Author Laura Purdie Salas on Finding the Right Structure- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

Posted on

Hello world!!

Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome author extraordinaire, Laura Purdie Salas. Not only is she one of my mentors, but I’m lucky enough to count her as one of my friends too. What I love about her is that she’s able to straddle both the worlds of fiction and nonfiction so effortlessly. I also love the depth behind her words. Here she is, discussing her new picture book We Belong, published by Carolrhoda Books / Lerner, and illustrated by Carlos Vélez Aguilera.

BUT first- YAY! Laura is generously giving away a FREE signed copy of Be Belong (US only). To be eligible to win, please enter the Rafflecopter contest by clicking HERE. Contest ends April 1, 2022.

Please describe the journey to publication for WE BELONG.

Well, this book is kind of a journey of pairs—besides the opposite pairs in the book. Editor Carol Hinz invited me (in 2018) to write a picture book on one topic. I slid sideways and wrote a picture book on a related topic. She rejected that book, but she loved one little snippet of it. She asked me to expand that book that snippet into an entire book of affirmations. Oh, maybe that’s a three. The manuscript I never wrote. The related manuscript I actually wrote (and still hope to sell). And then WE BELONG.

Another pair was the concept of specific versus broad. It was a real challenge, but also satisfying, to illuminate broad concepts like loud and quiet or black and white, through specific, concrete images. Other pairs included two wonderful editors, Carol Hinz and Shaina Olmanson; two different illustrators (so happy with Carlos Vélez Aguilera’s vibrant art!); and two pub dates, since the pandemic pushed back publication of this book. 

WE BELONG touches on the themes of celebrating how unique we each are, as well as honoring diversity in our world. What inspired you to write this?

I’m not sure I would have tackled this topic without an invitation. As a middle-class white woman in the United States, writing a book that includes various diversity issues feels a bit scary, honestly, like I have no right to talk about it. But the need for belonging is universal, and that’s the core of this book. I have felt that I didn’t belong so many times throughout my life, and I tried to hold that closely and examine what brings me comfort in those times.

Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.

Maybe you’re happy.

A fun magic trick.

A sprinkler rainbow.

A kitten’s rough lick.

Maybe you’re sad.

A cloud.

A small cave.

Maybe you’re trying

your best to be brave.

Sometimes we’d like to make sadness extinct,

but teardrops and smiles are joined—

they are linked.

Each feeling’s a gift

that helps us connect

to the world,

to our family,

to the friends we collect.

You have a massive body of work. Can you please share some marketing secrets with readers? Which strategies have proven most successful?

[Laughing] Oh, how I wish I had the secret sauce to share with you. I am an introvert and not very inventive with social media. Because my picture books involve a lot of poetry and nonfiction, teachers and librarians are often the ones buying my books. So for me, connecting with educators, creating extension materials for my books, and putting myself out there at educator conferences have probably been the most helpful. But really, I believe this maxim: The best way to market your current book is to write your next book. I am trying to focus less on marketing and more on writing, because marketing tasks are like a dangerous gas—they expand to fill a whole room and leave little space for other things.

Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?

I do! Next year will be FINDING FAMILY, with Lerner. It’s a lyrical nonfiction book about an interspecies adoption event from a few years ago. And SUPERHERO TRYOUTS: POEMS FROM EYEGLASSES, WHEELCHAIRS, AND OTHER HELPERS will come out from Wordsong. After that, the next two are ZAP! CLAP! BOOM!, rhyming nonfiction from Bloomsbury USA, and OSKAR’S VOYAGE, from Minnesota Historical Society Press. That last one came out of my Great Lakes voyage in 2019 on the biggest freighter on the Lakes. I’m so excited to see what the illustrators do with all four of these books! I only have one or two other titles after that, and I sure would like to sell a trade manuscript or two this year!

Please share your favorite books from 2021 that inspired you.

