Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kate Allen Fox!

HI everyone! Welcome to today’s episode of Tuesday Debut!

I love books that introduce me to something I previously knew nothing about, and that’s what PANDO: A LIVING WONDER OF TREES has done. If you’re new to Pando as well, you’re going to love this! So I’m thrilled to welcome our debut-ess, Kate Allen Fox, who wrote this wonderful book!

Pando: A Living Wonder of Trees
written by Kate Allen Fox
illustrated by Turine Tran
Capstone Editions
August 15, 2021
Nonfiction, ages 8—11

Pando is an inspiring tribute to a Utah grove of quaking Aspen trees connected by their roots to form one of the world’s oldest and largest living things.

SUSANNA: Hi Kate! Thank you so much for joining us for a little chat today. We’re so glad you’re here, and grateful to have the opportunity to hear about your journey to publication. Where did the idea for this book come from?

KATE: I was driving home after a hike when I remembered something I had read or heard about trees connected by their roots. When I got home, I Googled it and became absolutely fascinated. Walks in nature often allow my brain to find creativity (as does driving). Both activities are supposed to activate the “default network” of your brain, allowing you to work out problems, and they definitely work for me!

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

KATE: It took about two or three months to write and revise (with a lot of feedback from critique partners and the 12×12 forum). During that time, I changed it from informational fiction to nonfiction and consulted with an expert on the topic. This is unusually fast for me, but I was very inspired and single-minded about it. I had a feeling that was the manuscript that would breakthrough for me.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KATE: So many! I started with an anthropomorphized tree in a fictionalized version. That version just didn’t work, but somehow I couldn’t put the story down. I asked myself, what about this concept is intriguing to me? I realized it really was the nonfiction aspects of the tree.

Asking that question led me to the right structure for my story, and I still ask myself that when I’m wrestling with how to approach a manuscript.

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

KATE: People on the 12×12 forum and critique partners started saying things like “this will be a book!” I hadn’t heard that from other writers before, so I assumed it was ready to go. And, it was close!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KATE: I was unagented, so I focused on submitting to agents. I entered contests and didn’t win, but contests helped me hone my manuscript and research agents. I saw agents looking for lyrical nonfiction, submitted, and started getting positive responses within a few weeks.

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”?

KATE: The acquisitions meetings at the publisher were cancelled or rescheduled a couple of times so it took about two months.

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

KATE: I got the email about 5 months after we went on sub. It went to several houses and sold without revision. I got the email while playing with my sons. It all felt pretty surreal.

Kate and her boys 😊

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

KATE: About 3 months.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KATE: I didn’t. This is something I need to work on! I did donate a portion of my advance to the Western Aspen Alliance to support Aspen conservation, which felt like a meaningful marking of the book becoming “real.”

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

KATE: My advance was under $5,000 with royalties of 7% of net sales for hardcover and paperback, and 18 author copies. Publication was required within 24 months (though it ended up being a fair bit less than that). I didn’t have many expectations going in (I knew several people who had received no advance), and I was (and am) happy with my contract.

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

KATE: We did two rounds of edits. The text stayed mostly the same, but some things changed, particularly after illustrations started. For example, I had a spread where I compared the weight of Pando to polar bears and other creatures, but the art director noticed that it looked strange to have polar bears on the same spread as a forest. We also converted the backmatter into text boxes, added a timeline, and added some new backmatter. I absolutely love all the changes and am so grateful that a wonderful team brought this book to life. It’s so much more than I ever imagined.

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

KATE: I saw the beginning sketches and then color spreads later in the process. From the very start, I was absolutely blown away by Turine Tran’s art.

My editor shared those two rounds of illustrations with me along with her comments and comments from the art director, asking if I had anything to add. I saw my job as ensuring the illustrations were as accurate as the text, but it was already so wonderful (and accurate) that I didn’t have much to add.

I don’t think I included any art notes, and I’m so glad I didn’t. Turine and the art director came up with things I couldn’t have even imagined.

text copyright Kate Allen Fox 2021, illustration copyright Turine Tran 2021, Capstone Editions

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

KATE: I haven’t seen any yet, but hope to soon!

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

KATE: About 18 months.

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

KATE: Capstone has created marketing videos, submitted me to present at conferences, and obviously marketed it to bookstores, libraries, and schools.

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

KATE: I’m doing a blog tour, working with organizations focused on Aspen conservation, and scheduling events with bookstores. I’m also part of the wonderful promotion group, the Picture Book Scribblers, which has been a wonderful experience for me to learn with other debut authors and from more experienced authors.

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

KATE: Less than a year. I realize that’s quick. I think when I found picture books (and then lyrical nonfiction), I found a genre and form that fit my voice, and things fell together quickly.

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?)

KATE: I think it’s important to keep experimenting and finding joy in the process. If you aren’t feeling inspired, try other genres or forms until you find a “spark” that makes you want to keep going.

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

KATE: It’s not out yet, but I’m hoping this happens!

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

KATE: Writing is a team sport. I wouldn’t be here without the support of other writers, and I have found so much community in the process. If you don’t have a critique group, find one, even if it’s just to have someone to commiserate with when publishing is hard.

Author Kate Allen Fox

Katefoxwrites.com
Twitter/Instagram: @kateallenfox

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

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

You may purchase Kate’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 Sequeira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Ana Siqueira!

Welcome! Welcome!

Come on in, find a comfy place to sit, get a nice cup of coffee (or whatever you’d like to drink,) and let’s get ready to learn all we can from today’s Tuesday Debut, Ana Siqueira, who has come to share her journey to publication with us! Maybe learning about BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS can help us with our quest for success! 😊

BELLA’S RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
written by Ana Siqueira
illustrated by Geraldine Rodriguez
Beaming Books, 07/13/2001
Fiction PB, 4-7 years old

Bella wants to find out what she’s good at. But she quits everything she (barely) tries because she’s a desastre. She must learn it’s okay to try again or she won’t be good at anything. #growthmindset

SUSANNA: Welcome, Ana! Thank you so much for coming to chat with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

ANA: I got inspired by my daughter who is a gifted and perfectionist girl. She would quit if she was not the best. I also studied growth mindset and I wanted to write a book to show kids making mistakes is not only okay but important for the process.      

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

ANA: It took me about 10 months. My first version had a girl in a writing competition. Maybe this story is also a little bit about me and all writers out there – Don’t Quit is the message, right? I got help from my amazing critique partners and two professional editors.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

ANA: As I mentioned before, this book went through many revisions. I am a true believer in revisions and trying new suggestions and feedback. But this was the second book I wrote (after my 20-year hiatus when I moved here).  So I got a professional critique and that helped me a lot. I decided to change the writing aspect to baking. Then, it was a competition. I removed the competition and add the Abuela. So, this new version went through a complete transformation, but I learned a lot from this manuscript.

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

ANA: After 10 months of working hard on it, I got a like at a pitmad event. I revised it a few more times and even though I was not 100% it was ready, I decided to submit it to Beaming Books. And I got an offer.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

ANA: I submitted it directly to the publisher – Beaming Books- on October 22nd, 2019. And a few hours later my mom died. I truly believe my mom has helped me to make this decision to submit it.

