Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Books’

It is my pleasure to announce our three winners for the March 12 x 12 in 2012 prizes! The first prize is a copy of Katie Davis’ outstanding ebook – How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Creating a BestsellerNext, I am giving away two free Brain Burps About Books iPhone apps because I love the podcast so much (and NOT just because I am sometimes in it. :-))

Winners, if you already have Katie’s book, or the iPhone app, OR don’t have an iPhone and therefore can’t use the app, please let me know ASAP.  I’ve kept the Random.org list of winners, and if you can’t use the prize, I will simply keep going down the list until I find someone who can.  Thanks!

And now, for the winners…. *CUE DRUMROLL*

Winner of How to Promote Your Children’s book is…..    BRENDA HARRIS!!!!!!!!

Winners of the Brain Burps About Books iPhone App are….    ROBYN CAMPBELL and JARM DEL BOCCIO!!!!!!!

Congratulations to all the winners! Contact me for info on how to claim your prizes.

Onward, ho!!!


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Well, here in Boulder March came in AND out like a lamb.  I’ve never experienced such a warm and early spring before.  I hope that is auspicious for writing!   12 x 12 in 2012 participants know that today is the day to check-in on your picture book draft for the month.  Did you complete one this month?

I completed a draft this month – once again on the second to last day.  You guys are such slave-drivers – LOL!  Seriously though, you all keep me so motivated and inspired.  You amaze me – truly.

Thanks again to Katie Davis for giving us fantastic marketing and promotion tips as March’s featured author.  If you left a comment on her March 1st post, you are automatically entered to win a copy of her book – How to Promote Your Children’s Books: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Creating a Bestseller, regardless of whether you completed a PB draft this month. I am also giving away two of her Brain Burps About Books podcast apps. If you did complete a draft in March, let us know in the comments and that will get you another entry.  YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR NAME (FIRST AND LAST) IN YOUR COMMENT IF YOU WANT IT TO BE COUNTED AS AN ENTRY.   You have until midnight EST April 1st to leave a comment on this post and/or Katie’s original post to be eligible for the drawing.  I’ll draw a winner via Random.org and post it to the blog on Monday, April 2nd.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see who’s on deck for April!!

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It’s great to be back for PPBF! Today’s selection comes from an author I’ve recently “met” online – Roxie Munro. I was at the library with the kiddos earlier this week, and the book cover caught my eye.  I was delighted to find it was one of Roxie’s!

Written and illustrated by Roxie Munro
Marshall Cavendish Children, February, 2011
Suitable for:  Gr K-6
Themes/Topics:  Nonfiction, Birds, Nature, Eggs, Environment, Habitats
Opening and brief synopsis: From Kirkus: The selection of birds allows for both the familiar – ostrich, hummingbird, eagle – and the unusual: black-legged kittiwakes, cactus wren, pegged for both the musicality of their names and some good and strange facts. Birds that sleep on the water with one eye open? Birds that build a nest as big as a car? Birds that can dive 700 feet under water? A bird taller than a professional basketball player? Birds that squat on anthills for the stinging thrill of it? They are all here. Munro doesn’t just dole out the odd facts, but paints – literally and figuratively – a fine portrait of each bird, the kind that will keep a young reader rapt. 
Activities: TeachingBooks.net has an interview with Roxie about Hatch. The book also includes extensive back matter, including a list of books and websites with more information about birds.  It even has a glossary of “bird words.”
Why I Like This Book: I’m sure I’ve mentioned that my son is a huge nonfiction lover – usually the more boring (in my opinion) the better (in his). So it is always a special joy to find a book that we can both love.  Hatch! fits the bill perfectly.  The illustrations are so true-to-life and beautiful that we could both look at them for hours.  The facts about the birds are fascinating – not a boring one among them!  We both learned loads from reading the book, and my son loves guessing which kind of bird is going to come from which egg and why.  Superb!

For more books with resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.


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One of the lovely porticoes

Another crazy fantastic week in Italy – this time Bologna. Learned so much about the children’s book biz, including much ado about apps (more to come soon).  Bologna won me over with its lovely porticoes and outstanding food.  It’s a completely different world in Bologna from Florence, even though it’s only a 35 minute train ride.  If you ever go, make sure you pack your black.  It seems the only two colors people wear there are black and dark wash jeans.  I felt like an Easter egg in my wardrobe.  As a friend said, “Bologna – where black is the new black.”

