Bye Bye Hanukkah, See You Next Year!

Following up on the 2 Hanukkah events mentioned in my last post … Both were fun. Special thanks to my daughter, Becky, and to Kim at the Harvard COOP and Alex at Brookline Booksmith. Both stores have wonderful children’s departments, active with events!

I got a kick out of this —Next Saturday the Harvard COOP will host Santa, but last Saturday they had a Hanukkah story time with moi! Next Saturday Brookline Booksmith will welcome supermodel Gisele Bündchen, but last Saturday they had a special Hanukkah story reading with moi!

My friend Ellen joked, “Poor Santa, he has a tough act to follow.”

My daughter (and sunshine), Becky, helped out by holding the pictures while I read.

Oh oh! Double Jane

Why is there a fire truck in this post about my Hanukkah book reading at Brookline Booksmith? Because our adorable toddler grandson was playing with this book with noisy wheels during Grammy’s reading. That’s OK…he was an enthusiastic chanter of “NO!” when I asked questions like, “Would gloves be a good gift for a snake?”

Big Hanukkah Weekend for my Purple Gorilla (and Me)

This weekend I’m looking forward to reading my picture book about the well-meaning but shopping-challenged purple gorilla, Esther, at two Hanukkah-themed story hours:

Saturday Morning at 11 at the Harvard COOP in Cambridge, MA

Sunday Morning at 10:30 at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA

Come by for readings, games, and crafts!

ESTHER’S HANUKKAH DISASTER is available in Italian, but I’ll be reading the English version—

Esther's Hanukkah Disaster by Jane Sutton

I LOVE Answering Questions: Just Ask Me!

Before I participated in Small Business Saturday last week, Trisha Woodridge of Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester and an author herself interviewed me. I forgot all about this until just now, when I saw a link to the interview on Facebook!

The thing is … unlike most people, who dislike taking surveys, particularly during dinner, I welcome the chance to voice my opinion. I can always reheat dinner. And the comment cards you get in hotels and restaurants—they’re too small to hold all my praise and suggestions for improvement.

Trisha’s questions were particularly interesting! See for yourself.

Author Spotlight: Jane Sutton

11262018 - Sutton Hanukkah

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on children’s book author, Jane Sutton!  Jane was just at our store for Small Business Saturday, so we have several signed books from her—particularly some Hanukkah titles that you can pick up just in time for the holiday!

Thank you so much for the interview, Jane! For those who arent’ familiar with you or your work, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?

I’ve written 11 books for children—7 picture books, 3 middle grade novels, and one YA whose title shall remain unmentioned, lest any children in attendance get uncontrollable giggles. In all my books, no matter the genre, there is humor and subtle, non-didactic messages about the importance of empathy and acceptance of oneself and others.

Besides writing, I teach writing classes to adults and children, tutor writing, and give presentations in schools and libraries, where I share my enthusiasm for writing and everything I’ve learned since my first book was published back in 1979. I was elected Class Comedienne in high school and to Phi Beta Kappa in College, which I suspect may be a rare combination. My husband, Alan, and I live in Lexington, MA and consider ourselves beyond lucky that our grown daughter and son and their families live in the Boston area.

How  would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from your books?

In all my books–from picture books with animal characters, to middle grade novels, and one YA novel––there is humor and subtle, non-didactic messages about the importance of empathy and acceptance of one’s own and others’ foibles. These characteristics are true of ESTHER’S HANUKKAH DISASTER (a purple gorilla waits until the last minute to shop and buys her friends amusingly inappropriate gifts), WHAT’S UP WITH THIS CHICKEN? (Sylvia discovers why Trudy the chicken refuses to get off her eggs), and the new edition of ME AND THE WEIRDOS (MG, from the point of view of a girl who keeps trying to “unweird” her family).

 

What kind of research goes into your writing?  What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?

WHAT’S UP WITH THIS CHICKEN? –When my friend Fay, (since we were 11 years old!) told me about one of her backyard chickens that refused to get off her eggs and her research into the reason, I knew this had to be a book! I learned all I could by asking Fay questions and reading articles. I learned that some hens are broody, meaning they have a super-maternal instinct that makes them really, really want those eggs to hatch. The trouble is that backyard hens’ eggs aren’t fertilized. I created the character of a girl named Sylvia and her grandma and made Sylvia solve the problem. I had to explain this un-fertilized business in a PG way, “But we have the kinds of eggs that don’t hatch,” says Sylvia. One of the favorite facts I used in the book is that broody hens often pluck their own chest feathers to create a warm blanket for their eggs. I really enjoyed surprising Fay with the book’s dedication page: to her, of course, and an extensive author’s note about her as my inspiration.

