Author Spotlight: Nanette Heffernan

Jan. 10, 2020

We are excited to feature picture book author Nanette Heffernan and her forthcoming picture book, EARTH HOUR: A LIGHTS-OUT EVENT FOR OUR PLANET illustrated by Bao Luu (Charlesbridge January 21, 2020). Enter to win a copy!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

I love stories! I love telling stories. Reading stories. Children’s stories. Adult memoirs. Historical fiction. But my favorite is humor. I spent over 20 years in the business world working in sales and marketing where I wrote every day. It was always about dry topics: grant applications, industry white papers, sales proposals, web content, marketing brochures, etc. In spite of the monotony, it was still one of the favorite parts of my job. So can you imagine my delight when I finally got to marry stories with writing? I fell in love, became a full-time children’s author, and never looked back. 

Congrats on your forthcoming picture book, EARTH HOUR: A LIGHTS-OUT EVENT FOR OUR PLANET. Tell us about this story and what inspired you.

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement in support of energy conservation and sustainability. The annual event is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) on a Saturday night near the equinox in March. During Earth Hour, individuals, communities, businesses, and monuments in more than 7,000 cities turn off nonessential electric lights for one hour as a pledge to our planet. Across each continent—from the Eiffel Tower to the Great Wall of China to the Statue of Liberty—one small act reminds all of us of our enormous impact on Earth. The book is an around the world exploration, highlighting the many uses of energy in our daily lives from lights to cooking to bubble baths. A STEM filled backmatter section discusses the long-term impact of energy use and opportunities for conservation.

I first learned about Earth Hour several years ago while driving home at night across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Suddenly the lights on the bridge went out. I was an instant fan and supporter of this movement to recognize the energy we use and knew I would write a book about it.

Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

My road to publication we definitely long and windy with a few dead ends and construction stops peppered in. From concept to submission, EARTH HOUR took four years to perfect. I wrote many versions of the story, editing, polishing, and tossing each one until I finally got it right. I’ve closed million-dollar deals in my career that were easier than writing this book. Then after my editor, Julie Bliven, at Charlesbridge made an offer we realized there was a legal snag with the title. World Wildlife Fund owned the trademark to Earth Hour. It took a year of emails and phone calls to wrap it up, but I’d do it all again!

What projects are you working on now?

My sweet spots are picture books with an environmental theme and middle-grade boy humor. I’m hoping to polish a middle grade in 2020 about perseverance.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Persevere... as long as you are enjoying the ride. Nobody becomes an author to make a million dollars. We write because we are writers. It’s what we do. It’s what we love. If you love what you are doing, then carry on, but give yourself permission to take a break if you’re feeling defeated. Writing is an art form and therefore subjective. Not everyone is going to love your art but if you persevere eventually someone will. It’s not a race. You have to enjoy the ride. 

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

Growing up my mom always made us a hot breakfast. We never had cereal. The first time I tried sugar cereal was in college. I bought a box of Cap’n Crunch and ate the entire thing. Then I couldn’t eat anything for almost two days because the inside of my mouth was raw. But, wow, was it good! 

Where can people find you online?
F: @authornanetteheffernan
T: @nanettehefferna
T: @authorsposse
IG: @Nanette.Heffernan

Nanette Heffernan is a children’s author, sustainability consultant, and founder of Authors Posse, a “forever” marketing group for authors. Her lifelong goal is to make Earth a better home for children whether by making them laugh or addressing environmental issues that will affect their generation. Although she loves her leadership roles in the community, she is most fulfilled while dressed in school-lunch trash and visiting schools and festivals to talk to thousands of kids about the importance of protecting our environment. She is pleased to share her efforts have earned her three Environmental Awards of Excellence. She lives near San Francisco, CA with her family, Koda the dog, George the cat, and eight chickens, all named Companion. 

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  1. Wonderful post! First time I'm learning about Earth Hour. So cool! Congrats!

  2. I’m a native of the Bay Area and can only imagine the impact of your GGB moment! Thank you for this book and for raising awareness about the electricity challenges facing our planet. I look forward to reading about the movement. Oh, and... Best. Author. Headshot. Ever.

  3. Sounds like a fantastic book, that's on my ever-expanding list. Who knew Earth Hour was trademarked--glad you finally nabbed the right to use it. And LOL about the Cap’n Crunch sugar overload!

  4. This book sounds fantastic, and with so many ways to bring it on home to all of us. Thank you for writing it and can hardly wait to read it.

  5. Nanette, congratulations and here's to more pbs on an environment theme! Invaulable!

  6. Excellent idea for a book--this is one of those ideas I wish I'd had. Congratulations on turning your idea into a beautiful and important book.

  7. It seems like the book has a hopeful message!

  8. I loved your thoughts on perseverance - thanks for those encouraging words. I'm looking forward to reading Earth Hour.

  9. This looks like a wonderful book! Excited to learn more about it.

  10. What a terrific picture book topic! I can't wait to read it!

  11. We celebrate Earth Hour every year as do many of our friends. Thanks for the chance to win this cool book.

  12. I've never heard of this. Fascinating! Can't wait. Thanks for sharing this awesome book. Congrats!

  13. What a great picture book with a social conscience for kids.

  14. What a neat book to share with children. I am looking forward to sharing it with my students.

  15. I enjoy celebrating Earth Hour every year! I would love to share this book with my students to encourage them to participate. Thank you for this opportunity to win a copy!

  16. I love Earth Hour and often forget the day. Bravo on making this picture book.

    I loved Cap'n Crunch. I remember a college friend writing an article for the school paper about how we love it, but it tears up your mouth.

  17. This books sounds great. Congrats!


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