Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Guest Post by Melissa Abramovitz, author of 'Helping Herbie Hedgehog'

It's a pleasure to have Melissa Abramovitz on my blog today! In this guest post, she talks about the story behind her latest children's picture book, Helping Herbie Hedgehog, which she is promoting at the moment with The National Writing for Children Center. Let's give her warm welcome! 

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Long before I started writing professionally, I recognized the fact that I, and other people, learn much faster when someone – a teacher, parent, or others – makes the learning fun. Later, as the mother of two boys, I found that using humor or downright silliness made it so much easier to engage my children in doing chores or other things that they did not particularly want to do, like taking a bath. I also found that the childrens’ books they, and I, most enjoyed often contained humor. And I found that one thing toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary school-aged children get a kick out of is being right and correcting other peoples’ silly mistakes.

Most of the books, poems, and magazine articles I write are educational in some way, and while they are not all funny, I always try to make them fun, in line with my observations about what I and my children most enjoyed reading. Many years ago, I got the idea to write a series of funny poems about animal characters that need to figure out how to get places and go about other activities. Knowing how much small children enjoy being right, I decided to engage young readers in helping the characters decide what to do. For instance, if the character was traveling to the moon, should he ride a bicycle? The first character I devised was a lion named Laffy Lion. For the next poem I used a character named Klutz Kangaroo. I came up with several more characters to use in other similar poems about different jobs, sports, household appliances, and types of furniture.

One thing I think many people who include humor in their writing experience is uncertainty about whether anyone else will find the humor funny. I know I often wonder about this! The fact that my own kids, other family members, and friends laughed at these poems was encouraging, and this gave me the courage to decide to incorporate all these poems into a children’s book. I decided to make it an early chapter book/picture book, with each chapter devoted to different activities and concepts. But I realized I should use only one main animal character to unify the story. I knew my character had to be clueless, but I also wanted him to be lovable so children would want to help him out. I could have made the character any one of a number of species, but in the end, I decided on a hedgehog because they’re cute despite their prickles. The name Herbie just seemed to fit with “hedgehog.” My original title was “Can You Help Herbie Hedgehog?” to emphasize the interactive nature of the book.            

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About the Author



Melissa Abramovitz has been a freelance writer/author for 30 years. She’s the author of hundreds of magazine articles for all age groups, from preschoolers through adults; more than 40 educational books for children and teenagers; numerous poems and short stories; the children’s picture books ABCs of Health and Safety and Helping Herbie Hedgehog; and a book for writers titled A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write and Sell Articles for Children’s Magazines. Melissa graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in psychology and is also a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. She is a member of SCBWI, NABE, and The Working Writer’s Club.

About the Book

Herbie has places to go and things to do. But he needs some help ‘cause he hasn’t a clue! If you’ll help Herbie decide what’s right and wrong, he’ll be busy and happy the whole day long! Herbie the clueless hedgehog needs help figuring out how to get places and go about his day. Amusing delightful rhymes invite kids to give helpful advice while learning about everyday things in this early chapter book/picture book. Should Herbie ride his bicycle to visit his cousin who lives across the ocean? Will his TV set cook a meal? He really needs these kids’ help! Recommended for ages 2-7.

Title: Helping Herbie Hedgehog
Genre: Children’s picture book/early chapter book
Author: Melissa Abramovitz
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
                        www.amazon.com/Helping-Herbie-Hedgehog-Melissa-Abramovitz/


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Monday, April 6, 2015

Interview with Whitney Stewart, author of 'Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids'

Whitney Stewart grew up in New England and graduated from Brown University. She published her first award-winning, young adult biography after interviewing the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the subject of two of her books. She trekked with Sir Edmund Hillary in the Everest region of Nepal; interviewed Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon, Burma; and traveled extensively in Asia to research the lives of Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zedong, and Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. She is the author of three middle-grade novels and multiple middle-grade nonfiction books, including an unknown tale of Abraham Lincoln and artist Francis Bicknell Carpenter. Her newest picture books include A Catfish Tale, a bayou retelling of the Grimm brothers’ Fisherman and his Wife, and Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids.

Welcome to Mayra's Secret Bookcase, Whitney! Tell us, do you consider yourself to be a born writer?

I was born with deep intuition, curiosity about people, and a love of story and language. Those are my innate qualities. So, in that sense, yes, I am a born writer. But writing takes talent, discipline, study of the craft, imagination, and patience. I have developed those over the years.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes. I started to love writing stories in 4th grade, and submitting to publishers in 10th grade.

Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

I have been meditating since high school. I traveled to Tibet and India when I was in my twenties and learned meditation from Tibetan Buddhist monks. I came home and wanted to teach kids the basics of meditation without religious affilitation.

My new picture book, Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids, is nondenominational book of simple meditations easy enough for preschoolers and sophisticated enough for adults.

Tell us about your children's books.

I began by publishing young adult biographies of Nobel laureates and adventurers (the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Sir Edmund Hillary and more). Then I branched out into writing middle grade nonfiction on such subjects as shipwrecks and Abraham Lincoln. Now I am publishing picture books (fiction and nonfiction) for the youngest readers. Last year I published A Catfish Tale, a silly retelling of Grimms’ The Fisherman and His Wife, set in the Louisiana bayou. I am now working on a middle grade novel set in New Orleans and a middle grade nonfiction book about the hunt for a missing German WWII soldier. 

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?

Yes, I suffered from a creative block after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans where I live. I was evacuated by helicopter from a rooftop after waiting five days in a flooded building. I had to move away from home for 4 ½ months and spent most of my time filing FEMA papers and insurance claims. After I returned to New Orleans, I could not settle easily into my writing routine. I took a private drawing class for a few months to experiment with another creative outlet. I am not a natural artist, but I loved this class nonetheless. I did charcoal portraits of faces. Then I imagined them in stories, which helped me start writing again. After the class ended, I then wrote and published a children’s novel and two shipwreck books. 

Some writers go on long walks, others keep a journal, write at a café, or listen to music. What do you do for inspiration and unleashing your creativity?

I take long walks or a bike ride almost every day. And I travel and research the history of the places where I go. I write nonfiction, so I turn my travels into writing projects. I used to journal when I traveled, but I don’t often do that now. I’m not sure why. However, during my three most recent research journeys, I published an online, eight-part travel series of my adventure.

Describe your working environment.

I work at home in my office library. I am surrounded by windows. I love my office except it has be very noisy when my neighbors on both sides renovated their houses, or when my neighbor’s landscape crew comes through every Monday with leaf-blowers and loud machinery. 

Are you a disciplined writer? What is your working style? 

Yes, very disciplined. I work every weekday from about 9am or 10am (after exercising) until 5pm or 6pm. I don’t usually write on weekends unless my family is out of town and I have a deadline. I don’t write at night either. I am a morning person.

Do you like to outline and plot ahead, or are you more of a stream-of-consciousness writer?

I wish I did outlines or worked on plot first. I am not good at that. I just plunge right into my story and craft the fiction plot or nonfiction chapter sequence later. I often attempt to plot in advance but give up.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?


What are you working on now?

I spent three years on an international hunt for a German WWII soldier (my husband’s uncle) who disappeared from the Russian front after he wrote his last two letters home on January 12, 1945. I was always curious about this man and could not accept that he faded from life without a trace. After Hurricane Katrina, I discovered a box of his war letters in an attic of a flooded house. I went to Germany and Poland three times to follow his last known days. I even worked with a Polish metal detector expert to dig up shrapnel and bones in a former WWII battlefield where my soldier fought. I have learned from the soldier’s letters that he never wanted to fight for the Nazi government and wanted both sides to put down their guns and let the world leaders negotiate peace.

I am now writing a middle grade book that weaves together the soldier’s story with my story to find him. It will be illustrated with drawings, old photographs, and war documents. When I have a solid draft, I will pitch it to publishers. 

Where are your books available?

At online and indie bookstores. I did publish a few museum press books that are only available now from these museum stores.

What was your experience in looking for a publisher?

This is always a challenge. It take time, energy, research, and patience. I used to do all of my own submitting. Now I have a literary agent who submits my work to publishers. I recommend having a agent in today’s publishing climate.

What was your experience in working with an illustrator?

Normally, children’s book writers do not get to choose their illustrator. The publisher does that. In those situations, I am often consulted on early drafts of illustrations. I have contributed comments when I see an inaccurancy in a drawing or when something does not match my text. One time an illustrator drew a left-handed guitar player, but my character was right-handed. I caught the mistake that I knew kids would also discover.

I have also sent photos of a setting if the illustrator does not have access to such.

I have been lucky to work with a few friends on illustrations. I did not tell them how or what to draw. But, if they asked for my feedback, I exchanged ideas with them. Illustrators rock! I have deep admiration for them.

