Today is the final day of facing down the chicken exit! BRAVER THAN BRAVE comes out tomorrow. I have been waiting for this for so long and I can’ believe it’s almost here! But in the meantime, I present Days 25-26 of 26 Days of Facing the Chicken Exit! I hope you enjoy!
DAY 25: ???
I left today open for all of you to share your own stories of facing down the chicken exit. I hope you’ve been inspired after reading so many great stories. I hope you’ve been thinking about the moments in your life when you’ve faced down your chicken exit . . . whether that means taking the exit, or doing THE THING. I hope you know that there are SO MANY WAYS TO BE BRAVE. You are Brave! And I hope you’ll comment and share your own story. I would truly love to hear!
DAY 26: Back to Wanda
I hope you enjoyed Days 25-26, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the whole series. I really wanted to highlight the idea that being brave looks different for everyone. Sometimes we are Brave by doing THE HARD THING, and sometimes walking away from it takes all the Brave. A huge thank you to everyone who shared their story. That took courage, too! I love you all!
And dearest readers, I would really love to hear your story of facing down your own chicken exit in the comments!
If you want to learn more about Wanda’s Chicken exit, you can pre-order (or is it plain old order now??!) a copy of BRAVER THAN BRAVE at any of the following links (or wherever books are sold):
If you’ve missed the previous Facing Down the Chicken Exit Posts, you can find them here:
DAY 1: The Legend of the Chicken Exit
Today, we continue the countdown to the release of my upcoming picture book, BRAVER THAN BRAVE, illustrated by Eunji Jung, and published by Capstone Editions, a Capstone Imprint. I present Days 18-20 of 26 Days of Facing the Chicken Exit!
DAY 18: Angie Lucas, author of MY BIG, DUMB, INVISIBLE DRAGON
“I rode the roller coaster of infertility for 12 long years. After three consecutive losses, I gathered every remaining ounce of courage to try ONE more time. And that’s how I got my wonderful son, Wyatt, who just turned 5.”
DAY 19: PB Character, Morah
In MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR FLOATIES, Morah faces a chicken exit when she elects to learn to swim instead of keeping her floaties on.
~by Rachelle Jones Smith (@writerachelle), art by Jairalin Repalbor
DAY 20: Gabi Snyder, author of COUNT ON US!
“As a young adult I went skiing for the first time with friends who were seasoned skiers. They said they could teach me to ski and we got in line for an intermediate slope. I could barely stand in the skis. The idea of starting with an intermediate slope terrified me. Even the chairlift terrified me! So another friend and I happily took the chicken exit and spent the afternoon taking lessons on the bunny hill. The chicken exit was definitely the right choice!”
I hope you enjoyed Days 18-20! Now, I want to give a huge thanks to everyone who entered the giveaways on Twitter and Instagram. Today I’m announcing the winners!!
First up, we have the winner of the Twitter giveaway:
If you’ve missed the previous Facing Down the Chicken Exit Posts, you can find them here:
DAY 1: The Legend of the Chicken Exit
Today, we continue the countdown to the release of my upcoming picture book, BRAVER THAN BRAVE, illustrated by Eunji Jung, and published by Capstone Editions, a Capstone Imprint. I present Days 15-17 of 26 Days of Facing the Chicken Exit!
On with the countdown to the release of my upcoming picture book, BRAVER THAN BRAVE, illustrated by Eunji Jung, and published by Capstone Editions, a Capstone Imprint. I present Days 15-17 of 26 Days of Facing the Chicken Exit!
DAY 15: Girlie
“My friends wanted to do a play and I decided to do it with them, but I don’t like being looked at by a lot of people, so more or less stage fright. So my friends hyped me up and I just didn’t look at anyone in the audience, and everything went well.”
Hope you enjoyed DAYS 15-17! In celebration of the upcoming release of BRAVER THAN BRAVE, I’ve got two giveaways going on right now. One on Twitter, which you can enter HERE. And one on Instagram, which you can enter HERE. They both open through July 23rd, and they are both open to wherever Book Depository delivers. Good luck!
