Author Melissa Stoller on What it Takes to be Published

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Hello world!

Welcome to my book blog. For this Q & A, please welcome my friend and multi-book author Melissa Stoller. Her debut picture books SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH and READY, SET, GORILLA! were published by Clear Fork Publishing/Spork. She explains her journey below.

But first, YAY- Melissa is generously giving away a FREE copy of her book! To enter the contest, follow me on Twitter (@LydiaLukidis) and leave a comment below. (US residents only, ends Oct 18, 2019)

Can you describe the journey to publication for this book?
My debut picture books were published in 2018! First, SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH, illustrated by Sandie Sonke, and then READY, SET, GORILLA!, illustrated by Sandy Steen Bartholomew.
Callie Metler-Smith, publisher at Clear Fork Publishing/Spork, loved SCARLET and GORILLA when I first pitched them. I was so lucky that Mira Reisberg came on board as the art director/editor for both books. And when the illustrators signed on, we knew we had two #DreamTeams.

Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
Inspiration can be found around every corner! I was inspired to write READY, SET, GORILLA! after seeing a billboard in New York City that stated, “Ready, Set, Go.” I thought that it would be cute if a mischievous gorilla said, “Ready, Set, GOrilla!” instead. And I was inspired to write SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH when standing in front of a Monet painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where I live. Staring at the Monet, I wondered what it would be like to paint with a magic paintbrush. I try to find inspiration wherever I am, and I always keep my eyes and mind open for ideas.

Please share some of your writing process.
My writing process is very iterative. I like to brainstorm, work on a first draft, and then craft lots of revisions. Also, I enjoy working on several projects at the same time. When I hit a roadblock on one project, I put it aside and move to the next. And usually, when I return to the first project, I can work out the kinks and move the story along.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In my previous careers, including lawyer and career counselor, I always enjoyed research and writing. When my older daughter was born, I decided to try writing for children. I also worked as a freelance writer/editor at this time and published many parenting articles as well as a parent resource book about organizing a family book club. It took a long time until my first children’s book, THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND (a time travel adventure chapter book) was finally published in 2017. I celebrated that amazing moment!

Where do you see your career headed? Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?
I’m so excited that I have two new books releasing in 2020: RETURN OF THE MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (illustrated by Sandie Sonke), and SADIE’S SHABBAT STORIES (illustrated by Lisa Goldberg). Both are releasing from Clear Fork Publishing. These stories are so close to my heart. I can’t wait to see the final versions of the artwork – both illustrators are bringing extra magic to the process.

Please share your favourite kidlit books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts. Pick one classic and one contemporary book. What is it about them that moved you?
I always love anything written by Judy Blume! And one of my favorite picture books now is Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro. I love the heart and unique voice. Plus, it’s about a book club. My own adult book club just celebrated 20 years together, and we’re still going strong!

What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers?
One piece of advice I can offer to other writers is: “Write from your heart. There are children out there just waiting to read your stories. Keep creating!”

And a bonus Q- If you could be any flavour of ice cream, which one would you be and why?
Oh that’s a fun question! I’m actually a huge frozen yogurt fan and my favorite flavor from Pinkberry is pomegranate/original swirl with blueberries on top! It’s such a sweet treat!

Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection – Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and 2020); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, 2018). Upcoming picture books include Return of the Magic Paintbrush and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories. She is also the co-author of The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is an Assistant and Blogger for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a Moderator for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MetroNY. Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Trustees at Temple Shaaray Tefila, and a past Trustee at The Hewitt School. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy.

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20 thoughts on “Author Melissa Stoller on What it Takes to be Published

    missbliss5274 said:
    January 18, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    This was a fabulous interview of Melissa. Melissa has generously shared her writing tips and I share many similarities with her style of working on more than one project at a time. Thankyou for such insight.

    Best Regards,

    Ritu Anand
    Siesta Key, Florida


    viviankirkfield said:
    October 16, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Love the back story…love the books…great interview, ladies. And congratulations, Melissa, on all of your success! Maybe we will get to connect in NYC when I am there the first week in December.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      October 16, 2019 at 10:10 pm

      I hope to meet you both one day. I’m up here in Canada!!!


      Melissa Stoller said:
      October 16, 2019 at 10:34 pm

      Thank you dear Vivian! I so appreciate your kind words. And I am planning to meet you in December for sure!! Hope to meet you one day soon as well, Lydia!! Xox

      Liked by 1 person

    Roberta said:
    October 11, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    I love the inspiration for Ready, Set, GOrilla. Isn’t it funny how ideas can pop into our minds like that?

    It might have been a long journey to getting your first book published, but looks like you are really taking off. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      October 11, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      I love hearing how inspiration works for writers too!


    Kelly Purdy said:
    October 11, 2019 at 6:24 am

    Wow! What a great interview! Can’t wait to get my hands on those books!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      October 11, 2019 at 11:50 am

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂


      traceylcash said:
      October 16, 2019 at 11:30 pm

      I loved hearing about Melissa’s inspiration behind some of her stories! I look forward to reading them as well!

      Liked by 1 person

    nataliecohn0258 said:
    October 10, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Love the interview with Melissa Stoller!

    Liked by 1 person

    jennagrodzicki said:
    October 9, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Great interview!! I love all of Melissa’s books!

    Liked by 1 person

    Ashley Congdon (@AshleyCCongdon) said:
    October 9, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    When I saw you interviewed Melissa, I had to read. She gives great writing tips. She’s very positive and supportive to those in the writing community. Congratulations on your upcoming books.

    Liked by 1 person

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