This post is pre-scheduled as today I will still be enjoying my writing retreat, where there is no WiFi, TV or ‘outside world’ to intrude. Immersed in story since 18th May – I may never come back! (Well given the choice anyway). My plan for the retreat is to read, edit and revise two manuscripts – The Twesome Loop and Life in Slake Patch and hopefully be able to share them with beta-readers on my return. I may also have added enough story on my newest children’s book – Bubble the Gruggle to send the manuscript to my illustrator, enabling him to begin chapter header images.
When I do come back to reality I have two events this week. One an ‘extra’ meeting of the Arts and Culture Council on Wednesday to finalize the Heritage Day event organization and then Thursday I will be co-hosting the senior’s writing group at Silverbirch.
So please feel free to share your local writing events in the comments.
WGA Alberta Literary Awards Shortlist Reading and Celebration (YYC)
May 24th 2017 from 7:00 to 10:00pm Shelf Life Books, 1302 4th Street SW, Calgary
Please RSVP via Facebook Invite
Join the Writers’ Guild of Alberta to celebrate the 2017 Alberta Literary Shortlisted authors and their nominated works! There will be complimentary wine and food from Aida’s Bistro, time to visit with friends, and a series of lively readings. Free admission. Authors scheduled to read in Calgary include: Lee Kvern, Paige Feureu, Lauralyn Chow, Gisèle Villeneuve, Mary Graham, Rona Altrows, Helen Hajnoczky, Georgia Graham, Laurie McFayden, Ellen Close with Braden Griffiths, Richard Harrison, Shelley Youngblut, and Sydney Sharpe with Don Braid.
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!
Once the writing, editing and revisions are complete, we have another choice to make regarding our novel. Do we want or need illustrations within the book or just the cover? This decision can be determined by the genre, such as children’s books but also the type of visuals we want to share with our readers.
Dependent on the age group of your children’s books, you may have numerous pictures with minimal text for younger readers or chapter header or facing page illustrations for older readers. For example, my young readers book, Rumble’s First Scare (http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/rumbles-first-scare) is mainly pictures, while my chapter book for older readers, Ockleberries to the Rescue (preorder here: http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/) has chapter headers illustrating each particular animal or event within that chapter. I took the decision not to have an illustration drawn of the woodland sprites in the narrative as I would like my young readers to envision the characters themselves. However, I did have the sprites woodland home created for the book cover.
When working with an artist it is best to describe in as much detail as possible the visuals you require. This can be done, either in rough sketches, composite collages or by detailed written descriptions. No matter where your chosen artist may reside, you can communicate your vision. For Rumble’s First Scare, I chose an artist, who lived in Australia (although he was in Canada at the start of the project). With a mulitude of emails, we were able to create Rumble, his yucky pets and his underground home. Matthew McClatchie‘s style beautifully created how I ‘saw’ Rumble.
However, for Ockleberries to the Rescue, I knew I wanted realistic pencil drawings of the animals and that is why I chose J. E. McKnight. His sketches resemble those of Bernie Brown’s type of illustration. Joe was also able to create the book’s cover image by utilizing a computer program. This is in full color and more striking than a pencil sketch. We have to capture our readers eye in the book store after all.
With both artists, I enjoyed the collaboration in creating the ‘look’ I envisaged for these books.
Of course there are numerous options for cover art and interior illustrations with every book. It is up to the author to decide what ‘look’ they require. For my upcoming western romance, Willow Tree Tears (Fall 2015 launch – excerpt here: https://mandyevebarnett.com/current-project-2/) I am thinking of having the image of a barrel on the chapter headers and scene breakers. This will convey the barrel racing theme in the narrative.
What were your illustration requirements for your book(s)?
Did you hire an artist or illustrate yourself?
How did you decide on the image’s and their style?
Our creativity can be inspired from the smallest word to a globally known news worthy article. I was in the grip of such an idea this weekend. It formed from the merging of several obscure news items into a cohesive story and took ‘root’ in my mind. Once I began writing the protagonist came to life and the words flowed. I put down 1000 in less than an hour!
As many of you know I am a free flow writer so apart from a vague idea where I want the story to go, it is a mystery to me. That is the thrill for me. It is an adventure I willingly travel with my characters. They lead and I follow with frantic typing.
What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you?
How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?
No matter what system we use, an idea can grow exponentially once it takes hold. This is wonderful, of course, the only downfall being if we already have a bucketful of ideas already. I had not wanted another project just at the moment. My children’s chapter book, Ockleberries to the Rescue is in final stages of illustration and formatting, while I am working on edits for my western romance, Willow Tree Tears. These two projects are time consuming enough without a new one being added. My plan for 2015 was to re-visit two previous projects and re-write, edit and revise them. Now I have a story demanding to be written and it is impossible to resist.
Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?
Obviously, I will have to reschedule my plans and go with the flow. My older projects will have to wait a little longer.