Tuesday Debut – Presenting Stacey Corrigan!

Hello, my friends!

We haven’t had a Tuesday Debut in awhile… I guess we’re all in summer vacation mode 😊 But I’m happy to say we have one today!  And what better than a little inspiration in the middle of summer?  Maybe you’ll head off to the beach after reading this post and find yourself scribbling down a great new idea!!!

So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to our newest debut-ess, Stacey Corrigan!

The Pencil Eater
By: Stacey Corrigan
Illustrations by Steve Page
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing
August 6, 2019
Fiction, ages 4-8

The Pencil Eater Cover

The Pencil Eater hunts for tasty treats but encounters some obstacles along the way. Frustrated by his efforts, The Pencil Eater visits an elementary school and a whole new set of problems await.

 

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

STACEY: I teach second grade and pencils in my classroom always disappear. About five years ago, I had just sharpened a bunch of pencils and the pencils were gone 15 minutes later. In frustration, I said, “Second graders are pencil eaters.” My students laughed. I wrote down the idea and started on my very first manuscript that weekend.

 

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

STACEY: It took 5 years to write the book in its current form. That original manuscript was terrible. I wrote what was more like a character sketch, thought it was brilliant, Googled “publishers accepting manuscripts,” and sent away. If you are new, don’t do that. Almost every picture book on the shelf has been through extensive critiques and revisions.

Luckily, an editor took the time to write me a very nice rejection letter. She very politely told me that while my premise was good, I needed to work on my craft. I Googled “picture book craft” and discovered the KidLit World.

I shelved THE PENCIL EATER for a bit and found some critique partners. After a year or so writing other stories, I went back to THE PENCIL EATER. I gave it a plot, added some humor, and took it through several rounds of critiques and edits. Illustrator Steve Page and publisher Tannya Derby also shaped the story into what it is today.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

STACEY: I must have revised THE PENCIL EATER 100 times.  I found critique partners extremely helpful. I could not have gotten published without them. They are so supportive and knowledgeable. A couple of my CPs are also illustrators and taught me how to leave room for the illustrator. One suggested dummying out THE PENCIL EATER. That helped me cut a lot of words and I recommend using this strategy. To learn more about it, check out Wendy Martin’s post on Tara Lazar’s blog here.

 

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

STACEY: A couple of my CPs yelled at me (in all caps and everything) and told me to stop revising and to send it out.

After that, I read it to a class full of Kindergarteners who didn’t know me. They listened to it and loved it. One of them drew a picture of The Pencil Eater on their own. That pretty much cinched it for me. It was time to submit.

 

SUSANNA: I love that your CPs gave you a kick in the…, er, that is, gave you encouragement to send out your ms! 😊 Hurray for Cps!!!  When and how did you submit?

STACEY: I was a member of the KidLit411 Facebook Page and read a thread about MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing. I was impressed by Tannya Derby’s honesty and how she handled a tough situation, so I queried MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing. I followed their submission guidelines and heard back from them a few months later.

 

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

STACEY: I was having a terrible day and remember getting the email notification thinking, “Great, another rejection.” I opened the email, saw the word “Congratulations!” and burst into tears.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

STACEY: I cried a little, high-fived my family and called my parents to tell them. Then, we ran off to my son’s baseball game. I remember the reality of it set in while I was watching the game.

 

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

STACEY: As a small publisher, Tannya was very clear about the terms of the contract early on in the process so they were exactly what I expected. MCP doesn’t give advances but does have higher royalties so I am happy with the arrangement.

 

SUSANNA: How was the editorial process?

STACEY: Tannya involves both the author and illustrator in the editing process.  The whole book is a huge collaboration.

 

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about your experience of the illustration process?

STACEY: Tannya sent me digital illustrator samples and asked me to pick which one I liked best. I picked Steve. He nailed the visions I had of The Pencil Eater. In fact, an early version of my manuscript was The Purple Pencil Eater. I dropped the word purple, but Steve somehow knew that my MC was purple.

At first, I was super intimidated about giving feedback. Both Tannya and Steve have years more experience than I do and I didn’t feel comfortable making suggestions. But they were really good about asking me what I thought. It was the best experience. I think that’s what makes MacLaren-Cochrane a great publisher to work with.

 

 

SUSANNA: That sounds amazing, Stacey.  I know the amount of input authors and illustrators get varies from publisher to publisher and editor to editor, but it seems like you got to be very involved which must have been fantastic on so many levels – both artistically in terms of creating your book and educationally in terms of learning about the process.  Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?

STACEY: I haven’t yet.

 

 

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

STACEY: It took about 26 months.

 

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

STACEY: Promoting the book was one area I was nervous about. I am quite shy around strangers and am not much of a salesperson. I quickly learned though that so many people in my day to day life are willing to help. Friends, family members, my agent, my work colleagues, and members of the writing community have really come through for me and put me in contact with the right people.  My husband found a venue for my release party, a cousin wrote a grant to fund an author visit, another organized a summer park event around The Pencil Eater, my school is throwing a big event at the beginning of the year, and the list just keeps growing.

I have also been sending out flyers for Author Visits and have been doing blog tours all summer.

 

 

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

STACEY: It took me about two years. I credit that to having great CPs, good timing, and a little luck.

 

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

STACEY: Don’t give up. If you are serious about writing, learn the craft, find good critique partners, and believe in the process. Lots of the CPs and writers I started with are starting to get agents and get published right now. It takes time but it has been worth the wait!

Stacey Corrigan Headshot

Author Stacey Corrigan

Twitter: @StaceyCorrigan3

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Stacey! We are all grateful to you for sharing your experience and expertise and wish you the very best of success with this and future books!

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

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

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Marla LeSage!

So apparently this is the last Tuesday Debut on the schedule for about 6 weeks – must be summer! 😊 But that’s okay.  I think we can all use a break to lie on the beach and work on our tans (and by that of course I mean slather ourselves in SPF 1000 and chase around after the kiddos from dawn til bedtime 😊)

I’m thrilled to be sharing today’s author/illustrator and picture book because the book had at least some of its origins in the writing contests I run here on my blog!  How cool is that?

Marla entered two contests with stories that centered on the same wonderful character.  She placed in the 2015 Halloweensie Contest with Pirate Prepares For Halloween, and in the 2016 Valentiny Contest with Pirate Gets A Valentine, (in addition to placing and receiving honorable mention in several other contests over the years with other stories.) Eventually, she came to submit versions of those stories and lo and behold, this terrific picture book came to be!  When you read it, I’m sure you’ll be as glad as I am that she entered those contests! Who knows? The stories might not have been written without the contests! 😊

Pirate Year Round
Written & Illustrated by Marla LeSage
Acorn Press, May 31, 2019
Fiction ages 4 – 8

thumbnail_Final Pirate Year Round Cover web

In four seasonal stories Pirate faces her fear of the water, chooses a Halloween costume, gets through winter with the help of her friends, and steals the show!

 

SUSANNA:  Welcome, Marla!  So glad to have you aboard! 😊 🏴☠️ Where did the idea for this book come from?

MARLA:  When my son was about 4, he didn’t want to go to swimming lessons and told me, “I’m a pirate and pirates don’t swim!” It was such a great line I knew I had to use it in a story. I was still struggling to write a first draft when I came across your Halloweensie contest. The prompt: a halloween story for kids under 100 words using the words costume, dark, and haunted. I abandoned my idea for a pirate who didn’t swim and decided to use the pirate for my Halloweensie story instead. I thought it might be fun to have the pirate dress up as a ballerina. I was imagining a male pirate but in then end decided to make her a girl. My daughter was taking ballet lessons at the time and I suspect that influenced my choices. The story tied for 3rdin the contest! A few months later, you ran your Valentiny story contest and I was so in love with Pirate that I wrote a second story which placed 7thin the contest. But at that time I was not imagining Pirate in a book.

 

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

MARLA: Pirate Year Round contains four stories in one picture book which is a somewhat unusual format for the genre. It took me about two weeks to write each story. So about eight weeks total but the last two were written 2-3 years after the first two. It usually takes much longer for me to write a picture book manuscript. I have a few manuscripts I’ve been working on for years! But I think it really helped to have a prompt and a deadline.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

MARLA: Revising is writing, so yes, many, many revisions! To make your deadline, have good rhyme and meter, and a good story I thought about my entry all day long. I think I spent the two weeks with a paper and pencil in hand revising. When writing in rhyme I also keep the following handy: a rhyme dictionary, dictionary.com, and a highlighter to mark stressed beats. Keeping the manuscript or a scrap of paper on the bedside table helps too – the answer to plot or meter problems often reveals itself just as you’re about to fall asleep!

 

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

MARLA: I didn’t! The Halloween & Valentine stories were well polished but I had no intention of submitting them for publication, they were just fun stories that I’d written for your contests.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

MARLA: Because I am an illustrator I’d also taken advantage of the contest prompts to build my portfolio. I’d even used Pirate on a self-promo postcard that I sent out to publishers. I honestly don’t know if it was the Pirate postcard or another postcard that caught the eye of my publisher but based on the timing I suspect it was another postcard. Terrilee Bulger of Acorn Press contacted me about illustrating another author’s manuscript but mentioned that she’d noticed Pirate in my portfolio as well as the two stories on my blog and expressed interest in publishing them. I didn’t think too much of it at first but agreed to look at the manuscript she had contacted me about. When that project didn’t pan out she asked again about the Pirate stories. I sent the manuscripts and she liked them but asked if I envisioned them as separate stories or as four stories in one book. After some careful consideration and research I suggested that if it were to be a volume of stories, I would prefer to have four seasonal stories rather than two and pitched a spring and summer story. (In the summer story Pirate would rather do her chores than swim!)

 

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

MARLA: It really felt like it took forever to get the acceptance email! We’d been back and forth for months, I think, on the project she’d initially contacted me about. After I pitched the additional two stories the yes was fairly quick but then I had to write the stories and wait again for an official acceptance. Once I finally sent in the text for all four stories, the response was fairly quick – maybe a month? I’m not sure though – I accidentally deleted all the emails! It took a while after that to get the contract. At least it felt that way, but I think it was relatively quick for the publishing industry.

 

SUSANNA: Hahaha!  You made me laugh out loud with that comment about deleting all the emails!  Isn’t that just the way of things sometimes?! 😊 How did you celebrate signing your contract?

MARLA: I did a little happy dance, told my family & closest friends. Nothing big though! I guess I waited to have the book in hand to really celebrate – my daughter insisted I buy a cake for the book birthday & I have some locally brewed strawberry apple cider that I’m saving for after the book launch.

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 6.21.40 PM

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

MARLA: Based on feedback from fellow Canadian author/illustrators the contract was pretty standard. I had a generous timeline for completing the artwork and the royalties were standard for an author/illustrator (10%). The advance was small but adequate/fair. The contract was accidentally sent with an advance listed lower than we had agreed too but when I pointed it out, my publisher was very quick to respond and correct the error.

SUSANNA: Tell us about the editorial process.

MARLA: There were no suggested changes to the story.

 

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

MARLA: This is my writing and illustrating debut but I didn’t have a dummy when I submitted the manuscript, only 6 sample illustrations. And my sample illustrations were older. I felt that my skill had grown and my style had evolved so after receiving my contract I started the illustration process from scratch. Well, almost from scratch. I’d thumbnailed out the four stories to see how they might fit into a single picture book before pitching it as that. After I’d received the advance, I sent in a very rough dummy for approval and ended up asking for more pages to improve the pacing.

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 6.21.23 PM

It was really fun to complete my first fully finished illustration project. But I when I got to page 32 of painting I kept thinking – if you’d stuck with 32 you’d be finished by now! The book is 48 pages… Other than that little voice in my head it was perfectly manageable.

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 6.21.10 PM

The only surprise was the book cover. I’d drawn a white banner with a hand-lettered title & when I was sent the digital proof, the designer had made my banner bigger & red. He also added Year Roundusing the style of text I’d created. I was really surprised but I absolutely love it. It really pops now!

 

 

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

MARLA: I haven’t seen any reviews yet.

 

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

MARLA: From the date I signed the contract to the publication date was 11 months.

 

 

SUSANNA: What was your print run?

MARLA: The initial print run is 2000 copies.

 

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

MARLA: It hasn’t been out that long yet!

 

 

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

MARLA: I’m not certain, honestly. They offered to print bookmarks and invitations/posters for my book launch. And they do have someone who does promotion.

 

 

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

MARLA: I made a book trailer – I’m not sure how effective that is for marketing purposes. For me it was more about doing a fun project with my kids. You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubKpDA4vEes Did you notice that the cat looks just like Pirate’s cat?

I’ve done a couple of blog posts like this but with the goal of giving back to the writing community by sharing my journey. I do plan to do a blog post soon about Pirate’s cat (he’s based on a foster cat rescued from a feral cat colony). I also had an article about my debut in the Canadian Military Family Magazine – that was fun!

