Meet Author and Educator Michael Samulak



by Gloria G. Adams

Michael Samulak loves kids. He loves reading to kids. His goal is to inspire them to follow their dreams.

Michael obtained his bachelor's in Elementary Education from Michigan State University in 2006 and finished his master's in Reading Curriculum and Instruction at Cleveland State University in 2012. He has been working as a full-time youth minister and educator for almost 20 years. Michael uses his formal education, experiences, world travels and life's adventures to write award-winning children's picture books.

He currently resides in the city of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and five children.

Visit Michael on his website: http://www.michaelsamulak.com/


Michael, when did you decide you wanted to write children’s books?
     Wow, I had to think about this one. I can recall having hopes and dreams of being a teacher and writing books for others to enjoy way back in elementary school. I had journals of stories, raw pieces and ideas of future projects piling up since that time. (However, I also was thinking of becoming an astronaut too in those days.)

     So, the love for reading and writing was always there, even at a young age. Related to the themes that many of my books currently focus on in terms of educationally based books that are not only enjoyable, but also purposeful in their approach to support a young learner in their reading fluency, that is something that took a little time to develop.

     The first real serious thoughts, and I would say actual and practical decisions related to becoming a published author of educationally based books, probably began to come about in the early years while I was finishing my BA in elementary education at Michigan State University. In those years, the real world of children’s literature was opened to me as I strove to better my own abilities as an educator. The influence and impact that I began to realize a quality book could have with my students was becoming more and more apparent the more time I had in the classroom and with students. The more I developed my own craft as an educator, the more I realized certain needs that were still out there in terms of subject matter and content that was also age appropriate.

     I began to see if I could be the one that might be able to address these needs and took a first attempt by having my first book published in 2008, A is for Africa (Trafford 2008). While happy with my achievement, I decided I needed to further my own development and expertise if I was going to have my work seen as creditable and so eventually went on to earn a Masters degree in Reading Curriculum and Instruction in 2012. With experience in the classroom as an educator, a father, a heart for helping and teaching youth and now having the formal educational background and training, I decided to pursue the goal of becoming a traditionally published author.


Are there any children’s book authors who have influenced you?
     Those who have had the most impact on my writing, or desire to be a published children’s book author, are Tommy DePaola, Patricia Polacco, and Mo Willems (who I think is basically our modern day Dr. Seuss in terms of being able to connect with children across all spectrums.) These authors give you so much of themselves in their writing.

     It is so much more than being able to put pen to paper, although that is also perfection by every standard as well. They also inspire the people who read their work to do better and to be better, focusing on the best in all of us – and those around us, both inside and out. I love that I love reading these author’s books with my kids and enjoy the story that has been crafted and served up for us in the written form, as much if not more than they do! I hope to be able to serve up a similar smorgasbord with the pieces I am able to present to the world one day.

Tell us how A is for Africa, the book and coloring book, came about. 
     As I mentioned a little bit earlier, this was motivated, in part, by some of the needs I began to see when I was in the traditional classroom. We had a very difficult time finding age-appropriate literature that was related to, or at least helped, with our multicultural content and lessons. There were a number of items that we could find for the older students and classrooms, but not enough for the younger grades. Too often I felt I was “reaching up” and trying to make things work that were not intended for the learners that I was with. As good educators often do, my fellow educators and I “made it work”, but I began then to work on writing literature which I hoped to be able to one day meet some of these needs that I personally saw and experienced.
      In 2006 and 2007 I had the opportunity to go to Uganda Africa for a church mission and humanitarian based endeavors. While on these trips I had the fortunate opportunity to meet and eventually collaborate with a local artist who specialized in the Batik-style of painting. This talented young man helped me to bring the project to a place I could only imagine! I was able to incorporate my manuscript and experiences of my overseas travels, with the educational elements of introduction of letter identification, phonics, and rhyme together with the beautiful pieces of art that he created.

