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My Long Journey to Becoming a Published Children’s Book Author June 25, 2018

Posted by flashlightblog in Author Notes, Book News, Flashlight Press, Imagination, Individuality, Interviews, Self-Esteem, Too Much Glue, Values.
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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. (more…)

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Donate Your Fines March 8, 2018

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press, Maddi's Fridge.
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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 September 24, 2017

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press.
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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.”

Six Things About Jackson the Mole (and his mole friends) You Might Want to Know July 17, 2017

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press.
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Jackson pg 16-17Jackson picks out his clothes in No More Noisy Nights, written by Holly Niner, illustrated by Guy Wolek. Flashlight Press, 2017

#1  In No More Noisy Nights, Jackson lives underground. Moles make their tunnel systems in grasslands, cities, gardens, and sand dunes. These critters can make a home anywhere that has soil, and are found on every continent except Antarctica and South America.

#2 Moles are fossorial, or “diggers.” Their large paws have six fingers that are adapted for digging large networks of underground tunnels where they sleep and eat. This is how they avoid predators like owls, buzzards, cats, and dogs, who might want to eat them.

#3 In the book, Jackson wears glasses. Real moles don’t wear glasses, but they cannot see very well. Instead, they have a bare area on their noses with many little pimples to detect the movement and scent of animals around them. This helps them find food in dark tunnels, and stay safe.

#4 Jackson moves into his new home at the beginning of the story. When moles are about one month old, they leave their parents to make a home of their own. This may seem

very young, but moles usually live up to four years. This means our Jackson is a young adult.

relaxing mole

#5 Jackson moves in alone because moles are solitary creatures. Jackson is a friendly mole who gets along with his “noisy new friends,” but real moles are territorial, and almost never live together.

#6 In the story, Jackson eats cereal and toast, but in real life, moles eat earthworms and a variety of nuts. Yum!

 

Don’t forget to sneak a preview of No More Noisy Nights — now available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at your local bookstore!

Librarians Line Up for Author Holly Niner at the ALA Conference July 9, 2017

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press.
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I loved my elementary school librarian and her wonderful quiet space filled with books waiting to be explored. She always knew just what to recommend and, when she saw that my appetite for books exceeded my weekly check-out limit, she suggested that a friend and I pick our books together and trade halfway through the week. For me, librarians know where to find all the answers and all the good books, so it was an honor to be invited to sign copies of my new book, The Day I Ran Away, and my upcoming No More Noisy Nights at the American Library Association Conference in Chicago, where so many lovers of books and knowledge gather in one place.

Although I’d seen the list of exhibitors online, I was awestruck by the number of booths, their size and scope, and the variety of publishers and industry-related products represented. As my husband and I wandered the halls prior to my signing, I pointed out publishers with whom I’d had contact over the years (too many rejection letters to count!) and looked for books I’d seen reviewed. I noticed some LONG lines of excited attendees waiting for an author’s signature, and then other authors with no line at all. I grew a bit apprehensive, as my signing time got closer. Would people want copies of my books?

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We found the booth and were met by the wonderful staff of Independent Publishers Group (IPG), who distribute for Flashlight Press and hundreds of other independent publishers. The author who was signing before me did have a line, and in fact, ran overtime into my slot to give away as many books as possible. When the IPG staff member announced that they’d run out of her books, I piped up and suggested that folks wait, because I’d be giving away books in a few minutes too. Librarians love books, especially free ones! They asked what my books were, so we handed out two samples which they looked at and passed down the line to share.

By the time I began signing, I had my own line of excited librarians who were thrilled that they didn’t have to choose between The Day I Ran Away and No More Noisy Nights, but could have one of each. Although I had less than a minute with each librarian, it was exciting to speak with people from all over the US and Canada. With the ALA conference in Chicago this year, many attendees were from the Midwest, but folks also came from California, Texas, Utah, New York, North Carolina, Maine, Florida, Arkansas, and more that I cannot recall. There were public and private school librarians, university librarians, and public librarians. Many were gifting their free books to family or friends, and others were donating to their schools. I loved hearing their enthusiasm not only for my books, but for their work in sharing books with children.

Before I knew it, my time was up, and IPG cut me off! Several people then asked my husband if I could sign for them, so we moved to the corner of the booth and gave away a few more of the remaining books. In all, we gave away about 160 books!

One last highlight: the IPG booth was located near the Library of Congress booth, and it was heartening to see Carla Hayden, the new director, being treated like a rock star with interviews and people clamoring for a moment of her time! When my first picture book was released in 2004, my son was excited to point out that a copy would be forever kept in the Library of Congress. An amazing thing to think about!

0624171524_hdr-e1499257815209It was such an uplifting day! Thank you to IPG for hosting me at your booth, to Lauren at IPG for talking up No More Noisy Nights at the Morning Book Buzz, to Flashlight Press for creating great books, and to all the librarians who stood in line making me feel like a queen for an hour! Librarians know that reading is essential to understanding ourselves, our world, and our place in it. When we learn how to “find friends” in books, we are never alone. It is my hope that these wonderful librarians will create lifelong readers, and lifelong readers will help make this world a better place.

Blog post by Holly Niner, author of The Day I Ran Away and No More Noisy Nights.

What wacky holiday is it today? It’s National Flashlight Day and the Winter Solstice! December 21, 2013

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press.
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Illustration from 'Victricia Malicia', written by Carrie Clickard, illustrated by Mark Meyers

Illustration from ‘Victricia Malicia’, written by Carrie Clickard, illustrated by Mark Meyers

Get under your covers and read a book by flashlight on this longest night of the year. Choose one of Flashlight Press’s great books.

What wacky holiday is it today? It’s Mitten Tree Day! December 6, 2013

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Written by Simon Van Booy Illustrated by Wendy Edelson

Written by Simon Van Booy
Illustrated by Wendy Edelson

Can you keep track of your mittens? Pobble certainly can’t, but at least this lost mitten gives the forest animals something to talk about! Find Pobble’s lost mitten in Pobble’s Way here.

In the excitement, something fell from Pobble’s pocket and landed on the snowy leaves.

What wacky holiday is it today? It’s Duct Tape Day! December 5, 2013

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press.
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Written by Jason LeFebvre Illustrated by Zac Retz

Written by Jason LeFebvre
Illustrated by Zac Retz

Get sticky with Matty as he has an adventure in Too Much Glue. Click here for a sneak peek of the book.

Glue raindrops, not puddles!

What wacky holiday is it today? It’s Marooned Without a Compass Day! November 6, 2013

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Written by Carrie Clickard Illustrated by Mark Meyers

Written by Carrie Clickard
Illustrated by Mark Meyers

Ahoy there pirates! Hope you’re not marooned without a compass today. If you are, entertain yourself by reading about another pirate’s adventures in Victricia Malicia. Find the full pdf here.

“Let’s ground her awhile-” “For a week-” “Maybe two-” “On a boring old island, with nothing to do.”

What wacky holiday is it today? It’s Sandwich Day! November 3, 2013

Posted by flashlightblog in Flashlight Press.
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Written by Debbie HermanIllustrated by Sheila Bailey

Written by Debbie Herman
Illustrated by Sheila Bailey

Prepare a creative lunch this Sandwich Day with some ideas from Carla’s Sandwich. Enjoy the full pdf here.

Carla brought weird sandwiches to school.

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