I’ve done a few school visits already & plan to do more this fall through my local Writers in Schools Program/Literary Festival.

A friend suggested I contact boutiques/stores in the province who might be interested in carrying my book – seaside towns especially. Life has been a bit hectic for me lately and my dedicated art/writing time is much tighter than I like so I’ve done it yet. But I still hope to if it’s not something my publisher has already taken care of.

 

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

MARLA: Five years!

 

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

MARLA: While my submission story is not what we expect when we start out on this journey, it is not uncommon and just goes to show how much luck is involved. It also shows that we have to be ready for that lucky moment – get yourself out there and be ready for luck to find you!

 

 

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

 

thumbnail_Pirate author photo

Author/Illustrator Marla LeSage with her scurvy crew! 😊

@marlalesage on twitter & instagram

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

You may purchase Marla’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)
Amazon (Canada)
Nimbus Publishing

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

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?

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Sarah Hoppe!

It’s time for Tuesday Debut, and today’s debut is very nearly a double!

We have our lovely and talented debut author, Sarah Hoppe, and her debut picture book is one of the earliest to be released by the brand new Blue Whale Press, owned and operated by Alayne Christian and Steve Kemp.  Be sure to check out their site and submissions page!

But first, let’s have a look at Sarah’s beautiful book!!!

Who Will? Will You?
Author: Sarah Hoppe
Illustrator: Milanka Reardon
Date of Publication: August 2019
Fiction, Picture Book
Age Range: 4-8

Who Will Will You Cover Reveal Official

Lottie’s discovery of an extraordinary pup on the beach leads her to search all over town for someone to help.  It takes someone special to care for this very special pup.

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, Sarah!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

SARAH: The idea came to me, in part, due to my son’s love of nonfiction.  He always has a stack of nonfiction by his bed, for pre-bedtime perusal.  He loves animals and had a seal book he shared with me one evening.  A baby seal is called a pup, and so are some other baby animals.  I started thinking about a case of pup confusion and the story fell into place in my head.

 

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

SARAH: Though this is a work of fiction, it has a lot of animal facts within the story. The story structure was there, but it took a while to research the animals I wanted to include.  I also wrote some back matter. It was important to me to make the back matter fun, engaging, and most importantly, true.  I got books from the library, I poured over the internet.  It was fun, but I would get burnt out and take breaks.  That process took a while, working on and off with other things as well.

 

IMG_6046

Sarah’s writing space – so pretty 😊

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

SARAH: My story went through a few revisions.  Who Will? Will You? is different from my other manuscripts, in that it had a definite outline right from the beginning.  I’m usually a lot looser when I write, but with this story, I knew a had to happen, then b, then c. But, this is the one getting published, so maybe I should outline more!

 

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

SARAH: I knew it was ready when all the facts were there, the repetitive lines made sense, and I addressed the feedback from critique partners.

One of the many things critique partners are great for is bringing new mindsets.  Sometimes you don’t even see what’s wrong in your story.  My opening lines have changed, but the main character was initially racing while crab-walking.  I thought it was so cute, and showed off her spunky, daring nature. Several people who read it thought the main character was a crab.  I thought something like, Where on earth did you get that idea?  Then I re-read it with fresh eyes and realized I had written an ill-worded confusing paragraph.

 

SUSANNA: That is such a good point, Sarah.  We live with our stories in our heads – we’re the ones that invented everything – so it all makes sense to us!  It takes objective readers to show us where things might not be clear!  When and how did you submit?

SARAH: I am currently seeking an agent.  It is awesome, though, that are a lot of publishers who will accept unagented submissions.

I’ve sent many submissions directly to publishers through my writing journey.  I submitted Who Will? Will You? plus a query letter directly to the publishing house as well, through a writer’s group called 12×12. Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Writing Challenge is a fantastic group to be in.  I’d consider it a must for new writers.  So, some members of the group get a chance to submit through 12×12, and you bypass the slush pile.  That’s what happened to me with Blue Whale Press.

 

SUSANNA: I second a hearty two-thumbs-up recommendation for 12×12!  When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! ☺)

SARAH: I had received a couple of rejections, and the manuscript was out on multiple submissions when I got an email from Blue Whale Press.  They wanted to set up a phone call.  Well, I didn’t want to be overly optimistic, but I thought they wouldn’t call if they weren’t interested.  They weren’t going to call to tell me how horrible it was, right? Right?! Well, maybe they wanted me to revise and resubmit.  Either way, I was a ball of nerves.

But Alayne Christian at Blue Whale was so nice!  Blue Whale Press is a small publisher, and I felt that was perfect for my first book.  I knew I wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.  It has been a wonderful experience.

 

SUSANNA:  Alayne is amazing! I know you’ll have a great experience with her! How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SARAH: I called my mom!  Then I called my sister and my husband.  Then I danced around with my dogs.

 

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

SARAH: I don’t have an agent and didn’t know what to expect in a contract.  I became a member of The Author’s Guild and used their resources to study my contract before I signed. It was the right move for me and I’m excited about the results.

 

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

SARAH: There will always be revisions, but most of mine were pretty minor.  They asked for an extra (small) scene and made a couple of wording changes.  The back matter was shortened.

The most significant change was the title.  It’s completely different!  I submitted it with the title Little Lost Pup.  I honestly didn’t love it, but couldn’t think of a better replacement.  Well, they didn’t love it either and gave multiple suggestions.  I was strangely attached to something I didn’t really like.  I think it had been Little Lost Pup for so long, that it was hard to imagine it any other way.  Alayne was extremely patient with me.  She explained why she felt it needed a new title, and I agreed.  Then it became easier to let it go.

 

SUSANNA: I love the title you came up with, so, well done!  What was your experience of the illustration process like?

SARAH: One benefit of working with a small press is the amount of feedback I was able to give.  Alayne and I looked through artists’ portfolios together (via email) and picked our favorites.  I’ve seen sketches, rough copies and finished digital files.  I was asked my opinion on the look of the people and animals in the story. I’ve been included and valued every step of the way.

When I read a book, images just pop into my head. Yes, Sarah, that’s the magic of books, you know. Even if the author says a character looks one way, I have some image already there and it’s not leaving.

That’s how it was with Who Will? Will You?  For reasons unknown to me, in my head, the illustrations looked like Felicia Bond’s work in the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books.

I had looked at Milanka Reardon’s portfolio.  I knew her work was beautiful and I knew it was different from Felicia Bond’s style. Still, I wasn’t ready for the main character, Lottie, to come to life like she did.

