Posted tagged ‘Picture Books’

Beginning Lines that Hook a Reader

October 3, 2019

When it comes to writing, first lines in a book are important. You only have so long to hook a reader before they may decide to choose another book.

Here are some books that hooked me with their first lines.

hey water

Hey, Water! written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis

First lines:

Hey, water! I know you!

You’re all around.

This playful and informative book gives readers a look at the importance of water.

marshmallows

Most Marshmallows written and illustrated by Rowboat Watkins

First lines:

Most marshmallows don’t grow on trees

or come from storks

or even Mars.

This tasty book is a clever take on life according to marshmallows and how to be true to yourself.

crumugeon

The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Fiona Woodcock

First lines:

How do you budge

an unbudgeable curmudgeon

who really refuses to budge?

So how do you deal with someone who is a bad mood? You try all sorts of things in this rhythmic tale that takes readers on a bad mood-good-mood journey with a slight twist at the end.

star eater

Nova The Star Eater written by Lindsay Leslie and illustrated by John Taesoo Kim

First Lines:

Nova can’t stop eating. A munch here. A gobble there. A crunch, crunch, crunch.

If you love space, you’ll love reading about Nova’s humongous appetite for stars. But when Nova gulps down the sun, panic ensues.

Check out these books and see if you agree with me.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Catching the Eye of an Editor

May 23, 2019

I’m sure many of us wish we could write the perfect picture book that would immediately catch the eye of an editor.

 

eyes-clipart-surprised-eyes-eyes-clipart-eye-surprise-png-image-and-clipart-free-clipart

It’s not an easy task, but here are some tips to keep in mind while you’re writing your masterpiece.

First of all, your book should be marketable. Research your competition. Has your book done before? How is your book different from the others? Do you have a unique angle?

More tips to consider as you’re writing and revising. Does your manuscript have:

A strong voice

A compelling plot

Conflict

A unique theme

An interesting structure

Sentences that flow seamlessly

Visual potential

 

Other writing elements to consider:

Pacing

Page turns

Rhythm

Repetition

Rule of Three

Wordplay

 

Of course, there’s much more to consider when attempting to write the perfect picture book. Keep on your toes.

feet

Read, read, read everything in your genre. Hone your craft. Join critique groups. Revise, revise, revise and keep on writing. Never give up. When you least expect it, one of those picture books you’ve been working on, for what might seem forever, may catch the eye of an editor. And that just might happen because you finally discovered how to create magic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is A Home?

March 21, 2019

In one week, my daughter and her family are moving.

IMG_4809

Big deal you may say. For them, it is a big deal. With many moves behind them in both their single and married lives, they are now moving to a permanent home. No one is more excited than my husband and I are. No more storing their stuff at our house.

IMG_4811

We can now reclaim our basement. Yipee!!

I’ve always believed a home is where your heart is and what you make of it. It can be a cozy reading corner with your favorite chair, a kitchen where you can pump out delicious smells, a spectacular view from a window, a bedroom of your own, but most of all a home, no matter how big or how small, is a place where family gathers together.

Click on the covers below to discover which picture books you connect with?

 

 

Another Wintery Story

December 6, 2018

The Snowy Nap by Jan Brett

hedgie

After Hedgie, the hedgehog, hears the barnyard animals talk about the excitement winter brings, Hedgie decides he doesn’t want to miss out. No hibernating for him this year. Jan Bretts detailed and colorful illustrations show Hedgie as he tries to stay awake for winter, but he begins to shiver in the frosty night. Brett’s clever use of a secondary story in the border, depicts a young girl, Lisa, watching from a window. She sees Hedgie, bundles him up, and brings him into the warmth of her house. Wrapped in a tea cozy (So cute!), and placed by the window, Hedgie has a perfect spot to see winter. A snowstorm changes the landscape of the farm to a winter wonderland. Hedgie sees the chicken coop covered in snow and icicles, Lisa and the geese skating on the frozen pond, and snowmen. But poor Hedgie is getting tired. He’s almost asleep when he hears the jingle of bells. It’s pony pulling Lisa in the sleigh – a happy sight to see. Meanwhile, in the border story, the barnyard animals are peeking into the windows of Lisa’s house. With Hedgie sleeping longer each day, Lisa brings him to his burrow where he belongs. When she returns home, Lisa is in for a big winter surprise of her own. Jan Brett’s story and illustrations are truly charming. They are sure to delight any child with each page turn.

