Good morning! Today I am thrilled to have debut author Cindy Williams Schrauben here on my blog. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of her book THIS COULD BE YOU (April 1, Cardinal Rule Press), illustrated by Julia Seal. I loved it so much, I reached out to the publisher to hook us up.
Cindy graciously agreed to an interview, and here we are! It was such a joy to get to know her better, and I’m excited for all of you to meet her as well. Also, you can read my review HERE. So enough of my jabbering, let’s meet Cindy! (As always, I’m in green.)
Hi! Thanks so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write children’s books?
As a mom, grandmother, and former teacher, books have always played a big part in my life. My favorite memories involve kids in my lap reading. Though I have always enjoyed writing, and dreamed of writing a picture book, It wasn’t until my daughters moved out that I took it seriously – I knew I needed my own passion. I attended the NYC-SCBWI Conference early on and the energy and kindness of the kidlit community had me hooked right away.
Conferences are the best. The energy is amazing! Please tell us about your upcoming book, THIS COULD BE YOU.
Unlike many of my books, This Could Be You started out with an intentional message and goal – to inspire kids to believe and achieve by empowering them with growth mindset principles. I set out to create a book in which all kids could see themselves persevering. Each spread stars a different group of children living out their dreams – and, sometimes, struggling along the way. Being able to learn from our failures is a crucial part of a growth mindset.
I completely agree. We all go through failure, but it doesn’t define us. Kids need to see that! Your book creates such a hopeful feeling for your readers. What inspired you to write it?
My grandsons and the realization that I didn’t always encourage a growth mindset in my girls when they were young. Well-meaning comments like, “you are so smart” and “math is just easy for you” can have unintentional negative connotations. Instead, statements like, “Wow, you really worked hard for that” help them to realize that it is ok if something is hard because effort will help us get there. Our talents and skills are malleable. I hope that this book, which features extensive backmatter for adults, will help us all use more intentional language with our kids.
Such great advice! I’ve been working on that as well with my kids. And so much great back matter!
Speaking of work, your rhymes and rhythms are just plain fun to read. Writing in rhyme feels so daunting to me (I clearly need your book to build up my growth mindset!). Your stanzas all sound so perfect, they feel like it must have come out that way, but I’m sure you worked hard at it! Could you share a little bit about your revision process?
Every story in my head comes out in rhyme first – I often realize that rhyme isn’t right for a story, but for this one, I think it works. That isn’t to say that it was perfect (or even good) at the beginning. Rhyming requires a great deal of assessing and maneuvering. I often read out loud while tapping out beats like a conductor (I have to be careful who’s watching my loony antics). That is part of what I love about it, though – it’s like a puzzle.
Love that! I’m sure all us writers look a little loony when in the zone. And so fascinating that you start in rhyme. So, my favorite stanza was, of course, the one about writing. Do you have a favorite stanza? What do you love about it?
Fun fact #1 – the illustrator used a childhood photo of me to draw the young author on that page.
Really??! That is so cool! *runs off to find that page*
Picking my favorite is tough, but I think it is this:
Who has keen-design flair,
an artist’s time-to-shine flair,
a sketch-and-then-refine flair?
Create. It could be you!
Why? It shows a character who tries and fails, but doesn’t give up.
The refinement part is key to success. Such a great stanza.
Moving on to the art . . . it’s so expressive! Julia Seal, the illustrator, did an amazing job! I love the simplicity of the kids, and how well it captures their emotions. Did you have any input on the art or illustrator? What was your reaction at seeing the art? (so many questions!)
I cried! It’s as if Julie Seal was in my head when she created the illustrations. The diversity, the color, everything. I didn’t have any input into the process at all, which was terrifying, but I couldn’t be more pleased.
It IS a terrifying process, but illustrators can do magic. And seeing your characters brought-to-life is a magical moment.
Fun fact #2 – I LOVE the endpapers. My illustrator deserves all the credit for this – she proposed that we ask children we know (along with some winners of a contest) to draw pictures of their dream jobs. Those Jr. Illustrators include my grandsons, nieces, nephews, etc. They loved being a part of it.
I LOVED the endpapers! Brilliant idea from Julia. And so exciting for those kids!
Can we talk writing for a minute? How many picture books would you say you wrote before finally getting a deal on this one?
Oh boy. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many unfinished stories I have, but as far as completed, ready to submit stories, close to 20.
Wow. But it really shows you are living the message of THIS COULD BE YOU. What helped you the most on the path to publication?
