I’ve had four commissions this month! Yippee!
However not all of them were children’s book related, actually most of them were NOT so I won’t post them on here. I will however post the ones that I do think might relate to children’s books.
This one unfortunately didn’t work out, but I did like working on the image.
This is a WIP and wasn’t intended for a PB, however it looks very middle grade I believe. Who knows! I could illustrate a middle grade one day.
Last month AND this month were both pretty busy! I should start writing reviews again, I did read just about fifty picture books last month haha. Plenty to write about!
I’m ending with the beginning. The Keynote Speaker Bruce Coville was fantastic despite the microphone issues. And besides, I don’t REALLY think he needed a microphone anyway as his presence, his CHARACTER, filled the room and got the audience’s attention immediately.
Speaking of character, that was the topic he chose to open the conference with. Character is ultimately what keeps the readers and listeners coming back for more. Even if you’ve read all the blogs with all the tips on how to make a good story, even if the concept is intriguing or the art phenomenal, a good main character is the key ingredient to the children’s book creation.
Below I will section off the notes in bullet points. Anything quoted is directly from him, or my attempt to quote the fabulous things this man says haha.
Take that character you love and give them trouble:
- Make a “scary” story. “What is a scary story? A scary story is when a character you love is in trouble.”
- “A perfect ending has both a surprise and the inevitable. It’s not a coincidence.”
- Coincidence can be used to get them into trouble, NOT OUT OF TROUBLE.
- Make the audience HA (laugh), WAH (sorrow, relief, personal connection) and YIP! (GASP! The “scary” situation.)
- Make your character face a tough choice.
- Throw in what the character doesn’t want.
- Make the character “need” as the need drives the action.
- Character MUST solve the problem.
Coville said something similar to “A great story is well told.”
- Female type of storytelling is the beauty of language and character.
- Male type of storytelling is the action and energy, the tension.
- A story needs BOTH types to become a great story.
- Character IS plot.
- Every payoff must be a set up, every set up must have a pay off.
- Tell the stories clear to get the attention it needs.
- Fold a piece of paper into 6 sections, or 12 sections if you’re writing for an older audience.
- Write 1-6/1-12 in the boxes.
- Write most potent memories in grades 1-6/1-12.
- Write opposite point of view/varying different point of views.
He said something like this, “The right story at the right moment is like an arrow to the heart” and that sentence itself sent an arrow to my heart.
And that’s it! That’s all the notes I’m typing up on this blog. I hope they were even a little helpful to whoever reads this post.
Take a gander at one of my note spreads…
Veronica Bartles, author of The Princess and the Frogs, gave an informative presentation Saturday at the From Dreaming to Doing 2017 MD/DE/WV conference about the differences between publishing your work at a small press vs a large press.
She began by listing a few things to the audience that I think every writer (and illustrator!) should think about:
- Figure out where you want to go.
- If you do not know where you want to go then it doesn’t matter what path you take (just think about the cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland when Alice asks what path she should take)
- WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU?
She then went on to listing the differences between the two types of presses.
- Niche market or specific audience. This is good if you have a VERY specific type of book that may not work in a Large Press.
- Individualized attention.
- “Family” feel. Basically everyone knows you in that small company and you have like a sibling rival feel with the other published authors there.
- Innovative marketing. You’ll be pretty much marketing yourself.
- No agent required.
- Advance and royalties. Some have a higher royalty rate, some don’t even have them.
- Also, make sure to know your contract inside and out because the small press could own your rights one day and then they might go under the next day and STILL have the rights to your book despite not existing anymore.
- Expanded market, which is great for a wider distributer.
- Perceived status.
- “One of the gang” feel, like you are now with the “big kids.”
- Powerful marketing.
- Agent required.
- Advance and royalties.
- Again, pay attention to contracts. Every press is different!
As for picture books, a bigger press would be a better option so for me I would not go with a small press.
Bartles ends on this note, “Whatever path you’re taking, make it YOUR path, not someone else’s.”
This month is the month of STORYSTORM, a whirlwind of idea generating madness.
To try to gain some inspiration for the next month, I will be adding a list of favorite picture books and reviewing them. Some old, some new, but all good stuff.
Writing reviews for my favorite picture books will give me a closer look into how they make me love them and will hopefully inspire new ideas. Unfortunately I’ve already reviewed Pete the Cat and Dragons Love Tacos, because they would totally be on my list, but I still have plenty to go!
Here is the lineup:
- A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, ill. by Erin E. Stead (2010)
- Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, ill. by Jon Klassen (2012)
- Ramble of one of childhood favorite Author/illustrator Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, because I have to. (I have the 50th anniversary copy 2013)
- The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock, ill. by Mary Grandpre (2014)
- The Bear Ate your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach (2015)
- Thank you, Octopus by Darren Farrell (2014)
- The Dark by Lemony Snicket, ill. by Jon Klassen (2013)
- Bloom by Doreen Cronin, ill. David Small (2016)
- One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, ill. by David Small
- Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk, ill. by Brendan Kearney
- How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen, ill. by Mark Teague (2000)
- Firefly Mountain by Patricia Thomas, ill. by Peter Sylvada (2007)
- Ramble about another childhood favorite The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka, ill. by Lane Smith and more (25th anniversary addition)
- Please, Louise by Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison, ill. by Shadra Strickland (2014)
- There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann, ill. by Ben Mantle (2015)
- Ramble about Wanda Gag’s Millions of Cats and why she inspired me to illustrate/write children’s books in the first place.
- Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light (2014)
- Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty, ill. by David Roberts (2013)
- The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff, ill. by Eliza Wheeler
- I Don’t Want to be a Frog by Dev Petty, ill. by Mike Boldt (2015)
- Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (but more just Shaun Tan work in general)
Okay! That’s a pretty big line up, but I’m ready to get to writing~
In the 1950’s the world thought that only a man could gain a powerful position with his career. Only a man could have the strength, intelligence, and ambition to make his mark in history… or so the world thought.
And then, along came Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Balzer & Bray/ Harper Collins Publishers, Ages 4 to 8, 2016, $17.99($13.49 on amazon)
With her wit and love for public service, Clinton was pulled into politics at a young age. Throughout her years she fought for social justice and continues to do so today. With Pham’s charming and fairly accurate illustrations, Markel tells a story of an ambitious women to inspire girls everywhere with the message that some girls really are born to lead. A time line is included for more information on Clinton’s achievements near the end for research material. Though Markel’s work could potentially be used as a research tool for a beginning look at important people in history, Clinton’s tale might be a little too long to keep the younger readers attentive. Markel’s work is labeled for ages 4 to 8, however with the political tone and length, the age range of 6 to 8 might be more accurate. If the reader wanted more early research picture books on Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight by Kathleen Krull might be a good option.
The Good/Bad List!
- Good: The illustrations seem fairly accurate and are charming enough to continue to the next page.
- Good: The illustration in the back of the book of other powerful women makes this seem like it could potentially be apart of a series. However at this time I couldn’t find any other book related to this one.
- Bad: Too long. 42 pages of text that I’m really not sure will keep the attention of a 4 or 5 year old.
- Bad: Political tone close to propaganda. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it is, but some reviews on amazon say it is. As you can see the reviews are clearly split between the 5 stars and the 1 stars haha. Some on there are saying they received this book as a political gag gift and I must admit that I did as well, along with a Make America Great Again hat.
- Bad: The focus on this book being for girls is a negative. Boys need to learn about powerful women too without being excluded which I thought Markel unfortunately did. If the book was for both boys and girls I would recommend it.
- Good: Can be a fairly good early research book.
And that’s all for today! Good night~
Lately I haven’t been writing many reviews but I have been writing for NaNoWriMo…and again procrastinating! I only have 7,000 words so far!
But during my procrastination sessions I’ve been going over the ink drawings I did for October and realized that even if I don’t meet the goals of the challenges, I’m still being creative and working slowly but surly on my goals that I’ve set for the year.
Cheers for procrastination on one project and completing another haha!
Just look! Shapes are all around you. You can just observe them or you can shift them, change them, rearrange them anyway you’d like! You could make a crescent and a trapezoid look like a fish. You could turn a rectangle and a circle into a car. You could even make a clown upside down, if you wanted, it just takes some looking and a bit of creativity. With Hesselberth’s fun, simple, and colorful illustrations, the reader will learn about the many shapes around them and how to see them differently. Each page provides questions that reach for answers and participation from the audience. This concept of participation and learning is great for school circle time or can simply be for fun. Hesselberth’s work is recommended for ages 4 to 7.
Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Hold and Company, Ages 4 to 7, $16.99
The Good/Bad List (and a story!):
- Good: Love abstract, simple, colorful, and textured illustrations. Love the layout/design of the book. The illustrations made me (and the parents I showed Hesselberth’s work to) want to turn the page and see what the shapes created.
- Good: There are many questions, sounds, and little bits that call for participation.
- Bad: In the manuscript, there were certain parts that vaguely rhymed (or at least had a rhythm) that I enjoyed a lot, but it wasn’t consistent enough for me personally (though the parents didn’t seem to be affected in anyway, I’m probably just picky)
- Bad: Story time! So one lady who has a grandchild with a speech impediment says he has a problem pronouncing S and F. She told me that the first thing she thought about Shape Shift was how her grandchild would not be able to pronounce that correctly… meaning that he would accidentally say a curse word instead of the word “shift.” I did not think of this AT ALL when I saw this book, but when that was mentioned, the two other parents nodded in agreement. O_O this is probably not that bad, but it is worth mentioning.
- Good: It think this has some re-readability. I don’t think this has the ability like Pete the Cat does or Dragons Love Tacos but for a shape learning book, I think it’s fun enough to read again.
That’s all Folks! If you would like to look at Hesselberth’s work, go here.