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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: kidlit, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 332
1. KidLit Book Review - Rude Dude's Book of Food by Tim J. Myers



Written by: Tim J. Myers
Illustrated by: Jess Smart Smiley

  • Grade Level: 6 - 8
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Familius (September 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939629217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939629210

  • Tim Myers engaging and humorous storytelling technique makes you feel like you are sitting in the audience at a one-man comedian show. Whoever thought food history could be so chuckling out loud fun?

    With world history, healthy eating and get moving tips, and food history sprinkled throughout with “penciled” illustrations, Myers storytelling is an adventure not to be missed. The added appeal to Myers, Rude Dude is the classroom friendly lesson ideas designed around the common core standards.

    I honestly did not know what to expect from Myers food book and was happily surprised of his one of a kind approach to such a broad topic. Applause, applause…all around.  Add Tim Myers unique book to your book collection today and you will find yourself devouring it as if it’s your favorite meal. I’m off to cook something yummy, now that the author has awakened the grumbling in my stomach!

    About the author: Tim J. Myers is a writer, songwriter, storyteller, and senior lecturer at Santa Clara University.  His children’s books--12 out and three on the way--have won recognition from the New York Times, NPR, and the Smithsonian.  He’s published over 130 poems, won a first prize in a poetry contest judged by John Updike, has two books of adult poetry out, and won a major prize in science fiction.  He won the West Coast Songwriters Saratoga Chapter Song of the Year and the 2012 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for Fiction.  


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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2. 19th Annual Rockland Literacy Extravaganza Professional Conference - October 18, 2014

I'm over the moon to be participating in the 19th Annual Rockland Literacy Extravaganza Professional Conference - October 18, 2014 at 7:45-2:30 pm!



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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3. Process ~ Playtime










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4. Cybils Nomination Suggestions!

Wednesday is the last day for Cybils Awards nominations, and there are still eligible books that haven't been nominated that maybe should be considered. If you're looking for something to nominate, here are some suggestions that might jog your memory. See this post for information on eligibility and how to nominate.

Young Adult Speculative Fiction


Chasing Power
by Sarah Beth Durst
ISBN 978-0802737557

Published today (October 14), but still within the eligibility window.

Amazon link









The Truth Against the World
by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
ISBN 978-0738740584

Amazon link









Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
by A. S. King
ISBN 978-1478957775

Amazon link

Another book with an October 14 publication date.
William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back
by Ian Doescher
ISBN 978-1594747151
Amazon link

and

William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return
by Ian Doescher
ISBN 978-1594747137
Amazon link

Sequels to last year's finalist, William Shakespeare's Star Wars



Mortal Gods
by Kendare Blake
ISBN 978-0765334442

Amazon link

Sequel to Antigoddess. Also published October 14, just within the eligibility window.







Circle of Stones
by Catherine Fisher
ISBN 978-0803738195

Amazon link










While We Run
by Karen Healey
ISBN 978-0316233828

Amazon link










The Slanted Worlds
by Catherine Fisher
ISBN 978-0803739703

Amazon link










Young Adult Fiction

Reality Boy
by A.S. King
ISBN 978-0316222709

Amazon link

This one came out just after last year's eligibility period. It was too late to be eligible last year, but it is eligible this year.







The Doubt Factory
by Paolo Bacigalupi
ISBN 978-0316220750

Amazon link

Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction

Storm: The SYLO Chronicles #2
by D.J. MacHale
ISBN 978-1595146670

Amazon link



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5. KidLit - Midwest Book Review - Powder Monkey by Donna McDine


I'm over the moon to announce the latest review for my historical fiction children's book, Powder Monkey by Midwest Book Review - http://midwestbookreview.com/cbw/sep_14.htm#EasyReader 


Snoopy Dance…




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author


Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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6. Kindle Kids’ Book Creator: Good or Bad?

I stumbled upon a blog post by popular Kiwi Children’s book author – Joy Findlay – who was my special guest on Author Interview Thursday in 2013.Joy Findlay Joy has more than 60 published children’s books and I have several of them on the Kindle app on my tablet. A lot of her books have achieved best seller status on the Amazon store.

The children’s book market is evolving and its important children’s book authors and publishers stay close to the grapevine to discover what new trends are pushing this market.

Over summer, I got an email from Amazon asking if I’d be a beta tester for their Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. Sadly, as I was on holiday and then in the middle of a house move, this was not possible. Fast forward to early September, and Amazon announces the launch of the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator. I recently read a book by Deborah Bradley that was formatted really nicely and she said it was created using KDP’s Comic Book Creator. I thought to myself that if she achieved those results with that program, It’d be interesting to see what a program specifically designed for Kids books can produce.

Joy Findlay has done an awesome job giving a step-by-step guide on how to use this new tool by Amazon and ends the post with her opinion on the advantages and disadvantages. It’s a great read and I know you’ll enjoy it. Click the link below and head over to Joy’s blog. Remember to leave a comment or question as I’m sure she’ll be glad to know you stopped by and will gladly entertain your thoughts. Enjoy.

http://joyfindlayauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/earlier-this-month-amazon-announced.html

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7. 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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8. 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.  …

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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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.
x
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
x
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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12. 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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13. 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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14. A comic for those who think it's easy to write children's books

Originally posted for PiBoIdMo.

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15. 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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16. 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.

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17. 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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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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.


10 Comments on Hopeful Sharing, last added: 5/19/2014
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21. 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

 

4 Comments on Author Interview with Sara Shafer, last added: 5/22/2014
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22. 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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23. 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.

 

 


11 Comments on Nancy, last added: 6/2/2014
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24. 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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25. 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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