It’s LIKE MAGIC! An Interview With Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Sometimes a near-magical connection is sparked between a manuscript and the agent who will represent it in the marketplace. Ammi-Joan Paquette’s experience with Elaine Vicker’s LIKE MAGIC crackled with just such a connection. I asked her about it.

Can to tell us a bit about how you and Elaine came to work together? Was LIKE MAGIC the manuscript she originally queried?


No, she queried me—and I signed her—with a different manuscript, which I dearly love as well. But as soon as I read the opening lines of LIKE MAGIC, I was hooked! I knew this was something truly special.

What first struck you about LIKE MAGIC?

Hands down, the voice! There’s a gentle authenticity and tender realism that feels like stepping inside a hug. These girls are so real, and so lovable, that you just can’t wait to be part of their world.



Would you say you’re most like Grace, Jada, or Malia? Why?

You know—I kept going back and forth on one or the other, and finally I realized that I have a little bit of each of the girls in me: I’m bookish and on the quiet side, like Grace; when I was young I moved a lot like Jada, and found myself constantly having to start over; and, like Malia, I don’t always do the best with sudden change. I guess it’s little wonder I fell hard for this story.

What would you most like to find in a magical library treasure box?

Are we talking proper magic? If so, I have this particular childhood photo that I lost somehow many years ago. I would be tickled pink to one day open a magical library box and find that photo inside!

Other than writing, which art form means the most to you and why?

joan-at-10I love playing guitar, though I don’t do it very often at all. It’s got fond ties to my mom and my childhood. I also have a particular love for watercolor painting—or I should say, the idea of it, as I haven’t done more than think about someday taking a class or two!

Here’s an adorable photo of Ammi-Joan at around ten years old, note the guitar in the background. 

Jason Gallaher asked this question while interviewing Megan Wagner Lloyd. Elaine originally asked it of Pat Zietlow Miller. Now that we’re circling back to Elaine, I think I can safely say that this final question is an EMU’S DEBUTS classic.

Please finish this statement: The perfect reader for LIKE MAGIC is…

Every reader who has ever longed for—and found!—a true friend; for anyone who believes in everyday magic.

Thank you, Ammi-Joan. Elaine and LIKE MAGIC have certainly found such a true friend in you!

Ammi-Joan Paquette


like-magicI spotted LIKE MAGIC on the shelf in my local bookstore, BookEnds in Winchester, MA. Why not check your local too? I know if they don’t have LIKE MAGIC on hand (Sold out! Hooray!) they’d be happy to order it for you.

Here are some additional links to purchase the book: AmazonIndieBound, and B&N.

Hayley's Author Photo


I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming in spring 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.




Filed under Uncategorized

Friendships Can Be Just LIKE MAGIC

The launch of Elaine Vickers’s LIKE MAGIC continues! LIKE MAGIC is a story of friendship, so to go along with that theme, us Emus are sharing some of our friendships that have brought magic and joy to our own lives!


Katie Slivensky: A friend who changed my life…probably my childhood best friend, Carolyn. We were both kind of awkward nerdy kids, but through her I grew confident in myself and my interests. She always lifted me up, rather than pushing me down. She lived “just over the hill” behind my house, and we grew up together. I was older than her by two weeks, but she was always a foot taller than me as kids (she was tall for her age and I was short for mine), so we got weird looks a lot. Together, though, we didn’t care! It’s so valuable to a kid to have a friend who raises your confidence when you don’t quite “fit in” in the world. We’re still good friends. Fun fact: she is actually the photographer for my author photos!


Katie and Carolyn, Age 5


Terry Pierce: The one true friend who changed my life is my husband, Mark. I met him when I was in the eighth grade (he was in the ninth), so we were still kids. We were friends for a year and then dated for four more before getting married. Forty years later, he’s still my BFF. I say he changed my life because he’s been my rock through all the ups and downs that happen in one’s life. We forged a mutual path together with love and respect, so I know that if Mark wasn’t in my life, it would be very different, and I’m guessing not nearly as fabulous, exciting or fulfilled. I guess I’m lucky that I married my best friend!


