March 19, 2012

Meet Iza Trapani, Author/Illustrator - And A Giveaway!

Happy Monday Everyone!  I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

You know, I struggle a little with this blog schedule.  On the one hand, I don't want to post more than three days a week.  On the other hand, I don't want to cram so much into a post that you the one look at all that text and skip on to the next blog (I know - I haven't quite mastered that one :)).  On the other hand, I don't want to post twice in a day because that's as bad as adding a day -  I know how busy everyone is, how many great blogs there are to read out there, and how limited your time is.  On the other hand (I believe we're up to four hands now... so you see the struggle!) there's is so much to share!!!  I had thought I could solve one problem by posting the monthly interviews on Saturday or Sunday, but I didn't like that and neither, I think, did you.  We all need a break.  So I'm booting Oh Susanna this week and putting the interview in here.

And oh I have such a treat for you today!  Please join me in welcoming the incomparable Iza Trapani!

SLH:  When did you first become interested in writing and/or illustrating?  Was it something you always did, or something you came to later in life?

Author/Illustrator Iza Trapani
IT:  I have been an artist since I could hold a pencil in my hand (or lipstick for that matter; as a toddler, I used my mom‘s lipstick to paint a masterpiece on our wall.) I have also always enjoyed writing, especially poetry. In high school and college, while art was my main focus, I took as many creative writing courses as I could.

SLH:  Were you encouraged by family/teachers?

IT:  Yes, as long as I stayed away from the lipstick, my family encouraged me. They read and sang to me and instilled in me a lifelong love of art, language and music. Friends and teachers did as well, throughout my whole life. Their belief in me has always been and continues to be empowering.

SLH:  You are both an author and an illustrator.  Which comes first for you, the story or the art?
        
IT:  The story comes first, but I  envision the pictures as I write it. I want to be sure that the story suggests wonderful imagery and that scenes vary from page to page.

SLH:  Where/when/how do you get your ideas?

At the most inopportune times- in the middle of the night, in the shower, when I am driving...The idea for my first children‘s book, What am I? An Animal Guessing Game came to me  when I was on  a long mountain bike ride twenty-two years ago. When a turtle crosed the trail in front of me, I made up a little rhyming riddle about him. By the time I returned home an hour or so later, I had the book roughed out and some of the verses composed.  I  never really thought of myself as a writer until that point.  I had a portfolio packed with children‘s book art but not one story. And then one day (thank you turtle), I tapped into that part of my brain, and after that ideas kept pouring out.

SLH:  What has been the most challenging thing you have faced as an author/illustrator?

IT:  Maybe two things: The waiting- hearing back from editors and art directors, waiting for the book to be printed, waiting for reviews, waiting for royalty statements...The other challenge is  having my illustrations in progress (especially covers) reviewed by, not just the art director and editor, but the marketing team, the sales team, the editorial departments etc. I am very easy to work with and totally open to viable suggestions, but after a while it becomes art by committee.Have you ever heard the expression that a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee?Well, it‘s something like that!

SLH:  What has been the most wonderful thing that has happened to you as an author/illustrator?

IT:  I can‘t put my finger on one thing. There have been so many exciting and gratifying moments. What warms my heart the most is the love and loyalty from my generous fan base - the parents, the early educators, the children, the supportive fellow authors, like you, Susanna. I have met so many wonderful people on this great journey!

SLH:  What has been your best selling book so far?

IT:  The Itsy Bitsy Spider. I am proud (and amazed) to say it has sold over a million copies  and is still going strong.

SLH:  Why do you think that might have been?

IT:  Timing might have had something to do with it. There weren‘t many retellings of nursery rhymes at the time (that I know of ) and so I found a niche in the market. The book became instantly popular with teachers, especially Pre-K to K. I had very positive feedback from early educators telling me how useful the book was in teaching young children to read - that the kids recognized the title so they were eager to look inside the book, that they already knew the first verse so that gave them confidence to learn the other verses. Plus the book could be sung for even easier learning.

SLH:  Were you surprised by one book's success over another's?

