Category Archives: Debut Author Interview

say hello to lisa rose

Meet Lisa Rose

Meet Lisa Rose

It’s my delight to introduce you to vivacious, rap-writing debut author Lisa Rose. I first met Lisa through our regional chapter of SCBWI and was immediately attracted to her bright smile, energy and enthusiasm. And wait until you hear her good news . . .

Tell us about your book–details! We want details!
SHUMLIK PAINTS THE TOWN will be published by Kar-Ben in 2016. It’s about a painter named Shumulik who needs to create a mural for Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day). He can’t think of anything to paint and soon all of Jerusalem will be there. What is he going to do? It has a funny surprise ending!

Can’t wait to read SHUMLIK PAINTS THE TOWN and find out what the surprise is. So, when did you know you wanted to write for children?
It sounds cliché, but I was in second grade. I wrote a poem and my teacher called me a writer. I always wanted to write. But my mother told me to do something that made money. So I became an elementary teacher and got really, really, really rich! Moral of the story: don’t listen to your mother.

Very funny, Lisa. Now, what is it about writing for children that appeals to you versus writing for adults?
Hope. All children’s book must end in hope or by definition they are not a children’s book.

What’s the best writing advise you’ve ever been given?
I was a playwright before I wrote for kids, but this still applies: “No amount of sequins can save a bad script.”

Love that. And it definitely applies to children’s writing too. As you know, Frog on a Dime is all about encouraging children’s writers, so what’s the most encouraging thing anyone has ever said to you (related to writing)?
It was from Michigan’s own Debbie Taylor. I was writing outside of my race and shared with her I wasn’t trying to be revolutionary, I just wanted to write about something that touched me. Debbie said, “That’s your answer!” Recently, I was working on a project and it just wasn’t working. I tried and tried. Until I realized I was writing it for all the wrong reasons. I think good writing must have passion and purpose. The idea must scrape your soul.

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

What advise would you give to someone who has been pursuing publication for a long time, with close calls, but no contracts?
Keep going and learn how to flip-turn. I was swimmer before I was writer. It is excellent training. I was used to going as fast as could into cement walls. Instead of crashing after rejection, I just turned around and swam as fast I could into another cement wall. I sent the editor at Kar-Ben over twenty stories. We were on a first name rejection basis. But she kept encouraging me to send more stories. And so I did. I told myself I was going to keep writing until I got a contract or a restraining order from her. Luckily for me, the contract came first.

That’s great advise, Lisa. I’d never thought about flip-turns, but that’s a perfect analogy for the submission process. Time for one last question? Okay, name three things we’d be surprised to learn about you.
1. While I have this nice Jewish book coming out with Kar-Ben, most of my novels feature African-American characters and I am working on a digital media project with the former producers of rapper Eminem. Yes, I even write rap music.
2. I have partnered with a Detroit graffiti artist, Fel3000ft. to create a chapter book. I joke that I write everything from shalom to shazizzle!
3. I like eating ice cream with a fork.
4. BONUS! I have an e-book coming out with MeeGenius in the Spring: OH NO! THE TOOTH FAIRY BROKE HER WING! It is a sequel to OH NO! THE EASTER BUNNY IS ALLERGIC TO EGGS!

Hey, this was fun, Lisa. Thank you for stopping by Frog on a Dime. Wishing you many more publishing success stories. Keep doing those flip-turns!

win 45 pounds (more or less)


45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson

K.A. Barson (aka my friend Kelly)

K.A. Barson (aka my friend Kelly)

Just one week ago today Kelly Barson’s young adult novel 45 Pounds (More or Less) made its debut. The blogosphere has been buzzing with words of praise from readers ever since.


You haven’t read 45 Pounds yet? It’s funny, refreshing and fabulous, just like Kelly.

Well, now is your chance to win a FREE, personally autographed copy!

Entering the official Frog on a Dime drawing is simple:

–Just leave a comment on this post by 1:45 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, July 21.
–The winner will be announced on Sunday evening.

You could have your own personalized copy of the hottest debut novel of the summer headed your way soon!

Kelly hopped on over to Frog on a Dime earlier this month. Read my interview with Kelly. Check out Kelly’s interview with Natalie Aguirre on Literary Rambles too!

The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in determination. ~ Tommy Lasorda

meet debut YA author K. A. Barson


K.A. Barson (aka my friend Kelly)

K.A. Barson (aka my friend Kelly)

45 Pounds More or Less by K.A. Barson

45 Pounds More or Less by K.A. Barson

What a delight to welcome my friend and favorite new YA author K.A. Barson to Frog on a Dime. Kelly’s debut novel 45 POUNDS (More or Less) will be released by Viking on July 11. I was lucky enough to read it this week. Trust me, you will want to pre-order yours now! In fact, order two–one for you and one for a teen girl you love. She’ll thank you for it!

Recently Kelly was kind enough to pull up a dime and spend a little time answering a series of grueling, mind-numbing questions. She’s quite a trooper.

So, Kelly, when did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I don’t remember ever not wanting to be a writer, but for most of my life it wasn’t a real dream. It was like wanting to be President or an astronaut or professional basketball player or rock star kind of dream. I wrote stories and sometimes submitted them. One rejection meant they were destined to live in my file cabinet. I didn’t realize that it was something I could really do until I shared with a friend from church that I’d written a book for young readers (it had a file condo in my cabinet) and she introduced me to this group called SCBWI. Her name is Vicky. Maybe you know her?

Very funny, Kelly. So, back to you, what is it about writing for children that appeals to you versus writing for adults?
I don’t have much in common with adults. Kids’ and teens’ feelings and life experiences feel the most alive and real to me. Whenever I imagine a story, it’s from a young person’s perspective. They have the most unique ways of looking at the world.

What were your favorite books growing up?
My first loves were Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss. I remember making up my own stories to the Mother Goose illustrations. I would look at them for hours, long before I could read. Then I devoured everything by Beverly Cleary and then Judy Blume. As a teen, I loved Stephen King.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
When talking about my work-in-progress at the time, a mentor once told me that my character has to DO something besides not die. That really stuck with me. Knowing a character’s motivation–what s/he wants and why s/he reacts a certain way–has helped me shape my work ever since.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
It takes 10,000 hours to master any craft. I wish I would have had the patience to wait until I had my hours in before submitting. I was gutsy enough to think I had what it took long before that. Maybe I needed that intestinal fortitude to keep going, but when I read some of the stuff I submitted too early, I’m embarrassed.

What are you glad you didn’t know when you were starting out?
I’m glad I didn’t know how long it would take. If my Magic 8 Ball had given me cold, hard numbers and dates of when things would finally start happening, it might have been too overwhelming. I might have given up. I hope I wouldn’t have, but the idea that it “could happen tomorrow” kept me going. I might not have worked as hard if I knew it would still be years away.

What’s the most encouraging thing anyone has ever said to you (related to writing)?
This is the hardest question. I’ve been blessed with a massive support network–from my dear friend Vicky who first encouraged me to be a real writer to multiple-award-winning authors who’ve cheered for me every step of the way. Just thinking about the answer to this question has overwhelmed me with gratitude.

What advice would you give to someone who has been pursuing publication for a long time, with close calls, but no contracts?
Never give up. “The Call” happens in an instant, often when you least expect it. Just keep plugging along and don’t let discouragement rule you. It really could happen tomorrow.

You’re a great encourager, Kelly. Thank you so much for stopping by. Best wishes on the release of your awesome first novel. I know teen readers will love it as much as I did.

And, as always, we end with a quote. This one happens to be one of Kelly’s favorites . . .

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t–you’re right. ~ Henry Ford.

meet debut PB star kris remenar


Kris Remenar with illustrator Matt Faulkner

Kris Remenar with illustrator Matt Faulkner

KristenwithkidsFrog on a Dime is all about encouraging writers. Today I’m delighted to introduce my very first guest . . . the incomparable Kris Remenar, debut author, children’s librarian and one of my personal cheerleaders.

