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Q&A Blog

5 Favorites from . . . Jodi McKay!

Author Jodi McKay and friends

Jodi McKay lives in Michigan with her husband, son, and two furry friends. She is the PAL coordinator for SCBWI-MI and is active in several online writing groups. She has two books published by Albert Whitman & Co., WHERE ARE THE WORDS? (2016) and, PENCIL'S PERFECT PICTURE (May, 2019).

 

So what are Jodi’s 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write:

Outside, although I become easily distracted out there.
 

My favorite mentor text: 

Ooh, I hope it's okay to name a few! For humor- Elwood Bigfoot by Jill Esbaum, for heart- The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld, and for narrative non-fiction- The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman.
 

My favorite writing tip:

Write down what your intention is for your manuscript (to entertain, evoke feelings, offer an opportunity to reflect) as well as what the main question of the story is (Ex. How do you make a friend, what happens when you lose your lovey, etc.) and keep it by your computer. It's helpful to be reminded of both and it will keep your writing focused.
 

My favorite marketing tip:

For marketing I would suggest being careful with how you spend your money. Book swag is really fun to hand out, but take note of what people want and what they pass by. From a promotional stand-point I would say, connect with people. This may be bookstore owners, social media buddies, teachers, your local librarian, parents. Don't try to sell your book, try to connect over books in general. Build relationships based on your love of reading and you will find these people becoming champions of both you and your books!
 

My favorite book event of the year:

I really enjoy the yearly SCBWI conferences. They are a great way to hit the refresh button and stir up the creative flow.
 

To learn more about Jodi, visit her website.

As always, if you have read the author's work, consider writing a quick review using the links above.

 

 

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5 Favorites from . . . Mia Wenjen!

Mia Wenjen blogs at Pragmatic Mom on diverse children's books. She is the author of the picture book, Sumo Joe, illustrated by Nat Iwata. She also wrote Best #OwnVoices Children's Books: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Aged 1-12, a resource to find diverse books. Her book, How To Coach Girls, co-authored with Alison Foley, focuses on helping coaches keep girls in sports. She is a co-creator of Multicultural Children's Book Day, a non-profit celebrating diversity in children's books, and also a co-founder of Aquent, the world's largest company staffing creative, digital and marketing talent with 37 offices around the world. She lives in Boston with her husband, three kids, and Golden Retriever.

 

So what are Mia’s 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write:

In my office at home which is drenched in light. The house my husband restored for our family was a mess but I fell in love with the house because of this space and it became my home office. I made the bookshelves 9 inches so it only fits chapter/middle grade books. I have an old wall unit for picture books in my basement.

 

My favorite mentor text:

My favorite book in the world is Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. Every chapter is a short story that introduces a living, breathing character that stays with you forever, and the book is more than a sum of its parts. 

 

My favorite writing tip:

Believe in yourself and know that writing is a process of continuous improvement, like the Japanese term "kaizen." Editing is "kaizen." Writing every day is also "kaizen." I watched a webinar with a famous editor who said not to attempt to write in rhyme unless you majored in English and knew all about esoteric forms of poetry. I majored in History and Science, but the first picture book that came to life in my head, came out in rhyme and became Sumo Joe. I don't know much about poetry but used rhythm and beat, like percussion, to lead the way for my story.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

Collaboration combined with a greater cause or commonality is a really effective way to meet people through social media. It can be with other authors, illustrators, or bloggers. Or it can be around that cause or social justice issue. 

 

My favorite book event of the year:

Multicultural Children's Book Day coming up January 31, 2020. This is our 7th year of celebrating diversity in children's books!

 

To learn more about Mia and her work, visit her website.

As always, if you have read the author’s work, consider writing a quick review using the links above.

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5 Favorites from . . . Heidi Stemple!

Author Heidi Stemple

Heidi Stemple didn't want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn't until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published more than 25 books and numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children. Her books include Counting Birds, You Nest Here With Me, Not All Princesses Dress In Pink, Fly With Me, A Kite For Moon, and this fall, Eek You Reek

 

Heidi lives and writes in a new house on a big old farm in Massachusetts that she shares with two cats who lives inside, and a dozen deer, a family of bears, three coyotes, two bobcats, a gray fox, tons of birds, and some very fat groundhogs who live outside. Once a year, she calls owls for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count

 

So, what are Heidi's 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write:

Highlights Foundation 

 

My favorite mentor text:

Wow—I have so many! I mean boxes and boxes of them! Today,  (teaching nonfiction this week) I think it is: Water Is Water by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin

 

My favorite writing tip:

Read everything you write aloud.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

It costs nothing to be awesome—don't be difficult or a diva. You are selling yourself as much as you are your books.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

This year? The party I threw for my mom's (author Jane Yolen) 365th book at the Carle Museum. 

 
To learn more about Heidi and her work, visit her website.

As always, if you have read the author’s books, please take a moment to write a quick review using the links above.

 

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5 Favorites from . . . Casey W. Robinson!

Author Casey W. Robinson

Casey W. Robinson's debut picture book IVER & ELLSWORTH, published in 2018 by Ripple Grove Press, was named a finalist for SCBWI's Crystal Kite Award. Casey is Co-Director of the New England Regional Spring Conference 2020. She is also an alum of the New England Young Writer's Conference at Bread Loaf and co-founder of its Kindred Spirit Scholars program, which aims to make the conference more inclusive and more representative of the diversity of New England. 

 

So, what are Casey’s 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write:

Standing at my kitchen island, which might be the only place in my house I can reliably clear of clutter. I type, pace around my house, then type some more. Moving my body helps me think.  

 

My favorite mentor text: 

At the moment, I am in love with LUBNA AND PEBBLE, written by Wendy Meddour and illustrated by Daniel Egneus. A story that centers on the refugee crisis, its childlike simplicity is layered with complex emotion and brought to life by gorgeous illustrations. Picture book perfection.

 

My favorite writing tip:

If you have only 15 minutes to write, use all of those 15 minutes to write. Set a timer. Turn off your phone. (Not silenced, off.) Block out the distractions. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish if you don't wait for that perfect block of uninterrupted time.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

One of the best ways to market your books is to encourage the people who love your books to talk about them, whether that's through online reviews, library requests, or recommendations to friends. I lucked out when I befriended the owner of my local indie bookstore (@SilUnicornActon) who happens to love IVER & ELLSWORTH. He has championed my book in so many wonderful and surprising ways, including mentions in newspaper articles, prominent store display, and hosting my launch party. But even better than resulting sales is knowing that someone who knows A LOT about books believes in yours—that is fuel I carry around in my pocket.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

The New England Regional Spring Conference held in Springfield, MA in early May. (Full disclosure: I am Conference Co-Director for the 2020 conference!)The New England SCBWI region is so large and vibrant, yet the conference manages to feel close-knit and intimate. It's worth checking out if you've never been. Next year's theme will be "Finding Joy in the Journey" – mark your calendars for May 1-3, 2020 at the Sheraton in Springfield, MA. Hope to see you there!

 

To learn more about Casey and her work, visit her website. If you have read Casey’s book, take a minute to leave a review at the link above.

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5 Favorites from . . . Susan Montanari!

Author Susan Montanari with one of her biggest fans.

Susan McElroy Montanari was a finalist in two categories for the 2010 Tassy Walden Award for New Voices in Children's Literature in Connecticut: one for her middle grade novel, The Day Sasquatch Ate My Journal and the other for her picture book My Dog's A Chicken, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf and published by Schwartz & Wade. Her other books include Goldilocks for Dinner (new this month!), Who's The Grossest of Them AllHip-Hop Lollipop, and The Halloween Tree (to be published August 6, 2019). Susan lives in Savannah, Georgia, where she resides with her husband, Dan, and a cat named Tybee.  

 

So what are Susan’s 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write:

The second floor of my local library, back between the stacks. It is so quiet there I can disappear into the world I'm trying to create. When I try to write at home there are too many distractions.

 

My favorite mentor text:

I know it is cliché, but it's Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. This book really speaks to children and their need to have some control over their world.

 

My favorite writing tip:

Don't discuss an idea with anyone until you have, at least, the first draft completed. If you tell the story too soon you give up some of your energy to complete it. And if their reaction is negative it could completely deflate the notion before it gets a chance to take shape.

 

My biggest marketing tip: 

Become active on social media. I know I have bought books after seeing them on Twitter!

 

My favorite book event of the year:

BEA New York City (Book Expo America) - I only got to go to it once, but it was exciting to see all those new books, authors, publishers, and agents in one place.

 

To learn more about Susan and her work, visit her website. And, if you would like to review Susan’s books, click the book links above.

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