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

Hi Everyone!

I know.

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

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

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

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

GiftsAnimals

Title: The Gifts Of The Animals: A Christmas Tale

Written By: Carole Gerber

Illustrated By: Yumi Shimokawara

Familius, October 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

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

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

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

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

fullsizeoutput_1cb4

text copyright Carole Gerber 2019, illustration copyright Yumi Shimokawara 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Heather Gale!

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

How’s that for a theme song?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

After that the revisions took almost a year.

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

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

Mine are adding emotion and deleting.

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

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

After emotions are added my next favorite is deleting.

Distilling a draft to 1000 special words is a challenge.

Every word matters.

Every sentence should feel unique.

Every paragraph has the potential to build a scene.

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

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

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

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

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

Next, I look at each word in the sentence.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

IMG_0716

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

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

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

Then, my best tool is the pitch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your manuscript is ready to face the big wide world.

I have two workspaces that inspire my writing process.

Here’s my view from the cottage:

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 8.12.13 PM

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

And then it was my turn.

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

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

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

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

SUSANNA: How about your experience of the illustration process?

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

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

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

Here’s what I wrote:

One person stood.

[illo: Kana smiles]

Ho'onani - illo note and illustration

and here’s how that illustration turned out!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canadian Review of Materials

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

Heather-head-shot

Author Heather Gale

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

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

 

 

 

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

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

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

Fry Bread

Title: Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

Written By: Kevin Noble Maillard

Illustrated By: Juana Martinez-Neal

Roaring Brook Press, October 22 2019, nonfiction

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

Themes/Topics: heritage, tradition, family, community

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

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 1.09.39 PM

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

 

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

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 1.10.07 PM

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

 

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

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

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 1.10.33 PM

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

 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Dawn Young!

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

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

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

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

hi res for blog - jacket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: What was the editorial process like for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

hi res for blog dancing

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

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

DAWN: No, not yet.

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

DAWN: Ten months.

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

DAWN: It just released on Oct 1st.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young headshot

Author Dawn Young

Dawn Young bio:

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

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

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

https://twitter.com/dawnyoungPB

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

www.dawnyoungbooks.com

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Susan Richmond!!!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, everyone!

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

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

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

Bird Count_cover

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

 

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

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

 

Susan Edwards Richmond_birding with scope

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

 

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

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

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

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SUSAN: Bottle of champagne—toasts all around!

 

talkin birds

Talkin’ Birds

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

BirdCountArtTease1

illustration copyright Stephanie Fizer Coleman 2019

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Author Susan Richmond

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

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Spooky Wheels On The Bus

It’s Friday!  It’s Friday!  The weekend awaits! 🙂

So what are y’all doing this weekend?

Apple picking? Visiting Granny? Washing the dog? Baking pumpkin-related items? Agonizing over costumes as Halloween approaches way too quickly for your busy schedule?  Making sure every flavor in the bag of fun-size candy is as delicious as the manufacturers purports them to be before you decide what to hand out to trick-or-treaters in a couple weeks?

That was a test!

The correct answer is “writing my Halloweensie Contest entry!” (Because in case any of you didn’t happen to notice, the rules for this year’s contest went up yesterday!!!)

Anyone who answered correctly may have one of these 🙂  You have earned it!  (And you’ll need it to give yourself time to write 🙂 )

get

The other acceptable answer to the question of what you are doing this weekend is, “Going to the Warwick Children’s Book Festival to see Susanna and many other writing friends!” And you can have a get-out-of-housework free card for that too 🙂

Now!  Since we’re warming up for Halloween, onto today’s Perfect Picture Book! 🙂

spooky-wheels

Title: The Spooky Wheels On The Bus

Written By: J. Elizabeth Mills

Illustrated By: Ben Mantle

Cartwheel Books, July 2010, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: holidays (halloween), concepts (counting)

Opening: “One spooky bus goes RATTLE and SHAKE,
RATTLE and SHAKE, RATTLE and SHAKE.
One spooky bus goes RATTLE and SHAKE
All through the town.

Brief Synopsis: (From Amazon) “Count from One Spooky Bus up to Ten Goofy Ghosts as this Halloween ride races through town picking up a few unsuspecting passengers along the way.”

Links To Resources: Kids’ Halloween Crafts of all kinds!; Kid-friendly Halloween recipes; make up your own Wheels On The Bus song about Halloween, your birthday, or any other holiday!

Why I Like This Book: You can’t really go wrong with a fun Halloween-themed version of this popular song.  Kids can enjoy it as a story, or sing along with it.  In addition to being a story/song with an entertaining cast of Halloween characters, it is a counting book – great for youngest picture book enthusiasts.  The art is bright and warm, colorful and inviting, showing witches and ghosts and spiders in a way that is friendly and engaging and not at all scary.  The town looks like a cozy place to go trick-or-treating.  All-around Halloween fun!

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text copyright J. Elizabeth Mills 2010, illustration copyright Ben Mantle 2010

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Kiefer!

Hello, Everyone!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut!

One of the things I love about Tuesday Debut is what a wide variety of picture books we get to see – fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, subjects that range from hay-making machines, to reaching for the moon, friendship, loneliness, lullaby bedtime books, clouds, and bugs.

Today we have a debut topic – a gentle, thoughtful book about a little girl who attempts to draw God.

Drawing God
written by Karen Kiefer
illustrated by Kathy De Wit
Paraclete Press
religious fiction, ages 5 and up
October 8, 2019

Karen1

Picasso’s artistic inspiration takes hold of young Emma’s faith imagination in this beautifully illustrated debut picture book about how we all see God differently.

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Karen!  We’re thrilled to have you!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

KAREN: It was an ordinary run to the grocery store, or so I thought. There I was, standing next to a mound of stacked peppers in the produce section when I overheard two little kids, a whisper away, talking to each other. “My mother said you shouldn’t talk about God at school, because it makes people feel uncomfortable,” said the young voice to the other. I stood still, shaking my head, as I uttered, “Oh— no,” under my breath. Needless to say, I felt uncomfortable.

For the next several weeks, that conversation would not leave my mind or heart. In a world propelled by wonder, invention and advanced communication, could “God talk” eventually become extinct?  It seemed to be an astonishing possibility. All I could do was pray about it, asking God to intervene. Then on a quiet Sunday morning, out of the blue, I began to write the children’s story, “Drawing God.”

 

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

KAREN: The process was pretty fluid, one sitting, about 2 hours THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME. Writing is usually such a challenging and complicated process.

I sat in my bed with my laptop and started typing away.

I began to write a story about a little girl named Emma, who visits an art museum and is so inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso that she decides that she is going to draw something “beyond spectacular.” Emma decides to draw God.

I remember tapping on my keyboard, just waiting to see what might happen next. I began typing…

Emma escapes to the comfort of her bedroom and draws a brilliant sun. “It was so dazzling and radiant my cheeks throbbed. Its rays were so long they poked at my heart.” Emma knew she had drawn God. The next day, Emma takes her drawing to school to show her best friend Peter. But Peter looked at Emma and said, “ Emma, that’ s not God, that’s the sun.”

Emma tries again and again to draw God, but her classmates can’t see God in any of her drawings. They actually find her attempts laughable.

Emma finally realizes, through a prayer answered, that she doesn’t need their approval.  “I knew I had drawn God. God knew I had drawn God, and maybe Picasso knew, too. That finally felt like enough.”

The story stopped there. But I remember feeling that urge to keep writing, because this wasn’t the end of the story.

Emma eventually returns to school on the following Monday, and something beyond spectacular happens. I won’t spoil the ending of the book, but when I finished writing, it was clear that if this story were ever published it might get more children and adults talking about and drawing God.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KAREN: I polished it up here and there over the course of the next couple of weeks. I had heard that there are successful authors that actually review manuscripts for a modest fee. I Googled around and came across Susanna Hill. It took a lot of courage to write the email to her and press send. Susanna was amazing, not only did she get back to me quickly, she offered me some minor edits and was so encouraging. She thought I had a book but now just had to find a publisher. My interaction with Susanna gave me the confidence I needed at a time when you are always second guessing the value of the work.

 

SUSANNA: It was a privilege to read your story, Karen, and I’m glad if I was able to help you find the courage to submit! 🙂  When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

KAREN: I felt comfortable that the manuscript was ready for submission shortly after my interactions with Susanna. I was literally Googling how to write a submission letter.

I knew nothing.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KAREN: Professionally, I’m the director of the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College. My job offers me many opportunities to form relationships with other professionals in the faith marketplace. I knew the editor of Paraclete Press and so I decided to start there. I sent him an email asking if he might be interested in looking at my manuscript. He responded, pretty quickly I might add, asking me to send it along.

I submitted it right away. I heard back within a few hours and he was very positive. He mentioned that he wanted to share it with a few other people to see what they thought.

About a week later, he mentioned that they were planning an emergency editorial meeting in the next week to review a few new manuscripts and mine was one. I was both excited and scared. That’s when self-doubt settles in. I wondered if it was good enough?

 

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

KAREN: A week later I got the call, it was unanimous, they wanted to publish the manuscript.

I was so excited. They didn’t want to make any changes to the story and wanted to keep the title, “Drawing God.”  However, they did want me to write a teaching guide, 1000 words or so, that they would add to the back of the book.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KAREN: It was all so surreal. I didn’t really celebrate because it still didn’t feel real.

 

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

KAREN: Had no idea what to expect. The contract seemed very fair. I wasn’t going to be making a lot of money and I would be paid in 3 installments. I was fine with that.