 

 

 

It’s Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!

November 15, 2018

Beware! This could happen to you.

You open your refrigerator and your olfactory sensory neurons are suddenly attacked by a horrendous smell. Your refrigerator stinks! It’s time to clean it out.

Pull out those veggie, fruit, and cheese drawers. Dump and examine the contents. Who knows what you may find – petrified peas, a hairy strawberry, moldy cheese. And what’s on those overcrowded refrigerator shelves? Leftover Chinese takeout from last month, a piece of not-so-fresh fish you forgot to fry, chunky milk? Take it out. Get rid of that grub and scrub-a-dub-dub! Warm soapy water and a fresh sponge will clean up those spills in no time. And don’t forget to replace that two-year-old box of baking soda that supposed to keep your refrigerator smelling clean. Now that your refrigerator sparkles and you have received the Good Housekeeping Award, give yourself a pat on the back, and quick – empty out the garbage!

 

Speaking of stinky refrigerators, check out these two books by Josh Funk. Smells like a good deal.

stench

The Case of the Stinky Stench written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney, Sterling Children’s Books, 2017

defrostable

Mission Defrostable written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Brendan Kearney, Sterling Children’s Books, 2018

Happy Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!

 

Memories and Egg Magic

March 29, 2018

My grandmother came to America from what is now called Slovakia. She was a thrifty woman. She lived in a small bungalow in the city of Milwaukee. She never owned a car. Instead, she walked everywhere or took public transportation.  She made her own clothes and poo-pooed spending money on frivolous things. Her backyard was a garden filled with fruits, herbs, and vegetables. We ate them fresh in the summer and canned in the winter. The aroma from her kitchen was always inviting – especially during the holidays. Her breads and pastries were to die for. I was convinced my grandmother could do anything. She even made magic with Easter eggs. She used natural dyes – onion skins, cut beets, spinach … I was always amazed to see what color the eggs would be when they came out of the pot. Whether it be taking a special bus trip downtown, picking vegetables from the garden, or helping make apple strudel, being with my grandmother was always a magical and memorable experience.

Make a magical and memorable experience with your kids. Try using natural dyes to color your eggs. It’s a great science project!

https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/2012/03/28/day-4-egg-week-dying-easter-eggs-naturally/

Below are some other links to help you along the way to beautifully-colored eggs.

https://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-dye-easter-eggs-naturally-with-everyday-ingredients/

http://www.kaleyann.com/naturally-dyed-easter-eggs/

https://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/EasterEggDye.htm

Speaking of memorable, here are some of my favorite classic books for this season.

golden

The Golden Egg Book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, Golden Books, 2004

country

The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes written by Du Bose Heyward and illustrated by Marjorie Flack, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1939

eggs

Rechenka’s Eggs written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco, Philomel Books, 1988

velvet

The Velveteen Rabbit written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 1958

peter

The Tale of Peter Rabbit written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, Warne Frederick & Company, 2009

 

An Interview with Pat Zietlow Miller

February 22, 2018

Me_Books

Pat Zietlow Miller is an author of renown. Her picture books have received starred reviews and multiple awards. Pat has an innate talent to create books children love. She is an amazing writer and gives the most incredible presentations. She is the author of eight published picture books and counting. The most recent is BE KIND. Pat is upbeat, clever, and funny, and I’m honored to call her my friend.  

Be_Kind

Welcome, Pat!

BE KIND is such a timely book in that we need to be reminded how a simple act of kindness can make a huge difference in our everyday lives. How did you come up with this idea? 

