Kid Lit Author and Advocate

Category Archives: indie author

I recently received this request, and I thought I would pass it along:
 
“I am the Associate Producer for Stephen Folker Films, an indie film company in Davenport, Iowa. We are in need of several books for a low budget feature film titled, Overdue. The movie, Overdue, is about a library janitor that goes after people that have overdue books in order to win the heart of the library director. It is a comedy slasher. The books will be seen in the background on the carts, in the book drop box, the characters homes, etc.”
 
If you’d like to see our past work you can visit the website http://www.stephenfolkerfilms.com
 
Would you or anyone you know be interested in having their book in a movie?
 
Please send your book(s) to:
 
Kristina Smith
PO. Box 281, 226 Main
Alburnett, IA 52202
 
Please include a letter stating that you give permission to Stephen Folker, Davenport, IA, and Stephen Folker Films to show your book (specify the titles) on screen in the feature film tilted, Overdue. And that you understand that you will not be paid.
 
We will be able to add the authors name in the closing credits under the “Thank You’s.” I will let you know as soon as the website and Facebook page are live and you can follow the progress of the film.
 
We will need some books by August 18 and the bulk of them by October 10th.
We appreciate your support!
 
Kristina Baker Smith Associate Producer, Stephen Folker Films

Happy summer, everyone. I have been taking a break from writing to spend time with my son; however, I wanted to take a moment to spread the word about a new kid lit site, Storytime Pup. You can also find Storytime Pup on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

In addition to their kid-friendly web site, Storytime Pup hosts a You Tube channel featuring children’s books.

I was delighted to have my book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale, featured last week https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB_XIeuFdFg/

Storytime Pup was created by Bill McManus. Bill lives in upstate NY with his wife Diane and his 3 kids: Ryan, Colin and Shannon. He is the creator of Storytime Pup.  He is also an author, entrepreneur, inventor and actor. He enjoys entertaining and writing books for children because their joy makes him happy.

If you are a published children’s author (traditional or indie), I encourage you to contact Storytime Pup for submission information. There is no charge for having your book/s featured on the site.

I wish you all a wonderful summer!

scooter

 

 

 


I posted this many moons ago, but I thought it was worth repeating…

I am a writer.  I have met a lot of writers.  Most of us are very hard on ourselves.  Working in solitude affords us the time to self-reflect, which often leads to self-loathing.

stick

For many of us, our goals start small…finish a novel, get a book published, get a review, etc.  Unfortunately, rather than savoring the small fruits of our labor, we are compelled to reach for the next branch.  The following New York Times article is a fitting reminder that those clusters of fruit, we take for granted, are a delicacy some will never taste.

As the Eagles proclaimed, “…Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Desperado…”

Don’t quit your day dream.  Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.

Thanksgiving Weekend Blues

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.

I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.

During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.

I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page …”

Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.

Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.

The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s your novel, right?”

He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.

“Right,” I said.

He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”

I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.

He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.


I posted this piece last fall. But, with spring in the air, invitations to author fairs are beginning to pop up. So, I thought it was worth revisiting, with one slight change to the original…

With warmer weather coming, I WILL have to shave my legs for this!

The term, “fair” brings to mind celebrations, hustle and bustle, excitement, and fun (sometimes creepy clowns are involved).

old clown

For authors, a fair is the opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow writers, meet book lovers, and get your book into the hands of new readers.

fly

In our mid-western city, author fairs are few and far between. So, when I saw the opportunity to participate in one, I jumped at the chance.

rope

Ticket in hand, I began preparing for the big day. Coffee in hand, I tackled my to-do list. My must-have list includes: my books, book stands, business cards, a credit card reader, pens, a table cloth, and some cash to make change.

cat

My want-to-have list is much longer and mostly unnecessary (except, I am a children’s book author, so a gal’s gotta have something for the kiddos). This list includes freebies like: bookmarks, coloring sheets, and candy. Since I write books about fairies, I figured I’d throw in some plastic fairy bracelets, mini fairy dolls, and some bling for my table top (thank you Dollar Store).

yes free

And while I’m at it, why not order a 3 foot tall stand-up display of my main character?

big aggie

The big day finally arrived. I packed up my gear and headed to the fair. After several trips to the car and a lot of zhuzh-ing, I was ready. I anxiously waited for the crowd to file in…and waited…and waited.

table

The author fair got much less traffic than I expected. I sold a whopping total of 4 books that day. Although I met some really great people, I was feeling pretty defeated.  But, just as I was getting ready to pack it in, I ran into this guy.

bagpipe dude

Some would call this synchronicity. I am at a book fair, selling copies of my book featuring a bagpipe-playing dust fairy, and this guy is out in front of the venue playing the bagpipes. He was kind enough to pose for a picture, and he even bought a copy of my book.

I may have come away from this less-than-fair author fair only 4 books lighter, but this parting encounter brought the experience back into perspective. This man’s joy comes from sharing his music with others. I don’t imagine he measures his success in album sales.

I write fun books for kids. People like my books, and that brings me joy. Selling books or not selling books should not get in the way of that.

185050413

And on a lighter note-It’s fall in Iowa, so I did NOT shave my legs for this!

legs

You are welcome to share or re-blog any of my posts. I enjoy getting to know you, so please feel free to leave a comment. Thank you.


As a self-published author, I have to find the humor in my daily existence, or I would go insane. Each morning, I sit down and commence work on any number of projects, in various stages of development. As my eyes drag my brain from one work pile to the next, I try to determine which hamster wheel I’ll climb into today. As with most things in life, the squeaky wheel gets the grease (in my case, elbow grease). Most recently, this hamster has been doing laps on the book promotion wheel. And, I can tell you, promoting a book is no walk in the park.

hamster

I released my first children’s picture book in 2014 and my second in 2015. With both books, I hopped on my wheel and convinced several stores to host signing events, and I scampered my way onto the shelves of local bookstores and libraries. Since then, I’ve sold around a thousand copies. I am self-published, so that means I have to hustle and work for every single book I sell. I am up for the challenge, and I actually enjoy cultivating these local connections.

cog

It’s when I venture out into the online world that I feel the pressure of the rat race. It’s easy to get caught up in Amazon rankings, Goodreads reviews, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Ironically, I find myself becoming the squeaky wheel, vying to be greased, “Buy my book. Review my book. Get my book for free.”

openreg

Despite my best efforts, my online sales are slow moving (under 150 books sold). But, I lick my paws and hop on the wheel for the next go ‘round. And, a little elbow grease never hurts.

Don’t be shy, leave a reply. There’s plenty of room on this wheel. How’s your publishing journey rolling?

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.


The traditional road to publishing can be long and winding. Do it yourself, and you’d better have a good pair of shoes.

tatoo

I often share stories of my self-publishing journey; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

old clown

The ugly moments came mostly from my own misconceptions about the process.

Myth #1 Build It and They Will Come…

Once you publish your book, it will fly off the shelves!

fly

One of the biggest misconceptions I had when starting out was that if I could just get my book published, the hard work would be over. Little did I know it had just begun!

I wanted to try something different in this post. I am hoping you will join me to build an unofficial list of self-publishing myths or things you’ve learned along the way that may be helpful to others. Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

 

 


Traveling the indie publishing road can be a daunting and lonely journey. For the novice, there are plenty of opportunities to take a wrong turn, stumble, or lose sight of your destination. The entire experience practically begs you to throw yourself an occasional Pity Party, or two, or three.

Birthday boy having a tantrum

I have hosted some killer woe-is-me celebrations. Instead of a hangover, these blow outs always leave me in a funk. My last, and most impressive, fete was a month-long celebration after the rush of my book launch abruptly came to a halt. I won’t liken it to post-par tum depression (not out loud anyway), but it was pretty miserable.

Sad Pink stick figure sitting on a white chair

Everything leading up to the launch of my book was exhilarating. I had the launch party to plan, books to order, swag to buy. The launch party was a huge success. I sold hundreds of books that month and scheduled a handful of author visits. I received scads of 5-star reviews, and my book was featured on a few blogs. People were buzzing about my book, and I was on cloud nine. Then…crickets. Nothing happened. I went from living and breathing my book to staring at a pile of them. Cue the Pity-Party music and back-up dancers.

Revival

Gloom and Doom became my BFF’s. I beat myself up for not selling more books. I couldn’t think of anything to write. And, to make matters worse, I had spent a lot of money on self-publishing a book I was sure would never again see the light of day.