 

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

KAREN: The editorial process was smooth. The editor shared my vision for the book right from the start. I was so lucky.

 

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

KAREN: Again, I was very fortunate during this process too. I didn’t want to overstep, but I asked if I could recommend an illustrator. The editor assured me that they already had a group of great illustrators. I respectfully asked if I could send some samples from the illustrator who illustrated my first self-published children book, “The Misfit Sock” back in 2010.

I mentioned that we work well together. I also had to let him know that she lives in Belgium. He was very open, knowing that he believed we could TOGETHER make the book better. He reached out to Kathy De Wit and negotiated the partnership and sent her a contract. Kathy and I worked together throughout the process.

Regarding illustration notes, I did submit them in detail to the editor and he reviewed them, made a few changes and sent them to Kathy. The three of us worked together closely throughout the process. The editor kept things on track.

Here’s a sample of a sketch and a finished illustration.

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Karen2

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

KAREN: Seeing the reviews and features has been so exciting. The publishers has been wonderful about sharing every milestone with me along the way. Was reviewed by Kirkus and featured in Publisher’s Weekly. That’s hard to do for a children’s picture book.

 

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

KAREN: The process was about a year and a half. When I first saw the book, I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was. That was another surreal moment.

 

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

KAREN: The book just came out today, but I’m happy to say it is the #1 release in its category on Amazon.

 

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

KAREN: Paraclete Press has been WONDERFUL. They have put the entire sales team behind this book. They have done a lot of social media, produce a beautiful book trailer, helped with flyers.

 

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

KAREN: We had journals printed up, bookmarks, lots of different flyers, events, fun promotional giveaways. Had a big book launch.

 

 

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

KAREN: NOT SURE??

 

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

KAREN: TODAY, Tuesday, October 8, 2019, the children’s picture book, “Drawing God” will be released into the world. May it be a catalyst for more God talk and inspire children and adults of all faiths to connect their very own faith imagination, to realize the contagious faith that lives powerfully within and to embrace the truth that we all see God differently.

The release of the book will be followed by the celebration of the first World Drawing God Day, on November 7th.  This day will be a chance for our world to “draw” God, whatever that might look like, using the hashtag: #drawinggod.

Today I am reminded of the words of a friend who said that books can’t necessarily change the world, but the people who read them can. To future readers of “Drawing God,” my hope is that this book will make you a little more comfortable, knowing that there will be a little more God talk in our world because of you.

For more information, visit: www.drawing-god.com

Karen4

Karen Kiefer is the director the Church in the 21st Century Center at Boston College and has worked at the university in various roles collectively for over two decades. A mother of four daughters, Kiefer has taught religious education at the parish level for 25 years. She is the co-founder of the grassroots bread-giving organization, Spread the Bread, and the anti-bullying initiative, the Million Misfit Sock March. Kiefer wrote “The Misfit Sock” children’s book in 2010 and is the author of the new children’s book, “Drawing God,” published by Paraclete Press. This latest book has inspired World Drawing God Day on November 7, 2019.

(www.drawing-god.com)
Drawing God on Facebook
Drawing God on Instagram – @drawingg0d (the “o” in God is the number zero)

SUSANNA: Such an exciting day, Karen!  There’s nothing like seeing your first book in print, especially if it’s #1 in its category on Amazon!  Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today and share your experience so that we can all benefit from it!  I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best with this and future books!

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

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

 

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – 1-2-3 My Feelings And Me

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and now that we’re about a month into school, today seems like a good time to talk about feelings.

While many kids will have adjusted smoothly to their new classrooms, classmates, teachers, and daily routines, others will not have had such an easy time.  And all children – those who take most things in stride and those who struggle a bit more – have a wide range of emotions they need to learn to manage.

The book I’ve chosen today should be helpful in that process!

1 2 3 My Feelings And Me

Title: 1-2-3 My Feelings And Me

Written By: Goldie Millar and Lisa A. Berger

Illustrated By: Priscilla Burris

Free Spirit Publishing, November 12 2019, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: identifying and coping with emotions

Opening: “Everyone everywhere has all kinds of feelings – just like me.
And me!
What about you?
There are many different feelings and many things to know about them.
Let’s count our way through the 1-2-3’s of feelings together!

Brief Synopsis: This nonfiction look at feelings helps children learn to identify and cope with a wide range of emotions while reassuring them that while some feelings are more pleasant than others, all feelings are okay, and everyone has them.