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”?

ANA: After two weeks, I got an email from Naomi Krueger letting me know the book was going to acquisitions. Wow. I was so excited. Two weeks later I got an offer.

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

ANA: After the offer, I queried some agents with an offer of publication e-mail. And my agent Andrea Walker replied in hours. Then, we had the call. We clicked and I wanted to accept it right away. I asked for a few days, but I couldn’t wait too long and I told her YES! I got another offer after that. Oops. But I am very happy with Andrea Walker and her efficiency. After getting the agent, it took about a month to sign the contract.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

ANA: I went to dinner with my family. We went to my favorite Thai restaurant.

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

ANA: To be honest, I didn’t have a clue, so I didn’t know what to expect. Since my first contract was with a small publisher, the advance was smaller than the ones I got with my new deals with Simon and Schuster, and HarperCollins. But I was very happy to get a nice deal. The royalty percentage was negotiated by my agent and they’re standard.

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

ANA: I loved working with Naomi Krueger. We did work on a few, small changes, nothing big.

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

ANA: I loved the illustrator chosen from the beginning. Geraldine Rodriguez is fabulosa. Naomi Krueger consulted me about the main character and other details I would like to have included. I saw some sketches and the cover right away. I’m still in love with Bella and I know I’ll have to get a Bella doll.

text copyright Ana Siqueira 2021, illustration copyright Geraldine Rodriguez 2021, Beaming Books

I did include some art notes. For example, when she says her frosting was like cocodrilo skin, I included a note to let them know it was burnt. But for this story, I did not need that many art notes. For my second book about the Bruja, I needed a lot of art notes, since the girl is an unreliable narrator. She says, for example, she is in a cauldron with starving cocodrilos, and she’s really in a bathtub with toys.  So I’m in favor of using art notes when needed.

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

ANA: Not yet. I hope I will get some good reviews. Crossing my fingers.

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

ANA: I got an ARC copy by the end of May 2021. The offer was November 2019. So one year and a half. So exciting!

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

ANA: Social Media Campaign, National trade and library advertising, publicity campaign, special promotions to schools and public libraries, and more.

en la escuela en India

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

ANA: I have been trying to participate in events such as Panels, Conferences, NerdCamps, etc. I also did a giveaway campaign with Las Musas. I am in two debut groups – Story Jammers and 21fortheBooks. I will have a blog tour during July. My virtual book launch with Tombolo Books and The Writing Barn will be on July 17th at 11:00 Central Time.

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

ANA: After my long 20-year hiatus (I had books published in Brazil), it took me one year. I restarted writing in January of 2019 and I sold my book in January of 2020.

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?)

ANA: Learn as much as you can before trying to submit and query. You wouldn’t expect to learn how to be a talented pianist in a few months, the same happens with writing. If you can pay for professional critiques, they can help not only with the story being critiqued but by teaching you a lot. Some affordable editors are fabulous such as Lynne Marie and Angela Burke Kunkel.

Author Ana Siqueira

website: https://anafiction.com/


SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Ana! We so appreciate you giving us the benefit of your experience and wish you the best of luck with this and future titles!

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

You may purchase Ana’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Darshana Khiani!

Welcome to another chock-full-of-information, super-informative, wildly-inspirational episode of Tuesday Debut!

I’m so glad you’re taking a few minutes out of your beach time to join us today (or maybe you’re joining us from the beach – even better! 😊) This is definitely a must-read because today our debut-ess, Darshana Khiani, mom, dog-lover, engineer, Making Picture Book Magic graduate, writer, and fashion consultant, is going to teach us all, HOW TO WEAR A SARI!

How to Wear a Sari
Written by Darshana Khiani
Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Versify, June 22, 2021
Fiction Ages 4-7

A spirited young girl is tired of being seen as “little” by her family. She decides the best way to do this is to teach herself how to wear a sari: then she’ll make her grand entrance … and everyone will have to notice how grown-up she’s become.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Darshana! Thank you so much for coming to chat with us today. We are all very excited to hear about your journey to publication! Where did the idea for this book come from?

DARSHANA: In the Fall of 2016, I was planning my outfits for the upcoming Indian holiday season. I love the elegance and sophistication of saris but unfortunately have never fully got the hang of draping one. I began wondering what it would be like if a young girl tried to wear one. If I had so much difficulty surely it would be even harder, possibly comical for a kid to wear one. The bulk of the story, the middle and the climax, came fairly quickly. I drafted it in a 2nd POV. This is interesting since that summer I had been studying 2nd POV picture books for another story. And while I didn’t get anywhere with the other story, the 2nd POV seeped into the sari story.

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

DARSHANA: From first draft to going on submission about ten months. This is quite fast for me. Most of my stories usually take 18 months or longer. My usual process is to hand write the first crappy draft and put it away for at least six months before coming back to it. When I pull the story back out, I’ll do another 1-2 drafts before sending it to my critique group. And then it’s the revision cycle until I feel it’s ready for my agent.



Darshana’s work space

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

DARSHANA: This story went through 11 revisions before going on submission. While it was on submission for about 9 months, I also drafted two other versions that were in 3rd POV for an R&R from an editor. An R&R is a revise and resubmit, which can happen if an editor likes the story but is asking for major changes. In this case, my agent felt the original version in 2nd POV was stronger, so we didn’t submit the alternative versions to the R&R editor.

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

DARSHANA: I don’t ever feel like I know for sure when my manuscript is ready, at least not until I hear my agent say it’s ready to go. 😊 However, before I send my story to my agent, I make sure there are no big picture issues, pacing is good, language it tight, and there is enough to illustrate on each spread. I also rely on feedback from my critique group. We’ve been together for years.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

DARSHANA: I have an agent, so I sent it to her.

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

DARSHANA: The story went on submission in July of 2017 and 9 months later in March 2018 it sold. It went to a total of ten houses over that time. Again, this is fast for me. My two other books that sold took two years each. One which sat with an editor for an entire year (in fairness it was during COVID). When the story sold, I got a call from my agent, but at the time I was at work talking to a colleague, so it went to voicemail. (I still have that voicemail on my cell). I called her back and was floored to hear the story had sold. I couldn’t believe it! I had been with her 18 months and had received plenty of rejections on three other stories before this one sold.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

DARSHANA: I honestly don’t remember as it was kind of delayed. In the beginning I kept worrying that the publisher would change their mind or something, so I didn’t tell many people. Also, I didn’t realize it could take months before you actually get your contract. The publishing world is so different from the business world I know, where a person doesn’t even start working until they’ve signed a contract. Eventually, I think I celebrated with some champagne, cheese, and crackers with my hubby. I remember my critique group gave me a potted plant and some chocolate.

Reading to Nala – everyone enjoys a good story!

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


DARSHANA: My contract was in line with what’s expected for a debut author at a larger house. If you are interested in the money aspect of picture book writing I would recommend Hannah Holt’s survey from 2017.  My agent was happy with the offer, so I was too. I did ask for author consultation on the art in case the illustrator didn’t have a South Asian background. The publication timeline did change a few times. Initially, the editor said they were targeting a release for Fall 2019, which would’ve been super-fast. However, it took several months before getting an illustrator on board, hence the book was pushed to Fall 2020. Then there were some internal company deadlines that were pulled in, so the book was pushed to Summer 2021.

