What to Expect When You’re Expecting…A Book! = 6 Qs with debut MG novelist and poet Megan E. Freeman

It’s a Book Baby Shower and YOU’RE invited!

Congrats to debut MG author and poet Megan E. Freeman! –photo credit Laura Carson

Today we’re celebrating this beautiful debut novel in verse:

ALONE

by Megan E. Freeman,

entering into the world on January 12th, 2021.

sonogram…aka gorgeous cover art by Pascal Campion.

Proud publishing family: Aladdin / Simon & Schuster (see Q4)

I’d say it’s a perfect excuse

to add a new post to my series:

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

…a book!

Don’t you love this fun pic of pregnant Megan taken…a “few”  years ago… : ) ?

6 Qs with Megan E. Freeman:

Q 1. Conception: What was the inspiration for this book baby?

Megan E. Freeman: The idea for ALONE came after my daughter and I read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell in our mother-daughter book club when she was in fifth grade. I was thinking about Karana being left behind on the island, and I couldn’t stop wondering what might happen if a modern-day seventh grader was left behind in a Colorado town.

Newbery Medal winner Island of the Blue Dolphins, HMH BfYR

Q 2. Naming the baby. Where did you get the title? How is it significant? 

Megan E. Freeman: I was inspired by the same historical story that inspired Scott O’Dell, so I did some research about the original events. In the 1850s a middle-aged woman, the last known survivor of the Nicoleño tribe, was discovered living on San Nicolas Island off the coast of Southern California. It was believed she had lived there alone for at least eighteen years, and she became known as The Lone Woman of San Nicolas. When I was writing and needed a working title, I used Lone Girl, since in my head my character was The Lone Girl of Colorado. When it came time to choose a permanent title, we settled on ALONE because it captured the essential conflict of the story while appealing to readers of all genders.

Q 3. Growth: How has the manuscript grown since conception? 

Megan E. Freeman: The writing of the book took many iterations and many years. I first wrote the book in prose, in third person voice, and in past tense. After many rounds of revisions, submissions, and feedback from multiple sources, I began again, this time tapping into my experience and skill as a poet. I rewrote the story in verse, using first person voice and present tense. This allowed me to get inside Maddie’s head much more and explore the solitary and sensory nature of her experience. The poetry freed the story.

…Poetry freed the story.

Q 4. Who is your “Birthing” team–Art Director, Editor, Crit group, etc

Megan E. Freeman: I am lucky to be working with Kristin Gilson at Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Everyone at Aladdin has been terrific, from Anna Parsons in the editorial office to Chelsea Morgan and the copyediting folks to Heather Palisi’s design team and all of the people working to get ALONE into the hands of booksellers and librarians. And I think we can all agree that Pascal Campion’s cover art is simply sublime. Of course my agent Deborah Warren and the East West Literary authors and illustrators are incredibly supportive, too, as are my writing and critique partners. I’m a lucky duck.

The proud publishing family!

Q 5. Since this will post just before Thanksgiving, and expecting tends to activate our emotions, what gratitude might you like to share?

Megan E. Freeman: I’m so grateful to the middle grade and YA authors in The21ders and Classof2k21 debut groups. They have been invaluable sources of information and cheerleading, not to mention moral support. If I could offer one piece of advice for debut authors, it would be to find a debut group the minute you get your book deal. I truly can’t imagine navigating this process without them, and as solitary an endeavor as writing is, being in a debut group puts you on a team that’s all working together for everyone’s greater good. Plus, there are hurdles and milestones that no one in your real life will fully comprehend. But your debut group will not only understand, they’ll sympathize or celebrate the heck out of it with you. I feel huge gratitude for being included in those groups.

Q 6.  All parents have hopes and fears for their children. What do you hope or fear for ALONE?

Megan E. Freeman: I dearly hope that ALONE finds a place in the canon of middle grade books, and that it will allow me to connect directly with young readers through school and library visits. I taught school for many years and I love talking with children. All the work leading up to publication involves working with adults, but the book is for children and I am eager for them to find it. The only thing I fear is that somehow the COVID-19 pandemic will stunt the life of the book or prevent me from being able to fully engage in the effort to help it find its feet. While many of the book’s themes are eerily relevant to the isolation and social distance we’ve all been experiencing, I long for the time when we will say, “Remember back during the pandemic…”

ED note: Let’s help get this book baby out into the world, shall we, friends?

