Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Author Interview: Linda Marshall

So, I wanted to start doing some author features and interviews on my blog with the talented, amazing authors and illustrators I am lucky enough to work with :) The first in my blog author series is Linda Marshall.  

Photograph credit: Deborah Feingold
Linda (Elovitz) Marshall comes to writing for children after several other careers including teaching early childhood education, parenting education, working on her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology, owning and operating her own bookstore, freelance writing, producing “as-told-to” autobiographies, and raising four children and a small flock of sheep. Regarding writing for children, Linda’s a late-bloomer, having her first picture book accepted for publication when she was already a grandmother. Since then, ten more of her picture books have been published or accepted for publication. Linda also writes chapter books and Middle Grade novels as well as occasional essays for newspapers and magazines. She enjoys writing about just about everything – except for things with hormones!

            Twitter: @L_E_Marshall

Hi Christa,

First, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to participate in your blog interview. It’s been so great working with you…and I love the feedback you give me that helps me make my stories better and better. Thank you!

1.         What is must-know about your upcoming project, MOMMY, BABY AND ME (Peter Pauper Press, 2017)? 

            Prior to writing for children, I taught early childhood education and parenting education. I raised my four children and a small flock of sheep, studied cultural anthropology, and owned a bookstore. In various ways, almost all of my projects relate to experiences I’ve had or things I’ve learned along the way. Many of them relate to things I’ve learned as a parent, student of early childhood development, or as a cultural anthropologist.

            MOMMY, BABY, AND ME addresses an important transition - becoming a parent. That transition - from non-parent to parent – is forever. In my opinion, American culture needs to give that transition more attention. As humorist Erma Bombeck said long ago, “the thing about having a baby is that, once you have it, you have it.” 

             By seeing the new baby from the point of view of a much-beloved (and now somewhat displaced) family dog, MOMMY, BABY, AND ME highlights how an older sibling might feel. Or to how a family dog might feel! Or, perhaps, how a close friend might feel. With every birth (or death), a family undergoes a re-arrangement. It takes time to adjust.

            Personally, I remember coming home with my first-born. My much-beloved dog skulked around, unhappy. After awhile, he got used to the new baby….Who knows? If I'd had a book to read to my dog, maybe the transition might have been easier? 

2.         What draws you to write picture books?

           Spending years in early childhood education, I developed a great love for picture books. I love the language, the pictures, the concise - often poetic - way a story is told. I love that a good picture book contains some “universal” element, gently touching something we all feel. 
3.         Where do you primarily look for inspiration for your picture books? 

            I find inspiration all around. 

            Recently, I was trying to help a close friend who is from Guatemala and who established a not-for-profit weavers’ co-operative that enables Guatemalan Mayan women to sell their artisanal products in the U.S. through Fair Trade markets. I wanted to write something to help that co-operative. But, what? My friend and I brainstormed some ideas. I wrote a rough draft. Then I went to Guatemala, researched, and read the draft to Mayan women in the co-operatives. They helped me hone the story. The result: RAINBOW WEAVER, forthcoming with Lee & Low (2016). 

            RAINBOW WEAVER tells the story of a young Mayan girl (Ixchel) who wants to learn to weave to help her family pay for her books and school fees. Unfortunately, there’s not enough thread - and thread is too costly for her to learn on. Instead, Ixchel constructs her own loom and tries weaving with grasses, then with bits of wool. Ultimately, she uses strips from the ubiquitous - and destructive - plastic bags. Ixchel finally learns to weave - like the generations of women before her - and, in the process, helps clean her village. 

             Indeed, Mayan weavers in Guatemala are cleaning their environment by weaving with plastic bags. They’re also supporting their families.

             Part of the proceeds from RAINBOW WEAVER will directly help weavers in the Mayan Hands and MayaWorks co-operatives. 

                        I feel very proud to make this contribution.

 4.   Is there are a project of yours that you are most proud of or excited about?

 I’m so proud of all my projects, it’s hard to single one out. 

A forthcoming book, KINDERGARTEN IS COOL! (Scholastic, 2016) is about going to school - and all the joys and angst it entails. It’s a joyous, warm book. I hope it helps new kindergartners be prepared for - and love - this transition in their lives. If my book makes going to school easier for just one child…Wow! I’d feel great!          

5.         How do you approach writing for different age groups?

              I always try to write with great respect for my readers - especially when writing for the very young. I try to keep everything I write - whether for adults or young children - clear and accessible. I dislike obfuscation or jargon. Shorter is better. Good writing is good writing. 