Terry and Mark Then


Terry and Mark Now


Andrea Wang: I didn’t meet Lisa until my thirties, but it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be where I am as a writer without her. We were both enrolled in the same online writing class, but it was Lisa who figured out we lived in neighboring towns and reached out to me. From there, we bonded over books and writing. She welcomed me into her critique group, encouraged me to apply to an MFA program (which we went through together), and cheered me on (and up, too) every step of the way. Her friendship helped me give myself permission to pursue a writing life.


Lisa and Andrea, March 2016


Debbi Michiko Florence: A friend who has changed my life: Lynn Bauer – We met in line for the last Harry Potter book, in 2007. We call each other Anam Cara – Soul-Friend, because we are that tightly bonded. We started out talking about books and writing, but since then it’s as if we’ve known one another forever. We’ve seen each other through the worst of times and the best and, without her, I’m not sure I would be the person I am today. She props me up, cheers me on, and supports me no matter what, and I do mean NO MATTER WHAT. She’s always on my side and I can count on her anytime, every time. (And I do have to mention Anne Marie Pace as someone who has changed my life because without her telling me that morning to line up for wrist bands for the book, I wouldn’t have gone to the book store early that morning and wouldn’t have met Lynn!)


Debbi and Lynn


Jason Gallaher: I have to say one of the most magical bonds I share with anyone on this planet is with my cousin, friend and spirit animal, Andie. We are 8 days shy of a year apart, but I feel like we are twins. I bash my shin and Andie calls me with pains in her leg. Andie has been there for me through every monumental moment in my life: births of new family members, deaths of cherished loved ones, coming out, identity crises, and pretending to be mermaids in Thailand. She brings so much magic to my life, which typically manifests in tears pouring down my face from laughing so hard. An-DAY (read like Whitney Houston shouting, “Bob-BAY!”), I love you!


Jason and Andie, Age Adorable


Hayley Barrett: When my children left for college, I gave them lots of advice. One thing I told them was to not expect their friends to remain the same. To imprison people with old memories and stories is unwise and unkind, and efforts to hold people to who they “used to be” invariably fail. The best way to preserve friendships, I said, was to welcome change, even if it meant letting a friendship fade. Doing so leaves hope for it to someday flourish again. I only have a couple of dearest, oldest friends. I won’t single any one of them out, but they have something in common. They’ve all been willing to let me, and in fact have helped me, to become a more fully developed, nuanced person. They’ve been willing to let our friendship wax and wane and wax again, as circumstances changed over the years, without fuss or consequence. I hope I’ve done the same for them. A forbearing and flexible approach is the best recipe I know for truly loving and long-lasting friendships.


To read about more magical friendships, pick up Elaine Vickers’s LIKE MAGIC, available now! You can find Elaine’s book at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your favorite bookseller!


IMG_2512 - WEBJason Gallaher is a picture book and middle grade writer who loves to create stories that mix the flamboyantly whacky with the slightly dark. His debut picture book, WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, releases in Summer 2017 from Margaret K. McElderry Books. When not writing, Jason zips about Austin, Texas. He would also describe a magical friendship as the one he and Anjelica Huston have yet to forge. Jason is a self-described Hufflepuff, and he is actively looking for an Andalite friend. (Photo Cred: David-Gabe Photography)


Filed under Book Launch, joy, Launch

LIKE MAGIC Launch Week: Our Biggest Summers


Elaine Vickers LIKE MAGIC is a lovely story about Grace, Jada, and Malia, three girls looking to belong. It’s a story about the biggest summer of their lives, the summer so much changes. Talking about this special summer got Emus thinking about the biggest summer of their childhood. Twelve to thirteen seemed to be the sweet spot for these Emus.

