Perfect Picture Book Friday – Pysanky Promise

Happy Friday, Everyone!

I know many of you are on school vacation (or have children who are 😊) so I won’t keep you long today!

I have a unique book to share, just in time for Easter!  Have a look!

Pysanky Promise

Title: Pysanky Promise

Written & Illustrated By: Cathy Witbeck

Calico Barn Books, 2018, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 6-10

Themes/Topics: love (grandmother/granddaughter), holidays (Easter), traditions

Opening: “The dancer spun in a flash of colors.  Ribbons flew, and the layers of her skirt flared.  Alena clapped and cheered with her family.  The smell of perogies, cabbage rolls and kielbasa filled the air.  The Ukranian dance festival was just one of the reasons she loved spring.

Brief Synopsis: (from the jacket copy) “When a young girl learns that her grandmother’s hands have grown too shaky to continue making pysanky, she learns the art herself hoping to heal her grandmother’s heart. The book explains the process of how to make pysanky, as well as a bit about the history, symbolism and the tradition behind the art.”

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text and illustration copyright Cathy Witbeck 2018

Links To Resources: the book itself is a resource, explaining a little of the history of pysanky and how to make them.  The back matter includes samples of borders along with an explanation of what they mean.  There are also a few websites listed:  learnpysanky.com (for hints, tips, egg patterns, and everything else); Ukrainiangiftshop.com (for basic and advanced supplies); pysankyusaretreat.com (for people who want to learn.)

Why I Like This Book: Not only is this a touching story about the relationship between a granddaughter and her grandmother, it is also a very interesting look at the history and craft of making pysanky – Ukrainian Easter eggs.  When Alena sees how sad her grandmother is that her hands have grown too shaky for the delicate work of creating the beautiful pysanky, she asks her aunt to teach her the art so she can make one for her grandmother and show her that the tradition will go on in the family.  It is a lovely and very interesting tale, nicely written for slightly older picture book readers, and I think will inspire children to try their hand at the beautiful art!

I was fortunate to get a little background on the creation of this book from author/illustrator, Cathy Witbeck, who said, “I thought about publishing traditionally, but my mother-in-law posed for reference pics of the grandmother in the story and I wanted her to see the finished product. She turned 90 this year. I took reference photos when my daughter was about 11. She’s 27 now. So you can see why I had to get it done pronto.” The fact that the book is based on real life makes me like it even more! 😊

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 for everyone who celebrates, have a joyous Easter or Passover! 😊

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Pippa Chorley!

Aren’t Tuesdays wonderful? 😊

They are so full of excitement and anticipation because every Tuesday a whole bunch of brand new books make their way out into the world.

And although many of those books are written by seasoned, veteran authors, many of them are written by debut authors who are experiencing the thrill of seeing their words in print for the very first time.

There’s nothing like it.

It’s what we all dream about and what we all strive for, whether it’s our first book or (presumably – I don’t know from experience 😊) – whether we’re like Jane Yolen and it’s our 375th book or whatever she’s up to at this point! 😊

But today we’re sharing the joy with debut author Pippa Chorley!  Pippa’s book has debuted in Singapore and is available for pre-order in the US and UK.  (And if you’d like copies signed and posted direct you can contact Pippa through her website!)

Let’s have a look at her debut – a topic near and dear to my heart… 😊🐑

Title: Counting Sheep
Author: Pippa Chorley
Illustrator: Danny Deeptown
Publishing House: Marshall Cavendish
Date of Publication: April 5th
Fiction: Picture book / rhyming narrative
Age range: 3-7

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Synopsis: It all begins one dark stormy night when Sam can’t sleep and her mum suggests that she count some sheep. But how can Sam count them when one of the sheep can’t jump over the fence? Follow Sam and her flock in this fun farmyard tale as they try to help little Shep find a way over the fence.

 

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

PIPPA: It was on one of those nights where your mind goes a bit haywire and you find yourself tossing and turning all night that the idea came to me. I remembered my dad telling me to count sheep as a child and the first few lines came in a flash. The next morning on my way to work I couldn’t stop thinking about this story. I took out a pen on the bus and began writing down those initial lines. By the time I reached the office I had written another 8 lines and I couldn’t stop until I had finished, I simply had to get it all down and I spent probably the next 2 hours typing it up on my work computer … shhh!

 

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

PIPPA: The first draft was almost like a stream of consciousness. It poured out in one sitting. However, and this is a big however, I lost it! A few years after writing it down my family and I left Singapore to live in India. I had all but forgotten about ‘Counting Sheep’ until another story began to form in my head. It reminded me of the one I had left behind on a work computer all those years ago. The funny thing was I still remembered almost half of it by heart. I wrote it down and began rewriting a new ending!

This version was redrafted a further 8 times in total, some of those were really big changes and some small but each one as important as the next.

My writing space

Here is a pic of my work space at home. I LOVE my desk as it is from our time living in India and feels an inspiring place to edit.

 

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

PIPPA: I have to admit that I didn’t completely know if it was ready or not. I knew I liked the story, I was even quite proud of it, but I am not sure if we can ever be 100% sure as a writer if something is going to spark the interest of an agent or publisher. It’s quite a subjective industry so all we can do is try!

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

PIPPA: I don’t have a literary agent so I actually submitted this story direct to the publisher Marshall Cavendish. As a result, this has all happened a little faster than usual I think.

Following a weekly SCBWI critique group meeting, I was advised by one of the group to submit this story to a contact she had there who was keen to find new talent. I held no high hopes of it being accepted but I felt it was at least worth a shot. I was lucky enough that the story sparked their interest and they wrote back to me a few days later asking for more information.

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?

PIPPA: Living in a small country definitely has its advantages so instead of a call I actually got an email requesting that I stop by the publisher’s offices in person. I have to admit I didn’t sleep much that night and on the way to the office my car broke down on the highway which made me twice as nervous. I had to abandon it to get a taxi there! When I arrived, it became clear that they really liked ‘Counting Sheep’ but what was more amazing was that they wanted to see other stories I had written too! It was definitely the best feeling ever!

 

SUSANNA: Did you have to make changes to the book in order to sell it?  Tell us about the editorial process…

PIPPA: I discussed quite a few changes with the editor of Marshall Cavendish including grammatical ones, layout issues as well as written content. But the biggest change was of my own doing. I originally had the little sheep solving the problem in the original version but I felt that it was too abstract for children to understand. I discussed changing it to Sam and was lucky that both my illustrator and editor agreed as I think the book is much stronger as a result of the change.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?  (If you care to share 🙂 )

PIPPA: Ha ha! Unfortunately, 3 kids and a lively spaniel puppy didn’t leave much time for huge celebrations, however I have a bottle of champagne ready for the moment I first get to hold my published book in my hands. That for me will be the real time to celebrate!