     The book has been very well received by many learning centers, schools and libraries and soon a companion coloring book was produced to help the students and teachers with an additional resource for follow-up and support for both the literacy and art that are introduced with the original.
https://tinyurl.com/yarq4guf



What is the best part for you about being a children’s author? 
     Honestly for me, especially as an educator and father to five kids, I love knowing that what I am able to do and put out there is engaging and helping so many children to support and foster their love for reading and learning. I LOVE being able to visit classrooms now and personally share my stories with the students I meet and see all of their bright shining faces, share in their joy that the books bring out in them and encourage them all to follow their own hearts to one day see their own dreams realized and come true.

You do Literacy Workshops. Can you tell us about those?
     The educator in me put together a few lesson plans and units for the various age levels I have come across over the years. Generally speaking, they have been for the older students, ranging from 10th grade all the way down to 3rd grade. I have had the opportunity to do long and short versions of the workshop, everything from a single day with a series of sessions, to the more standard two- or three-day approach that allows for more things to be developed over time.

     Without going into too many details, the sessions are very interactive as well as informative as I work with walking together with the group or class through the major steps of the writing process. I touch upon all the basic elements: Brainstorming, Outlining, Research, 1st Draft, Editing, Proofreading, 2nd Draft, etc. The degree to which we cover and extent we go with things all depend upon age, size of the class, and how many days and sessions we have put together.

What are your goals as a children’s book author?
     I would love to be able to have my books worn out because they were read over and over, again and again, because they are loved so much; while at the same time, maybe without the reader even knowing, they were also having little learning moments sown into them each and every time. I would like to be remembered not only as an author and educator whose books were inspiring and brought joy to those who read them, but also one whose books genuinely supported the young learner who engaged with them as they grew and matured into lifelong learners.

Your newest book is A Wonderful Day. Tell us about it.
     I actually started writing this book a few years back. I wanted to create a picture book that would be engaging for both parent and child. My kids have always loved the zoo and, truth be told, I think most times it was me and my love for animals that kept us going back more times than not, so with this in mind, I wanted the book to be about a shared experience between parent and child about one such “wonderful day” together.

     I knew I would be writing in a gender-neutral text, so that any parent could read with any child and feel included. This was a little challenging, in terms of the illustrations, but I collaborated with the illustrator regarding images, colors, and even diversity whenever possible to help strengthen this feature of the book. I was very happy with the final product and do believe it is also one of the strengths of the book.

     The project started slow, but then took a little positive turn as I was in the middle of one class I was taking while finishing my master’s degree. We were going over anticipatory text and text-to-self reflections as an important part of a young reader being able to have and be helped with early-readers, so I felt that my current manuscript would be a perfect candidate for such text. Once I incorporated this as the main character and body of text for the manuscript, the writing was much easier and there was a natural flow and rhythm that brought the whole thing together.

     The book was originally published with a hybrid-publishing company that since has gone out of business (TATE Publishers in 2016), but fortunately has now been recently acquired by Pen It! Publishers who have taken the time and care to bring back the title, with just the right amount of adjustments to the layout and an even larger printing of the book to make it bigger and better than ever. 


"A Wonderful Day! is an engaging early reader that playfully depicts the shared experiences of child and parent who are enjoying a day together at the zoo. This unique story is beautifully told in a gender-neutral text that captures many of the special moments children and adults often treasure and share together."
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1950454614




Describe your creative process for us, from idea to finished product.
     Wow, I’m not sure I can do this justice within this time frame, but I’ll give it a shot -- First is “the beginning” or genesis if you will of the story. This would be related to the brainstorming aspect of the writing process. I’m constantly writing down ideas, words, sentences, and even “stories” whenever and wherever and onto whatever is available to me, but usually it is my laptop or phone (on the note app.) I have notebooks as well, but I have been also known to grab that scrap piece of paper or even a napkin, if the creative juices are flowing. I often am scribbling down sentences or even just “word pairs” that I feel go well together in terms of description or flow. I have lists of would-be-titles of possible stories that I have full intention of eventually bringing to life. I love writing down titles when they come to me; sometimes I have been able to put together whole manuscripts by coming up with a great title.

