Meet and Greet with Author Lisa Rose

Author of the Star Powers series Lisa Rose joined us this month to share her tips for writers. Lisa's stories are often inspired by her daughter who is visually impaired, and she describes herself as a "fierce advocate for inclusion." She also hosts the monthly Missing Voice Picture Book Discussion Group on Facebook that promotes diverse picture books.

August 8, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Writers’ Circle – Meet and Greet with Author Lisa Rose

Presented by Debbie Worman and Diane O’Neill

August 8, 2019

Debbie W.: Hello everybody welcome to Writers’ Circle. We're happy that you can join us today we have a good number of participants today, and Diane my co-host and I, Debbie Worman, are very happy to be able to present to you an author who has agreed to talk to us about our- her experience.

Her name is Lisa Rose, and this month we thought it would be fun to invite an author to actually talk about her experiences. We invited Lisa Rose, Rose R-O-S-E, just like the flower, and to give a little background on Lisa, she used to be a first-grade teacher. She has a master's in reading and early childhood.

She's written a chapter, excuse me chapter book series called Star Powers, about a second-grade girl who wants to be an astronaut, and just so happens to use a wheelchair.

Her first picture book was called Shmulik and a let me know Lisa, if I said that right.

Lisa Rose: You were Good.

Debbie W.: Okay, “Shmulik Paints the Town”, and that was a 2016 PJ Library Selection. Lisa stays very busy; her resume keeps going on and on. She is the founder of Missing Voice Picture Book Group; they highlight new picture books featuring diversity and little-known subjects.

She is also a mother of a visually impaired child, and she gets a lot of inspiration from our daughter. Because of this, she's also a fierce advocate for inclusion. Lisa, did I leave anything out that you really wanted people to know about you?

Lisa Rose: No, you did a really good job. I do have a book coming out in September, called A Pocket Picture, which is about separation anxiety at school, and I have three more titles coming out in 2020.

Debbie W.: Okay, sounds great. Well, how we decided to do this is Diane and I had come up with a list of questions that we were going to ask Lisa, Diane is going to be the interviewer and Lisa, you can just answer.

Then after the interview, we're going to have our participants who are joining us today, they're going to be able to ask you questions and you know, share their thoughts about your writing. So without further ado, Diane, I'll let you take it away with the interview.

Diane O.: Diane speaking. I'm so happy you're here with us, Lisa. Talk about your journey as a writer. When did you first start writing?

Lisa Rose: Well, like most people who are writers, they always say, like, “I started so long ago”, but yes, I did. I started in elementary school and I wanted to be a writer.

Then I got sidetracked and I wanted to be a hairdresser. My mother said you have to do something that makes money. So I decided that I would become a teacher because that would make me really, really rich. That's the joke, you're supposed to laugh.

So no, I actually got really involved in plays in college, and I did a lot of playwriting. Then I became a first-grade teacher, as we said, and I started reading a lot of children's books. I kind of felt like I could do better.

Also too with picture books, are very much like a scene from a play. So each time you turn the page, it’s almost like a new scene, so there's actually several picture book writers who started out as play writers. When I write anywhere, I always envision a stage rather than a scene. So and I, as we mentioned, I had a child that was visually impaired.

Victoria, she is our miracle baby. We adopted her after my husband's brain cancer, five failed IVF's and a surrogate story that belongs on Dateline, we got a magic call, and 14 hours later, we were parents on the first night of Hanukkah.

So it was a miracle. She is Victoria for victory. At three months old, we discovered that she for sure had a nystagmus and low vision. We really didn't know how much because she was so young. But we knew and that was completely from genetics. Her birth mother didn't know that she was pregnant and went in and had a baby. And I have to tell you that I taught in inner city and I taught for several years, and I've seen a lot of stuff. I've dealt with a lot of children that had various special needs; I was the least prepared for a visual impairment.

My whole life changed at that point; going, “How am I going to raise this child to live without any boundaries, to let her know that she could do anything?” You know? And I never returned to the classroom.

I began to write again and so it was my say, “You know what, I'm going to pursue this dream and I am going to schlep my daughter to every therapy known to man”. Which I did. I did a lot, a lot, a lot of schlepping and a lot of consulting with experts and really became Project Victoria because I really felt strongly in inclusion, and giving her all the opportunities that she could have.

