Tuesday, March 29, 2016

REVIEWSDAY / TUESDAY: Little Blue Truck's Beep Along Book - Reviewed by Two Reviews

Written by Alice Shertle
Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books, 2015

Kayla won this book, thanks to Rochelle from Albuquerque Mom's Blog
(http://albuquerque.citymomsblog.com/) and as a future picture book writer, was excited to add it to her growing collection of signed picture books (it is signed by Jill McElmurry)!

This book is a great hands-on activity for little ones  -- girls and boys alike, but especially boys! The cover boasts a soft plush front end of a little blue truck. As you read the text "If you're ready for a ride, beep along," you will soon realize it is a fun sing and beep-along book, to be sung to the familiar tune, "If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands."

Both Kayla and I think this is an extremely fun baby shower or toddler gift and both awarded it 4 Bouncing Balls out of 5!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Let It Go! My Secret Step to Success with Lori Mortensen

After spending oodles of time on a manuscript, the last thing you want to do is kick it to the curb and start over.

But sometimes your reluctance to let it go is exactly what’s holding you back from writing your next winning  manuscript. A great example of this is my rhyming picture book Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg that became one of Amazon’s bestselling picture books in 2013.

The original idea came from my neighbor’s dogs that regularly broke out of their backyard and raced down the street. A few minutes later, I’d watch as the owners raced down the street after them. “Come back, Rolly! Come back Wendy!”

It seemed like a great premise for a story. However, in my story instead of adults racing after their dogs, I imagined a boy chasing his dog for a bath. I wrote it in a contemporary setting and rhymed words such as dog, log, frog, etc.

It was a good start, but it wasn’t long before the whole thing was putting me to sleep. Dog, log, frog. Who cared? After a while,  I didn’t even want to work on it. Ugh. At this point, I could have gotten into a revision loop trying to make this particular approach work, or just put myself out of my misery by deleting the whole thing and telling myself it was just one of those stories that didn’t work out. Luckily, however, I’d been reading some picture books with cowboy settings, so I made a big decision.

I let it go.

I swapped my contemporary boy for a cowpoke in a western setting.

In an instant, I knew I had a tiger by the tail. The story took off--along with with Dirty Dawg! The rhymes and rhythm fell into place and I knew I had a winner.  As I wrote it, I couldn’t wait to see what happened.

But my story would still be stuck in the ditch if I hadn’t been willing to let the original idea go and explore something new. I’m plum tickled to announce that its sequel, Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range, will be riding onto bookshelves on May 3rd.

My newest picture book release, Chicken Lily, is another great example of my “let it go” strategy. Originally, I’d written the story as a more realistic picture book with a fearful girl as the main character. Although it received some kind rejections, in the end, it wasn’t working.

So I let the whole thing go--except the title. I knew that was the best thing about it.

I love humorous picture books, so I thought, What if Chicken Lily was . . . a chicken? That fun idea turned into Chicken Lily, about a chicken that is chicken. I’m egg-cited to announce that it’s hatching onto shelves March 29th.

So the next time you’re spending oodles of time on a manuscript that’s headed towards the ditch, try letting go. Let your setting go. Let your character go. Let everything go except the title if you must. It just might be your secret to success--and a winning manuscript.  

Lori Mortensen is an award-winning children’s book author of more than 70 books and over 350 stories and articles. Upcoming titles include Chicken Lily (Henry Holt 2016), Mousequerade Ball (Bloomsbury, 2016) illustrated by New York Times bestselling illustrator Betsy Lewin, and Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range (Clarion, 2016) a sequel to Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg, one of Amazon’s best picture books of 2013. Other titles include Cindy Moo (HarperCollins, 2012), Come See the Earth Turn – The Story of Léon Foucault(Random House, 2010), a Smithsonian Notable Book for Children, 2010, and In the Trees Honey Bees! (Dawn, 2009) a 2010 NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Book K-12 Winner.

When she’s not removing her cat from her keyboard, she follows her literary nose wherever it leads and works on all sorts of projects that delight her writing soul. Lori lives in Northern California with her family. For more information, visit her website atwww.lorimortensen.com and her author page at FaceBook.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED: My Creative Space by Lynne Marie

I am sharing my Creative Space today for a few reasons. One reason is that my life has changed significantly since I last shared my creative space over at Jennifer Bertman (Author of The Book Scavenger)'s Blog.

At the time of that interview, I was a New Yorker, in a bad marriage, younger, had short black hair, with a fairly large creative space, and one book published. Now, I am a Floridian, not in a relationship, older, with long brown hair, a much smaller creative space, another book pending publication, one book with proclaimed interest and several more seemingly on the cusp.

Here is a picture of my old office. This is less half of it. There is a whole other floor-to-almost- ceiling bookshelf on the right of the picture and one in the hallway leading to my office. There is was also a top tier of collectibles over the bookshelves and a child's play table in the area which would be at the bottom of the picture. This does not show the other half of the room, which had a facing desk, a hutch, and a computer station for my daughter. My creative space was bigger, but my marriage at that was suffocating my life AND my writing.

What prompted me to share is something that Laurie B. Friedman said at a SoFla SCBWI meeting last Saturday. She said she has a Writer's Basket of things she loves so that she can inspire herself and her writing. I realized that I am like that too.  I realized also that although my life has been downsized, I am able to write better and bolder, because the negative things in my life are gone and their lingering affect has finally lessened to the point that I am blooming bigger and better than ever in my smaller garden. I still surround myself with things that inspire me and my writing -- gifts made by my daughter, pictures, books, souvenirs, memorability, photographs, art and crafts, playbills, cute figures and plush soft sculptures of my characters Spike and Sheldon from Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten, but I am very selective about what and who I surround myself with.

I think the main reason I felt so compelled to write this post is that I wanted to share something equally as important as filling your writing space with things that inspire you and your writing. And that is sometimes, you have to make a choice to to take out the things that don't inspire you and your writing (and your life), even if it's something as important as a husband.

In much the same way as we have to "kill our darlings," when we write, and take away the characters, structure, details or plot pieces that don't work or even ultimately work against the story, we sometimes have to do that in our lives. I know I did. And while I didn't (and never would) kill my now ex-husband (or anyone for that matter) although he has given me plenty of reason to (more than you can imagine), I did move far away to take him out of my life and out of my creative space. It has taken me almost five years to bloom after all I have been through, but I am proud to say that I am finally blossoming in a way that I should have been able to a long, long time ago. I am not sad about it. I am thankful to have gotten through it all and to have been able to bloom where I am now planted. I wanted to pay it forward by sharing it with you all, in the hope of finding those of you who need to know you are not alone.

So my message to you is like your stories, what you put into them is just as important as the things you leave out. And I hope that all of you find the creative space you need, whether it be physical or emotional.

Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten (Scholastic, 2011) and a forthcoming title (January, 2017). She is an avid picture book reader and collector and an Assistant to Jodell Sadler at KidLit College (www.kidlitcollege.com).

She is the proud mother of Kevin (27) and Kayla (11) and a Travel Agent with PixieVacations.

You can find her on Facebook at Children's Writer Lynne Marie and Pixie Vacations by Lynne Marie. Book a vacation with her and mention this blog and you will get a free signed and personalized copy of her book when you travel.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Trailers: Bringing Your Book to Life! by Heather Macht

 About three months before my first book was released, I started to think of all the fun ways to promote it. I really fell in love with the idea of creating a book trailer. They are such a great way to give everyone an exciting glimpse of your book.  Plus, YouTube and all of the social media channels make it so easy to share and spread the word. I soon decided this was a route I wanted to take and began the process.

Since my husband and I have I.T. backgrounds, and can quickly learn new software, we decided we’d create one. I’m going to give some prepping and creation tips I found helpful along the way.  However, I do want to mention that if you pay someone to create a trailer for you, that’s perfectly fine! I’m sure the planning and collaboration process is very similar.
First things first, Review, Review, Review! : To get a good feel for book trailers, you must watch as many as possible. What did you like about each one? What would you change? Take notes and let the brainstorming for your trailer begin!

