Tuesday Debut – Presenting Carrie Tillotson!

Good morning, and welcome to Tuesday Debut, everyone!

Today’s debutess is Carrie Tillotson, and just wait until you see how fun her debut picture book, COUNTING TO BANANAS is!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Title: Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book
Author: Carrie Tillotson
Illustrator:  Estrela Lourenço
Publishing House: Flamingo Books/Penguin Young Readers
Release Date: April 12, 2022
Fiction, Ages 4-8

A hilarious, mostly-rhyming picture book about a banana and narrator who can’t quite agree on what their book is about.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Carrie! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re looking forward to learning from you! Where did the idea for this book come from?

CARRIE: Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Susanna! The idea came from an interaction between my son and his swim instructor. Every lesson, my son had to perform a starfish float, where he lay on his back and floated for ten seconds. The instructor counted “One-two-three, four-five-six, seven-eight-nine, BANANAS!” and my son would laugh hysterically. One day, the instructor said, “Don’t you love my counting to bananas?” In that moment, I knew a picture book title was born.

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

CARRIE: I let the idea simmer for about a year before I even started writing it, because I had no idea what the story was about. But once I committed to it, I first journaled with a stream of consciousness approach to see what ideas bubbled up. From title idea in 2017, to first draft in 2018, to final draft in 2020, it took about 3 years.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

CARRIE: I think I had about 16 drafts from start to finish, and often took months-long breaks in between some of them. One key for me and this manuscript was receiving a critique ninja visit from 12×12 Picture Book Challenge critique-ninja-and-author, Carter Higgins. Her feedback on a couple of things was key in helping me streamline one of the layers of the text that ended up just not being necessary.

Carrie in her blanket fort office with her writing buddy 😊

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

CARRIE: Ha! When one of my critique partners was like, “Why aren’t you sending this out?!”

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

CARRIE: I attended the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Plus Conference in the fall of 2019, and had a pass to submit to agents and editors from that conference. I submitted Counting to Bananas to two of those editors and a handful of agents, and submitted other manuscripts to other editors and agents, based on their preferences and what they were looking for.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

CARRIE: I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was about four to six weeks.

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

CARRIE: Because I submitted directly to editors from the conference, things went a little out of order for me. After I submitted the story, my editor requested an R&R. After that, she emailed to  say she was interested in taking the story to acquisitions, encouraged me to continue seeking an agent, and gave me permission to let agents know she was taking the story to acquisitions. I already had submissions out with several agents, so I was able to notify them of an editor’s interest. Shortly after, my now-agent Tracy Marchini set up a call with me, and happily, she and I felt like a great match! Once I signed with Tracy, it was just a couple of weeks until we had an offer for Counting to Bananas.

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

CARRIE: About 4-5 months.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

CARRIE: Oh, I’m sure I had ice cream – that’s how I celebrate everything!

SUSANNA: A girl after my own heart 😊 Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

CARRIE: The contract was pretty much what I expected, from having researched in other places like the Author’s Guild, and Hannah Holt’s author surveys. I was happy that my agent was able to negotiate some increases in various items on my behalf, and appreciated all her work during the negotiation process!

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

CARRIE: When my editor first asked for an R&R, the changes were pretty minor. Once the manuscript was acquired, we had one more round of revisions. My editor and I had a phone call to discuss, which was very helpful because it helped clarify a couple of questions I had about her comments. From there, revisions were pretty straightforward.

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

CARRIE: I LOVED seeing the illustrations take shape! I remember in particular being asked if it was OK with me for the fruits to have faces and personalities. I hadn’t considered that before, but was definitely OK with it. Once I saw the initial sketches, I was so glad I had said yes because I fell in love with all the hilarious fruit expressions! It was really exciting to get to see the process from sketches to final art, and I really appreciated the opportunity to give my own input at various stages, which I hadn’t expected going in.

text copyright Carrie Tillotson 2022, illustration copyright Estrela Lourenço 2022, Flamingo Books/Penguin Young Readers
text copyright Carrie Tillotson 2022, illustration copyright Estrela Lourenço 2022, Flamingo Books/Penguin Young Readers

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

CARRIE: Yes, I saw an advance review from Kirkus and it was thrilling! I was happy to receive a positive review, knowing that they sometimes have a reputation for being a bit blunt if they don’t like a book – and to have my book compared to one of Mac Barnett’s felt great!

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

CARRIE: The offer came in July of 2020, and publication was April 12, 2022, so just a few months shy of 2 years.

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

CARRIE: They have done so much, and I appreciate every bit of it! My publicist sent the book out for reviews and helped arrange a couple of virtual events with local bookstores, as well as preorder signing opportunities for me. And the marketing team helped create a downloadable activity guide, animated trailer, and adorable posts on social media. They probably both did so much more than I’m even aware of, and I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done!

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

CARRIE: One of the biggest and most helpful things I have done is to join a debut group of picture book creators, Kidlit Caravan. It has been really helpful to talk with other creators navigating the debut process to get ideas and see what others are doing. A few specific things I did were to create some bookmarks, which I plan to give away for school visits and at book stores, helped create the activities for the activity guide, and have appeared on a few blogs. I tried to keep my promotion efforts tied to things that would be fun for me, and not worry about the rest!

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

CARRIE: 8 years! After years of lurking on the SCBWI website and wanting to be involved in making children’s books, I finally realized that the only thing standing in my way was myself. That summer of 2014, I signed up for my first SCBWI conference, and I’ve been writing ever since.

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

CARRIE: Probably the most important thing I’ve done is to get out of my own way. Like I mentioned in the previous question, I thought for years that authors and illustrators were these amazing people, and I wondered how to be like them… until I realized the only thing stopping me was myself. So to everyone who has dreams they want to achieve, I say go for it!

Author Carrie Tillotson

Website: carrietillotson.com
Twitter: @carrietillotson
Instagram: @carrietillotson

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

CARRIE: Thanks so much to you and your readers for giving new authors an opportunity to share!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Kimberly Wilson – A Penny’s Worth

Candace Spizzirri – Fishing With Grandpa And Skye

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kimberly Wilson!

It’s Tuesday and time for today’s version of the Tuesday Debut theme song which you may sing to the tune of Happy Birthday 😊

Good morning to you!
It’s Tuesday Debut!
We’re so glad you joined us!
Hope you’ll learn something new!

I know. There’s nothing like starting your day with a little song written by moi 😊

Are you ready to meet today’s debut?

I’m delighted to introduce Kimberly Wilson, and give you a glimpse of her fabulous picture book, A PENNY’S WORTH and her journey to its publication!

Picture Book Title (Fiction): A PENNY’S WORTH
Author: Kimberly Wilson
Illustrator: Mark Hoffmann
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Date of Publication: April 19, 2022
Age Range: 4-8

Synopsis: Penny’s, worthless? Non-cents! Hot off the minting press, Penny feels like a million bucks. But as other coins and bills are spent while she sits forgotten, she begins to doubt her value. She is too small to slot-surf with Quarter. Even penny candy sells for a dime! Refusing to be short-changed, she sets out to find her purpose at any cost. Readers will laugh at the wealth of money puns, learn a basic lesson on US currency, and discover that self-worth is truly priceless.

SUSANNA: Kimberly, thank you so much for coming to talk with us today! Where did the idea for this book come from?

KIMBERLY: Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Susanna!

A Penny’s Worth began as a Storystorm 2019 idea. I looked at the coin jug on my kitchen counter and saw something more––a plucky penny on a mission to prove she’s cent-sational, despite her face value.

Through Penny’s journey, I realized I not only had the opportunity to make readers laugh with countless puns and introduce them to money math, but also to show them the importance of self-worth.

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

KIMBERLY: From first draft to the revision that received an offer was about a year and a half.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KIMBERLY: I did six major revisions on this manuscript. I save my work quite often because I like to go back and forth between versions, etc., and I saved this manuscript approximately 200 times before the official rounds of edits began! I did a lot of layering while writing the manuscript: weaving puns throughout, creating each character’s unique personality, sneaking in some early money math into the dialogue, and forming the ever-important emotional arc. One of the biggest challenges I faced was using the word “worth” both as the face value of money and “self-worth.” I also had to think about how an anthropomorphic inanimate object like a penny could move around from pocket to purse while remaining active in reaching her goal. Sometimes she had to be picked up or passed around, but when motivated, she had to make a move. So, like any penny would, I had her pop out of a hole in a pocket, roll down the sidewalk, and even ride a wave (out of a soda cup, thanks to Mark Hoffmann!).

text copyright Kimberly Wilson 2022, illustration copyright Mark Hoffman 2022, Page Street Kids

I was so lucky to have my amazing critique partners with me every step of the way, cheering me on, through frustration and celebration. Writing (and revising!) a picture book takes a village, and I’m extremely thankful for mine!

SUSANNA: That is so true – critique partners are priceless! When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

KIMBERLY: I knew the story was ready for final submission when I revised the manuscript from my heart. It was then I finally felt Penny’s triumph in learning the difference between face value and self-worth (and my CPs felt the same!).

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KIMBERLY: I had a critique at the SCBWI NJ Conference in June 2019 that turned into an R&R!

SUSANNA: That’s amazing! Take heart, everyone reading this – these things really do happen at conferences! How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

KIMBERLY: My R&R was approximately a year-long process. I worked with Page Street Kids on a few rounds of revision. But once I had that feeling about the emotional arc we discussed in the last question, the offer came quickly.

SUSANNA: When did you get the email?

KIMBERLY: I received the email offer when I was at the DMV with my then 15-year-old daughter! She had just passed her permit test and we were in the parking lot walking out to the car. Needless to say, I was shaking as she drove us home for multiple reasons 😉

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KIMBERLY: I turned up some 90’s music, popped a bottle of bubbly, and had a little dance party in my kitchen!

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

KIMBERLY: If I could use one word to describe my experience with the editorial process, it would be “collaborative.” This book has been a team effort all the way through, from the bigger picture edit rounds, to line edits, and small tweaks as the art developed. We did a lot of brainstorming at each stage, which is one of my favorite things to do. My editor encouraged and challenged me in so many wonderful ways, and I have grown in my craft as a result.

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

KIMBERLY: So exciting! I received the first character sketches on my birthday––best birthday gift ever! I was looped it at every step and asked if I had any feedback, from sketches to final art. It was amazing to watch Mark Hoffmann’s talent at work bringing Penny to life on the page. His unique style and amazing color palette complement the story perfectly. I’m thrilled with how our book turned out.

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews?

KIMBERLY: Yes!

Have you ever seen someone dance in the middle of the dentist’s office? That was me when I received the Kirkus Review and read, “Filled with clever and chucklesome wordplay, Wilson’s spry narrative is engaging but also educational, providing a solid, accessible introduction to basic money equivalents.”

I had the same reaction when I later received the Booklist review, “[…] This tribute to what is, the author notes, still our country’s most minted coin offers a perfect opportunity to discuss the difference between mere purchasing power and real value.”

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

KIMBERLY: It was approximately 20 months from offer to publication date, though I was able to hold a hard copy a few months in advance.

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

KIMBERLY: When I had my marketing meeting, I was amazed at everything they had been doing behind the scenes! They’ve done everything from marketing to booksellers and libraries, to reaching out to social media influencers, submitting for reviews, creating activity guides and bookplates, handling book giveaways, connecting me with bookstores and school visit opportunities––and the list goes on and on!

SUSANNA: Here is a link to a book guide created by the publisher if anyone wants to have a look!

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

KIMBERLY: I was so lucky to find my debut group, Kidlit Caravan, early on. We became fast friends and worked hard to create our platform on social media, our website, etc. Working with them and having their support on so many levels has been a highlight of the last year and a half!

I also come from a marketing background, so my wheels are always turning. I’ve been working on social media, a pre-sale campaign, scheduling school visits and library story times, and writing guest blog posts.

Mark Hoffmann, the amazing illustrator of A PENNY’S WORTH, and I have a virtual event tonight, April 5th at 7pm, and I have an in-person (yay!) event Sunday, April 24th at 12pm, at Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC.

SUSANNA: That’s terrific! What an asset to have a marketing background. How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

KIMBERLY: After dreaming of becoming a writer since the third grade, I finally started taking it seriously in 2017. I joined the SCBWI shortly after, in March 2018 and received my offer for A PENNY’S WORTH two and a half years later!

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

KIMBERLY: I could go on and on about what I’ve learned. But the biggest lesson for me, has been patience––with my own writing, querying, all the way through publication process (and beyond). With that, I also try and focus on things I can control versus the things I can’t (sometimes easier said than done!). Just recently, due to shipping delays, the publication date for the book was pushed back two weeks to April 19. I couldn’t swim out into the ocean and bring the books ashore, so I’ve used the extra time to reach out to more bookstores and schools.

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us, Kimberly, and sharing your knowledge and expertise! We so appreciate the opportunity to learn from your journey! Wishing you all the best with this and future titles!

Author Kimberly Wilson

https://linktr.ee/kimberlywilsonwrites
Instagram: @kimberlywilsonwrites
Twitter: @authorkimwilson
Represented by Victoria Selvaggio, Storm Literary

A PENNY’S WORTH (April, 5 2022, Page Street Kids)
A DOLLAR’S GRAND DREAM (Spring 2023, Page Street Kids)

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Amy Duchene – Pool Party (collaboration/co-writing)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Amy Duchene!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

Have you ever thought about writing a picture book. . .

. . . with someone else?

Today we have a special treat!

Until now, all our Tuesday Debuts have been single authors. Today, for the first time, we’re highlighting a collaboration! Amy is a debut author. Elisa, her co-author, has released one children’s book through traditional publishing with LOS ANGELES IS… and self-published a non-fiction set of travel guide series called “Guides for the Eyes.

Pull up a pool noodle and get ready to learn a thing or two about writing and selling your first picture book with a partner, a whole new kind of writing journey! Let’s dive in!

POOL PARTY
Written by Amy Duchene and Elisa Parhad
Illustrated by Anne Bentley
Cameron Kids
March 2022
Fiction 4-8

A splashy story celebrating a fun-filled day at a public pool.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Amy and Elisa! Thank you so much for joining us today! We’re all very excited to hear about the process of debut publishing with a collaborator. Where did the idea for this book come from?

AMY: Elisa and I met in a swimming pool at roughly age 3 and have been friends ever since. We swam together on a club relay team that broke a city record (Seattle Summer Swim League shout out!). We’re also both writers and have been in a kidlit writing group together for over half of a decade here in Los Angeles. We had talked for a while about co-writing something and had never quite landed on a story or topic. And then, one day in summer 2018, a fun rhyming couplet came to my mind: “jump, hop, bellyflop” along with the proposed (and now real) title “POOL PARTY.” I think I emailed Elisa at that exact moment and plead her to consider co-writing a story with me about summertime fun in the pool.


ELISA: Of course, I said, “YES!”

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

AMY: The original seed of the idea was summer 2018. At the time, Elisa was traveling out of the country, so we paused working on the story for a few months. We actually sat down to brainstorm together in person at the start of 2019, and we submitted the query to the publisher by fall of that same year.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

AMY: The actual text is short (~150 words). Yet people may be surprised to know that we had at least a couple dozen rounds of revisions. I think part of this has to do with the fact that we collaborated. Our process was that one person would take the draft and write/edit/etc., then pass it to the other for a revision. So we were constantly trading the draft back and forth for little refinements. We also used cloud-based collaboration tools to keep a copy that we could work on simultaneously. The process was very fun. There were truly many times where I stood in my kitchen cooking dinner and looking at our shared doc on my phone, working out little couplets.

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

AMY: Does one ever really know?! We polished the heck out of this manuscript, with fantastic support and input from our writer group (shout out to Marlene and Rachel!). I also read the manuscript aloud to my husband and cats more times than I can even count. Because the book is short and rhyming, we had to be merciless with the meter and the rhymes. The words needed to be spectacular – not obvious rhyme choices. There is a structure behind the manuscript that took multiple tries to sort out, too. In the earlier days, we toyed with whether to submit the book as a board book or picture book; we created digital dummies with page count estimates to ensure there was enough content for either.