Welcome to Frog on a Dime, Kris.

Thanks for inviting me over, Vicky!

So, when did you know you wanted to become a writer?

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was eight. I won my first writing contest in second grade. I wrote about stranger danger (even as a child, I went for the controversial topics.) I gave my stories as gifts when I was in middle school and took independent creative writing classes in high school. Then, I entered a writing contest my senior year of high school and didn’t even earn an honorable mention. I thought I’d “outgrown” my talent. So, I stopped writing for years until I became an elementary teacher. As a teacher, I modeled writing for my students and I felt like a long-lost friend had returned. I joined SCBWI in 2000 and I’ve been working on my writing ever since.

What is it about writing for children, specifically, that appeals to you?

I like the freedom of it. Groundhogs can talk, hippos can fly. And almost always, there’s some sort of happy ending. Kids’ books are hopeful.

I tend to write (and think in) picture books. I’ve begun writing my first YA novel, and it’s a little overwhelming to grapple with hundreds of pages instead of 32, but I’m digging watching the characters unfold at deeper levels.

You’re had an exciting development in your writing career recently, can you tell us about the day you got “the call” from Charlesbridge—and don’t skimp on the details!

February 2, Groundhog’s Day, is my birthday. I was at the library at my job as a children’s librarian. My editor, Yolanda Scott, and I had been through two rounds of revisions on a manuscript, but I hadn’t heard back from her in over a month and I figured she was trying to find a way to gently break bad news. The smallest, bravest part of me dared to wonder if I’d get “the call” about my manuscript that day because the story is about Groundhog’s Day and I liked the synchronicity of it all. The superstitious part of me didn’t want to jinx it by thinking about it, and the hugely self-doubtful part of me said “prepare yourself for another rejection.”

Yolanda was away from her office speaking at a conference, it was a Saturday, I had no right to hope she’d call that day. But she did call, around 4 p.m., and I grabbed my phone to run to the back offices. When Yolanda told me that Charlesbridge wanted to acquire my book, this amazing, breathless, telescopic feeling came over me. The eight-year-old me, the twelve-year-old me, the twenty-nine-year-old me, all the me’s who had waited for this day felt elated and justified in putting forth the effort over all the years. And it felt like “of course the call came at this time from this supportive, generous editor.” I couldn’t have plotted it better if I’d tried.

That’s amazing, Kris! Congratulations! I was actually listening to Yolanda present at the SCBWI conference the day you got the call. I enjoyed hearing Yolanda, have I to admit I was distracted because I kept thinking—stop presenting, Yolanda, and call Kris already!

I predict your story is going to give encouragement to a lot of writers, especially since you were able to land your first contract without an agent. What advise would you give to someone who has been pursuing publication for a long time, with close calls, but no contracts?

Keep going! It took me 12 years from the time I sent out my first manuscript to the time I finally sold a book. If I had called it quits after 5 years, or after 10, I never would’ve received “the call.”

I have to ask . . . how did you keep going for 12 years?

Have you heard that quote “writing makes me crazy, not writing makes me crazier?” I kept writing because characters talked in my head, or I’d have a flash of a scene in a dream that I just had to put on paper. Being a member of SCBWI and having the camaraderie of those who get that, and who never said that writing for children is “sweet,” made the years of rejection bearable.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Kris. You are a true encourager!

Be sure to watch for the debut of Kris’ picture book in fall of 2015–illustrated by wonderful illustrator Matt Faulkner (who is also Kris’ husband!). You can count on Frog on a Dime to celebrate that exciting event.

And to wrap things up, Kris’ favorite quote . . . If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. – Toni Morrison

Bonus Information! Kris blogs about picture books and ways to use them in the classroom to teach the Common Core State Standards. You can check out her recommendations.