Thursday, October 11, 2012

Author Visits

Now that my book, DON'T LET THE BEDBUGS BITE!, has officially been released it is time for me to start scheduling author visits. You would think that once that beautiful picture book was in my hands, it would bring relief. After all, the hard work is over, right? Wrong! Now there is a whole new chapter I find myself embarking on. It is called promotion. (Yikes!) For me, and I’m sure for most writers, the writing was the easy part. Not that writing is easy, it’s not. But it is the area in which I am most comfortable. I am a writer, and I think as a published author I can consider myself a professional. So writing is what comes natural. It is an extension of who I am. It is what I do. But promotion, well, that is a whole different animal and something, I must confess, I’m a bit nervous about.

Being a writer is a solitary commitment. I sit by myself every day to write. In my little office, dressed in sweats or jammies, I disappear into a world inside my head and if all goes well, I put that world on paper and make it real and exciting for my readers. Promotion is the exact opposite. It is NOT a solitary thing. It is a very social thing. And if I showed up in my jammies and disappeared into my own head, they’d put me in a straight jacket for sure! But, maybe a glimpse of what’s inside my head could be my marketing strategy. What if I could take others with me into the dark recesses of my brain? It sounds scary. It sounds ridiculous. It sounds really awesome! A little ride on my “train of thought” might not be a bad idea.  

So, with that in mind, I’ve come up with a plan. Not only would I enjoy reading my book to the little ones, but I’d also like to talk to them about stories. Where they come from and what an imagination is. Then, I’d like to kick start theirs with a fun prompt so we can come up with a silly and exciting story together; one with a beginning, middle and end. I will have activities planned for them as well as giveaways based on my book. And hey, let’s not forget some educational tidbits about lady bugs and other beneficial insects to go with my book!

For older kids I’d like to do a small workshop. Since “Bedbugs” is a rhyming picture book, I think a lesson on poetry is in order. I hope to bring some excitement to my presentation by getting everyone involved in a quick and fun Mad Libs style game where we create a poem about their school. I can only imagine the creativity those kids will bring to the table! (Watch out faculty! It could get messy!) I will also be happy to answer any questions they have on the craft of writing as well as the business side of it. 

And speaking of business, (which is what my publisher is most interested in.) the whole point of this is to sell books. I hope to autograph many of them for my cute little fans along the way. But the whole reason I write for children is not for fame and fortune, (But I wouldn't turn down a guest appearance on Oprah!) but because I want to reach them. I want to open their imaginations and show them that anything is possible. Dreams are worth having and goals are worth perusing. I want to teach as well as entertain. This is my ultimate goal. Besides, books are just cool. How lucky am I to be one of the many who create them? 

So at this point, I am scheduling some book signings and visits in my home town and vicinity. As you can imagine the response has been tremendous. I knew the awesome folks of Ware, MA would rally behind me. That’s why my heart is still there.  I am also planning to book some appearances here in the Concord/Charlotte area. And hey, just to make it clear, I’m always willing to consider other venues. (Hello, Hawaii, are you listening?) If you’re interested in having me visit your area, shoot me a message. Let’s see what we can work out. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bedbug Delivery

     Okay, so here it is! Got my first shipment of DON’T LET THE BEDBUGS BITE!  The books are gorgeous! They’re striking, they’re colorful, they smell wonderful and I’m on cloud nine. Shenanigan Books did a great job putting this together. When the bedbug epidemic resurfaced, they didn’t throw in the towel. Instead, they worked with me and through revision we crafted an even more wonderful story. Bedbugs be darned, DON’T LET THE BEDBUGS BITE will show children that not all bugs are bad. In fact, some are believed to bring luck. 

     As I said, the books are striking. One look at the cover and I can tell it has that “pull me off the shelf” appeal. This is thanks to the illustrator John Wes Thomas. He did a fabulous job bringing my story to life and he has given me the cutest little “bedbug” you ever saw! What a talented guy. Mr. Thomas you can illustrate my picture books anytime!

     So the official release date is October 1st, which is Monday. The book is available from the publisher Shenanigan Books or on Amazon. It’s cute, it’s funny and way less itchy than actual bedbugs. So put down that bug spray and go get a copy! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

THE DEMON OF DAUNTING: Writing my 1st Novel

I did it! I finally did it!

 What am I talking about? Why, my novel of course. You see, as a predominant picture book writer I write in short bursts. It may take months to get a picture book “just right” but it only takes a few days to get the “bare bones” on paper. I like that. Within a few days, I have a manuscript in front of me. It is not a polished manuscript, but it is a manuscript nonetheless. Something I can work from. As someone who loves the revision process, this is my favorite part. I have lots of fun dissecting my work and making it better.

 But a novel is a whole different animal. It is like comparing a kitten to an elephant. A novel takes waaaay longer than a few days to pump out a first draft. Compared to my 500 word picture books, a 50,000 word novel is a huge undertaking and a daunting task. Here’s what I see in my mind when I sit down to write one.

As a writer, I write. I constantly have book ideas rolling around in my head. Many of them are too mature for the picture book scene. So I thought, why limit myself to just picture books? When an idea hits me hard and strong I have to run with it. As always, the story starts off fast and furious. I type like a madwoman in my attempt to get it on paper before I lose it. But with a novel, this goes on for days. And as I sit at my computer, that looming shadow grows bigger and bigger. I try to ignore it, but it hangs over me with dark claws and glowing eyes. At this point I recall that character Glum, from the old Gulliver’s Travels cartoon and I hear his mantra floating over me. “You’re never gonna make it!” Then the self-doubt takes over and I find myself avoiding the computer because, well, ITS SCARY!

 So I meet with my critique buddies. They remind me that I am not alone. They tell me to put on my big girl panties and confront my demons. I sit back down at my computer. My drawing of the big scary shadow sits over my desk to remind me that he is a figment of my imagination, and I type. And I type. And I type. Sometimes, without thinking, I glance up at the Demon of Daunting and a shiver runs through me, but as the word count grows the monster gets smaller and smaller and smaller . I finally type the last word and POOF! The demon is gone!

 Hooray! First draft!

 Then I let it stew a while. I let all the flavors mesh with the characters and the plot. Then, because I am a picture book writer and I write short and to the point, I go back in and add my meat and potatoes to the mixture. This is my favorite part. Like a puzzle I go through it and look for inconsistencies. I add new ideas. I flesh out my characters and wrap up all the storylines until the whole thing feels like it has come full circle.

 Hooray! Second draft!

 Now this is the draft I’m willing to share. Is it finished? Of course not! When is a book ever finished? Right up to the time it is printed, changes can still take place. But for my novel, the Bones and the flesh are here and if I’ve done my job right, only cosmetics are left.

 After a round with my critique group I am ready to tackle draft number three. Nothing major, but changes definitely have to be made. I’m excited. I’ve accomplished something. I CAN write a novel. I beat the Demon of Daunting and survived to write again. So I do. As the first paragraphs of my new novel appear on the blank page, the demon arrives. He takes his usual spot to loom over me, but this time I’m ready for him and he isn’t half as scary. Bring it on!