I'm delighted to welcome another fabulous author to the blog today, whose new book has just been released. Learn more about their journey to publication!
Here we go...
June Smalls is a children’s author of fiction and nonfiction including Odd Animal ABC’s and She Leads: The Elephant Matriarch. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and a lover of literature. She resides in Northern Virginia with her hubby, The Kid, and an ever-growing assortment of animals.
She is the Queen. The matriarch.
She leads her daughters and their daughters.
Inspiring text and striking illustrations follow the empowering journey of an elephant matriarch as she leads her family through the wilds of Africa. With facts about African elephants on every spread and a message that will encourage young girls to be the trailblazers of their generation, She Leads offers an incredible story and an unforgettable tribute to the strength of a true leader.
Open your eyes, princess. One day you will lead.
Who are you and what do you write?
June Smalls here. I’m a kid lit author of fiction and nonfiction. My latest picture book, The Elephant Matriarch, is lyrical nonfiction just released on May 26th.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I’ve always loved books and writing, from plays and ads for the elementary school newsletter, a radio ad while in middle school and angsty poetry as a teen. I thought about writing as a career for years but when reading to The Kid I remembered falling in love with reading. One day, I decided, “I’m doing this!” I joined SCBWI, went to the library to study picture books and chapter books, stole time after dinner, wrote some truly crappy stories, and then some not so crappy stories.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
Long. From joining SCBWI and starting to really study my area of focus, it took a year or two to sell a picture book. It was so exciting! Then that publishing house was sold, and my rights reverted. I joined multiple critique groups, and about 5 years in I sold another picture book, Odd Animal ABC’s, got an agent, then sold more work, both work for hire and my own. And just last month the She Leads sequel, He Leads: The Gorilla Patriarch, was sold along with another book Hear Them Roar. More info to come!
Through it all, I continued to study, learn, and strive to improve my craft.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
Having my rights reverted when I was so close to seeing my first book published was hard, but I’m like a turtle. I’ll keep trudging forward, even when it is slow going.
I think the most enjoyable experiences have been with young readers. Yeah, I dance around when I get my author copies, but nothing makes your heart well up like hearing a child at the library say, “This is my favorite book!” or having an in depth conversation with a first grader, where she asked all about how my books were made, down to the quality of the paper chosen, as her parents just smiled and said, “She’s a curious soul.”
Would you go back and change anything?
I don’t think I would change anything. Everything so far has taught me something and built the writer that I am now. Even the rejections and bad news. There will always be rejections, it is part of the game. Things happen, delays, cancellations, editors who love your work leave, houses are bought and sold, etc. But time will pass and if you keep working, eventually you get to the good parts.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
I see myself doing more of the same. I’ll keep writing, my agent will keep sending things out, and hopefully we’ll continue making sales and making readers happy. I’d like to be Jane Yolen when I grow up and have hundreds of titles out. But also, since kid lit is my happy place, I never want to completely grow up.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
My one piece of advice is three parts about growth:
Keep Learning and Improving Your Craft
Learn to Give and Take Thoughtful Critiques
Get a Critique Partner/Critique Group
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Mustard
Night or Day? - Night
Inside or Outside? - Both
Dogs or Cats? - Yes!
Twitter or Facebook? - Twitter
e-book or Paperback? - e-book for novels – Paperback or hard back for kidlit.
Sun or Rain? - Whatever nature gives me.
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Usually keyboard.
Comedy or Drama? - Comedy
Chips or Chocolate? - Chocolate!
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!