Friday, March 28, 2014

High Five #30: Poisoned Author Makes it Big

Piggy backing off of my last event, it's High Five 14:14 time with week 3 of 14 debut picture book author interviews in 14 weeks. Here’s a big HIGH FIVE congratulations to Jennifer Young for her debut picture book, which also won the rhyming category of Spring 2011 for the Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest (deadline for Winter 2014 is fast approaching - Monday March 31). Awesome!!! Get ready for FIVE questions and FIVE great answers!

MeeGenius Books
Title: Poison Apple Pie
Author: Jennifer Young
Illustrator: Lara Apponyi
Publisher: MeeGenius
Release date: March 2012
Word count: 638
After Winka’s wand cracks she quits her witch job in fairy tale land and searches for a new job. But when she turns to her broken wand for help it leads to disaster.   
Question ONE: So, Jennifer, what are three of your favorite picture books? 
  1. Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
  2. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  3. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Question TWO: I see you have a couple classics in there. Nice! I have to say, I also love the movie "Cloudy..." What is your bedtime routine like with your children? How do books play a part in that?

I have three children. I have a son who is ten, and two daughters that are seven and three. My son enjoys tv time, shower and then bed (no more picture books, but he loves the Weird School Series). My seven-year-old daughter just got into chapter books. So at night she’ll read a chapter to me, at times. And my three year old enjoys picture books before bed. We don’t always get a chance at night, but during the day works for us too. Her favorite one(s) right now are the books by Laura Numeroff. If You Give a (Mouse a Cookie) series.

Question THREE: I love learning how different families incorporate literacy into their lives. Our children benefit greatly from it. How might teachers use your book in the classroom?

In Poison Apple Pie, Winka the witch searches the newspaper, a job fair and a career bulletin board to find the right job for her. One way teachers could use Poison Apple Pie in their classroom would be to first discuss different types of jobs available. Then, supply a handout where the student could draw what type of job they see themselves doing in the future. Have them make a list of responsibilities they must do for the job they selected.

Question FOUR: Sounds like fun. Your book could make a great opening activity for a unit on jobs, community, or goal setting. Perhaps YOU could create a few handouts for teachers and make them available on your website. Was your road to publication anything like Winka's road to employment? 

I began writing Poison Apple Pie in January of 2011. I lost count on revisions but I’ll share the titles it went through before final submission. In order from start to finish: Winka’s New Job, Winka the Witch, Winka’s Wand (my least favorite) and then finally Poison Apple Pie.

Before I sent my manuscript to MeeGenius in the fall of 2011 I had received two rejection letters. The one from Ladybug Caraus Publishing. It was the typical generic letter. But the one I received from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Imprint was my first rejection with an editor’s note, yay! I was happy to receive it. It said, "Although I felt your manuscript was unique, the picture book market has become our most competitive."

The reason I sent my manuscript to MeeGenius was because they were hosting a picture book contest and it was free to submit. Even though Poison Apple Pie made it to the final round it was not a winner but they decided to publish it on March 23rd 2012.

Question FIVE: Awesome! I love the title you landed on. Much better than Winka the Witch, the title that won the contest in 2011. What are some writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication? 
  1. Join a critique group or as many as you like.
  2. Critiques may hurt your feelings at first but you’ll learn to love them. Even the brutal ones because they’re the most helpful.
  3. Join a writer’s group. Here are a few: Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12, SCBWI, and CBI Clubhouse. 
    • Also, in November Tara Lazar has a picture book idea challenge where you write one idea down a day for the whole month of November. It’s called PiBoIdMo. I know I left out a lot more but the ones I listed I’m a member of (or at least was at one time).
Thank you so much, Jennifer, for sharing with us. Congratulations, and HIGH FIVE!

Jen: It was an honor to be interviewed on your blog Christie. Thank you for the opportunity! Before I end, I wanted to share with everyone that I had send Poison Apple Pie to Christie back in 2011 because of her contest section on her blog and she did the most fabulous critique on it. Christie, thank you again for all your help!

If you crave "beginner" success stories as I do and receive inspiration from reading how they did it, please, by all means visit the other interviewees and read their stories, too! See you tomorrow for a little tortoise and hare inspiration...

Keep on keepin' on...


  1. Thanks for having me on your blog Christie and for all your help in the past!

  2. I will have to pick up Poison Apple Pie. It sounds great. Thanks for the interview. Very interesting.

  3. Hi Jennifer *waving*. Love the activities you've suggested for your book! I really liked that question, Christie. Makes us think in terms of core curriculum.

  4. Great interview, Christie and Jen! I loved hearing about Poison Apple Pie's journey to publication. Such a great title!

  5. Great interview - and a great guest (Hi, Jennifer!). You're an inspiration for getting your wordsinto print.

  6. Thanks, everyone. Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Great interview! Love the Lucky Clover Winner success stories.


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