Thursday, November 8, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Tara Lazar

Happy Banana Peel Thursday! Wait a's still Wednesday! But I am having issues with Blogger. So Thursday it is. (It's Thursday somewhere, right?) If you missed Wednesday's post, it's down there, past this one.  It's me blabbing about Povember. And if you are asking, "What the heck is Povember?", well, you just need to scroll down to check it out!

Today's post is from the archives, from way back when, in... January.
But first, a WINNER! The winner of Janee Trasler's masterpiece, Caveman: A B.C. Story, is...

                                                              ROMELLE BROAS

You go Romelle! (Which really means, you go and send me your address right away so I can forward it to Janee! Yay!)

And now, let us revisit the post where the brain behind PiBoIdMo shared some of her most humbling experiences while writing for children! 

Do I even need to introduce today's guest author? If you are involved in the online, children's writing community or perhaps have needed a 3AM boogeyman assassin, I highly doubt it.

Ladies and gents of  BaPeTh (AKA Banana Peel Thursdays)...may I present to you, the slips of PiBoIdMo's own Tara Lazar!

Banana peels? I've got a bunch.

Some of you know that my debut picture book, THE MONSTORE, will be out with the Aladdin imprint of Simon & Schuster in 2013. Well, about six months before I signed the deal, I brought the manuscript to a conference to have a picture book consultant give me a critique. She read the story and then slowly, silently pushed it back across the table. Uh-oh. She called it "a practice manuscript" and recommended that I put it aside to work on something else--it was unsellable as-is. While I was extremely disappointed, after talking to this consultant for the next half-hour, I realized she was not the humorous-quirky type of picture book editor. She liked sweet and sentimental. Our styles didn't connect. I ignored her assessment and it's a good thing I did. So I call this slipping on a peel but landing on a bean bag chair. Remember that this industry is very subjective. Believe in your work.

I once began talking to an editor by telling him the name of his favorite book (I had researched him online). No hello, no pleasantries, just BOOK TITLE right in his face. Talk about stalkerish! No wonder he didn't talk to me for the rest of the conference.

I also made a total fool of myself while talking to an agent at another conference. I asked her a question and she leaned in, interested to engage in conversation, but her answer was terse. I had no follow-up question! My mind blanked. We stared at each other for an awkward moment. End of conversation.

I was convinced that the first thing I ever wrote would be published by the first editor who read it. I couldn't believe it when rejections piled up (and then toppled over). But I sent out a 1200-word manuscript about a homeless man with no child protagonist. DUH. Submitting too early happens to everyone. I just didn't think it would happen to ME. Wrong-o again.

I also submitted a middle grade novel to a first page session---and the attending agent requested the manuscript! I was so excited! But at the time, the manuscript wasn't done. It wasn't even near done. In fact, I was just two chapters into it. I missed out on a great opportunity by submitting something unfinished. At the time, I didn't know an agent won't work with you until something is completed, polished and ready-to-sell. Now I keep early work to myself.

And one of my biggest banana peels? Keeping my agent waiting for an answer. Ammi-Joan Paquette offered me representation in a phone call and I was excited, but I still had submissions out with four other agents. I knew to inform those agents, but I didn't know to give them a deadline to respond. So poor Joan is waiting for me, and poor me is waiting to hear from the other agents. Joan even sent me a message saying that she wanted me to be as enthusiastic about working with her as she was about working with me--and I was!!!!--but I didn't realize she was biting her nails waiting on me. ME?! You really want ME?! So I think I almost lost Joan due to my ignorance of how to deal with these things. And that would have been a tremendous FAIL because she is the BEST AGENT IN THE WORLD (for me).

I am sure there will be more banana peels. After all, my first book isn't even out yet! I haven't ventured into the world of book signings, school visits, appearances and the like. There is always some new mistake to make. But banana peels are great because you always learn from them. And if you're lucky, slipping on one means that someone nearby baked banana bread and you can nom on a slice.

Tara Lazar is a children’s book author, mother, foodie and boogeyman assassin (currently booked at 3am nightly).

Her first two picture books, The Monstore and I Thought This Was a Bear Book, will be published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Tara is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.
Her last name rhymes with “bazaar”. She’s not Tara Laser-beam (although that would be awesome).

Keeping early work to myself? Shnikies! I wish I had that advice a few months ago! WOOPS!

Thank you so much Tara for taking the time participate in this week's BPT.  I am so eternally grateful to have had you as a guest. You are wonderful. I know I am much wiser having read this as I am sure many other readers are. =)  I wish you the best of luck in any future banana peels you may encounter.


  1. I love that someone as talented as Tara has made a lot of the same mistakes that I've made :) It makes me feel less loser-like :) (Although I'm sorry she had to slip on those banana peels!) But I guess we all live and learn and move onward and upward. Way to go, Tara not-laserbeam! Can't wait to read your books!

  2. Oh Gee, that was a whole bunch of banana peels..... Think I have all those sort of slips to come... :-) GOOD on you for having confidence in that first mansucript! You rock, TL!

  3. Loved reading Tara's is the way it is!!!
    And, I love Lana (my daughters name!!!) - adorable, friendly and personable!

  4. I have to say that confidence in MONSTORE came from my friend Corey who believed in it from the very beginning. Had she not given me that boost, I might have thrown it away after that consultation. MAYBE.

  5. Tara, it's nice to see that you are in fact, HUMAN!I am breathing much easier now. I continue to learn from and respect you more, everyday!
    And, ps- my tendencies to spell "monster" as MONSTORE are increasing daily! I cannot wait to read it!!

  6. It was pretty slippery here today! Loved all the stories! Lots of very valuable lessons. Thank you Tara!

  7. The monkey was hungry.
    His tree was picked clean.
    No yellow bananas,
    nor brown ones or green.

    He swung in trees near,
    He swung through trees far,
    Til at least he had reached
    The banana bazaar.

    He grabbed one for snack.
    He took two for lunch.
    He loved great big dinners,
    So he stole one whole bunch.

    He peeled them all open.
    And gobbled them down.
    The skins he had tossed
    Turned slimy and brown.

    Along came the writer,
    Her nose in a book.
    She never looked down.
    What a tumble she took!

    Her agent and editor
    Lent her a hand.
    They cheered her with news
    Of the book they had planned.

    A writer will slip,
    And sometimes will fall.
    But remember dear friends,
    It does happens to all!

    1. Awesome! Thanks so much Cathy. I am VERY impressed. =)

    2. This is FANTASTIC! It should be the theme song for Banana Peel Thursdays.

  8. Well, we all learn from our mistakes. Happy to hear that you believed in your book to make it to publication! Just goes to show that this whole book business is so subjective...

  9. The story about the agent critique is great. Know your reviewer before taking their words to heart!

  10. First, I LOVE the badge. It is so absolutely perfect, and so is the name Lana Pinebane. Amazing work Heather!

    And Tara, thanks for sharing some of your banana peel moments. It's good to know we're not the only ones. And I love the "slipped on a banana peel and landed in a bean-bag chair" comment. Would that all of us will land there! :-)

  11. Well, this was lots of fun and very enlightening. That awkward agent non-conversation...shudder. And the critique...double shudder. Really looking forward to The Monstore, Tara - so glad you persevered!

    P.S. Thanks for the mention, and so glad you like Lana Pinebane's name!

  12. I'm lovin' banana peal Thursdays (even if I read them on Monday). Thanks for sharing your ups and downs with us Tara!

  13. Loved reading this again :) And congrats to Romelle!

  14. Ok, this post is a terrific tumble-down pick-me-up, but where is the badge Julie likes and who is Lana Pinebane? Am I in the Twilight Zone here? Congrats to Romelle - just read Caveman and LOVE it!

    1. The post was really long, so I edited the original to just show Tara's segment! You are sane, Julie. P.S. I LOVE your sketches! You are so talented. =)

  15. Yea, lucky winner, Romelle! Great post...again! I could read it over and over.

  16. Greetings, fellow PiBoIdMo-er! Thanks for sharing Tara's post about missteps. We all make them, especially the one about sharing a novel that wasn't finished. I did that at SCBWI Winter this year, and I knew better. I'm finishing it now in NaNoWriMo, my third or fourth challenge with this same book. I have to say that in this first week I have written three chapters--go me! Maybe I will get it to the guy this year.

    1. Bluerabbit! It's just so hard not to try to get your book out there. I get it! Good for you for participating in NaNoWriMo again. Good luck finishing! Go you!

  17. I SO enjoyed reading about Tara's banana peels. I felt like I was in a parallel universe ;) Made my morning... especially since the ending for Tara is such a happy one!
    So congrats to Romelle and thank you, Other Elizabeth (private joke) ;) for such a wonderful post!

    1. I love knowing that these successful people have missteps just like me, too. Thanks Other Elizabeth for your comment! Great to see you here! =)

  18. I loved hearing about your "slips" Tara...we all have those embarrassing moments. Glad you were able to find another publisher for "Monstore". It shows we need to perservere!

    1. Hooray for those who persevere! Thanks so much for your comment Jarm!

  19. Thank you so much for repeating this post, Elizabeth! It is so encouraging to know that someone like Tara has had slips just like the rest of us. Thanks, Tara for sharing. May the rest of the journey be peel-free.

    1. You inspired me Beth with your "from the archives" posts. You are Mary Kole. =) Just loved this one and I thought it appropriate given it's PiBoIdMo-Mo. =) Thanks so much for your comment Beth!

  20. First of all, thank you Elizabeth and Janee for my awesome prize!
    And thanks for these banana peeling posts. Great life lessons. Tara, I will try not to make any of my agents wait...but I will need to get one first. :o) congrats on your upcoming picture books. Can't wait to read them!


  21. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم نحن فى شركة الكمال نقوم بجميع خدمات نقل العفش والاساس بافض الطرق تحت اشراف

    فريق كبير مدرب على اعلى مستوى من المستويات مع الفك والتركيب
    شركة نقل اثاث بالطائف
    شركة نقل اثاث بجازان
    شركة نقل اثاث بحائل
    والسلامة عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته