Friday, June 30, 2017

It's Book Award Season!

I am completely and utterly over the moon that our three novels swept the "Cover Design" category in the Indie Book Awards. THE MERMAIDS OF LAKE MICHIGAN by Suzanne Kamata with its gorgeous underwater illustration by Erika Craig WON BEST FICTION COVER! And TRIPLE LOVE SCORE by Brandi Granett and SECRETS OF WORRY DOLLS by Amy Impellizzeri were both Finalists. (Wow. Wow. Wow!)


UNWRITTEN by Lori Desautels and Michael McKnight was also a finalist in the "Education" category. Thrilled for them, this book could (and should) change education as we know it.


Amy’s SECRETS OF WORRY DOLLS also took home a SILVER WIN at ibpa’s 29th Benjamin Franklin Awards in "Cover Design" (again, this gives me an extra special fuzzy feeling since I landed in publishing by way of graphic design). This is our third Ben Franklin Award in 19 years (2000, 2007, 2017), so its especially fulfilling to get this prestige again. And our imprint Judy Scales-Trent took a SILVER WIN in "Biography"—see her other awards for this incredible book below.

Our favorite indie outlet, Foreword Reviews Book-of-the-Year INDIES, awarded SECRETS OF WORRY DOLLS a BRONZE Win in "Multicultural Fiction" (Woot!). And Judy's A BLACK MAN'S JOURNEY FROM SHARECROPPER TO COLLEGE PRESIDENT was a Finalist in the "Biography" category.

Crazy-excited that Suzanne's MERMAIDS won a SILVER IPPY in "Best Regional Fiction - Great Lakes" and our MATILDA, THE ALGONQUIN CAT by Leslie Martini and illustrated by Massi Mongiardo (his second win with Wyatt-MacKenzie!) won a BRONZE IPPY in "Children's Picture Books."

Another one of our favorites, National Indie Excellence Awards, gave UNWRITTEN a Finalist in "Education" and PIPER: ONCE & AGAIN shined in her meant-to-be category "Visionary Fiction."

Imprint BLUSH: WOMEN & WINE by Molly Davis WON in both "Women" and "Wine" (gotta love that!) and TUSCANY, our second travel guide with Matt Walker and Zeneba Bowers, WON in "Travel." Our sweet turtle-loving imprint STAY WHERE I CAN SEE YOU by Lori Samlin Miller garnered a Finalist in "Picture Books."


And finally, our impressive imprint Judy Scales-Trent and her grandfather's 1400 footnote (which almost destroyed our layout dept.) biography of her grandfather Won a Silver Nautilus Award.

Congrats to all! Every year thousands of books are entered in these competitions. I am honored and humbled to see our books and imprints always appear on finalists lists and still pinch myself when we WIN. One of my biggest joys is telling our authors to add "award-winning" to their taglines and bling to their covers.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Celebrating the Presidency (!)

A Celebration of the Presidency Through the Eyes of Children — Oregon Publisher Releases Timely New Picture Book On April Fools’ Day 

New Book For Children and By Children Offers Heartfelt Presidential Advice and Admiration

Deadwood, Oregon PRWeb — “How To Be A Good President: Lessons from Kids” celebrates the presidency with honor and humor. The book endears the Leader of the Free World: “You’re the most important person in the country! Kids are counting on you, and we want to help. We want to share the lessons we learned—when we were little—to help you be a good president. Please enjoy our book, it has action steps for kids to follow . . . straight to the White House!”

Short and simple—this little book is as easy to read as a tweet, and packs an apolitical punch. In the vein of “Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten,” its non-partisan message applies to children as much as world leadership. 

If children apply the six lessons in “How To Be A Good President” to everyday situations, they will serve as good role models for their community, and someday the world. Each piece of advice includes call-to-actions for kids. For example, Lesson #2 is “Choose Your Friends Wisely” and includes tips such as: try to persuade a friend to be kind and to compromise; avoid saying negative things even to people who are not being nice; don’t give into peer pressure to do or say something you know is wrong. Lessons are accompanied by notes for parents and teachers to provide a deeper layer of learning and application. Sketch pages in the back give children space to write and illustrate their own lessons and action list.

How children define the presidency will have a significant impact on how they will guide America in the future. When kids learn to be accountable for their actions, to respect diversity, and to show compassion, they are learning how to be a good president for the American citizens.

No matter what your age or occupation—from grade school to grad school to the capitol—there are skills for excellence in leadership packed in this child-size treatise on decorum, which is an unwavering love letter to the position of Commander-in-Chief.

“How To Be A Good President” is available at A portion of the proceeds from this book will provide no-cost copies to schools and organizations in need. If a classroom, club, or community program could benefit from the lessons in this book, individuals are encouraged to contact the publisher with a request for gratis copies. 

"How To Be A Good President: Lessons from Kids" (Wyatt-MacKenzie, April 1, 2017); ISBN: 978-1-942545-85-9, 8.5 x 8.5 softcover; $12.50; 16 full-color pages with illustrations, lessons, action steps for kids and advice for teachers and parents, plus a surprise ending. Distributed by Ingram, Follett, Coutts, Bertrams, and Gardners.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

Incredible Wyatt-MacKenzie Acquisition Backstory!

In the middle of 2016 I had a great conversation with a critically acclaimed author and journalist at Vanity Fair. After I answered questions about our National Security Mom she mentioned she had recently written this article about a new documentary. I had seen commercials for “Little Girl Blue,” it actually premiered the day after I spoke to Sheila Weller.

Before we got off the phone, Sheila said she knew someone who was working on a memoir and needed a publisher she could trust. I encouraged her to please pass my info along. Then she told me who it was, “Do you know Peggy Caserta, Janis Joplin’s girlfriend?” My jaw dropped. Ten months later I got the call.

Peggy was the only non-musician to be helicoptered into Woodstock. Janis wanted her there. Here are the famous photos of the two of them on stage. That’s Peggy whispering in Janis’ ear.

After a few phone calls (and an admission I was being “watched” for almost a year) we signed her! I RAN INTO SOME TROUBLE will be released this Fall 2017 from Wyatt-MacKenzie. I’ve never met a more fascinating woman. I have a total girl-crush on her southern accent and her unbelievable storytelling about the days of The Haight. Blows. My. Mind.

I’ve been given this incredible opportunity (and responsibility) to help Peggy, and her talented co-author, Maggie—a close friend, musician, and song-writer who recorded the stories and imbued them with her lyricism—to publish her true memoir; after the most horrifying publishing experience I’ve ever heard an author excruciatingly share (even after over 44 years have passed). I’m all in.

From Louisiana Homecoming Queen to stewardess to being the inspiration for The Washington Post’s reporter coining the term “Hippies” (read the full story) while at her San Francisco store Mnasidika, to loaning the Grateful Dead jackets for their famous photo shoot, and displaying Bill Graham posters advertising their gigs and selling tickets, to convincing Levi Strauss to make bell-bottoms, and letting Janis Joplin take a pair of jeans she’d put on layaway, through a wild LSD ride and heroin addiction, to returning home to the Bayou when her mother needed her—the jaw-droppin’ stories don’t stop! Peggy regaled one about a Mexican prison break (what?!) which was followed by my receiving a package. Inside was a DVD, a National Geographic Channel show “Locked Up Abroad” entitled “Escape from Mexico.” She drove the getaway car for the package sender’s pre-Chapo dig out of prison. (Squeal. How is this my life?!)

Peggy is featured in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair.

The icing on this news cake... casting is underway for an actress to play Peggy in the upcoming biopic “Janis.” Michelle Williams is slated to play the lead. (OMG)

And... the cake... the producer has optioned the TV/Film rights to our book. (omg omg omg)

But wait, there’s scream-filling in the cake!!!!!

I landed in publishing by way of graphic design. When Peggy suggested that famous poster designer Wes Wilson (who made the concert posters which hung in Peggy’s store) create her book cover, my heart skipped a beat. And now it’s happening. After almost 50 years they’ve reconnected and we’ve commissioned Wes to illustrate the cover. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wes was responsible for the typography we all recognize as representing the sixties—the liquid psychedelic melting letters. I love the quote: “his message was deciphered rather than read by the viewer.” An artist IN my college textbook (I had to dust it off the shelf and scan) is designing one of OUR covers. (Scream.)