185050413

Since I couldn’t write, I read. I went to the library. I started reading picture books again. I found solace in the kid lit community. I read blog posts and articles, tweets, and memes.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

One of the articles I stumbled upon helped me kick those heifers, Gloom and Doom, to the curb.Tah-tah ladies.

sci fi

The author’s message helped me alter how I perceive my success and allow myself to appreciate the little moments as much as the big ones. That paradigm shift removed a huge roadblock in my writing career-a roadblock constructed by me.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

My Pity-Parties are now (mostly) Pinch-Me Parties.

pinch

Instead of complaining that only 5 people showed up at my Barnes and Noble author event, I pinch myself. I look around and think, “OMG! My book is on the shelf at Barnes and Noble!” Rather than beating myself up that my online sales are not in the thousands, I take pride knowing a book I wrote is in the hands of hundreds of people around the world.

Not that I’m a masochist, but I kind of like this whole pinching thing. It seems the more I do it, the more “pinch able” moments come my way. My books are on the shelves of several book stores and libraries (pinch). I’ve been interviewed by our local TV and newspaper (pinch, pinch). I was a guest on Matthew Winner’s “Let’s Get Busy Podcast” (turbo-pinch, he typically interviews NY Times Bestselling authors).  And I was one of KidLitTV’s Featured Members. The Horn Book Magazine reviewed a collection of indie books for the first time in the history of the magazine, and my book was included (bad pinch on that one-Roger Sutton is not a fairy fan). School children in the UK chose to dress up as Dust Fairies (complete with matching dust bunny dolls) for World Book Day (pinch). My book has been a #1 Kindle on Amazon (pinch). I started a successful literacy initiative, #PBPiO #MARCHingBookstoKids and we’ve collected more than 350 books for children of incarcerated parents (pinch).

But, the best “pinches” by far, are all of the incredibly kind, gifted, generous people I have met on this journey. Thanks for your inspiration, humor, and support.

I love hearing from you. Tell me your best pity or pinch party story!

Thank you written in hands


We know what happens “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie”…but what happens when you give a mom a blog?

If you give a mom a blog, she’s going to sit for hours, staring at a blinking cursor.

She’ll probably realize that she needs some help.

Then, she’ll venture out into cyberspace looking for advice.

When she looks for advice, she’ll notice that there are some really cool pins on Pinterest…

3 hours later, she’ll remember that she was supposed to be looking for advice on starting a blog.

When she remembers that she was supposed to be looking for advice, she’ll realize that 9:00 am has become 2:30 pm, and it’s time to pick up her son from school.

When she looks in the mirror, she might notice that she’s still in her PJ’s and hasn’t bathed…again.

Which means, she’ll need a quick change, a spray of perfume, and a Diet Pepsi for the road.

And chances are, as she passes by the computer, she’ll notice, from the corner of her eye, the blinking cursor.

When I began the journey to self-publish my own children’s picture book, I had no intention of starting a blog.  But, start one, I did.  My foray into blogging and social media has introduced me to a wonderful community of like-minded Indie authors. I am grateful for their advice and support, especially when the cursor is blinking, and we’re out of cookies.

How did your blogging journey begin? How’s it going?


I posted this piece a few months ago…

Writing is a solitary vocation. I spend a lot of time alone, pondering and reflecting, constructing and connecting. Most recently I connected my life, as a writer, to a well-known poem by Robert Fulghum. http://www.robertfulghum.com/ In the poem, Fulghum reflects on his days in kindergarten and how those lessons prepared him for life.

kindergarten

As I read his words, I began to ponder how becoming an author has enriched my life. I may not have learned “All I really need to know”, but I am constructing my journey one keystroke and lesson at a time. Here’s what I know…

All I really need to know…I learned writing kids’ Books

Share everything-

Give back to your fellow writers. Share articles and resources. Share your failures; they matter too. Lift someone up; show him the way. Give your books away to kids in need. Give back to your community.

Play fair-

I have dues to pay, like everyone else. There are no short-cuts or secret formulas to getting your books published or noticed.

Don’t hit people-

over the head with book promotions. It’s a fine line we walk when we promote our books. When in doubt, less is ALWAYS more!