“Madeleine relates her own riveting, immersive story in believable detail, her increasingly sophisticated thoughts, as years pass, sweeping down spare pages in thin lines of verse in this Hatchet for a new age. . . . Suspenseful, fast-paced, and brief enough to engage even reluctant readers.” —Kirkus Reviews

Huge thanks to Megan for joining the blog today.

To learn more about ALONE and Megan E. Freeman’s poetry and school visits, check out her web site: meganefreeman.com

and follow Megan on Twitter: @meganefreeman

PS You can Pre-order

SIGNED COPIES of her book here!

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving to all.

We’re taking next week off for family and #gratitude (and turkey)

AND to prep for the Book Birthday of

DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5

(Harper Collins / Illus. Luisa Uribe, Dec. 1st, 2020) Yayyy!!!!

But that’s not all, you guys…

THE Sharon Creech joins the blog on Dec. 8th, to celebrate her latest novel,

ONE TIME (Harper Collins, Sept. 8, 2020).

See you then!

How is a goalie like being an author? + other Qs about BREAKING THE ICE by Angie Bullaro (part 2)

Since November means #hockey, and we had such fun

celebrating Angie Bullaro’s debut picture book BREAKING THE ICE,

(Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books / Illus. C.F.Payne)

why not kick off the season with Part 2 of her interview?

BREAKING THE ICE is a nonfiction picture book about Manon Rhéaume, the first and only woman to play in the National Hockey League. (top photo, R) In fact, she broke the gender barrier in hockey from the peewee leagues on up.

In a recent article on NHL.com, Manon talked about the messages of the book:

“I think the message is for anyone to follow their dream…If you’re passionate about something, if you work really hard, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”

“The other message is that you don’t need to fit a mold to do something you really like. I was probably the total opposite of what an NHL goalie should look like — my size, my gender — but I got the opportunity. I didn’t let anything stop me from doing what I loved most. I was given the opportunity to challenge myself at the highest level and I went for it.”

Which brings me to these 6 questions for

BREAKING THE ICE author Angie Bullaro:  

Q 1. How is being a goalie like writing a book? How is it different?

Angie Bullaro:  They’re the same because they both are insanely difficult and take a tooooooon of practice, a lot of mistakes, and loads of hard work. They both require incredible mental strength and fortitude too.

They’re different because no matter how many stories I’ve written, they never come flying at my face 100 miles an hour!!! Ha!

Both Manon (lower L) and Angie (lower R) were interviewed on The Morning Show Canada in celebration of their book launch.

Q 2. Circling back to one of the themes of BREAKING THE ICE: Do not give up. Have you ever felt you needed to hear those words –as an author? Or as your younger self?

Angie Bullaro: Oh geeze, almost every day! I always wanted to be an actor and a writer but I grew up in East Detroit where that was not what people did. Everyone thought I was crazy, or more accurately – they thought I was foolish. I had to remind myself on daily basis not to give up, no matter what others said, no matter how difficult it was or how many years it would take.

It’s been a long journey and there have been hundreds of times I didn’t think I’d make it or wasn’t good enough to make it. Especially during those times of self-doubt it’s important to remember not to give up. I believe anything is possible if you work hard and don’t give up!

Making Every Word Count

Q 3. We picture book authors know that every word counts. And I read how you focused only on certain areas of Manon’s journey in this book. What’s one of the scenes that was hard to cut?

Angie Bullaro: Deciding at what point in her life to stop at was difficult. Playing in the NHL was this extraordinary thing, but Manon continued to do incredible things after 1992 like play in the minor’s and actually get paid to play and to be a part of the first women’s team to go to the 1998 Olympics when women’s icy hockey was first accepted as a winter sport. She has led such an amazing life.

Bullaro stars as Manon in the film Between the Pipes, which was the inspiration for their picture book.

Q 4. How does your experience as an actor influence your writing?

Angie Bullaro: I’m always thinking about action. Like a movie, a book needs action. And so I see things in scenes and how an actor would perform it. It helps me to see what moves the scene along and what is boring to watch (i.e. read).