     Since many of my stories have a purposeful educational component to them, I am also jotting down these ideas and pieces “on the side” or making lists of what would be good elements to incorporate into things I’m working on or would like to eventually see put together with a good story. This helps me to marry ideas and story lines with those educational elements without it being “forced.” I prefer when the elements seem to choose one another as it makes for a better overall “fit” with the manuscript; arranged marriages never seem to work out as well. (haha, get it?) Sigh.

     Once I have an idea in mind, I often sit down and purposefully determine the thought of the overall story with its ARC. This is often an outline of your classic sequence, Beginning-Middle-End and sometimes points. But often I do begin writing outlines or paragraphs of what I have in mind as I go along this part of the process. Once I have a good roadmap put together for the piece, then I write. This is the meat of the process. Writing, writing, writing, and then writing some more: When I am inspired, I write. When I am tired, I write. When I am busy, I write. When I am happy, I write. I write as often as I can, whenever I can, in order to keep the creative juices flowing and also to keep myself in “the pocket” of the world of words and putting them together, as much as possible, regardless of whether or not what I am writing is even advancing my current project, but obviously that is the goal. I have more recently done my best to “finish” a first draft of the piece before I go through the piece again with a rewrite, but I confess, often times, I cannot help but rewrite, massage, and tweak things here and there as I go. This part of the process usually takes some time, at least a few months if I am focused; often times I have to put things down and come back to them, so there are some pieces I haven’t yet brought out for the next step of editing.


     Once I have what I consider a decent enough first draft, I bring it to a few trusted eyes for editing and review. This is much more than grammar or spelling, which Lord knows I always need help with, but more for strengthening and improving the writing itself, flow of the piece, ARC, special moments, elements of surprise. Cutting and adjusting are always a painful part of this process, but I have come to realize it is eventually for the best. I confess, I still have sentences or paragraphs that I have salvaged from the editing floor that I loved (still love) so much and hope, with all hope, that I can eventually use in a future story somewhere, somehow… maybe.

     Finally, after all the many rounds of editing and review, there is the rewriting and polishing of the piece that, generally goes through at least one or two more solid rounds of the review and editing, before I would bring it forth as “done.” And then, as a published author, I know it is not really ever, “done,” especially if my intentions are to submit it to an agent or publishing house for consideration. I know that my baby will go through the wringer again and again before it is finally in print. Whew. Well, that’s not everything, but probably enough to get the gist of what basically is included in my process.

What inspires you? 
     Besides my Wonder-Woman wife and beautiful children (which probably isn’t what this question is getting at, but honestly they are truly such a big source of my inspiration in my writing as well as why I write), I would say, as an educator, a big part of what motivates me, and my heart, is for the youth, the next generation of kids who are growing up today. Those who make up this “next generation”…I want to inspire them, to empower them to go for their dreams and help them, as much as I would have any positive influence, to do so! To “hold fast to dreams”, to never give up and that what I might be able to offer would indeed have a positive influence on those youth. I feel that through writing, some authors are given a rare opportunity to have an influence that has some enduring feature that is not only broad in terms of audience, but also there is a longevity involved, in terms of time. I hope to be one that is able to touch and inspire people for a long time, one that could potentially be even longer than whatever finite amount I personally am eventually allotted.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
     Read. Read. Read. And then read some more… read as much of the current titles and even classic pieces that you can find which you believe are of your interest or subject matter that you feel you want to write about. Keep a journal, sort of a running commentary, of the pieces you read and some of the things that stood out to you about the writing style, character development, ARC, and feeling that the author evoked or brought out of you. I think each author eventually finds his or her own style and voice, but one first has to be familiar with what is out there, what has been done, what people are reading, etc. in order to join the ranks of those who are published AND have (or are having) an impact on actual readers today.


