Losing an Agent

25 03 2016
Angel in the Mist

Photo Credit: Zsolt Zatrok

Losing an agent hurts. Sometimes agents can’t sell your books, sometimes you’re not a good match, and sometimes they leave the business. But the most painful way to lose an agent is to death.

Earlier this week, I lost an agent I loved. Mary Sue Seymour lost her long and hard-fought battle against cancer. I still can’t believe she’s gone. Even last week, she was still posting her usual upbeats messages. She saw beauty and goodness everywhere she went. And she had the gift of spreading the gifts of kindness and encouragement wherever she went.

I admired her as a person, and as an agent, she was awesome. I’ve never known an agent to respond to every email within 5-10 minutes. Soon after I signed on with her, I sent the final manuscript revisions to her after midnight. The following morning at 7 am, she emailed with a list of 10 publishers who had the manuscript.

A few months later, she completed all the back-and-forth contract negotiations until we had everything we both wanted on a 3-book deal. I didn’t discover until later that she’d been undergoing twice-weekly chemo sessions the whole time. She never once mentioned her health. And she must have been doing the same for her other clients, because a month later, she was named Agent of the Year by the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Change of Heart - Comp - Dec4I’m grateful that I signed with her. I only wish she could be here to see the first book in the Sisters & Friends Amish series, Change of Heart, release on May 3. I wrote this book at her request, and she offered to review it as I went along. She shepherded it through the synopsis and early draft stages, even though I never sent it as official submission. When it was completed, I was thrilled when she offered to represent me. The book had been her baby all along. Although she can’t be at my book launch in person, I know she’ll be there in spirit. And at all my signings, I’ll be wearing the lovely bracelet she sent me at Christmas to celebrate my first book contract as Rachel J. Good.

To honor her life and generous, caring nature, I’m dedicating my Rachel J. Good Twitter feed to celebrating Random Acts of Kindness. Feel free to share any acts you do  for others or those you hear about. Let’s flood social media with positive messages.

#100kRAOK #randomactsofkindness

 

 





Late to the Party

18 02 2015

Teeny Tiny WomanLife has been moving quickly since the beginning of 2015. Lots of great news to share, including finishing final revisions on the picture book app, THE TEENY TINY WOMAN (pic on left), I’m illustrating for ustyme, coming out in March 2015, and completing the last of the three YA nonfiction books, ANCIENT EGYPT, due out later this year. It will be part of the UXL World Eras series, along with the other two, IMPERIAL CHINA and WEST AFRICAN KINGDOMS, which are in the edits/copy edit stage.

I’m also excited to announce that I signed with agent Mary Sue Seymour of the Seymour Agency for my adult Amish novel, CHANGE OF HEART.

Seymour Agency

bom-cover-love-profanityIn other news, I received hardcover copies of LOVE & PROFANITY, coming out from Capstone in March. I’m excited to have a story in this anthology, along with this year’s Newbery winner, Kwame Alexander.

And the cover for Book 2 in the WANTED series also arrived. ARCs will follow later this month. Her Cold Revenge 9781630790073 webFor those of you who are eager to read the next installment of Grace’s story begun in Grace and the Guiltless, the saga continues in HER COLD REVENGE, coming out in August 2015. If you can’t wait that long to see what happens, I’ll be posting chapters on Wattpad, starting next week and leading up to the release date.

I also spent time at Kindling Words East, an awesome time of bonding with other authors, illustrators, and editors, followed by a writing retreat. As a follow-up to Kindling Words, I may have some thrilling news to announce later in the spring. And, lest you think my whole life revolves around books and book-related projects, I’m off to San Diego now for a week of sun and fun.

But the truth of it is… My life does revolve around books for the most part, and I love it.

This month is always a favorite for me because the Brown Bookshelf puts out an awesome list of authors. I usually try to give them a shout-out at the beginning of February (hence, the blog title). If you haven’t already been doing so, why not play catch-up and read the fabulous authors they have listed? It’s exciting to see so many friends’ names (and favorite authors) on the list. So while you’re snowed in, here’s a wonderful selection to choose from. 28dayslogoThe only thing that disappoints me is that this list only comes out once a year. Why confine celebrating all these excellent books to one month? Keep reading them all year long. And if these 28 aren’t enough, check out the lists from previous years. Enjoy!





