Meet Guest Children’s Book Illustrator – Dayne Sislen…

Charming and beautifully rendered illustrations for children of all ages.  Dayne Sislen loves doing illustrations for children’s books and as she says, “I play well with others”! You can find Dayne on FB, Twitter, and her website, and more!

 

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Thank you for this opportunity, Chris.

I am a children’s book illustrator. I live and breathe children’s books. I play well with others, so I help children’s book authors develop their characters visually and bring the stories for their books alive on the printed page with colorful illustrations.

I am very rare among children’s book illustrators because I actually love to work directly with self-publishing authors as well as publishers. Why am I willing to work with self-publishing authors when others are not? Occasionally I find an author who values my time, talent and expertise.

When I read their manuscript I can tell it has been carefully edited for content and as well as grammar. They belong to an experienced SCBWI critique group or they have used a professional children’s book editor. They have taken the time to learn about writing for children and their manuscript clearly shows it. The language and word…

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Hug An Author!

Thank you Jennifer for posting this timely request and I hope more readers will leave a review, it means so much! K. D. 🙂

Novels by Jennifer Hinsman

It only takes a minute, not even a minute in some cases!

If you enjoyed a book please leave a review.  Books make time travel possible, they make magic happen, they take us to different worlds, they entertain, they teach, they make literallyANYTHING possible.

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7 Things to Do When You Want to Give Up (Instead of Giving Up)

 

 

 

 

 

By: Brian A. Klems | April 20, 2017

There are a lot of challenges and rewards to being an author, and one of the greatest (and sometimes brutal) challenges is getting published. I think we’ve all seen people magically picked up by publishers out of nowhere, but my experience is that they usually know someone in the business. For me, it was a slog that took more than ten years and hundreds of rejections from agents and editors.

Then, in the past two and a half years, I signed contracts for fourteen books with three different publishers. Eight of the books are out now, and the rest will be out shortly. When people think that because I started selling books in my twenties I must have somehow cheated to get ahead, I tell them my history: I started submitting to agents and editors when I was in middle school. I was already writing novels then, and despite having a growing readership and being highlighted by the Los Angeles Times at the age of 14, I was still up for years of constant rejection. That’s how hard of a business this is, and it shows that if you want to write, never give up.So, if you’ve been submitting and not getting anywhere, here are some suggestions of things you can do instead of giving up, and all these things can help you on your path to publication.

  1. Revise

One of the most important things I learned — and one of the things I used to resist most — is revising. If your book is being rejected, it might not be because it’s a “bad” book. It might just be it needs some revising, because all books do. For me, revising often means cutting back so that the prose moves smoothly. Don’t say something in a paragraph you can say in a sentence. It sometimes can also mean adding to a scene because its full meaning isn’t there yet. There are freelance editors out there (some of whom worked as professional editors for publishers beforehand) who will help you edit. This can be expensive, though, so there are also options of joining writers’ groups in person or online. You can also talk to people you know who are knowledgeable about your genre, as long as they’re also willing and able to give you good constructive criticism.

  1. Publish elsewhere

Even if you can’t get your book published (yet), that doesn’t mean you can’t publish elsewhere to build up your résumé. When I was in high school, I started writing for a local newspaper. I’d take these articles and send them to bigger places, showing them that I was a professional writer and could work for them, too. By doing this, I eventually worked my way up to writing for MTV, CNN, The Onion, Publishers Weekly and Booklist, among other places. Once agents and editors see that big-name places are willing to hire you, they pay more attention. (A lot of these places I got into initially by writing about manga for them — I have an interest in Japanese comics and they needed people to cover this. Your interests might be what you can sell, which is win-win.) But keep in mind I didn’t reach MTV overnight — I started out with that local paper and kept moving up. Blogging is also a way to potentially get your name out there. It doesn’t necessarily have the same oomph to publishers as a paying market, but if you get enough followers, publishers ought to take heed.

  1. Build a Platform

Publishers and agents often say they want to see a platform. In other words, they want to see you brand yourself and have followers. While working on your book and submitting, find good ways to get yourself known. Publishing elsewhere (see above) can be a useful move for this part, but it’s not limited to that. Some people also use social media to build their own platform by finding an audience there. Other people have gotten attention through important work that they do. This is quite limitless.

  1. Network

Book conventions are a great place to network, because there unfortunately is truth to “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” However, I couldn’t afford to travel and go to conventions, and I know many writers have this same issue. So almost all the networking I did was online, and LinkedIn was especially useful. I would ask someone to link with me, and if they did, I’d send a brief and polite message thanking them, telling them a little about myself (a sentence or two will due) and saying I’d be interested in networking. Don’t just make it about you — help them, too. A lot of times I would help publicize work of theirs I admired for one of the places I wrote for, so it’s mutually beneficial. The best business, I believe, comes from helping one another.