One Muddy Jasper

Jasper (my English Springer Spaniel) is my muse on our dog walks together (where I often get my inspiration!)

 

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

PIPPA: I actually had no idea what to expect when they sent the contract through nor what to look for either. I was lucky enough to have a good friend who is a lawyer and understood contractual language and she was able to help me decipher some of the gobbledygook! On the most part it appeared fairly standard, however she did request that I firm things up with extra wording here and there to ensure it was watertight. Unusually in this industry my publisher does not give advances, however their royalties are a little higher than the average as a result and I was happy with this arrangement.

 

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

PIPPA: This was the most wonderful part of the process for me as I was allowed to deal directly with my illustrator. I know this is a highly debated topic but for us it worked really well and I built a really strong friendship with Danny along the way.

He initially sent both myself and my editor thumbnail sketches for each page for approval. They were tiny and very rough but very helpful in giving me a sense of how it would look in the end. Even after seeing these tiny rough sketches I could tell that he was the perfect match for me and had totally captured the feel of the story. A few months later I got to see the full illustration drafts and even make comments on them, for example I asked if we could add an extra spot on the haybale scene. He was always open to discussion and when he sent through the final illustrations just a few months ago I couldn’t have been more delighted.

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text copyright Pippa Chorley 2019, illustration copyright Danny Deeptown 2019, used by permission of Marshall Cavendish

 

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

PIPPA: The final version went to print at the end of February so it took only one month from then until I received an actual physical copy, which I think is quite amazing! I have to admit that I don’t know how many copies have been printed to date but as Singapore is a small country it is likely to be at the smaller end of the scale, between 2-5000 I would say.

 

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

PIPPA: I think it is fairly typical these days that unless you are an established author, publishing companies do not have as huge budget to spend on promoting you. They sent copies out to various review groups and organized a lovely launch at a local bookstore for me which was a great start. However, I have realized that much of our promotional success is down to our own input, which is why interviews like this one are so very important to us (thank you Susanne). (My pleasure, Pippa 😊)

 

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

PIPPA: I took a wonderful course run by Colleen Riordan at Wild Ink on marketing and what it means which I found immensely helpful and would highly recommend if like me self-promotion scares you! I bit the bullet though, and joined the modern world of social media, making sure I had a presence there both for my young readers on things like Instagram and my peers on platforms such as Twitter. I set up a website, which I am continually updating and improving as I go where I added colouring pages and craft activity ideas linked to my book. I also created a monthly book review blog which I really enjoy doing. In terms of SWAG, for my school visits and reading sessions I had bookmarks made which I think, although typical, is a great starting point for new authors.

 

SUSANNA: Wow!  I like the sound of that marketing course!  I think I could use that!  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

PIPPA: I have had bursts of energy with writing stories throughout my life, literally since I was a young girl and I always took it seriously and held a deep desire to become professional. However, it wasn’t until I joined SCBWI and later 12X12 that I realized exactly what it meant to be a writer, the editing and ‘putting yourself out there’ bit. Once I’d made that leap it was remarkably fast for me. I know that is not always the case and for me the journey might not last forever but now I am on it I am determined to keep going. Writing is such a passionate activity, it is hard to stop once you start!

 

AnneValluy_PippaWeb-2

Author Pippa Chorley.  Photo taken in the Botanical Garden’s in Singapore where she loves to walk

 

Website: http://pippachorleystories.com
Twitter: @PippaChorley
Instagram: @pippachorley

 

SUSANNA: Pippa, thank you so much for joining us today and taking the time to share your experience with us!  I love these interviews because something new always comes up for all of us to learn from!  Thank you for giving us a peek at your process.  I know we all wish you the very best success with this and future books!

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

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

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

– recommending them as visiting authors to our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Megan Lacera – Zombie Don’t Eat Veggies!

 

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Sonny’s Bridge

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and this week I have a legitimate perfect picture book to share with you (after last week’s falling down on the job 😊)

Wait until you see this book, due out in May, so you’ll have to wait just a little to read it, but you can pre-order your copy today or request it from your local library!

Sonny's Bridge

Title: Sonny’s Bridge

Written By: Barry Wittenstein

Illustrated By: Keith Mallett

Charlesbridge, May 21, 2019, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 6-9

Themes/Topics: music (jazz), finding yourself

Opening:
Misty night.
Summer night.
East River New York City night.
You hear that?
     Hear what?
That.  THAT!
     Somebody’s playing the saxophone.  So what?
So that’ Sonny Rollins, that’s what.
     Wait.  WHAT? That’s Sonny Rollins? The Sonny Rollins?
     What the heck is Sonny Rollins doing on the Williamsburg Bridge
     this time of night?
Nobody knows, man.  Nobody knows.  ‘Cept Sonny, and
He. Ain’t. Sayin’.

Brief Synopsis: The 1950s was a great time to be a jazz musician.  Sonny Rollins began playing saxophone as a kid in Harlem and rocketed to fame at a young age.  But the demands of two shows a day every day for ten years took their toll, as did the pressure of people’s expectations of greatness.  Sonny took a break from performing, but he couldn’t take a break from music – it was who he was.  He had to find a place to play where he could feel the music and it wouldn’t bother anyone else.  Williamsburg Bridge was the perfect place for Sonny to restore himself, practice and play to his heart’s content, find his own music, until he was ready to return to recording with new self-confidence.

Links To Resources: the back matter of the book is a wealth of resources.  The author tells  about his own experience with jazz; there are “Liner Notes: About The Bridge Album”; there is a timeline of Sonny’s life; quotes from Sonny: and resources for learning more.

Additional information from a conversation with the author (thank you, Barry 😊): when asked how he’d come to “write in jazz”, Barry answered that he had written and performed poetry in college and always loved the Beat poets.  That combined with his acquired love of jazz made the vibe come naturally.

Why I Like This Book: I loved this book for the history – the information about Sonny’s life and music, the way the title page looks like a vinyl record album with the needle dropping to play, the message that even great artists can succumb to pressure and moments of self-doubt –  but even better was the way the story was told.  Barry literally wrote in jazz.  You can feel it in the opening lines above.  And some of my favorite lines:

Painting rhythms with colors nobody ever seen before.

