Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 14, 2017

July Featured Editor – Mira Reisberg

Dr Mira Reisberg editor at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s imprint Spork has agreed to be our featured editor for the month of July and critique four first pages. Besides being an editor, she is a multi-published, award-winning children’s book illustrator and author whose books have sold over 600,000 copies. She also runs and continues to help children’s book writers and illustrators get published with the courses she conducts at the Children’s Book Academy. In a former life not too long ago, Mira was a literary agent and a children’s literature professor. She has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on kid lit.

Here is part one of my interview with Mira:

Will you also have the title of art director?

Yes. My expertise is in both.

Do you have a vision for where you want to take Spork?

Yes I have a very strong vision, working collaboratively with the publisher, Callie Metler-Smith, of making the quality of books indistinguishable from mainstream big publishers while also taking risks on books that may not be as commercially driven. I think the key is having wonderful stories with strong characters and plots, lovely language and themes that connect with children’s lives either by creating understanding, meaning, or delight. I want our books winning awards and doing good in the world. At the same time running a press costs money so we will also have to have books that do well commercially to stay in business and balance out those that may not have as wide an audience. In addition, I am passionately committed to high-quality diverse books from diverse authors and illustrators so that kids can see themselves reflected not just as characters but also as creators as well as books that either create meaning or joy or both.

Do You Plan to expand beyond picture books?

I love working on chapter books and middle grades as well but because I have to pace myself, right now I’m only working on picture books so I can keep running the children’s book Academy as well.

What can someone do to get you to ask to see more?

At the moment, I’m only looking at manuscripts from my upcoming course because I know the students will be well-trained and so that I don’t get overwhelmed. At some point I’ll be looking at stories from former students and conferences where I present. Things that float my boat are stories with memorable characters, stories that make me laugh or cry or that feel important in some way, stories that bring to light things from all aspects of life that I (or kids) may not have known about before or that have an innovative approach to something I (or kids) already knew about. I love clever or beautiful language and books that make me care.

Are you interested in new illustrators?

Yes I’m absolutely open to new illustrators. Once again my first choice will be students from our upcoming Illustration course that I’ll be co teaching with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR and Clarion Books associate art director Sharismar Rodriguez in September, as well as from former students and illustrators that I meet at conferences. I’m especially interested in illustrators of color, of which there is such a big shortage. This is why we will be giving away diversity scholarships at the Academy for September’s course. I’ve also set up a Facebook page for illustrators to submit one piece of art, their bios, and a link to their website right here

Stop back next Friday to read Part Two of the Interview I had with Mira. In the meantime you can start submitting your first pages using the guidelines below:


In the subject line, please write “July 2017  Critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page). REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!

Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: July 20th.
RESULTS: July 28th.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!


Still time to sign up for Mira’s picture book e-course starting July 24th. Every week – Monday through Friday, there are fresh lessons and exercises from the faculty released on their password protected website that also includes tons of resources that include lists of publishers and agents, worksheets, done-for you templates, and much more. There is an interact private Facebook group where questions are answered and small critique groups are set up for those who want to participate. There is a special webinar page for each week where students post responses to each webinars topic – e.g., thumbnails, quirky or memorable characters etc. Times are scheduled to accommodate folks in different countries as much as possible. These webinars are record for those who can’t make it live.

I took the Middle Grade Writing Course earlier this year and it was chuck full of information. Everyday there were new exercises and things to do. I couldn’t do everything, but Mira gives you access to all the files for six months – so you can work at your own pace. I certainly found the course made me focus on finishing the first draft of my new book.

An impressive fact: Over 140 Children’s Book Academy students have signed contracts for published books.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congrats to Mira! What a wonderful role she will play as editor…a wizard of words and encouraging with edits to all her students at the Academy. Great work and great interview:)


  2. What wonderful news, Mira! I’m one of your graduates from last year, and I’m happy to share that I have a picture book coming out soon with Spork. It was a joy to learn from you, and it has been a joy to work with Callie. You two will be a fantastic team!! Best wishes! : )


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