ve developed for anything. Book contracts are the goal, but writing for children is about so much more than that. Be grateful for your calling. Love what you do, and love the children who will read your work someday. Learn all you can, and live your writer life well. Whatever that looks like for you!

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Patti! We’ve so enjoyed and benefited from the opportunity to learn from you! I know I speak for everyone when I say we wish you all the best with this and future titles!

Author Patti Richards

Social Media Links:

Website: pattigail1.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pgwrites5
Twitter: @pattigrichards
Instagram: @pattigrichards
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pgwrites/

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

Patti’s book will be available next week from Little Lamb Books, and if it is available in other places I will update these links!

You may purchase Patti’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)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Hardly Haunted

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

As some of you may have noticed, Halloween is coming! 🎃🧙🏿‍♀️👻

So what better time for a story about a haunted house?

This one is so cute scary! 😊

Title: Hardly Haunted

Written & Illustrated By: Jessie Sima

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, fiction, July 2021

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: being yourself, self-acceptance, holidays (Halloween)

text and illustration copyright Jessie Sima 2021, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Opening: “There was a house on a hill,
and that house was worried.”

Brief Synopsis:House has a problem. The evidence seems to suggest that she might be HAUNTED! How will she ever find a family who wants to make her a haunted home?

text and illustration copyright Jessie Sima 2021, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
text and illustration copyright Jessie Sima 2021, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Links To Resources: Haunted House Activities for Kids; Haunted Cookie Houses and Black Cat Cookies (and honestly I think you could easily do a haunted house cookie activity using chocolate graham crackers and icing if you don’t want to do all the gingerbread template baking!)

Why I Like This Book: Some kids like scary books. Mine were not in that category! 😊 So this is the kind of perfect Halloween book that I love. It hints at spookiness, and has a little suspense in the story, without being at all scary. After all, no one wants nightmares! The story is told from the point of view of the house, but there’s a delightful little black cat who appears on every page, adding to the story with her reactions. And while the house is concerned about her potential hauntedness, the art is so appealing that it makes her much more endearing than scary. Although this is a story appropriate for the Halloween season with its nod toward spookiness, it is also a story about being who you are and accepting yourself – always something kids can benefit from. Young readers will delight in this story and fall in love with the friendly little house…even if she is haunted 😊

text and illustration copyright Jessie Sima 2021, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

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 blog 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 Anne Appert!

Hey, Everybody! It’s Tuesday Debut time and we have such a treat today!

Our debut-ess for this week is none other than the lovely and talented Anne Appert, and because she is both author and illustrator, we’re going to get to see extra art to show us how illustrations evolve! While this may seem ho-hum to people who illustrate all the time, it is a thrill for those of us who can’t draw to save our lives (*raises hand* 😊). And I think it’s helpful for all writers to get a glimpse of the illustration process.

So let’s dive right in, shall we? Presenting Anne Appert and her delightful debut, BLOB!

Blob
written and illustrated by Anne Appert
HarperCollins, September 14th 2021
Fiction, ages 4-8

A humorous picture book featuring a blob (n. a creature that can be anything they want) who finally finds out who they really are after a series of small discoveries.

Blob is a creature of indeterminate kind. Blob can be a giraffe, cotton candy, and even an octopus. Its not until a negligent (albeit well-meaning) narrator continuously calls them Bob” that Blob starts to question who they really are.

After a series of funny yet enlightening discoveries about all the possible things they can be, Blob realizes that the best thing to be is . . .

Blob.

(With the L.)

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

ANNE: This book started as a joke when people kept mistaking my stylized animal drawings as animals they were not. For example, a skunk was confused for a badger, a squirrel for a cat, etc. I said to a friend, “ Nobody can tell what I’m drawing, but at least they are cute and blobby.” Then Blob popped into my head. Followers on social media responded well to this character, and I decided that I needed to write this story! Luckily for me, their story flowed easily on to the page. You never know when a random conversation will turn into a full fledged book idea.

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

ANNE: I got the idea for the book in February/March of 2019, and by June had a full dummy ready for submission. This is not normal for my process. Usually I need to let a story sit for several months before I jump into illustrations and revisions, but this book just leapt out of my head. The first 6 pages of the book haven’t changed much since that first Instagram version of Blob. For me, it’s important to write the story first, then figure out what I am trying to say.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

ANNE: I’ve realized that I keep telling people we didn’t revise Blob a lot. That’s not entirely true, it was simply an easy book to revise and thus didn’t feel like much.  By letting that first draft flow instead of writing with a message in mind, I was able to approach revisions as the way to excavate what I was trying to say, then polish the text to make that message shine. I revised two times before submission and did one major revision with my editor. While the core of the story has remained the same, my editor’s revisions helped me find another layer of the story. We went back and forth on some final word choice decisions while I worked on the art.

Anne’s work space

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

ANNE: I worked with my agent to tweak the draft until the ending felt satisfying, which involved both text and art revisions. Usually, I go through a couple round of edits with my critique groups, then send to my agent. Once my agent gives me feedback, I don’t show it to my critique group again unless it needs a major rewrite. For Blob, I skipped the critique group step, because I felt that it was already in a good place and we already had a request from a publisher to see it.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

ANNE: First my agent submitted to an editor who saw the original Blob on twitter and requested the story. At that moment, I only had a manuscript and some sample illustrations. We waited to submit more widely until I had finished a full dummy. My agent sent it to editors at various houses and we got several rejections (including from HarperCollins.) Then I went to a portfolio review in NYC through the Children’s Book Illustrator Group where I met my editor (from HarperCollins). When she reviewed my portfolio, she kept coming back to the page with Blob illustrations that I had included. She emailed my agent the next day to get the dummy.

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”?

ANNE: One week! After my agent sent the dummy, we found out the next day the editor wanted to take it to acquisitions. The next week they made an offer! I know this is not usually how speedy publishing is, so I was very excited.

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

ANNE: As previously mentioned, I got the call a week after finding out it was going to acquisitions. (And yes it was a call, not an email!) The dummy had been on submission for 4-5 months before that.

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

ANNE: I received the initial offer in November 2019. Then, there were some conversations with my agent and the publisher so I think it was finalized in December. I received the contract in May 2020.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

ANNE: One of my mottos is celebrate everything. I shared a bottle of bubbly with the family I live with and I bought myself some new notebooks. I was fortunate that I shared the news with friends before the pandemic hit even though I hadn’t signed the contract, so they took me out to dinner to celebrate. And since I celebrate everything, I did get to celebrate the offer with more family before the pandemic.

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

ANNE: To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I found reading the contract very confusing and was very happy that I had an agent to walk me through it. The advance was more than I expected because I forgot that as an author/illustrator I wouldn’t split it. I got 25 author copies and 10% royalties on hardcovers. Most things seemed pretty standard according to my knowledge of the publishing industry. The one thing I was worried about is that my contract has the wrong title for the book! Before I signed it, I made sure I wasn’t committing to this title, and my editor assured me that we were on the same page regarding this.

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

ANNE: We started editing the manuscript before I signed the contract. There were two significant changes to the original manuscript. The first was drawing out the name storyline. Originally, Blob didn’t insist on the narrator calling them the right name, and it was more of an afterthought. Thankfully, my editor realized that we needed to change this. We also changed the ending as the original version was vague and very open ended. We did one major round of revisions, and then did some word choice editing once we started working on the art. I feel so lucky that I had an editor who completely understood Blob, in some ways even more than I did.

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

ANNE: The illustration process was both fun and challenging.

The dummy I submitted was 32 pages (This is standard for the industry). My editor expanded it to a 40 page book, which gave us more room to explore the various themes in the story. It did mean I had to create more art.

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

I worked with an incredible designer whose attention to detail really allowed Blob to pop off the page. I decided to use a limited palette for the book, so when I got to final art, I had to make some tricky decisions in order to make that work. (There are only four colors in the book plus black and white. I do use the colors transparently on some pages, which creates more colors as they overlap.)

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

I drew the work digitally which meant I kept my fingers crossed that the colors would print the way I hoped. Printers vary, so it’s hard to be 100% sure. When I saw the F&Gs, I was very happy with the color. My favorite surprise was the spot gloss on the front cover! (Notice the way the painted L, e, and glasses shine)

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

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

ANNE: I was very nervous about what Kirkus was going to say which made it a huge relief when they gave BLOB a good review. I also got a review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Both likened Blob’s looks to sweets, which I found amusing. I didn’t get my SLJ review until after the book publication date. It was a good one as well, but a little less scary since I already saw how readers were responding to BLOB.

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

ANNE: I received the offer in November/December of 2019 and got my copies in August 2021. That was a surreal moment!

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

ANNE: HarperCollins promoted it on their social media accounts on publication day. They also did an influencer outreach campaign where they sent the book to different book influencers to review. I believe they also did outreach to educators and librarians. I’m sure there is more behind the scenes then I realize!

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

ANNE: For my own marketing, I reached out to several blogs to do a small blog tour (A Blob tour, if you will). I also created stickers and signed prints/bookplates for preorders. Because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, I didn’t do a launch event; however, I did team up with a local bookstore for signed preorders. (And you can still order signed copies from them if you would like! https://www.anneappert.com/books) In addition, I did a 10 day countdown with graphics I made for my social media accounts. Now I’m scheduling library visits. For these, I’ve created some activity sheets which I hope to add to my website soon.

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

ANNE: I went to college planning on pursuing writing for children afterwards. My degree is in illustration because, though I enjoyed making art, I felt I needed the training to be able to illustrate my books as well. I joined SCBWI soon after graduating, but it took a couple years for me to really get involved. While I was writing this entire time, I would say 2015 was when I started seriously learning and working at craft. in 2018 I signed with my first agent, and in 2019 I sold my first book. I do usually include my college years since it was always my plan to write and illustrate, which would make it 12 years from the time I started college to the time I sold my book.

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?)

ANNE: The most important thing for me was to get involved and make connections. The more people I met through organizations and groups like SCBWI, The Children’s Book Illustrator Group, 12×12, and the KidLitArt twitter chat, the more my craft grew in leaps and bounds. I quickly learned it wasn’t enough to be a part of these organizations, I had to participate and put myself out there. Through this, I was able to find critique groups, mentorship opportunities, and classes that led me to the connections that helped me sell my book. Most importantly, I found the people who are my friends. This industry has a lot of ups and downs, and having them to lean on has been the most invaluable part of this whole experience.

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

ANNE: In navigating the publishing journey, one of the best things for me has been asking a lot of questions along the way. Creating a book is a team effort, and everyone involved wants to make it the best book it can be. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent, editor, and designer (if you are an illustrator) questions!

Blob was very easy to write, and that was because there is so much of me in this character. The anxiety of having to decide what you will be when you grow up and getting called the wrong name over and over (I’m a twin) were two of the reasons I wrote this book. However, I didn’t discover this until after I had written the first draft. As Blob would say, be you, and you will find the right words to allow your message to shine, whatever that message may be.

Author/Illustrator Anne Appert

Website: https://www.anneappert.com/
twitter: https://twitter.com/Anne_Appert
instagram: https://instagram.com/anneappertillustration

Author/Illustrator Anne Appert disguised as Blob 😊

SUSANNA: So much wonderful information and advice, Anne! Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We wish you all the best with this an future titles!

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

You may purchase Anne’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)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Beautifully Me

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

I always look forward so much to seeing what you all choose each week! There are so many amazing books out there! I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a hard time choosing only one every Friday – I always want to share at least five! 😊

Today I have a choice that is different in two ways. One, it’s written by someone who is a YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok celebrity, and I typically don’t review books written by celebrities of any kind. Two, its topic is one I think is important and there should be more books of this kind. See what you think – does it strike you as a Perfect Picture Book? I’m interested in opinions!

Title: Beautifully Me

Written By: Nabela Noor

Illustrated By: Nabi H. Ali

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, September 14, 2021, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: self-esteem, healthy body image

text copyright Nabela Noor 2021, illustration copyright Nabi H. Ali 2021, Simon & Schuster

Opening: “Salaam! My name is Zubi Chowdhury.
Yesterday, I woke up before the sun.
I knew it was going to be a special day.
It was my first day of school!

I put on my blue overalls and pink shirt with fancy puffy sleeves. Amma had made it just for me in Bangladesh. I twisted my hair into two pigtails with my lucky butterfly clops and slid on my bangles.”

Brief Synopsis: Zubi, a young Bangladeshi girl, is excited for her first day of school, but when everyone around her seems suddenly focused on their size she begins to doubt herself. Will kids make fun of her because she isn’t skinny? Her family helps her to see that it is who you are that makes you beautiful, not how much you weigh.

text copyright Nabela Noor 2021, illustration copyright Nabi H. Ali 2021, Simon & Schuster

Links To Resources: glossary of Bengali words used in the text; celebrate your strengths and the strengths of those around you! What are you good at? What makes you special? What makes you YOU? 15+ Fun SElf-Esteem Activities & Games for Children and Teens (scroll down past the explanation of what self-esteem is and how parents and teachers can help foster it in children to the activities and games.)

Strengths Finder Poster from Friendzy.co (You can download the free pdf there)

Why I Like This Book: This lovely book shows the importance of kindness and being yourself, and of celebrating all the unique characteristics that make you “beautifully you”. What makes us special is what’s on the inside – who we are – not the package it comes in. Although some reviews have faulted this book for “promoting obesity”, I feel that it promotes kindness, acceptance, and positive body image, and in today’s world where kids are bombarded with images of what they’re “supposed to look like,” it’s important for them to know that there are many different (and beautiful!) body types and that what is important is being healthy, and being a good, kind person who supports others. Every child can benefit from this book’s encouragement to find and honor their strengths.

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 blog 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 Karen Greenwald!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Apologies for the late posting! I hope everyone will still get to read about today’s debut-ess, Karen Greenwald, and her fabulous book, A VOTE FOR SUSANNA: THE FIRST WOMAN MAYOR!

Let’s jump right in, shall we? Not another second to lose!

A Vote For Susanna, The First Woman Mayor
written by Karen Greenwald
illustrated by Sian James
Albert Whitman, October 1
Nonfiction
4-9 (and beyond!)

In 1887 the state of Kansas gave women the right to vote in municipal elections. But some men in the city of Argonia, Kansas didn’t think women should have a say in choosing their next mayor, so they put a woman on the ballot—as a joke. That woman was Susanna Salter—and soon the men would find the joke was on them! Narrated by a grandmother who remembered what happened on that election day, this is the true story of a woman who stood up for her right to vote and accomplished so much more.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Karen! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re all looking forward to hearing about how A VOTE FOR SUSANNA came to be! Where did the idea for this book come from?

