Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
Surprise! We have one final blog post before I officially go on hiatus, and I hope you’re all as excited as I am because it’s the talented, the wonderful, the incredibly kind Pat Zietlow Miller here to talk about one of her newest picture books, which is wonderfully heartfelt and fun, See You Someday Soon, illustrated by Suzy Lee.
Description of book from the publisher:
From the author of the mega-bestseller Be Kind and the winner of the 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Award comes a picture book for anyone who’s ever loved someone far away.
Someday soon, I’ll see you.
Even though you are there.
And I am here.
So very far apart.
In this heartfelt picture book, a child imagines ways to connect with a grandmother who lives far way. Whether by rocket ship or jet pack, train or in a plane, any journey is worth it to see someone you love.
With an inviting, accessible text by Pat Zietlow Miller and inventive art from the critically-acclaimed illustrator Suzy Lee, See You Someday Soon reminds us that, no matter the physical distance between us, the people we care about are never far from our hearts. The book features clever and innovative die-cuts throughout, adding a creative, thoughtful and discussion-worthy novelty aspect to this layered and deeply emotional story.
Kaitlyn: Hi, Pat, it’s so nice to have you here today! Thank you for being here today as well as being such a thoughtful person and sharing your wonderful writing talent with the world.
Pat: Thanks for having me!
Kaitlyn: The pleasure is all mine. Let’s dive right in! This book is so much fun and so sweet. Can you share how this book came to be?
Pat: I got the idea for the story after I wrote an email that I ended by saying, “I’ll see you someday soon.” Then, I started thinking about all the people who care about someone far away and the lengths they might go to to see them.
My first drafts of the story featured several pairs of characters who were far apart – cousins, pen pals, a grandparent and grandchild. As I revised, I changed the story from third person to first person and decided to focus on just one pair of characters and not to specify how they were related, but instead to focus on the love:
Someday soon, I’ll see you. Even though you are there. And I am here. So very far apart.
Kaitlyn: So beautiful and relatable to so many people. Can you share why books like this are so important to share with our little ones?
Pat: Everyone has people they love. And, everyone has people they wish they saw more often. This book combines those two concepts and talks about all the ways we can stay connected with people we love and how love is stronger than any distance.
I have so many friends who are far away from folks they love, whether it’s parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, or cousins. And, in many cases, the pandemic made it even harder to see those far-away people.
I hope this book makes it easier for readers to think about the people they love, reach out to them and stay connected as best they can.
Kaitlyn: Yes! This book definitely does that and in such a fun way! For example, I love how the author and illustrator photos at the end of the book are you with your grandparents. Did you write this book with them in mind?
Pat: No! I wrote the book in first person, from the view of the kid main character, and I did not specify anywhere in the text who the main character was missing or what their relationship was. I wanted to give the illustrator as much room as possible to interpret the text.
But, once Suzy Lee decided to show a grandparent/grandchild relationship, I was thrilled when Roaring Brook Press reached out and asked if I could share a picture of me and my grandmother. I’m not sure whose idea that was, but it was a good one.
An interesting note: Even though I wasn’t specifically thinking about my grandparents when I wrote the text, I did name the cat in the manuscript Clarence as a nod to my grandfather.
Kaitlyn: Aw, I love all that so much, especially Clarence being named after your grandfather. Can you share the process for finding the artist, how you worked together, and what you thought when you saw the art?
Pat: Roaring Brook Press suggested Suzy Lee as the illustrator, and I was thrilled because I’d loved her other work like OPEN THIS LITTLE BOOK with Jesse Klausmeier.
And, as is usually the case with picture book authors and illustrators, we did not work together at all. Suzy got the MicroSoft Word document with my final text and no illustrator notes. Then, she took it from there, suggesting the style of the art and the die cuts and the partial pages.
So, the cool stuff was all her. And, as I said when the book was released, you could have locked me in a room for 10 years and given me all the chocolate I needed to be happy, and I would never, ever have come up with as amazing a concept as Suzy did.