Check out other days of Facing the Chicken Exit:
DAY 1: The Legend of the Chicken Exit
Today, we continue the countdown to the release of my upcoming picture book, BRAVER THAN BRAVE, illustrated by Eunji Jung, and published by Capstone Editions, a Capstone Imprint. I present Days 2-4 of 26 Days of Facing the Chicken Exit!
DAY 2: Wanda, mc of Braver than Brave
Wanda wants to be Brave like her big brother Zane who is the bravest kid she knows. She tries the monkey bars, Skeleton hill, and even camp Wakalaka. But they are not her Brave. Will Wanda ever find HER Brave?
I love this picture of Wanda. @eunji.illustration really captures Wanda’s emotions. All the fears. All the doubts. Wanting to be Brave so badly, but so uncertain if she’ll ever manage it.
I feel that way all the time. How about you?
DAY 3: Eunji Jung, Illustrator of Braver than Brave
“At the opening reception of my solo exhibit, I was so nervous and scared to do the artist talk in front of a lot of people, but I faced down my own chicken exit by thinking about the reward I would get for being a little brave. In the end, people loved my speech and art!”
And there we have Days 2-4! In celebration of the upcoming release of BRAVER THAN BRAVE, I’ve got two giveaways going on right now. One on Twitter, which you can enter HERE. And one on Instagram, which you can enter HERE. They both open through July 23rd, and they are both open to wherever Book Depository delivers. Good luck!
Check out other days of Facing the Chicken Exit:
I got another book deal! I’m so excited to share that my next picture book, A Bad Case of the Almosts, was finally announced last week! (My third picture book, and my fourth book!!! But who’s counting?)
In case you can’t read that, here’s what it says:
Christianne Jones at Capstone has acquired world rights to A Bad Case of the Almosts by Janet Sumner Johnson (l.), illustrated by Alexandra Colombo. In this book, Abby conducts an experiment to discover if “almost” can be a good thing. Publication is set for spring 2023; Lauren Galit at LKG Agency represented the author, and Emmajane Turner at the Bright Agency represented the illustrator.
I wrote A BAD CASE OF THE ALMOSTS when I was struggling with them myself. I’d had a few books on submission that *ALMOST* sold, and it felt like “almost” was my destiny. Not quite there. Not quite good enough.
I commiserated with a good friend of mine, and she encouraged me. Told me to keep going and that she thought I was about to break through. That I was *almost* there. She could feel it.
I couldn’t, but it made me reassess. What if “Almost” wasn’t the stumbling block I thought it was?
I’m just thrilled to share this book with you, and I hope a few of you can relate to how it feels to be so close to something, then not quite make it.
So. You may have noticed that it’s slated for a spring 2023 release. That might seem fast for a picture book, but I have a secret to share with you about the publishing industry. I actually signed this picture book contract last June. Yep, 9 (NINE!!!) months ago.
With picture books, the announcement takes a while because once the author signs the contract, the publisher has to find an illustrator and get them to sign a contract before the book can be announced. And every publisher works slightly differently. Some publishers might jump right on finding an illustrator. Others might wait a bit because they are busy working on other projects. Some contracts are more complicated, so it might take more time to negotiate that contract. And it also depends on when the book is slated to be published.
All of that means nine months of waiting for a book deal announcement is pretty typical when it comes to picture books. I even know some authors who have waited over two years for a book to be announced! And let me tell you, it can be pretty hard to keep a secret for that long. So it’s an amazing day when we can finally share about a book that we are so excited for!
And one final note, for those with curious minds: Longer books, the kinds that don’t have an illustrator, those announcements can come much faster. Though not always . . . because negotiating a contract can still take time, which means months can pass between when an author first gets an offer and when the contract is finally signed.
Publishing is an industry of secrets and a test of patience. Which is why you will so often hear an author say: “I got great news today!! But I can’t talk about it yet.” Because like I said, keeping secrets–like a book deal!–is HARD! And when you’ve got good news, all you want to do is shout about it to the world.