Then I, with my writing, I mean pardon the pun, but I began to see differently, because I began to see how she saw her world, and how she would know what's on the TV, by the songs that were playing, and how hearing and the whole... It became just a new way of learning for me. I think that went into the writing as well.

I mean, how I got the Star Power series was an editor had an idea for a series. Then I when I put in my resume, I said: “Strong advocate for kids with special needs” and she said “I have this idea for a story, what do you- what do you think? The premise of it, as you said, was Star Powers with a second-grade girl who wants to be an astronaut, and also uses a wheelchair. And I really modeled the character of Star Powers after Victoria, because I think we have to get to a new level in representation. We always talked about in writing how representation matter.

I think we have to get past the point that what I call Rudolph's story, where the thing that makes them different, everybody makes fun of them, and then the thing that makes them different saves the day. Where I just want to have Victoria, having her cane and her dark glasses be just the same attribute as that she has blond hair and blue eyes; and let that just be something that's her and doesn't define her.

Debbie W.: I love that Lisa that is powerful. I really just have to chime in because like I getting goosebumps when you talk about that, that, that you're not making the visual impairment, the star of the story. It's a part of a part of the story. But it's not the entire story. I love that. That's great.

Lisa Rose: Yeah, and that's what we have to do. I mean, I think, if you look at the very first quote unquote diverse book, The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats, it was just about a boy in the snow. It wasn't about a black boy in the snow. Somehow through the years, things have gotten kind of perverted in that way that why can't it just be about a boy in the snow, who also happens to have dark skin color.

I think now in children's literature, there is of course a big push for representation and rightfully so, rightfully so they have done a very, very poor job. But I think we also have to be careful about how it is portrayed. So let's not just stick someone in a story with a cane just to say, “Oh, we have someone in a cane with dark glasses”. Let's make sure this is with dignity and purpose. Not just speaking of that, you know, I kind of feel sometimes in illustrations, “Oh, we'll put a kid in a wheelchair words reverse.” You know, we have to be very conscious of how we are portraying all characters.

Debbie W.: Well that's great. Certainly it comes out and what you're... How you're talking what does inspire you what has inspired your writing. Diane, do you have any other questions for Lisa, on your list?

Diane O.: Yeah, I guess; what advice do you have for fellow writers? You know we have a lot of writers in this group; all levels, some have published books, some are beginners, what advice do you have for fellow writers? And I guess especially though, what advice would you give a new writer?

Lisa Rose: I would say read. You know, you have to read, reading makes great writing. On a practical sense. I mean, I write children's books. So the organization SCBWI, which is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. They really help new writers and put on a lot of conferences, and you can find a lot of critique groups.

You have to have a group and this is why I think your group is so amazing, because writing you always think of very, very solitary, it's the person alone, on, you know, in the cabin in the woods writing their book.

It's really not like that. It is... We are real people to like, right before, you know, Diane's like, “Are you jumping on” and like, “Well, I was actually just putting laundry in” and you know, something very unglamorous going let me start this load before I do this conference call because that will be done by the end, right?

You have to have a community of writers who are going to support you, and have you look at your writing and give you feedback. Having a critique group has been so essential for me, because sometimes someone can look at your writing and point out something that you haven't seen before. Which is amazing, you know, and it helps make it better.

Every process makes it better and I go to my critique group; they make it better. I give to my agent; he makes it better. Then the editor who even says they adore your book, will want you to make revisions; and it always makes it better. So you have to not be afraid to- I think sometimes new writers are afraid to share their work. One, for fear of being judged; two, because sometimes they feel like people are going to steal their work, which really doesn't happen.

You have to not be afraid to fail, I think is the biggest thing. Don't be afraid to fail. When I do author visits in schools, I bring like an entire bag of rejections like; and this was even before I got them all electronically. Used to mail lay manuscripts, I mean, I can freaking wallpaper with the rejections.

So I go to them and I say: “these are all the people who said no, and if I quit, after all this stuff, I would not be here today speaking to you.” So it is that to understand writing, you have to fail a lot. It's not going to happen overnight, but if you stick with it, beautiful things can happen.

Diane O.: Very cool that there's a lot of very good advice for all of us. We were discussing the dreaded writer's block last time. Do you ever experienced that? and if so, do you have any suggestions for those of us who occasionally do deal with that dreaded writer's block?

Lisa Rose: Well, I believe in not forcing things. I think that, you know, I work in picture books. I think everyone kind of has an idea about you do one book, and then you're done with one book. Then you do another book and you're done with one book.

Most quote unquote real writers work on like five things at the same time. So there might be a book that’s in revisions with an editor, there might be books that's in critique group, there might be a book that you're promoting, because you've published it, and you have to get ready to promote it.

So you have various projects at various times, and I myself have about like six different things I'm kind of working on. There are stories that just didn't... A lot of them that I've been doing, where they weren't working, I put them aside for a while. I think I found the solution.

So I think when something isn't working, do not force it. Do not force it at all and go on to something new. I think it's easier when you work in a short medium to do that, you know, something like a novel, it might be worth challenging, or what you do is sometimes skip that. Skip that part of the novel and go on to something that you know.

Outlining works really well for novels, and you could have a plan. Also too, the best book in the whole world. If you are writing a novel, It's called Save the Cat! So If you are writing, and it's really a screenwriting book, but it will help give you a good format.

Debbie W.: Lisa, this is Debbie, could you repeat that title again, save the...

Lisa Rose: Save the cat.

Debbie W.: Cat. C-A-T?

Lisa Rose: Cat. C-A-T; save the cat.

Debbie W.: Okay.

Lisa Rose: It is in unusual title. The reason is, because every hero, you need to fall in love with every hero in your book, you need a hero. So it teaches you how to make that hero save the cat. Because if you save the cat, they're going to love you.

I mean, that's really how it comes that you have to find a way for everyone to love that character. So if you're not having a good time writing, your audience will not have a good time writing. So It's okay.

Recently, I've been going through a lot in my personal life, and my agent, we were going back and forth with revisions, and it just wasn't working. She actually said to me, she was like “Lisa, don't write.” She's like, “Don't write”, it's like “It's too crazy”. I'm a type A person, but it was nice; she gave me permission.

She said, “All I want you to do is think about story ideas. Jot it down, pretend you know, it's January”, there's a month that sometimes we just think of story ideas. “And that's all I want you to be responsible for.” It was very freeing for me because I was like, “Okay, I don't have to do anything, I can just concentrate on getting ideas”.

Some of those ideas have generated some things that I have been working on this summer when I did have more time. So I guess my long answer to this very question is: Don't force it. Do not force it. Go on to something new, even if it's only getting ideas.

Diane O.: That sounds like an excellent strategy. Thank you. A lot of people in this group are interested in getting published, can you talk about the process? You know, from idea to writing to publishing anything, suggestions you would give people?

Lisa Rose: Well, like I said, I think that you have to have a professional organization to help you with the critique group with that. I work in a traditional mode, that means that I submit my work to an agent. The agent that says yes, I'll represent this story or not. Then they pitch it to publishers.

I think there is a lot of people that go into self-publishing, I think you have to ask yourself, as a writer, what is your purpose of writing this?

Some people want to write a memoir for their family; for their children to record something. Sometimes you write something from your life just because it's cheaper than therapy, and you have to get it down.

I mean, I wrote a very bad book with my struggle of infertility, it was called No Sex Required. I know it was a gritty title, a very horrible book, but very good for me to write it all down, my feelings. So I think you have to ask yourself, who is your audience? Who are you writing this book for?

And that will kind of steer you in how you are going to go about publishing. So if it's a personal memoir that you want your family to know, then that might be something you might want to self-publish. If it is, you know, something where you want great distribution, then you might want to try the more traditional route, I am not going to say it's easy. It's hard, but it's, it's worth it. If you keep practicing, it will get better.

You'll find that it'll come quicker, it definitely does. After you've been doing it for a while, but you're going to have to write with the idea, as Jane Nolan said this, and she says "You have to write your heart, but you can't let your heart break if it's not sold."

So I think you have to kind of just write for the sake of writing. Keep in mind your audience, but don't feel bad if it's not sold right away. Because I have a story that's coming out in 2020 that I wrote probably 15 years ago. I saw Paul for a bilingual manuscript, and I thought, "What the hell, you know, I'll submit it.” Sure enough, this editor loved it, absolutely loved it. And here's the story that I filed away. And just said, "You know what, I can't sell it now, this is not going to happen, I’m just going to put it away". Sure enough, one day I'm at my computer, I hear a call for a manuscript, I submit, and a couple weeks later, I have the successes.

So sometimes you don't know when it's going to be your time. If you really love that story, and you polished it as much as you feel you can. If it hasn't sold, or it's not suitable for submissions, you never know, it could happen. So, writing is a marathon, not a sprint. The turtle wins. The turtle definitely...

Diane O.: I like that, I like that. Can you tell us about the Missing Voice Discussion Group?

Lisa Rose: Well, the Missing Voice Discussion Group actually started because I didn't want to do a writing blog. Because my agent at the time said, “You need to have more of a presence.” and everybody talks about having a social media presence.

Even though I’m extremely outgoing, I just don't feel the pressure to be very clever on Twitter or do all of these things. I, as Diane knows, I'd rather just post cute pictures with my daughter and promote writing, I just felt it was a lot of pressure; and people talked about giving writing blogs. I feel like, I did not want to force people to write it. Because honestly, as much as I love everyone, I don't have time to read everybody's blog.

So I didn't want to be another person that made people subscribe to things that they never read. So, I thought, “Well, what can I do?” And right at this time, the diversity movement was kind of blossoming. I was really kind of not only connecting it from the standpoint of my daughter, but also from being Jewish. And in saying that there is kind of we need to promote, all of these people just need more visibility. So I said, “Well, you know what?” I said, “I could commit to reading a picture book a month. Anybody can do that and let me see if these authors would like to talk to us about diversity.” So here I am, I'm celebrating a book, trying to give it more exposure and learning about writing in the process.

That was just my premise. I contacted a few authors. To my surprise, they said, “Yes!”, and here we are, I think it's like, almost 5-6 years, I can't keep track, that we've been doing it. It's been growing and blossoming. It was so wonderful when I go to conferences, and I can actually meet some of the authors that we have hosted. Authors have given me recommendations going, “Oh, you got to have so and so on here.”

It's just been this really great organic process, but in the spirit of everything, I have just been promoting diverse books, promoting parts of history that might be a little bit unknown, and shining a light on the underdog. I think that's it.

I'm a big fan of the underdog, and I wanted to do the underdog a service. I love it, how there's been so many connections made within the group. So basically, it started out because I didn't want to do a writing blog.

Debbie W.: Lisa, this is Debbie, can anybody join that discussion group? Who is that discussion group open to, Missing Voice?

Lisa Rose: It's open to anyone, you look it up on Facebook. So and we do a chat, and it's not a video chat. So I mean, you're on an equal playing field here. It's just like, you know, I put it on Facebook, and it's just typed. So if you have the ability to listen to the typing, then you can participate.

Anyone can join it. I mean, I'm the moderator so I can approve people. Generally, I approve everybody, if they remotely mapped into writing in any way, shape or form. Sometimes you'll get that random person from, you know, India and who's looking for women and he's not invited to the group, you know.

So it's that anyone can join we're on hiatus during the summer. So in September, I will have a new book. And then every month there's a new book that's highlighted. I ask some discussion questions, I allow the group members to ask them and we just talk about who's bad, everything about the book. It just kind of depends. Then we have a chat with the author, the illustrator, sometimes the editor. Sometimes all three.

It really depends on the book and the people I think. I had Nancy Churnin as a guest once that she wanted me to highlight another book and it was such a fabulous book. Then she says, “Well, what if we did it with the illustrator and the editor?” And I said, “Wow!”, you know, because I didn't want to like have the same guests again, I kind of wanted to spread the love.

Debbie W.: Would it be putting you on the spot if you could mention some of the books you've highlighted on Missing Voice? Can you think of any off the top of your head or?

Lisa Rose: Yeah, yeah. You know, I mean well, with Nancy Churnin we did The William Hoy Story. We did Manjhi and the Mountain. I did Jabari Jumps. I did New Shoes. I did... Actually I did Matt de la Peña's Last Stop on Market Street. I signed him up before he won his Newbery thankfully. What was really special during that chat is I said "That was the first time my daughter saw a cane in a book." Even though I talk about all this, I did not understand that power of representation until that cane was in the book.