What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?

Marketing is not my strong suit. I am shy about promoting my books unless I am invited to give a talk. That’s when I have fun because I love to connect with my readers of any age. I am comfortable talking in public and prepare well for each talk.

I also promote my books on social media, but I prefer to give talks and let my connection with people help sell my books. 

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Have a thick skin and don’t take things personally. Keep moving forward. Every rejection is only a challenge to revise your story and find another publisher. Also, develop a writing habit and discipline, even if you can only write for an hour a day.
And finally, READ.

Who are your favorite authors?

That’s a tought question, which I answer differently depending on what I have been reading lately. Some of my favorite children’s book writers (not complete list) are: Suzanne Fisher Staples, Sally Rippin, Laurie Halse Anderson, Shaun Tan, Peter Sis, Allen Say, James Cross Giblin, Marcus Zusak, and Susan Campbell Bartoletti.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

What’s your favorite children’s book of all time?

Impossible question. Sorry. That said, The Book Thief  and Owl Moon are definitely at the top of my list. 

What is the best advice on writing you've ever received?

Revise. Revise. Revise. 

We hear again and again that picture books are incredibly difficult to write. Why is that?

I love writing them. But every single word counts, especially now when word counts are way down for picture books. Finding the right pacing, element of humor or poignancy, and plot line is very tricky in 14 double-page spread.

How do you see the future of children’s picture books?

I just read an article, reported by the great Harold Underdown (http://www.underdown.org/) who has his finger on the pulse of children’s book publishing, that sales for children’s books are on the rise and outdid that of adult books in the last quarter. I think the field will survive the digital age. However, nonfiction books seem to be more and more limited. That’s a challenge for me because I love writing nonfiction. I need to rethink the way I write nonfiction so that I can continue to connect with young readers. 

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers? 
I love communicating with you. Send me questions and book ideas on my website. Invite me to your schools and libraries so we can meet. Find me at @whitneystewart2 or at http://whitneystewart.com/. Or read my travel series about the hunt for a missing German soldier at http://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/finding-reiner-disaster-to-discovery.
And thanks for loving books.






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Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Review: Green Gooey Goop, by Anna C. Morrison


Title: Green Gooey Goop
Author: Anna C. Morrison
Publisher: Green Gooey Goop
Pages:16
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Find out more on Amazon





Book Description:

A little girl is presented with a different sort of a meal when her mom serves her green gooey goop. Interesting and icky ingredients appear one by one as the little girl decides what's in this noxious-smelling concoction. The little girl creates a flood, and her dog's fur turns green. Suggested age range for readers: 0-8

My thoughts...

I know from experience that young children laugh at icky, smelly, disgusting things...and for this reason they'll enjoy Green Gooey Goop, especially if the parent or other adult reads it to them in a funny voice and with the right beat. The verses have a nice rhythm and the pictures are humorous and quite green, of course! In general, I think this is a cute picture book. The only thing I found disappointing is that it finishes quite abruptly. From an adult's perspective, I was expecting the story to continue and reach some sort of conclusion, but it just ended. From a kid's perspective, I suspect they'll enjoy what happens to the girl's dog. Recommended for a fun read aloud time with kids.

About the Author

Anna C. Morrison is an author of children’s books, including Silly Moments and Green Gooey Goop, with many more to follow.  She is also an adjunct professor for multiple colleges and universities, both face-to-face and online.  While she instructs various levels of English composition, she also teaches classes on literature, film, feature writing, and technical writing, among others.  In addition, she has worked with Adapt Courseware as a writing consultant on three video course projects, including college skills and composition.  Anna received her MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and her BA in English, Creative Writing, from California State University, San Bernardino.  Anna is an active member of SCBWI and is available for book signings.  She lives in Southern California with her family and pets. 

For More Information


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Guest post: "The Importance of Believing in Yourself" by Irene S. Roth, author of 'Seasons of Empowerment for Adolescent Girls'

Following-through and being diligent can help a writer be a lot more in control of their writing career and projects.  Are you plagued by fears when you write? Are you always wondering whether you are working on the right project or performing at your optimal level?  Do you always second-guess yourself to the point where you stop to write and answer email or do anything but write?

     If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative, you are probably a fearful writer.  I believe that writers who are fearful lack self-confidence, and when they build up their self-confidence, they will be much more fearless. It is hard to be productive and enjoy writing when you are constantly harassed by negative thoughts and feelings about your ability.  What you need is to become tranquil and peaceful in order to do your best writing. And you can do this with a bit of practise and a change of mindset.