The number one most important part of my journey has been the kidlit community – from critique partners to contest organizers and bloggers. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have kept going without them.
So much truth. The kidlit community is so uplifting. 💜
Now on to the speed round of favorites!
Ice cream: Vanilla with lots of chocolate, caramel, and nuts. But, I don’t think there is a flavor I would pass up. Ice cream is my weakness.
Time of day: Late at night
Musical instrument: Piano
I love how much we can learn from one-word answers. Love it all! (And Three Ninja Pigs is a favorite of mine, too!)
One last question. I have a fascination for personalized license plates. What do you think your characters might choose for their personalized license plate? You have 8 characters. Go!
So perfect! Thanks so much again!
Thank you! This has been lots of fun.
Cindy Williams Schrauben lives in Michigan where she writes books for kids that range from the truly serious to the seriously silly. Before embarking on this path, she held positions as a preschool administrator, teacher, and assistant director of a children’s museum — always striving to empower kids. When not writing or honing her craft, Cindy might be found dissecting her grandsons’ shenanigans for story ideas, reading on the floor in the bookstore, or eating ice cream… ideally all at once.
You can purchase THIS COULD BE YOU through Monkey See, Monkey Do books, or wherever books are sold.
Today, I’m excited to welcome Author Zeena Pliska to my blog! Her debut, Hello, Little One! (Page Street Kids, 2020), illustrated by Fiona Halliday, came out in 2020. It is beautiful and touching, and if you haven’t read it . . . well, then I’m extra excited to introduce you to Zeena and this lovely book.
I am in green!
Hi Zeena, welcome to my blog!
Thanks so much for having me, Janet. It’s truly an honor!
The honor is all mine. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write children’s books?
I spend my days immersed in the joy of 5-year-olds. I’m a kindergarten teacher by day and a children’s book author by night in Los Angeles, California. As a progressive public-school educator, I believe that the most important aspect of teaching is listening to children. Often, children’s stories come through me rather than from me. A lifetime storyteller, I have facilitated stories as a theater director, visual artist, photographer and journalist. I think “in stories,” in narratives, and am enchanted by all the stories that surround me.
I wrote my first picture book in 1995 but was too involved in theater directing to really pursue another direction at the time. Years passed. I developed as an exhibiting visual artist and lived with other artists in a loft.
When I had my daughter, painting and photography were replaced by parenting. It was no longer feasible to create stories in mediums that literally took up space and required a studio/loft. Those delightful and play-filled years of early parenting consumed my time and became my “artistic” pursuit. When my child entered her teenage years, my storytelling reemerged in the form of picture book manuscripts (they didn’t take up physical space and could be stored on a computer.)
I’ve now entered that world as a children’s book author and feel like I’ve found my sweet spot. Although, theater directing, filmmaking, painting, and photographing still call out, seeking my attention…
I love that you’ve been involved in so many different creative pursuits. And I agree, it can be hard to settle on just one, but I completely agree that writing picture books is a sweet place to be! Can you please tell us about your book?
Hello, Little One: A Monarch Butterfly Story is a fictional picture book about a young monarch caterpillar who longs for friendship. Having hatched among leaves of a Milkweed plant, it crawls from green leaf to green leaf looking for a friend. And then, it sees Orange, an adult monarch butterfly as it flits, flutters, and flies. When Orange lands on a flower near Little One, the two strike up a friendship. Together they move through the lifecycle as their friendship grows, each sharing their unique point of view with the other.
It’s a story of longing. Youth wanting to catch up with age, and age savoring its memories of youth. The two at different stages of their lives, meeting in that wondrous two-week window when both are able to connect, love, appreciate, and admire each other.
The story came to life in my kindergarten world of youthful energy. Originally titled Orange, it is a story of friendship, love, loss, grief, and renewal.
So fun to learn it had a different title! And I have to say, your book really tackles all those topics in such a sweet and tender way. What inspired you to write it?
When I close my eyes, I am right back in that moment when the story of Hello, Little One jumped into my heart.
The school where I teach is located in the Mar Vista/Venice Beach area. We are a waystation for monarchs so it’s not unusual to see these beautiful creatures grace our playground. In fact, they are our official mascot. They flit, flutter, and swoop as children’s laughter and sounds of play can be heard in the background.
One day at recess time, I was walking on my way to the main office. In between the classrooms, a majestic monarch butterfly fluttered about, landing on the flowers in the garden boxes. I was mesmerized by the moment. I wondered, “What must that butterfly see and experience?”