He told Christopher Robinson when he was in town, Victoria got to meet Christopher, who through her cane, her caney, and that was a really special experience for her. You just don't understand that impact that it has. I've done Crown which is An Ode to the Fresh Cut. I did Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall; and if you have not read this book, I recommend that you read it. It is what I call the one of the most underrated children's book. I love that story. It's just called Red: A Crayon's Story.

I have done, I think Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty; I did Good Night in The Wind, New Shoes, City Shape. I did The Quickest Kid in Clarksville, also Waffle Boy.

Debbie W.: Wow, it sounds like you've covered a lot. Are they...some of these up on the website where people can reference them are-

Lisa Rose: Yeah well actually on my website, there is a Missing Voice section, and I do have several of the covers that are there.

Debbie W.: Great. We'll put that up on... This session is being recorded and that will be on the Hadley website. Then we'll have some show notes. So we'll put that resource up there for people, your website so they can access Missing Voice.

Diane O.: Diane speaking, I've participated in Missing Voice for a long time, and I have to say I love it. It's my favorite thing in the month. I totally endorse it.

Lisa Rose: Thank you. I know, she's always so great about participating and asking really insightful questions. I still appreciate her being a member because really, the group isn't about me, it's about the book and everybody else. So if I don't have anybody participate, it's very lonely.

Diane O.: It's such a wonderful opportunity, being able to chat with the writers, you know that you've just read this cool book, and now you get to chat with the author. I mean, it's just really cool.

Debbie W.: Great.

Lisa Rose: Yeah, and they do that, just completely on their own time. So that's why I'm very respectful. You know, does this like do an hour; but many of them are just agree to it. They're like, “Oh, I don't have to be on camera, and I can do this from the hotel room in my pajamas? No problem.”

Debbie W.: Great. Well, thank you for sharing that. Do you have anything else that you can think you would like to share with the Writers’ Circle at this time before we open it up to questions?

Lisa Rose: Not... I don't know what to say... I am just... I am always amazed with my daughter and she inspires me and I know that many of you have a lot less vision than she does. Just to think about that you are going to describe the world from your vision is amazing. I'm just... I was just blown away; my daughter is not very creative. She doesn't really write a lot.

So I keep waiting for her to do that, for her to draw a bit. If I could see the world from her eyes. So I just feel so, grateful that you are doing this because this is a really, really hard task to do because you have to paint a picture with words. For you to try that being visually impaired is amazing. I mean, it gives us perspective that we would not have any way of accessing.

Debbie W.: Okay, great. Thanks for sharing that. Diane, thanks for the interview; and Lisa, thanks for all your insight and sharing your experience. I think one thing that comes out for me is your sense of humor and your enthusiasm for writing. I think that came through loud and clear. So if you raise your hand, I'd like you to share not only a question, but also share with Lisa, a takeaway; something you're going to take away from her talk. Like for example, I'm going to take away her expression, “Permission to fail.” I love that. I'm not only going to apply that to my writing, but to other areas in my life as well that I'm putting-

Lisa Rose: That's a life lesson.

Debbie W.: Pardon me?

Lisa Rose: I said it's a life lesson. People sometimes ask, “Wow, you're so wise.” And I said, “Well, that is because I have messed up so badly, so many times. That I was able to finally learn from it.”

Debbie W.: Okay. Great, great.

Diane O.: Diane speaking-

Debbie W.: Go ahead, Diane. Sorry.

Diane O.: Real quick takeaway. How you brought all the rejections and say, “Hey, if I stopped after this, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now.” I like that takeaway.

Debbie W.: Great. Okay, I'm going to unmute Susan. Susan, your hand’s up?

Susan: Thank you. One of the best takeaways that I had was that quote from Jane Yolen about, you know, “Putting your heart out there, but then don't let it get broken by all of the rejection,” and you know, the writers tab. That was just excellent and thank you for sharing that.

I am an extremely visual person of few words. So in the past, I wrote poetry, song lyrics, but my words can be put, have been illustrated and have been put to music. But at this point, I am interested in script writing, screenwriting. And what I'm learning, Lisa, is that the tools for writers who are using screenwriting software really won't allow us to write in that format.

So I'm wondering what your suggestion is. Things like DVD courses on script writing, say, “Oh, if you can't use I guess, Final Draft,” or whatever, you know would be a nightmare to, write a play or a screenplay. This is very discouraging. So do you suggest writing short stories instead, and pitching the short stories that could be made into scripts or plays? Or what would your recommendation be?

