With the change to autumn/fall, I begin to think about my little monster, Rumble, and thoughts of Halloween. With the current restrictions, I am unable to hold the annual Rumble’s First Scare colouring contest, which is such a shame. The entries are always so good. As you may (or may not) know this little monster, Rumble, is in his element on All Hallow’s Eve. After all he’s spent all spring and summer in his underground home.
I wanted to create a story about a monster that would not scare children, but in fact, make them love him. The illustrations by Matty McClatchie help with that goal. As you can see he is quite adorable and appeals to children as he is also slimy and has little pets in a bag. When I first published the picture book, I made (with the help of a sewing friend) a plush toy of Rumble for display purposes on my event/sales tables. He was very popular and many children asked if they could take him home. I always told them he was like Tigger – the only one! Several years later, I found online, a company that makes plush toys of your children’s drawings and thought Rumble would be perfect. As you can see the result was very good. Mine on the left, professional on the right. If you are interested this is the link:
You can purchase the book or e-book of Rumble’s First Scare here: It is a perfect gift for younger readers for Halloween or anytime of the year. It can probably dispel monster nightmares too.
As you can imagine I read Stephen King’s latest publication, Billy Summers, in record time. It is not horror, but a tale of a man trying to escape his profession as an assassin and encountering a wealth of people – good and bad – along the way. An unexpected relationship is thrown into the mix and adds to the overall tension and twists and turns in the narrative.
I am now reading: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
What are you currently reading? Can you share your thoughts in it?
A picture book combines visual and verbal narratives aimed at young children with the pictures being prominent rather than the text, which is written with vocabulary a child can understand but not necessarily read. Therefore, picture books have two functions for children: firstly they are read to young children by adults, and then later children read them once they begin learning to read.
Well known children’s books include Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat, and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
Which was your childhood favorite?
From the mid-1960’s several children’s literature awards have included a category for picture books. However, some picture books are published with content aimed at older children or even adults. Tibet: Through the Red Box, by Peter Sis, is one example of a picture book aimed at an adult audience.
My first published book was a picture book, Rumble’s First Scare. Not because it was easier but rather the subject matter appealed as a unique children’s story. The POV of a monster coming from underground on All Hallow’s Eve to ‘scare’ the children. However, Rumble is much too cute to be really scary.
Do you write children’s books? Care to share in the comments?
Some of you may know I published a chapter book called Ockleberries to the Rescue. Two woodland sprites helps their forest animal friends. It combines my love of the natural world with that of the faerie realm. After the book cover was created a friend told me about a local woodworker who made faerie doors. So using the door as your inspiration, write a poem or story about what magical beings live behind this door.
Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.
A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.
This may seem like the easiest part of creating a children’s book – right? Not as easy as first appears as it turns out. Your idea has to convert onto the page in a language that your target audience can understand word usage is vital so take note.
What age group are you writing for?
Will you target pre-schoolers or an older age group?
Will the story contain a moral or lesson?
My children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare began life as a prompt for Halloween. I did not want to write the usual monster narrative but something more unusual and fun. So I wrote the story from the young monster’s point of view. Younger children love Rumble and monsters are not so scary.
Finding a Publisher
There are numerous avenues to research when it comes to finding a publisher.
You can follow children’s book agents.
Submit your story to contests with a book contract attached.
Attend conferences and find an interested agent/publisher.
Research local or regional publishing houses and submit your story.
I was fortunate to find a publisher locally and this made my publishing experience a more personally tailored one. Dream Write Publishing did an amazing job and I was part of the process all the way through.
The amount of illustrations is dependent on the age of your target group, the younger the age group the more pictures are required and less text.
If you are a talented artist you can illustrate yourself.
Do you know an artist that will collaborate with you on the project?
Does your publisher offer this service?
There are many artists on social media you can approach.
My Rumble character was the culmination of my imagination and crude drawings and a wonderful artist friend, Matthew McClatchie, who made my idea of what Rumble would look like into reality.
Again the amount of text needs to be balanced for the target age group. For example, if the books are for very young children the text needs to be simple and sparse with great pictures, but for independent readers, illustrations can be on the chapter headers only.
Do you want the story in rhyme form?
Choose simple pronounceable names for your characters.
Wrap the text around the pictures or along the bottom of the page.
Keep exposition to a minimum
The publisher will require your author bio and a photo
You will create a ‘blurb’ – a brief description of the story – for the back of the book.
If you wish you can have a dedication page.
The publisher will allocate an ISBN and the legal disclaimers and permissions for duplication.
Sharing my little book with friends and family was stupendous. The moment any author is handed their first book is overwhelming emotional. It is the closest an adult comes to childish delight. The reality that your words are now published, that many people will read it and your words will outlive you delighting generations to come is a heady feeling.
After your book is published your work is not done. Promotion becomes your master. Be creative and say ‘Yes’ to any and all opportunities that come your way. The more your book is noticed the more sales.
