Haven't we all had a day we wished would never end? Dawn Jeffers did, and she wrote a book about it. BEAUTIFUL MOON/BELLA LUNA is the story of a girl's wish for a never ending day. One problem--a never ending day has consequences!
As you may or may not know, my picture book, BEDTIME MONSTER, is coming out next spring from Raven Tree Press. Besides being an author, Dawn is my wonderful publisher. When I asked if I could interview her she was happy to oblige. Yippee!
Not only has Dawn let me ask her questions about writing and publishing, she's giving away a signed copy of her new book! Stay tuned for details at the end of this interview.
On to the questions:
Dawn, what inspired you to write Beautiful Moon?
I actually was on vacation with my sister and brother-in-law in Italy. At the end of one of our first days we were sitting under the moonlit sky wishing that the day would never end. It was absolutely perfect and we had so much more we wanted to do. That is the basis of the book. Since it was also produced as a bilingual title, Beautiful Moon is translated to Bella Luna in both Spanish and Italian.
Are there any similarities between you and your main character?
The similarity between the main character and me exists because we both run out of time in a day to continue to do everything that appeals to us.
Why do think readers will relate to the story?
Kids are always hoping that their wishes come true. Wishing under the stars on a moonlit night is such common experience for kids of all ages.
How do you find the time to write? Do you write regularly? What do you do with your manuscripts?
Writing finds me. It could be when I am in the doctors office, stuck in traffic or by the pool. I always have a tablet with me and am jotting notes, dialogue or stories. It does come in spurts. I used to save my handwritten scribbles…the ones on napkins, envelopes, and tablets. Now I put everything in a Word document and hit save.
What are you doing to support the publication of your book?
I have developed a private electronic list of book buyers, book reviewers and friends and family. I send press releases and sell sheets to influence purchases. This list will also get updates on any reviews or awards for the book. I am doing signing events and a few school visits next fall.
Do you have any other books in the works? Tell us about your work-in-progress.
I actually just wrote a musical theatre production. All that is left is the musical score so I have been at a small electronic keyboard with my lyrics hoping songs flow out.
How does being a publisher change you as a writer?
I do know how to present material to prospects knowing both sides of the book business. I know that it is important to do your research and only send when they are looking and what they are looking for. If you have built in marketing and sales outlets it makes a stronger case for the book also.
What’s the most essential part of your education that applies to your work as a writer and publisher?
My business degree is a daily help from the Publisher perspective. I think writing all of those term papers helped me practice as a writer.
I love that Raven Tree Press publishes books in both Spanish and English. How did Raven Tree Press come to be?
There is a burgeoning Spanish speaking market in the US and we determined there were not high quality bilingual picture books available. There were bilingual books in the marketplace that were culturally based or with Hispanic theme. We wanted to have universal family oriented storylines in our books, so there would be readers in both English and Spanish regardless of ethnic background. Raven Tree Press was born.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write to what you know and what you are passionate about. Do your homework before sending to publishers and find a good support system to bounce your writing ideas with. Don’t work in a bubble. Your writing is stronger after you get feedback.
What sorts of books really strike your fancy?
I live everyday in the picture book world. I love the art as much as I love the story. If an illustrator can make a subtext with pictures the book is much more interesting.
As a publisher, what kinds of stories do you look for?
We are very specific because our books are bilingual. They must be low word count, entertain and educate with universal appeal and be illustratable.
How does publishing bilingual books affect your acquisition decisions?
The word count must be low, we do not use rhyme or word play, and word choice is sometimes also changed.
Raven Tree Press was acquired by Delta Systems last year, how has that changed Raven Tree’s publishing program?
All of the operational functions are handled by the home office. That frees me up to concentrate on acquisitions and creative work. We now co-produce English-only, Spanish-only and bilingual books in both paperback and hardcover editions. I am working currently on expanding our line in foreign markets with other languages.
What do you like to see in a submission? Any pet peeves?
We want to see the full text… we are only taking 750 words or less. PLEASE have your name, contact information and any marketing or sales suggestions. It does get attention and makes it easier when I need to contact someone. You cannot believe how many packets of information have no contact details, typos or manuscripts for books we do not produce. Know what the publisher is looking for by doing your homework.
(You can see Raven Tree Press submission guidelines here.)
Finally, if you could live in any book, which one would it be and why?
I would love to live in Under the Tuscan Sun. There is something about an Italian villa in the vineyards that has great appeal.
BEAUTIFUL MOON/BELLA LUNA by Dawn Jeffers and illustrated by Bonnie Leick is available from Raven Tree Press in both bilingual and English-only editions.
Like I said, Dawn is giving a signed copy of BEAUTIFUL MOON to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment on this post. If you want you can tell us what you'd do if you had a day that never ended. I, of course, would write!
Contest is open to U.S. addresses and closes Sunday, June 14th. I'll post the winner the next day.Good luck!