Interior art by C. F. Payne BREAKING THE ICE, S&S Paula Wiseman Books 2020

Q 5. What do you hope young readers will take away from BREAKING THE ICE?

Angie Bullaro: Dream big. Work hard. NEVER give up.

ED note: You heard her, friends: 

Dream big. Work hard. NEVER give up.

Q 6. What question do you wish I’d asked? 

Angie Bullaro: Honestly, the questions you’ve asked are very different from ones I’ve been getting recently so I’m not sure I have an answer for that. Maybe what food do I dislike the most? The answer would be peas. Please no one ever send me peas. J

Ha–got it!

To learn more about Angie Bullaro and her awesome book BREAKING THE ICE

check out AngieBullaro.com and follow her on Twitter @AngieBullaro and Instagram @angiebullaro.

Up next, a guest post by debut author Megan E. Freeman on

What To Expect When You’re Expecting…a book!

Until then…you know the drill:

Be safe!

 

Happy (belated) Book Birthday to NO Party Poopers! + 6 Qs for #kidlit author Gretchen McLellan

It’s PARTY time, friends.

Gretchen McLellan’s latest picture book,

NO PARTY POOPERS!

(Little Bee Books / Illus. Lucy Semple)

deserves a celebration

and EVERYONE’S invited!

“In line with [McLellan’s]…wordplay, Semple loads the bright,
simply drawn illustrations with partying animals amid scenes of either imagined disaster or, at the end, festive conviviality… The paws-itive point here: …regarding differences in others as opportunities rather than obstacles.”

–Booklist 

Which brings us to my first question…

Q 1. I love the theme of inclusion in NO PARTY POOPERS! What was the inspiration for this book?

Gretchen McLellan: I’ve found that the ideas that take hold of me and make it into published work have deep roots and themes. Although the initial drive for NO PARTY POOPERS was to explore xenophobia, -isms and stereotyping in a lighthearted way, I have always been concerned about inclusion and belonging.

I grew up in a highly mobile, military family and my radar for acceptance and belonging was switched on early and has never turned off. In a large family of always-the-new kids, one or the other of us was inevitably experiencing those dreadful moments at school when invitations were passed out for parties, but not to us. Exclusion hurts. So in my metaphorical party, everyone is welcome all the time.

Free bear hugs!

Click HERE to view the fun trailer. 

Q 2. Speaking of parties, what was it like, launching NO PARTY POOPERS! during the Pandemic? What celebrations had you envisioned (pre-COVID) and what changed once your Book’s Birthday got closer?

Gretchen McLellan: I know I am not alone in saying that launching a book during this Pandemic has been extremely difficult. I think we’ve all been humbled by our lack of control over circumstances, and I’ve come to accept that I had extraordinary bad luck in launching particularly this book this year.

NO PARTY POOPERS! Interior Illus. by Lucy Semple, Little Bee Books 2020

First, the book was bumped because of Covid. As you know, most picture books are printed in Asia and with Covid raging, printing and shipping schedules were affected.

NO PARTY POOPERS! Interior Illus. by Lucy Semple, Little Bee Books 2020

Second, my plans for prepromotion and launch all had to be jettisoned. The cute fabric I bought for table coverings was used for masks instead. The crafts for in-person, bookstore events went on line. ( FREE paper bag puppets download available here.)

Third, the book’s birthday was on the day of George Floyd’s funeral. Having a virtual launch was unthinkable as the world was taking to the streets. Let’s be honest, the Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice is far more important than a picture book launch–even if the book is about inclusion.

NO PARTY POOPERS! Interior Illus. by Lucy Semple, Little Bee Books 2020

And now, Covid is in a terrible second wave and, although metaphorical, the setting of NO PARTY POOPERS! is in direct conflict with social distancing and public health and safety. While I celebrate and value this book and its message of inclusion, I am worried that given this context, some may interpret the book politically. 2020!  Phew! I really thank you, Erin, for helping me get the word out!

ED note: That’s what #kidlit friends do, right?

Speaking of which, here’s a link to purchase a copy of NO PARTY POOPERS!  

Q 3. What surprises did the illustrator, Lucy Semple, bring to this adorable book?

