What to Expect When You’re Expecting–a BOOK! part8 PostBOOKum

As you might have guessed, Part8 of WHAT TO EXPECT gives us a glimpse of what happens (or doesn’t happen) AFTER THE BOOK IS BORN.

Two “First Trimester” friends (see part 4) — JOANNE LEVY and GAE POLISNER are back, and I’m also thrilled to introduce my writing pal, ELANA K. ARNOLD,

Elana and kidsmom of two, part-time writing instructor at the University of California at Davis, and book-Mom of some amazing YA’s—

Kirkus Reviews: Lyrical and inspirational. School Library Journal Teen: No doubt, a great, unexpected ending.

Kirkus Reviews: Lyrical and inspirational.
School Library Journal Teen: No doubt, a great, unexpected ending.



Booklist review of SACRED: The ineffable bond that draws Scarlett and Will together will appeal to many teens, especially fans of the Twilight series.

Booklist review of SACRED: The ineffable bond that draws Scarlett and Will together will appeal to many teens, especially fans of the Twilight series.













            Look for her third book, SPLENDOR, a sequel to SACRED, this November!

A story about changing friendships, family, romance, passion, the study of Kabbalah, and self-discovery.

A story about changing friendships, family, romance, passion, the study of Kabbalah, and self-discovery.

But back to POSTBOOKUM …


Elana: “Waiting for my first book, SACRED to launch was sort of like living a dream. All my life I’d wanted to publish a book, and honestly when I got a book deal, I kind of assumed I’d be dead before the pub date. Because, come on, could I REALLY live to see such an amazing, transformative, miraculous day?”


Elana: “November 11, 2012 finally rolled around. I did not die. My book was on the shelves, and friends and well-wishers posted on my Facebook page. I went to a bookstore and held my breath until I saw it there–my book, real, and in the world outside of my head, its own creature both separate from me and still made of the meat of me, the best I could give it.”


“Days passed. My book existed…but nothing was radically, earth-shatteringly different. My dishes still needed washing; the laundry did not fold itself. My children continued to ask me to get them glasses of water, even though they were totally capable of getting it themselves, even now that I was a published author.”

I know the feeling, Elana!

I know the feeling, Elana!

GAE concurs: “After the book is born, just like the baby –and even if it has a weird nose (or say, you hate the cover)–you love it anyway, truly, madly deeply, and you want so badly to share it with the world. But unless you’re Stephanie Meyer (okay or John Green or Libba Bray or a handful of other big sellers) there’s not a whole lot of money the publishers are going to spend on you. Not even for school visits. Which is –yes– a catch-22.”


Gae:  “THE PULL OF GRAVITY has an Of Mice and Men connection, so I spent hours upon hours finding schools that teach the book, and contacting the librarian or English teacher(s) about mine.

  • Does your book have a theme–Magic? Dogs? Find clubs and groups that share those interests.
  • Craft a professional, brief email or mailing.
  • Include bookmarks if it’s snail mail. Offer them if it’s email.
  •  Offer free Skype visits to schools, libraries or book clubs if they order more than ____# (insert magic number here) copies.
  •  Use social network–but IMHO for it to work, Social Networking is a two-way street.

 These are all great suggestions. (thanks Gae!) I think we all agree about using Social Media.

Build relationships. (This is actually a lot more fun than work.)

Do NOT clog the internet with BUY MY BOOK tweets.

 And –like parenting–expect the unexpected.... (Hmmm, I think I’ve said that before….)

“My book birthday for SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE was amazing and pretty much everything I’d hoped for. I ate stuff to celebrate and tons of people I love came to my baby shower (er…launch party), ate cupcakes, and cooed over my baby. ”


Joanne’s book didn’t get into Barnes & Noble bricks and mortar stores right away.

Joanne: “This was a huge disappointment that I’m sure affected sales and happens to plenty of authors. My heart nearly broke when I saw someone on Twitter say, ‘I’ve been looking for it, but can’t find it in any store.’ Ugh.”

And then? 

Joanne: “After a few months, stuff just sort of fizzles. Your baby isn’t new anymore. Any reviews you were going to get, you’ve gotten, and no one seems to care or want to talk about your baby anymore. Your baby is now an adult child that has moved into your basement; the neighbors know it’s there but no one talks about it because it’s gotten awkward.”