Both Felicia and Milanka are talented illustrators, but Milanka was truly meant for this text. She created a world of pastel backgrounds and detailed expressions.  It was nothing like I thought but better than I imagined.

I didn’t submit the story with art notes, other than to specify the kind of pup at the beginning.  The reader won’t know what it is, but the illustrator needed to.

 

 

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

SARAH: About one year.

 

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

SARAH: Blue Whale has arranged interviews on blogs for me. They’ve created a beautiful book trailer.  Alayne featured it at an SCBWI event. And they have been submitting copies for reviews as promised.

 

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

SARAH: I’ve really tried to up my social media game.  I’ve sought and completed blog interviews.  I will do some local book tours next school year when the book is out.  I will reach out to the local writing group and the local library.

 

 

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

SARAH: About two years.

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Sarah!  It was generous of you to share your writing experience with us!  We all wish you the best of luck with this and future books!!!

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Author Sarah Hoppe

Twitter: @Sarahlhoppe

 

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

As yet, there are no links for purchase or pre-order, but please keep an eye out!  The book is due for publication in August!

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

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Eleanor Ann Peterson!

Hello, Everyone!

Time for another epic installment of Tuesday Debut!

Everyone’s publication journey is a little bit different.  Today’s author achieved publication by winning a Golden Ticket!

I’m delighted to introduce you to Eleanor Ann Peterson and her fascinating debut picture book, Jurassic Rat!

Title: Jurassic Rat
Author. Eleanor A. Peterson
Illustrator: John Seckman
Publishing house: Clear Fork Publishing- Spork Imprint
Nonfiction
Age range 5-8 years

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‘Jurassic Rat’, introduces children to the fascinating world of a rat that lived in the Jurassic Period. Young children will enjoy the rat’s clumsiness and misadventures while he’s out hunting for food and will learn other dinosaur’s names of that period, and that rats have been around for a long time.

 

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

ELEANOR: While researching how to remove roof rats from my old rambling house, I found an article about discoveries in Spain and China of a rat as big as a cat belonging to the Jurassic period. Bingo! I thought, why not introduce young readers to the evolution of a species in a fun way with Jurassic Rat?

I’m very curious and eager to learn new things. I surf the web looking for a variety of information that interests me at the time, and many have sparked an idea for a new picture book. I eavesdrop on conversations between parents and their children and jot down notes. Kids can be funny! Observe your environment.

 

 

SUSANNA: Great advice for finding ideas!  How long did it take you to write this book?

ELEANOR: The first draft took me a few weeks to write. I let it sit for a month then took it out of the drawer and read it out loud. I tweaked it a bit then set it aside once more.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

ELEANOR: The book went through many revisions.  I’d put it aside once more while working on other manuscripts.

 

 

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

ELEANOR: I didn’t.

 

 

SUSANNA: I love your honesty on that, Eleanor.  I think we all feel like that – at least to some degree!  When and how did you submit?

ELEANOR: I don’t have an agent at the moment but would like to have one. I didn’t submit. What happened is that I followed an illustration course at the Children’s Book Academy. I used Jurassic Rat for the text. I illustrated the book dummy and had brilliant critique partners that encouraged me along the way. Then…

 

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

ELEANOR: The Children’s Book Academy have a contest at the end of the course called the Golden Tickets.  I got the call from Mira Reisberg, she was one of the judges. She wrote to me saying she loved the story but asked if I were willing to let another artist illustrate it?

My illustrations were not kid friendly for the age range. I accepted immediately.

Here’s a pic of one of my illustrations.

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SUSANNA: Your illustration is amazing! But very different from what ended up being in the book – so interesting!  How did you celebrate signing your contract?

ELEANOR: My husband and I went out to dinner.

 

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

ELEANOR: No secrets. I had no advance, but I got higher royalties, and the more books I sell, the higher the royalties. Being a small house, I can understand that they can’t risk paying advances with a newbie author. I help run a family business, so I know how risky it can be when we take on a new employee. The important thing for new authors is to get their foot in the door. They will understand how the publishing world works and be better prepared when the time comes to submit new projects to publishers or agents. From the time I got the call, it took 20 months for the book release, which is a standard timeline for publication. There’s a lot of work involved in creating a picture book. I will receive three hardcover copies.

 

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

ELEANOR: I was impressed with the support of my publisher, editor, and illustrator. Mira Reisberg edited the text, but few changes were made.

 

SUSANNA: How about your experience of the illustration process?

ELEANOR: As a rule of thumb, authors do not butt in. We can’t give our opinion unless requested by the publisher. In my case, a few months after the call, I received an email requiring feedback about the setting and the protagonist. For example; the birds in the Jurassic period were toothed birds as big as hens. The illustrator had drawn a sort of ostrich which didn’t exist then. He promptly changed the illustration to better suit the period. It was a delightful experience working with Clear Fork and Company.

 

 

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

ELEANOR: Not yet.

 

 

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

ELEANOR: I’m very ambitious, and as soon as I signed the contract, I was thinking about marketing tactics. I’ve contacted book bloggers for early reviews, posted teasers on social media, created a puppet of Rat, my protagonist for school visits. I’m preparing a video where I interview Rat,  to post on social media to create engagement with my readers. I have bookmarks and will have T-shirts printed with a scene of the book. I’m negotiating prices for a plush toy of Rat with a vendor to add to my giveaways (all depends on the price and my budget), and I’m in contact with a developer for a book trailer. I’ll have free downloadable coloring pages of the book on my revamped website, courtesy of the illustrator John Seckman. I could go on and on.

 

 

SUSANNA: I can’t wait to see that video!  How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

ELEANOR: I’ve been writing for ten years, and in the past three, I’ve dedicated my time writing for children. I signed the contract for my debut picture book in 2017. My book will be released on June 4th,2019

 

 

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

ELEANOR: For Jurassic Rat, I can thank my lucky star and Dr. Mira Reisberg and my publisher for believing in me and my story. I never thought I would win a Golden Ticket at the Children’s Book Academy. I worked hard and long hours to create my book dummy, and my hard work paid off in the end.

 

 

SUSANNA: It’s a great feeling when hard work pays off!  Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, Eleanor! We all so appreciate getting to share your knowledge and experience!  All the best of luck with this and future books!!!

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Author Eleanor Peterson

https://www.facebook.com/eleanorannpeterson/

https://eleanorannpeterson.com/

https://www.instagram.com/eleanorannpeterson/

https://www.pinterest.it/eleanorannpeter/

https://twitter.com/eannpeterson

https://www.goodreads.com/EleanorAnn_Peterson

 

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

You may purchase Eleanor’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 – Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kathleen Cornell Berman!

Woo hoo!  Time for Tuesday Debut!

I am thrilled to introduce today’s debutess to you all!  She took my class way back in 2013 when it had only been running for 6 months, so she was an early graduate!  I think it’s fair to say, judging by the photo below, that I was incredibly helpful in teaching her the importance of chocolate for good writing 😊

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Kathleen Cornell Berman and her fabulous book about Miles Davis!

BIRTH OF THE COOL: HOW JAZZ GREAT MILES DAVIS FOUND HIS SOUND
By Kathleen Cornell Berman
Illustrated by Keith Henry Brown
Page Street Kids, April 16, 2019
Non-fiction  Age 8-11

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BIRTH OF THE COOL: HOW JAZZ GREAT MILES DAVIS FOUND HIS SOUND is a picture book biography about Miles’ journey to creating his unique sound. Readers will discover what inspired his sound and how his perseverance pushed him to new heights.

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

KATHY: I was brainstorming ideas for a Tara Lazar’s picture book month. I was anxious to write a picture book bio and my husband suggested Miles Davis. I loved the idea. I had fallen in love with Miles Davis’ music as a kid, and was eager to discover how he developed his sound on the trumpet.

I didn’t start research until almost year later. I read several books about Miles, including his autobiography and magazine articles. I listened to countless YouTube interviews, and played his music while I wrote.

 

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

KATHY: The seed for idea started in 2012, but I didn’t start the research until much later. Research plus writing and revisions took about two and half years. As I wrote the book, I continually went back and forth to check for accuracy, since some interviews contradicted others.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KATHY: It went through many revisions. My first draft was filled with facts, but also very boring. I had recently finished Renee LaTulippe class that had given me the audacity to write in free verse. Once I started writing in free verse, the words flowed.

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Chocolate definitely helps with revisions. I always have an assortment on hand.

 

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

KATHY: It’s so hard to know when a manuscript is ready. That’s why it’s really important to share your work with other writers who also write in verse. I asked Tameka Brown as well as another writer in Renee’s group to read the story. Getting good feedback is essential in making the big decision.

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KATHY: I don’t have an agent. I submitted to about 25 agents and 6 publishers over 2 years, which isn’t a lot according to some. I had 4 agents who were interested, but alas, not interested in my other fiction picture books. I like to check out the #MSWL website to see what editors and agents are looking for. I was elated to read Charlotte Wenger’s tweet, looking for PB biographies related to the arts, music. Charlotte is the editor at Page Street Kids. So yes I submitted directly to the publisher.

 

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

KATHY: I submitted to Charlotte in May 2017 and heard back quickly.  After going through a few rounds of revisions, I signed the contract at the end of August 2017. The heart of the book is essentially the same, but with a few specifics to help clarify Miles’ journey, and more revisions process concerning word choice.

When my editor wanted to change the title to Birth of the Cool, I added more text about some details about the Birth of the Cool band.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KATHY: I think I sang at the top of my lungs (I’m tone-deaf and have no musical ability), then toasted a glass of Proseco with my husband.

 

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

KATHY: I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately I have critique partners who do have experience with contracts, so they advised me. I also contacted a lawyer for the final decisions.

My advance was standard, less than 5k and 5% royalty, with 15 author copies.

 

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

KATHY: The revision process was smooth and straightforward. The editor and I basically had the same vision. I basically made changes where the text was confusing to some. And I added more text because of the change of the title. Each time I revised I kept the audience in mind. I wanted kids to be able to relate to Miles in some way and also to be inspired by his journey.

 

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

KATHY: I was consulted every step of the way in choosing the illustrator as well as the ongoing sketches for the book. I loved Keith’s illustrations and how they’re free flowing, rhythmic, and moody. Since the book is non-fiction, I notified them of any inaccuracies in the illustrations.

 

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Keith Henry Brown and I at Jazz Gallery

 

I think art notes are important for a non-fiction text, they help the illustrator to keep the art in line with the time period or with specific facts noted in story.

Some of my notes were used to describe the high school band or places where he played music as a young man.

 

 

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

KATHY: Yes we got to see the reviews and we were thrilled to get a starred review from Kirkus. Being a debut author and illustrator, we didn’t fully realize the significance. We were both beyond thrilled.

 

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

KATHY: I signed the contract August 31, 2017.  We had the book in our hands in less than two years. Very cool feeling.

 

 

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

KATHY: They use social media to promote the book. We’re also in contact with the publicist who has contacted booksellers as well event venues for book signings. They also made gorgeous bookmarks and provided us with a curriculum guide that is downloadable on my website.

 

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

KATHY: Keith made a booktrailer and is also creating a coloring book. I’ve created the swag bag along with a wordsearch and goodies. There will be activities added to my website as time goes on.

I have done a number of blog tours and a podcast. Both Keith and I appeared on Jazz 88 WBGO radio show. We were asked interesting questions and it was amazing to hear ourselves on the radio.

 

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

KATHY: It took seven years of reading, writing, reading, classes, conferences, and of course being in a critique group is essential to getting published

 

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

KATHY: I totally enjoyed the research and the revisions. I never felt overly frustrated. It always brought me joy in hopes that my book would inspire kids to find their own voice and be inspired by Miles’ tenacity to reach his goal. Obviously many kids will not become musicians, but I hope they find their own voice in what ever they attempt.

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Kathy, and for taking the time to participate in this series and pay it forward to other writers!  We all so appreciate the knowledge and experience you shared with us today, and who knows how many writers you may have helped toward publication?! 😊

 

Kathy1

Author Kathleen Cornell Berman

Website: kathleencornellberman.com

Twitter: @bermankathy

Instagram: kcornellb

 

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

You may purchase Kathy’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

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Jill Mangel Weisfeld!

Hey there, folks!

It’s time for another edge-of-your-seat episode of Tuesday Debut! 😊

Today, we have something very special in store.

To date, in this series, we have focused on the journey to publication for traditionally published authors, because that is what the majority of pre-published writers are striving for.  And for the most part, that will continue to be the focus of the series.  But some authors choose a different route for their own reasons, and I thought you might enjoy hearing at least once about a different kind of publication journey because I think there’s a lot we can learn and apply to our own situations.

So I now have the pleasure of introducing you to Jill Mangel Weisfeld and her adorable book, Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job!

Title: Riley the Retriever Wants a New Job
Author: Jill Mangel Weisfeld and Deborah Mangel
Illustrator: Shirley Ng-Benitez
Publishing house: Peek-a-Bear Press
Published: August 2018
Fiction
Picture book for ages 4-8

SM-VSK Riley cover

Book description: The book tells the adventures of Riley who is trying to find a more meaningful job than being a Retriever. Riley begins her quest researching working dog jobs on “Doogle” to see if she can find one that is a better fit for her. The book is entertaining and educational. The colorful illustrations bring Riley’s adorable personality to life. The story is based on Jill’s own dog Riley who is a certified therapy dog with the Good Dog Foundation.

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Jill’s daughter with Riley when she was about 4 months old 😊

SUSANNA: Welcome, Jill!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We’re looking forward to hearing about the publication process from a different angle!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

JILL: The idea of the book came to me when I was working with Riley at the library about six years ago. The idea was fully formed when I first came up with it. I wanted the story to be educational so immediately I thought the idea of Riley being bored being a Retriever and having her research working dog jobs on her computer. The word “Doogle” came to me later. I began to do my own research on different kinds of working dog jobs and picked different jobs that I thought would be appealing to children.

riley head shot

Riley at the library! 💕

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

JILL: I wrote the book with my mom and it took us about 3 months for the first draft. I sent my mom all of my research about working dogs and a very rough draft of the story and then she tightened it up for me and added some of her ideas. My mom’s writing is a little more formal than I wanted it to sound so I adjusted it so it sounded more like Riley’s voice.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JILL: The book went through many revisions. Like the Beatles song I got by with a little (actually a lot) of help from my friends. I had the librarian at the local library where Riley works read the manuscript to make sure the language was suitable for the intended age group. I had a friend who is a child psychologist read it to make sure the images were suitable for the age group as well. Two of my close friends helped me with editing the book. My husband and daughters also helped me a lot. I read the book out loud many times to make sure the sentences flowed well to the ear.

 

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

JILL: I was never 100% sure the book was completely ready for publication. Grammar can be very subjective, one person would tell me to add a coma and another person would tell me to remove the same comma. I hired a children’s book editor who was very helpful but the book still went through many grammatical revisions after he edited it.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JILL: I started my own publishing company called Peek-a-Bear press when I published my first book titled: “Take a peek with Peek-a-Bear. I like self publishing because you have creative freedom with the end product such as the illustrations and design of the book.

 

SUSANNA: How did you go about creating your book?

JILL: I searched for illustrators on the internet who used the style I was looking for. I also posted the job on Guru but in the end I found my illustrator on Instagram.

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Before I sent manuscript to the illustrator I had her sign a non disclosure form. The illustrator is represented by an agency and I did sign a contract. I didn’t want to pay an illustrator a royalty every time I sold the book so the contract stated that I was paying a flat fee for the art.

The fee is based on the page count of the book and the number of illustrations. I spoke to many illustrators and the fees ranged from 1,500-15,000.

I am a graphics designer so I designed the book with clip art that represented what I wanted the illustrations to look like. The illustrator, Shirley, first sent me sample art of Riley, once I approved those she sent me black and white sketches of the rest of the book.
Shirley moved on to color after the black and white sketches were approved. I really enjoyed seeing Shirley bring the book to life with her color illustrations. Shirley lives on the west coast so everything was done over email. The entire process went well and Shirley completed the book in about 9 months which is fast.

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I designed the book on Quark which is the design program that I use. I exported the book to the printer who is in Hong Kong.

My husband is an exporter and he works with agents in Hong Kong who helped me find the printer. They also printed my first book and since they were competitively priced and nice to work with I hired them again.

 

SUSANNA: How did you handle print run and distribution?

JILL: I printed 2,000 copies of my book and I am distributing it through Amazon Advantage, local bookstores and my website. I just had a book signing at FAO Schwarz in Manhattan. I am going to approach toy stores and pet stores as well.

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to have the first copy in your hand?

JILL: The total process writing to publication took at least three to four years.

 

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

JILL: I did not submit my book yet to be reviewed by Kirkus or Booklist but maybe I will after reading this question.

 

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

JILL: Book Marketing has been a challenge for me, it’s hard to know what is going to generate sales. Riley has an Instagram account. I just decided I am going to donate 100% of my proceeds to The Guiding Eyes For The Blind in Yorktown, NY. I have socialized guide dog puppies from this wonderful organization. When I do a book event I bring a coloring page of Riley to give to the children. I have not done a book trailer or sent out flyers.

I have hired a PR person, Valerie Kerr, to send out a press release to print and media when I have an event. Valerie has gotten me write ups in local newspapers and web sites, podcast interviews and a guest spot on a local radio show.
My first book won five awards but I wasn’t able to enter this book because the copyright date was for 2015 and it has to be the same as the publication date

 

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

 

JILL: One thing I would like to share is that sadly my mom passed away almost two years ago while we were still working on the book. My father who is suffering from dementia moved in with me and I was not able to work on the book for for a long time afterwards. Part of the reason was it was too painful for me and for a while I didn’t think I would be able to complete it. I knew my mom would be really upset with me if I didn’t finish the book so this gave me the motivation to do so.

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Jill’s mom with Riley

SUSANNA: So sorry to hear about your mom, Jill, and that she never got to see the finished book.  I’m sure she’d be proud of you, though, and really pleased with how it came out.  And it’s clear from the photo how much Riley meant to her.  Thank you so much for joining us today.  I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was really interesting to hear about publishing a book from a new perspective.  We can all learn a lot from you! Best of luck with this and future books! 😊

 

jill and riley headshot

Author Jill Weisfeld with Riley

Instagram: @workingdogtales

 

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

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

Bronx River Books in Scarsdale, NY and other Independent Bookstores
Amazon
Jill’s Website

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

 

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting June Smalls!

Nothing perks up a Tuesday like getting to meet a debut picture book author!

Pull up a comfy chair, bring along a nice cup of your favorite beverage, and help yourself to an appropriately-themed pancake breakfast 😊

animal pancakes

Now!  Let’s meet June Smalls and check out her delightful picture book!

Odd Animal ABC’s
written by June Smalls
illustrated by Claire Sedovic
Blue Manatee Press
May 7, 2019
Fiction, ages 3-5

Odd Animal ABC's highres

A is for Alligator, B is for Bear, and so on, right? Not in this book. The odd animals are taking over! It’s time to meet Aye-Aye, Fossa, Numbat, Xenops and more curious, yet real animals that are ready for their spotlight. Laugh along as they introduce the letters of the alphabet in their own odd way!

 

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

JUNE: I got the idea at a yard sale. There was an animal ABC’s cross stitch with all the same animals as when I was a kid. I decided to use the ABC format to introduce some less popular animals.