Now Sonny’s gotta find a place no one goes.
Where he can make notes cry and squeak, beg and plead, 
bend ’em up, bend ’em sideways.

and

Dark shades on to keep the inside from getting out
and the outside from getting in.

All of those lines could just as easily pertain to writers, or artists of any kind – looking for new ways to express themselves, the privacy to experiment, feel and perfect, and a way to hold onto creativity without distraction or doubt creeping in to ruin it.

In addition, Keith Mallett’s art is amazing and absolutely perfect for the book.  Deep blue and purple nighttime scenes, deep orange sunset behind building silhouettes, and brighter day time scenes.  I love this page:

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text copyright Barry Wittenstein 2019, illustration copyright Keith Mallett 2019

I apologize – my iphone photo doesn’t do it justice!  The blues and purples are much better than this in real life!

Overall this is an amazing book with a lot to offer educationally and artistically.  A great addition to any classroom, library, or kids’ room shelf!

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 Megan Lacera!

Welcome to another edge-of-your-seat episode of Tuesday Debut, especially thrilling today because it involves ZOMBIES!!!

Don’t be scared 😊

My fierce guard dogs and I will protect you 😊

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This is a fun Debut because it’s a wife/husband author/illustrator team – something we haven’t seen here yet. Their book was also released simultaneously in English and Spanish – something else we haven’t seen here yet!  So without further ado, let’s welcome debut author Megan Lacera and her author/illustrator husband, Jorge Lacera!!!

ZOMBIES DON’T EAT VEGGIES!
LOS ZOMBIS NO COMEN VERDURAS (Spanish edition available simultaneously)

By Megan and Jorge Lacera
Illustrated by Jorge Lacera
Lee and Low Books/Children’s Book Press
April 2, 2019
Picture book/Fiction
Age Range: 4-8

 

SUMMARY

Mo Romero is a zombie who loves nothing more than growing, cooking, and eating vegetables. Tomatoes? Tantalizing. Peppers? Pure perfection! The problem? Mo’s parents insist that their niño eat only zombie cuisine, like arm-panadas and finger foods. They tell Mo over and over that zombies don’t eat veggies. But Mo can’t imagine a lifetime of just eating zombie food and giving up his veggies. As he questions his own zombie identity, Mo tries his best to convince his parents to give peas a chance.

 

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

MEGAN: We wanted to create a zombie book. We love zombie movies, classic horror films. The idea of Mo Romero’s character came to us—a zombie kid who wasn’t sure he wanted to be a zombie. He didn’t fit “the mold.” We zeroed in on his food choices (he’s not into zombie cuisine…he loves vegetables!) because it felt like such a stark contrast to the rest of his world and provided great conflict. We were also very excited to explore Latin-inspired dishes…the result is a lot of puns that keep us (and kiddos) laughing.

mrsromero

 

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

MEGAN: From the very initial conception to the publication date…about five years. That is for a fully illustrated book.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

MEGAN: Tons! On our own, we revised the manuscript dummy countless times. Because we are an author/illustrator duo, our process is very collaborative. We work on the text and art simultaneously, each influencing the other. Once we signed with our agent, we revised again before submission. After finalizing our publication deal with Lee and Low, we went through about ten rounds of revision. Most of these edits at this point weren’t major revisions, more about refinement.

 

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

MEGAN: When we loved it! We had put this story through so much…critiquing the heck out of it, tearing it apart and building it back up….until one day we felt it was ready to fly.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

MEGAN: We are represented by John Cusick at Folio Jr. Interesting twist…we originally signed with his wife, Molly at Folio. A few months into the partnership, Molly moved away from agenting into book scouting and we transitioned to working with John. He handles the submission-to-editors process, negotiates the deals, and much more. He’s excellent.

 

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

MEGAN: From the time we went on submission, to the time we received the offer from Lee and Low, it was about several months. Our agent let us know that there was interest from a few editors, and that those editors would be bringing the project to their acquisition meetings. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at one of those meetings! (SUSANNA: yeah, seriously!)

We received the “call” over email—because the offer letter from our now editor (Jessica Echeverria) was forwarded to us. It was perfect; Jessica understood our vision and intentions for the book so clearly. She connected with the characters from the beginning. And she/Lee and Low offered us a two book-deal which was something we didn’t ask for, but definitely wanted.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

MEGAN: We went out to dinner with our son! We share a lot of we do with him (in age-appropriate ways, of course) and he was excited to celebrate “the big deal.”

zombiefamily

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

MEGAN: As the author and illustrator, we were happy with the contract terms as this is our debut book. The second book being included was great, because it means that we have the chance to build on all we’ve learned with the Lee and Low team on book 1.

For a few more specifics, the deal is for World Rights. We maintain the copyrights to our work. We receive royalty percentages for both the author and illustrator. We are afforded 20 author copies.

Our agent is entitled to 15%, which is the industry standard.

 

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

MEGAN: As mentioned earlier, we went through about ten rounds of revisions with our editor. Many changes were about sharpening; either maximizing the power of a page turn or ensuring a character’s personality was coming through.

The biggest change was to the climax of the story. In our book, Mo Romero is a zombie kid who loves vegetables. He’s different from other zombies, like his parents. As we revised, it became clearer that Mo has to accept his own differences, whether his parents do or not.

 

SUSANNA: Please tell us about your experience of the illustration process. We’re especially interested because it is different from most authors’ sue to the fact that you work as a team!

MEGAN: We get to see everything! Being an author-illustrator team means that we collaborate very closely, which is not like the typical picture book process. Our submission was a fully illustrated dummy (though not final color), and we revised from there.

ZombiesDontEatVeggies_Eng_lowres_spreads_6

Because we submitted this way, we did not include art notes. We do work very closely together to create a cohesive vision for the book.

JORGE: As an artist, my perspective on art notes is to keep them very minimal. Only if there is something truly key to understanding the story that isn’t conveyed in the text. If you have a vision for something, definitely bring it up with your editor. But in general, I think you have to trust the artist and let them bring their own brand of visual storytelling to the project.

ZDEV Gif

 

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

MEGAN: We received a starred review from Kirkus about two months prior to publication. It was amazing! We were stunned and probably read it about 30 times, just to make sure it was real. The reviewer really seemed to get our sense of humor which felt wonderful.