Storyboard your idea: Trailers should be no longer than 2 minutes (any longer and you’ll probably lose your viewer’s interest). What do you want to relay about your upcoming book in this time? Do you want narration in your trailer or do you want music and text to do that for you? Do you want it animated or any special effects? Write it all down! That way, you’ll have a clear concept before you move forward.

Choose your images: I was able to choose five images from my book to use in the trailer. This was tough because all of the illustrations were amazing. But, I narrowed it down to the images I felt best conveyed the message.

Time to create! : There are free trailer-making programs out there, but we chose to purchase a program called Pinnacle Studio. We also purchased royalty free sound clips and a royalty free background image to use. Once we uploaded and arranged everything in the application, we were able to add our desired effects.   

Give proper credits: Don’t forget to credit the publisher, author and illustrator in the trailer so the viewers know who’s behind the awesome book ;)

Share, share share! : First, share with friends and the publishers to make sure they approve and there is nothing you’ve missed.  Once you get the approval, share with everyone! I shared my trailer on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Good Reads… You get the idea! I received a lot of positive feedback, and it has been viewed over 2,800 times.
I hope you enjoyed this insight and I wish you the best of luck if you decide to take this path!  Overall, it was a fun and rewarding process.  If you’d like to take a look at my final product, you can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sRpvx2Ygqw

Author Bio:
Heather Macht is an active children's author who has been creating rhyming stories, specifically about dinosaurs, since the third grade! She earned her AA in fine arts from Florida State College at Jacksonville and held a career in the I.T. world before becoming a full-time writer and mom. She couldn’t be happier with her new profession! For more: visit www.heathermacht.com

Book Bio: You May Just Be a Dinosaur

How do you know if you’re a dinosaur? Well, if you’re bigger than a school bus, can eat everything in the fridge in one bite, and have dozens of razor-sharp teeth, it’s possible you may just be a dinosaur! This playful look at these ancient animals contains fun facts about sail-backed Spinosaurus, horned Triceratops, spiky Stegosaurus, and more. Tiny T. rex everywhere will enjoy the earth-quaking, tooth-chomping antics of these unique beasts. You May Just Be a Dinosaur is a prehistoric parade that you won’t want to miss!
Written by Heather Macht, Illustrated by Jason Gillard, Published by Pelican Publishing, Sept. 2015.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Hardest Thing to Write by Lisa Dalrymple

            The e-mail pops into my inbox:
Hi Lisa, we need your inscription for the dedication page.
            My fifth dedication. This does not get any less stressful for me. With so much support in my life, so many people who have given so much to my writing, how do I pick only one?

            This has been a long journey for me, a lifelong journey. (I was writing and submitting to publishers when I was 10 years old–and I have the rejections to prove it!) But these last miles, the ones in which I’ve been writing kids’ books, have been championed by my husband and my children. Three children. So again, how do I pick only one name for the dedication page?

            I began writing picture books in my head when my kids were tiny. At this point I had two children (although some days it felt like two dozen.) I recall the youngest, successfully installed in her snowsuit and gloves, wailing as she waited for me to chase the three-year-old bundle of hyperactivity through the dining room. I’d chant silly songs to calm the youngest down and make up funny rhymes to entertain the oldest as I jammed his arms into sleeves and his feet into boots. The stories I’d recite kept me sane–and kept my kids from being subjected to a real-life Mommy-Monster (hopefully not too frequently, at least.)

            The first full story with developed characters, plot, and a complete arc came about a few years later. A now seven-year-old bundle of hyperactivity ran up and down the stairs while a new baby grasped my hair in a talon-like grip and I asked my four-year-old what she wanted for Christmas. Wide-eyed and sincere, she told me that Santa was bringing her a polar bear. I deflected. “How can Santa do that? What would a polar bear do at our house? Wouldn’t he cause trouble, so much trouble that I’d want to send him back to the North Pole?”

