Ever since I was a wee small child I have loved getting new books. It helps that my mother used to keep a stash of inexpensive "Golden Books" tucked away in a cupboard, wrapped in colorful tissue papers, for the occasions when I would wistfully say, "I sure wish someone would give me a present." At three, getting gifts twice a year-at Christmas or my birthday, just didn't seem adequate. My mother came up with an inexpensive solution that also promoted my life long love of reading books, especially storybooks.
And that brings me to some exciting news about my friend and fellow author, Jennifer Young, and her new storybook that was just published! Her second book has just been released. I am quite excited about this second book as I very much enjoyed her first book, "Poison Apple Pie."
I am excited about this new book for so many reasons-knowing it will be as inventive and intriguing as her first one-from the previews I have seen, and also because it is available in more than one medium.
The title of her newest storybook is "A Cherry Tomato on Top."
I know that if my mother was still purchasing books to tuck away in her cupboard of gifts, this one would be a great one to add to her collection. Even with the rush and business of this holiday season, Jennifer was able to do an interview with me about her books, writing, and publishing. I am always grateful for her willingness to share her knowledge as a writer, her fabulous books, and her generous spirit.
Hi Terri! I have the answers. Let me know if you like me to send it to your email as well.
Have you always been a writer?
I’ve always loved to write, but I just started writing for kids since my first daughter was one. Now she’s six.
What was the first story you had published?
Poison Apple Pie was my first published picture book which came out with MeeGenius in March 2012.
We met through our affiliation with MeeGenius and their Author Challenge contest, please share with us your experience of taking this unusual route to publication?
Back in 2011,I had a manuscript ready to submit to the MeeGenius contest so I sent it in. It met the qualifications for their contest and I believe about 400 authors entered overall. The contest was set up so other people could vote for your story in order to get published. My story had many votes but it wasn’t one of the winners. MeeGenius decided to publish Poison Apple Pie anyway along with some other stories that didn’t win.
What has your experience been with being digitally published? Do you wish the book was available in print?
I can show people my story right from my iphone. Poison Apple Pie can be read to you with each word being highlighted or you can read it by yourself. I do wish the book was available in print since most people I talk to seem to want something tangible in their hands. At my author school visit, I was able to share my book with the help of a smart board. It was easy to use, not at all awkward and it was fun. I also attended two author meet and greets at my local town library. I gave away bookmarks and flyers since I didn’t have any actual books present to sign. Ideally, I could have easily showed them how to download the MeeGenius app and then from there they could purchase my book but the library didn’t have wifi available (therefore the downloading was very slow) It would be wonderful to have my books in both formats but I’m very happy with having them in at least one.
What is the title of that MeeGenius story, what inspired it?
Poison Apple Pie is the title. In the story the main character Winka is a witch in fairy tale land and she tries to find a job that she can’t mess up. She gets hired by The Magic Mirror on the wall and somehow figures out how to fix her mistake with a poison apple pie -Oops! I just gave away the ending! J
Please tell us about your newest book.
My newest picture book is called A CHERRY TOMATO ON TOP. It’s available in paperback and eBook. It was published on December 8th 2013 with Willow Moon Publishing. It’s about a boy named Gordy who lives in a backwards world where fruits and veggies are considered junk food. Gordy’s parents influence him to eat better by giving him healthy options like candy apples and marshmallows for meals. But all Gordy wants is to snack on is junk food, especially cherry tomatoes.
How has this publishing experience been different?
With MeeGenius, I submitted my manuscript as a contest entry in September of 2011 (which also meant I signed a contract with them by submitting it)They selected an illustrator and my story was completed in about three months, on March 23rd 2012. I didn’t have any collaboration in the illustration process. From start to finish it took about 6 months to publish.
With Willow Moon Publishing, I submitted a query letter for A CHERRY TOMATO ON TOP to the editor/publisher back on June 17th, 2011. She got back to me a month later and requested to read the full manuscript for review. In October, I signed my first publishing contract with her. In Late January 2013, the publisher assigned Elisa the illustrator. From there, Elisa and I collaborated on the illustrations of the book. From start to finish it took about 30 months to publish.
Will this book also be available digitally?
Yes, A CHERRY TOMATO ON TOP is available as a paperback and digitally in the Nook and Kindle edition.
Do you prefer the storybook genre overall?
Yes, writing picture books for kids ages 4-8 is my favorite. I also like writing stories for 2+. In the future, I’d like to try writing a serious of not-so-scary ghost stories for kids.
What is your next project?
My next picture book coming out is called BABY BUG’s YAWN with MeeGenius in March of 2014. It’s a rhyming bedtime story geared toward kids 2+
(Note from Terri-please make sure you all check here in March for Jennifer's next release: http://www.meegenius.com/ )
Any advice for aspiring writers?
If you love writing and want to get better join a critique group or two. Join Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 group. Join Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo. Join the SCBWI for an even larger community of writers. Keep writing and always keep reading.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog Terri!