Chitchat with Author Sandra Sutter
Piles of multi-colored leaves, rainy, chilly days, warm drinks and cozy sweaters. . . Are you enjoying fall? What have you been reading?
Well, just in time for Halloween, I am pleased to introduce to you a new picture book and interview its author!
So, once again dear readers, welcome to the KidLit Oasis ― the place to refresh your spirits, recharge your creativity, and get a literary mood boost! It's great to have you here!
Now, stretch your smiles wide and get comfy and cozy for an awfully fun and sweet chitchat with children's author Sandra Sutter who is here to share some wisdom, insight, and inspiration with us!
Plus, check out the giveaway at the end of this interview.
Welcome, Sandra! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
A: Stan’s Frightful Halloween was one of the first stories I wrote when I began my (serious) writing journey in 2017. But after a few critiques with my newly-formed critique group, it sat untouched in my computer while I worked on other projects. Meanwhile, my debut picture book, The Real Farmer in the Dell, was picked up by Mira Reisberg and Callie Metler at Spork, an imprint of Clear Fork Publishing. I got to know Callie through that process, and when I saw she didn’t have a Halloween-themed story on her list, I showed her my manuscript. Callie loved clumsy werewolf Stan as much as I did, and now he and his story can be shared with everyone!
Q: What do you find most challenging in this business, either on the creative or publishing side of things? What do you find most rewarding? What helps you stay motivated?
A: There are a lot of challenging aspects of the Kidlit publishing world. The biggest challenge is staying motivated in the face of rejection and long waits. There are a lot of both! But being a part of the community – building friendships, learning, giving back – and sharing stories and information with children are incredibly motivating rewards. And, for me, the creative process isn’t optional. The need to do it IS motivation.
Q: Could you share any craft tools or techniques that you find most helpful to you when working on a project? What does your revision process look like?
A: My brain generates a lot of ideas, often at random times when I can’t get around to working on them (on a mountain bike, at the grocery store, in the shower, while driving). So, I email myself when an idea takes root and tuck it away in a special computer file. When I’m ready, I revisit the idea. I’ve found it helpful to add details – to note the word, image, or memory that prompted the idea – so when I circle back to it, the spark is still there.
My revision process always begins with sending the work to my critique partners. I need feedback! It doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree, the feedback itself is incredibly valuable and I trust my critique partners always have my best interest at heart. Sometimes I set the work aside for a while to allow things to sink in. Other times, I revise right away because I am too excited about making the story better. I really, really love the feeling that a “missing piece” has been found and my manuscript “puzzle” is almost complete.
Q: What's coming up for you next? Please tell us about any new releases, exciting news, upcoming events or anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
A: I’m incredibly excited about the release of Stan’s Frightful Halloween and sharing this loveable character with the world. Stan has a lot going on for such a young werewolf, so you might get to see more of him in the future.
Due to COVID and remote-schooling two young kids, my time devoted to writing has been … limited. But, I do have some exciting plans in the works which I hope to announce soon. You can follow me on Twitter or visit my website for more information, and please stop by the Wonder of Words blog, which I run with five amazing critique partners. Every three months I host the PITCH IT TO ME CHALLENGE, where an author pitches a story idea and a “celebrity” guest and I craft our own and put it to a vote. It’s always fun and a great way to see multiple pitch ideas.
Thank you, Rosie, for having me here today. It’s been a pleasure to share a bit about my journey and creativity with your readers.
You're very welcome -- that was wonderful, Sandra, and I can't wait to hear more about the exciting plans you'll be announcing! Wishing you all the best on your journey and many more literary successes!
Readers, please support our featured authors/illustrators by following them on Twitter, requesting their book through your local library, posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and of course, purchasing their books.
I hope you enjoyed this post — comments and shares are greatly appreciated. Let's spread the word! Thank you!
Connect with Sandra Sutter:
(click on the book cover to order a copy)
Sandra is the author of THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL (Clear Fork Publishing, 2019), a modern, gender-bending take on the popular children's song, and STAN’S FRIGHTFUL HALLOWEEN, a spookily fun story of a clumsy, but determined young werewolf. She is a member of SCBWI and an assistant with the Children’s Book Academy. When not writing, Sandra is a mountain-biking mom and jewelry-making hobbyist with a knack for finding life's silver linings. Connect with her at www.sdsutter.com, or on Twitter @sandrasdutter.
G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
Comment on this post for a chance to win a picture book critique by Sandra Sutter!
Mission Joy Giveaway
Last week, I suddenly felt in such a giving mood that I started something I call #MissionJoyGiveaway. I'll explain in a moment, but let me first say this. This idea has been circling in my mind for quite a while now – every time I think about my calling, my purpose, my mark in the world and the ripple effect I want to create through what I love doing most, which is writing and creating books for children. But I haven't been able to fully grasp the "how" in executing it.
How can I speak the right words at the right time to the kids who desperately need them? How will I find my audience? How will I deliver my message?
When I was little, I was very sensitive to words spoken to me. I often longed to hear words of encouragement, understanding, validation . . . from the people closest to me. But I never did.
So when I became an author, I knew that I wanted to make an impact. I knew that words were free while they were priceless, and that the right words could be powerful enough to affect a life. At the same time, I felt stuck and bummed by not reaching enough people or not reaching the right people, because I was somehow restricted by outside circumstances (or so I believed) or personal limitations: lack of marketing skills, not enough time, not enough resources etc.
How can I have my message heard if it's not reaching people?
And then came divine intervention. It all clicked. Words are free. They're priceless. Asking gives you the answers you need. I got it! I can spread joy through my words without worrying about resources or marketing skills or overwhelming tasks.
Sooo . . . #MissionJoyGiveaway was born! Forget about the fancy-schmancy gadgets as gifts. Let's go back to "the sticks and the stones" (they're still around, even after all this technology that surrounds us). So are the words and the handwritten letters. I can send those gifts out – personal, meaningful, inspiring. And I know who to ask in helping me find the recipients.
I reached out to a group of elementary school librarians and asked them to message me if they could think of any needy student or one who wishes for a book, but might not get one, or a child going through a tough time who could use a personalized card/letter of encouragement from a children's author. Or perhaps a whole class that might need to get excited about reading, books or writing. Anything that I can do to make a difference with a note, a kind word, or a book.
Soon after I posted, I got my first message. It was about a first grader who had just lost her mom to cancer, lives in poverty and will be moving in with her grandma. Heartbreaking.
I have just the right book for her, Sarah's Song, to accompany my letter and I hope those give her some small joy or a bit of peace as she's going through this painful time.
When I shared my idea for #MissionJoyGiveaway with a writer friend, she told me about another family in need – a single mom of four who recently lost their house and all their belongings in a fire and are now living in a hotel. My friend said, "The kids can sure use a book to read as they are getting bored in that hotel room."
They will be getting some books from me, as well.
Books are also going to Inova Life with Cancer in Virginia and I will keep writing notes and letters throughout this month.
'Tis the season and it makes me jolly to be able to help in some small way.
I'd like to extend an invitation to anyone who'd love to be a part of this, especially my fellow authors: Please join me in #MissionJoyGiveaway and reach out to your communities and beyond to seek kids in need and send them notes, letters or books.
Brighten a child's holiday this season!
Let's spread the word and the joy with #MissionJoyGiveaway
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kid lit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System™ that is proven to help emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals.
Rosie's latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie also loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women's and moms’ topics, sharing her journey from a Bulgarian immigrant to a published author.
Find out more about Rosie's online courses, mentorships, and her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.