11262018 - Sutton Chicken

What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?

Revise, revise, revise. Some people dislike revising, but I find it so satisfying to fine a way to improve what I already wrote. I always stress the importance of this when I talk to student groups (children and adults). I encourage people to read aloud, thereby noticing repetition of phrases and sentence structure, opportunities for adding more apt words, and of course, typos. Recently, another author clued me in to “Speech/dictate” under Settings (on my Mac, anyway). Activating this allows you to have the computer read aloud! You choose the voice and set the speed. Using this, I found countless mistakes and spots to improve while working on the new edition of ME AND THE WEIRDOS. Listening to the computer read made me feel more confident since I self-published this edition, and unlike with my traditional publishers, I’m the final proofreader.

What question do you wish interviewers would ask you, and what would the answer be?

I wish that just once, an interviewer would ask, “Did you know that you look just like Beyoncé?” And I would answer, “Yes, people often mistake me for her.” Sorry, couldn’t resist.

What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?

Seeing my middle grade novel ME AND THE WEIRDOS transformed into the musical, ME AND THE KRINKLES. Two extremely talented high school seniors asked my permission to do this, and I conferred with them on the script and lyrics. My husband and I decided to fly out for the premiere, in Blanding, Utah (5 ½ hour drive from Salt Lake City), where I was treated like a celeb, shown the amazing natural sights in the area, met the playwrights—Eva Perkins and Ashley Berrett—and their families, spoke to high school classes about my writing process, signed programs for the middle school actors, and watched the play! It was absolutely delightful—entertaining, moving, and amazingly professional. Not only did Eva and Ashley write the script and lyrics, compose the music, and conceive the staging, they cast and directed the talented middle school actors, and even designed the posters and programs. The book, originally published as a Houghton Mifflin hardcover, Bantam paperback, and French edition, and winner of the ALA/CBC Children’s Choice and Utah Children’s Book Award, had been out of print for many years. As I said to the audience when called up on stage, it’s deeply touching to me that the heartfelt message of the humorous book I wrote so long ago, that it’s OK—and even a good thing—to be different, still has an impact. The experience inspired me to get out a new edition of the book, just released in October, with some revisions and tweaks and wonderful new illustrations by Doreen Buchinski.

Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)

Independent bookstores can order any of my in-print books, and (ahem) there are those on-line sources. My website also links to buying options.

How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?

My website: https://www.jane-sutton.com

The website includes a blog.

Email: jane@jane-sutton.com

Search for Jane Sutton on Facebook

 Thank you again, Jane, for the great interview and for being part of our Small Business Saturday! We do still have several of Jane’s books in the store—signed!—so stop in and pick out a title or three. For a gift, or for yourself to enjoy!

 

 

 

What a Store!

It was Small Business Saturday 2018, and I signed up to participate in the children’s author day at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, MA. I’m so glad I did! I’d never been there before. The store has 16,000 new and pre-read books!!!! Plus cards and gifts. Absolutely amazing floor-to ceiling selection and friendly, helpful employees. One could spend days there browsing and finding treasures.

I got to meet other authors in a cozy area of the store, including two terrific young authors (see below). I shared my experience of revising and re-releasing Me and the Weirdos and read Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster. Besides those two titles, the store has signed copies of my books Don’t Call Me SidneyWhat’s Up with This Chicken? and the Writers’ Loft children’s poetry anthology, An Assortment of Animals.

With talented, prolific young author Olivia Lauren. She had just read us OLIVIA CONNECTS, about ways people communicate, and here she’s holding OLIVIA TRAVELS. Look out, world!

Imani Ariana Grant and I had fun posing with each other’s books. Her picture book DISCO BALLS OF THE UNIVERSE manages to be educational and entertaining at the same time. Not easy!

The Return of Esther the Purple Gorilla

It’s almost Hanukkah (it’s early this year!), which means I get to share my story of Esther the shopping-challenged purple gorilla with young audiences. Last week, Temple Beth Elohim in Acton, MA invited me to read Esther’s Hanukkah Disaster to two religious school classes and sign books at the temple fair book sale.
Thank you to the temple community for making me feel so welcome, to the attentive children (who laughed at all my jokes!) and to Silver Unicorn Bookstore for arranging my participation and selling my books at the fair.