ELISA: With rhyming text we had to be sure we could read through without even a moment  the words didn’t roll perfectly off the tongue. We probably had a few weeks of rereading it over and over without needing changes before we knew it would be ready.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

AMY: We are both unagented, so we knew we had to approach publishers that accepted unsolicited manuscripts. We wrote a query and sent it to two publishers—one being the publisher that is releasing the book (Cameron Kids). Elisa had already worked with them with another book.

ELISA: After my Los Angeles Is… book came out with Cameron Books, my editor there encouraged me to send her any other manuscripts. So, they were an early obvious place for submission. I have to say, it was a relief to have at least one place where we knew the manuscript would actually be read and not get thrown in the slush pile.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

AMY: This part of the story truly shocks me. I have been on a journey to publish kidlit for nearly a decade, and my ‘rejection list’ is well over 200 queries/pitches. POOL PARTY, on the other hand, was given its first positive response within the first 24 hours of query. I guess when things are meant to be, they go fast!


ELISA: We got that email right back that said, we want to take it. It truly was shocking. I think it helped that the editor was a swimmer and completely “got” it!

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

AMY: I was at lunch with another writer group member, Marlene, and I got a call from Elisa. She said, “You have to check your email.” My heart beat so fast at that moment.

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

AMY: Our greenlight email was in Nov 2019, and the editor advised us we would start the contract process in the early part of the new year 2020. Yet of course, due to the pandemic, we paused for at least six months while the world was attending to much bigger priorities – staying healthy and safe. We finally signed the contract in Nov 2020. Because we are unagented, Elisa and I took on the process of reviewing and marking up our contract ourselves – with a little consult from some lawyer friends. I’m so proud of us for that!

SUSANNA: Wow! Good for you! I would find that fairly intimidating! How did you celebrate signing your contract?  (If you care to share ☺)

AMY: Oh my gosh, due to the pandemic it took us until Dec 2021 to actually get together and toast ourselves. No joke! We shared many excited texts and emails and phone calls but it wasn’t until a full year later that we sat down over a table and clinked glasses.

ELISA: It was too long! I feel like we still need to celebrate more, getting a children’s book published is such a feat for anyone.

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

ELISA: Our contract was very standard. We got a $3,000 advance paid out at signing and acceptance of the material, and a standard royalty rate. Because we are co-authors, we share any earnings 50/50.

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

AMY: Our editor (also named Amy) is fantastic. She ‘got it’ with our book immediately and her edits were the best kind – essential but perceptibly light. We had a couple rounds of changes.

ELISA: Amy, our editor, really refined the words and structure, but minimally. I love the editing process because even when you think you are done, there are always improvements to make. And good editors will clarify, improve or expand in ways that authors often cannot see.

SUSANNA: That has been my experience as well. What was the illustration process like for you two?

AMY: I really didn’t know what to expect in this process. I’d heard that authors and illustrators are typically kept separated, but was pleasantly surprised that we received an intro email welcoming us to Cameron, plus sketches as well as full-color comps during the illustrator’s development process. It was really neat to review the image comps with Elisa, too. We were each able to review the imagery, provide notes, then come together to confer about our observations and provide collected notes. One of my absolute favorite illustrations within the finished book is the end paper. Anne Bentley truly captured the watery beauty of a pool’s interior tiles.

ELISA: We got digital files from the publisher and they were so receptive to new ideas and changes. It was exciting to see how someone else brought the story to life! We mentioned some very minor elements to tweak, such as making sure that the swimmers were diverse and well representative of different genders. And, we noted that just females/mothers were in the background, which was addressed to showcase more equal parenting. I think these details in illustration are really important and it truly takes a village to assess illustration for a broad audience so I was glad to have a supportive team, including the editor, publisher team and Anne, our illustrator, surrounding visuals.

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

ELISA: We got a review from Kirkus. A Google Alert popped up with my name, which is how I found out. In relation to what was said about making tweaks to the illustration, the reviewer brought up the miss of only including able-bodied swimmers, and I agree that that was one oversight that we didn’t catch.

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

AMY: Just over a year. In fact my first copy arrived the day after my birthday, so it felt like an extra present. Opening the envelope and seeing my book in hard copy was flooring, to be honest. I kept thinking (and saying) “it’s real!”

ELISA: We heard in 2020 when we signed that the book would be out in 2022 and it seemed so far away! It was shocking to get the book in the mail because it felt like a moment we had waited so long ago was finally here.

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

ELISA: The publisher has submitted to SLJ, Kirkus, Children’s Book Review as well as applying for a signing time at the LA Festival of Books and reached out to a handful of book bloggers/bookstagrammers they work with.

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

ELISA: Aside from the general postings on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, Cameron has also provided support for us to work with local bookstores to send out signed books and counseled us on Instagram giveaways. We also sent press releases to other book bloggers and bookstagrammers, as well as regional parenting magazines.

AMY: The publisher has been open to our ideas, too! So we have been brainstorming ideas and sharing them with the illustrator and publisher. For example, we have some ideas about in-person events at local stores (and pools!) planned for later this summer. I work in marketing all day for my day job, but it’s completely different – and challenging – to think about ideas for my own book.

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

AMY: About 8 years. My first official kidlit training was through a children’s writing course at UCLA Extension taught by another working kidlit author, Michelle Markel. That class was short but comprehensive – essentially a survey of the various age groups and genres of kidlit. From there I wrote and submitted and queried a multitude of stories, some which had interest but eventually didn’t materialize. What a thrill to see POOL PARTY accepted and come to life! Truly, I’ve been a writer for my entire professional career and had work published in print and online, but having a picture book published is a career highlight.

ELISA: About 4 or 5 years. My first book, Los Angeles Is…, I starting toying with in 2012 and it was published in 2018. But I believe I signed the contract in 2016. Children’s publishing is a long haul! But worth the wait, always.

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

ELISA: The amount of time we spent on the text —which is only about 150 words, mind you—is truly shocking. How can such a short poem take so long to finish? The takeaway is that making a manuscript that is simple, clear and enjoyable is really, really hard. It takes loads of time, effort and skill. I’m so grateful I was able to tackle it with Amy—collaboration in this case was such a delight! We really worked well with each other and pushed each other to really nail each line precisely. Even though it would have been nice to take a shortcut, ensuring that what we submitted was perfect got us quick results.

AMY: For me, it was all about the enjoyment factor – insisting on that. Because life is short, and I didn’t want to spend time working on something that brought me down. (I did a lot of that leading up to this manuscript/book!) If I wasn’t having fun writing a line or working on a part of the project, I either had to stop what I was doing/change direction or find a way to enjoy it. As it turns out, even the contract process became something I enjoyed because I challenged myself to learn something new and essential to the publication process. And yes, couldn’t agree more about working with Elisa. Talk about enjoyment factor! Writing with a friend is simply the best!

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

AMY: The process of creation and writing (and revisions) can be so isolating. For many, many years I slogged alone and wanted to give up writing on several occasions. I put a lot of pressure on myself, and took the joy out of the craft for a long time. But end to end, working on POOL PARTY has been an absolute delight. I’m continually awed and elated that this is the book that broke through first. It feels like such a nice way to start my publication journey.


ELISA: This process was so enjoyable that I wish every book was a collaboration. Part of that, perhaps, was that we took it as a creative journey together and the feeling always was, Let’s try this and if it doesn’t work we can bail. It just kept working and I’m so grateful that it turned into something beautiful we can share with the world.

SUSANNA: Amy and Elisa, thank you both so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! It has been a real treat for us to hear from a pair of collaborators – what an opportunity to learn! We all appreciate your time and expertise and wish you all the best with this and future titles!

Author Amy Duchene

https://www.amyduchene.com/

Author Elisa Parhad

https://www.elisaparhad.com/

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Beverly Warren – Have You Seen Mouse? (author/illustrator)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Beverly Love Warren!

Woo hoo!
Tuesday Debut!

Am I a wizard at rhyming or what?! 🤣

Grab a snack and a beverage, pull up a couch, and make yourself comfy!

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to a Making Picture Book Magic graduate, author/illustrator Beverly Love Warren, as we give you a glimpse of her charming debut picture book, HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE?

HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE?
Author/Illustrator – Beverly Love Warren
Clear Fork/Spork
Publication date – March 1, 2022
Fiction, 4-7 years

A young bear loses his best friend, a mouse, and searches the forest to find             him only to discover his friend loves him more than he thought.