 

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

JUNE: It took about 8 months, but I don’t write just one manuscript at a time. Picture books are all about the art, so I had to be mindful that while there are many animals that are interesting if they are all grey rodents then the book would be boring. I did tons of research trying to find odd animals and make sure I had a good variety that were visually appealing. I also wanted mammals, birds, and reptiles represented. Large and small. Colorful and plain. And representing different geographic areas.

It is not non-fiction, but I hope kids check the animals out and then go on to learn more about them.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JUNE: Since Odd Animal ABC’s is a concept book, and each character is only there for a moment, I didn’t have as many revisions as I typically have. I did swap out some animals that didn’t work or for animals that had better puns/jokes. Maybe a dozen or so revisions?

 

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

JUNE: When The Kid tells me it isn’t boring… Seriously, after rounds with critique partners or beta readers. When I knew I couldn’t make it any better on my own. When I could read it five to ten times in a row and not hate it.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JUNE: I spent about 2 years subbing Odd Animals to Agents. While some liked it, I was told repeatedlythat ABC books were a hard sell. After I exhausted my list of agents I subbed directly to editors. I chose editors I’d met at conferences and houses with animal books that I liked.

 

 

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

JUNE: Well, I got “the email” fairly quick. About six weeks after I subbed it to Blue Manatee Press. This was just a slush pile pick. I’d never met them, there were no contests. I just followed their submission guidelines and hit send.

I had a few agents at the time looking at my body of work. I reached out to all agents that were reviewing my manuscripts, let them know I had a publication offer, and asked for a response in two weeks, or to let me know if they needed more time. I knew even if I didn’t get an agent to offer, I wanted to work with BMP, but I was hoping for help since contracts are scary (to me at least.)

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

JUNE: I had two amazing offers of representation and ultimately chose Rebecca Angus at Golden Wheat Literary. We then made quick work of the – not as scary as I thought with Rebecca’s help – contract. I danced around my house with The Kid until we were both laughing, the dogs were prancing around us, and the cat was openly judging us.

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

JUNE: The contract was pretty much what I expected. This is a smaller publisher so there was a small, but reasonable advance, royalties, a few author copies of the book, and right of first refusal on similar books for a specified length of time.

 

 

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

JUNE: I was lucky that initial edits were tiny. More edits came after the illustrator started working and we added some lines for animals she added to certain pages and we removed some things to keep other pages from getting too crowded. With a small press, I was a partner in all of these changes and was able to add two jokes to the story that I LOVE. Proof that the collaboration really creates a great picture book.

 

 

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

JUNE: The publisher chose illustrator, Claire Sedovic, and her watercolors. I loved the style illustrations they chose. I got to see some sketches early on. When something came up, like, “Hey June, this page is a bit crowded with all the hoofed animals. Can we tweak?” I was able to say, “Sure, and with this set up, we can use this animal/joke instead.”

Aye-Aye

I tried to be sure never to pretend I was an art director, but I had to point out a few things (for animal accuracy, not personal preference) and they were quickly corrected. The publisher had one question about a page where my art notes mentioned animal dung, but I was steadfast that we needed this particular shapely scat in the book and Claire was able to somehow make it even better than I pictured.

To be honest, I was gushing over the art from early on when I saw a sample and Claire had made an Aye-Aye cute (seriously, Google it…not always cute.) So, I knew I was in good hands. Her art and input created a better final product.

I did have simple art notes. Example:

A – Alligator Aye-Aye

[Aye-Aye speaking] “The odd animals are taking over. Now A is for Aye-Aye. Why don’t you take a vacation? Madagascar is nice. Later gator.”

[Alligator]Bye-Bye Aye-Aye.

 

Odd Animal ABC's opening

 

Since Odd Animal ABC’s had so many lesser known creatures, I had a second version of the manuscript with photo references. This helped since many jokes, like ‘spotting’ a quoll, only worked if you could see the animal is polka dotted.

 

 

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

JUNE: I haven’t seen advanced reviews yet, but I’ll probably faint or happy dance, depending on the review.

 

 

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

JUNE: I believe I signed the contract in late February of 2018 and the pub date is April 16, 2019. One year is fast for a picture book. Our first print run is to be between 1,800 and 3,000 copies.

 

 

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

JUNE: The publisher has sent books out for review and is working with indie bookstores that I am interested in. They are working on blog posts and social media. I know there is more going on behind the scenes.

 

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

JUNE: Blogs and interviews – like this one of course. 😊

I’ve set up school visits, bookstore signings, library visits and a reading at a children’s museum with a visit by a wildlife rehabilitation center that is bringing live animals. Really excited for the live animals! I’m also working with some zoos to see about signings at their gift shops.

I’ve purchased a bit of swag, stickers and pins, for the visits.

I’m also part of the Read Local Challenge. This promotes reading books by local authors and illustrators in MD/DE/WV/VA/DC. It runs from October 1st through May 31steach year. We offer discounted presentations, swag for schools and libraries, and group or individual signings.

 

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

JUNE: About five years. I did sell a book early on, but then the small publishing house was purchased by a larger house and they were going in an educational direction, so I received my rights back on a humorous picture book, even though we’d just finished the illustrations. Such is publishing.

 

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

JUNE: I’m glad I had community. From the support of my Hubby and Kid, critique partners cheering me on and celebrating with me, other writers and illustrators I’ve met along the way who were willing to give advice, and my editor and agent. The journey is better because of the people I’ve shared it with.

 

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

June Smalls

Author June Smalls (SLH – love the turtle necklace – very animal abc 😊)

June Smalls is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a lover of literature. She resides in Northern Virginia with her hubby, The Kid, and an ever-growing assortment of animals.

 

Website: http://www.junesmalls.com

Twitter: @June_Smalls

 

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

You may purchase June’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

 

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Sandra Sutter!

It’s Tuesday, everyone!

And that means it’s time for another Tuesday Debut Treat!

I’m so excited to introduce you to Sandra Sutter and her fabulous debut picture book, The Read Farmer In The Dell!

THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL

Author: Sandra Sutter
Illustrators: Chantelle Thorne and Burgen Thorne
Publishing House: Clear Fork Publishing (Spork, imprint)
Date of Pub.: March 19, 2019
Fiction
Ages 4 to 8Cover The Real Farmer in the Dell

Synopsis:  Everyone knows the song, The Farmer in the Dell, but no one knows the REAL story. Find out the truth from a little mouse who was actually there. Prepare for a modern twist that turns the original stereotypes upside down and empowers girls and boys to imagine new possibilities. Filled with humor and fun retro-rodeo illustrations, this book is sure to surprise you to the very end. 

