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.

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”

Mom’s Choice Awards Interviews Holly Niner

cover shrunk
Blog Post taken from Mom’s Choice Awards
Originally Published April 20, 2017

Today we’re sharing the second post in our new interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.

We were fortunate enough to speak with Holly L. Niner, author of the Mom’s Choice Award-winning children’ book, The Day I Ran Way. We loved hearing her perspective on writing, reading, and parenting. The full interview is published below.

MCA: The Day I Ran Away is about a little girl who throws a tantrum, gets banished to her room, and runs away. Why write a children’s book about this? What was your inspiration?

Holly L. Niner, author of The Day I Ran Away

The idea for The Day I Ran Away came from an America’s Funniest Home Video I saw on TV in the early 2000s. A little boy was outside his house with his back pack asking, “how can I run away when I’m not allowed to cross the street?” For me, that captured a dilemma of childhood. You want to be grown up, but you can’t. It captured a feeling that’s not just relegated to children; haven’t we all wished we could run away at some point? But maybe what we really need­­—as both children and adults—is just a “timeout” from our real or perceived troubles.Holly Niner: Story ideas come from many places. A little snippet of something seems to stick in the “what if” side of my brain and sometimes turns into a story.  I try to write those snippets down as they come to me or else the day-to-day of life may push it out of my brain forever. Continue reading “Mom’s Choice Awards Interviews Holly Niner”

Donna Earnhardt’s post on PiBoIdMo!

PiBoIdMo= Picture Book Idea Month

Thirty ideas in thirty days wrapped in unlimited potential!

http://taralazar.com/2012/10/26/pre-pibo-day-2-donna-w-earnhardt/

Not April Fooling You

written by Linda Ravin Lodding, illustrated by Suzanne Beaky

Author Linda Lodding is a featured interviewee on Julie Hedlund’s April Author-Palooza! Read what she has to say about writing and publishing picture books, and leave a comment on that post to be entered to win a manuscript critique from Linda or one of the other multi-published authors.

Jodi Moore on BlogTalkRadio

When a Dragon Moves In, written by Jodi Moore, illustrated by Howard McWilliam

Barbara Gruener, school counselor in Friendswood, TX, interviewed author Jodi Moore about writing When a Dragon Moves In. You can listen in here, and read Barbara’s review on The Corner on Character blog, here.