Hello, fantastic readers!
Are you new to the KidLit Oasis? Welcome! If you're coming back ― it's great to have you visit again! This is the place to refresh your spirits, recharge your creativity, and get a literary mood boost!
Now, stretch your smiles wide and get comfy and cozy for a fabulous chitchat because today we have another awesome creative on the KidLit Oasis series... Children's author Della Ross Ferreri is here to share some wisdom, insight, and inspiration with us! Plus, she is generously donating a copy of either one of her books, GOD BLESSES ME or HUGGLE WUGGLE, BEDTIME SNUGGLE (Winner’s choice).
Welcome, Della, and happy book birthday to God Blesses Me! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
A: Thank you so much for having me, Rosie. I’m delighted to be here! My writing journey began over twenty years ago (wow, can that be true!?) when my children were young. We’d cozy up on the couch and read piles of picture books together. I’m sure those sweet moments planted the seed for me to create stories of my own.
Right away, I signed up for a class through the Institute of Children’s Literature, joined SCBWI, attended conferences and found local writers who shared the same passion. My first published story was a rebus in Children’s Playmate. I was so excited and felt validated to keep writing and submitting. I continued with more magazine stories and poems, then sold two easy readers to educational publishers. All the while I continued working on my craft, attending conferences and paying for manuscript critiques. It’s a good thing I kept working hard - when I look back at some of my earlier pieces, I realize – gulp! - I had a lot to learn!
Once I started getting personal rejections with ‘please send more,’ I knew I was getting close. I doubt she’ll remember, but one day when meeting up with some on-line writer friends in Maine, Toni Buzzeo read one of my manuscripts and wrote three words: ‘What’s the problem?’ She was right! I had a fun rhyming ‘poem’ about a child tucking in his stuffed animals- but no problem, and therefore no solution and no story arc. I revised (again!) and added a stanza about the child feeling a teensy bit nervous about sleeping in his first big-boy bed, a bit more escalation, and then a stanza where he solves the problem. On my next round of submissions, Sterling Publishing accepted that first picture book manuscript, How Will I Ever Sleep in this Bed?
Over the years, my journey had plenty of ups and downs. There were revision requests that didn’t pan out, and manuscripts that went to acquisitions, but ultimately turned down. Despite the disappointments, I persevered, and published a couple picture books with small publishers – Star of the Show, and Beep! Beep! Special Delivery, and in 2019, two sweet board books, Precious Baby and Huggle Wuggle, Bedtime Snuggle, with Beaming Books. Fast forward to today where Huggle Wuggle, Bedtime Snuggle was named a 2019 CYBILS finalist in the board book category, and my newest book with Worthy Kids releases on March 3, 2020. It’s called God Blesses Me and is a sweetly illustrated lift-the-flap board book that helps children discover the blessings all around them.
I now have an agent and she’s been tremendously helpful in taking my manuscripts to the next level and getting them out there.
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: Good questions. I would say juggling life and writing is my greatest challenge. My teaching job is quite demanding and since I prioritize family time, so much of my writing takes place in spits and spurts at night, on weekends or summer vacations. Ideas can be slow to percolate and since many of my stories are in rhyme, it can take a long time to get it right. Actually, even my non-rhyming stories seem to take a long time to get in shape!
Thankfully, I have supportive critique partners and writer groups – on-line and in-person. Their feedback has been instrumental and I definitely wouldn’t have my publishing successes without them! My in-person group also organizes writing conferences. We call ourselves Children’s Writers of the Hudson Valley. We’re a group of volunteers who enjoy organizing hands-on writing events. Our planning meetings often double as critique sessions where we work on conference details, critique stories and eat, drink, and laugh. All this fun and support help me stay motivated. By the way, Rosie, if any of your readers live near the Hudson Valley in New York, I hope they’ll consider coming to the Poughkeepsie CWHV conference. This year it’s Saturday, June 13. We’re working on finalizing the day’s schedule. Here’s the website that will have more information soon: http://www.cwhv.org/
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: Ah, revision. I have a love-hate relationship with revision. Sometimes I focus to the point of obsession on one particular story. Other times I bounce around from project to project, seeing what mentally clicks when I open a document on my computer. Sometimes the writing process takes just a few months, and other times it takes YEARS to feel like I’m getting it right.
What seems to work for me is writing in different locations and taking breaks. When in the brainstorming phase or when searching for just the right word or image, I use sites like rhymezone.com or look at Google images or watch YouTube videos for inspiration.
Often the answer to a writing problem or even a new idea pops into my brain when away from the computer. I’ll take my manuscript on a walk, or think about it while folding laundry or while taking a shower or reading other books.
This leads into my next tip – be patient and allow time for the brain to mull things over. I used to be overly eager to submit to publishing houses, but now, unless I’m on a deadline, I put my writing aside for weeks(or longer, if possible) to revisit with fresh eyes.
Another suggestion is to ask someone else to read your manuscript aloud. For me, since my writing tends to be short, this helps me hear when the story feels off or needs perking up.
Of course, read read read as many current books in your genre, and pick apart the ones you love. Why do these favorite books resonate with you? Is it the storyline? Character? Language? Humor? Is it that satisfying feeling at the end? Is it the subtle message or take-away? If you’re like me, it’s probably a combination of those elements. When reading amazing published books, we get inspired to write and revise our own stories.
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: My most exciting news is that God Blesses Me, published by Worthy Kids, releases on March 3. It’s my first novelty book with lift-the-flaps. I’ve been asked if I left art notes for the illustrator. The answer is yes. The story features many scenes that lend themselves to lift-the-flaps – a puppet theater, bedroom curtain, animals behind a bush, etc, so I made suggestions. Lizzie Walkley, the illustrator, used many of my suggestions and added her own flair to make the flaps fun and interactive. Toddlers and preschoolers will love peeking under the flaps and seeing the changes and surprises to each scene. It turned out to be such a sweet story that will encourage children to think about their everyday blessings.
It was a pleasure having you over, Della! Thank you again for sharing your journey, tips, and books with us, plus a wonderful opportunity for writers to attend Poughkeepsie CWHV conference!
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I hope you enjoyed this post and will be back soon!
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Connect with Della Ross Ferreri:
Della Ross Ferreri is a teacher and author of picture books, board books, and early readers, most recently HUGGLE WUGGLE, BEDTIME SNUGGLE and GOD BLESSES ME. Her stories and poems have appeared in children's magazines such as Highlights, High Five, Ladybug and Babybug. As a co-founder of CWHV, she helps organize local writing workshops and conferences. Della lives in New York with her husband, three children, and two guinea pigs.
The giveaway winner is Kelly Roberts! Congrats, Kelly!
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a
award-winning children's author, speaker, and writing coach on a mission to inspire children not only to read and write more, but to use their creativity, follow their passions, dream big and believe in themselves.
Rosie visits schools and shares her inspirational journey as an immigrant from Bulgaria and how she became a published author, encouraging kids to persist, push through rejections, and hold a high vision for themselves.
Rosie's upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain, will be released in March 2021. It's a story that celebrates imagination, the love of books, and new friendships.
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jessica Schmeilder of Golden Wheat Literary.