Welcome, readers, writers, and vacationing monsters, too! We have a double dose of fun for you today. Lori Degman and Jocelyn Watkinson are here to take you on an exciting trip, along with the monsters in their and Marcus Cutler's new book, Travel Guide for Monsters Part Deux: A Canadian Adventure! Seriously, how much more fun can you get than monsters touring Canada? Whether you're looking for a hockey game, a rodeo, or a cross country trip, you're in luck - these monsters hope you'll tag along. So, want to know more about Lori, Jocelyn, and their new adventure, PLUS want a chance to win some seriously sweet treats? Read on...
Q: Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit, Lori and Jocelyn! We’re thrilled to have you Trick or Treat with us, and hear all about your new book Travel Guide for Monsters Part Deux: A Canadian Adventure. It sure looks like a fun trip! Please share a little about each of yourselves and how you came to write this guide together?
LD: Thanks so much for including us in your Trick or Treat event!
JW: Yes! Thank you both for inviting us to participate! What a fun theme for a book blog!
LD: I was a teacher of the deaf and retired in 2017, which gave me more time for my family and to write and do author visits at schools. It also gave me the time to be a mentor to pre-published authors. I participated in the PBChat Mentor Program three years in a row and Jocelyn applied to be my mentee in the last year. I loved her story from the first few stanzas, so I chose her. It was a great experience mentoring her and other authors!
At the end of our mentorship, Jocelyn suggested we write a Canadian version of my Travel Guide for Monsters. I’d never been to Canada, so she provided a list of places the monsters could visit and some verses she started. We worked together from there.
JW: I cannot express the amount of luck that I had in order for this book to come together. As Lori mentioned, we met through the PBChat Mentorship Program in 2020; with Lori as the mentor and I as the mentee. I had only been in the writing game for a couple of years but very early on discovered Lori’s books and just loved her style, humour and rhyme. When I saw that she was a mentor for the PBChat program, and read her mentor info sheet, I really felt that we would be a good match. Turns out she thought so too! Lori helped get what is now my debut picture book (The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story) ready for submission and to our great pleasure, it was picked up by Sleeping Bear Press!
I thought it would be so neat to have a Canadian version of the TGFM book, so at the end of our mentorship, I pitched the idea to Lori and presented her with a rough draft of what we could work on together and pitch to our shared editor Sarah Rockett at Sleeping Bear Press.
Lucky me! She agreed!
Q: In your book Travel Guide for Monsters Part Deux: A Canadian Adventure, you take readers on a rhymed journey! What was your process for writing the story / rhyme together?
LD: I had tried co-writing before and it didn’t come naturally to me but writing TGFM was a breeze, mostly I think because it had an established meter (following the original) and there’s no plot – just a series of vignettes. Jocelyn and I wrote and edited the verses on our own and in real-time on a Google doc. It was a really fun way to do it!
JW: Yes, it really wasn’t too difficult. When I attempted a first draft, I stayed true to Lori’s original vision and structure for the book and just changed the locations and actions of the monsters. Then when we worked together, we were texting/messaging and talking on the phone while working in a shared google doc. It was really cool to see her process and work through the edits together in live time!
Q: So many readers are drawn to your loveable characters! What process did you have for making the monsters loveable and infusing heart into them? How did you come up with each one?
JW: They’re awesome, eh?! I love how vibrant the colours are! But we cannot take ANY credit for them AT ALL! It was all Marcus, our illustrator and the amazing design team at Sleeping Bear Press. I also would need to give kudos to the illustrator of Lori’s original book Dave Szalay who really set the tone with his illustrations in the first book.
LD: I agree - it’s all Marcus! I love the adorable monsters he created and all the detail he put into each illustration! He stayed true to the style of Dave Szalay (the illustrator of the first Travel Guide for Monsters), which I think is great!
Q: Sleeping Bear Press is a PHENOMENAL publisher. What was it like working with them?
LD: I’d like to say how wonderful Sleeping Bear Press is to work with! Our editor, Sarah Rockett, is wonderful and they have a great marketing team! This is my third book with them and hopefully not the last!
JW: I second that! This is my second book with SBP! I enjoy how we can work closely with all many members of their team.
Q: What is one of your favorite things about Halloween (or fall)?
LD: My favorite thing about Halloween used to be dressing up but, once I had kids and grandkids, watching them enjoying Halloween is what I like best!
I’m really proud of a costume I made in my early 20’s. I was a Wandering Jew plant – complete with hanger and care tag. It was impossible to sit down in it, which is the only thing I didn’t like about it.
JW: Ah Lori - what a great costume! As a Canadian living in California, it’s the start of cool weather, big cozy sweaters, drinking big mugs of tea and not sweating! I also love making my son’s Halloween costume each year (well almost every year). This year I’ve been tasked with Wolverine from X-Men. Wish me luck!
Here is my early 20s Halloween costume - Wilma Flintsone! My now husband, was Fred! Note: I made my necklace out of jumbo marshmallows and let them harden so they looked like her rock necklace!
Q: BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite Halloween Candy? OR What candy pairs the best with your book?
LD: I love candy corn! I know - a lot of people don’t like it. I love it even more now that I know that, if you eat it with peanuts, it tastes just like a Payday!
JW: My favourite chocolate bar/mini Halloween chocolate bar is Caramilk (which we can’t get in the US), which is just delightful after having been in the freezer for a couple of hours. But any maple candy would probably pair best with this book!
Thanks again for joining us, Lori and Jocelyn! It was a BLAST having you!
Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?
LD: I’ll leave a treat of a free written critique.
JW: Me too!
2 critiques? Thanks for such a doubly-sweet treat!
Contest Details: To enter to win one (1) of two (2) critiques make sure to share this post on social media and leave a comment below thanking Lori and Jocelyn for stopping by! Monster GIFs are always appreciated and welcomed. ;)
#SeasonsOfKidLit's Trick-or-Treat Winners will be chosen on or about November 5th.
*Books will be shipped in the US only*
Note: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of ten (10) Rate Your Story Speed Passes, perfect for quick MS feedback, provided by Agent Mentee Lynne Marie & Author Heather Macht.
About Lori Degman:
Lori Degman is the award-winning author the picture books: Travel Guide For Monsters (illustrated by Dave Szalay, 2020) and Travel Guide For Monsters Part Deux: A Canadian Adventure (co-written with Jocelyn Watkinson and illustrated by Marcus Cutler, 2023), Like a Girl (illustrated by Mara Penny, 2019), Just Read (illustrated by Victoria Tentler-Krylov, 2019), Norbert’s Big Dream (illustrated by Marco Bucci, 2016), Cock-a-Doodle Oops (illustrated by Deborah Zemke, 2014) and 1 Zany Zoo (illustrated by Colin Jack, 2010). Lori was a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing and now writes full-time. She loves doing school visits and presenting at writing conferences. She lives with her family in Vernon Hills.
About Jocelyn Watkinson:
Jocelyn Watkinson is the author of The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story (illustrated by Marcus Cutler, 2022) and Travel Guide For Monsters Part Deux: A Canadian Adventure (co-written with Jocelyn Watkinson and illustrated by Marcus Cutler, 2023). Jocelyn is an ex-pat Canadian living in California with her husband, son and golden retriever, Sinclair. When not fussing over stanzas and rhyming couplets, Jocelyn likes to play soccer, play board games, craft anything from cross stitch, to string art to refurbishing old furniture all while sipping on a hot cup of tea.
For more about Lori & Jocelyn, check out the below links:
For more about Marcus Culter, check out the below links:
A special thanks to David Rodriguez Lorenzo for the amazing custom-signatures!