As I read, my wonderful helper Simon held up the photos.

Ready to hold up props depicting characters and key events in the story. Who knew Tom Brady would be in the class?

Small Business Saturday and Moi

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, MA is devoting this year’s Small Business Saturday to children’s book authors. What a great idea! Eight of us will be sharing our books with shoppers of all ages, answering questions, signing copies … it sounds like fun!

 

Book Display at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester. ESTHER’S HANUKKAH DISASTER is one of the books I plan to read.

My read-aloud time slot is 1:30-2 PM. I look forward to meeting staff, customers, and other local children’s book authors!

Celebration of Lexington Authors

Last week my local library, Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, hosted a lovely Celebration of Lexington Authors, a group of over 660 of us! My husband, Alan Ticotsky–who writes science books for teachers–and I were among the invited guests.

A new authors’ panel was unveiled in the beautiful reading room, and there were refreshments, an opportunity to schmooze, music by the terrific Lexington musician Jon Dreyer (who’s my friend), and speeches. I was honored to be one of the authors chosen to speak on the topic “Why I Write.” We were told to limit our remarks to three minutes! This was a challenge for me. I’m not exactly a woman of few words (ask my kids, and they’ll roll their eyes.) But I honed my speech, practiced, and pared, as I thought a lot about my dad, a legendary advertising creative director who taught me less is more. The audience’s laughter as I spoke and afterwards the many people who found me to say how much they liked my speech was very gratifying. And I clocked in at 3 minutes! (Sorry, kids, I don’t plan to make brevity a habit.)

Library Director Koren Stembridge gave an informative, moving introduction. Behind her is the updated panel of 660 plus Lexington authors.

Sharing with the over 100 attendees “Why I Write”

The gorgeous new podium was created by the amazing woodworker (and my friend) Steve McKenna.

Lexington authors in attendance (power couple Al and I are front right.)

Doreen Buchinski, the wonderful designer and Illustrator of the new edition of Me and the Weirdos and I show off our hot-off-the-press book

I Fell for Fall Into Reading

I really enjoyed being part of the Fall Into Reading Picture Book Festival at the Salem, NH Barnes and Noble. The staff was welcoming,  accommodating and enthusiastic! The children’s department was attractive and well-stocked. I got to read What’s Up with This Chicken? to an audience of cuties. And I got to hang out with other children’s book authors/friends.

Here we are: Alison Goldberg. moi, Ellen Mayer, Kirsti Erekson Call, Carol Gordon Ekster, and Sara Levine.

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Sara reading Carol’s You Know What? and Carol reading Sara’s Fossil by Fossil, with Sara’s bone display, complementing her comparative anatomy books.

Alison reading Ellen’s Cake Day and Ellen reading Alison’s     I Love you for Miles and Miles

I’m reading Kirsti’s The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall, and she’s reading my Paulie’s Passover Predicament. What fun to get to know each other’s books and each other better!

Awesome New Poetry Anthology

I’m pleased to be a contributor to a fun and beautiful new anthology of illustrated animal poems called An Assortment of Animals: A Children’s Poetry Anthology. The poems’ forms are as varied as their animal subjects. Well-known authors including Jane Yolen are contributing poets.

The illustrator and designer of my new edition of Me and the Weirdos, Doreen Buchinski, designed this gorgeous anthology and illustrated some of the poems (including mine!)

See cover reveal link

Order from Amazon

Stunning, clever cover by Brian Lies

Weirdos are Back!

Reading the script for the musical Me and the Krinkles and thinking back to all the letters I’d received over the years—from children and adults—about how much they loved Me and the Weirdos and wished it were still available, I started thinking . . . I should get it back in print.

In Utah I mentioned this idea to the young playwrights Ashley Berrett and Eva Perkins, and  their eyes lit up!

My star children’s book writing student Josh Funk suggested I not wait around for a traditional publisher and go through KDP.Amazon’s  print-on-demand program. I took his advice and got started! The new edition needed updated artwork, so I hired another of my talented students, Doreen Buchinski, to design the book and create a new cover and illustrations.

I’ll be writing more posts about the journey to republication, but for now I’ll just say that Doreen did a fantastic job and share the exciting news that the Weirdos are back! Yes! The new edition of Me and the Weirdos is available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle, and can be ordered through any independent bookstore or Barnes and Noble.

Charming, eye-popping cover, created by Doreen Buchinski