As I wondered, I was struck by the sad, bittersweet thought that the life cycle of this monarch was almost done. It had only about two weeks to live. I was struck by both the strength of this creature and the fragility of life. In that moment, the character of Orange was born.
I am a great lover of irony. The story developed around the friendship between a young caterpillar at the beginning of its life cycle and an elder butterfly at the end of its life cycle. The story was anchored in the two points of view from the different stages of the life cycle and the perspectives each can offer the other. A caterpillar who sees everything in life for the first time and can’t wait to grow up and fly with its friend and a butterfly who fondly remembers its youth while sharing the beauty and wonder that comes with experience and age. It was important that the story not just focus on the perspective of the adult, but respect the voice of the child, giving equal value to both viewpoints.
You can definitely feel that as you read. The wonder of Little One, and the wisdom of Orange. But I’m sure that beautiful balance you captured didn’t happen without work. Would you mind sharing a little about your revision process?
I wrote the story 7 years prior to its publication. I have been a teacher in Los Angeles for many years. The scientific principles embedded in the story were already a part of my working knowledge as I have taught them to kindergarteners for a long time. I developed as an educator during the years of whole language, core literature, and thematic teaching when picture books were at the center of learning science and social studies concepts. It was a different time, before scripted curriculum.
It is still how I teach, using picture books to draw out student inquiry and student-led projects. Teaching informs my writing. The scientific concepts emerged in the story authentically and organically. While I researched specific facts and details for the back matter, I did not do any research for the initial story. Because the science concepts were just there, it was the emotional story that really drove my process.
One of the first times I shared my story with a large, public critique group of children’s book writers, I read the manuscript not knowing what to expect. I didn’t understand rhythm, word choice, lyrical language etc. It was both exhilarating and terrifying to reach the end and experience the response. A woman sobbed. She had connected with the grief in the story. It had triggered her own loss and touched her. The room was moved. The story had taken listeners to a place where they had felt big emotions. I thought I had done my job as a writer. But the manuscript had miles to go and so did I, in my development of craft.
The word count was way too long and suddenly, the manuscript was a play. I was delighted to work with my young students to build the story and present it at a dedication ceremony to unveil a section of our campus, known as The Wildlands. The characters became more fully developed as I co-created with 5-year-olds. The play was performed by students who culminated from our school in 2020, the year the book was released. Bittersweet. I can still hear their youthful and poignant delivery of the lines as they flit, fluttered, and flew around the outdoor native garden. It was a beginning.
My story of a little caterpillar and Orange had come to life but it was still not ready for submission. The manuscript stretched beyond what was reasonable for a picture book, well over 1200 words! Like many novice picture book writers, I did not yet understand the concept of word count and the process of precise word choice. It went through many revisions. Then, it went through many rejections. Rejections inform revisions. Revisions made me a stronger writer. They helped me develop my craft and the story that it finally became.
Word count and precise word choice can sound so simple, but it is definitely an art! And speaking of art . . . the art is gorgeous! The detail and intricacies are breathtaking. Fiona Halliday really brought everything to life. I’d love to hear about your process with the illustration. Did you get to help in choosing the illustrator? Did you include art notes? And what was your first reaction to seeing these gorgeous illustrations? Do you have a favorite image?
I was very lucky as a debut author. Page Street Kids asked for my input regarding the illustrator. They sent some suggestions to me. Fiona’s work was stunning and unique. The editor and I were in agreement that Fiona was a great choice. The editor also knew she could depict the emotional connection between the two characters which was an essential piece of the storytelling.
I had put very few illustration notes because I don’t see stories when I am writing them, I hear them. This is so strange because I am also a visual artist. I think I hear them because of the countless picture books I read aloud to my students as a teacher every day.
Fiona Halliday is a Page Street Kids author/illustrator. Her picture book, Numenia and the Hurricane: A True Migration Story came out in January 2020. And, The Legend of the Storm Goose comes out in February of 2022. Fiona lives in Austria. We did not meet or communicate directly during the process. There was a strict firewall for good reason. We did finally meet 4 months after the release of the book at a virtual event. The event was hosted by Second Star to the Right Books in Denver, Colorado and designed to reveal our first meeting with each other and to answer questions as the author and illustrator of Hello, Little One.
