PUZZLED BY PINK by Sarah Frances Hardy - GIVEAWAY!!

With all the pink that little girls are supposed to love, there must be a few who don't, right? That's the story behind Sarah Frances Hardy's new PUZZLED BY PINK! It's being billed as 'Wednesday Addams of the Addams Family meets Fancy Nancy' - gotta love it. I've watched SF go through all the struggles of a debut writer for the past few years, so I'm thrilled to give her the shout out on her FIRST book!

Q. PUZZLED BY PINK is such an adorable story - how did you come up with it?
A. After I drew this little girl, I wanted to figure out her story. I spent a lot of time developing her character by brainstorming and asking myself very specific questions about her personality. She ended up being a little bit like Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family, and I wrote a story about her having a creepy tea party in her grandmother's attic. I thought it was finished and ready to submit, so I signed up for a critique at an SCBWI Conference. Anastasia Suen who teaches children's writing did my critique. She looked at me and said, "This is cute, but you have no conflict . . . Tell me, what is the worst thing that can happen to this little girl?"
     I replied, "Something pink!" And I immediately had the beginnings of a story.

Q. You are a fine artist first - how was illustrating your first book different?
A. It was SO incredibly hard. My painting style was somewhat post-impressionistic (think Van Gogh, Gauguin), and I used color in a way that respected the "flatness" of the painting surface. In other words, I brought everything forward and didn't use tricks of color or drafting to create a sense of depth or perspective.
     When I shifted to illustration, I found that not only was I suddenly confined by the words of the narrative, but I needed to learn how to show depth and play with perspective in order to create a believable and interesting story-world. To learn how to do this, I studied hundreds of children's books and tried to absorb styles of other illustrators. I also spent a lot of time on *your* advice pages learning invaluable information about using the value and tone of color to create depth. {{{{me: blush}}}
     I also had to go back and work on figure drawing. Since for years I'd been painting landscapes, my figure drawing was rusty. I'm lucky to have three daughters who will pose for me (as long as I'm quick!).

Q. This is your first published book as author too - what was your journey to publication?
A. I think my story is pretty typical in that I had several failed attempts and rejection letters. PUZZLED BY PINK is actually the third picture book that I wrote and illustrated. The first two were learning experiences, and I'm grateful that they will never see the light of day. But what I learned from sitting down and writing, illustrating and revising over and over again was invaluable.
     I had been going to SCBWI Conferences for several years when I developed the "Wednesday Addams meets Fancy Nancy" concept (as a result of the critique session mentioned above). After I spent several months writing and drafting sketches for the story, I began querying agents. I signed with my amazing agent, and we spent a few more months on revision. Right before we were about to submit my manuscript to publishers, I met someone who worked for Penguin at a book conference here in Oxford, and she offered to show it to one of the editors at Penguin. Soon after that I had an offer from the incredible Regina Hayes of Viking Children's Books.
     One of my favorite quotes about seeking publication comes from Sheldon Fogelman who is Maurice Sendak's agent. He says, "Remember, the harder you work, the luckier you get." We all know that luck and timing play a part when you're trying to land a publishing contract, but it's up to you to do all of the hard work on the front end so that you'll be ready when the universe smiles on you.

Q. Which character are you more like, Izzy or Rose?
A. Ha! Good question. I think I'm a little of both now (maybe even a little more Rose these days--I love clothes and glitter!). But as a child, I was Izzy all the way. No doubt.

Q. I've seen some of the awesome decorations at your kick-off party - spiderwebs and pink cupcakes! I imagine lots of little girls will want PUZZLED BY PINK-themed parties. Can you share some ideas?
A. I'm so glad you asked! I've actually created a website scripting an entire children's birthday party inspired by PUZZLED BY PINK. It includes a wand-making craft project, a black cat treasure hunt, coloring pages, cupcake recipes, and printable invitations.
     You can find it here www.puzzledbypink.blogspot.com.

Click the image to see it larger.

     Thank you so much for having me!

Congratulations on your first book, SF! I hope it's the first of many more.
So, leave a comment on my blog to win a free, signed copy of PUZZLED BY PINK. I will do a random drawing next Wednesday! You must live in the continental US and include your email addy (yourname at such-and-such dot com written out is just fine).
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