Gretchen McLellan: There are so many! Some of my favorites are the camels drinking out of the kiddie pool with twisty straws, the raccoons getting water to wash the cake from a red fire hydrant, and the skunks spritzing the air from an old-timey perfume atomizer!

NO PARTY POOPERS! Interior Illus. by Lucy Semple, Little Bee Books 2020

Writing Tips: 

Q 4. What would you tell your earlier, teacher self, who thinks she might want to write children’s books someday? Any tips? How has your work as a teacher and reading specialist influenced your career as a children’s author?

Gretchen McLellan: I had the lens of a wannabe author the whole time I was teaching, so I can tell you what I did. I read kidlit widely and selected the best and most beautiful for my classroom and home libraries. I paid close attention to kids’ reactions to what we were reading–which stories left them spellbound, which made them laugh out loud and cry, which characters did they love and why.

Study mentor texts.

As a reading specialist, I observed the match of text to young reader and developed a solid understanding of what makes a great easy-to-read story and early chapter book. In my read-alouds, I learned the essential place and power of the picture book in education and in children’s lives.

Learn from others. 

I wrote grants to bring authors into my schools and took notes on how they engaged small and auditorium-sized elementary audiences. I observed children, their conflicts, their worries, their triumphs and joys. I jotted down story ideas.

Read, read, read!

Both MRS. MCBEE LEAVES ROOM 3 (Peachtree / Ilus. Grace Zong) and I’M DONE! (Holiday House/ Illus. Catherine Lazar Odell) were inspired in my classroom. 

All in all, I advise anyone who wants to write for children to read, read, read and spend time with real kids and observing kids.

Q 5. What projects are you working on now?

Gretchen McLellan: One of my lifetime goals is representing the underrepresented voices of the military child in literature. I explored the issue of moving, preserving friendships and making new friends in my picture book BUTTON AND BUNDLE (Knopf / Illus. Gillian Flint / 2019) and what parent deployment is like from a child’s perspective in my upcoming WHEN YOUR DADDY’S A SOLDIER.

I am in the final revision stage of a middle grade novel called OPERATION SPEAK. The novel is set on two military bases, one in Washington and one in Germany and is about a boy struggling to reconnect with his father who has just come home from war.

These sound wonderful, Gretchen!

I have one more question for you, since my book, DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5

will be out next month:

Q 6.  If Bear or Panda, or any of the other characters in NO PARTY POOPERS! could write EARTH a letter, what would it say?

Gretchen McLellan: Thank you so much, Erin, for inviting me to your blog. You are one of my kidlit and earth heroes. I can’t wait to hold DEAR EARTH…from your friends in Room 5 in my arms! Here’s a letter from Panda and Bear:

Dear Earth,

We want to have a big party

And invite all our neighbors and you!

We want it to be earth friendly

So here’s what we’re going to do: 

  • Avoiding plastic would be fantastic!
    • We’ll use reusable/recyclable forks, knives and spoons.
    • And reusable/recyclable cups, plates and bowls.
  • We will decorate with earth-friendly streamers.
  • We won’t let balloons go in the air!
  • We will compost what we can when the party is over.

Your Earth Heroes care!

Sincerely, Panda and Bear

ED: I love it! Earth and the kids in Room 5 would too!

Thank you, Gretchen, for joining me today.

To learn more about Gretchen McLellan, please visit her website, gretchenmclellan.com and follow her on Twitter: @gmclellan5 

And heads-up…

#Teachers: Gretchen’s website is full of FREE downloads (from crafts to phonics and spelling activities to Readers Theatre) that Gretchen has developed to extend the experience of her books in the classroom.

#Author friends: These materials may spark ideas for you to develop classroom-ready downloadable materials of your own.

Next up–Part 2 of our conversation with debut author Angie Bullaro and BREAKING THE ICE, including how being a goalie is like writing a book! (Here’s part 1 ICYMI)

Until then, be safe, dear friends.

 

EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE + Happy Book Birthday Susan Eaddy = 8 Qs + Writing tips!

I had the pleasure of getting to know Susan Eaddy at a recent event for Children’s Environmental Health Day and can’t WAIT for you to meet her too.

Plus a #Halloween book + repurposing + imagination = win-win-win! 

Right?

Check out this STARRED KIRKUS review: 

Deciding what to wear for #Halloween can be tough.

