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12 X 12 October Featured Author – Samantha Berger

12 x 12 October Featured Author – Samantha Berger

Samantha Berger

Photo by Leo Moreton

I’ll admit, I’ve been a fan from afar of Samantha Berger’s for quite some time. Mostly just of the “let me stalk her on Facebook” kind, but recently I decided to do something about it — invite her to be a featured author for 12 x 12. I mean, just check out her current headshot! Now THERE is a picture book author!

Who better to kick off October than someone with books titled, BOO LA LA, WITCH SPA and CRANKENSTEIN? They’re spooky-good and monstrously fun. So please welcome, Samantha!

Samantha has graciously offered the three books featured in her post as prize for one of our 12 x 12 members! Better start writing!

Julie, thanks so much for having me on 12 x 12!

It’s an honor to be….(drumroll, please) ONE OF THE FEATURED 12!

(insert 12 hoots and hollers here: ________________________________________________)

Once upon an interview, someone asked me how I got into doing “mash-up themes” in my picture books.

I stood there, silently, and blinked twice.

“Um….mash-up themes? Er…could you elaborate a little on the question?” I asked, not understanding AT ALL what she meant.

She explained.

“Well,” she said, “There are a lot of books about being cranky. But your book CRANKENSTEIN, is a mash-up of an emotions book, with a monster book.”

I had honestly never thought about it like that.

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger

She went on.

“And there are hundreds of bedtime books in the world. But your book SNOOZEFEST, is a mash-up of a bedtime theme, and a music theme. Together. I’ve never seen that.”

Suddenly, I was the one asking questions.

Snoozefest by Samantha Berger

“Did you find that to be the case with BOO-LA-LA WITCH SPA as well?” I asked, about my newest book.

“Of course!” She replied.  “There are endless Halloween themed books. But witches going to a spa? That’s glam meets gross-out! You’re the Mash-Up Queen.”

Boo La La Witch Spa by Samantha Berger


I took this information (and newfound title) and sat with it for a minute.

I never set out with the intention to create “genre mash-up books.”

My ideas come to me much more organically (and sometimes in my SLEEP!) but it’s interesting that my books can be perceived that way, just by me being true to myself.

Everyone writes in his or her own way, and that should be honored, but the way that I write goes a little something like this:

*Tell the stories you’re *compelled to tell*, the ones that will make you BURST if you don’t tell them.

*Tell your story like pure, uncensored YOU. Let your voice be heard, loud and clear, right through the page.

*Never talk down to your audience. They’re way smarter than anyone knows.

*Read your stories out loud, that’s what picture books are all about!

*Create a story that isn’t in the world yet, but SHOULD be. Longs to be!

*Don’t worry about genre labels like “mash-ups.” Worry about telling a great story that emotionally connects with those who read it, whatever age they might be.

*And (and this one I can’t stress enough) don’t ever let the way people label or categorize your work, stop you from doing something NEW.

For me, just when people think they know exactly what to expect from me, that my work is funny and punny and irreverent and smile-inducing…I will SURPRISE THEM ALL, and show them a side of myself they never saw coming.

People are dimensional. Honor ALL your dimensions.

*Be YOU, put YOU in your writing, and create a new genre, they’ll have to explain to YOU!

Now go, write, Writers!


Author Samantha BergerSamantha Berger writes and writes and writes (she even wrote *this*).

She has written picture books like CRANKENSTEIN! illustrated by Dan Santat (Little, Brown, 2013), A CRANKENSTEIN VALENTINE (Little, Brown December, 2014), WITCH SPA illustrated by Isabel Roxas (Dial, August 2015), and SNOOZEFEST illustrated by Kristyna Litten (Dial, January 2015).

She also has written picture books like SANTA’S REINDEER GAMES illustrated by John Manders (Cartwheel, 2011),MARTHA DOESN’T SHARE, and MARTHA DOESN’T SAY SORRY illustrated by Bruce Whatley (Little, Brown 2010, 2009), which won a Parent’s Choice Award Honor.

She has written cartoons and promos for Nickelodeon and other networks. She has written comic books and commercials.
She has written movie trailers, theme songs, slogans, magazine articles, poems, TV-books, sticker books and professional books.
You name it, Sam writes it.

And when she ISN’T WRITING…. She’s doing voice-overs, traveling the world, and helping rescue dogs.

she writes about that, too!

This Post Has 93 Comments
  1. Samantha, thank you so much for your inspiring words. I especially like: “People are dimensional. Honor ALL your dimensions.”

    By the way, I read CRANKENSTEIN! to my kindergarten class last year and they really enjoyed it! Lots of fun ways to use it in the classroom. I’ll have to look for A CRANKENSTEIN VALENTINE!

  2. Fantastic advice. I especially liked this: Create a story that isn’t in the world yet, but SHOULD be. Longs to be!

    I love Halloween books – can’t wait to see Boo La La Witch Spa!

  3. Thanks, Samantha! I love your photo and “mash-up” concepts you’ve used, even if you didn’t realize you were doing it. This post is full of bits of wisdom; thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Thanks for the encouragement to let our voices be heard, Samantha! I love reading Snoozefest and Crankenstein with my kids. We will look for Witch Spa!

  5. Great post, Samantha! Thank you for reminding us of the importance to write the story we are compelled to write and to “Be YOU, put YOU in your writing,” I especially liked your advice to “Create a story that isn’t in the world yet, but SHOULD be. Longs to be!”

  6. Love the witch pic! Thank you, Samantha, for sharing tips and your inspiration. I especially relate to “Let your voice be loud and clear, right through the page.” A forceful piece of advice to keep me moving forward with my mss.

  7. Samantha, Thanks so much for sharing your words of wisdom. Love the advice to “let your voice be heard, right through the page” & I very much look forward to reading Boo La La Witch Spa in this season of witches and pumpkins. Julie, perfect choice as we head into Halloween!

  8. Great message at the right time. I’ve tried a lot of different approaches, and I’m just now beginning to understand what works best for me. Can’t wait to read Witch Spa. Thank you!

  9. Samantha, I adore SNOOZEFEST. It is one of my all time favorites. And your comment to “be YOU … and then they’ll have to explain YOU” really strikes home. Thank you for an wonderful and inspiring post.

  10. “Tell the stories you’re *compelled to tell*, the ones that will make you BURST if you don’t tell them.”

    I LOVE THIS QUOTE!!! It’s why I always carry some journal or device to be able to write things down when they strike me 🙂

  11. I just read “Boo-La-La Witch Spa” the other morning. A great mash-up picture book indeed!
    Appreciated the advice to be ourselves as writers.

  12. So, Samantha, what you’re saying is we should write? Write our stories? 😉 I love the idea of being true to our selves — all our selves — and to write what we must. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Dear Samantha,
    Thank you for a fun, entertaining and inspiring post. I think it encourages people like me who just don’t always feel comfortable in the more “zany zone” but want to play and experiment with it. I am eager to check your books out at our local library to read.

  14. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this! Thanks so much for sharing. I hadn’t heard of your books before but they sound so funny and original. I can’t wait to grab my copy 🙂

  15. Samantha,
    I have read your “Martha” books and “Crankenstein”, and will be looking for the witch books and snoozefest.
    What fun writing you do and you truly enjoy it. I am taking your last few ideas and printing them for the kick in the pants I need to get going. Thank you.

  16. Your head shot reminds me of WICKED! I love the unique twists of your books. I also love your advice. Do what you love then write about it. Lovely start to October even though I didn’t get a chance to read your post until the 19th.

  17. You’re absolutely right!~ We have to write the story–whatever that is. Mine don’t often fit neatly into a specific genre. I don’t let that bother me. If someone (publisher/agent) likes it–they’ll tell me what I need to do to “fit” where they think it should go. But, the story is THE STORY. That’s what counts.

  18. I love how you created your own genre just being who you are as a writer. I hope to be that brave as I write, too. Thank you, Samantha.

  19. Thanks for an inspiring post. You’re absolutely right – if you’re not true to yourself, it shows in your writing. And it’s not nearly as much fun!

  20. Samantha, Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement. I love your fun writing style, and adorable author photo. 🙂

  21. “Create a story that isn’t in the world yet, but should be!” has got to me my favorite among your pieces of advice. That’s the kind of spirit behind resubmitting a story you know should be told, over and over, until just the right partner is found to help get it out into the world!

    Inspiring post, Samantha!

  22. Samantha, I have been taking your advice and honoring all my dimensions.. I am writing 12 PB drafts and have joined PiBoIdMo for the second year. I am also trying my hand at writing a novel with NaNoWriMo. Plus making two quilts and 3 blankets for Christmas. I look forward to reading your books to my grandsons. I will add buying your books to my list of things to do. : )

  23. Such a straight forward and honest post. I love when I read something that highly successful people write and feel like they are just a regular person like me! It makes me feel like I can do this too!

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