Friday, March 31, 2023

Interview with Picture Book Mentor, Leslie Helakoski

Welcome to part two of our SCBWI-MI Mentorship Interviews! If you missed it, click here to read part one, in which we interviewed Kim Rogers, our PB prose mentor. For this installment, we talk with Leslie Helakoski, our PB verse mentor.

What is the mentorship, you ask? Great question. Every year, SCBWI-MI provides an opportunity for our members to work with a published author or illustrator who will help you not only improve your current work-in-progress, but the goal is to help you hone your craft overall. This year, we are focusing on prose and verse picture books. To learn more about our mentorships, click here.

Many of you may be familiar with Leslie, who is a former co-RA for our region. She’s also the author and illustrator of over a dozen picture books. Check out her bio on her website here.

Without further ado, enjoy this more personal glimpse of Leslie and her writing.

-Jay Whistler, Mentorship Coordinator


Mentorship Interview with Leslie Helakoski

What do you like best about writing picture books? 

I’ve been playing with words ever since I was very young and I’d find the word puzzle page in Reader’s Digest. I continued to play with words while working in advertising. I even like designing with words. I love that certain words can define, set a mood, show character, or make me laugh.

What do you like least? 

Marketing and self-promotion.

Describe a typical writing day.

In the morning, I tend to exercise (pickle ball, anyone?) and answer email, which includes answering questions at the national help-desk for SCBWI. That leaves me free to write creatively in the afternoon. I’ve tried many times to do creative work first, but I have to trick my head into believing I’ve got nothing else pending and am free to write for myself. I’ll often write until I notice I am uncomfortable sitting or my eyes are tired. If I am illustrating a book, I will paint all day. For weeks. I’m not fast.

Which of your books was the most fun to write? Why? 

That would be…BIG CHICKENS. The story came easily—maybe because it is based on a true story—I was a very big chicken when I was young! Plus, the editor was sharp and easy to work with. It was also my first book with a major publisher (Dutton—remember them?). I met the illustrator, Henry Cole, and we became fast friends, which made creating the second two chicken books a lot of fun. The editor, Henry, and I all met in New Orleans, since the last book was set there, and took photos of settings around the city. I love collaborating on a book, especially with an illustrator whose work I adore.

When you’re reading for pleasure, what features of a book typically impress you the most?

In novels, it’s when I notice that I LOVE the character already, and I have to stop and look back to figure out HOW the author made me feel that way. In picture books, it’s the story. I always look for the story first.

What brings you joy?

Family, being in the woods, talking about books with writing friends.

What inspires you?

Well, sorry to be so obvious but….children, of course. I’ve always been drawn to young children. I love to watch them play and see them learn and hear them speak. When I’m writing, I imagine specific children listening, and it keeps me focused on addressing the child.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Every time I read this question, I come up with a different place I’d love to see. Most recently I’ve been dreaming of Greece—the sun, the water, the sheer antiquity everywhere…

If you could have dinner with any person throughout history who would it be? What would you discuss?

The impressionist painter Mary Cassatt has always interested me. Not only her gorgeous work but how she navigated her career as a painter in a field of men who didn’t always recognize women, much less their artwork. She defied her father’s wishes and pursued her painting in Paris, eventually joining the impressionists. She helped open doors for other women. I think we might have tea in a flowering garden and perhaps invite her good friend Edgar Degas to join us.

What aspects of being a picture book mentor are you most looking forward to? 

I’m always happy to hear new and original voices and stories. I have missed our Michigan writer’s community over the past few years, and I’m delighted to feel connected to it again in this way.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

My newest upcoming book, WHEN THE RAIN CAME DOWN, with FSG, is about a community’s response to flooding on the Gulf Coast, where I grew up. It was inspired by losing our family home to high water and storms. The illustrator, Keisha Morris, is working on the art now, and it will release next winter. AND I am happy to report that I pulled a project out of my drawer a couple of weeks ago, where it’s been wallowing a loooonnng time. I revised it and sold it to a small press! GATOR’S GOOD IDEA was originally written ten years ago. The text is filled with playful Southern language. I’m already working on the illustrations and having lots of fun including all the small details that make illustrating fiction so much fun.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Interview with Picture Book Mentor, Kim Rogers

Spring is here, and what better time to let your writing bloom. As we think about the earth reawakening, pushing new shoots through the detritus of fall and winter’s layers, and unfurling the vibrancy of new leaves, it seems appropriate that we should return to our budding creativity, open our manuscripts to the light, and grow our writing craft.

