Happy Book Birthday to THIS OLD DOG (Brockenbrough/ Alborozo/ Levine Querido)

Happy Book Birthday to THIS OLD DOG

by Martha Brockenbrough

Levine Querido / Illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo

“A lovely celebration of toddler-dog love…”

Booklist, starred review

In celebration of THIS OLD DOG’s release, here are

9 Questions with the wonderful and prolific

Martha Brockenbrough*

*Rhymes with “broken-toe.”  

Q 1: What was the inspiration for THIS OLD DOG—

a new baby arrival, a faithful old dog, or______?

Martha Brockenbrough: This one is ripped right out of the headlines of my life. I’ve had dogs since I was ten years old. Right after I graduated from college, I adopted a two-year-old dog who was my constant companion, my confidante, my best friend. I had her until my first daughter was three years old and watching their relationship bloom was one of my biggest joys. There is something so wonderful when an old dog loves a young child with gentleness and wisdom. 

Lucy and Misty, September of 2003

The key to this book was finding Old Dog’s voice. Years after I’d said goodbye to my first dog, I was walking another old dog (slowly, slowly) and thinking about all the words a dog knows. What they had in common was that they were all one syllable. So I wrote the book entirely with one syllable words, and doing that made the story feel right. I broke the pattern on the last page, tucking in a three-syllable word. I did that deliberately, because the combination of the girl plus the dog was more than the sum of their parts. To me, that was the level of care that the subject deserved, and it’s what makes the text part of the story work.

THIS OLD DOG interior, art by Gabriel Alborozo

Q 2: What surprises did illustrator, Gabriel Alborozo, bring to the project?

Martha Brockenbrough: Whenever I work on a picture book, I have illustrations in mind. Pictures are half of the story (at least!), and so you have to both evoke them and leave room for them. I’d envisioned something that feels just like Gabe’s work, but my feeble imagination could never have come up with the gorgeous colors and layered images. I have stared at these pages for hours and the art and characterization is beautiful, soulful, funny, and sweet. I guess I’m saying he brought stuff I didn’t even dream was possible. I love it unabashedly, the way a dog loves a ball. 

THIS OLD DOG, Interior art, Gabriel Alborozo.

 

Q 3: Which of your following book titles best describes your writing process:

  1. THIS OLD DOG
  2. CHEERFUL CHICK
  3. DEVINE INTERVENTION
  4. THINGS THAT MAKE US [SIC] 
  5. THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH– Oh, definitely this one. I write for love. I write all sorts of books because I love the world and I love young readers and still feel like I could walk right through a membrane of time separating me from my own childhood and adolescence. It was a fraught time for me and my goal is always to reach a hand out to young readers and pull them safely forward with honest words. The death part is this: I am acutely aware of my own mortality, and thanks to having written that book and spent so much time in the company of metaphorical death, I don’t fear the experience any more than I feared my own birth. My work between now and then is to bring as much love to the world as I can, love that takes many forms.

4 Starred Reviews: PW, Kirkus, Booklist, and The Bulletin.
Washington State Book Award
Kirkus Prize Finalist
A YALSA Teens Top Ten Title
A PW Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Best Book of the Year
A Booklist Editors’ Choice

Q 4: Has your writing life “pivoted” during COVID19 and the pandemic? How?

Martha Brockenbrough: It’s been hard to focus at times. I don’t think I’m alone there. This was entirely unnecessary suffering, made worse by leadership that refused to do the right and difficult thing and then use the power of our collective resources to help people through. I urge anyone who thinks it had to be this way to look at what other countries did and how they are faring. Good government matters and this is a painful, devastating reminder.

I’ve traveled far less for obvious reasons, and that’s been good for me personally, even as I miss my colleagues and the in-person discussions about writing immensely. But I’m an introvert who needs lots of time to think, and that’s what this has been. I’ve drafted several new picture books (who knows if they’ll sell), revised a novel coming out from Scholastic, and researched another nonfiction work that Feiwel & Friends will publish. So I’m doing my best to make the most of the time, to see it in some ways as a gift, even as I ache for everyone suffering.

Adding our dear Max and G here–because Martha’s THIS OLD DOG will resonate with dog lovers everywhere! (Including our house.)

Q 5: They say most books are a tiny bit autobiographical.

Are you more like the little girl or the old dog?