 

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

MEGAN: Hm…nearly two years!

kaiwithzombies

Quality control – kid tested, kid approved by Megan and Jorge’s son 🙂

 

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

MEGAN: Lee and Low has sent ZOMBIES DON’T EAT VEGGIES! to multiple media outlets, reviewers, and promoted the book on their social media accounts. We don’t know everything they’re doing behind the scenes, though we can say that their marketing and publicity team is wonderful to work with.

 

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

MEGAN: We made our own book trailer—including the voice-over work! Travis Jonker (Elementary school librarian, writer of THE VERY LAST CASTLE) was kind enough to premiere it on his blog. You can watch the full trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz8PArUO5Cs

We’ve shared the trailer in many places and use it often when contacting booksellers, librarians, and media outlets. It took a lot of time and resources, but it’s been a great way to share the story. People love video!

Blog tours—yes, we’re happy to be a part of your blog today, Susanna! We’ve also appeared on several other blogs and will continue to share our story this way throughout the year.

Promotion is an on-going event. We reach out to out least one potential outlet each day…including local magazines, book influencers, pop culture-related sites and more.

We will be attending the Texas Library Association Conference the week of April 15th.  We will be doing a panel with several other authors on BIG EMOTIONS IN PICTURE BOOKS. It’s going to be a lot fun—if you’ll be there, we’d love to connect!

Over the coming months, we’ll be visiting schools to share ZOMBIES and our journey as professional creators. We’ll also be doing story times at bookstores and libraries…and more events in the works!

 

SUSANNA: WOW!  You guys are amazing with the marketing/promotion! One potential outlet every day?  I need to step up my game! 😊  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

MEGAN: We’ve been working professionally in entertainment, gaming, and toys for about 15 years. During that time, we’ve always been collaborating on various projects so it’s a bit hard to say. As far as our picture book collaboration journey, it’s been about six years from initial exploration to publication.

 

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

MEGAN: The journey to publication is thrilling, challenging, gratifying, frustrating, and fulfilling. It’s a roller coaster—the highs are amazing and the lows can be quite low. We’ve learned to be patient and kind with ourselves—if you’re on this bookish journey too, prepare for adventure!

 

Megan and Jorge Lacera

Website: http://www.studiolacera.com

Twitter: @Jlacera @MeganLacera

Facebook: @MeganandJorgeLacera

Instagram: @jlacera

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Megan and Jorge! We all so appreciate it and wish you the best of success with this and future books!

Readers, if you have questions for Megan and Jorge, please post them in the comments below and if they have time I’m sure they’ll respond!

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

Indiebound
Indiebound Spanish Edition
Amazon
Amazon Spanish Edition
Barnes&Noble
Barnes&Noble Spanish Edition

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

– 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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Cathy Ballou Mealey!

Hurray! It’s Tuesday Debut time!

I have to tell you, I love doing these posts so much!  So many of the authors who are featured here are writers I have watched come along from their first early steps into the world of writing picture books to their moments of great accomplishment.  I have had the opportunity to see how hard they work to improve their craft, research the agent market, polish their work to submit to agents and editors… and to see them keep trying when things didn’t go their way the first… or the fifth… or even the fifteenth time.  So I am extra especially thrilled when I get to see their first books in print! 🙂

Today’s Tuesday Debut-ess is a case in point!  Talented, determined, and now finally and most deservedly 🌟 published 🌟, I’m delighted to introduce you to Cathy Ballou Mealey and her wonderful picture book, When A Tree Grows!

When A Tree Grows
Written by Cathy Ballou Mealey
Illustrated by Kasia Nowowiejska
Sterling Children’s Books, April 2, 2019
Fiction, ages 3-7

Book cover

WHEN A TREE GROWS is a rollicking read-aloud that follows a zany chain of events triggered by a broken tree, a cranky Bear, a nut-loving Squirrel and his loyal friend Moose.

 

SUSANNA: First off, how cute is that moose???!!! 🙂 But getting down to serious business now 🙂  where did the idea for this book come from?

CATHY: I was hiking in the woods with my family when we heard a distant creaky Crash! Was it a tree? An animal? We froze, and after a long silence, hiked on. I started wondering: What if that crash had scared a bear or frightened a deer?

Building on that “OR” question, I framed a madcap tale with two different possible outcomes, one rather expected and one funny, unexpected outcome. Readers will find that “OR” spotlighted on the bottom corner of each recto page with a clever curled paper art effect.

 

OR page turn

 

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

CATHY: My first draft took roughly 6 weeks to complete before I had a preliminary version to share with my critique group and some trusted writing friends.

Squirrel work buddy (1)

Cathy’s work buddy 🙂

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CATHY: Yes! Those first critiques helped me tighten and distill my draft into a 32 page picture book format. I wrote ideas on sticky notes, plastering them on the back of my door and re-arranging them into funnier scene sequences. I cut sentence strips from my paper draft and pasted them into a book dummy with stick-critter sketches. Trying multiple revision strategies helped me trim text and focus on story.

 

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

CATHY: When writer friends kept asking “How is that TREE book coming along? Don’t sit on that too long. Send it out!” I trusted them!

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CATHY: I used Querytracker to find agents accepting picture book manuscripts. My goal was to send out three new queries each week. At the same time, I was polishing two additional manuscripts to have ready in case an agent asked to see more stories.

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?

CATHY: The first “call” came in May 2015 when I signed with Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency. After Liza submitted TREE to publishers, we got nice feedback and a request for revision. I revised for about a month, and the new version went to acquisitions at two houses. By December TREE was putting down roots at Sterling Books for Children with editor Meredith Mundy.

 

SUSANNA:How did you celebrate signing your contract?

CATHY: Since it was just before Christmas, I bought a special acorn ornament to hang on our tree.

2018 December Orange 004

 

 

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

CATHY: My agent was helpful in explaining technical contract bits that were important but unfamiliar. I also perused online resources for more information about publishing contracts. As others have mentioned, Hannah Holt’s author survey data – shared in her October 2018 Tuesday Debuts post – is current and extremely useful. I’d say my experience on the “business” side for TREE was on par with other debuts for advance, print run, author copies, etc.

 

SUSANNA: Tell us about the editorial process…

CATHY: The changes I had made during the R&R stage helped polish TREE to a high gloss. Specifically, the friendship angle between Moose and Squirrel deepened, and the visual humor was tweaked to a funnier level. I shared many illustration ideas both in manuscript art notes and by email with the editor and art director. See if you can find what I described as the “I Love Lucy” conveyor belt image!

 

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

CATHY: I saw sketches and proofs throughout the process, which I never expected but found very exciting! I knew from the thoughtful questions art director Ryan Thomann posed that we shared a vision for how the final illustrations might look.

