Lessons Learned from a Pre-Schooler

30 Aug

I was in the unique position of spending two uninterrupted weeks with a four year old. My camera roll reminded me of ten very important lessons we can all learn from spending time with our little ones.

 

carrot#1 One piece of candy is worth three baby carrots.

 

box#2 A box is never just a box.

 

hp#3 Sing, dance, and do the hokey-dokey. (pronounced as spelled)

[Musical accompaniment from storyteller and bookseller at our local bookstore, Joseph-Beth.]

 

]cows#4 Cows do not have upper teeth.

 

#5 Fairies like mushrooms, acorns, and painted rocks.

 

sunflowr#6 Even a field of dying sunflowers is magical.

 

fort#7 Blanket Forts are great places to eat cookies and play games on rainy days.

 

cookies.jpg#8 Speaking of cookies, if you take only a nibble maybe no one will notice.

 

cape#9 You only need a cape to have superpowers.

 

duck#10 Make friends everywhere!

 

 

 

Celebrating the First Moon Walk

15 Jul

*Note: No, you are not seeing double! This post was intended to be a page under my newest heading, 5 Star Picture Books. Because I had trouble converting it to a page, I have rewritten it. It is now entitled 50 Years Later. you can find it under 5 Star Picture Books. And now there are two! (And, PS thanks for reading my posts!)

July 20, 2019 is the 50th Anniversary of the First Moon Walk. Learn more and see actual footage of the first steps and raising of the flag on the NASA site. Let’s celebrate this historic event with a pair of picture books published this year.

The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon
written by Dean Robbins
illustrated by Sean Rubin
Orchard Books, May 2019

First let’s look at a traditional non-fiction book. This is the story of a NASA astronaut Alan Bean, the fourth person to walk on the moon. Alan was so inspired by this event that he wanted to paint his impressions of the moon so that others could feel the magnitude of his feelings rather than the just the gray rock and dust associated with the moon. His paintings are bright, bold, and breathtaking. He experimented with them, creating even more authenticity. He sprinkled them with moon dust, scratched them with tools he’d used on the moon, and stamped them with astronaut boots. Below is a copy of his painting The Spirit of Apollo.


It is my dream that on the wings of my paintbrush many people will see what I say and feel what I felt, walking on another world some 240,000 miles from my studio here on planet Earth.” -Alan Bean

************************************************************************

Moon’s First Friends
written by Susanna Leonard Hill
illustrated by Elisa Paganelli
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, May 2019

Our second book is a non-traditional non-fiction. This is the story of an anthropomorphic moon who talks to the reader about being lonely and wishing for a friend to visit her. Although she is the queen of the night sky, no one came to see her. She first asks the dinosaurs to visit but they stayed on earth. Then she asks other animals and then humans. Finally, she sees people making attempts to visit her. She is excited at the prospect but still has to wait for many years until man is able to send a rocket ship into space and land on her surface. She shares in the men’s wonder giving them rocks and dust to take home and they leave her a plaque, a flag, and many many footprints to remember them by.

Although this story is told by the moon it includes historic and scientific information. There is also back matter giving factual details about the first moon landing, the phases of the moon, facts about the moon, photos of the first astronauts, and a timeline beginning 4.6 billion years ago with the Hadean Era to the present Cenozoic Era, and detailed information about each stage of rocket ship which took the first men to the moon. And, if that wasn’t enough… you can download a scanner reader to your phone and listen to the Apollo 11 liftoff and the first words spoken on the moon!

Apollo 11 Plaque Left on the Moon

Closeup view of the plaque which the Apollo 11 astronauts left behind on the moon. The plaque is made of stainless steel measuring nine by seven and five-eighths inches, and one-sixteenth inch thick. The plaque was attached to the ladder on the landing gear strut on the descent stage of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module. During flight , the plaque was covered with a thin sheet of stainless steel that was removed on the lunar surface. -NASA

“HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON

JULY 1969, A. D.

WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND”

Celebrating 7 Years

8 Jul

Just renewed my SCBWI membership for another year! Next month marks the beginning of my 7th year and I feel confident.

In the last seven years I have grown so much as a writer and made so many good friends along the way. I’d like to thank the members of the Cincinnati chapter (Ohio: Central and South) for welcoming me to their group. When I joined Kerrie Logan Hollihan was our leader. She later passed the torch to Andrea Pelleschi. Both are gifted writers and published authors yet they, with Brandon Marie Miller, Mary Kay Carson, Kathy Cannon Wiechman, and Nancy Parish willingly offered advice, instruction, and friendship.

Through the monthly meetings I have met many more talented writers and illustrators, and have developed critique groups and friendships with several of them. I’d like to thank Jennifer Sommer, Keila Dawson, Emmie Warner, Kate Harold, Connie B. Dow, and Carol Martin for always being willing to read my work, make suggestions, and provide support. They lift me up and give me confidence to keep going.

And most of all, I’d like to thank Tina P. Schwartz at The Purcell Agency for believing in me and working hard on my behalf. I have worked as Tina’s assistant for a time before we signed a one year contract to sell one of my stories. After that year, Tina and I agreed not to renew our contract while I search for an agent who works more exclusively with picture book writers, but we remain friends and maintain a working relationship. I still read for her periodically and we touch base on our personal and professional lives. It was because of my association with Tina that I got my first ‘paying gig’ talking about agents, how and why they choose or reject a project. I have presented at both the Columbus and Cincinnati chapters.

In the words of John Lennon and Paul McCartney… I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends. So for all those mentioned and those many others I have met at conferences and through social media, I thank you! Have a piece of cake!

Hurry Up and Wait

13 Jun

‘Hurry Up and Wait’ was a common phrase around our house growing up. Apparently it’s a common military maxim, and we were a military family. It fit every scenario from getting ready for meals to vacation travel. Personally, I haven’t used it much as an adult. But it popped into my head this morning as I hit the send button on yet another submission.

Thanks Dad, this makes the wait a little easier to bear.

You Had Me At Ice-Cream

11 May

That’s all.

Literary Agent Search

13 Apr

I’ve heard many people say that they are searching for the perfect agent. As if there is only one perfect agent for them.

I disagree.

Authors works tirelessly combing the internet and publications for agents that are ‘perfect’ for them, when in reality there are many ideal agents available.

That’s not to say it’s easy finding an agent (perfect or otherwise). Of course you weed out the ones who do not represent your genre (fiction, mystery, sci-fi, biography, history etc.) or specific audience (PB, MG, YA). That still leaves several hundred who do. Then you search for those who represent specifically what you have written. My recommendation is that you cast your net wide. (Remember when your mother told you there are plenty of fish in the sea?) Even though you may think your story is a good fit for a particular agent there are countless reasons why you may not be offered a contract. Some have a heavy workload and cannot take on new talent. Some have something else like yours in their catalog already. Some are in the process of changing their focus. Some are closed to submissions when you’re ready to publish. Some may have left the business altogether.

And so the dreaded rejections pile up, usually in two categories, the Ignore, in which case you just don’t hear from the agent at all or the Form rejections, for example your story didn’t move them, your main character didn’t speak to them, it doesn’t fit their needs, etc. Every once in a while you’ll receive a personalized rejection specifically stating what they liked about your story and either the reason they passed on it or a suggestion to improve the story and your chances of getting published.

What now? You’ve got a story you believe in but you’ve been rejected not only by your ‘dream’ agent but also several others who you were sure were as close to perfect as you could get. You must continue to submit. This is not the time to wallow in your grief. There really are more fish in the sea. Go back and cast your nets again.

You’ll never land an agent unless you persist. Agents are busy people. They have a list of clients (or they’re busy building their list). They are not out there searching the internet looking for your story… you must send your story to them.

And when you finally do find an agent who likes your work and wants to give you a contract… then and only then, have you found your

Hieroglyphics to Hashtags

19 Mar

The art of storytelling is as old as time. Many years ago I toured the caves of Altermira in Spain with my family. The cave drawings depict prehistoric tales of bison hunts, animal sightings, and survival signed with a handprint. I was filled with awe and pride that my ancestors may have authored these stories.

Fast forward several years and I have gone from hieroglyphics to hashtags in less than seven days.

Last week I was awed once more by the hieroglyphic stories of the ancient Egyptians. I visited the Cincinnati Museum Center with a friend to experience this as close to first hand as I may ever get.

With the ‘magic’ of modern technology, I tried my hand at writing with hieroglyphics on a computer screen.
I also stood inside a tomb with detailed instructions for the after-life. Sure wish I could read it!



Today I used another form of technology to discover what literary agents are looking for in the form of manuscripts. Using #mswl I discovered an agent who is looking for funny picture books. In particular, one with chickens. Well guess what I sent him? A submission with a chicken protagonist who gets herself into some funny situations as she tries desperately to change her circumstances! Maybe my cave ancestors will look down fondly on me and be proud of what I have created for the world.

While I wait for a response from said agent, maybe I’ll browse Pinterest for some fun chicken crafts to keep me busy.


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