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

DARSHANA: We did a few rounds of revision, but it was mainly on clarifying “why” the main character was choosing to wear a sari. I was happy the editor and I had the same vision so not much else changed.

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

DARSHANA: I did see a full dummy sketch, which was wonderful. The art was gorgeous with so much energy and expression. I had a few culturally related comments. I explained my concerns to the editor, and later the art was adjusted. In my manuscript, I had some illustration notes such as indicating the “friend” in two of the lines meant a pet, but I didn’t specify what type of pet. The climax is a wordless spread, so I did have an art note there and for the end spread.

Climax Art Note: (illo: wordless spread – MC falls in a colossal way. Family members taking notice. Older sibling taking photos.)

End Spread:

You now have a spot in the hall of fame album, along with the rest of them. (illo: MC is snuggling with a grandparent while looking at the family album. Album contains pictures of mishaps by family members from their youth.)

text copyright Darshana Khiani 2021, illustration copyright Joanne Lew-Vriethoff 2021, Versify

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

DARSHANA: Nope, I didn’t know you could get that. I saw the reviews once they were posted.

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

DARSHANA: Offer to book in hand, 3 years and 3 months.

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


DARSHANA: I believe most of it has been the usual of what they do for their front list books, in terms of promoting the list to their educator list and media outlets. I will say I did get an author spot at a recent ILA conference and a guest blog spot on an educational website through the publisher, so that was nice.

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

DARSHANA: My illustrator recently created some printable activity sheets and I am currently working with an outside marketing person to develop a library kit. I did setup a blog tour that spans two months, of which this interview is a part of. Another thing that I did was build my network of booksellers, librarians, and influencers. Since 2016 I had been publishing South Asian Kidlit lists containing the upcoming season’s books on my blog. In Summer 2019, I realized this information would be useful to book buyers for stores and libraries. I started a South Asian Kidlit Newsletter and began reaching out to booksellers and librarians. This way when it was time for my book to launch, I already had a small install base that would know about my book. Along those lines, I would encourage everyone whether you are published or not to think about what your strengths are and how you can help others. What kind of service can you provide? 

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

DARSHANA: Seven 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?)

DARSHANA: Try to find something about writing or the community that you can hold on to, such that it can keep you going through the hard times. My journey started 11 years ago and there were many ups and downs. What kept me going was the kidlit community. It was so different from the “work” environments I had been in and brought me such joy. I couldn’t imagine not having the kidlit community it in my life; it helped keep me going. Several years ago, I realized how much I had grown as a person through the conversations happening in the ether on diversity and inclusion, through learning about human behavior via Story Genius class and countless other topics just by following my curiosity. I don’t see how I could be the person I am today had it not been for my entering the writing world. I’m excited to think about how much I’ll grow as a person or what I’ll learn over the next ten years.

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

DARSHANA: Too early to tell, but fingers crossed that it does. 😊

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Darshana! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your experience! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the best of luck with this and future titles!

Author Darshana Khiani

Darshana Khiani is a second-generation Indian American who grew up in rural Pennsylvania and now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and a furry pooch. She is an author, engineer, and a South Asian Kidlit Blogger. Her picture book debut HOW TO WEAR A SARI released in June 2021. When she isn’t working or writing she can be found hiking, solving jigsaw puzzles, or traveling. You can find her online at the following places:

Website: www.darshanakhiani.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/darshanakhiani
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darshanakhiani/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@darshanakhiani

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

You may purchase Darshana’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!

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Becky Scharnhorst!

Ladies and Gentleman!

Welcome to the greatest show on earth: TUESDAY DEBUT!

*cheers!*
*applause!*
*confetti!*

Today it is my pleasure to introduce the lovely and talented Becky Scharnhorst – mom, hiker, dog lover, ice cream enthusiast, Making Picture Book Magic graduate, friend of bears, and writer – and her fabulous debut picture book, MY SCHOOL STINKS! whose book birthday is TODAY!

My School Stinks!
Written by Becky Scharnhorst
Illustrated by Julia Patton
Published by Philomel Books
Date of Release July 6, 2021
Fiction
Ages 4-8

Not even deep breaths and happy thoughts can calm Stuart’s nerves after he finds himself in a new school with classmates who are REAL animals. Told through journal entries, this hilarious back-to-school story proves friends can come in all shapes, sizes, and species.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Becky! We are so thrilled to have your here with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

BECKY: As someone who has struggled with anxiety, I tend to catastrophize everything. Even though things rarely turn out to be as scary as I imagine, there are still times when it’s hard to calm my anxious thoughts. I wanted to address that in a humorous way. When I wrote this manuscript, I lived at a camp in the middle of a forest in Northeast Pennsylvania where wild animal sightings were a regular occurrence. Watching my children’s fear over backyard bear sightings turn into excitement was what inspired me to plop Stuart into a classroom full of wild animals.

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

BECKY: The short answer is it took me 6 weeks to write this version, but the idea started in 2016 when I wrote a rough draft of a manuscript for an upcoming workshop at the Highlights Foundation. It also was a story about a young boy who ended up at a school for wild animals, but nothing else was the same. The first night of the workshop, the leaders challenged us to rewrite the beginning of our story with a different format, setting, or POV. I changed the setting from a school to a camp and I wrote it in letters home rather than 3rd POV. I loved the change so much that when I went back to my room later, I rewrote the entire thing! For the next two years, this manuscript was a camp story. After I met my editor Cheryl Eissing through the Rutgers One-on-One Plus conference, it went through a couple rounds of revisions before she took it to her team at Philomel in July of 2018. They loved it but thought the camp setting was too niche, so they asked me to change it to a school setting! My School Stinks is nothing like the original school story, and in fact, more closely resembles the camp manuscript.

Becky’s writing space (her favorite for summer time)

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

BECKY: Again, it’s complicated! I think I have over 70 versions of the camp story on my computer, which is the story that got the attention of my editor and helped land me my agent. But My School Stinks only went through a handful of revisions. So, it depends on how you look at it. I believe the only reason I was able to write My School Stinks so quickly is because I spent two years with these characters in a camp setting.

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

BECKY: To be honest, I had a hard time knowing when this manuscript was ready to send back to my editor. After two years of working on it, I was attached to the camp version which made it difficult to be objective. I relied solely on my critique partners to tell me when it was ready. In fact, I didn’t even show my agent after I signed with him. It had been a few months, so I assumed Cheryl was no longer interested. It wasn’t until Cheryl reached out with a few edits that I finally showed James. He called immediately to tell me he loved it, so I read it again for the first time in months. It was only then I realized I liked it just as much as the camp version.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

BECKY: I did not submit this manuscript to anyone except Cheryl, and I did not have an agent when I sent it to her. She had specifically requested the rewrite, so this manuscript was an exclusive submission to her. By the time she made the offer, I did have an agent which was great because he was able to handle the contract negotiations.  

