Monday, December 4, 2017

Escargot!

Not too long ago I followed someone on Twitter because she looked interesting. I found her because she entered the giveaway for my book, KICK! JUMP! CHOP! THE ADVENTURES OF THE NINJABREAD MAN, that was happening through Ninjas Read. Miss Gee, known as @MsGeeLvsBooks on Twitter, is a 2nd grade teacher and an aspiring teacher-librarian. Sounds just like my type of gal! When I followed Ms. Gee I had no idea I was entering a contest. And a really cool one at that! Not long after I received this tweet:
Unexpected and exciting! I got in touch with Ms. Gee and soon this cute little pink package arrived. I had run to the post office before work so I went straight to my favorite part of the library, the children's section amongst the picture books, of course, to find out what was inside the package!




I opened it up and there was the most adorable snail I had ever seen! (I put the book up on my shelf to admire it while I read the card!) Ms. Gee's class chose ESCARGOT written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Sydney Hanson as their favorite book!

Now, I see a lot of books every single day in my work at the library and I was super excited not only because of the beautiful illustrations and the fact that this is a book about a snail. I love snails! I was excited because I had never seen this book before and oh my gosh do I love the story! You see Escargot is a beautiful snail from France and he simply wants two things: to be your favorite animal and to eat the fabulous salad at the end of the book. But wait! There is a carrot and that is trouble. Big, big trouble!


Oooo, la la! I cannot wait to share this story with the kids who come to the library for storytime and tell them about Ms. Gee's 2nd grade class in Virginia and how they chose this very book as their favorite!


Want to hear one more amazing thing? Miss Gee won the copy of my book in the Ninjas Read giveaway. I had absolutely nothing to do with picking the winner on that. It was completely run by the amazing ninja writer, Corey Rosen Schwartz. I'm no mathematician but there has got to be a mathematical lesson in probability on that! Maybe Corey could help us out. Her new book, TWINDERELLA, is a mathy fractioned fairytale.

Mathematics aside, I love that luck, Ninjas Read, and Twitter connected me with this fun new book and let me have a peek into what a second grade class on the other side of the United States from me loves.




A huge THANK YOU to Ms. Gee and her second grade class! You are magnifique!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Enter to Win a First 5 Pages & Query Letter Critique!

Today's the day! KICK! JUMP! CHOP! THE ADVENTURES OF THE NINJABREAD MAN is out from Sterling Children's Books! Here's the back cover blurb: When sparring gets stale, Sensei whips up a new challenge--the Ninjabread Man. The mouthwatering martial artist may be fresh from the oven but his skills are sweet, spicy, and sure to bring some kick to the dojo.

The book is illustrated with cut paper illustration created by an artist team known as Bomboland. I want to show you more! You can look inside the book on Amazon if you like.

So, what can I do to celebrate?

Ninjas Read is doing a Twitter giveaway. It ends at 10pm so if you're on Twitter jump on over and retweet this real quick:
https://twitter.com/NinjasRead/status/916027694051135488

I shared my query letter for THE NINJABREAD MAN on the Sub It Club blog. Plus my agent Sean McCarthy and I talk about why it worked! So, if you're writing a query letter go take a look at Sean's insights.

Here on my blog I'm doing a critique giveaway because, why not? I want to do something! Yes, I specialize in picture books but I've written and edited in all sorts of genres so, writers of all genres are welcome to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 18, 2017

Kick! Jump! Chop! The Adventures of the Ninjabread Man

Well, here's something amazing. I've been going about life, writing, taking care of my kids, growing and shipping garlic, administrating Sub it Club... I've also got a new job as a Branch Librarian which is super fun. And now, all of a sudden I realize that I have a book coming out very soon. It's funny how fast it has come up. It's time I showed you lovely readers of my oft neglected blog my book cover! 



This is a glimpse of the awesome YA section.
I'm still working on ordering more books to fill in the shelves!
It's red! I love red. Red is actually the accent color in my library. (My library. Hee hee! It belongs to everyone. I am just there the most.) We have these big comfy red chairs to sit and read in. They are amazing.

Anyway, back to the book! The illustrations are cut paper, which gives it a kickin' look (if you ask me). They were created by Bomboland. an illustration studio in Italy that has done tons of amazing work. Check it out! I love the way the ninjabread man is kicking right through the M. High-ya! And the dot on the i is a throwing star--cookie style of course.

The book is a retelling of the classic Gingerbread Man story, with a ninja twist. Here's the description from the publisher:

CRUNCH! CRUMBLE! CRACK! Cookie attack!
Get ready to crumble! Filled with high-spirited hijinks, Kick! Chop! Jump! brings a whole new spice level to the fun, familiar tale of the “Gingerbread Man.” When sparring in his dojo gets stale, Sensei bakes the ultimate fighting partner: the Ninjabread Man! One by one, all the masters battle the Ninjabread Man to see who can gobble him up. But when Fox snatches the crafty cookie, who can save him then? With its punny text and gorgeous cut-paper art, this tasty tale is perfect for kids who love action, adventure, and cookies!

KICK! JUMP! CHOP! THE ADVENTURES OF THE NINJABREAD MAN is set to release on October 10th, 2017 and is available now for preorder. I am so excited!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ahem

It has come to my attention that I have not written a post on this blog in a very long time...

Alright, I knew that but I've just been busy. Obviously. My family's garlic business has pretty much become a year round thing now instead of seasonal. I work at the library and have been working more and more since the head librarian is looking towards retirement. I've been writing when I can. Not always as much as I would like but I do try my best to look at it as a job now instead of simply something I get to do in my spare time, because frankly, I do not seem to have any spare time! But I do need to write if I want to sell more books, right?!

I do spend a lot of time at Sub It Club. I'm in the submission support group everyday. I've have done some blog posts over at SubItClub.com including a basic query letter breakdown, looking into publishers before submitting, and the always popular Contest Roundups. I'm really excited that we've finally begun to start adding some new amazing people to help over at the Club with blogging and other things. Not only will it be fantastic to have a broad variety of knowledge shared on the blog, maybe I'll even have a chance to post over here from time to time. I can always hope!

If you are wondering, yes, I am still doing query letter and picture book critiques. So if you need one just email me. I promise that I actually do answer my emails in a timely manner.
I've been having family time too, of course!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Kidlit Summer School is Coming Soon!

Kidlit Summer School is starting soon, and if you haven't heard about it already,  you will definitely want to check it out! 

Kidlit Summer School is a fabulous free way to learn about writing for children. It is put on by a fabulous kidlit faculty. There will be daily lesson posts with writing exercises and more. You'll want to register because it comes with some great perks:
  • eligible to win any giveaways or books, critiques, or other swag that they’ll be handing out during the month
  • eligible to participate in special Summer School events like webinars
  • able to access the Kidlit Summer School exercise book
  • invited to join our private Kidlit Summer School Facebook community where you can connect to other children’s book creators and lovers of kidlit
Even if you miss out on registration (it ends July 15th) you can still take part in class by going through the blog posts and doing the exercises. This year's theme is Heart & Humor. All stories can use those elements!

Kidlit Summer School runs from July 11th through August 5th. I'm all signed up and excited to get started. You can read about Kidlit Summer School here and sign up using their form. Hope to see you there!


*Bonus info! BEDTIME MONSTER illustrator Bonnie Adamson is this year's Kidlit Summer School Art Director. She created the adorable logos!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I've Written a Picture Book, Now What?

It's pretty common when you're starting out writing picture books to have written a picture book and not know what to do next! I get questions about it all the time. So, here are some basics things you should do when you have written a children's book but are not quite sure how to go about getting it published:
  1. Get critiques. Just because you wrote a picture book doesn't mean it's ready to send out into the world. Once you've made the story the best you can make it find some other picture book writers to trade with. Getting thoughts and opinions from others writing in the same category as you will help you see your work in a new light. Getting professional opinions from those who are working in the field can be eye opening as well. My recommendation would be to trade with critique partners and when you are ready, to spring for that professional opinion. (To find critique partners you are welcome to join my Sub It Club Critique Partner Matchup. If you are ready for a professional opinion, check out my critique services.)
  2. Revise. Revise, revise, always revise! Revise to make your manuscript the best that you possibly can. Revise before getting critiques. Revise after critiques. Ha! Seriously though, putting your manuscript away for a few weeks then taking a new look at it can help your see it with fresh eyes. Picture books take lots of rounds of revisions.
  3. Read Picture Books. In between all of those revisions and even when you are revising, read loads of picture books. Reading newly published ones from the larger publishing houses will help you know what the market is looking for. Although there are definitely some good books published by smaller publishers, don't automatically take them to be the general consensus on what publishers are looking for. Sometimes small publishers are able to make allowances that the big publishers don't. Self-published don't make good guides either as the author has no guidelines they have to follow.
  4. Read books about writing for children. Get them from your library. Order them from your book store. Just read them!
  5. Read blog posts about picture book writing. There is a lot of good information out there. I have some posts about picture book writing. Author Josh Funk has a great Guide to Writing Picture Books. Author Pam Calvert has Picture Book University where you can also learn a lot. All of these resources are free and they are just the tip of the online iceberg!
  6. Do numbers 1 - 5 so many times that you can't even count how many times you have done them.
  7. Do NOT try to find an illustrator. I put that one in red because it is such a common misconception. If you want to sell your picture book manuscript to a publisher it is their job to find the illustrator for the book. They want to do this. You having the manuscript illustrated counts against you, not for you. If you yourself are not a professional illustrator, write the best, submission-ready, illustratable manuscript you can. Then send it out for consideration. 
  8. Learn about what publishers, and therefore agents, are looking for. When you start delving into the world of children's publishing you will know things like #7, for instance. You will know that to give your picture book manuscript a better shot it just might be best to keep it under 700 words. A high-concept can be a good thing too. (Tip #8 here is a little repetitive but I felt like it needed saying. You can learn about what publisher and agents are looking for by doing #'s 3, 4, & 9!)
  9. Learn about querying.
  • Join me at Sub It Club. We talk about all the things that have to do with submitting manuscripts for publication. We post lots of submission information on the blog and have a very active private Sub It Club Facebook group with loads of super fantastic writers and illustrators where you can learn and ask questions, get help on your query letters, and more.
  • Check out the Monster List of Picture Book Agents where you can start learning about agents and what they are looking for. (Hint: agents who represent picture books often like to know what else you have if they are interested in the manuscript you have queries with, so it can be good to have a few polished manuscripts ready to go when querying. But keep in mind, there are no hard and fast rules here. Use your judgement.)
  • Check out the Monster List of Picture Book Publishers with links directly to publisher's submission guidelines so you can see what you need to do to ask them to consider your work. (Hint: If you are interested in working with an agent, you should submit your work to them first as they don't like a manuscript to be too shopped around. But you can definitely submit your work straight to publishers who are open to unsolicited submissions.)
  • You can join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. SCBWI is an international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children's literature. They have tons of resources and put on great workshops and conferences. Peruse their website to see all the things they offer.
  • Become a member of the SCBWI Blueboards. This is a message board where tons of writers and illustrators hang out. You can learn so much there! You do not have to join SCBWI to take part in the boards.

Please realize that all of these things take time. Picture books may seem short and simple but they take a lot of work and thought to be great. That beautiful picture book you see on the shelf has most likely been years in the making. But, they are definitely worth it!

If you have a specific question feel free to contact me. If I can I will answer your question on the blog here. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Suddenly it's Spring

In the Fall of last year I was excited. I told myself that over the winter I'd have lots of time to get writing done. Oh yes, I'd finish up a few of those picture books I've been working on. Maybe I'd even revisit that middle grade novel I have half way finished that is sitting in the file waiting for me. I had other big plans too but, ya know, they didn't quite happen as planned.

The thing is that writing something of quality always takes longer than I feel like it should. Logically, I know this. I work long and hard on each one of my picture book manuscripts. I get critiques, revise, re-revise, and revise some more. I mull over that scene, that phrase, that word until I can get it "just right" for the story. Still, my brain can't help but think, you know what the story is. Just get it finished up already!

Of course, writing a publishable picture book takes time. Sure, we hear the stories of 'it just came to me, I wrote it down, sent it out, and the publisher loved it!' I am certain that can happen but I tend to take any of these sorts of statements with a grain of salt. They are not the norm by any means. The picture book authors I know work long and hard to make those few words shine. They get critiques, revise for their agents, revise for editors, and sometimes... eventually those words get turned into a book.

Finding that "perfect" way to tell a story that will mesh with illustrations takes a lot of thought time. I can tend to get hard on myself that I am not getting anything accomplished. I have to remind myself that I am. Stories are always rattling around in my brain. They have been all winter. And now, suddenly it's spring. And that's okay. Because now I can write outside.