Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Book Birthday Blog

Welcome to SCBWI-MI's NEW Book Birthday Blog! 
Where we celebrate new books by Michigan's children's book authors and illustrators

BIG congratulations to Debbie Diesen on her newest book, Hello, Fall!

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Hello, Fall! grew from a previous book of mine, Bloom.  Hello, Fall! is not a sequel per se, as it has a different main character; but both books feature the natural wonders of the seasons and celebrate the family love that grows from sharing experiences together.

What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
A challenge I faced while writing Hello, Fall!  was the balance of keeping a connection to the style and approach of Bloom while also letting this book be different from and independent of Bloom.

Who is your author idol and how have they influenced your work?
I have many author idols, but I think the most important influence on my work has been the collective mentorship of my writing group.  The nine of them are each talented, kind, and wise.  Their feedback and support have positively impacted every aspect of my development as a writer.  And they’ve made me a better person as well!

Where can we find your book?
Hello, Fall! is carried by many libraries and can be purchased from your favorite bookstore.
Here are different ways to buy Debbie's book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374307547

A little bit about the book: A young girl and her grandfather explore and celebrate the beauty and bounty of autumn in this picture book for children.

A little bit about the author: Deborah Diesen is the author of many children’s picture books, including the NYT-bestselling The Pout-Pout Fish.  She loves playing with words and rhymes and rhythms.  She has worked as a bookseller, a bookkeeper, and a reference librarian.  She and her family live in Michigan.
Web site:  www.deborahdiesen.com

Friday, July 27, 2018

Tamra Tuller Travels the World, Finds a Home in Michigan

Tamra Tuller Travels the World, Finds a Home in Michigan
Young Tamra likes fuzzy animals

Before you got your “feet wet” in publishing, you apparently got your feet wet in the Atlantic Ocean. One biography describes you as a “beach bum on the Jersey shore.”
Can you describe your childhood, and how it led to your pursuit of making books?

Yes, that’s right! I did grow up very close to the beach so I was lucky enough to spend my summers either swimming, fishing, or just lounging on the beach. In the winters my friend and I would camp out in the aisles of bookstores, reading books right off the shelves. This probably annoyed the booksellers like crazy, but they never complained, and we loved it.

You worked for several years at Rutgers University’s Program in American Language Studies in English as a Second Language (ESL). Did you teach new arrivals how to speak proper English? Who was Tamra Tuller at that time?

That’s exactly right. I worked with the international student population to improve their language skills to the point where they’d be able to either attend college or graduate school in the US. Both my parents were educators and I have always had a love for language as well as other cultures, so it seemed like a good fit for me. I would never trade the time I spent teaching. I learned so much from my students. But it wasn’t a good fit. I’m really an introvert by nature, so getting in front of a group of people every day and trying to entertain them was a bit draining and caused a lot of anxiety, so I decided to pursue my love of language in a different way.

You decided at some point to venture into publishing, and sent out resumes for every entry-level job in the field. You ended up with Scholastic Book Club as a proofreader. Did you put together those elementary school pamphlets?

Oh man. I wish I could say that when I started I put together those pamphlets, but the reality is that I had to get promoted first to even be the assistant to the person who puts the pamphlets together. My first job was proofreading the ORDER FORMS! You know those tiny order forms? Talk about
Working her way up to this
tedious. But the great thing about that was that I became exposed to children’s books and learned what all the children’s publishers were doing, and it gave me a sense of where I might want to end up. Prior to that, I really knew nothing about books for young readers except what I read as a child myself. It was eye opening.

You moved up to Scholastic’s trade division, Blue Sky Press. What was new and different at this level?

It was totally different and new and I knew nothing at all about editorial yet. I was still really learning about the whole world of children’s books. It was exciting. Scary, but exciting.

You then moved to Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. It’s been said that the NY publishing scene is “incestuous,” suggesting that a relatively small number of people hop from one publishing house to the next. How did you come to land at Philomel?

Yeah, it’s totally incestuous. I ended up getting the job with Philomel because a former Scholastic Book Club colleague had also made the transition from clubs to trade editorial, and she was also at Penguin. She was able to pass my resume along for me.

