Hi, parents, librarians, book fanatics, writers, and readers of all sorts! As you may know, tomorrow many around the world are celebrating a very special day - Father's Day. And what better way to celebrate the day than to have Linda Joy Singleton and her new book Sun & Son with us? Sun & Son (illustrated by Richard Smythe) follows a father and son as they head outdoors for a camping trip and enjoy the nature around them. This book is filled with STEM elements and homonyms, too. Want to know more about Linda, her new book, PLUS want a chance to win your own copy of Sun & Son? Read on...
Q: Welcome back to #SeasonsOfKidLit, Linda! We’re thrilled you can join us and share your beautiful new book with us, Sun & Son! First, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Linda, you can head on over to her frightfully good interview with us during our Trick-or-Treat event last October, here.
We're so excited to hear about your new book, Linda. What inspired you to write Sun & Son? Was there research involved?
A: After writing CRANE & CRANE, I searched through homonyms and realized that SUN & SON would be the perfect follow-up. I decided to make it personal since I have a son and have wonderful memories of family camping trips where we hiked, fished, and put up tents.
I looked for layers to create a story arc, combining a special birthday, an outing for a father/son, and a STEM topic of the solar system. Then I looked for action and/or homonyms to move the story forward so the art could show the story. The opening pages show RISE: the boy rises in the morning. RISE: the sun rising in the sky. Next is the word SHINE: the sun shines to nurture the earth. SHINE: The boy shines his teeth. And a special celebration of life, love, and nature continued to the very last word: TOGETHER.
Q: A book using homonyms sounds fascinating and fun for young readers! What was your process for deciding which homonyms to use / not use?
A: I came up with the idea to write CRANE & CRANE first. My husband was a crane operator and we live near a Sandhill Crane sanctuary. I love wordplay and enjoyed the rhythm of playing the same words together but showing different actions. It was actually my agent, who encouraged me to write this book. I only had a few lines with LIFT, SWAY, BOOM…and I had no idea how to turn it into a book. But she trusted me and told me that I could figure it out–and I did. After many rewrites, it sold to Amicus Publishing and a few years later they also contracted SUN & SON.
When I searched through homonyms, I looked for the 3 C’s: Character, Conflict, and Comparison. While many homonyms have fun imagery, words like BLUE & BLEW or WAIST & WASTE lack the 3 C’s. In fact, there is only ONE other set of homonyms that will work for a 3rd book. I have written this book and I’m crossing my fingers that I can announce a sale soon.
Q: Were there challenges in writing a holiday book?
A: A successful picture book often has layers of story. SUN & SON has the science of the sun, the relationship between a child and parent, and a holiday to celebrate. Two holidays, actually, if you count birthdays. I was delighted when I realized SUN & SON would make a great Father’s Day gift. While this added to the marketability of SUN & SON and made it more appealing to my publisher, that’s not always the case.
Holiday books can be tricky to sell. It takes luck and skill to match the right holiday with a publisher. And sometimes, it can mean a quick rejection. For instance, I wrote a book that had NOTHING to do with Halloween, but the main character was a witch. One publisher quickly rejected it saying they already had enough Halloween books. Later I changed the character to a magical girl, but that book still hasn’t sold. I also have a book with a Thanksgiving theme, which has come close to selling with one publisher who was looking for this holiday.
So, research your submissions carefully and study their lists to see if they publish holiday books and which holidays might be a good match with them.
Q: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
A: I wrote a spin-off for the Boxcar Children franchise last year and it’s tentatively coming out in 2024. And recently an editor expressed interest in buying my middle-grade mystery series with a cast of quirky small-town characters. . Until I receive contracts, I can’t share any more. When I can, I’ll post it on my Instagram, Twitter, and FB pages. So stay tuned!
A spin-off for the Boxcar Children? We're in!!
Q: You're the author of over 50 books and have such an inspiring writing career! Are there any writing tips you'd like to share with our readers who are just starting out writing or who are looking to expand their careers?
Since you’re reading this, you’re already networking with talented writers and learning how to hone your craft–which is GREAT!
For advice I usually say things like “butt in chair,” “read and write a lot!” and “rejections are stairsteps to a yes!” But I’ll talk about something different…self-publishing.
Many of you may be considering self-publishing. And to be honest, if I hadn’t begun my career 30 years ago and was starting out now, I would rush into self-publishing. While this is a great route for many people, it wouldn’t have been for me.
When I started out, I fell in love with all my stories. I thought they were wonderful. I didn’t mind that there were errors, because I was so sure the stories were good enough to sell. And my ideas WERE good. After several years of rejections (over 100), I pitched a few ideas to a small publisher–and they offered me a contract. I wrote the book quickly, and then I started the editing process with professionals.
It was a shock when my manuscript came back with pages of rewrites (before computers). I had no idea my skills needed that much improvement. I’d not only made many grammar mistakes, but I had to improve characterization, and many other small details I hadn’t known to look for. Working with an editor was like Writing 101 for me–and I learned so much. I did work-for-hire, writing for packages of popular series (a Sweet Valley Twin) after that and continued to improve my skills. A few years later, my work was strong enough for an agent to take me on, and she sold my first series.
I continue to learn and grow, belonging to writing groups, a bi-monthly in person critique group, and keeping in touch with publishing via social media. And I did, finally, self-publish. When my CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB series ended, I wrote a short mini-mystery for fans who wanted another story: DOG RESCUE: TIME WARP.
What a wonderful tip! Thanks for sharing this with us, Linda. And thanks for talking with us about your new book. We can't wait to check out Sun & Son!
Father's Day Giveaway!
Linda is offering a very special treat for Father's Day - a chance to win a copy of her newest book, Sun & Son! To enter to win, leave a comment below and let Linda know why you can't wait to check it out. If you share this post, let her know too for an extra entry to win.
One winner will be chosen on or about 6/24.
*Books will be shipped in the US only.
About Linda Joy Singleton:
Animals have always influenced Linda Joy Singleton’s writing, from a book about a cat she wrote when she was 8, to her CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB series (Albert Whitman). An upper mg mystery, MEMORY TRAP, came out in 2022 (Clear Fork). And she’s written picture books, too, most of them about animals–SNOW DOG, SAND DOG (Albert Whitman), LUCY LOVES GOOSEY (Little Bee), A CAT IS BETTER (Little Bee) CASH KAT (Arbordale), CRANE & CRANE (Amicus). And since Richard Smythe, the illustrator of SUN & SON (Amicus), knew Linda liked animals, he added a white cat to the book.
Linda belongs to SCBWI, SISTERS-in-CRIME, and is a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and writing events. She lives in the country with her husband and they have a menagerie of animals including horses, peacocks, pigs, cats, dogs, and cows.
For more about Linda Joy, check out the below links:
Facebook: Linda Joy Singleton | Facebook
Website: https://lindajoysingleton .com
To purchase Linda's books on Amazon, or to leave a review for them, click here.