  1. Have More Than One Project

I was writing full-time for MTV, freelancing for other publications and submitting a YA novel through my agent . . . when I sold my first book, which wasn’t the YA one. It was actually a book on manga, based on my background reviewing, reporting, adapting and editing manga. Sometimes the things that get you in the door are not the things you expect. Have an open mind and have some fun!

  1. Remember You Are Not Alone

Sometimes after getting rejection letters, it helped to hear from other writers experiencing the same thing. I worked toward being an author every day for years, without break, and it was often exhausting and demoralizing. Believing in yourself doesn’t mean you think everything you write is perfect and you can do no wrong, but it means you know you can make this work. Rejection is not a sign that it will always be rejection. The writers who get published as the ones who don’t give up and who keep bettering themselves, not the ones who get rejection letters.

  1. Love Writing

Because being a professional author can be such a challenge, always remember the number one thing: you want to be a writer because you love writing. Now get out there and show them what you’ve got!

Brian Klems, is a contribution writer and author, to Writer’s Digest

 

A Review for an Extraordinary Story

come-to-a-memory-31171219COME TO A MEMORY Joab’s Story/Lila’s Story

Come to a Memory, by Francis Webb,  is an extraordinary read. It feels genuine and real. I felt like I was reading a true story from the viewpoint of a little nine-year-old girl, named Lila.  America was barely edging out of the depression era and nerves stretched thin by the inconceivable shock, fear, and confusion of another war, so soon after the Great War.  This story takes place at the beginning of WWII in a small town and a family suffering financial loss like so many others during the Great Depression. What many people forget is that children were the ones that suffered in silence because that was the way children were instructed to behave, but not Lila.

Lila, intelligent, stubborn, and inquisitive, found ways to-be-heard, by throwing acorns at her cantankerous grandfather, as she hid in a tree, and by hiding a real chicken foot in her sleeve during her grandmother’s wake, terrifying ladies as Lila greeted them at her front door, not with her hand but with the chicken foot—claws and all.

Lila’s complex friendship with a Jewish boy from Germany, named Joab, who came to join her 4th grade class, grew slowly during the time before America entered into WWII after Pearl Harbor. Lila’s choice to befriend Joab, over the sneering remarks of children and adults alike, taught both lessons they would never forget.  Through it all, it was Lila and Joab, both suffering for being different, who helped to mend the suspicions of a small town about a little boy who escaped Nazi Germany, though his family did not.  I highly recommend this true-to-life story. This historical fiction, “Come to a Memory, made me cry, made me smile, and made me laugh hysterically.  A story that still lives in the hearts of many, still here, to remember the horror that was.  I highly recommend this story – to one and all!

In Honor of Horror Fiction: More & More & More Tales to Give You Goosebumps

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Yeah, We’re Talking About R.L. Stine By: Zachary Petit Something about R.L. Stine freaks me out. It’s not that he acts nothing like you might assume, though he is wearing all black. He’s funny and charming, and his amiable character throws kids off on school visits: “They expect someone with fangs, wearing a cape,” he says.

It’s not that nobody calls him “R.L.” except book jackets. (He goes by Bob.)  Its not even that he has written some 300–400 books (!), and has sold more than 350 million in his Goosebumps series alone, making him at one point the bestselling children’s series author of all time. (He’s now No. 2, right behind J.K. Rowling.)

No, it’s how he writes the things that freaks me out: He begins with the titles.“That’s the inspiration!” he says with a laugh. “You want to know where ideas come from—for me, they come from the title.”

For instance, he was walking his dog around New York City, and he thought, Little Shop of Hamsters. It just popped into his head. He liked it, so he came up with a story to bring it to life—What can I do to make hamsters scary? OK, a boy goes into a strange pet shop. It’s all hamsters, and there’s something wrong with one of them …

“Most authors I know work backwards,” he says. “I can’t do it.” So, I decide to conduct an experiment: I’m going to be like Stine. I’m going to work backward, and I’m not going to write a word of my article about him until I’ve got the perfect title, one I can build a story around. Simple enough for a little profile, right? And without knowing it, I’ve fallen into the trap of R.L. Stine, the trap of writing for kids, maybe the trap of writing anything: It all looked so damn easy.

 

 

BELLA THE WINTER MOUSE

Bella, The Winter MouseSome time ago, I befriended an adorable winter mouse, I named Bella, who wandered into my yard one day and became my friend for one long lonely winter.  Little Bella first caught my attention by peeking out from behind a wooden rocking chair on my back porch one cold December morning as I worked busily cleaning away cobwebs and dust from window panes and dusty corners.

I pretended to ignore this curious little field mouse. I was hoping that she would scurry away as almost all little critters do to avoid the murderous intent of larger critters.  As I continued dusting and sweeping, I kept stealing glances to see if the little  mouse with the large pink-ears was still watching me from its hiding place behind my old rocking chair.  As I furtively turned my head to get a better view, I was taken-aback to see the funny little brown mouse standing up on its hind legs with its little hands clasped in a pleading gesture as she stared at me.

