Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Birthday Blog

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

BIG congratulations to Tevah Platt and Willa Thiel on the release of their new book, 

Q#1: How did you come up with the idea for SNAIL, I LOVE YOU?
When my daughter was little she liked to express her love in similes. She'd say, "I love you as curly as a snail," or "as giant as Jupiter," or "as endless as numbers," and I wrote these all down. "Snail, I Love You," which I co-authored with my daughter who is now 7, is a series of poems written around those similes, capturing our love as well as the ideas that we were exploring together during her preschool years.

Q#2: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
The illustrations for "Snail, I Love You" were sewn, quilted, and photographed-- and then, later, pieced together to form an actual quilt. In some ways the writing of this book was "quilted" as well, in that it gathered together existing material, using additions and subtractions to pull it into one coherent piece. I found it challenging to decide what to add and cut along the way. 

Q#3: What do you hope readers will experience or take away from your book?
I think this book could inspire young readers to do their own sewing and poetry-making, but what I really hope is that readers close this book feeling love and feeling loved. 

Q#4: What are your marketing plans for your book? Where can we find it?
The 'love' theme of this book and even an open dedication page ("To _____, I love you as ____ as _____") make this book especially gift-able, and we're also creating a sewing kit that can be sold along with the book. We're marketing the book to local shops, libraries and community bookstores, as well as to sewing stores and the quilting market.  You can order our book online at www.snaililoveyou.com or on Amazon, and it's available through national wholesalers like Ingram & B&T. 

Q#5: Who is your author idol and how have they influenced your work?
Man, it would be impossible for me to single out just one author idol. I'm in awe of Julia Donaldson's rhyming game, David Macauley and Steve Jenkins for pitch-perfect non-fiction, and Cynthia Rylant, Patrick McDonnell and Mary Murphy-- to name a few-- for giving me the bedtime read-aloud feels. Children's literature in general has influenced the way that I write and the way that I understand the world. Since my daughter is co-author I'll also mention that I notice the influence of Dav Pilkey most in her latest writing. It's so meta!

A little bit about the bookThis book of quilt-illustrated love poems was co-written by a mother and her daughter, who contributed each I love you sentence when she was 3-6 years old. These words of feeling linked to concepts she was exploring and mastering while she oriented herself in the universe. The parent-authored parts draw from the big and small worlds they joyfully investigated together. In this book about boundlessness, the authors and illustrator quietly celebrate girls as scientists and boundary-breakers, and all people and animals connected by the fundamental force of love.

A little bit about the authors: Tevah Platt is a public health researcher, science writer and former news journalist. Willa Thiel worked on this book between the ages of 3-6 and is a student at Honey Creek Community School. Both authors like social justice, nature and Legos.

Friday, October 26, 2018

TREAT OF RETREAT by Suzette Garvey

Logo by Sara Kendall
Getting away to grow a talent means leaving your busyness and self doubts behind. It means being vulnerable and bold, too. This 2018 SCBWI Michigan and Indiana Writers and Illustrators Retreat recap highlights just how good it can be to treat yourself for a change.


Nearly 100 attendees experienced an immediate sense of welcome through the retreat’s peaceful destination at Potawatomi Inn, nestled within Indiana’s Pokagon State Park. An array of educational sessions and activities rounded out a sense of excitement for what lie ahead.

The evening’s activities were well paced for transitioning creatives into their best rhythms. Hours sauntered forward with a group writing session and countless cozy nooks dotted with individuals immersed in their craft. Energy and contentment of imagination coursed through every hallway. Friendly faces confirmed attendees were among their people. Even if they’d never met until that weekend, they understood one another … coffee addictions and quirky humor, included.

Survey Feedback
"I liked how the flexible time frame allowed us to meet with the presenters and attendees without the mad rush often experienced during conferences and retreats."

Writing with a view

Jay Whistler

Attendees eagerly began their morning workshops with a bustle of conversation and schedule comparisons. Sometimes it worked out to divide and conquer, taking notes for one another. Other times, attendees just had to hear the presentation gems for themselves.

