This morning, I am honored to be guest blogging over at picture book author Danna Smith’s blog, Picture Book Playlist. Today’s topic? The power of SETTING to make a picture book story SHINE. So, I hope you refill that delicious cup of coffee you’re sipping right now and pop on over for a read. I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the link. Thank you for having me, Danna!
Today I’m delighted to feature the wonderful Glenys Nellist as my guest. Glenys is the author 12 fabulous books – including her best-selling LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD series with five books out and more on the way. She’s also the author of the adorable SNUGGLE TIME series. Last December, she was here for an interview to celebrate the release of her clever and gorgeous ‘TWAS THE EVENING OF CHRISTMAS, a heart-warming Christmas tale told to the cadence of Clement C. Moore’s famous poem. And today we’re here to celebrate the release of two darling rhyming board books that celebrate the special bonds between and mothers/children and fathers/children. With simple rhyming text and sweet illustrations, these are sure to be a perennial hit. And now, as a fun way of introducing the books, here’s Glenys with FIVE FUN FACTS about the books. (And be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!) Take it away, Glenys!
FIVE Fun Facts About GOD MADE MOMMY SPECIAL & GOD MADE DADDY SPECIAL
by Glenys Nellist
FUN FACT #1: They Weren’t my Idea!
That’s right—you did read that correctly… GOD MADE MOMMY SPECIAL and GOD MADE DADDY SPECIAL were not my idea! Almost three years ago I pitched a new children’s book manuscript to my editor and anxiously awaited her response. When it came, it went something like this:
Hi Glenys, thanks for submitting your new book proposal. Unfortunately, it’s not a good fit for us at the moment. However… I am looking for new titles featuring mommies & daddies. If you have any ideas for those sorts of books, I’ll be happy to take a look.
Any author would be crazy not to give their editor what they are looking for… and the books were born! Now, whenever my editor and I meet for lunch, I always ask her this five-word question: What are you looking for? Then I come home and try to write it.
FUN FACT #2: Why the Mommy Cover Has a Heart-Shaped ‘O’…
Take a peek at the cover of GOD MADE MOMMY SPECIAL…
Can you guess why the ‘O’ is heart-shaped? It’s because in England, where I’m from, and where I’ll shortly be marketing the book, we don’t say Mom. Instead, we say Mum. So the marketing team at Zonderkidz decided to shape the ‘O’ so that it could also be seen as a ‘U’. Aren’t they clever?
FUN FACT #3: The Books Can Be Used in a Fun Guessing Game
One of my favorite things to do as an author is to visit schools and read to children. With these books, I’ve found a wonderful guessing game that children LOVE to participate in. Before showing them the pictures, I read each poem and they have to guess the animal. Listen carefully, I tell them. The clues are in the words.
Try it with your little one. Read this poem and have them guess the daddy animal. (Answer below)
Come and meet my daddy
He stands up nice and tall.
And even though he’s on one leg,
I’ve never see him fall.
Every time I wobble,
He helps me stand up straight.
God made Daddy special—
He’s really, really great!
FUN FACT #4: The Illustrations are Better Than I Imagined
It’s a very scary thing for an author to hand their manuscript over and trust that the illustrator will be a good fit. I needn’t have worried at all with these books! Estelle Corke did a FABULOUS job, especially with Daddy Skunk, which is my favorite part of the daddy book!
FUN FACT #5: There Might Be a Grandma and Grandpa Version in the Wings…
Sshh… don’t tell anyone, but I already have GOD MADE GRANDMA SPECIAL and GOD MADE GRANDPA SPECIAL written in my head! Depending on sales of the mommy and daddy books, then I’m hoping that Grandma and Grandpa will be joining them on the shelves… fingers crossed for that!
Thank you, Glenys, for those five fun facts. And best wishes for your continued success!
BIO: Coordinator of Children’s Ministry for the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. Zondervan children’s book author of twelve titles, including two popular series: Love Letters from God and Snuggle Time. Glenys is a writer with a passion for God, her family, and children’s ministry. Find out more about Glenys and her books here:
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!
If you’d like a chance to win a FREE two-book bundle that includes one copy each of GOD MADE MOMMY SPECIAL and GOD MADE DADDY SPECIAL both written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Estelle Corke, let me know in a comment below. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident with a street address (as opposed to a P.O. Box and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway ends Monday, 5/21/18 at 12:01 am EST. The winner will be announced that day!
Finally… the answer to the poem in FUN FACT #3 is: Daddy Flamingo!
Today I’m delighted to feature SIX AUTHOR-CREATED EXTENSION ACTIVITIES in celebration of the release of Christian picture book author Denette Fretz’s adorable new picture book, I WANT YOUR SMILE, CROCODILE, published by Zonderkidz and illustrated by Jacki Urbanovic. Not only is Denette a skilled children’s author, with a gift for creating stories that are fun and thought-provoking, she’s also a teacher – so her extension activities, many of them faith-based, are teacher tested and approved!
As you will see from the book trailer, I WANT YOUR CROCODILE SMILE is a clever tale of self-acceptance, starring Jack, the Meerkat, who covets all the things his zoo friends have but ultimately discovers that true contentment is only found when we accept and embrace that we are each created beautifully according to God’s perfect, purposeful design. Enjoy the book trailer, then treat yourself (and your kids) to Denette’s rich offering of extension activities. Zonderkidz is also offering a GIVEAWAY so be sure to check out details for how to enter at the end of the post. Take it away, Denette!
SIX Extension Activities for I WANT YOUR SMILE, CROCODILE
Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Laura! I hope your readers and their children enjoy these activities together.
1. Become a meerkat expert. I Want Your Smile, Crocodile follows a spunky meerkat, Jack, who thinks he would be happier if he were more like his zoo friends. With an adult’s help, follow these video links to begin learning more about meerkats:
2. Print and complete a meerkat word search. Now that you know more about meerkats, can you solve Jack’s clues to find thirteen meerkat words? If you get stumped, the words you are looking for are printed at the bottom of this post.
3. Read about animal features. In I Want Your Smile, Crocodile, Jack wants a crocodile smile, polar bear fur, and an elephant’s “hose nose.” What if you had animal teeth? Animal hair? An animal’s nose? Discover amazing animal facts by reading these fascinating picture books by Sandra Markle:
What if You Had Animal Teeth?
What if You Had Animal Hair?
What if You Had An Animal Nose?
4. Design an imaginary animal. Jackie Urbanovic illustrated I Want Your Smile, Crocodile and did a fabulous job giving Jack the Meerkat jellyfish swish, porcupine spines, or an elephant’s trunk. What animals would you combine to create a new one? Print and use the template below to draw your imaginary animal. I thought this would be fun to try…and drew a “piggock!”
5. Follow the zookeeper. Start at the beginning of I Want Your Smile, Crocodile, and follow the zookeeper through its pages. What is he doing? How is the zookeeper acting like Jesus?
6. Discuss scriptures about God’s design. Below are the “foundation scriptures” I kept in mind when writing I Want Your Smile, Crocodile. Read each scripture. How does each scripture relate to the story? Most importantly, how does each scripture relate to YOU?
- Genesis 1:31
- Psalm 139:14
- Ephesians 2:10
Thanks so much for these WONDERFUL extension ideas, Denette! Enjoy another I Want Your Smile, Crocodile activity next week, when the Blog Tour stops by Rebecca J. Gomez’s site for a “Read, Discuss, Do” activity…and another chance to win a book!
Answers for Word Search:
1. MONGOOSE 2. SENTRY 3. MOB, CLAN, GANG 4. BURROWS 5. KALAHARI 6. CLAWS 7. INSECTS, SPIDERS, SCORPIONS, SNAKES 8. PUPS
BIO: Denette Fretz is an elementary art educator and picture book author who desires to craft humorous, inventive, and memorable parables that engage imagination and encourage life-application of biblical principles. She is the author of PIRATES ON THE FARM (Zonderkidz, 2013), CONRAD, THE COWGIRL NEXT DOOR (Zonderkidz, 2014) and I WANT YOUR SMILE, CROCODILE (Zonderkidz, 2018
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!
If you’d like a chance to win a FREE copy of I LOVE YOUR SMILE, CROCODILE, written by Denette Fretz and illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic, let me know in a comment below. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident with a street address (as opposed to a P.O. Box and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway ends Thursday, 5/10/18 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced on Friday 5/11/18! THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER. WINNER POSTED HERE.
Finally, spring is in the air! I hear the birds chirping at sunrise. There’s a robin family building a nest in my neighbor’s tree. The cherry blossoms are about to burst. It’s perfect timing to welcome today’s guest blogger, picture book author Danna Smith, in celebration of the release of her new springtime book, SPRINGTIME BABIES, published by Little Golden Books. Today she’ll be sharing her journey from reading Little Golden Books as a child to now writing them! Thank you so much for stopping by, Danna. Take it away!
Most Americans can remember growing up with Little Golden Books, those little gems that captured our hearts at the store while our parents shopped. Books like The Poky Little Puppy, Scuffy the Tugboat and my favorite, Wonders of Nature, caught our attention with their distinctive gold foil spines, colorful illustrations, and exciting adventures. The first 12 Little Golden Book titles hit the shelves in 1942 during wartime when picture books were expensive, and money was scarce. At 25 cents, Little Golden Books were affordable for everyone. Today, with hundreds of titles available they continue to delight, and are still affordable—at about the price of a greeting card!
Little Golden Books aren’t just for children; adults love them too. Collectors rummage through piles of books at thrift shops and garage sales looking to find that illustrious 25 cent first edition to add to their collection. I have a small but beloved collection of my own.
Imagine my delight when my agent called with news that I had an offer from Little Golden Books and then again with offers for three more books! I had to pinch myself! I remember scribbling my name in many Little Golden Books throughout my childhood. Reading was a joy and these little books were like friends. Joining the Little Golden Book family of authors and artists is a dream come true.
While I had initially written Springtime Babies as a picture book, it turned out to be perfect for Little Golden Books. Editor and author, Diane Muldrow, worked with me to cut the text from 32 pages to 24. Next, it was time for the illustrator to work her magic. When I saw the sketches and then the final color images, I was in love! Artist, Takako Fisher, did a fantastic job. I couldn’t be more pleased with her adorable, chunky animal (and human) babies.
Golden Books works about three years out which means if you sold a manuscript today in 2018, the book would most likely publish in 2020 or 2021. If you want to try your hand at writing a Little Golden Book, my advice is to draft a conceptually strong story perfect for a young audience of 2–5-year-olds. Your manuscript should be highly visual (illustratable) and original or at least have a fresh take on a familiar subject. A hook that can tie into an event or special day such as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day is also a plus. Be sure to study the Little Golden Books line to make certain your idea is fresh. Paginating your manuscript in the way you see it published will not only help you better visualize your story but will help the editors see your vision. If your agent calls you with an offer, pinch yourself then get ready to revise!
Danna Smith is the author of a dozen books for children. Her next Little Golden Book, Rocket-Bye Baby: A Spaceflight Lullaby releases in January 2019 followed by The Colors of Summer (May 2019) and The Colors of Winter (Oct 2019). Danna is currently living in Northern California, where she is hard at work on her next book. You can find more about her and her books online here:
Book Review Blog: https://picturebookplaylist.com/blog/
Today I’m delighted to be interviewed by Melissa Stoller over at her blog. Her format is the “3 Question Interview” and for one of the questions I talk about glasses – special glasses (pictured above). Curious? Then, grab a cup of tea and head on over. That’s what I’m doing. I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the link. Thanks, Melissa for having me!
This week DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE received a LOVELY stamp of approval from longtime Colorado teacher and dear friend, Jeananne Wright. Thank you, Jeananne!
Now, with her permission, taking excerpts from her note, here are SEVEN THINGS KIDS CAN LEARN FROM/ BE ENGAGED WITH as they read DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE:
First, the tactile gold glitter on the front and back covers are the perfect intro to the book. The kids can feel that and know that something wonderful will be found inside!
Second, kids might not know a thing about opera or classical music or even what a diva is!
Third, the story teaches how to rely on friends and how to be a good friend.
Fourth, it also portrays forgiveness, humility and perseverance.
Fifth, after reading, it will be loads of fun for kids to think of other things that go together, like carrots and peas, salt and pepper etc. So the book doesn’t end on the last page.
After reading the story parents/teachers and kids can also discuss the cover, author, illustrator and on the back the captions, ISBN numbers etc.
Finally, after all that, they can even practice their tra la las in an operatic voice. Or how about taking in an opera? What fun!
Thank you for these wonderful ideas, Jeananne, and for giving DIVA DELORES your teacher stamp of approval. =)
Happy Reading, all!
Today I’m delighted to be interviewing picture book author Danna Smith in celebration of her newest picture book THE HAWK OF THE CASTLE. Published by Candlewick Press and beautifully illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, THE HAWK OF THE CASTLE is a non-fiction tale told in verse about a young girl and her father, the falconer at a medieval castle, as they experience the joys of taking a goshawk out for a training flight. It has received glowing reviews, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and is a Junior Library Guild Selection. Kirkus Reviews calls it a “rhapsodic tribute to the craft of falconry” and School Library Journal hails it as “An imaginative and unique title to introduce elementary schoolers to hawks and falconry in a medieval setting—an ideal read-aloud selection, too.” I couldn’t agree more! Treat yourself to the book trailer below and then join me for the interview with my questions in green to match the books lovely landscape.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Danna. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you become a writer?
Thank you for having me, Laura. For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed writing poetry and stories. In my childhood, I would often turn my creations into handmade paper books, stapled at the spine. I’d give them to my mother who saved them in a keepsake box like precious treasures (she has always been my biggest fan). I wrote my first poem when I was 8 years old, my first short story when I was 10 and my first picture book when I was 17. As I grew older, I didn’t have a clue about how to follow my dream of becoming an author so I went to college, got married and started my family. I kept writing in my spare time. It wasn’t until I found the organization, SCBWI, in 1996 and went to my first conference in 1999 that I got serious and gave it a real go. My first book was published in 2004 by Disney-Hyperion and many books followed such as Mother Goose’s Pajama Party, Arctic White, and Swallow the Leader. Today, writing is my full-time job and I feel so very blessed to be doing what I love.
A lovely journey, for sure. I’m glad you discovered SCBWI back in 1996 – and for any aspiring writers, exploring the SCBWI website and attending a conference is a great way to get started!
What inspired you to write a book about falconry in medieval times?
Growing up, I was exposed to all sorts of creatures through my father who trained, bred, and rehabilitated animals. My father was also a falconer and I enjoyed going out to train and hunt with birds of prey with him. I didn’t know it at the time, but falconry is an unusual art and sport, and not something many children are exposed to. As I look back, I’m happy to have had these experiences, especially since I am a writer because I now have an opportunity to share this fascinating sport with others in a whole new way.
I chose to set the story in medieval times because I am fascinated with a time where falconry was a part of daily life. Also, as a writer who understands the need for layers in a picture book, I thought the setting would add extra appeal, what child doesn’t like castles?
I’d love it if I had a picture of my father and me with the hawks but if there is one in existence I haven’t been able to locate it. Instead, I’ll share a picture of my cousin, sister and myself holding one of the hundreds of snakes my father bred (I’m the monkey in the middle). And another of my dad at around age 23 with a couple of his birds. My dad was a falconer for 50 years and as far back as I can remember, if he wasn’t at work, he had a bird of prey on his fist.
What an amazing childhood! Your dad must be so proud of all your accomplishments and honored to be such a source of inspiration!
I was immediately drawn to your lovely verse – reminiscent of “The House That Jack Built” but without the cumulative element. How was your gift for verse developed? What made you decide to tell this story in half-rhyme?
Thank you, Laura. My gift for verse comes naturally, my grandmother was a poet and my sister is a songwriter. I also had an uncle who taught me the meaning of rhythm and cadence (and always had me giggling) with his off-the-cuff limericks and other forms of poetry while we clapped our hands to the beat.
I wrote The Hawk of the Castle in several formats (rhyme and prose) to see which worked best. There were many, many drafts but when I hit upon the current hybrid format which had the feel of an old-fashioned poem, I knew I had found the perfect way to tell this story.
That’s the sign of a true writer – ie. writing “many, many drafts” and in “several formats”!
Bagram Ibatoulline’s magnificent illustrations beautifully complement text, for they truly do transport the reader to a different time and place. What was it like to work together?
Unfortunately, I have not met Bagram Ibatoulline but working with him through my amazing editor, Andrea Tompa, was a wonderfully positive experience. Because this book is non-fiction, the falconry details and medieval elements had to be spot-on. Bagram Ibatoulline rose to the challenge and surprised me at every turn with his detailed life-like illustrations. It is truly an honor to have been able to collaborate with Mr. Ibatoulline.
An honor indeed. (And thanks for sharing this delightful spread with us today!). It’s truly magnificent.
Finally, can you give us the inside scoop on some of your current projects? What’s a typical writing day like for you?
Unlike many writers, I do not write creatively every day. But that doesn’t mean I am not pondering, scheming, and dreaming up rhymes and stories in my head daily (in fact, I do this so often that my family accuses me of being in Lalaland much of the time LOL!). I sit down at my computer only when an idea is worked out in my head (I need to have a beginning and an end before I start). When I’m not writing a new story, I am revising, critiquing the work of others, reviewing picture books on my blog, connecting with editors and my agent on various projects, and promoting my books.
My agent is currently submitting several of my manuscripts (crosses fingers), and at the moment I have several manuscripts in various stages of completion.
I have five Little Golden Books under contract so I’ve been revising the text and enjoying sneak peeks of covers and interior art. Getting to see the art for the first time is a thrilling part of the process! Watch for Springtime Babies (available for pre-order now) and The Colors of Winter in 2018 then Rocket-Bye Baby, Wake Up, Freight Train! and The Colors of Summer in 2019.
So many wonderful books on the horizon! I look forward to checking them out. Thank you so much for joining us today, Danna.
I was my pleasure, Laura! Again, thank you for having me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Danna Smith is a SCBWI member and award-winning author of over a dozen picture books including ARCTIC WHITE, SWALLOW THE LEADER, and Little Golden Book, SPRINGTIME BABIES. Her most recent picture book, THE HAWK OF THE CASTLE: A Story of Medieval Falconry, received two starred reviews and is a Junior Library Guild Selection. Danna is currently living in northern California with her husband and two grown children where she is hard at work on her next book. You can learn more about Danna and her books at www.dannasmithbooks.com
To learn more about Danna and her books, please visit the following:
Picture book author Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum’s newest book, BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER releases two weeks from now and I’m so excited that she’s here today to give us a little preview interview. Published by Scholastic Press and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER is a story of sister rivalry/affection with a clever monsterly twist. Kirkus Reviews hails it as “Monstrous sisterly fun”. Thank you for joining us today, Andria. It’s always fun to get to meet the author! Well, let’s get started with my questions in pink and Andria’s in black to complement the book cover.
What is the inspiration behind BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER?
Truth be told, this book is based on something that happened to me when I was a child. I actually lost my sister–on purpose when I was about five and she was three. The world was a very different place back then and parents gave their children a lot more freedom. Luckily, my little sister was found by two older girls and safely brought home. But as I grew older I was tormented with guilt over what could have happened. This book is a love letter to my sister and the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood.
Your sister must be so touched. And as a sister myself, I love that this book celebrates sisterhood!
And here you are with your sister! LOVE this retro pic! What would you like readers to take away from this story?
Sisterhood is a multifaceted relationship deeply rooted in love. The kind of love that inspires courage, strength and fearlessness. I hope children will find their own inner strength when they read BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER.
In addition, I think Edwin Fotheringham made a huge effort to take the “scary” out of the monsters in the book. Instead they’re cute, colorful and funny which allows young children to imagine engaging with the monsters without fear.
Well, if the cover is any indication, your text and his illustrations are a winning combination.
BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER is not your first book. Tell us a little bit about your journey as an author.
My writing journey has been long and challenging. I’m lucky in the fact that I knew I wanted to write children’s books since I was very young. But I wasn’t a good reader and that hampered my writing skills. I did give up trying to get published many times, but I always came back to writing because I love it. Thankfully, persistence is probably my strongest quality.
When my children were little, I focused on writing poems and short stories for magazines like Cricket and Highlights. My first book sale (A GRANDMA LIKE YOURS/A GRANDPA LIKE YOURS, Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group 2006) didn’t come until after I was 40. Around the same time, I sold an emergent reader written in poems called TWO SWEET PEAS to Bebop Books, Lee & Low Books, Inc. 2006. It was almost 10 years before I sold another book.
Yes, persistence is a crucial quality for a writer. Children’s periodicals are a great venue for children’s writers. Now I want to take a peek at your work there too!
Teachers and parents are always looking for ways to tie picture books into the curriculum or extend the enjoyment with post-reading activities. Do you have any extension activities your readers might enjoy?
I’m a big fan of teacher’s guides and I’m in the process of creating one for BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER. But until it’s done, I’d suggest teachers focus on the common core goals of Speaking & Listening. Specifically, the Who, What, When, Where, How and Whys of the story. Then they can give their classes a chance to draw pictures of what their Inner Monsters might look like.
Also, in an earlier version of the manuscript, I had Lucy make a ticket for Mia to Monstralia. Teachers might ask students: What would you call a world populated by monsters? Students can take this challenge a step further by creating maps of their monster worlds.
These are great ideas, Andria!
Finally, what’s the one question that you wished I’d asked but didn’t.
Well, since you asked ;-), I wish you would have asked if I have any other books coming out?
Why yes I do! In the fall of 2018, Sterling Children’s Books will publish my next book called BOATS WILL FLOAT. It’s a rhyming picture book about what many different boats do, illustrated by Jordi Solano. Originally, it was intended as a follow-up to my picture book called TRAINS DON’T SLEEP, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. But I have a feeling Jordi will be adding his own story through his beautiful illustrations.
Thanks so much for inviting me to share my books with your readers, Laura! They can follow me on Twitter @andriawrose and find more information about my books on my website: www.andriawarmflashrosenbaum.com
Thanks so much for joining me today, Andria! And congratulations on this newest release. =)
AUTHOR BIO: Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum dreamed about writing picture books for children of all ages since she was eleven years old. She has a Master’s degree in Special Education from Bank Street College and writes from her home in New Jersey. Her poetry and short stories have been published in Babybug, Children’s Playmate, Cricket, Ladybug, Highlight, Spider and Turtle. Her short story, “The Color of Hope” won the 2008 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for fiction. She is the author of multiple picture books including A GRANDMA LIKE YOURS/ A GRANDPA LIKE YOURS (Kar-Ben Publishing, Inc., Lerner Publications), TRAINS DON’T SLEEP (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER (Scholastic Press) with several more in the works.
Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!!!!!
Andrea has generously offered to send a free copy of BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER (Scholastic, September 2017), written by Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, to one lucky winner. If you’d like to enter, simply leave a comment below. (NOTE: Must be U.S. resident and at least 18 years old to enter.) The giveaway ends Tuesday, September 12, 2017 (the day the book releases!), at 12:01 am EST.
This summer I’ve been celebrating the release of brand new kids’ books with special guest posts and author/illustrator interviews. Today, I’m delighted to have debut picture book author Linda Whalen as my guest. Illustrated by Jennifer Morris, Linda’s book LITTLE RED ROLLS AWAY (Sleeping Bear Press) piqued my interest because one of my vivid early memories is of watching an old house being moved in the town my grandparents lived in. The Little Red in Linda’s story is a barn who’s a little scared about moving and all of the unknowns. As a child who moved around a lot, I would definitely have benefitted from a story like this! Here’s the book trailer which gives a wonderful sense of the book:
Linda is here today, not only to celebrate the release of this book, but also to share her thoughts on what it means to be a writer who is in it for the long haul. Her words really resonated with me. I hope they encourage you as well. Take it away, Linda!
In it for the Long Haul
By Linda Whalen
The long haul, sounds kind of scary because it implies patience and endurance. Ugh! Patience is not one of my virtues when it comes to getting published. Writing is a different story. Writers should want, need, love to write. Put the words that float, zoom or just sit in your mind down on paper or on your computer even if you wind up throwing that paper away or hitting delete. Being a writer is forever. Whether you let the words out or not, you will still write them in your mind.
Yes, it can be a long haul to being published. It was for me. It’s not for some. In either case, a writer should write. Otherwise, a writer’s soul withers and gets cranky. My family can always tell when I’m not writing because they will touch my arm and say, “I think you need to go write.” It’s true. If I let a rejection get to me and just stop writing for a while, I’m not as happy as usual. A writer needs to write.
The long haul is sometimes down a nice, even-paved road slowly getting to your destination but no road ever stays the same. Sometimes you hit a pothole or a detour or a sudden summer storm tries to blow you off the road completely. Don’t stop hauling your dream of being published down the road. Continue to write.
Writers are never really alone if you think about it. Every time you write, somewhere out there another writer is struggling just like you to do justice to the words and ideas springing into their thoughts. We look at the same blank pages. Search for the right way to convey our thoughts. Worry about rejection. Hope that someone will understand and love our story. Hunger to see our name follow a book title.
If you are a writer, you are in it for the long haul even if you physically stop writing because there will always be stories lingering in your mind waiting to be told. So tell them. Tell them because they need to be told. Every writer comes with a unique experience and you never know when the story in your mind may be just what someone needs. Being a writer is more than stories, it’s an opportunity to touch the lives of others. That’s a gift that is worth all of the struggle, rejection, and long nights. So enjoy the long haul, see the beauty of writing along the way and become companions with other writers on the road with you whether they are in your rear mirror or up ahead. You travel the road together in it for the long haul.
Linda Whalen was raised in Southern California then married and traveled throughout the United States finally settling in Northern Calif. A city girl who found she loves country life with her husband, family and the creatures playing in the fields around her home. Devoting her life to children she has been a 4-H leader, volunteer teacher at her church, and owner/operator of Whalen’s Country Childcare a licensed facility. When she’s not writing Linda loves to sneak away to her art studio. To learn more, or contact Linda, please visit her website: http://www.lindawhalenauthor.com.
Linda Joy Singleton, author of over 45 books ranging from picture books to young adult, has a new picture book out with little bee books. It’s called A CAT IS BETTER and today, in celebration of its recent release, I am honored to have her as my guest. I know you will be inspired by her reflections on waiting for inspiration. Take it away, Linda!
WHEN INSPIRATION STRIKES
Linda Joy Singleton
Writers are often asked if they wait for inspiration to write a book. My answer used to be, “No way! I sit in my chair and write almost every day, until the book is finished.”
But writing my picture book, A CAT IS BETTER, has changed my answer. I can’t just say, “I’m going to sit down today and write a picture book.” The picture book process doesn’t work that way. I still believe it’s important to write regularly for novels; getting that first draft can be a huge, time-consuming challenge. If you don’t add a few pages regularly, the book may never get finished.
Writing picture books has been a different experience for me. The short format is closer to creating poetry or music, and just can’t be forced. It may sound cliche, but I have to wait to be inspired before I write a picture book.
Usually when an idea does strike, it’s in the middle of the night or when I’m driving. And if I don’t write it down immediately, the idea could vanish like a forgotten dream. Sometimes it feels like the words are a gift to me from the universe, and I’m always grateful (even for the many books I wrote that never sold).
My first picture book, SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, was inspired by a black and white photo. The next, CASH KAT, was triggered by a money game I played with my grandson.
But writing A CAT IS BETTER was a completely different experience. It was the first time that I was able to successfully ask the “universe” for an idea.
I was a speaker at a writing conference, and sitting in on another session. While others were making picture book dummies, a pre-arranged exercise, I had nothing to do. So I told myself that I would write a picture book. “What topic?” I asked myself. “Cats,” came the answer. Because I LOVE cats. And just like that—an opening line jumped into my head. “Congratulations, I’m your new cat. I’m the perfect pet for you. You may take me home now.”
My theory is that my creative brain whirls in the background of my life, but it’s not easy to access the information. But in this amazing moment, my conscious and creative mind connected. I wrote the first draft in one hour. I rewrote it for a few weeks, showed my agent, and after five rewrites for an editor, I had a contract. And A CAT IS BETTER was a June 2017 release from Little Bee Books.
Since that experience, I’ve had more of these conversations with myself. I saw a photo online that made me think, “Someone should write about this.” I kept thinking about the photo, and a title popped into my head. But I couldn’t think of a plot. I mulled this over, frustrated that no ideas happened. But at 4AM one morning, words popped into my head! I got up, typed quickly, writing a rough draft.
I don’t know if this new book will sell, but it was fun to write. Thank heavens for amazing, almost magical moments of inspiration.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Joy Singleton is the author of over 45 MG, YA and picture books. She’s currently working on the 6th mystery in the MG series, CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB. In 2017, she has two new picture books, A CAT IS BETTER and LUCY LOVES GOOSEY. She lives in the country with a menagerie of animals, including dogs, cats, pigs, horses and peacocks. She offers tips to writers and resources for teachers at www.LindaJoySingleton.com.