It’s so strange to co-create a story and never meet during the process of creation but I think this is pretty standard in the industry. There were some moments during the process when the sketches looked completely different than the final art. The style and depiction didn’t seem to tell the same story I was trying to tell. I thought they were the direction that the illustrations were going in. It wasn’t until I met Fiona at the virtual event that she communicated her process and I understood that they had been very rough, first sketches when she was exploring the possibilities.
I love promoting this book so much because the illustrations are absolutely stunning. When I saw the illustrations for the first time, I think my heart skipped a beat. They tell the story in a way that could never have been told with words alone. That’s the magic of a picture book told through the words of the author and the pictures of the illustrator. My favorite image is the image of the two nestled up against each other as their separation becomes inevitable.
Such a gorgeous image. The illustration process is so fascinating. It really is amazing to watch a story come to life from a second point of view. So now that Hello, Little One is out in the world, what is your favorite part of being an author? And what is next for you?
I am a storyteller by nature, and I believe in the power of story. Irony is also an element that weaves its way through my work. Playfully recognizing irony is very much part of how I experience the world. Although I am never trying to “teach” a lesson in my writing, it is always my hope that my work will create discourse.
I have several picture book manuscripts on submission through my agent Abigail Samoun of Red FoxLiterary. Themes that emerge for me presently in my picture books are stories of resistance and resilience. I like to challenge the status quo, giving children the opportunity to rethink possibilities not yet imagined as they navigate their world.
I have just written a graphic novel and am working on a contemporary YA novel. I love to tell stories in different formats. Each story that finds me and demands to be told has its own form that best suits it. So many stories, so little time.
My next picture book, Egyptian Lullaby, published by Roaring Brook Press comes out in 2023.
Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it. And I love that you are writing in so many forms. I agree that every story demands its own form, and it can be fun to explore that!
Okay, are you ready? Speed round!
Butterfly vs. Caterpillar?
Butterfly! I don’t mind crawling along and looking at life in detail through newborn eyes … but oh how I love to fly and see the world in all its vastness!
Ocean vs. Mountains?
Ocean. I live 7 minutes from the ocean and the final version of Hello, Little One that made it submission-ready was written while looking out at the ocean in Playa Del Rey, CA.
Halloween vs. New Year’s Day?
Halloween! Who doesn’t love transforming into any character they want for a whole night? The possibilities are endless…
Tigger. I love his youthful energy.
Ice cream vs. Cake?
Ice cream, though it’s hard to imagine eating them separately. I guess that’s the basis for my answer. I can eat ice cream without cake but I can’t eat cake without ice cream.
Love it! So fun to learn more about you.
Okay, I have one last question. I have a fascination for personalized license plates. Obviously, your characters couldn’t have them, but if we imagine a cute little caterpillar car, what do you think Little One might choose for their personalized license plate? You have 8 characters. Go!
Love it! And for those of you who don’t get it, you’ll have to read the book!
Zeena Pliska is an author and kindergarten teacher in the Los Angeles public school system. When she is not figuring out how to elevate the voices of children, she is working on social justice and climate change issues and traveling near and far with her own “little one.” She lives in Los Angeles.
Please Welcome Gabi Snyder to my blog! I love Gabi. We met through a picture book group called 12×12, and are now both part of the Debut Crew. I confess, I may be fangirling to have her on my site. I actually read her book announcement before we met and thought it sounded brilliant! I’m excited for you all to learn more about her.
Now on to the interview! As always, I’m in green.
Hi Gabi, welcome to my blog!
Hi Janet! I’m excited to be here!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write children’s books?
Back in the day (early aughts), I studied English-Creative Writing at The University of Texas, with a focus on writing fiction for adults. After earning my MA, I took a succession of jobs that used writing (like grant writing and instructional design), but I wasn’t finding much time to do my own writing.
Fast forward to 2013: when my kids were little (3 and 5), we moved from Austin to Corvallis, Oregon. With a break from work following the move, I found time to get back to my own writing. Only, by then, reading daily with my two littles, I’d become immersed in the world of picture books and fallen in love with this form of storytelling.
Isn’t it an amazing form? I’m totally in love, too. Your book is so fun! Please tell us what it’s about.
TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE starts with a gate left open and a dog escaping her yard to join a poodle on a trike. Soon it’s three dogs on a scooter and then four dogs on a bike. With each new mode of transportation, a new dog is added to the fun. But what the pups don’t notice is that the original dog’s family cat is in hot pursuit.
It’s such a fun premise! I can just imagine kids giggling over that cat. What inspired you to write Two Dogs on a Trike?
