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1. Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza Series Recap

Our Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza Series has come to an end and we are SO grateful for the participation and wonderful guest posts from our contributors.

I truly feel that that series was a success, and it wouldn’t have been possible without our contributors fun and fresh kidlit book picks and activities. We are already percolating on ideas for next summer’s reading event!

Below is a list of all of the posts links and bloggers who participated and I encourage everyone to take a peek to see if you missed any and re-read and enjoy and favorites. There were SO many great contributions this summer and we will be working feverishly to put these posts into a free downloadable document to share (more details to come on that). :)

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

Shannon Medisky:Stand Tall, But Read All Around

Discover Your World Summer Reading

Leanna @ Multicultural Kids Blog: Read Around The World Summer Series

Read Around The World Summer Series

Unconventional Librarian: Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline Woodson

Shannon Medisky-Dancing Differently:’

giraffes

Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri: WISH

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Fiesta Fiasco by Ann Whitford Paul {Guest Post by Frances from Discovering the World Through Her Son’s Eyes}

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

If You Were Me and Lived in…by Carole P. Roman {Guest Post from Squishable Baby}

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza

Discovering The Cree Culture in America-Wild Berries by Julia Flett Review & Activity! (Guest Post from Felicia at Stanley and Katrina)

cristina2

 

Erik at This Kid Reviews: Peter Lerangis’ Seven Wonder series

erik3-1024x341

 

Cooking with Books: Lucky Birthday Noodles {Guest Post by Jodie from Growing Book by Book}

Mei Mei's Lucky Borthday Noodles

Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza: Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke {Guest Post by Sprout’s Bookshelf}

Sprout's Bookshelf

 

A Peek into Thailand {Guest Post from Stephanie Kammeraad of Mama-Lady Books}

mama-lady books

 

A Chair for My Mother Book Review & Activity {Guest Post from Vicki Arnold}

A Chair for My Mother

The Magic Poof-A Visit with Author Stephen Hodges.

The Magic Poof

Until next summer, keep “discovering your world” through books!

The post Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza Series Recap appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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2. for the kid in me

Inspired by Kenn Nesbitt’s, “My Brother’s not a Werewolf”. Hope you enjoy.   Tale of the WeirdoWolfBy Donna Earnhardt He transformed in the daytimeavoiding moonlit nightsHe cringed at his own shadow,fear brought him no delight He was a vegetarian.He loved to draw and paint.And when he howled,No one was cowed*,Except for him… He’d faint.  …

7 Comments on for the kid in me, last added: 9/11/2014
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3. Harry and the Hot Lava {By Chris Robertson} Book Review and Activity

There’s something strange going on at Harry’s  house.

Oozing everywhere is hot lava. 

Lava is the Hottest, Most Dangerous Liquid Known to Man !!!!

So you better make a run for it and get out of it’s way. 

Is there any safe place to get away from this oozing liquid?

Harry and the Hot Lava

This latest release from one of my favorite author/illustrators Chris Robertson will entertain and inspire many moments of reading and play fun. Chris is no stranger to JIAB, I’ve reviewed several of his wonderful books including What Would Trade Your Peanut Butter Sandwich For and My Yellow Umbrella (a touching tribute to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School). You can also read a very entertaining interview I did with Chris here

Harry and The Hot Lava

I love the illustrations which blend in beautifully with the text to recount a perfect story.

This book can be summer up in one word FUN !!!!

Harry and the Hot Lava

 

Something To Do

Harry and the Hot Lava reminded me of a game we use play all the time called Don’t step on the Cracks. This book lends itself well to this game. The game is easy while walking down the street, in the driveway, in a parking lot, at the park, wherever you are, you simply Don’t Step on the Cracks. 

harry4

Photo source

If by chance you live in a crack free world, grab some chalk and make some squiggles, and lines like an obstacle course. See how you can avoid those squiggles and lines making sure you Don’t Step on the Cracks. 

The post Harry and the Hot Lava {By Chris Robertson} Book Review and Activity appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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4. Weekend Links: Links & Reads to Support International Literacy Day!

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Monday, September 8th is International Literacy Day.

International Literacy Day

Here are some facts about literacy and the event as well:

Some 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

To raise public awareness of the extraordinary value of the written word and of the necessity to promote a literate society, the following writers are supporting UNESCO through the Writers for Literacy Initiative. UNESCO, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the UN Charter. It is the heir of the League of Nations’ International Commission on Intellectual Cooperation. UNESCO’s aim is “to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.”

International literacy day

As you know, I am a huge advocate of family reading time and children’s literacy. I have been for as long as I can remember. Using Jump Into a Book, the books I create through my publishing house Audrey Press and now with Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I feel like I am even more determined to share the joys and importance of reading with our children. Even though my own kids are grown, they are still all avid readers; something that I am very proud of. Books can unlock the magic of life, let us travel to faraway places without leaving the couch, allow kids of all cultures to see themselves in the pages of a book and share of the wonder of this Big Ol’ World.

Pair that reading-love with learning activities and, in my opinion, it’s a home run :)

That being said, it’s time for my weekly installment of Weekend Links. This is my chance to share some of the wonderful book review and reading activities that I have discovered in my weekly internet travels. These are all high quality reading-based blog posts from some of my favorite, and highly respected, reading and play bloggers. Enjoy!

 

Leanna from All Done Monkey- Cottage Cheese Cake and Learning About Ukraine {Around the World in 12 Dishes} -

Cottage Cheese Cake and Learning About Ukraine | Alldonemonkey.com

Erik at This Kid Reviews Books- Reporting from the National Book Festival.

Growing Book by Book: Alphabet Learning: Apple Stamping and PlayfulPreschool

The Pleasantest Thing: 33 Must-Read Awesome Picture Books!

Boy Teacher Mama: Back to School Rules

Learning with Tangrams! Grandfather Tang’s Story

Grandfather Tang’s Story
My Multicultural World: The Land of Vikings and Trolls

Over a Dozen Great Audiobooks for Kids: http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/08/audiobooks-for-kids.html via @momandkiddo

About Parenting: The Librarian of Basra; A True Story About Iraq

Sprout’s Bookshelf: How to start a conversation about #Ferguson with your kids – a list of resources that can help.

A Mighty Girl‘s Pick of the Day – SEEDS OF CHANGE, by Jen Cullerton Johnson, illus. by Sonia Lynn Sadler

Nerdy Book Club: Top 10 Picture Books for Activists in Training by Mathangi Subramanian

 

What great book links have YOU found this week?

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The post Weekend Links: Links & Reads to Support International Literacy Day! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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5. Interview with 16-Year-Old Artist Reyes Rosa

Today, Kid L it Reviews is pleased to bring you an interview with Reyes Rosa, a sixteen-year-old, up-and-coming illustrator. He is here to also showcase some of his work which I think you will enjoy.  (All art copyright © 2014 by Reyes Rosas.)

 

Hi, Reyes. Let’s start at the beginning. How old were you when you began seriously drawing?

I’m 16, now.   And I began seriously drawing last year.

The illustrations here, how old were, Reyes when you created them?HNI_0094

I drew most of them recently.

What is it about illustrating that you like so well?

I find it fun and exciting to give characters life.

 Is there anything you don’t like?

I love everything I do.

Reyes, who is your favorite artist and why?

I do not have a favorite artist. I don’t watch other illustrators.

 

Has a piece of art or character that influenced your art?

This is Kirby and he was my inspiration to start drawing when I was younger.

Kirby is your muse. How does Kirby influence you? 

At the time, he seemed so fun and lively. And he could become anything he wanted, simply by inhaling it!

HNI_0028_JPG

How old were you at the time?

I really don’t remember, but I think I was about 11

Until Kirby came along, how much did you draw?

Before that I really didn’t draw at all.

I love the interesting character study you did of a Kirby. I really like all the expressions and positions you included.

000

 

I love your art I have seen. The digital illustrations are fantastic an on the level of much I see today in picture books. How did you learn to make digital art?

I am a self taught artist and the program I mostly use is Colors 3D for digital art.

Did you have any help? Maybe a book on drawing?

I didn’t use any outside sources, I just started drawing.

Some of those art programs have a large learning-curve. No one helped you learn any of it?

No. I have done everything on my own, thru trial and error.

 HNI_0085

Color 3D is a new one for me. What are the advantages/disadvantages of using Color 3D?

Some of the advantages are that it is a very comfortable, easy to use program. It isn’t cluttered by any unnecessary options. And some of the disadvantages are that the program is a little limited in terms of image resolution and tools.

Was Color 3D difficult to learn?

The program itself did not take long to get comfortable with, but acquiring  the skills took quite some time.

HNI_0008_JPGHave you tried using any of the usual programs illustrators like? (Illustrator, Photoshop, Manga 5, Corel Draw, or the open source Gimp)

I have not used any others because this one is the most comfortable for me to use. I have tried Gimp, but found that it is a little overcomplicated. And the others, I just don’t have the funds for.

Do you use a graphic pad?

I do not have a graphic pad, but I have wanted to try one. I use a stylus.

 

What is your normal process when creating illustrations?  Do you sketch and then scan, paint and then scan to finish other areas? How do you get such great looking illustrations?

I usually just sketch within the program and then build the drawing from there.

Which part of the process do you enjoy most – sketching, painting, or digital illustration?

I love sketching and digital illustration. I don’t like the initial starting process of getting a rough sketch down, but I love the process of coloring and shading.

editcombo

I know you would like to illustrate children’s books. Have you any experience? 

I have worked with my mother on her kids cookbook doing the illustrations for it.

What you interests you about a career illustrating children’s books?

I like working in the children’s market because it’s more creative and less limited and lets me have more freedom in what I create.

HNI_0040_JPG

Reyes you are a young man with lots of time ahead of you. Have you decided the life path you will take? Will it include art?

Yes, it will definitely include art and I would like to do 3D rendered animation in the future.

Have you thought about college and the art programs they have?

I have not thought about it yet, because I am only 16. But, my mom has thought about sending me to the Art Institute Of Chicago.

HNI_0009You’ve got to love moms. They are always one step ahead.

What do you do to relax?

I like to play video games.HNI_0011

 

 

 

 

 

What would be the most important advice you would give to young artist following you?

Never give up on any drawing, it might look bad at the start, but that’s only part of the process.

 What would you like to get out of this interview?

 I would like for you to share my art with others.

What is the next step for you and your art?

 I want to take my art to where I can do this professionally and have someone represent me.

 HNI_0079

Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Reviews. In kids lit, an up and coming new artist interested in creating children’s books is exciting. Your innate talent is inspiring. I hope you become and accomplish all you wish to achieve.

 

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Reyes is a self-taught digital artist and
pencil illustrator with a focus on character
art for video gaming and children’s literature.
He has been drawing since he was old enough
to hold a crayon. Reyes is a passionate guy who is
ready to take the next leap by pursuing art as a career.
x
Reyes is off the grid, but as been encouraged to build a blog so others may find him and his art.
x
x
x
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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: Children's Books, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Illustrator Spotlight, Interviews Tagged: artist, children's books, digital medium, illustration, kidlit, Reyes Rosas

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6. Lights, camera. . .CAKE!


I ask a lot of my kids.

I ask them to read manuscripts and give me feedback. I ply them (and their friends) with questions about the age-appropriateness of certain (sometimes embarrassing) grade school behaviors. I make them stop what they're doing and quickly write down a story idea when I'm elbow-deep in potting soil or cooking dinner (or in the shower) and can't jot it down myself.

They put up with all of it, as I imagine most offspring of children's book writers do—and I'm grateful.

Recently though, I asked more of them than ever. "Um, girls how do you feel about standing in a hot kitchen in the middle of summer for four hours while three strangers make you crack and egg nine times in a row?"

Well of course, I didn't say it like that. 

It was more like, "Guess what?! You get to be on YouTube! Eating cake!"

As it happened, the experience was much closer to the latter than the former. With the help of a brilliant group of filmmakers—writer/ producer/director Leigh Medeiros, cinematographer JJ Rok, and sound tech Tebello Rose—we created a little piece of art, for our little piece of art.

Baking Day at Grandma's is a very personal story. It's based on memories of my Grandma Rose, as well as the baking traditions my mom began with our girls. The art is inspired by the Adirondack region of New York, specifically Lake George, where I spent summers (and quite a few winters weeks) as a child. Each spread contains a nod to our families—Grandma Bear's cabin, touches of her furniture, the cookbook, the victrola—all come from the people and places we love. It's a love letter to our family, and a celebration I hope many readers and families will enjoy. As we set out to make the book trailer, we hoped to capture the personal nature of the book, to let readers know that like Grandma Rosie's chocolate cake—the book was made with love.

When the day of the shoot came, I felt confident in our concept. Like any gifted documentarian, Leigh had spent a great deal of time getting to know my story. She'd browsed old photos with me, and listened as I recounted memories of baking with my grandma. She hadn't wanted to over-script it. Sure, we had a shot list and some talking points, but the real gems were going to be found in the unscripted moments, we decided.

If I had one concern going into the day, it was about the kids. Would they freeze up? Look at the camera too much? Get grumpy? Especially my little one. She's three and generally well behaved, but...well... she's three.

Both Leigh and JJ did a wonderful job making the kids (and all of us) feel comfortable. When I asked for some direction before we began, Leigh smiled and said to me, "Just bake a cake, and don't worry about us." I wasn't sure it would be possible, with the lights and the big boom mic and the camera pointing at us, but to my amazement, once the measuring and the mixing began, we did sort of forget about the camera. I was a mom, baking with my kids. It was fun! And messy. Flour dusted every surface; there were egg shells in the sink and splatters of chocolate cake batter on our aprons. It was the the real deal, not the scrubbed up version. (Ok, I admit, I cleaned my house for two days before the crew arrived, but the baking scene was authentic.)

The kids did great! And most importantly, they enjoyed it. Now, in addition to a lovely book trailer, I have a little time capsule to help me remember the sounds, spills, giggles, bloopers and joy of baking with my girls.

It's really a pleasure to get to share this heartfelt collaboration with the you. Thanks for cheering us on, spreading the word, and making the homestretch of this book's journey to publication so delicious! I'll say thank you in every way I can think of, including offering free baking day recipe cards and gift tags if you'd like to host your own baking day at home, or make a special treat with grandparents for Grandparent's Day on September 7th.

For bookstores, libraries, classrooms and home-schoolers, I'll soon be adding a downloadable story hour kit to my website, which includes a Baking Day at Grandma's song (!!!) composed and recorded by my talented friends at Little Hands, reading prompts, activities, posters, crafts, snack suggestions—everything you'll need to get kids, reading, dancing, singing and connecting with the book.

For bloggers, I'll have an extra-special Baking Day at Grandma's giveaway (to be revealed soon)!

I hope you'll stay tuned as we cook (and bake) up new goodies and giveaways! (One great way to keep up to date and connected is to join my new mailing list.)

Until then, happy reading and baking! Here's a peek at the book trailer. . .




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7. No More Gunk - Illustration Highlight

Even the teeth have personality in "No More Gunk!" "Two Books in One. In NO MORE GUNK! short playful rhymes and humorous illustrations help children learn in a fun way the importance of proper dental hygiene. Tooth Tips in the back of the book encourage children to take care of their teeth. Snappy rhymes along with colorful and fun illustrations in OUCH! Sunburn! help children see the

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8. A comic for those who think it's easy to write children's books

Originally posted for PiBoIdMo.

0 Comments on A comic for those who think it's easy to write children's books as of 7/23/2014 1:31:00 AM
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9. Some Foxy Colors


Here are some of the different color designs I tried for little Fox's house in the woods. It's supposed to show as a movie though it started as an animated GIF.

I read that if you post an animated GIF to Twitter it is turned into a movie. So I tried it and it works... then I downloaded the movie and that can be posted onto FB. The things one never knew!

This only plays once, but the GIF repeats over and over.

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10. J.K. Rowling has written a new short story about Harry Potter–as an adult

Harry Potter fans get excited! J. K. Rowling has written a new 1500-word short story about Harry Potter in his thirties and his friends from the perspective of gossip columnist Rita Skeeter. This is the first time J K Rowling has written about her famous characters as adults since the end of the series. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, click on the link above and go read the story. :)

Thank you to The Bookseller for the information.

0 Comments on J.K. Rowling has written a new short story about Harry Potter–as an adult as of 1/1/1900
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11. Your Kidlit Questions Answered! Part IV

Graphic by Edna Cabcabin Moran

Graphic by Edna Cabcabin Moran

.

Yes, we’ve gotten to a fourth installment! Or maybe I can call this THE FOURTH STALL?

fourthstall

(P.S. I loved this book. It includes one of my favorite things to write about—a secret place that adults don’t know about.)

So, there have been three previous Q&A’s…check them out here: Part I, Part II, Part III.

Without further ado…Part IV!

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berylreichenberg asks:
If you already have several picture books published, what are the best blogs and other sites to use to get the word out and market your books?

So many kidlit authors tend to stick with promoting on writer blogs, which is certainly good, but we can be preaching to the same audience over and over again. I, myself, worry that people are gonna get sick of me.

Instead, look to librarian blogs, parenting blogs, teacher blogs, homeschool blogs, bookseller blogs and other “gatekeeper” sites that target those who buy children’s books.

Technorati.com is a good place to search for top blogs in various categories, like books, education and parenting.

Some blogs have review policies, so read them and reach out. I receive many unsolicited requests every month. I can’t accept them all, but I do what I can. Bloggers are always in search of good content, so you’ve got nothing to lose by asking for coverage. Make sure you appeal to that blog’s readership with your pitch. (I receive pitches that don’t come close to interesting my audience, which tells me the sender is doing a mass mailing rather than targeting me specifically.)

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Pat Miller asks:
When you have a drawer full of PiBoIdMo drafts that just don’t seem to get off the ground, how do you maintain your motivation to dig back in and make one of them sing?

Another tough question!

I have barrels full of uncompleted manuscripts. Honestly, I tend to think that if I’m not “feeling” them, they’re not worth my time, at least not at the moment. I might feel them later, so that’s why nothing ever gets tossed.

Jerry Spinelli’s EGGS was in a drawer for 20 years when his wife Eileen made him pull it out. He reread the manuscript and felt re-energized. Neil Gaiman got the idea for THE GRAVEYARD BOOK 20 years before he actually wrote it. He wanted to wait to become a better writer because he knew the idea would be challenging.

Other writers will argue that you cannot wait for the muse, you just have to keep pounding on the manuscript. I tend not to do that because I have enough ideas that do sing to me, in key and on beat.

And hence we get to the reason why I do PiBoIdMo—the more ideas in your file, the more potential manuscripts you’ll have. You can ditch one idea and move onto another. In my experience, the best manuscripts have begun when I have stopped working on a manuscript that’s been giving me headaches. It’s like my brain has suddenly been freed from its chains. My upcoming title, I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK, came about after I ditched a struggling manuscript. The words for BEAR just flew out, whereas I was laboring hard on the previous story and it just wasn’t working.

Bear Book final cover

Sometimes changing the voice or POV in a manuscript is enough to get it revived.

A critique partner pow-wow can also provide a boost. Just sit around with some best buddies (and coffee and coffee cake) to discuss the challenges and concerns you have. Ask for suggestions and solutions. If you can’t do it in person, Google hangouts are fun, especially since you can stay in your jammies. I truly believe critique partners are not just for completed manuscripts, but those in progress, too.

