Thursday, March 16, 2017

Interview with Laura Purdie Salas and her new book If You Were the Moon

I've been following Laura Purdie Salas, a stellar writer and work-for-hire guru. This month If You Were the Moon was released from Milbrook Press. Welcome, Laura!

1. How did you get the idea for this book?

The structure came first—which is fairly common for my nonfiction ideas. I love writing Things To Do poems with kids on school visits—poems that are a creative to-do list for an object. It’s an adaptable, non-rhyming poetic form that lets you merge information with imaginative writing. Kids love them, and I thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to have a book in this format?” One day, I was brainstorming ideas for my next nonfiction book. Here’s one of my list of possibilities.

4/1/14: Things To Do If You’re a… as a nf pb series. Poetic, with prose sidebars. Electricity. Ecosystems. A season. Love this. Pitch to Carol. Addendum: They bought MOON! When can I pitch other books in the series?

2. How long did it take to research and write this book?

Since I knew the exact structure I wanted to use, everything just fell into place. I had the idea at the beginning of April 2014, and by the end of May, I had sent my Millbrook editor the manuscript. She acquired it that fall.

Of course, there was a revision process with Carol. In August or September of 2015, I got editorial notes from her. Over the next six months, it went back and forth between us for about six rounds, hammering out tiny details. First it was just the main text. Then the sidebars. Then the order of things.

One thing Carol recommended that I was skeptical about and struggled with was adding an introductory spread with a child in it. Initially, it launched right into “Hover near your mother,” or whatever the first line in the poem was at that point. I eventually came to see that she was totally right (as usual). That was the biggest change, I think, in the manuscript. But that first version was fast. It was just waiting to spill out, I think. (If only ALL manuscripts behaved that way!)

Laura and her editor Carol Hinz from Lerner at NCTE
3. Did you sell this without an agent? How did that work?

I did have an agent at the time, but I pitched it to Carol myself (with my agent’s approval). She got involved at the contract stage, but since I had an existing relationship with Carol and Millbrook (they had already published A Leaf Can Be…, Water Can Be…, and A Rock Can Be…), it made more sense for me to do it personally.

4. What are you and your publisher doing to market this book?

Let’s see. I bet I will leave something out!
Lerner:
  • ·  held a signing for me at NCTE in fall (where they gave away 100+ copies of the book to educators)
  • held another signing for me at ABA in January (where they gave away 100+ copies of the book to booksellers)
  • ·printed up beautiful bookmarks and gave me a bunch of them to use, too
Lerner is awesome and has supported the book wonderfully.

And I:
  • shared the book in two different sessions at NCTE
  • created a new READ bookmark featuring art from the book and adding the book cover to my other covers
  • ·am finally having an in-real-life book launch party (hosted by FFTC/Bookhounds--http://laurasalas.com/moon-launch-party/)
Laura Salas in her moon dress and Miranda Paul NCTE Conference

That’s the main stuff. There are other little things, like making a new profile pic of myself holding the book, that are so minor—but they do take time! Or sharing reviews on social media. That’s the ongoing stuff.

5. You write beautiful poetry. Were you a poet first and then a story writer?

Aw, thanks, Tina. Nope :>) I was writing what I thought were picture book manuscripts (looking back, they were short stories) for several years before I thought about writing poetry. I love writing in all sorts of forms, genres, and voices, but poetry is now my first love. Almost any topic or idea that comes to mind, my first thought is, “Hmmm…could that be a poem?” Then, when it can’t, I think about other options. I hope I didn’t hurt my prose manuscripts’ feelings by saying that!


Book Review by Tina Cho

Laura Purdie Salas has written a charming lyrical picture book, If You Were the Moon, about a young girl who discovers fascinating things about the moon. The story begins with the girl looking out the window at the full moon wishing she could do “exactly nothing, just like you.” The moon responds and tells her all the many things it can do. My favorite line: “If you were the moon, you would spin like a twilight ballerina.” A sidebar gives scientific facts about spinning on its axis. Laura has done a fantastic job using sparse text and easy-to-understand kid-like descriptions of the moon’s activities. For example, it plays dodge ball, peek-a-boo, and tug-of-war. Can you guess how? I love how she also incorporated baby turtles, hamsters, and the Asian harvest moon into this story! Sidebars, a glossary, and books for further reading will aid kids who want to know more. And Jaime Kim’s lovely illustrations accentuate the text to light up a young child’s mind.

another picture book by Laura 

Laura Purdie Salas
Laura Purdie Salas has written more than 125 books for kids, including the award-winning Can Be… series and BookSpeak!  She offers books and courses for writers through Mentors for Rent (MentorsForRent.com) and speaks at writing conferences around the country. laurasalas.com

35 comments:

  1. Thank you, Tina, for spotlighting IF YOU WERE THE MOON. Tonight is the book launch pajama party, and I'm feeling really grateful for the people who are gifting me that launch and for lovely teachers and writers and reviewers who are helping spread the word about the book (like you!).

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    1. How fun! Thanks for being our guest today!

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  2. Wow, this really sounds like a wonderful book. I've written a rhyming text supplemented with sidebars, too. Maybe someday it will be published. I love the cover. Thanks for the interview, it has given me ideas to ponder.

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    1. Glad this inspired you more, Janet!

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    2. Thanks, Janet! Good luck with your book!

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  3. This looks fabulous. Think I'll call my local bookstore and see if they have it.

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  4. Dear Laura & Tina,

    I am moonstruck with this lovely & informative visit between you two. It glows with affection & collaboration between writer & editor.
    I love the way Laura' s new book 's written in the point of view of the Moon answering the child. The clever sidebars are a gift to classroom teachers looking for curriculum links.

    It will be so fun to read this book & share with young folks.

    I also ove Thursdays (today) when I can play Laaura's online 15 words or less poem-making game. Today's photo prompt, the center of the weekly challenge, fits right in with this new poem p.b. about all things moon. Go take a peek. (This post links to her site & thus, her poem challenge) Usually I read it early, then play with a few words off line & return later in the day to post.

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    1. That's wonderful you play her poem games! Thanks, Jan!

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    2. Always happy to have you visit on Thursdays (or any days), Jan!

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  5. I love Laura's work and admire how she makes sincere so accessible and fun. Great interview, Tina. I also appreciate known what a publisher can do to help promote a book. All the best on MOON, Laura.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! Lerner has been really awesome in promoting my books (and they know I work hard to do so, also, so that helps).

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  6. I love all the information in this interview about Laura's book. Looking forward to reading it!

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    1. Thanks, Kim! Glad you enjoyed it.

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    2. Thanks, Kim! Hope you enjoy the book:>)

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  7. Oh, so clever on so many different levels. Charming. I'm over the moon about this one. Thanks, Tina, for sharing this with us.

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    1. You're welcome, Sherri. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  8. Love this interview and review, Laura and Tina! Everyone's story is a bit different, but all inspiring for those of us as yet unpublished. Well done . . . and congrats!

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    1. Thanks, Jarm! So many different paths to publication...

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  9. This new book by Laura sounds delightful. What a unique and powerful way to "teach" kids the stuff on non-fiction...making it fun.

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    1. Thanks, Darlene. Science is so much fun--I agree that it's great to share it in a way that helps readers see that!

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  10. Thank you, Tina and Laura, for this interview and the information about a book's journey. I look forward to reading your new book, Laura. I have read most of them :)

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    1. Aw, thank you, Charlotte! I hope you enjoy it:>)

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  11. Laura, your book looks fabulous. Can't wait to read it. Great interview.

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  12. I love this so much, Laura! But then, I love everything you do creatively! Thanks for sharing with us today. Your newest book looks amazing!

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    1. Carrie, that is the best thing anyone has said to me recently! Thank you:>)

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  13. The section on on marketing is very interesting. Thank you for a great interview.

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    1. Thanks, David. Marketing is harder to learn than the art and craft of writing, I often think:>)

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  14. Laura Purdie Salas and her creative picture books are admired. Thank you for featuring the writing journey for IF YOUR WERE THE MOON, Tina.

    ~Suzy Leopold

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    1. Thank you, Suzy! And, yes, thank you again, Tina, for having me visit your group blog. It was lovely to be here:>)

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  15. Thanks, everyone, for your comments! Glad you enjoyed Laura's interview.

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