Debut Review Challenge with Lindsay Leslie

Welcome, Lindsay, to the Debut Review Challenge Blog! You have had quite a double-debut year. Congratulations on THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS and NOVA THE STAR EATER. What can you tell us about your debut-debut?

Debut By-the-Numbers: THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS

Number of years writing:

Focusing on children’s literature, five years, but I’ve been a writer all my life and in my previous professional career. 

Number of years from contract to published book:

A little under two years.

Date your book was released:

Feb. 19, 2019

Number of pages:


Number of launch events:

One launch event at BookPeople, Austin’s fantastic indie bookstore, and a library visit at my children’s elementary school and local branch at the Austin Public Library.

Number of days per week that writing takes a backseat to marketing & publicity:

That is hard to quantify, because it depends on where you are in your debut year. Leading up to launch, it could easily be five days. Right after launch, maybe more like four to three. Farther out from the launch, two. Ebbs and flows.

Number of critique partners:


Number of books you hope to publish over the next ten years:

As many as I can, but it’s not really all up to me. 🙂 I have two published currently and another coming out June 2, 2020. 

Number of times you’ve pinched yourself that you really have a book out:

It still doesn’t seem real, so practically every day.

Current number of reviews:

On Amazon: 51; On Goodreads: 73

A Few Questions

  • Why do you write for children?

For many reasons! One, I feel I have a child-like sensibility and an imagination to match, so I naturally lean toward the picture book genre. Two, there is no greater thrill than to connect and engage with children over something you’ve written and to see what the story might inspire them to think or do. Three, my children inspired me to write picture books. I remember reading book upon book to my kids and really getting into the production of it all–acting out the various scenes, using different voices for each character. The picture book bug bit me hard during that time, especially when I saw my own children’s reactions to the stories we would read together.  

  • Who/what are your greatest inspirations?

My husband and children. My husband, because he is a writer, too He writes adult sci-fi/contemporary fantasy fiction and just signed his first book deal. (YEAH!) When we first started dating, he would spend a lot of his time writing stories. This didn’t stop after we were married. He is compelled to create and pull whatever is in his mind and put it down on paper. He continues to show me what perseverance and dedication to craft is, because writing isn’t his day job. My children inspire me because they are so creative without even trying and they bring me back to those childhood days. We love to brainstorm together and make up stories. They are my portal to childhood. I can see it all so clearly. 

  • Without giving anything away, tell us about your work-in-progress. What do you love about it so far? Where are you stuck?

I can’t say much other than it is set in a barbershop. With two boys, I spend a lot of time at barbershops. What I love about it is the quirkiness, which I feel is my thing, the absurdity, the hilarity, and the poignant moments. Where I’m stuck is the rhythm of the story. There are parts that don’t flow and I need to iron that out. 

Time to Play: STORY SMASH!

Think about all the stories you’ve written that have hit a dead end or are hidden away in a drawer somewhere. For each of the items below, lift an element from a different story to create a weird, unexpected mash-up. Who knows? It may even inspire a new manuscript!

Character(s): Cheetah

Setting: Ocean

Theme: Finding a forever friend

Problem: Lost a favorite and loved item

Pitch: Cheetah wants his long lost lovey that is now drifting out into ocean. Unfortunately, Cheetah can’t swim. What once was Cheetah’s is now Black Marlin’s. But in a twist of events, the lovey brings together the fastest land animal with the fastest sea animal in a friendship to last a lifetime.

I would read that! Thank you for joining us today, Lindsay.

TIP: Support debut authors by suggesting your library purchase their books!

It’s time to write some reviews! Leave an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online site. For every five reviews you write for debut Kidlit creators, you can fill out this ENTRY FORM for a chance to win prizes. Lindsay has generously donated a signed book, swag, a free 15-minute Skype visit, and a picture book manuscript critique. Thank you, Lindsay!

For BONUS ENTRIES, complete this Rafflecopter giveaway!

#DebutReviewChallenge #ReadReviewRepeat

Read More About Lindsay and Her Books

BIO: A diary keeper, a journal writer, a journalism major, a public relations executive—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. When she became a mom and began to tell her kids bedtime stories, Lindsay connected the dots to children’s literature. She likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books.

Lindsay is the author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS and NOVA THE STAR EATER (Page Street Kids). Her third picture book, DUSK EXPLORERS (Page Street Kids), will launch June 2, 2020.

Lindsay lives with her husband, two young boys, and two fur-beasts in Austin.


Author/Illustrator: By Lindsay Leslie, illustrated by Alice Brereton

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Year: 2019

Synopsis: This Book Is Spineless … and wary … and absolutely unadventurous, and is freaking out about what story might be on its pages. The book takes the reader on a journey of its fears, navigating the book’s possible contents together. With each page turn, the book becomes a bit braver. This multilayered book incorporates the five senses, multiple literary genres, and various book parts, with the relationship between book and reader bringing everything together.


Author/Illustrator: By Lindsay Leslie, illustrated by John Taesoo Kim

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Year: 2019

Synopsis: Nova has a big appetite for stars, so when she decides to gobble up Earth’s Sun, panic erupts around the globe. Earth needs its Sun to survive! How will it get it back from Nova? One bright little girl just might have a solution. Sparkling with humor and interstellar adventure, this story showcases creative problem-solving and a subtle reminder to not eat someone else’s food―or stars―without asking first.

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