Author Laura Purdie Salas on the Value of Patience- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

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Hello world!!

Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome an author who writes stellar nonfiction AND fiction, Laura Purdie Salas. Also, she’s one of the kindest, most generous authors out there! Check out her new book, If You Want to Knit Some Mittens, illustrated by Angela Matteson, and published by Boyds Mills Kane. See her journey below…

BUT first- YAY! Laura is generously giving away a free signed copy of her book (US only). All you have to do is comment on this blog post- contest ends Oct 1, 2021.

Please describe the journey to publication for this book.

It’s so funny that a manuscript can seem memorable and all-consuming when I’m working on it, but by the time it’s published, I have to look back in my files to see how it all actually happened! I actually wrote this manuscript back in 2014. My then-agent sent it out to five editors. Two showed some interest and had revision suggestions, but Rebecca Davis of Wordsong loved it and acquired it in early 2015. Of course, it still went through plenty of revisions, most thoroughly in 2018. That’s also when artist Angela Matteson (who also illustrated In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House) came on board (yay!). And here we are now. I seriously can’t believe it’s been 7 years!

Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
On April 9, 2014, on a car ride home from an author visit, I was brainstorming picture book ideas. Here’s what I wrote:
If You Need Mittens… Funny, nf approach. How to Make Mittens. 1) Buy a sheep.  Funny, but true. Back matter, basics of knitting. [xyz] could be a resource? Could I go visit her?  
I was thinking that day about nonfiction topics and how different fun structures could make that information more interesting. If You Want to Knit Some Mittens ended up with a fictional element that adds heart and a factual skeleton that shows how we get from a sheep to wool yarn. I love the combo of both.

What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?
I generally start out with broad research and then spend a lot of time gnashing my teeth while I try to figure out the piece of the puzzle that’s eluding me. Often, that’s structure, but I already knew I wanted the how-to structure here. And the voice was mostly there from the beginning. The beginning of the book is “1. Get a sheep. Seriously.” So that hardly changed from my idea file. But over time, Rebecca helped me see that there needed to be more of a relationship in this book. Sheep couldn’t just be a wool-provider. Girl and Sheep had to care about each other. The revisions were tough. I wrote tons of different versions, trying different things. A lot of it is trial and error for me—even after so many years of writing. I discover what needs to change AS I write it. It kind of emerges, like a sea creature that’s hard to make out in the murk but that becomes clearer as it rises up.

Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from one of your books.
[When Girl and Sheep have grown marigolds to dye the yarn with…]
13. Pick marigolds and dry them in the sun.
Jumping rope nearby is
not recommended.
[The art of Sheep and Pig jumping rope, which sends the marigolds flying, is just too cute!]

You write stellar fiction AND nonfiction. Do you find it tricky to navigate both worlds?
Aw, thank you! I don’t find it tricky on the writing side. I love both—and poetry! I’m usually working on several manuscripts at a time in different genres. The marketing is tricky, though. It’s difficult to keep up with what’s going on in the fiction picture book world, the nonfiction picture book world, and the poetry picture book world. Connecting with people and building any name recognition is pretty tough when you jump between different genres, I think.

Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?
Speaking of jumping between genres—haha! In the next couple of years, I have the following picture books coming out:
We Belong (a rhyming concept book that celebrates our differences and our common humanity—Carolrhoda)
Oskar’s Voyage (a rhyming fiction book about a chipmunk who stows away on a huge Great Lakes freighter—another fiction book that has lots of info in it—Minnesota Historical Society Press)
Superhero Tryouts (a poetry collection about all kinds of helpers that kids use, with a fictional framework and prose backmatter–Wordsong)
Finding Family (a lyrical nonfiction prose picture book about a case of interspecies adoption—Millbrook)
Zap! Clap! Boom! (a rhyming factual story of a thunderstorm with backmatter)

