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You know the Piña Colada song, right? Getting caught in the rain?

Well, imagine that song in a picture book for kids (without the dunes of the cape, of course). Two besties have great times together, but they get stuck in a rut and go off to seek other adventures…only to rediscover each other.

ollieandclaireThat’s the premise of Tiffany Strelitz Haber‘s charming OLLIE AND CLAIRE. The light and cheery watercolors by Matthew Cordell feature sketchy lines that suggest fun and frolic. A delight to read aloud, your voice just skips along like the two friends do. Tiffany’s a master of rhyme and one of the two ladies behind The Meter Maids.

Besides having two successful picture books to her credit (the other is THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN), Tiffany has branched out into ebooks. She recently released HUNGRY HARRY with StoryPanda and MORE CHEESE, PLEASE with KiteReaders. I interviewed her to find out about the ebook process and this emerging opportunity for children’s book writers.

Tiffany, what attracted you to ebooks?

To me, ebooks are just another way for kids to experience reading. In some cases there are interactive aspects to the ebook that can really help them learn, and in other cases it might just be a nice opportunity for a more reluctant reader to enjoy stories and story time in general.


morecheesepleaseDid you write HARRY and CHEESE specifically for an ebook format, or were these traditional picture book manuscripts first?

I have this sort of arsenal of completed picture books. Some have been subbed out widely. Others to just a couple places, and others have never actually seen the light of day! I picked two stories that I liked a lot and just rolled with those. Not sure CHEESE was ever subbed out anywhere and HARRY went to one place, actually got to editorial, but didn’t make it through. Wait. Does that even answer your question? Kind of, right?!

How did you go about researching ebook publishers and in what format did you submit?

Oh, I googled the bejesus out of ebook publishers and chose to submit to ones that I felt the most comfortable with. There’s a lot of communication available with the actual publishers and marketing directors etc., so you can really get a feel for who you would be working with before you actually work with them.

I hired illustrators (after exhaustive searches on freelance websites) and submitted completed manuscripts (text and art) to the ebook publishers. The illustrators I chose were those willing to accept a flat fee for the work, and OK with the fact that I would retain the rights to the images as well. Hopefully it is some good publicity for them, and also additional work to add to their portfolio when searching for agents, etc. There are so many wonderful artists out there!


How was the ebook editorial process different from a traditional picture book process?

Um…it’s different in that it’s ALL YOU. Period.

Care to expand upon that?

It’s basically self-publishing your picture book online. You need to edit it, and make all the art decisions, and check the spelling and punctuation, etc. There isn’t an editor or an art director to do that with you—although with HARRY I did work with someone at StoryPanda to create the interactive elements of the story.

The sounds all the crazy stuff HARRY eats sure are fun!

What recommendations and cautions do you have for other picture book writers about delving into the world of ebooks?

I think it’s too soon for me to make any cautionary statements OR recommendations about ebooks yet. It’s something I am experimenting with, and really enjoying so far…but definitely too soon to say much more than that!

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How have you gone about marketing your ebooks?

Well, again—this is all very new to me, but I’ve started sending them out for reviews and of course there’s social media. And on a larger scale, I am trying to work with schools to get the books on their computers, etc. Definitely a very entrepreneurial endeavor; but I think if you’re up for the challenge, it’s also lots of fun with somewhat limitless possibilities!

So you’ve now published two traditional picture books and two ebooks. What’s next for you?

Hmmm…I’m working on a middle grade novel right now, which is taking up most of my writing time—but still juggling a bunch of picture book works in “progress”, although I use the term “progress” loosely, as they seem to be at a dead stop for the time being!

Well, jump back into it because you’re a perfect rhymer and the world needs more great rhyming books!

Thanks for stopping by to let us in on the ebook process!

Blog readers, don’t go yet. Tiffany has a copy of HUNGRY HARRY and MORE CHEESE, PLEASE to give away. Just leave a comment below to enter the giveaway. Two winners will be chosen one week from today. Good luck!

Hey there, PiBoIdMo-ers. Hope you’re all well nourished and ready to roar through these final days! This post is about two things: perseverance and truth. The way I see it, there really aren’t many truths in life at all. There’s Death. There’s Taxes. There’s the fact I will wash every load of laundry at least twice because I will forget to put it in the drier and discover it days later…but I digress.

There’s also another:

“Stopping before you reach your goal guarantees you will not reach your goal.”

Now, that may sound like a bit of “duh” phrase. But is it, really? It’s one of many things I take from this incredibly inspirational cartoon about perseverance:

What do you take from it?

Oh, and here’s a little rhyming pep talk for ya, too:

You’re near the end it’s getting tough.
You’re all tapped out of clever stuff.

You may be thinking, this is it.
I’ve done enough. Who needs this s—?

So give it up. Admit defeat.
Or better yet, just lie. Or cheat!

Who needs blood or sweat or tears.
Respect from who? A bunch of peers?

And who needs real integrity.
Who needs a contract? Eh. Not me.

Empty pages float my boat.
27? All she wrote.

30 is for suckers, dude.
Embrace that downer attitude.

Writing’s hard, you’re filled with dread.
Let other people write instead.

Grab your towel. Throw it in,
and let the giving up begin!


if you choose to persevere…
to fight and push, then listen here:

To you, I bow. I bow down low.
You’ll win the battle. Blow by blow.

Your quest to find the best of you
will dominate the rest of you.

Your goals and dreams are yours to lose.
And yours to harness….if you choose.

So choose the challenge. Choose to win!
Dig down deep for what’s within.

And one day gaze upon a shelf,
filled with books,
you wrote

You never know!! That little idea on day 30 could be the next NYT Bestseller!!

GO PiBoIdMo-ers….GO!!


Tiffany Strelitz Haber has eaten fried bugs, jumped out of airplanes and lives for adventures. Tiffany grew up in NYC, but is now located in central NJ, and available for workshops everywhere.

Her debut picture book, THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (Holt/Macmillan) was recently featured in the NY Times Sunday Book Review and the art will be featured in the Society of Illustrators 2013 Original Art Show Traveling Exhibit.

Her next book, OLLIE AND CLAIRE (Philomel/Penguin) is due out April, 2013.

Please visit Tiffany at her website:, on Facebook, or Tweet her @TiffRhymes.

Tiffany is giving away a signed copy of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (which is very NICE)! Leave a comment to enter (one comment per person). A winner will be randomly selected in one week. Good luck!

OK, so you know that I love monsters. Can’t get enough of them. Well, my friend Tiffany Strelitz Haber is here today with a monster of a story—her debut picture book, THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN!

Some of you may know Tiffany as one of the two rhyming geniuses behind The Meter Maids (with Corey Rosen Schwartz). If you don’t, you have to check out her site, which is all about writing in rhyme. Don’t make me slap you with a citation!

Before we get riffing with Tiffing (yeah I can call her that, it rhymes), you MUST take a look at the extraordinary trailer for her new book. The Danny-Elfman-like original music, the animation—it’s all so monstrous and so much fun!

TL: THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN is about a monster who loses his ‘M’. You know I host Picture Book Idea Month every November so I’m obsessed with the origin of ideas. Where did this idea come from?

TSH: I have always been a very visual person when it comes to words. Even as a kid, I loved the concept of homonyms, acrostics, acronyms, spelling words backwards, and even looking at them upside down. One day I started thinking about the letters in the word MONSTER, and what they might actually stand for if the word MONSTER was an acronym. From there the concept just grew and evolved, and “The Onster” was born!

TL: We’re also all about characters names on this blog. Did “The Onster” have a name before he lost his M?

TSH: Ya know…that’s a great question. I like to think that he only really found any identity at all after he lost his M. Before that he was just…well… generic, nameless, and not nearly as cool—Monster. Bleh.

TL: The Onster cooks brunch at one point in the book. I’m a foodie like you, so what’s your favorite brunch food?

TSH: Hmm…for me, picking a favorite food is kind of like bending a spoon into a perfect figure eight using just my toes (almost impossible). But in the interest of quasi-decisiveness…I’ll go with a tie. EITHER: Perfectly toasted onion bagels slathered in whipped cream cheese, lox and just a few rounds of raw, red onion…OR…a dim sum extravaganza.

So…What’s YOUR favorite brunch food? Tell us and be entered to win a signed ARC of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN!

You get one entry for commenting and then one entry for every place you share—blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Just let us know where you ONSTER’ed!

Tiffany Strelitz Haber is the author of two rhyming picture books:  THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, July 17, 2012) and OLLIE AND CLAIRE (Philomel/Penguin, 2013).  She will eat any food she is served, be it fried witchetty grubs on a stick or calf’s brain ravioli, and loves to be high in the air or deep in the sea.  Tiffany lives in NJ with her two little monsters, Jack Dalton and Travis Hawk. Like her on Facebook. If you don’t, Tara will sic the monsters on you.

By Tiffany Strelitz Haber

Hi Everyone!

So, in trying to figure out what to write for this post, I was forced to take a cold hard look at what really keeps me going. And the truth is….I have no freaking idea! It’s certainly not nothing. Is it everything?? Little things? Enormous things. Totally random, oddball things? I guess it’s a combination of things that make me want to start writing, and others that make me want to keep writing. And one thing that works wonders like a triple shot of red bull (which I actually find vile and disgusting, so—bad example)—is when I read an interview with an incredibly talented author that I admire and respect, and they say something that makes me think— “Yes! ME TOO!!!” I’m instantly overcome with a case of the warm and fuzzies, coupled with a heart pounding adrenaline surge. It must be something about feeling like maybe, you really do belong? So….to honor the people whose words have been the fuel in my own personal tank, I am going to shush now, and attempt to pay it forward with an assortment of statements that have calmed, excited, tickled, confused, comforted and without question—inspired me. I hope they work for you!

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” — Stephen King

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” — Christopher Columbus

“I make up a lot of s***.” — Maurice Sendak

“All really good picture books are written to be read 500 times.” — Rosemary Wells

“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.” — Stephen King

“There are no rules here. We are trying to accomplish something.” — Thomas Edison

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” — Stephen King

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader that reads.” — Dr. Seuss

“This morning I took out a comma. This afternoon I put it back in.” — Oscar Wilde

“Follow your heart. It is the only right way out of darkness.” — Allison Milana

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.” — Elmore Leonard

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” — Joseph Heller

“You fail only if you stop writing.” — Ray Bradbury

Well…there you have it. A selection of yummy tidbits to nibble on. And with Day 27 of PiBoIdMo officially in full swing, we’re in the homestretch now! The time to either slow down and crap out (26 is close enough, right? NOT.)…or push yourself harder than ever, and sail right through the finish line. Here’s to powerful endings!

Tiffany Strelitz Haber is a rhyming children’s book author, represented by Teresa Kietlinski of The Prospect Agency. She has two forthcoming picture books: THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (Holt/Macmillan) Spring 2012, and OLLIE AND CLAIRE (Philomel/Penguin) Spring 2013. To learn more about Tiffany, please visit her website: and her facebook author page:

Tiffany is giving away a free, in-depth critique of a rhyming picture book manuscript. A winner will be selected at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo.

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