Lisa Rose: Well, I think you should never let anyone dictate what you do. Period, in life, period. I think that if you want to do it, you should do it. I am not as familiar with all of the software and stuff, because when I was writing plays, it was 20 years ago. So I'm old now. We didn't have all that stuff.

There are people that wrote plays long before they had that software. What I think you should do is, write what you're passionate about, write what you want to write about, get it down on paper. If it has to be in a certain format in order to submit it, then you try to get someone to help you put it in that format, once it's already written, and do it.

I do not think that you should let someone else dictate what you write. I mean, I had a very similar experience in the sense that with the diversity in literature, because I am not a person of color, many people felt that I couldn't be writing a person of color. I have had a great deal of experience in the inner city, and this was a story that touched my heart and soul. I wasn't going to let that stop me. Like I mentioned Snowy Day, our first diverse book was not by a person of color, it was by a Jewish immigrant who saw the black kids in the neighborhood and felt they needed to be in a book. Because this is what he saw, and he saw that there were no books that showed a person of color.

So I just as a rule, do not let someone dictate what you write, I mean, if you have a story tell it, and worry about getting it into the format later.

Susan: Thank you so much, particularly with what you've added, because Mark Twain would never have been able to write Huckleberry Finn, if people try putting the restrictions on him that they're trying to put on you and other writers today. I am a teacher librarian by training. So I know that in the 1980s this whole area of multiculturalism and trying to bring inclusion into the school, really has also had some negative effects, where people are saying, well, only people from that population should be writing about that particular, you know, subject or whatever.

This is just not how a writer's ever operated before, because writers are reporters who also observe and report what they're seeing. So I really appreciate you know, what you've added about your own experiences. I have one other question and that's about social media.

I am almost giving up writing, because of all of the ways writers are now being told that we have to market our work and have social media, which a lot of our screenwriting software doesn't work with, or we need to have a blog. I don't enjoy writing about myself, but my blog that I've now stopped writing was an advocacy blog where I’m putting out information for other people.

And so as I say, this whole idea of having to market what you've written, and I self-published a book, and I really am not able to market it. So it's not doing well, what would you suggest?

Lisa Rose: Well, like I said, I started Missing Voice because I didn't want to write a blog. I feel you on that. You know, I think that when you have to, ask your purpose for self-publishing, and give realistic goals. And I think too in building relationships, because you make connections with other writers, and when I finally had my picture book coming out, I knew I was excited. But I didn't realize how many other people were excited for me, because they saw my process.

So you know, on my page, when someone else celebrates a book birthday, I promote it, and you'll have other people promoting it. I think you can't say social media is do or die, say “Oh, I can't be doing this, because I don't have social media” there is a balance.

You know, you can't be in a hole. But that's also why I prefer to work in a traditional marketplace, it is harder to get published. But I also know that the publisher is going to be marketing it. The publisher is going to be sharing it with the places. I am not sure how many books that I have sold, by putting stuff on Facebook. I don't think a whole lot to tell you the truth.

Being a teacher and librarian, you'll get your exposure by going to schools and doing local events and talking to groups.

Debbie W.: Susan, I want to thank you for your question. It raises a lot of issues, doesn't it? about whether we're going to participate in social media, the reasons why we're writing. So I think Lisa is encouraging us to explore those options. I'm going to go to iPhone Kim, iPhone Kim, I'm going to unmute you.

Kim: Hi.

Debbie W.: Hi.

Kim: I looked for you on BARD. But you're not on our list, National Library Service. And I imagine that because it's mostly picture books. Anyway, my writing, I'm not published or anything. Every once in a while, I write a poem. I'm starting to write on my iPhone, on Pages, just kind of a journal type thing. I just wanted to thank you for your encouragement, and this whole group is about, don't assume that you're not a writer, that you can't do it.

Lisa Rose: Right, well you said are not a writer and I wanted to say you “Maybe you're not a writer yet.” And we talk about this with kids and growth mindset, meaning maybe you're not published, yet.

If you add the ‘yet’ to all of those statements that you say, “I'm not this. I'm not that. I'm not whatever,” and you say yet, that gives you the power and I call it “the power of yet” that you will do it.

Debbie W.: That's a good takeaway. “The power of yet.” That's a good one to remember. So thank you, Kim. I appreciate your bringing up that you checked on BARD. For Lisa's books, I think that's important. Maybe we can look into that and see if we can get them to pick some of those up.