What a lovely question! I thought this would be easy to answer, but my Goodreads lists show I loved many children’s books last year. So here are a few that I not only loved, but that inspired me in either my personal life or my writing life. They are LUBNA AND PEBBLE; PLAY LIKE AN ANIMAL!; I AM EVERY GOOD THING; GREEN ON GREEN; OUTSIDE, INSIDE; THE STUFF BETWEEN THE STARS; and WONDER WALKERS. (Not all of those came out in 2021—that’s just when I read them.)

What is the best piece of advice you would give to other writers when it comes to revision?

Don’t put the cart (fun, beautiful words) before the horse (strong structure or plot). Nobody cares how pretty that broken-down cart is when it’s not going anywhere. 

That’s the lesson I have to learn over and over. I’m always so excited about the individual words, but writing my way into the right structure has to happen first. 

And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could have dinner with any author, dead or alive, who would it be?

Nope. Nuh uh. An introvert like me would be EXTREMELY uncomfortable in this situation. I don’t want to meet musicians I like nor authors I admire—and I’m always afraid I’d like their work less if I really met them. However, I would love to be a fly on the wall of some favorite authors. I’m going to say Madeleine L’Engle for this one. Just me, sipping a Coke Zero and eavesdropping on her life—I would’ve jumped at that chance!

BIO

Laura Purdie Salas has written more than 130 books for kids, including If You Want to Knit Some Mittens, Lion of the Sky, 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

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

51 thoughts on “Author Laura Purdie Salas on Finding the Right Structure- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

    […] A Blissfully Bookish interview: An interview about the writing process, plus a favorite writing piece of advice (and something I have to learn over and over). Plus my answer to: “And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could have dinner with any author, dead or alive, who would it be?” (Complete interview here.) […]

    Like

    Bethany Walker (@bookshelfofbeth) said:
    March 28, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    Oh my goodness, Laura you have so many incredible books! As an introvert, all marketing tips are greatly appreciated. And as I book lover, I can’t wait to add this book to my library!

    Liked by 1 person

    Stephanie Owen said:
    March 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

    Congratulations on your new book!

    Liked by 1 person

    Denise Krebs said:
    March 28, 2022 at 12:55 am

    Thank you, Lydia. Great interview! I love Laura’s excerpt from We Belong. The rhyme and rhythm are perfectly delightful. Laura, I never knew you wrote 130 books, and so many new ones coming in the near future. Congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 28, 2022 at 4:14 pm

      That’s a LOT of books! Wow

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 31, 2022 at 7:05 am

      Thanks so much, Denise–I’ve written a lot of work-for-hire series nonfiction picture books, which makes that number climb in a hurry :>)

      Like

    Jessi Peterson said:
    March 25, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing your recent favorites – I love Lubna and Pebble as well!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 28, 2022 at 4:15 pm

      That’s a mentor text for me as well

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 31, 2022 at 7:06 am

      I read that book and thought, THIS is the kind of emotional reaction I want a reader to have to a book I write someday…

      Liked by 1 person

    Pamela Harrison said:
    March 24, 2022 at 1:08 pm

    What a wonderful interview! I am also an introvert so I can relate. I love your books, Laura! It’s good to know that introverts can be amazing children’s authors.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2022 at 1:09 pm

      I enjoyed hearing that too, I think many can relate.

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 31, 2022 at 7:07 am

      Aw, thank you, Pamela. I think being an introvert make the “writer” part easier, but the “author” part harder, if you know what I mean.

      Like

    seschipper said:
    March 23, 2022 at 11:34 pm

    Great interview as usual!! I agree with the comments regarding that gem of advice ..Don’t put the cart before the horse!! Looking forward to reading and reviewing WE BELONG! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2022 at 8:12 am

      Its a gem, true!!

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 31, 2022 at 7:08 am

      I wish I didn’t have to keep learning that advice over and over :>D Thanks so much–I hope you enjoy WE BELONG!

      Like

    Rebecca Gardyn Levington said:
    March 23, 2022 at 10:40 pm

    Your latest book sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing your story and for being such an inspiration to all of us rhymers! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 24, 2022 at 8:12 am

      Rhyming is so difficult. I love reading Laura’s books to hear how the words flow.