If I had to guess which picture book I reread the most as a child, I’d name GO, DOG. GO! by P.D. Eastman. The silly dogs and sense of movement and fun in TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE are, in part, an homage to the P.D. Eastman classic. In TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, we count up to 10 and back down again while moving through different and escalating modes of transportation.
And the dog versus cat dynamic that plays out in the story was inspired, in part, by my childhood pets. I grew up with a cat we called Kinko (named for his kinked tail) and an assortment of dogs. Kinko was the undisputed boss. Now my family includes one daredevil dog and one cat who keeps us all in line.
Haha! I had cats growing up, too, and they definitely keep us all in line.
I love that your book leaves so much room for the reader to create a story. Sparse text books can be really tricky, and yours makes it look easy! I would love to hear about your revision process. Was the initial draft pretty similar to this, or what kind of edits did you have to make?
Great question! Unlike most of my stories, drafting TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE was fairly quick and painless. It came out mostly whole. Of course, my brilliant critique partners still had suggestions for taking it to the next level. For instance, looking back at my first draft I see that the first line of the story initially read “One dog on the sidewalk.” With help from my critique partners, that line changed to “One dog, all alone…”. And then, when working with my editor, Meredith Mundy at Abrams, she pointed out that Sandra Boynton’s book HIPPOS GO BERSERK opens with this line: “One hippo, all alone . . ..” I wanted my opening line to vary more from the first line of that Boynton classic, so we changed that line to “One dog stands alone.”
So fun to see the evolution! Thank you for sharing. I feel like I just got a peek into your secret lab. 😊
Okay, so hearing about the story, and knowing you have a dog and cat, any chance we can see a picture? Everyone loves pet pictures.
Camille (the dog) and Henry (the cat) love to help me write! Camille likes to drape herself across my lap as I type, and Henry keeps my manuscripts warm and furry.
Adorable! What a cozy way to write. 😸🐶
Finally, the art. I love the bold colors and the simple, yet intricate images (which is quite the feat!). The illustrator, Robin Rosenthal, conveys so much emotion and humor and makes it look effortless! What is your favorite image from the book, and why?
I am absolutely smitten with Robin’s illustrations. And I love the 80’s retro vibe of the fashion choices.
Aren’t those the best??! The 80’s rocked.
For the first half of the story, the dogs are oblivious to the fact that they’re being followed. When we reach “10 dogs,” there’s a realization. That last animal? Not a dog! The revelation spread and the one that follows are my favorite images in the story. And while my illustration notes made clear who that not a dog is, I didn’t specify where we are. Robin Rosenthal’s illustration for that spread is hilarious and unexpected! I gasped in surprise when I saw it, and yet it feels like the inevitable “of course!” choice. Truly perfection.
It totally felt inevitable! It’s a neat thing to watch an illustrator’s work not only bring a story to life, but add that extra to make it that much MORE.
Okay, one last question. Here on my blog, I have a fascination for personalized license plates. What do you think the dogs (and the cat!) in your story might choose for a personalized license plate? You have 8 characters. Go!
Those are purrfect! (I couldn’t resist! Haha!) Thanks so much for stopping in!
Thanks so much for hosting me, Janet! 😊
TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE will be released on May 19th. To learn more about Gabi, her book, and where to find her on social media, see below!
Reader. Writer. Lover of chocolate. Watch for Gabi Snyder’s debut picture book, TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, coming from Abrams/Appleseed in spring 2020, and her second picture book, LISTEN (working title) from Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books in spring 2021. Gabi lives in Oregon with her family, including one daredevil dog and the cat who keeps everyone in line.
If possible, consider buying TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE from your local bookstore. You can use Indiebound to find a local store.
If you don’t have a local indie or if they’re not able to take online orders, consider supporting local bookstores by ordering from Bookshop.
Welcome to the final day of my special series of Lost Resumes!
To celebrate the release of my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), on Monday, March 2nd (just 3 days from now!), I’m sharing 5 Lost Resumes from characters who both did and didn’t make it into my story.
I hope you enjoyed the other Lost Resumes. But if you missed, I’ve included a link to all of the resumes at the bottom, so be sure to check them out.
Drum roll, please, for the final addition! Today, I present you Lost Resume #5: Rumpelstiltskin
I confess, this one makes me giggle-laugh so hard. I know! I totally crack me up. It is so different than all the other resumes, but Rumpelstiltskin is quite the character, and he likes to do things his own way. This is the only version of his that made sense. And secret? Underneath that big black rectangle is his actual name. Yep. I wanted it to be authentic.