Put things back where you found them-

Being an organized writer leads to being a productive writer (took me a long time to accept this one). This rule also applies to cats sleeping on your lap while you write. If you must disturb them, return them to your lap immediately.

Clean up your own mess-

I am a better writer when I can see the top of my work space (fought this one for years). Cats sitting on your work space are exempt.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours-

Whenever you quote or reference someone else or his/her work, give him/her proper credit.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody-

For me, this pertains to my husband. He is often on the receiving end of my writer’s block crankiness and endures my need for isolation when the block gives way.

Wash your hands before you eat-

A good practice on those rare occasions when I pry myself from my WIP to eat.

Flush-

Sometimes I have to let go of an idea that is not working to create space for a new one.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you-

And they make for delicious refreshments at book signing events.

Live a balanced life-learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some-

Okay, I’m still working on that one.

Take a nap every afternoon-

My cats handle this one for me.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together-

I am blessed to go out into the kid lit world, holding hands with some of the best people I know. Winding our way through the streets of the publishing world; we stick together.

Be aware of wonder-

Without wonder, how would we create anything new?

Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup; The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup-they all die. So do we-

The wonderful thing is that, as writers, we can make these moments matter. And what we write can matter to someone in a profound way.

And remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned-the biggest word of all-LOOK-

My greatest joy, as a children’s author, is seeing my words reflected through another person’s eyes. In that book, for those few moments, we look at the world together.

dream

What has your writing journey taught you? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply.


I wrote this post over a year ago, but it seems as timely as ever…

punch

Authors, indie and otherwise, are some of the most resourceful, tenacious people I know. They are also among the most generous, and kind bunch of folks you’ll ever find. I am one of those people, so why am I so freakin’ mean?

To myself, that is.

cat mean

Brain research tells us that we have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, and up to 80 percent of those thoughts are negative. Why are our brains such Debbie-Downers? Apparently, they are wired to pay more attention to negative experiences. It’s a self-protective characteristic. We are scanning for threats from when we used to be hunter and gatherers.

hunt brain

Okay, I get that. I understand that it is human nature to focus on the bad stuff. I also get that I can’t really help myself for wondering what Donald Trump is thinking with that hair.

hair

I also get that writers are self-critical beings. We spend a lot of time in our own heads and a lot of time alone. We are our work’s toughest critics.

writer ape

But, can a girl catch a break once in a while? Can I learn to be a little kinder to myself?

I can try…

nice

Donald Trump aside, I’ll leave you with this anecdote about a young woman who woke up one morning and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

“Hmmmm,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” She did, and she had a great day.

The next morning she woke up and saw that only two hairs remained on her head. “Well,” she said, “I’m going to part my hair today.” She did, and she had a really fun day.

The following morning she awoke to only one hair on her head. “Oh,” she said, “I think I’ll wear my hair in a pony-tail today.” She did, and her day was wonderful.

The next morning she awoke to find that she did not have single hair on her head. “Yea!” she said. “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

bully

A big part of what keeps me sane on the days I’d like to pull my hair out is the company I keep. I am blessed to be a part of this online community of bloggers, authors, and other creative people. Your encouragement and support is ever-present and contagious. Thank you!


I would like to reach out to kid lit authors and book bloggers to get quality books into the hands of deserving kids.

Featured Image -- 1290

Throughout the month of March, I am collecting new children’s books to benefit children of incarcerated parents. Authors, I hope you will consider donating signed copies of your books. Book bloggers, please help us by sharing this information with your readers.

I am a children’s author, teacher, and mom who is passionate about children’s literacy and the power of children’s books. When I learned nearly 2/3 of children, living in poverty, DO NOT own books, I was moved to act. I founded the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On, to raise awareness for literacy issues and get books to kids in need.

Three years ago, the Picture Book Pass it On initiative grew to include a month-long book drive called MARCHing Books to Kids.

Throughout the month of March, MARCHing Books to Kids collects books (ages birth-17 years) for the VNS of Iowa Storybook Project.

VNS of Iowa volunteers travel to The Iowa Correctional Institution, in Mitchellville, once a month. With the aid of volunteers, mothers select one book per child to read via a digital voice recorder.  The audio CD and book are mailed to the child to keep. The mission is to strengthen the bond between parent and child, during incarceration, while promoting reading and literacy.

