Tag Archives: Books

Charting the Course

TrollsPage

 

One of the fun things about self publishing a children’s book is that in addition to the many hats you get to wear (I love hats) as writer, illustrator, layout girl, and official chocolate tester, you learn a lot about the rules that govern the creation of many books your own kids read.

Did you know, for example, the standard length for children’s books is 32 pages? The standard was established by Beatrix Potter and her publisher Frederick Warne as way to get the most pages out of a single sheet of paper. It was an economic decision that stood the test of time.

As a writer, illustrator, naturalist, and well-known rule-breaker, Beatrix Potter has been an idol of mine for some time, and as I’ve been laying out the Truth about Trolls, I had to decide whether or not to follow Beatrix’s guidelines, or make my own rules for the modern world. Remembering that my own kids never argued about a story lasting longer, I ended up deciding it was better to stretch the text over a few extra pages and pictures.

I’ve read many books to my kids over the years, never thought to check the word count. The modern word count is about 250 to 1000 words depending on the age of the kid. Many of the classics such as The Giving Tree or Sylvester and the Magic Pebble are much longer, settling on a word count was a tough decision. In the end, I trimmed it down to as close to 1000 words as possible, and, as the illustrations take shape and help tell the story, the word count continues to shrink.

Ultimately, walking the line has been less about following or breaking rules and more about listening to the story. Hopefully it’s what, in 2017, Beatrix would do.

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A Perfect Plan

What started as an exercise in learning to storyboard a kid’s book for The Truth About Trolls has morphed into it’s own project–a way for me to laugh instead of cry about the eternal black hole that is T2’s room.

I’m almost done inking the drawings for “Dweezil’s Perfect Plan.” T2 has been happy to contribute his Defcon 5 messy room — one of the perils of encouraging creativity in your kid — for me to use as life model. 

The plan after the inking is to convince T2 that it’s time to move to Defcon 1, but as the past few weeks have shown, even the most perfect plan can produce unexpected results.

You Never Need To

Ais for AllnighterBook FrontCoverI’ve said it to my kids. I’ll bet you say it to yours, and I’m pretty sure your mom has said it to you, but no matter how sappy it sounds each time, it’s true.

“You don’t need to get me (insert image of your mom talking here) anything for Mother’s Day (or any other day).”

But just in case you feel like getting your mom a little something, A is for All-Nighter is on sale on Amazon prime – to get there in time for next Sunday, or you can order a signed copy with 1 day shipping here by clicking the Pay Pal button below.



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Hand Puppets

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I met this week with mentor extraordinaire and best-selling author Jon Katz to work on editing and cleaning up my first full fledged book, “A is for All Nighter”. The fate of the book is in flux as we are still working to find an agent for it and for me. I’m finding the advice of a good mentor like Jon is invaluable as I weigh the options of immediate gratification through self publishing or delayed gratification by trying to find a publisher.

So “A is for All Nighter” continues on the next step of the journey, and a new friend came to find me last week. Her name is Élly.  That accent over the E means you pronounce her name “Yelly”.
she’s kind of a loud little troll, and we had a lot to talk about last week. You see, like most people, there’s a lot more to Élly than meets the eye.

The revelations from the presidential campaign that inadvertently focused the national conversation on latent misogyny and consent brought up unpleasant memories for many women I know and for me as well.  Some people are able to talk about those memories, but sometimes, candor carries too high a price. 

Secrecy also carries a high price, however.  In secrecy there is depression and retreat from the blessings in your life.  There is a constant mental rerun of the memories that encourage self-loathing, and, in my case I began to look in the mirror and see a horrible, ugly, little troll.

That’s when Élly showed up.  Apparently she’s been lurking in the inner world I began building when I was two. She’s been just waiting for the right time to set me straight with some truth about bad things that happen in life and about trolls, about whom there is also much misinformation (they live under bridges, they have bad tempers).

So, like a kid talking to a hand puppet in a psychiatrist’s office, I told her why I felt like a troll and she told me why that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. She talked to me about her life and about the strength you find walking through the tears and emerging on the other side into a life you love. 

Élly was so helpful getting me back on track, that we decided to work on my next project together.  She even helped me find it by suggesting that we work to set the record straight about her kind.  Élly’s doing most of the writing, and I’ll be doing the illustrations, and we hope that in a few months we’ll have a kid-friendly book called The Truth About Trolls

So far she seems happy with the first portrait.