Needless to say, my initial reaction to seeing the art was utter and complete awe.
Here’s a video I made talking about how Suzy, Roaring Brook Press and I worked together to make this book:
(372) How authors and illustrators work together — but separately — to make memorable picture books - YouTube
Kaitlyn: I love, love, love this video, and I think it’s going to be incredibly helpful to many of my readers to better understand the picture book writing process, and so much congrats on you and your team finding the perfect artist for this wonderful book! One of my favorite aspects of this book is all the various writing techniques you use so flawlessly, like a bit of rhyme, great comedy, relatable concepts, etc. Do you plan when and where to add in these techniques or do they just flow out of you?
Pat: THANK YOU for noticing this and commenting on it. This is a book that was built on revision, and I worked hard to fit in the alliteration, the bits of humor, and the repeating elements as well as craft a voice that is, I hope, authentic and childlike.
Some of those things flowed naturally and others I added later as I worked on the text, read it out loud to myself and my cats, and came back to it again and again until I felt like the text fit and flowed as best it could.
Then, of course, Suzy Lee took that text and catapulted the book into the stratosphere with her vision for the art and design.
Kaitlyn: That is amazing that you do so much with a book and very helpful to new picture book writers to know that, yes, somethings do flow right out, but others take revision and time, and in the end, it’s a beautiful result. Now, if you had to pick, what is your favorite scene of this book?
Pat: It’s the page when the grandmother hears the knock on the door while she’s at her computer. The background is gray, and she’s working away. Then she hears the knock.
The next page has a bright yellow background, and it just shows the tipped over chair, the grandmother’s shoes abandoned on the floor, and papers flying as she’s rushed to the door to see her grandchild. It’s perfection!
The image embodies love without having either of the characters shown.
Kaitlyn: YES! That’s my favorite part, too. It shows so much relatable emotion and is also hilarious. Can you share who your editor for this book was and why you enjoyed working with this editor?
Pat: The editor for this book is Connie Hsu from Roaring Brook Press. And, she gets a lot of credit for how this book turned out. The first few drafts were very different from the final, and she really encouraged me to make the changes that led to this particular book. I’m not sure I would have arrived in the place we did if I had been left to my own devices.
Connie also edited my books WHEREVER YOU GO, BE KIND, and BE STRONG. She is a delight.
Kaitlyn: Wow, it sounds like you and Connie have a remarkable relationship. All the books you’ve published together are favorites in our house, and now, so is SEE YOU SOMEDAY SOON! Can you share who your agent is and why you enjoy working with this agent?
Pat: My agent is Ammi-Joan Paquette, who is also a delight. She’s part of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She is smart and supportive as an agent, and she’s also a talented author. Her latest picture book, ALL FROM A WALNUT is especially wonderful!
Kaitlyn: Agreed! If you haven’t read Ammi-Joan’s beautiful book, check out this post and make sure to read and review a copy, just like I hope you do with SEE YOU SOMEDAY SOON. Pat, you have been an award-winning, best-selling author for years, coming up on a decade, even, and you are still incredibly humble, kind, helpful, and creative. Can you share how you stay so grounded and connected to what readers want?
Pat: I think the humility comes because I am very aware of my own humanity and where I struggle in life. I mean, there are so many things I am NOT good at that it seems other people effortlessly ARE, and that can be frustrating. Yet, I also know what I am good at and try my best to capitalize on that.
As far as staying connected to what readers want, I always try to center my books on an emotion or feeling that is universal in hopes that readers of all ages, backgrounds and life experiences will respond by thinking: “Oh. Yes. I’ve felt that.” Because, honestly, we’ve all felt big emotions, and they – more than anything else – are what unites us.
Kaitlyn: That is incredible advice. Centering around the emotion definitely makes all your books so relatable; take note, readers, and I agree, being aware of our own humanity can help keep us all humble. Can you share with us what you’re working on now?