Haley Barrett remembers the exact moment when she realized she wasn’t a little kid anymore. “It was a summer evening. I was at a 4H fair and on a carnival ride. We were flying and spinning and Heart’s BARRACUDA was blasting. I felt daring and pretty and like an almost-teenager.”

For Jason Gallaher his twelve-year-old summer was made special by his Grandma Joan. “She took me and my brother on a trip to the Mediterranean. We saw the south of France, the west coast of Italy, and Malta. It was the first time I had been out of the country. She may not have realized it, but Grandma made me realize how big the world was and how much of it I wanted to see. From that summer on, I knew I wouldn’t stay in my hometown as an adult – I’d go discover where on the planet I felt most myself.”

The summer Kate Slivensky was turning 13, was her second summer volunteering at the local zoo. She got to work with more exotic animals than the summer before. “My first day on the job that year, I helped a zookeeper separate fighting rhinos. I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t something they’d let a kid do. I must be growing up!’ I was really proud of myself. As an adult looking back, I have a different opinion of that moment (mild horror, to say the least). But as I write middle grade, I use it to remember what kids are capable of accomplishing. (Far more than adults give them credit for!)”

The summer Andrea Wang turned 13, her family moved from rural Ohio to a suburb of Boston. “I was a painfully self-conscious kid, and suddenly finding myself in a large, racially-diverse city was heaven. I loved the freedom of anonymity, of blending in, of being one of a crowd. I made friends with other Chinese American kids and felt seen and heard in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. That move made me feel like I could finally belong somewhere.”

Go get yourself a copy of Elaine’s LIKE MAGIC. The sweetness of the friendship summer will get you thinking about your own special summers. Here are some links where you can buy the book: Amazon, IndieBound, and B&N.

darceyhighresDarcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.



Filed under Book Launch, Celebrations, Launch, Uncategorized

Catching Inspiration: An Interview with LIKE MAGIC Illustrator Sara Not

All this week, the EMUs are celebrating the launch of LIKE MAGIC, a middle grade novel by Elaine Vickers. In their starred review, Kirkus calls the book “an endlessly endearing story of three girls’ pursuit of friendship and the beauty and challenge of what it means to be 10.” But you don’t have to read the review to know that — one look at the cover by Italian artist Sara Not says it all. Isn’t it exquisite?


Since the cover is one of the first things you see when you pick up a book, I thought we’d start off our festivities with an interview with Sara. Sara worked in Milan and Paris before settling in Trieste. She has created book and magazine illustrations for many international clients, including Vanity Fair, Gioia, Myself, RCS, Pearson Italy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Random House. Please welcome Sara to the Nest!

 I am so impressed that you read the entire manuscript even though English is not your native language! Do you typically read the entire texts of books or magazine articles before beginning illustrations for them?

Yes, I do prefer reading the entire book manuscript, especially when the main subject is inspiring me on the spot, but often I do not have the time to do so due to very tight deadlines. In these specific cases, I can only read some chapters, characters descriptions, key elements of the story provided by the publisher. For magazine illustrations, of course it is different. Magazine articles are shorter so I always read them.

Coming back to LIKE MAGIC I would like to add that it was a real pleasure to read it all (and a very good exercise for my English) because the story was great and reading it all during my seaside holiday was a plus. I simply loved it.

 I love the dreamy quality of the cover and the hopeful expressions of the girls. When you first sat down to create the cover for LIKE MAGIC, what did you envision? How did you evoke a sense of the book through your art?

LIKE MAGIC made me remember when I was a little girl, with all my fragilities, doubts and insecurities but also with this great strength and immaculate purity that adults unfortunately often lose along the way.

I tried to give this sense of alliance, complicity and harmony among the girls: they are together; best friends and they look far to the stars. The stars are paper stars, a key element of the book, but here they become their aspirations, their dreams.


That’s wonderful how you incorporated symbols from the book into the cover. What is your artistic process? Please tell us a little about the creation of this illustration.

I usually read the manuscript and let the words be on my mind for a while. The images begin to appear and I let them get out through my pencil. During the artistic process, I can draw many sketches or produce only one. It all depend on the project and inspiration of the moment. I think that an art creation is always LIKE MAGIC (smile).

For LIKE MAGIC, I initially created many concepts, selected four sketches and sent them to the Art Director.

When the final decision was made, I then applied the ultimate line (in this case a simple pencil, elsewhere nib and ink or brush) and, for last, the coloring in Photoshop.

Can you share any of the other sketches that you were considering for the book cover? How did you choose the final cover design?

Sure. Below are the four proposals for the final cover. As you will notice, the one that I had not colored yet was the publisher’s choice. The idea of the three girls on the swoosh was used for the back cover illustration.

schermata-2016-10-22-alle-10-11-22 schermata-2016-10-22-alle-10-11-41schermata-2016-10-22-alle-10-11-13 schermata-2016-10-22-alle-10-11-33





Those covers are all so beautiful. I would have a hard time trying to decide which one to use! You also create illustrations for many different magazines. How is working on a children’s book cover different from a magazine illustration?

Magazines and Children’s Books are obviously targeting two different readers markets. When I work on an illustration for a women’s magazine, I have to be versatile and able to speak a different language but always keeping in mind that my style should be recognizable. Often for magazines, you have only few days to give your art, especially if you are working for a weekly magazine, while for children’s book covers usually you can take your time. I find myself very fortunate to work with different environments because it can only be beneficial to my creativity and artistic evolution.

Speaking about your creativity, LIKE MAGIC is about three girls who find inspiration in each other’s precious objects. What do you draw inspiration from?

From the text first of course. I love words and the power they transmit. Everything I see, everything I read, everything I listen to also inspires me. Other times inspiration comes from an instant of my life, from my sons, from Mother Nature or from the colors that I see around me. Inspiration is all around you and you just need to catch it. My own personal “know-how” is an important factor but a big part of magic in every creative process is essential.

Thank you so much for joining us on EMUs Debuts today, Sara! It’s really fascinating to hear about your artistic process and what went into the cover for LIKE MAGIC. I especially love how you said, “Inspiration is all around you and you just need to catch it.” 

Catch some inspiration by seeing more of Sara’s artwork on her website and by reading LIKE MAGIC, available now at your favorite indie bookstore, Amazon, IndieBound, or B&NRelive the magic of new friendship all over again! 

Andrea Wang’s debut picture book, THE NIAN MONSTER (Albert Whitman, December 2016), is a Chinese New Year folktale retelling set in modern-day Shanghai. She has also written seven nonfiction books for the educational market.
Andrea spent most of her first grade year reading under the teacher’s desk, barricaded by tall stacks of books. Now she sits at her desk, but she’s still happiest surrounded by piles of books. Andrea is a former environmental consultant who helped clean up hazardous waste sites. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons, and a plump dumpling of a rescue dog. She loves trying new foods and named her dog Mochi, after one of her favorite desserts.
You can find Andrea online at her website, on Twitter, and on Instagram.



Filed under Book Launch, Celebrations, cover art, Creativity, Illustrators, Interviews, Launch, process

When We Were Twelve—EMUs’ Advice To Their Younger Selves

All this week on the blog we’ve celebrated the launch of Elly Swartz’s debut middle grade novel, FINDING PERFECT.


FINDING PERFECT’s sweet, sensitive main character, twelve-year-old Molly, wishes her life was perfect, but family and school problems keep her in turmoil. She attempts to counteract these upsets with comforting rituals, only to find that these same rituals, bit by bit, begin to control her. As her anxiety escalates, it becomes clear that Molly needs someone to advise her, to assure her she is capable of positive change, and to help her look forward to stronger, better days.

Perhaps the best person to guide Molly would be her older, wiser self. With the perspective that comes with years, an adult Molly would know how to be supportive while encouraging growth. With this in mind, I asked the EMUs what advice they would give their twelve-year-old selves.