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 31, 2022 at 7:08 am

      Rhyming rocks! Except in a wip where I’m really struggling. Eventually, I hope it will rock, too :>D

      Like

    Amy Benoit said:
    March 23, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    Laura! Love the cart/horse reference. How true!

    Liked by 1 person

    Ellen Leventhal said:
    March 23, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    All of Laura’s books are outstanding! I used them a lot when I was teaching creative writing. Thanks for sharing Laura and Lydia!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 23, 2022 at 5:26 pm

      Yep! And the fact that she bounces back and forth so easily between fiction and NF, so inspiring

      Like

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 31, 2022 at 7:09 am

      Thanks, Ellen–so lovely to hear that!

      Like

    Nadine Poper said:
    March 23, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    Laura, your upcoming books sound fantastic. I love the advice you give…strong structure and plot before the fun, beautiful words.

    Liked by 1 person

    chardixon47 said:
    March 23, 2022 at 3:38 pm

    Congrats Laura and Carlos! Thank you, Laura, for sharing your marketing experience. I look forward to reading your new book.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 23, 2022 at 5:25 pm

      Reading her marketing strategy made me feel less stressed out about marketing!

      Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 31, 2022 at 7:11 am

      Thanks, Char! Marketing is hard. We want to help our books find readers, of course. But it can become a stressful, obsessive, neverending chore, too. Finding a strategy you can live with — and still have time left to create — is crucial.

      Like

    Lindsay Moretti said:
    March 23, 2022 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing your advice and for being such an inspiration to aspiring writers! I am working through your “Writing for the Educational Market” book – so incredibly helpful to understanding the market. Looking forward to reading “We Belong” with my kiddos!

    Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 23, 2022 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks, Lindsay! Thrilled that you’re finding the Ed Market book helpful :>)

      Like

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 23, 2022 at 5:25 pm

      That one is SO Helpful for WFH writers!

      Like

    Sarah Meade said:
    March 23, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    I am looking forward to reading your new books, Laura. Congratulations on this one and the FOUR MORE coming out soon. WOW! I love what you said about putting the cart before the horse. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    rosecappelli said:
    March 23, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Wonderful! Such great advice, Laura. I especially liked “Don’t put the cart before the horse” since I’m guilty of that, too. I love playing around with the words and have to remind myself that no matter how pretty it is, a cart that is broken won’t go. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 23, 2022 at 2:06 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Rose! Just this week I’m working on a nonfiction picture book where I keep having to stop myself from editing at the word level so I can focus on the structure level. It’s so hard!

      Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 23, 2022 at 5:24 pm

      Truth…

      Liked by 1 person

    Jeannette Lee said:
    March 23, 2022 at 9:21 am

    Great interview! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on how to navigate marketing as an introvert!

    Liked by 1 person

      Laura Purdie Salas said:
      March 23, 2022 at 9:37 am

      Thanks, Jeannette! Marketing is tough for so many reasons, but finding a few things I’m comfortable with and doing them repeatedly, so I build a community around those events or materials or whatever, has worked best for me. And by best, I don’t know if it’s selling any books, but it’s a level of being “out there” that I can cope with :>D

      Like

      pjnunz said:
      March 23, 2022 at 9:50 am

      Can I just gush?? I’m such a fan, Laura! I’m nota librarian nor a teacher nor a parent with small children (though I am a grandma-to-be) and I buy your books!!! 😊 Thank you for this interview, Lydia.

      Liked by 1 person

        Laura Purdie Salas said:
        March 23, 2022 at 2:05 pm

        Haha–please, gush away :>) Seriously, thank you so much for your kind comment and for supporting me through my books. ❤

        Like

        Lydia Lukidis responded:
        March 23, 2022 at 5:23 pm

        Join the fan club!!

        Like

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      March 23, 2022 at 5:23 pm

      I found those comments super interesting!

      Like

    A We Belong Q&A and Giveaway! #ClassroomConnections said:
    March 23, 2022 at 8:23 am

    […] author/puppeteer/blogger/lovely human Lydia Lukidis’ Blissfully Bookish series. I hope you’ll skip on over there to find out what scared me about writing this book, what author I do or don’t want to have […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s