These are some of the "ah-ha" moments from Day Two sessions:
      Get out of the slush pile
      Demonstrate a knowledge of the fiction market by listing comparison titles in your query letter.
      Create a master guide for plot and structure
      Know the strongest source for your idea, your hero’s greatest challenges and his or her outer goal and inner change.
      Uncover your controlling idea and elevator pitch
      Define your theme — the controlling idea or “message from the author.”

Midday creative time, plein air sessions and critique sessions soon blended into the evening. Lisa Wheeler wrapped up the day’s official activities, reminiscing on former childhood fiction favorites and their cultural trends of the day … often in contrast to the rights and principles you may now hold dear. By late evening, friends – old and new – shared workshop revelations, laughs and confessions of their favorite characters and stories prior to resting up for the final day ahead.

Survey Feedback
"Surprised by the quality of speakers. They were excellent."

Jeff Jantz with Story Sculpting supplies

Nick Adkins

Ample, amazing workshops made it easy for attendees to make the most of the final conference day. Presenters shared their challenges, successes and manageable steps toward climbing the mountains you, too, may be facing.

Here’s a sampling of encouragement and expertise from Day Three:
      Utilize book proposals for fiction
      Convey affinity by noting comparison titles from within the last five years and establish authority through endorsements and reader quotes.
      Build your fictional world around its unique peculiarities
      Make your world the best place for your story by walking through “Eight Worldly Requirements” (e.g. natural resources, norms, power brokers, advancements).
      Find and refine the fickle facet of “heart”
      Heart, hurt, hope and humor work together and hurt is most effective when you demonstrate physical space and a sense of being alone for your character(s).

Survey Feedback
I loved the early morning talks to get you revved up for the ample work time. I also was enthralled by the setting. What a beautiful locale."

One last round of paid and peer critiques, networking and creative time added further depth to Day Three. At the end of this rewarding weekend was a shared excitement for one another to succeed and bring more well-crafted stories to life. Hey, and if the added treat of seeing so many lucky door prize winners left you wanting more, you’ll get your chance to treat yourself to the Wild Wild Midwest Conference next May. See you there!

Suzette Garvey is a marketing strategist, copywriter and parent of three. Garvey owns Storybent Creative, a content marketing firm in Grand Rapids, Mich. As a non-published member of SCBWI since 2006, she’s completed one middle grade novel, has two young adult novels in the works and thanks SCBWI for connecting her with an incredible writers' critique group all these years.

Stay tuned for updates about the Wild Wild Midwest Multi-Region Conference, May 3-5, 2019 in Chicago; planning is underway. 

Registration is now open for the SCBWI 20th Annual Winter Conference in New York. And today, Oct. 26th, is the last day for SCBWI-MI members to apply for Shutta's scholarship:  

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fast-Track Your Writing Production with Meditation by Heather Smith Meloche

I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for over a year, but the worst of it was last winter. It was a portal-to-pure-hell kind of feeling. Worse than a creative drought, it was accompanied by a thousand daily voices in my head telling me my work wasn’t worth it and everything I wrote was crap. I was broken as a writer, and I had to figure out how to deal with how writer’s block was quashing my creative flow and replacing it with an incapacitating fear of putting words on paper.

To get out of the slump, I tried running, taking long walks, reading more than usual, having long heart-to-hearts with my critique group members, who, I’m sure, were pretty sick of hearing me complain about my inability to produce anything. I took online courses to put myself on deadlines. I tried to write side projects aside from my current novel to “inspire” me, but everything always fell flat, and I still felt unable to write effectively.

Then one day, I opened a digital newsletter from writer and creative coach Heather Demetrios, who I follow because she has mad talent and her book I’LL MEET YOU THERE blew my mind with how she dug so deeply into the emotion of the characters. Buried in that newsletter was a link to a blog post entitled “I’m Going to Pavlov Dog the Crap Out of This Meditation Stuff” by another writer, Jessica Conoley, who had gone on a retreat only to find MEDITATION on the workshop schedule. She was unthrilled with the prospect, not caring much for the hippy dippy reputation surrounding meditation. But Conoley needed to find a way to slow her mind and focus, so she gave it a shot, attended the workshop with Heather, and it worked – giving her concentration, helping her produce, keeping her on task. A writer’s dream!