WATG interior

 

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

CATHY: Kirkus liked it – hooray! The review says “Laugh along as a story about a tree in the forest comes full circle, bringing three creatures along for a bumpy but fun ride.”

 

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

CATHY: Three years, four months. Once the PW announcement was released in March 2017, I could officially share the news with everyone that TREE was becoming a book.

 

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

CATHY: This interview is posting on TREE’s book birthday, so it is too soon to tell.

 

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

CATHY: Sterling sent TREE to reviewers and journals like Kirkus. They also promoted it to schools and libraries as part of National Parks Month in April with other Sterling titles.

 

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

CATHY: Three cheers for collaborative marketing efforts with my online debut PB groups, the marvelous Epic18’s and splendid Notable19’s. Through blogs, Twitter chats, Instagram, etc we are jointly boosting our debut releases to reach more young readers. I am also grateful to Danielle Davis whose amazing blog This Picture Book Life hosted my cover reveal in November, 2018.

 

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

CATHY: I wrote my first picture book in 2010 for the Cheerios “Spoonful of Stories” contest. I started to attend conferences, classes and workshops and joined SCBWI and the 2012 12X12 Challenge. I felt ready to query agents in 2015. So, approximately 3-4 years of learning and writing in earnest before selling my first book.

Cheerios (1)

 

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

CATHY: I’d like to thank YOU for giving me the opportunity to share some of TREE’s back story here. Ever since entering the very first Halloweensie contest in 2011, I’ve been truly fortunate to learn from, and connect with, like-minded kid lit writers, readers and reviewers right here through Perfect Picture Book Fridays, your seasonal contests, Would You Read It? and Oh Susanna! You have collated a treasure chest of material in your archives that are so helpful to writers. If my Tuesday Debut interview can add even a tiny tidbit to your resources, I am happy!

And you even provided photo-evidence for me that sometimes cute rodents DO stow away on vehicles bound for the city.

Susanna Hill Stowaway rodent

the stowaway mouse on Susanna’s car 🙂

 

 

SUSANNA: Cathy, it is absolutely my pleasure to provide anything I may have provided that helped you on your way, and I know your Tuesday Debut post will be more than just a “tiny tidbit” for writers who get to read it!  Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your experience so we can all benefit!  I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best of luck with this book and the many others I’m sure will follow! 🙂

Cathy Mealey headshot

Author Cathy Ballou Mealey                                                                                                                    Please come connect and say hello! Tell me if you’ve seen a Moose in real life, or if you have ever rescued a friend from an adventure gone awry.

 

Cathy Ballou Mealey lives with her family north of Boston, where she delights in watching silly squirrel antics and is waiting patiently for a moose to appear. Her favorite nut is the hazelnut and her favorite cupcake is cardamom crème.

Website: https://cathyballoumealey.wordpress.com/about/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatBallouMealey

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cathy.mealey

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

 

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

You may purchase Cathy’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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have A Horse

Phyllis was kind enough to remind me just now (and I use the term “kind” loosely! 🙂 ) that this is the last Perfect Picture Book Friday before April Fools Day.  In her considered opinion, the featured book here today should be APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS!

But I had already picked out this book which I really want to share, so I kindly reminded her back that the lovely Beth Stilborn already reviewed APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS! for PPBF and anyone who wants to can go read about it there! (with the added bonus that they get to go to Beth’s! 🙂 ). Phyllis was not completely convinced this was okay, so to make her happy I put the link to Beth’s in here Five Times! 🙂

And now we will get to the book I picked!

Adrian Simcox

Title: Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have A Horse

Written By: Marcy Campbell

Illustrated By: Corinna Luyken

Dial Books, August 2018, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-5 (publisher’s suggestion) – I think 6-7 would like it too 🙂

Themes/Topics: kindness, understanding, friendship, imagination

Opening: “Adrian Simcox sits all by himself, probably daydreaming again.

Brief Synopsis: Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has the best and most beautiful horse in the world.  Chloe knows he is lying! His house is tiny – he has no room for a horse! His shoes have holes – he has no money for a horse! His lies make her angry. Chloe complains about Adrian to her mother, but instead of vindication, she gets marched over to Adrian’s house where her eyes and her heart are opened to something new.

Links To Resources: from author’s website: Random Acts Of Kindness sheet; Give Adrian A Horse drawing page; Draw Something You’ve Always Dreamed Of activity page

Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 8.16.54 PM

Why I Like This Book: We have all had experiences where imagination helps lift us out of difficult situations or circumstances.  In this poignant, tender story.  Adrian doesn’t have much.  He lives in a tiny, falling-down house.  He has holes in his shoes, and he gets the free lunch at school.  But Adrian is a dreamer and he has the most beautiful horse in the world.  Chloe lives in a nice house and takes it for granted.  She has what she needs, materially.  But she has no imagination…and she isn’t always very nice.  Adrian helps her to see that it is nicer to be kind than cruel, that understanding someone is better than judging them, and that friendship is something to be treasured.  And in the end, Adrian is not the only one with a beautiful horse 🙂 The art is amazing, with the white horse with the golden mane always shown in negative space so she doesn’t necessarily catch your eye immediately, making you wonder if you really see her – a little like imagination itself!  A  beautiful book all around!

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 BJ Lee!

Hello, Everyone!

It’s the first Tuesday Debut of Spring, and we’re headed for alligator territory down in Florida! 🙂

Today’s debut author is an accomplished poet whose work I have long enjoyed whenever I see it online or in my writing contests.  Not surprisingly, BJ Lee’s first published picture book is in rhyme.

Let’s have a look at Old Gator! 🙂

There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth
Written By: B. J. Lee
Illustrated By: David Opie
Pelican Publishing
January 28, 2019
Fiction
Ages 2 – 8

Gator cover

Down in the southern swamps a hungry gator swallows a moth. Of course, he swallows a crab to get the moth! The gator predictably continues swallowing bigger and bigger creatures until the unexpected happens―all over the page!

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, BJ!  I am so thrilled to have you here today, at last celebrating the release of your first picture book!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

BJ: I had been working on several There Was an Old… parodies, when my husband and I saw a juvenile alligator riding waves in a local lake. He was completely cute and it struck me that the Gator would make a great MC. I went home and put the other parodies on the back burner.

 

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

BJ: It took about a year and a half to write this book. It took a while to figure out the right animals to use that had the best rhymes. Plus, it went through my critique group a few times.