That’s what the SCBWI-MI mentorship is all about. This year, we focus on picture books, one for verse, and one for prose. All current SCBWI-MI members are eligible, as long as you have a completed PB manuscript to submit. The submission window opens in a few months, so now is the time to get it ready. For more information about our mentorship program, click here.

To inspire you, we’re sharing the first in our two-part series of interviews with the mentors. In part one, read about Kim Rogers, our prose mentor. You can find her bio on her website here, but we thought members might want to know more about who she is as a writer and person.

In part two, you can read about Leslie Helakoski, former SCBWI-MI co-RA and our verse mentor. Stay tuned for that, and in the meantime, enjoy part one with Kim!

-Jay Whistler, Mentorship Coordinator

Mentorship Interview with Kim Rogers

What do you like best about writing picture books?

I love the challenge of writing them—playing with rhythmic and lyrical language and finding the right onomatopoeia that elevates a manuscript. And I love that feeling of figuring out a story that finally comes together and creates an emotional response that makes my critique partners say, “This is ready to send out.”

What do you like least?

Although they may look easy, picture books are difficult to write. It can be hard for me to hone in on an idea because I have so many of them! My agent says to write where the heat is, meaning to write where my burning passion lies, and that’s what I try to do. This is some of the best advice I’ve received! It helps me prioritize what to write and doesn’t steer me wrong. Also, it can take years to write picture books because I write in my head before I ever sit down to write at my laptop. And some stories are more difficult to figure out, but they are well worth the long and oftentimes arduous effort.

Describe a typical writing day.

I don’t have a strict writing routine and tend to write at various times depending on my schedule. My favorite time to write is in the mornings. I start the day off with a cup of Earl Grey tea with sugar and a splash of milk, or a cup of coffee fixed the same way. Then I sit down at my laptop. When I’m working on a new manuscript, the blank page is less intimidating when I’m not fully awake. Plus, writing early makes me feel accomplished and then I’m ready to tackle the rest of the day.

Which of your books was the most fun to write? Why? 

My books are like children. I can’t say that I have a favorite one. It wouldn’t be fair to the other books. Just like my boys, I love them all the same.

When you’re reading for pleasure, what features of a book typically impress you the most? 

I’m always drawn to lyrical voices. That type of voice keeps me longing for more. I also love funny voices. Laughter is the best medicine. I love heartwarming and humorous stories. I think of a book like a new friend that I want to get to know. Those voices are the most impressive and intriguing to me. They are the ones I want to sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee with and then walk away feeling uplifted and energized and/or with my sides hurting from laughing.

What brings you joy?

Spending time with family and friends brings me joy. Relationships are incredibly important to me. Spending time in nature brings me joy. Connection to Mother Earth is essential and soul healing. Traveling brings me joy. I love exploring places I’ve never been. A satisfying meal brings me joy. I especially love food my dad cooks. And reading and writing picture books brings me joy. They are my favorite art form.

What inspires you?

Good people inspire me. Life experiences inspire me. Good books inspire me. Music inspires me. They all influence my writing. My mind sifts through them and the most meaningful things end up on the page.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I’d travel back to Europe. My husband is a retired Air Force officer. Our first duty station as a married couple was in Germany. I’d take our children and show them all the places we’ve traveled. I’d take them to our favorite German restaurant, Gastof Peters. I’d take them to the hospital where our eldest was born. I’d take them to our favorite Liege waffle place that happens to be in a town center in the Netherlands. I’d take them to our favorite gelato place in Italy. And I’d introduce them to the wonderful European friends we’ve met along the way.

If you could have dinner with any person throughout history who would it be? What would you discuss?

I’d want to have dinner with my paternal Wichita great-grandmother, Jessie. Many people don’t know this, but in my story “Flying Together” in ANCESTOR APPROVED (Heartdrum, 2021) the main character is named in honor of her. I’d ask what inspires her and about the people and about the things that she loves most. In fact, I’d want to have dinner with each of my ancestors. I’d want to get to know them all. There are so many questions I would ask each of them.

What aspects of being a picture book mentor are you most looking forward to? 

First off, thank you so much for the opportunity to be a mentor. I’m so honored and excited! I can’t wait to read the mentee’s work. I can’t wait to see how their work evolves. I can’t wait to see what exciting things the future holds for them on their road to publication. 

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Book Birthday Blog with Thelma Lynne Godin and Katie Eberts


Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!

Where we celebrate new books from Michigan's authors, illustrators and translators.


Congratulations to Thelma Lynne Godin and Katie Eberts on the release of 

Hush-a-Bye Night Good Night Lake Superior


How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Thelma: The idea for this book came to me one summer evening as I watched twilight fall on the shores of Lake Superior. The quiet and the light at this time of the day has always made me pause and observe the beauty of the lake and its surroundings. The stanza in the book about the fox kits tumbling and playing actually happened one evening. We were sitting on the beach and further down a mama fox ventured out of the woods and onto the beach. Soon after, out came 4 fox kits rolling and running down the dune. We watched spellbound as the kits chased and nipped and tumbled after each other.



What is something you hope your readers will take away from the book?

Thelma: My dream is that readers young and old connect with the magic of the natural world surrounding them in our beautiful state and especially on the shores of Lake Superior. The sound of the waves, the stars, the Aurora, wildlife, and the flowers are all so unique to this area.
Katie: I hope they will be able to identify creatures and plants in the wild that they have seen in the book. Especially the lady slippers!



Will you walk us through your creative process working together?

Thelma: I have been enthralled and obsessed with Katie’s art since moving back home to the Upper Peninsula. When I finally met her, I told her right away that she needed to be illustrating picture books. I was over the moon when Sleeping Bear Press decided she was the right illustrator for this book. During the creative process we didn’t have a lot of contact over the illustrations since she was working with an art director. But I did share some pictures of a few things that I thought might fuel her creative process. It does help that we are both “Yoopers” and even though that was meant as a joke, I think it really is one of the things that made this book so special. 


Katie: Our creative processes were fairly separate. I received Thelma’s manuscript from the publisher and just loved it. Since we both live on the lake (Thelma on Superior and I on Huron) I knew the dreamy quiet vibe she was going for, people and nature coexisting, the beautiful landscape, how the sky and water change colors, etc. I would occasionally come to her with clarifying questions about some random little tidbit, and she sent me some beautiful photos of the northern lights to paint from, but for the most part I just worked with my art director.



What inspires you to write/illustrate?

Thelma: For me it is the love of language, the magical power of words to evoke emotion. The love of a satisfying story. The allure of creating a world or character where children can see themselves. It is the joy of finding just the right phrase or combination of words to pull a story together. And at the end of it all it is the joy and excitement of sharing those stories with who they are meant for. Who it is all about. Children.

Katie: I just love putting pencil to paper. Having a vague idea in my brain and seeing how it comes to life with watercolor and colored pencil is my favorite part of the process. It never comes out how I expect. 


What's next for you?


Thelma: More writing and writing and hopefully more books. I am currently working on a middle grade novel and have several picture book manuscripts that I am shopping.

Katie: Promoting the book! Thelma and I are planning to do some library, school, and bookstore visits over the summer, which I think will be a lot of fun. I also am working on a picture book project with my friend Lauren K. Stein about a hungry fox that we are currently shopping. Fingers crossed! 


A little bit about the book . . .