KAREN: I believe I was researching another idea when I saw a sentence about Susanna Salter. Immediately, I was captivated. I’m a non-practicing lawyer with a background in government and politics. I was also raised in a very “girl power” environment. My parents instilled this in us. Reading this brief reference about a woman in 1887 that became the first to hold this position interested me—and the fact that her election arose as result of a prank, even more so. I had to investigate this! As kidlit writers, we are told that it is important to write the story you can tell. My passion for equality and my experiences in the political realm led me to Susanna’s history.

I did not start out writing this version. One and a half years into the research, I was introduced to members of Susanna’s city that shared pieces of the history I had not prior been able to access. Also, I “met” (virtually) her great-granddaughter who, along with her brother, entrusted me with copies of personal letters written by Susanna and other family members. Thanks to those precious documents I was able to write the version that became my debut book (and gained friendships along the way)!

As for my idea “process,” it is hard to describe. I look for certain elements in an idea, like whether it has been written about, and ask myself if I see broad appeal, if the topic child-friendly, and if I feel enthusiastic about telling this story. If I can visualize it in my head, I know I need to start researching.

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

KAREN: It took two and a half years from beginning to end, but under six months to write the version that became the book.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KAREN: Yes! I had four different manuscript versions—three of which were based on the fact that there was only so much information I was given access to…but, once I had more access I was able to write the story I knew needed to be told.

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

KAREN: I knew it was ready when I teared up writing the final words. It was very emotional, and I felt I hit the right note to wrap it up. As I typed the ending, I left open on my screen a letter Susanna had written. I felt like I was doing for her what history should have long ago!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KAREN: I submitted my manuscript in March and found out in April that it was going into acquisitions. But, it didn’t actually happen until August—that was one long summer of inbox refreshing! At the time of submissions, I wasn’t agented. In fact, I left my first agent a few months earlier when they switched houses and stopped representing picture books. I really didn’t enjoy the querrying process (does anyone?!), so I took a year off from it and spent that time working on this manuscript.

Karen’s writing buddy 😊

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”?

KAREN: I believe around four months.

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

KAREN: I got an email and then call about it going into acquisitions. I was beyond thrilled! However, it didn’t go into the meeting until the beginning of August. I quickly sent out a couple of queries to agents. Two days later, I had “the call” with my agent Liza Fleissig (Liza Royce Agency). I learned about the offer by email. What a beautiful email! Lol!

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

KAREN: One month or more.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KAREN: Well, it was in the middle of the pandemic, so it was hard to go full out, but it did involve an impromptu dance party (so very kidlit-esque!) and the laugh-until-you-cry-until-you-laugh moment. I also held a Zoom family meeting!

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

KAREN: I had an extremely positive experience with the editorial process. I wound up having two different editors because the first changed houses I think around the time we finished the main revisions. Both editors were amazing to work with and extremely responsive. I don’t remember there being many changes to the manuscript. I felt extremely respected, listened to, and that my opinions were valued. I honestly can’t imagine having a better editor/author experience.

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

KAREN: I was able to share tons and tons (and tons—I delved deep!) of content, links to clothing styles, pictures, et al. As I mentioned, I had access to things nobody else would have since it came directly from  members of the family. This is the first and only book to tell Susanna Salter’s story, so I wanted to include as many details as possible. I studied not only Susanna and her family, but also the townspeople where she lived. I shared every one of these “swatches” of their world. I felt extremely respected in this process as well.

I included various art notes.

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

KAREN: I got a review from Kirkus and nearly cried with joy! Their verdict was, “Get it” and they called my book, “factually accurate and accessibly told.” This meant the world to me, especially because my topic involves election rules and processes unlike any we have today. The fact that they feel I made this landmark moment (that has been brushed aside by history) accessible to children feels incredible. I am extremely proud of being reviewed by Kirkus!

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

KAREN: One year!

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

KAREN: I am doing a blog tour and am being interviewed on some podcasts, too. The National Women’s History Museum hosted a launch I did with Nancy Churnin and Songju Ma Daemicke. I have an Election Day event I’m doing with them. I’m also engaged in many other avenues, but you’ll have to look around to see them! (Can’t give all my secrets away😉)

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

KAREN: It is hard to say because I’ve always been a writer in some form or function. In my “real world” job, I write articles for both print and online sources. However, picture book writing has been a focus for around five years.

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?)

KAREN: Write what you know, what you’re passionate about, what you feel others will connect to—and then take breaks from it and let it marinate!

Author Karen Greenwald

Twitter: @karenmgreenwald
Website: karengreenwald.com

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

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

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

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)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Wishes

Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!

Happy First Day of October, Everyone!

Today I have such a gorgeous book to share that I can’t wait to show it to you! I encourage you all to read it if you can. Writers, especially, will find this book a shining example of how to say so much with so little.

Get ready to have your socks blown off!

Title: Wishes

Written By: Mượn Thị Văn

Illustrated By: Victo Ngai

Publisher: Orchard Books, May 2021, reality-based fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: immigration, family, home, resilience

text copyright Mượn Thị Văn 2021, illustration copyright Victo Ngai 2021, Orchard Books

Opening: “The night wished it was quieter.”