Sometimes, hosting an author interview is a great way to meet some fantastic authors. And sometimes, hosting an author interview is a way to spend time with a great friend! But it is always a way to share some amazing books with you, my readers. Today, I’m super excited to have children’s author, Dee Romito, here on my blog!
We met almost ten years ago through Pitch Madness (which was a contest that allowed you to get your work in front of agents). Since then, we have debuted our middle grade books together, taken picture book classes together, attended writing conferences and book festivals together, chatted for countless hours via text, phone, and zoom, and most recently, I even convinced her to do a Reel on Instagram with me! (Seriously, you should follow that link . . . just not until you’ve finished reading here. 😁)
From when I first read her work, before either of us were published, I loved it! Dee writes super-relatable, hard-to-put-down, intriguing-plot stories. So it was no surprise when she sold her chapter book series, Fort Builders, Inc. in a 4-book deal! The fourth book just came out, and I’m thrilled to have her here to talk about it. So let’s get started! (As always, I’m in green.)
Dee, will you tell us about your new chapter book series, FORT BUILDERS, INC.?
Fort Builders Inc. is about a group of friends who decide to start their own fort building business. They use teamwork, creativity, and their individual skills to navigate each challenge.
I love this premise so much! It’s brilliant! What inspired you with idea? Because honestly, what kid hasn’t wished they could build forts as a job?
And kids are so good at it! I was trying to think of an idea for a chapter book series and asked myself, “What do kids like to do these days?” Right in front of me was a box fort my kids had made. I had my answer!
Kids bring so much inspiration to our writing lives. Love it! So I happen to know that you built a fort or two as research for your books. Can you tell us about that? Did you build any specific forts from your books? What was the hardest part?
I did! For the first book, I had to make a drawbridge, and then I had to give my family the instructions I’d written to see if the steps made sense. Watching them helped me fine tune what went in the book.
We also built a pet fort for a litter of kittens we were fostering. The kittens loved it, and they posed for some book promo photos too!
And those kittens were adorable! If you were part of Fort Builder’s, Inc., what would your job be in the fort-building team?
I’d probably end up being the organizer like Caleb. I like to figure out what everyone is good at and then delegate tasks. I also like to encourage everyone and be a sounding board if there’s a problem to solve.
Oh yeah. I can totally see that. I think I’d be like Kiara, doing the planning. 😂
Okay, I’d love for our readers to learn more about you, so what is one thing about you that might surprise us?
I live in Buffalo, NY, which is very close to Niagara Falls and Canada. Around here it’s not a big deal to say you’re going to Canada, but when I talk to kids in other parts of the country and say I can go there for the day, they often look surprised, like I have a secret passage to far away land.
Oh, but you do. Canada is definitely a secret faraway land to those of us not by the border.
What did you do before you were an author, and why did you decided to become one?
Before I was an author, I was a teacher. And I love that I still get to go into schools and classrooms and talk to students; it’s just in a different role now.
I had always wanted to write a book someday and see it on the shelf at a bookstore with my name on the cover. But it wasn’t until I was home with my kids and my son asked me a question that sparked an idea for a story. From there, I decided to learn how to write a book and get it published. After a lot of hard work, I did get to see my book on the shelf at a bookstore. 😊
Way more than one, now! Because with the release of FORT BUILDERS, INC. you have published in 3 genres: Middle Grade, Picture Books, and Chapter Books. Clearly, you are amazing, as each is so different.
Did you have to make any adjustments to your writing process while working on FORT BUILDERS, INC.?
Ha ha. I would first argue that YOU are amazing, but back to the question … Yes, I had to learn a whole new way to write a story. It seems like it would be much easier to write a shorter book, but I had to learn how to fit a story into 4,000 words instead of 40,000! My editor kept telling me to make things happen sooner. You don’t have as much lead in when the story is chapter book length and the plot points are closer together.
