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LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD was an idea first brought to me by my friend and fellow author, Corey Rosen Schwartz.

“I’ve got a title and I can’t do a thing with it!” she exclaimed in my kitchen one day. “I should give it to you; it’s perfect for you!”

“What is it?” My eyes were wide with wonder.

“Little Red Gliding Hood.”

You might think it hyperbole, but my eyes got even wider. (I’m like Marty Feldman, I am.)

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“I’ve got it!” And you know what, I really did.

Well, not at first. I started writing notes about the possible project and I couldn’t figure out what Red’s problem should be.

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My initial idea was that Red was known as “Riding Hood” but she really wanted to be known as “Gliding Hood.” Umm, terrible.

As you can see by my notes, I had awful ideas, like the muffins for Grandma spilling all over the ice.

(Julie Falatko misread my notes and gave a thumbs up to “mulling spice all over the ice”. And I thought, Julie, that’s far better than what I had. Far. Perhaps I should go far, far away and not rewrite this fairytale!)

But I persisted. Remember that word, perseverance? Yes. THAT.

When my agent submitted the story to Heidi Kilgras at Random House, she was enamored with the idea but thought the manuscript needed more development.

So I revised. And my agent resubmitted.

And Heidi thought it was better, but it wasn’t ready for an offer.

So I revised. And my agent resubmitted.

By this time, Heidi went on maternity leave. And since that time, I have met her most adorable son. I mean, pinch-his-cheeks-forever kind of cute. But back then, I had to wait another six months to get an answer. Folks, that there was tough times.

But yes, an offer came. And after that? An editiorial letter.

So I revised. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

Yep, you guessed it. Another letter, another revision.

And I still had Grandma’s final line to figure out. That took MONTHS. But thankfully, I finally got it right.

And so now, almost 4 years after I signed the contract, LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD is ready to meet the world. She is released into the enchanted forest today!

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Many thanks to Troy Cummings for making her world come alive!

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And to Heidi for making me work harder, knowing that I had it in me.

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She is available where fine books are sold.

So skate on over to your local bookstore, fast!

Or, she’s available here, here, here and here.

Thank you for the support!

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Three [hundred] cheers for Penny Parker Klostermann, whose debut picture book THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT debuts TODAY from Random House!

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I’m chatting with Penny about being a debutante—besides the glittery tiara and the boutonnière, what it’s like and what she would recommend to others twirling through the same shindig. It’s a tremendous learning experience. Umm, let me rephrase that…it’s the JUST THE BEGINNING of a tremendously exciting learning experience.

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Penny, what was your breakthrough moment? I’m not necessarily talking about when you got your agent or your debut deal, but when you realized that you had crossed over from TRYING to do this book thing to KNOWING that you were going to get published?

I honestly didn’t KNOW until I was offered a deal. I felt I had a good chance of getting published because of winning runner-up for the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant and getting an agent, but I was immersed enough in the kidlit community that I knew how difficult it was to get published. I knew that my manuscript had to land on the right desk at the right moment.

Now one thing I did KNOW is that I was taking getting published very seriously. I listened when people said to read tons of picture books. I listened when they said to learn from critiques and not get defensive. I read blog posts, books, etc. on writing picture books. So what I’m saying is I worked hard and behaved like an author.

What makes you a) most excited about your debut book AND b) most anxious?

I’m most excited about having this dream come true. I can’t wait to see my book in stores and on library shelves. I believe my book will make kids laugh and I’m very excited about that!

I’m most anxious about criticism. I’d like to say, “Well, I love my book so I’ll be able to take all criticism in stride and move on without it effecting me in the least.” But the truth is that I know I’ll be sensitive to negative comments and will have to learn to take them in stride and move on…but it will affect me.

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I noticed that the Random House Picture Books fall 2015 brochure has DRAGON on the cover. That’s got to feel awesome to have a lead title as your debut!

It does feel awesome. I was shocked when they told me it would be a key title…shocked but thrilled. I saw it in the Baker & Taylor catalog. The store where I’m doing my signing gave me a copy. I’d love to have more copies…my sisters want one. 🙂

I was thrilled. I just hope it helps with sales.

