Tim_Headshot_Jan2013I am positively giddy about introducing today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author. The timing could not be more fortuitous either, as Tim McCanna’s outstanding music is featured in my storybook app A SHIVER OF SHARKS, which was just released YESTERDAY! 

Tim tells the wonderful tale of how we came to meet and collaborate on both SHIVER and A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS, but I have to add my own two cents about how phenomenal its been to work with Tim every step of the way. Tim is exceptionally talented in so many ways, and if he has a fault at all it’s his modesty. Many of you who have been following my blog and publication path are familiar with Tim’s work on the apps, but just WAIT until you read his own app, TEENY TINY TRUCKS, releasing from Little Bahalia later this summer. You are in for such a treat! In the meantime, I’ll try to stop gushing and let Tim speak for himself. Please welcome Tim!!


Okay, so technically, I am still a pre-published writer, but in a few months that will all change. Before I get to that, let’s go back in time to early December 2011. I had just finished Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month. Tara mentioned in a final email that some mystery woman named Julie Hedlund was inviting anyone to join her in this 12×12 challenge thingy. For me, it was an instant no-brainer. I need goals and deadlines. Badly. 12×12 hit the spot.

In early 2012, Julie announced that she was being interviewed on something called Brain Burps About Books. Huh? Whah? At the time I was podcast illiterate. But curiosity got the best of me, and I’m so glad it did. After listening to Julie’s Brain Burps episode, I devoured earlier podcasts hosted by author/illustrator Katie Davis. It’s a treasure trove of industry insights—all for free. I was so inspired by Katie’s contribution to the kidlit community, that I was stricken with song. A bouncy little Brain Burps jingle popped out of my head, so I recorded it and sent it as a 100th episode gift to Katie. It’s been her show-opening theme song ever since!

That experience was an awakening for me. Beyond writing and submitting over and over for the sake of getting published, I had finally found a personal way to contribute to the community. It was a discovery that came through a chain reaction of active participation. Without any ulterior motive, I wrote a song to say thanks and make someone smile. (By the way, that feels really good.) But I wasn’t done. There were more links to add to the chain.

I ended up writing a 6-month celebration song for 12×12 as well as a jingle for the Picture Book Academy. Then, in September I got an email with the best subject line ever: “Want to be in my app?” Julie loved the Brain Burps song and offered me the opportunity to write a sing-a-long version of the text for her story app, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys. And now it’s out there! Available to anyone in the world with an iPad! My son says I’m famous.

Around the same time, Julie released her App Proposal Template, which was based on the proposal that had landed her deal with Little Bahalia Publishing. I had a shelved app concept of my own that was going nowhere, so I bought the template and developed a much stronger app proposal for my story. After I wrapped up my work on Troop, I sent my proposal to Stacey at Little Bahalia. Within a week, I got a phone call! And so, Teeny Tiny Trucks is due out this summer. It’s being illustrated as we speak!

Now, did having a brief working experience with Little Bahalia help my chances of getting a contract? Maybe. I don’t know. I hope so. That’s kinda the point! My first publishing deal didn’t come from an anonymous, unsolicited slush pile submission. (Though I always daydreamed it happening that way.) It came through participating in writing challenges. It came through contributing to other people’s work. It came through building relationships and helping others. Katie Davis calls it reciprocity. Whatever you want to call it, the fact is, we all have our own paths to publication—if that’s your goal. After four years, I’m grateful for the path I finally found, and for the friends I’ve made along the way.

Tim McCanna writes books, music, and apps for children. He lives in Mountain View, CA with his wife Trudi and their two grade schoolers, Nate and Sophie. Learn more about Tim and watch his kidlit videos at www.timmccanna.com.

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Authors, Brain Burps About Books, Creativity, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Friendship, Guest Blogging, Music, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. How fun to find out how you got your music out there! Congratulations, Tim! And I’m sure your app will be wonderful for kids!

  2. Tim your music is so singable! After being with my triplet grandchildren for a few weeks and playing Troop for them, your song is stuck in my head! And I loved Katie’s theme song too! You’ve got me humming! Looking forward to Teeny Tiny Trucks! You rock!

  3. I love this story! It just goes to show you that if you’re sincere, nice, and work hard, good things will happen! YAY TIM!

  4. I love your catchy little ditties, Tim! Much success with Teeny Tiny Trucks. :0)

  5. Great post! I am a big fan of Tim’s work and yours, Julie, and put the two of you together you can’t go wrong! I’m looking forward to Tiny Little Trucks! It’s so true that being part of the community, getting involved, helping and working with others all makes the experience of being a writer better and helps you reach places you thought you might never get!

  6. Tim, how nice to see that using your talent freely to help others can lead to success! I can’t wait to see Teeny Tiny Trucks!

  7. Hahaha Tim. Your busting with that joy, joy, joy ,joy. Community, community, community! I get it. Can’t wait for Teeny Tiny Trucks. CONGRADS. (Your famous) *wink*

  8. Thanks for the post Tim & Julie showing/reminding? us that nice guys don’t always finish last.

  9. Tim, I love everything I’ve heard that you have created. I’m sure Teeny Tiny Trucks will be a sensational hit! Thanks for a sharing with us 🙂

  10. What an energizing, inspiring post! (Just like you, Tim!) So good to read your story — so exciting about Teeny, Tiny Trucks!

  11. Your music is such a joy to hear! Congrats on Teeny Tiny Trucks–looking forward to it. I think we may have briefly met years ago at Hicklebee’s through Darshana (but I could be completely wrong here!).

  12. I’m so thrilled for you and happy that children’s book writers help each other. I love reciprocity!

  13. What a lovely story of how you’ve spread your fun music around. I am currently trying to get AShiver of Sharks from p.c. to iPod 😉

  14. Great post, Tim! So happy for you! Congratulations on Teeny Tiny Trucks – I love just saying that!

  15. Well done tim!

  16. reciprocity rocks, eh Tim? much success on your app!

  17. Sheri McCrimmon

    Celebrating fellow 12 x 12er success! Congrats and looking forward to seeing Teeny Tiny Trucks.

  18. Wow! I had no idea that my fabulous Brain Burps About Books jingle was your first! I STILL do a chair dance while it plays as I record the show every week! It’s one of my most favorite most amazing gifts I’ve ever received, Tim. I truly treasure it, and I marvel that you made it for me.

  19. Gah – sent that too soon. I meant to add, that no one deserves success more and I hope you GET IT!

  20. Congrats, Tim! So happy to see that great things are happening for fellow 12×12 members!

  21. What a great story! So inspiring! Good luck with the Amazing App! 😉

  22. Really nice Tim! It takes a village. Congrats to you, you sure sound like you deserve it!

  23. I love that kindness and generosity are threaded throughout your success, Tim! Wishing you many more emails “with the best subject line ever”.

  24. Love your story, Tim! Love your tunes! Can’t wait to sink my eyes, and ears, into Teeny Tiny Trucks. Even the title is musical! All best.

  25. Thank you so much, everyone, for your lovely comments! And thanks, Julie, for the opportunity to share. Best wishes to all.

  26. Tim, catching up on posts and comments. Thanks for sharing your story again (I listened t
    to your interview on Katie’s podcast) and for the fun insight and natural joy you infuse into this writing community. Can’t wait for Teeny Tiny Trucks.

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