Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 11, 2020

Book Giveaway: SOAKED by Abi Cushman

Author/illustrator Abi Cushman debut picture book titled, SOAKED came out on July 14th and was published by Viking Books. Abi has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Abi!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A Hula-Hooping moose, a badger with a bumblebee umbrella, a rabbit in a cashmere sweater, and a very wet bear star in this unpredictable and laugh-out-loud picture book in which having fun gets the best of a grumpy bear.

It looks like a wet and dreary day for Bear and his trio of friends. How could he possibly have fun when he is soaked? But Badger, Rabbit, and Moose don’t seem to mind. In fact, Moose can still hula hoop! And it looks like so much fun. Might Bear like to try?

Here is a story that shows that fun is not dependent on sunshine and blue skies. In fact, it might be more fun to be soaked!

BOOK JOURNEY:

When I first had the idea for SOAKED!—when I was sopping wet from head to toe, walking back to my house in a rainstorm—I decided I was going to create a wordless picture book about an animal dancing in the rain. How beautiful and poignant it was going to be!

But then this fellow kept showing up in my sketchbook.


I brought the idea to my critique group. I was afraid of having a bear as a main character because bear books were so common. How was my bear book going to stand out? I had suffered from some pretty gut-wrenching near-miss rejections on my last dummy where editors
had questioned the strength of the hook.

So for this story, I was NOT going to make that same mistake. I was going to make sure the story had a strong hook and would stand out in the market BEFORE investing all my time and energy into it. And at this point, I could make the main character ANYTHING. But my critique group countered back, “But that’s who you keep drawing. There must be something there.”


Then that Eeyore-sounding Bear voice came into my head, and I started thumbnailing out a story… with words. The story was weird. And random. There was a dancing moose. Were people going to psychoanalyze me based on this weird, random stuff I was writing? Oh well! At that point what did I have to lose? After two years seriously trying to break into the industry, I had failed to sell two dummies to publishers. Maybe something weird was just what I needed.

[My braindumping session one evening where Moose made his first appearance… as did the mention of a cashmere sweater. Poor Squirrel with Cookie didn’t make it into the final story.]

I shared the story with my critique group. It featured a fox, a badger, a bunny, a hula-hooping moose, and of course our soggy bear friend. The middle and ending were quite different from the final story and basically was a series of splashy images where I tried to play around with the musicality of onomatopoeia words. The hula hooping moose was mostly in the background, far in the distance, doing his thing.

After I sent the story to my agent, she wrote back, “I’m concerned the only thing anyone will remember about this story is a hula-hooping moose.” She also pointed out that my dummy lacked any kind of tension or plot. (How inconvenient to have to add those things to a story, am I right?!)

After more revisions and brainstorming with my critique groups, I added Moose more prominently into the story and had him lose his hula-hoop. I cut the fox character and differentiated the personalities of Badger and Bunny better. I added more escalation to the story by hinting that Badger may have stolen Bear’s umbrella. The story ended with a joyous scene of all the friends splashing.


When Jim and Tracy, my editor and art director at Viking, had a look at the dummy, they provided notes on tightening things up so that I had room for a new ending. “Great. Great.” I thought. “All I need to do is come up with a completely new ending that everyone loves. No pressure.”

Jim also had one other note, which was that my drawing of Moose needed… work. He sent moose photos and pointed out their unusual physical traits. “Huh.” I thought, “What an incredibly kind way of telling me I don’t know how to draw a moose.” Here’s the evolution of Moose, and
well… he definitely had a point about the early sketches.


But once I had the moose design down, I was given the go-ahead to start on the final art. And it only took 9 more months of drawing, redrawing, agonizing self doubt, paralyzing anxiety, nachos, and tears to finish all the spreads in color.


Looking back at my path to publication, I can see it took lots of rejections, critique, hard work, and letting go of inhibitions to get me here. But I am so glad that this weird bear book with a hula-hooping moose that actually looks like a moose is my picture book debut!

ABI’S BIO:

Abi Cushman is a children’s book author-illustrator, a web designer, and a rabbit lover. Her debut picture book, Soaked!, comes out Summer 2020 from Viking Children’s Books, with a second book, Animals Go Vroom!, to follow in 2021.

When she’s not writing about sassy animals in her picture books, Abi writes about sassy animals on her two websites: My House Rabbit (yes, rabbits are verrry sassy) and Animal Fact Guide, which was named a “Great Website for Kids” by the American Library Association. Did you know that wombat poop is cube-shaped? You do now! (And no, you’ll never un-know that.)

Abi lives in a small Connecticut beach town with her family. In her spare time, she enjoys running, playing tennis, and eating nachos. (Yes, at the same time.)

She is represented by BookStop Literary Agency and is a proud member of the Soaring 20s, a group of picture book authors and illustrators debuting in 2020/21.

Abi, thank you for sharing your book, journey, and some sketches with us. Soaked looks like a very cute, fun book. I’m sure kids will identify with being grumpy while stuck inside on a dreary day. Your book should be able to bring a smile to their faces even if the weather outside is frightful. Good luck with the book. BTW, love your illustrations – good job!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Congratulations Abi! Thanks for sharing your ups and downs to publication. A great reminder writing is hard and takes a lot of revision. I shared on Twitter and I receive your blog daily.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My family needs this this book!

    Like

  3. What a neat peek behind the scenes! I love seeing the rough drafts-to-finish and you paint a compelling picture to underscore the values behind this fun book! I’ll be sharing it on my fb page, my peeps will be equally enchanted and delighted.

    Like

  4. what a great lesson and the illustrations are so cute

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So fun to hear the story behind the story. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So cool reading about how the book evolved. I also love that you didn’t give up! I’m so glad because it’s a great book! Would love to win a copy to gift to a friend! Thanks for the chance! Also retweet (@goldenteach)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this book! Thank you for a chance. I will be tweeting about the book and contest. Thank you for a chance!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wrong address. Sorry.

    Like

    • Jodie, Could you clarify what you mean by wrong address? Thanks.

      Like

  9. Congrats, Abi! This book looks adorable. (I also RTed on Twitter.)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a wild ride! But soooo worth the effort! Congratulations ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Congrats on a great book and thanks for sharing your interesting story!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a wild ride–love the hula hoops! Congrats…and I’m hopping over to your house rabbit website–I have a trio (one was featured in one of my picture books) plus volunteer with the buns @ my SPCA:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yay! Love connecting with other bunny people. 🙂

      Like

  13. This looks like a delightful book! Congrats on your debut, Abi! Your illustrations are terrific. I love how well you communicate emotions with movement and your animal characters’ facial expressions. Best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Totally adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I adore this book—and that cover!! Who could resist? Thanks for sharing your process, Abi!! Congrats!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Love that “new ending? No pressure!” feeling. Congrats on making it all the way through!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I love bunnies, too! Your illustrations are awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I just loved this story. Kept my eyes on that sweater…made me laught out loud. Many cute details. This is a book I would buy as a gift for the little kiddo in my life, for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Such a great looking book, no wonder so many kids are loving it already. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1293250279291281408, and pinned an image with a link on Pinterest too: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1293250279291281408.
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I just *love* the look on his face. It totally shows how he’s feeling! Looks like a good one…

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I do so hope that Squirrel with Cookie makes it into his or her own book one day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha yes… I will have to find a place for her.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Hip, hip, hooray! I love bear books:) My boys will enjoy it, too! Congrats Abi.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I don’t think there can be too many bear books. This one looks so fun. Thanks for an interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thanks for sharing your debut author/illustrator journey with us! This book looks so fun! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Congratulations on your debut picture book, Abi! Thanks for sharing your book’s journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Congratulations, Abi. I can’t wait to read this book! It’s definitely on my list for birthday books for my great-nieces and nephews.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. This sounds like lots of fun! Congratulations, Abi.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Ooh, would love a copy of this. Have shared on Twitter and FB.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Poor bear! We’ve all had days like that. It looks like you’ve created a terrific character. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I am so excited to read this book!!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Love this book! Good luck on the next one also.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Such a rich post, thanks Kathy and Abi! Love your art and all you shared–Congrats with Soaked!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Abi, I love the nuttiness of your book – it’s just perfect! The evolution of the story is also captivating!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. This book is so adorable! Can’t wait to read the silliness and fun! Congratulations!

    I will tweet this post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  35. So glad you went with the bear! I’ve been looking forward to this for so long. Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Congratulations!
    Love the book. It was fun to learn about the book’s evolution too.

    Liked by 1 person


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