Monday, June 8, 2009

Interview with Dawn Jeffers, publisher at Raven Tree Press & author of BEAUTIFUL MOON/BELLA LUNA, plus a contest!

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!


  1. Great interview, great contest...and if my day didn't end, I'd read my "prize", Beautiful Moon, under the Tuscan sun!
    little girls keep wishing!

  2. I was surprised to learn that the book's illustrator Bonnie Leick grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and still resides in America's Dairyland. I've always wondered how authors are paired with illustrators.

  3. Great interview, Heather. Dawn sounds like a great lady. Can't wait to read both your books!

  4. Thanks for the great interview, Heather. I'm looking forward to reading Beautiful Moon and Bedtime Monster!

  5. Great interview! Beautiful Moon sounds like a lovely book.
    If I had a day that would never end, I think it would just be nice to not have to hurry or rush anything or anybody. I could enjoy each moment to its fullest.


  6. Thank you for that. If my day didn't end, and it was true for the rest of my family as well, we would ignore homework -- time later for that -- and go frolick in the park. First we'd swim, then we'd play basketball, then we would read and read. I would write, and the boys would make videos and dance to songs.
    thanks for the thought anyway.

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview! I cherish endless days...the ones that are so memorable, you can still smell them.

    My last one was pimientos del padron...mmmm...spicy.

  8. Great interview. I'd write all morning. I'd go on adventures with my son into the woods in the afternoon and in the evening, I'd do everything else I didn't have time to do.

  9. I'm feeling a little left out here because I'm Canadian and can't enter ... :'-(

    BUT I'll play anyway, cuz I'm a rebel. If I could live a day that never ended, I'd eat all the junk food I wanted with zero guilt because I'd never have to wake up to see the scale the next day.

    Oh! And I'd play Monopoly with my kids because it seems there's never enough time in the day to finish that darn game!

    Great interview guys!

  10. Nice interview!
    Hmmm, a day that would not end would include hanging out with ALL of my family, including those abroad and those out-of-state. It wouldn't matter much what we'd do, just that we had the chance to be together. This hasn't happened for a very long time for us.
    What a great premise for a book!
    -Nancy Viau

  11. Great interview! If I had a day that never ended, I'd definitely read!

    shelcows AT gmail DOT com

  12. Beautiful Moon looks wonderful! Please enter me!

    nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

  13. If I had a day that never ended I would write journal entries about my son.

  14. Great interview!!! If I had a day that never ended I would spend it snuggling and playing with my babies!

  15. Enjoyed the interview. Inspiring.

    Oh my, a day that never ended. I'd get to do everything I wanted, write, garden, be lazy, exercise, hang with the family and then I'd need downtime. I can see how a never ending day would be too much!

  16. Beautiful Moon sounds wonderful! I would have more time to read and to play with my kitties if I had a day that never ended!
    Carol M
    mittens0831 AT

  17. Hey everyone! I'm not ignoring you--there's just not enough time in the day for everything. I can't imagine a day going on forever, it would be exhausting.
    I'm so glad to hear you've enjoyed the interview. It was alot of fun to do. Entries are still open through tonight and I'll draw a winner tomorrow. Good luck everyone!

  18. Bella Luna! Looks like a wonderful book. Love the expressive moon on the cover.

    I don't know what I'd do with a day that never ends. As a mother of two young children who's trying to launch a writing career, by the time the end of the day rolls around, I'm ready for bed! But if you would have asked me this question 10 years ago, I'd be figure skating, doing my favorite camel-sit spin combo and perfecting my scratch spin.

  19. Hello...what a wonderful concept-having a wonderful day that would not end. Mine would be to pick up all of my favorite people ( family and friends) on an old fashioned steam railroad engine with many attached cars.

    Of course, this railroad engine and cars would be stocked with all kinds of picnic goodies. We would have several planned stops and a few stops that weren't planned. We would travel the United States and just take in all of the beautiful scenery.

    We would have bicycles, fishing poles, frisbees, kites and horseshoes and of course, balloons. This day would be filled with nothing but fun. Swimming and picnicking with no time schedule to force us to hurry.

    There would be children of course, running around having races and playing tag. Everyone would be doing what they loved to do with their favorite people. If we got tired of one we would go to the next.

    All along the way we would have music because of the traveling band that couldn't resist taking the trip with us. Maybe there would be a photographer or an artist who could capture the day to teach others about pure joy!

    I would have to have writing utensils with well as some books for reading and maybe some cross stitch project or crocheting to do.

    Everywhere we traveled, other interesting people would want to join in on the fun. We would have to add more railroad cars to allow more riders to come with us. Why, I can imagine there would be clowns, and puppeteers, singers, and dancers; maybe some circus people too.

    There are so many fun and interesting people around the country it would be a good thing that the day would never end...because where would this ride end? Who would be the last to get on our fabulous trip?

    The train would of course have resting quarters so that in-between activities people could recharge their batteries.

    Grandmothers and Grandfathers could enjoy their children and their grandchildren, all at the same time. There would be no work demands and ideally everyone would pitch in to make each activity and each stop, smooth and easy!

  20. Wowie, you guys make me look like a slacker with all of your neverending day plans. I'm not much of a planner, I'm more of a take life as it comes type of person. Plus, I'd have the whole entire neverending day to figure out what to do.

    Anyhow, we have a winner! I skipped over to and in true random fashion Tara Lazar has been chosen. Woot! Congratulations Tara! Thanks to each and every one of you for entering! May you all find the time to do the things that you love.

    I'll be posting more interviews in the upcoming months, so frolick on by if you have the chance.