Welcome to SCBWI-MI's Book Birthday Blog!
Where we celebrate new books from Michigan's authors, illustrators and translators.
Congratulations to Carol Doeringer on the release of If You Wake a Skunk
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I once had an unforgettable summer of skunk encounters. I learned about skunks’ warning signs firsthand when a dozen or so of the little stinkers gathered almost daily to dine on grubs in my grass. Decades later, I drew on that indelible memory to write a few rhyming stanzas, part of an assignment when I took Renée LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab. A critique partner nudged me to turn that silly poem into a picture book. That led to research and lots more laughs when I discovered that one skunk species—the spotted skunk—gives most of its warnings while doing a handstand. That skunk became the star of my book.
What is something you hope your readers will take away from your book?
I hope readers will view the skunk in a new light. Skunks get a bad rap for being armed and odorous. But there’s a lot to admire in the lengths they’ll go to, giving fair warning before launching their stench defense. I’d like kids to think about the reasons wild creatures look and act as they do. And of course, one valuable takeaway from the book is this cautionary tale’s message: If you see a skunk, back away and leave it be.
What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired by the creatures I watch and film. My home is surrounded by woods and overlooks a beautiful lake. Every day, I see critters behaving in ways that can be sad, silly, surprising, or inspiring. Wildlife often makes me wonder how or why. Book ideas spring from the search for answers.
What are your marketing plans for the book?
My local library will host a launch party. I have recorded one live interview with an influential kidlit podcaster. I have another live interview scheduled and am looking forward to several blog interviews and bookstore signings. I’ll also be engaging with the community of skunk wildlife rehabbers and pet skunk owners, who are quite active in social media groups. Not to mention attending SkunkFest, a fundraiser for Ohio-based rehabber Skunk Haven, as well as Florida Skunk Rescue’s 2023 Skunk Show! I’m working on arranging to sell books at those events. Plus, I’ll donate books for their and other wildlife rehabbers’ auctions, which I believe will give If You Wake a Skunk lots of visibility to people who love skunks.
What's next for you?
I have several polished nature-themed picture book manuscripts, with ideas for many more. So many fun critter stories to pick from! To date, my batting average for publisher submissions is twenty-seven rejections and one wonderful yes from Sleeping Bear Press. I’m unagented and hoping to change that, for broader publisher access. So far, my handful of agent queries have all led to passes, but I remain optimistic.
A little bit about the book . . .
Two campers spot a snoozing skunk. Tension builds as they creep closer and tempt fate, dismissing the skunk’s warnings. He waves his tail, hisses, stares, and stomps. He even does a handstand. But skunks can be fakers. Will this one launch his stink and stench the campers?
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
A little bit about the author . . .
Carol Doeringer lives in the treetops. Perched on a steep woodland bluff, her home is a front-row seat to nature’s daily wildlife show. The cast of characters inspires many of her picture book stories. Carol is also a wildlife videographer, sharing visual stories in her blog, Tales from a West Michigan Wood. Whether blogging or writing picture books, Carol tells stories that pique curiosity about our natural world. She also writes picture books about kid entrepreneurship—a fun nod to her master’s degree in business administration and her decades’ experience teaching and writing about commercial finance.
Facebook: Carol Doeringer