Please share your favorite books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts.
Wow, that is so tough! I have so many books that have served as mentor texts—though I didn’t have any specific books in mind for this particular title. But for Finding Family, Candace Flemin’s Giant Squid was a valuable mentor text for me. Her sense of mystery and drama and pacing is something I love in that book and tried to infuse into Finding Family.
And a few of my favorite books so far from 2021 are Dear Treefrog, by Joyce Sidman; Lady Bird Johnson, That’s Who! by Tracy Nelson Maurer (I’m lucky Joyce and Tracy are both critique partners!); Be a Tree, by Maria Gianferrari; Lubna and Pebble, by Wendy Meddour; Fourteen Monkeys, by Melissa Stewart; and So You Want to Be an Owl, by Jane Porter. Those are just a few—there are so many amazing picture books out there!

What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers?
I think writer’s block happens when I don’t know what to try next. I keep several manuscripts in progress so that I can set aside one I’m frustrated with and pick up a different one. If I go through all my files, usually at least one manuscript pings, and I can get to work.

And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
Today, I’m going to say a sea otter—playing and sliding and swimming sounds delightful right now (even though I hate seafood of any kind).

BIO
Laura Purdie Salas has written more than 130 books for kids, including Lion of the Sky, If You Were the Moon, Water Can Be…, and BookSpeak! Her books have earned the Minnesota Book Award, NCTE Notables, starred reviews, and more. She offers resources for children’s writers at https://www.laurasalas.com/writing-for-children/ and has a Facebook Group where she connects with her Patreon supporters. She enjoys teaching and speaking at writing conferences around the country. laurasalas.com

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
site: https://laurasalas.com/
blog: https://www.laurasalas.com/blog/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraPSalas
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraPSalas/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurapsalas/
Newsletter for educators: https://tinyurl.com/5a9ycnta
Patreon community for kidlit writers: https://www.patreon.com/LauraPurdieSalas

69 thoughts on “Author Laura Purdie Salas on the Value of Patience- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

    Elle Smith said:
    September 30, 2021 at 2:56 pm

    Super cute work! And sooooo many projects!

    Liked by 1 person

    Joyce Ray said:
    September 30, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    Great interview, Lydia. I love reading about your Laura’s process. This book sounds lovely, one my knitting tour guide daughter will surely enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    romontanaro said:
    September 30, 2021 at 10:13 am

    Thank you for the wonderful post, Lydia! Wow, how much do I love the cover and the sounds of this book?!! Congratulations Laura! Thank you for sharing your process, and congratulations on your book and upcoming work. Look forward to reading! I’m commenting only – I’m Canadian. Thanks again, Rosanna Montanaro

    Like

    Lynn Becker said:
    September 29, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    I loved hearing how the idea for this story came to you. It looks lovely and I can’t wait to read it! I’m a knitter, but so far only lots and lots of scarves. Maybe time to try some mittens???

    Liked by 1 person

    Jany Campana said:
    September 28, 2021 at 4:15 pm

    Laura, I’ve been reading everything you’ve ever written! And loving all of them!!!

    Like

    Maureen Egan said:
    September 28, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    Love the sounds of this! I’m a knitter and a writer, so right up my alley!

    Like

    Sarah M. White said:
    September 27, 2021 at 10:27 pm

    It’s encouraging to hear that Laura is working on all kinds of different projects at once. I also write in a lot of different areas at one time. I love the idea of If You Want to Knit Some Mittens being informational but also showing relationship between the characters. I bet kids will really connect with that.

    Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 29, 2021 at 9:34 am

      Isn’t it comforting when you hear about other writers who approach writing with some similarity to what you do? I always breathe a sigh of relief–“Okay, it’s not just me!”

      Like

    cvarsalona said:
    September 26, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    Laura and I go way back. I have adored her books for children and the exuberance she displays when speaking about yer love of poetry. Laura’s new books sounds delightful. It is amazing to me how she imagines her themes and fills her books with scenes that excite little readers. I would love to write a blog on this book if there is any possibility of an opening on her book tour. Congratulations, Laura, on all the exciting books that are forthcoming. The thunderstorm one sounds like it will intrigue children and adults.

    Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 29, 2021 at 9:36 am

      Thanks, Carol. We DO go way back, don’t we? Thanks for all the kind words–your own passion for poetry and expression is an inspiration! There’s no blog tour or book tour, just a lovely invitation from Lydia. But I’d be delighted to appear on your blog–email me! :>)

      Like

    Michele Krueger said:
    September 26, 2021 at 1:40 am

    I love the idea of the relationship between sheep and child, and the illustrations are perfect! Excited to read this one, and a big fan of Laura!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      September 26, 2021 at 3:40 pm

      I Love that too!

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 29, 2021 at 9:37 am

      Thanks, Michele :>) Editor Rebecca Davis really pushed me to strengthen that relationship. And Angela’s illos are freaking adorable!

      Like

    Angie said:
    September 25, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    Adorable! And it took 7 years to get published! Wow! Congratulations, Laura!

    Liked by 1 person

    chardixon47 said:
    September 24, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Congratulations Laura! I have many of your books and look forward to reading this one. Thank you for sharing your writing process and the value of mentor texts!

    Liked by 1 person

    Dilranga Perera said:
    September 24, 2021 at 3:38 pm
    Lauri Meyers said:
    September 24, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    I love that your revision is a little trial and error until you hit on what works. I always hope someone doesn’t have the magic secret to writing success that they just aren’t sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      September 26, 2021 at 3:41 pm

      You have to be willing to try different things to see what works best…

      Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 29, 2021 at 9:39 am

      Hahahaha! I hear you, Lauri. Sometimes I wonder if there really IS a secret answer that works for all the people who know it. If so, I sure haven’t found it yet ;>)

      Liked by 1 person

    The Poetry Friday Roundup Is Here! said:
    September 24, 2021 at 8:26 am

    […] And I visited with Lydia Lukidis for a Blissfully Bookish interview AND GIVEAWAY! […]

    Like

    seschipper said:
    September 23, 2021 at 11:50 pm

    Thanks Laura! We can always use the inspiration and encouragement to keep plugging …or typing away! Sometimes life gives you a “run for your money” as my mom would say! However, we need to get right back to those wips! Thanks Lydia for sharing Laura’s story! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 29, 2021 at 9:41 am

      You’re welcome! Thanks for reading. I was just answering an email or something and acknowledged that life happens, and a lot of life seems to be happening to me at this very moment. But we’re writers, so we find ways to keep writing–or at least trying!

      Like

    Jilanne Hoffmann said:
    September 23, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    This looks like such a fun book! And I appreciate the “gnashing of teeth” part of the process. I’m doing that right now, LOL, and I don’t feel so alone. Congrats, Laura, on making this beautiful book with Wordsong and Rebecca Davis!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      September 23, 2021 at 2:36 pm

      I’m gnashing too….

      Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 29, 2021 at 9:42 am

      Thanks, Jilanne. I, too, recently reached the gnashing of teeth stage on a picture book wip, so I’ve set it aside and am exploring a new idea. I’m hoping that my teeth will calm down if I let the other one simmer for a while :>)

      Liked by 1 person

    dedradavis03 said:
    September 23, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    Oh, how cute! Congratulations! I sent this to my friend, who knits, with a ! She will love it!one-year-old

    Liked by 1 person

    cindyargentine said:
    September 23, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Great post! Laura, you amaze me with how many books you are writing, revising, and releasing! Congratulations! I love the girl and sheep concept for showing how wool and mittens come to be.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      September 23, 2021 at 2:36 pm

      It’s quote the book list, eh?

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 29, 2021 at 9:44 am

      Thanks, Cindy! But keeping it real, I haven’t sold a book in almost a year. So, there’s always that. But it did make me happy to see my list of books in the pipeline. (Just don’t want to make it look too easy–the publication part remains an uphill battle!)

      Like

    Ashley Sierra (@AshleySierra06) said:
    September 23, 2021 at 9:58 am

    I always enjoy books that weave fiction with nonfiction elements and with humor is a plus. I can’t wait to see how this one turned out. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      September 23, 2021 at 2:35 pm

      Agreed. Kids just love that as well, plus they learn.