Still, I was hesitant. Meditation just seemed like a waste of my time. The idea that I had to stop being productive to be more productive was nuts. But writer’s block is its own personal hell, and I wanted out. So I signed up for a “Mindfulness for Writers” course with Heather, which included guided audio meditations, emails, and video chatting. I’ve always told my husband that, in order to write, I have to ease into it daily, settle and focus, and find that creative spot and flow. Sometimes, with kids and dogs and work and phone calls and social media and deadlines and—ack!! --that’s nearly impossible! But, crazily, I found that just twenty minutes of meditation got me straight to “that place of focus,” that magical spot where I could sink right into my story world without being distracted. I found meditation is like priming the creative pump in your brain. To quote my own quote on Heather’s creative coaching site, “I started filling pages with words again! It’s like flipping a creative switch on a daily basis, and it helped to shut off those critical voices in my head that told me everything I was writing was trash.” For me, meditation was a game-changer for my writing process.

So I’m throwing this out to all my fellow SCBWI-ers to challenge you to see if it works for you, and I asked Heather to tell us in her own words why she thinks meditation is something every writer should be doing daily. Here’s the interview:

How do you briefly explain what meditation is for people who don't know much about meditation?

Meditation is a practice that helps you learn how to work with your mind so that you can more elegantly navigate the challenges of humaning. It can be relaxing, but it’s not about relaxation. It’s about waking up to the present so that you can show up for your life and, by extension, your writing. While meditation is an ancient practice, it’s more necessary than ever in our modern world: when is the last time you just sat for twenty minutes and breathed? Not checking your phone or ticking things off your to-do list or multi-tasking. Just simply being? Meditation is really a way to work the muscle of paying attention. The act of meditation sets so many neurological things in motion, including creative flow. It also directly deals with the part of our brain that houses our inner critics. This is legit neuroscience, but, like anything, you just have to give it a go. Most people I know who give meditation a fair shot end up being pretty darn amazed by how the practice changes things for them. It opens you up. It switches on lights. It gives you back your life.

How did you get involved with meditation, and how is it a part of your life currently?

I basically came to meditation on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I’d been completely shattered by my exhausting publishing schedule and decimated by what the industry was doing to my self-confidence and my artist’s spirit. I’d been a seeker my whole life and so I’d tried meditation before, but I’d never needed it. A friend introduced me to guided meditation, which was a great way to stave off the panic of sitting in silence with my brain that goes a mile a minute. Now, of course, I sit in silence, but you have to start somewhere. I knew that the only way I’d have a practice was if I really did it for real, so I sat nearly every day. I went to a local meditation center, got instruction. I quickly began to see the connections between the meditation practice and the writing practice. The two have been in conversation with each other almost from the beginning. Meditation gave me back my dignity as a published author and it taught me how to balance my creative life with career. It grounded me, and reconnected me to my spiritual side. It’s taught me how to be gentle with myself and has gotten me through some pretty bad creative blocks. Like, actually eliminated the blocks. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a big, big help. Especially if you suffer from depression and/or anxiety.

I eventually got certified to teach and I teach meditation and mindfulness to writers exclusively—both in person and online. I also infuse the practice into my coaching and use it even with editorial clients—you’d be amazed at how mindfulness can make you better at craft. I teach retreats, too. This October, I’ll be teaching one at Highlights where we’re going to look at how mindfulness can help you through the revision process. I blog regularly about the topic, and bi-monthly I do a Mindfulness Monday post for Vermont College of Fine Arts. For my own practice, I sit every day for twenty minutes, go on at least one long intensive retreat each year, have various mindfulness practices that I infuse into my life, and I study Buddhism, as well. Mindfulness naturally led me to Buddhism and I now identify as Buddhist. It just makes so much sense. So much about my studies help me with my writing process—it’s so exciting to see how my meditation and writing support one another. Side note: you don’t have to be Buddhist to meditate. I teach from a secular point of view. But Buddhist philosophy—the concept of non-attachment in particular—is really helpful in terms of navigating the ups and downs of the writer’s life.

