|First book by Tiffany Strelitz Haber|
Title: The Monster Who Lost His Mean
Author: Tiffany Strelitz Haber
Illustrator: Kirstie Edmunds
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release date: July 2012
Word count: Around 550 words or so
Summary: Everyone knows the “M” in MONSTER stands for Mean. But what happens when a Monster can’t be mean anymore? Is he still a Monster at all?
One day a Monster’s “M” went missing.
Gone without a trace!
And every “M” is custom made.
The kind you can’t replace.
So now he’s just The OnsterQuestion ONE:
and the teasing never ends.
Not only has he lost his mean,
he’s lost his Monster friends!
What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.
Oh dear lord, I don’t know how to answer that! I’m terrible at “favorites”. OK, in no particular order, and part of a constantly evolving list:
1. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
2. The Obstinate Pen by Frank W. Dormer
3. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
I haven't read #2. I'll have to check it out. My kids and I love Room on the Broom. It's so FUN!
Tell us about your children and how books play a part in your bedtime routine.
I have two boys, ages 4 and 5. And I am terrible at routine. One night I might read them a bedtime story in their rooms while they are snuggled in…another night they might pass out on the couch while watching Coraline (a big fave in our house these days). At that point I carry what works out to be about 90 pounds worth of children up a tremendous staircase. Not an easy feat! Generally speaking though, books are just around. We might read during dinner. We might read before school. We might read in the middle of the day just because. It’s always changing, but they’re always present.
How might teachers use your book in the classroom?
The book has easy tie-ins, not only with adjectives, acrostics and spelling, but also peer pressure, bullying and discussions on individuality. I have a fabulous free teacher’s guide available for download via my website. It was created by the uber-talented Marcie Colleen!
THE ROAD TO PUBLICATION...
Can you talk a bit about how you approach revisions and if you keep count of how many you do? That’s too organized for me, but do I kinda love revisions. I relish the phase of writing that I’m at when revisions come into play. You’re no longer staring at a blank page. The beginning, middle and end of the story have been created and laid down, and revisions really just up the ante on all of it…pushing the story to the next level. What’s more fulfilling than that?
How did you finally get an agent? Lots and lots of subbing to publishers and agents. Agent Query was a huge help. So was attending SCBWI conferences.
How did your title evolve? I always wanted the book to be called, THE ONSTER. I just thought it sounded cool and intriguing. Maybe even a little edgy. But the publishing house was like, ummm….it’s called The Monster Who Lost His Mean, and that’s that. So I rolled with it. I can’t tell you how many times people come up to me and tell me how much they love the title of the book! I guess it worked out!
How many rejections? Dunno! I really don’t know numbers. Maybe 6 or 7 for this book? It did happen fairly quickly, but I just don’t have exact figures. I dream to have the organizational skills for that!
I know you have another book coming out soon. Any forthcoming sales? I’ve got a couple things out on submission. They are in the “let’s do some revisions before it goes to editorial” phase, but I never count my chickens before they hatch. I have had way too many close calls for that! My next book, OLLIE AND CLAIRE, illustrated by MATTHEW CORDELL will be released on April 18, 2013.
What is the hardest thing about making the switch from being unpublished to being published? I really don’t think there was anything “hard” about the transition from “persuing publication” to “published author”. Maybe just, trying to figure out whether you’re doing enough to market your book while still focusing on new material? Also, and I feel a little bad about saying this, but also accepting the reality that getting a picture book deal really doesn’t change much of anything at all. It just chips away at the 10 or so additional deals you’ll need to get so you can start making a little money. Ha!
What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?
- Write in your own style. Don’t try to copy anyone.
- If you get the same criticism regarding a story 3 times or more…consider making the change. Otherwise, don’t bend to everyone’s (often) random commentary. Stick to your own gut and sensibilities.
- Remember, if you are looking for a career as an author, one picture book isn’t going to cut it. So keep writing and writing and writing and build up a huge arsenal of work!
Thank you so much, Tiffany, for being here today! It was a pleasure. I especially loved your three writing tips. Tiffany also offers critiques. She's amazing at rhyme. Thanks, again!