I posted this a while back, but with the summer slide upon us, it seems fitting to revisit.
Are you, or someone you love, a book nerd? If so, how did it happen? Was it nature or nurture?
My son has always been surrounded by books. Even before he was born, his bookshelves bore the weight of the legions of titles I had collected for him. With few exceptions, he has been read to/with every day of his 10 years on this earth. Each week, we visit the library and heap our bag to the top with books. He receives books at Christmas and on his birthday, and for no reason at all. He delights in choosing titles from the Scholastic book order forms sent home from school, and we are regulars at Half-Price Books. Books are ever-present in his day to day operations. In theory, he has all the makings of a book nerd. But, he’s anything but that. He will, on occasion, crack open his copy of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, or his Guinness Book of World Records to entertain himself. But, rarely does he deliberately choose to read for pleasure. Where did I go wrong? Why isn’t my boy a book nerd?
I, on the other hand, grew up with no books in our house. I, honestly, don’t know if I laid my eyes on a book until I was in elementary school. We were poor, and my parents were teenagers. I was raised on reruns of Batman and Gilligan’s Island. I was also a PBS junkie (we had only 4 channels back then). In my parents’ defense, books were not as readily available as they are today. They were not crammed onto the shelves of Target and Walmart (we didn’t even have Walmart back then). For whatever the reason, no one read to or with me. Nevertheless, I sought out books. I couldn’t wait until the Book Mobile pulled up, in my neighborhood, and I could climb aboard and select my 2 book limit. I read whatever I could get my hands on. I read books beyond my years, and books I probably shouldn’t have read. I was not “nurtured” to love books-but I did, and I do.
So, I ponder the question: Are book nerds born or made? Clearly, despite my efforts, I’ve not nurtured a book nerd. And, despite my parents’ lack of effort, I am a book nerd.
I welcome your thoughts on this topic. Please leave a comment, nerdy or not…
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in boys and books, kidlit, Literacy, Uncategorized, writing for kids Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, author, children's book, children's literature, children's picture book, early literacy, families, kids' books, read aloud
Beloved children’s author, Beverly Cleary is 100 years young today!
Cleary wrote about D.E.A.R. in her book, Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Since then, “Drop Everything and Read” programs have been held nationwide on April 12th in honor of Mrs. Cleary’s birthday. Learn more about Cleary and DEAR at http://dropeverythingandread.com/
I’m celebrating DEAR and the personal influence Cleary has had on me by offering my free children’s ebook.
Here are some fun facts about this American treasure (borrowed in part from mental_floss):
SHE’S A CAT LOVER.
I know many of us can relate to this one-
Cleary’s owned several pet cats over the years, one of whom used to resent having to compete with her typewriter for attention and would sit on the keys in protest.
SHE KNOWS KIDS AIN’T PERFECT.
and this one-
Cleary was annoyed with the books in her childhood, “…because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t. They just grew, and so I started Ramona … and she has never reformed. [She’s] really not a naughty child, in spite of the title Ramona the Pest. Her intentions are good, but she has a lot of imagination, and things sometimes don’t turn out the way she expected.”
SHE’S ALWAYS SYMPATHIZED WITH STRUGGLING READERS.
Getting put into the lowest reading circle in first grade almost made her resent books. Phonic lists were a drag and being force-fed Dick & Jane-style narratives was flat-out excruciating. “[We] wanted action. We wanted a story,” she lamented in her autobiography. It was an experience Cleary never forgot. Since then, she claims to have always kept children who might be undergoing similar trials in mind while writing.
SHE’S NOT RAMONA THE PEST.
Although Ramona and many of her beloved books are about sibling rivalry and relationships, she grew up as an only child.
I grew up loving her books (although I think I referred to her as Beverly Clear-ly until early adulthood).
What’s your favorite Beverly Cleary book or fact?
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in author, author facts, DEAR, kidlit, Rhyming Picture Book Month, Uncategorized, writing for kids Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, author, beverly cleary, children's literature, kids' books
I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. Of course, there are thousands of reasons to love picture books, but I’ve compiled my top ten.
My Top Ten Reasons Picture Books ROCK:
- Picture books provide an ideal setting to connect with your child. Reading picture books provides a time for parent and child to just be, together. There is no better way to connect, at the end of a hectic day, than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one that you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). Trust me, these shared moments are what kids look back on. That child becomes a parent who reads to his/her child, and so on, and so on…
- Picture books are funny. Where else can you laugh, out loud, about a pigeon begging to drive a bus or a “crack-up” over a dog, who despite his farting habit, becomes a hero?
- Picture books are serious. Some of the heaviest social and personal issues seem more approachable when told through a picture book. This can be a fantastic opportunity to explore situations, fears, and events that children might otherwise be reluctant to explore.
- Picture books are art. You don’t have to be an art expert to enjoy the limitless artistic styles waiting to be explored within a picture book.
- Picture books are ideal for reluctant readers. The illustrations in picture books help children understand the story better by providing visual clues of what is happening in the story and what might happen next. While a chapter book, filled with lines of text, might be intimidating-a picture book welcomes us to step inside-no special skills required. And wordless picture books provide an excellent opportunity to explore a story, without reading a single word. Wordless picture books can also be a great tool when working with English language learners.
- Picture books teach. I challenge you to find a non-fiction topic NOT explored in picture books. From world cultures and traditions, to life-cycles, or politics, picture books have it all. Teachers often use non-fiction picture books to supplement a specific topic or concept.
- Picture books are accessible. There is a reason librarians place picture books in bins on the floor and on low shelves. Picture books can take it, they are meant to be handled.
- Picture books make kids better readers. When we read picture books with our children, we are laying a strong foundation for their emergent literacy skills. The simple text helps them become skilled at sounding out words. They learn about the context and structure of stories, and recognize the relationship between cause and effect. All of these skills are crucial to becoming fluent readers.
- Picture books are NOT just for young children. As children get older, reading becomes a solitary adventure. We often push them (too fast, too soon) into chapter books and novels. But your child should not be denied this sacred time with you just because he/she is “growing up”. No one, nope, no one is EVER too old for picture books.
- Picture books are empowering. Children depend on adults for so much. We tell them what to eat, how to dress, what to say, and when to play. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for children to feel empowered. Going to the library, and allowing your child to choose his/her own picture books, is a great opportunity for him/her to feel independent. Very young children are able to memorize their favorite picture book stories. I don’t believe there is any better feeling of accomplishment than when a child can “read” a picture book to his/her parent. Can he/she truly read the words? No, but “reading” what he/she has memorized means he/she is internalizing the structure of a story. He/she knows it has a beginning, a middle and an end. He/she knows how to hold the book, and to turn the pages at the appropriate time. And this tiny person is reading, to you, all by him/herself! How cool is that?!
I hope my top ten list encourages you to crack open a picture book, with your child or loved one, and enjoy! Please feel free to leave a comment and share what you love most about picture books. I am interested to know how picture books impact you and your family.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
What has your writing journey taught you? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in #MARCHingBookstoKids, #PBPiO, advice, amwriting, author, indie author, inspiration, new author, Picture Book Pass it On, Self-Publishing, writing, writing for kids Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, #PBPiO, amwriting, author, blogging, kids' books, self-published author, self-publishing
I was diligently writing my next book scrolling my Facebook feed, when I discovered today is National Hug Day. So, I thought I’d send a virtual one your way.
This is Artie, the main character from my first children’s book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. As you can see, Artie loves his Dust Bunny.
In honor of National Hug Day, I thought it would be fun to host a mini giveaway. To enter, post a bunny-related photo of you or a loved one. I am not the most tech-savvy gal, so I have no idea if you are able to include a photo in a reply to this post. If you can, do it! If not, send one my way via my Facebook or Twitter (hashtag #DustBunnyHugs).
PLEASE post only G-rated photos. The winner receives a print copy of my book (US residents). A winner outside of the US receives the Kindle version.
Thank you, and Happy Hugging!
Here are a few of my own bunny shots:
(Yes, unbeknownst to me, my son elected to have his face painted as a zombie at our annual Easter dinner/egg hunt-proud mom moment to be sure).
I happen to be the mom of a kid who doesn’t really care for reading. An irony not lost on me, since I am a teacher/children’s author who has read to him every day of his life since birth, in a home overflowing with books.
If you are the parent of a “reluctant reader” (PC term for my kid would rather chew glass than read for pleasure), you may find some fresh ideas in Jane McFann’s article, Boys and Books.
Please feel free to post a comment and share book suggestions or advice for parents of reluctant readers.
Educators Cathy Mere & Mandy Robek created the annual event #pb10for10. Join the celebration and share 10 of your all-time favorite picture books today, August 10th, with the hashtag #pb10for10 (see the official rules here).
As an indie author, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of picture books from the talented pool of authors who work hard to produce high-quality, independently-published children’s books.
Author/illustrator, Mark Collins is one of the first people I met on the kid lit scene. His books are colorful and funny with just the right amount of gross-out humor kids adore. My son thinks Grandma Stinks is hilarious!
Barbara Ann Mojica is another talented kid lit author who creates entertaining and educational children’s books. Barbara has written a series of Little Miss HISTORY books, highlighting America’s historical sites.
Author Nicholas Rossis is making great books and treating readers to this one for free on his blog.
Cat Michaels is one of my favorite people in the indie kid lit world. She is a wealth of knowledge, and her generosity inspires me to pay it forward and back in our online community.
Author Cheryl Woodward is making a difference with her children’s book about Dyslexia.
My friend, and fellow Iowa gal, Laura Jensen-Kimball is making a splash with her new picture book.
Another Iowa author, Dr. Stephanie Cox, is helping ease kids’ anxiety with her book.
I recently met Australian author, A.S. Chung, and reviewed her new book.
Lastly, I will toot my own horn. I am blessed to count myself among the many talented indie and traditional children’s book authors.
Join the celebration and share 10 of your all-time favorite picture books today, August 10th, with the hashtag #pb10for10.
Don’t be shy, leave a reply. Please feel free to add your favorites to my list in the comments below.
Here’s a great article from the Wall Street Journal…
To curl up with children and a good book has long been one of the great civilizing practices of domestic life, an almost magical entry point to the larger world of literature.
Don’t be shy, leave a reply. What is your favorite read-aloud book or memory?
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.
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.
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:
You can connect with Amy here:
Celebrate summer with a great new kids’ book-for FREE. The Goodreads giveaway is now live. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/141587-the-legend-of-dust-bunnies-a-fairy-s-tale
I hope you all have a wonderful summer filled with magic and laughter!
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in book marketing, fairies, giveaway, goodreads, kidlit Tags: #1 book, #booknerd, #kidlit, a Fairy's Tale, bedtime stories, bestseller, book marketing, book promotion, free books, giveaway, goodreads, kids' books, picture book
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the articles I stumbled upon helped me kick those heifers, Gloom and Doom, to the curb.
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.
My Pity-Parties are now (mostly) Pinch-Me Parties.
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!
Here’s my original blog post from last December:
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
Don’t quit your day dream. Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.
By HARLAN COBENNOV. 28, 2014
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?”
“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.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, authors giving back, blogging, indie author, kidlit, Michelle Eastman, Self-Publishing, writers' blues Tags: #1 book, #booknerd, #kidlit, amazon, amwriting, appreciation, author, author support, bestseller, blessed, blogging, book sales, boys' books, children's authors, children's literature, christian, fables, families, favorite bedtime stories, fiction, generosity, grateful, kids' books, kindle, legends, preschool, read aloud, rhyming, self-publishing indie author, top picture book
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…
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.
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.
I’m also blessed to enjoy the company of my awesome blogging buddies. Your support and encouragement means a lot to me.
So, here comes the 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).
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:
Are you celebrating something special? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply!
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, blogging, book marketing, fairies, families, indie author, Kevin Richter, Michelle Eastman, Self-Publishing, writing for kids Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, 99 cents, a Fairy's Tale, amazon, author, bedtime stories, bestseller, book birthday, book marketing, book promotion, children's authors, children's book, children's literature, indie author, kids' books, kindle, picture book, self-publishing indie author, writing for kids
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
Wow! That’s all I can say about the wonderful authors who donated books to MARCHing Books to Kids of incarcerated parents book drive. I dropped off another huge collection today, and I was able to spend time in the VNS library. It was great to see all of the books on the shelves, but the best part was seeing all of your books. I was able to “Drop Everything And Read” a few days late, and I read many of your awesome books for the first time! You authors are as talented as you are generous. It was a pleasure to read the books you’ve created. The VNS staff members are very appreciative of the outpouring of donations from authors in 12 US states, and 3 additional countries. I’ll have the final book count very soon, but I can tell you the sentiment outweighs that total by loads and loads. Tabby, the program coordinator, mentioned how touched the inmates have been by the kind gesture from so many people who do not even reside in our community. Thanks to you, it will be a very special Mother’s Day for these ladies. Many of the MARCHing Books to Kids donations are being distributed in May. I am so happy to have been a small part in the work the VNS is doing to serve these families. Thank you so much for your generosity!
UPDATE-We received over 312 books and 450 Sesame Street Books/DVD Kits (Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration)
Here’s a shot of VNS staff members proudly displaying some of the donations.
Here’s a shot of the VNS library. Every month 60-80 books are sent to children of incarcerated parents (along with an audio recording of the parent reading the book to his/her child). They serve children birth-17 years of age.
Here’s what I imagine the VNS staff and volunteers do every morning. They are awesome!
It’s never too late to donate. Learn more about the VNS Storybook Project and how they connect children of incarcerated parents with their children through the magic of books. https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO
You can donate books anytime. Your book donations may be mailed to:
VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project
c/o Tabby Kuehl (MARCHing Books to KIds)
1111 9th Street Suite 320
Des Moines, Iowa 50314
If you participated in MARCHing Books to Kids (in any way) or PBPiO, please feel free to post a comment below and include a link to your books or author page or blog.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in #MARCHingBookstoKids, #PBPiO, authors giving back, charity, dads, families, kidlit, kids in need, Literacy, moms, Picture Book Pass it On Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, #MARCH-ingBookstoKids, #MARCHingBookstoKids, #PBPiO, author, children's book, children's literature
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, authors giving back, blogging, kidlit, Michelle Eastman, new author, new release, Self-Publishing, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, The Legend of Dust Bunnies: a fairy's tale, writing Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, amwriting, author, blogging, book marketing, book promotion, building a picture book, children's book, children's literature, children's picture book, dust bunnies, entrepreneurs, fables, fairy tale, favorite bedtime stories, generosity, Kevin Richter, kids' books, legend of dust bunnies, michelle eastman, michelleeastmanbooks, moms, read aloud, rhyming picture book, self-published author, self-publishing, starting a blog, writing
I was excited, because I had never participated in a podcast. It sounded like a lot of fun.
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!
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.
If any of those things interest you, check out the podcast at http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/
Meanwhile, I will be doing this…
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in #LGBpodcst, #MARCHingBookstoKids, #PBPiO, authors giving back, blogging, book marketing, busy librarian, charity, https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO, Kevin Richter, kidlit, kids in need, Michelle Eastman, new author, new release, Picture Book Pass it On, Self-Publishing, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, The Legend of Dust Bunnies: a fairy's tale Tags: #LGBpodcast, #booknerd, #kidlit, #MARCHingBookstoKids, #PBPiO, author, busy librarian, children's book, children's literature, children's picture book, dust bunnies, podcast
This post contains a shameless plug for my new children’s picture book…
Something DUSTY is going on!
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!
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.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in book marketing, fairies, giveaway, holidays, new author, new release Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, author, bedtime stories, book marketing, book promotion, bunnies, children's book, children's literature, children's picture book, christian, dust bunnies, Easter, fairies, fairy tale, giveaway
The Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project is collecting books for children birth-17 years of age. Each month, VNS volunteers record an incarcerated parent reading a book to his/her child. The book and the recording are mailed to the child to keep. Please include a note stating that your book is part of the Picture Book Pass it On/MARCHing Books to Kids initiative.
VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project
c/o Tabby Kuehl (MARCHing Books to KIds)
1111 9th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50314
Thank you for making a difference to a family in need.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in kidlit, kids in need, Literacy, Picture Book Pass it On Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, #MARCH-ingBookstoKids, #MARCHingBookstoKids, #PBPiO, children's book, children's literature, children's picture book, early literacy
I write books for children. I’ve actually managed to get one published. But, I have a LOT to learn about the craft. The ReFoReMo Challenge was created by, children’s book writer, Carrie Charley Brown. You can learn more about it here http://www.carriecharleybrown.com/reforemo/the-reforemo-challenge-is-coming-soon
As Brown puts it, the basic idea is: “As picture book writers, it is necessary to read heaps and gobs of picture books to truly understand the form, the market, and the craft of writing them. This challenge will be a place to build your reading background with current widely recommended picture books, research, learn how to use mentor texts, and share GREAT picture book models.”
The challenge begins March 1 and ends March 31. So, I am a little late to the party. To add insult to injury, I am not exactly following the guidelines. Instead of researching picture books, I am researching the writers. My search today resulted in some mind-blowing (to me) facts about Shel Silverstein, author of The Giving Tree and numerous poetry books for children. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a peek into the weird and wonderful life of a true Renaissance Man.
- He served in Japan and Korea for the United States Army.
- In 1957, Silverstein became one of the leading cartoonists in Playboy Magazine.
- Silverstein’s editor at Harper & Row, Ursula Nordstrom, encouraged him to write children’s poetry.
- He wrote the lyrics and music for many hit songs for artists such as Dr. Hook, Johnny Cash, and Loretta Lynn. He wrote most of the Dr. Hook songs, including “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone
- Silverstein composed original music for several films and displayed a musical versatility in these projects, playing guitar, piano, saxophone and trombone.
- He had a popular following on Dr. Demento’s radio show. Among his best-known comedy songs were “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout (Would Not Take The Garbage Out)” and “The Smoke-Off” (a tale of a contest to determine who could roll—or smoke—marijuana joints faster).
- Silverstein’s “A Boy Named Sue” won a 1970 Grammy. He was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his song “I’m Checkin’ Out” in the film Postcards from the Edge. He was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
- He believed that written works needed to be read on paper—the correct paper for the particular work. He usually would not allow his poems and stories to be published unless he could choose the type, size, shape, color, and quality of the paper. Being a book collector, he took seriously the feel of the paper, the look of the book, the fonts, and the binding. Most of his books did not have paperback editions because he did not want his work to be diminished in any way.
- In January 1959, Look, Charlie: A Short History of the Pratfall was a chaotic off-Broadway comedy staged by Silverstein, and he went on to write more than 100 one-act plays.
- Silverstein’s estate continues to control copyright permissions on his work.
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, blogging, kidlit, ReFoReMo Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, amwriting, author, bedtime stories, blogging, children's book, children's literature, children's picture book
I am re-blogging this humorous and enlightening look at publishing. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to share your favorite number in the comments section. Mine is #22!
24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing
Ten years ago, my first novel Prep came out. Three novels later, here’s what I’ve learned about the publishing industry and writing since then.
posted on Jan. 15, 2015, at 8:03 p.m.
1. When it comes to fellow writers, don’t buy into the narcissism of small differences. In all their neurotic, competitive, smart, funny glory, other writers are your friends.
2. Unless you’re Stephen King, or you’re standing inside your own publishing house, assume that nobody you meet has ever heard of you or your books. If they have, you can be pleasantly surprised.
3. At a reading, 25 audience members and 20 chairs is better than 200 audience members and 600 chairs.
4. There are very different ways people can ask a published writer for the same favor. Polite, succinct, and preemptively letting you off the hook is most effective.
5. Blurbs achieve almost nothing, everyone in publishing knows it, and everyone in publishing hates them.
6. But a really good blurb from the right person can, occasionally, make a book take off.
7. When your book is on best-seller lists, people find you more amusing and respond to your emails faster.
8. When your book isn’t on best-seller lists, your life is calmer and you have more time to write.
9. The older you are when your first book is published, the less gratuitous resentment will be directed at you.
10. The goal is not to be a media darling; the goal is to have a career.
11. The farther you live from New York, the less preoccupied you’ll be with literary gossip. Like cayenne pepper, literary gossip is tastiest in small doses.
12. Contrary to stereotype, most book publicists aren’t fast-talking, vapid manipulators; they’re usually warm, organized youngish women (yes, they are almost all women) who love to read.
13. Female writers are asked more frequently about all of the following topics than male writers: whether their work is autobiographical; whether their characters are likable; whether their unlikable characters are unlikable on purpose or the writer didn’t realize what she was doing; how they manage to write after having children.
14. If you tell readers a book is autobiographical, they will try to find ways it isn’t. If you tell them it’s not autobiographical, they will try to find ways it is.
15. It’s not your responsibility to convince people who don’t like your books that they should. Taste is subjective, and you’re not running for elected office.
16. By not being active on social media, you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot. That said, faking fluency with or interest in forms of social media that don’t do it for you is much harder than making up dialogue for imaginary characters.
17. If someone asks what you do and you don’t feel like getting into it, insert the word freelance before the word writer, and they will inquire about nothing more.
18. If you read a truly great new book and feel more excited than jealous, congratulations, you’re a writer.
19. Fiercely, fiercely, fiercely protect your writing time.
20. It’s OK to let your book be published if you can see its flaws but don’t know how to fix them. Don’t let your book be published if it still contains flaws that are fixable, even if fixing them is a lot of work.
21. Talking about how brutally difficult it is to write books is unseemly. Unless you’re the kind of writer who’s been imprisoned by the dictatorship where you live and is being advocated for by PEN American Center, give it a rest.
22. Books bring information, provocation, entertainment, and comfort to many people. You’re lucky to be part of that.
23. Sometimes good books sell well; sometimes good books sell poorly; sometimes bad books sell well; sometimes bad books sell poorly. A lot about publishing is unfair and inscrutable. But…
24. …you don’t need anyone else’s approval or permission to enjoy the magic of writing — of sitting by yourself, figuring out which words should go together to express whatever it is you’re trying to say.
You have to spend money to make money, right?
How much money do you spend to sell your book?
How much time do you spend?
I self-published my first children’s picture book in November, 2014. I am happy to say that I have sold enough books to make back my initial investment (money that is-don’t know where the time went). To date, I’ve sold over 6 times the number of books in person as I have online.
Although my online sales have been low, I have benefited greatly from my time spent online. I have met many talented, funny, kind, people since I began blogging last year. I have also learned a lot. Surfing for articles and information about the writing world is daunting, but it’s rewarding. I have been able to share what I’ve learned about self-publishing and have, hopefully, helped some people along the way.
