WILL WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
FOR WRITERS, ILLUSTRATORS, PARENTS, TEACHERS, LIBRARIANS,
AND BOOK LOVERS EVERYWHERE
Welcome dear friends to a very special Triple Decker Will Write and Illustrate for Cookies post. Earlier this year, we were fortunate to host three amazing picture book creators: Paula Cohen, Harshita Jerath, and Carrie Tillotsen, Sadly, Paula passed away only days before her debut picture book, BIG DREAMS, SMALL FISH launched. Some of you may remember that we celebrated Paula’s verve for life by dedicating this year’s #50PreciousWords to her and we created a special prize: The Paula Cohen Martin Big Dreams Mentorship.
And now it’s time for three more Kid Lit Caravan members to take a bow.
KidLit Caravan is a troupe of authors and author/illustrators with debut picture books headed your way in 2022! Their debut picture books will be “gnu” in 2022, but there are already more stories coming down the pike for 2023 and beyond.
Media Kit: https://www.kidlitcaravan.com/media-kit
As KidLit Caravan author Carrie Tillotson said…there is no “single recipe” for success when it comes to publishing a picture book.
So hold on to your hats, buckle up, and let’s find out more about Margaret, Melissa, and Debbie! And don’t forget…when you get to the end of the post, please leave a comment for a chance to win one of their AWESOME debut picture books…there will be three separate winners…so in your comment, please mention if you have a preference for one of the books. And for extra tickets in the giveaway hat – you know what to do – please SHARE this post on your social media!
Author: Margaret Aitken
Picture book title: OLD FRIENDS
Illustrated by: Lenny Wen
Pub date: July, 26 2022
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan
Margaret’s debut picture book, OLD FRIENDS, illustrated by Lenny Wen will be published July 26, 2022, by Feiwel & Friends. Paired with colorful and vibrant art by Lenny Wen, Old Friends is an inventive and heartfelt debut picture book that celebrates found family, caregiving, and the value of intergenerational friendships.
PATH TO PUBLICATION:
It was my eldest son who re-kindled my love for children’s books. His demand to be read a constant stream of stories opened my eyes to the wonderful world of picture books. Then a voice inside me asked, Could I write stories like these?
For years I ignored the voice. I had always believed I was a science gal; writing stories wasn’t an option. But the voice didn’t go away.
Then, in late 2018, I decided it was time to give writing a try. Before long, I had fallen head-over-heels in love with the world of writing for children. I joined the 12×12 challenge and immersed myself in the kid-lit community online.
Keen to learn and improve, I grasped every opportunity. In early 2020, I connected with my agent Kaitlyn Sanchez through a Twitter contest. Then a few months later, as the world was coming to terms with a global pandemic, Kaitlyn offered me representation. I was thrilled to accept!
After a ‘revise and resubmit’, we sold the story that was to become my debut to editor Erin Siu at Feiwel & Friends. Erin worked her magic on the story, helping to add depth, balance, and a new title. Illustrator, Lenny Wen, was a dream pairing, and I will never grow tired of gazing at her vibrant, touching, and hilarious illustrations.
Helping to bring a book into the world has been an enormous privilege, and I am so grateful that I ignored my hesitations and listened to that inner voice.
BEST PART OF JOINING A DEBUT GROUP
Joining Kidlitcaravan has been one of the best decisions I have made in my writing career. Writing can be isolating, and so having a group of like-minded people who are ready to cheer when you succeed and listen when things get tough has been so beneficial.
GIVEAWAY: A copy of OLD FRIENDS.
Author: Melissa Coffey
Picture book title: FRIDGE-OPOLIS
Illustrated by: Josh Cleland
Pub date: September 6, 2022
Publisher: Little Bee Books
Melissa’s debut picture book, FRIDGE-OPOLIS, illustrated by Josh Cleland, will be published September 6, 2022, by Little Bee Books. In this playful introduction to the serious topic of food waste, a city packed with old food and souring leftovers must be saved from rancid ruin. Kirkus says, “Don’t waste time: Pick up this fun, ecologically minded read.”
PATH TO PUBLICATION
Melissa Coffey: “I’ve written professionally my entire career, but it wasn’t until my two sons were born that I (re)discovered my love of picture books. It’s true the kidlit industry requires a mammoth amount of patience and persistence. But I do believe in allowing space for a bit of magic—whether you call it serendipity, synchronicity, kismet, providence. Sometimes twists and turns on the path come back around in the most incredible ways.
In my case, I had worked on an R&R with the amazing Charlotte Wenger while she was still an editor at Page Street Kids. While I was crestfallen when that manuscript was not acquired, I adored working with her and learned so much. About a year later, Charlotte joined Prospect as a literary agent. We reconnected, and she offered me representation after reading a new project. So that one “no” turned into a bigger “yes”!