6.         To what extent do your own life and interests reflect themselves in your work?

             I have many different life experiences and many different interests. Part of me is in everything I write. It has to be. If part of me isn't there, the story doesn't ring true.

7.         Who are some of your favorite picture book authors? 
              Leo Lionni - especially Swimmy and Frederick
              Candace Fleming
              Ezra Jack Keats
              Beatrice Schenk de Regniers - especially May I Bring A Friend?        

8.         What’s the revision process like for you? 

             I find revision both never-ending and a great joy. I adore revision. I love to work on the words until I get them - and the story - just right. With picture books and essays, I am compulsive about revision. I’m also trying to learn more about revision in longer works. It’s all a learning process.                      

9.         What do you know now about publishing that you wish you could tell yourself before you started? 
             Speaking of a learning process, I wish I’d been encouraged earlier to write. As a young person, I knew I was good at writing - but I assumed that everyone, with enough education, could write clearly. I also thought that - with my relatively normal, happy childhood - I didn’t have enough angst in my life to be a good writer. And as a child who was not good at dancing, drawing, playing an instrument, singing on-key, or even telling right from left, I assumed I had absolutely no talent, whatsoever. It wasn’t until about ten years ago, that I first attempted to write for children. I’m so happy now that I’m writing for kids. I only wish that early on - in high school or in college - someone would have guided me toward doing more writing. But, then, I wouldn’t have had as many life experiences earlier. So, I guess it all works out perfectly!

10.       What do you think the most important element of a good story is? 

                 For me, it all depends on the story. Sometimes it’s character development, sometimes humor, sometimes plot. What’s a good story for me might not be a good one for someone else…Also, some stories work best in some seasons, at some places, and some times in a person’s life. It all depends...                   

Note: I previously interviewed Vincent X. Kirsch on the M&O blog.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ask the Agent!

From 11AM to 4PM ET I am taking your questions about the industry, what an Agent does etc. etc. Please see my last post below for all the details!

Please ask your questions in the comments section of this post.

I look forward to answering your questions!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ask the Agent 11/23!

Hi everyone! It's been a while since I've posted so I thought I'd start with an "Ask the Agent" post!

On Monday 11/23, I will be accepting questions relating to what an Agent does, questions about the industry itself, questions about different genres, craft, the Author/Agent relationship, my agenting style, my agency, the querying process  etc.

Please do not use this space to ask me if I read or received your query. I have a page about my submissions policy on this blog and I also regularly update where I am with queries here as well (the column to the right on the main page).

Please also do not use this space as a place to pitch me!

Remember I am a children's agent so please keep your questions within the realm of children's books! Thanks :)

I will create a new post on Monday which will be open to your questions from 11 AM Eastern Time (ET) to 4 PM Eastern Time (ET) [8AM- 1PM Pacific Time (PT)].

I look forward to answering your questions!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Giveaway: Freddie and Gingersnap Find a Cloud to Keep by Vincent X. Kirsch

I'm excited to be announcing my first ever giveaway! 4 winners will receive one (1) copy of Vincent Kirsch's second book in the Freddie & Gingersnap series: Freddie & Gingersnap Find a Cloud to Keep and one (1) lucky Grand Prize winner will get one (1) copy of both books in the series: Freddie & Gingersnap and Freddie & Gingersnap Find a Cloud to Keep! The giveaway will run from 12am ET 1/23 to 12am ET 1/30! 

Thank you to Disney Publishing Worldwide for providing the copies to giveaway!

About Vincent X. Kirsch:

VINCENT X. KIRSCH is an author and illustrator living in Los Angeles. He spent over thirty years in New York City before heading for the sunny side of the country. Before he happened into picture books, Vincent kept busy doing things such as working as a stockboy at the original Dean & Deluca (he later became the visual merchandiser, overseeing everything visual for all stores around the world), serving as the print art director at Showtime, designing Broadway posters, designing windows and displays for Bergdorf Goodman, and illustrating book jackets, to name a few. Then… one day, out of the blue, an editor called from BloomsburyUSA Children’s Books and asked if he was interested in doing picture books. His answer was “Yes! Very interested!!”

Website@VincenzoXKirsch  | Goodreads

Freddie & Gingersnap Meet a Cloud to Keep (Disney, Jan. 2015):
Freddie and Gingersnap meet a cloud. It's a peculiar cloud. It sings a song. It asks questions. It knows magic. And Freddie wants to keep it. . .but Gingersnap knows you can't keep a cloud. Or could you?