B.J.'s Study Workspace

A glimpse of BJ’s work space…

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

BJ: I went through many, many revisions. Initially this book was called, There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Skeeter. I really wanted it to have this title; however, I was less than pleased with the rhyme for Skeeter, which was “sweeter.” There was an old Gator who swallowed a Skeeter. What could be sweeter than a silly old Skeeter. I didn’t like this rhyme for two reasons:

  • It implied that the Gator ate the Skeeter. I didn’t want the connotation of eating, just swallowing.
  • It didn’t suggest any action. With “moth”, I had the slant rhyme “cough”, which would come in handy at the climax of the story.

 

 

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

 

BJ: I knew it was ready when I had the feeling that I always got when my college papers were ready – that feeling of I can’t work on this anymore. It’s as good as it can be and I believe I will get an “A.”This feeling that I had in college usually resulted in an “A.”

 

BJ and Bijoux

…and a glimpse of her work buddy, Bijoux 🙂

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

BJ: I submitted this directly to one publisher, Pelican Publishing, because I felt that it had the best chance of getting published with Pelican.

 

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

BJ: I sent this manuscript to Pelican Publishing on March 3, 2016 via snail mail. Fairly quickly, I heard back from them asking me if there were any other Florida versions of the story that I knew of. After researching this, I told them that I did not know of any other Florida versions. But no acceptance came.

On July 28, 2016 I heard back from them asking me about school visits that I had done. I replied to this but still no acceptance.

They kept coming back to me with questions about my platform, why my blog was “quiet” (it was quiet because I was taking a hiatus and doing a lot of guest blogging). After each one of these questions was answered, it had to go back into the owners’ meeting for discussion. It was taking a long time. They were checking me out!

On November 1, 2016, Pelican told me that they wanted three months exclusivity. I agreed to this because I could see they were very interested, and because this book had such a regional flavor, I thought I had the best chance for getting it published with Pelican.

I status queried on February 1, 2017 and received an acceptance on April 15, 2017.

I received the acceptance by email and opened the email just as my husband was coming in the door from work. I was trying to scream out, “Gator, gator!” but the only thing coming out of my mouth was a croak. My husband rushed in because he thought something was wrong with me. There was! My debut picture book had at last been accepted. What a moment!

SUSANNA: Wow!  That is very interesting. I think you’re the first author I’ve run into who has been quite so thoroughly checked out as to your school visit potential and social media presence before a manuscript acceptance.  Now I’m curious as to how regular this is, and/or whether it’s specific to regional publishers!

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

BJ: My husband and I went out to a local restaurant that serves alligator – Café on the Bayou –  but I couldn’t bring myself to *swallow* any alligator as I am mostly vegetarian, or at least I was at the time.

 

SUSANNA: I think I’m glad you didn’t swallow any gator 🙂  Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

BJ: Yes, the contract is what I expected as a debut author. I’m not comfortable discussing my advance or royalty structure but I can tell you I received five author copies plus Pelican will send out five or more copies as giveaways.

 

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

BJ: There were no changes to the story, except punctuation. Yes, I felt that the editor had a great vision for the story.

 

SUSANNA: How was your experience of the illustration process?

BJ: Because Pelican had taken a year to accept this book, they offered to let me suggest an illustrator. I gave them two suggestions but neither one of them worked out because the illustrators were not available due to contractual obligations. As this process was going on, Pelican told me they thought they had found the perfect illustrator. When they sent me David Opie’s name and I looked at his website and saw all the alligators he had drawn, I was glad that the illustrators I suggested had not been available because David Opie was perfect for this project.

I got to see the character sketch first, which was very valuable to me because I could see that Pelican’s vision and the illustrator’s vision aligned with my own for the book. After that, I got to see all the sketches, which pretty much blew me away. I also got to see proofs and the final e-galley.

I appreciate that David Opie got my humor and nailed the character of Old Gator. He’s an extraordinary visual storyteller. I couldn’t be happier and there is nothing I would change.

I did not have any art notes in the manuscript.

There Was An Old Gator (1)_Page_26

No wonder BJ loves her illustrator! 🙂

 

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

BJ: I did not get to see any advance reviews.

 

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

BJ: It took approximately one year and 10 months from offer to first copy in hand, although it took over a year to get the acceptance.

 

 

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?
BJ: I know that they are sending out books for reviews and contacting bookstore reps. Honestly, I don’t know all of what they are doing. Thank you for reminding me to touch base with my publicists about it.

 

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

BJ: I have done a ton of marketing for my book. I have made bookmarks, postcards, coloring books, individual coloring pages, an alligator craft, mini-posters, mini-notebooks, and business cards with the book cover on them which I hand out liberally to people I meet. I have done and am still on my blog tour. I stretched it out rather than do it all in one week or two weeks. I have done giveaways. But perhaps most importantly, I arranged a wonderful book launch at Boyd Hill nature preserve with the help of my local bookstore, Tombolo Books. It was a lot of work but it was definitely worth it and the illustrator, David Opie, was here for the event, which happened on March 10, 2019. I have also had two radio interviews.

 

 

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

BJ: It’s taken me 10 years to get a picture book accepted for publication since I started writing seriously for children. However, I have had poetry published/forthcoming in 17 poetry anthologies from such publishers as Bloomsbury, Little, Brown, National Geographic and Wordsong, to name a few and eight adult poetry anthologies.

 

 

SUSANNA: BJ, thank you so much for joining us today and taking the time to share your experience with all of us!  I know I speak for everyone when I wish you the very best with Old Gator!

Lee_B.J.-235x321

Author BJ Lee

Here is my website and also my social media links:

childrensauthorbjlee.com

facebook.bjaylee.com

twitter @bjlee_writer

 

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

You may purchase BJ’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 to our children’s schools

– 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

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Holy Squawkamole!

Woo hoo!  It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday (and therefore nearly the weekend! 🙂 )

I saw the cover and the premise of the book I’m sharing today and thought I would like it, so I opened it eagerly.  Sometimes in that situation I am disappointed by the outcome, my initial expectation not quite met.  But this one more than lived up to it’s promise!  It turned out to be really fun and well done and I love it, and I hope you guys will all get a chance to read it!

Holy Squawkamole

Title: Holy Squawkamole!

Written By: Susan Wood

Illustrated By: Laura Gonzalez

Sterling Children’s Books, March 5, 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3 and up

Themes/Topics: fractured folktale, hard work, self-reliance, persistence

Opening: “One day, Little Red Hen was hungry for guacamole.  She looked around her cozy cocina.  She had masa and cumin.  She had beans and queso. But she didn’t have any avocados.  And there’s no guacamole without avocados!