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

BEVERLY: My husband and I take road trips occasionally. On a trip, while driving through the mountains in Idaho, I gazed into the forest at a fallen tree. In my imagination I saw a young bear sitting on that tree weeping. I wondered why and guessed that he lost his best friend. I had my notebook with me so immediately I began the first draft. My protagonist was the bear, but who would his friend be? I had many mice as pets when I was young, and I liked the contrast of the “big” with the “little” so I chose a mouse to be the best friend. Many of my ideas come from nature, or an incident in my life or that of a friend, or something I remember from childhood. When I’m beginning a draft, I ask the who, what, when, where, why, how and what if questionsof the character, the location or the story forming in my mind. These questions also serve as a tool to help me discover the theme or plot of the story – if I don’t know it ahead of time.

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

BEVERLY: I joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge in 2019. HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE? was November’s entry that year. I submitted it to the forum for feedback on Nov 16, 2019, and later with my critique groups. So, I had many eyes looking at the draft and subsequent revisions. The contract with the publisher was signed on July 6, 2020. I am also the illustrator for MOUSE and was working on the illustrations for another book at the same time as I was for MOUSE (see question 5, below). The illustrations, from sketches to final art on both books, took about 16 months to complete.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

BEVERLY: I keep hard copies of my drafts and revisions in manilla folders. Once the first draft is completed, I work on the revisions with my laptop. There were about 9 or 10 revisions of MOUSE after I sent the first draft to the 12×12 forum. Usually, I would write 4 or 5 revisions before I would submit the story for the first critique in the forum or to my critique partners. Most of the time I do several revisions of a manuscript then set it aside and work on another story for a while. This is so that both myself and my critique partners can see it with fresh eyes when the revision process resumes.

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

BEVERLY: I knew once my critique partners didn’t have much else to say revision wise except for a few small punctuation corrections. Also, I know when there is a consensus in my group that the story is finished. From an artist point of view, I would want to have completed thumbnails and at least one finished illustration ready as well.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

BEVERLY: In January – February 2020 I took an illustration course with Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy. At the end of the course the illustrations each student had been working on would be shown to a few editors. Shortly after the course ended, I was contacted by the Clear Fork/Spork publisher, Callie Metler. She had a manuscript by another author that she offered me to illustrate. After reading it I agreed. Sometime later as we were working on the other book Callie said she really liked the palette I used in Mira’s class. I told her there was a manuscript that went with it and asked if she would be interested in reading it. She graciously said yes. Later she said the story was precious and wanted to acquire it.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

BEVERLY: Clear Fork/ Spork is a small publishing house. Because I was already working directly with the publisher on the other picture book it only took about two weeks after she read the story that I was told “yes.” I wanted to complete Mira’s course and have a book dummy, one piece of final art and the manuscript ready before I considered submitting it anywhere. MOUSE was ready at the time I offered it to Clear Fork/Spork.

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

BEVERLY: This took a couple of weeks.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

BEVERLY: My celebration was during a family birthday which was a few days later. While

the family was all together in the dining room, my husband announced that I had something to tell them. The look on their faces was apprehensive but quickly changed to smiles and words of congratulations, and excitement too.

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

BEVERLY: Because the publisher had told me up front that they are a royalties-based publisher, I knew there would not be an advance on the manuscript, but the royalties would be higher than usual. However, there was a small advance on the illustrations. The time between submitting the final art to the publisher and the launch date has been about five months. The publication timeline took a bit longer than I thought it would be.

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

BEVERLY: Thankfully, the editor’s vision for the story was the same as mine therefore there were only minor changes to the text such as removing dialogue tags. I did have a say in the placement of the text on the pages, but later a sentence or two of text was moved on to the next page for three of the spreads. I was concerned about this at first, but then realized that the change made the page turns stronger. The only changes to the art was to make the mouse smaller in a couple of the spreads.

Text and illustration copyright Barbara Love Warren, 2022, Clear Fork/Spork
Text and illustration copyright Barbara Love Warren, 2022, Clear Fork/Spork

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

BEVERLY: Since I am also the illustrator of my story, I can share that process from the artist’s viewpoint. First, I was asked to submit black and white character sketches for each of the five characters in the book. Next, I sent the book dummy. This had been completed beforehand and it didn’t require much changing. After that they wanted character sketches in color and full-sized black and white sketches. Once all of this was approved, I went on to do the final art. For this book the art was created in traditional watercolor and Prisma colored pencils. After the paintings were completed, they were added to my iPad and touched up digitally. Watercolor doesn’t always transfer very well from paper to digital and since the art would be sent digitally, I needed to touch it up.

Here’s a little glimpse of Barbara’s illustration process:

Thumbnail sketches of ideas for Back Cover illustration (copyright Beverly Love Warren 2022)
Sketch of Back Cover Barbara chose (copyright Beverly Love Warren 2022)
Final of Back Cover (copyright Beverly Love Warren 2022)

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

BEVERLY: I haven’t seen any reviews yet.

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

BEVERLY: A little under 2 years.

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

BEVERLY: I will be doing more, but at this point I am doing interviews on blogs such as Susanna’s. Thank you, Susanna. I belong to a marketing group called PB22Peekaboo. We support one another during our book launches. I will be going to local bookstores, libraries and doing school visits. And as I learn about more opportunities, I will take advantage of them as time permits – so I still have work ahead of me. Coloring and activities pages are on my website.

Coloring Page

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

BEVERLY: I began to write seriously when I signed up with Susanna’s class – Making Picture Book Magic. I took her class in the summer of 2017. HAVE YOU SEEN MOUSE? was acquired in the summer of 2020. Art wise it took about two to three years to get my first illustration job. At that time, I mainly illustrated posters, curriculum and educational material for the classroom.

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

BEVERLY: I would agree with others about the necessity of attending classes, seminars, going to conferences and joining a critique group or two. It would be difficult traveling the road to publication alone. Feedback is essential. Encouragement from fellow writers and artists can keep you trekking when the road is rough with rejections and the negative self-talk we all deal with. It might be helpful to ask why you are writing. If it’s mainly to benefit young readers to put a smile on their face or hope in their hearts, then keep that goal in your vision and with perseverance keep moving forward. One more thing, I would be careful about comparing your journey toward publication with others. I am guilty of this and continually must remind myself that my path is different from others. We are each unique people and how our lives and opportunities evolve will be different as well.

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

BEVERLY: There is one other thing about this book’s journey that I could share.

As I had mentioned above, at the completion of Mira’s class there would be an opportunity for some editors to view the students work. But I needed to leave the class a week before it ended because my mother became ill. I wrestled with this because we had false alarms before, and I had planned to visit her after the class ended. I didn’t want to lose this opportunity, but there was just one choice – I left the class. After 3,000 miles in the air and 4 days with my mother, she passed. I was thankful to have made the right decision. While I was away Mira entered my art in the display before the editors anyway – which brought me my debut book as an author. This was a terrific gift to have been given, especially during the season I had now entered with my mother’s passing. Good things can happen even during the challenges of life!

Author/Illustrator Beverly Love Warren

https://www.facebook.com/beverlylovewarren
www.beverlylovewarren.com

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Renee LaTulippe – The Crab Ballet (picture book poem)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Renée LaTulippe!

Welcome, my friends, to another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

I am always thrilled to introduce new authors, but never more so than when the debut author about to be in the limelight is a former student, an exceptionally talented writer (a poet, no less!), and a friend. What could be better?

So without further ado, please meet and welcome today’s debutess, Renée LaTulippe, and join me in wishing her a Happy Book Birthday (yes! it’s today!) for her absolutely gorgeous debut picture book! (So pretty! 😊)

THE CRAB BALLET
written by Renée M. LaTulippe
illustrated by Cécile Metzger
Cameron Kids/Abrams
March 8, 2022
Fiction
Ages 4-8

The Crab Ballet is a sunset seaside show starring the dancing crab divas and their aquatic corps de ballet. A fantastical rhyming text and sea-washed watercolors usher readers through one sea-foam-dreamy act after another, from a gentle seahorse pas de deux and dramatic dolphin leaps beyond the spray to the grand crab finale.

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

Renée: Thanks for having me on the blog, Susanna!

