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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sue Fliess

Today, I am excited to welcome Sue Fliess to the blog.
Although Sue has worked in the writing world since college, It was only
after her sons were born that she began to write for children seriously.
Sue's lastest book Tons of Trucks made it's debut July 3.  It's colorfully illustrated
 by Betsy Snyder.
I featured Sue's special idea for marketing her previous book once before
and am so happy to actually be able to pick her brain a bit today!

You may remember Sue's previous books:


Trucks, even colorful ones seem like such a departure from fashionista Hippos.
 I felt compelled to ask the question on everyone's mind.....

1.'ve changed your focus!  Shoes, dresses and now trucks!   What made you write about trucks and tell me about your "research."  Do you have a truck background?  Drive a truck?  (I do!)  Did your own kids have anything to do with your story?
Wow, I wish I could say I was inspired to write Tons of Trucks because I was a trucker, or had any connections with the trucking industry. I’m afraid it’s not as exciting as that. Mostly, it’s because I have two boys, and when I was reading a book about trucks to them one night, I got the idea for my book. All of our truck books were very educational and wonderful, but they all were a real photograph of a real truck and then the name of the truck. i.e. This is a garbage truck. Enter: photo of garbage truck. We need those books to teach, but the thought I had was that there has to be a more fun way to present these trucks. And why do we always have to call them by their given names? Why not a mix-and-go truck for a cement mixer? Or a scoop-and-dig truck for an excavator? I researched all the motions and functions of all kinds of trucks to help me get the right adjectives. And so Tons of Trucks was born. I actually wrote it shortly after I finished Shoes for Me!, and sold it in 2009 – hard to believe it’s finally here!

2.  If you could give "newbies" like me one piece of advice when it comes to finding an agent and/or publisher, what would it be?
Have patience and don’t give up. The publishing industry – for better or worse – moves incredibly slowly. It’s very easy to expect and want instantaneous results. But in reality, it’s a painful game of hurry up and wait. Remember modems? I do believe we’d tear our hair out today if we had to wait for an Internet connection longer than 5 seconds. But we waited because we wanted what was waiting on the other end. Give yourself a pattern to follow to not only pass the time, but make good use of it. Mine was: work on a manuscript, revise, finalize, research editors, then send it to 5 editors. While I was waiting for responses, I’d work on a new project. Pretty soon I had 4-5 manuscripts out at any given time – and that gave me a lot of hope. It also gave me something to do rather than obsess over the one manuscript I was waiting on. When I had a portfolio of 9 or 10 picture book manuscripts—even a draft of a YA, I started the agent search. Again, I did this in small batches. Yes, the rejections from both editors and agents poured in, but eventually one manuscript hit. At the time, even with an offer on the table, I could not get an agent to sign me on. I continued that search with a book contract under my belt, and later that year found my agent.
3.  What was YOUR favorite book as a child?  Why?
My favorite picture book was for certain Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. I had an extremely happy childhood. I had both my parents and a sister who all loved (and still love) me very much. So I related to Sylvester immediately. And I really thought that if I’d found the magic pebble, I might have made the same choices. When he missed his family, I empathized. It struck a chord for me. That book still lets me travel the gamut of emotions and is one of my favorites to this day.
My other favorites were Deenie and Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret? Deenie because, again, my childhood was so perfect, I actually often fantasized about something traumatic like that happening to me. Probably sounds weird, but then again, I used to fantasize who would come to my funeral if I died suddenly (you know, that boy who would regret never kissing me, weeping into my open casket?), so I guess I’m a bit off that way. I loved it because she got reckless in a way I thought I never could.  I loved Margaret because isn’t every girl Margaret? Judy Blume, how DO you do it? I wanted bigger breasts. I did the chant. I wished for womanhood…and got it. So, 1 out of 2 ain’t bad.
4.  Favorite past time...other than reading/writing!
When I had more time, I played tennis. I played for my college (Division 3, but we were pretty good!), and then took a couple of years off from it after graduation, but started up again when I moved out to California in 1997. I played both singles and doubles on teams until about 4 years ago, when life just got too busy with writing, working, raising kids, and all the commitments that go with those things. I also love to sing. I sang from a very young age in select choirs, had singing roles in school musicals, solos in church, and even sang in a garage band in college for a short time. But like any artistic venture, it takes commitment and dedication. In the end I chose writing. I’ve never regretted it. But get me near a Karaoke machine and just try to hold me back!

Lucky me, I was given a copy of Trucks to review.  Let me do so now:
Trucks is a terrific board book published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  expertly written by Sue Fliess with the most delightful illustrations done by Betsy Snyder.  They are colorful and fun and detailed.  The rhymes are simple making the book flow and beg to be read aloud.  But that's not all.  To take it to the next level, it is an interactive book as well with each truck performing some task....the scooper truck scoops, the army truck panels open, the fire truck extends and my personal fave, the tar truck has a SPLAT of tar!!  It really does!  Good picture books I'm told, should be a joy to read aloud and this one certainly is.   Children will just love turning each page to see what fun treat awaits and the pages are sturdy enough to withstand little pudgy hands working the levers and opening the windows.
  I highly recommend this book and congratulate Sue and Betsy for their obvious hard work in making this not just a fun read, but a fun experience as well.
Sue, I can't thank you enough for sharing your thoughts with us. 
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Tons of Trucks, click this link
or This one.   Shoes for Me and A Dress for Me can
be purchased there as well.
Be sure to visit Sue at her WEBSITE
as she has other fun books coming out soon too.

leave a comment by Thursday July 12 at 10pm and I will pull one name from
my trusty hat and reward you with a copy of TONS OF TRUCKS!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for introducing me to a new author, Sharon. Love the look of all three of these, especially as I am partial to hippos. Great to have all these trucks driven by fun animals!

    Sue mentions submitting to editors, so I am wondering if she has an agent or not?

    ReplyDelete happy to hear from you.........