IT:  With over twenty years of practice, both my writing and illustration have improved, so it surprises me that my fifteenth book, Froggie Went A-Courtin’, which has some of my best artwork, is not doing anywhere near as well as my second book,  The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

SLH:  Have all your titles earned out?

IT:  Fifteen of the seventeen books that I haveboth written and illustrated have earned out. I have also illustrated four books for other authors and two of those have earned out.

SLH:  Are they all still in print?

IT:  All but one of my titles, a non-nursery rhyme book, My Jack are still in print. Of the four books I illustrated for other authors, only one, The Wedding by Eve Bunting, is still in print.  I have worked with small presses, who keep books in print longer than some of the big houses. My books have had a long run. I have been very lucky.

SLH:  Have sales affected publishers' willingness to do further projects in a good or bad way?

IT:  The publishing world is in such a sea of change right now and publishers are wary and much more discriminating. It's a very tough market right now- even for those of us with good track records.

SLH:  Can you give us any hints about what you’re working on now?

IT:  I have a new book coming out Apri11, 2012- The Bear Went Over the Mountain. As for works in progress, I have a few children's stories brewing and am  also working on the last chapter of an adult(maybe YA) memoir.

SLH:  What advice do you have for authors/illustrators just starting out?

IT:  Spend A LOT of time reading and studying childrens books. Read adult books on writing and/or illustrating. Practice and work hard on your stories and art. Take classes, workshops, join a critique group. Look honestly at your work and polish it to the best of your ability before submitting. There is a wealth of information on the internet. Check out writing/illustrating blogs.  Join the SCBWI  (society for childrens book writers and illustrators)who offer great advice and opportunities for those hoping to become published.

SLH:  Where can we find you?

IT:  My website: www.izatrapani.com
Twitter: @IzaTrapani

And now the quick, fun questions for the end! :)

Agented or not? agented
Traditionally or self-published? traditionally
Hard copy or digital? hard copy
Apps or not? no
Left-handed or right?  I''m a rightie (hands only :-), though I have suspicions I was born leftie and my parents raised me to use my right hand. I lead with my left hand in so many things…Long answer!
Plotter or pantser? plonster
Laptop or desktop? laptop
Mac or PC? Mac
Day or night worker? day
Coffee or tea? Both
Snack or not? Snack
Salty or sweet? Yes!
Quiet or music? quiet when writing/music when illustrating
Cat or dog? One of each (although - SLH here - I've seen her dog and he's more like a pony :))
Currently reading? Besides blogs? :-) Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Thank you so much for joining us, Iza!

And now, as if that very informative interview wasn't enough, you all have a chance to win a signed, hardcover copy of Iza's brand new book which isn't even officially out until April 1!!!  To qualify, leave a comment below in which (in addition to whatever else you might or might not say) you include 4 rhyming lines about a bear :)  Qualified comments will be loaded into random.org and one lucky winner will receive The Bear Went Over The Mountain before the rest of the world :)

Now, very quickly before we go:
1.  Look for Phyllis's visit to Saskatchewan on Beth's blog tomorrow (Tuesday, March 20) - it promises to be quite something!
2.  I will be featured on Children's Literature Network's new feature - Bookscope: The Story Behind The Story - with the story behind Not Yet, Rose tomorrow also! (link will be added when I have it!)
3.  Phyllis had an AMAZING visit to Missouri which you won't want to miss (especially if you're a CARS fan :)) so please visit Andi :)  And be sure to check in with Phyllis's World Tour page for updates between blog posts here!

Thank you all for visiting with Iza!  Now write those 4 rhyming lines about a bear :) - you could WIN!!!  (Oh, and please get your rhyming lines in by 5 PM EDT Tuesday March 20 - the winner will be announced Wednesday!)



Reactions:

108 comments:

  1. There once was a bear,
    Who didn't flinch on a dare.
    To prance around his lair,
    In his people patterned underwear.

    Iza, your books look amazing! Thank goodness you're a wonderful artist, or you might have gotten punished for your lipstick wall drawing! Best of luck with The Bear Went Over The Mountain! Great interview Susanna!

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  2. Great interview and nice to meet you Iza. I had a question, what does earn out mean? Also, when a book goes out of print, can an author do republish it else where?

    My bear went over the mountain
    To see all that he could see
    And when the sun went down
    My bear came home to me. :)

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  3. If I were a bear,
    I'd dress with utmost care
    and beguile all the ladies
    with my silky savoir-faire.

    Iza, I was just thinking yesterday that I miss you! And today there you were in my inbox. I don't know how you squeezed in there, but I'm glad you did. Wonderful to learn more about your process and your books and...ONE MILLION COPIES??? You are a goddess. :)

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  4. Well, a sly one like me, has her ways! I'm glad to have squeezed in and be featured on Susanna's wonderful blog. I miss you too!

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  5. Nice to meet you Saba! Earning out is paying off an advance. Publishers pay authors an advance against royalties. Once they sell enough books to cover the advance, then the author starts earning royalties. And, yes, when a book goes out of print, (as per contract) the rights revert back to the author and she/he is free to republish elsewhere.

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  6. People patterned underwear-ha! Thanks so much, Julie!

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  7. Thanks so much for this interview, Susanna!

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  8. Love your lines, Renee :) And I agree - Iza is a goddess!!

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  9. I see Iza has already answered your questions perfectly, Saba. Apparently I overslept :) Love your bear rhyme :)

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  10. Glad you enjoyed it, Julie! I enjoyed your poem - especially the people-patterned underwear :)

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  11. There once was a bear,
    Whose name was Claire,
    He was very shy,
    He'd hide from every creature, even a fly!

    Great interview Ms. Hill and Ms. Trapani (I saw the one with Ms. LaTulippe)! I see that Saba asked the question I was going to ask! Loved the interview! I've been checking out your website/blog Ms. Trapani! :)
    Erik

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  12. Great interview, Iza. Thanks for sharing your insights with us.

    I have always loved my bears,
    be them polar, grizzly, black, or teddys.
    Don't want to meet them face-to-face, alone or in pairs,
    but at bird feeders or Susanna's back door I'd be ready!

    Teri Miller

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  13. I enjoyed learning more about Iza.

    Here's my bear memoir:
    Once I saw a sign for a bear.
    Since I moved ahead,
    Hubby thought I did not care.
    My feet shuffled with dread.

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  14. Catherine JohnsonMarch 19, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    "Oh fiddlesticks where is Bear?"
    "He's here! I was combing his hair."
    "A bear with hair? That can't be true.
    He's furry, brown and cuddly too."

    What a wonderful interview Susanna and Iza. Nice to meet you Iza and I must read The Itzy Bitsy Spider.

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  15. This is my second exposure to Iza and it means I need to check out her books. You interview was fun and informative! Her comment about the changing world of publishing and that even authors with a track record are having a challenging time. The Bear book is so beautifully illustrated. Good luck with sales. Great interview Iza and Susanna.

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  16. Very nice interview, guys!

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  17. Wow, that was a fun--and inspiring interview! Thanks and Happy Monday Susanna!

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  18. Thank you, Coleen! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview! Iza is amazing!

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  19. Thank you, Lisa :) Seems to me it's your turn next! :)

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  20. Thanks, Pat. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Iza's art is so beautiful, I think you'll love getting a better look at it through all her books. (And of course, her writing is fantastic too!)

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  21. Rupert and Small and Teddy Doh
    Were three little bears that I used to know.
    Small was smaller than all the rest
    And so he suited his name the best!

    I enjoyed and appreciated this interview with Iza very much. Thank you! And thank you for the shout-out about the Saskatchewan leg of Phyllis's World Tour. Phyllis and I had a blast together! She is tons of fun.

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  22. Thanks for such a fun interview and the chance....my rhyme:
    The bear's new book was launching
    for readers far and near.
    He thought that he would give one
    to a reader reading here!

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  23. Big bear,
    small bear.
    Both share.
    Kind pair!

    More of Iza. Yes! I can't get enough. Great interview, Susanna. All those wonderful books still thrilling kids!

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  24. So fun for you to have Iza here today! We have the Itsy Bitsy Spider book and we LOVE it. Read it all the time. Same with her book, I'm a Little Teapot. She is wonderful and I LOVE her art work!

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  25. You silly old bear,
    Don't be such a ninny!
    Come give me a hug.
    I love you dear Winnie!

    Thank you for the lovely interview Susanna and Iza! If you stacked a million copies of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" end to end, would they reach the moon?

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  26. I've met that bear! He's called Cornelius at Jama Rattigan's "Alphabet Soup" blog. LOL

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  27. We have so many of Iza's books! Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star...Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush...Row, Row, Row Your Boat...Jingle Bells...I could go on. We love them all.

    Onto my bear poem...here goes:

    My bear his name is Sparklespuffy
    He’s brown and white and very fluffy
    This bear is nice, he does not growl
    Because he’s stuffed he cannot scowl

    Thanks for the wonderful interview!

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  28. Elizabeth Stevens OmlorMarch 19, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Patsy the bear liked to stay in her robe.
    She thought, "I'm a bear, I don't need to wear clothes!"
    I'll just sit here and rest, kick my paws up, unwind
    Eat bonbons and berries straight from the vine.

    Please don't ask me where this came from. I have never eaten a bonbon in my ife! What is a bonbon? I'm not even sure it rhymes. I'm a delusional rhymer, thinking things rhyme when they don't! =) I would LOVE a copy of Iza's book! Yay! You ladies are great! So happy to read this interview!

    Thanks!

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  29. Love your rhyme! I'm not exactly sure what a bonbon is either, but it sounds decadent and it's fun to say, so I often joke about lying around eating bonbons :) Glad you enjoyed the interview - Iza is terrific!

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  30. Thanks for stopping by and joining in the rhyming fun, Kim! Iza's books are really great, aren't they? :)

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  31. Glad you enjoyed it, Cathy! And you'll have to ask Iza about the distance to the moon - I don't have a million of anything :) Love your poem :)

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  32. Itsy Bitsy Spider was the first one we had, too, back in 1994. It was loved nearly to pieces in our house :) I love her artwork too. To me, it is just exactly what picture book art should be!

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  33. I think they always will, Joanna. The perfect combination of words and pictures :) Thanks for the poem!

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  34. Hi Stacy,
    Sounds like you had a close encounter! Fun poem!

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  35. What a perfect rhyme for the occasion! Thanks for stopping by, reading, and rhyming! :)

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  36. Excellent rhyme, Beth, thanks for joining the fun! And I cannot wait to see and hear about Phyllis's visit to you! :)

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  37. Thanks for your fun rhyme, Catherine! And i can assure you, you will love ALL of Iza's books! :)

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  38. Great poem! Bonbons and berries go so well together. Bonbons,you poor, deprived ladies, are chocolate coated nougats or little chocolate coated ice cream balls. I couldn't bear to be without them :-)

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  39. Thanks so much, Kim! What a fun poem- I love Sparklespuffy!

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  40. So glad you enjoyed the interview, Stacy! And thanks for your rhyme... did you find the bear or did it find you?

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  41. Great poem! and I love your comment, Cathy. Great job on your video poem too! So nice to see and hear you!

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  42. Thank you so much Leigh! But did you forget to write a poem- or was the idea unbearable? :-)

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  43. Thank you dear Joanna! I LOVE your Seuss-like rhyme!

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  44. Clever poem, Sharon! Thanks so much :-)

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  45. Thank you, Coleen! I am glad you enjoyed it. No poem?

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  46. Thanks for introducing me to this talented illustrator!
    I used to think a polar bear
    lived underneath my bed
    But now I'm glad it's not really there
    For then I would be dead

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  47. You're too kind to me, sweet Susanna!

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  48. Thanks Lisa! No poem today?

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  49. I'm glad you enjoyed this! And thanks in advance for checking out my books :-)

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  50. Susanna- now my head won't fit through the door and I can't get to my bonbons :-)

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  51. Now I am laughing! :)














    Iza Trapani (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Susanna- now my head won't fit through the door and I can't get to my bonbons :-)

    Link to comment

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  52. Oh what a sweet poem. And I love fiddlesticks! Great to meet you, Catherine!

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  53. Maybe it would be a vegetarian polar bear :) Thanks for joining in the fun, and I'm glad you like iza's interview and her art!