Lisa Rose: I actually wrote it down myself going, “Oh, we have to fix that.”

Debbie W.: Yeah, when you're talking about inclusion, that's inclusion, right? We got-

Lisa Rose: Right, I'm like “We got to fix that; I'm getting on my publisher about that.”

Debbie W.: Okay, okay. Anne, I'm going to unmute you now. Anne?

Anne: Hey, Debbie, and Lisa, that... “The power of yet” for one. For two, “Don't let anybody discourage you from what you want to do.” I agree with that. Those are both my takeaways for the day.

And I'm going to make a comment. I know, we're talking about writing, but this is one of those things that I picked up on. Lisa, you have a voice for radio, for podcasts.

Lisa Rose: I actually hate the way I sound. But thank you.

Anne: No, I just wanted to give you that compliment. Another thing real quick. Susan, there is a there is a Twitter client called TW Blue that does work with screen readers because I use it all the time. Now I've got to figure out, are you on Audible by any chance?

Lisa Rose: Am I on Audible? I know that Shmulik Paints the Town I believe is on Audible, has an audio to it. So I will check. There is a lot of things that I don't have control over when you... That is the bad part about I guess traditionally publishing is that you don't have that choice. Now, like I said, I did self-publish one book, and I wanted to get a recording of me reading it so that people could access that book that way. So...

Debbie W.: Great. Great idea. I have... Anne thanks for your comments and your kudos to Lisa. I appreciate that. Deborah, I'm muting you.

Deborah: Okay, thank you. First of all, I just want to throw in tidbit that I looked on BARD and you're not there, Lisa and you're not on Bookshare, which is another popular source of books-

Lisa Rose: Yeah. I know about Bookshare. My daughter adores Bookshare. [crosstalk]

Deborah: There you go. You could you could actually... Probably upload the books yourself to Bookshare. But I did have a question. Actually I have two questions. So I'll ask them both, you can answer in whatever order you prefer. The first one is, I wonder if you've always worked with the same agent and how you secured your agent?

The other is, since you do picture books, how did you go about finding an illustrator? Did you have someone to work with?

Lisa Rose: Okay, I'm going to start, I'm going to stop you. I will answer that. First, I will go back to the agent question. When you are traditionally published, the publisher finds the illustrator. Everybody thinks you sit hand in hand with the illustrator, and you're working together. I have actually never met any of my illustrators.

Deborah: That's actually what I thought. Yeah, that's what I thought. So do you communicate with him or her after, after you've been assigned? Do you get to approve?

Lisa Rose: No, no, no, approved? Yeah. Now I just got illustrations for my upcoming book, which is the it's called The Singer and The Scientist, it’s about the friendships between Marian Anderson and Albert Einstein. I looked at the illustrations, and the illustrator put a house number on Albert Einstein's house. And I said this is incorrect. It was actually 112 Mercer Street. It is Google-able, you have to do that. And because you can look at it online, I looked at Albert Einstein's house and the door was on the wrong side.

So I said to my publisher, “Historically incorrect and it needs to be fixed.” So I mean, that's how you can do it when it's historically incorrect. Now I have had an illustrator that drove that... I had a book it was called, a digital book, and it was about “Oh, no, the Easter Bunny is allergic to eggs.” And he had to go and ask different people to help him deliver the eggs. So one of the people was the Tooth Fairy now my illustrator put my Tooth Fairy on a bike. Now everybody knows the Tooth Fairy flies, and I hated it.

I absolutely hated it, and I got so mad, and they wouldn't change it, so I gave my Tooth Fairy a book. So my Tooth Fairy was, “Oh no, the Tooth Fairy broke her wing." Because I just had to make it up for her because every kid at every presentation said, “Why is the Tooth Fairy on the bike?" Exactly. Right?

Debbie W.: That's precious. That's precious.

Lisa Rose: It was... Of course they knew it. I was like, "Every five year old knows this, why do any of you not know this?" So there's within reason, when you, you know, I am not at a very prominent level, maybe you have more choice in an illustrator or not. But that's how it works, is with an agent. This is, I don't want to discourage everybody. But this is not my first agent experience. I will tell you that she is actually my third.