Brief Synopsis: A young Vietnamese girl must leave behind her home and everything she knows to find hope for a better life.

text copyright Mượn Thị Văn 2021, illustration copyright Victo Ngai 2021, Orchard Books

Links To Resources: the back of the book includes a note from the author about her own journey from Vietnam, as well as a note from the illustrator describing how she went about crafting her illustrations; if you had to leave home, what would you wish for? discuss, draw, or write a story or poem; what do you think would be the hardest thing to leave behind if you had to leave home? what would you want to be sure you brought with you?

text copyright Mượn Thị Văn 2021, illustration copyright Victo Ngai 2021, Orchard Books

Why I Like This Book: This is the kind of gorgeous, poignant book that makes your heart full. With only 75 words, the author conveys such a depth of emotion and story. With true picture book perfection, the illustrations tell as much of the story as the words, beautifully expanding the reader’s understanding of exactly what is happening and the strength it demands from the characters. The majority of young readers (thankfully) will never have experienced this particular kind of hardship, but it is so important for them to understand that life experiences are different for everyone and that many of them require strength, resilience, effort, and hope. A beautiful, thought-provoking, heart-stirring book that young readers will gain a lot from.

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 blog 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 Cynthia Argentine!

It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means!

Time for a brand new Tuesday Debut!

It’s so much fun to meet new authors, isn’t it? And see the wonderful books they’ve created? And hear about how they got from writing and hoping to PUBLISHED! 😊

I also love the opportunity to learn about the creative process involved for all different kinds of books. We’ve have authors, and illustrators, and author/illustrators, fiction and nonfiction, religious, dyslexia-friendly, self-published. . . and today, we’ve got a debut book that is “illustrated” with photographs! Something new for us to educate ourselves about!

So without further ado, I’m delighted to present today’s Tuesday Debut-ess, Cynthia Argentine, and her gorgeous book, NIGHT BECOMES DAY: CHANGES IN NATURE!

Night Becomes Day: Changes in Nature
written by Cynthia Argentine
no illustrator (illustrated with photographs)
Millbrook Press, a division of Lerner Publishing Group
10/5/2021
Nonfiction
ages 4-9

Whether sudden or gradual, change is a constant in our world. NIGHT BECOMES DAY shows the beauty and power of nature through transformations happening all around us. Pairing lyrical text with vivid photos, the book takes readers from beaches and woods to caves, canyons, glaciers, and more.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Cynthia! We are thrilled to have you here today, and so excited to learn about your journey to publication! Where did the idea for this book come from?


CYNTHIA: Thanks so much for having me, Susanna!

Three specific things came together to inspire this book:

  1. spring outside my window
  2. a class called Nonfiction Archaeology, and
  3. broccoli. (I’ll explain!)

It was March of 2017, and I was taking an online class called Nonfiction Archaeology led by Kristen Fulton. One assignment was to come up with an idea for a science-based, nonfiction picture book. Noticing the spring transformations happening right outside my window, I started listing them. I thought about how familiar some changes were and how surprising others could be. The first time I grew broccoli, for example, I discovered—lo and behold!—it could turn into a bouquet of yellow blossoms. I realized children might be interested in learning about all sorts of transformations as well.

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

CYNTHIA: Digging up the answer to this question was enlightening! I went back through old computer files, and my first document related to this project was dated March 20, 2017 and titled “Nature Changing Cycling Surprising Picture Book Compass.” I was clearly just brainstorming at that point! But in that document, I worked out my central nugget and theme. Key phrases included “nature is constantly changing” and “this view of nature brings awe, wonder, beauty, and interconnectedness to our world.” Those statements guided my writing from initial idea to publication.

As for the actual timing…. I looked back at my file history and discovered this:

  • I spent ten hours, spread over three evenings, writing my first draft, which is strikingly similar to the published text.
  • Before starting that first draft, I spent five days pre-writing. This included jotting down ideas. Tapping into childhood memories. Categorizing changes by scientific discipline. Playing with pairs of opposites. Reading other nonfiction mentor texts. Developing a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Organizing an outline. And mocking up a 32-page dummy.

SUSANNA: Wow! Not only are you way more organized than I am in your pre-writing, you know how many days and hours you spent! What amazing record-keeping! Did you go through many revisions?

CYNTHIA: Yes! I revised the initial manuscript off and on for about a year, putting it away for days or weeks at a time. During that period, I also did a lot of research to support and expand the scientific aspects of the book. Some of that research became part of the back matter.

My wonderful critique partners played a part in the revision process, too. We read each other’s work individually and then meet to discuss it. This helps me identify both the strong and weak points in a manuscript.

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

CYNTHIA: When I faced a deadline! 😉 There is nothing like a deadline for motivation. The deadline for this submission came in the form of a blog post written by Carol Hinz at Millbrook Press (a division of Lerner Publishing). I knew that Lerner published the kinds of books I was interested in writing, so I had already subscribed to their blog. In March of 2018, the blog post advertised a call for nonfiction manuscripts for grades K-3 that could be illustrated with photographs. (Learn more about that here.) I had read and admired several books published by Millbrook and edited by Hinz, so I was excited to have an opportunity to submit to them.


SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CYNTHIA: On April 30, 2018, I emailed Lerner my manuscript. I don’t have an agent, so I recognized this as an important opportunity. I had developed a list of other houses that accepted nonfiction from un-agented authors, but I never submitted this manuscript elsewhere.

SUSANNA: How long after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

CYNTHIA: In August, four months after my submission, I got an email from Carol Hinz saying it was “a strong manuscript” and she’d like some more time to consider it. Four months after that, in December, Carol said yes—she wanted to take it to acquisitions! YAY! That was a wonderful Christmas present.

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

CYNTHIA: Less than a month later, on January 11, 2019, Carol emailed to say that Lerner wanted to acquire it! Happy New Year!

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

CYNTHIA: Less than two months. Lerner and I both signed shortly after that. The contracts department at Lerner was helpful and friendly.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

CYNTHIA: I strongly believe in celebrating milestones, but I honestly don’t remember whether I did anything special to commemorate signing. I do remember the night I got the “yes” from acquisitions. I ran downstairs, told everyone in my family, and had extra ice cream for dessert!

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

CYNTHIA: I was working on a middle-grade, work-for-hire book around this same time, and I will say that my payment for that book and the advance on this book were in the same ballpark. Lerner isn’t a big-five house, and I was a first-time author with them, so the advance wasn’t large. Nonetheless, there were benefits. I felt it was a great place for this manuscript, and I was excited to work with Carol Hinz based on the excellence of the other K-3 photo nonfiction Millbrook Press had recently produced. I was able to negotiate for an escalation clause on royalties and for additional author copies (25).

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


CYNTHIA: The book was slated for publication two years out (2021), so we didn’t begin the editorial process right away. In February of 2020, a member of the editorial staff contacted me and recommended a few minor line edits. Then that editor left, and the pandemic spread, and we learned that Lerner was pushing back publication from Spring to Fall 2021.

The editorial process resumed in earnest in December of 2020. Carol Hinz completely understood my vision for the book, and it was great to work with her on it. She had ideas for strengthening the manuscript and particularly encouraged me to carefully consider the opposite pairs. (The book is structured around opposite types of change.) We also exchanged many emails about details in the back matter, making sure the science was as clear and accurate as possible. Her editorial work definitely improved the book.

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

CYNTHIA: One of the interesting things about this project is that it is illustrated with photographs. I did not envision it that way when I wrote it—I pictured drawings and paintings. But when Lerner’s open call requested books that could be photo-illustrated, I realized mine had that potential. In the end, it worked out beautifully! The vibrancy of the photos invites readers to take a closer look.

interior spread – text copyright Cynthia Argentine 2021 Millbrook Press

Lerner’s art department handled the photo selection and permissions. Mary Ross at Lerner did the design. In most cases, the initial photos they selected were exactly what I was describing. The beaches, caves, glaciers, and mountains were stunning! In a couple cases, the initial photo choices had to be adjusted. For example, I wanted a photo to show an additional stage in the transformation from flower to fruit. They added one to accomplish that. In another case, they could not find a photo to exactly match what I had described in the text, so I revised the text to match the photo they suggested. It was definitely a collaborative process, and I’m grateful for that.

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

CYNTHIA: One has come in so far! Kirkus praised the book, saying it

  • “leads readers to notice and seek out the many changes that are taking place in their world,”
  • “simultaneously folds in a lesson in opposites,” and
  • “will hold readers’ interest.”

Lerner put an advance digital copy on NetGalley.com as well. It received great reviews from teachers, parents, and librarians there. It’s so rewarding to see the book connect with and inspire readers. Thank you, advance reviewers!

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

CYNTHIA: My author copies should be arriving any day! It will have been two years and eight months.

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

CYNTHIA: In addition to submitting the book to major review journals and putting it on NetGalley.com, Lerner mailed hard copies to several media outlets. They helped me make a promo video of the book and posted it online here. They are actively promoting the book on social media and their website as well. And they sent me a packet a few months ago with information about what I could do.

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

CYNTHIA: There has been so much to learn in this area! I have lined up several local in-person events, including a book-birthday bash with my local library and our nature center. My town is featuring Night Becomes Day in its StoryWalk installation during the month of October. And I’m doing a virtual book launch with SK Wenger through The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas on October 9. (It’s free! Come join us!)

I’m also part of two co-marking groups—21forthebooks and STEAMTeam2021—both of which have been so valuable. I highly recommend having partners to help you climb the learning curve! I made bookmarks and stickers using Canva and Vistaprint online. I partnered with Deb Gonzales to build Pinterest pins and a teacher’s guide related to my book. And I’m appearing on several blogs in October in addition to this one. I also have prepared presentations with ties to my book. In August, I gave a webinar called “Science—An Open Door to Creativity” for the Montessori Family Alliance. In November, I’m presenting a webinar called “Nonfiction: A Vast, Vibrant Genre from Board Books to Middle Grade.” It’s hosted by Indiana SCBWI and you can learn more here!

example of Pinterest pin created by Deb Gonzales

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

CYNTHIA: I started writing for children in 2007 with a course through the Institute for Children’s Literature. I discovered I loved writing nonfiction articles and began regularly contributing to children’s magazines such as Odyssey: Adventures in Science and ChemMatters. Then, in 2016, I found a subject that deserved more than an article. This woman needed to be the focus of a picture book biography. At that point, I shifted my energy into learning how to write picture books, which are very different from magazine articles. So, if I count back to that point in 2016, it took three years. If I count back to that first course in 2007, it took twelve years.