We’ll start with the author.  Elly’s advice to Elly Junior? “Be brave. Be kind. Be curious. And always stay true to who you are.”


Isn’t Elly Junior adorable? See the light of creativity and compassion in her eyes? Bet this kid will grow up to be a writer or something.

The Debbi Michiko Florence of today advises her younger self, “Don’t worry so much about following trends like Farrah Fawcett feathered hair – really, it doesn’t work on Japanese stick-straight hair.”


(I admire you, Debbi, for even trying. While my sister expertly wielded her round brush and can of AquaNet every morning, I slept in.)

Debbi goes on to recall a relatable tween dilemma with all its requisite drama. She asks her younger self, “And that gold belt trend you just had to follow? Remember how you begged and pleaded with your mom to get you that gold belt and how you lost it the first day you wore it to school? And remember how you convinced the teacher to let you go look for it and then convinced your friend’s teacher to let her leave her class to help you look for it? And how you looked and looked and couldn’t find it and you were so afraid you were going to get in trouble and you were freaking out? Then upi found it. The belt had slipped under your shirt and you were still wearing it! Don’t sweat the small stuff ! Or even what you think is the “big stuff.”


I don’t have a picture of Debbi  back then, but I know she was much, much cuter than a sleepy desktop ducking.

PierceHeadshotUCLA (2)little-terry

Like the seasoned picture book writer she is, Terry Pierce is superbly succinct. She advises young Terry to, “believe in yourself, be courageous and strong. Stand up for yourself if someone wrongs you. Don’t let others define you. You’re bright, a hard worker, and have a kind heart, and that will take you far in life.”

IMG_2512 - WEBJason Gallaher gives his former self a real pep talk, exhorting him, “to not stress out so much about how things are going to turn out in life. Everything is going to be just fine, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

Right now, dear 12 year-old, you’re quirky, a bit gangly, and your suspicions about liking boys are correct. But don’t worry about that because everything turns out better than fine.Keep focusing on your dreams because they will come true. And I know you’re going to roll your eyes and say, “Everybody says that.” But I’m not just saying this like your teachers or guidance counselors say it. I’m saying it knowing this for a fact about you, about us.

Every dream you have comes true: You move to a big city, your quirky talents get appreciation from people in a legitimate industry (publishing, in case you’re wondering), you *finally* get past that horrible middle stage when you grow out your hair and find out what it feels like to have long locks (You’re robsessed with it. Also, when Robert Pattinson becomes a thing you’ll understand the term “robsessed”), and you find love.

So keep trucking along. Love yourself, which I know will be a struggle, but in times when you feel down, know that even now, nearly two decades later, I love you and wouldn’t have made it here if not for you.

Sadly, Jason didn’t provide a tweenage picture of himself, so I’ll just leave this here.



Oh, and this:


Only one more, I promise.


Darcey Rosenblatt says, “I would tell myself there will come a time when you truly treasure all the things that make you weird and different than the normal kids – really – trust me.”


Spoken like a true environmental planner/scuba diver/mother/artist/story farmer/hiker/conference founder/wife/costume-maker/ soon-to-be published author, Darcey. You put the actual in self-actualized!

EMU Elaine Vickers advises her young self to value friendships, saying, “There are great things ahead, 12-year-old Elaine! You will soon outgrow this hairstyle and this shirt. But the friends you make this year will stay with you. You’ll laugh and grow and travel together. One will sing at your wedding, another will help deliver your babies. And one day, they will take you out to dinner the night before your first book launches. Hang on to these friends.”


Stay true to yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Stand up for yourself and be kind. Love yourself. Treasure what makes you different. Hang on to good friends.

Good advice for FINDING PERFECT’S Molly and everyone else. Congratulations and thank you, Elly!!!

Enjoy the day,



Curriculum Guide for FINDING PERFECT:

A Teacher’s Guide For FINDING PERFECT

A Teacher’s Guide For FINDING PERFECT About the Book To twelve-year-old Molly Nathans, perfect is: • The number four • The tip of a newly sharpened No. 2 pencil

To purchase Finding Perfect:

hayley-at-12Hayley's Author Photo

I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming in spring 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.


Filed under Advice, Anxiety, Book Launch, Character Development, Characters, Inspiration, Launch, Panic, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

My Traveling Companions

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh


Today, my heart is overflowing with gratitude. On Tuesday, my debut novel, Finding Perfect, found its way into the world, into the hands of kids, teachers, moms, dads, and grandparents. Today, Molly’s story is a shared one. But, it didn’t start that way. Molly’s story started with an idea, then morphed into words on my computer, then into a book. It started with me, but I never traveled this path alone.

And, so today is about all those who traveled with me. All those I want to thank.

My husband. Wow. Not even sure where to begin. You have been with me on every step of this 15 year journey. And at no time did you waver in your steadfast belief in me. You are the love of my life and I am so grateful to have you by my side. Always.

My sons. Two boys, endless inspiration. Through the years, you have inspired me to write, to go for my dream, to work hard, to be better. Your belief in me, allowed me to believe in this dream and believe in me. I am so lucky to be your mom. You make my heart happy every day.

My family near and far. I love you all with all of my heart. Thank you thank you thank you.

My friends. You may never know how impactful your support has been. You gave me hugs and wine and walks and talks and candy, all at exactly the right moments.

FSG. Joy and the entire FSG team thank you for taking a chance on me. For believing in me and my story.

My agent. Trish the amazing. Honestly, so thankful to have you at the helm, helping me navigate these waters and always having my back. You are so much more than my agent. You are my friend. And, for that, I am grateful.

EMLA. You guys rock. I never knew getting an agent, meant I was also getting a writing family.  Love you guys.

Sweet 16ers. It’s been one heck of a year. Thank you for sharing this ride with me. You are kind and supportive and, obviously, sweet.

Educators. You seamlessly welcomed me and Finding Perfect into the kidlit world before the book had even entered the world. You made me feel like Molly and I belonged. You are kind and gracious and dedicated. I wish every kid has a lifetime of teachers like you.

To all of my traveling companions, thank you for being a part of my journey. It’s been one amazing ride!



IMG_9552  Elly Swartz is a middle-grade author. Her debut novel, FINDING PERFECT (FSG October, 2016) is about a twelve-year-old girl named Molly, friendship, family, OCD, and a slam poetry competition that will determine everything. It took thirteen years, numerous drafts, many Twizzlers, loads of hugs, and much unconditional love, to find her way to YES. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband, two sons and beagle named Lucy. If you want to connect with Elly or learn more about what she’s working on, you can find her at, on Twitter @ellyswartz or Facebook.


Filed under Celebrations, Happiness, Writing and Life

FINDING PERFECT Launch Week: Interview with Agent Tricia Lawrence

We’re continuing the launch of Elly Swartz’s touching and heartfelt Finding Perfect. Up today, an interview with Elly’s agent, EMLA’s own Tricia Lawrence.

ellyandtrishWelcome, Trish! First question: How did you and Elly find each other?

Elly was a referral from my colleague and fellow agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette.

What was it about FINDING PERFECT that grabbed your attention?

Elly has a very smooth and heartfelt writing style. I felt as if I was in capable hands. The main character, Molly, drew me in right away. She still draws me in on the nth reading. I always fall right back into the story each time too! (And I know what happens!)

Do you have a favorite line or scene from the book? A favorite character?

I think it’s at the end when everyone really comes together to support Molly. It’s this cathartic moment that I can’t get enough of. I also adore Molly’s friends and family. They all feel so real to me.

finding-perfectIs there anything else we should know about Elly or her awesome debut?

Elly is incredible. I am so lucky to be working with such a professional. She’s kind, extremely hardworking, and honest about everything. I’m delighted to see her emails in my inbox, so proud of her as her writing has only gotten stronger (stay tuned!), and I cannot wait to see how Molly’s story helps readers, impacts lives, and inspires all of us to be better, to do better. It’s a great week this week, especially being OCD awareness week, for Molly, Elly, and FINDING PERFECT to be introduced to the world. I’m so proud of Elly and Molly. I think they have great lives ahead of them.😉 Really glad to be a part of both.

Thank you, Trish! And be sure to check out Finding Perfect, available now at these fine retailers (and your local library!)

Amazon               Barnes and Noble               Indiebound



Filed under Book Launch, Interviews, Launch, Uncategorized

What Does Perfect Mean to You?

To continue the launch of Elly Swartz’s FINDING PERFECT, we’re examining just what “perfect” means. Molly Nathans, the protagonist of Elly’s book, struggles with reaching perfection as her OCD starts to affect her life in increasingly harmful ways. But as the audio trailer for Elly’s book shows, perfect is so subjective. Take a listen to what different children describe as perfect for them:

As Elly puts it, “[T]here is no such ‘thing’ as perfect…. The point of the story is to share the notion that no one is truly perfect and to understand that perfect is a moment, an experience, not a thing.” In that spirit, we in the Emus Nest are sharing what types of moments or experiences are perfect for us.



Finish this sentence: Perfect is…

Hayley Barrett: Perfect is a freshly mucked stall, a full hay rack, and a clean bucket of water.

Terry Pierce: For me, personal perfect is when I’m with my family, all of us together, preferably somewhere in the outdoors, laughing and loving life. Professional perfect is when I’m writing for very young children, using sparse text and rich language, a cup of licorice spice tea nearby, and warm cat snuggled beside me. Can’t get much better than that (well, if someone buys the manuscript but that’s another story!).

Darcey Rosenblatt: Perfect for me is a whole long day in front of me with an excellent book either far away from the City or next to a crackling fire. Le sigh.

Elaine Vickers: Perfect is waking up to the creak of my bedroom door and then feeling my kids’ warm little bodies snuggling up beside me.

Katie Slivensky: Perfect to me is a cabin on a lake, with good friends in adirondack chairs lined up on either side of me, as we read together, laugh together, and watch the way the sun gleams off the water. Oh, and there’s probably a dog jumping in that water, too.

Andrea Wang: Perfect is baking a tasty treat from scratch in a cozy kitchen with my kids and nieces, with music on in the background and laughter and chatter and flour all around.

Jason Gallaher: Perfect is a day on the beach, a book in my bag, my pup snuggled up next to me, with my partner by my side.


Perfect is also reading Elly’s FINDING PERFECT! You can grab a copy starting today at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore. A curriculum guide can also be found here.


IMG_2512 - WEBJason Gallaher is a picture book and middle grade writer who loves to create stories that mix the flamboyantly whacky with the slightly dark. His debut picture book, WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, releases in Summer 2017 from Margaret K. McElderry Books. When not writing, Jason zips about Austin, Texas. He would also describe perfect as meeting Anjelica Huston and becoming BFFs. Jason is a self-described Hufflepuff, and he is actively looking for an Andalite friend. (Photo Cred: David-Gabe Photography)


Filed under Book Launch, Uncategorized

Finding Perfect, Finding Understanding!

finding-perfect-2It is launch week for my friend and agency mate Elly Swartz’s FINDING PERFECT. I was lucky enough to read an advanced reader copy of this book and I LOVED IT. This book is one of those books that is going to be life changing for some kids. Elly’s main character Molly is in middle school and dealing with worsening symptoms of OCD. The book is sweet and funny and truly sensitive to Molly’s situation. I know it’s going to be a lifechanging book that helps some kids understand themselves better and others to be more compassionate. To commemorate the launch of this special book I asked other Emu’s about books that changed their perspectives when they young.