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  54. Fun poem, Teri! I'm glad you liked the interview :-)

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  55. Hi Erik! Thanks for checking out my sites. I've done the same with yours :-) Nice poem!

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  56. Yes, I love your lines too, Renee. I was rushing this morning and forgot to say that!

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  57. Great interview Susanna and Iza! I'm not up to rhyming right now, but good luck to all who enter!

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  58. Well thanks so much for stopping by and reading, Ruth! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. And if you think of a rhyme in a couple hours you can always come back :)

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  59. Terrific poem, Beth! So glad you enjoyed the interview, and Phyllis's World is such a great concept. That Susanna -she's a fun and clever one!

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  60. and her World TOUR too :-)

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  61. Love your poem, Erik! (And so sorry - I thought I'd replied to this about 10 hours ago!) Glad you enjoyed the interview :)

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  62. Thanks for stopping by and rhyming, Teri :) You know you'd better be ready for bears at my house! Glad you enjoyed the interview with Iza :)

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  63. I have a little bear who is a snuggly-wuggly guy.
    He always keeps me company so that I'll never cry.
    There's nothing really wrong with this as far as I can see--
    except my bear is forty-two and I am almost forty-three! :)

    Iza--I just loved your video at No Water River--you were so much fun! We have a couple your books in our collection, so count us as part of the MILLION--Wow!! Amazing work! :)

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  64. Catherine JohnsonMarch 19, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Thanks Iza, I will definitely be checking out all your books.

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  65. A wonderful interview. Thanks for introducing me to Iza, Susanna. :-)

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  66. Love you poem!!! I am part of the million too :) And you and Iza and Caty and Renee are all awesome as far as I'm concerned with your amazing poetry videos!

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  67. Elizabeth Stevens OmlorMarch 19, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    Ohhhhhh....Yummy.

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  68. I will have to check out said bear!

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  69. Can't bear to rhyme, eh? That's ok. Glad you enjoyed the interview!

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  70. Funny poem, Jackie! And thanks for the kind words!

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  71. What a great interview! It's always fascinating to hear about others' journey. Hmmm . . . 4 rhyming lines about a bear?

    There once was a bear from calcutta
    Who always did say 'I don't want ta.'
    He'd gripe and he'd groan
    when invited he'd moan
    'Cause he just didn't like getting up-a.

    Okay, not great, but on the fly, this is what you get. :)

    Have a great day!

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  72. Thanks for the great interview! I love your books, Iza. I am really looking forward to The Bear Went Over the Mountain. I grew up in Colorado. My three sisters and I sang The Bear Went Over the Mountain often as we actually climbed up the mountain :•)

    Phyllis should arrive in Abilene soon & I'm looking forward to her visit. I have so enjoyed her world tour!

    Here are my lines:
    A big black bear with "morning hair" saw his wild reflection,
    And so he grabbed a red toupee—a "morning hair" correction!
    But north winds came and blew toupee a southerly direction.
    I guess he's meant to have bad air...by natural selection!

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  73. Typo!!!!!!!!
    That should say "bad hair" in the last line!!! I didn't mean to have this bear passing gas :-(

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  74. I could only imagine the damage today's lipsticks would do, with their ability to withstand eating, drinking, and kissing. Good thing I don't have any for my daughter to draw with. :)

    Loved your comment on my blog. Gotcha. No kissing worms, huh? :D

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  75. What a great interview. I like Iza's snack choice. :) Quick question (in lieu of a rhyme): What does "earning out" mean?

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  76. Thank you very much for explanation, Iza. Good luck with your new projects!

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  77. I enjoyed this interview very much. I don't get to read much from an illustrator's point of view. This interview combined the writer and illustrator into one wonderful person and author. Thank you so much Susanna and Iza for sharing this with us today.

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  78. You're welcome, Saba. Love your poem, btw!

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  79. You are so welcome, Angela. I'm so glad Susanna asked me to be here and that you enjoyed the interview!

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  80. Glad you liked the interview and my snack choice! As for your question: Earning out is paying off an advance. Publishers pay authors an advance against royalties. Once they sell enough books to cover the advance, then the author starts earning royalties.