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?)

CYNTHIA: For most of us, writing is a calling. It’s something we do despite the fact that some stories may never sell and our books may not yield significant financial gain. We do it because we have felt something in this world that moved us, and we want to share that experience and emotion with someone else. We see that writing forges connections—connections between us and our subjects, between us and our critique partners, between us and our readers.

Writing for children is an art form. Like all art, it has the capacity to be beautiful, resonant, and unique. Good books for children develop through the accumulated insights of years. Invest the time, and recognize that creating books is a worthy calling.

Author Cynthia Argentine

Website
Pinterest @CynthiaArgentine
Twitter @CindyArgentine
Instagram @argentine_writer

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

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

You may purchase Cynthia’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)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Fluffy McWhiskers

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

I have the cutest book ever to share with you today. Literally! 🤣

Unfortunately you’ll have to wait a few weeks to read it, but you can preorder it (or reserve it at your library) now!

Title: Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion

Written By: Stephen W. Martin

Illustrated By: Dan Tavis

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, November 2, 2021, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: self-acceptance, friendship, humor

text copyright Stephen W. Martin 2021, illustration copyright Dan Tavis 2021, Margaret McElderry Books

Opening: “Fluffy McWhiskers was cute.
Dangerously cute.
Yes, Fluffy McWhiskers was so cute that if you saw her. . .
you’d explode.”

Brief Synopsis: Fluffy is an adorable kitten. But she’s so adorable that anyone who sees her spontaneously explodes into balls of sparkles and fireworks! How will she ever find a friend?

text copyright Stephen W. Martin 2021, illustration copyright Dan Tavis 2021, Margaret McElderry Books

Links To Resources: Explosive Science Experiments Kids Can Do At Home; 20 Cute Recipes For Kids; Cottonball Kitty Craft

Why I Like This Book: Sometimes, a book is just plain fun, and this is one of those books. I mean, not really. It’s not really fun! It’s serious! Spontaneous explosions happen! People KABOOM into balls of sparkles and fireworks! Fluffy is dangerous! In an effort to save people, she tries to make herself less cute. But a bad haircut just makes her cuter. And wearing a bag over her head just makes her ridiculously cute. Even exiling herself to outer space doesn’t cut it. What next? I won’t tell you because you should read the book! But beneath the silliness and hilarity is a story about wanting to protect others, learning to accept yourself, and finding friendship where you least expect it, as well as the suggestion that cuteness is in the eye of the beholder. The art is bright and fun and adorable. Fluffy is SO CUTE! But you already knew that. 😊 Young readers will love Fluffy. How could they not?

text copyright Stephen W. Martin 2021, illustration copyright Dan Tavis 2021, Margaret McElderry Books

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 blog 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 Rebecca Mullin!

Welcome, Everyone!

Today’s installment of Tuesday Debut will be of special interest to those of you who want to write for youngest audiences. Although we usually feature picture books, today’s debut is a board book. I thought we might all learn a thing or two from debut-ess Rebecca Mullin about first-time publishing in this fun and wonderful format.

Rebecca has generously provided a copy of her book as a giveaway, so one lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win the book! Please comment on this post by Sunday September 19 at 9PM Eastern to qualify for the random drawing!

And now, without further ado, please join me in welcoming Rebecca Mullin as she kindly shares her journey to publication of ONE TOMATO – a book she wrote for her daughter and which was illustrated by her niece!

One Tomato
Written by Rebecca Mullin
Illustrated by Anna Mullin
Rubber Ducky Press, May 1, 2021
Counting board book for 2-6 year olds

Count the vegetables as you harvest the garden beginning with one ripe tomato!  Ants, moles, bees and other garden friends join in the fun. Watch for the sneaky yellow dandelion. Learn about growing healthy foods while counting to ten in One Tomato! 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Rebecca! Thank you so much for joining us today. We’re all excited to hear about publishing a board book. Where did the idea for this book come from?

REBECCA: One night while cooking dinner I asked my daughter to pick a zucchini from our garden. She came back with a cucumber! We needed some help with vegetable identification! So, I contacted my niece, Anna Mullin, to make a poster of the vegetables we grew in our garden.  At the time, Anna was a senior biology major at Earlham College and had a side-hustle doing commission artwork from her website, ANNAEM.com. She created several beautiful posters which I hung in my kitchen. Now that would be the end of the story except that my mom, who owns Kids Ink Children’s Bookstores in Indianapolis saw the posters and said  “that looks like a board book.” 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book? And how long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your book?