This book actually started as a six-stanza poem (127 words) that I wrote for a poetry contest in 2015. The challenge was to use the word “iridescent” in a poem, and that word somehow triggered an image of wet sand at sunset as the waves roll back.

Then I wondered what might happen if the receding waves revealed some sea creatures, and it just developed from there. Two things that certainly helped me shape the idea are that I have a background in theater and I actually live right by the Mediterranean sea!

I also love French, so it was exciting for me to use French ballet terms in the poem. Those have been there since the beginning—but the word “iridescent” was cut in an early draft.

This is where I do most of my writing.

SUSANNA: Wow! Nice office! How long did it take you to write this book, sitting in that lovely spot?

Renée: At some point after writing the shorter poem I realized that I could expand it into a picture-book length poem, so I began where I often begin: LISTS!

            -marine animals that live or can come close to shore

            -ballet terms

            -rhymes

As you can see on the left side of my lists, I paired ballet terms with the creatures most likely to perform those moves, and this helped me shape the stanzas. I also spent a lot of time staring at photos and videos and looking up facts about these marine creatures, which is always an invaluable piece of my writing puzzle. A bit of research goes a long way in terms of sparking new ideas and directions you may not have thought about.

Working like this, I managed to get the poem up to eleven stanzas (244 words). I’m not sure how long it took, but I do know that this is the version I submitted to the agent I signed with, and that was in the summer of 2016—so about 15 months after I wrote the original poem. I’m a very slow writer!

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

Renée: This manuscript has had about ten revisions, but I count revisions even if I change a couple of words, and I tend to tinker.

The only major revision happened after I signed with my agent. I am fortunate that I have an editorial agent who specializes in poetry, so her feedback was essential. She felt that the story was lopsided in that I needed to fill out the second act of the story, which was quite a bit shorter than the first act.

This revision took me A YEAR! I kid you not. I had chosen such a difficult rhyme scheme that writing any more stanzas felt impossible. Granted, I didn’t actually write for that whole year; rather, I stuck the manuscript in a drawer and wished it would write itself. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was totally blocked.

When I finally felt ready, I took it out and brought it up to sixteen stanzas (367 words), plus a glossary of French ballet terms. Phew!

I do not suggest doing this, by the way! I must have been paralyzed by fear or stupidity, or a bit of both. Revision can be daunting, yes, but now that I have more experience, I don’t balk at it and actually really like this stage.

What works best for me, so I don’t feel overwhelmed, is to do all the “easy” stuff first—changing a single word, fixing a little glitch in the meter, tweaking a rhyme, and so on. Then I move on to the larger bits of content revision one at a time. No more head in the sand!

SUSANNA: Very helpful advice. I work the same way. When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

Renée: When I sent my agent the requested revision. It may have taken forever, but we both felt that it was now a more balanced and complete story and ready to send out into the world. This was in the summer of 2017, so about two and a half years after I’d written the original poem.

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

Renée: My agent started submitting it in October 2017 with a round of about five editors. Over the next couple of years it went on four other rounds, always to about 3-5 editors each time.

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?


Renée: Not long at all! I know! Amazing! Cameron is ON TOP OF THINGS. We submitted to them in February 2020, heard that it was going to acquisitions about three weeks later, and got the news they wanted to acquire it four days after that. A whirlwind romance!

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

Renée: It was certainly exciting to get that YES email from my agent, especially since it was at the very start of the pandemic in March 2020. I live in Italy and things were dire, so this good news was very welcome.

The manuscript had been on submission for two and a half years, and I admit I was feeling frustrated. Plus you begin to doubt if it’s even a good story, and I wondered if it needed revision. But in the end, my agent and I both thought it was already strong, so we left it as is. Overall, it received very nice rejections from nine editors and a symphony of crickets from another thirteen. But it only takes one!

SUSANNA: That is the truth! How long was it between getting your offer and getting your contract to sign?

Renée: This actually did take longer because the publishing industry was in turmoil during the pandemic when no one knew which way was up. But Cameron was always very communicative about their timeline and delays, which I so appreciated. We received the official offer letter in July 2020 and the final contract in October of that year.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

Renée: I didn’t wait for the contract—I celebrated when I got the YES email from my agent! And since we were in lockdown, my husband, the only one allowed out for grocery shopping, brought home profiteroles and Bailey’s. This is my standard celebration fare. 😊

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

Renée: Of course we always want bigger advances! And honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect from any of this—I was just glad to have sold the book! The advance was initially in the under 5K range, but during this time Cameron Kids was bought by Abrams, so my agent did negotiate for and receive a bit more moola for the advance. And I have to say for the millionth time that I am so relieved to have an agent.

The rest of the contract was very standard with 5% royalties on hardcover up to 15K copies sold and 6.25% thereafter, and a bit less on paperback. The contract includes 20 author copies.

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

Renée: I was terrified at what changes the editor might request! Remember the year it took me to do that first revision for my agent? Again, it was the difficult rhyme scheme and all those French words that made me shake in my boots! Luckily, though, the edits were not scary at all. While no significant changes were made to the story, she did ask excellent questions and make suggestions for several lines and stanzas that I thought were spot on and that gave me the opportunity to strengthen the text—exactly what I would want in an editor! The process was very respectful, and since she’s not a rhymer, she completely trusted me to be the expert on that count and to take her suggestions and make them work within my meter and rhyme scheme.

Sometimes editors can make suggestions you don’t agree with, and that’s okay too. For example, my editor wondered if we needed the second stanza at all, or if it could be combined with the first somehow. I mulled that over for a bit and tried some alternatives, but in the end I felt that the stanza should stay, and it did. In these cases, I always like to state my case, respectfully, and explain my preferences.

One “battle” I did lose, though, was on the title. The original title was THE SEASIDE CRAB BALLET, and I was so used to it after all these years that I was taken aback when she said she wanted to change it to THE CRAB BALLET. Seems like a minor thing, but everything is huge when you’re in the middle of it! She was gently insistent that it was better, so I let it go. And you know what? She was totally right. I was still skeptical, but as soon as I saw the cover I knew it was the perfect choice.

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

Renée: Cameron Kids was so wonderful about keeping me apprised of developments every step of the way. I feel like I landed in some sort of publishing fairy land. As had happened with other writers I know, they did not send me a list of potential illustrators to get my opinion as I think they already had Cécile on board. This might have concerned me if it hadn’t been Cameron, but I knew their list and loved their aesthetic, so I had complete trust that they’d make a beautiful book.

I had very few art notes in my manuscript since it was self-explanatory. Though I generally keep my art notes very short, the first one was longer simply to set the scene and make it clear what exactly was happening in this funny little world I’d created:

[Art note: Seaside show about to begin as the corps de ballet—anemones, squids, turtles, seahorses—warms up at the barre.]

text copyright Renée LaTulippe 2022, illustration copyright Cécile Metzger 2022, Cameron Kids/Abrams

I received the first black-and-white storyboards via email in December 2020 and was blown away not only by Cécile’s detail, but by the fact that she had written explanations on every spread about why she had made those specific choices. Amazing! It was a great peek inside an artist’s head.

At that point, I wasn’t really sure if I was supposed to comment on the sketches or not, but I did end up sending my editor a list of notes I had on the illustrations. Nothing terribly invasive, mind you, although if there had been something really “wrong” I definitely would have spoken up. Again, the key is always respect for the whole team.

Still, I was concerned about stepping on toes, but instead she told me she’d passed my notes to the art director and that they were probably going to accommodate almost all of them (they did!). Have I mentioned that this publisher is amazing?

From there I received the color galleys and was able to give my thoughts on those as well. All around an open, inclusive, and collaborative experience!

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


Renée: Yesssss. Yet another terrifying passage we must all face. The only review I’ve received so far is from Kirkus and, boy, did I cringe as I clicked on that link. I really couldn’t imagine how this book was going to be received. I’d already seen a hilarious review on Goodreads that talked about how bizarre my concept was, and though that reviewer loved the book, I was nonetheless concerned, haha. Luckily, Kirkus loved it too! What a dang relief that was!