Why do you think meditation is important for writers?

Our job is to pay attention—I’d say that’s almost our primary function as writers. To pay attention and then report back. And it’s very, very hard in the current culture to do that. And even harder once you’re published and there are pressures to push your books and have a brand, yadda yadda yadda. Meditation teaches you to pay attention. It reminds you when you’ve forgotten. The rewards of the practice aren’t on the cushion so much as off it, when you go out into your life and you suddenly start noticing things. And you better believe that shows up on the page. So there’s that. There’s also the very real neuroscience of flow and how meditation helps us work with the inner critic. And then there are various practices that help us to cultivate kindness toward ourselves, to be gentle, to accept failures, and to have perspective on them. This was especially helpful for me as I struggled with failure and rejection and perfectionism. The dividends are unreal. I blog a lot about all of this—it’s endlessly fascinating for me.

What tips or resources do you recommend for writers who are interested in learning more about meditation?

If you go to my blog, www.mindfulnessforwriters.com, I have a huge list of books, websites, apps, and articles. That should set you up pretty well. And if you sign up for my newsletter, that gets you access to my Inspiration Portal, which has my 7-Day Meditation Starter Kit, plus lots of the downloadable guided meditations I created just for writers, as well as worksheets and other additional resources.

My basic tips I always give is to start small and to build gradually. Five minutes to start, then build up to twenty minutes a day. Starting with guided meditations is good, but you’ll eventually want to meditate on your own—that’s where the magic happens. And just know that I was ALWAYS someone who said they couldn’t meditate and I am here to tell you that I can, and you can too. Your mind will race—normal. You just go back to the breath when you realize it’s racing. You will be bored sometimes—normal. Boredom works a lot of important muscles, especially resilience, which you need a lot of as a writer. You might fall asleep—no big. And if you’re uncomfortable, you’ll eventually find the right position, and your body will get used to it. Chair meditation is cool. So is meditating in your car! ☺ Give it a real shot. Do it every day. People, listen to me: every day. Every now and then you can skip, but the way this is going to change your life is if it’s non-negotiable. And then?

Watch what happens!

I’m happy to answer any questions you have. Please feel free to contact me any time. Happy writing—and sitting!

So many thanks to Heather for sharing her knowledge! And keep a look-out for Heather Demetrios’s inclusion in DEAR HEARTBREAK: YA AUTHORS AND TEENS ON THE DARK SIDE OF LOVE – a collection of letters from teens and the raw, powerful, autobiographical letters in response from YA authors. DEAR HEARTBREAK releases in December 2018!
Heather Demetrios is a certified meditation teacher and the critically acclaimed author of six young adult novels. When she isn't spending time in imaginary places, you'll find her traipsing around the world with her husband in her newest creative life hack: a grand international housesitting experiment. Heather has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a recipient of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real. Her novels include I’ll Meet You There, Bad Romance, as well as the Dark Caravan fantasy series: Exquisite Captive, Blood Passage, and Freedom’s Slave. She’s the editor of Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love and the author of Codename Badass, an upcoming feminist pop biography of WWII lady spy, Virginia Hall. Her honors include books that have been named Bank Street Best Children’s Books, a YALSA Best Fiction For Young Adults selection, a Goodreads Choice Nominee, a Kirkus Best Book, and a Barnes and Noble Best Book. Find out more about Heather and her books at www.heatherdemetrios.com, read about all things mindfulness at www.mindfulnessforwriters.com, and learn more about her coaching and courses at www.pneumacreative.com.

Heather Smith Meloche has written for television, print media, advertising, and marketing, and she teaches academic writing to international students at the college level. However, her first love is writing fiction for young adults. Her work has appeared in Spider, Young Adult Review Network (YARN), and Once Upon A Time. She has placed twice in the children’s/YA category of the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition and won first place for Hunger Mountain’s Katherine Paterson Prize in 2011 for a YA short story in verse. A wild fan of dark chocolate as well as kickboxing and running (to be able to eat all that chocolate!), she lives in Rochester Hills, MI with her family. Penguin Putnam released her contemporary young adult novel, Ripple, in September 2016.