Pantser or Plotter?
     I am definitely the Pantser. My wife has helped me tremendously in some respects to actually acknowledge things like “a plan”, or think about what we might do while we are on vacation, or “budget.” But try as much as she has -- my instinct is still defiantly more of, “Let’s Go!”, ask questions later, “Ready, Go!...then maybe worry about the “Set” of things as need arises… Ha Ha Ha, -- Maybe.

Guilty Food Pleasure?
     Ice Cream. Hands Down. It is my Kryptonite.

Favorite Hobby? 
     Before the kids I would have answered this: Exercise. Since kids, my little bit of extra time for my own peace of mind and interest is to read and learn about space and its exploration. I am fascinated by the universe and its wonders and how all of this works. Man making plans to go to Mars, the recent probes that have left our known universe which are not traveling out into deep space, and things like this. Love it!

Dog or Cat person?
     Definitely Dog, but I’ve grown to appreciate cats: Mostly again because of the kids.

Who would you like to have dinner with (living or dead)?
     Jesus of Nazareth. Yes. Please. I mean, come ‘on, you would never run out of things to eat or drink…and can you imagine the conversation?!

Do you do your best work in the Morning, Afternoon, or Evening? 
     Oh man, I would say I’ve experienced flashes of all three being productive, but I’m much more of a night owl so I would have to say, “Evening”; when the kids are down and the house resembles some actual amount of semi-peace: Calm before the next day’s storm, if you will. This is my time.





SIX Tips for Choosing Names for Your Characters



 by Gloria G. Adams

Take time to find great names for your characters! Check out these tips and name-searching ideas.



1.     Does the name match your character? Velvet or Fawn bring to mind a soft, gentle character, while Butch or Tank sound rough and strong. 
      Or try the opposite: Name your antagonist, a female gang leader who
      is a nasty bully, something like Angel Sweet. You can also look for meanings assigned to names; Vera means “true,” Amy means “beloved,” etc. But for a broader, more interesting take, try looking up names in the Urban Dictionary. For example, Amy is a beautiful girl willing to do anything for her friends and family. She is brave, loyal and super smart. She's the type of girl who will grow up to be some  sort of heroine.”

2.      Make sure character names match the time frame. One way is to use baby name charts for your era. So, if your MC is 16 and your book takes place in 2020, look for baby names from 2004. For historical names, try looking on Ancestry.com or searching history books. One good source is Teresa Norman’s book, Names Through the Ages.

3.      If your characters come from a different country, research names from that country. Make sure they are accurate and authentic.

4.      Read the credits at the end of movies or TV shows. I used to get frustrated with my husband when he wanted to stay in the movie theater til the very end of all the credits. He had no reason to give me; maybe he just wanted to savor the last few minutes of being at the movies. But when I started writing, I found a reason to want to stay, too. A lot of great name ideas can spring from those long lists of people who work as film editors, best boys, make-up artists, etc.

5.      Don’t use names that are too similar to each other or have the same number of syllables. You want your characters to be distinct; give their names the same attention.

6.      Pick a geographic spot with an unusual name and have your character tell everyone he/she was born there. Set your story in that country or town. Remember Picabo Street? She was named after a town called “Picabo.” Jump onto Google Maps and find a treasure trove of cities, states, and countries that would make not only great character names, but also great settings for your stories.


Or let someone else work for you! Check out Reedsy’s Name Generator: https://blog.reedsy.com/character-name-generator/



A Gift for Writers from Evelyn Christensen

Check out Evelyn's list of publishers and magazine markets!

by Kate Carroll



While many of us are learning how to be creative while sheltering in place, we set our sights on sources, mentors and other successful authors. It’s often said that members of the kid lit community rank high in supporting fellow writers, sharing information and cheering one another on.  One such person is Dr. Evelyn Christensen. Evelyn is an accomplished writer in the educational and trade markets with an impressive number of published works.