Martha Brockenbrough: Oh, I am both. And both are my daughter and my dearly departed old dog. And I was also the young parent so busy with the bustle of life that I often felt impatient at the poky pace of my dog and my toddler. I’m at a spot now where I can see being a little girl in love with a dog, being a dog delighted to have someone to savor the world with, and a parent feeling a bit overwhelmed by the pressure of it all. And I love all of those experiences with their tender edges.

“Painstaking research, straightforward delivery, and succinct explanations make this a smart addition to nonfiction collections.” ―School Library Journal, starred review

Q 6: Tell us about your other September release: UNPRESIDENTED / Sept. 15 

Martha Brockenbrough: UNPRESIDENTED is the paperback version of my Donald Trump biography, which to me remains a definitive chronology of his life not just for young readers, but anyone who isn’t necessarily a political junkie but has been awakened by the time. The book establishes the patterns of who Trump is based on the span of his life, and it makes it pretty easy (and harrowing) to predict what comes next. The paperback version is updated with an epilogue that takes us through March of this year, so the impeachment and the early stages of COVID, when devastating missteps were made that put us where we are today. 

Q 7: Do you still have a family band? Are you the bass player, lead vocals, percussion?

Martha Brockenbrough: My elder daughter is in college now (and headed back next week). She’s really the force behind it. But when we did play together, I was very much in the background on the mandolin, which is a wonderful instrument because it’s so light and bright.

Q 8: Can you tell us about your current WIPs?

Martha Brockenbrough : I’d love to tell you about a couple of books I have coming out next year. I have a chapter book series with Levine Querido, the publisher of THIS OLD DOG. The Frank and Sunny series is about a rather fusty cat named Frank and the puppy who comes to destroy his life. It’s a series for very new readers and I love it. It’s simple, sweet, and funny—something I would have LOVED as a child.

via PW/ Children’s Bookshelf 7.16.20

With Little,Brown, I have a picture book written with Grace Lin called I AM AN AMERICAN: THE WONG KIM ARK STORY, and it’s about the young man whose Supreme Court case established birthright citizenship in America. Julia Kuo is illustrating and her work is stunning. It’s an incredibly important story that not enough people know, and one of my passions is making stories like these accessible and compelling to young readers. This is where our characters is forged, and I love showing kids examples of people with great courage.

Q 9: What question do you wish I’d asked? 

Martha Brockenbrough: I always love being asked my best advice for writers. And it’s this: Love the work. The work is reading and knowing what’s out there. It’s in understanding how the books we love work, which requires studying them closely. It means giving yourself time to learn the craft, which is subtle and complex (despite what the celebrities always say on national TV). The more you love the work, the more you will do it, and the better work you will produce. And that’s what our children deserve: beautiful books made with everything we have to give.

Thank you, thank you, Martha for sharing your thoughts today.

You can learn more about Martha & her books on her website, in this interview with Mr. Schu: Watch. Connect. Read, by following Martha on Twitter: @mbrockenbrough  or  Facebook.

You can also check out (and purchase) any of her amazing books on Indiebound. 

Happy Reading, friends–

PLEASE WEAR YOUR MASK!

It’s (almost) Gurple and Preen’s #BookBirthday!

I am honored and excited to chat with

author Linda Sue Park (L.) and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi (R.)

about their wonderful picture book,

GURPLE AND PREEN–a Broken Crayon Cosmic Adventure

(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

which releases NEXT WEEK.

Let the cosmic adventures begin! 

Q1 What was the inspiration for GURPLE AND PREEN. Which came first? The broken crayon doodles or the story? 

DEBBIE: I found out that Linda Sue Park liked my broken crayon doodles when she emailed to ask if she could buy a print of one of them.

Debbie’s first broken crayon drawing!

I remember being SO THRILLED; I am a longtime fan of Linda Sue’s work, plus we have the same awesome agent, Ginger Knowlton.

I created and sent a print but refused to take any payment. Linda Sue made a donation to We Need Diverse Books in my name instead.

Sometime later, we found ourselves both on faculty at the SCBWI Northern Ohio regional conference (top photo), and talked about my broken crayon art. Linda Sue said she assumed that I was working on my own story, and I confessed that I had been unable to come up with a story that I wanted to illustrate. We talked some more, and I was over-the-moon excited when Linda Sue agreed to try writing a story for my broken crayon art.