From this point in your career on, a google search turns up dozens of workshops and conferences where you brought your editorial expertise. (You appeared at an SCBWI-MI conference at Mackinac Island in 2011.) Was it your love of travel that took you all over the world? The search for new talent? Or a desire to reach out to writers?

All of the above! I do really love to travel and see new places. I’m also just completely fascinated by people, so while I’m a total introvert, I still love to connect with others. I’ve also always been aware that I had to keep learning and growing and stretching myself if I wanted to be the best editor or mentor or, really, just the best person I could be. And those conferences, much like my time teaching, were ways for me to learn—from the other editors, the agents, and all the writers. And they also took me outside my comfort zone and challenged me. I think that is important.
ps—Mackinac remains one of my favorite conferences that I have ever done. 

You moved from Brooklyn to San Francisco to work for Chronicle Books, East Coast to West. It’s a huge change geographically, but was the move a challenge professionally and personally, too?

Yes, the move was very challenging for me. Chronicle Books was an amazing place to work—full of talented, creative, and innovative people. I have immense respect for the work they do, and how they do it. But I underestimated how difficult it would be to live so far from most of the people in my life. It feels silly to say that now, but I thought about missing NYC or even New Jersey. I never thought about missing people and having friends around. I felt very isolated there, and I often felt that culturally it maybe wasn’t the best match. I guess I’m really an east coast girl at heart.

You’ve worked extensively with Beth Kephart. She credits you with the eventual publication of “Small Damages.” She said that your experiences in Berlin inspired her to write “Going Over.” Your love of Spain inspired another of her YA novels. What is it like to affect an author’s output like that?

Beth is unbelievably kind. GOING OVER was such a special book for me for a few reasons. First and foremost because of Beth’s writing and how ridiculously talented she is. Also because it was inspired by both of our experiences in Berlin. She had just traveled there and I had been there not long before her. So the book sprung from a mutual love of that city. My love of Spain (and I do love Spain!) didn’t actually inspire any of Beth’s books, but her writing about Spain inspired me to acquire SMALL DAMAGES. So I mostly just feel lucky to have been able to work with such talent. I mean, I simply gave Beth a one-sentence elevator pitch about a book I had imagined while I was in Berlin. She took it and ran with it and not only made it hers (though she will generously call it ours), but she made it into a piece of art. 
Still likes them

In an interview with Beth, you describe a typical editorial letter from you as a “long string of questions.” You ask her if those questions sometimes drove her crazy, and she responds that the questions were “sanity-giving, not insanity-making.” Are questions still part of your editorial process?

These days I am only doing occasional editorial work. I’m working more with editors now than as one. But yes, when I do editorial, I prefer to pose things as questions. I feel this gets the authors thinking more critically and analytically about what they’re really trying to express rather than simply mandating a specific change. And anyhow, I’ve always found that when you present questions or potential problems to authors, they then have the freedom to come up with their own solutions without feeling the pressure to do it in a specific way. Of course, when they get stuck, I am more than happy to step in and brainstorm and talk it out. That’s actually my favorite part of editing. It’s like solving a puzzle.  

You worked with Ruta Sepetys on her immensely popular”Between Shades of Gray.” With the other “Gray” bestseller muddying the waters, do you ever wish Ruta’s book had been titled differently?

Haha! Only occasionally when I talk about BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY and have to clarify that I’m not talking about that “Other Shades of Grey.” But Ruta’s book came out first, and if anything she probably attracted a few more readers as a result of the confusion. I know more than one person had shown up to an event of hers thinking it was for the other book. It’s pretty funny to think about these people expecting to hear about S&M and getting WWII genocide instead.

Ruta said that her original story of internment and genocide in Lithuania was so grim that “everybody died.” She credits you with bringing some of those characters back to life and giving the work more hope. How do you manage a tightrope balancing act like that, acknowledging the horrific nature of the events yet honoring the human spirit?

It’s hard to find that balance, but some of it comes from simple compromises and not being afraid of ambiguity. I’m not a believer that books need every loose end neatly tied up. So at times it was simply leaving it open and maybe not knowing what happened to a character. And some of it obviously just came from my own emotional reactions as I was reading. I remember every time I started to feel like I needed to put the manuscript down because it was too upsetting, I marked that spot with a post it. (I was still editing on paper back then.) And then other times it was finding moments of light that were already there but that could have been more developed. I noted those as well. So it wasn’t always about toning down the horror—I wanted to recognize that horror—but it was about also recognizing the glimpses of light and beauty in the face of horror.