Joanne: “Give your first baby a sibling! So much is out of our control in this business, but I think the good news here is like pregnancy, book-birthing pain is easily forgotten and we can keep on getting knocked up. And that’s the fun part anyway, right? The writing I mean–I’m talking about writing. ; )”

May I add that Joanne’s book has just been nominated for a Forest of Reading award by the Ontario Library Association?

“…readers will be drawn in by the quirky characters and the outlandish story line, making it a purchase that definitely won’t sit on shelves. A very strong debut novel.”—School Library Journal

“…readers will be drawn in by the quirky characters and the outlandish story line, making it a purchase that definitely won’t sit on shelves. A very strong debut novel.”—School Library Journal

And Gae’s new baby, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, is due out this Spring 2014.

Summer has begun. The beach beckons. But Francesca Schnell is going nowhere.

Summer has begun. The beach beckons. But Francesca Schnell is going nowhere.

As Elana says: “Publishing a book did change me, but not in the glitter-and-bells way I had imagined it might. Most immediately, what being on the other side of the publication line did do was light a fire in me to publish another book. It’s like that line from the Nicolas Cage movie, Raising Arizona... when one guy says his wife needs another baby because the kids they already have are “getting too big to cuddle…” There is something addictive about the process of pregnancy and birth, as painful as it is, be it human child or book child.”

Follow these awesome authors@JoanneLevy  @gaepol and @ElanaKArnold  –and come back next week for our latest adventure in WHAT TO EXPECT part9–because we’re talking about all things book-birth here so there must be a part9, right?

What to Expect When You’re Expecting–a BOOK! part7 Non-fiction/ 3rd Trimester

Welcome to the Third Trimester,

part 7 of my What to Expect blog series.

Party time?

Party time?

The third trimester before our daughter was born was full of celebrations.

The parties helped me wait (and wait and wait) and made me more anxious at the same time. The biggest difference with book-Babies is that it’s best to cradle the new arrival in your arms before the parties begin, and with DECK THE WALLS, we weren’t entirely certain when my books would actually arrive.

It's here now!

They’re here now! Woo-hoo!

With NON-FICTION, however, during the 3rd trimester, expect a LABOR of love.

Just ask today’s guest, my dear friend, Patricia Newman.

Proud mother of two grown “kids,”

Patti Newman and JIngles--the only "kid" still at home.

Patti Newman & Jingles–
the only “kid” still at home.

one dog, and the Regional Advisor of SCBWI California North/Central, Patti is the book-Mom of TWELVE books

nugget on the flight deckNavy Seals ArmySpecialForces

(here are a few)

and countless magazine articles, many of which are non-fiction.

Nugget on the Flight Deck (Walker & Company) is a California Reading Association Eureka! Silver Honor Book for Nonfiction.

Her latest book-Baby, PLASTIC, AHOY! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,

Patti Newman new cover 6.3.13

*a JLG selection*

is due out next April –just in time for Earth Day celebrations!

But the third trimester hasn’t been an easy one for her…

Those who write NON-FICTION know what this means. For those who don’t, here’s Patti’s brief overview of the non-fiction “birthing” process:

1st trimester: the proposal and sale (gestation: a few months to years);

2nd trimester: writing and submitting the manuscript to your editor (gestation: roughly five months).

3rd trimester: editing, photo selection, and design (gestation: six to eight months).

Yes, Virginia–you read that right.

Patti explains:

“After I submitted the complete manuscript, months passed before the project popped up in my editor’s revision queue for the beginning of the third trimester. Suddenly the manuscript did a flip turn and wound up back on my desk! Paragraphs moved, chapters reorganized, new research synthesized, interview notes reviewed, new text added, sentences reworded, tenses modified, source notes appended, bibliography amended, scientists vetted. Phew!”

But that’s not all!

Patti: “Unlike my two previous picture books where I did not have much input on the art, my opinion was solicited and valued with PLASTIC, AHOY! The brilliant designers and production people at Millbrook Press/Lerner Books nurtured my “baby” to term. Together we presided over a host of production decisions: cover choice voting, caption writing, image selecting, image shifting, sidebar designing, source note editing, bio writing, dedication writing. And those were just the ones in which I was involved. The production team made many more decisions behind-the-scenes.”

Non-fiction authors must be READY and WAITING.