Turning History into Stories

1 10 2014

BRD CoverI’m honored to have award-winning historical fiction writer Bobbi Miller as my guest today. She and I have several connections that make this a special opportunity for me. We’re both graduates of Vermont College (yay!) and both are historical fiction writers. My most recent release, Grace and the Guiltless, was set in the Wild West, so Bobbi’s talk of the frontier is close to my heart.

Bobbi’s latest book is set in Gettysburg, and I lived a short distance from there when I was in high school. We’re both also busy with the booksignings, school visits, and conference talks that go along with our 2014 book releases, so I’m extremely grateful that she found time to write such an inspiring post.

So here’s Bobbie’s wonderful advice on using history to create stories:

Growing up in the American West, I was surrounded with the bigness of everything: big sky, big mountains, epic stories about larger than life individuals. I’m also a longtime student of American history. The Frontier is one of the most significant events in American history. It marked the edge of the civilized world. Beyond that edge was the rough and tumble place full of outlaws and pirates, fanciful and alien creatures, rivers of gold and prairie seas. It was a place and life full of possible imaginations, a near incomprehensible vastness of landscape, extraordinary fertility of the land and a variety of natural “peculiarities” that inspired a humor of extravagance and exaggeration. The frontier is ripe with stories. And what intrigued me the most were the stories about the little known or the forgotten or the unexpected.

A good story makes history personal. History isn’t dull or dry, as textbooks would have us believe. It isn’t a list of dates and names, like a shopping list that no one remembers once the task is complete. History is real and relevant. The study of history, in essence, is a way of making sense of the present. As David McCullough once said, in one of my favorite quotes, “We are raising a generation of young Americans who are by-and-large historically illiterate. [But] there is literature in history.”  History enlarges our understanding of the human experience, suggests Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and as such, it needs to include the “stories that dismay as well as inspire.”

And there is no more powerful story to tell than that of the American Civil War.GIRLS

As I was researching another book, I came across a small newspaper article dated from 1863. It told of a Union soldier on burial duty, following the Battle at Gettysburg, coming upon a shocking find: the body of a female Confederate soldier. It was shocking because she was disguised as a boy. At the time, everyone believed that girls were not strong enough to do any soldiering; they were too weak, too pure, too pious to be around roughhousing boys. It was against the law for girls to enlist. This girl carried no papers, so he could not identify her. She was buried in an unmarked grave. A Union general noted her presence at the bottom of his report, stating “one female (private) in rebel uniform.” The note became her epitaph. I decided I was going to write her story.

Researching this story was a daunting task because no other battle has been studied so thoroughly. I read A LOT to get these facts right. But then, there’s the emotional truth, the story behind the facts. This is the heart that belongs to Annie’s story. Historical fiction makes the facts matter to the reader. For me, the only way to discover this emotional truth was to walk the battlefield of Gettysburg, and witness that landscape where my characters lived over one hundred and fifty years ago. I walked the battlefield and talked to re-enactors and the park rangers.

I studied with the master storyteller Eric Kimmel while a graduate student at Simmons College. That tutelage continued while I was a student at VCFA, when he became my advisor. He remains to this day my Master Guru, as I call him. And, I am so very lucky and honored to call him one of my best personal friends. Likewise, I studied with Marion Dane Bauer, whose stories remain some of my all-time favorites, and I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher to show me how to find the heart of a character, or the soul of a story. The key to writing Girls of Gettysburg was finding the soul and voice to each of my three main characters.

As I began to piece the story together, I took notes. I am a great fan of purple and pink post-its. I also like anything neon colored! I outlined everything. I wrote my first drafts in longhand. I find the relationship between pen and paper much more intimate, and demands me to go deeper into the character. Then, I transferred the story to the computer. But even as I edited the manuscript, I had to print the story out, and work with pen and paper again. I use recycled paper, to be sure!

But as we know, stories tend to be organic, and sometimes outlines, research, and all the “great plans of mice and men” need to be tossed as characters take over. In which case, I tag along for the ride. Even in historical fiction, with its challenging blend of story and fact, It’s as much about story-building as it is about story-creating. Mollie Hunter explores this process in her book Talent is Not Enough in which she offers: “The child that was myself was born with a little talent, and I have worked hard, hard, hard to shape it. Yet even this could not have made me a writer, for there is no book that can tell anything worth saying unless life itself has first said it to the person who conceived that book. A philosophy has to be hammered out, a mind shaped, a spirit tempered. This is true for all of the craft. It is the basic process which must happen before literature can be created.”

CABIN

Bobbi’s cabin

Storytelling is the oldest invitation to the human experience. Stories have been told for over 100,000 years by every culture in the history of the planet. Not all cultures had a written language or codified laws, but all used stories to frame their cultural experience, history, and rituals. Heroes and heroines, like all aspects of story and myth, answered a basic human need: to explain the unexplainable. And we writers, like those ancient storytellers, are the keepers and the tellers of those “sacred” stories. Such stories do not always have a ”happily ever after.” The best stories, in fact, reflect the whole human experience. And the resolution comes because the protagonist’s choices are made when life no longer fits into her definition. Such heroines are then free to be who they need to be, and such stories empower the adolescent reader to seek, and ultimately discover, the heroine within herself.

At least, I hope my stories do.

Yes, they do! Thanks for sharing your inspiration, Bobbi! BTW, I see that your home reflects your love of the historical.

Here’s where you can find out more about Bobbi, her writing process, and her wonderful stories:

Please visit my website for more information about me and my books at: http://www.bobbimillerbooks.com/

For more about my research process, see my discussion at Donna Marie’s Peace and Poetry: http://donnamariemerritt.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/bobbi-miller-folklore-artist-extraordinaire/

Also see my discussion on Historical Fiction at Yvonne Ventresca’s blog, http://www.yvonneventresca.com/1/previous/2.html)

Holiday House, my publisher, lists where you can buy the book here: http://www.holidayhouse.com/title_display.php?ISBN=9780823431632
And I couldn’t resist adding this fun Lego promotion created for Bobbi’s book release:
LEGO Girls photo





Writing Process Blog Tour

7 04 2014

Module One cover

Texas writer and illustrator Mark Mitchell, known for his wonderful watercolors and many picture books, invited me to join this writing process blog tour. I’ve been lucky to be part of his online class Make your Splashes – Make your Marks. Mark wrote about his own process on his blog.

I’m also fascinated by the history of this blog tour, which spans continents, so I traced my invitation back a few links. Akiko White, the winner of the 2014 Tomie dePaola award for her illustrations made out of cake (yes, they’re awesome and delicious), tagged Mark. And she had been tagged by Australian award-winning author Christopher Cheng, who put together the wonderful PAL slide show for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and I appreciated the opportunity to participate in that.

Now after that lengthy introduction, I’m ready to answer the questions they posed:

1.) What are you working on?

WANTED: Book 4

WANTED: Book 4

At the moment, I’m finishing two books to turn in to editors this week. I’m working on the final chapters of Grace Avenged, Book 4 in the WANTED series, which will be coming out in December 2014 in the UK. Book 1, Grace and the Guiltless, released in February in the UK. (Books 3 and 4 will be coming out there in May and August.) The series will also release in the US with different covers beginning in August under Capstone’s new Switch Press imprint.

Final edits are also due this week on Cyber Self-Defense, a book I’m cowriting with international cybercrime expert Alexis Moore. That will be coming out in October 2014 from Lyon’s Press.

Cyber Self Defense book cover

October 2014

I’m also editing a picture book to turn in to my agent as well as developing a chapter book series while taking a class with Hillary Homzie and Mira Reisberg. And Alexis Moore and I are working on two more nonfiction books together along with a picture books series.

Of course, all these projects are only the tip of the iceberg. I also have a quite a few other projects in various stages of completion and many more submerged underwater in my subconscious. And that doesn’t count all the books I’m editing for others.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write in so many different genres that it’s hard to compare my work to others’. I have picture books (fiction and nonfiction), chapter books, middle grade novels, YA novels and nonfiction, NA nonfiction, adult nonfiction and fiction, along with short stories and articles for both children and adults. I’ve also had a few illustration projects and hope to do more of those. I’m in my 3rd year in Hollins University’s Picture Book Writing & Illustrating MFA.

Book 1 ~ US edition

Book 1 ~ US edition

3.) Why do I write what I do?

The main reason I write is because I love to learn and explore new things. I get excited about sharing my knowledge with others, and writing is a wonderful way to do that. When I come across a new idea, I ask: Who would be interested in this? The answer is almost always a different age group, which is why I’ve written for so many age levels.

I also believe that writing is a form of self-discovery; it helps us understand not only ourselves, but also others. It keeps us from taking things for granted, teaches us to look beneath the surface, and reveals the beauty in everything.

Writing also keeps alive the wonder and awe of childhood. To me, there’s something magical about creating new worlds and peopling them with characters I’ve imagined. Children still believe in that magic, so I’m most drawn to writing for them.

4.) How does my writing (or writing with pictures/illustrating) process work?

I used to wait for the muse to strike, but now I’ve learned that if you sit down expecting to write, the words will come. With all my deadlines (5 books in the past 7 months), I don’t have the luxury of waiting for words to come, so right before I go to bed, I read over the notes of what I plan to write the next day or I pose a problem if I’m not sure what should come next. Then I go to sleep and let my mind arrange the words or solve the problem. When I wake up, I write. My best writing is usually done right after waking or late at night (from 1-3 a.m. is my sweet spot).

I’ve trained myself that the minute I sit down to write, my mind is ready. I don’t need rituals or to spend time agonizing over what I should write, I just do it. Not everything that goes down on the page is good writing, but you can’t revise what isn’t there.

I’m halfway between a pantser and a plotter. I need more of an outline for nonfiction, but when I write fiction, my process almost always begins with a vision of a story opening and a dramatic ending. I usually also see key scenes in my head. I jot them down or just remember them. I use those as mile markers along the way. Then when I write, I record whatever scene is most vivid in my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever written a book linearly. I write bits and pieces here and there.

Once I have all the key scenes down, I work on tying them together. I usually dread this part of the process because I always go in thinking I’ll have to put in boring transitions, but almost always my characters surprise me by doing something unexpected, so it ends up being more fun than I anticipated.

Another important piece of my process is running my work by my critique groups. I find letting others read my work and offer their opinions and suggestions greatly improves anything I write.

I’ve tagged three awesome writers who will share their processes on their blogs next Monday:

Joan Holub‘s new trucky, constructiony picture book is Mighty Dads (illustrated by James Dean, creator of Pete the Cat). Her picture book Little Red Writing (illustrated by Melissa Sweet) garnered 3 starred reviews and spots on many Best Of lists. She co-authors 3 series with Suzanne Williams: Goddess Girls, Grimmtastic Girls, and Heroes In Training. Find out more about Joan and all her other fantastic books at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

Mighty Dads book trailer

 

Judith Tewes resides in small town Alberta and is a commercial writer writing under several pen names. MY SOON-TO-BE SEX LIFE launches with Bloomsbury Spark in June. As Judith Graves she has a recent release cowritten with Dawn Dalton, KILLER’S INSTINCT, a monster-hunter tale with loads of action.

 
 

 

Army wife, author, and new mom Tracy E. Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an obsession with cupcakes. She has written and published three novels for young adults; her latest, SHATTERED VEIL, a sci-fi adventure, just received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and 4.5 stars from IndieReader.

 

shattered veil front





Painting with soft pastels…

10 11 2013

 

I was lucky enough to attend a talk by Caldecott winner, Erin Stead at the National Book Festival, and I was intrigued when she mentioned painting with pastels dissolved in water. At the time she was working on her second book, Bear Has a Story to Tell, written by her husband, Philip Stead. See some of the illustrations from the book here.

I thought I’d share these illustrated instructions for this technique. Enjoy!

me + art = 🙂

I got this idea from Erin Stead (Caldecott Award winning illustrator for A Sick Day for Amos McGee), and I believe she used this technique to create the illustrations for the book Bear Has a Story to Tell.

1.  Start with a small glass or plastic container (glass works best because plastic tends to stain).  I get ALL mine from secondhand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, and rummage sales or flea markets-I seriously find them every time!  Drop whatever color, or colors, of pastel you like into the container.  I love making my own colors, and its very easy to do that with soft pastel.

Image

2.  Add small amounts of warm water (you can always add more but its hard to take away)…

Image

3.  …until it starts to dissolve and look like this.

Image

4.  When you can see no sediment left on the bottom of the container, then its ready to…

View original post 57 more words





Just in Time for Summer

15 06 2013

So excited to see that Susan Gabriel’s wonderful, lyrical book, The Secret Sense of Wildflower, is now available as an audio book.

I’m posting Susan’s announcement here, along with some super reviews for the print book, including a Kirkus Reviews’  Best Books.

So here’s Susan’s exciting news:

Do you enjoy HEARING a great story? I know I do – it’s the original form of receiving stories, after all, from our parents, teachers and even our cavemen and women ancestors. Stories are how we connect.

So I’m very excited to announce that the audio book of The Secret Sense of Wildflower is finally ready to download to your computer or MP3 devices!

What I enjoyed most about the process was literally breathing life into the characters and falling in love with them once again.

Readers write

“The Secret Sense of Wildflower is a historical fiction novel that plays on themes of perseverance, kinship, grief, and the remarkable strength of Louisa May “Wildflower” . . . I am a true lover of historical fiction and I would recommend this novel for any reader looking for an inspiring, intense, and deeply thoughtful story. The Secret Sense of Wildflower is indeed a book that deserves recognition for its beautifully crafted prose, well written characters, and expertly descriptive landscapes.” — Samantha J. Moore, OneTitle Reviews

“Probably one of the best surprises this year almost slipped by me…It turned out to be one of my favorite reads this year… This is a story of family, loyalty, forgiveness and love…This is the type of book that I crave to read. It’s beautifully written in lyrical prose that I found myself slowing down to re-read. It has such a deep familial core, yet also has a darkness that makes you keep reading.. All of the characters are so true to the era and Appalachian culture and are all very believable. It is a true Southern tale. There are both great relationships and some very difficult ones that add even more layers to this story… What I really like is that Wildflower is telling the story from her own perspective. It brings such an innocent honesty that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. I’m a sucker for a story told through a child’s eye and Ms. Gabriel interprets this protagonist beautifully. Though it has some disturbing moments, the story, as a whole, is wonderful and shouldn’t be missed. This is definitely a story that will stay with me for a long while and recommend it highly.”  – Lisa Evans, Southern Girl Reads

“…this story will move you as it twists and turns and eventually connects the dots left behind whilst developing into a work more than worth the read.  Yes…it’s THAT good… I found the story completely enveloping.  You laughed when the characters laughed, grieved when they grieved and sought happier places when the ugliness of the world presented itself front and center.  In some ways it reminded me of the infamous To Kill A Mockingbird; perhaps because of the young narrator and the strong voice with which she was blessed, perhaps because of the time and setting used, or perhaps simply because it was that striking of a work.  Whatever the reason, it left its mark on me and for that I can only extend my thanks to the author with sincerity from the bottom of my heart…a masterpiece; plain, simple, and resilient like the flowers the young lead is named for.Gina Reba, Insatiable Readers

“I was pretty blown away by how good this book is. I didn’t read it with any expectations, hadn’t heard anything about it really, so when I read it, I realized from page one that it is a well written, powerful book.” – Erin Beard, Quixotic Magpie

“The story is told from the point of view of Wildflower, which really makes the story even more powerful. I thought the author did a great job of capturing Wildflower. In some ways, she’s wise beyond her years, which makes her incredibly strong and resilient. In other ways, she is still very much a 14 year old girl. At that age, it’s easy to think that you’re really invincible and this is exactly what gets Wildflower into trouble, but her strength and resilience is what helps her find her way back . . . Bottom line: A great story about a strong character!” Meg, A Bookish Affair

The Secret Sense of Wildflower received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews 

Named to 
Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2012!

“In this novel, life turns toward a dark horizon for a precocious adolescent grieving for her father in 1941 Tennessee.

“It’s difficult to harbor secrets in a rural mountain town of maybe 80 souls, especially when adult siblings live within spitting distance of the family home. Most of the townsmen work at the sawmill, and most of the young women have been harassed at one time or another by creepy Johnny Monroe. But Louisa May McAllister, nicknamed Wildflower, knows that revealing her frequent forays to the cemetery, where she talks to her beloved late father, would only rile her embittered mother. She also knows to hide her “secret sense,” as it would evoke scorn from all save eccentric Aunt Sadie, who shares her tomboy niece’s gift.

“Those secrets come at a cost when, on one of her graveyard visits, Louisa May ignores her premonition of danger. The consequences—somewhat expected yet still horrific—are buffered by the visions into which the 13-year-old escapes. Sharp-witted, strong, curious and distrustful of authority figures not living up to her standards—including God—Louisa May immerses us in her world with astute observations and wonderfully turned phrases, with nary a cliché to be found. She could be an adolescent Scout Finch, had Scout’s father died unexpectedly and her life taken a bad turn.