Since 2015, MARCHing Books to Kids has collected more than 1,500 books.                               Over the years, the drive has received donations from notable children’s authors such as    Robert Munsch (Love You Forever) and Nick Bruel (Bad Kitty series). Last year, more than 30 children’s authors donated signed copies of their books. Owning a book, let alone a book signed by the author, is a joy most of these children have never experienced.

girl wagon

I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have books read to him/her and to own their very own books.  Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a book and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be…Imagine, never having that.

To participate in MARCHing Books to Kids, please follow the 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new book/s to Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.  Authors are invited to sign their books.

When packing your book/s, please include a note stating that your book is part of the MARCHing Books to Kids initiative.  Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

1111 9th Street

Suite 320

Des Moines, Iowa 50314

#2 Post your pledge on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO .  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and tags #PBPiO and #MARCHingBookstoKids

#3 Pass it on.  When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your #PBPiO  giving chain.  Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

I appreciate your help spreading the word. Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families in need.

pbpio-and-marching-2017


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,800 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Okay, so I have been blogging for about a year now. But, most days, I  feel as clueless as when I began-still bumbling my way around this curious space.

old.jpeg

I’ve tried a few times to develop a weekly theme or topic. So far, I have not hit on one that has stuck.

stuck

One thing that has remained constant is the positive, inspiring community of bloggers I’ve come to know. Your talent, generosity, and openness is incredible.

than

 

So, with that in mind, each Thursday, I’ll share a favorite thought-provoking quote, and a thank-you to someone in our online community. Here are my “Thursday Thoughts and Thanks” for this week:

Thought:

quote-flying

Thanks:

My thank-you goes out to blogger Send Sunshine who always seems to find time to do just that.

My Thursday Thoughts and Thanks would be even better if you joined in the fun. Please feel free to share a favorite quote and/or tell us about a blogger who you feel grateful to know. Thank you!

 

 

 

 


To say the past year has been a whirlwind would be an understatement.

cat

I self-published my first children’s picture book around this time in 2014. Aside from my first year teaching, I have never worked so hard, or felt more inept. But, in both cases, I was determined to learn what I needed to know in order to be successful.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

I set out to learn the best way to publish my book, but I gained much more than that. I started this blog, fumbled my way around Twitter and a few other social sites, and met a lot of truly wonderful people along the way.

Success is a relative term. And, for me, it has been a dichotomy. I have enjoyed many successful moments. But, for whatever reason, I still beat myself up about my shortcomings (not sure if that is an indie author thing or just an all-around author thing).

bully

They say success breeds success, and despite my attempts to sabotage my own, I’ve managed to publish a second children’s book. I was blessed to work with the same illustrator on what we both feel is our best work to date.

I’ll host the book launch party for my second book tomorrow. And, I’ll also celebrate the one-year anniversary of the book that started me on this wild and winding path.

To mark the event, I am offering both books for $.99 on Kindle from December 4-11.

I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to all of my online friends and colleagues. Being part of this community has definitely been one of the best aspects of becoming an author.

than

I wish each of you joy in the things you love to do. I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please feel free to leave a reply about your joyful moments.

Here are some of the moments that have brought me joy:

 

 

 


I can certainly brag about this guy!

kev

Kevin Richter is the talented illustrator of my very first children’s picture book, AND he is currently working on the second book in the Dust Fairy series.

Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie should be ready for release this fall. If you are not familiar with Dust Fairies, they are the little sprites responsible for the dust, crumbs, and other debris we try so hard to remove from our homes. Yep, they come out while we sleep and hold crumb-spitting contests, sprinkle dust, and leave behind their dust bunnies. It’s true-I read it in a book!

Aggie would love nothing more than to join the fairy band and play music while the Dust Fairies frolic and play. But, she has a hard time fitting in with the more dainty, girlie, Dust Fairies. Will she ever be good enough? Can she fit in AND stand out? Oh, did I mention she plays the bagpipes? You can follow Aggie’s progress and all things Dust Fairy at https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks

KevToon_Aggie_v2

Waiting for the illustrations is both torture and bliss-I am like a little kid at Christmastime. Thankfully, Kevin is kind enough to let me peek into his creative world before the book is finished. Here are a few of his whimsical designs.

whisperband blow fairy spit

Don’t be shy, leave a reply. What are you bragging about? I’d love to hear about your work.


My blogging has slowed to a trickle as of late. I won’t call it writer’s block, but I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. As it tends to happen with me-just when I get stuck in a rut, someone happens along and gets the wheels turning again.

cog

I crossed paths with kid lit author Amy Chung when I was working to finish my first children’s book. She was beginning her publishing journey as well. Fast forward 9 months, and we recently re-connected and exchanged reviews of our finished books.

That exchange prompted me to start a weekly feature, “Off the Shelf Thursday”. My goal is to highlight a new children’s picture book (or new to me) each week.

This week I am sharing Amy’s book, Wishful Wedding.

WW Cover

Here is my review:

The rhyming text and colorful illustrations work together to share a little girl’s mixed emotions about her aunt’s wedding. Although she is happy for her aunt and excited to serve as her flower girl, she wishes her two fathers could declare their love at their own ceremony. Chung does a great job of exploring the topic of same-sex marriage from a child’s point of view. It’s a great book to share with children to spark conversation about the similarities and differences between our families and the universal nature of love.

You can find Amy’s books on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Wishful-Wedding-Pocketful-S-Chung-ebook/dp/B00YQKI156/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435261112&sr=8-1&keywords=wishful+wedding

You can connect with Amy here:

 

Let books cover you from the clouds of stupidity

Maybe it’s an indie author thing, or perhaps the highs and lows are just part of the writing game. I’m typically a glass half-full kind of gal; I try to see the silver lining in each cloud. But, I have fallen into a bit of a funk.

Oh my!!

No, not that kind of funk.

This one…

Pug laying on laundromat floor

How do you de-funk? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Don’t be shy-leave a reply.


Traveling the indie publishing road can be a daunting and lonely journey. For the novice, there are plenty of opportunities to take a wrong turn, stumble, or lose sight of your destination. The entire experience practically begs you to throw yourself an occasional Pity Party, or two, or three.

Birthday boy having a tantrum

I have hosted some killer woe-is-me celebrations. Instead of a hangover, these blow outs always leave me in a funk. My last, and most impressive, fete was a month-long celebration after the rush of my book launch abruptly came to a halt. I won’t liken it to post-par tum depression (not out loud anyway), but it was pretty miserable.

Sad Pink stick figure sitting on a white chair

Everything leading up to the launch of my book was exhilarating. I had the launch party to plan, books to order, swag to buy. The launch party was a huge success. I sold hundreds of books that month and scheduled a handful of author visits. I received scads of 5-star reviews, and my book was featured on a few blogs. People were buzzing about my book, and I was on cloud nine. Then…crickets. Nothing happened. I went from living and breathing my book to staring at a pile of them. Cue the Pity-Party music and back-up dancers.

Revival

Gloom and Doom became my BFF’s. I beat myself up for not selling more books. I couldn’t think of anything to write. And, to make matters worse, I had spent a lot of money on self-publishing a book I was sure would never again see the light of day.

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Since I couldn’t write, I read. I went to the library. I started reading picture books again. I found solace in the kid lit community. I read blog posts and articles, tweets and memes.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

One of the articles I stumbled upon helped me kick those heifers, Gloom and Doom, to the curb.

sci fi

The author’s message helped me alter how I perceive my success and allow myself to appreciate the little moments as much as the big ones. That paradigm shift removed a huge roadblock in my writing career-a roadblock constructed by me.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

My Pity-Parties are now (mostly) Pinch-Me Parties.

pinch

Instead of complaining that only 5 people showed up at my Barnes and Noble author event, I pinch myself. I look around and think, “OMG! My book is on the shelf at Barnes and Noble!” Rather than beating myself up that my online sales are not in the thousands, I take pride knowing a book I wrote is in the hands of hundreds of people around the world.

Not that I’m a masochist, but I kind of like this whole pinching thing. It seems the more I do it, the more “pinch able” moments come my way. My book is on the shelves of several book stores and libraries (pinch). I’ve been interviewed by our local TV and newspaper (pinch, pinch). The Horn Book Magazine reviewed a collection of indie books for the first time in the history of the magazine, and my book was included (bad pinch on that one-Roger Sutton is not a fairy fan). School children in the UK chose to dress up as Dust Fairies (complete with matching dust bunny dolls) for World Book Day (pinch). My book has been a #1 Kindle on Amazon (pinch). I started a successful literacy initiative, and we’ve collected more than 300 books for children of incarcerated parents (pinch).

But, the best “pinches” by far, are all of the incredibly kind, gifted, generous people I have met on this journey. Thanks for your inspiration, humor, and support.

I love hearing from you. Tell me your best pity or pinch party story!

Thank you written in hands

Here’s my original blog post from last December:

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I am a writer.  I have met a lot of writers.  Most of us are very hard on ourselves.  Working in solitude affords us the time to self-reflect, which often leads to self-loathing.  For many of us, our goals start small…finish a novel, get a book published, get a review, etc.  Unfortunately, rather than savoring the small fruits of our labor, we are compelled to reach for the next branch.  This New York Times article is a fitting reminder that those clusters of fruit, we take for granted, are a delicacy some will never taste.

As the Eagles proclaimed, “…Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Desperado…”

Don’t quit your day dream.  Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.

Thanksgiving Weekend Blues

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.

I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.

During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.

I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page …”

Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.

Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.

The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s your novel, right?”

He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.

“Right,” I said.

He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”

I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.

He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.


lighting-another-candle

I am blessed to be part of the online community of writers who share as much as they shine. Thank you!


WARNING-Shameless Plug to follow…

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I’m celebrating the 6 month birthday of my first published children’s book. The whole experience has been more than a bit surreal. I never dreamed I’d see my self-published book on the shelves of libraries and bookstores, let alone that people would ask me to sign copies. I also never thought I’d come up with another idea for a book. But, Kevin Richter and I are currently working on book #2 in what has now become a series of Dust Fairy books. Needless to say, I am blessed.

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The star of our newest book is Absolutely Aggie. She longs to join the fairy band, but she is too loud, too bold, and just too much for the more dainty fairies in the group. Aggie follows her heart, and she eventually discovers you don’t have to be perfect to find your perfect fit. You can read the latest Dust Fairy updates on Facebook.

KevToon_Aggie_v2

I’m also blessed to enjoy the company of my awesome blogging buddies. Your support and encouragement means a lot to me.

monkey

So, here comes the plug.

Drain Plug

In honor of the 6 month anniversary of my book, I am offering the Kindle version for 99 cents for 6 days. If you enjoy picture books with colorful pictures and subtle, yet sincere take-away messages, you won’t be disappointed in The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale.

Thanks to Chris, The Story Reading Ape for pointing out that I previously did not include the Amazon link. Be sure to check out his blog. It’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for Indie authors! He is amazingly generous (not sure he’ll let you eat his dishes, though).

Featured Image -- 1083

Here is the US Amazon link to get your .99 cent Kindle book:

The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NT6MXM0/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_awdm_KZKvvb1XC9JFF via @amazon

Here’s a preview of the book I created using Animoto:

Happy reading!

Are you celebrating something special? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply!

elephant asleep on rug


aye aye

An Indie Author Looks Back, 6 Months Into the Journey…

Michelle Eastman Books

I officially began my self-publishing journey nearly six months ago. Not long before that, I clumsily made my way onto WordPress. Navigating both realms has been incredibly rewarding. Am I a success? Hmm…Have I sold thousands of books? No. Do I have thousands of followers on my blog? Nope. But, I am a richer person and writer because of the connections I’ve made and the opportunities that have come my way since I became an author and a blogger. I am grateful to be part of the kid lit and blogging communities. Here’s a “Throw-back Tuesday” post from a while back. The quotes and sentiments ring even truer as I reflect on the past six months.

What’s the secret to indie publishing success? It depends on the course you chart, and it rarely involves smooth sailing.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist…

View original post 110 more words


Writing is a solitary vocation. I spend a lot of time alone, pondering and reflecting, constructing and connecting. Most recently I connected my life, as a writer, to a well-known poem by Robert Fulghum. http://www.robertfulghum.com/ In the poem, Fulghum reflects on his days in kindergarten and how those lessons prepared him for life.

kindergarten

As I read his words, I began to ponder how becoming an author has enriched my life. I may not have learned “All I really need to know”, but I am constructing my journey one keystroke and lesson at a time.

All I really need to know…I learned writing kids’ Books

Quote- Flying

Share everything-

Give back to your fellow writers. Share articles and resources. Share your failures; they matter too. Lift someone up; show him the way. Give your books away to kids in need. Give back to your community.

Play fair-

I have dues to pay, like everyone else. There are no short-cuts or secret formulas to getting your books published or noticed.

Don’t hit people-

over the head with book promotions. It’s a fine line we walk when we promote our books. When in doubt, less is ALWAYS more!

Put things back where you found them-

Being an organized writer leads to being a productive writer (took me a long time to accept this one). This rule also applies to cats sleeping on your lap while you write. If you must disturb them, return them to your lap immediately.

Clean up your own mess-

I am a better writer when I can see the top of my workspace (fought this one for years). Cats sitting on your workspace are exempt.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours-

Whenever you quote or reference someone else or his/her work, give him/her proper credit.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody-

For me, this pertains to my husband. He is often on the receiving end of my writer’s block crankiness and endures my need for isolation when the block gives way.

Wash your hands before you eat-

A good practice on those rare occasions when I pry myself from my WIP to eat.

Flush-

Sometimes I have to let go of an idea that is not working to create space for a new one.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you-

And they make for delicious refreshments at book signing events.

Live a balanced life-learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some-

Okay, I’m still working on that one.

Take a nap every afternoon-

My cats handle this one for me.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together-

I am blessed to go out into the kid lit world, holding hands with some of the best people I know. Winding our way through the streets of the publishing world; we stick together.

Be aware of wonder-

Without this, how would we create anything new?

Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup; The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup-they all die. So do we-

The wonderful thing is that, as writers, we can make these moments matter. And what we write can matter to someone in a profound way.

And remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned-the biggest word of all-LOOK-

My greatest joy, as a children’s author, is seeing my words reflected through another person’s eyes. In that book, for those few moments, we look at the world together.

dream

What has your writing journey taught you? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply.


This is an update to a post from a while back.

I officially began my self-publishing journey nearly six months ago 2 books ago. Not long before that, I clumsily made my way onto WordPress. Navigating both realms has been incredibly rewarding. Am I a success? Hmm…Have I sold thousands of books? No Not yet. Do I have thousands of followers on my blog? Nope Not even close.

But, I am a richer person and writer because of the connections I’ve made and the opportunities that have come my way since I became an author and a blogger. I am grateful to be part of the kid lit and blogging communities. The following quotes and sentiments ring even truer as I reflect on my journey. Thanks for being a part of it.

What’s the secret to indie publishing success? It depends on the course you chart, and it rarely involves smooth sailing.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”-William A. Ward

aye aye

Fellow authors, I hope you hold tight to your dreamsAfter all,

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”-Erma Bombeck

head

Sail on, writers, full dream ahead…

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain

dream
You are welcome to re-blog or share any of my posts. I’d love to hear from you. How long have you been at it? What has been your biggest writing challenge or success?


Embed from Getty Images

Writing a book is a lot of work (understatement of the century). But, self-publishing that sucker makes writing it look like a walk in the park. I was recently trying to explain the process to a good friend of mine. She and her husband are renovating an old Victorian home. As we were swapping “sweat-equity” stories, it dawned on me…the two endeavors are not that dissimilar. The only difference, I told her, is that self-publishing for the first time, is like building your own house, but with no experience, no blueprints, and no tools. Here are my top-ten reasons that self-publishing a book is like building a house:

  1. It always takes longer than you planned
  2. It always costs more than you planned
  3. It’s really exciting at first, then it begins to consume your entire life
  4. Agonizing over the simplest detail seems normal
  5. You wake up, at least once a night, and add one more thing your to-do list
  6. Everyone has an opinion on how it should be done
  7. People keep asking you, “So, when is it going to be finished?”
  8. No one truly “gets it” unless they’ve done it
  9. You vow to never do it again
  10. You eventually give up the notion that it is going to be absolutely perfect and enjoy the ride
  11. You forget about #9 and do it again!

 

Become-a-writer

I love hearing from you. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments. Happy writing!



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