Well, I can’t take credit for the initial idea. Connie Hsu, my editor at Roaring Brook Press, came up with the book’s title and asked me to write it – for which I am so, so grateful.

But, I did come up with how the idea was executed. I remembered being a shy, quiet, nervous kid who wanted to do the right thing but sometimes did nothing because I was scared it would be taken the wrong way. It took me a while to learn how to step in and speak up and – I hope – be as kind on the outside as I wanted to be on the inside.

That’s why I wrote the book about a child who tries to be kind and then has to rethink things when it doesn’t go well and ask: What does it mean to be kind?

You’ve sold thirteen books and have received numerous awards and starred reviews. Amazing! Besides being a very talented author, what do you think you did right at the beginning of your writing career in order to have editors take notice of your manuscripts?

Well, editors didn’t notice for a while. I got 126 rejections before I sold my first book. I’d like to think that it was my focus on writing well and learning the craft of picture book creation that helped me out the most. I wanted to write the very best stories possible, and I focused on doing that, rather than jumping into chasing publication the first time I had a halfway decent draft.

Having said that, I’ll also say that some of the early stories I sent out were, indeed, awful. I didn’t know that at the time, though. I had written and rewritten and revised and reworked and I thought they were good to go.

I was wrong.

What type of writer are you? Do you always know the beginning, middle, and end of your story, or do just go with the flow of an idea?

I’m more of a go-with-the-flow person. I usually have the first sentence of my story when I start writing and an idea of how things will end. Then, I have to connect them in an engaging and plausible way. Which is not easy.

Do you ever give up on a manuscript you’ve been writing, and is there any part of writing you find particularly challenging?

Absolutely. Not all stories work right away and some don’t ever work. And you can’t know which is which until you try. Most of the stories I’ve given up on are ones that I know aren’t working, so I don’t feel bad about it. But there are one or two I’m quite fond of that have not yet found an editor who feels the same.

In terms of what I find challenging, I sometimes struggle with plot. I’m very good at lining up the words in an order that sounds good and flows well. But, I often have to go back and make sure the structure is there to support them.

You work full time. How do you eke out time for writing and everything else that comes with being a published author?

I’m perpetually exhausted? There is a lot to balance, and the only way I can do it is by focusing on whatever task is in front of me until it’s done and then moving on to the next thing. I do my writing at nights and on weekends and try to take care of the emails and requests as they come in so they don’t build up.

You have a wonderful agent. How did you go about finding the right person to represent you? And do you have any advice for those looking for representation?

I stumbled upon my agent, which isn’t necessarily a technique I recommend, although it certainly worked out well for me.

I sold my first book through the slush pile. After I got the offer, fellow writer Jessica Vitalis said to me: “You’re going to get an agent, right?” I said: “Oh, no. They only want picture book writers if they illustrate too, and I don’t.”

Jessica said: “You at least have to TRY!”

So, mostly to tell her I had tried, I emailed the book and the offer to Ammi-Joan Paquette, an agent I’d heard speak at a writing conference. She emailed me back asking what else I had. I sent her five other stories, we talked on the phone and then she signed me.

I later found out she’s part of one of the best-regarded literary agencies in the country and that she’s generally awesome, but it’s not like I did any research to find that out beforehand. So I got very lucky. I’d recommend that other writers do research.

How do you go about promoting your books?

I do a lot on social media. I truly enjoy Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, so I use them to talk about my books, to talk about other people’s books and to share photos of my kids and cats – which I don’t think increases sales, but makes me happy nonetheless.

I also blog at www.picturebookbuilders.com with several other children’s authors and illustrators. We feature picture books we love and talk about what makes them work.

What’s next? Any new books coming out?

LORETTA’S GIFT comes out in August from Little Bee Books. It tells the story of Loretta and her new baby cousin. She wants to get him the perfect gift, but what could that be?

Thanks, Pat. It has been such fun interviewing you. Best of luck with your upcoming books.

You can find more about Pat here:   www.patzietlowmiller.com

You can find BE KIND here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound 

Books A Million

See my review of BE KIND here.

 

 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: