We just adore celebrating rising stars on the blog, and today’s author is another exceptional one to watch out for! Liz Ledden – you may have heard her as one of the fabulous trio of the One More Page Podcast fame – is debuting her picture book, Tulip and Brutus, with Ford Street Publishing this October. Liz is here to share her writing journey and behind-the-scenes story to the whimsically delightful, distinctive and refreshing tale (despite the things that stink!) about friendship, diversity and inclusivity. Thanks, Liz, and Congratulations! 🙂
How and when did your kids’ book writing journey begin?
I first began dabbling in writing picture book manuscripts in 2014. I came to it via studying for a Master of Arts in Writing and Literature via Deakin University, something I started when I’d moved back to Australia after a stint overseas, had two small kids, and felt at a bit of a career crossroads. I was studying other forms of writing at first, then chose a picture book unit, loved it, and managed to get a high distinction! I did another brief picture book course with author Frances Watts at Writing NSW, fell for writing and studying kids’ literature and it grew from there. It was a gradual process where I studied, researched and became more immersed once I joined a critique group at the end of 2015. So really, from 2016 onwards I was off on my journey of kids’ book writing, critiquing and being critiqued, and starting to submit to publishers.
Tulip and Brutus is a picture book about a ladybug and a stinkbug who live in different parts of a yard and never play together. The story explores differences, in that the bugs eat different things and do different things for fun – the messy, naughty stinkbugs contrasting with the more polite and proper ladybugs. It’s about friendship, discovering new things, getting outside your comfort zone, community, harmony and acceptance. It also weaves in some real-life things about stinkbugs and ladybugs, like the way they both react to threats (think stink!).
Can you tell us about how Tulip and Brutus came to be published?
I pitched Tulip and Brutus to Meredith Costain, consulting for Ford Street Publishing at the 2018 CYA Conference in Brisbane. It was one of those brief pitch sessions where the editors don’t pre-read your manuscript. I was asked to make a few minor changes and submit, and was super surprised when I found out it was accepted for publication. I heard back around 6 weeks after submission.
What was the timeframe from initial idea to publication for Tulip and Brutus?
I first came up with the idea for the story in mid-2017, which I can see from checking old drafts I’ve saved! Initially, it was called Lady and Stink, then Petunia and Brutus, however after finding a few other Petunias in picture books at the time, I changed it to Tulip and Brutus, which I like so much more! I tweaked the book over time, and it was up to its 13th version when it was picked up for publication. It was around 18 months from first draft to contract signing, and another year from that until publication. Thinking about it now, two and a half years from first draft to book on the shelves doesn’t seem too long, considering how drawn out the picture book process can be!
Do you recommend pitching to publishers at conferences as a path to publication?
I definitely think you need to embrace any opportunities that come your way – be it an opportunity for an assessment or a pitch at a conference, entering a kids’ book writing contest, or making the most of an open for submissions period at a publishing house. I wouldn’t overthink it! You just never know where an opportunity will lead.
Fabulous advice, and what an incredible publication journey! Very inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing it all with us, Liz! 🙂
Liz Ledden is a Sydney-based children’s book writer of picture books, junior fiction and middle grade. She also co-hosts the kids’ book podcast One More Page, where she interviews kids’ book industry professionals, reviews the latest books and lapses into the occasional laughing fit. Liz has lived in Vietnam, Cambodia and Canada, and has a rescue dog named Frankie who acts like a cat. She can typically be found seeking out new cafes or maxing out her library card.
Find her online at: