Fly, Dragon, Fly!

Guest blogger: Jodi Moore
Post originally appeared on YA Outside the Lines, a blog co-authored by YA writers.

I’m a huge fan of the Butterfly Effect. Not only of the movie, but of the theory alleging that one tiny action in a system can inspire huge effects elsewhere, or as the analogy states: one flap of a butterfly’s wing in Brazil can result in a tornado in Texas.   

Not that I want a tornado in Texas. Hmm. Maybe I believe in the Kindness Effect. Where one act of kindness can inspire large change…

But I digress. This month, we’re questioning whether or not we’d change anything on the journey to publishing our first book.

To which I answer, absolutely not.
I wouldn’t change the fact my husband and I were in the throes of Empty Nest. Because hard as it is to let go, it was time to let our little birdies fly. And their accomplishments, spirit and drive continue to fill our hearts.

I wouldn’t change the fact my husband brought their sand toys to the lake anyway, that Labor Day after they left for college. Because with the help of the other children on the beach, he built a castle. The castle that inspired When A Dragon Moves In.

I wouldn’t change the fact that although some renowned publishers (from the big six) insisted I determine whether the dragon in the story was real or imaginary before the book could ever be published, I stuck to my original of idea of wanting the reader to decide. Because finally, one editor, my editor, Shari Dash Greenspan of Flashlight Press, “got it.” And then she gave the manuscript to brilliant illustrator Howard McWilliam, who took the idea and elevated it to heights I’d never even imagined.

If I’d changed anything along the way, When A Dragon Moves In may never have seen the light of day. Two more Dragons have followed: When A Dragon Moves In Again and (the newly released) I Love My Dragon. Would they have been “born?”

Look, all of us wish at times we’d made different decisions. Especially when things don’t turn out the way we’d hoped.

But When A Dragon Moves In turned out better than I’d hoped. So, would I change anything? Would I restrain one flap of that butterfly, er, Dragon?
Simply put, nope.

Mark your calendars for #BNStorytime!

Visit your local Barnes and Noble this Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 11 am for their Storytime and Activities event featuring How I Met My Monster!

Click here to find a B&N store near you!

Happy #NationalMonsterDay!

Celebrate by welcoming the newest member of our Monster family: “Are You My Monster?” – a board book companion for babies and toddlers!

Help Ethan compare his drawing to an assortment of amusing monsters. Do the colors match? Are their tails long or short? Are their nails pointy or round? Are their teeth big or small? Children will be thrilled when Ethan finds the perfect match – which turns out to be his beloved stuffed monster toy – just in time for bed.

“Little ones will enjoy the parade of silly creatures…while also learning colors and matching.The sweet ending shows that even those with sharp teeth and scratchy claws can be cuddly,turning the monster-under-the-bed trope on its head.” – School Library Journal

An author’s thoughts from the ALA Midwinter Conference

Guest blogger: Amanda Noll, author of I Need My Monster and Hey, That’s MY Monster! and two more upcoming monster books!

In January, I had the unique opportunity to participate as an author at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Seattle, Washington, The number of vendors and professionals was staggering, and the whole experience was tremendous. I was hosted by IPG (Independent Publishers Group), the awesome, hardworking team who distribute my books and the entire Flashlight Press line to bookstores.

Librarians began lining up even before it was time for me to start autographing the free copies, and that line didn’t end until we ran out of books, all 100 of them! I’ve never had people queue up to meet me; I almost felt famous! I credit IPG for creating the buzz: they promoted my signing front and center at the Friday night opening session, and that’s when the excitement started to build. Cynthia and the rest of the IPG team kept the line moving and made sure books were ready for the enthusiastic librarians awaiting them.

It was thrilling to be at an event where peers and professionals knew and loved my books, and were excited to meet me. I connected with many local librarians, and had a chance to greet and speak with librarians from as far as Brazil and Asia, and from all around the world.

The librarians shared countless stories of reading my books to their young library patrons or students, and to their own children at bedtime. They told me they were absolutely thrilled to see the upcoming board book Are You My Monster (July 2019) as well as the upcoming picture book prequel, How I Met My Monster (October 2019). Flashlight Press prepared gorgeous sell sheets, which the librarians eagerly snatched up.

Signing my books at an ALA conference was a defining moment in my journey as an author. I’m grateful that this milestone can now be checked off my bucket list.

Amanda’s monster books are available through IPG, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and your local bookseller.

My Long Journey to Becoming a Published Children’s Book Author

Written by Jason Lefebvre for Kids’ BookBuzz

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My first attempt at writing a picture book came in 1998.

I thought the story was amazing. It wasn’t.

Fortunately, I was twenty-two years old, I had just completed my Bachelor’s degree in English, and I knew everything. I spent the next year of my life making all the wrong moves, trying to get my story published. I submitted on my own to large houses that only accept agented materials, wrote stories that I labeled as picture books, but were five thousand words long, and put together ridiculous query letters daring publishing houses to pass on what was sure to be the next great work in children’s literature.

Almost immediately, I had a need for actual employment. I began working in a preschool surrounded by picture books that were actually good and got a part-time job as a Children’s Librarian to make ends meet. Slowly, I began to realize something awful. My stories weren’t good, and my way of getting them published was even worse. The twenty-two-year-old who knew everything had become a twenty-three-year-old who knew nothing. It was the perfect starting point.

The next few years were spent taking the business of writing and publishing seriously. There were groups to join and books to read. I joined SCBWI or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It was an amazing resource putting me in touch with people and organizations that understood from experience what it took to get something published. I read any picture book that I came across and borrowed from the limitless imaginations of the kids in my class and the ones that came through the library. If you want to write picture books, find a job working with children. It’s basically cheating.

While writing picture books was starting to make a little sense, the submission process was still frustrating. At a time when most houses still only accepted submissions via snail mail, a writer could wait six months to a year for a form letter response that basically said “thanks, but no thanks.”  I had begun to receive a few personalized rejections. In the world of submissions, a “no” that is personalized is viewed as a positive, so I kept at it. Continue reading “My Long Journey to Becoming a Published Children’s Book Author”

Donate Your Fines

Maddi’s Fridge was featured in the Weekend Regional this week. Inspired by the book, the Brooks Public Library in Canada has a new program in place – accepting food donations in lieu of paying your library fines.

The program will continue until March 23rd, with each donated item acting as $1 of your fine.

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Author Jason Lefebvre on his experience at the International Literacy Associaton

Too Much Glue author Jason Lefebvre was a guest at the International Literacy Association. Here’s what he said about his time at the conference:

Jason Lefebvre photo 2.jpg“To say that I was excited to be a part of the International Literacy Association conference in July 2017 would be an understatement. Not only did I get to visit beautiful Orlando, FL for the first time, I also got to meet the hardworking Go Teach team from Newell brands, the parent company of Elmer’s Glue.

When my book Too Much Glue was published by Flashlight Press in 2013, we were thrilled to see that kindergarten and 1st grade teachers LOVED using it as an intro to teaching glue skills. (“Glue raindrops, not puddles!”) Soon after, Elmer’s Teacher Club created a free literature-based teaching guide, The World of Glue, featuring Too Much Glue. Fast forward 4 years, and Go Teach graciously invited me to appear at their ILA booth to sign copies of Too Much Glue over the course of the three-day conference.
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When I arrived, I saw that Go Teach/Elmer’s had brought 500 books for me to sign! Being a prototypical, pessimistic New Englander, I immediately thought, “Oh no! What if no one stops by to visit me?” The conference began on Saturday morning, and a few people trickled into line. The trickle turned into a steady flow, and my pessimism hit again. “Oh no!” I thought, “What if we don’t have enough books for all three days?” I quickly realized that the Go Teach team had planned well, and I could settle in and enjoy the experience.

Being surrounded by educators is an amazing thing. They are the perfect audience to understand the creative chaos in Too Much Glue, and I was soon laughing, swapping stories and having an all-around awesome time. Hearing these people – who dedicate their lives to teaching our children – express how my story resonated with them blew me away and was a little tough to get my head around. What wasn’t hard to understand was the high praise they had for illustrator Zac Retz.  Countless people commented on what an amazing talent he is and how special it must feel to have someone, so unbelievably creative, work on a story you have written. They were right. I definitely lucked out when Flashlight Press chose Zac to illustrate my story.

TMG 1When the conference finally wound down on Monday, I wished it would go on just a little longer. It was a special three days. If you had told me five years ago that I would spend an entire weekend autographing a book that I had written, I would have thought you were crazy. Of all the remarkable things I have experienced since Too Much Glue came out in 2013, and fortunately there have been many, this ranks right up there. I am also keenly aware that none of this would have been possible if the people at Flashlight Press hadn’t seen something special in a bizarre manuscript about a kid who glues himself to a desk. I will always be grateful that they did.”