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Announcing the winner of the YOU MADE ME A MOTHER GIVEAWAY — Plus an interview with the author, Laurenne Sala

 Authors, Books, Children's Books, Finding a literary agent, Giveaways, Memoir, Parenting, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Announcing the winner of the YOU MADE ME A MOTHER GIVEAWAY — Plus an interview with the author, Laurenne Sala
May 102017
 

I’m SUPER excited to announce the winner of the YOU MADE ME A MOTHER giveaway:

RUTH EBENSTEIN

Congratulations, Ruth! Please shoot me an email via the online contact form here on the site and include your address. If you reply today, I’ll do my best to get an autographed copy to you in time for Mother’s Day!

Full disclosure: Ruth is a friend, but her entry was chosen using the random number service random.org. If you didn’t win this time, I’m sorry! Still, I’ve got a treat for you all in the form of an interview with the author of YOU MADE ME A MOTHER, Laurenne Sala, that aspiring writers in particular may find interesting…

 

How an Unpublished Memoirist Became a Big Time Children’s Book Author

Laurenne Sala, 35, founded an LA stage show where people reveal their most taboo secrets, wrote scripts for Funny or Die, and conquered the advertising world, but her dreams of publishing a book went unfulfilled, until an unexpected break made her an author.

“I don’t do things half-assed. Ever,” my friend Laurenne Sala says. “I always tried to write with my heart and give it my all, and then I was finally noticed. I see success happen to everyone who does not give up! ”

A little background: Laurenne grew up a child of divorce outside Chicago. At 10, she discovered her funny, caring dad was gay, but at 15, she lost him to suicide, a pain that stayed buried for years.

She left home to study communications at the University of Southern California. Next, she pursued a Masters in Advertising Copywriting at Miami Ad School. Then she had to move back in with her mom for awhile.

“I worked on my portfolio day in and day out,” she remembers. “I told myself that I wouldn’t shave my legs or armpits until I got a job. It took three months!”

Her first gig was writing commercials for Jack in the Box at a small ad agency. “The agency was great. They taught me the ropes. But my very first day at the office, I remember thinking that I had to write a book. I didn’t think I could swing a cubicle job for that long.”

With her ad career launched, Laurenne enrolled in an adult writing class at night, where she finally opened up about her father’s death. The relief she felt in sharing her story with her classmates led to the creation of Taboo Tales, a Los Angeles-based storytelling show with the motto THE MORE WE ALL TALK ABOUT HOW FUCKED UP WE ARE, THE MORE NORMAL WE ALL FEEL. She found more success writing for Funny or Die, but a memoir about her father’s death felt closest to her heart.

I should tell you that Laurenne and I became friends because of that memoir. We met a few years ago at the SDSU Writers Conference at the memoir table at the networking lunch.

“One thing I loved about the memoir was that the first half was told from my father’s point of view. I wrote the other half as if I was my mom,” she says.

Although I remember Laurenne getting positive comments about the book from publishing professionals at the SDSU Conference, her manuscript garnered more than 60 rejections from literary agents. She opted to put the memoir aside for awhile and carried on with her ad career and Taboo Tales. She also kept trying to publish short pieces, and landed an essay about her dad’s death in the anthology DANCING AT THE SHAME PROM, published by Seal Press in 2012.

Despite her intense literary aspirations, Laurenne never dreamed of writing a children’s book. Here’s how it happened.

She first created the text of YOU MADE ME A MOTHER as promotional copy for Boba, makers of baby wraps and carriers. At the time, Laurenne was single and childless, yet she clearly captured some new mom emotions, because when Boba made a tear-jerker of a video from her writing, it went viral.

After that came the big shock: HarperCollins called! The publishing giant offered to pair her up with popular illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser, of bestselling FANCY NANCY fame, to ensure the book’s success. YOU MADE ME A MOTHER won rave reviews and sold out on Amazon within 24 hours of its debut last year.

“The cool thing about YOU MADE ME A MOTHER is that it’s truly a mixture of everything I’ve done in my career,” says Sala. “It began as an ad! And it makes people cry! I’ve always wanted to write something that makes people feel.”

Today Laurenne is having all the fun reading her book to kids and encouraging them to share their feelings too. A sequel, YOU MADE ME A FATHER, will publish in time for Father’s Day 2018 (though you can get a sneak peek here in the video Boba has already made.)

“I struck while the iron was still hot with Harper,” she recalls.  “As soon as we had the mom book contract in the works, I sent the dad book manuscript! I figured I’d do that while they were still into me! It worked, and they bought it within 2 weeks.”
In other joyful news, Laurenne got married last year, not long after her book was published, and she’s expecting a baby girl this fall!! Her memoir remains on hold for now, but she’s got a new project in the works called The Grief Collective, a collection of data, experiences, and stories that all involve losing a parent.

“Anyone who has grieved the loss of a parent can join here: https://goo.gl/forms/lZQroqCawWLUE20F3,” Laurenne explains. “You can sign up to answer one question a month, which helps me compare experiences and see what we all have in common when it comes to grieving.”

I can’t wait to see where this project goes!

 

 Posted by at 3:22 pm
May 062017
 

I’ve got a fun giveaway for you all, just in time for Mother’s Day!