And even though I have had all these books, and I have had an agent help with contracts, I have personally sold all my books myself, by my doing the hustle and the hard work and connecting with editors.

In the fall, now I had I'm going to coming up to my one year anniversary on my current agent. We are getting ready to submit, hopefully cross your fingers and toes everybody she will actually sell a manuscript. But I have never had an agent sell a manuscript for me. So If you think you are going to get an agent and all this magic is going to happen, it generally doesn't work that way.

Debbie W.: Okay. Great. Thanks for sharing that. Alice. I'm going to unmute you, Alice, you have a question?

Alice: Yes. Hello. Good afternoon. I would like to ask you a question. If you are since I understood from the website, from the Detroit area, you're familiar with Seedlings in Livonia, Michigan? Because Seedlings would, I think, produce one or more of your books in braille. So I hope you would sometimes consider that.

Also, I looked at one of your YouTube videos. Now perhaps my JAWS didn't find it. But I didn't find any descriptive video for your YouTube video. So I would suggest that to you also. I appreciate all what you've shared with us and your humor. Today, I'd like to give you a suggestion for Missing Voices. This is not my book. So please don't think I'm plugging my book.

But there's a book, children's book, entitled Peanut of Blind Faith Farm. It is absolutely the best book that I've read of this type forever I think. Not just for a long time, forever. It's by Jim Thompson. He is a Wisconsin writer. I'm from Wisconsin. So there is a connection there. It is a non-fiction book. It has been put in audio and braille besides to print with beautiful, beautiful illustrations; and the braille book has this lovely raised drawing of a lamb.

I just love my braille copy of this children's book Peanut of Blind Faith Farm because the producer of the braille ABLE went that extra step and made this drawing of little peanut this lamb. Peanut is still with us. I think he celebrated a birthday. She celebrated your birthday in July and is I think eight years old now.

Debbie W.: Great. Okay, thanks. We'll have that link to Peanut of Blind Faith Farm on the website. I think that's that'd be a good resource. So thanks for sharing that.

Well, Lisa, I was sure- I didn't know how this would go today. I am so happy we invited you. This was a great discussion. I'm sure our guests pulled out... Have a lot of takeaways and have enjoyed meeting you. I hope some of them will explore your website, and that we can get you to get some of those books on BARD. I think that would be great. I think that was a wonderful suggestion.

Lisa Rose: Oh I have a big job to do and Seedlings, too. I'm embarrassed, I come to this group. I have none of that stuff. I should... I wanted to add one thing, and that was the woman who was... People were dictating what she should write. That really touched me because I felt like there were times where I had to write with handcuffs on.

Because the world- we are at a period in our world where our journalism can be fake, but our fiction has to be ultimately so true. So I guess I just want to- when I gave myself permission to break the handcuffs and just see what happens with no judgment. It was much more freeing when I couldn't... I didn't have to worry about... Don't worry about what people are going to think and what people are going to feel. Just get it down and do it. Like Jane Yolen, you know, don't break your heart if it doesn't sell.

It will fill your heart so much better. So I think that goes hand in hand with the writer's block. Sometimes it's really fear. You know that you cannot live your life in fear. I think that you guys are some of the bravest people ever. Don't let that... Anything stop you.

Debbie W.: Thank you, Lisa, that's a powerful message to share. It goes back to, putting yourself out there and giving yourself permission to fail and to save that cat.

Lisa Rose: Yes!

Debbie W.: Diane, do you have any final words for us today? And then I'm going to do my final spiel, and then you could do the writers prompt?

Diane O.: Well, I want to say thank you so much, Lisa, I think it was really wonderful hearing you. So it's kind of cool meeting you after Missing Voice for so many years, and also thank you so much for presenting to our group. It was great.

I'll give the prompts when you're ready for me to give the prompts.

Debbie W.: Okay. Well, once again, thank you, everybody, for joining us today for Writers’ Circle. We were happy to have Lisa Rose join us. Please visit her website, Is that correct, Lisa?

Lisa Rose: That is correct, and there is a contact page. So if you didn't have a question answered, feel free to reach out to me. Please don't hesitate at all.

Debbie W.: That's very generous of you. Thank you so much.

Diane send us off with the writers prompts.

Diane O.: All right, here are two prompts. Write about a surprise or write about a building. Again, write about a surprise or write about a building. And happy writing!