     One of the best ways to assuage your fears as a writer is to not let them overwhelm you during your scheduled writing time. Yes, I know this is easier said than done, but here are a few relatively easy things that you can do to change your mindset.

·       Know which project you want to work on before you sit down to write. This way you won’t have to keep guessing what you have to do. Try to complete all of your goals for the day as you scheduled them. This will give you the self-confidence that you need to develop self-confidence.

·       Have a long range plan and vision for your writing career.  After a few of the writers in my local critique group reflected on their vision and wrote it down they have had very few fears since when they sit down to write. Sometimes knowing where you are going in your writing career and having goals, both short and long-term, can make such a huge difference for your self-confidence as a writer.

·       Make your office space very welcoming and comfortable. Remove all distractions, such as phones and cell phones as well as the internet if possible. If your computer is connected to the internet, turn it off until after you have done your writing!

·       When you come into your office to write, take a moment to connect with your center by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. This will center you and allow you to do your best writing. In addition, you will feel a lot more fearless.

By taking these steps, you can become a much more fearless and self-confident writer. And once you become a more self-confident writer, you will be very productive and happy. And you will also look forward to your writing time. All you need is a change of mindset from passive to proactive.

     Following-through is making sure that you believe in yourself. And believing in yourself can be made quite easy. All of you have to do is take the steps that I have outlined above.

RothABOUT THE AUTHOR
Irene S. Roth is an academic and freelance writer for teens, tweens and kids. She has written over 500 book reviews and 1,000 online articles on different topics for teens, tweens, and about the craft of writing. She also teaches workshops on writing and craft at Savvy Authors. She lives in Stratford, Ontario with her husband and cat. Visit her at https://irenesroth.wordpress.com/
ABOUT HER BOOK
In Seasons of Empowerment for Adolescent Girls, Ms. Roth argues that there are four seasons of empowerment for adolescent girls. Sadly no adolescent girl can simply wake up one day, snap her fingers, and be empowered to tackle the world and all the forces that exist inside and outside. Becoming empowered to be who we are can be truly difficult. This book consists of a step-by-step guide to help adolescent girls achieve self-improvement.
Purchase at Amazon


    



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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Review: Olive and the Great Flood, by Connie Arnold

Book description:

Olive is a gentle, friendly dove who wants to help her friend Noah, his family and the other animals with her on the ark. She tries to soothe them during the rain and has an important assignment, to discover when it's safe to venture from the ark after the flood. Suggested age range for readers: 4-8

My thoughts...

This is a lovely picture book to read and enjoy. In her simple, lyrical language, most appropriate for young children, talented children's author Connie Arnold tells the story of Noah, his Ark, and the Flood. At the heart of it is Olive, the beautiful dove, who has a most important job to do in this already most important tale. The tone is calming and peaceful, making this book not only educational but also perfect as a bedtime story. I really enjoyed the colorful illustrations by Kathleen Bullock. They really fit and suit the story. Children will have fun pointing out all the animals both in the Arc and under the seas. I truly recommend this delightful picture book for young children!

Purchase from Amazon and Guardian Angel Publishing

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Excerpt and Cover Reveal: 'Super Bad' by Kai Strand

Watch out. Things are about to get really bad

Excerpt from Super Bad:

The classroom door opened and Sandra glanced toward it, along with the thirty other kids in the room. She snickered and raised her eyebrows at Lexa when a young man wearing a Hermes costume, complete with wings fluttering on his heels, floated in.
“I’m not gonna lie,” Lexa leaned over to whisper. “I hope a draft lifts his skirt so we can see what’s underneath.”
Sandra giggled. “My guess is bun huggers. Gold lame to match his shiny winged cap.”
Lexa waggled her eyebrows. “Shiny gold buns. I like.”
The teacher frowned at the young man. “Can I help you?”
“I have a delivery for Sandra Tohler.”
Sandra gulped. This couldn’t be anything besides embarrassing. A tidal wave of heads turned toward her causing her cheeks to flush with heat.
Seeing where everyone’s attention settled, the Hermes guy floated between the rows of desks and came to rest near hers. “Sandra Tohler?”
Reluctantly, she nodded.
He cleared his throat before delivering a soliloquy in a clear, resonating voice that Sandra was sure the students in classrooms across campus would hear.
“Sandra, oh Sandra, my lovely, stormy vixen, hear my humble plea. Your essence has absorbed into my every thought and now I wonder how I will sit for my exams. Will I answer essay questions by describing the intense sable color of your hair, or the enticing moss of your eyes that makes me imagine us lying in each others arms in a fairy forest?”
Sandra’s forehead hit her desk with a loud thunk, her voice a mumble against the surface. “Please stop. Go away.”
But the Hermes guy continued in his orator’s voice. “I’ve relived our kiss uncountable times. Your lips were velvet soft, but demanding.”
A chorus of “Ooo,” erupted through the room.

