Hello and welcome to my ‘#GrowYourWriting Creator Interviews’ blog series. My goal is to shine a spotlight on kidlit creators and their fabulous projects and allow them to share their tips and tricks to grow your writing. Today I’d like to welcome Author, Brittany Pomales. Her debut picture book IT STARTED WITH A P will be published by Flamingo Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, and releases in Spring 2025! We are so excited for you, Brittany!
Stay tuned all the way to the end of the interview for your chance to win an ‘Ask me about my book’ or ‘Ask me about my art’ button from Brittany’s Etsy shop!
1 – What inspired you to pursue a career in children’s literature, and when did you start creating?
It was a bit of trial and error for me. I wrote a lot as a teen and was convinced I would publish a YA novel. Over the next ten years, I didn’t complete a single draft. But I did write over a dozen short stories. I just lacked the knowledge to revise them to the point of publication. Who knew it was more than a beginning, middle, and end?
So I decided to learn how to write a story. I took a creative writing class at a local community college that explored different writing formats. I knew I needed to dig deeper, so I decided to take a deep dive on my own. I debated between the craft of writing horror short stories, so I could polish up my existing stories, and writing picture books. Since they are complete opposites, I couldn’t study both at the same time. I needed to commit to one, at least for a while. I had written a children’s story in the creative writing class that I wanted to give a fair shake. So, at the age of 28, I dove head first into picture books.
2 – Can you share your kidlit journey thus far with our readers? What writing/illustrating credentials, awards, contest wins, or other recognition would you like to share?
I was fortunate that #Pbchat run by Justin Colón, had just started weekly chats on Twitter when I started. And I attended every week. Soaking in the advice and making connections.
Eventually, #Pbchat evolved into a mentorship program. After two years of rejections, I became a #Pbchat mentee in their third year. I also collected two #50Preciouswords wins (hosted by Vivian Kirkfield) and one #Fallwritingfrenzy win (hosted by Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis) in those three years.
Every step along the way helped me find my wonderful agent and sell my debut picture book.
3 – What part of the process, from the first draft to submissions, do you find the most challenging, and how do you overcome that?
The way into the story is often the most challenging for me. I am usually inspired by a joke or gag, and it can be difficult to stretch that into a full story. Some jokes just aren’t that stretchy.
To test the stretchiness of a joke, I like to check the wordplay potential. See what idioms work and create a word bank. Then I match it up against different story structures and potential hooks. If the joke stretches through all that then I know the potential for a full picture book is there.
4 – Can you tell our readers more about your forthcoming debut picture book and its journey to publication?
The idea for my debut came to me during Storystorm 2020. I remember jotting down the idea at work, and on the ride home I could hear the character’s voices in my head. Their banter cracked me up. But I was writing SEL stories at the time, and didn’t have the skill to do a humor story justice. So after some feedback from my critique group I shelved it for a year.
At that point, I was pivoting from SEL to humor stories, so I dug through my old files and pulled it off my digital shelf. It received a lot of dusting and polishing. With help from my mentor, Dev Petty, critique partners, and an R&R from Kaitlyn Sanchez, it was finally polished enough to catch my agent’s eye. It sold pretty quickly. We had an offer after seven weeks on sub.
5- What overall advice would you like to give aspiring kidlit creators to grow their writing?
Don’t let who you think you are as a writer stop you from becoming the writer you’re meant to be.
My first picture book draft was a Corduroyesque tale featuring a Christmas tree star instead of a bear. That was the picture book writer I thought I was. And although my draft was well written, it lacked spark. And so did the other SEL stories I wrote after. It turned out that writing SEL wasn’t for me.
Then, I tried writing humorous stories. Doubt crept in. Calling myself funny felt weird. Is funny a label you could give yourself?
Turns out it is! And those funny manuscripts resonated with others in a way my SEL stories never did. Once I embraced the writer I was, things started to fall into place. Had I let my perception of who I was as a writer stop me from giving humor a go, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So, don’t be afraid to try writing something outside of your genre or audience. You might be surprised to find that you’re a different writer than you thought.
6- What’s next for you as a creator?
I recently opened an Etsy shop with swag to celebrate writing milestones, including pre-published milestones. Designing the merchandise has helped while out on submission. My agent has a few of my picture books out right now, and we’re hoping one of them will become my second published book.
Guess What? It’s giveaway time! Brittany has graciously offered to host a giveaway for our readers.
** Winners Choice of an ‘Ask me about my book’ or ‘Ask me about my art’ button from Brittany’s Etsy shop! **
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post below! Entry period closes on September 27, 2023 at 12am PST. One Winner will be announced September 28, 2023.
1 Bonus entry is available for anyone who shares this post on twitter and tags @BrittanyPomales and @C_Alemshah.