When all else fails, go for a walk or take a shower. Research shows that “thinking on our feet” leads to creativity. And mundane, repetitive tasks give our minds freedom to wander.

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Amymariesmith asks:
I’m going to my first SCBWI regional conference in June. Any tips on what to bring?

Have fun, Amy! You should bring:

  • A list of your PB ideas. I think it’s great to get a professional’s opinion about whether your story ideas are marketable or if they’re too common and need work. You might have an opportunity to sit down with someone to discuss them.
  • Your manuscripts. You never know when a critique opportunity will arise.
  • A list of industry questions. I know I tend to forget everything once I arrive at a conference. If there’s something you want to know, write it down and keep it handy. There’s often panel discussions where you can post your questions.
  • A notebook and pen to take good notes. (Then when you go home, type up your notes. This will help them soak into your brain.)
  • A camera. Take pics and share them.
  • Your business cards. Even if you’re unpublished, you’re still officially a “writer”. You want to connect with professionals and potential critique partners. If you’re having meals there, hand them out to those sitting at your table. Everyone else will remember to hand them out, too!

Side note: sometimes at conferences I’ve seen unpublished writers carrying plush likenesses of characters they’ve created. This seems like a smart idea, to attract attention and questions about your work, but some professionals just think this is strange. Great writing is guaranteed to attract positive attention, not gimmicks.

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Mrs. Ricefield asks:
I would also love to hear more on how to make the best out of conferences you attend. Thank you for the question.

See my suggestions above on what to bring. Also, make friends. See someone standing alone? They’re an introverted writer, but writers love to talk about writing, so go say hello. This is your opportunity to network and gain a support system. Have fun and be yourself.

Don’t go with too many expectations—it’s rare to get a book deal or an agent at a conference. (But be sure to follow-up if someone expresses interest. Things happen AFTER the event.)

Volunteering at a conference is also a great way to get one-on-one time with professionals and to be remembered. Why not volunteer to pick up agents and editors at the train station or airport? You’ll have time to chat and get to know them.

Ask editors about life outside the office. You’ll connect on a more personal level and you’ll be one of the few people who aren’t trying to squeeze a book deal out of them. Editors are people, too. They get tired of being pitched, poked and prodded.

scbwi-nj-005

Great friends at the NJ-SCBWI Annual Conference. Authors Ame Dyckman, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Kami Kinard.

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Angela Turner asks:
I am writing a nonfiction book in narrative form but I want to put notes on the same page that tell a little more with more specific language. What is the proper way to show this in your manuscript?

While I haven’t written this kind of book before, I suggest using a format similar to how we place art notes in a picture book manuscript. Use brackets to denote the sidebars. Like this: [Sidebar text:].

Maybe someone more experienced with these manuscripts can comment below.

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Joy Moore asks:
How would you describe your writing style?

A quirky, punny word-a-palooza.

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Brenda Harris asks:
If an author-illustrator is self-publishing, who are the most important people (editors, art directors, etc) I should ask advice(hire?) from about my dummy book. And- where can I search and find these legit helpers?

There are independent editors with decades of publishing experience whom you could try. Just a few:

Read through each consultant’s site to determine the best fit for your writing style.

Also, be aware of current publishing scams and hustles. There are those who prey on writers with dreams of publication. Check out Preditors & Editors.

Before you begin, you should know the distinction between true self-publishing and publishing via a vanity press. Read this blog post.

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Thiskidreviewsbooks asks:
I’d really like to know what your best time to write is (and the importance of having a set time to write).

Erik, I don’t have a set time to write. I have found that routine tends to stifle my creativity. I know some writers insist upon writing the same time every day, in the same place, with the same materials, claiming that routine means they write whether or not they’re in the mood. And I suppose that does work nicely for a lot of writers. It doesn’t work nicely for me.

I’ve never been a routine person. Something about my personality always eschews routine. I cannot remember to take a daily vitamin. I don’t wake up the same time every day nor go to sleep at a set hour. I have a tough time eating leftovers.

I like changing things up. Sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes late at night. Different times of day can lend varying moods to my writing. Same as with different places—sometimes I write in bed, sometimes in the kitchen. Occasionally I work on my back deck, at the park or at the library.

And I don’t write every day. That may have to change when I start writing novels and I’ll need to get more words down, but for now, I take writing breaks. Two days on, one day off. Three days on, three days off. One day on, four days off. (GASP!) Again, I change it up a lot. And sometimes these breaks are dictated by family or other obligations.

With this non-routine routine, I’ve had no shortage of creativity, no writer’s block. I’ve got four manuscripts under submission right now and four under construction.

The bottom line is that there’s no “right” thing that works for everyone. It’s totally up to you to find your creative groove. Don’t take anyone else’s advice unless it resonates with you.

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Charlotte asks:
Why does it seem that there are so many women writing for children, attending SCBWI conferences, posting here, etc., and yet by comparison there seem to be so many successful children’s books by men? Ya know what I mean? Certainly there are tons of successful children’s books by women, but the rations have me baffled. At the last SCBWI conference I attended, women outnumbered men 98-2. Even if there are more children’s books by women authors, the ratio is not 98-2, not even close. So what’s going on? Do men feel more free to write wackier stories? Do women censor their own out-of-the-box impulses? Do editors and agents subconsciously give men more leeway to push the boundaries/break the rules? Do women tend to write more lesson-y stories? Are there just as many men writing and they just don’t show up at conferences? Whaddaya think?

Small-Vida-Logo

Charlotte, you may want to check out the VIDA Count. VIDA has found a distinct imbalance between the amount of literature by women that’s published and awarded versus that of men. See these articles:

From VIDA’s FAQ:

But don’t women read more? Don’t they buy more books? Don’t they edit these journals [and books] and read slush? And therefore—isn’t this largely the fault of women, as well?

First: sexism pervades our culture, and so it is often unconsciously absorbed/internalized by everyone, including women. Feminism is an act, not a bumper sticker. It requires the constant re-evaluation of one’s assumptions, habits, and biases. By being a part of the system, women are often a part of the problem.

Further, as Sarah Seltzer points out,

“In my experience, the reality may even be worse than the numbers. Women who are allowed to be prominent — and this is not to erase those who do it on their own merit, because their numbers are growing — often don’t challenge the worldview of those who hire them. In fact, given all the anti-feminists like Caitlin Flanagan, Katie Roiphe and Christina Hoff Summers taking prime media real estate, it would seem that for women, reinforcing sexism is a good formula for vaulting ahead.”

Sarah Seltzer, Jewish Daily Forward, March 2012, “Byline Bias – and What We Can Do About It.”

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Stacy Couch asks:
I was wondering about the different stages of birthing a PB. PiBoIdMo does a great job re: brainstorming. Maybe posts about craft would help bring those ideas to life.

  • Character-driven picture books: What they are, what makes a character sing.
  • Plot: How to plot a PB.
  • Plot: Why stakes matter.
  • Rule of Three
  • Plot and the Rule of Three.
  • Different Genres within the PB World (Quiet, Noisy, Character-Driven, Interactive, Etc.)
  • External vs. Internal Conflict
  • Allowing Room for the Illustrator

Then perhaps a series about critique groups (how to find them, how to set up one), conferences (purpost, intensives, tips) and another querying agents, editors (the importance of etiquette, researching them beforehand).

I’d love to see more craft-related posts, though, since any agent or editor would focus on the work itself.

Great suggestions, Stacy! I’ve covered some of these topics already. Check out:

I’ll cover all your suggestions in craft posts soon. Thanks for the input!

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In closing, thanks to everyone who submitted a question. This was a fun series and I hope to make it a recurring blog feature!


10 Comments on Your Kidlit Questions Answered! Part IV, last added: 6/6/2014
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12. Your Kidlit Questions Answered! Part III

In case you missed it:

Grab your PiBoIdMo mugga joe and let’s get to it, shall we?

piboidmo2013mug

 

mvanhierden asks:
When submitting query letters for picture books, is it standard practice to include a manuscript?

Always follow an individual’s submission guidelines. Some agents/editors don’t ask for a query first because a picture book is a short read. They’ll ask for a cover letter and the manuscript instead. And even though some want the full manuscript, they’ll still ask for a query letter with it. Why? They want to hear how you SELL the story.

Not sure what goes into a query letter? See yesterday’s post.

But everyone is different; pay attention to their guidelines. Guidelines are in place to help an agent/editor work most efficiently, according to their preferences. Therefore, not following guidelines is subject to an immediate, automatic rejection.

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stackofmanuscriptsAnne Bromley asks:
I heard recently that one needs at least 3 polished, ready-to-submit picture book stories in order for an agent to take serious interest. Has this been your experience as well?

Yes, this is what I recommend—have at least 3 to 5 picture book manuscripts polished and ready for submission.

An agent will rarely take a writer based upon one manuscript alone. Yes, it happens, but your odds are so much better if you have several ready. Why? If the agent likes your work, they will almost always ask for MORE WORK. An agent wants to ensure that they are a good fit for you, so they want to connect with a body of work, not just one piece. If they like your submission and want to see more but you don’t have anything else, you’ve wasted an opportunity.

More books ready means more books to sell, which is preferable for the agent. If they can’t sell one manuscript, they have another to sub immediately.

But what about an editor? The same holds true. They could like your manuscript but not have the ability to publish it for whatever reason. They may ask for something else. You want to have that something else ready!

And honestly, you become a better writer with each manuscript you complete. So although you might have only one ready to submit, wait until you have more because the next manuscript might be the better sell.

 

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Patricia Tilton asks:
When do you set aside a MS after many rejections, even though it’s polished, been through editors and you’ve done the revisions and more revisions? Or do you just keep submitting?

Tough question, Patricia! I feel like this is dictated by a gut feeling more than anything else.

I have an agent, so my rejections always include a reason. If I receive compliments and suggestions, then the manuscript is on the right track and we keep submitting. If I receive a lot of similar suggestions for improvement, I take it back and revise.

For those without an agent, if you receive only form rejections without any personal rejections, it’s a signal that perhaps the manuscript needs more work.

It’s not uncommon to hear of manuscripts rejected 20 or more times, so sometimes it’s about just connecting with the right editor at the right time.

If you’ve submitted widely without a bite, I’d recommend putting the manuscript aside and coming back in a few months to see if you can make improvements. Then try another round. Again, some rejections are about timing rather than quality, so a new round of submissions can yield new results.

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Carrie Brown asks:
We know, as writers, to revise until our very best work is present. Then, we know to send it out to our critique groups and revise some more. Repeat. Repeat again. Etc. Once our work is “the best it can be,” do you think there is a secret numbers formula as to how many subs a manuscript should go through before being shelved? What if, for example, a manuscript goes through a period of requests mixed with personal feedback from agents, and then said changes are made and it goes back out to be met with chirping crickets? Then what? Just like everything in the writing world, I know these questions will be met with subjectivity, as well. But this inquiring mind values your opinion!

Yes, as you’ll see by my answer above, it really is subjective, a gut feeling. I’ve known writers who have submitted 27 times with rejections and the 28th time was the charm. I’ve known writers who have revised a manuscript on and off for nearly 10 years before it was bought.

I suppose my suggestion is to keep plugging away as long as you feel passion and confidence in your work. Again, sometimes it’s about timing more than anything else.

Let’s go to the scenario you proposed—if you’ve made changes that were requested but have only heard crickets in response, I would probably go back to the previous version. When you revise based upon suggestions from one individual, it’s purely being done to meet their specific taste. And if they don’t like it after the changes have been made, it probably wasn’t the right move.

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Jo Dearden asks:
In your query letter, when it comes to describing your Picture Book, should you include a short paragraph in the style of a jacket blurb, or should it be a straighter description (like a mini, paragraph-long synopsis)? This is assuming you’re sending the whole text to the agent/publisher.

Yes! It’s an excellent idea to write your synopsis in the style of jacket flap material. This kind of paragraph whets the appetite and makes the reader want to dive in. Pick up a bunch of picture books at your library and study the book jackets. Try to emulate them.

Book jackets cartoon

Guess what? There one final installment coming tomorrow!


11 Comments on Your Kidlit Questions Answered! Part III, last added: 6/5/2014
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13. Your Kidlit Questions Answered! Part II

Continued from yesterday

Jennifer Kirkeby asks:
What do you do to keep yourself motivated? Especially after rejections?

You know how “location, location, location” is real estate’s most important criteria? Well, “new work, new work, new work” is how I keep myself motivated. A new story is always so exciting, isn’t it?

newwork

I’ve seen writers try to sell the same manuscript year after year. On one hand, it’s good to be persistent, but on the other hand, you should know when it’s time to move on. Once you’ve finished a manuscript and started submitting, work on something new. Always have your list of ideas ready. Review them. Grab onto whatever resonates and start writing. An editor might not like what you’ve just submitted, but they might like your NEXT project. The more projects you have, the better your odds of becoming published.

Don’t let rejections get you down. Everyone gets them. It’s the nature of our business. I’ve gotten so many now that they’ve lost their sting. I read the rejection, absorb the comments, decide if I agree or disagree, and move on.

Not every manuscript is for every editor—and a rejection doesn’t mean your story’s terrible and it will never find a home. Editors can reject a manuscript because it competes too closely with one of their existing or upcoming books, or because it doesn’t fit with their imprint’s personality and goals. An editor with a bug phobia may stay away from beetle books. An editor might even love your story, but their team isn’t as enthused.

Remember a rejection is not a personal attack. They are rejecting the work you submitted, NOT YOU. YOU are marvelous. YOU are creative. YOU just need to write another story.

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Yangmommy asks:
Hi! I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation at the MD/DE SCBWI in Maryland last month. It was the highlight of my day (and I still find myself saying, “whhyyy?”)!  But I left wondering more about how and when to insert the art notes. In the margins? Within the text (but doesn’t that break up the flow?)? Do you have an example you can showcase on your blog?

An art note can be written in the body of your text, right after the words the art will accompany. I typically put the art note in brackets and italicize the text, like this: [Art: bear tickles alien.]

I’ve also written manuscripts with so many necessary art notes that my agent has submitted them in graph format. This is because the art notes broke up the flow of the story too much, making it difficult to read. The graph format allows an editor to scan through the story easily while still being able to comprehend the illustrations. I explained this in a post here.

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Tim asks:
I attended a picture book writing conference recently, and the presenter asked for a show of hands of all those who at least occasionally wrote manuscript in rhyme. Nearly every hand in the room went up. And many new rhyming picture books are published each year. Yet aspiring PB writers are told frequently that rhyme is a very tough sell. So I’d love to see a post or two on how to sell rhyming PBs. Not tips on how to write in rhyme–there are lots of resources for that–but on how to SELL it, including the no-nos either in queries or in manuscripts that will stop an editor or agent cold.

Tim, there are no tricks to selling a rhyming manuscript other than making that rhyming manuscript GREAT. (There’s nothing you can say or do to sell a sub-par manuscript.)

Editors see a lot of bad rhyme, which is why they often tell new writers to avoid it. Rhyming manuscripts that don’t sell:

  • use common and predictable rhymes,
  • feature wonky meter,
  • veer off in an unbelievable direction to meet the rhyme scheme,
  • use awkward sentence structure to make a rhyme work,
  • feature too many near-rhymes, or
  • explore an overdone theme.

metermaids

What’s a GREAT rhyming story? A manuscript whose rhyme scheme is original and whose meter is consistent. A manuscript that features an appealing, marketable hook.

For a picture book, some agents and editors zip right past the cover letter to get to the meat of the manuscript, so I don’t think anything is going stop them cold, unless you’re wildly unprofessional and stuff your envelope full of glitter.

Your query/cover should:

  • address the agent/editor by name,
  • explain why you are submitting/targeting that editor/agent/imprint,
  • compare/contrast your book to existing titles,
  • include a brief synopsis,
  • offer a short bio (only with information relevant to writing for children), and
  • have a polite closing.

It should be one page only.

The manuscript should be double-spaced in a 12 pt serif font, like Times New Roman.

Again, don’t use gimmicks. Good writing and a professional presentation is all you need to attract an agent/editor’s attention.

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Ginger asks:
What does a picture book look like in written form and do you add picture ideas?

I mentioned the standard format above. Here’s a pic of what the first page of a PB manuscript might look like:

pbpage

The second and each subsequent page header will include “Name/TITLE” on the left and numerical page number on the right.

Regarding art notes, that really requires its own post! See these previous posts:

The bottom line is that you only include art notes if it’s not clear what’s happening from the text alone. For instance, if your text says “Felix was happy” but he’s really upset, you need an art note so the illustrator doesn’t make him smile.

Write something like: “Felix was happy. [Art: Felix isn’t happy.]” You should not write “Felix was happy. [Art: Felix is stomping his feet, wearing red, waving his arms and sticking his tongue out.]” That’s far too specific and doesn’t leave the illustrator room to interpret Felix and his feelings.

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Part III to come tomorrow!

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10 Comments on Your Kidlit Questions Answered! Part II, last added: 6/5/2014
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14. Your Kidlit Questions Answered! Part I

You asked for it, you got it, Toyota.

youaskedforit

Sorry, no car giveaway here. Not sure you’d want a ’77 yellow hatchback anyway.

What you’ve got are your burning kidlit questions with my answers. Please remember that these are my opinions and not necessarily gospel. (I can’t sing, anyway. Except, apparently, for 70′s car commercial jingles.)

If you have follow-up questions, please leave them in the comments!

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Writenit asks:
Is there a better place than Amazon to search to see if the fabulous (at least in my head LOL) idea you came up with has already been done a million times?

Besides Amazon, try searching WorldCat.org, the world’s largest database of library holdings. A simple Google search is also a good idea. Try the various types of Google searches, including images and news.

But just remember, even if your title is taken or your idea has been published, there might be room for your manuscript, too. General ideas can be similar, but the execution can result in wildly differing stories. Of course, if there’s an extremely popular book with your idea, odds are that a publisher won’t take a chance on a directly competing book. In other words, if your dragons love tacos or your crayons are going on strike, you probably want to look elsewhere for ideas.

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Patricianesbitt asks:
Do you have any inside tips as to what themes or topics publishers are looking for?

This information is always changing. Right now, I hear that character-driven picture books are all the rage.

“Looking for” details can often be found at SCBWI conferences and on blogs when a particular agent or editor has been interviewed. You might want to search for conference bios, where professionals often divulge their wish lists.

You’ll also want to visit the bookstore at least once or twice a month. See what’s being displayed face-out (publishers have paid for this promotional opportunity). Are there are a lot of books on one particular subject, like trucks? Well then, the truck ship has probably sailed. (Whoa, that was a mixed metaphor, huh?) Once you see an abundance of one kind of book in the stores, the end of that craze is probably upon us. Remember pirate books during the Johnny Depp “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies? I went to a conference around that time and the editors practically screamed, “No more pirate books!” Sometimes they know more about what they DON’T want than what they DO.

Bottom line: everyone wants a good story. You don’t have to write to the marketplace’s demands. In fact, I suggest that you don’t. Whatever idea stirs up the most passion in you is the manuscript you should be writing. Your enthusiasm will be evident on the page—and that is always appealing.

And always remember Karma Wilson’s example. McElderry’s sub guidelines said “no rhyme and no talking animals” when she sent them BEAR SNORES ON, which turned out to be a huge hit, launching her successful career. It was a great manuscript, so the DON’T guidelines became moot.

bearsnoreson

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Maria Matthews asks:
Is it better to aim at writing a current popular topic or to write a quirky unusual book?)

As I noted above, “currently popular” isn’t your best bet, simply because the books released today got purchased as manuscripts two to four years ago, on average. So you can’t necessarily catch up to what’s hot. And what’s hot is always changing. You never know what the next “big thing” will be.

That’s why I suggest writing from your heart. If quirky and unusual is what you enjoy, then by all means, write quirky and unusual!

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Josh Funk asks:
How do you get awesome illustrators to do “head shots” for you? (like AJ Smith did  in your previous post)

When I first began my blog seven years ago, I paid illustrators to do graphics for my site, like this watermelon-themed banner by the talented Val Webb.

taralazarwatermelonbanner

Now that my blog has become well-read, I often ask on Facebook or Twitter for a particular graphic and someone volunteers their services, in exchange for a mention and link. I’m usually blown away by the response, and so grateful!

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Jdewdropsofink asks:
So after reading your previous post, I want to know the super secret story techniques you learned from Sudipta?

I’ve learned a ton from Sudipta. If ever you get a chance to hear her speak or teach a class, grab the opportunity. I’m going to send you to her very pink site instead of spilling her secrets here…

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Nicole Snitselaar asks:
I would like to know, how much details you must write down when you are planning a PB without words…?

Only as much detail as you need to get the idea across. Be as succinct in your word choices as you are while writing a regular picture book. Paint the overall picture but don’t go into minutiae. You still must leave some things for the illustrator to fill in.

Author Linda Ashman has posted her manuscript for NO DOGS ALLOWED, which is nearly wordless. Check it out here. It’s an excellent example.

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Tune in for Part II tomorrow, kidlit fans!


10 Comments on Your Kidlit Questions Answered! Part I, last added: 6/3/2014
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15. Nancy

There’s been a lot of hiding around here lately.

sheet hiding

A blog post about ME is hiding over at Peace, Love, and Whiskers. Pop over and check it out, if you haven’t already.

plw2014blog

The other day, I saw this…

red balloon

It’s an evil, runaway, red balloon. It’s hiding under the car, waiting to roll out and get me. Mom let me walk by really fast, because she knows that balloons are trying to kill me.

white balloons

And look what’s back there! Two more balloons. White ones. I know what they have planned…

That's close enough...

That’s close enough…

I have no plans to start liking balloons, but I want to thank my friend Little Binky for sending me this lovely award. I am not afraid of it.

100,000+hit+award+%231

Do you see what else is hiding? In the grass? A feather. It’s from the birds that sit in the trees and laugh at me.

feather

All kinds of things are hiding in all kinds of places. When I try to hide, I always get caught. The other day, I brought my tiny yellow dog and hid on Mom’s bed with it. Somehow, she found out that I was in there.

messy bed

I don’t know how she does it! She’s a regular Nancy Drew when it comes to figuring things out.

When she was little, Mom was probably Nancy Drew’s biggest fan. She read every one of the Nancy Drew Mysteries, and hung on every word.

nancy

Now that she’s a writer, she hardly ever writes mysteries. She wrote one once, and when it was finished, she said, “Ugh. This thing is so lame.” And “Where’s the suspense, the red herring, the foreshadowing!?” and “Seriously? You’re back on the bed again?”

Who? Me??

Who? Me??

Mom might BE Nancy Drew, and LOVE Nancy Drew, but she has no plans to WRITE Nancy Drew.

 

 


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16. 5 Interesting Podcasts: Kidlit, Social Media & Self-Publishing


" Saucy is a real character dealing with real stuff—hard stuff that doesn’t have easy answers, not in real life and not in fairy tales, either. This is a really compelling and ultimately hopeful story. Highly recommended." – Debby Dahl Edwardson, National Book Award finalist and author of My Name is Not Easy Read a sample chapter.

With limited time to keep up on the business of writing and publishing, I have found myself turning to podcasts. A podcast is like a radio program, but you can play it on demand. To listen, I have the Pocket Casts Lite app on my iPhone; the free version allows me to set up five podcasts to follow. I listen while I’m at the gym or taking a walk using ear buds; I have a wireless bluetooth earbud setup, so I don’t have to worry about cords. Or, I plug into the auxiliary input on my car radio/cd system to listen. At home, I have a portable bluetooth speaker that sounds great. Of course, you’ll need to find a set of apps for your particular system. If you already have something set up to listen to music on your smart phone, just use that same thing for listening to podcasts.

Using Pocket Casts Lite, I can log onto the iTunes store and search podcasts to find something I want to listen to. My friend who write history nonfiction, tends to listen to history podcasts for tidbits that might spark an idea. No, really, she just listens to them for pleasure! If it sparks something, great. Almost any topic that interests you, there’s a podcast. Here, I’ll mention five podcasts that I’ve been listening to lately.

If you’re interested in just hearing authors talk about their books–and not the publishing side of it all–then you can look at podcast lists here or here, here or here.

Children’s Literature.

  1. Katie Davis’s Brain Burps is the longest running podcast about children’s books. Each week, she interviews someone about their work and publishing experience, provides a book review and gives tips. Find her on iTunes.
  2. Cheryl Fusco Johnson takes a slightly different approach to podcasts by using a local access radio station, KRUU in Fairfield, Iowa for her show, The Studio. For her show, you must download files and put them on your smartphone like you would a music file. Her interviews are with a wide-ranging set of authors–always interesting.
  3. Book Marketing.

  4. One of my favorite podcast is Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner, which isn’t necessarily about book marketing, but about using social media in general. It comes from the folks at SocialMediaExaminer.com and some of their strategies are stellar tools for your book marketing. Look for it on iTunes.
  5. Podcast


    Self-Publishing

  6. There are strong podcasts for self-publishers, including Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn Podcast. She’s got a long record of interviewing the most successful self-publishers and being on the cutting edge of new developments.
  7. But my favorite right now is Simon Whistler’s Rocking Self Publishing Podcast. Yes, I was just interviewed on this podcast, but I have been listening to it for the last few months because of Simon’s great British accent. He’s got one of the best radio voices around right now. Simon’s interest in self-publishing is–of course–doing narration of audio books. But ont he podcast, eh talks to a wide range of authors about their publishing experiences.

What apps do you use to listen to podcasts? What is your favorite podcast?

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17. Author Interview with Sara Shafer

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m happy you’ve joined me for another exciting adventure with our special guest.Sara Daniel I got introduced to our featured author by Sharon Ledwith. Now let it be known that any author friend of Sharon is a friend of mine. It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know our guest on the hot seat over the last few months. I believe she’s living proof that you don’t need to go to a deserted island with 3-eyed aliens and clouds made of candy floss to get ideas. The idea for your next book could be right under your nose or maybe a few feet above your head. She writes in different genres and has so much to share with us. So please join me in welcoming Sara Shafer.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?

As a kid, I used to write a family newsletter for my relatives, and my grandma would share it with her friends. So, I was receiving compliments on my writing by the time I was ten, although the sources were completely biased! But whether I received praise or not, I simply loved to be writing, and I still do!

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Sara Shafer?

A reader can expect to find a fun, engaging story about a character (human or animal) they can identify with and root for. My books always have happy endings that will make the reader believe they too can succeed despite the odds as long as they are brave enough to try.

 

You have three published books in a series about the bravest squirrel. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it? The Bravest Squirrel Ever

I originally intended The Bravest Squirrel Ever as a single book. In fact, the original title was “Stuck in the Attic,” because—yep—we had squirrels stuck in our attic! But then Pippi had two siblings who needed their own stories, so I had to write sequels. Now that Pippi, Max and Lana are legends of bravery, their cousins and neighbourhood squirrels all feel the need to prove their bravery too, so I definitely have a series on my hands.

 

Not many people may know this Sara but you write in different genres. Can you tell us of any major challenge this situation presents and how you overcome it?

The biggest challenge is that my reading audiences are completely difference. My Sara Daniel romances are adult books. Most of those readers read my books on their digital devices. And I can reach them through social media, my blog and newsletter. My Sara Shafer books are for kids, most of whom are still exclusively reading print books. This spring, I made The Bravest Squirrel series available in print in an effort to better meet the needs of my young readers, and I will do this with each new book in the series going forward.

 

Do you believe in writer’s block and what do you do to overcome it?

Writer’s block for me occurs when something is not going right with my plot. So, when I’m stuck and can’t make the story move forward, it’s a signal to me to back up and see where I got off track and figure out how to fix it.

 

What is your definition of success as an author?

Success is being able to do what I love every day, which is write, as well as connecting readers with my books. Money, literary awards, and hitting the best sellers lists are all fabulous things that I wouldn’t turn down, but success to me is a much more personal and self-fulfilling goal.

 

What have you found to be a successful way to market your books? Sara Shafer Books

I have found that giving away a gift card is always a popular way to get people’s attention, so you’ll find the Rafflecopter form below where you can enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Word of mouth is so important, so I do give away books for people to take a chance on and then hope they will love the stories enough to recommend them to their friends and family.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?  

I adored Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, and I read the books over and over until my copies were ragged.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why? The Bravest Squirrel in the Forest new cover

Any book where I’m picturing the characters speak the words, rather than “seeing” the words on the page shows that the author is handling the dialogue right. Judy Blume’s dialogue in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing always made me feel like I was living each scene with Peter and his little brother Fudge.

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Toy Story: I love the sense of family, the emotional growth of the characters and their thrilling, ridiculous, and memorable adventures—with humour that both children and adults will enjoy!

 

Can you tell us something most people don’t know about squirrels? 

Squirrels have four toes on their front paws and five toes on their back paws, so they have eighteen toes all together. Who knew? I didn’t, until I started researching for The Bravest Squirrel in the Forest. You can read some other interesting facts here: http://www.sarashafer.com/Squirrel_Fun.html

 

What three things should a first time visitor to your home town do?

I live near Chicago, and there are so many possibilities. First, take an architectural tour of the city. Seriously, I did this on high school field trip, and if teenagers can be impressed by architecture (and still remember it more than twenty years later), it’s got to be good! Go take your picture by the “Bean” in Millennium Park, and you’ll have the entire Chicago skyline in the reflection. If you’re into baseball, catch a game at Wrigley Field. This year is the stadium’s hundred year anniversary.  And of course, you can always walk or jog or just people-watch along the lake front. I think that’s more than three!

 

What can we expect from Sara Shafer in the next 12 months?

I plan to have another Bravest Squirrel book out this fall. Chaz is absolutely dying to prove how brave he is! Ideally, I’d like to follow up with another brave squirrel adventure by the end of the year, but it always seems like I have more ideas than time, so we’ll see!

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?The Bravest Squirrel in School cover

Website: www.sarashafer.com

Blog: http://sarashafer.blogspot.com

Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/SaraShaferDaniel

Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/SaraDanielSaraShafer

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SSaraDaniel

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005PPEDSU

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5271281.Sara_Shafer

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

You have the power to take your career in your own hands. If you don’t like the direction you’re headed, in today’s publishing environment, you can make things happen on your own if you don’t have a publisher willing to support you. But be prepared for a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. An author in today’s world does so much more than simply write. You’re running your own business.

 

Thanks for ending on such a powerful note Sara. I believe every author regardless of if they’re traditionally or self published have to roll their sleeves and take a strong interest in every aspect of the publication and marketing of their books. Be sure to connect with Sara at one of the links she provided and you can also enter to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card by entering the competition below.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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18. Hopeful Sharing

Mom likes sharing. She shares her stories with kids of all ages, every time she goes to an author visit.

school visit

She also shares her new stories with agents and editors . Sometimes she shares poems and ideas with her friends.

Whenever my friend Lila comes to see me, I share my toys with her lila and toy and she shares her mom with me. v and c Whenever we visit the veterans’ home, Mom shares me with the old soldiers who miss their old pets. va friend

And Mom even shares me with the kids at the library when we work at Read-to-a-Pet-Night.

Who wants to read me a story?

Who wants to read me a story?

On Sundays, Mom sends my picture in to the local weather lady, who shares it with the viewing audience for Big Dog Sunday on TV.

Every Wednesday night, Mom helps me take an #idolselfie to send in to American Idol.

#idolselfie

JLo, Harry, and me! #idolselfie

She thinks it’s time to share me with a bigger audience. They haven’t put me on Idol so far, but we’re hopeful.

Book #1

Book #1

If Mom ever gets the elusive Book #2 published, she will share with a bigger audience. Nothing, so far, but we’re hopeful.


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19. Author Interview with Jannifer Powelson

It’s Author Interview Thursday! Woohoo! Are you ready to rumble?Jannifer Powelson Yes? Good. Then let’s get right to it. I came to know our featured author through Sherrill S. Cannon who was on the hot seat a few moons ago. She’s the author of the popular Rachel Racoon and Sammy Skunk series. In the build up to this interview, I discovered that she has a rich knowledge of conservation and a passion for nature. This passion is revealed in all her books and readers of her books will not only be entertained by her stories but will come away with a better understanding of the world around us. I’m so glad she’s chosen to spend some time with us today, so please join me in welcoming Jannifer Powelson.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written? I have enjoyed writing since I was a young girl, though I decided to major in biology in college. However, since I follow the age-old adage and write about what I know, I’ve incorporated much of my biology background into my books. I don’t remember the first time someone complimented me on my writing, but I’ve had several lovely comments about my books. When children tell me Rachel and Sammy books are their favourites, it means the world to me!  

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Jannifer Powelson?  Whether you read my children’s books or my new mystery novel for adults, you can expect to read and learn about nature.  

 

There seems to be a theme around nature and animals that runs through your books. Can you tell us if this is intentional and where that stems from?  I grew up on a farm, where I spent much time working and playing outdoors. My fondness for nature and conservation started early. I majored in biology in college, and I work as a conservationist.  

 

Your most recent book ‘When Nature Calls’ is a departure from your other kidlit books as it’s a full length novel. Can you tell us about some of the challenges you encountered while writing this book?When Nature Calls

I really enjoyed writing When Nature Calls. Since it was my first novel, I learned a lot along the way. I had to work on fleshing out some of the characters and making things fairly believable. I self edited this book several times before, during, and after a professional edit. It was much more challenging to edit and proof a novel in comparison to a shorter children’s book.

 

How do you handle bad reviews? 

I have tried to develop a thicker skin. When you write books you put your heart and soul into them. When they are published, you open yourself up to criticism. I know not everyone will enjoy my books; you can’t please everyone. I try to remember that for any negative review, there are plenty of positive reviews to counteract the effects of a bad one.  

 

What have you found to be a successful way to market your books? Jannifer Powelson Reading

Since my children’s books are educational, I use the books as part of educational programs about nature. The books are for sale during these events, and they seem to sell well in conjunction with programs. I target my marketing efforts toward nature centers, state and national parks, museums, and, botanical gardens, as well as many small town businesses that are willing to stock books by local authors.  

 

You own the publishing firm Progressive Rising Phoenix Press with your business partner Amanda Thrasher. Can you tell us how you juggle being a publisher and a writer? 

Sometimes it’s hard to find the time for everything. Amanda and I divide up the workload so we can both have time to focus on our books.  Progressive Rising Phoenix Press is growing quickly, so there is much work to do. Often times our own books must wait until we have completed work on another author’s book.  

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?  

I loved to read Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mysteries and also enjoyed reading books by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume as well.  

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue? Rachel and Sammy

I’m still learning to write dialogue well. I try not to turn dialogue into monologue.  I avoid writing dialogue that is too long or cumbersome. I attempt to get inside the characters’ heads and pretend like they are having a real conversation, so it sounds more natural.  

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why? 

There is no one particular book that influences me. I love reading and really enjoy various cozy mystery series. Even though I read for pleasure, I still pay attention to the details that make a great book, such as believable characters and storylines, descriptive settings, and interesting twists and turns.   Toy Story or Shrek?  Shrek movies have grown on me over the years.  

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Illinois do? Trees with Award Stickers Cover

Though Illinois is not normally on everyone’s ideal vacation list, there are several pretty areas to explore. Check out the unglaciated Northwest corner that is hilly and scenic. Southern Illinois contains the Shawnee Forest, and the northern and central portions of Illinois have some beautiful prairie remnants. I try to imagine what it looked like two hundred years ago, before the endless acres of lush prairie were converted to other uses. Of course, you’ll want to check out Chicago and Lake Michigan too.  

 

You grew up on a farm with lots of animals. Can you tell us about an unforgettable experience you had with one of the farm animals? 

Though working with livestock is always very interesting, I can’t single out a single event. Many animals have their own unique personalities, just like humans, so observing and experiencing animal behaviour can be entertaining at times. One experience that is very vivid in my mind took place during my wildlife research days as a graduate student. I worked with raccoons but also encountered other animals. One day when letting a skunk loose from a live trap, it became very agitated and sprayed me in the face. Since most of the skunks I accidentally captured were even tempered, this was quite a surprise. Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk characters are derived from my research experiences.  

 

What can we expect from Jannifer Powelson in the next 12 months? 

I plan to get busy working on the second book in The Nature Station Mystery Series soon, An Unnatural Selection.  

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you? Forest with Award Sticker Cover

Website - www.janniferpowelson.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-and-Sammy/112780165400802

Amazon Pagehttp://www.amazon.com/Jannifer-Powelson/e/B003LNZQF2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Twitter - @JCPowelson   

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

Whether you are writing a book or trying to market your work, keep your “to-do” list up to date, and try to tackle a few action items every day.   Thanks for being with us today. I have to agree with your last statement because little drops of water do make a mighty ocean. Jannifer made some insightful remarks in this interview and we’d both be delighted to hear your questions or comments. Simply leave your question or comment and remember to share with the social buttons below.

Jannifer Powelson’s Books on Amazon

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20. Books in Every Language for Every Child

Today’s guest blog post is from Dr. Mandy Stewart, an assistant professor of bilingual education at Texas Woman’s University. Follow her on Twitter at @DrMandyStewart.

nathan and neftaliHow many books have you read in your lifetime?  How many picture books did an adult read aloud to you while growing up?

Most of us can’t even begin to count the innumerable books we have been exposed to since birth.   Each book — its story, its illustrations, its author, and its language — sends strong messages to children. 

But what messages do children receive?  Are they learning every day at school that their language, the one they speak to those they love most, is not worthy of being in books?  Are they learning that people like them don’t belong in printed stories? Unfortunately, those are the messages some children receive on a daily basis at school.

Culturally and linguistically diverse books are not as accessible in our public libraries and Citlalibookstores as more mainstream books.  It takes countless hours (and countless dollars) to find books in other languages and get them in the classroom.  Every year I look for books in Spanish that are at various reading levels, that are engaging and that mirror student’s experiences.  And it is exponentially more costly to find the same books in other languages from even more cultural perspectives.

The good news is this does not have to be the case. Today there are many children’s, adolescent, and young adult authors writing from diverse cultural and linguistic perspectives and many publishers bringing these stories to life.  We now have quality age-appropriate literature available in many languages.

Through their Stories for All Project, First Book is a pioneer in ensuring that all children  have access to culturally and linguistically diverse books. They have an excellent collection of literature that represents diverse families. They also have many easy readers, picture books, and chapter books available in Spanish and other languages.  I am grateful that I am able to purchase many of these at a very low price for my son’s Spanish/English bilingual 1st grade class.

We must keep demanding quality literature in more languages, written and illustrated by more diverse people.  Surely we want all children to say: I am learning to read in my own language.  My language and culture are important enough to be represented in the books in my classroom.  My life story is worthy of being written.  My family, my language, my culture, and my life experiences are valuable. I am important.

We cannot stop until that is a reality for EVERY child and youth in our schools, in our neighborhoods, and in our society.

Mary Amanda (Mandy) Stewart, Ph. D. is an Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education at Texas Woman’s University.  Her son is in Mrs. Schirico’s 1st grade bilingual class at Elkins Elementary in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District in Fort Worth, TX.  His class has received about 100 books from First Book in English and Spanish to read at school with each other and at home with their parents.

The post Books in Every Language for Every Child appeared first on First Book Blog.

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21. Author Interview with Jamee-Marie Edwards

It’s Author Interview Thursday… Yes! I have to admit that I had a low period earlier on this year due to some issues with my illustrator and a potential book deal that got put on ice for the meantime.Jamee-Marie Edwards However, following my visit to the London Book Fair (and you can read all about it here) where I met quite a few famous authors and attended some world class seminars, I’m happy to say that my enthusiasm and passion for writing and growing my self publishing business has been rekindled. Something that has greatly benefited from this renewed passion is Author Interview Thursday! It has been an absolute pleasure meeting and interviewing the featured guests every Thursday. I learn so much and I hope you do too. It was such a delight getting to know our featured author today. I found the story regarding her inspiration for storytelling very inspiring. She has written and acted in several theatre productions. I love the fact that she delights in bringing out the unique talents and gifts in her students, clients and readers. With the months of May and June themed as  National Teen Self-Esteem and National Child Awareness Months respectively, I believe she’s the perfect author to kick us off for the month of May. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Jamee-Marie Edwards.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?

My passion for storytelling was inherited from my grandfather since childhood. I remember him taking me out (as part of my family’s tradition) to watch the planes take off and land on the weekends. As I sat on the hood of his car, he would amaze me with stories from his childhood. There was always an exciting story to be told in his company.  With that being said, I thought it would be fitting to use Jamee-Marie Edwards as my pen name in honor of the literary seeds my grandfather James Edward Lawrie planted in my life.

As I matured, I acquired a passion toward health, the sciences and the arts. I truly feel blessed and thankful to have such a rewarding career, which has allowed me to combine all of my passions into one. Educating children about living a healthy lifestyle through the arts (storytelling, dramatic presentations) is one of my dreams that has finally been actualized. I am currently employed in the health office of Allen Christian School located in Queens, N.Y. and recently obtained my Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and Education. The Media/Television Production teacher at my alma mater high school, Hillcrest H.S., was the first person to say those infamous words to me “You Got It!” This came after my group performed a skit I wrote about challenges travellers face at an airport. The teacher and the class got plenty of chuckles out of that one.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Jamee-Marie Edwards?

As an author/health educator/science buff/animal lover, my books are typically fables which encompass health, character development and science related themes such as self-esteem, healthy lifestyles and animal kingdom basics. Overall, I write from the heart with a purpose to take readers on a journey filled with colourful illustrations and entertaining dialogue from fun loving characters who depict real life situations, lessons and resolutions.

 

Congratulations on the publication of your first children’s book ‘But I Am a Cat!’ Can you tell us where the idea for this book came from and what you hope the reader takes away after reading it?But I Am a Cat

Thank You David!

In the scheme of life, we all wonder, “Where do I fit in?”  I wanted to create a playful, but meaningful story that gives children, and even adults, a lesson on what it truly means to be “comfortable in your own skin.” It is my desire that “But I Am a Cat!” will inspire readers to discover, embrace, and celebrate their unique gifts, talents, and abilities.  The book was also written to fuel a child’s interest in the sciences, as it presents a fascinating look into the basics of the animal kingdom, giving children new insights on the habitats of some of their favorite animals.

 

You’ve written several stage plays and acted in quite a few. How did this help or hinder when you were writing your children’s book?   

My theatrical background proved to be very beneficial in my endeavor as an author. This especially holds true in the area of character development. As an actor and writer, you must “know your character” (i.e. their objectives, style, mannerisms, etc.). The goal is to make your characters believable and relatable.

 

Can you tell us how you worked with your illustrator to ensure that your vision was conveyed through the illustrations in the book? 

I was very fortunate to work closely with an illustration coordinator throughout the entire process. Before the process began, we had several conversations to ensure I was matched with an illustrator that best suited my vision. In addition, I was able to incorporate pictures of my cat Mason (who is the main character) and other animals I desired. Each sketch had to be approved by me, down to the vivid coloring of the illustrations.

 

What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?Mr. Cat and Mr. Bird

As an indie author, marketing can be one of our greatest challenges. I have found that social media has played an integral part in marketing my book. I also participate in various events— schools visits and health fairs, to market myself. I always have promotional items such as business cards, bookmarks and pencils on hand to help get my name out and build my brand. Book giveaways/contest are also beneficial.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?

The Little Engine That Could” is without a doubt my favourite book of all times. Although I owed a copy of the book, my mother told me I was adamant about taking the book out with each library visit. I also loved reading anything by Dr. Seuss, Don Freedman’s Corduroy, The Nursery Rhymes Classics as “Jack and Jill” and “Humpty Dumpty”, “Curious George” and “Uptown, Downtown” to name a few.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why? 

“I think I can, I think I can, I thought I could, I thought I could!” are the infamous words of the Little Engine. I realize words have the power to change a person’s life, be an Inspiration to others.

 

Toy Story or Shrek?Jamee-Marie Edwards Reading

Hmmm, this question is a toss-up considering the fact that, I am truly a kid at heart and I can appreciate all animations with positive themes. I am also chuckling as I read this question because I do have a closet full of my childhood toys and books.  However, if I must choose, I would have to say Shrek. As stated by Jeffrey Katzenberg (Shrek’s producer) the theme of the movie is ‘there is something wonderful about us all.’ As a facilitator of self-esteem workshops, I realize the importance of instilling a positive self-image into children, teens and adults alike. My choice is also in honor of May being National Teen Self-Esteem Month.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to New York do?

Choosing only three things to see from the city that never sleeps was definitely a challenge. However, I did manage to narrow the plethora of activities and sights the Big Apple has to offer to: Times Square where the infamous New Year’s Eve Ball is dropped. The bright lights and fan-fare especially at night is a must see. Of course, NYC is also known for its stunning productions on Broadway. Lastly, what would a trip to NYC be without a visit to Central Park? From the gardens, to the infamous fountain that is often seen on the big screen and the surrounding attractions as FAO Schwartz (toy store), the park seems endless and a venture through it is worth the trip. In addition, if I may sneak in another one, Rockefeller Center during the Christmas holiday season. The tree lighting is amazing!

 

What can we expect from Jamee-Marie Edwards in the next 12 months?

“But I Am a Cat!” is the first of the character development “I Am” series. So the next installation is in the works. Of course, there is always another skit or play waiting to be birthed. I would also like to venture into the Young Adult world.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?Mr. Cat and Mr. Turtle

I would appreciate and love to connect through

My website -  www.maeinspireu.com  (may inspire u)

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/jameemarie.edwards

Facebook Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jamee-Marie-Edwards-Author/435774816492157?ref=hl

Twitter -  @JMarie_Edwards

Instagram -  JAMEE_MARIE_EDWARDS

Link to IPAD Application - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/but-i-am-a-cat!/id815125891?ls=1&mt=8

I am also on Linkedin.

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?Melissa and Gabby2

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” I hold this eloquent statement close to heart and love to share with students during school visits. I believe it can be inspirational to adults alike. Continue to BELIEVE in your dream of becoming an author and surround yourself with people who are pursuing or have pursued the same dream. I have joined countless writing groups/forums/associations as a support system to exchange ideas and to give and receive encouragement and inspiration. Remember tomorrow is another day and another chance. So many people give up too easily and are closer to their dreams than they think. Keep pushing! #dream #believe # create # succeed

David, this was truly an honor!  I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share and all that you do to encourage and inspire others. Continued blessings always!

 

The pleasure was all mine Jamee-Marie and it was such a joy to have you today. I really found the story of how your grandfather inspired the desire in you to write and tell stories very uplifting. It really goes to show that as children book authors, we really are in a privileged position to inspire the next generation. Jamee-Marie and I would like to hear any questions or comments that you may have regarding our interview. So do leave your comments in the box below and remember to share this interview on your social network.

Jamee-Marie’s Page on Amazon

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22. Five Word Friday

Today’s 5 words are about rest.

1. Couch-Nap – I like a good couch-nap. When Mom leaves me alone, the couch is my napping area of choice. Also the floor, my bed, the rocking chair,

couchnap

 

and the butterfly rug in the bathroom.

butterfly nap

2. Street-Nap – In the summer the asphalt in my neighborhood gets blazing hot. Those are the perfect days for a street-nap. I lie on my belly and my side and sometimes I flip over and squiggle around like a wiggly worm.

street squiggle

Aaahhhh…

3. Laziness – Mom has been kind of lazy lately. She hasn’t been sitting at her computer and talking to herself! That means no writing in a few days. I thought she was a “full-time” writer. This week, she’s been a writer at rest.

Z-z-z-z-z-...

Z-z-z-z-z-…

4. Excuses – She makes excuses like, “I have an appointment.” and “I’m swamped. It’s a super-busy day.” and “How can I write if you drink all my coffee?” I can make excuses, too. “You left your cup right where I can reach it.”

drinking

and “I couldn’t decide which toy to play with.”

and “I was lonely eating in the kitchen by myself.”

5. Back-on-the-horse – Yesterday, Mom sat at her computer and said she was getting back on the horse. I have never seen a horse. Mom saw one in Manhattan and showed me the picture. It looked like a big dog. A really, really, REALLY big dog. I hope she doesn’t love that big guy more than she loves me.

horse

Woof!

 


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23. Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost – Children’s Book Week Giveaway

To celebrate Children’s Book Week, I am glad to announce that I’ll be joining the Super Giveaway Hop organised by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews. What’s so exciting about hop is that every blogger on the list is passionate about increasing the literacy levels in children and love telling and sharing stories. I’d like to encourage you to join the hop and visit the various links as there are some fabulous that inlcude children/teen book and gift cards.

So what is David Chuka adding to this bubbling pot of exciting goodness?

Well, I’ll be giving away 2 signed copies of Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost

 

About the Book

Title: Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost | Author: David Chuka | Publication Date: November 13, 2013 | Publisher: Pen-n-a-Pad Publishing | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 7Sea Life Books

Summary: In this animal story, we get to know Kojo the sea dragon who lives in the Zakari river where he is surrounded by family and friends who love and care for him. Kojo’s Mom has warned him not to go to the south side of the river as it’s too deep and he could get lost there.
One day, Kojo is playing a game of hide and seek with his best friend, Kofi the sea turtle. Kojo in a bid to find the perfect hiding place, strays to the south side where an unseen force tries to draw him into a dark hole. Will Kojo escape this force or will his family and friends rescue him?

In this fun animal book for kids, young children will discover the value of friendship and the consequences of not listening to instructions.

Get your copy of this fun book for kids that they will has captivating colorful pictures plus an intriguing story that will have them spell-bound at bedtime or when they pick up this book to read themselves.

 

Purchase

Amazon (Print) | Amazon (Kindle)

 

The Buzz

I loved this story about Kojo the Seadragon and so did my kids! The illustrations are adorable, and the story has a good message about obeying your parents. I hope there’s more books coming! ~ MD2788

Thanks for the great children’s book. My daughter loved Kojo’s adventure and we really liked the bright and colourful illustrations. It gave us a great opportunity to talk about boundaries. Thanks again. ~  Mrs. Barbara L. Asselin

Whenever I buy books by David Chuka, I know they are going to be of great quality. I’ve never been disappointed by this author. My grandchildren love his stories. The illustrations in this book are original and fantastic. I enjoyed reading this book to them as much as they enjoyed hearing it. If you have young children, be sure to pick up this wonderful story book for them. ~ Gloria Daniels

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Google+ | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page

 

Want to win a copy of Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost?

 Enter for your chance to win 1 of 2 print copies of Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost by David Chuka (Open U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia; Ends May 29, 2014). 

Prize: Two winners will receive a signed copy of Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost Contest ends: May 29, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, David Chuka. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to info(at)DavidChuka(dot)com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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24. Author Interview with Ann T. Bugg

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m so glad you’ve joined us today. This is a particularly special week as its Children’s Book Week. Many authors, publishers, bookstores, bloggers and children are doing various things to celebrate this special week.Ann T. Bugg I’ve joined a super group of authors, publishers and bloggers who are donating gift cards, books and other prizes in a Kidlit Giveaway Blog Hop. You can read about all about it and my special gift HERE. Our special guest today is a part of this blog hop and she has a special something, something for you that will be revealed in our interview today. As I’ve gotten to know our featured author over the last few months, I’ve been impressed with her big heart and support for the writing community. She is a moderator for one of the Facebook groups that I belong to and her warmth plus fountain of knowledge fosters an atmosphere for sharing and growth. I got introduced to her by Sharon Ledwith and I’m so glad she made the introduction. She writes in several genres and I feel honored to have the opportunity to pick her brains today. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Ann T. Bugg.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?

My first writing related memory happened in the 3rd grade. My teacher read my short story to the class then said, “You’re going to be a writer someday.” I don’t even remember what the story was, but I’m sure my mom has it somewhere. The first book in this series is the first thing I’ve ever really written. My daughter reading it as I completed each chapter and the nagging to hurry and write more was all the inspiration I needed to keep going.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Ann T. Bugg?

They are sure to recognize a familiar tale with a fun new twist. Fairy tales re-told have always been my favorite stories. Add the sass of two best friends that could not be any more opposite, and hopefully the reader will walk away with a few laughs.

 

You have five published books in the ‘Before Happily Ever After’ series. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it?Before Happily Ever After - Book 1

Truthfully, no. I wrote number one for my daughter for fun. I never expected to see the end of it, let alone 8 more come of it. The series is actually based on my daughter and her best friend. It was amazingly easy to use their personalities to create the characters of Valerie and Samantha and stretch it tale after tale with fun characters that we all know and love. The series sat for years on my laptop. When my daughter was 14 and created the cover for #1, I finally got serious about getting them published.

 

Not many people may know this Ann but you write in different genres. Can you tell us of any major challenge this situation presents and how you overcome it?

I don’t feel it’s a challenge at all. The books are totally separate, and I only ever do one at a time. I don’t need to stop and put on the different writer hat. The crazy hat is always on. ;) The girls and their personalities make it easy to add life to my middle grade characters. With my women’s fiction, my characters always run the show. I’ve never outlined or detailed out A to Z. It somehow always falls into place. I see your next question, so I’ll explain more there.

 

Do you believe in writer’s block and what do you do to overcome it?

I’ve never had writer’s block * knock on wood *. I think it’s because the way my writing process works. All of my novels have sparked from one small idea and have exploded from there. Four sequels I never planned on writing came about from fan’s e-mails. I have always let my characters take the wheel. If I’ve ever thought it would end one way, they told me, “Nope. This is how it’s going to be, lady.” Some people will say “you have no control”, others will say “that’s when you know your story has really taken shape”. I say everyone has to do what works for them. I can only imagine writer’s block comes when you want to get somewhere and can’t see how to make it happen. So yes, I believe it can happen and have heard from a lot of frustrated writer friends, but with how I work, it doesn’t happen. I never have expectations of what will happen, we just get there together! My poor family will just have to endure me shouting things like, “You play the piano? That would have been nice to know five chapters ago!” and “You have a twin sister? Thanks for the info!” ;)

 

What is your definition of success as an author?

The biggest thing for me is fan mail. If I touched someone enough that they feel they want to write and tell me how much they liked it, that’s pretty big in my book. Of course a front table at Barnes and Noble would be great, but touching readers is the bottom line.

 

What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?Before Happily Ever After - Book 6

Working at it constantly is what it takes, and I’m extremely guilty of slacking since our move. I’ve never been the greatest at “tooting my own horn”. Lately I’ve been trying to go after reviewers, hoping that good old “happy word of mouth” helps. I think everyone is getting drowned out in Facebook groups and lost in the steam at Twitter, so I don’t hold much hope in social media. GoodReads giveaways are nice and the 99¢ deals do give a great sales boost.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child? 

I was a horse book gal. Misty of Chincoteague was a memorable one.

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Gah! Tough call. I guess I’d have to say Shrek with all the great Fairy Tale twists.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to your home town do?

Go somewhere else. ;) Sorry – just getting out of an extremely bad winter here. (19 inches of snow in the SPRING!) Not a fan of Minnesota right now (although there is a great outlet mall down the road.) Taylor’s Falls isn’t too far away. It’s very beautiful. The first time we drove though, I felt like I was driving into a story book! Lots of lakes just a stone’s throw away from my house. If fishin’ is your thing, you’re in luck!

 

What can we expect from Ann T. Bugg in the next 12 months?Book Signing

I try to get at least two middle grade and two women’s fiction out a month. There are currently only 9 in the Before Happily Ever After series (8 and a prequel that may or may not make it…) My daughter has been nagging for me to take it to the Young Adult level and keep going, but I’m not sure. I have too many women’s fiction in the finishing stages. I will keep you posted though!

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

My middle grade website: http://www.beforehappilyeverafter.com/

Middle grade FB fan page: https://www.facebook.com/AnnTBugg

My women’s fiction website: http://www.junekramin.com/

Women’s fiction FB fan page: http://www.facebook.com/JuneKramin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/junekramin

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

My stock answer is if it’s really what you want, don’t give up. I can’t count how many times I’ve said, “I’m done!” I believe the first time was right before my first acceptance letter showed up. There are only a few things that may be harder than trying to break into this industry. It’s a constant battle to keep yourself out there. I get asked a lot of the same question from various friends who are silly enough to think they want to write. ;) I have started a “TIPS” page on my women’s fiction website and try to update it often. http://www.junekramin.com/tips

Thanks for having me!

It was a pleasure having you today Ann. I really agree with and feel the same way about you on your view on success as an author. To have someone who you’ve never met in your life, be so impacted by your words and story that they decide to get in touch with you is truly a blessing. OK, like I said at the start of this interview, Ann has something special for us today. You can read all about it at the link below

http://www.beforehappilyeverafter.com/Blog

Also, the first book in her ‘Before Happily Ever After’ series is FREE today! Click the link below to grab your copy.

Through the Window and Into Snow

8 Comments on Author Interview with Ann T. Bugg, last added: 5/15/2014
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25. This is Just For You: Ask Your Burning Question

On the Facebook PiBoIdMo group, I’ve been asking picture book writers which topics they want to see on my blog. Then it finally dawned on me (and Dawn is my middle name, so this should have occurred far sooner)—I should ask on the blog. DUH.

taraboom

Tara-ra-BOOM-dee-ay by AJ Smith

 

See that? It’s my head exploding from the geniusity. (Yes, I made that word up. I’m allowed. I write picture books!)

So here I am, asking you, dear blog readers, what is your most burning, head-blasting kidlit question?

Leave it below in the comments and later this month, I’ll strive to answer them all.

But just remember, you’ll be getting an answer from someone with half a head.


10 Comments on This is Just For You: Ask Your Burning Question, last added: 5/16/2014
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