Patti: “When a new version of the layout appeared in my inbox, I dropped everything to meet the quick turn-around schedule. Every step of the way the print deadline knocked at our door, building the anticipation and excitement. The third trimester wasn’t easy, but it was thrilling to be so close to the book’s production phase. Next time I sell a nonfiction book I will know how much time to block out for third trimester activities!”

Expect the unexpected, as well:

Part-way through this process, Patti’s editor went on maternity leave!

Patti: “And perhaps the greatest irony of all? My due date is April Fool’s Day.” (No joke!)

Follow Patti on Twitter @PatriciaNewman and check out her books–

*perfect reads for Veteran’s Day!*

Check back next week for What to Expect…part8: After the book is born.


What To Expect When You’re Expecting–a BOOK! part6: Multiple Births (writing a series)

My guests this week on WHAT TO EXPECT…,


Chad Morris

Naomi Kinsman

Naomi Kinsman

Chad Morris and Naomi Kinsman, are both authors of middle grades SERIES.

Yes, Virginia–Welcome to Part6:

Chad Morris’ fantasy/adventure series, Cragbridge Hall (Shadow Mountain), follows twins Abby and Derick Cragbridge who go to school in the year 2074, “where students don’t read history, but watch it happen around them; where running in gym class isn’t around a track, but up a virtual mountain; and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar.”

Naomi Kinsman is the author of the four book series, Faithgirlz/ From Sadie’s Sketchbook (Zonderkidz), about 12-year-old Sadie Douglas, who struggles to fit into a new town and school, facing questions about all she has come to believe, including family, friendships, and faith.

Shades-of-Truth-194x300 Flickering-Hope-194x300

Naomi’s first two books, SHADES OF TRUTH and FLICKERING HOPE came out in November 2011.

Waves of Light brilliant_hues

Book 3, BRILLIANT HUES, came out in September 2012, and book 4, WAVES OF LIGHT, came out April 2012.

Which leads to the topic I gave Naomi:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting… Quadruplets?

Naomi says her dream of being a writer started, “so long ago that I can’t remember when the fantasy began. I was an Anne of Green Gables kind of girl who ‘flies up on the wings of anticipation.’ For me, over half the joy of any activity is building the experience ahead of time in my mind, considering the options, making choices, planning, dreaming…Visioning is my strength and weakness. ”

So what did young author-wannabe Naomi expect?

Naomi: “I imagined Author Naomi would type her stories on a typewriter in a round turret office, possibly inside a lighthouse, looking out over a stormy sea which would sometimes, magically, be tropical so I could take breaks to drift on an inflatable raft while dolphins dove and jumped all around me. I’d ride a bicycle down to the village post office to pick up letters from readers and hand reply to each one of them. I’d fly to London and Paris and New York and even small towns in Kansas and do school visits where I’d work hands on with young writers. No matter how busy I became, I’d make sure that any young person who wanted to grow up to be a writer had absolutely everything they needed to pursue their dream. And on and on and on.”

What did adult Naomi expect?

Naomi: “As I grew up, my expectations matured, but at the base, they remained the same. I’d step into my professional life with grace. I’d be available to all, with time to be creative and to be a professional. I’d have hours on end to write, while also perfectly balancing all my other responsibilities. My books would easily find their way into the hands of readers. I’d thought it all through, considered the possibilities, and knew that because of my careful planning, I wouldn’t make any mistakes. Not important ones, anyway.”

What Really Happened:

Naomi: “When my From Sadie’s Sketchbook series was acquired, suddenly I had deadlines I wasn’t sure I could meet. Every six months a book was due, and I wrote in terror that maybe my words weren’t good enough. How would I know? I had to move on to the next project. There was no time to float around with the dolphins while pondering my next plot point.”

No floating indeed.

I can remember seeing Naomi in the hotel lobby of SCBWI LA one summer, revising madly in the early morning hours before the conference, while the rest of us stumbled past searching for coffee!

Naomi: “Then, the books started coming out, and all my ideas and plans about how to give each book the time and marketing attention it needed flew out the window. I was human and humans, unfortunately can only do one thing at a time.

“Here’s the thing, though. Under pressure, the Sadie books turned out to be better books than I could have written if I’d had all the time in the world. The school visits and letters back to readers and book launch parties have all had this delightful air of surprise, because I never really know what’s just around the corner. I can expect all I want, but in the end, I think the surprises are the good stuff. You won’t get what you expect, but the surprises will outweigh the disappointments. I’m sure I’ll never stop flying up on the wings of anticipation and crashing back down again, and honestly, the rush of anticipation is joyful. But the tiny real-life moments are a different kind of joy, a steadier, more sustainable kind of joy, and I, for one, need both.”

Sounds a lot like parenting to me…

Book-Dad Chad Morris agrees.

The Inventor’s Secret, which came out last March, was his first “baby.”

Book 2, Cragbridge Hall, The Avatar Battle, is due March 2014.

I asked Chad about his expectations before the “due date” and what really happened…

What Chad Expected

“Like having a baby, I had my mix of feeling crazy excited, nervous, and just plain impatient for The Inventor’s Secret. I’d like to think that I had some reasonably realistic expectations, though. I was a rookie, still am. My book probably wasn’t going to sell like crazy right out of the gate, and may never sell crazy at all. And I was okay with that. I was just thrilled to have the chance. But I hoped I did all I could to give it a chance to be successful—maybe even wildly successful.

“It’s rather similar to being a parent. I think I have some realistic expectations. My kids may not grow up to be geniuses, heart surgeons, movie directors, rock stars, ninjas, jedis, or rulers of the universe. And I’m okay with that. But I hope I’ve done what I should to give them a chance to be successful—maybe even wildly successful.

“The book market and the world in general can be quite fickle. They don’t always put value on what we wish. I really think the best move we can make is to work hard, love big, and hope for the best. ”

What Really Happened

(“the shortened version”) “About three weeks before my book hit the shelves, my nine-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a tumor on her pituitary gland. The thing was massive—about two and a half golf balls in size—and it was crowding her brain and her optic nerves. We went to one of the best neurosurgeons in the world (who happened to practice about 30 min. away from my home—blessing!) and went in for surgery about a week before my book came out.”

She loves mustaches, by the way, so gobs of well-wishers posted pics with mustaches to cheer her up….

As for Chad and his new book–

Chad: “To be frank, I didn’t really care about my book. I hardly thought about it. I hardly thought about anything other than my girl and my family. It was a dream coming true, but I had a more important dream to take care of. I cancelled some of my tour, put the rest on the possible chopping block, and spent my book birthday with a brave nine-year-old in a hospital room. And I didn’t feel bad about it at all.

“Thankfully, the surgery went very well, if you saw my daughter now you’d never guess she’s had neurosurgery, and my book hasn’t bombed. In fact, for being a no-name rookie, I think it’s doing okay. I was able to pick up some of my tour dates and I LOVE doing school visits, talking with kids about books, and hanging out at signings. My kids like it too.

“So, just like having a kid, it didn’t go like I thought.”

Me: You and Shelly have five kids, right? How is having the next child like writing the next book?

Chad: “Yep, five kids. Shelly is awesome, and we’re crazy. Our house is often messy and noisy, but it’s also raging with fun and energy. Four of my five kids are in the target audience of my books (8-12 year-olds. Our twins just turned 8.) and they are full throttle stoked that their dad has a book out. I’m pretty sure my oldest boy could convince about anyone on the planet to read my book. My kids love to come to signings and events with me and meet other authors. They are pretty thrilled with the whole book scene right now.”

Me: And your next book?

Chad: “Well just like having another baby, it came with all the mix of feelings. I still have them. I knew that though it would have a familial resemblance to the first, it would be very different as well. And I wanted that. But whenever anything is different it can bring a little extra worry. Now, I have Cragbridge Hall, The Avatar Battle in for a final round of edits (I hope) and I’m hoping this baby is well accepted by the world.”

Check back in with Chad in March 2014 to find out!


Chad: “I’m optimistic about my books and my family. And that’s a great place to be. And if the pattern of my family holds true, next I’ll have two books at the same time. Twins! Then I’ll wait 3 years for another. And then I’ll be done.”


Follow these fabulous authors on Twitter @ChadCMorris @NaomiKinsman and READ their books!

And next week, check out part7– THE THIRD TRIMESTER: flip-turns, getting that baby to term, and decisions–decisions (especially with non-fiction!).

What to Expect When You’re Expecting–a BOOK part5: Book-Dads

Welcome to Part 5 of my blog series,


As promised, we hear from three Book-Dads about their experiences this week–well, sort of… Their reactions confirm (I’m pretty sure you know this…) that unlike a Dad expecting a baby, guys go through a whole lot more when they’re expecting a book.

Meet my writer pal,

Scott Blagden

Scott Blagden, who is the author of one of my favorite YA reads this year:

Dear Life You Suck

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The many awesome reviews include:

  • Starred review by School Library Journal
  • Nominated by YALSA for 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults

Go Scott!

Book-Dad #2 is debut author Greg Pincus

Greg Pincuswhose first book-baby has been arriving on doorsteps lately.

I got to hold this baby at SCBWI LA last summer!

Math + Humor + Pie + Friendship = WINNER x 4!

But let’s start with Author/Illustrator Jim Averbeck,


who already has four “kids”– aka a bunch of way cool picture books, including his most recent,

Inspired by his experience as Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.

Inspired by his experience as Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.


Jim is switching genres to middle grade (due June 2014)

and he’s seen the ultrasound –

It’s real!!!!!

Jim says:

“You know how that first ultrasound arrives and the parents and relatives are all ‘oh he’s so cute’ and ‘he’s got his father’s eyes’ and ‘he’s gonna be a heartbreaker when he’s older’ and then they hand it to you and your friend and it looks like this:


“And your friend says ‘how can you tell it’s a boy?” and you think ‘how can you tell it’s human?’

“And then you wonder if the parents are really thinking ‘Is that a tail? I don’t want our baby to have a tail. Can we change that?’

“So, it’s better being an author because when you get the first ultrasound of your baby it looks like this:”

Jim Averbeck cover

Jim: It’s clearly a book and there is still time to engineer it. But as the book-Dad, you’re thinking: “Love the Jim Averbeck presents but the font is kind of Star Trek-y. Can we change that?”

“No problem,” says the editor.

And the book-Dad wonders, “Will that silhouette of Alfred Hitchcock pop more if we do a spot UV coating?”

“Of course,” says the editor.

Unlike an ultrasound, you can even change the manuscript a bit if you need to bring something from the cover into the story. For instance, The main character would probably benefit from using a magnifying glass in chapter 8, wouldn’t he?

Yes. He would.

Me: Will the delivered baby be all you hoped for after this tweaking?

Jim: I’ll let you know when the book has its birthday in late June, 2014. In any case, I know it won’t be born with a tail.

DEAR LIFE YOU SUCK author Scott Blagden is currently worrying about his next “baby” too.

OK maybe it’s my fault for tagging him on that recent blog-hop ( see 99 Hairbows…) Or possibly the DEAR LIFE, YOU SUCK signed book and t-shirt giveaway by Joshua David Bellin @TheYAGuythat’s happening TOMORROW. Anyway, all I could get from Scott about book-Dad worries this time around was a quick: “I’m crazy busy right now with my WIP. I’m finally getting the voice (I think) so I’ve been giving every spare minute to the story. I’ve been working on it for over a year and I finally feel like I’m headed in the right direction so I’m trying to keep the momentum going.”

You might say, Greg Pincus has anxiety times 14, since his book –due Oct. 1st– is already shipping!

When I told Greg (who subscribes to over 300 blogs, …) about my idea for this blog series, he loved it–thought it might even be a great ebook someday–and then when I asked if he wanted to send me his thoughts, he (regrettably & sweetly) declined–


Yes, Virginia–Just like real dads, book-Dads get frazzled too.

So much to do–so little time!


  1. It’s taken me almost a month to get back to your EMAIL! Yes. A month.
  2. It’s taken me almost 3 months now and I still haven’t launched my online classes (one of which, by the way, is actually sorta-semi-related to this idea in that it’s about the social media steps one takes at different times in a career arc) and
  3. I don’t see my schedule/time changing until who knows when and even then, I dunno what it is going to look like.

This means that not only am I likely to be an unreliable partner, I also can’t make this a top priority yet. Then I’m concerned that as we both get close to our own book launches, time might again be tight.

Me: “Deep breath, buddy. Just answer 1-2 questions. You get the same amount from the greeter at Wallmart, and all I’d need is one to two sentence answers.

Greg: Honestly… I’m sitting here thinking Oh, I could write up the Rejection one! (aka Part #3) What to do (join SCBWI, take classes, drink heavily). But then I ask myself honestly… could I? No, no, I couldn’t, even though I want to.

Me: I didn’t mean to stress you out.

Greg: YOU didn’t stress me out. Time passing stresses me out 🙂 If you could do something about that, I’d be much obliged….

This from the book-Dad whose June 13, 2006 blog post on GottaBook announced: “I got a book deal!”

(I’m not the only one whose “due date” was adjusted…..)

Cut to Greg in 2013 (You do the MATH!) holding the ARC (advance reader copy or galleys or uncorrected proofs or whatever you might want to call them) of the 14 FIBS OF GREGORY K.!


And much like a proud parent, he gushes, “I freely admit it’s a great feeling to hold one. Can’t quite imagine what holding the final book will be like…”

Woo-hoo! Hey Greg–it’s here!!!!!!!

Speaking of which–shameless plug–, thanks to everyone who welcomed DECK THE WALLS into the world last week. Even Cat in the Hat showed up to help me at B&N!

Erin and Cat in the Hat

But back to my fabulous book-Dad COOL-CAT friends. Follow them on Twitter:

@JimAverbeck @ScottBlagden @GregPincus

Read their awesome books and while you’re at it, wish Greg a Happy BookBday on Oct. 1st!

PS Check back here next week for Part6–MULTIPLE BIRTHS! (Writing a series.)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting–a BOOK part4–First Trimester

Guess what?

This Thursday blog is late because THE BABY ARRIVED!!!!

It's a BOOK!

It’s a BOOK!

Woo-hooo!!!! My apologies for those of you waiting for the next installment of the continuing saga of book-parents, but I’ve been doing a lot of cooing and oohing instead of blogging. Thank you to the amazing A-team (Amy Lennex & Audrey Mitnick) at Sleeping Bear Press. I am so excited!!!! Ahem–but where was I?

What if you’re POSITIVE?

That’s today’s–er, yesterday’s topic, my friends. What you may be wondering about…..after you sign the contract. If you’re new to publishing, read on about What I Didn’t Know. If you’re new to this blog, feel free to scroll back to the first three installments featuring more wonderful book-Moms –aka authors– and also my agent, Deborah Warren from East/West Literary. YES, yes–book-Dads are authors too. They’ll be here next week, OK?

Today, I have two guests. Joanne Levy will be popping back in (For more book-Mom wisdom from the author of SMALL, MEDIUM, AT LARGE, see part2 of the series.).

Joanne Levy

Joanne Levy

And we have a new visiting author, Gae Polisner.

Gae Polisner

Gae jumps in with both feet–in writing and in life!

(That’s also Gae, prancing around the shoreline below–in her first Trimester). I met both Joanne and Gae through KIDLITCARES and via Kate Messner’s TEACHERSWRITE! over the past two summers. Gae’s next YA novel, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, will hit shelves Spring 2014 from Algonquin Young Readers. If you know me, you know I LOVE cool titles and I LOVE books that weave great literature into the stories–and her first YA–

THE PULL OF GRAVITY (FSG/Macmillan) does just that. Now available in paperback, it weaves in life lessons from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

"Pulls the heart in all the right places." - Kirkus Reviews *

“Pulls the heart in all the right places.” – Kirkus Reviews *

A not-very-pregnant Gae Polisner doing the Happy Dance.

A not-very-pregnant Gae Polisner doing the Happy Dance.

So why did Gae choose this preggers photo when, as she puts it, “there are tons of photos of me HUGE somewhere”?

Gae says: “I decided it was perfectly representative of how you can be both so much the same and so much changed when you’re finally pregnant and have a (baby) book coming out into the world.”

Because being POSITIVE brings on more angst, and more questions and expectations, and more WAITING–just as much as waiting for that YES.

Joanne Levy agrees: “Getting the deal is just the beginning and there are a lot of sleepless nights, dirty diapers and spit-ups along the way.”

And lots of things you may not know.

I was one of those people you read about who get “pregnant” fairly easily–with my first book that is.


(The real kid took a whole lot longer!) But backing up a bit–way before Goldie, I was writing skits and plays for my students to perform, including “The Christmas Wrap Rap” and “Deck the Walls.” Newbie me submitted the “Wrap” rap to Plays Magazine on a whim, expecting to hear from an editor, and envisioning the fabulous PROCESS the editor and I would go through–much like the Writing Process I was teaching my high school students. Right?


About a month after submitting the rap, I got a big whopping check in the mail–for $50. No letter. No editorial process. Nada. They bought it and it appeared in their December issue the following year.

What I didn’t know:

The magazine bought all rights. In their defense, “All rights” is specified in their mention in Writers’ Market, but what did I know? (I am not an attorney like Gae Polisner —or anonymous legal-eagles in my own family who roll their eyes about this…) For 50 bucks, I’d let go of any chance of “The Christmas Wrap Rap” being a book. The good news–Plays Magazine reprinted it last year, so schools can still rap around the holidays. Yo. (And you thought The Writer’s Rap was my first rap…)

Fast forward a few years to when I found a publisher–or shall we say when the fabulous Caitlyn Dlouhy picked my picture book manuscript, GOLDIE LOCKS HAS CHICKEN POX, out of the slush pile. (THANK YOU CAITLYN!!!!!!)

What I expected: Once again, the English teacher in me was excited to venture into an editorial process similar to The Writing Process I dutifully taught my high school students. Wrong again. There were a few tiny tweaks but the manuscript was deemed ready for illustrations fairly soon after I’d signed the contract, so off it went, meaning my editor sent it to a few illustrators she thought would be a good match.

What I didn’t know:

Newbie me didn’t realize the author has no say in the next steps–unless you’re already a high profile author or possibly a major celebrity chef who’s launched a middle grade adventure series with only a teensy mention of the ghost writer. (Just so you know–the aforementioned ghost writer is not me. I have no idea who they selected. It just bugs me that very little credit is given to said writer and the celeb is now acting like the muse took over… Anyhoo–back to topic…)

What I didn’t know:

When it comes to selecting the illustrator, the editor basically plays matchmaker, and I truly lucked out because my wonderful editor had some great illustrators in mind. However, with Goldie, it took almost a year and a half to find someone who wasn’t already busy with other projects. (An illustrator gets a year to complete the art in a picture book.) = MORE WAITING!!!!!!

As for DECK THE WALLS, after a few rejections because of the “bad manners” mindset (See installment 1), I tucked it away. I was so very tempted to send it to Plays magazine but I didn’t want to give up the rights. Lesson learned–and boy am I glad now!!!!!!

I know I said that already. but the fact that DECK THE WALLS is officially in the warehouse and being shipped to distributors is doubly awesome because I’ve had an event planned at Barnes & Noble/ Citrus Heights TOMORROW and maybe–just maybe–they’ll have books too. (Please, please,please…)

Do I have pre-event angst? Heck, yeah.

I love this baby!

As Gae says: “Most of us have been dreaming of this moment for a LONG time before it ever happens. And, doubting it ever will. And, when it’s upon us, much like with that baby, we fret: “is it really as good as I want it to be? Will people love it and think it’s as special as I do?” And, the answer to that second question for most of us – really all of us – is the same as for with our kids: some people will love it, and connect with it, think it’s the cutest, most special baby in the world. And some? Some will not. Some will think its face is squashed, it’s a boring baby, it poops too much, or its face isn’t quite as pretty as we think it is, or they’ll just lack a connection to it, but won’t be sure exactly why. And the best thing I can offer is to remind you this:


“Think of all the books over your lifetime, ones you have loved and your best friend has not, or your mother has raved about and you can’t get past the first thirty pages. Check out reviews for The Great Gatsby one day when you’re bored. Even Harry Potter has its detractors.”

So I’m doing some deep breathing here in anticipation of tomorrow. (Hee-hee-hooo got me through some rough spots during the kid’s labor, believe me…)

So thank you Gae, for your reminder. To it, I’ll add: If the baby’s late–so be it.Hopefully it will have a long and happy life!

I love what Joanne has to say about it too: “Think about what you get at the end; something you are proud of and love with all your heart. It is made up of bits of you and people who know you recognize it as yours and smile knowingly when the read it and say, “Oh, she totally wrote that. I can even hear her voice in this.” And although it’s terrifying, you send that baby out in the world and strangers will meet and love your baby and might even write you an e-mail to tell you how much. What could be better? Not a whole lot.”

With kids and books, it definitely takes a village, and I’m truly thankful for mine. Follow these wonderful authors on Twitter at @Gaepol and @JoanneLevy and be sure to

READ their books.

As promised–next week, we’ll hear from the book-Dads…