Coming up on the Mitten blog: Creating a Podcast, Painless Self-Promotion, Book Birthdays, and a new Writer Spotlight - who will it be? Did you notice our new blog banner created by our new Featured Illustrator, Cody Wiley? Read his interview here.

Save the date! The SCBWI Wild Wild Midwest Conference returns on May 3-5, 2019!

An opportunity for Michigan SCBWI members only: it's time for Shutta's Scholarship Solution for the Winter Doldrums! This scholarship is offered in partnership with author Shutta Crum and the SCBWI-MI Chapter and covers the costs of the SCBWI annual winter conference in New York on February 8-10, 2019. Hurry, the deadline is October 26th! Here's the scoop: http://blog.shutta.com/2018/10/shuttas-scholarship-time/

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hugs and Hurrahs!

Happy Fall Y’all! I’ve harvested a bushel full of happy publishing news from around our marvelous Mitten. Rest assured this edition of Hugs and Hurrahs is full of treats (no tricks) that will leaf you feeling warm, toasty and proud of your fellow Michkids! Now put that donut and cider down for a couple of minutes and celebrate with all your SCBWI Michigan friends! Here we go. . .

Congratulations to Amy Nielander! Her nearly wordless picture book, I AM NOT LEAVING WITHOUT A HUG, was recently acquired by Page Street Kids! Way to go, Amy!

Hats off to Kathryn Allen! Her board book, THIS BOOK, was recently awarded a silver medal in the 2018 Moonbeam Awards. Happy dancing with you, Kathryn!

Three cheers for Joseph Kimble whose picture book, MR. MOUTHFUL LEARNS A LESSON, also won a Moonbeam Award. The book received a silver medal in the category "reading skills/literacy." The awards are presented by The Jenkins Group and IndependentPublisher.com. Way to go, Joseph!  

Congratulations to Kristin Nitz! Her short story, “Nothing Drops,” about volleyball and the importance of perseverance was recently featured in the October edition of Highlights! Way to go, Kristin!

Happy to announce that Heather Dean Brewer’s debut picture book, LOVE IS POWERFUL, was recently acquired by Candlewick Press and is scheduled for a 2020 release. The book was inspired by a girl holding a "Love is Powerful" sign during the January 2017 Women's March in New York City. Publication is set for 2020. We’re giving you a standing ovation, Heather!

Deb Gonzales recently launched “The Debcast,” a podcast celebrating the tenacious spirit of female athletes of all walks of life - any sport, any age, as well authors who have written about them. Members can subscribe to The Debcast on iTunes or Stitcher. You’re amazing, Deb!  

Shout out to Lauren Muskovitz Ranalli, who recently published "The Great Latke Cook Off", a Chanuakah story about family tradition, friendly competition, and delicious recipes. You can find out more and get your copy at www.laurenranalli.com. Three cheers, Lauren!

Hats off to Lisa Rose! Lisa recently sold two picture books to Rourke Educational Media for the series: Ready Readers- Playing and Learning Together. Lisa also sold her picture book, SENOR SAGUARO, KING OF THE DESERT, to The Little Fig Publishing Co, and has recently signed with agent Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Literary! Happy dancing with you, Lisa!

We’re celebrating with Andrea Contos! KCP Loft has bought her #PitchWars debut YA novel, THROWAWAY GIRLS. Told from two points of view, the story is about a girl whose life is upended by the disappearances of her lover and her best friend, two girls from opposite sides of the tracks, and the discovery that she is the only link between them. Publication is planned for spring 2020.

Buffy Silverman is proud as punch to have a poem in J. Patrick Lewis' gorgeous new anthology, The Poetry of Us published by National Geographic. The anthology takes readers on a journey across the United States, sharing the beauty, diversity, and challenges of our country with stunning photography and poetry. Buffy's stop is Holland, Michigan, with her poem "Tulip Time Festival." So happy for you, Buffy!

Carrie Pearson’s new nonfiction picture book, STRETCH TO THE SUN: FROM A TINY SPROUT TO THE TALLEST TREE ON EARTH, illustrated by the talented Susan Swan and published by Charlesbridge sprouted on October 9. Carrie will be sharing it at various lower Mitten bookstores, libraries and schools in early November.