 

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

SANDRA: It started with an innocent question from my son (4 years-old at the time) about whether I knew the farmer had taken a wife in the familiar childhood song. Of course I did, but I realized it was all new to him and there was an opportunity to change it up, to take out the default gender bias and modernize it a bit. So, I did.

The basic structure was easy to put in place since the song already had structure. I studied the most common versions and then inserted my ideas for the original lines. I was careful to match the meter and flow of the song and used repetition as much as possible. However, I had one major flaw in that first draft: there wasn’t a specific narrator. He came later, after I let the manuscript sit for a month or two. When he appeared, it was pretty much done.

 

 

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

SANDRA: The first draft was finished within a day or two. I played around with ways to tell the story that first month but nothing felt right so I put it away. Once I figured out the missing piece – the narrator – I was able to finish it up rather quickly. Altogether I tweaked it about seven times.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

SANDRA: Since I touched on that above, I won’t expand on it here. But yes, there were a few.

 

 

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

SANDRA: This is the part where everyone gets to laugh because I never got it ready for submission. Read on to find out why.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

SANDRA: This is my serendipitous story. (By the way, I love the word serendipity.)

I quit my full-time job in February 2017 after attending the SCBWI Winter Conference at the suggestion of my very supportive spouse. I soon realized I needed help, both with how to write for kids and also in getting people to critique my work. My poor husband and sister read almost every one of my first stories, this one included.

I researched online classes and settled on the Children’s Book Academy’s Picture Book writing course. I did not get a book contract in that class but I did learn a lot and started to develop my craft. It also gave me those important first connections to other members of the writing community.

It was during a second class – the CBA Illustration course – that I “submitted” this story. I’m not an illustrator but I thought the course would teach me how to think more like one and to figure out the “show, don’t tell” principle. I had signed up for a critique with the instructor, Dr. Mira Reisberg, who asked that I send thumbnail sketches for one of my stories. Mira is an editor and art director at Clear Fork Publishing, and when she read the story she loved it. She asked to share it with her publisher, and so my “submission” went out.

 

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

SANDRA: I got the final call about two months later, just before Christmas. There were a few minor edits, but I was agreeable and the deal was done.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

SANDRA: I didn’t do anything special. It was a great feeling, but I also knew it was just the beginning of a wonderful road ahead. I looked forward to the journey more than the physical act of signing a contract.

 

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

SANDRA: There weren’t any surprises. I understood going in that smaller presses work on smaller budgets and less resources, but there were positive trade-offs and an almost immediate start on editing and illustrations.

 

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

SANDRA: I think I mentioned earlier that there were very few edits. There was one initial edit I didn’t love but was willing to accept; however, it was edited again in a way that fit squarely with my vision. By the time I signed the contract, the edits were done.

 

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process?

SANDRA: This has been one of the most enjoyable parts of working with my publisher. I was involved right away, including selection of the illustrators and seeing the initial sketches. Mira, who is both an editor and art director, did a great job of lining up illustrators with a similar vision and working with us together throughout the process so that we were all informed and on board. I was consulted regularly and if I had any concerns or requests, they were addressed right away. Chantelle and Burgen Thorne are an illustration dream team and I am eager to work with them again (which I am, so stay tuned for more information on that later this year)!

Also, there were no art notes. I like art notes when they are necessary to the story, but generally tend to trust the illustrator to “get it.” That was something the illustration course helped me to understand better.

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 8.22.25 PM

 

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

SANDRA: No, but again, with a smaller press things run on a different timeline.

 

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

SANDRA: It took under a year and a half which feels like lightning speed in the picture book making world. I credit my editor and publisher with being task-masters, keeping it all flowing along a reasonable timeline. Also, the illustrators, Chantelle and Burgen Thorne, worked diligently to have it all come together seamlessly.

 

 

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

SANDRA: It has not been out that long.

 

 

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

SANDRA: Again, a smaller publisher won’t have as many resources to devote to marketing as a larger one. However, my publisher, editor, the illustrators, and I have worked together on promotions, giveaways, and sharing information about the book.

 

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

SANDRA: I didn’t make a book trailer or send out flyers, but I did generate a “buzz” by slowly introducing the book and its upcoming debut on social media sites and locally with friends, school teachers, and other parents at my kids’ schools. I also joined debut author groups like New in ’19 and Book Blastoff to assist each other with marketing and promotion of our books.

Chantelle and Burgen made some wonderful coloring pages that can be downloaded from the Clear Fork Publishing website and I got busy ordering book “swag” (stickers, pencils, tattoos, etc.) for school visits. Fortunately, I have young kids and am on the board of one of their former preschools, so there was a network of schools and daycares ready to share the news.

I haven’t set up a formal “blog tour” but have worked with other members of the Kidlit community who have blogs (like you!) to arrange for interviews or guest posts, particularly in these first few months after publication. I see marketing as a slow, steady race rather than a short sprint.

 

 

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

SANDRA: I started writing a few things in 2013, but I had a new baby and was working full-time as an attorney so my attention was pulled elsewhere. After my second child was born I started to feel more serious about writing and completed a few stories. I even submitted to a couple of agents, but I laugh when I think about the high word counts and lack of plot development. In 2017, I was in a place to get serious and pursue writing full-time. By the end of that year I had my first contract!

 

 

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

SANDRA: I want to thank you for having me on your blog today and for supporting this wonderful book made possible by my publisher at Clear Fork Publishing, Callie Metler-Smith, my editor and art director, Mira Reisberg, and illustrators Chantelle and Burgen Thorne. It truly has been a group effort in bringing The Real Farmer in the Dell to life. I have enjoyed the journey as much as I love the finished product!

 

SUSANNA: Sandra, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers!  We all so appreciate you sharing your experience with us, and we wish you all the best with this and future books!

 

IMG_0590

Sandra has worn many hats, including counselor, attorney, and now children’s book author. Originally from the beautiful Front Range of Northern Colorado, she now lives in the heart of Kentucky’s horse country with her husband and two adorable, spunky kids. When she’s not busy writing stories, you might find her hiking the Red River Gorge with her family or on a local mountain bike trail. 

Website:  www.sdsutter.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandradsutter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandrasutterauthor/

THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL is Sandra’s debut picture book. A second, STAN’S FRIGHTFULLY CLUMSY HALLOWEEN, is set to arrive later this year. Both books are with Spork, an imprint of Clear Fork Publishing.

 

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

You may purchase Sandra’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

 

 

 

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

IMG_3934

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.

9_10

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!

 

 

 

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 😊

IMG_7358

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