When Your Books Go On A Blog Tour (plus a Giveaway)

BlogTourBanner (2)

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a book blog tour. That’s why I’m extra excited to be a part of the amazing Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog tour celebration of her TWO brand new children’s books WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES and WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH! Take a look at the covers; could they be any cuter?!

I wanted to know how Susanna created her “When Your” series. Her blog tour offered the perfect opportunity to find out! Susanna, the page is yours!

Hello Everyone!

Thank you so much for joining the When Your Books Blog Tour fun!
Lauri thought it would be interesting to talk about writing a series today, since that’s something a lot of us haven’t attempted.
So let’s talk! 🙂

It may surprise you to know that I did not set out to write a series!
Nope.
The WHEN YOUR… books began with a case of the hiccups. (Mine 🙂 )
I don’t know about you, but in my household of 5 kids we have plenty of hiccup remedies…none of them particularly successful, mind you, but all of them guaranteed to induce silliness.

So on the day I got the hiccups, I started thinking about those ridiculous remedies – chasing, tickling, laughing, breath-holding, scaring, drinking backwards etc. – and I suddenly had an idea for a story: When Your [child/animal/something?] Has The Hiccups!

I sat down to write – my goal to produce that one single story.
But as you writers all know, the mind works in mysterious ways, and creativity begets creativity.

I wrote the hiccup story, but before I was even finished with it, I started thinking about sniffles…and baths…and haircuts… 🙂
“Hmmm…,” I said to the dogs who were asleep under my feet. “I wonder if I have more than one book here…!”
The dogs (shockingly) did not reply, but I felt I was onto something.
I knew something about series, obviously. We’ve all read them. But what I was used to thinking of as a series were things like Fancy Nancy – several books that feature the same familiar character in varied situations.
That was not what I had.

So I had to think a little about exactly what makes a series.
Clearly, there has to be an element of coherence – something to hold the stories together even without that familiar main character.
In the case of the WHEN YOUR… books that element of coherence is theme.
Every book in the series addresses “things kids sometimes find unpleasant.”
Baths.
Sniffles.
Haircuts.
Bedtime.
Hiccups.
Etc… 🙂
I would not write a story for this series about how much fun someone’s birthday is – that would not fit!
A common theme is important and helpful, but since the characters change from book to book, I knew I needed more than that.

As I moved from writing the hiccup book to writing the sniffles book, I deliberately incorporated several things:

1. A similar tone and voice.
All the books feature an unseen narrator who offers advice.
The overall tone of the books is humorous.
2. A similar objective.
All of the books are instructional – they tell you how to do something.
3. An animal character who is particularly well-suited (in a kind of backwards way) to the situation – e.g. a lion who needs a bath (because cats hate water) or an elephant with the sniffles (because what could be worse than sniffles with a nose like that?!)
4. A child who is in charge.
5. No adults.
6. An ending where, without realizing it or objecting to it, the child ends up doing whatever s/he was trying to get the animal to do 🙂

Because the stories are about things kids sometimes find unpleasant, I wanted to inject humor, hoping to make those objectionable things seem a little more palatable.

And because these objectionable situations are things kids often have to be coerced into, I wanted the child character to be the one in control (since kids tend to lack that in real life! 🙂 ) and I didn’t want any adults.

As a result, even though each story features a different child, a different animal, and a different situation, they have a cohesiveness that holds them together and makes them feel like a matched set even though each story is just as capable of standing on its own.

Elephant14-15

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Daniel Wiseman
Used by permission of Little Simon

LION-spread-5b

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Daniel Wiseman
Used by permission of Little Simon

I hope that gives you a little idea of one way you might go about writing a series. If you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I will do my best to answer in a timely fashion. 🙂

Thanks again for joining the blog tour fun, and I hope you’ll enjoy the books if you get a chance to read them!

And thank you so much, Lauri, for having me here today and for so kindly hosting this stop on the blog tour!

It was my pleasure, Susanna! You’ve given us all a mini lesson on writing a picture book series. Awesome! 

And as if things couldn’t get any better, Susanna is generously offering one signed copy of each book, WHEN YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES and WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH, to one lucky winner.

To win, all you have to do is share your favorite book series in the comments!

A winner will be chosen at random and will receive their books after July 12.

Let’s keep the blog tour fun going! Be sure to visit the rest of the stops on the tour. The schedule is posted below. And don’t forget to visit Susanna’s blog for the “When Your Books Go On A Blog Tour” kickoff post. You may discover more chances to win fabulous prizes. Click Here!

Blog Tour Schedule (1)

Don’t forget to share this post using #whenyourbooks!  Every time you post with #whenyourbooks you get an entry in the end-of-tour raffle for a Special Prize!

Click Here to find out more!

95 thoughts on “When Your Books Go On A Blog Tour (plus a Giveaway)

  1. Hi Lauri, Great post. Hi Susanna, Your books look lovely, and what a fun series for children to read.
    I love the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. They are filled with laughs too, as I’m sure your series will be. The pages shared already tell me they will be fun.
    PS Lauri, your post isn’t sharing correctly to FB – it’s not pulling the URL or image. It’s an easy fix. I put an explanation on FB. Check it out if you can, or email me. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a fun stop on your blog tour, Susanna! I can’t wait to read your new books. Watching my weirdo cat this morning reminded me that I like Splat the Cat books and SkippyJon Jones books🐱

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What great insight! Thanks to both of you for sharing; Susanna, your wisdom, and Lori, your blog. This was a hard one, but I think our favorite series lately has been Kate Banks’ Max series. My kids couldn’t get enough of him. Until tomorrow 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Karen LaSalvia says:

    Mo Willems pigeon and duckling books are some of my favorites. Can’t wait to read the When Your series and I definitely need the haircut one for my little boy!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Debbie Lee says:

    My favorite series are Piggy & Elephant by Mo Willems. It’s impossible to hear them read by a child without feeling happy. Thank you Susanna for a great mini lesson on how a series is born! I can’t wait to read your new books! (or rather have the kids at the library read the new books to Zoey!) Thank you Lauri for sharing and for your blog. So much great info 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Susanna thanks for the peek into your process. I love hearing how ideas come to life! My favorite series is the NO DAVID! Series by David Shannon. Lauri, thank you for a great interview!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Fabulous post, Lauri…what a way to kick off the book blog tour! As usual, Susanna, you have kicked into mentor mode and given us a perfect workshop lesson on how to write a great board book/picture book/series…woo-hoo!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I can’t wait to read more books in your series, Susanna–what winners for kids and the adults that will enjoy repeat readings:-) I love the Madeline series (from my childhood) and Curious George series, which I read repeatedly to my younger brother!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. David McMullin says:

    I am so looking forward to your series, Susanna! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. My favorites are Jon Klassen’s hat books, and Andrea Beaty’s STEM books.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Hip, hip, hooray for you, Susanna, with this new series. I have learned something new today. I now have a better understanding of the definition of a series. I look forward to reading IF YOUR ELEPHANT HAS THE SNIFFLES and WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH. Umm . . . How can I pick just one favorite series? Okay, I pick IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A . . . by Laura Numeroff.

    Thank you, Lauri, for featuring one of my favorite authors. You’re kinda cute Finley the Frog.
    ~Suzy Leopold

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Susanna, I can’t wait to read these books. Thanks for a so derfyl mini lesson on crafting a PB series. While all the series already mentioned are amazing, my favorite is Lori Nichols Maple & Willow series. Beautiful books about sisters & imagination!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What a great, thoughtful post on how to approach a series in a different way! Fun idea, and congratulations!

    I’ll limit my favorite series to picture books, since that’s what we’re talking about here. It has to be Sophie’s Squash and Sophie’s Squash Go to School. Humor and Heart–gets me every time!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m a little late to this post, but thoroughly enjoyed it the benefits of the lesson on what constitutes a series. Thank you, Lauri and Susanna. I’m not sure which beloved series I would say is my favorite…so hard to choose. I’ve always enjoyed Karma Wilson’s Bear books…although, there’s a wee little ground hog named Phyllis that is quite dear to my heart, too. CAN’T forget Phyllis!!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Susanna I love your Making Picture Book Magic writing course. I love your blogs. I, of course love your picture books. And I love this post. It is quite the resource. You give such insightful advice. As for pb series, I love Nikki Grimes’ Danitra Brown books, But any book that makes me or my students laugh are absolute favs. Mo Willems of course. Knuffle too. Like someone else wrote, love me some Phyllis too.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. This is a great interview, Lauri and Susanna! I enjoyed getting an inside look at how this all began.
    I’m not here to have my name in the draw since my blog is in the tour, just wanted to comment on a job well done! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Loved reading about the inspiration behind the series. You have a good thing going here with endless ideas for future books. They look like happy books to read out loud with kids. Favorite series: Knuffle Bunny

    Liked by 2 people

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