      Liked by 1 person

        Ashley Sierra (@AshleySierra06) said:
        September 23, 2021 at 2:58 pm

        Shh…I do too 😄.

        Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 29, 2021 at 9:45 am

      Thank you, Ashley!

      Like

    Deb Buschman (@DebBuschman) said:
    September 23, 2021 at 9:01 am

    I write manuscripts(yet to be published) with a humorous fiction and non-fiction element. I can hardly wait to read this. Congrats Laura!! I really enjoyed your SCBWI-Paris presentation on work-for-hire. Thanks for all you do.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      September 23, 2021 at 2:35 pm

      Keep plugging and you will be published!!

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 29, 2021 at 9:45 am

      Thank you, Deb, on all counts! Keep writing and sending…it’s all a process :>)

      Like

    Amy Soto said:
    September 23, 2021 at 8:14 am

    Great interview! Thank you! I loved hearing about Laura’s inspiration and process.

    Liked by 1 person

    Joyce Uglow said:
    September 23, 2021 at 7:03 am

    Thank you! This post inspired me to put pen to paper.

    Liked by 1 person

    mlyablonaolcom said:
    September 22, 2021 at 11:46 pm

    Such encouragement to keep revising! Can’t wait to read this book! Love the voice 😻

    Liked by 1 person

    savoringeverymoment said:
    September 22, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    I love this idea of combining fiction and fact. How creative! Thank you for sharing some details of your process. I also love having several manuscripts going at once so I can switch when one gets frustrating =)

    Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 23, 2021 at 8:45 am

      Hooray for multiple wips. It’s not true for everyone, but I know I would feel like a failure sometimes when my current wip wasn’t working if I didn’t have other ones waiting in the wings!

      Like

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      September 23, 2021 at 10:33 am

      Yes, I Love doing that too, because I sometimes get stuck in the story…

      Like

    marty bellis said:
    September 22, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    Like books that combine fiction and nonfiction into one happy whole. Look forward to reading this AND all the others you have in the pipeline!

    Like

    PATRICIA J FRANZ said:
    September 22, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Gosh, this sounds like a very fun NF PB! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! And THANK YOU for the great list of mentor texts that come from this interview! My critique partners were just musing about some good rhyming mentor texts last night! Perfect timing!

    Liked by 1 person

    BARBARA SENENMAN said:
    September 22, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    Love Laura’s books, but this one seems especially interesting since I am writing some informational fiction books. I would love to see how she crafted this one. Besides, it sounds like a lot of fun to read!

    Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 22, 2021 at 3:55 pm

      Thanks, Barbara. Yeah, there was a lot of back and forth between me and the editor…how much factual info is too much? Do we need this much detail? Etc. I’m so pleased with how it came out and with Angela’s amazing art!

      Like

    Marilyn Wolpin said:
    September 22, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    I love learning how an idea turns into a story. Thanks for the interview. Laura P Salas’s books and mentor texts are on my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 22, 2021 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you, Marilyn–you know, even when we talk about it, it’s still kind of a mystery, isn’t it? Thanks for the kind words.

      Like

    bjleepoet said:
    September 22, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Love, love, love Laura Purdie Salas. Thank you for this interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    A Post for Writers, Plus a Book Giveaway! said:
    September 22, 2021 at 11:59 am

    […] I’m over at Lydia Lukidis’ blog today with a Blissfully Bookish post about the writing of If You Want to K… I hope you’ll check it out and also comment to enter the giveaway of a signed copy! And stick […]

    Liked by 1 person

    lizluvselephants said:
    September 22, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Wow! SO many books! How do you do it, Laura?! This is very inspiring! Thank you for sharing your process!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      September 22, 2021 at 11:29 am

      Right?? I knew she was a machine but I was amazed by the amount of books she has coming out.

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      September 22, 2021 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks, Liz! It’s a lot of butt-in-chair (or feet on treadmill, in my case) and just sticking with it!

      Like

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