REBECCA: The initial writing of One Tomato took a couple of weeks.  But in reality I spent my whole life working on One Tomato. I’ve been an avid gardener and reader my whole life.  I began working in my mom’s bookstore in 8th grade and have since logged thousands of hours buying books for the store, selling books to customers, reading at storytimes, hosting author events, writing book reviews, and of course packing, unpacking, and lifting lots and lots of boxes of books (not sure how the manual labor piece helped in writing – but I sure do remember the back aches!)

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

REBECCA: Honestly, I never thought it was truly ready for submission.  At some point I just couldn’t see how to make any improvements so decided I’d just give it a try!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

REBECCA: I submitted directly to Rubber Ducky Press without an agent or query. 

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

REBECCA: The “yes” came slowly.  I submitted by email and got a reply within days that the publisher was “interested.” We spoke on the phone a few weeks later at which point I understood that my book needed some significant changes to fit within the Rubber Ducky brand. I submitted a revised edition several months later and was subsequently invited to visit the publishing house. (Covid delayed this visit by 3 months.) The “yes” came when I met with the publisher, distributor, editor, sales manager and probably a few others…it was such an exciting blur! 

The book launch

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

REBECCA: Three weeks. 

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

REBECCA: Standard royalty contract and 10 copies of the book included. 

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

REBECCA: After signing the contract I thought the book was finished….rookie mistake!  The editor asked for several major changes that required re-writing and re-illustrating.  Honestly I thought the changes were outrageous. You want to substitute corn for spinach? You want pumpkins instead of dandelions? But once the changes were made it undeniably made the book better.

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

REBECCA: Of course, my experience with the illustration process was unusual because I worked with my niece!  We met several times and layed out all the pages of the book across a table to see the flow of the story.  Anna sees color and composition in an entirely different way, I learned so much working with her!

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

REBECCA: The initial interest in the book was in December 2019 and the publication date of One Tomato was May 1, 2021. However, the book was delayed by shipping and customs issues and did not arrive until the end of July! Boy was that an agonizingly long wait! The print run was 3,000.

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

REBECCA: Rubber Ducky Press has an incredible sales team and marketing staff. One Tomato is now available in bookstores, libraries, Ingram warehouses, and Amazon. 

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

REBECCA: I’ve found some great gardening items to promote One Tomato! I had custom tomato seed packets printed and paired these with a child sized watering can with a One Tomato image to use as a giveaway at the book launch.  Also, I’ve printed stickers and postcards for promotional purposes and my publisher produced a really nice sell sheet for gardening and book stores. Additionally, I’ve reached out to gardening centers and seed catalogs as another avenue to sell One Tomato.

Watering an and seed packet promotion

SUSANNA: What is the most important/helpful thing you learned on your way to publication?

REBECCA: Read everything available in the genre and age range for which you are writing. 

Author Rebecca Mullin

Instagram: @ReadOneTomato

Link to publisher product page:

Link to activity page

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and expertise in board book publishing with us today, Rebecca! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you every success 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! And don’t forget to comment on this post by Sunday September 19 at 9PM Eastern to qualify for the random drawing! Someone will win a copy of this cute book!

You may 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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Pokko And The Drum

Woo hoo! It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

The perfect time to make a list of books and then hustle off to the library after school to set yourself up for a weekend of great reads!

The book I chose for today is one that I think fits perfectly with heading back to school where it’s so important to both be yourself and be part of the community!

Title: Pokko And The Drum

Written & Illustrated By: Matthew Forsythe

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, October 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: individuality, community, persistence

Opening: “The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum.
They had made mistakes before.
Like the slingshot.
And the llama.
And the balloon.”

text and illustration copyright Matthew Forsythe 2019, Paula Wiseman Books

Brief Synopsis: Pokko’s parents give her a drum but quickly realize that might not have been such a great idea! Wanting a break from the noise, Pokko’s dad sends her outside. Before long, Pokko has inspired an instrument-playing following, and what started out as banging has become such a joyful noise that even her father has to admit it turned out well after all.

text and illustration copyright Matthew Forsythe 2019, Paula Wiseman Books

Links To Resources: get some friends together and make your own band – what different things can you use as an instrument? Draw a picture or write a story or poem about something that makes you who you are – do you play the drum like Pokko? do you dance or sing or play soccer? For a drum-related snack, make cupcakes for the drum and pretzel stick halves with mini marshmallows dipped in chocolate for the drumsticks!

Why I Like This Book: I love Pokko! Such a confident, poised little character! She plays her drum through the emerald forest gathering followers in a Pied Piper-esque way and plays her drum with such joy that her father goes from “We’re just a little frog family that lives in a mushroom, and we don’t like drawing attention to ourselves” to “And you know what?…I think she’s pretty good!” 😊 There is plenty of humor. Her mother is comically engrossed in reading a book throughout the whole story no matter what else is going on – even when she’s being swept away by the crowd! And a small mishap causes Pokko to tell the Wolf, “No more eating band members or you’re out of the band.” Pokko asserts her own individuality while also bringing the community together. Such a delightful book!

text and illustration copyright Matthew Forsythe 2019, Paula Wiseman Books

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 blog 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! I hope it works right this week… something is hinky!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 😊