We are so excited to host author Connie Sewell for a book signing and fashion show in the J Banks courtyard this week! We had the opportunity to interview Connie about what inspired her to write Summer Saltz.
JB: Briefly explain your book and the storyline.
Connie: Summer Saltz is a fun-loving spunky girl always into something exciting. When she gets a new pair of ever-so-sassy white sunglasses, she takes on a personality all her own. But when she shows up for the party with her “I’m so Hollywood” attitude, she finds out showing off doesn’t pay off. She learns some valuable lessons in the story about friendship, kindness, and what it really means to be “HOLLYWOOD.”
JB: Is this your first book? What inspired you to take the plunge and move forward with publication?
Connie: This is my first book. Once I had the general character and first draft, I met with my attorneys in New York and they convinced me I had something with this character and that I should move forward. After the long editing process with a professional editor and the unexpectedly difficult process of selecting an illustrator the book began to take shape and I realized it was definitely worthy of publication. I wanted to create a character that would stand the test of time and have a similar personality to many little girls I have had the opportunity to get to know.
JB: What is the biggest challenge you faced in the creation and publication of this book?
Connie: The biggest challenge I faced in the creation and publication of Summer Saltz was unfamiliarity with the publishing process. There is a lot of information out there for publishing, but not a lot for publishing a children’s picture book. Most of that information is closely held by the gatekeepers at the major publishing houses because they like to control the process and maintain merchandising rights. I think it is tough to tackle a project like this even if you know the process. I had no idea what was involved. I just took each step and did the best I could with it. Every step is probably as difficult as the next, especially if you are a perfectionist, and I hesitate to say it, but I really am.
JB: The book was largely inspired by your own daughter, Summer, what was her reaction to the book?
Connie: Summer really enjoys reading the book. She really gets a kick out of the part where Summer Saltz tries to put her dog, Penelope, in her purse, she thinks that is hilarious. However, she dislikes the dialogue where the dad says the dog is like a bull in a china shop, funny. She loves to wear the tattoos of Summer Saltz on her hands. I think she really enjoys the concept that there is a book and all sorts of other products that are all about her.
JB: What is the message that you hope children receive after reading this book?
Connie: I hope children learn how to be kind to one another, the value of a good friendship and that showing off doesn’t pay off. There are many opportunities for parents to teach their children lessons throughout the book, such as importance of diet, figures of speech, and one of my favorites, the environmental comment on the back cover. The comment is quite humorous, but it is an opportunity to explain to your kids how to love and care for the environment, and what ‘hugging a tree’ really means.
JB: Books are a big part of your life. Why do you think it is important to read with and to your children?
Connie: Oh, reading is the key to everything! You have to teach your children at an early age to read and comprehend, as it is in everything we do. The joy of reading and learning is one of life’s biggest gifts. I particularly love to sit in my children’s beds at night and read with and to them, it is our bonding time. To enjoy the emotions and adventures in children’s books, or any book, and to watch your children absorb the context, well, it’s just priceless.
JB: Can we expect more adventures with Summer Saltz in the future?
Connie: Absolutely! Summer Saltz is going to be a series. I am currently working on the second book draft. It is going to be a lot of fun. She will have the same humor and personality, but obviously the story line will be much different. What I can tell you about the next book is that Summer will find out which sports she is good at and which sports she enjoys most. This doesn’t come easy for her, and her situations and trials will have you laughing your way through the events in the story. It will be a fun adventure.
If you would like to pre-order a book, you may call J Banks Retail 843-682-1745 for more information. This event is suitable for children ages 4-8. To learn more about Connie, you may visit her website at http://www.summersaltz.com.