The best part of writing books for kids is the kids! It has been my pleasure to visit libraries and schools to share my book. Success? It’s relative. And when you are looking at 25 smiling faces, while you turn the pages of YOUR book, that’s the money shot!
I am interested to hear input from other indie authors. What is working for you? What isn’t?
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, blogging, book marketing, new author, Self-Publishing, writing Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, amwriting, author, blogging, book marketing, book promotion, indie author, publishing cost, self-publishing
1. Deadlines, Schmedlines…
My deadlines are self-imposed…sort of like my flexible rule about the acceptable number of days clean clothes may remain peacefully at rest in their basket.
2. The opportunity to relentlessly stalk work closely with my super-talented illustrator…
I’m not sure this one would be on Kevin Richter’s Top 5 list. But, he has the patience of a saint and has agreed to travel this road with me one more time. Allow me to introduce our newest Dust Fairy, Absolutely Aggie.
3. I can give my book away for free…
I don’t mean KDP Promotions. I mean I can give my book to any charity, school, library, or organization I choose. In fact, I started my own literacy initiative to get books to kids in need. Since November, over 30 authors have joined me to get books to kids in need!
4. Even though I’m self-published, I get invited to “real author” events…
I love visiting schools. I recently had a Skype visit with my first group of out-of-state children, and it was awesome!
I am not exactly proud of it, but I did autograph a girl’s arm (seriously, I tried to decline, but she was eerily persuasive).
5. I was able to find a high-quality Print on Demand service that did not suck…
I am really happy with the quality of my final product. It passed muster and earned the right to sit with “real” books in libraries and bookstores (it’s even on the shelves at our local Barnes and Noble store). Bonus-people, not related to me, actually bought copies of my book!
What things DON’T suck about your self-publishing story? I’d love to hear about your journey. Don’t be shy-leave a reply!
Posted by Michelle R. Eastman in amwriting, blogging, new author, Self-Publishing, writing Tags: #booknerd, #kidlit, #PBPiO, amwriting, author, blogging, children's book, children's picture book, Kevin Richter, kids' books, legend of dust bunnies, michelleeastmanbooks, picture book, rhyming picture book, self-published author, self-publishing does not suck, writing
Are you, or someone you love, a book nerd? If so, how did it happen? Was it nature or nurture?
My son has always been surrounded by books. Even before he was born, his bookshelves bore the weight of the legions of titles I had collected for him. With few exceptions, he has been read to/with every day of his 9 years on this earth. Each week, we visit the library and heap our bag to the top with books. He receives books at Christmas and on his birthday, and for no reason at all. He delights in choosing titles from the Scholastic book order forms sent home from school. We are regulars at Half-Price Books. Books are ever-present in his day to day operations. In theory, he has all the makings of a book nerd. But, he’s anything but that. He will, on occasion, crack open his copy of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, or his Guinness Book of World Records to entertain himself. But, rarely does he deliberately choose to read for pleasure. Where did I go wrong? Why isn’t my boy a book nerd?
I, on the other hand, grew up with no books in our house. I, honestly, don’t know if I laid my eyes on a book until I was in school. We were poor, and my parents were teenagers. I was raised on reruns of Batman and Gilligan’s Island. I was also a PBS junkie (we had only 4 channels back then). In my parents’ defense, books were not as readily available as they are today. They were not crammed onto the shelves of Target and Walmart (we didn’t even have Walmart back then). For whatever the reason, no one read to or with me. Nevertheless, I sought out books. I couldn’t wait until the Book Mobile pulled up, in my neighborhood, and I could climb aboard and select my 2 book limit. I read whatever I could get my hands on. I read books beyond my years, and books I probably shouldn’t have read. I was not “nurtured” to love books-but I did, and I do.
So, I ponder the question: Are book nerds born or made? Clearly, despite my efforts, I’ve not nurtured a book nerd. And, despite my parents’ lack of effort, I am a book nerd.
I welcome your thoughts on this topic. Leave a comment, nerdy or not…