Welcome back, KidLit Oasis fans (and future fans)!
I am so excited to chat with a wonderful author today--Charlotte Offsay is in the house, and I cannot wait to hear about her journey, her amazing books, and what advice she has for writers! (Spoiler alert: Charlotte shares a fantastic revision checklist you don't want to miss.) Plus, she's generously giving away a copy of her new picture book, HOW TO RETURN A MONSTER. Find out how to enter for a chance to win this adorable book at the end of the interview.
Besides being an amazing author and a lovely person, Charlotte is also a passionate supporter of the kidlit community, highlighting picture books on her Instagram account @pictirebookrecommendations so make sure you follow her there.
Okay, let's hear it from my awesome guest...
Welcome, Charlotte! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
A: I have always had a passion for books and creative writing, but becoming a published author always felt like a far-fetched dream and was something I fantasized about but never actually took any steps toward. That all changed after my children were born. I love reading to them and after an afternoon of baking with them I began writing a rhyming how-to story for them based on our weekly challah baking tradition. I loved the entire process of writing that story for them, and when an instructor of a parenting group I was in at the time encouraged each of us to sign up for a class or spend some time doing something that was just for us – something outside the responsibilities of our families – I jumped at the excuse to sign up for my very first writing class. I took an online introduction to writing picture book class through UCLA extension, and fell head over heels for all things picture book. The more I learned the more obsessed I became. I spent the next few years taking classes and attending conferences. I joined various kidlit groups such as SCBWI, 12x12 and Inked voices and met my very first critique partners and felt at home in the kidlit community.
I signed with my agent, Nicole Geiger of Full Circle Literary in early 2019. Nicole is fantastic - she is my biggest advocate, she pushes me, she questions me, she guides me, believes in me and makes me a better writer. Together we have sold three picture books including How to Return a Monster which I am excited to be sharing more about today here on this blog!
How to Return a Monster is a humorous how-to story about a girl who can't believe it when her parents bring home a fussy, stinky, attention-stealing monster. She hatches a plan to send it back to where it came from, with hilarious results . . . and along the way, she learns that maybe monsters--and baby siblings--aren't so bad after all.
It is illustrated by Rea Zhai and publishes with Beaming Books on September 7, 2021.
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: I think the most challenging part of this business for me is the waiting. I am not a naturally patient person and there is a lot of waiting - from waiting to hear back on queries, to waiting to hear back from editors, waiting for your book to be announced/illustrated/published etc. I decided long ago that in order for me to handle the waiting I needed to celebrate every step, even the small ones. Staying positive and celebrating the steps along the way helps me to keep creating even in those extremely quiet periods that I find so difficult.
The most rewarding part of this business is definitely the writing community. The kidlit community is such a wonderfully warm and welcoming place. From the very beginning strangers went out of their way to help me learn the ropes, figure out which classes to take, which blogs to read, which mentor texts to get my hands on – all because of our shared passion for picture books. I have made some of my closest friends through the kidlit world, they understand me and support me and I am so grateful for how full they make my life.
I am fortunate to have an incredible support network to help me stay motivated. There is a lot of rejection in this business and it takes a thick skin to keep going. My critique partners, my children and my husband are my biggest cheerleaders and supporters and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
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: When I first began writing I used to pour over the pages of craft books such as Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books. I used those craft books and picture book classes I was taking at the time to create a picture book evaluation form which I utilized as a revision tool. Here are a few of the categories as an example:
I didn’t need to check every box on this revision sheet, but I found it helpful to think about and be purposeful about each of these areas as I revised.
These revision questions have become engrained in my head and while I no longer pull out my self-made handout every time I revise I often find myself thinking about these questions whenever I create a new manuscript or critique someone else’s.
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 am excited to share that my next picture book, A Grandma’s Magic, illustrated by Asa Gilland publishes on March 1, 2022 from Doubleday Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House.
Description from my publisher:
"When a child is born, a grandma is born too. Grandmas aren't like regular grown-ups. Grandmas are filled with magic."
In this charming picture book tribute to grandmas, a grandma's magic bursts through the door as soon as she comes to visit and can be seen in every wonderful thing she does: playing, exploring, baking, gardening, and in all the many ways a grandma and grandchild connect.
Filled with adorable scenes featuring a diversity of grandmas and their grandkids, this is a book that will families can enjoy together. Grandmas will love snuggling with their grandchildren as they share their love and "magic" through cuddles, kisses, and many repeat readings.
Congratulations on all your success, Charlotte! It was a pleasure chatting with you! Thank you for being my guest, and I hope that you'll return to KidLit Oasis with your future books. I'm so happy to support your work and look forward to your upcoming titles as well.
Connect with Charlotte Offsay:
Click on the book cover to order a copy of
HOW TO RETURN A MONSTER
CHARLOTTE OFFSAY was born in England, grew up in Boston, and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two small children. Through her work, Charlotte hopes to make children laugh, to inspire curiosity, and to create a magical world her readers can lose themselves in time and time again.
Charlotte is the author of The Big Beach Cleanup, illustrated by Kate Rewse (Albert Whitman, 2021), How to Return a Monster, illustrated by Rea Zhai (Beaming Books, September 2021), and A Grandma’s Magic, illustrated by Asa Gilland (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, March 2022).
G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
Comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of HOW TO RETURN A MONSTER.
(US shipping only, please)
*Social media shares are greatly appreciated!
9/24/2021 02:02:43 pm
Your revision snapshots are great tools. Thank you fir saving a concise list v
9/24/2021 02:19:45 pm
Congrats on all your amazing picture books! I had a story with the same premise, but I changed it because my little sister was not acting like a monster after all. Thanks for sharing your inspiring back story!
9/24/2021 03:40:54 pm
I had written a draft of a picture book similar to this one but I could never figure out how to make it better and would love to study this one for mentor text. Thank you for the excellent list too!
9/24/2021 05:35:53 pm
Completely agree that the waiting is horrible & the kidlit community is great! Thanks for the interview and giveaway opportunity.
9/24/2021 06:59:57 pm
Very interesting and encouraging interview! The revision checklist will be very helpful and I am excited to read both of your new books. Thanks so much!
9/25/2021 03:29:40 pm
I definitely will use your list so thank you for that. The new book about grandmothers sounds wonderful-I have several friends who have just become grandmothers-a perfect gift for them
9/25/2021 09:17:42 pm
Congratulations, Charlotte! The title sells this book! Cute and clever.Thank you for sharing g your journey and the great revision tips. What a treat!
9/27/2021 09:06:18 am
Thank you for this great post and the valuable insights into the writing process!
9/27/2021 09:36:51 am
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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.