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Q&A Blog

5 Favorites from . . . Jenna Grodzicki!

Author Jenna Grodzicki

Jenna Grodzicki is the author of Finn Finds a Friend (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017), Pixie's Adventure (eTreasures Publishing, 2017), and the I See Sea Food: Sea Creatures that Look Like Food (Millbrook Press, October 2019). She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two crazy awesome kids. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Boston College and a Master's in Education from the University of New England. She recently traded in her librarian hat to become a full time writer. At all hours of the day (and night) she can be found at her desk, drinking iced coffee and working on her next story.

 

So, what are Jenna’s 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write:

My office. I have a beautiful writing space filled with a big desk, about a million books, pictures of my family, and fun little knickknacks. And iced coffee. There must always be iced coffee

 

My favorite mentor texts

Books by Melissa Stewart. Her books have been so helpful with my nonfiction writing. I especially love No Monkeys, No Chocolate and Feathers: Not Just for Flying.

 

My favorite writing tip:

A quote from the author Shannon Hale: "When writing a first draft, I have to remind myself constantly that I'm only shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles." I personally have to remind myself of this so frequently that I posted the quote on the wall in my office.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

Be authentic on social media. Engage with other writers and educators in a meaningful way. Share posts you think will be helpful to others. And always be kind.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

The annual NESCBWI conference. It's a great place to connect with other writers and hone your craft.

 

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

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5 Favorites from . . . Cynthia Levinson!

Author Cynthia Levinson

A former teacher and educational policy consultant and researcher, Cynthia Levinson holds degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and also attended the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. She is the author of several books for young readers, including We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March; Watch Out for Flying Kids! How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community; and Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can.

 

What are Cynthia’s 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write:

Anyplace where I can look out a window.

 

My favorite mentor text:

Anything by Patricia MacLachlan or Elizabeth Partridge.

 

My favorite writing tip:

Take a walk.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

Promote good books by other people.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

Appearing on Broadway for a talkback after a play that drew on a book I wrote!

 

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

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5 Favorites from . . . Corinna Luyken!

Author/illustrator Corinna Luyken

Corinna Luyken is the author-illustrator of MY HEART and THE BOOK OF MISTAKES, which received four starred reviews, numerous awards, and has been praised by Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and more.  She also illustrated ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE, written by Marcy Campbell.  She lives in Olympia, WA, with her husband, daughter, and two cats.

 

What are Corinna’s 5 Favorites?:


My favorite place to write:

Any place that is quiet, where I won't be interrupted!  Which can be hard to come by these days.  I love early mornings at home the best, when my husband is already at work and my daughter hasn't woken up yet.  But I've discovered that airplane rides and late nights can work too. I wrote THE BOOK OF MISTAKES at 3 am, post stomach flu.  The house was quiet and I was (literally and figuratively) empty. And in that environment, the entire first half of the story arrived quite suddenly and almost exactly as it appears in the book.  Though the second half of the book took another year to sort out/write.   

 

My favorite mentor text: 

Perhaps Extra Yarn or The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip.  Though there are SO many books that  I adore,  I don't have just one favorite. School's First Day of School is brilliant.  And everything by Julie Fogliano fills me with joy.

 

My favorite writing tip:

When I'm writing, I try my best to be an empty vessel.  Meaning, to not think of any book that I'm writing as "my" story but to approach it as though this is a story that has chosen to come into the world through me.  And so my job (and my responsibility to the story)  is to be the best listener that I can be.   If I'm not a little surprised, I'm usually doing something wrong, being too controlling. I've found that most of the best stories and poems have a life of their own, and my job is to stay out of the way.


My favorite marketing tip:

I try to focus on making work that comes from the heart, that speaks to the world we live in right now.  And hopefully, from there, marketing in it's various forms becomes easier.  It helps when I've been able to take myself out of the book in the writing process, because then it becomes less about this being "my" book and more about this being a book that is going to have it's own life in the world.  From there,  the rest of what happens is really about that book's relationship with the world.  What that particular book is meant to be.  This isn't practical, or necessarily helpful advice, because I don't really think that the world needs more stuff, and  I've never been interested in trying to convince people to buy something that they don't really want or need. 