71p8RHtO-BL

Brief Synopsis: In a new twist on an old favorite, the Little Red Hen (gallinita roja) is craving guacamole.  She asks her friends Armadillo, Iguana, Coati, and Snake to help her, but none of them are so inclined…though they are all willing to help eat it once it’s made!  Little Red Hen goes quietly about her business, and when the guacamole is ready, she kindly shares it.  But there’s a bit of a surprise for her friends!

Links To Resources: the back of the book includes “The Story of Guacamole”, a recipe so you can try out making your own Holy Sqauwkamole, and a glossary that tells about the animals, the Spanish words used, and any other terms that may be unfamiliar to young readers.

Why I Like This Book: I love that within the familiar framework of The Little Red Hen we get a brand new story.  Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the text in such a way as to make them understandable in context (though there is also a glossary in the back just in case.) Just as the original story teaches the reader a little something about what goes into baking bread, this version tells us in a fun way about the ingredients and the process of making guacamole.  While the original story uses farmyard animals, this one introduces us to Armadillo, Iguana, Coati, and Snake.  The art is warm, bright, and inviting – perfect for the story – and gallinita roja’s little surprise at the end (a chili pepper! 🙂 ) will have young readers giggling at the expressions on the friends’ faces as they exclaim, “Holy Squawkamole!” 🙂

HS 1

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 Danielle Dufayet!

Hello again, Picture Book-Loving Friends!

I’m so happy to announce today’s Tuesday Debut: Danielle Dufayet and her beautiful and important book, You Are Your Strong!

I always say that picture books are about big emotion for little people (a quote I heard somewhere and can never remember who to attribute it to! but it’s so true.)  Danielle’s book takes that quite literally.  It is all about showing children how to manage some of their more negative emotions – fear, sadness, worry, anger –  when they threaten to become overwhelming.  I think all of us – even adults – can benefit from a little help in that department.  We all struggle sometimes.

And as writers and artists who, some might argue, face more than the average amount of rejection… 🙂 we can all benefit from finding and embracing our strong!

You Are Your Strong
Written by Danielle Dufayet
Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
Magination Press
March 19, 2019
ages 4-8

YouAreYourStrong-Cover-RGB-72dpi

YAYS: Finding your inner strength to manage big emotions.
You Are Your Strong reassures kids that they can handle big emotions and highlights the benefit of developing inner strength and confidence in oneself.

 

Susanna: Where did your idea come from for You Are Your Strong? 

DanielleThe idea came from: three things: Leaving an unhealthy marriage, being asked what keeps me so strong and, watching the movie Room, where 5 year old Jack (held hostage with his mom in a room) said that he didn’t want his mom to cut his long hair because his hair was his strong. It gave him strength and courage. I thought that was beautiful. It made me want to know what my strong is and other people’s strong. I knew I had a book!

 

Susanna: How long did it take you to write?

DanielleThis manuscript was written fairly quickly. I’d say maybe 6 months from start to final ms. – which is not typical!

 

Susanna:  Did this manuscript require many revisions?

DanielleMaybe around 15 or so – not my usual 30 or more.

 

Susanna: When did you know it was ready for submission?

DanielleI knew it was ready when I had reduced it to the simplest expression I could, and when I had included as many literary devices as necessary for the flow and rhythm. It’s also an internal knowing, an intuition.

 

Susanna: How did you celebrate getting the contract?

DanielleI couldn’t stop smiling for a week. I celebrated with a nice dinner!

 

Susanna: What was the editorial process like?

Danielle: The editing process went so smoothly. My publisher didn’t want to change hardly anything, so that made it easy. We went a little back and forth on the illustrations, however. Magination Press is a dream publisher in my opinion!

 

Susanna: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your journey to publication?

Danielle: I believe in order to be a published author, you have to be disciplined. I knew I had to keep revising, keep submitting, and knowing I would probably get rejected. You have to want it more than anything. You have to push through the doubt and fear and keep moving forward through honing your craft, building relationships, critiquing, reading, etc. etc.

To improve your writing you have to have a thick skin. You have to read your critiques (assuming you’re in a good critique group!) with an open mind. There’s usually always a nugget of truth to ponder –even if you don’t agree with the comment. But, if the feedback doesn’t resonate at all with you, brush it off. Remember, only you can write the story – don’t let the critique derail you from finding it! Stay true to your vision.

The one thing everyone can expect is rejection and that’s the hardest part of the process. Your story may be rejected even if it’s really good –it just may not be the right fit for that publication. You have to discipline your mind to stay on course and remain positive and hopeful that one day your time will come.

I think the one lesson I can impart is this: don’t compare yourself and your journey with anyone else. I used to get mad when I saw a published picture book that I thought was poorly written. I would think to myself, How did this get published and not my book?  Or I’d get discouraged when I’d read a really good picture book. I’d think, I’ll never be that good. All these thoughts are irrelevant, distracting and emotionally draining. I finally learned that all I can do is be the best writer I can be and focus only on that! (That’s not to say mentor texts aren’t the bomb!)

 

Susanna:  Thank you so much for joining us today, Danielle!  We all so appreciate you sharing your knowledge and expertise with us!

Danielle: Thank you so much for the interview, Susanna!!

D.Dufayet Author

Author Danielle Dufayet

Website: https://www.danielledufayetbooks.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danielledufayet\
Twitter: https://twitter.com/danielledufayet
Art Website: https://www.danielledufayet.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ddaniwriter/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/danielledufayet

 

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

You may purchase Danielle’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

– 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

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Wendy Greenley!

It’s time for another thrilling installment of Tuesday Debuts!

Are you ready to meet today’s talented debut-ess?

Please join me in welcoming the wonderful Wendy Greenley as we celebrate her inauguration into the Published Picture Book Author’s Club and get a glimpse of her beautiful book!

Title: Lola Shapes the Sky
Author: Wendy Greenley (!)
Illustrator: Paolo Domeniconi
Publisher: Creative Editions
Date of Publication: March 12, 2019
Fiction with Nonfiction backmatter
Age range: For ages 3-8  (Amazon says 4-8)

Wendy1

Synopsis:There’s a new playful, artistic cloud in the sky. Unfortunately, one loud bossy cloud wants Lola to focus on making weather.  LOLA SHAPES THE SKY embraces every child’s magical experience of imagining whimsical shapes in the clouds with humor and a timeless theme of supporting what makes us each unique.