Carrie’s also celebrating the sale of her picture book biography, A Girl Who Leaped, A Woman Who Soared, about Dr. Virginia Apgar to W.W. Norton's new children's division, Norton Children's. Dr. Virginia Apgar was a trailblazing doctor who invented a lifesaving method of evaluating newborn health used worldwide every day. Nancy Carpenter (BALDERDASH; JOHN NEWBERY AND THE BOISTEROUS BIRTH OF CHILDREN'S BOOKS) will illustrate. The book launches in fall 2020. Happy dancing with you, Carrie!

Congratulations to Rebecca Grabill! Rebecca’s new book, VIOLET AND THE WOLF, published by HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan Books, and illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova, released on October 9. Rebecca has a variety of events sceduled to celebrate including the release party. Rebecca writes: “I’m extending an invitation to all of you to the release event, an open-house-style fun-filled afternoon at Hopscotch Children’s Store in Grand Rapids. The date for the open house is November 10th, 2-4pm. https://www.rebeccagrabill.com/events/violetwoof-release.”

Three cheers to Neal Levin! His poem, "Annie, Get Your Gum" appeared in the July 2018 issue of Spider, his poem "Rumble-Grumble Storm" was in the July 2018 issue of Highlights For Children, and his poem "Good Morning" appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Humpty Dumpty magazine. Way to go, Neal!

And although it’s not an SCBWI-sponsored event or publication, I’d like to say a heartfelt congratulations to Michigan members Dave Stricklen, Lori McElrath-Eslick and Kevin Kammeraad for their entries in this year’s Art Prize in Grand Rapids! That’s a huge undertaking and we’re proud of all of you!

And last but not least, I’m happy to announce that my picture book manuscript, SCRATCH AND SNIFF, won an Honorable Mention in the 87th Annual Writer’s Digest Contest in the Children’s/YA Category. Doing a little happy dancing myself!

I’ve had so much fun reading, celebrating and posting all of your amazing accomplishments this year. And as always, I’m proud to be part of such a supportive and talented group! Our next Hugs and Hurrahs is scheduled for January 2019. Please send all of your happy publishing news to me, Patti Richards, at pgwrites5@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Book Birthday Blog w/ Rebecca Grabill

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

BIG congratulations to Rebecca Grabill on the release of her new book, VIOLET AND THE WOOF!

Q#1: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
It all started with a wish. A request. A hope.
Let me explain. Several years ago as I was visiting New York I dropped in on a grad school friend, Jill Davis at HarperCollins. She showed me around, we chatted, and just as I was getting ready to leave for a meeting with my soon-to-be agent, I noticed a picture tacked on Jill’s cork board. “Oh, I love that, so cute!” It was an illustration sample.
She unpinned it, handed it to me. “I love it too, but I don’t have a book to go with it.”
I half-jokingly said, “Well, then I’ll write you a book.”
We chatted more, I snapped a photo of the drawing for inspiration, then I left for my lunch meeting and rode the train back to Baltimore and drove with my family back to Michigan. But that picture stuck in my head. Over the coming weeks and months I mulled, simmered, attempted to collaborate on an idea with a friend (another MFA classmate—look up Peter Pearson—he’s the awesomest) who’d also seen the illustration and wanted write a book. We never made it beyond a few exchanged emails. But that exchange helped keep the idea alive.
What was the drawing? A little girl pulling a wagon, and in the background, an adorable monster.

Q#2: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
I would say the hardest part was finding the “aboutness,” the heart of the story. I started with the idea of mashing together Boy Who Cried Wolf with Little Red Riding Hood AND Hansel and Gretel with some Where the Wild Things Are for kicks. Does that sound like a mess? Yes. It was a mess. 
I had to cut, rewrite, revise, re-envision, expand, cut more. I actually love revision. I can honestly say revision is my favorite part of the writing process. But I could pretty much guarantee that the moment I thought I was “done” with Violet and was fully immersed in my next work in progress (because once a picture book is sold and off to the illustrator, it’s out of my hands) I’d get a call from Jill, “Sketches just came in! Let’s go over the text—I think we need to change some things!” 
I do love revising, but I loathe splitting my attention between multiple projects and, as my kids can attest, being interrupted. Which is sort of the definition of a mom’s life, isn’t it? I was surprised to learn that it’s also very much a part of the writer’s life. 