Aww, thank you! 😊 But for real. Telling a whole story with chapters in 4000 words??! Seriously impressed over here. Do you have a favorite category to write in?
I really like variety and have a lot of different interests, which is why I write in different categories. Each one is so different, and it’s fun to explore them.
SO different. And being in two categories myself, I have to agree.
Okay, time to pick up the pace for the speed round!
Favorite candy? Anything chocolate!
Favorite color? Yellow
Cake vs. Cookies? Cookies for sure
Winnie-the-pooh character? Winnie the Pooh
Patriot’s game w/front row seats vs. Trip to London? Ha! Easily London.
Considering I’m a huge Buffalo Bills fan and London in my favorite city in the world, I feel like that last one is a trick question.
Haha! You know me too well. Just curious if I could pull one over on you in the quickness of it all. 😉 How about Buffalo Bills front row seats vs. Trip to London?
Still London. But you know I love my Bills!!!
Without question! Buffalo Bills, all the way!
Okay, final question. License Plates. I always have to ask. What would the Fort Builders, Inc. crew choose for personalized license plate if they were old enough to drive? You have 8 letters, and GO!
What a great question! I’d have to go with:
It’s perfect! Love it! Dee, thanks so much for hanging out with us today. So fun!
Dee Romito is an author of books for young readers and a former elementary school teacher. Her middle grade books include The BFF Bucket List, No Place Like Home, Postcards from Venice, and co-authored Best.Night.Ever (Aladdin/S&S). Her debut picture book, Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Little Bee Books) received a starred review from Booklist and a Crystal Kite Award. Her latest release is a chapter book series titled Fort Builders, Inc. (Aladdin/S&S). Dee blogs about writing at WriteforApples.com and is Co-Founder of Buffalo-Niagara Children’s Writers and Illustrators. While she does her best to be a grown-up most of the time, giggling with her BFFs is still one of her all-time favorite things. You can visit her website at deeromito.com.
You can learn more about Dee and her books on her website, and she’s also on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.
You can order all of Dee’s books through Monkey See, Monkey Do Bookshop, and everywhere books are sold!
As always, I’ll be in green.
Hello Nadia! Welcome to my blog! I’d love to learn more about you. Can you tell us a little about yourself, and what led you to begin writing picture books?
Thank you for having me on your blog Janet! I’m a former television journalist turned kidlit author. And I always dreamt of writing picture pictures, but wasn’t sure at what point in my life it would happen, until I became a mom.
Oh wow! It’s always so fun to know what other jobs authors have had. I bet you have a lot of stories you could tell. But today I’d love to hear about your upcoming book. Could you tell us about it?
GOODNIGHT GANESHA is a gentle bedtime story featuring two children sleeping over at their grandparents’ home in India and the various ways their culture plays a role in their nighttime routine.
I really loved seeing the relationship between the grandparents and children and the bond they have. So beautiful. What inspirations led you to write Goodnight Ganesha?
What better inspiration could you have? Okay, I’m trying not to give too much of a spoiler here, but I laughed when Tata fell asleep. What is your favorite bedtime memory?
Bedtime tenting in our back yard. It was loads of fun.
Me, too! We used to sleep outside on the trampoline. There’s something special about being outside at night.
Of course I have to talk about the art. It’s breathtaking and pairs so perfectly with the text. What was your reaction after seeing it for the first time? Also, did you have the opportunity to give input?
The art is incredible. Breathtaking for sure. And Poonam elevated my text to something – amazing. I don’t think there are enough words in my vocabulary to express how I felt seeing the art for the first time. Poonam knocked it out of the universe to infinity. Still in awe. And yes, our editor and art director gave me the opportunity to provide input after sharing the initial sketches. It was a very collaborative and respectful process.
Knocked it out of the universe, for sure! Goodnight Ganesha is your first book, so congratulations! What has been your favorite part about the publishing process and being an author?