YOU MADE ME A MOTHER is a heartwarming picture book written by my friend Laurenne Sala, with illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser, whose work you might recognize from the popular FANCY NANCY series.

 

This book would be a sweet Mother’s Day present for a new mom and makes a great baby shower gift. (But keep in mind that since the book deals with pregnancy, it’s not really a fit for adoptive parents.)

To enter, please answer the following question in the comments:

What’s your favorite children’s picture book of all time and why?
To earn additional contest entries, you can:

1. Sign up for updates from my website by clicking “Get updates” button on the menu bar, or let me know if you signed up previously. This delivers my blog posts to your inbox. I won’t share your email address with anyone else. Please comment to let me know you signed up!

2. Follow me on Twitter @sharonvanepps and tweet about this giveaway: Win a copy of YOU MADE ME A MOTHER by @laurenne published by @HarperCollins Enter at http://sharonvanepps.com/this-is-not-my-beautiful-life/ #Giveaway #ChildrensBooks

3. Like my Facebook page at Sharon Van Epps, Writer (or let me know if we’re already connected there)

4. Blog about the giveaway or post on your Facebook page, and link back here. Be sure to post your blog entry before you comment.

Please leave a separate comment for each of the above shares, to be sure I correctly record and credit all your entries!

We’ve got a quick turnaround, so don’t wait! Entries close Tuesday, May 9, at midnight PST. The winner will be announced Wednesday May 10, by 9 am PST, and Laurenne will hustle to get the book shipped to you by Mother’s Day!

Next week I’ll also share the inside scoop on Laurenne’s path to publication, so if you’re an aspiring or working writer, check back on May 10 to hear the inspiring story of how she became a Harper Collins author.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 7:33 pm

Announcing the winner of The Barefoot Book of Children #Giveaway

 Books, Giveaways  Comments Off on Announcing the winner of The Barefoot Book of Children #Giveaway
Sep 282016
 

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The lucky winner of a copy of THE BAREFOOT BOOK OF CHILDREN

written by Tessa Strickland and Kate DePalma and illustrated by David Dean is:

 

Katherine Martinelli

Congratulations!

Katherine was the first to enter the contest with a comment, but believe it or not, I used this Random Number Generator to find the winner and #1 took the prize.

Katherine, please send an email  by October 12 with your contact info to:

sharonvanepps(at)gmail(dot)com

Please write “Book Giveaway Winner” in the subject line.

Thanks to everyone who commented and signed up to follow on Twitter and Facebook.  If you didn’t win this time, I hope you’ll keep an eye out for more giveaways and posts. I already have some other books in mind I’d love to share with you all!

 

 Posted by at 3:35 pm
Sep 212016
 

bfb_facebook_bfbofchildrenrelease_new1_960x960px_0816_nodate  A few months ago, I published an essay in the Ties column at The New York Times called A Poster Family for Diversity. Soon after, I got an email from Nancy Traversy, Co-founder and CEO of Barefoot Books. Knowing I was interested in promoting diversity and inclusivity, Nancy asked me to help spread the word about her company’s latest release, The Barefoot Book of Children. Since the world desparately needs more diverse books, I said yes — and I’m giving away a copy here on my blog!

My own kids are teenagers well past the picture book stage, but The Barefoot Book of Children is the kind of book I would have bought as a gift for their elementary classrooms as well as for our home library. The text by Tessa Strickland and Kate DePalma communicates that differences in appearance, beliefs, and lifestyles among people are interesting and positive, and the colorful illustrations by David Dean are gorgeous! Here’s one of my favorite pages:

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In an election season that feels especially contentious, we need to talk with our kids  more than ever about understanding and respecting others to help counteract the divisiveness and uncertainty that’s in the air. This book is perfect for sparking conversations about cultural understanding, diversity, and inclusion at home and in the classroom.

Founded almost 25 years ago by two young mothers in England, Barefoot Books has published more that 600 titles for children that encourage discovery, compassion, creativity and global awareness. In fact, Barefoot’s Mama Panya’s Pancakes was a big storytime favorite for my kids back in the day. I’m buying a copy of The Barefoot Book of Children for my infant niece, but maybe you’ll win your copy!

To enter, answer the following question in the comments:

Why do you think diverse books are important and meaningful for children?

To earn additional entries, please do the following:

Leave a separate comment for each one, to be sure I correctly record and credit all your entries!

1. Sign up for updates from my website by clicking the menu bar (or let me know if you signed up previously.) This delivers my blog posts to your inbox. I won’t share your email address with anyone else.

2. Follow me on Twitter @sharonvanepps and tweet about this giveaway: “#diversebooks Giveaway-Win a copy of The Barefoot Book of Children from @BarefootBooks & @sharonvanepps Enter at http://sharonvanepps.com/this-is-not-my-beautiful-life/

3. Like my Facebook page at Sharon Van Epps, Writer (or let me know if we’re already connected there)

4. Blog about the giveaway or post on your Facebook page, and link back here. Be sure to post your blog entry before you comment.

 

This giveaway will be closed Tuesday, September 27 at 11 p.m., and the winner will be announced Wednesday, September 28!

 Posted by at 12:26 am