Quotes on Gratitude

“Joy is not in things, it is in us.” — Joan Borysenko

“There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it.” — Seneca

“Love is the true means by which the world is enjoyed: our love to others, and others’ love to us.” — Thomas Traherne

Gratitude list for the week ending March 24

  1. First, I am grateful for my in-laws, my stepmother and my mom for helping my husband hold down the fort while I took this epic trip to Italy.  Thank you!!
  2. Learning enough about apps and ebooks at the ToC Bologna conference to make my head spin.  Cheers to Kat Meyer and the entire O’Reilly team making it all happen.
  3. Meeting Katherine Paterson, author of one of my all-time favorite books – Bridge to Terabithia
  4. SCBWI Bologna dance party!
  5. The folks who put together the SCBWI booth program for the Bologna Book Fair – Kathleen Ahrens, Angela Cerrita, Kirsten Carlson, Bridget Strevens-Marzo, Tioka Tokedira, Chris Cheng, and anyone else I am forgetting.  These guys worked tirelessly to provide great programming, regional showcases, and opportunities for writers and illustrators attending the fair.  Grazie mille!

    The hard-working SCBWI team at the booth celebration

  6. Making wonderful new friends – including all of the above, plus Sarah Towle, Emily Smith Pearce, Danika Dinsmore, Susan Eaddy, Lucy CoatsBarbara McClintock, and Andi Ipaktchi.
  7. Hall after hall after hall of nothing but children’s books – enough said!
  8. Tagliatelle ragu and red wine with Danika and Susan – lovely dinner
  9. The city of Bologna itself, with its seductive porticoes, antiquarian bookshops, black-clad residents spilling into the streets from Enoteche at night, savory food shops and best of all, Gelateria Gianni!
  10. Receiving the best welcome home in history from my kids. The sign was fantastic, but the hugs and kisses even more precious.  How I missed them!

What are you grateful for this week?

The best part of the trip was coming home and knowing I was missed.


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I have been so excited to tell you all my big news.  It’s practically killed me.  But today I can!  Katie Davis, children’s author and host of the wildly popular Brain Burps About Books podcast, has invited me to be a monthly contributor on the show.  Yay!

You may recall that I was Katie’s first guest of 2012 (Episode 78) where I spoke about my anti-resolution revolution and the launch of the 12 x 12 in 2012 challenge.  Based on the response to that show and a bug placed in her ear from the epically (Yes I DID just make up my own adverb!) awesome Julie Falatko, Katie invited me to do a monthly segment focusing on gratitude and its importance in the life and work of a writer.

So today, you not only get an amazing interview with Carol Rasco, the CEO of Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and a Take 5 Marketing Tip from Diane de las Casas, you get ME with my the big debut of my new series.  You HAVE to listen to it, if for no other reason than to hear the KILLER opening Katie developed for it (also inspired by Ms. Falatko).

In seriousness, however, I hope you listen because the subject of gratitude is one that is so close to my heart, and one that I feel honored to be able to share with you.  In this first segment, I reveal my very personal story of how I came into my own gratitude practice and how it’s changed my life – literally. Over the course of the series, I will provide ideas and tactics to help you develop your own gratitude practice in the hopes that it will change your life too – AND make you a better writer in the process.

Here’s the link to the podcast: http://traffic.libsyn.com/brainburps/84_RIF.mp3.  You can listen to it on your computer just by clicking the link, or you can do the same by clicking the link from your smart phone or tablet and listen to it from there. Or you can listen from the link on Katie’s blog here: http://katiedavis.com/rif/.

Or you can do as I did and buy the app from the iTunes store for $1.99 and have all the episodes in one place.  People, it’s a bargain.  Katie is an exceptionally talented, multi-published author/illustrator, a whizz-bang marketing guru and a pioneer in using all forms of media in the children’s book arena.  She recently published an e-book entitled, How to Promote Your Children’s Book and is on faculty at the Highlights Foundation for an upcoming workshop called Making the Web Work for You.

Are you a reader of this blog and STILL not familiar with the podcast? Well, Brain Burps About Books is all about children’s literature and has held the #1 in the iTunes store in Children’s Publishing since it began almost two years ago.  If it has to do with the children’s book business – whether it’s craft, creating a platform, developing eBooks and apps, or supporting a small business as a writer, it’s fair game. Interview subjects include authors, illustrators, librarians, editors, app creators… anyone in the field covering anything under the umbrella of children’s books. Regular features include a “Take 5 Marketing Tips” by Dianne de Las Casas and picture book and middle grade reviews by contributors Betsy Bird of SLJ’s Fuse #8 Production, “Mommy” blogger Julie Falatko, Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes, and YA reviews by Bookalicious Pam and now, a series on Gratitude for Writers by ME! 🙂

If you have any ideas or questions you’d like me to cover in upcoming segments in the gratitude series, please let me know in the comments or contact me offline.  


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Today, please welcome guest blogger and fellow 12 x 12 in 2012 participant Carter Higgins.  Because we’ve all heard so much about book trailers lately, I asked Carter, who creates them, to come on the blog to give us the quick and dirty on what makes a good one.  She’s also generously giving away a free book trailer. Welcome Carter!

I love the odd raised eyebrow I get when I tell folks I went from elementary school librarian to motion graphics designer. Sometimes the confusion is as simple as what the heck is motion graphics? {Answer: animated graphic design} Sometimes it’s more along the lines of an incredulous, “you used to put books in the hands of kids and now you animate useless content for TV, movies, or iWhatevers?” Well, kinda.

Teaching was rewarding and so very special. Creating something from nothing is also extremely satisfying. Sure, designing film titles for an Emmy-winning designer is a huge accomplishment. And of course there is a bubble of pride in my gut each time I see one of my commercials broadcast nationwide.

But. I still had this gnawing question in my gut…how in the world can I smoosh my love of kidlit with my love of motion graphics?

The answer: book trailers.

Just to set the mood, may I show you a couple of favorites?

My latest, for Dianne de Las Casas‘  Dinosaur Mardi Gras, illustrated by Marita Gentry:

Julian Hector created this one for C.R. Mudgeon, which he illustrated for Leslie Muir.

I think the best book trailers function in a similar manner to title sequences of movies. Title sequences should set the mood for what’s to come and prepare room in your heart for the story. A horror movie will never have a cutesy, cartoony title sequence, and a rip-roaring comedy won’t have a dramatic, serious tone to its opener.

Your story is what is most important. Your trailer should be intentional and support that story. You have worked tirelessly to assemble the most perfect words to write your snappy picture book. You have slaved over your illustrations, paying attention to the direction in which her hair curls to help us get to know her better. Your physical book has been designed with extreme attention to the page turn, the typeface, and even to the shape and size of your book.

It is a masterpiece.

Because of that, treat your trailer as an extension of your masterpiece. Your story should drive your trailer. Don’t do anything at the expense of your art and your words. Be intentional.

For Dinosaur Mardi Gras, I wanted to bring that jazzy parade to life. The illustrations are so vibrant, free, and easy, and the story is one giant celebration. I wanted to mimic the excitement of that parade, and plunge the reader right into the action.

When I saw Julian’s C.R. Mudgeon trailer, I think I watched it nine times in a row. He establishes the tension between a ho-hum hedgehog and a sparkly squirrel just brilliantly. And the music! Such life! Julian didn’t stick to the style of his book illustrations for the trailer, and it won’t matter one bit once I finally get my claws on it. I already dearly love C.R. Mudgeon and Paprika. I’m hooked. I asked Julian for some thoughts on book trailers and he said, “Picture book trailers allow for the main character(s) to be brought to life, and ignoring that seems like a wasted opportunity.” Truth, right?

But now here’s where I get slightly emphatic. If the only available option for you is to do a simple slideshow, then certainly it has value. Having your book searchable on YouTube will reach people. Just be intentional. Keep it to a minute or less. Do you always have the attention span for a three-minute long video? I sure don’t. Will your kid reader? Probably not. You told your story in 500 words or less; you can certainly stick to 60 seconds. Choose music that supports your story and sets the pace for your readers’ experience. Don’t compromise your art and your words. You worked way too hard for
that. And your reader, though young, is sly and will find where there is heart and where there is none.

Here’s one more that gets this quick format absolutely right:

We all have different skills, interests, and abilities, but we all have the same goal: to nurture readers and give them amazing stories. This community is supportive and encouraging to a degree that is almost unreal! To honor that and to be a part of that, I would LOVE to create a book trailer for you, for free. Whether you are a pre-pubbed 12x-er or have picture books on the shelves already, this offer is for you. Just leave a comment on the book trailer page on my blog before February 20th at midnight PST. I’ll randomly draw a winner and whenever you are ready….next month or next decade, IOU a book trailer.

When she is not creating motion graphics or writing picture books, Carter teaches design courses in color, layout, and composition, as well as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects. All of these interests combine in her blog at http://designofthepicturebook.com/, or you can find her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/carterhiggins.

Do you have questions for Carter about book trailers?  Leave them in the comments and she’ll answer as many as she can.


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Snow sculpture illuminated by colored spotlights

Much to be grateful for this week!

Quotes on Gratitude

“Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.” — Aristotle

“Deficiency motivation doesn’t work. It will lead to a life-long pursuit of try to fix me. Learn to appreciate what you have and where and who you are.” — Wayne Dyer

“Many times a day I realize how much my own life is built on the labours of my fellowmen, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” — Albert Einstein

Gratitude list for the week ending February 4

  1. Getting to ski and hang out with great friends, including my bestest girlfriend!
  2. Witnessing more than one beautiful sunrise reflecting on the mountains
  3. Completing my January picture book draft for the 12 x 12 challenge
  4. The incredible community of writers that have come together for the 12 x 12.  They inspire me daily.
  5. Finishing one good book and starting another
  7. Skype
  8. Writing the last page of a lovely journal (was a gift from the friend above). Great way to end Week 9 of The Artist’s Way.
  9. Snow sculptures in Breckenridge
  10. A long nap on a day I felt under the weather

What are you grateful for this week?


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