“Eenie meenie Halloweenie”—so many choices. That’s what the kid in this bouncy rhyming charmer faces. There are so many things to dress up as, and the costumes can be made with just a little ingenuity and a few props.

…The book’s rollicking verses zip along with lively good cheer, abetted by delightful, energetic, colorful illustrations…” 

 

Q 1. Congratulations on your STARRED review for EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE! What inspired you to write this adorable book?

Susan Eaddy: Thank you Erin! I was stunned and thrilled. The idea actually came years ago when I was showing my portfolio to an art director at Scholastic. She saw one of my Halloween illustrations and suggested that I write a non-scary book about Halloween. So I did. It wasn’t that great. I had quite a few discouraging critiques on it. But I noodled with it over the years, finally found the title and the perfect rhyme. When my agent asked if I had a Halloween book, Voila! The manuscript and the timing were finally right and Harper Children’s picked it up.

Click image to view trailer.

Q 2. They say every book is a bit autobiographical in some way. Are you more like the character in EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE or Poppy from POPPY’S BEST PAPER and POPPY’S BEST BABIES (Illus. Rosalinde Bonnet / Charlesbridge)?

Susan Eaddy: Ha! I am definitely like Poppy in Best Paper. I fight procrastination, and distraction. Cleaning or cat petting never looks so good as when I have a deadline I SHOULD be working on. Like Poppy, I have lots of different interests, I ALWAYS think I can do it all. I fool myself into thinking this project will be easy. NOT. Every project is always much more work than I expect it to be. That is the shadow side of being an optimistic dreamer.

Q 3. What surprises did the illustrator, Lucy Fleming, bring to your book?

Susan Eaddy: Well, I’m an illustrator too and I always make an illustrated book dummy for my books. One huge surprise is that the publisher actually showed the dummy to Lucy, and I saw the influence of my dummy in many of the final pages!

Interior art: Lucy Fleming /EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE by Susan Eaddy / Harper Collins

Susan Eaddy: As my editor said “We’re so glad that we were able to honor your vision, along with having Lucy’s charming and unique paintings.” I was glad too, and even happier that Lucy’s adorable character and vibrant settings enhanced the book in so many ways.

Interior art: Lucy Fleming EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE by Susan Eaddy / Harper Collins

Q 4. How has your career as an Art Director (*with a Grammy nomination* Fun fact: She lost to Madonna!) influenced your work as a picture book author?

Susan Eaddy: One of the best lessons I learned an Art Director in the music business was not to be intimidated by big names (hard for a shy person!) and to work with as many top-notch professionals as I could. There is always so much to learn. But also… I found that life is too short to work with unkind or toxic personalities. That carries over into all aspects of art & life now. I try to surround myself with people who are great at what they do, are much better than me in writing and illustrating, and are also kind and honest.

Q 5. I’m so jealous that you’re part of the SCBWI Bologna team! Can you tell us what that international event is like?

Susan Eaddy: This is a bit of a convoluted story. Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a HUGE trade fair, with publisher booths from all over the world, large & small, ALL children’s books, and it is primarily for making connections to secure foreign rights on books. It is also a showcase for illustrators & while there you see cutting edge art from all over the world.

Going to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair had long been on my bucket list. In 2012 I discovered last minute, that one of my illustrations had been chosen for the SCBWI art showcase, and with the help of a flight attendant friend’s buddy pass I decided to just GO. I traveled alone, knew no one, but did let the International SCBWI Regional Advisor know I would be there. The SCBWI booth became my home away from home. I helped out in the booth and 2014 found me back again. Again, I helped out, and before I knew it, I was asked to help with designing a new booth and I found myself on the Team. The SCBWI has expanded that booth and the membership benefits to include a juried Bologna Illustration Gallery, a manuscript contest for the Dueling Illustrator’s Competition, and face-to-face portfolio and manuscript critiques with Art Directors & editors. The connection to the world-wide community has been life changing.

Writing Tips

Q 6. As the Regional Advisor of SCBWI Midsouth, I’m sure you see a lot of manuscripts from those just starting out. Are there any tips you can share with pre-pubbed writers and illustrators?

Susan Eaddy: I think the main tip and one that many don’t want to hear, is that this business is a marathon, not a sprint. If writing for children is truly your passion, you won’t be able to stop yourself from hacking away at it even while you collect many rejections along the way. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve grown discouraged and flirted with quitting… but before I know it, I am back revising a manuscript or illustration.

And to get you through those discouraging times, you need to find your people. I have found ALL of my best writing & illustrating buddies through the SCBWI. I go to conferences and take craft classes and am ALWAYS trying to up my game. I get inspiration & solace & honesty from my critique groups, and I learn SO much when I critique their work as well. We cry on each other’s shoulders and cheer each other on!

A sample of Susan Eaddy’s darling clay art from her website portfolio.

Click here to view more.

Q 7. What new projects are you working on now?

Susan Eaddy: I’m so excited to be illustrating a new book in clay! Joy-Jordan Lake is the author & the release date is Fall 2021. I am scrambling to get the work done on deadline! I’m also working on a cover and interior spread in clay for BabyBug magazine.

Ahem…since my new picture book,

DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5

(Harper Collins/ Illus. Luisa Uribe)

comes out in FIVE WEEKS–

Here’s one more question:

Q. 8 If the main character in EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE could write EARTH a letter, what would it say?

Susan Eaddy: Oooh I love this book so much! And my main character has so much in common with the kids in Room 5! Here’s her letter:

Dear Earth,

Happy Halloween! I am recycling cardboard to make a great suit of armor. I’m going to be a lady knight who fights for the earth! I even made a cardboard helmet and found some bird feathers on the ground to use as a decoration on top. The October days are getting colder, but I always wear a sweater at home because we keep the thermostat low to save energy.

Sincerely,

Susannah Isabelle

LOVE this! I think your character would get along great with Bernard and the kids in Room 5! (Interior art by Luisa Uribe/ DEAR EARTH/ Harper Collins)

Susan Eaddy: Thank you Erin, for inviting me on to your blog! I am honored to join the roster of your amazing Author and Illustrator friends!

Thank YOU, Susan.

To find out more about Susan Eaddy and her books, go to SusanEaddy.com, and follow her on Twitter  @EaddySusan  and Instagram @SusanEaddy 

Look at the cool monkey costume Susan put together from repurposed materials–just like in EENIE MEENIE HALOWEENIE!

Have a SAFE, fun Halloween, friends.

Next up, we’ll chat with Gretchen McLellan about her book, NO PARTY POOPERS!

 

8 Qs + a Happy Nonfiction Book Birthday party = Angie Bullaro’s BREAKING THE ICE

Happy Book Birthday TODAY to debut author Angie Bullaro and

BREAKING THE ICE:

The True Story of the First Woman to Play in the National Hockey League.

(Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books / Illus. C.F.Payne)

JOIN THE PARTY TODAY!

(Link to the Vroman’s event here and

in Q 1. below.)

in Children’s Hockey Books

“An eminently enjoyable biography, not just for hockey fans, but for all who love stories of pioneering women.”

-Kirkus Review

BREAKING THE ICE is the inspiring true story of Manon Rhéaume, the first and only woman to play a game in the National Hockey League, featuring an afterward from Manon herself.

Today we’re celebrating BREAKING THE ICE—about never giving up, #GirlPower, and hockey—with 8 Questions for author Angie Bullaro! 

Q 1. Congratulations Angie! How are you planning to celebrate the book launch of BREAKING THE ICE during these COVID times? Is there a virtual party in the works?

Angie Bullaro: Yes! We’re doing a free virtual launch TODAY:  Tuesday, Oct. 20th at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT. Manon Rhéaume, whom the book is about, will be joining me for a fun, family-friendly event! You can register here. 

Q 2. What Hockey term / slang best describes your writing journey for this book:

  • Barnburner
  • Breakaway
  • Coast to coast
  • Silky Mitts
  • Tic-tac-Toe

Angie Bullaro: First, great question!!! I would say barn burner all the way! Getting to know Manon and tell her story has been one exciting ride!

Barn Burner: (def.) An event, typically a hockey game that is very exciting or intense all the way to the end.

Q 3. What surprises did illustrator C.F.Payne bring to the book?

Angie Bullaro: The scope of it all. He was able to capture the intensity and hugeness of Manon’s experience at the professional training camp, while still highlighting her unique place within it. He really makes you feel what it would be like to have been the only female, and a small female, amongst all these giant male players.

Interior art by C. F. Payne BREAKING THE ICE, S&S Paula Wiseman Books 2020

Teamwork!

Q 4. Creating a children’s book takes a team. What does it mean to you to have teamed up with Manon Rhéaume for this project? Who else is on your team?

Angie Bullaro: I’m really into the team aspect of this, because it truly does take a team and I’ve been so lucky to have a great one behind this book.

Manon has been an integral part of the team from day one. It’s her story and I always wanted to make sure that it was accurate but also that she was happy with it. I also wanted the small details, the forgotten memories, the things that don’t get mentioned in the interviews because that’s where the story really comes alive. I feel very luck to be able to talk with her or ask questions whenever they arise. And through that we have become very good friends, which was a happy bonus.

My husband, Mike Musco is for sure the co-captain of this team. Not only has he been my moral support, he has also handled the publicity of the book and manages everything with Manon and my schedules and events. He’s the face behind the curtain making it all happen.

And of course, my fabulous team at Simon and Schuster. Sarah Jane Abbott, Paula Wiseman, and our Canadian publicist Mackenzie Croft have been champions of the book from day one. Their support, encouragement, advice, and knowledge are second to none!

Q 5. In addition to your friendship with Manon, what was one of the most surprising discoveries you made in creating this book?

Angie Bullaro: That I could write a nonfiction book! Ha! I’m a fiction writer and so when I first decided to writer her story it was a daunting task. I felt like I was starting all over again from the beginning as a writer because I didn’t know what I was doing. Eventually I got there, though, with the help from my SCBWI critique group (additional members of the team for sure! It takes a village!!!).

Click this image below to view:

Q 6. I read that your film, Between the Pipes, was actually the inspiration for this book. What, then, was the inspiration for Between the Pipes?

Angie Bullarro: Mike and I own a production company and were working on our next film concept and we wanted it to be a sports film that I would star in. I had remembered hearing about a woman playing in the NHL in the 90s and had assumed a lot of women had done so. I thought we should find the first woman who made it and tell her story. After a lot of research we discovered that there weren’t a lot of women who played in the NHL, there was only one – Manon. That made what she did even more incredible and I knew I had to tell her story.

Nonfiction Tips

Q 7. How did you first reach out to Manon?

Angie Bullaro: Oh my gosh, I tried every way possible to reach out to her short of sending a pigeon. I sent her messages through her website, reached out to random people I was connected to on LinkedIn who somehow had a connection to someone else who had a connection to Manon. I called up everyone I knew in MI to see if anyone could get me to her. I was getting desperate and throwing hail Marys, but eventually she responded to a message I sent on her website. Thankfully!

Q 8. Do you have any tips for authors who are writing nonfiction about a person who is still alive?

Angie Bullaro: If it’s possible try to work with the person to tell their story. It seems obvious but it’s not. Throughout these past few years several people have written sports books about women trailblazers that have included Manon’s story. Apparently they didn’t need Manon’s approval and so we learned about them after the fact. Those stories were always a little off. The authors were getting information they read on the web, which isn’t always accurate. If you’re going to tell someone’s story you want to make sure you have the full story because people’s lives are so much more robust and nuanced than facts you pull from online.

Also, even though it’s someone else’s story you’re writing about, you have to find a way to make the telling your own. That’s where the magic happens! Because no one can tell the story the way you do.

Interior art by C. F. Payne BREAKING THE ICE, S&S Paula Wiseman Books 2020

Q 9. How is being a goalie like writing a book? How is it different?

Angie Bullaro answers this question and MORE in the second part of her interview, which will post next month! Until then…

*Don’t forget to go to her book launch TODAY! 

Thanks so much for joining the blog today, Angie, and HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

May it be the first of many.

To learn more about Angie Bullaro and BREAKING THE ICE check out AngieBullaro.com and follow her on Twitter @AngieBullaro and Instagram @angiebullaro.

Next time, we’ll be celebrating #Halloween and talking #kidlit with author Susan Eaddy and her adorably clever book, EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE (Harper Collins / Illus. Lucy Fleming.)

 Stay safe, friends.