Monday, June 29, 2009
I’ve pondered this for quite a while, and today I’d like to share my thoughts. Here goes: Writing a book is like giving birth!
Really. It’s true. I’ve experienced both, so I should know. (Unlike my husband, who has never had a baby, yet claims that his kidney stone was much worse than childbirth. I’ve told him that when he passes a stone the size of a grapefruit, he’ll know what childbirth is really like.)But, I digress. I am comparing childbirth to writing a book. As an author, I’ve worked on each of my books for many months, or even many, many months. Each project, like an unborn child, slowly grows and develops. All the while, my eye remains on the future, wondering what it holds for me and my new “little one”. Eventually, after what seems like an eternity, the labor begins. The final stages of tying the book together, working with the editor, deliberating over the illustrations, and making many last-minute adjustments is often very laborious (as in labor).
Then one day, when I feel I can’t wait any longer, the book finally arrives. So exciting! I clasp the new book in my arms and hold it to my heart. Each new book, just like a new baby, seems so familiar, yet at the same time, there is the nagging feeling that I‘ve never seen it before. I know that deep down I love it because it is all mine, yet I really don’t know it at all.
And just like having a baby, this is only the beginning, the first step in a very long parent-child relationship. So much depends on how I “raise” this baby. If I schedule promotions, market well, and put my heart and soul into the little newcomer, I will be a very proud parent indeed. And, if I am lucky, I will forget the short-lived pain and suffering and do it all over again.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Today I can relax. Maybe drink a glass of wine. A big hurdle in creating my new children's picture book is complete. Well, sort of. Let's just say that the idea is complete. I now have to convey the scene in my head to my talented, mind-reading illustrator.
After obsessing for weeks over exactly what should appear on the cover, the fragmented ideas floating in my head have finally come together. I've said in previous blogs that it works well for the main character in a picture book to be introduced first on the cover. OK, that was the easy part. The hard part, after deciding exactly what he looks like, was deciding what he would be doing. He can't just stand there. Nope. This little guy will actually be doing something not usually seen on book covers. Hmmm... And, after much deliberation, I decided what he will be wearing - nothing! Hmmm...
Now, of course I can't tell you what the cover looks like just yet. And, I won't even share the title with you for a while. What I will share are the steps that we go through as this new book takes on a life of its own. Here we go again...
Sunday, June 21, 2009
You've heard of writer's block? Have you ever heard of total mind block? That's what I have. I'm in the early stages of creating the character for my next fairy book and right now I think my grey matter has turned to sludge. The story is finished, and actually it's mighty good. That was the easy part. The challenge is to create the actual appearance of another mischievous fairy. He must have just the right look, just the right clothes and just the right attitude. I also must decide exactly what he should be doing on the cover. (Should he be standing, sitting, riding a motorbike, taking a bath?) I want this book to be completely irresistable to all who come into it's path. Usually if I go to bed thinking about a problem, I will wake up with the answer. Not so this time. Maybe my subconscious mind is on summer break.
What do YOU do when your creativity seems to completely shut down? For me, I think I'll do something simple and mindless for the day. I think I just found another excuse to go shopping.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Exciting news -
The National, virtual blog tour for actress, Julianne Moore's latest picture book, "Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully," is making a stop in Cynthia's Attic. Children's author, Mary Cunningham (Cynthia's Attic Series) is hosting Ms. Moore today, June 19, with interviews and information about Book Two in the delightful Freckleface series.
You'll also find a link for additional "Freckleface" tour stops.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Little did I know when I offered to help my granddaughters search for a missing item in their garage today, that I would be dealing with a life lesson. A poor, lifeless little mouse was found buried under a pile of "stuff". We couldn't just toss the little guy into the trash. So we did what might only be done by a vegetarian grandmother. We gave him a name (Edward) and we gave him a funeral. Ten minutes, a tiny hole in the ground and a simple "Goodbye Edward". The lesson of the day - No life is less valuable than any other.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Whenever I present or exhibit my books, I meet a lot of interesting people. To me the most interesting folks are the ones who want to write a book. At one elementary school event, I was even approached by a police officer in full swat regalia (really scared me) who wanted to talk to me about writing a children's book. Most of these well-meaning people have the best of intentions. Many have family stories that have been passed down through several generations. A few have told me that they have a story inside "that needs to be told". I tell them the most important lesson I have learned in becoming a children's author - that there is only ONE step between having intentions and doing something.
So if you are a would-be writer, or a would-be anything for that matter, why not give it a try? What if it works and you never do it? You won't know how great it feels until you do.
Monday, June 8, 2009
As I work on my 4th children's picture book, I will be dealing with a number of related topics in my blog. At each step of the process, I will pass my thoughts along. Hopefully I can offer some guidance, and help others avoid mistakes.
At this point, I have finished writing the story. Now comes the task of working with the illustrator to make sure that the pictures not only fit the words, but are suitable for children. In books for young children (K-1st grade), it's essential to avoid placing the characters in dangerous settings. For example, I just read a picture book where the main character had pulled a chair up to the stove and was looking very proud of himself. I'm sure this makes mothers everywhere cringe. It would have been safer to depict him climbing on something not quite as dangerous.
It's also crucial for the pictures to incorporate elements that young children can relate to. Story characters should be placed in background settings that are familiar to children, such as school, home, doctor's office, stores or playgrounds. In another book that I just reviewed, the main character was pictured watching a TV cooking show that in real life actually aired in the 1980's. Young children will have no idea what is going on. I was actually a little confused myself.
It's also important for the characters to appear friendly. Even dinosaurs and monsters can be depicted in a whimsical way, with smiling faces, even wearing clothes. Imagine how scary Barney might have been without his goofy smile and green belly.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Aha! I've got it! I've been plagued for a while with a series of dreams, all with a similar theme. Last night I actually had THREE of these miserable dreams.
In the first dream, I arrived at an antique auction, only to find that I was too late. Everything had been sold. People were walking around carrying gorgeous glass bowls and gold figurines and I had missed it all.
In the second dream, I arrived at a church, looking for a party to which I had been invited. It turned out to be the wrong church and I had forgotten my cell phone, so I had no way to contact anyone for the correct information.
In the third dream (the scariest one of all!) there were two different, very large bugs (a cricket and a centipede to be exact). I was screaming for my husband to come and save me. There was no way to get out of the room without getting close to the creatures.
I'm pretty sure I now know what they mean: I'm a person who always tries to be in the right place at the right time and I am frustrated when this doesn't happen. I want to succeed, however there are always obstacles to overcome. I work so hard to promote my books and yet there is always more to be done.
So, since I have figured this out, now what?? How do you try hard and still not feel frustrated when complications arise? Or, is there a far out chance that I am just normal?
Thursday, June 4, 2009
It makes me sad when I meet people who have knowledge in a particular area and are unwilling to share with others. When I started writing children's books there was so much that I didn't know. In fact, I didn't even know how much I didn't know! Since the beginning of my new career, I have met two types of people - those who share and those who do not, or simply the selfish and the unselfish.
In my way of thinking, the more we share in any particular field, the better that field will become. Just like "a whole is greater than the sum of its parts." I am eternally grateful for the unselfish people whose advice has kept me from making some major blunders. One of my goals is to "pay it forward" and offer advice to those who wish to learn from my mistakes rather than theirs. Things can only get better if we all do this.
C'mon everyone. Let's loosen up and share.
Monday, June 1, 2009
It has been an exciting month for The Sock Fairy. The book has received a gold medal in the Indie Excellence Book Awards, a silver medal in the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, and was a finalist in the ForeWord Magazine Book-of-the-Year Awards.
Interestingly, while I was attending Book Expo America in New York last weekend, a fellow author told me how "lucky" I am to have a new book receive so much attention. It sounded as if he was implying that I wrote the book one day and received the awards the next day. Oh, if only that were true! The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. I have been hard at work on my fairy series for about 4 years - writing, re-writing and re-re-writing. Then there is work of planning the illustrations, working with the graphic designer, writing the songs for the accompanying CDs, recording the CDs. Next, there is the planning and implementing of the marketing, the promotions, the school visits, the book fairs, the internet connections...
Yes, it is really a wonderful feeling to be noticed in a vast sea of books. I am so, so grateful for the awards my books have won (fourteen so far). I have learned that the harder you work, the luckier you will appear to be. I just hope all budding writers realize that the work has to come first.