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

Renée: I received an advance copy in January of this year, so it was 18 months from official offer to physical book. I saw on Edelweiss that the initial print run will be 20,000 copies. Sadly, I will never get to open a box of author copies. I have no use for them in Italy, so they will live with my sister in the U.S. Should I ever need an extra copy here, I will have to order it. Ah, well!

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


Renée: They sent it to the major reviewers (Kirkus, SLJ, Horn Book, etc.) as well as some influencers on Instagram. They also provided me with a hi-res cover image and an eGalley (PDF) of the book that I can share with bloggers and reviewers. I don’t know what else they may be doing internally.

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

Renée: I didn’t plan on doing much, but then I got caught up in the whirlwind—and it really is way too time consuming, so proceed with caution. Here’s a list of things I did:

  • Cover reveal
  • Pre-order campaign with giveaways (including critiques)
  • Created activity pack for campaign and as a free download on my website. The illustrator was kind enough to provide coloring pages and images for this.
  • Contacted larger podcasters, bloggers, and influencers on my own. Received ZERO response.
  • Contacted smaller podcasts and blogs (like this one!) and set up several interviews (though not a blog tour, per se).
  • Participated with other writers in in-kind review exchanges on Goodreads and B&N.
  • Recorded a Sneak Peek & Book Giveaway video for my YouTube channel (not a book trailer) that also gives info on the pre-order campaign and giveaway.
  • Sent a book news email to my mailing list that included links to the Sneak Peek video and the pre-order campaign.
  • Social media: I do what interests me and what I have time for and try to support and share other people’s book news, and thank them for sharing mine.
  • Still to do: Contact ARC-sharing groups on Twitter. These are groups of educators and librarians who share your book and talk it up on social media. You can learn about it here.

It’s important to understand that the goal of all these activities is not to drive sales, which I think we as writers have very little control over. Rather, I see the promo period as a way to create a presence for you as author and an awareness of your book, and in doing so to expand your community in an organic, authentic, and reciprocal way. Everything is about relationships!

Also, so much of what we do is preaching to the choir—in this case, other writers. What I really want to do is reach educators and librarians, the gatekeepers for our books (like with the ARC-sharing groups). Next time my efforts will be more focused on these groups.

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

Renée: I started toying with picture book writing in 2012, but I can’t say I did it seriously. And although I began having poems published in anthologies in 2013, it took me quite some time to remember that I’m a poet and not a plotter and should be focusing my efforts on that. Duh! So I’d say I got serious in 2015 when I began writing my first poetry collection under the tutelage of my wonderful mentor, the late Lee Bennett Hopkins. And that is the first manuscript I sold in 2017, though it has yet to come out (LIMELIGHT: Theater Poems to Perform / Charlesbridge). THE CRAB BALLET is my debut, but it’s the second book I sold.

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

Renée: Turn off the noise when you need to, to protect your mental health and creativity. The kidlit community is vast and generous, but also frenetic and cacophonous. There are deal announcements, writing challenges, pitch parties, contests, webinars, classes, cover reveals, release parties, signings, how-to advice galore, social media, more deals—all good things that, when taken in too-big doses, can easily overwhelm. You don’t need to do everything. Recognize where you are in your journey and focus on the things that help you right where you are. Take care of your quiet space. Write. We’ll be here when you get back.

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


Renée: Yes—the fact that it takes a village to write a manuscript. Reading my book now is like looking at a photo album of all the people who helped it become what it is: the critique partners who suggested that phrase or that rhyme or that I write the book in the first place; the agent who saw its potential and pushed me further; the editor who helped me see the weaknesses so I could make them stronger; the family who supported me with time, ideas, and silence. 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for sharing your publication journey with us, Renée! We so appreciate it, and all the wonderful tips and advice! I’m sure I speak for everyone when I wish you the best with this and future titles!

Renée M. LaTulippe is the author of The Crab Ballet (Cameron Kids/Abrams, 2022) and Limelight: Theater Poems to Perform (Charlesbridge, TBA) and has poems published in many anthologies including Night Wishes, School People, National Geographic’s The Poetry of US and Book of Nature Poetry, One Minute Till Bedtime, and ThankU: Poems of Gratitude.

Renée developed The Lyrical Language Lab and provides free lessons and critiques for children’s writers on her YouTube channel. She has a BFA in acting/directing and an MA in English Education. She lives by the sea in Italy with her husband and three children.

She is represented by Elizabeth Harding at Curtis Brown.

Website: www.reneelatulippe.com
YouTube: Lyrical Language Lab
Instagram: @renee_m_latulippe
Twitter: @ReneeMLaTulippe

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Karen Condit – Turtle On The Track (hybrid publishing)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Condit!

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to our first Tuesday Debut in awhile!

I’m thrilled to introduce you today’s debut-ess, Karen Condit, who has written a lovely book about mindfulness and taking the time to slow down – advice I think we can all benefit from 😊 She is the first author we’ve had on Tuesday Debut who chose a hybrid publishing model, so for those of you interested in that, you may gain some insight, and you have the opportunity to ask her questions in the comments!

Let’s jump in and have a look at her beautiful book!

Turtle on the Track
written by Karen Condit
Illustrator, Mollie Ginther
Orange Hat Publishing
Release date: February 2, 2022
Ages 4-8
Themes: Mindfulness – Patience – Emotional Wellness

Text, whiteboard

Description automatically generated

When the restless, impatient passengers on the Scurryville Express are forced to wait when a turtle crosses the tracks, they can’t help but blow off a little steam! Can Oscar come along to help them slow down and enjoy the ride? Only time will tell!

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

KAREN: I was walking along our country-side property close to the railroad tracks that ran along the Mississippi when I spotted a snapping turtle on the dirt road. I knew snapping turtles made their way to dry land to lay eggs so I was intrigued to watch this creature and see what she would do. As I watched, I was pulled into the beauty and quiet of my surroundings and it made me pause—It’s time I slowed down, too. I’ve always been more of an energizer bunny. I knew I needed to change my pace and live a slower, more intentional life. Coming across this turtle was the seed for this story.
                       

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

KAREN: It didn’t take me long to write the bare bones of the story—a few days. From our home, we could hear the trains along the river which helped me set the scene. The story flowed easily and most of what is written today came from those first few days. As with most of my stories, I don’t have a particular ending in mind, but I do stay focused on the theme. The theme of slowing down was easy to keep in mind because my experience had been so personal. 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KAREN: Yes! Turtle went in and out of revision while I continued writing other stories. It’s never been a waste of time for me to put a story away for a while. I’m always amazed at what needs attention when I get it out again! I worked mainly on character development and after dummying out the story, I found some weak spots in the story arc. Paginating a manuscript has always been a great revision tool for me. Of course, everything I write is shared with my two critique groups who are committed to helping me, not humoring me—all with grace. 🙂 Turtle also received several critiques from on-line writing communities and at writing conferences. 

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

KAREN: I’ve a hard time knowing when a manuscript is truly ready. It’s much easier to tell if it’s not ready! If I’ve given the manuscript enough time to percolate, and still believe in it after all the rounds of revision from those that know more than me, I’m ready to submit. It had been two years since I wrote the first draft. It was time. 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KAREN: At first, I sent the manuscript to a handful of publishers on my own. When a writing conference came up, I decided to pitch it to agents and editors. I guess Turtle was ready—I landed an agent! Publication here I come! Not quite. After two years, Turtle had been rejected 29 times, only a few more than Dr. Suess’ 27 rejections of his first book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street! That made me feel a little better. A little. I was discouraged. A short time later, I made the hard decision to end the relationship with my agent . . . but not with Turtle.  🙂 

During the next two years I continued writing and submitting while Turtle took a rest. I was working on other manuscripts when I heard about Orange Hat Publishing—a small indie-publisher that offered both hybrid and traditional publishing. After checking their website, I thought they’d be a good fit, so Turtle came back out of her shell. 😉 

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

KAREN: I submitted Turtle on the Track on December 7, 2020 and received an email on January 12, 2021, saying they were interested in considering my manuscript for a hybrid contract. 

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

KAREN: I love to share this part of my story . . . 