While my overall experience has been that publishing generally moves at a snail’s pace, my debut, FRIDGE-OPOLIS, was a total exception. Charlotte submitted the project right before Thanksgiving 2020 to my delightful (then) editor, Courtney Fahy, at Little Bee Books. Five weeks later, right before Christmas, we had an offer in hand. SHAZAM! It was truly the most unexpected, incredible holiday present I could have received.
From the first time we spoke, I knew Courtney and the Little Bee team shared my enthusiasm for environmental sustainability, back matter and wordplay. And our talented illustrator, Josh Cleland, has infused so much humor. I hope FRIDGE-OPOLIS not only garners plenty of giggles but inspires young readers to become food waste warriors!
BEST PART OF JOINING A DEBUT GROUP:
The benefits are innumerable, but I love how we celebrate each step of the process and lift each other up through the zigs and zags of getting a book released. All of us are learning the ropes, and it’s been enlightening to see how different editors/publishers work internally.
GIVEAWAY: A copy of FRIDGE-OPOLIS!
Author: Debbie Zapata
Book Title: Up and Adam
Illustrated by: Yong Ling Kang
Pub date: May 3, 2022
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Debbie’s debut picture book, UP AND ADAM, releases in May 2022 with Kids Can Press. Adam, a young boy with Down syndrome, helps his community after a big storm. Adam and his dog, Up, do what they can to pitch in with the cleanup. But it turns out, Adam’s most important contribution is one he doesn’t even think about—his smile. Adam’s open-hearted and infectious smile lights the pages as he lifts spirits all over town.
PATH TO PUBLICATION
As a child, I loved to write stories. It wasn’t until my son was born with Down syndrome, that the story concept for UP AND ADAM took shape. Nine years later, I finally wrote a first draft version for my son’s student of the week project. I discovered that I didn’t know how to develop it into an actual picture book.
I took many classes at the Writing Barn including ones for writing picture books. Simultaneously, I joined Bethany Hegedus’ Write.Submit.Support group. With Bethany’s guidance, I started querying agents and entering contests. Early recognition from We Need Diverse Books and SCBWI Austin helped me to keep going through the inevitable passes.
A big milestone moment happened when I participated in #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party and I got a heart from James McGowan of BookEnds Literary for my pitch for UP AND ADAM. I was over the moon when James offered to represent me. After sending my manuscript out on submission, we had an offer from Yasemin Uçar and Kids Can Press, on what is now my debut picture book!
From the first time I spoke with my amazing editor, Debbie Rogosin, I knew she shared my commitment to accurate representation of a child with Down syndrome, focused on his abilities, not disabilities. And our talented illustrator, Yong Ling Kang, has infused so much heart. I hope UP AND ADAM not only spreads lots of smiles but inspires young readers to see how everyone can make a difference in their community.
BEST PART OF JOINING A DEBUT GROUP
Writers need solitude to tap into creativity and at times it can feel lonely. Every writer is a novice when launching a book for the first time. A debut group is a great way to surround yourself with writers on the same journey who can cheer one another on.
GIVEAWAY: Copy of UP AND ADAM
WOW! WOW! WOW! This was definitely a triple decker post, filled with juicy details of how to get an agent, how to get a book deal, and how to keep going through pandemics and more.
A huge thank you to all three of these incredible authors for sharing their hearts…and their stories. Please make sure you leave a comment if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway for one of the books. Books can only be mailed to U.S. addresses, but comments can come from around the globe. And please share on social media…spreading the word about new books will help grow sales…and good sales numbers mean that publishers will keep making these beautiful books.
I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. And what’s up for next week? More kidlit awesomeness, for sure. On Tuesday, we’ll be singing Happy Book Birthday to one of every picture book writer’s favorite people, Ann Whitford Paul – she has a new book that launches on August 9th.
Plus, if you follow the link below, you can sign up to celebrate another book launch for the new book of one of my favorite CPs, THE FIGHT FOR YES: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann. My local indie bookstore, Toadstool Books, is hosting her Zoom event. Here is the link to register for Maryann Coccoa-Leffler’s FREE event: https://form.jotform.com/221914463426152
And, our next Perfect Picture Book Friday will feature a brand-new book by another of my favorite authors, Lori Alexander, MINI MIGHTY SWEEPS…a book sure to please every truck and vehicle-loving kid. Then on Saturday, stop by for a sure-to-please Will Write for Cookies with author Carole Gerber answering the questions.
Are we busy here at Picture Books Help Kids Soar? You betcha!