You took chances, saw compelling stories where others saw controversy and problems. You worked with Hannah Moskowitz, with her gender-challenged heroes, and helped shepherd K.A. Holt’s “Rhyme Schemer” to publication, a prose poem where our protagonist begins as a bully. What do you need to see in a manuscript in order to go all in?

That’s the hardest one to answer. I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s about connecting with something. Yes, I love that Hannah and Kari took risks. I love that Hannah created characters who challenged our beliefs about sexuality and gender, and she did it with such an amazingly weird story.

And I love that Kari chose such a difficult topic and turned it on its head and did it with POETRY of all things. She has shown so many kids that poetry doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. But it’s really about their writing and how they tell their stories. I never would have thought I’d be interested in a book about fairy prostitutes at war with gnomes. It’s just not my thing. But I was completely won over by the bottom of Hannah’s first page. And I’m not always a poetry person, but I became so emotionally invested in Kari’s stories and her absolute honesty. I admire both Hannah and Kari’s talent and style as much as I do their bravery as storytellers.
So, to get back to the original question, it’s always just “I know it when I read it.” I know that can be frustrating for writers to hear.

You worked as a freelance editor for a while. Freeing, being your own boss? Or terrifying?

Oh, both for sure. I mean it’s totally freeing to wake up when you want to and work in your pajamas and make your own schedule. But, it’s terrifying to not always know where your next paycheck is coming from. Not to mention that it was a little isolating for me.

You’ve ended up as the in-house editor for Thomson-Shore in Dexter, MI. How did you decide to make that move?

So I am actually the Creative Director. I work with the editors and designers to insure that the books
Even editors deserve a break
we create, though mostly self-published, adhere to traditional publishing standards and that they look polished and professional and not…well, self-published. So I oversee the creative process from manuscript to final files.
I came to work at Thomson-Shore actually as a result of one of your lovely Michigan SCBWI-ers, Debbie Gonzales. She knew I was looking for something more stable than freelancing, and she happens to do yoga with the president and CEO of Thomson-Shore. So she played matchmaker and here we are. Thanks, Debbie!

Thomson-Shore does printing for traditional publishers. (Ruth’s Ellie McDoodle Diaries” series is printed there.) But they also offer indie publishing for authors who want to take control of their own books. What services could you offer a writer hoping to bring their work to print?

We offer everything from content/developmental editing or proofreading to cover design and interior design. We can help create a logo if you’re using your own imprint or want to start your own imprint. We also have some in-house imprints that certain authors can use if they don’t have the desire to create their own. We can also register for copyright and Library of Congress. We do eBook conversion. In some cases we create some light illustrations. We’re pretty much a one-stop shop for most author needs in terms of creating the book, and then to some extent putting it out there in the world. 
I serve as a guide to encourage them to make the best decisions for their books. Authors can use as many or as few of our services as they’d like. Additionally, we offer full distribution and fulfillment services as well as printing the actual books right here on site, which is pretty cool. Local authors can come in and tour our facilities while working with us. Another thing that our authors really like about us is that they get personalized attention and can actually speak to us as much as they would like about their book and the process. Not all self-publishers offer that level of personal attention.

A decade ago, self-publishing was scorned as a“vanity press.” The atmosphere has changed so drastically that traditional publishers have stood on stage at national SCBWI conferences and said that indie publishing is a legitimate path to bringing a book to market. What’s different now?

I think a lot of it is just more exposure and people starting to see higher quality books emerging from self-published authors. It also just seems increasingly difficult for authors to get a book deal or an agent. I think some authors with existing platforms are seeing that they’re doing a lot of their own promotion already and have a loyal following, so if they self-publish, they can maintain a level of control over the process that they don’t have otherwise.  

Is there anything you’d wished I asked?

What my favorite food is. It’s pizza.

