writing for children

TAMEKA BROWN and My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood!

I am excited to be part of the blog tour for 

Tameka Brown’s newest picture book — for blog pieMy Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood!

Welcome, Tameka!

*and the crowd goes wild!*

Tameka graciously answered some of my questions below. I hope you are as inspired by her responses as I am. Her interview made me want to go out tomorrow and have a lemon-lime, fancy dancing in my mind, kind of day!

1. I had the opportunity to read My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood when it was still in the baby stages. If I remember correctly, it had a different name. I liked the old title, but this one really captures the heart of the story. It’s great! How did you come up with the new title? Did you have a lot of input? Were there other titles for the running? And can you share?

Initially, the title was In a Mood. But the sales and marketing folks at Viking were concerned that In a Mood didn’t give an accurate feel as to what the story was really about, that buyers might think it was the story of a mopey kid or something.  Coming up with a new title was a true team effort: myself, my agent, my editor, the art director, sales and marketing all were involved. We finally came up with My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood. Today, I’m really glad we changed it. It’s been very well received.


2. Do you remember where you were when the idea for this book came to you? Did you feel, deep down, that this was going to be publishable?

I thought to myself one challenging day, “Boy, am I in a mood.” My writer’s ear perked up during that moment of introspection and heard something that would make a great title or first line.  When I sat down to write, “I’m in a mood/a feeling kind of mood/a being kind of mood is what I’m in” flowed onto the page. After a few minutes of thinking what to write next, I came up with the idea of incorporating the concept of color, and the story took off from there.

Yes, I thought it would be publishable. But, honestly, I always think my stories are publishable, even when they don’t end up being so.


3. When I read Bluesy Mood, I can totally relate to the colors of the moods. Especially the section on running home when the street lights come on!! Did you have that experience growing up? What are some other memories that helped you be able to tap into the emotions in your book?

I was a quite literally a homebody, so no, I was always in the house well before dark. But the image of racing home before the streetlights is such an iconic image of our past—one that many kids might not be familiar with—I felt it would be an interesting, conversation-generating scene to include.

4. Like many other writers, I can get frustrated with the process of submitting. You have a fabulous agent, but I am sure the wait can be just as rough. Do you have any helpful hints for dealing with the wait? How do you handle it?

It has taken a while to get to this point, but when I have something out on submission, I am now able to release it and move on to the next thing, be it writing another story or helping my kids study for a test or a variety of other activities. I’m not sure if it’s a matter of being more professionally mature, or if my life is so crazy hectic these days I don’t have time to obsess over responses from editors.  I suspect it’s the latter, but I’m going to claim the former.


5. And what about the big R word? Rejections? Thoughts on that?

I wish we didn’t use the R word. Think about what it connotes: That which you have sincerely offered has been judged to be not good enough. Who can handle that without some level of trauma?

Now honestly, it might be case that a manuscript is terrible, but most often it’s a matter of opinion and not an indisputable fact.  In my mind, I no longer think of them as “rejections”. I think of them as “nos”. I seem to be able to handle those pretty well.

(note from Donna: I love this! not “rejections”, but simply “nos”… great advice!)


6. Some writers write everyday. Others when they mood strikes them. And others wake up with a pen and paper as inspiration seeps into their minds in the wee hours of the morning.  Do you have a writing regimen? Or do you only write when in the mood? Maybe you use a combination of both?

I write when I’m in the mood. Perhaps one day I’ll be more regimented with my writing schedule, but since I’m balancing writing with parenting three active girls, today is not that day. I have been known to write ideas down on the back of receipts and field trip forms so I don’t lose them forever. And I do believe that some of my best ideas come to me as I’m waking up from a good night’s sleep.


7. Speaking of being in the mood… what color fits your mood best when you see My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood on bookshelves and in the hands of children?  

Peach. A sweet, juicy, peachy colored mood is what that sight puts me in.


8. I always ask five questions at the end of my interviews… it’s a lightning round! When you read these choices, which speaks to your mood right now?

Water, cola or sweet tea?

Sweet tea (because I’ve been denying myself for a while).


Cake, cookies or brownies?



Blue, green or orange?

Today, green.


Mountains, beach or home?



Sleep, exercise or lunch?

Normally I’d say sleep, but my waistband of late reveals lunch.


Thank you so much for being with us today!

Thank you for having me, my friend.


Be sure and check out My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood at your local bookstore or online retailer! Here are some online resources you can find it:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cold-Plum-Lemon-Bluesy-Mood/dp/0670012858

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-cold-plum-lemon-pie-bluesy-mood-tameka-fryer-brown/1111814325

And if you are in the Charlotte Area – Tameka’s launch party is March 23rd at Park Road Books! You can find more info here: http://www.facebook.com/events/194181574057091/

writing for children

The Next Big Thing

My sweet friend LAURA RENEGAR tagged me! So now I get to chat about the manuscript I’m querying and tag other writers that I think might answer the questions, too. I haven’t done one of these things in a LOOOONG time. Sounds like fun!

1. What is the working title of your book? Just Desserts
2. Where did the idea come from the book? I was thinking about how much I love having chocolate for breakfast. So the first title was CHOCOLATE FOR BREAKFAST. Then it kind of morphed into a completely different story. (And just in case you’re wondering… I do NOT eat it for breakfast every morning. But I would if I could. )
3. What genre is your book? It’s in the quirky picture book category. I’m not sure that’s an actual category. But it should be if it’s not.
4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie? Ooooh – that depends on which cute, adorable dragons are available for a reasonable fee.
5. What is a one sentence synopsis of your book? When a spoiled young prince ignores the Queen’s warnings and demands just desserts for every meal while she is away, the prince ends up with much more on his plate than he bargained for.
6. Will your book be self-published or repped by an agency? I am looking  for an agent. But if that doesn’t work out, I’ll be subbing it to publishing houses on my own.
7. How long did it take you to finish your first draft? First initial and very rough first draft took about 3 days.
8. What other books would you compare yours to in this genre? Mustache! by Marc Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Both the king in Mustache! and the prince in Just Desserts are self-centered royalty who can’t see anyone’s POV but their own. By the end, they have learned a little… but not too much. 🙂
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? Chocolate, fun with words… and lots of prayer!
10. What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest? The dessert recipes in the book are not your typical recipes. That’s all I’m able to say without throwing up a little in my mouth.
Now it’s your turn! Here are some writer’s with blogs that I hope will answer these questions and post them…
Have FUN!
writing for children

Writing Workshops?

If you could take the following writing workshops, what would your top 5 picks be and why? If you don’t see a category you want, what is it?

  • Historical Fiction
  • Picture Books
  • Mid-grade (general)
  • YA (general)
  • Dystopian
  • Easy Readers
  • Board Books
  • Writing for magazines
  • Blogging
  • Character development
  • Plot and Structure
  • Dialogue and setting
  • Beginnings, endings and the middle meat
  • Nonfiction
writing for children

I’M BACK!! :)

Today is situational stuffs Saturday AND more newsworthy, it’s the second day of the New Year.

Can you believe it? Wow!

I took a few weeks off to spend time with my family. I had a blast. Christmas, New Year’s and all the stuffs in between flew by far too quickly.

How did you celebrate New Year’s Day? I spent yesterday with my sweet, beautiful family, then later (much later) I hung out with more “family” (you know, the type that’s not family by blood…but family just the same!) and then collapsed in bed by 3am this morning. LATE NIGHT!

My hubby had some guy friends over to play some cards. I didn’t play this time, though I’m pretty sure I could have beat them all. (yes, I talk big. One day I’ll have to put my cards where my mouth is!)

I also wrote a new picture book over the holidays. I’ve had it critiqued, several times, and worked out the kinks. And now, I’m actually looking for an agent. Here are the books I have ready to offer: a picture book (625 words), picture story book (1100 words), and a humorous chapter book (mystery). I’m almost done with a book of poetry, too, but can’t add it to my list until it’s been critiqued and tweaked. 

I am looking forward to catching back up with all of you. It’s good to be back in the blogosphere! 🙂

OOOOH! My hubby just informed that today’s date is very cool:  01022010.  It’s a palindrome!

writing for children

Maverick Monday: Crying in the bookstore

On Friday, my mom, sister and I were Christmas shopping in the cold, almost-freezing rain. We sprinted into a Family Christian bookstore. (they had some great stuff last time we were there.)

I picked up a picture book and showed it to my sister.

We read it.

We smiled.

We giggled.


we wept.

Right there in the middle of the bookstore.  

Blubbering and splotchety, but we didn’t care. (We were already wet from the rain, anyway.)

There we stood, making idiots of ourselves.

All because of one little book.

But guess what? It was worth it.

It was SOOO worth it that we ran over to show our mom. We read it again.

Then cried again.

And no, we still didn’t care that we probably seemed very strange to the store clerks. (For the record, they were extremely polite and didn’t say a word about our breakdown.)

The book that caused all the hub-bub? Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol heyer. 

After you read this sweet Christmas story, I bet you’ll be all splotchety, too.