As Nat and I played with answers to these questions, If It’s No Trouble... A Big Polar Bear took shape. Of course, there was much more work to do. Three years of writing, revising, submitting, re-writing and re-revising. But eventually, the story I “wrote” with Nat became a book. The dedication should have been easy, right? But I had three children–and a fabulous husband–and experience enough to know that getting published is hard. What if it never happened again? So I dedicated the book to all of them.

Then along came Skink on the BrinkA Moose Goes A-Mummering and Bear’s adventures continued in Bubbly Troubly Polar Bear and in this final book, Double Trouble at The Rooms. In it, Bear joins Nat on a class trip to The Rooms museum in St. John’s, Newfoundland. After all the fun and excitement of having a big bear around, Nat wonders if the museum will even have “the room” for its unexpected visitor. But, of course, the museum does. In fact, it has room for two bears as Bear becomes good friends with Peter in one of the exhibits. And maybe it would be good for Bear to stay somewhere that has the room for him to play–and for Nat to come visit all the time.

            So now, with my fifth dedication, I will dedicate this final polar bear book to Nat. I can feel confident that there will be more books, further opportunities to thank each of my kids and all the people who have been wonderfully supportive of my writing.
            I will address the e-mail to my editor and I will type out my dedication:
For Natalie Sage–where Bear’s story began.
And I will click “send.”
 About the Author

Along with her polar bear series, Lisa Dalrymple is the author of A Moose Goes A-Mummering. Her book Skink on the Brink won SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award for Canada and the Writers’ Union of Canada’s Writing for Children Award. She loves travelling and camping with her family. In real life, they know it’s best not to invite the bears to play!

Twitter: @lisaonthebrink

Monday, March 21, 2016

Getting to Know Your Character’s Backstory with Dorian Cirrone

Writing Prompt
One of the trickiest tasks for writers is getting to know a character so deeply that he or she seems like a real person with hopes, dreams, faults, etc. We must know everything about a character’s backstory, even if only some of that history makes it onto the page.
There are many ways to get to know your character. One writing prompt I now use grew out of the plot of my forthcoming novel The First Last Day. It’s about a girl who creates a picture with magic paints and makes a wish that summer will never end. As a result, her deepest desire comes true. She gets to live her last day of summer over and over again.
Writing Exercise: Write in detail about a day in your character’s life that she would want to repeat over and over again and why.
Additional Exercise: To discover even more about your character, write about a day she would never want to live over again, a day she would like to forget forever.
Remember, even if these exact events are never mentioned in your story, the experiences will lie under the surface, informing much of your character’s necessary desire and motivation.
Dorian Cirrone has worked as a door-to-door survey taker, a dance teacher, a choreographer, an assistant city editor for a daily newspaper, and a college English instructor. Writing for children and teens has been her best job so far. She is the author of several books, shorts stories, and poems and has taught writing workshops for SCBWI Florida and other organizations. Her newest novel, The First Last Day (Simon and Schuster/Aladdin) will be out June 6, 2016 and is available for pre-order online and in bookstores.

For more writing tips on topics such as generating ideas, hooking the reader at hello, etc., visit Dorian's blog at: www.doriancirrone.com/welcome/blog

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Open the Window to Your Own Childhood - Writing from Within by Amalia Hoffman

                   For many years, I worked as a stores window display designer. I created fanciful displays for prestigious New York Citys stores such as Tiffany, Fortunoff, Bloomingdales, Macys and many others.

           As I suspended my props inside the store’s window,I was always thrilled to see kids gazing at the window from the sidewalk with their nose stuck to the glass.

            Watching them, I realized I could open a window into a child’s fantasy by writing for them. That’s when I decided to be a children’s book author and illustrator. The question was, what shall I write about?

            To find inspiration, I spent a lot of time opening the window to my own childhood. Maybe there was a story there that I could dig up and turn into a book?
I grew up in Jerusalem, Israel in a small neighborhood that consisted mostly of Eastern -European Jews who escaped or survived Nazi persecution. It was a complex place but also, a magical, almost surrealistic heaven. The neighborhood had its own roster of crazies.People who lost their families, their belongings and their sanity. They didnt scare me. As a matter of fact, I was fascinated by them.

           There was a lady who believed that she was the wife of Kind Solomon and a little man who created his own band. He never spoke but announced his visits marching around and drumming.

          An elderly couple strolled the neighborhood with an old, huge baby carriage. The kids in the neighborhood named them Roysaleh and Fayfaleh.   I was always curious about them because, obviously, they didnt have a baby. The carriage was simply a way to schlep their belongings.

         That childhood memory was the inspiration for my story, The Klezmer BunchIn my book, four traveling musicians (two of which are named Roysaleh and Fayfaleh) schlep their musical instruments in a baby carriage on their way to play at a wedding in a faraway village. But when the mischievous carriage takes off by itself, it’s a sweet klezmer song that saves the day. I still remembered what that baby carriage looked like so it was very easy to illustrate it.
          My book, Purim Goodies was inspired by a Sholom Aleichem tale that I read in second grade. 
When two young maids are sent to deliver Purim goodies to prominent families, the tempting aroma of the freshly baked goods is just too hard to resist. Nibbling and munching, they end up delivering half empty trays. That causes a serious fight between the two families. A wise rabbi teaches the families a lesson in sharing and compassion and the two maids redeem themselves by baking hamantaschen for all the poor folks in town.

            Growing up, Purim was my favorite holiday so writing the story was a wonderful way of connecting with my childhood. I also incorporated a lot of imagery in the illustrations that I uncovered from photographs I found in old family albums.

            So, next time you get stuck, open the door to your own childhood and let the muse fly in through the open window.

Amalia is the writer and illustrator of The Klezmer Bunch and Purim Goodies.  Both books were recommended as notable books by the Association of Jewish Libraries. The Klezmer Bunch was featured in a play, Jewish Books Cooking by the celebrated choreographer and producer, Elizabeth Swados.

Amalia also illustrated Friday Night with the Pope by Jacques Shore. 

Her story, Queen Esther and I is published in the March 2016 issue of Highlights for Children.

Amalia received the SCBWI 2005 award for illustration in the category of Fantasy. Her portfolio was selected as the winning portfolio in the 2014 21st Century Non Fiction Conference.

She tells her stories with the aids of props, puppets, costumes and music.

She was the finalist in SCBWI storytelling competition. She travels on author tours and appeared in Barnes & Noble, Books of Wonder, and Bank Street Bookstore among others. 

Amalia is a participating artist at ArtsWestchester, a cultural organization that pairs artists and writers with schools.

Amalia holds a Masters degree in art and art education from New York University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts,with honor from Pratt Institute.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Putting Your Story in Place by Larry Dane Brimner

          Whether you write nonfiction or fiction, a writer needs to position the subject matter within the context of the time. That context may be contemporary or historical, but even so-called contemporary fiction needs some research. When my talented friend, the late YA novelist Jean Ferris, wrote All That Glitters, she scoured travel pieces about the Florida keys, wrote to Key West’s tourism bureau for information, and looked into Key West’s connection to sunken treasure hunting to give her story a real sense of place, to put her characters in modern-day Key West even though she had not been there. I had been often to the island and was surprised to learn that her first visit wasn’t until after her book was published. What made the book pop out, besides an excellent story, was Jean’s attention to detail—detail discovered through research.
          Fiction writers should ask themselves what songs were popular during the time-setting of the story. What chain restaurants abounded? Who were the popular movie stars? Which were the popular movies? You may not use all the information you collect in your story, but it will help you to place your characters in the context of a distinct time and place.
          With narrative nonfiction, research is vital. What was the general atmosphere like in a place during the time under study? Who were the key players? What were their attitudes? What else was going on in the world during the time you’re writing about?
          When I research an historical nonfiction book, I like to read newspapers of the day. This often necessitates travel, but not always. With down-loadable articles, websites like newslibrary.com, newspapers.com, newspaperarchive.com, and the New York Times archives can help you research from home. I maintain subscriptions to many of them. In Strike! The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights, I had forgotten that the racial riots in Watts (Los Angeles) took place in 1965, just prior to the farm workers strike. Newspapers reminded me of this, and it became an important element of the story I was weaving about the unionization of farm laborers. 
          I also keep in touch with a circle of archivists who are more than happy to discuss collections, their own as well as those of their fellow-archivists. They’re a small circle. If you know one, you will know them all. Archives and history museums and societies are valuable sources of information. For my fall 2015 book, The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield, I wanted to know what the weather was like in Fort Scott, Kansas, in July 1875. I contacted the Kansas Historical Society with that question, and the reference librarian there provided me not only with detail about weather conditions at that time, but also mentioned that many of the articles from the Fort Scott Daily Monitor had been digitized and were available online.  
          I often tell the children I visit in schools that research is a lot like solving a mystery: You know there’s information out there, you just have to figure out where it is and how you’re going to get to it.

           Research may be the key to turning a humdrum manuscript into something spectacular.
Larry Dane Brimner grew up in Alaska and San Diego. The author of more than 175 titles for young readers, Larry is probably best known for his work in nonfiction, but he does write fiction, especially picture book fiction. Larry’s topics are far-reaching, but mostly focus on social justice issues. His work has received many awards including the Carter G. Woodson Book Award and the Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Award for Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor. His most recent book, The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield is a true story about a rainmaker in the early 1900s. Merry Christmas, Old Armadillo has been in print for twenty years, while Puppy and Bear: The First Day of School is scheduled for Fall 2017, along with Twelve Days in May, a photo essay about the 1961 Freedom Ride. First and foremost a teacher, Larry taught at high school and university levels in California for twenty years. He makes his home in San Diego and Tucson.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Picture Book Dummy Behind Norbert's Big Dream - From Revision to Success with Lori Degman

Thanks so much for asking me to write a post for your blog, Lynne Marie!! 

In thinking about what I could share, I focused on what helped me the most with my upcoming picture book, Norbert’s Big Dream.  I’ve written many blog posts in the past – usually having something to do with writing in rhyme, as my first two books are rhymers.  But, Norbert is my first non-rhymer, so I thought I’d write about something non-rhymey (hey – if Dr. Seuss can make up words!).

In November of 2013, I attended our annual Illinois SCBWI conference, Prairie Writers and Illustrators Day, which was about a year before I sold Norbert.  One of the sessions I attended was “Dummies for Smarties: The Relationship Between Story and Design”, presented by Sylvie Frank from Paula Wiseman Books.  I’d never made a book dummy before and decided to work on Norbert’s Big Dream at this session.  Even though I felt Norbert was “submission ready”, I thought creating a dummy might help me improve it. 

To make the dummy, we cut four pieces of printing paper into quarters and stapled them together along one edge, to make a 32-page book.  If you want a larger book, you can cut or fold 16 pieces of paper in half.  I think Sylvie was trying to save a tree, which I appreciated! 

We left the first three pages for the title page, copyright information and dedication and started the text of the story on page 4.  We then cut the sentences of our story and placed them on the pages of the dummy.  Once we were happy with where they were, we glued them on the pages. (Hint: use just a little glue because you’re bound to make changes.)  I sometimes drew very crude sketches (the only kind I know how to draw) or I wrote a short note about what I thought the illustration could be. 

Deciding where to put each sentence, and sometimes dividing sentences, was more challenging than I’d expected.  I was surprised at how many changes I ended up making on a story with such a low word count. 

Here’s how creating a dummy for Norbert helped me:

1 - I thought more visually about the story.  I was forced to imagine where the illustrations would go on each page.

2 - I cut some of the text because I could see how the illustrations could/should replace them. 

3 – I broke up sentences or paragraphs where there was a change of action or scene.

4 - I spotted redundancies and cut some of them.

5 – I could see the pacing more clearly, making it easier to break up the text to build tension and lead to a satisfying conclusion.

6 - I sequenced events in a more logical order.

7 – I created more compelling page turns.

8 - I improve word choice.  Seeing the sentence alone on the page allowed me to think solely about that one sentence, making it more obvious when the language needed to be tightened or enriched.

9 - After the dummy was finished, reading the “book” allowed me to more objectively judge its readability and flow.

10 – I couldn’t wait to get home and rewrite the story!

In the end, the manuscript that was accepted had the same word count (three words less) but it was a more tightly written and a better-paced story that left lots of room for the illustrator to do his thing!  So, when you finish a manuscript and think it’s ready to submit to an editor or agent, take the time to create a dummy before sending it out – you may be surprised how “not ready” it really is!

I have a bonus tip for you - Two of the three manuscripts I sold were bought by editors I’d met at SCBWI conferences.  So, I highly recommend going to conferences and following up with submissions to editors and agents who presented there.  Both of my editors spoke at smaller, state-level conferences, so you don’t have to go to the huge, international conferences in NY and LA (though they’re amazing).

Lori Degman is teacher of the deaf by day and an award winning picture book author by night, weekend and school holiday. She has three picture books: 1 Zany Zoo, Simon & Schuster (Cheerios New Author Contest winner & Mom’s Choice Award); Cock-a-Doodle Oops!, Creston Books (2015 International Literacy Association Honor Book & Mom’s Choice Award); and Norbert’s Big Dream, Sleeping Bear Press, coming August, 2016.  

You can find Lori at: Loridegman.com, on Facebook or Twitter.  Contact her at Lori@Loridegman.com.

You can find more information about her books, including teacher’s guides, on her website: http://loridegman.com/loridegman.com/Books.html

Here are links to the book trailers for 1 Zany Zoo https://youtu.be/SNZTVS99l0k and Cock-a-Doodle Oopshttps://youtu.be/NQg9RyO9dM4

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

This is LITERALLY my Entry to the 50 Precious Words Contest


Penguin and Polar from opposite ends,
First became pen pals, and next became friends.
Then came the problem – they lived far away.
How would poor Penguin and Polar bear play?
Neither gave up  – they were just not the type.

Penguin and Polar played games via Skype. 

Thanks to....
VIVIAN KIRKFIELD's 50 Precious Words Contest


Monday, March 7, 2016

LOOKING FOR GEMS By Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum

When I was growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was Star Trek. The show safely opened the door to space exploration, but in truth it was about much more than zooming around galaxies at warp speed. It often revealed the workings of human emotions and relationships on many levels.

One of my favorite episodes involved a character named Gem. Gem was a mute who'd been captured by an advanced alien species for study. Through a series of experiments Gem was tested to see how far she would go, at great  risk herself, to help others. It turns out that Gem was an Empath. She would physically absorb the pain and wounds of someone else in order heal them
As long as the wounds weren't fatal, Gem was able to heal herself. 

At first it appeared that the aliens were torturing poor Gem. But in fact they were teaching her. It was in her nature to take on the emotional and physical wounds of others. It was what she was
born to do. In order to save her species Gem was required to take a risk.

Though it doesn't involve saving anyone, I try to be like Gem when I write. It does required a risk to take on fresh ideas and go where "no man has gone before".  I aim to absorb the story and problems of my characters. I need to know them inside and out. I imagine putting on their clothes, stepping into their shoes, walking and talking exactly as they would.  I picture myself
absorbing all the feelings they're feeling and digest their troubles as my own.  

I think the best writing requires a bit of acting, whether your characters are a set of trains that never sleep, or a girl who banishes her younger sister to a place populated by monsters. Feel  your characters' story inside and out. Take the journey they take. Ingest their pain and troubles. Maybe then you'll get to know a few Gems of your own.

Andria writes picture books and poetry from her home in New Jersey. Some of her forthcoming picture books are TRAINS DON'T SLEEP, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017 and another picture book tentatively titled MONSTER MIA, Scholastic Press, 2017. She's also the author of: MEG GOLDBERG ON PARADE, Kar-Ben Publishing, A GRANDMA LIKE YOURS/ A GRANDPA LIKE YOURS,- Kar-Ben Publishing and TWO SWEET PEAS, Bebop Books. You can find her on the web at www.andriawarmflashrosenbaum.com and on Twitter @andriawrose.