 

My favorite book event of the year:

I haven't really been to that many book events.  But I love going to friend's book launches and I love librarians and library conferences!


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

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5 Favorites from . . . Daria Peoples-Riley!

Author/Illustrator Daria Peoples-Riley

Daria Peoples-Riley's debut picture book THIS IS IT was published with Greenwillow/HarperCollins (February 2018). I GOT NEXT, a companion book will follow on July 30, 2019. Daria is also the illustrator of GLORIA TAKES A STAND by Jessica M. Rinker, a picture book biography about the life and work of Gloria Steinem (Bloomsbury, March 2019) .

 

So what are Daria’s 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write (and paint):

Outside, near my hummingbird feeder.

 

My favorite mentor text:

Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan. My two favorite lines: "I'll mix [the rest of] my black roots in a larger medicine gourd. I'll give what I can until it all gives out." And "We'll see the difference a touch of black can make. Just remember, whatever I do, I'll be me and you'll be you."

 

My favorite writing tip:

Share your gift of writing and/or art with those you love by giving them handwritten words and/or art. No matter what the reviews or the sales will be, those who love you will deem your work priceless, and that will nourish your journey.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

Be present and attentive when you meet your readers.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

SCBWI LA Conference

 

To learn more about Daria’s work, visit her website.

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5 Favorites from . . . Baptiste Paul!

Baptiste Paul is a Caribbean-born author of three books for children. His debut picture book, THE FIELD, received starred reviews from Kirkus, The Horn Book, and Booklist. According to Kirkus, his co-authored book ADVENTURES TO SCHOOL, will "will pique readers' curiosity." His picture book biography, I AM FARMER, chronicles the work of Cameroonian environmentalist Tantoh Nforba. Born and raised on the island of Saint Lucia, Baptiste is a native Creole/Patois speaker who enjoys reading his books and sharing about his experiences with anyone who will listen. 

 

Here are Baptiste’s 5 Favorites:


My favorite place to write:

My basement

 

My favorite mentor text: 

Too many to choose. I like to experiment and play when I write. Some of my favorites are,  A LEAF CAN BE by Laura Purdie Salas, illus. by Violeta Dabija and POOR DOREEN: A FISHY TALE by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illus. by Alexandra Boiger

 

My favorite writing tip:

If something is not working, shelve the idea for later and write something new.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

Attend book conferences, do school visits. Just put yourself out there.


My favorite book event of the year:

Being on tour with Miranda Paul for our co-authored book I AM FARMER.

 

Learn more about Baptiste at his website

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5 Favorites from . . . Andrea Wang!

Andrea Wang is the APALA award-winning author of The Nian Monster. Her second picture book, Magic Ramen, is a Junior Library Guild Selection and received a starred review from School Library Journal. She loves to travel and sample new and unusual foods. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of her writing is about food. She is also the author of seven non-fiction titles for the library and school market. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in the Denver area with her family.

 

So what are Andrea’s 5 Favorites?:

 

My favorite place to write:

My big, cluttered-with-notebooks desk in my overflowing-with-books home office, with a window overlooking the yard where bunnies chase each other. 

 

My favorite mentor text:

This changes depending on what I'm working on. Right now it's A Very Wide Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi. Everyone needs to read this book!

 

My favorite writing tip:

Allow yourself to be vulnerable in your writing.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

One of my agency-mates (I think it was Chris Barton) said something to the effect that the "book birthday" is a recent construct, and that it's okay if you can't do a ton of events right around the release date. My takeaway was that marketing and promoting a book is a long haul and taking a slow, steady, approach can be just as effective. 

 

My favorite book event of the year:

Whichever conference I'm able to attend is my favorite. I've been lucky enough to attend the ALA and NCTE conferences in the past few years, and I always come home energized from hearing great presentations, meeting friends old and new, and collecting armloads of advance reader copies!


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

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5 Favorites from . . . Hannah Holt!

Hannah Holt is a children's author with an engineering degree. Her first picture book, The Diamond & The Boy, earned a starred review from Booklist, calling it: “a gem of a biography.” Her most recent picture book, A Father's Love, celebrates great dads in the animal kingdom. Both stories weave together Hannah's love of language and science. She lives in Oregon with her husband, four children, and a very patient cat named Zephyr.