As the sun sets on Lake Superior and the moon begins to rise, all kinds of creatures--from the solitary loon to a tumble of fox kits to a family like yours--begin their nighttime routines. This lyrical lullaby to the lake, and the flora and fauna that call its shores home, is a beautiful ode to the most beautiful lake. Backmatter includes science and nature facts.  

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press



A little bit about the author and illustrator . . .


Thelma: I have a degree in Social Work and have worked as a social worker and as a school librarian in a private school. Hush-a-Bye Night Good Night Lake Superior is my third picture book. My other two book titles are The Hula Hoopin' Queen and How to Dress a Dragon. I live along the shores of Lake Superior with my husband Pat and my dog Pip. I have been a member of SCBWI since 2003. 


Instagram @thelmalynnegodin

FB:Thelma Godin 


Katie: Katie Eberts studied art at the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. She lives in Cedarville, Michigan with her husband and their friendly cat in a sweet little red cabin surrounded by flowers in the summer and piles of snow in the winter. As of May 2021, she is the IC (Illustrator Coordinator) for the Michigan Chapter of SCBWI. Hush-a-Bye Night is her first picture book. You can find her work at and on Instagram @katieebertsillustration.




Friday, March 17, 2023

More Than a Publishing Summit by Renee Bolla


If you were to ask me the day I resigned from corporate retail if I would be a self-published author who started a picture book marketing group, I would have laughed. Not because I didn’t think I was capable but because that would have felt so far out of my wheelhouse. I was a fashion merchant and brand strategist with 20 years invested in corporate retail. What did I know about being an author? Fast forward, I had two picture books released in 2022, formed Kidlit at Heart, and just presented at the Women in Publishing Summitthe largest virtual event for women in the publishing industry.


The power of the writing community is remarkable. I didn’t know anyone in the industry when I began. I didn't have a formal education in the field, so I did the most logical thing I could think of and jumped in headfirst. Soaking up knowledge anywhere I could get it and connecting with as many people as I could. I joined the 12x12 community and SCBWI. I met my fellow Kidlit at Heart members (Mona Voelkel, Tarja Nevala, and Leslie Tayloe) through 12x12 and soon discovered each of us was also a member of SCBWI. We were strangers from all walks of life that came together for the love of creating. 


We heard about the Women in Publishing Summit (thanks Instagram) and its mission to celebrate, empower, encourage, and support women writers in the publishing industry. We wanted to be a part of that. Its mission closely aligned with Kidlit at Heart’s values of inspiring, creating, and connecting. So, we took a bold approach and directly contacted the founder, shared our story, goals, and passion for creating. That was the birth of our first speaking opportunity as a picture book marketing group. We hosted the workshop Forming a Collaborative Children's Book Marketing Group, a wonderful topic that we can expand on another time.


The summit was my first speaking opportunity as an author. My previous 20 years in corporate retail brought me many speaking opportunities but THIS! A conference of this caliber, this size, this early on in my journey. Nervous? You could say that. I felt like I was in middle school again, preparing my first speech for the school’s annual debate. I was on year 2 of my author journey, not exactly an expert. But I am well versed in all things marketing and have the personal experience of transitioning into a new career late in life. I knew what helped me along my entry into the writing industry. Community and connection. That realization changed my internal dialogue and calmed my nerves.


The Women in Publishing Summit was my chance to be part of something meaningful. An event entirely dedicated to women, dedicated to sharing women’s stories, and our voices while celebrating our accomplishments. Women supporting women. Talk about community. Whether you are an experienced writer or aspiring to start, this brought true mentorship and connection. 


This piece is in celebration of all the inspiring women out there. Make today, tomorrow, and every day a day to celebrate your courage, strength, and resilience. And always remember, we are strong alone, but together we can change the world.


Renee Bolla, a self-taught, self-published author who resigned from the only career she knew to follow a dream of becoming an author at almost 40, is now and forever a part of the Women in Publishing community. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Book Birthday Blog with Kelly J. Baptist


Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!

Where we celebrate new books from Michigan's authors, illustrators and translators.


Congratulations to Kelly J. Baptist on the release of Eb & Flow



How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I love titles, and the title, Eb & Flow, came to me before the story did. I wanted to explore the notion of “boys can’t hit girls,” as well as what really happens during an out-of-school suspension. An even greater question is, how effective are they in addressing behavior? I wrote the first words “I don’t even hit girls” on a Saturday. On Monday morning, I went in to work at my middle school and there was a fight between a male and female student. As I walked the young man down the hall to the guidance office, he was pretty upset, and I will never forget what he said, “Man, I don’t even hit girls!” I was stunned because I had JUST written those words! In fact, I had my notebook with me and immediately showed our dean of students! That’s when I knew the story HAD to be written. 

What is something you hope your readers will take away from your book?

I think a common theme in all my books is the importance of family and community and the fact that we all have more in common with one another than we think. I want my readers to consider that fact before they get upset with or judge someone else. There is always a story behind the story! 

What inspires you to write?

I’m fueled by just the idea of my work inspiring young people to write or pursue whatever passion they have. I write because kids who look like me need to feel seen and heard. I think about my ancestors when I write and I am eternally grateful for the sacrifices they made for me to be able to do this. I think they’d be proud of me and that inspires me.

What are your marketing plans for the book?

I’m really excited about a new marketing angle I came up with for this book! My youngest daughter, Natalia, is really into music so I’ve commissioned her to create a booktrack for Eb & Flow. The music captures the feel of the book and will hopefully provide another way for people to connect! 

What's next for you?

So far, I have a middle grade novel that releases in October, and a second picture book coming next year. I’m also beginning to dabble in screenplays. Some of my early writings were plays, so it feels like I’m returning to my roots!

A little bit about the book . . .

Two kids. One fight. No one thinks they’re wrong. Eb & Flow are two seventh graders who have an altercation in the lunchroom that leads to a 10-day suspension. While at home, they grapple with what really happened, their family situations, and what they’ll do next. 

A little bit about the author . . . 

Kelly J. Baptist was born and raised in the great state of Michigan. She won the 2015 We Need Diverse Books short story contest, and her winning entry is included in the middle grade anthology, Flying Lessons and Other Stories. Since the win, she has written four more middle grade novels and one picture book. Kelly is a huge Kobe Bryant fan and incorporates Mamba Mentality in all aspects of her life, especially writing! She lives in Southwest Michigan with her five talented children. 

Twitter: @kellyiswrite

Instagram: @kellyiswrite




Friday, March 10, 2023

Ask the Editor by Katherine Gibson Easter

Hi everyone! As always, a huge thank-you to everyone who sent me their questions! I hope all of you, whether you sent in a question or not, find this post helpful and informative.

As with my previous Ask the Editor posts, I humbly ask that you take my comments in the spirit in which they’re intended. The advice here is meant to be friendly and helpful; I sincerely hope no one finishes this post feeling vulnerable or discouraged.

Also, a general disclaimer that my thoughts are my own; I do not speak on behalf of my publisher or the publishing industry in general. I would not be surprised at all to learn that you’ve heard an editor or agent say something that directly conflicts with my perspective. Everyone in publishing has their own views and preferences, and I can only be honest about my own.

Finally, if you have any questions about writing or publishing that aren’t addressed here, please feel free to email me. I’m always happy to gather questions for my next post!

Thanks so much, and happy reading!

How much weight do you, as an editor, give to a creator's age, gender, race and/or ethnicity, in determining if you will make an offer?

I think editors and agents are always eager to support underrepresented authors and their books; we want to ensure that we’re representing reality with a wide range of backgrounds and voices on our list. But there are a lot of factors (quality of writing, felt need for topic, author platform, etc.) that tend to carry more weight than the author’s background. That said, I think the degree to which an author’s identity matters can vary based on the project. 

For example, we just recently published a YA novel called Come Home Safe, where the characters’ emotions and journeys were largely informed by the author’s own background and experiences; the book wouldn’t have been as strong if the author had been outside of the marginalized group. If it’s a picture book about a bunny who eats too many carrots, on the other hand, I’m probably not going to be overly concerned with the author’s age, race, or gender.

Whose responsibility is it, once a book has gone out of print, to notify the creator? And, when a book goes out of print, what options do the creator(s) have with their work?

Typically, when a book gets low on stock, and the publisher decides not to reprint, someone from the publishing house will reach out to the creators and let them know that their book will soon be out of print. The creators then have the opportunity to buy any remaining copies of the book if they wish.

Once your book is out of print, you can ask your publisher about getting the book’s rights reverted back to you, if, say, you want to have the freedom to self-publish the book instead. (Keep in mind, you only get rights to the part you contributed; if you’ve authored a picture book that had a separate illustrator for example, you’d only have rights to the text, not the art.) In most cases, though, the contract stands for the length of the book’s copyright. This can be in the author’s interest as well; I’ve seen publishers bring books back into print if there’s a renewed demand for the content (always fun when that happens!).

What is the best way to find an agent? I've heard that there are so many scammers out there that a writer needs to be very careful.

There are lots of reputable agent databases out there to help you find the right match. SCBWI’s The Book, Manuscript Wish List, and QueryTracker are some great places to start. Publishers Weekly also sends out deal announcements that list the agent, editor, and publishing house, and of course you can do research on your favorite authors to see who represents them.

In terms of avoiding scammers, keep in mind that agents earn 15% of their authors’ or illustrators’ royalties when they get a book deal, meaning an agent will not be asking you for money upfront; if they do, it’s very likely a scam. It’s also worth considering hiring a legal professional to look over any contract they send you if you’re unfamiliar with the terms or standard industry practices. 

When an editor takes the time to praise your submission, but then they say it's not quite right for their list, what do they mean? Are they typically looking for a certain mix of books each publishing season? What are some of the factors that go into these decisions? 

Oof, this is a tough one! This can mean a variety of things, depending on the editor and their style, but you can rest assured that if they praised your submission, they genuinely liked it, or at least parts of it. Editors and agents get a lot of submissions, so if they took the extra time to point out what they liked about it, that means it stood out in their minds and they want to encourage you.

As you say, there are lots of factors that go into these decisions. It could be the mix of titles, as you mention, or the felt need/marketability isn’t strong enough, the projected numbers aren’t working, the list goes on. 

I can tell you that when I say a project isn’t quite right for our list, I mean just that—it’s a bit outside of what we publish, or what we’re currently looking for. There are lots of manuscripts I’ve gotten that I’ve loved, but that haven’t fit in with the rest of our list. As much as I’d like to work on the project, I have to let it go, and hope someone else snaps it up so I can buy myself a copy when it hits the shelves! 

Besides targeting the right publisher/editor based on their history or current wish lists and sending them your best work, is anything else in the writer's control, or does it just come down to lucky timing?

The things you list—researching the agent’s or editor’s history and current wish list, studying your craft and the publishing industry, working with critique groups to revise your work—are all excellent. (You’d be amazed at how many people don’t do that.) 

As you say, though, the rest of the process is largely outside of the author’s control. If you want to go above and beyond to better your chances, working on your network/platform could be time well spent. Expanding your online presence is great, but this can go beyond social media. Attending conferences, connecting with other writers and industry professionals, volunteering to host a webinar or write a blog post—all of these things show the people you’re querying that you take yourself seriously, and it might even lead to a helpful connection! 

Katherine Gibson Easter is an editor for Zonderkidz, having previously worked for Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. She graduated from the University of Denver Publishing Institute in 2013 and has spent the last eight years editing and publishing award-winning children’s books, including Sibert Medal and Caldecott Honor book The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus and Plume, which was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book.

Thank you, Katherine!
To submit a publishing question, email Mitten blog editor Sarah LoCascio with "Ask the Editor" in the subject line, and she'll forward your question to Katherine. Or, stay tuned on the SCBWI-MI MichKids listserv – Katherine will ask for questions a few weeks before her next post.

If you missed any of Katherine's previous Ask the Editor posts, go HERE to browse through all the questions and answers.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Book Birthday Blog with Lindsay Fryc




Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!