Tamra Tuller is currently Creative Director for Thomson-Shore, a printer and publisher located in Dexter, Michigan. She's worked as an editor on both coasts, helping to shepherd into the world amazing book titles and authors.
Find Tamra at https://www.instagram.com/tamratuller/
https://twitter.com/TamraTuller  and https://www.facebook.com/tamra.tuller

Charlie Barshaw enjoys asking questions to fascinating people. He loves traveling to schools and book-related events with his wife Ruth. He finds less joy in finishing his YA novel and sending it out into the world.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Writing By the Seat of Your Pants by Karen Bell-Brege

After attending the SCBWI-MI Humor Conference in Detroit, and a few years (25 to be exact) performing and training improvisational comedy, I thought I would share some improv writing tips. Because just like writing, with practice and a few fun techniques, you can hone your funny writing bone.

Improv, unlike stand-up where you perform a memorized routine, is the spur-of-the-moment, spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat of your pants performing without a script or safety net. The list of famous improv actors who are also writers is incredibly long, from Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Jimmy Fallon, to Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, and the list goes on and on and on.

But improv, simply put, is living in the moment while thinking quickly and creatively. Which is pretty much exactly what we do when we write – we make it up as we go along.

By following the basic improv rules, yes, there are rules (darn!), you can learn how to incorporate humor and add necessary mirth and magic to your writing. These rules will teach you how to be authentic, spontaneous, take chances and have fun with your words. So, if you feel your sense of humor is a little rusty, whether it’s because you are questioning your ability to find the funny or because you hold back, let improv help you find your true humorous self, while adding some hilarity to your writing.

Rule #1
Be in the moment
This is the first rule of improv – being in the moment.
With your fingers on the keyboard ready to fly, or with pen in hand, you must be there and focused. You cannot be thinking about the dreaded laundry, or every other chore that’s calling your name, or about what to do in the next chapter, or at the end of the book. You must be in that scene. If you are truly in the moment it will begin to enhance your power of creating. It will help you figure out location, details, emotion and feeling. You’ll be able to see things that can be turned into comedy. Humor comes from observation. What are the other characters saying? What would they do that’s unexpected, out of the ordinary, or odd? Take a chance, put it in your story. Humor comes from surprise elements, and from the craziness and absurdity of everyday life. Onstage, if we are not completely focused our scenes would fall flat. If we aren’t listening to each other, the wonderful will pass us by. Be in the moment in your writing and in life – listen, notice, be there, observe.

Rule #2
Say yes, and…
In a scene, you need to be agreeable, and say ‘yes’ to get your scene moving forward. The word ‘no’ initially sends up a block, and can leave your characters stunned with nowhere to go. The word ‘yes’ opens up so many possibilities to keep the momentum going. Then, by adding the word ‘and…’ it’s an unlimited way to build on the scene you’re writing, it allows you to add new information and ideas. It helps with the flow of what’s happening. Take some of the denying and negativity out for humor’s sake. As your writing moves along it can, will, and should change. There does have to be conflict, but this is after you’ve established the scene. With ‘Yes and-ing’ you’re taking something that’s going in one direction and changing it, which can lead you to a punchline.

Example: I can’t believe it’s this cold. Yes, and we should have never moved to Alaska.

I can’t believe it’s this cold. Yes, and I told you to leave the freezer door open, now we’re stuck.

I can’t believe it’s this cold. Yes, and we probably shouldn’t be swimming in January.

The ‘yes and-ing’ adds opportunity for action to begin, enhances your options, and gives you so many more places to go.

Rule #3
Take action
To keep things exciting and fun, you have to have physical movement, otherwise all of your characters are just a bunch of talking heads (not the band). You must have your characters do things, change, discover, learn, explore. The more action they take, the more possibility for finding humor. Break out in a dance, a song, have them go bowling, or something extreme that doesn’t make sense. Onstage, if we just stand there talking our scene becomes flat and boring – same with writing. Of course, we must have dialogue, but remember people do move and talk at the same time. It will make your scene exciting.

Rule #4
Use objects
Just like in life we are always using objects. What’s in their hand? What are they looking for? What have they lost? What just fell from the sky, off the wall, out of the car? Where did that lamp come from? Why is it so ugly? Does it have magical powers and who put it there? The washing machine is dancing and nobody can stop it. You get the idea, objects add interest.

Rule #5
Show Don’t Tell
To be creative in our writing, we need to show movement. If we stood onstage describing everything, there would be no fun, no humor, no energy, no verve, no zing. For example, if I’m in a scene, (and remember in improv we fake having objects), and I say to the other players, “I have an ice cream cone. Now, I’m licking my ice cream cone. My ice cream cone is dripping. This is good ice cream.”  Watching that scene would be borrrrrinnng! It would be much better if I said, “This is so creamy and delicious, mmmm, best ice cream I’ve ever had (while acting like I was licking the cone frantically).” It works the same for writing, to make your scenes captivating you have to show your audience what’s happening. Of course, there are moments of telling, but showing engages your reader.

A few last notes on improv-ing your writing…
  • Listen and hear. In improv and in life we need to listen. Start by making it a habit. Really hear what is going on around you. Don’t give people blank stares, while your mind is wandering. If we pay attention, it’s truly amazing how many zany things are happening all around us.
  • Make a funny file, and when you hear or see something that’s witty or amusing jot it down, or take a picture.
  • Dedicate yourself to the craft of learning humor writing, and practice it.
  • Improv is storytelling –  live (better than dead). If you get stuck, think of yourself in a scene. Who are you with? What’s happening? What’s odd? Where are you? Think of bold and unusual things, and justify tying them together. The funny comes from taking two different elements and having them work together to make your writing stand out. But, take your time. Do not freak out if nothing is happening. Humor is a process. Step back, breathe, and move on. You can always go back and work it out later. Your humorous situations can come through dialogue, action, opposites or oddities.
  • Read more humor, watch more comedies and comedians. Turn off the bad news – we don’t want our children to watch it because it can affect them – it does the same to us. Except for the old silent movies, sadness rarely enhances humor.
  • Children love to laugh, and gravitate to books with humor. But know that you don’t have to be funny to write humor, however, you should be happy, agreeable, kind, unpretentious, expressive, open, and be able to laugh at yourself first and foremost. You cannot be rigid, cold, (not temperature wise), or self-absorbed, and you must leave your ego at the door. Humor is fun, not forced or mean. It is in the truth of the moment, and can truly become a part of your everyday attitude and lifestyle. Remember it can be observational, action oriented, interesting, quirky, odd, opposite, slapstick, self-deprecating, witty and intelligent. We are all funny beings, but somewhere along the line we stuff the funny deep down, and we say, “Stay” and it does. Be true to your writing and use your imagination. Be childlike. Children, say what’s on their mind, it’s not pre-planned, it is honest, surprising and spontaneous. So, treat yourself kindly, be silly, be different, take chances, let go, get inspired, go different places, take a comedy class, follow the rules, and then break them. There is no failure, only learning. Now go laugh, have fun, and write by the seat of your pants!

Some exercises and games to get your funny bone limbered up and start improv-ing your writing:

  • Time Yourself – If you want to write as if you are improvising, this exercise will help. Get a timer and set it for 3-5 minutes. Then write fast and furiously, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t judge, and don’t worry how bad your writing may or may not be. Just write. Then when you have something, you can go back and re-write. Too much time in writing is spent being critical of ourselves. Get it on paper without judgement. This exercise is all about your brain working fast and spontaneously. It will enhance your quick-thinking and creativity. Onstage, you can’t stop mid-scene and question if what you are doing is right or wrong, you must move forward. So, let your imagination run wild.
  • Think characters – What type of different people can you incorporate into your story? From doctors to donut makers, you get to decide. Be sure to give them distinct characteristics. Do they smirk or smile? Do they feel bloated or itchy? Do they wear orange? Do not be afraid to add the questionable or offbeat. Then write a complete description of them, so that you can really get to know them.
  • Hotel Ringer – Get yourself one of the hotel bells they have at the front desks (a couple of bucks on eBay). When you are writing along and get stumped, hit the bell. When you hit it, you have to go back and completely change the last half of the sentence you just wrote. Due this a number of times in your writing. It’s guaranteed to start freeing some of your creative genius. Example: He was so scared the dog would bite him. DING. He was so scared he would fall into the hole. DING. He was so scared that he ate a bug. DING. He was so scared he ripped his pants. DING. He was so scared he would be a car salesman. DING. He was so scared he filled his lunchbox with candy. DING. He was so scared he tried to fly.
  • Questions Only – Try this exercise by writing a scene using only questions. No statements and no repeating. Just write freely while using questions only, and you cannot ask, “Do you think I should do this?” While writing with questions make sure to move your scene forward. This will also help you expand your vision and form new plot lines.
  • Pet Peeve Rant – Give yourself a topic on something that really bothers you (e.g. nose pickers, slow drivers in the fast lane, interrupting, etc.) and then set a timer for one – two minutes. During that time completely rant about your topic without stopping. Grow by giving yourself different topics of things that bother you that you aren’t really familiar with, and set the timer for a longer amount of time. You’ll find funny things coming out of your mouth as you desperately try to continue ranting, which forces originality and cleverness (aka humor).