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

BECKY: I had just run into the grocery store to buy some cheese, but the kids wanted to wait in the car. When I returned, they said I had gotten a couple calls from New York, but they accidentally hung up on whoever had called! I suspected it might have been my agent, so I checked my email. Sure enough, there was a message from James saying he had tried to call. I apologized for the chaos, and he called back right away to share the good news.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

BECKY: By the time James called back, we had pulled into the parking lot of a local custard place. After all the screaming, jumping, and hugging, we celebrated with giant bowls of custard.

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

BECKY: I was happy to have an agent by the time Cheryl made her offer because I didn’t know what to expect in terms of an advance, royalties, or author copies. I do think Cheryl’s offer was in line with typical offers for debut authors from bigger publishing houses, and I was happy with what my agent negotiated for me. I was especially excited to get 30 author copies!

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

BECKY: By the time Cheryl made the offer, we had already gone through one round of revisions on the school version so there were barely any changes after that. Cheryl had a great vision for this story and almost every one of her ideas resonated with me. I’m extremely grateful to have her as my editor because I feel like she understands what I’m trying to do, and her suggestions always make my writing better.

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

BECKY: I was lucky enough to be involved from the very beginning. Cheryl recommended a few illustrators, and I was thrilled when Julia Patton signed on. I absolutely adore her work! Cheryl shared the cover, sketches, and final art at different points in the process and always asked for feedback. However, my reply emails were usually just filled with joyous interjections and far too many exclamation points.

text copyright Becky Scharnhorst 2021, illustration copyright Julia Patton 2021, Philomel

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

BECKY: My editor shared reviews from Kirkus and Booklist with me, and I was happy to see both were positive.

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

BECKY: It took about 27 months. I think 2 years is typical, but because My School Stinks is a school story, they wanted it to come out in the summer which made the wait a little longer.

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

BECKY: My publisher sent pitches for My School Stinks to national and regional media, as well as major trade publications including Kirkus and Booklist.

Becky’s backyard bear sighting. . . inspiration for the next picture book? 😊

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

BECKY: One of the most fun and helpful things I’ve done is to join a promo group called Picture Book Playground. We help promote each other’s books on social media, write reviews, and do library requests. In addition to sharing news about My School Stinks on Twitter and Instagram, I set up a few guest blog posts, and I ordered bookmarks and notebooks to be used for giveaways and pre-orders. I also planned an in-person book launch event at Lion’s Mouth Bookstore in Green Bay, and I’m doing a couple library events for our Summer Reading Program. Finally, I plan on adding some teacher and parent resources to my website by the end of summer.

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

BECKY: I think I wrote my first manuscript in 2014, but I didn’t get serious about writing until after I attended the Highlight’s Workshop in 2016. I got my first offer in February of 2019, so about 5 years total.

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?)

BECKY: I think one of the most important things this story taught me is to not be afraid to try something new. I did not find the voice for this manuscript until I rewrote it as a camp story. Even though it didn’t end up as a camp story, the process of rewriting it taught me a lot about my characters. Also, find an awesome critique group!  It’s nearly impossible to be objective about your own writing, especially when you’ve been working on something for a long time. Fresh eyes are critical to the writing process.

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

BECKY: My book comes out today, so it hasn’t earned out quite yet. But wouldn’t it be great if it did?

SUSANNA: That would be awesome! We’ll all do what we can to keep those copies flying off the shelves! 😊 Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series, Becky, and for paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate your time and expertise and wish you all the best of luck with this and future titles!

Author Becky Scharnhorst

Website: https://beckyscharnhorst.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/beckyscharn

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beckyscharn/

Becky grew up in Northeast Wisconsin and spent most of her childhood playing in lakes and reading books. Shortly after receiving a BA from Luther College, Becky spent a year working as a children’s bookseller at Barnes & Noble. She soon discovered she enjoyed reading picture books more than anything else. Much, much more.

Now Becky spends her days writing children’s books and working at her local library. Her debut picture book My School Stinks will be published by Philomel Books in 2021, followed by This Field Trip Stinks (2022) and How to Get Your Octopus to School (2023). When she’s not reading or writing, Becky can be found hiking through the woods with her dogs, losing a game of monopoly to her kids, or biking to the local ice cream shop. She currently lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband, two kids, and a few too many pets.

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

You may purchase Becky’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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Ashley Belote!

Good morning, everyone!

Why is it I feel as though we just talked?

Oh! I know! It’s because it took me so long to get the Mix ‘n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge finished up that I posted it at 11 PM last night and now here we are on Tuesday Debut scant hours later! 🙃

(If you missed the prize giving, check HERE because I know this post will bump the last Mix ‘n’ Match post for top of the blog!)

But now, get comfy because you are in for SUCH a treat! Today’s Tuesday Debut-ess, Ashley Belote, is an illustrator, and she’s going to show us her process so that those of us who always look at picture books from the writing side of the desk can better understand how our work gets illustrated, and those of us who are also illustrators can learn a whole lot!

FRANKENLSIME
Written by Joy Keller
Illustrated by Ashley Belote
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan)
Release date: 7/13/21
Fiction
Ages 4-8

A young slime scientist is surprised when her latest creation comes to life in Frankenslime, a funny and clever picture book twist on Frankenstein.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Ashley! We are so thrilled to have you here today to share your journey to publication as an illustrator! We don’t get to hear the artist’s perspective very often, so this is really special! What was it about Joy’s book that made you want to illustrate it?

ASHLEY: When I first read FRANKENSLIME, I was instantly inspired! Joy does a great job setting up scenes and creating exciting page turns. I find those aspects appealing in terms of illustration because there is room for me to bring in some surprises and explore the world beyond the text. In order to generate ideas, I got to know the characters. Victoria Franken is the main character, and she is accompanied by her sidekick, Igor the dog. Victoria loves to experiment in her slime lab and isn’t afraid of failing. She has big ideas and explores her imagination. I put myself in her shoes and thought about what my ideal slime lab would look like. When I was a kid, I taped drawings and notes all over the walls because I wanted it to look like an office space. I felt like Victoria would do the same thing! Igor is the comic relief, so I made sure to make him the butt of several visual jokes. Thankfully, he’s a good sport 😄.

SUSANNA: As an illustrator, how do you go about taking someone else’s words and turning them into art for the book?

ASHLEY: It is so much fun to take the words from someone else and bring them to life visually. When developing characters and the world around them, I like to sketch out all kinds of ideas and decide what I like and dislike about all my options. I’ll take the aspects I like and keep working from those ideas until I have something that I am completely satisfied with.  I have a background in 2D animation under the direction of Don Bluth through his animation university and one aspect I learned from him is that the character development process is based on appeal. We were taught that every frame of a character needed to be an appealing drawing. If a single drawing is not cute, on model, or appealing, the entire sequence can be thrown off. Illustration is the same way. Appeal is even more important in books because those images are stationary. With Igor, I went through several trial-and-error designs as shown below.

IMAGE A (sketches of Igor)
IMAGE B (color spot illustrations of final Igor)

In terms of Victoria’s world, it needed to be somewhat realistic and then somewhat imagined. Joy writes in a way that lends itself well to illustration. She left room for me to bring ideas into the artwork by providing just enough information about the space in the text. Victoria’s attic lab was one of my favorite places to design. I wanted her to have a space that was recognizable as an attic, but I wanted it to contain imaged elements as seen in the scene below that depicts her experiments with rainbow cloud slime, intergalactic space slime, and glow in the dark zombie slime.

IMAGE C (pgs10-11, spread from book)

I love blurring the line between real and imaginary. I mean, this is a picture book, it needs to be fun!

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write/illustrate this book? Did you go through many revisions?

ASHLEY: From start to finish, the illustration process took several months. I went through three rounds of sketch revisions and then a few rounds with color samples. I learned SO much during the revision process. My art director, Mallory Grigg, was fantastic to work with. She shared notes with me in a way that let me know what I needed to change with the freedom to experiment. Her exact words when speaking about the color palette were, “think candy store colors.” I loved that!

When I start sketches, they are extremely rough. Below is the sequence of sketches I used when working on one of my favorite spreads from the book.

The initial idea began like this:

IMAGE D (rough sketch of 12-13 A)

I work in Procreate and using layers is a key element in my process. I took the opacity of the above image down, created a new layer on top of it, and began fine tuning the concept. Here is the revision:

IMAGE E (refined sketch of 12-13 B)

Then, during my rounds of sketch revisions, I made a few more adjustments to leave room for the text (that’s very important!) and ended up with the final version here:

IMAGE F (final sketch of 12-13 C)


Once that was approved, I added color to bring it to life! Ta-da!

IMAGE G (color spread of 12-13)

This entire process served as an amazing learning experience. I cannot stress enough the importance of listening to your art director. They are there to guide you, and their direction will make your art better. The editor, Holly West, had a great overall vision for the project and I am extremely grateful for the experience as a whole.

SUSANNA: How did you go about getting chosen to illustrate? When and how did you submit? When did you get “the call”, which these days is more likely to be “the email”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

ASHLEY: I got this project though SCBWI! I have been a member of SCBWI since 2016. I love this organization for so many reasons. I enjoy the conferences and webinars and have served as the Illustrator Coordinator for the Carolinas region since March 2020. In 2019, I attended our Carolinas regional conference and had a portfolio review with Mallory Grigg, an art director at Macmillan. I also signed up for an intensive she was teaching. During that seminar, she mentioned that she hires illustrators via Twitter and often tweets calls for illustrators. She then told us that she had recently tweeted about needing an illustrator who could draw anthropomorphic slime. I thought that sounded like so much fun! Once the conference ended, I decided to go for it and created a sample. I replied to her tweet with the image and ended up receiving an email about the project afterwards. I have never been so excited in my entire life. I was working at a book festival when I got the email so everyone in the Charleston, WV Civic Center probably heard me scream, haha.

Here was my sample!

IMAGE H: (FS sample)

I was also signed by my amazing agent, Moe Ferrara from BookEnds Literary agency, as a result of this deal.


I celebrated the signing of my contract with ice cream!!! I LOVE ice cream, especially cookies and cream, so this warranted a tub of my favorite, haha.

SUSANNA: How do you, as an illustrator, feel about art notes?

ASHLEY: Personally, I don’t mind art notes. There were only a couple in the manuscript for FRANKENSLIME, and they were important for me to know. I think art notes are fine when they contain information that affects the progression of the story or include important details that can’t be inferred from the text.

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

ASHLEY: I just saw a review from Booklist! My first review ever! It’s a little surreal seeing reviews out in the world, it’s so exciting!

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

ASHLEY: I am a member of an amazing picture book debut group called Picture Book Playground. We have been working together for over a year and have become fast friends in this fun industry. We do cover reveals, book videos, and celebrate the good news from the group.

I’m very active on Twitter and Instagram, sharing process pictures, news, and sketches. I currently have a few virtual events set up as well as some in person signings. I just started an event page on my website: https://www.ashleybelote.com/. I am so excited to share this book with kids! I taught art classes at an art center for a while so I’m really looking forward to getting in front of some classrooms and showing them how to draw the characters from the story. I love doing illustration demos and interacting with budding writers and illustrators! If anyone would like me to come and speak with their class, let me know!

I am also doing a virtual book launch hosted by SCBWI Carolinas on July 22nd at 7 p.m. via Zoom! If you would like to join, here is the link to sign-up!

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0D4DAFA728A4F8C43-july

The more the merrier!

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

ASHLEY: I have been drawing since I was 2 years old, so I’ve been working towards this goal since then, haha. I have spent years in school and studying the industry to learn my craft. One of the best experiences I had was attending the Simmons College class, The Whole Book Approach, instructed by Megan Dowd Lambert at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art back in 2013. That class was really the first time I realized this could be a career and I have been working towards this point ever since.

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

ASHLEY: I can’t even begin to share all that I’ve learned. One of the most important lessons I can share is the importance of community. This community can be comprised of critique groups, promotional/debut groups, or even personal friends/family. I have never felt more supported than I have these past few months and I’m so grateful for all those who have been sharing this journey with me.

As for advice for up-and-coming artists, keep drawing! This dream is possible and the best way to achieve it is by practicing your craft. You must be passionate about this because its long hours of trial and error. It’s important to stop second guessing yourself, let those feelings go and find comfort in your style because there is not one single person out there who can draw what you draw or imagine what you can imagine. You have something special that only you can present, and the world needs to see it!

illustrator Ashley Belote

Website: https://www.ashleybelote.com/
Instagram: @AshleyBeloteIllustration
Twitter: @AshleyBelote1

Thank you so much for having me on the blog! This whole process has been a dream come true and I’m so grateful for the community that supports kidlit creators.

Cheers, friends!

Ashley

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

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

You may purchase Ashley’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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Phoebe Dupree Is Coming To Tea!

This is it, darlings!

The last Perfect Picture Book Friday for the summer!

(except for maybe one or two I might do randomly in July 😊)

So what’s better for a summer read then learning how to host the perfect tea party?

Title: Phoebe Dupree Is Coming To Tea!

Written By: Linda Ashman

Illustrated By: Alea Marley

Publisher: Candlewick, June 1, 2021, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: making the best of things, friendship

Opening:
“Have you met Phoebe – Miss Phoebe Dupree?
Phoebe’s as perfect as perfect can be.

Phoebe is speedy.
Phoebe is smart.
She’s equally brilliant at science and art.

She sings like a bird (she’s never off-key),

And Phoebe Dupree is coming to tea!”

text copyright Linda Ashman 2021, illustration copyright Alea Marley 2021, Candlewick

Brief Synopsis: Abby wants her tea party to be as perfect as the guest of honor, but things don’t go quite the way she planned!