Where we celebrate new books from Michigan's authors, illustrators and translators.


Congratulations to Lindsay Fryc on the release of Emma and the Queen of  Featherstone



How did you come up with the idea for your book?

My novel started as a tiny idea back in 2015. I didn’t really have a plot for it at the time. I had just become a mother to a gorgeous baby girl and needed a little bit of an outlet. Writing was always a great outlet for me. I wrote about a chapter of the book before shelving it to deal with busy life. Then in 2019, I visited the Detroit Writing Room and spoke with the co-founder Stephanie Steinberg. After that conversation I was inspired to dust off the novel and finish it. The idea for the plot started from learning more about my family history when they lived under Soviet rule. I thought about hopes and expectations of a new place, and how that compares to reality. However, the story turned into a science fiction and fantasy novel after my daughter came home from pre-school one day. She was running around in her Disney princess dress and she came over to me and said “Mommy, girls can’t be good at video games, only boys are good at that right?” I was really shocked that so soon after starting pre-school she already was coming home with an idea of something she couldn’t possibly be good at just because she was a girl. So, I decided to write her into a science fiction novel. A book where she could see herself in a tech-based world, and one that I could see her there too. Emma and the Queen of Featherstone was born!

What is something you hope your readers will take away from your book?

I really hope readers will come away with the inspiration that they can really do anything. Kids are so incredibly adaptable and smart. I hope they come away with a sense of wonder and curiosity about their world and about space exploration. And lastly, I hope they come away treasuring the relationships and friendships they make along the way. 

What inspires you to write?

Hands down my daughters inspire me to write. Their openness and general curiosity are something I probably could write about non-stop. I love their general whimsy too and I really love to capture that in my own writing.
I also am inspired so much by nature. I love walking in our Michigan parks and taking in the surroundings. It’s probably why I love describing nature in my novels too.

What are your marketing plans for the book?

I have lots of marketing plans for the novel! Firstly, there will be a special launch party for Emma and the Queen of Featherstone hosted by 27th Letter Books in Detroit, MI. This will be held on March 10th, 2023 in the evening. There will be a reading, book signing, and book swag you can grab while there. A fun STEM activity is also planned for the kids who attend the in store launch event! It will be lots of fun! As we get closer to the date, more info can be found here:  Secondly, I will be doing bookstore author events throughout the summer. More info on where you can find me can be found on the events link given above! Hope to see you at one of those events! I also plan on doing some special giveaways on social media, so make sure you are following me on instagram:, TikTok:, /@lindsayfrycauthor?lang=en, and Twitter: to be the first to enter those.

What's next for you?

Writing! My focus is writing and revising that next book.

A little bit about the book . . .

In the near distant future, Emma's life revolves around the company's Mars terraforming fast track program. Stuck between her parents' never-ending Mars shuttle supply runs and her own coursework in the program, Emma dreams of adventure outside of the company's plan for her. Anything to get away from the constant bullying and boring coursework.

She finds that adventure accidentally when she stumbles into a portal to a new world. On Merah, she finds two species, the secretive Kabiren. who create and run all technological advancement, and the Amethites, the native species of the planet. When the Kabiren inform her that a portal back to her world does not exist, she accepts a place in their society, as a Protector.

Now she must navigate her new assignment of guarding her new planet from portal intruders while also figuring out what the Kabiren are hiding. Her acceptance of her new life without her family and friends is thrown into chaos when she meets a special portal intruder: her best friend from Earth. Now she must decide between accepting her adventure in this new world, or fighting for her old one.

A little bit about the author . . .

Lindsay Fryc is the author of Emma and the Queen of Featherstone, a middle grade science fiction novel centered around an anxious STEAM loving girl thrown into a technocratic world of unknowns. Lindsay is a nerd wife and the mother of two girls, one prima ballerina and one pure hurricane. When she isn’t lost in fictional worlds, you can find her gardening or planning a far off adventure for her family to explore together. But no matter where the adventuring takes her, her heart is rooted home to those Michigan trees.

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