BREAKAGE…

LINDA SUE: Debbie’s broken-crayon concept was of course the main inspiration. So I knew the story would have to somehow involve BREAKAGE.

When I combined that idea with the robot I loved, I came up with the idea of a story set in space, and a rocket crash-landing. The story went through several drafts–I think the version that’s being published is number fifteen–under the guidance of S&S editor Justin Chanda, who asked helpful questions every step of the way.

Q. 2 They say every book is a bit autobiographical in some way. Are you more like Gurple or Preen?

DEBBIE: I’m more like Gurple on some days, more like Preen on others. Like Gurple, I tend to get easily stressed sometimes, especially when I’m trying to do too many things. Like Preen, I like to recycle objects, especially incorporating them into found object art. The latter tendency makes me a bit of a packrat.

LINDA SUE: My family would say unanimously that I’m more like Gurple, always running around yelling and waving my arms. They’re wrong, of course. I’m Preen–I love to get things done! But I don’t wear a bow.

Q 3 I see that you both like board games. Which board game best describes your #kidlit careers? 

  1. Chutes and Ladders
  2. Battleship
  3. Risk
  4. Trivial Pursuit
  5. _________________other. (Your Choice)

DEBBIE: This is a great question but tough to answer! Chutes and Ladders is mostly based on luck, so while I do believe that there is an element of luck in my children’s book career, there were also a lot of choices. Battleship is too conflict-y and represents what happened to me; in contrast, I found that so much of my career success has been because of people HELPING me. Ditto for Risk. I don’t see any connection with Trivial Pursuit, and I’m also terrible at the game. If I was going to choose one game, it would probably be a semi-cooperative board game in which everyone works together to some extent, but each individual also has their own goals to achieve, like Nemesis.

LINDA SUE: Scrabble. And I used to be big on trivia games, but as I get older, I find that my memory just isn’t what it used to be. Sigh.

Q 4 I love this blurb for GURPLE AND PREEN:

“With a bit of teamwork

and a universe of creativity,

anything is possible!”

 

What does it mean to you to have teamed up together on this project? *And are you cooking up more collaborations?

DEBBIE: I love that this project happened because of a conversation that Linda Sue and I had at an SCBWI regional conference. Yes, it might still have happened in some other way, but I’m grateful to the SCBWI (and especially the organizers of the SCBWI Northern Ohio regional conference) for events at which conversations and creative collaborations like this can happen!

LINDA SUE: For me, this collaboration was unique. I’d never written a story based on an illustrative concept. It was challenging because I kept trying to include as many broken-crayon scenes as possible…and in doing so, I would end up with a series of scenes that weren’t a real story. It took me several tries before I figured out that the story had to come first. Sheesh, you’d think I would know that by now!

And yes, I love that SCBWI played a role in bringing this book to life.

Click here to find out more about SCBWI.

Q5 What was one of the most surprising discoveries you made in creating this book?

DEBBIE: You never know what will come out of a broken crayon — like THIS BOOK!

LINDA SUE: I got a peek into the illustration process that I’d never experienced with my previous picture books. Because of the unique nature of this collaboration, I was shown sketches and other parts of Debbie’s process much earlier than usual. I especially loved learning a little about Debbie’s revision journey. When she revised any part of the art, she had to re-draw, re-photograph, and re-digitize the whole thing! That seems to me a lot harder than deleting and re-typing.

Debbie photographing the crayons.

Q 6  Please tell us about your other projects, just released or in the works. 

DEBBIE: Projects I’m working on right now include illustrations for I’M SORRY, the newest in the I’M…. picture books series about kids’ emotions, written by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster), as well as my own middle grade writing projects. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINDA SUE: My most recent middle-grade novel is PRAIRIE LOTUS (Clarion / HMH), historical fiction set in the 1880s. It’s about a 14-year-old girl named Hanna, trying to find her place in a new town on the prairie, where she’s not welcome because she’s part-Asian. I hope readers will enjoy learning about the details of Hanna’s daily life (there are worms in the flour! Yuck!), and that the story will make them think about the parallels between her world and ours.

SIX starred reviews!