Another secret? I had to give Shailey a last name when I created this resume. She didn’t have one before that. I know, I know, characterization and all that. But it was a corner I felt okay with cutting.
The only hard part about this particular resume, was not using the Shrek version of Rumpelstiltskin (either of them . . . you know he’s featured twice, right? Feel free to watch them all again. In fact, I just might do that myself).
Once again, while I don’t know why my publisher didn’t choose this resume, I have my guesses. Rumpelstiltskin is right up there with Grandma Sweets. It’s a bit dark to be thinking about a goblin stealing away a newborn baby, and since HELP WANTED is a book for young children, they probably don’t even want to be thinking about their future children at all! I get that. I do.
But in the mean time, I’m just over here chuckling away.
Now, there are two final notes I need to make:
First, I dressed up these Lost Resumes for this series, but when I sent them to my publisher, they were nothing more than words in a Word document. Just in case you were wondering. 😊
Second, there is the little matter of the replaced characters. For those who have been dying to find out all week, here you go:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves replaced the Farmer in the Dell. He was my absolute favorite, and I’m so sad he didn’t make the cut. But let’s just say that the stinky old cheese was a big problem for Shailey.
Captain Hook replaced the Pied Piper. Since the Pied Piper stems from a true story, he was deemed too creepy. But he made things a little too lively for Shailey’s liking, anyway. 😳
I hope you enjoyed this series! If you want to see more resumes, you can find FOUR more as the backmatter in HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS. The perfect ones to match the rest of the book.
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my book, and a copy of a book by one of my fellow Debut Crew members! You have until Saturday, February 28th, at midnight EST.
And if you want to check out the other resumes, follow the links:
Lost Resume #3
Lost Resume #4
Have a great day!
Welcome back to my special series of Lost Resumes!
To celebrate the release of my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), on Monday, March 2nd (next week!), I’m sharing 5 Lost Resumes from characters who both did and didn’t make it into my story.
I hope you enjoyed the first three Lost Resumes. But if you missed, I’ve included a link to all of the resumes at the bottom, so be sure to check them out.
Today we are moving on to Lost Resume #4: King Midas!
I had to do a bit of research for this one. I mean, who didn’t grow up hearing the story of King Midas? But turns out, I was pretty clueless. I’m certain I must have learned his story came from the Greek Myths at some point. But adult me had completely forgotten that tidbit.
When I mentioned this at the dinner table, my kids (ages 16, 13, and 10) went off on a deep discussion of a plethora of minor gods, comparing the Roman versions to the Greek, and I clearly need to start reading more Rick Riordan. My husband and I just sat there with mouths hanging open. Okay, not really, because we were eating dinner, but mentally, our mouths were definitely hanging open.
As I keep saying, I don’t actually know why my publisher did or didn’t choose each resume. But I feel fairly confident that King Midas didn’t make it in because he is from the Greek Myths, and not from the fairy and folk tales they were going for. And I suppose it’s also possible that this resume isn’t as funny as the others. Maybe. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Be sure to come back tomorrow when I share Lost Resume #5! The final one. In the meantime, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my book, and a copy of a book by one of my fellow Debut Crew members! And if you want to check out the other resumes, follow the links:
Lost Resume #5
Have a great day!
Good morning! This week I’m gearing up to celebrate the release of my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), on Monday, March 2nd!
For those who were here Monday and Tuesday, welcome back to my special series of Lost Resumes!
As a reminder, I’m sharing 5 Lost Resumes from characters who both did and didn’t make it into my story. I hope you enjoyed Captain Hook’s and Snow White’s Lost Resumes! I’ve included a link to all of the resumes at the bottom, so if you missed them, be sure to check them out.
Today we are moving on to Lost Resume #3: Grandma Sweets!
Wait. You don’t know who she is? No, no, no. Of course you do. She is none other than the witch from Hansel and Gretel! Though really I should have made you guess based on the resume itself. Ahem. But here we are:
This one was a lot of fun to write. I mean, it’s Grimm, but there we are. A lot of fairy tale characters are a bit Grimm. (I know, I know, I’m so punny!) Maybe I shouldn’t admit this part, but it was really fun to put myself in the witch’s shoes and think about what she might do to get the job. We already know she’s pretty cunning just based on the fact that she lives in a consumable house.
