Today I am delighted to be hosting debut picture book author Julie Gonzalez as we celebrate the release of her darling first book HOW COULD A BEAR SLEEP HERE? (Holiday House, 2018). I met Julie at an NJSCBWI Conference a few years ago and I’m so excited to see her first book come out. Congratulations, Julie! Now, without further fuss, here are FIVE FUN FACTS about the book from the author herself. Take it away, Julie!
Five Fun Facts about HOW COULD A BEAR SLEEP HERE?
by Julie Gonzalez
Fun Fact #1: My mom named the bear.
In early drafts I called the bear PJ because I pictured him wearing pajamas. Then a friend suggested I give him a more naturalistic bear name. I couldn’t think of one, so I turned to my mom. She’s terrific at brainstorming names. “Shelby” was her idea, and I loved it!
Fun Fact #2: Lack of sleep and a real live bear inspired the story.
At the time I wrote BEAR, I was a very tired mama in need of some quality, unbroken sleep. The refrain in the story expresses the exhaustion I felt, and other worn-out parents will relate. But the story was also inspired by this enormous bear that used to wander through my yard:
Isn’t he GORGEOUS? I call him Shelby, of course!
Fun Fact #3: The title was originally HIBERCATION, a combination of hibernation + vacation.
In fact, that’s the title on the contract!
My editor suggested the change to its present title, HOW COULD A BEAR SLEEP HERE?, which is the refrain in the story. By the time she acquired it, the plot had changed so much that the original title wasn’t as appropriate.
Fun Fact #4: I really, really, really, really, really didn’t want to write a bear hibernation story.
Too many of them exist. It won’t sell, I reasoned. Then every time I sat down to write, I closed my eyes and saw Shelby. He wouldn’t take no for an answer! Thank you, Shelby, for being so persistent!
Fun Fact #5: Conferences helped shape and sell the manuscript.
I started writing the manuscript in a 2013 picture book workshop led by Brett Duquette during the Hudson Valley Children’s Writers first summer conference. I was brave enough to read my work aloud, and the positive feedback I received gave me the push I needed to pursue the idea.
Then, once I had a full draft, I attended an SCBWI Eastern PA event called Critique Fest, where I received valuable criticism and suggestions from editors, agents, and peers.
Finally, after much revision, I was accepted to the Rutgers One-on-One. I sent my manuscript to 11 editors on the list of Rutgers mentors and heard back from my editor at Holiday House, Kelly Loughman, eight months later. The whole process from concept to publication took about five years. Publication is rarely quick or easy!
Thank you for inviting me to share, Laura. Your website is fun and full of so much valuable information. It’s my pleasure to be a small part of it!
Thank you, Julie for stopping by. And kind readers, don’t forget to check out the giveaway (after bio)!
Bio (from the Kidlit Authors Club website)
JULIE GONZALEZ is a former teacher and the author of the picture book How Could a BEAR Sleep Here? (Holiday House, 2018). She enjoys working with younger students, using humor and heart to encourage curiosity, imagination, and empathy. Born in Maine, raised in New Jersey, and currently living in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, she runs, hikes, and interacts with the wildlife in her wooded backyard, an area which provides constant inspiration for her stories.
*And just to give you a bit more: I’ve taught third-grade, kindergarten, and preschool. During my preschool years, I held three story times a day, and this experience influenced my first picture book, which is a very lively read-aloud loaded with onomatopoeia.
Be sure to check out Julie’s website www.juliegonzalez.com
She also has an educational guide for parents and teachers: https://juliegonzalez.com/for-teachers-and-parents
NOW for the GIVEAWAY!!! (Thank you, Julie!)
If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy of HOW COULD A BEAR SLEEP HERE written by Julie Gonzalez and illustrated by Stephanie Laberis, let me know in a comment below. (NOTE: Must have U.S. address and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway ends Friday 12/14/18 at 12:01 am EST. The winner will be announced that day!
The GIVEAWAY is now over and the winner is…. Heather! I will be in touch today so we can get the book to you. Thank you to ALL who entered and THANK YOU, Julie, for providing the winning copy!