Karen Bell-Brege is the author of 11 books, with two coming out this year. Her children’s books are filled with humor – especially her picture book, MONSTERS FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL. Her school presentations are one-of-a-kind as she believes in learning through laughter. She also speaks on the importance of humor and improv. She studied at Second City, Chicago, and with the late Paul Sills. Her husband, Darrin is also an improv performer, hilarious, and the illustrator of their books, and he presents at schools with her. Karen truly believes that laughing through life is the only way to live (and write).  Learn more at www.karenanddarrin.com, and follow them on Facebook.

Darrin Brege is our Featured Illustrator this quarter. He created our blog banner above, and you can read his interview here: http://scbwimithemitten.blogspot.com/2018/07/featured-illustrator-darrin-brege.html

Are you following SCBWI-MI on social media? Stay in touch through our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Book Birthday Blog

Welcome to SCBWI-MI's NEW Book Birthday Blog! 
Where we celebrate new books by Michigan's children's book authors and illustrators

BIG congratulations to Lisa Rose on the release of her new series, STAR POWERS!
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I actually didn’t come up with the idea for Star Powers—the editor asked me to write about a second grade girl who wants to be an astronaut and also uses a wheelchair.  However, when I created Star Powers, I knew exactly who to model her after: My daughter!

My daughter doesn’t use a wheelchair, but she is visually-impaired and uses a cane to help her know where objects are around her. My daughter never lets her mobility challenge stop her. I wanted Star Powers to be that way too. Sometimes, if a person has a special need, people believe that the person can’t do anything. People are always amazed when my daughter can spell a word, swim, and even do gymnastics. Everywhere she goes she teaches others that she is just like everyone else and can do so many things. I wanted Star Powers to do the same.  I didn’t want Star’s disability to define her. I wanted her to be brave and teach not only herself but every child and adult around that she was capable of achieving anything—even being an astronaut!
What was the most difficult part of writing these books?
I had to keep the story to a specific word count.  There is a lot I wanted my characters to say and do.  I had to tell the best story with a limited amount of words.

In the voice of your main character, tell us what you hope readers will experience or learn while reading your books.
I hope that kids and adults learn that people in wheelchairs can do anything—even go into space!

Who is your author idol and how have they influenced your work?
It’s hard to pick just one “author idol.”  I have always been in love with Judy Blume.  She wrote funny kid stories that always had a lot of heart.  So many kids could relate to characters. As an adult I’m admired Jacqueline Woodson.  Her stories deal with tough issues in a tenderness that scrapes your soul.  I can see how Star Powersis sprinkled with both of them.
What are the marketing plans for your books? Where can we find them?
Unlike my other book, Star Powers was made for the school and library market. This means that it mostly sold directly to schools and libraries.  As a “recovering” first grade teacher nothing makes me happier than knowing my book will use in classrooms to help inspire beginning readers.  Also, each book contains back matter about the science topics described in the book.   Each book contains additional non-fiction information and science experiments. For example, kids can build rockets just like Star Powers and her friends. Buy all six books at www.rourkeeducationalmedia.com

A little bit about the books: Star Powers is a wheelchair-bound second-grader and aspiring astronaut obsessed with all things space including black holes, aliens, and the latest findings from NASA. Oh and she's convinced her big brother is from another planet. Each book features Star navigating her daily life while chasing her dreams and reaching for the sky.

A little bit about Lisa: 

Lisa Rose lives in Detroit, Michigan with her husband and daughter. She likes to swim, practice yoga, and eat ice cream but not at the same time. She is the author of SHMULIK PAINTS THE TOWN and you can find her e-books OH NO! THE EASTER BUNNY IS ALLERGIC TO EGGS! and OH NO! THE TOOTH FAIRY BROKE HER WING! on WWW.MEEGENIUS.COM 
Please see her website www.LisaRoseWrites.com and her author program video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGQ3QMG1CIk to learn more about her.
Facebook: LisaRose
Instagram @LisaRoseWrites

Hugs and Hurrahs

Happy summer! It may be time for vacations and evenings by the firepit, but Michikid authors are still hard at work producing amazing stories resulting in lots of happy publishing news. We’ve got tons to celebrate around here, so let’s get right to it!

Lisa Rose is proud to announce the release of her six-volume chapter book series, STAR POWERS, with Rourke Educational Media, today! The series is about a second-grade girl named Star Powers who wants to be an astronaut and uses a wheelchair and includes science experiments in the back matter. Lisa recently attendad ALA in New Orleans and did a signing for STAR POWERS! 
Happy Dancing with you, Lisa!

Kathie Allen’s vividly-colored board book, THIS BOOK, (Albert Whitman & Company) was released in March. The book is chock-full of preschool concepts and was illustrated by Lizzy Doyle.
We’re giving you a standing ovation, Kathie!

Monica Harris recently sold an activity called "Hocus Pocus: Crayon Mind-Reading Trick," to Highlights Magazine. Monica also recently completed eight pieces for Data Recognition Corp, including fictional and informative listening passages and a biography.  
Way to go, Monica!

Josef Bastian’s, EXCERPTS FROM AN UNKNOWN GUIDEBOOK: BOOK 1: PHASES OF THE MOON, was recently named a Finalist in the 2018 International Book Awards in the Children’s Fiction category.
We’re so proud of you, Josef!

Neal Levin is happy to announce that his poem, “It’s Summertime,” was published in the June 2018 issue of Pockets Magazine. His poem, “Rumble-Grumble Storm,” is in the July 2018 issue of Highlights for Children.

Way to go, Neal!   

Jordan J. Scavone's second picture book, The Mud Princess, is now available on Amazon! Follow Georgia, a girl who defies the looks and ideals of her princess peers. When the other princesses are captured by a dragon, Georgia must decide if she should help those who shunned and mocked her. Jordan also has a downloadable companion coloring page on his website.

So happy for you, Jordan!

Ruth McNally Barshaw illustrated the middle-grade novel about two Latino sisters who love softball, THERE’S NO BASE LIKE HOME. Written by two-time Olympic medalist and ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza and her English-teacher sister Alana Mendoza Dusan, the book officially released June 19 by publisher Lee and Low. This story is for 7 to12 year-olds who like sports, love families, or just want an exciting read.

Happy Dancing with you, Ruth!

On March 10, Janet Ruth Heller spoke about “Nine Tips for a Successful Book Signing Event” for the Motown Writers Network Monthly Meet Up at the Detroit Public Library Main Branch. On Saturday, March 17, Janet also spoke about “Recent Multicultural Literature for Children” for the Michigan Reading Association Conference in Detroit. On April 13, Janet and Miriam Bat-Ami conducted a workshop called “Writing and Revising Religious Poetry and Prose” for the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

Three cheers, Janet!

Lindsey McDivitt is thrilled to share that her PB bio, Nature's Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story, officially released in July from Sleeping Bear Press. And Lindsey did her first book tour in early July and visited book stores in Northern Michigan. This is Lindsey’s first picture book!

We’re so happy for you, Lindsey!

Pat Trattles’s activity, “Welcome Game,” will be published in the November issue of Pockets Magazine!

Way to go, Pat!

On June 30, 2018, Jean Alicia Elster was the guest speaker/presenter for the 3rd Annual Yule Love It Lavender Farm Writing Workshop, sponsored by Detroit Working Writers. Her workshop presentation was titled “The Tyranny of Reality (Revisited).” Jean was also one of the off-panel authors interviewed in The Documentary, World Book Cafe: Detroit, a production of the BBC World Service. The segment aired on international radio on June 23, 2018.

We’re proud of you, Jean!

September sees the release of the 11th book in Lisa Wheeler’s Dino series for CarolRhoda/Lerner (illustrated by Barry Gott). Dino-Christmas will be the first of 4 titles that share how the dinosaurs spend their holidays. Dino-Sport fans are eager for this one!

We’re giving you a standing ovation, Lisa!

Deb Pilutti is happy to report that her illustrations for IDEA JAR, written by Adam Lehrhaupt, were awarded merit in the 3x3 International Children's Book Show and will be published in 3x3 Magazine's Illustration annual #15.

So happy for you, Deb!

Special congratulations go out to Kristin Lenz, the winner of the PAL Novel Mentorship with Leslie Connor for her novel, THE DOOR SWINGS OPEN. Congratulations to runners-up Charlie Barshaw for his novel, AUNT AGNES, and Margaret Mason for her novel, IS MY NAME.

Congratulations to Kristin, Margaret and Charlie!

Kathryn Madeline Allen's picture book, I Am a Baby, (Photos by Rebecca Gizicki, published by Albert Whitman & Co.) will be released as a board book edition on Sept 1!

That’s awesome, Kathie!

And I have some happy news of my own to share! My poem, “Alice Thanks her (Looking) Glasses,” will be part of a poetry collection called Thanku: Poems About Gratitude, edited by Miranda Paul, published by Lerner/Millbrook and scheduled for a fall 2019 release. And my picture book manuscript, WHAT THE SEASHELL SAID, recently won an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Literature at Hunger Mountain. The piece will be published in their winner’s collection in the coming months. So very happy! 

Didn’t I tell you we had lots to celebrate?! For every piece of good news, there are hours, days, months and years of hard work, and we are proud of all of you!

Send all of your happy publishing news to me, Patti Richards, at pgwrites5@gmail.com.  


Friday, July 6, 2018

Featured Illustrator Darrin Brege


This questionnaire goes back to a popular parlor game in the early 1900s. Marcel Proust filled it out twice. Some of our questions were altered from the original to gain more insight into the hearts and minds of our illustrators. We hope you enjoy this way of getting to know everybody.

1. Your present state of mind?
Very focused of late…on projects, deadlines, and direction.

2. What do you do best?
Make people laugh.

3. Where would you like to live?
The Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disneyworld.

4. Your favorite color?
Black…although, technically a tone.

5. Three of your own illustrations:

6. Your music?
Classic Rock…Van Halen, The Rolling Stones, Beatles

7. Your biggest achievement?
The fact that I get to do art for a living, do comedy with my wife and together we have a wonderful son.

8. Your biggest mistake?
Listening to my dad and wasting time by choosing a path to pre-med instead of art school in college. I did end up moving to an economics major and received my BA from Albion College (Go Brits). After graduation, I immediately moved to LA to study animation, and although I’m proud of my degree, I wish I would’ve gotten it in art or animation.

9. Your favorite children's book when you were a child?
Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Suess.

10. Your main character trait?

11. What do you appreciate most in a friend?
A shared sense of humor.

12. What mistakes are you most willing to forgive?
Honest mistakes that can be used as a learning opportunity…. either that, or a botched movie quote.

13. Your favorite children's book hero?
Mick Morris. He’s the main character in our Mick Morris Myth Solver book series (my wife, Karen Bell-Brege is the author and I illustrate). His mannerisms are loosely based on our son, Mick, and I illustrate him based on how he looked at ten. Mick is determined, funny, thoughtful, and fearless.

14. What moves you forward?
Creating as a husband and wife team - always striving to take our creations to the next level, and ultimately having our readers and fans love our stories!  We love inspiring kids to read, and especially getting them to laugh.

15. What holds you back?
Time!  We have so many things on our plate, that it’s hard to get to everything.

16. Your dream of happiness?
Karen and I continuing to work together in all of our creative endeavors and our son doing the same in whatever drives or motivates him.

17. The painter/illustrator you admire most?
Walt Disney.

18. What super power would you like to have?
It’d be wonderful to temporarily replicate to double, or triple up on any task. I’d be able to get a lot of painting done…or at least be able to fold clothes quicker. Or, Karen & I would be able to go off to Florida, and let my double handle everything.

19. Your motto?
Do what you love…it’ll never feel like work.

20. Your social media? 
Instagram:  @karenanddarrin
Facebook:  Karen & Darrin Author & Illustrator
Book website:  MonsterMyths.com
Art website:  darrinbrege.com