Pat: Well, the next two books I have coming out are collaborations with my friend and fellow author E.E. Charlton-Trujillo. One is LUPE LOPEZ: READING ROCK STAR from Candlewick Press, which is a follow-up to LUPE LOPEZ: ROCK STAR RULES, which came out this year. E. and I also have A GIRL CAN BUILD ANYTHING coming from Viking.
I’m also working on new stuff that has not yet sold, including a book about a girl trying to figure out her purpose in life. Along with that existential question, it features rainbows, pigeons and … monsters. Because, why not?
Kaitlyn: Haha! “Why not” is right! I can’t wait to read them all, and add them to our home collection, which, readers, I hope you do, too! Pat, you have a wonderful page full of advice for authors. Readers, check out here: https://www.patzietlowmiller.com/writing-advice. Do you have a favorite piece of advice you like to share with authors?
Pat: Do your homework before you venture down any publishing path. I have a lot of aspiring authors reach out to me wanting to know how to get started in the industry, and many of them have not done any research about how publishing works.
It’s totally OK not to know that – we all start out as beginners – but publishing is complicated, and there are so many different ways to approach it that new writers really need to do the research to figure out what their goals are and which approach is most likely to help them reach them.
I always recommend Harold Underdown’s THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING CHILDREN’S BOOKS. It covers everything in a very conversational, readable way and it will do a great job setting you up for success.
Kaitlyn: Yes! Such great advice; definitely do your research and read this wonderful book recommendation as well! Finally, if you could meet your favorite famous person, whether it’s an author, an historical figure, or someone else, would you chat by a fireside or go on an adventure?
Pat: Oh, definitely chat by the fireside or maybe visit some bookstores. That’s about all the adventure I’m up for.
Kaitlyn: That sounds like the perfect adventure! Thank you so much for stopping by today and for all you do to help bring beautiful books into the world.
Author Bio and links
Pat Zietlow Miller knew she wanted to be a writer ever since her seventh-grade English teacher read her paper about square-dancing skirts out loud in class and said: “This is the first time anything a student has written has given me chills.” (Mrs. Mueller rocks! That’s why I dedicated my picture book BE STRONG to her.)
Pat started out as a newspaper reporter and wrote about everything from dartball and deer-hunting to diets and decoupage. Then, she joined an insurance company — and then another — and edited their newsletters and magazines.
Now, Pat focuses on her favorite thing — writing picture books. She’s sold 23 books and is always working on more.
Pat has one wonderful husband, two delightful daughters and two pampered cats. She doesn’t watch much TV, but she does love “Chopped.”
Pat lives in Wisconsin.
Kaitlyn’s Review of SEE YOU SOMEDAY SOON
This fun and beautiful book is perfect for any home, library, or school collection. With playful, entertaining language that is equally matched by bright and creative art (including die-cut holes!), this lovely book will keep kids and adults alike turning pages while finding new ways to connect with each other, knowing that they’ll see the ones they love someday soon.
Giveaway- Pat is generously offering a signed copy of SEE YOU SOMEDAY SOON – US residents only.
To enter the random drawing, do any/all of the following options, then come back and write all of the things you did in ONE blog comment. (If you forget something, feel free to reply to your first comment ;))
- Share that you added SEE YOU SOMEDAY SOON to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share that you ordered a copy of SEE YOU SOMEDAY SOON
- Share that you did a purchase request for SEE YOU SOMEDAY SOON at your library
- Share that you left a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble
- Share that you retweeted or quote retweeted my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tagged some friends.
Thank you, all, for once again supporting such wonderful creators, and I can’t thank you enough as well for all the kind responses and well wishes about my hiatus. I hope you’re all staying balanced and focused on your well-being as well – I have to say, having more time to work out, I can already feel my abs again – I had forgotten I had them 😉 Looking forward to connecting again soon, and I hope you have a lovely fall and join us for the Fall Writing Frenzy!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez