Pirates & Princesses

If you live in or near Sioux City, IA, you won’t want to miss Pirates & Princesses that benefits the Children’s Museum of Siouxland tomorrow (April 27)!  It’s at Bev’s on the River, and tickets can be purchased at the door.

Last year was our first year, and it was a blast. Guests came dressed up.

You can find out more information here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1411060552488917/

Hope to see you there!

The “Does your book make a parent run screaming from the room” syndrome / ie: Read it Again Factor

So here I am (was) working hard on my revisions… though it’s more a polishing. Add a work, delete a word, move a phrase, put it back…. It’s ready. I know it’s ready…. it’s gotten great feedback from others, the crit group, friends, my kids…. I love it, but will the people who I need to love it love it?

So, I asked my husband to read it… when it was done, I asked him, “would you read it again, or run screaming from the room if a child said ‘again Daddy?'”

Yes, there were many books which gave us nightmares when our kids said AGAIN…. Some we buried, others we learned what pages you could skip without ruining the plot, and some we would declare “bathroom break!” and then come in with another book we found that they would love.

hiding

My husband and I read to our kids a lot when they were younger. And I still do when they will hang out and listen. Now I read them my books, sometimes an award winning book I want to discuss from a child point of view, and sometimes one of my critique partners books that I’m not sure if I’m being too adult about.”

One question we need to ask both ourselves and our readers is, would you read it again? The read it again factor…

How can we test this?

  • Do you want to read it over and over? If you are getting bored, others will too.
  • Do you enjoy reading it aloud? Is it fun?
  • Does it offer interaction between the reader and the audience/child? Do you have a catch phrase or sound effect they can take over.
  • Does it feel long when you read it again the second time, right after you just read it….or is the length good?
  • If you are doing author visits, can you see yourself reading it 10 times in a day. Yes, I’ve done that. Luckily I found a way to change it up for my own entertainment.
  • Does it leave room for discussion?
  • Did you leave room for the Illustrator to have fun?

Put it on your list for your critique group… a good story is great and all, but if it’s going to be hidden in a box, and stuffed in the back of the garage for the next bonfire, I’d rather someone tells me now.

What makes a book fun for you to read over and over and over and over?

Inspired by Autism

One question I often get about my book It’s Almost Time is: what gave you the idea to write about clocks?

I didn’t wake up one day and say “I’m going to write about clock sounds.” It was a process that is close to my heart.

My son was always a bit different then the other kids. He observed things other kids took for granted. He was the first to tell a shop owner they had a light bulb out, that their clock was off, or that there was a buzzing sound. When at the mall, he was always drawn into the clock store. I never thought anything of it, hey, clocks are cool! We’d go into the store and Alex would spend a good 30 minutes watching the clocks. The worker there would take the hands and slowly move them up to the hour so the clocks would cuckoo-cuckoo, sing, or dance. He loved showing Alex the new clocks that came in.

One day I was working at the mall and Alex was with me for a few hours. They let him hang out in the clock store and tinker with a broken clock.

I searched for clock books. The only ones I could find were telling time books, and it wasn’t the same. So I sat down at my computer to capture the experience. I wanted to show all the different sounds, and introduce the different types of clocks. To Alex and I, clocks came alive when we walked in the store. Even my youngest loved going to the clock store.

Not long after, Alex was diagnosed with high functioning Autism. Alex found a friendship in clocks he couldn’t find in people. Clocks are safe, reliable, and sociable in a way he can relate too. They are all different, and none of them ask too much from each other.

When my book came out, Alex had an outlet. He loves coming with me on author visits and organizing the audience. He came up with the audience being all the clocks and recreating the clock store experience. I get tears in my eyes thinking of how comfortable he is in front of people when I take him with me to do visits.

www.goreadtoday.com

Since my book was published, I’ve heard from other parents with children with Autism that they connect to the book. Who knew how many people love and relate to clocks as much as our family!

Alex starts high school this year. He has a small collection of clocks to keep him company, and some human buddies as well. I’ve learned so much from Alex and am a proud mom. I wouldn’t change anything about him. Those with autism make this world a little bit more special.  I’m blessed to be a proud mom of a child on the Spectrum.

If you are interested in reading more about Alex and when we diagnosed him, visit here:
http://journeytoasper.blogspot.com/2010/11/introduction.html

“Tick-tick tock, it’s almost time. The gears are winding, getting ready to chime.”
It’s Almost Time, Kane Miller

 

PB First Pages Must Sing

I love writer’s conferences! Not only do we get to hang out with other authors, we get to listen to amazing people (agents, editors, art directors, authors and even lawyers) share insight into the industry.

Registration closed. Look for our conference in October!

 Look for our conference in October! Just wanted to share the amazing artwork.

 

Friday at SCBWI-IOWA was the Julie Ham show. Julie is the Associate Editor/contracts manager at Charlesbridge press. And I got to introduce her!

Of course, before I introduce someone, I want to get to know them.  I want their deepest and darkest secrets. However, since that’s a little stalkerish and I don’t want to be banned, I keep it to other interesting tidbits like favorite books, food, advice….  I learned that Julie’s favorite book growing up with TALE OF TWO BAD MICE by Beatrix Potter, which then transformed into LITTLE WOMEN as her taste in books matured.  Today her favorite book is called TAGGED, and it is one she is editing. It has an edgy voice and is about a 14 year old graffiti artist.

And of course, everyone should know if you go out to pizza with Julie, order a veggie pizza. She’s not a vegetarian though, she’s a pescetarian.

Registration closed.

She shared with us tips on making a picture book sing… and it all starts at the very beginning….Yes, the first page. Just like in chapter books where we hear all about the first page, the same goes for picture books.

Think of it this way. Your story is one of 300 a month. Someone has to read those. They had a long week and are tired, but believe that in the pile, the next OWL MOON or SOPHIA’s SQUASH, is hiding, just waiting to be discovered. They pick up your story and read. One of two things happen; the first sentence grabs them and they become engaged OR they blink their eyes, yawn and say “next.”  They don’t have time to read everything.  That doesn’t give you time for backstory, much set up unless it grabs a reader and pulls them in, or an opportunity to take the long rode into the story.  Every word matters.

Here are some books that Julie talked about with gripping first pages. Head to the library and study these. Look at the language. Look at the first page. Ask yourself a few questions:

Do you want to read more, why?

How are they setting up the story?

Did they have any backstory?

What is the book about?

What more do you want to know? (A good first page makes you want to know more. It makes you invested.)

Here are those titles:

i-want-my-hat-back-lineup

  • I Want My Hat Back
  • Zen Shorts
  • Little Pig Joins the Band
  • Grandpa Green
  • Ellington was not a Street
  • Ballet for Martha
  • The Curious Garden
  • Imogene’s Last Stand
  • Extra Yarn

And of course if she had read my book, she’d have added it to the list:

Remember, you need to be your biggest critique. Don’t settle! Push yourself to make your story the best story you can! You can do it!