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  81. I'm so glad if you enjoyed it, Angela! I guess your chipmunk may be a little old for PBs at this point - too bad because Iza's are so beautiful! :)

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  82. That's true, Stina!

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  83. Oh I LOVE your poem, Penny! So funny- even without the passing gas! Your comment about the typo gave me a great belly laugh this morning. Thanks!

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  84. Penny, I was so excited about the gassy bear, I forgot to thank you for the nice words about my books. What a nice story about you and your sisters. I love Colorado- lived for a few months in Boulder when I was 19 and have returned many times for hiking, skiing and climbing. Such a beautiful place.

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  85. A limerick is always great! Thanks, Janet!

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  86. Natalie, thank you so much for your wonderful snuggly-wuggly poem and equally snuggly-wuggly warm comment!

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  87. I so loved learning more about you and your journey, Iza!

    ( I'm over the moon for how generous you are with your story!)

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  88. Thanks so much for visiting and reading, Galit! Iza is the best, isn't she? :)

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  89. The Itsy Bitsy Spider is still one of our favorites. I love books that retell classic songs/stories. Plus rhyming books are so easy for my son to read.

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  90. And Iza has such a wonderful ability to expand on the story and make it so much more fun than the original! :)

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  91. LOVE your limerick, Janet! Thanks for stopping by, reading and rhyming :)

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  92. Love your rhyme, Penny - especially the typo! Thanks for the laugh :)

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  93. I like Iza's snack choice too :) Thanks for stopping by and reading, Tracy!

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  94. No lipstick in my house either, Stina. Chapstick... but unless it was cherry I don't think the art would show up :)

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  95. How wonderful to see Iza Trapani here. The Itsy Bitsy Spider was a regular with both of my children. By looking at my copy, you can tell how much they loved it.

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  96. Thank you so much, Theresa! That's wonderful to hear :-)

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  97. I'm so glad, Kirsten! Big thanks!

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  98. Galit, thank you with all my heart. You are wonderful!

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  99. YOU are the best, Susanna! xoxo

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  100. Not sure how I missed this post! Wanted to say hello to Iza. We share a publisher, as my pb is also coming out with Sky Pony Press! Looking forward to the arrival of The Bear Went Over the Mountain in April. I am in major waiting mode right now, so I definitely resonated with your response to the "challenges" question. Darn, I was hoping the waiting part would get easier over time, but I guess not. Thanks for the great interview, Susanna and Iza!

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  101. Glad you enjoyed the interview, Amy, and congrats on your book coming from Sky Pony! What is it?

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  102. Thanks, Susanna! The book is Marathon Mouse...while most New York City mice tremble in fear at the thought of being trampled during the City's annual marathon, one brave mouse puts on his running shoes, stretches his stubby little legs, and joins the race to fulfill his larger-than-life dream. It's my first, so very very exciting!

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  103. What a great idea!!! Having grown up in Manhattan and watched my husband and brothers run the marathon many times, I can't wait to read it!













    Amy Dixon wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Thanks, Susanna! The book is Marathon Mouse...while most New York City mice tremble in fear at the thought of being trampled during the City's annual marathon, one brave mouse puts on his running shoes, stretches his stubby little legs, and joins the race to fulfill his larger-than-life dream. It's my first, so very very exciting!

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  104. I didn't know you grew up in Manhattan! It is funny how many people have connections to marathons. The first editor I subbed to said, "but kids don't run marathons..." I'm fairly certain she had never been to a marathon, because if she had she would have been knee-deep in kids cheering on their parents!

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  105. So true! My kids certainly have been cheering on their dad and uncles since they could ride on my back in a backpack!













    Amy Dixon wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    I didn't know you grew up in Manhattan! It is funny how many people have connections to marathons. The first editor I subbed to said, "but kids don't run marathons..." I'm fairly certain she had never been to a marathon, because if she had she would have been knee-deep in kids cheering on their parents!

    User's profile
    Link to comment

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  106. Hi Erik! Thanks for checking out my sites. I've done the same with yours :-) Nice poem!

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  107. Thanks so much for visiting and reading, Galit! Iza is the best, isn't she? :)

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