Enjoy this winsome reminder that sometimes the best and only place to keep something wonderful is in the heart.

Freddie & Gingersnap (Disney, Jan. 2014):
Freddie is a little dinosaur that wants more than anything to know what clouds are like. Gingersnap is a little dragon that wishes more than anything to fly. When Gingersnap in a failed first attempt at flight falls right on top of Freddie, the two glare at each other. Then they growl and hiss at each other. But when their individual howls and stomps find a common rhythm, their attempts at aggression transform into a dance of friendship and brings each of them that much closer to realizing his or her dream.

"Young listeners are sure to enjoy the text’s vivid aural language and the Little Shop of Horrors–style illustrations...This makes a good story hour choice, with lots of potential for creative drama." --Booklist

"This stylish tale of an unlikely friendship has an infectious rhythm."--School Library Journal

If you missed Vincent's interview on the McIntosh & Otis blog check it out here!
  • The giveaway is open to US entrants only.
  • When the winners are chosen, it will be announced here and the winners will be emailed.
  • Please enter your email address in the Rafflecopter form and not the comments.
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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

BIRD & DIZ, Illustrated by Ed Young, Receives Starred Reviews

BIRD & DIZ, a picture book homage to music legends Dizzie Gillespie and Charlier Parker written by Gary Golio and illustrated by Ed Young, has received two starred reviewsPublishers Weekly notes, “scribbles of pink, orange, and blue correspond to bursts of bright notes…the book’s language and images are every bit as vibrant as the music they celebrate.” Meanwhile, School Library Journal praised the “amusing…frolicking” illustrations of “the ever-experimental Young.” BIRD & DIZ is available from Candlewick Press March 10th, 2015. Congrats, Ed!  http://edyoungart.com/ 

About the book:

An award-winning author and a Caldecott Medalist improvise a playful tribute to the creators of bebop—Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

When sax player Charlie "Bird" Parker and trumpeter John "Dizzy" Gillespie make music together, they toss notes back and forth like a game of tag and chase each other with sounds. As Dizzy’s cheeks puff out like a frog with glasses, the two friends beep and bop and push each other to create a new kind of music—a thrilling fast jazz full of surprises. Blending a playful, rhythmic narration with expressive illustrations as fluid and dynamic as their subjects, this tribute to the masters of bebop by acclaimed biographer Gary Golio and beloved artist Ed Young will have readers hankering to listen for themselves.  

About the author and illustrator:

Ed Young is the illustrator of more than eighty books for children, seventeen of which he has also written. Among his books is the Caldecott Medal winner Lon Po Po, which he both wrote and illustrated. He says that his work is inspired by the philosophy of Chinese painting. He lives in Westchester County, New York.

Gary Golio is the author of several best-selling and award-winning musical picture-book biographies, includingJimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow, When Bob Met Woody, and Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey. Gary Golio lives in Hudson Valley, New York.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jim Aylesworth’s My Grandfather’s Coat Published to Three Starred Reviews

My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth (illustrated by Barbara McClintock) was published October 21, 2014 to starred reviews from KirkusBooklist, and Publishers Weekly and was named one of PW's Best Children's Books of the Year! 

Based on the Yiddish folk song, “I Had A Little Overcoat,” My Grandfather’s Coat tells the story of an immigrant man’s beloved coat as it is passed down through multiple generations. Kirkus called the picture book “sweet and tender and joyful,” while Publishers Weekly said, “Warmth emanates from this thoughtful book, which deserves to become a multi-generational family favorite.”

Also, check out this nice review from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/09/books/review/jim-aylesworths-my-grandfathers-coat-and-more.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0 

PW's Best Children's Books of 2014: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/64614-pw-s-best-children-s-books-of-2014.html

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Starred Reviews for Gingerbread for Liberty!

Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution, written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by (my client, the wonderful) Vincent X. Kirsch, and due for release in January 2015, has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal. The nonfiction picture book tells the tale of the extraordinary baking talent of Christopher Ludwick and how he used his cookies to help General George Washington and his American troops.  School Library Journal notes that this book gives a “fresh look” on the American Revolution with its “accessible” dialogue-laden text and “charming illustrations.” Publishers Weekly said, the story “celebrates an unheralded historical figure, reinforces the value of creatively employing one’s skills, and reminds readers that heroes can be found in surprising places.” Congrats Vincent! (http://www.vincentxkirsch.com/) Twitter: @VincenzoXKirsch