Before she was an author, Evelyn was a teacher, and that love of sharing knowledge stayed with her. With generosity, Evelyn has invited our readers to visit her website, not only to see her works on display, but also to receive a special gift.  Spanning years of work, Evelyn has compiled a list of educational publishers, indicating their specialties, and a list of magazine markets for our viewing.  We all know how time consuming it is to collect this information!  

Please go to http://evelynchristensen.com/markets.html to enjoy this free gift from Dr. Christensen. Be sure to send her a thank you email for her gracious gift!



Announcing: Winner of our March 2020 GIVEAWAY!



WE HAVE A WINNER!



We are pleased to announce that our winner of the Picture Book critique edit by Two-4-One Kid Critiques is...

                           HEATHER BURNELL


Critique edits through Two-4-One include TWO critiques, one from author Jean Daigneau and one from author Gloria G. Adams, along with a collaborative summation.

Congratulations, Heather!





Our winner was chosen in a random drawing by Rafflecopter.

Picture Book Dummies: Not for Dummies!

 





 by Jean Daigneau and Gloria G. Adams







Wait-aren’t picture book dummies just for picture book 
illustrators? No, not really.


Smart picture book writers know that a picture book dummy can be one of the best tools in an author’s toolbox. If you’re not familiar with the term, picture book dummy templates lay out the pages of a picture book in numbered spreads so that you can fill in each page with the text and ilustrations of your manuscript. But even without the illustrations, laying out the text can often make your story better. Remember, too, these dummies are not to send to a publisher; they are an exercise vehicle to make your manuscript the best it can be.


Here are five good reasons why you might consider making use of a dummy template
for your next picture book project.

1.      To make sure you have enough text to fill in all the spreads. Standard picture books are 32 pages long. The first 2-3 pages make up the title page, copyright and dedication page. The text will not begin until either page 3 or page 4. Most stories are twelve or fourteen spreads long. Your final pages might contain back matter about the subject of your book, glossaries, bibliographies, acknowledgements, or information about the author and/or illustrator. Make sure you have enough pages for your back matter.
2.      To make sure you have enough opportunities on each page for the illustrator to draw something. For each spread, determine if there is something that needs to be illustrated or that can be illustrated. If there’s no action or nothing new to illustrate, maybe this text isn’t necessary to your story. This can be especially true if the scene centers on dialogue.
3.      To make sure you have enough white space on each spread. Is your text taking up too much room? Have you left room for illustrations? This is a good way to see how you might cut down on your word count.
4.      To determine where the page turns should fall. For example, if you have a repetitive phrase, it’s best to have it follow a page turn. This sets up anticipation for the young reader.  
In One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root, each spread ends with the duck asking, “Help, help, who can help?” The next page begins with “We can! We can!” answered by different animals.
5.      For pacing. Is your plot laid out evenly? Does the climax happen one or two spreads too soon? Try rearranging your text to see what works most effectively.

The best way to know how to lay out picture book text is to study how published picture books are laid out. After you’ve examined a LOT of picture books, try filling out a picture book dummy for your manuscript. You can make a physical one the size of a picture book, or you can fill in a template. Either way, taking the time to do this task is worth it.

It can also be helpful to copy the text of a published picture book into a dummy template. Seeing the words, without the illustrations, can give an author a stronger sense of how text carries the story and lays out on the page.

A great source for a personal use picture book dummy template is Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s website:

We often recommend the use of picture book dummies to our clients at Two-4-One Kid Critiques. Check out our website: https://two4onekidcritiques.wixsite.com/mysite


SIX Query Letter Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make



By Gloria G. Adams 

It’s that time. You’ve written (and revised and rewritten and polished) your manuscript. Now it’s ready to send out to an editor at a publishing house. You’ve researched the publishing houses and found several editors who are open to submissions for your kind of manuscript. 

Now you have to draft that all-important query letter. To make sure it’s an effective letter, make sure you avoid the mistakes made in the following query:

Hey, Tina! #1

Did you ever wonder what it might be like to win the world’s biggest burp contest? That’s exactly what happens to my main character, Freddie Finkle, in my book, The Biggest Burp Contest. Things get really crazy for Freddie after he wins, but you’ll just have to read it for yourself to find out what happens. #2

It’s a picture book for kids in elementary school and it has about 2,000 words. Well, okay, it’s a little closer to 3,000. #3

My cousin, who was an art teacher before he got arrested, was going to draw the pictures for me, but I didn’t want to wait ‘til he got out, so I drew all the pictures for you myself. #4

I read it to my nieces and nephews at Christmas, and they laughed and laughed. This book is so good, I’m sure there just aren’t any other books out there like it.  #5

I’ve worked as a bounty hunter, a circus clown, a lighthouse keeper, and a horse whisperer. I haven’t written anything else yet, but as soon as I save up enough money, I’m going to join one of those writer’s organizations. #6

I feel that my manuscript is a good fit for Kids & Books Publishers, and I thank you for your time and consideration of The Biggest Burp Contest.

Sincerely,

Carl Clueless
564-231-7782

Of course, this is an exaggeration, but here are the right things to do:

#1. Make sure that you address your letter to the specific name of the person if it’s available. Your salutation should read, “Dear Ms. Smith” or “Dear Mr. Jones.” Make sure to spell the editor’s name correctly.
Always follow the submission guidelines, usually found on the publisher’s website or in directories like the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market.

#2. Your pitch should tell enough about the book to “hook” your editor, but not tell the whole story in detail. If it’s fiction, briefly mention plot and conflict and why your readers will care about what happens to your main character. Some agents might request a complete synopsis, but generally, this should only be one, or at the most, two paragraphs.
One place to find examples of well-written pitches is on the front book jacket flaps of published books.
Also, never tell an editor to “read it for yourself.”

#3. Know the appropriate target audience. Learn the age/grade level, word count, and, if appropriate, genre, before you submit your manuscript. Here’s an excellent site from author Jenny Bowman that explains each of the levels: https://www.jennybowman.com/what-genre-is-my-childrens-book/

#4: Only submit the text if you are submitting a picture book. Never include illustrations unless you are a professional illustrator and are submitting as an “author/illustrator.”

#5. Research what other books might be published that are similar to yours and tell why yours is different or what niche markets might be a good fit. Would it be a great addition to the gift shops at zoos or national parks? Will it make a strong resource for a school curriculum?
Never tell editors that your family loved the book, or your mom thinks it has great potential.

#6. Your bio should include education or jobs that might be related to writing, or an occupation that gave you the expertise to write this particular book. List your published works and any professional writing organizations to which you currently belong. Do you do any writing as part of your job? Write a newsletter for a volunteer organization to which you belong? Look for opportunities to increase published credits; write a blog, enter contests, submit stories or articles to magazines, etc.

A few things to check before you send your submission:   
  • Double check all your spelling and punctuation.
  • Make sure you’ve followed your publisher’s guidelines.
  • Research comparable titles.
  • Tell the editor if this is a simultaneous submission.
  • Include your contact information below your name.
  • Send a test email to yourself or a friend prior to sending to an editor/agent just to be sure the formatting came out the way you wanted it to, and the attachment will open correctly.
  • If an editor only takes snail mail submissions, follow the publishing house guidelines for how to submit. Best practice is to keep it to one sheet, single spaced, font size 12, using Times New Roman.


Check out some examples of successful query letters:




Interview with author Tammi Sauer


By Gloria Reichert

 
Last September, when I attended the SCBWI: Ohio North Conference, I had the honor of being a hostess to children’s book author Tammi Sauer. Getting to know her was a delightful experience!  Both her energetic intensive and closing address provided a bounty of helpful information to help writers improve their manuscripts. We welcome Tammi to the Song of Six Pens blog and thank her for sharing her thoughts.    
 