Like I mentioned yesterday, I don’t actually know why my publisher did or didn’t choose each resume, but I’m guessing there were a couple of reasons for this one. First, the witch has no real name to speak of. I tried to look it up. But even if I had found something, no one would have known it. “Call me ‘Grandma Sweets'” was the best I could do.
Second, the Grimm factor. Maybe they worried parents don’t want to read a resume to small children about someone who wants to eat them. I don’t know. Just a theory.
Be sure to come back tomorrow when I share Lost Resume #4! In the meantime, don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my book, and a copy of a book by one of my fellow Debut Crew members! And if you want to check out the other resumes, follow the links:
Lost Resume #4
Lost Resume #5
Have a great day!
I don’t know how this happened, but my picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (illustrated by Courtney Dawson), officially releases in exactly one week from today! (Aaaaaahhh!!) With the countdown to release day in full-swing, I wanted to share a little behind-the-scenes fun (and then host a giveaway!).
The first time I chatted with my editor at Capstone, my editor asked me what I thought about possibly including some back matter in the book. She couldn’t have known, but I am a BIG FAN of all things back matter in fiction picture books. I leapt at the chance!
Ideas came swimming into my head immediately. I told her I had a lot of characters who didn’t make the cut in the book. What if we did some character resumes for those lost characters?
She loved the idea, and so I got right to work, and sent her a sample later that week. That sample—a resume for Pinocchio—is now published in the final pages of my book. In fact, there are FOUR character resumes at the end of my book. I hope you’ll love them! (Here’s the tiniest sneak peeks.)
But guess what? I wrote way more than that. Yep. I wasn’t sure what Capstone would like, so I sent them 8 to choose from. But I wrote even more resumes than that . . . because I only sent them the 8 best ones. So over the course of this week, I’m going to be sharing FIVE of those lost resumes! Eventually, they will be available for download on my website, but for now, here is LOST RESUME #1 for your viewing pleasure. May I present SNOW WHITE!
Snow White did not make the cut because I didn’t think this resume was quite as amusing as the others. Thus, I never sent this one to my editor. In the end, it was just as well because Snow White, who hadn’t been featured in my book at the time of that initial phone call, went on to replace a different character. Oh, the intrigue in the fairy tale world!
Who got replaced you ask? Take your best guess in the comments! I’d love to hear. And maybe I’ll answer that question when I share the next Lost Resume!
But now, on to more fun stuff. With my release date being so close, I must, of course, celebrate with a giveaway!
So, to one lucky winner, I am giving not only a copy of my book, but a copy of a picture book written by a member of the 2020 Debut Crew (one book of your choice!)!! You can find a list of the authors and their books HERE. If the book you choose is not yet released, I will pre-order a copy of their book for you.
For any U.S. followers, I will gladly send a signed copy of my book upon request. If you win, just let me know!
Just use the handy dandy Rafflecopter link below to enter. Good luck, my friends!
<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/139b69055/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”139b69055″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_cv4x3o2p”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
Today is my picture book cover reveal!!!
I feel like I say this a lot, but being an author is like constantly riding a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs. There is a ton of rejection, but there are also moments that make your heart flutter. Seeing your cover for the first time is one of those.
With my middle grade cover, I knew that the cover was the only image I was going to get for my book. But with a picture book, the cover is a hint at all the lovely things to come! Thirty-two pages of beautiful, glorious pictures that represent someone’s vision of this world I created.
My debut picture book, HELP WANTED: MUST LOVE BOOKS, will be released into the world on March 1, 2020! I can’t wait for you all to see the whole thing (I just love it!), but in the meantime, here is a hint of things to come. The promise of a story that makes my heart happy. I hope it will make yours happy, too.
The illustrator is the amazing Courtney Dawson. You should follow that link to see her amazing art work! She’s so talented!
So without further ado . . .
I hope you love it as much as I do! Shailey turned out so perfect, and I love, love, love that you can read the titles on a bunch of those books on the bookshelf. The colors are so fun, and that title font (!!!). *happy sigh*
Thanks for stopping by, and I’d love to hear about what grabs your attention when looking at covers.
Help Wanted: Must Love Books is up on Goodreads, so feel free to add it to your “Want to Read” list!
And holy cow! Just this second I discovered that it’s also live on Amazon, which means you can now pre-order it!! (no cover there yet, but AAAAHHHH!) [And just so you know, this would be another one of those exciting moments I was talking about at the beginning that makes your heart flutter.]
Recently, I’ve had several people approach me with the fabulous news that they’ve written a book (congratulations!), and they’d like to look into publishing, but they don’t know what to do next.
