These last few months have been incredibly busy for me. But as my mother used to say, “Busy is good.” And yes, they have been good. Aside from my normal hectic schedule, as I mentioned in my last post, RhyPiBoMo (Rhyming Picture Book Month), has been filling some of my days and a lot of my nights. The participants were charged with writing a rhyming picture book in the month of April. Aside from writing our own book, we have a critique group which has been invaluable. Time consuming, but invaluable. Trust me, it may look easy, but it’s not. As my RhyPiBoMo friend, Vivian Kirkfield, said, “Most believe that writing a picture book is a piece of cake. Well, take it from me…if it is a piece of cake, it is a piece of the most complex layer cake you have ever eaten.” People are shocked to hear all the different layers that go into a well written picture book. When I speak at schools, I love to look at the kids’ faces when I tell them about the twenty five revisions of Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets. It’s a long way from idea to completion.
Vivian, who is not only a talented writer, but a generous one, tagged me in an Author-Illustrator Blog Hop, so here I am! The point of this blog is to answer questions about the writing or illustrating process and then tag a few more people. They will then write about their process and tag more people. Before you read on, you may want to hop over to Vivian’s site at www.viviankirkfield.com. You’ll find some fun, interesting things residing there!
But now…… to begin!
WHAT AM I WORKING ON NOW?
Because I tend to be a piecemeal worker, I have several things going on. I know….most people say you should finish one project before you go onto the next, but honestly, it doesn’t always work that way with me. Right now I am knee deep in revisions of my RhyPiBoMo submission, working on an adult story (yikes!) for our Space City Scribes anthology (www.spacecityscribes.wordpress.com ), and playing around with a few poems with the goal of submitting them to children’s magazines this fall. I am also working with Ellen Rothberg (writing partner for our three published books) on completing a middle grade chapter book.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN ITS GENRE?
I’m not sure my work is totally different, but I hope everything I do has my mark on it. My three published picture books are a collaboration with my writing partner, Ellen Rothberg (www.E2books.com). All three of them have what we feel are important messages for kids. Of course, many books have messages, but we hope ours are a little different. We try very hard to subtly teach a lesson using humor. It can get a little dicey while trying to deliver a not so funny message. Our book Bully in the Barnyard was especially difficult because bullying is such a serious topic, and yet it is a picture book filled with humor. I think we did a good job focusing on a serious message within a humorous picture book, and I think that is a bit different than most of the work out there. We want kids to relate to our books, and we don’t want to be preachy. Even on my solitary projects, I find myself sticking to the same formula; entertain, teach a little, and make the reader think a little.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
As an educator, I was constantly making up stories and rewriting curriculum to be more appealing. I saw kids react to books, and I wanted to be a part of that. I usually write books with humor and subtle messages because I think we can always learn something, but hitting the kids over the head with THE LESSON is not the way to go. I think it’s important to give kids something to think about as well as give them something to laugh about. To be honest, some of my work is just plain silly, but I think that’s perfectly fine. There is nothing more satisfying than making a child laugh. I guess I write what I do because I know how books can affect a child, and it is really an extension of working with children for many years.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
Oh, how I wish I could tell you I write every morning until lunchtime, take a break and then write some more all afternoon. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that. First of all, I am juggling a lot of balls, so I can’t write as much as I would like. Secondly, as I said earlier, I tend to be a bit piecemeal. I work well under pressure, but I am constantly trying to be more organized with my process. Usually something catches my eye or my ear, and I think, “That would make a great story.” I jot down a few notes, begin to write, and then realize I probably better outline this puppy….at least somewhat. So I do a very rough outline and start to write again. I write and write and then revise like crazy. Ideas, notes, writing, and revision. That’s pretty standard. It’s just not as consistent as I’d like. After I get something to the stage where I’m not totally embarrassed by the piece, I submit it to my critique groups and others. I take their feedback and then go back and write and write some more….usually with major revisions. Sometimes one comment will turn my whole story into something I didn’t think of originally. I have to say, I am the queen of revision. I spend a lot more time revising than I do getting the original story down. As I tell the kids I speak to, revision is putting words in, taking words out, turning words around, and then doing it all again. And again. Feel free to check out our books at www.e2books.com.
After years of spending all my time marketing the books I do have published, I realized that I am not doing enough to finish the books I want to have published. I took the leap and immersed myself into different writing groups where I am learning so much and meeting talented, committed people. Because I love writing, but I am not really a solitary worker by nature, these writing communities have been wonderful for me. I love the connections I’ve made, and because of these connections, I am able to and pleased to tag two wonderful authors and one very talented illustrator. Each one of them is passionate about opening up to new worlds for their readers. So I would like to introduce……………….
Sheri Kiss is an author and performer. She gives animated puppet shows based on her children’s book, Dream Write, at local Houston bookstores and elementary schools. Her personal philosophy that “perception creates reality,” shapes her children’s stories and is the greatest motivator for helping children realize their incredible inner power. She is a mom to two young boys.
In this first children’s book of the series, a young boy named Grayson fears falling back to sleep after having a bad dream. It is not until he faces his fears, using the power of his imagination, that he overcomes his fear. Children are encouraged at the end of the story to do the same: face their fears and, as a byproduct, nurture their self-esteem and self-confidence. The next book in the Dream Write series is Feel Write where readers will meet another boy who finds controlling his temper challenging. The Dream Write series is all about encouraging children to tackle any emotional or physical challenges utilizing the power of self-expression.
Kaleigh Castle Maguire is a wife and mother of three who loves fiction writing and reading fiction of all genres. She has a particular passion for young adult and children’s books and is currently working on two young adult novels – one is a science fict
ion story for girls and the other is a fantasy action adventure for boys. She is a member of RWA, AWP and SCBWI. She loves to blog about books, writing, and to interview new authors when she can get them to agree (which they happily do most of the time). She’s also a proud member of the Houston-based Space City Scribes author collective. Kaleigh’s flash fiction has appeared in publications including Writers Type, Delta Women, Tough Lit, Black Petals Magazine, Six Minute Magazine, Midlife Collage, Everyday Fiction, and Luna Station Quarterly. She has three e-novellas published by Books To Go Now: Destiny, Dear John, andIvory Tower. In 2014, she came second in YA/MG/children’s category in the Houston Writers’ Guild fiction contest for her draft fantasy manuscript, Halfling. She has completed the fiction writing certificate programs at UCLA and Stanford and will be commencing her studies toward an MFA in creative writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts in July 2014. She has lived in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, but home is wherever the family is.
I am a professional illustrator, specializing in the art of children’s books. I received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Illustration from the The College of Art and Design at Lesley University (previously known as The Art institute of Boston at Lesley University). Shortly after, I returned to Dallas, where I taught art to children for over 10 years at a private art studio and have been a freelance illustrator for boutique publishers, small companies, and national corporations, including Brinker International. After having my second child, I stopped teaching to spend my days with my kids and my nights with my paints. I have been refining my skills as a children’s illustrator through personal development and illustrating a nearly a dozen picture books for several small publishers. I am fluent in just about any medium, but I specialize in acrylics. I enjoy painting children and animals in a vibrant, whimsical style, well-suited for children. Last year I illustrated 3 children’s books, The Foodie Club by Dani Shear (published by Blackbird Books), Dancing Danica by S. Garza (published by Brown Books), and Burkley and the Beasts by Tiffany Nicole Smilth (published by Knowonder).
I hope you all find time to stop by and visit these talented women. Now, Sheri, KC, and Holly, TAG, YOU’RE IT!