My heart went out to the furry little winter mouse and I reached into my jacket pocket for the small package of peanut butter crackers I had accidentally left in my pocket the day before.  I opened the package , stepped off the porch (making sure the little mouse saw what I was doing) and placed a peanut butter cracker on the frozen winter grass.  I felt sure this would appease the determined little mouse to take the cracker and scurry back its winter nest, preferably far away from my back porch.  I then stepped back into my house and shut the door behind me allowing the little mouse to know it was now safe to scurry away with the peanut butter cracker.

The next day, as I gazed out of my backdoor window I saw my neighbor’s old Tom Cat on my back porch. He had apparently cornered something behind my old rocking chair. All at once, I knew Old Tom had cornered the little winter mouse who, no doubt, had returned for another peanut butter cracker.  I quickly stepped outside with broom in hand and shooed Old Tom away giving the frightened brown mouse with the large pink ears time to escape. It was the least I could do seeing how it was my fault the furry winter mouse had returned for more peanut butter crackers.

This time the little winter mouse scurried underneath the wooden porch and dashed away, but where to, I wondered. Surely, Old Tom would catch it now and it would be my fault.  Sadly, there was nothing I could do—this was nature, the natural cycle of life and death. I sighed deeply and bowed my head as I turned away from the window.

Little did I know Bella was quite familiar with all the hiding places around my house as I found out one chilly morning in the wee hours before dawn a few weeks later.   While snuggled up in my bed, underneath a quilted coverlet, I reached over to turn on the lamp on my nightstand.  As I did, (to my dismay) my winter mouse stood before me on my nightstand.  Her tiny hands were clasped tightly in front of her, grasping a peanut butter cracker I had left on the nightstand.  Her pink belly and soft brown fur trembled in the bright light.  We stared into each other’s eyes, nose to nose, for what seemed like a long time before she suddenly dashed, cracker in mouth, to wherever she had made a home – in my house.

Well, I thought, a friend it one thing, a Boarder is quite another.  So, early that morning, I crept, as quite as a mouse, with my flash light in hand to find the freeloader’s hideaway.  And find it I did. Apparently, my little curious winter mouse liked music, because I found her and her nest behind my credenza.  Her little brood of six pink baby mice seemed quite comfy— snuggled up in one of my missing fluffy slippers.

Well, enough is enough, I thought.  One winter mouse is tolerable for a winter, but not Bella’s brood of six baby mice.  I found myself in dilemma of what to do with Bella and her babies.  There was the mudroom, I thought, and that presented another dilemma. The mudroom already had several guests.

The injured red flying squirrel was healing well in a shoe box on the third shelf, Tabby, my 12-year-old tabby cat, somewhat incontinent and nearly blind, slept there each night on top of the filing cabinet, Fluffy, my snow white Tibetan Lhasa also preferred to sleep there where his food was kept, like wrapped around the 25 pound bag.  (You should know that Lhasa’s are very protective of their people and their food.)

I had no choice. Bella and her babies were going into the mudroom, in a covered shoe box, secured with tape and with small holes for air.  I placed the shoe box on the floor very near the mudroom backdoor that had a small bit of daylight between the door and the floor.  Every day I would leave one peanut butter cracker for Bella on the back porch. It didn’t take long before she waited for me every day at the backdoor, standing up, her little hands folded across her tummy and I would hand the peanut butter cracker to her. She would reach out with her tiny hands, and grasp it and hold it to her chest before dashing away. She was the sweetest mouse. Her cute little personality and her big brown eyes were so expressive.

In early spring, I went to the backdoor and there was no Bella. I hurried to the mudroom and found the shoe box empty. They were gone. Bella, my winter mouse had gone back to the corn and alfalfa fields with her young.  I hope they all survived, but I would never know. I never saw her again. I still think of her sometimes, on a chilly winter morning when I turn the lights on in my bed room.

Story by K. D. Dowdall – first posted last December 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Blank Page

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Jumping into the unknown fathoms of starting a new novel this week has left me beginning to panic!The image above exactly represents how I feel when starting a new novel. I write down the concept in a special notebook for each new concept for a new novel. Except this time, I don’t have a title, per se.  So, when beginning a new novel, I often make up things I need to do first. For instance,  like reading the news, old magazines, walking, shopping, and trying not to panic by doing yoga or crocheting. Yes, I do crocheting and I almost have a blanket now.  After a while, I run out of excuses, take a few deep breaths and jump into a fathomless pit of indecision. Suddenly, the squeaky mouse, turns into a brave tiger and an hour later – viola – I have 10 pages written, that need lots of editing and maybe tossed in the wastepaper basket before the day is over, but it is a beginning!

So, other writers, what is your experience when facing a brand new blank page?