I’ve been working on getting published for so long, that I sometimes forget that the things I’ve learned about how to get published aren’t always obvious. With so many people asking this same question, I thought it might be helpful to share this information with all of you.
I’m going to warn you, this will be a long post, but I hope it will be helpful.
First of all, before you do anything else, you should have someone who is not family read your book and comment on it. Then you should consider those comments, make changes, and repeat the process. I would recommend sharing it with at least three people at a minimum.
Finding people can be hard, but if you’re serious about it, you should be willing to exchange manuscripts with someone else. I actually find that critiquing someone else’s work can be really helpful in showing me what kind of improvements I could make in my own work.
Also, a great place to find critique partners is the Querytracker.net forum.
There are all kinds of discussion threads, including one called “Critique Group Central.”
Do you just want to see your book in print? Do you want to share your work with family? With a broad audience? Do you want to traditionally publish? Do you want an agent or would you rather submit to publishers on your own? Do you want to self-publish? Do you want control over every aspect, or would you rather pass some things off and just work on writing?
Here are some things to consider:
This option can get your book out there faster, but it can be a hard road, and there are steps that normally a publisher would do that you would need to take care of. For example, you would need to do things like editing and copy-editing. I would strongly recommend that you pay someone to do that for you, as outside eyes will catch things that you as the author will not.
You will need to design a cover and format the e-book (or pay someone to do it). Also, you would be in charge of all marketing to get your book known and out there. This can be really frustrating, and it can be hard to find an audience, but these are things you would be responsible for. One thing to consider is that it can cost a good chunk of money to self-publish (if you do it right), and that is not always earned back.
That said, there are many benefits to self-publishing. For example, you get a higher percentage of any sales. You have a lot more control over content, and cover, and marketing and promotions. Some people very much want that control.
To give some other perspectives, HERE is an article from Harold Underdown, who has worked in publishing a long time. He gives a lot of good information in this article.
And HERE is an article from Elana Johnson who has both traditionally and self-published.
So there are two options here. One, you search for a publisher on your own. And two, you work to get an agent, who will then submit to publishing houses.
For both of these options, I highly recommend using QueryTracker.Net. You can use it to search for agents and publishers who publish your genre. Whether you are looking for an editor or agent, you will need to research each agent or publishing house and find out what they are looking for and whether or not they are open to unsolicited submission/queries. QueryTracker provides links to many of these agents and publishers so they are easy to research. Certainly, there are other places to find this information. There are yearly books published, but I have found QueryTracker works for me.
Once you’ve done your research, make a list of those editors/agents you want to submit to. Once you know who you want to submit to, you need to write what is called a query letter. A query letter is a letter asking the editor or agent if they would be interested in considering your work.
For good information on how to write one, here are some sites to check out:
HERE is Nathan Bransford’s post on writing query letters.
Rachelle Gardner breaks down what to include in a query letter HERE.
Janet Reid’s Query Shark is a place to see real-time improvement on query letters. You can see exactly what an agent is thinking as she reads a query letter. I recommend reading through the archives to get a sense of what a query letter should look like.
Finally, HERE is an example of a successful query letter received by Andrea Somberg.
Reasons to search for a publisher on your own:
You don’t have to split your earnings with anyone. Also, many people don’t want to take the extra time to find an agent. It would be faster to go straight to the source.
Reasons to find an agent first:
(Caveat, this is the option I chose, so I might be biased.)
Many publishers are only open to submissions through agents. The reason for this is because it saves them time. Agents have vetted the work, often done rounds of revisions to get the book closer to being publication-ready.
Agents also help you with contract negotiations. They know what to look for, and they will help you avoid contracts that aren’t favorable to authors. This can be a big deal. BIG DEAL. Better to have no contract than a bad one. I’ve seen it.
Agents act as a go-between for you and your publisher. Agents will do the hard stuff like pushing back on a cover an author doesn’t like, or dealing with problems that may come up in the editing process. Or pushing for edit notes when they are long overdue. This allows the author to maintain a more open, less tension-filled relationship with the publisher and editor which is so needed throughout the revision process.
HERE is an article on what agents do and don’t do for writers:
Honestly, I can’t imagine trying to get published without one.
The process is long and arduous to get traditionally published, and I think it’s important that people understand that up front and know what they’re getting into.
All of these options can work. It mainly depends on what your personal goals are, what you are willing to put into the process, and what you hope to get out of it.
I hope this has been helpful for you, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comments.