To promote Rumble I created a soft toy of Rumble, which was so much fun. Once I showed my writing group they all announced I should make miniatures for each book, I declined! Rumble accompanies me to readings and events and is always popular. As I had a good deal of promotion to manage without sewing into the wee hours, I did commissioned Rumble hats, and ordered T-shirts, which are a lot easier to handle.
Always creative, I came to writing later in life. A chance visit to a writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, propelled me into the written word in a way I could never have imagined. I delve into all genres expanding my writing muscles and with several books published; I am certainly making up for ‘lost’ time. As a free flow writer, my stories lead me rather than the other way round, delighting me with plot twists and turns. Writing is my passion, the source of new found fellowship and most of all fun.
I arrange an annual colouring competition prior to Halloween for Rumble fans. The picture is in .pdf format and downloaded from my publisher’s website – http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca. Once all entries are in I choose the winners. Prizes include Rumble hats, T-shirts, monster orientated toys and games.
My newest book will be launched this fall – Clickety Click is a YA monster story. Why do I have a propensity for monsters, I have no idea!
The first book of the series ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ was part of a project we started in 2007. We is my husband who is originally from Quebec/Canada and I am from Germany.
In 2002 we met in Playa del Carmen – Mexico where we lived for 8 years. The entire area is filled with Mayan history and culture. We wanted to engage the tourists into the culture and the local environment during their stay and believed that a story would be the most entertaining way for children to learn about it. Unfortunately the project back then never took off and we forgot about the story until this year. Our daughter loves books and so I suddenly remembered the story and started writing on it again. Weirdly enough it was really easy.
How did you come up with the title?
We wanted to change the title from the original project “Key to Paradise” to something new because the project itself was past. The first idea my husband had was ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ and I loved it.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?
Yes, first published book. I always liked to write though. I have a blog in German about food for babies.
Weirdly enough ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ I write in English and then translate it into German. Don’t know why.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Absolutely. Besides being educational on culture and environment it is about empowerment for kids. Believe in yourself!!!
How much of the book is realistic?
The story line itself is fiction however all of the environmental information are researched and so are a the places, temples, Mayan gods etc. A lot of little details in the book are true to the believes of the Mayas and educate without the feeling of being educated.
I wanted to ‘un-dust’ the Mayan culture with this book. A lot of existing books or movies are either bloody or feel out of date and do this amazing culture no justice.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The Mayan gods are based on Mayan believes however some of their relations are fiction. The boy and his parents are fiction.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
It is two of the characters. The gods Kukulkan and Itzama because one is the evil one and the other one the good god. It is the ying and the yang.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Probably the format. The second book is a lot longer and more intense than the first book. So it will have a different format than the first book.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? ‘
Dream, Believe and protect our planet.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
That I hopefully inspire children to do more research on culture and environment.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
My first poem was around the age of 8. It was four lines long and rhymed well.
What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?
Seeing the story come alive in the images and the first time I read a new chapter to my husband and he goes: “Wow”
What is your favorite theme/genre to write?
Writing for children and take them on an imaginary journey.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Any type of abuse
What book are you reading now?
It is a German book. It is a humorous perspective of a mother on her life. I can relate to it. My daughter is four.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I purposely read in German because I do not want to lose my mother tongue. A lot of the authors are German. Probably nobody you would know.
Do you see writing as a career?
I never did. But I really want the series ‘Ti and the Magical Key’ to reach children all over the world because I love the message and education in it. This is why we translate the story from English into German, French and Spanish.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
Unfortunately chocolate 🙂 I wish it would be an apple.
Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
I am rolling my eyes a lot when someone tells me a story. My daughter picked that up and we had a meeting at her kindergarden where we got told that rolling eyes is not a nice habit.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
On a balcony overlooking the ocean writing a book.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A lot of research goes into ‘Ti and the Magical Key’. Because a lot of evidence has been destroyed when the Spaniards conquered the Americas you find different opinions on the internet. At some point I have to decide which one to follow without really knowing.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
More chocolate 🙂
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Not that I remember. But then again my brain capacity diminished during pregnancy and never fully recovered. So I can’t answer that with certainty.
What book do you wish you had written?
What is your best marketing tip?
I am still figuring the marketing out myself. Currently we have a Facebook Fan page, twitter- and Pinterest account as well as a website. We are trying to get the kids involved and are writing personally to our fans to invite them into the ‘VIP Readers Club’ where we share secrets about the next book and adventures.
As well we started a blog on our website ‘Ti travels the world’ where parents from all over the world are sending us pictures of their kids with the book. I really love the blog. The pictures are amazing and are the best reward.
What genre is your next project? What is it about?
I am working on finishing the second book of the series.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
The gods are playing a much bigger role in the second book and we are introducing a girl. In regards to the environment we cover the mangroves and cenotes/sinkholes.