Thank you! Yes. GOODNIGHT GANESHA is my debut. I’d say the best part of the publishing process is getting to collaborate with a ‘team’ of people who genuinely support you, your book, your vision, and do everything possible to produce the best end product and experience for your audience: kids and their adults! They help you create magic!
Magic is a great word for it. And your book certainly does that!
Okay, one last question. Here on my blog, I have a fascination for personalized license plates. What do you think your main character would put on her license plate (even though she’s definitely too young to drive!)?
Haha! Love it! Such a fun one.
Nadia, thank you so much for coming on my blog and sharing about your beautiful story. To my readers, please see below for information on how to purchase you own copy of Goodnight Ganesha!
Nadia Salomon lives in northern California with her family. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Public Policy from Emerson College and has worked in television and print news. She writes picture book, middle-grade, and graphic novel manuscripts with themes of South Asian and Caribbean culture, STEM, non-fiction, and humor. Nadia is the winner of the 2020 SCBWI Service Award and the 2019 SCBWI WOOP Honor Award for work of outstanding progress on her non-fiction, picture book manuscript, MYRLIE: A VOICE OF HOPE.
You can learn more about Nadia and her wonderful book on her website, and she’s also on Twitter and Instagram.
You can use Nadia’s linktree to purchase signed copies of Goodnight Ganesha from her favorite indie bookstore, Flashlight Books. Her book is also available as an audiobook and E-book.
Recently, I got the chance to read and review a newly released picture book titled Kindness is a Kite String: The Uplifting Power of Empathy by Michelle Schaub and illustrated by Claire LaForte.
This is a subject I’ve thought a lot about. Kindness is so important, yet it feels as though it’s more and more rare. What a difference kindness could make in the world! So of course, I jumped at the opportunity to read this book. Kids need to be taught about kindness now, and what better way than through picture books?
This book did not disappoint!
Kindness is a Kite String is a poem that suggests different ways to spread kindness. From hugs, to sharing a book, to visiting sick neighbors, this story gives a lot of great ideas for ways to spread kindness. But more than that, it teaches kids that Kindness is something that grows and spreads whenever you share it.
Kindness is a topic that we need to talk more about, and this book is a wonderful start for both kids and adults alike. If we all took this message to heart, we just might find ourselves in a better world.
Today we have another author interview! I’m so excited to have Sharon Giltrow on my blog just in time for Father’s Day! She is the author of Bedtime, Daddy! which released on May 12th. Let’s jump right in, and as always, I’m in bold green.
Hi Sharon, welcome to my blog! Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write children’s books?
Sure, I would love to 😊. I am the youngest of eight children and grew up on a farm in South Australia. My childhood was spent reading, making mud pies, exploring the salt lake and swimming at the beach. Now I am a part-time teacher of children who have a developmental language disorder and best of all a full-time writer. I started writing children’s books when my first child was born in 2006 but it wasn’t until 2015 that I started taking the idea that I could become an author seriously. I joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 picture book challenge, enrolled in children’s book courses and started my journey towards becoming a published author.
Wow! SEVEN older brothers and sisters. As it happens, I grew up near a salt lake as well! Floating on the water is a pretty interesting experience. And I’m so glad you decided to write. Please tell us about your book!
Bedtime, Daddy! Is a humorous role reversal story, where the little bear in the story puts their daddy bear to bed. To do this the little bear must wrestle daddy bear into his pajamas, read just one more story, battle endless excuses, and use go-away monster spray to finally get daddy to bed. The story has a great balance between heart and humor. It would make a perfect bedtime and Father’s Day book, and there’s even a Teacher’s Guide.
I loved the role-reversal in Bedtime Daddy! What inspired you to write it?
My husband and my children. Over the last fourteen years my husband and I have taken turns reading to our children and putting them to bed. During the nightly bedtime routine, I had a lightbulb thought… ‘wouldn’t it be funny if our children put us the parents to bed.’ The idea for Bedtime, Daddy! was born.
I love those lightbulb moments! And the steps of getting Daddy to bed are hilarious. One of my favorite parts is the monster spray. Do you have a favorite part of the story?