When I received an email from Orange Hat Publishing requesting a phone meeting, my husband was going through a very difficult time with his health. In many ways, the timing couldn’t have been worse. I hesitated. No—I cried. Why now? I couldn’t possibly think straight. I had no room on my plate for anything more, not even a phone call. Then my daughter sat me down. “Mom, this may be just the right time. Don’t let this go.” I made a phone appointment several weeks out thinking things may settled down by then but as the time approached, I felt more uneasy. I wanted to be on top of my game. A day before the scheduled call I decided to contact the office and cancel the appointment explaining my situation. When I called, they offered to do a conference call with the team that was already gathered in one place. AHHH! Before I knew it, I was sharing about my writing journey, my goals as an author and learning about their offer.  After a 45-minute conversation I decided to consider a hybrid contract even though I was hoping for a traditional contract. One team member said, “Perhaps, this will be a light in a dark place for you right now.” After our call ended, I had a feeling it very well could be. They sent the contract, and after a careful review, I signed.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KAREN: I didn’t. Unless you’d call sitting alone at my desk and letting out a huge sigh of gratitude is celebrating. There was no fanfare. I’m saving that for later! 

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

KAREN: Hybrid contracts do not offer up-front royalties; however, one big benefit is that royalties on book sales are higher (50-60%) than with traditional publishing arrangements (5-10%). These are sales directly through the publisher and me. Profits from a retail distributor like Amazon and Barnes and Noble are less (1-4%). As with all hybrid arrangements, there’s a publishing fee and an investment in hiring an illustrator. I invested approximately $2000 in the publishing fee and considered illustrators whose fees ranged from $70-130 per page. 

For some more information on hybrid publishing, I found this to be a fair article on Hybrid vs Vanity Press publishing.  https://www.liminalpages.com/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-a-hybrid-and-a-vanity-press

Even though this article is written by Dudley Court House, a hybrid press, I found it true to my experience 
https://www.dudleycourtpress.com/why-vanity-publishing-is-not-hybrid-publishing/

I found this to be true . . . ” . . . hybrid presses genuinely care about their authors’ success.”

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

KAREN: The editor suggested some minor edits, all of which I agreed. The pagination also had a few revisions regarding page turns and book length.

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

KAREN: This was the most fun and inspirational part of the project! 

I hired my illustrator through Orange Hat Publishing. They provided me with over 10 portfolios of different artists within their company. I was given a character sketch from my top two favorites to help me make a final decision. After looking at many artists, I decided on Mollie Ginther. She was an author/illustrator herself! I loved her style and admired other books she had illustrated. I also love watercolor. We were ready to go! So I thought. The day after Mollie accepted the job, she withdrew because a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came through she thought had passed her by. I was back to reviewing portfolios. 

After seeing Mollie’s work, I had a hard time settling on another illustrator so I asked if we could delay the project so Mollie could do the job when she was available. What? Whoever asks the publisher to hold up the show? I’m sure they wondered about me. 🙄 Thankfully, they agreed and the project was held for four months. Now I had a little breathing room to tend to the cares at home and I had my first-choice illustrator! Delays can be gifts. 

When Mollie was ready to begin, we face-timed and discussed every page of the manuscript. I included only one art note, so she wanted to hear my ideas. I was delighted to discover we had a similar vision for the story. The greatest moment was when she said, “I really connect with this story. This is going to be fun!” A light in a dark place. 

I reviewed early sketches, uncolored drafts, the painted drawings through .jpeg files.

Text

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First sketch with notes. My heart was a little nervous with Oscar on the tracks. 😬
A drawing on a white board

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Revised sketch. Now I can sleep!

     

A picture containing text, indoor, picture frame

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Final

If I had a new idea, I’d run it by Mollie. For example, I thought it would be fun to have a little mouse family riding along with the passengers. She loved the idea. She also was willing to hide a little turtle on each page so kids could have fun searching for it. She also added a coloring page and a dot-to-dot page at the back of the book. Throughout the process she let me know what would work and what wouldn’t. (She was very patient with me.) I learned so much! There were no surprises when the full final interior was sent to me. All around it was a great experience! 

Here’s a short time-lapse video of Mollie at work: 

There was an art editor who worked mainly on formatting text, cover design, and other details before final edits. The illustration process wasn’t really left up to me but I was able to give input, especially in our initial meeting. I was also able to view two rounds of drafts before finals were decided. These parameters were stated in the contract. The illustration process took about two months.

 

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

KAREN: From when I got the call, to having the first copy in my hand was almost a year to the day. But remember, we delayed the project. The process from start to finish was about five months.  Release date:  2-2-2022! Can’t get ‘2’ much better than that! 😆

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

KAREN: My publisher helps by creating promotional materials, registering the book with major online distributors, arranging distributions through special orders, assisting in book launches if requested, and, of course, listing and promoting the book on their website. They’ve given me encouragement and support along the way. It was obvious they truly care about my success as an author.

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

KAREN: I’m doing the same type of marketing that my friends are doing who are traditionally published.   I’m using social media, my website, and relationships with indie bookstores. I have a podcast opportunity coming up, was interviewed with our local community event magazine, and I’m planning an in person Launch Party. I also have several school visits set up for the spring. As a retired teacher, this will be the most fun of all! And last, but certainly not least, I thank Susanna for featuring me in this Tuesday Debut post! Thank you, Susanna! 

(a couple of activities to go along with the book)

A drawing of a car

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Coloring Page
A picture containing text

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Can you find the hidden turtle?

SUSANNA: Absolutely my pleasure, Karen! 😊 How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

KAREN: Nine years. I started writing seriously when I retired from a 25-year teaching career as an elementary teacher and reading specialist. My goal has always been to publish but I knew the chances were slim since I started later in life. But wasn’t it Laura Ingalls Wilder who published her first book, Little House on the Prairie, at the age of 65? Let’s just say, I’m in good company! 

If you’ve been counting, it took about six years before Turtle was accepted for publication.

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

KAREN: Oh, my . . . THE most important thing? I’ve learned so much! May I share three? Thanks! 😉

-The work to be done on learning the craft is as vital as the work to be done on growing emotional stamina for the journey. Find your people to keep going. 

-Writing is more than an ISBN number—it’s the people you meet; it’s the learning; it’s what feeds your heart! Be watchful for all the ways you’re being “paid.” It can be soooo frustrating, but it’s a wonderful life!

-Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. Comparison only deflates desire and robs joy. Someday you’ll have your story to tell . . . and it will be wonderful!

SUSANNA: That is very good advice! Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

KAREN: Take a lesson from a turtle: Your speed doesn’t matter; forward is forward. 

SUSANNA: Karen, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers! We so appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience – such a wonderful opportunity for us to learn! I know I speak for everyone when I wish you all the best with this and future titles!

A person smiling at the camera

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Author Karen Condit

www.karencondit.com
https://www.instagram.com/kacondit/
https://www.facebook.com/kacondit/

A group of people sitting on a couch reading a book

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The first read of the finished book with some special booklovers—my grandkids! 

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky – James’ Reading Rescue

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky!

Good Tuesday to you, everyone!

I saw this on FB yesterday, and it sums me up exactly!

I’m happy to report, though, that I DO remember why I’m here this morning! 😊 And that is to introduce you to today’s Tuesday Debut-ess, the lovely and talented Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky who has written a picture book I think so many kids will relate to! As someone who spent many years working with children for whom the written word was a challenge, I know what value this book has.

It’s an interesting one for us to learn from because a) it is written for ages 6-12 – not the usual age range for a PB, and b) it addresses, in a book, children who struggle with learning to read books. While it may seem that using a book to help kids who struggle with books to learn to like reading is a little sideways, it’s done in a way I think they’ll find very engaging. I mean, I was all set to do exactly what James does 😊

So let’s not waste another moment. Allow me to introduce Dianna and her wonderful book, JAMES’ READING RESCUE!

written by Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky
illustrated by Sara Casilda
published by Clavis Publishing
October 5, 2021, fiction
ages 6-12

James struggles with reading and misses recess to practice. To cheer himself up, he visits the cat rescue shelter and befriends Ghost, the cat in the box. But Ghost isn’t quite ready to make friends! As his reading improves, James learns that kindness and perseverance can have unexpected rewards and that having a furry friend is the best gift of all.

SUSANNA: Welcome, Dianna! We’re so excited to have you here today to share your journey to publication with this wonderful book which is a learning experience for us both because of the slightly older readership and the important topic. Where did the idea for this book come from?

DIANNA: JRR is based on a true story I read on the internet several years ago. It just seemed to jump off the page as I read it. My son struggled with reading when he was young and I’ve always been involved with animal rescue. My kids were raised with nine rescue cats. I knew this was a story I just had to write!

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

DIANNA: This was my first story, so I didn’t know any of the rules or expectations for picture books. I had a lot to learn and received some invaluable help from generous authors! From the first to final version I would say it took probably two years.

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

DIANNA: As my first story, I had no idea if what I had written was good or terrible. I was afraid it was the latter! Researching author blogs I came across a Cdn. author whose books I had read to my children. I reached out to her and she generously agreed to look at my MS. Her comments were my first window into the world of writing PBs. I re-wrote the story entirely and then continued to revise as best I could. I didn’t yet know about critique groups.  Eventually, I submitted it to an author/publisher who does professional critiques. Her wonderful assistance finally helped put the final polish on the manuscript. I have thanked both of these wonderful women in my dedication.

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


DIANNA: After my professional critique, I felt that the story was the best it could be. Everything just seemed to click!

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

DIANNA: As a debut writer, I was really groping in the dark. I researched publishers to see who was accepting unsolicited submissions and reviewed their books. I also resrearched upcoming books. Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf was extremely helpful in providing publishers who were unknown to me. Then I had to learn how to write the dreaded query letter! I submitted to about forty publishers and had a couple of nice refusals, one email showing interest, and one acceptance from Clavis. I had to read their email three times before it sank in that they wanted it!

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?


DIANNA: I was never notified about JRR going to acquisitions. My experience was simply an email offering to publish my story. Short and oh, so sweet!

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

DIANNA: I wanted to submit to as many publishers as possible and began in fall 2019. The vast majority I never heard back from. I submitted to Clavis in Feb. 2020 and I received their email in late March.

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

DIANNA: The contract arrived around 4 months after their initial acceptance.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

DIANNA: This was just as covid was ravaging the world, so it was just a quiet celebration at home.  Lots of emails to family and friends!

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


DIANNA: I had no idea which to expect re a contact, so I referenced the SCBWI site which was helpful.  I also conferred with my son in law who is an attorney in the U.S. for clarification on a couple of things. There was no advance offered. 5% royalties on hard copies and 5 author copies in most languages. I found the information on foreign rights to be very confusing so I can honestly say I’m still not 100% sure on these royalties. So far the book has been published in Dutch (which is usual for Clavis), Indonesian, Slovenian and Korean is pending.

SUSANNA: That is so cool! Anytime I’ve had books published in another language that has always come after English, and many times they haven’t gone onto other languages, so congratulations on that! Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?


DIANNA: Although I have no experience with other publishers, I know enough to attest that working with Clavis was a dream. Everyone was so helpful, in both their Belgium and New York offices. There were almost no revisions to speak of, which amazed me! I was very happy that they were keeping the manuscript as submitted.

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

text copyright Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky 2021, illustration copyright Sara Casilda 2021, Clavis Publishing

DIANNA: Again, I think Clavis is something special in this department.  They asked me to submit some names of illustrators whose work I liked, and they sent a few to me, as well.  We agreed on one of their suggestions and I’m so glad we did!  Sara and I were in touch frequently from the very beginning and she consulted me on how I imagined James to look. I also specifically requested that Ghost be a black cat, as they are the color least usually adopted. I saw proofs and made only a couple of minor comments, because Sara had such a clear vision of the story and her work was just so wonderful.

text copyright Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky 2021, illustration copyright Sara Casilda 2021, Clavis Publishing

I had no art notes, having been advised that they should be avoided at all costs. My main concern was the color of the cat but as I was able to communicate directly with Sara, that didn’t prove a problem.

text copyright Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky 2021, illustration copyright Sara Casilda 2021, Clavis Publishing

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


DIANNA: I haven’t yet seen anything from Kirkus, but we did receive a lovely review from SLJ and also some great ones on Goodreads. It was delightful – made it feel real! Still hoping to see something from Kirkus and hoping readers will leave comments on Amazon, as well.

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

DIANNA: The first copies we received were the Dutch version. Then came Indonesian and Slovenian.  I have not yet received my English author copies, so my family and friends have it before me!  I know they are on their way.

As for print run, I queried this the other day but as of today I do not yet know how many copies were in the first printing. I do hope to find out!

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


DIANNA: I’m afraid I’m not yet very familiar with this process. Foreign rights been sold in several languages and I’m aware that Clavis sent story ARCs to a number of reviewers. They have also submitted JRR for the Golden Kite contest.

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

DIANNA: I was planning to have a launch party, but due to covid numbers still high in Montreal, gave up on this idea.  I have reached out to all independent bookstores in the city and surrounding suburbs with children’s collections, all the public libraries and English elementary schools, as well. I am continuing to reach out to bloggers for interviews and reviews. I am having a zoom reading with the library in my old hometown, which is like coming full circle for me! And there’s always Facebook and Twitter, of course.

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

DIANNA: It was about two and a half years.

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

DIANNA: All the rules of writing picture books (and that dreaded bugaboo that haunts us all – SHOW not tell)!  I think the most important thing we can share amongst ourselves is the encouragement not to give up. Sometimes this process seems like climbing Mt. Everest – it can be so daunting and such a struggle. Tell a story you love; don’t follow trends; seek the support of a critique group where you feel at home – they will be a wonderful help and your greatest fans!

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

DIANNA: When I first read the real story, I felt an overwhelming compulsion to write a picture book about it. I just felt in my bones that one day it would be a beautiful children’s book, no matter how long it took. I feel extremely fortunate and thankful that children around the world can now read this lovely story. I hope they love it as much as I do.

Author Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky

Twitter: @DiannaWilson99

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and pay forward to other writers, Dianna! We so appreciate you sharing your experience and the expertise you have gained from it. I know I can speak for everyone when I wish you the best with this and future titles!

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Patti Richards – Mrs. Noah

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Patti Richards!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, my friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?


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

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

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

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

PATTI: Just a few weeks!

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Patti Richards

Social Media Links:

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

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Anne Appert – Blob (author/illustrator)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Anne Appert!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blob.

(With the L.)

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

Anne’s work space

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

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

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANNE: The illustration process was both fun and challenging.

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

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

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

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

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

text and illustration copyright Anne Appert 2021, HarperCollins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author/Illustrator Anne Appert

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

Author/Illustrator Anne Appert disguised as Blob 😊

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)

Karen Greenwald – Vote For Susanna: The First Woman Mayor (nonfiction)

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Karen Greenwald!

Welcome to Tuesday Debut, Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

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

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

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

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

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

Karen’s writing buddy 😊

SUSANNA: How long after you found out about your book going to acquisitions (if you did) or after you submitted were you told it was a “yes”?

KAREN: I believe around four months.

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

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

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

KAREN: One month or more.

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

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

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

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

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

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

I included various art notes.

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

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

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

KAREN: One year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Karen Greenwald

Twitter: @karenmgreenwald
Website: karengreenwald.com

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

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

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

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

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

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

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

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

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

– sharing their books on social media

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

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

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

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

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

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

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

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

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

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

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

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

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

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

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

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

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

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

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

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

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

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

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

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

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

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

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

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

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Gnome Road Publishing (publishing house debut)

Sue Heavenrich – 13 Ways To Eat A Fly

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

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

Moni Ritchie Hadley – The Star Festival

Sita Singh – Birds Of A Feather

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

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

Jennifer Buchet – Little Medusa’s Hair Do-lemma

Michelle Vattula – The Stalking Seagulls

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

Candice Marley Conner – Sassafras And Her Teeny Tiny Tail

Ashley Belote – Frankenslime

Becky Scharnhorst – My School Stinks!

Darshana Khiani – How To Wear A Sari

Ana Siqueira – Bella’s Recipe For Success

Kate Allen Fox – Pando: A Living Wonder Of Trees (nonfiction)

Jenna Waldman – Sharkbot Shalom

Karen A. Wyle – You Can’t Kiss A Bubble

Rebecca Mullin – One Tomato (board book)

Cynthia Argentine – Night Becomes Day: Changes In Nature (illustrated with photographs)