Kid Lit Author and Advocate

Category Archives: Michelle Eastman

WARNING-

This post contains a shameless plug for my new children’s picture book…

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What’s cuter than kitties in bunny costumes?

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My new picture book! And it makes a much more practical Easter gift. For a chance to win a copy, head over to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks/

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Post your favorite bunny picture on my Facebook page, and you are entered to win a free hard cover book and the audio book CD (US residents).

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Meanwhile, the real Easter bunny will be kissing winter good-bye…hello razors!

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MARCHing Books to Kids is underway! Throughout the month of March, I am reaching out to all of the book lovers, reviewers, bloggers, and authors who’d like to help get quality books into the hands of deserving kids. Happily ever after starts with one book and one child…

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Last year, I started the literacy initiative, “MARCHing Books to Kids” to raise awareness and collect books for children of incarcerated parents. I was delighted to have authors and lit lovers from all over the world support this cause. In fact, we received books from generous people in 11 different states and 4 countries! I hope this year will be just as great! The feedback from the participating families was incredible. They were especially touched that authors signed books for their children. That was a new experience for most of the families.

According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. DO NOT own books.  That is just plain wrong.  But, we can help fix it.

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I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have picture 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 picture 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 picture 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.

I CAN imagine a child, growing up, never knowing the power of a picture book.  I WAS that child.  I DO want to lead the charge to ink “Picture Book” on every child’s Bill of Rights.  I’m a mom, teacher, and children’s author who believes, passionately, that we should never, ever, underestimate the power of a picture book.

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I celebrate the power of the picture book through my Picture Book Pass it On (#PBPiO) project where I share literacy information and resources and encourage people to donate books to kids in need.

Throughout the month of March I invite you to participate in a special initiative called “MARCHing Books to Kids”.  Book lovers can donate a favorite children’s book, and we invite children’s authors to donate signed copies of their books to the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.

The Storybook Project recruits, screens and trains volunteers to work with incarcerated parents and/or grandparents at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville, Iowa and the Newton Correctional Release Center (CNRC) in Newton, Iowa. Once per month, volunteers work with the mother, grandmother or father. The parent/grandparent and volunteer choose a book from the Storybook library that is appropriate for the child. The parent or grandparent reads the book while the volunteer records the reading onto a digital voice recorder. The book and CD are mailed to the child.

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

#1 Pledge to donate a new picture book/s to Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.  Authors are invited to sign their books. We accept books for kids birth-17 years of age, so the sky is the limit!

Books may be mailed or sent via Amazon to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl (MARCHing Books to Kids)

1111 9th Street

Suite 320

Des Moines, Iowa 50314

#2 Post your pledge on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO .  I share posts on my social media, so please include photos, book links, etc.

Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge (see below) and #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…

If distance prohibits your ability to mail books to the Storybook Project.  Please consider donating books to children in need in your own community.  Oh, and be sure to share your giving story on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO We love to see how books are reaching kids all over the globe.

Please feel free to contact me at www.michelleeastmanbooks.com

I appreciate your help spreading the word! Please share on your blogs and social media. Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families!

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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.


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

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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).

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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.

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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 have followed New York Media Works Kid Lit TV since I began the journey to publish my first children’s book. Their site is a wealth of information, inspiration, and support for the kid lit community. Imagine my delight when I was “picked” to be this month’s  Featured Member. I was interviewed by kid lit champion

http://kidlit.tv/2015/11/featured-member-michelle-eastman-pbpio/

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Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

 

 

 


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.


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.

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

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So, here comes the plug.

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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).

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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


If you are an author, you’ve heard it a thousand times, “Show, don’t tell.” So, why not go one better and let a video do the talking?

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One of the best things about being a children’s author is visiting schools. I love reading to the children and answering their questions about my book and about being an author. One of the most common questions is, “How did you make the book?” As a self-published author, I had a hand in every aspect of the publishing process, so my answer to their question could get pretty involved. Since most of us have an attention span of a…”Oh, look, glitter!” You get the idea. I decided to create a video to give kids a peek inside the book making process.

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I am not a tech-savvy gal, and I am not made of money. So, imagine my delight when I discovered I could create a video for FREE! Yep, free. And, wait for it…EASY!

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I used Animoto to create a short preview video. It is free to create a video that is 30 seconds long. It doesn’t seem like you can get much out of 30 seconds, but I was able to create a trailer to suit my needs.I later upgraded to the $30.00 per year plan to create a longer preview and the “Making the Book” video seen below.

No, I am not getting a commission from Animoto (although, that would be nice). I am just excited to tell people about it, because I was intimidated by the prospect of creating a trailer for my first book. That changed when I found this site.

Yessss!

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I love sharing things about my self-publishing journey with others. I hope this information is helpful, and I wish you well as you forge your own path.

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

I also love to hear from you. Don’t be shy, leave a reply. What cool things have you learned as a self-published author?

Tah-Dah…Here is my “Making the Book” video:

And, here is the preview trailer:


Thanks to everyone who was kind enough to indulge me in my shameless Easter Plug (re-posted below). We have a winner! I am happy to send a copy of my book and a dust bunny adoption kit to Clarike Bowman-Jahn. Everyone who “liked” or commented is welcome to a copy of the PDF version of my book. I’ll contact you to send that along.

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Little more than a year ago, I was working to get my first children’s picture book published. At the same time, I was making a clumsy effort at starting this blog. Social media was a completely uncharted territory for me. Millions of clicks later, I am blessed to have made many friends online. I am grateful for the connections, laughs, and knowledge we share. I wish you all the very best in your endeavors.

Okay…another shameless plug…

I am currently working on the second book in the Dust Fairy series. I am pleased to introduce “Absolutely Aggie”.

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WARNING-

This post contains a shameless plug for my new children’s picture book…

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Something DUSTY is going on!

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Head over to my Facebook page for the details. https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks

I am offering a special Easter GIVEAWAY. You can enter for the chance to win The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale and an official Dust Bunny adoption kit. In this book, dust fairies come out at night and create all sorts of messes in our homes. The naughty nymphs hold crumb-spitting contests and fire soot from their slingshots. And they have a “fairy” good time doing it!

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To enter to WIN, simply LIKE my Facebook page, and ANSWER the following question in the FB COMMENTS.

What messes do you blame on dust fairies?

Or simply like or comment below to win a PDF version of the book.

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I was both nervous and delighted when Matthew Winner, The Busy Librarian, and all-around great guy, invited me to come on his Let’s Get Busy Podcast.

I was excited, because I had never participated in a podcast. It sounded like a lot of fun.

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I was nervous, because Matthew typically interviews folks such as New York Times Bestselling Author, Ame Dyckman (Wolfie the Bunny), and Nick Bruel, author of The Bad Kitty Series. I’m just an indie author, from Iowa. Someone pinch me!

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We talked about my strange journey into self-publishing The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale, investing time in building a presence on social media, and how connecting kids with books absolutely can make a difference.

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If any of those things interest you, check out the podcast at http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/

Meanwhile, I will be doing this…

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