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Introducing, Catherine Bailey...Our Newest Judge!

First of all -- a warm and wonderful welcome to the newest author to join our talented team: Catherine Bailey! We're so happy to have you and your fabulous feedback here at Rate Your Story!

What brought you to children’s books? How long have you been writing?

As a kid I loved picture books – even when I was well into authors such as Roald Dahl and Judy Blume. I can even remember buying picture books when I was in law school, simply because they made me happy. I finally got up the courage to try writing for children when I had my own. Fortunately, I had been published in the adult educational market already, so that helped me in terms of discipline and some background knowledge. But boy did I have a lot to learn. I wrote my first story in 2009, but my first book did not come out until 2015. That’s six years people. SIX YEARS.

Has your publication journey direction changed at all from the onset?

My publication journey started with the dream of being traditionally-published and represented by an agent. Of course, I had to go through a few steps before that dream became a reality. I began writing for children by focusing on kids’ magazines such as Baby Bugs and Highlights. I wrote small poems and short stories and sent them in, and I also attended regional SCBWI events. I also found wonderful critique partners through what was then called The Blueboards, an independent online chat community for kidlit folks. My process has not changed too much since then. I still rely heavily on crit groups, and have several manuscripts going at once.

Please tell us about the first book you published.

The very first book I published was MIND YOUR MONSTERS. I wrote and edited it over the course of several months – usually in the middle of the night since I had babies keeping me up! Eventually the story was polished enough to submit, so I sent it out to various slush piles. Lo and behold an editor at Sterling saw it, liked it, and emailed me about it. I had been unsuccessfully querying agents at the same time with other manuscripts. So, when Sterling reached out, I contacted my dream agent and things moved quickly from there. It was great timing because I’d practiced pitching to an agent, and had several other polished manuscripts ready to show.

Share something about your most recent book.

I am a proud and blessed to be a multi-generation Floridian, which means I am also very familiar with bugs. Little bugs, big bugs, bite-y bugs. All the bugs. They are everywhere down here. So, it was natural for me to write a little book about them. That was the beginning of HUSTLE, BUSTLE BUGS which debuts from Little brown in 2022. The story started off as a collection of poems (my favorite was “You’re an Ugly Bugly”), and it evolved from there. I had joined a nonfiction crit group and was inspired to take it in a more educational / STEAM direction.

What genres of books will you be open to rating for Rate Your Story?

Picture Books

List five things you look for in a successful story.

Clever plot

Excellent word choices

Relatable characters


A dash of quirky

Name five subjects you love to read about.

Cats (and cats and more cats)

Anything coastal / beachy / oceanic

Fairytales (love’em)



Name five subjects you don’t want to read about.


Political topics such as elections / protests / etc.

Trauma / Adversity

Historical fiction or non-fiction

Anything much over 500 words :)

What author / person has inspired you most on your journey?

Mo Willems and Tammi Sauer

What do you feel is an important preliminary step before actually writing a story?

Reading current popular picture books. Then reading more of them. And some more.

Please share a writing Tip for our Members.

My number one tip, besides reading current popular picture books, is to join a critique group with people who are further down the publishing path yourself. My first crits came from published authors and it helped me tremendously.

Share a fun fact or two about YOU!

I have been blessed with a very full, sometimes weird life path. I have traveled all over the world, lived on sailboats, worked in television, been a lawyer, and currently co-own a family ranch. And though my wilder, wandering days are mostly behind me – I still love to explore and learn.

Catherine Bailey is an award-winning children’s author and youth presenter from sunny Florida. Her recent books include HARBOR BOUND (Disney/Hyperion, 2019), DINO’S DON’T DO YOGA (Sounds True, 2020), and HUSTLE, BUSTLE BUGS (LLBYR, 2022), with more on the way. She has also written for popular children’s magazines such as Highlight’s Hello and Babybug. She is a frequent children’s speaker and has visited with hundreds (and hundreds, and hundreds!) of kids at schools, libraries, stores, and special events.

When Catherine is not writing, or editing, or swatting at mosquitos, she looks after her husband and two children. All three of them are quite sticky, and none like bedtime, but she loves them anyway. Her prior job titles include Lawyer, Sailboat Deckhand, and Cartoon Network Intern. Her hobbies include reading, travel, and TJ MAXX. But mostly reading. Learn more about Catherine and her work at

Click on the Book Title to Buy the Book!

(Sterling, 2015)

(Sky Pony Press, 2016)

(Sky Pony Press, 2017)

(Sky Pony Press, 2019)

(Disney/Hyperion, 2019)

(Sounds True, 2020)


(LBBYR, 2022)


(Sounds True, TBD)


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