SUPER BAD The unexpected conclusion to the Super Villain Academy series.

The world is in chaos. Violence and thievery reign. And with the supers still balanced, it’s only getting worse. Without good versus evil, the supers care less and less. In order to restore purpose, the world needs its super heroes and its super villains, but the one who balanced them in the first place is missing.

Sandra’s concern over finding her brother, Jeff, isn’t her only problem. Her pathetic excuse for super powers has left her needing a new ankle. And though she’s still very much committed to her boyfriend, Source, she’s growing unreasonably attracted to Set, the boy who double crossed Jeff by stealing his girlfriend.

When Sandra is taken and held as bait by kids who want to unbalance the super world, it becomes the inciting event that changes things for supers everywhere and forces them to answer the question, “Hero or villain?”
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Super Bad is scheduled for release in June, but there have been whispers of it releasing sooner. Don’t miss out. Subscribe to Kai’s mailing list and be among the first to know.
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King of Bad - Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. Is Jeff bad enough for SVA?

Polar Opposites - Heroes and villains are balanced. After Oceanus is kidnapped, Jeff learns the supers are so balanced, they no longer care to get involved. Ironically Jeff’s superpowers are spiraling out of control. Will they find Oci before he looses it completely, and will they find her alive?
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Win a $10 Amazon gift card or an ecopy of either King of Bad or Polar Opposites. Plenty of chances to win. Open internationally. Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com. www.tips-fb.com

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Interview with Alinka Rutkowska, Author of ‘Cinderella’s Secret Slipper’


alinka_cartoon_low - Version 2Alinka Rutkowska is an award-winning and best-selling author and coach who’s been featured on Fox Business Network, the Examiner, She Knows, She Writes, Blog Talk Radio, The Writer’s Life and many more. She’s here today to talk about her latest children’s picture book, Cinderella’s Secret Slipper.
Welcome to Blogcritics, Alinka! Congratulations on the release of your latest picture book,Cinderella’s Secret Slipper. When did you start writing and what got you into children’s books? 
Thank you. I’ve been writing since I remember. One of my most notable achievements as a school girl was founding the second school newspaper. There already was one, but I thought it needed some healthy competition. That got me into the writing and publishing world very early on, and I have loved it ever since.
I’ve always loved children’s books, but I only wrote my first one when I took a break from the corporate world to travel around the world. I then had more time to get in touch with myself and to understand what I really wanted to do in life – and that’s to have the privilege to shape young readers’ minds through my stories.
Tell us a bit about Cinderella’s Secret Slipper
Cinderella’s Secret Slipper tells the story of our favorite princess while she’s living her “happily ever after.” She’s a mom and has some real-life problems like her son smashing one of her favorite glass slippers against the wall. Since it’s the only glass pair she has and she’s very nostalgic about it (after all she was wearing it when she first met her husband!), she’s on a quest of putting the slipper back together again, which turns out to be quite challenging.
The early reviewers really appreciated the “real-life” aspect of the story and very much enjoyed the humor.
Writing the story was challenging, as it’s completely different from my “Maya & Filippo” series, which focuses on world-travel and profound messages. Cinderella’s Secret Slipper is shorter, lighter and funnier. It’s main aim is to entertain, but the insightful reader will find a profound message in it as well, it’s just very subtle.
What was your inspiration for it? 
I love classic fairy tales, and I know that when they end with “and they lived happily ever after,” they don’t really end. There’s so much more to tell and I’m fascinated by it!
I also got much more tuned into what my audience wants and this seemed to be a perfect fit. Now that the pre-release reviews are out, it makes me very happy to see that my readers are delighted with this story.
What is your writing process like? 
I usually come up with an idea and write it down in my “drafts” folder. Then I let it marinate in my head for a while. At a certain point I feel like I have to let it out and pour it all onto paper. Then I read it, change a few things and move on to something else.
After a while I read it again and again and again… change a lot of things and send it off to my critique group. If it comes back with positive feedback andCinderella Coversome minor improvement suggestions (as opposed to “flush it down the toilet”), I edit the story again and if I’m satisfied, I send it to my editor. We toss it to each other back and forth, and then the illustrator gets the manuscript.
How was your experience working with an illustrator?
I’ve been working with the same illustrator since book one, and he’s created the artwork for 15 of my titles. It was love at first sight. He liked the idea of my books when we first talked about it, created a few drafts, which I loved and we’ve been working happily ever after.
I usually just send him the story, and when he sends it back the illustrations are perfect 95% of the time. If I want a change, there’s never a problem.
My readers have paid me many compliments for the artwork, which makes me very happy. I have had offers from other illustrators, but when they came back with their drafts I just couldn’t imagine having those illustrations in my book. I wouldn’t feel like the book is “mine” anymore.
What was your publishing process like? 
I publish all my books independently. I really enjoy the speed of the process and the control I have over all aspects. I’ve also learnt a lot about publishing and feel like I don’t need a traditional publisher. However, I have a lot of respect for traditional publishers and have sold rights to 16 of my titles to traditional publishers abroad.
What has writing for children taught you? 
Writing picture books is very different from writing any other fiction. Since the expected word count is around 600, writing for children taught me brevity. I learnt to hook the reader from the very first sentence, create a compelling story that draws the reader in, have him on the edge of his seat wondering if the main character will ever solve his problem and then create a climax and often a surprising ending.
This has to be done in around 600 words, which is less than half of this interview, so it’s quite challenging. I learnt to weigh every word for its life and cut off anything that doesn’t move the story forward.
Writing for children is both an art and a science!
What do you know now that you didn’t know when you published your first book?
So much! I’ve always been a nerd with my nose in books, and that hasn’t changed much, only now my nose is also in online articles and courses, so I learn new things every single day.
I’ve learnt plenty about book marketing, optimizing my books’ metadata for online sales, getting reviews, selling in bulk, foreign publishing deals and much more. This has allowed me to create a business helping other authors.
I’ve also attended several events for authors and made connections that led to opportunities I haven’t even dreamt of.
What do you find most challenging about book marketing? 
I graduated in management and marketing but that’s very different from book marketing online! My degree did give me the confidence that I should be able to do this though :) But it’s the confidence that allows me to move on, not the degree.
Book marketing is such a broad subject, and the landscape keeps changing so quickly that the most challenging thing is to keep up and to be able to identify the things that work for you. That’s why it’s important to test and understand where most of your results are coming from.
There are many avenues to success and also success means different things for different people but the important thing is to focus on those marketing strategies that bring you what you want to achieve.
How do you celebrate the completion of a book? 
Ha! I don’t think I do because it’s never really complete. When I’m done with the first draft, there are many edits to come. When I have the final manuscript, it needs to be illustrated. When I have the illustrations, the book needs to be put together. When it’s ready, I wait for the proof to come.
When I see the physical proof I get really excited, and I always carry it around with me because I love to look at it. While I keep admiring my proof, I prepare the launch of my book. While the book is being launched, I’m already thinking about other promotional campaigns and about other books.
So I guess the only time I really celebrate is when I go to one of those award ceremonies and get a medal. While it’s hanging on my neck and gently swaying as I move around the room and make new connections, I feel really blissful but I’m not sure if that beats what I feel when that first proof comes in the envelope.
What do you love most about the writer’s life? 
The freedom. I worked in big multinational companies before, and while I had great positions and a lot of visibility I was just one little part of a huge machine. And in the end, I had to do what was expected of me.
With book writing and publishing I have much more control, flexibility, I make my own decisions and I do it when I want to. The difference is huge.
What is your advice for aspiring children’s authors? 
Just do it. I know that at the beginning you will be very focused on the writing and you will have no author platform and no marketing experience, but that’s just how it works. We all had to start, and you will eventually learn to do many of the things you need to know to succeed.
Experience comes with practice, and if you are passionate about what you’re doing, that passion will take you places.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? 
I’d like to give them some presents! If you enjoy children’s picture books, I’d like to give you a free copy from my award-winning collection – go grab it here: http://alinkarutkowska.com.
I have something special for authors as well, it’s my “200 Book Marketing Tips” ebook, which you can download for free at http://alinkarutkowska.com/authors-home/.
Thank you!
My interview with the author originally appeared in Blogcritics Magazine.
www.tips-fb.com