I hope you all enjoyed Math Storytelling Day yesterday and are ready for another wonderful storyteller: one of my awesome critique partners and agency sister Annemarie Riley Guertin is here today to talk to us about her newest book, her author experiences, AND, of course have a giveaway! Details will be at the end.)
Annemarie’s newest picture book: Why Evergreens Keep Their Leaves published September 1, 2019 by Familius.
Annemarie Riley Guertin is a newly minted, international author. Her debut picture book How the Finch Got His Colors flew onto shelves in 2018. Her second book, Why Evergreens Keep Their Leaves released on September 1, 2019 (Familius). And she just signed for two more books to be released in 2021! Annemarie graduated from Wheelock College and Fitchburg State University earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education (summa cum laude). Annemarie works as a district literacy coach and reading specialist in Salem, MA. She lives in Haverhill, MA with her husband Michael and their two children.
Thank you so much for joining me today on the MathisEverywhere Blog. It’s always wonderful having a fellow educator here. Let’s get going!
Kaitlyn: First off, you are phenomenal at retelling folktales. What draws you to these types of stories?
Annemarie: Thank you. That’s quite the compliment! I have always been drawn to Folktales even as a young child. My aunt was a teacher and took care of us a lot after school. She always read aloud to us, and I remember most of the stories were folktales. I think that is where the love for them started. I love the cultural influences in the artwork and the storylines themselves. They seem to transport you to another time and place. They’re just magical.
Kaitlyn: Speaking of magic, what’s your magical method for taking older stories and making them relatable?
Annemarie: First and foremost, I have to love the story. I can’t just retell any old folktale. What I usually do is research until I find the original story, read it and then generate ideas on where I can put my own spin on it whether that be by creating a backstory, through character development or by adding my own characters into the storylines. I have done all of the above.
In terms of making them relatable, I think that has everything to do with developing characters that readers can connect with. I think that when you feel for a character and the situation that they are going through, you’ve done your job well.
Kaitlyn: So true, people often fall in love with characters like yours. What inspired you to retell the Evergreen story?
Familius reached out and asked if I would collaborate on another folktale. I knew I wanted to recreate a lesser-known folktale as I had done with Finch. We need new material in this market! I researched a lot of folktales and floated a few ideas *complete with pitches for each one) over to them. Ultimately, it was David Miles that chose Evergreens from the pitches I sent. He fell in love with the original story and loved my ideas on how I would make it my own.
Kaitlyn: Sounds like David has some magic too! Now let’s talk about your upcoming books. Can you tell us a little more about your TWO new books that you just signed contracts for?
Annemarie: I am really excited about my next two books as they are originals. They are both coming out at the same time, which is AMAZING! I cannot wait to see what they look like!
Thundermaestro- Anyone who knows me knows that I have an obsession with thunderstorms. I cannot tell you how many people encouraged me to write a picture book about one. I sat on that idea for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how to create a picture book around a thunderstorm. Then one day it hit me. I knew children were afraid of storms, and I thought long and hard about how I could make something “scary” not so scary, and that is where the idea came from.
Thundermaestro is about a child that uses his/her imagination to conduct a symphony in the sky with the sounds of a storm. It has a ton of onamonapia. My publisher LOVED this one and already has plans for the illustrations!
#Finding Mr. Trunks- My other book #Finding Mr. Trunks is a story about a stuffed animal (hopefully an elephant) that is accidentally dropped at an airport, and he gets picked up by a baby. Mr. Trunks, the baby and its family travel overseas to Italy, where Mr. Trunks devises a clever plan to harness the power of social media to get him back home.
Kaitlyn: Wow! Those sound amazing, and what’s almost more amazing was you signing for TWO books at once! What was that like?
Annemarie: That was definitely a career highlight! I knew soon after I submitted Thundermaestro that it was going under contract. I knew that they were also interested in Mr. Trunks, but they had to discuss it further. Then summer plans happened, and we needed to wait until the team got back together to see if Mr. Trunks was also a contender. A few weeks later, my agent, Rebecca, emailed me the good news. Both books were under contract! That was one of the best days of my life!
Kaitlyn: In your Publishing career so far, you’ve followed the famous Fibonacci sequence: 0, 1, 1, 2, etc. (where the next numbers are formed by adding the two previous ones), do you think it’s possible to get three books next year, ya know, to keep up the pattern? (https://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/fibonacci-sequence.html )
Annemarie: Anything is possible! Wouldn’t that be something?!
Kaitlyn: Definitely! I’m cheering for you! That makes me wonder, how do you cheer for your books? Now that your first book has been out for over a year, what do you and/or your publisher do to keep up the hype for advertising?
Annemarie: I think marketing any way you can is always going to increase your sales- Twitter, facebook, fairs, etc.. I look for speaking opportunities where I can highlight the work that I have done. I look for blog tours, conferences, school visits, etc.. It also helps to have a second book out where you can highlight both at once.
Kaitlyn: Great ideas! So…I have to know: What’s it like being a published author that keeps signing more contracts?
Annemarie: It’s surreal. I hope that I can continue to do this forever.
Kaitlyn: That’s the dream, right? I hope it happens, and on that note, what advice would you give other picture book writers?
Annemarie: It is never too late to chase your dreams. Keep writing and submitting because all it takes is one yes!
Kaitlyn: Agreed!! One yes is all it takes! Finally, if you could spend the day with your favorite author, would you rather go outside and fly a kite or sit by a fire with tea?
Annemarie: Sit by a fire with tea for sure. I would want the opportunity to ask them all the questions floating around in my head!
Now for what you’ve all been waiting for……the GIVEAWAY info for A free SIGNED copy (U.S. only) of Why Evergreens Keep Their Leaves! To earn entries you may:
- Comment here on the blog
- Do a purchase request Why Evergreens Keep Their Leaves from your library (tell us in the comments here)
- Retweet this tweet
BONUS! I’ve been having a great time lately doing free critique giveaways, so I’ll add one here. Tell me in the comments your favorite folktale and WHY it’s your favorite!
Thanks for visiting the MathIsEverywhere Blog! I hope you found helpful information and wonderful inspiration!