1. What inspired you to write your first book?

One night, after my husband and I had tucked our kids in bed, we heard an unexpected knock at the door. I opened it and discovered a kid standing on my front porch. He was selling newspaper subscriptions in an effort to raise money to go to…Cowboy Camp. I looked at this kid with his everywhere hair, thick glasses, and un-cowboy-like everything and knew I had a story.

Cowboy Camp, illustrated by Mike Reed, debuted in 2005, and it's still in print. Yeehaw.


2. Are there any children’s book authors who have influenced you?

Many authors have influenced me! I think the first book that I read that really made me want to become a children's book author is Jules Feiffer's Bark, George! The book is so funny, and it offers the unexpected. Plus, it's a joy to read aloud.


3. What kinds of books do you like to read?

My favorite picture books are filled with humor and heart.


4. Does one of your main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, which one? Why?

Each of my main characters holds a special place in my heart, but Mary from Mary Had a Little Glam is extra special to me because, over the years, so many moms have reached out to me and shared stories and pictures of how their daughters have really found a connection with Mary.

I have two new Mary books coming out with Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Mary Had a Little Plan debuts in the fall of 2021, and Mary Had a Little Jam comes out in the fall of 2022.

 
5. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your books?

Oh, I am a revision nerd! Getting a manuscript juuuuust riiiiiiight is my favorite part of the process. It feels like a game to me. I strive to use only the best words. I remind myself to tell as much as possible in as little as possible. Reading my manuscript aloud is another must—it helps to ensure that the rhythm is there. I also step away from my manuscript and grab lunch or run an errand. Getting away from it for an hour or so helps me to return refreshed. OH. The revision process ALWAYS involves tea. I am currently hooked on Pie Five Pizza's peach ginger tea. I buy it--and pretty much drink it--by the gallon.


6. What is your writing process? (Outline, start in the middle, scenes, etc.)

Process? Ha! I really don't have a specific process. Each book is different. I simply write the best story I can and hope for good.


7. What was your most unusual/funny/heartwarming experience as a writer?
I really get the best fan mail. This is one of my all time favorites (I did not correct the spelling):

Dear Ms. Sauer,
Your the best. Your my hero and roll modle.
My dream is to write a book.
Do not tell her this but I like you more than Kelly Clarkson.
Love,
Elizabeth Cloe


8. What is one piece of advice that you would give to writers?
My best advice comes from a quote I once read in a Cynsations blog post. This quote shares just about everything that needs to go into creating a successful picture book manuscript. 
My main considerations for any picture book are humor, emotion, just the right details, read-aloud-ability, pacing, page turns, and of course, plot. Something has to happen to your characters that young readers will care about and relate to. Oh, and you have to accomplish all that in as few words as possible, while creating plenty of illustration possibilities. No easy task.”—Lynn E. Hazen.


Short and Sweet:

·     * Pantser or Plotter? Typically, I know the beginning and the end and pants my way through the middle.
·          
       * Guilty Food Pleasure? There are so many! My newest Guilty Food Pleasure is Dot's Homestyle Pretzels. They aren't sold everywhere. The other day, I drove seven miles just to get a new bag.
·          
       * Favorite Hobby? Reading!
·       
       * Dog or Cat person? DOG
·          
      * Whom would you like to have dinner with (living or dead)? I'd love to be able to have one more dinner with my parents and siblings.
·          
      * Do you do your best work in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Oh, man. I am having a hard time giving short and sweet answers! My muse doesn't follow any kind of schedule. She's rather ridiculous. Occasionally, my best work happens at 3 am.


Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. Getting kids excited about reading and writing is Tammi's passion.

In addition to winning awards and garnering starred reviews, Tammi's books have gone on to do great things. Nugget & Fang was made into a musical that toured the nation. To date, the show has been performed more than 150 times and will tour again in 2021. Wordy Birdy was named a Spring Kids' Indie Next pick, a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Month. Your Alien, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and French, which makes her feel extra fancy. To learn more about Tammi and her many books, visit her website at tammisauer.com and find her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.