I also have a poetry collection coming out in Spring 2021. THE ONE THING YOU’D SAVE (Clarion/HMH)  is set in a classroom where the teacher and students are having a discussion. The teacher asks a hypothetical question: If there were a fire in your home, what is the one thing you would save? The poems are all written using the sijo syllabic format, a traditional Korean verse form. And the book is fully illustrated by Robert Sae Heng.

What question do you wish I’d asked? 

DEBBIE:

Q. Who was the awesome art director behind GURPLE AND PREEN? 

Photo cred: MiG Writers

A. I’m so glad you asked! I am so lucky to be working with Laurent Linn at Simon & Schuster. He is everything an illustrator could hope for in an art director.

LINDA SUE:

Q: What do you hope young readers will take away from GURPLE & PREEN?

A: Recycle, re-purpose, re-use! That’s what Debbie’s ‘found-object’ art is all about, and it’s what young people are going to have to do to save the planet.

Looks like GURPLE AND PREEN will help too!

To learn more about Linda Sue & Debbie,

check out their web sites

and follow them on Twitter:

Linda Sue Park:

lindasuepark.com    Twitter: @LindaSuePark 

Debbie Ridpath Ohi:

debbieohi.com        Twitter: @InkyElbows

Huge thanks to you both for sharing your thoughts–and talents–with us. 

Next up: Celebrate the Sept. 1st Book Birthday of Martha Brockenbrough’s THIS OLD DOG. (Levine Querido, illus. Gabriel Alborozo)

As for “Recycle, re-purpose, re-use” and saving the planet–I can’t wait to share my picture book,  DEAR EARTH–From Your Friends in Room 5, illustrated by the fabulous Luisa Uribe, coming from Harper Collins Dec. 1st. 

 

7 Qs with debut #kidlit illustrator Shiho Pate

Raise your hand if you love to doodle or draw!

Random fact: So do I–which is why I LOVE learning about the

illustrator’s process in a picture book.

Today we’re chatting with Shiho Pate (pronounced SHE-ho)

about her debut illustrations for

2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT  

(Kane Miller / Henry Herz)

A rollicking space adventure

with humorous pirate talk!

Don’t you love Shiho’s “Exuberant, distinctive, action-packed
illustrations.”

Shall we learn more? 

Q 1: Can you describe your process for 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT? Did you have a visual image of what you wanted right away? Did you research Pirates and robots? Did the art director request certain elements?

Shiho Pate: I think character design is a good example. We focused on characters first to get on the same page about the style and the tone of the book. First I did a traditional pirate look. They wanted a more high-tech, space pirate feel so I took away most of the traditional pirate clothing and added lots of high-tech patterns and weapons. The result was a bit too much, too scary.

So I pulled it back and we came up with something high-tech and friendly. Once the characters were set I was able to pull elements from those character designs back to the ships and the rest of the world. I did a lot of research on pirates and robots throughout the iterations. I looked at books, movies, video games etc. I showed my sketches to my daughter and that was fun because she would always gravitate towards characters with a smirk.

Q 2: How did you choose the color palette?

Shiho Pate: I knew the story of 2 ROBOTS + 1 PIRATE occurred in outer space which meant that the background was probably going to be on the dark side. So I chose brighter colors for characters and ships to make them pop. I color coded Jetsam’s crew so they looked like they were one team. I chose red for Mad Morgan because he is a aggressive pirate. I wanted him to look intimidating and angry even from far away. I also loved using solid colored backgrounds for more emotional pages. It felt like a nice change after few pages of outer-space, dark backgrounds.

Q 3: Since this is your debut picture book, was the process what you expected? Any surprises?

Shiho Pate: The overall process was what I expected, but I still learned a lot. The biggest surprise was how much they let me explore. An example would be making some texts more visual. When I saw “BAM! BAM!” the sound coming from Mad Morgan I knew I wanted to illustrate that. But I wasn’t sure if that was appropriate thing to ask. I definitely didn’t want to overstep the designer’s boundaries. I’m glad I asked because they said to try it first and they would decide whether to keep it in. I was happy they kept it (there were some that didn’t make it into the book but that’s ok too!). It’s a fun quick foreshadowing of what Mad Morgan looks on the next page.

Q 4  As it happens in #kidlit, you weren’t done once the book released. I enjoyed the fun video you made for your publisher, Kane Miller. (Click here to view.)

Any tips for a shy illustrator or author—to help overcome your shyness during presentations or videos—or even on social media?

Shiho Pate: I love this question! When I was making the promo video it really helped to have my daughter by my side (she hands me the whiteboard). My husband was filming so seeing him nod and smile behind the camera helped too. Also talking slower and with fewer words. When I do that I can breathe better and lets me focus on the message rather than the words that are coming out of my mouth. Social media is a good practice for that as well. Very few people are going to read anything below the fold so I try to write as simple and to the point as much as possible.

Q 5 What books have you been reading to your daughter lately?

Shiho Pate: I just attended SCBWI Summer Spectacular so I rushed to my local library and picked up books from the panelists! We loved reading SHOW WAY by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Hudson Talbott and ¡VAMOS! LET’S GO EAT! by Raúl the Third, colors by Elaine Bay.

Q 6  What would you say to all the young Shiho’s out there, who dream of working as an illustrator some day?

Shiho Pate: I knew I wanted to create children’s books when I started my art career, but it took about 10 years of being a game artist and having my daughter to start focusing on that path. I’m glad I took the game artist path first because I learned so much on how to create art, manage time, and collaborate with others (especially those that are not artists). So be flexible, take opportunities that comes your way. But also stay focused. I still remember making book dummies and showing it to my game studio art director.

Pirate interior

Q 7 Where can we find more of your work?

Shiho Pate: You can visit my website at shihopate.com and on twitter and instagram by searching @shihopate. Come say hi 🙂 I am repped by Deborah Warren at East West Literary. Here is my feature from a recent Illustrator Highlight.

PS Click here for a fun coloring page that goes with the book!

Thank you, Shiho, for sharing your process with us today!

Happy reading–and drawing and writing–friends. Stay tuned for next time, when I’ll chat with the author/illustrator team of GURPLE AND PREEN: Linda Sue Park and Debbie Ridpath Ohi. 

 

 

Teen Blog Takeover: 5 Questions with #YA Author Elizabeth Tammi

Attention young writers with PUBLISHING DREAMS! This post is for you:
5 Questions with 22 year old #YA author, Elizabeth Tammi.
Tammi’s novel, OUTRUN THE WIND, released in 2018 with Flux
when she was twenty years old!
“What grew from two girls who could barely stand to talk to each other into a classic story of heroes and love is one you don’t want to miss.” Teenreads
“An original, deftly crafted, and impressively entertaining young adult novel.”
Midwest Book Review
Her second novel, THE WEIGHT OF A SOUL,
followed in 2019 with North Star Editions. 
 “A solid purchase for any collection.”
Booklist
So you can see why I was so excited for Elizabeth Tammi
to share her publishing journey
–thus far–
on this guest blog takeover with Victoria Krol. 
Let’s dive in: 
Victoria writing!
I am so glad I got the chance to interview author Elizabeth Tammi.
Tammi’s novel, OUTRUN THE WIND, is the perfect blend of invigorating adventure and heart wrenching romance. The legend of Atlanta juxtaposes itself beautifully with the conflict of a modern day love story. OUTRUN THE WIND is a story that will leave you spellbound, ensnared between its pages. 
Read on for a conversation about her books, her love of mythology, and her thoughts on the writing process! 
Q1: What made you decide to become a writer?
 
Elizabeth Tammi: One of my earliest memories is being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I remember answering, “Author.” I wish I remembered more about what led to that conviction, but I think it honestly boiled down to the fact that I’ve been infatuated with books for as long as I’ve been alive. My parents read to me a lot, and I loved books so much that it just felt natural that I’d want to write them, too.
 
Q2: Where and when did you get the idea to write OUTRUN THE WIND?
 
Elizabeth Tammi: I’ve always loved mythology. It has this amazing capacity to be both a consistent “time capsule” of older times, while also having a tremendously fluid quality that’s the perfect foundation for new possibilities and reinterpretations. After all, at the core of all mythology is contradiction.
As a teenager, reading books like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles showed me how relevant and interesting these really old stories still are to modern audiences, and how we can use our current perspectives to imagine what might have happened in the “background” of old stories.

Elizabeth at the Parthenon in Greece

The summer before I started college, I read more about the “full” story of the Greek heroine Atalanta, a name I’d only heard in passing growing up. When I learned more about her story, I was absolutely captivated…but also incredibly confused. I instantly connected with her character, but had so much frustration about how her story ended and certain decisions she made. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and found myself imagining what else could have happened in between the lines of her story. Who else was there? How did she really think and feel and act, outside of the lens of male authors? The story snowballed slowly from that core frustration.
 