Links To Resources: the whole book is a resource, from the explanations provided within the text to the “Letter To Caring Adults” at the beginning to the extensive back matter which includes a lengthy guide to Talking About Feelings And What To Do With Them with discussion topics and activities.

fullsizeoutput_1b68

text copyright Goldie Millar & Lisa A. Berger 2019, illustration copyright Priscilla Burris 2019  Free Spirit Publishing

Why I Like This Book: Emotions can be difficult for children.  (Let’s be honest – they can be difficult for adults! 🙂 )  This straightforward approach to describing feelings both in terms of how they make our minds feel as well as the affect they can have on the body (making you feel hot or shaky etc.) along with the reassurance that everything a child feels is normal and experienced by everyone will be very useful in helping children learn to understand and manage their emotions.  With it’s warm, friendly art and cast of diverse characters, every child will find it relatable.  Although it’s not a story, it’s a book that will come in very handy for lots and lots of children, especially those who may struggle with emotional equilibrium.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone – hopefully a HAPPY one!!! 🙂

A Holiday Tuesday Debut!

Okay.  So there was teensy mix-up with email…

As a result I don’t have a true Tuesday Debut today.

But it occurred to me at the last minute (this morning!)  (as you can tell by the lateness of this post!) that I just so happen to have a new book coming out today, which is technically a Tuesday Debut for the book 🙂

So I’ll share that instead.  No time like the present (no pun intended) to get to work on your letter to Santa!  It will give you time to write and revise!  Make your list and check it twice 🙂

Dear Santa
written by Susanna Leonard Hill
illustrated by John Joseph
published by Sourcebooks Wonderland
October 1, 2019

Dear Santa Amazon cover

Santa Claus gets thousands of letters every year. But this year, Santa’s going to get a letter he’ll never forget…
This enchanting Christmas story about one boy’s honest letter to Santa is sure to become a cherished part of your holiday traditions for years to come.

Here’s a little sneak peek inside…

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 7.05.48 AM

text copyright Susanna Leonard Hill 2019, illustration copyright John Joseph 2019      Sourcebooks Wonderland

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 7.06.05 AM

text copyright Susanna Leonard Hill 2019, illustration copyright John Joseph 2019      Sourcebooks Wonderland

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 7.06.35 AM

text copyright Susanna Leonard Hill 2019, illustration copyright John Joseph 2019      Sourcebooks Wonderland

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 7.06.55 AM

text copyright Susanna Leonard Hill 2019, illustration copyright John Joseph 2019      Sourcebooks Wonderland

Isn’t John’s art amazing?!

Also, he made a coloring page…

dear santa coloring sheet

illustration copyright John Joseph 2019

and a word search!

word search dear santa

illustration copyright John Joseph 2019

which will be available to download from my site (from the For Teachers And Parents Coloring & Activities Pages in the menu bar above) very soon!

The book contains special holiday stationary at the back that kids can write their letters on, and the letters can be mailed (instructions supplied in the book) so that they will receive a personalized reply!

There are 4 choices, but here’s a sample:

I hope you all know someone who can have fun with it!

Happy Writing Tuesday, Everyone!

 

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, once again, and I have such a lovely book to share today.

It comes from Cori Doerrfeld, the talented author/illustrator who brought us The Rabbit Listened (which you all know I totally loved and raved over in a PPBF post a while back!)  It’s perfect for the beginning of a new school year as well as for many other occasions.

goodbye hello

Title: Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!

Written & Illustrated By: Cori Doerrfeld

Dial Books For Young Readers, July 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: friendship, balance of life, coping with change

Opening: “Bye, Mom.
Every goodbye…
…leads to a hello.
Hi, I’m Charlie!
Goodbye to sitting alone…
…is hello to sitting together.

goodbye hello 1

text and illustration copyright Cori Doerrfeld 2019 Dial Books For Young Readers

goodbye hello 2

text and illustration copyright Cori Doerrfeld 2019 Dial Books For Young Readers

goodbye hello 3

text and illustration copyright Cori Doerrfeld 2019 Dial Books For Young Readers

Brief Synopsis:  Transitions are hard, but two best friends help each other through changes big and small.  When one experience ends, it opens the door for another to begin.

Links To Resources: draw a picture of someone or something that was hard to say goodbye to; write a letter to someone you love; tell a story about a time it was hard when something ended or a time when you were excited about something beginning; grow butterflies at home or in the classroom so children can see how saying goodbye to a caterpillar allows you to say hello to a butterfly; butterfly life cycle coloring page; bake cookies so you can say goodbye to dough and hello to cookies 🙂

Why I Like This Book: this is a sweet story about coping with change which helps young readers to see that letting go of one thing, though it may be difficult, can give us the opportunity for something new and also wonderful. It covers the ground from the matter-of-fact (the snowmen of winter giving way to the puddles of spring, the sun giving way to the stars) to the harder changes of having to say goodbye to someone we love.  The book will help children to view change with positivity and optimism.  The text is gentle, sweet, and poignant.  Cori is a master of getting to the heart of things with exquisite simplicity.  And the art is warm, engaging, and appealing.  A great choice for every child.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

goodbye hello 4

text and illustration copyright Cori Doerrfeld 2019 Dial Books For Young Readers

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