I’ve also seen these cute illustrated jokes floating around on social media! What a clever campaign!

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Are you doing anything special to celebrate the launch? Either personal or promotional?

I’m having a signing on release day at a local bookstore/gift store. He promotes books. Has a column in the newspaper. He connected me with the TV station and I’ve done one interview and have a 2nd tomorrow. Then another newspaper editor did a color spread this past Friday.

That same bookstore owner signed me up to be a feature author for the fall book festival, too. I’ll do 10 school visits and 4 talks.

I’m doing a signing in Denver in October. In November my publicist set up 2 school visits in conjunction with a bookstore in Houston.

That’s all for now. I’d like to more events but it takes a lot of money and time away from writing.

I hear ya! I’ve done plenty of events that netted me nothing financially, and that’s time I could have spent creating my next book. It’s very difficult to know which events will be worthwhile endeavors, but in general, it tends to be the ones for which you are paid.

What has surprised you most about the debut experience…and what do you recommend to other authors awaiting their debut release?

What surprised me the most was that there wasn’t a national fireworks display planned in my book’s honor! I mean I felt like there should be plans for fireworks…these are exciting times! Seriously, I have fireworks going off in my head because my book is going to be out in the world, but in the waiting life goes along like it always has: writing, reading, critiquing, learning.

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Here are your fireworks, Penny!

But along with that are a lot of things you can do to prepare for the launch. I read a lot of blog posts about launches, launch parties, book signings, blog tours, etc. I digested what others were saying and then started making plans. It was surprising to me how much time I spent on these extra “writing” tasks .They’re not really writing but they needed attention which took me away from my real writing more than I liked. As far as advice to authors awaiting their debut deal? Just be aware that you will have these extra tasks. When you come across information about releases, bookmark it. I just wrote a blog post for Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 about preparing for my launch. In that post I reference Lisa Schroeder’s helpful “Timeline and Checklist” post.

Your illustrator Ben Mantle has two books releasing today–yours and Beth Ferry’s LAND SHARK. How do you think he’s feeling today? Have you chatted with him about this auspicious coincidence?

Ben has got to be thrilled. I’m thrilled for him. He so talented. I can’t wait to read Beth Ferry’s book. It looks adorable. I’ve congratulated Ben but haven’t chatted with him about this. It sure would be fun to have a chat. He’s being interviewed by my fellow EMUs at EMU’s Debuts this week so it will be nice to hear what he has to say.

Oh, and I’m so glad you mentioned the EMUs! For those who aren’t familiar with this flock, it’s a group of debut authors represented by the Erin MUrphy Literary Agency (hence the EMU name). I encourage other debut authors to follow this blog’s excellent example of grouping together for support, promotion and fun!

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Thank you, Penny, for sharing your debut experience and best wishes with your OLD DRAGON!

Also, thank you for sharing a SIGNED COPY with our blog readers!

Comment below to be entered to win THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT. 

SHARE this post online and leave another comment with those details. Each SHARE counts as an entry!

A winner will be randomly selected in two weeks.

Good luck!

I am so absolutely thrilled that BOY + BOT releases today because I’ve been waiting for it for a long, long time.

It’s the debut picture book by my good friend, Ame Dyckman—and get this—it’s illustrated by the hugely talented Dan Yaccarino! I mean, this has got to be the best picture book EVER with an author-illustrator team just as lovable as Boy and Bot themselves.

And for this very special day, I’ve got prizes to give away! One AFFIRMATIVELY AWESOME prize pack including BOY + BOT, stickers, bookmarks, and an *exclusive* BOT keychain clip made by author-zoologist-educator-sculptor Jess Keating!

So let’s get on with the fun!

TL: Ame, you and I have been friends for a few years now, after meeting at NJ-SCBWI first page sessions. (I knew I had to get to know you, with your spiky pink hair and Lego bracelet.) Is that how you began your kidlit career, attending SCBWI events?

AD: *laughing* Was my hair pink back then? I don’t remember my hair color at the time (it’s blue, now), but I remember thinking, “Wow! This Tara person is funny and nice and she really knows her kidlit! I like her!” BAM! Friends!

And yes, attending SCBWI events–YAY, NJ-SCBWI!–started everything for me! When I first joined, I knew I wanted to write picture books, but I didn’t know how. My first manuscripts were REALLY bad, but nobody made fun of me. Everybody was helpful. (YOU taught me how to page a PB, remember? I still have your diagram!) I went to as many events as I could—First Page Sessions, Mentoring Workshops, Networking Dinners, Annual Conferences, etc. I learned tons—still do!—and met lots of amazing industry professionals and made lots of wonderful friends. At the 2009 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference, I pitched BOY + BOT to Super Agent Scott Treimel, and he said, “I love it! Let’s work together!”

TL: I distinctly remember the 2009 conference and a certain editor making goo-goo eyes at you during lunch…but he had read your manuscript and was bonkers over BOY + BOT. I thought to myself, GO AME! You could feel the buzz about that manuscript at the event. You were in deep conversation with several agents.

So we want to know—how did this beep-worthy book idea come about?

AD: The short answer: I love robots! (I used to doodle robots instead of doing my math homework. Even in college!) The long answer: I love robots and unusual friendship stories and mirror stories always make me laugh, so I hoped mine would make other people laugh, too.

TL: So BOY + BOT is your debut and it has something like 347 starred industry reviews! Are you thrilled or what?

AD: I’m SO happy, and really grateful for all the reviewer love. Here’s hoping the little Boys (and Girls!) and Bots that Dan and I made the book for love it, too!

TL: We’re chatting on the eve of your book’s release. Will you be able to sleep tonight? It’s a little like Christmas Eve, isn’t it?

AD: It feels like Christmas Eve and Birthday Eve and Leaving-for-Disney-World-Tomorrow Eve all smooshed together! I was up until 3:45 this morning because I was so excited already! (But, I think I’d better try to nap later today—I just searched the fridge and then the entire house looking for the bag of baby carrots, only to find I’d put them in the clothes dryer!)

TL: How awesome was it to see Dan Yaccarino’s vision of your characters? Were they anything like you imagined?

AD: Seeing Dan’s first sketches was the greatest! My family gathered around, we clicked “Open,” and then we all shouted, “Look! Bot’s… BIG! That’s BRILLIANT!” (Up until then, we’d envisioned Boy and Bot being the same small size! I dunno why!) But a small Boy and a big Bot is GENIUS! We could already see all the wonderful humor and affection Dan was putting into the characters, and knew his final artwork would be amazing. When it came in, I loved it SO MUCH, I hugged my computer!

TL: *insert clever segue to Dan here*

Howdy Dan, Mr. Keeno Yaccarino! Tell me, when you read Ame’s manuscript, it was love at first sight, right? Kind of like BOY + BOT themselves, right? RIGHT?! (Say “affirmative,” Dan.)

DY: AFFIRMATIVE.

TL: Ame said said when the illustrations came in, she was surprised to see BOT was a big bot and not a small one, like Boy. Why did you make the friends different sizes?

DY: Hmmm. I’m not sure. I guess it was the vision that formed in my mind when I read the manuscript.

There is rarely a logical reason why I do things visually. I listen to my impulse and trust my vision. If it feels right and is right for the book, then I do it.

Then perhaps I’ll rationalize it later.

TL: OK, would you care to rationalize why the inventor is bald?

DY: All inventors should be bald!

TL: *spittake* You’ve got a point there. Plus he reminds me of a lightbulb, so that’s very clever.

And here’s something else that’s clever—our contest to win the AFFIRMATIVELY AWESOME prize pack (book, Bot clip, stickers & bookmarks) PLUS there’s also TWO MORE copies of BOY + BOT to give away!

WOWZA!

Enter by telling us what you think Boy’s real name is. Ame says she’s always wondered about it. So let her know!

You get one entry for commenting and then one entry for every share on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Just mention it when you comment!

Have fun and good luck! Comments will close the end of April 20 and winners will be announced on April 21.

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As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


illus by Melissa Crowton
Tundra/PRH Canada
June 4, 2019


illus by Ross MacDonald
Disney*Hyperion
October 15, 2019

THREE WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN
illus by Vivienne To
HarperCollins
Spring 2020

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
August 2020

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