Q3: How did you manage to write a novel and keep up with school at the same time? I’m currently trying to do that now and it’s hard!
 
Elizabeth Tammi: It’s definitely challenging! But at the same time, I found that it actually helped my time management skills. It’s really bizarre that for some reason, I got a big amount of writing done while classes were in session, and way less during winter and summer breaks. I think I’ve always been better at making time to write when I have less of it, which is a weird personal quirk. Outrun the Wind was the second novel I’ve ever written, though it was the first to be published. When I was in high school, I’d written a book and queried it, but it got rejected literally everywhere I sent it (and for good reason!). That experience taught me a lot about how to approach a long-form story, and what to expect on the other side in terms of preparing it for the querying process.
Tip: Try the “Three Sentence Rule”
I was pretty ruthless when it came to drafting, and I honestly don’t know how sustainable that is for me or for other writers. But for that project specifically, and for that time in my life, it worked for me to block out about an hour or two every night to work on drafting. Obviously, that didn’t happen every single night, but I did have a bare minimum policy that I used (and still use) while drafting called the “three sentence rule”. Basically, no matter how terrible of a day I had or how busy or tired I was, I’d write at least three sentences per day. Starting is always the hardest part for me, so I often find that once I start writing I’m fine to continue. But if I am truly too busy or brain-dead, then at least I’ve moved the story forward a tiny bit and stayed in the story’s headspace and can call it a day. Drafting happened during my first semester of college, and I’d had the previous summer to plot out the book. It helped having that outline, though some writers prefer to “pants” their way through a story, which can work too! I also have zero qualms about writing just a genuinely terrible first draft. You can’t fix what isn’t there.
 
Having that blocked out time at the end of the day (usually pretty late at night) meant that I had a concrete deadline to finish my homework and other responsibilities, which kept me fairly disciplined academically. I promise I didn’t make myself a recluse! That’s important too. It’s obviously good to keep consistent progress on your draft, but in school (and life in general!) you shouldn’t push off socializing or new experiences for writing. The writing will always be there.
Tip: “Just finish it.”
Anyway, it’s clear that my advice is somewhat flimsy– that’s because it changes with every project, and every writer is different. I think overall it’s helped me to make an effort to write a little bit every single day while I’m in the drafting process, and to have a pretty extensive outline as well. Also, if you’re working on your first ever novel, the best thing you can do to learn is just to finish it. I had so many false starts on novels that I had to throw out because I’d get excited by a premise but fail to think it through, and then lose the motivation as everything piled up and became too complicated or boring after a few chapters.
 
If you think you’ve found a premise you want to pursue, I’d encourage you to consider if it’s something that really sets your soul on fire. You’re going to be spending months and years with these characters in this world– there are always hard days when writing, but make sure it’s something you still care enough about to want to go through all the difficult parts of the writing and publishing industry with.
 
Q4: What are your thoughts on deadlines? Love them, hate them, avoid them? 
 
Elizabeth Tammi: Since I was a journalism major in college, deadlines were pretty much my baseline. I wasn’t super scared of them, and it’s always helpful to have a concrete timeline. When I wrote my first book (the one that will never see the light of day), I gave myself a self-imposed deadline of finishing before I turned 18. And I literally scribbled out the last paragraphs on the eve of that birthday, but I made the deadline. However, I’ll admit I’ve had difficulty with self-imposed deadlines ever since I got my first book deal. Maybe that’s because, after that first deal, deadlines are a part of the business. Suddenly, writing becomes a business.
 
I feel tremendously fortunate that I’ve gotten to see two books to publication, and it’s genuinely been a dream come true. But the most surprising part of becoming an author was realizing that a tiny part of me actually misses the writing I’d done before I had a book deal or literary agent or anything like that. With my first book in high school, and while drafting Outrun the Wind, I had literally no idea if anyone else would read those stories. I wanted desperately for them to be published, and almost made myself miserable with that ambition. But it was also freeing, in a way– no one knew what I was writing. If I failed or changed my mind, no one would ever know. It was just for me, and it was my own world.
What you might not know:
Some new writers don’t realize that even after getting a book deal with a completed manuscript, there are almost always more edits and revisions you make with your editor at your publishing house. There were some fairly substantial revisions that Outrun the Wind went through between signing the contract and its release date. That was my first experience with a true deadline, but it wasn’t that stressful because the story wasn’t changing very much. I had a firm foundation to go off of.
My second published book, The Weight of a Soul, was a whole other can of worms. You might hear authors complain about the “second book syndrome”. I definitely experienced that. I sold The Weight of a Soul on proposal, which is something authors can sometimes do if they’re hoping to work with the same editor or publishing house on a future project. Basically, I wrote out a full synopsis and the first few chapters of that book, sent it in, and it was accepted. I was given a book deal for something that wasn’t even close to being a real book yet. It was exciting, but also scary– I actually had to write the full book, and no matter what, it was going to be a real book. I’d never before written a novel knowing it would be a “real” book before, and that was equal parts reassuring and terrifying. I knew the work wouldn’t be in vain, but I was also anxious about pulling it off. That was a stressful deadline. I’m proud of how it turned out and don’t have any regrets, but that deadline was a lot to deal with, especially since it was during my junior year of college…my most academically demanding year ever.
 
It all turned out fine, but I’m relieved that I made the choice to step back and work on my current project just by myself for now as I navigate next steps. There are no stakes, so it’s just me and the characters for now. Something I’d taken for granted before entering the publishing industry!
 
Q5: Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in journalism? 
 
Elizabeth Tammi: A journalism degree can set you up for a huge range of careers– traditional journalism, multimedia storytelling, public relations, publishing, you name it. I was really involved in my high school’s news broadcast program, which inspired me to pursue journalism in college. I had a fantastic time and had great courses and internships. I just graduated last month, and recently started a full-time position doing social media and outreach for NASA, with their Hubble Space Telescope mission. It just goes to show what a versatile major and field journalism is!

She’s not kidding, friends!

If you’re considering a career in journalism, just be prepared to work under tight deadlines and listen to your gut. It’s a field that requires a lot from you, but there’s also so much freedom in finding stories you want to tell and how to tell them. Journalists are so important, and even though I didn’t enter the field of true, traditional journalism, I’m glad in my choice of major. It’ll teach you how to talk with people, structure stories, and make sure they get to the audiences that need them.
That was my interview! It was super cool to see Elizabeth’s perspective on the writing process and everything else we talked about. Stay safe everyone!
Victoria Krol is a 15 year-old soon to be sophomore in high school with an absolute passion for reading, writing, and website design. She is currently working on a novel with her co-partner Charley Ramos, which is in the midst of its second revision and currently has a plot that resembles lasagna. She met Erin dressed in full 70’s gear at the 2019 SCBWI LA Summer Conference, where their instant friendship resulted in her as a guest blogger. You can find her at victoriaannekrol.com 

It’s true. I actually think Victoria might have taken this pre-COVID hug-shot at SCBWI 2019 with these incredible authors, Meg Medina (L.) and Elana K. Arnold (C.). Good times!

To learn more about Elizabeth Tammi and her books check out ElizabethTammi.com and follow her on Twitter @ElizabethTammi and Instagram @elizabeth_tammi.

 

Introducing QuaranTEEN, the website for Teens stuck in #quarantine.

In the intro of my guest teen blogger’s last post, the book review of Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold, she mentioned building a website for teens stuck in quarantine. 

Guess what?

Within days of that review going up, QuaranTEEN successfully launched! 

After checking out what they had created, I invited Tori to share it with all of you here.  Take it away, Tori…

Hello everyone!

Here’s a brief description of what we’re about:

QuaranTEEN is a showcase of the creative talents of a group of teens in Southern California. We have an active blog filled with posts on art, literature, music, culinary recipes, and much, much more!! 

“The world is on pause. We are not.”

I know creativity in this strange time has been a challenge, but our posts and our writers do their best to get your creative gears up and running. 

“A place where we can use art as an outlet.”

“We’re living out the end of our childhoods during this mess.”
Here are the links to our site, our Instagram, and our Twitter!  
QuaranTEEN:
Instagram: q_uaranteen 
Twitter: @Q_uaranteen


“Our generation was made to continue creating while the world burns down around us.”

Smile, stay safe, and I’ll ‘see’ you next time! Most importantly, keep creating! 

 All the best, 

Tori 

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