As a kid, Debbi Michiko Florence loved reading – from Charlotte’s Web to the witch books by Ruth Chew and Judy Blume as well. When she was in 5th or 6th grade she came across FAREWELL TO MANZANAR by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, about Jeanne’s experience being interned as a Japanese-American during WWII. It was the first she’d heard about this event. This led to ask questions and she learned from her dad that he and his family had been interned. Debbi said, “It was the first book I’d read that was about and by a Japanese-American. While it was a story that saddened me, it also made me feel connected, gave me a sense of my own history. Until I had a Japanese-American teacher in 4th grade who set me straight, I actually believed my ancestors came over on the Mayflower, because that’s the way we were taught in elementary school back then. I was grateful then as I am now for Jeanne’s honest and heart-breaking portrayal of life in the internment camp, but also for the strength of those who tried to make the best of a horrible situation.” Debbie recently bought the book for her college-age daughter.

Andrea Y. Wang told me that even though Anne Shirley was nothing like her on the surface, reading about her in the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES books made her feel less alone and more hopeful. Anne was an outsider who was often teased by her peers, yet she had an inner strength that Andrea admired and tried to emulate. “Anne showed me that all I needed was one or two kindred spirits and I would be fine.” I felt the same way!

For me Madeline L’Engle’s WRINKLE IN TIME was hugely important. Meg Wallace showed me a character that felt like I felt – awkward and different from all the other kids I knew, but in the end resourceful and strong, partly because of those differences. I think that’s why both these books have lasted through the decades.

Like Debbi’s experience with FAREWELL TO MANZANAR, I’m sure FINDING PERFECT will inspire empathy and understanding and Molly will bring solace and inner strength to the many kids who see themselves in her. We are thrilled and proud to send FINDING PERFECT on its way!

Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.


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We LOVE Our Furry, Feathered, and Finned Friends!

To round out EMU’s Debuts’ launch of Donna Janell Bowman’s STEP RIGHT UP, we’re posting pics about our fave pets. Be sure to read to the end for a very special photo by the author herself! And, if you add a Comment, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free copy of the book.

While you’re savoring the photos, let’s remember that Jim Key wasn’t Doc’s pet; I suspect that, given his own history, Doc didn’t even think he owned Jim Key. The heroes of Donna’s book, both two-legged and four-, were partners, which is the way many of us feel about the beloved animals in our lives.

Elly Swartz (whose EMU’s Debut of FINDING PERFECT takes place next week!) says about Lucy, her family’s two-year-old beagle, “We had agreed to visit the pups but not necessarily bring one home that day. Needless to say, an hour later, we had a new addition to our family!”


Katie Slivensky’s Galileo is nine. Darwin (don’t you love their names?!) came along because Galileo’s vet said he could use a companion. “Living with them is like living with Pinky and the Brain. Galileo is a diabolical genius who loves getting into trouble, and Darwin is an innocent snowflake who spends most of his life vaguely confused.”

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Andrea Wang has gone out on a limb and under water with her pets. “At various times I had a parakeet, a gerbil, several fish, and a cat. But I always wanted a dog.” This is Mochi, a rescue from Puerto Rico.

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Debbi Michiko Florence’s pets are definitely unusual. Please meet Darcy and Lizzy.

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And here we have Jason Gallaher’s Pomeranian, Pom Brokaw, and his friend’s French bulldog, Edward. Jason says, “We were discussing men’s fall fashions together.”

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Appropriately, we also have an EMU’s pony, saved by kindness. Hayley Barrett says that Trish “was a true miracle in my life. We bought her from the man who rescued her from an abusive situation. I taught her to trust again. The power of pure, childlike love.”

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Finally, from Donna: “This is Kat, my late father’s King Ranch stallion—a cherished member of our family— “signing” the contract for Step Right Up. It was both a tribute to my roots and to my dad. Kat passed away a few months ago, on the day I learned of the book’s Junior Library Guild selection. He was forty-years-old.”

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STEP RIGHT UP and comment for a chance to win a book!



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