Links To Resources: Host your own tea party! Decide on a day and time, make and deliver invitations, dress up, decorate for the party, prepare food and beverages, serve the “tea”, and enjoy!

text copyright Linda Ashman 2021, illustration copyright Alea Marley 2021, Candlewick

Why I Like This Book: This story is charming from start to finish! Abby is so earnest in her desire to put on the perfect tea party for Phoebe, so anxious to do things just right. She plans every detail and it all starts so well! But then one thing leads to another (as often happens in life! 😊) and suddenly her perfect tea party is in chaos. Things have a way of working out if you’re willing to go with the flow, though, so it all turns out unexpectedly well. The art is adorable and just right for the story. The rhyme is signature Linda Ashman – flawless to read aloud. An all-around fun book that young readers will really enjoy (and that grown-ups won’t mind reading a million times 😊)

text copyright Linda Ashman 2021, illustration copyright Alea Marley 2021, Candlewick

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 Candice Marley Conner!

Nothing is better than a good Tuesday Debut except. . .when you get to announce the winner of a PB MS critique offered by the last Tuesday Debut!

The randomly chosen lucky winner of a PB MS critique from Christine Van Zandt is MDK45!

MDK45, come on down! (You’ll have to contact me, I think because I don’t have contact info for you! 😊)

Now! Onto today’s Tuesday Debut where we get to meet the lovely and talented Candice Marley Conner, hear about her journey, even get to see some of the original notes she wrote in her journal which were the first seeds of her debut picture book, SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL! (How can you not love a squirrel named Sassafras?!)

Ready?

Let’s go!

SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL
written by Candice Marley Conner
Illustrated by Heath Gray
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing
June 8, 2021
fiction, 4-8

With her scraggly, bristly tail, Sassafras is teased right off her tree branch. But when danger strikes, what makes her different might just help her save the day.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Candice! Thank you so much for joining us today! We are excited to hear all about how SASSAFRAS came to be! Where did the idea for this book come from?

CANDICE: The idea for this book came from a stroller-ride and a neighborhood squirrel. My one-year-old (now ten) was teething, I was writing my first young adult novel, and we both desperately needed to get out of the house. I’ve learned that anytime I hit a writing block, or my kiddos start whining, that fresh air is best at fixing what ails us. On our walk, we saw a squirrel in a neighbor’s yard that had the scrawniest, stubbiest tail I had ever seen. Immediately, the brainstorms began: squirrels use their long tails for balance, so could this one leap from limb to limb? Squirrel tails signal danger, etc, so did this one have a hard time communicating? And on the other side of the coin, what advantages could this squirrel have by being different? By the time we returned home, Sassafras’s story was ready to be put down on paper.

Candice’s work buddies – her son playing with the squirrels
in the square across from their local independent bookstore,
The Haunted Bookshop

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

CANDICE: The initial draft wrote itself in my head, then all I had to do was get it written down in my journal before the idea-spark disappeared. The problem I ran into was that I’d never written a picture book manuscript before. I was writing YA and had written poetry, short stories, and what I thought was middle grade (spoiler: it was not, lol) in college. I had a LOT to learn about concise writing and page turns and everything that makes picture books re-readable. Even character names! Initial drafts had cutesy alliterative names like Sam and Sally for the side character squirrels, though those quickly changed when I realized my kiddo audience would expect better 😊 (disclaimer: alliteration is my fave).

Candice’s writing journal showing original notes for SASSAFRAS! Wow! How cool is that?

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CANDICE: The main idea stayed the same but it went through a lot of tightening. I love alliteration and word play so every picture book I read to my daughter showed me how to do this by example. Then I learned about making book dummies through SCBWI and that helped me with tension and page turns.

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

CANDICE: I did make the mistake of submitting too early before I learned everything I needed to. Such as show versus tell. Children’s author, Ariel Bernstein, offered a picture book manuscript review to pre-published authors on twitter, and while I didn’t win, she graciously gave me great tips on how to show and cut the tell. So I kinda did win in that regard since my next query resulted in a yes 😊

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CANDICE: I submitted directly to publishing houses and received form rejections. Probably because I hadn’t learned everything I needed to yet. I didn’t have the writing community I do now and that makes such a difference. In the meantime, I had finished the YA mentioned earlier and signed that with an agent. She mainly represents YA and adult so when I stumbled across MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing on Facebook and connected with one of their authors who had a great experience with them, I asked her if I could submit and she gave me the go-ahead to 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”?

CANDICE: MCP is a small publishing house so it didn’t go to acquisitions. I submitted my manuscript and cover letter August 3rd, 2017 and by that afternoon the editor responded to make sure I knew it was royalty-based.

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

CANDICE: Yes, it was an email about three weeks later which I was grateful for as phone calls make me nervous, haha! (< that was nervous laughter just thinking about a phone call)

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

CANDICE: She sent the offer a couple days before the contract. I have awesome critique partners who were already published so they helped me look over the contract and I signed it on September 1st, 2017.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract? 

CANDICE: Lots of spontaneous dancing with the kiddos, wine cheers-ing with the hubs, exclamation points in that day’s journal entry, and a blog post I had been eagerly waiting to write for five years. My parents sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to celebrate.

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

CANDICE: Yes, MCP was very upfront that since they’re a small house, the contract would be royalty only. A couple of my critique partners had told me stories about authors not able to pay out their advances so I was okay with it. Especially since my royalty percentages were higher—25% on both hard cover and paperback. I also receive two hard cover and two soft cover author copies. I did have to re-sign a contract last year as originally the contract was for one book printed traditionally, and another in dyslexie font which makes the books more accessible to dyslexic readers (both kiddo and their adult readers), and due to COVID making things so hard on everyone, MCP decided to focus solely on dyslexie font. That was fine with me because printing in dyslexie was a main draw to this company. The only thing that wasn’t expected was the publishing timeline. SASSAFRAS was originally set to come out in 2019. Such is life and publishing!

SUSANNA: That is so interesting! Completely by chance, the week before last our debut – Michelle Vattula – was also published by MacLaren-Cochrane, and also had her book printed in dyslexie. You two are the first to have mentioned that in your debuts! Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

CANDICE: The editor was happy with my vision so nothing changed there and then small changes (i.e. grammar, word choices, etc) once I received my pass pages.

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

CANDICE: I was able to see character sketches and my opinion was valued as I was able to choose which sketch went with which character. Early sketches showed the squirrels with what I thought was a crazed look in their eyes (lol) and the art director was very good at relaying my concerns to the illustrator. 

I didn’t include any art notes in my manuscript though I did include page breaks, which some publishers don’t like but MCP prefers, thank goodness 😊

interior spread pp. 12-13 of SASSAFRAS – text copyright Candice Marley Conner 2021,
illustration copyright Heath Gray 2021, MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

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

CANDICE: No, though I didn’t expect to with a small publisher.

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

CANDICE: I signed on September 1st, 2017 and held (hugged) my first copy May 29th, 2021! MCP is print-on-demand, so I ordered copies and my local indie bookstore ordered too, based on how many preorders have come through so far.

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

CANDICE: MCP listed my book on Bookshop, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. They maintain a website and social media where they post about their authors, illustrators, and books. They’re also good at sharing their author and illustrator’s posts on Facebook.

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

CANDICE: I was a member of the debut group #NewIn19 and while I obviously didn’t debut with them, I learned SO MUCH about marketing/promotion. And many have offered to review SASSAFRAS which is incredibly kind since it’s two years later.

I set up a preorder campaign through my local indie for signed copies, and plan on doing a book signing, then story time in a nearby park so we can all social distance and be in the open air. Also, there are tons of squirrels which is perfect for my book and my squirrel-loving seven year-old. I also had stickers made (I used StickerMule—great quality) to give out then and a coloring sheet downloadable on my website. I’d love to do stuff with Girl Scouts too since my daughter is in Girl Scouts so figuring out how to get fun patches made is next on my list of things to do 😊

I adore fun facts so I also did a social media-wide #SevenTilSassafras marketing plan where I shared a squirrely fun fact a day the week before SASSAFRAS debuted. The teachers commenting on the posts about sharing the facts with their students TOTALLY made my day.

KidLit411 has a great resource on their Facebook page where bloggers who are open to interviews can post their contact information (including this one! 😊 You rock, Susanna) so I was able to jump on some calendars to share SASSAFRAS and my YA (which actually debuts TODAY!)

SUSANNA: Oh wow! How exciting! Better get a quick plug in for that too, as long as you’re here 😊 (THE EXISTENCE OF BEA PEARL (Owl Hollow Press, June 15, 2021)) ) How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

CANDICE: I’ve been writing my entire life but I really got serious in 2011 when I became a stay-at-home mom. So, six years to sell, ten years to have book-in-hand!

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

CANDICE: I learned that the time in the trenches (whether it’s query or submission) is so incredibly valuable. I used that time to build my writing community, to accept help and advice from other authors, then pay it forward anyway I can by mentoring young writers, volunteering with SCBWI and twitter contests, and supporting the author-friends I’m meeting along the way. It’s important mentally to have people in the same writing-boat you’re in. So embrace that trench-time, up and coming writers!

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

CANDICE: SASSAFRAS has been out for one week today! Woohoo!

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

CANDICE: A former boss of mine is big into motivational plaques and he gave me one many years ago that I keep on the bookshelf in my office. It’s a quote from Moliere that reads: “Perseverance: the greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” And right next to it is a post-it note with a quote from Jess Keating: “The obstacles ARE the path.” Those two quotes help get me in the right frame of mind on the tough days 😊

Candice’s work space with motivational quotes

CANDICE: Thank you so much for having me and Sassafras, Susanna!

SUSANNA: Thank YOU so much for taking the time to share your experience and expertise with us, Candice! We all really appreciate it and wish you the very best with this and future titles!!!

Author Candice Marley Conner

candicemarleyconner.com
http://www.instagram.com/Candice_marleyconner
http://www.twitter.com/Candice_marleyc
http://www.facebook.com/cmarleyconnerauthor

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

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

Indiebound
The Haunted Bookshop (signed copies available!)
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Lost In The Woods

It’s time once again for Perfect Picture Book Friday, and I have a story to start things off!

You might remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that I had fenced my yard to keep Violet out of trouble and protect the baby animal population of Blueberry Hill? So, Tuesday morning, I opened my newly gated yard and set off out the driveway with my dogs. I’ve been leashing them (due to the aforementioned baby animals), but hadn’t clipped their leashes on yet because we were still in the driveway.

We got about 100 feet and Scout started barking and Violet went charging into the woods!

Instantly, a doe came charging out at Violet, head down bounding straight toward her, front hooves striking out!

I knew at once the doe had a fawn she was protecting and my dogs were going to be in serious trouble if I didn’t get them away from that doe lickety-split! So I whistled and hollered and they totally ignored me. Scout kept barking, Violet and the doe kept charging each other, and I kept hollering at Scout and Violet. it was quite the scene for 6 AM on a Tuesday morning 😊

Luckily, Violet cottoned on to the fact that she might have taken on more than she bargained for. She hesitated and then came when I called. Scout was quite a bit farther away from the doe, but I was able to catch her too. We went back in the house for a few minutes to let the doe calm down and then braved the gauntlet (leashed this time!) and managed to get past, though the doe was none too happy!

Later on, I went out to run an errand, and as I pulled back in the driveway in the car, I saw the doe with the fawn beside her – absolutely brand new! – the teeniest tiniest little fawn I’ve ever seen trying to stand up on his little toothpick legs. He or she was significantly smaller than Violet. It was amazing!

The doe has apparently decided my front yard is where she’s going to remain, so getting in and out the driveway with the dogs is an ongoing challenge, and I haven’t seen the baby again, but I know s/he’s there 😊 And I am thankful for my new fence – without it I wouldn’t be able to let the dogs out of the house at all without their leashes!

So after that, there was no doubt about what Perfect Picture Book I would share today!

I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

Lost In The Woods: A Photographic Fantasy

Written By & Photographed By: Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick

Published By: Carl R. Sams II Photography, June, 2004, Reality Based Fiction

Suitable For: ages 5 and up

Themes/Topics: Animals, Patience, Seasons (Spring), Trust

Opening: “The Spring frogs sing-singing with a thousand trilling voices were silenced by the rising sun.  New life came into the woods before the sun touched the tops of the trees.  He slept quietly in the tall grass on the north edge of the meadow where the trees start the forest.”

text copyright Carl R. Sams II 2004, photo copyright Jean Stoick 2004

Brief Synopsis:  The woodland creatures are worried that a newborn fawn might be lost.  “Mama said to wait right here,” the fawn whispers.  “She will come back.”  But the other animals aren’t convinced and offer their advice and help.  Does the doe come back?  What do you think? 😊

text copyright Carl R. Sams II 2004, photo copyright Jean Stoick 2004

Links To Resources:  The book itself is a resource.  Page after page of gorgeous photographs of woodland creatures will introduce children to animals and birds they may never have seen, especially if they live in the city.  The very last page of the book challenges readers to look back through the pictures and see if they can find a number of hidden animals.  Activity pages, Lesson Plan.  If you’re lucky enough to live in a rural area, go for a “deer drive” in the evening, cruising slowly along back roads, and see how many different animals and birds you can spot 😊

text copyright Carl R. Sams II 2004, photo copyright Jean Stoick 2004

Why I Like This Book:  I love this story!  It’s simple and sweet.  On the first page where the fawn appears, he is a tangle of fragile limbs.  His spotted fur helps him blend into the forest floor.  By the last page, he has mastered those rascally legs and can be seen bounding through the meadow grass with such joy you can’t help but smile at his airs above the ground.  But the best part is the photography.  It’s breathtaking.  Absolutely stunning!  The fawn’s fur looks like you could reach out and touch it.  You can see his eyelashes!  And there are so many other animals pictured – chipmunk, goslings, a tree frog whose camouflage is amazing!, cardinal, red-winged blackbird, raccoon, and many others.  I know I’m an animal lover (and therefore biased :)) but I think this book is exquisitely beautiful and one that anyone would enjoy!

I hope you like it!

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! 😊

Oh, and P.S. This might be the last PPBF before the summer. Or I might do one more next week. And I might have one or two during the summer 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Christine Van Zandt!

Tuesday Debut is always fun, but today it’s even more fun than usual!

First, we have a humorous nonfiction book to enjoy!

Second, our Tuesday Debut-ess, in addition to being an author, is a freelance editor, and she’s offering a PB manuscript critique (one book, 1,000 words or fewer, text only) to one lucky person! All you need to do to qualify is leave a comment on this post between now and Sunday June 13 at 5PM Eastern and your name will be tossed in the hat for a chance. One random winner will be drawn and announced next week! If you’d also like to share this post link on social media, that would be lovely 😊

But now, without further ado, allow me to introduce the lovely and talented Christine Van Zandt and her debut picture book, A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNDERPANTS!

A Brief History of Underpants
written by Christine Van Zandt
illustrated by Harry Briggs
becker&mayer! kids
June 1, 2021
Funny nonfiction picture book with STEM
For ages 4-8

From bloomers to boxers, everyone wears underwear! One part humor, one part history, A Brief History of Underpants explores the evolution of fashion’s most unmentionable garment.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Christine! Thank you so much for joining us today. We can’t wait to hear about where the idea for this book came from!

CHRISTINE: My (then) third-grade daughter came up with the topic after I volunteered at her elementary school’s week-long Book Fair in 2018. Nonfiction books were prominently featured, yet kids resisted the awesome titles, complaining that nonfiction was boring. I set out to prove them wrong!

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

CHRISTINE: I loved my daughter’s suggestion and looked into whether similar books had been published. Finding that my ideas were different enough, I began researching the history of underwear, taking lots of notes, trying to figure out how to pull that info into something enjoyable for kids.

Next, I typed up first draft in a 32-page layout. The structure with pagination helped me analyze whether my text could work with art (for example, if I’d left enough room for the illustrator, or if maybe there was not enough to draw). Writing in two-page spreads placed focus on each scene and the subsequent page turn. This process works well for me whether writing nonfiction or fiction. I’ll gladly share my template, just email me.

I’m in several critique groups and kept workshopping then revising, trying to find funny ways to bring a bunch of facts together in an interesting manner. I knew I was ready to start querying once my groups gave it a thumbs-up and when my manuscript represented what I’d set out to accomplish.

It took 235 days from the first draft until I connected with a publisher via #PitMad (a Twitter pitch event). This is very fast and I was lucky that someone who was looking for a book like this found me. Since I worked directly with the publisher, this book was published unagented.

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

CHRISTINE: Quarto decided to expand the book to 48 pages during the early months of the pandemic when libraries and bookstores were closed so I bought reference books—a lot of reference books. And hunted down underwear facts from every continent, back to the beginning of fossilized undies. I thought I’d have a hard time finding a fact from Antarctica, but that ended up being one of the funniest ones. I think the reason underwear is called “unmentionables” is because it’s not mentioned in reference books!

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

CHRISTINE: I was thrilled Harry Briggs was chosen to illustrate the book; his style suited the book well. The publisher worked with me throughout the process, showing me the early sketches through to the final drafts.

text copyright Christine Van Zandt 2021, illustration copyright Harry Briggs 2021, becker&mayer! kids

Today’s tech world makes it easy to share things. Since the many styles of underwear had specific ways they looked in real life, I linked the publisher and illustrator to artifacts, reconstructions, and such.

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

CHRISTINE: The publisher sent the reviews to me. I was curious to know how the book would be received so I read them immediately and, thankfully, reviewers are finding it funny and educational.

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

CHRISTINE: It took about seven months—which I know is lightning-speed in the publishing industry!

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

CHRISTINE: The publisher secured some fabulous opportunities for me including being featured in their April educator newsletter and in a podcast. I also have a column coming up in Shelf Awareness which has a readership of ~500k!

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

CHRISTINE: I’ve been boosting the book myself too. It’s amazing how much time and money you can put into this aspect. Joining up with other authors has been beneficial. I belong to 21 for the Books (we’re all debut picture book authors) and to STEAM Team Books (a mix of experienced authors and some newbies like me) [LINKS https://oneforthebooks.wixsite.com/2021/authors and http://www.steamteambooks.com/].

These groups provide a place to ask questions, swap information, and vent when needed. The pandemic changed things a lot. How do we sign books remotely? What’s the best way to film virtual author events? There’s a lot to learn beyond “just” writing and selling a book!

I’ve had bookmarks and stickers designed and printed, as well as material for the classrooms such as a word search and “Beyond the Book” questions. Promotional materials are a way to engage elementary students or get the word out about your book.

I purchased copies of my book and am donating them to elementary schools so if you’re a teacher for kids age 4-8, please reach out to me!

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?)

CHRISTINE: Regularly participate in one or more critique groups. Attend workshops or conferences to learn and work on your craft. Read, read, read, then write, write, write.

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

Author Christine Van Zandt

Christine Van Zandt hasn’t found fossilized underwear, but loves digging up ideas that make great books for kids.

She’s a literary editor and lives in Los Angeles, California, with her family and a monarch butterfly sanctuary. Visit her online at christinevanzandt.com.

CONTACT INFO

Website
Twitter
LinkedIn
Facebook
Instagram

Readers, if you have questions for Christine, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond! Remember, one lucky commenter will win a PB manuscript critique!

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (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 (dyslexia-friendly font)

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, so get out your list-making utensils, whatever they might be (iphone note, broken crayon and old ATM receipt, whatever 😊), and prepare for a trip to the library! There are sure to be any number of books shared this week you’ll want to check out.

I’m sharing one that was a huge favorite with my kids, back in the last millennium when they were little 😊 I hope you like it!

Title: The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No
Written & Illustrated By: Ainslie Pryor
Re-issue March 1988, Viking Juvenile, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: behavior (contrariness), humor

Opening: “Have you heard the story of the Baby Blue Cat who said No?
Once there was a Mama Cat and her four baby cats.
Baby Orange Cat,
Baby White Cat,
Baby Striped Cat, and
Baby Blue Cat.
Mama Cat loved all of her baby cats very much.

Brief Synopsis: Baby Orange Cat, Baby White Cat and Baby Striped Cat all behave the way little kittens should, but Baby Blue Cat is feeling ornery.  No matter what his Mama asks, he says, “No!”  But when he pushes his Mama too far, he apologizes and behaves… until his contrariness gets the better of him again 😊

Links To Resources: Teaching Children A VocabularyFor Emotions; make cards with different emotions pictured and/or written  – e.g. a smiley face and/or HAPPY – and play emotion charades by letting kids pick a card and act out the emotions for the rest of the class or family and see if the observers can guess; talk about behavior – have you ever refused to do something just to be difficult? Do you sometimes do bad things and then feel sorry? Talk about how to say you’re sorry – resource HERE.

Why I Like This Book:  The language is fun to read aloud.  (Years later, we still use the phrase “and here’s your delicious cupcake, YUM YUM” 😊 )  The line drawings are cute and engaging (right down to the smile on the fish sandwich 😊)  But mostly, anyone who has ever spent 3 minutes around a toddler will recognize and appreciate Baby Blue Cat’s desire to have some control, and some opportunity to be independent of his mother and siblings.  As I mentioned above, he’s naughty, but when he goes too far he’s genuinely remorseful.  Mama Cat loves her baby cats very much, and it is clear that Baby Blue Cat loves his Mama Cat too 😊

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do at our house! 😊

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! 😊