 

So what are Hannah’s 5 Favorites?

 

My favorite place to write:

In theory, the beach...but realistically all the work happens in my home office.

 

My favorite mentor text:

This week, I'm savoring A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider by Barbara Herkert and Lauren Castillo. It's a gorgeous biography of E.B. White, both the text and illustrations.

 

My favorite writing tip:

Celebrate every writing success--no matter how small! In publishing, there's always something to worry about or wait on. It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it. Focus on what you're doing right now and reflect on what you've already accomplished.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

There is probably no one thing you will do that will help sell more books. Really. Buying a bunch of swag--probably won't sell a lot more books. Accumulating 50+ reviews on Amazon--also not likely to help much. Whether or not your book hits it big has very little to do with the things you do. So, do the things that bring you joy!

 

My favorite book event of the year:

During a school visit, a teacher asked if I would give my presentation to a first grader who had missed the assembly because of a dentist appointment. The school had booked me for the full day, so I did. I shared about rocks, writing, and perservering to an audience of one. While I love the energy of a large crowd, sometimes the most meaningful events are for small audiences.

 

You can find out more about Hannah and her w.org by visiting her on Twitter or at her website.

 

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5 Favorites from . . . Shana Keller!

Entrenched in the world of STEM/STEAM, Shana Keller is happy to share her experience filing a patent for her own invention. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Carter Center for K-12 Black History Education founded by Dr. LaGarrett J. King. In addition to TICKTOCK BANNEKER’S CLOCK (Sleeping Bear Press, 2017), Shana has two forth-coming picture book titles to be released by Sleeping Bear Press this winter.

So what are Shana’s 5 Favorites?

 

My favorite place to write:
In front of a window!

 

My favorite mentor text: 
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. It reminds me not to get distracted from doing what I should be doing (writing).

 

My favorite writing tip:
Be true to your story, not true to 'trends.'

 

My favorite marketing tip:
Get to know other authors! They will help celebrate and share your success.

 

My favorite book event of the year:
The Colonial Market Fair held at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum (near Baltimore, Maryland). It's a lot of fun dressing up in Colonial clothing!
 

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

 

 

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5 Favorites from . . . Gina Perry!

Once upon a time, Gina Perry picked wild blueberries, floated on lakes in her inner tube, and was always on the lookout for a real moose in the woods. Now she writes and illustrates books for young readers from her New Hampshire home, where she lives with three monsters: her husband and two kids. Today she takes a short break from her moose lookout to tell us about her 5 Favorites:

 

My favorite place to write:

Curled up in my little teal office chair.

 

My favorite mentor text:

The Chicken of the Family by Mary Amato

 

My favorite writing tip:

Always be working on the next thing.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

Connect with your booksellers. Your event is a blink of time. They are finding books everyday for their readers.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

I absolutely loved KidLitCon this year. It was a cozy and wonderful blend of authors, librarians, and bloggers. I learned a lot and got to spend quality time with old and new friends.

 

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

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5 Favorites from . . . Me!

This week was the launch of my third picture book SERENA: THE LITTLEST SISTER. So today, I‘m sharing my 5 Favorites:

 

My favorite place to write:

I love writing in my indoor deck, especially when it's raining. But that's a little dangerous since it's also the perfect place for a catnap.

 

My favorite mentor text: 

On my desk, I have a copy of Shel Silverstein's WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS. It reminds me of my childhood . . . that you can be both silly and serious on the very same page . . . and that "all the magic I have known I've had to make myself."

 

My favorite writing tip:

There's no place for perfection in a first draft. Just get it out of your head and onto the page. (No one sees it but you!) After that, revise, revise, revise.

 

My favorite marketing tip:

Be positive on social media or people will stop following you. I follow and share posts from people who are positive and provide useful information. A good example of this is Debbi Ohi. While I've never met her, I'm pretty sure she is part kidlit professor, part rainbow. I love her broken crayon illustrations as much as I love all the helpful resources on her website.

 

My favorite book event of the year:

I really enjoyed going to the Hudson Children’s Book Festival this year. The event is so well organized, the volunteers are exceptional, and EVERY attendee receives a free book. Can't wait to return next year!

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