My favourite part of the story is when Daddy Bear and Little Bear are snuggled up in bed reading a story and Daddy Bear interrupts the story with these questions…
‘Why don’t ducks have arms?’ Or ‘Do sharks sneeze?’
They were awesome questions! I love the randomness of it all. So true to life! And let’s talk art. The art is so whimsical, and fits the book perfectly. It really helps the reader feel that the advice is coming from a kid. Did you have any input on the art or illustrator? What was your reaction at seeing the art?
EK Books asked Katrin Dreiling to illustrate Bedtime, Daddy! Before I signed the contract, they sent me Katrin’s early sketches of the characters. There was a daddy bear, a human dad, a little bear and a little child. Anouska the editor made a suggestion that perhaps using bear characters would have a more universal appeal. I trusted Anouska’s advice and am very happy with the bear characters. I love Katrin’s illustrative style and colour palette and she has illustrated my words and vision perfectly. When I first saw the storyboard for Bedtime, Daddy! I was ecstatically happy.
How interesting! Very cool that you had a choice on that. Can we talk writing for a minute? How many picture books would you say you wrote before finally getting a deal on this one?
My first picture book I wrote was in 2006, I then went on to write nine more before I signed the deal for Bedtime, Daddy! Since signing the deal I have written four more picture book manuscripts and one chapter book manuscript.
That is a lot of books. This business takes a lot of perseverance! What helped you the most on the path to publication?
Not giving up and believing in myself! As well as the support of my critique partners and the Kidlit community. Surround yourself with like-minded writers.
That is great advice. Having that support makes all the difference!
One last question. I have a fascination for personalized license plates. What do you think Little Bear might choose for his personalized license plate? You have 8 characters. Go!
Hahaha! I love it! So perfect. Okay, I know I already said last question, but where can we purchase Bedtime, Daddy!?
Bedtime, Daddy! is now available to order around the world:
Thanks so much! And for my readers, see below for where to find and follow Sharon on social media platforms.
Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, WA with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. When not writing, Sharon works with children with Developmental Language Disorder. Sharon was awarded the Paper Bird Fellowship in 2019. Her debut PB Bedtime, Daddy, released May 2020 through EK books.
You can find Sharon on her Website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Big apology for missing posts. Between COVID-19 and the deaths of so many of my black brothers and sisters, my mind has been full. I’ve been wrestling with myself and working on how to be a better ally to the black community.
I’ve learned a lot by listening to my friends, and by reading books by black authors. So that’s where I want to start, because education is always the first step. We can’t empathize with others if we don’t listen and understand their plight. Today I’m sharing three books by black authors that I love and recommend.
First up is Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson. This book was fascinating to help me really understand the plight of blacks living in the south during the 50’s. Here is the Amazon description:
It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. But for now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation.
Then, one town over, an African American boy, Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. When Till’s murderers are unjustly acquitted, Rose realizes that the South needs a change . . . and that she should be part of the movement. Linda Jackson’s moving debut seamlessly blends a fictional portrait of an African American family and factual events from a famous trial that provoked change in race relations in the United States.
Next is Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison. I loved this book about learning to love yourself exactly as you were made. It’s such a universal message, but it means even more in the context of the racial struggles in the U.S. Here is the Amazon description:
Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.
In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.
Finally, I want to share The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali, and illustrated by Hatem Aly. A year or so ago, I read Ibtihaj’s book, Proud, about her journey to becoming the first Muslim woman wearing a hijab to represent the U.S. at the Olympics. If you recall, she went on to win the bronze medal in the team sabre event. I really enjoyed her story, and loved how she talked about what wearing a hijab means to her in this picture book. It was beautiful, and a reminder to me to seek to understand first. Here is the Amazon description:
With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.
Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali bring readers an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond between siblings, and of being proud of who you are.
I hope you check out these books and love them as much as I did. Wishing you all love and safety in these uncertain times. Please share books that you’ve loved that help us understand experiences that are not our own. I’d love to read them!