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.

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

TMG hi res

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”

When A Dragon Moves In – the Graphic Novel?

Originally Published on March 21
Taken from Jodi Moore’s Blog

Today I received a truly splendiferous email. It seems a fifth grade teacher challenged her students to take a favorite story and turn it into a graphic novel.

And guess what?

*drum roll*

One of her students chose When A Dragon Moves In…and her mom not only shared it with me, but gave me permission to share it with all of YOU!

*Tigger dances*

Words can’t describe what an honor and a thrill this is. And so without further ado, it’s my privilege to share the work of this brilliant young artist:

(SPOILER – check out the alternate ending!!!)

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sarah. Like Howard McWilliam (the illustrator for When A Dragon Moves In and When A Dragon Moves In Again), you’ve brought my characters, my vision – my dream – to life! You’re an inspiration to all of us, and we can’t wait to enjoy more of your talents!

I Need My Monster Book Parade!

Check out this video of Mrs. Bright’s second grade class in Alpharetta, GA. The students chose I Need My Monster (written by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam) for their Book Parade!

The costumes are amazing! Way to go!

Carla Would Love a Peanut Butter & Pickle Sandwich!

From the New York Times:

Peanut Butter Takes On an Unlikely Best Friend

by Dwight Garner

Like Krazy and Ignatz, Carville and Matalin, Cupid and Psyche or Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, the peanut butter and pickle sandwich is one of those unlikely pairings that shouldn’t work, but does.
That’s how I’ve always felt, anyway. I’ve been happily eating these distinctive little sandwiches for years. The vinegary snap of chilled pickle cuts, like a dash of irony, against the stoic unctuousness of peanut butter. The sandwich is a thrifty and unacknowledged American classic.

My father passed them down to me. Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches got him through law school at West Virginia University. I’ve come to consider them the work-at-home writer’s friend. The ingredients are always there for you, waiting loyally in the pantry when more glamorous lunch options (cold cuts, leftovers) aren’t returning your calls.

The PB&P has been a minority enthusiasm in America for generations, lingering just under the radar. The sandwiches appeared on lunch-counter menus during the Great Depression and in extension-service cookbooks in the 1930s and ’40s in recipes that generally called for a few spoonfuls of pickle relish. A lot of people’s grandmothers used to eat them.

Continue reading “Carla Would Love a Peanut Butter & Pickle Sandwich!”