 

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

WENDY: I came up with the initial idea for this book during Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (now known as Storystorm). I was brainstorming with my husband and son when Lola’s character was born. Talking out loud and bouncing ideas off other people helps me see ideas more clearly. However, while the character stayed with me, the initial plot bears no resemblance to the final product!

 

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

WENDY: This manuscript was a labor of love—with heavy emphasis on the labor. Initially, I wanted to turn cloud-watching on its head, with clouds people-watching and it took a workshop with multiple Caldecott-winning artists to convince me otherwise. Your picture book manuscript has to be illustratable after all! After working on it for two years, I put the manuscript in a drawer and didn’t work on it for another full year. During that time, I was able to see how to keep what was important in the manuscript, AND make it illustratable.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

WENDY: Oh, so many revisions! My final revision was a complete re-envisioning. I completely changed the plot and tone and let go of a slew of sky/cloud jokes that made me laugh (Lola precipitating from embarrassment was a favorite!). Maybe someday some of the material will belong to another story.

 

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

WENDY: The best way I know if my manuscript is submission ready is to get fresh eyes on it. Honest critique partners who will tell you when something is good, and when something is awful, are essential!! I work on a manuscript as long as I can, letting it sit for a week or two after I think it’s done if I can control my impatience. Because it usually isn’t done, and time gives me the necessary distance to evaluate it more dispassionately. As a new writer I didn’t know anything about SCBWI, critique partners, or online classes and webinars. I was about a year into the process when I discovered these valuable resources. The kidlit community is generous!

 

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

WENDY: I submitted my initial manuscript to Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary, LLC. And it was rejected. Two years later, I resubmitted the manuscript, acknowledging the earlier submission and the virtually complete rewrite, and this time it was a yes. That’s correct—I resubmitted the same manuscript to an agent that had rejected it. It was essentially a new manuscript, and I thought Karen might be a good fit so I took the leap of faith and it worked out. Karen submitted my manuscript to five publishers, one of which was Creative Editions. It was several months before we received the reply expressing interest, and then another six months before we received a contract, then another four months before I received the final countersigned contract. Publishing is a lesson in patience.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

WENDY: Telling my critique partners the good news was the best moment. They’ve supported me and my work and it felt like the sale was theirs too! I seriously can’t think of anything that has helped me along my journey more than the great writing friends I’ve made.

Wendy2

quilling courtesy of Stacy Stenberg Jensen!

 

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

WENDY: Creative Editions is a small independent publisher located in Mankato, MN. The house originally focused on books for the school market, and had just begun their trade imprint a year or two before we submitted to them. I received a traditional royalty paying contract and advance in line with the numbers reported in Hannah Holt’s extensive survey. (if you’re writing for kiddos and haven’t seen Hannah’s research—go here! https://hannahholt.com/blog/2017/9/25/writing-picture-books-a-look-at-the-number-part-2) I also received fifteen author copies. Two things I didn’t expect was that this publisher doesn’t allow book dedications, and how long it would be from the time the contract was signed (June 2016) until publication—almost three years!

 

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

WENDY: My editor is the talented Amy Novesky, who is also the author of the gorgeous picture book, Cloth Lullaby. Amy and I went back and forth on several changes, but none of them significantly changed the story. Amy’s vision was in line with mine! The sales and marketing team asked for a list of possible titles—and ended up choosing my original.

 

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

WENDY: I didn’t see any of the illustrations until the proof stage. I had seen Paolo’s dreamy style on his website (www.domeniconi.it), but still wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to see how Paolo’s art interpreted my words. I didn’t include an art note, so the biggest surprise was the spread where Lola shapes “a pillowy billowy masterpiece.” Because Paolo lives in Bologna, Italy, he illustrated my words with a cloud Mona Lisa! So fun!

Wendy3

 

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

WENDY: Kirkus reviewed Lola Shapes the Sky at the end of January. It was thrilling! Until then, it hadn’t felt real in the sense that other people I didn’t know and might never meet could read my book. And I was relieved that the Kirkus reviewer liked it!

 

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion have you and/or your publisher done for this book?

WENDY: My publisher told me that they’re sending our book to book reviewers and bloggers, but I didn’t get a specific list so it’s a wee bit confusing. I know I’m late to the party—it’s already February as I’m writing this and I haven’t set up an extensive blog tour (thank you, Susanna for being my kickoff!!). Look for me on my Red Fox agency mate Lynne Marie’s blog The Word Playground sometime soon. The balance between family, writing and marketing time is a tricky one. I shared LOLA in my first school SKYPE read alouds in February for WRAD.

My official book launch will be March 23 from 11-2 at the Barnes and Noble in Montgomeryville, PA (stop by and say hi if you’re in the area!). The launch starts with a reading for the children’s story hour and finishes with time for book signings/meet & greet. I’m also scheduled for the NJ nErD Camp in May and the Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival in June. Let me know if there’s somewhere you’d like me to visit! I’ve guest lectured to the creative writing classes at my local community college too, so I enjoy all ages.

 

 

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

WENDY: I started writing stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul in the early 2000’s. After I sold six stories, I realized that I didn’t want to just write nonfiction (which is what Chicken Soup stories are). The computer that I was using 2004-2012 crashed, and nothing was recovered. So I know I started writing picture books sometime in that period, but no idea of an actual date! My online picture book critique buddies and I found each other five years ago.

 

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

WENDY: Keep writing!! This business is a combination of craft, marketing savvy, perseverance and luck. You can work on your craft, marketing savvy and persevere, but you can’t control the luck. Sometimes you work on a manuscript for two years and then just as you’re ready to submit a “big” name announces a project that could be the twin of yours. Remember that the heart of your story is yours alone. Get warm fuzzies from your writing friends then rewrite. Repeat.

You don’t need loads of space or fancy equipment. I’m including a shot of my sad little 34 inches of office space. There is a two drawer file cabinet tucked into another corner across the room. This is probably why there are papers strewn willy-nilly around our house . . .

Wendy5

Nothing fancy needed!  Wendy creates her wonderful stories in 34 inches of office space!

 

 

SUSANNA: Wendy, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! I know I speak for all of us when I say how grateful we are for the wisdom and experience you shared today, and we wish you the very best success with your lovely book!

 

Wendy4

Author Wendy Greenley

 

Blog: https://www.wendygreenley.com
Find me on FB: https://www.facebook.com/wendy.greenley.3
Twitter @wendygreenley

 

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

You may purchase Wendy’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

– 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