“Though her story is full of pathos and loss, her sorrow is genuine and refreshingly free of self-pity. She accepts that she and her mother are “like vinegar and soda, always reacting,” that her best friend has grown distant, and that despite the preacher’s condemnation, a young suicide victim should be sent “to the head of heaven’s line.” Her connection to the land—a presence as vividly portrayed as any character—makes her compassionate but tough; she’s as willing to see trees as angels as she is to join her brothers-in-law in seeking revenge. By necessity, Louisa May grows up quickly, but by her secret sense, she also understands forgiveness. A quietly powerful story, at times harrowing but ultimately a joy to read.”

The worlds of family, friendship, mourning, courage and love are explored in this moving, often humorous, novel about healing and hope. A character-driven novel reminiscent of the work of Reynolds Price in its ability to create a truly original Southern voice, The Secret Sense of Wildflower is certain to be embraced by fans of Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees) and Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird).

And for those of you who prefer a printed book, you can get an autographed copy here.





MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD

4 03 2013

tameka on benchI’m thrilled to be the first stop on an exciting blog tour. Today we’re welcoming Tameka Fryer Brown, picture book writer extraordinaire, who is launching her most recent release, MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD. With a title like that, you just know it’s going to be a great read.Official MOOD cover (552x640)

In fact, I was so struck by the title that it was the first thing I asked about when I interviewed Tameka:

I adore your title, Tameka, and the way you play with words. I’d love it if you could talk about how you come up with your creative ideas and then pull them together in such a lyrical way.

Thanks, Laurie. It is a pretty cool title—but I can’t take sole credit for it. My agent, my editor, the art director, sales and marketing…all of us were involved. It was a major team effort.

I suppose my ideas come to me much the same as most writers’ do: an interesting turn of phrase, human behavior, song lyrics, memories, even dreams—these are all things that have influenced stories I’ve crafted. The lyrical part, I suppose that’s just a characteristic of my personal voice as an author. Even when I’m not attempting to write in rhyme, my stories tend to emerge in some poetic fashion. For example, MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD (Viking Children’s) came out as free verse—and when I say “came out,” I mean that literally.

One day I was being self-reflective, acknowledging that my behavior that day was due to my being “in a mood.” Immediately it struck me that this would make a great title or first line of a picture book (first lines and titles are what usually come to me initially). Once I sat down to write the story, the words just started flowing.

Here’s a sneak peek at the book trailer:

Can you tell us a bit more about your other books–published and in process?

AROUND OUR WAY ON NEIGHBORS’ DAY (Abrams, illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb) is my debut title. I describe it as a love story between a young girl and her close-knit, multicultural neighborhood. MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD (Viking Children’s) is my second picture book. It’s illustrated by Shane W. Evans, winner of last year’s Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and I am extremely excited about it! I fell in love with the sketches when I first saw them, and the finished artwork does not disappoint. The pictures are so colorful and lively—I believe kids are going to adore them as much as I do!

I am working on another picture book project, but I’m keeping the details a secret for now.

Can’t wait to see that secret project go public. And how lucky you are to have two talented illustrators for your books. I loved the art in Shane W. Evans’s award winning title, Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, which is quite different from his work on your book. But both of these books have amazing illustrations. And Charlotte Riley-Webb has a wonderful vibrant style in your book as well as in her many other titles, including Sweet Potato Pie and Our Children Can Soar.

***

Everyone always enjoys hearing authors’ success stories. Can you tell us yours?

I decided to pursue children’s book writing after being a stay-at-home mother for about eight years. I felt it was time for me to get back to some type of cerebral pursuit and, having read tons of wonderful and not so wonderful picture books during that time, I was sure I could write some pretty good ones myself. Of course, I had to learn what “pretty good” was and was not, but I do believe my hard work and persistence are finally paying off.

And I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy seeing pictures of an author as a child. Tameka was kind enough to supply a picture of her as a youngster and as a fifth grader. I’m betting she was a talented writer and storyteller even then.

For more about Tameka Fryer Brown you can visit her website or visit her Facebook page. And be sure to follow her whirlwind blog tour this month.

tameka kid closeup 5th grade