Q#3: Tell us what you hope readers will experience or learn while reading your book. 
My main goal is to ignite creativity, to inspire and delight. I loved Where the Wild Things Are as a child, and I loved fairy tales. I spent hours upon hours imagining myself away from the challenges in my everyday existence, placing myself in stories, talking and playing with the characters. As a girl, I lamented that I couldn’t create an imaginary friend. I thought my imagination was lacking, somehow. But looking back I see that books were my imaginary friends, only they were far, far more real than they were imaginary. I want to write books that can do that, can become a child’s friend.

Q#4: Who is your author idol and how have they influenced your work?
I don’t think I have one author idol. I’ve crafted a composite mythical goddess shaped from bits of Jane Yolen and her crazy prolific creativity (plus she can knock out a tune, that woman), with a touch of Stephen King’s rigorous schedule (and a bit of his macabre), and an adoration of the intellectual depth behind Tolkein’s world building. I know there are others in there too, a finger from Anne Lamott, a kneecap from Bram Stoker, a spleen from Teresa Bateman because Plump and Perky Turkey is my favorite rhyming picture book ever. The list could go on. And on. And…

Q#5: What are your marketing plans for your book? Where can we find it?
Oy, marketing plan. I am such an introvert. And not just an introvert, but also social-phobe, lover of solitude and QUIET (again, something a mom of many almost never gets). Events of any sort ignite my social anxiety, my OCD need to plan basically every word I say and spend countless hours building a powerpoint that probably won’t work anyway, all to leave me with a buzzing sense of dread from the moment I put the event on the calendar to the day it happens. Then I take a several days or weeks to recover. The event itself always goes fine and I enjoy it—so I keep signing up for things. Like a reading and story time at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor. [details]. By the way, I will happily stick around and talk shop if anyone’s interested, so please come!
That’s to say, while I do some events, I try to focus my energies on things I can Make and Do online. Social media: Instagram (RebeccaWritesBooks), Facebook, Twitter (both rebeccagrabill). I also make teachers’ resources like this printable pack created to accompany my first book, Halloween Good Night [link], as well as crafts (so many crafts), blog tours, giveaways, an author e-newsletter (sign up at my website!), postcards, more. I also made a book trailer for my first book which Simon & Schuster shared on their YouTube, and which proved that book trailers really don’t do much, but they’re still fun.  
Since Violet and the Woof isn’t a “holiday” book, I’m taking the promo season slow. I’m going to focus on promoting Halloween Good Night (last year’s release) during October, then really hit the streets in November for Violet. So if you want me to come do a reading, workshop, blog interview, Skype visit (or in person, I suppose), I’m there! 

A little bit about the book: “Once upon a time,” Violet said, “a brave little girl and her brother set out on a long, long journey. A journey fraught with danger and peril.”
In this contemporary, urban retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, Violet and Peter are making their way to Papa Jean Louis’s to deliver soup, when . . .
they see a wolf in the elevator . . . a shortcut leads them to a spooky cave . . . then something growls in the shadows!
Is Violet’s make-believe story just in her imagination?
With excitement and more than a few surprises, Violet and the Woof will have readers wide-eyed, smiling, and asking for the story again and again.
Illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova.

A little bit about the author: Rebecca Grabill is author of the picture books, Halloween Goodnight (Atheneum, Simon & Schuster), Violet and the Woof (Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins 2018), A Year With Mama Earth (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers 2019). Other publications include poetry and essays in a broad range of literary journals. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and is a Sustainable Arts Foundation awardee. Rebecca is represented by Victoria Wells Arms of Wells Arms Literary.
She lives in rural Michigan with her husband, six children, and two cats.

You can find out more about Rebecca and VIOLET AND THE WOOF here: