Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Too Many Stories!

I've been sitting here trying to write a blog post for I'm not sure how long. I've started half a dozen and none of them seem quite right. There's too much going on. Too many topics I could write about. So here I am telling you about none of them.

This happens with my writing too. I have so many stories; so many manuscripts I want to get finished that I suddenly get into a holding pattern wondering which one to work on next. A friend of mine who is a disciplined and prolific writer of adult fiction told me to work on whichever is pulling at me the strongest. She was surprised when I told her they all were. Maybe it's like that for picture book writers, I don't know. I do have some non-pb projects that pull at me as well (although maybe not as strongly. Okay, that MG is really wanting to be finished too. Aaaarrrggghhhhhh!!!)

Anyhow, I'll flip thought my notebook, working on each story little by little until all of a sudden I'm writing and writing and...viola, I have a finished draft to type up and start revising!

Tell me, tell me, how do you work? Lots of stories at once or one at a time? How do you choose?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Monster List of Picture Book Agents -- Jennie Dunham, Dunham Literary Inc.

It's tough to find much online information about Jennie Dunham although she's been a literary agent since 1992. You can read about Jennie's experience in her bio at the Dunham Literary website. You can also learn a lot about how her agency, Dunham Literary Inc., works on the Terms and Services page.

I did find an interview with Jennie at K.L. Going's Writer's Resource Page. (Click on "Agent, Author, or Editor Interview" on the right hand side of the page and it will take you right to the interview.)

You can also read the Dunham Literary listing in the 2013 Children's Writers and Illustrators Market.

Jennie accepts query letters only via both email and snail mail. Check out the Dunham Literary submission guidelines. If you get a request be sure to take a look at the Requested Submissions page.

Jennie represents Jody Feldman, Juliet Bond, Robert Sabuda, and Matthew Reinhart. She also represents Nick Bruel, author of the Bad Kitty books.

This post is part of the Monster List of Picture Book Agents. If you have any changes that you think should be made to this listing, please contact me or leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Natasha Yim Teaches Us How to Read... in Public!

Today I'm happy to be the first stop on Natasha Yim's blog tour celebrating the release of her latest book, Sacajawea of the Shoshone, part of the Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses series published by Goosebottom Books! Natasha's book, Cixi, the Dragon Empress, is also published by Goosebottom. Her picture book, Otto's Rainy Day, is published by Charlesbridge, plus she has a forthcoming book from Charlesbridge titled Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas. So, Natasha knows quite a bit about having to read in public! And when I say having to, I think most of you know what I mean. Getting up in front of a crowd is something most of us don't enjoy and something many of us think just might kill us! But, Natasha understands, and she has some great tips to get us up there, connecting with readers!

By Natasha Yim
Recently, I presented my new book Sacajawea of the Shoshone (Goosebottom Books, 2012) at the Sonoma County Book Festival. I even dressed as Sacajawea for the occasion. My stomach churned uncontrollably. I kept telling myself: “Get a grip! You’ve done this before. You know her story. Why are you so nervous?”

Well, that’s because for most of us authors, public speaking doesn’t come naturally. It’s something you have to work at. There are always things I worry about: I won’t speak clearly enough, my topic won’t engage the audience, I look ridiculous in this costume, I’ll trip and stumble on my way to the stage (this happened to me once), nobody will show up (this has also happened to me at an event). Unfortunately, Marketing and Promotion is a big part of being an author these days. After all, how are people going to find your book if they don’t know it exists?

When I had my first reading and signing at a book store for my first picture book, Otto’s Rainy Day (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000), I was petrified! I had to ask my brother-in-law to read the book! School visits were even more terrifying. Speaking in front of 50, 100, 150 kids? Forget it. I avoided doing school visits for the longest time. I’ve come a long way. I’ve done quite a few public speaking engagements now and managed to have fun at most of them. And even though I can read my own books and get to the stage without stumbling, the nervousness never goes away.

So, here are a few tips about public speaking I’ve learned on my way to the podium. They may not make you a great orator, but it’ll help you manage your sweaty palms, hammering heart, and the urge to throw up all over your audience.

1. The only way to get a handle on your fear of public speaking is to just DO IT. Over...and over...and over again. The more you do, the less terrifying it becomes (note I’m not saying you won’t be terrified, I’m saying you’ll be less terrified).

2. Don’t think sales or marketing. Yes, you’re putting yourself out there and forcing yourself into this misery called public speaking because, in part, you’re promoting your book. But ultimately, what you’ll get the most joy and satisfaction from is connecting with your audience.

3. Use visuals. Power Point...best invention, ever! Actually, I have an Apple computer, so I use Keynotes which is more intuitive than Power Point, but you can include fun graphics and pictures, make them move across the page, shimmer or sparkle. Kids love the little airplane icon that flies across the map of the world from South East Asia to California when I talk about my childhood and journey to the US. You can enlarge the pages you’re reading from so they can see the illustrations better. And it takes the focus off of you as the speaker. When and if Power Point isn’t feasible, copy, blow up and laminate images, illustrations and graphics that relate to your book. Tip: pictures of pets are always a great hit.

4. Go with the flow. Sometimes, you’ll appear at an event and you’ll have one person in the audience or none at all, or the bookstore owner didn’t order enough books (or as the case may be—any books). I’ve turned book events into one-on-one chats (hey, she took the time to come), or signed free bookmarks for the attendees who didn’t want or couldn’t afford to buy the book. Make your time worthwhile, no matter how small.

5. Have a sense of humor. A friend of mine presented her book for ages 9 - 13 at an event where most of the kids who came were barely in pre-school, and the Q & A segment went something like this: “When is the skater lady going to be here?” (Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi was also scheduled to read her children’s book that day). You never know, those embarrassing moments could be the start of a new book! At any rate, they’ll make great stories to tell your grandkids...or your writer friends...who then put it in a blog post...

Want to hear more from Natasha?
Connect with Natasha on her website: www.natashayim.com
Her blog: www.writerslife2.blogspot.com (You can find the next stops on her blog tour in the sidebar.)
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/natashayim
Facebook: www.facebook.com/natashayim.author
and check out the fan pages for Sacajawea of the Shoshone and Cixi, The Dragon Empress.

And if you're in the bay area, Goosebottom Books will be launching Sacajawea of the Shoshone and 2 other fall releases (Njinga, The Warrior Queen, and Horrible Hauntings) at Reach and Teach bookstore, San Mateo, on Oct. 27, 4 pm. Come join us for a Halloween-themed book party with scary treats, a scariest reading contest (the audience gets to pick the scariest reader), book readings and enter the best Sacajawea look-alike contest. More details on Natasha's blog to come.