by Lydia Lukidis

I spent many years as a puppeteer.

I wrote children’s plays.

I performed in them.

I created little people in the form of string marionettes and I crafted miniature sets.

My highlights were collaborating with Cirque du Soleil and participating in the 2012 World Puppetry Festival in Chengdu, China (with my 9 month old daughter attached to me)!

Then in 2013, I made a huge leap. I decided to leave the world of theater and return to my first love, literature. I wanted to pursue my dream of writing books for children.

What was the first thing I did? I became a member of SCBWI. And that, of course, was the best decision ever! Along with the multitude of resources available, I also learned about the SCBWI Eastern and Western chapters specifically devoted to Canadian authors. Then I began to wonder, what other resources were available for us Canadian authors? And the more I researched the Canuck kidlit and writing scene, the more I discovered how rich it is. Here are a few examples:

After a few years and countless rejection letters, I got my first book published, THE DILLY DALLY BEDTIME ROUTINE. Then I thought to myself, I would love to do school visits! But how?

Luckily, in Quebec we have a program called Culture in the Schools. It’s organized by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, and UNEQ juries the applicants. The program is designed for professional artists, both Anglophone and Francophone. They range from visual artists to dancers to writers. These artists are given the opportunity to visit schools across Quebec, share their craft, and offer workshops to children.

Since I had been giving puppetry and theatre workshops since 1999, I decided to apply to the program. And (yay), I got accepted! I got a shiny new profile in the repertory and got to work. I learned the ins and outs of the program and soon realized it’s extremely well organized. The Minister establishes the day rate for all artists (so we don’t have the pesky task of negotiating fees), and artists also get reimbursed for materials, per diems, gas, and accommodations if necessary. A day consists 3 workshops of 1 hour each, or 2 workshops of 2 hours each. I have come to love the program and school visits have become a significant part of my career. Here I am below, surrounded by the charismatic students at Westpark Elementary School. This was particularly thrilling for me because I attended the school years ago!

I’m happy to have found all these valuable resources in Canada that have helped carve my path as a professional author. Of course, writing is a universal craft. Though writers may hail from different parts of the world, we all share similar adventures and challenges. Thanks to social media, we can easily connect with one another. And I feel grateful for how generous and open the writing community is!

Lydia Lukidis is a children’s author with thirty three books and eBooks published, along with numerous short stories, poems and plays. Her background is multi-disciplinary and spans the fields of literature, theatre and puppetry. Lydia writes fiction and nonfiction, and also composes educational texts and lesson plans. She is passionate about spreading the love of literacy and has been facilitating workshops for children since 1999.

For more information, please visit lydialukidis.com.

Thank you, Tara, for hosting the very first peek (one year before publication) at the cover for book one of my upcoming chapter book series, BEEP AND BOB (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster), which I write and illustrate.

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Though BEEP AND BOB is my debut series, it is far from the first kidlit book I was supposed to publish. That honor goes to a picture book I wrote years ago. I assembled an illustrated dummy, submitted to the finest publishers (in an envelope with stamps!) and waited for greatness. Of course, for that and a second book, only rejection followed.

Luckily, around that time I found the organization SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). While networking at SCBWI conferences, I found a great community of dedicated and generous creators, always there with support. I also found an agent, who picked up my first middle-grade novel. She began to submit and got some genuine interest from well-known editors. Once again, I waited for greatness. But once again, even after a couple more MG novels and some almost-sales, came our friend rejection.

Of course, this story is heading for that age-old chestnut that the key to any success is PERSEVERANCE. Try and try again, and then try some more. It’s all about dedication and endurance. However, I also discovered one new gem that, for me at least, became a crucial part of the puzzle: GIVING UP.

Obviously I didn’t give up writing or I wouldn’t be here, but at some point after being endlessly battered by the waves, I gave up in the sense of letting go—letting go of being attached to the goal of publication. I stopped struggling so much and gave myself permission to just spit out whatever wanted to come out, no matter how silly or wild. In a short time, I had a draft of BEEP AND BOB, which is about a boy who is reluctantly sent to school in space, and his lost alien buddy. I let it burst with humor and heart, which for me are the two most important ingredients of my work.

But it didn’t take much stepping back to realize that trying to sell a zany, debut, sci-fi chapter-book series about unknown characters was going to be a quixotic challenge. Rare was the agent who even said they represented chapter books (I had since left my first agent). So back to perseverance, and that horrible chore of submission that all writers know.

Luckily, this time things turned out differently: I was soon signed by the awesome Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary, and within a month of submitting she sold it in a four-book-deal to Aladdin. Please don’t tell Natalie, or my editor Amy Cloud, that BEEP AND BOB was really just an exercise in embracing failure.

Besides Natalie and Amy, I’d like to thank Nina Simoneaux, who designed this cool cover (I provided the color character spots). Hope you enjoy! And never give up giving up.

jonathanrothThank you, Jonathan, for sharing your journey to publication.

Jonathan is giving away an original, personalized drawing of BEEP to one lucky commenter.

Leave a message below to win. Share this cover reveal and receive an extra entry for each share–just post a comment for each, letting us know where you shared. Good luck!

 

Wow, was that a hilarious and exciting Oscars last night OR WHAT?

My only complaint is that with Jeff Bezos in the audience, they should have delivered the Junior Mints via drone. Maybe they thought the egos would be filling up the airspace. (“They” were wrong.)

Andrew Garfield wins for best catch.

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But Gary from Chicago…? Congrats on the nuptials, but please put the phone down!

Mahershala Ali, right, hands his award for best actor in a supporting role for "Moonlight" to a tourist named Gary during the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Mahershala Ali, right, hands his award for best actor in a supporting role for “Moonlight” to a tourist named Gary during the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

I’ll not dwell on the epic mix-up because I hope it does not overshadow Moonlight’s win. Let’s remember the victor and not how it was announced.

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Let’s get to announcing more Storystorm winners here, shall we? While I cannot promise delivery via drone either, I will promise to get the prizes right.

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Here are the winners for Storystorm Days 1-10. More winners to follow later this week.

DAY 1 WINNER OF DEB LUND’S PRIZES
Coaching session: Kathy the Picture Lady
Coaching session: Marcie Rinka Wessels
Fiction Magic cards: Cindy E. Owens

DAY 2 WINNER OF TARA’S ASK-ANYTHING SKYPE
Sharon Putnam

DAY 3 WINNERS OF JOSH FUNK BOOKS
Jacqueline Adams
Corey Rosen Schwartz
Kara Cargill

DAY 4 WINNER OF TAMMI SAUER’S YOUR ALIEN RETURNS PRIZES
Kaye Baillie

DAY 5 WINNER OF DAN MONYIHAN’S HIDING DINOSAURS
Artsy Andi

DAY 6 WINNER OF HANNAH BARNABY’S PB CRITIQUE
Lucky Jo Boscarino (how apropos)

DAY 7 WINNER OF JENNIFER ARENA’S BRAINSTORM SESSION
Rachelle (through_the_waters)

DAY 8 WINNER OF TARA’S F&G
Lynn A. Davidson

DAY 9 WINNER OF CHRISTOPHER POLENTZ’S ART
Kassy Kepol

DAY 10 WINNER OF NANCY CHURNIN’S THE WILLIAM HOY STORY
Donna Rossman

Congratulations to everyone. You will be contacted via email to arrange delivery of your prizes.

More prize announcements to come soon…

I’m thrilled to host the cover reveal for a story I have longed to see in print. The lovely Marcie Colleen is here to show it to you and tell the tale of her own literary love triangle…on Valentine’s Day no less!!!

by Marcie Colleen

When I first set out to write a picture book titled LOVE, TRIANGLE (see the origin of the idea for the book here) I just wanted to tell a punny story that hopefully someone would want to publish someday. But my meager expectations were highly exceeded. In fact, the entire journey of this book has been unlike anything I could have ever imagined and I have my very own “triangle of amazing-ness” to thank.

First, my agent, Susan Hawk, who first realized the potential in this story when it was simply a concept pitched to her during our courting phase. And although it took me almost two years after signing with her to write it, she remained a cheerleader the entire time, bubbling with excitement when she spoke of the work-in-progress to editors. Eventually, the manuscript was completed and we found ourselves in a five-house auction situation! Now for those of you who don’t know what that means, an auction is when more than one publishing house wants the story and are willing to try and bid for it. (Sorry to say, book auctions do not include paddles, large hats, or a gavel, in case you were wondering.)

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For about a week I met with the interested editors on the phone. We discussed what each house envisioned for the book and how they intended to market it. We discussed potential illustrators and possible design. They even asked for my ideas. It was so surreal.

Finally, the day of the auction came (again, no paddles or giant hats but I did have a mimosa-fueled auction party with some of my closest girlfriends).

After everything was said and done, I signed a two-book deal with Alessandra Balzer, Publisher at Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. I had always admired Alessandra’s work and had heard her speak once at a conference. As I told her during our pre-auction conversation, I was a “first time caller, longtime fan.” She was the perfect choice for the Apex of this literary love triangle.

But, our team did not become complete until Bob Shea signed on to illustrate.

Bob. Shea. (Now do you know why I call this a literary love triangle?! I mean, this team is the best of the best!)

Now, I love Bob’s work. Funny thing is, several years prior I had heard Bob speak on a panel at Books of Wonder in New York City. It was there that I first met him and he signed a book for me. I was only an aspiring writer at the time and Bob wrote “Good luck with the writing.” Thanks for the luck, Bob! I think it worked!

The story of book-smart Square and sporty Circle who are best friends until a dynamic Triangle shows up releases on October 3, 2017.

In the meantime, take a look at this freakin’ awesome cover!

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Hey, we even have the BACK cover…so we cover all the angles…

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Marcie is giving away a signed F&G (folded & gathered proof) of LOVE, TRIANGLE to one lucky commenter. Leave a comment below to enter. If you SHARE this cover reveal, you receive another entry. Just comment again telling us where you shared the LOVE.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

It’s that time of year again!

snowboarding

No, I’m not talking about Snowpocalypse City Snowboarding.

grammy

Not the Grammys, either.

cookiewaiting

OK, Cookie wants me to get on with it already.

Sorry, my assistants were a little slow to arrive…

turtledog

Let’s take it from the top…

It’s that time of year again!

rubyslippers

That’s right, click your heels together three times and repeat: There’s No Prize Like Storystorm…There’s No Prize Like Storystorm…

These eight participants completed the challenge and now will have the opportunity to have their best five ideas reviewed by literary agents and editors. Congratulate them!

  • NINA HAINES
  • GABRIELLE SCHOEFFIELD
  • MELI GLICKMAN
  • JUNE SENGPIEHL
  • SHARON HAAN
  • PATRICIA NOZELL
  • KIM MACPHERSON
  • ANGELA CALABRESE

You may be asking: How were the Storystorm 2017 GRAND PRIZE WINNERS selected?

Every participant who signed the Storystorm Winner’s Pledge was assigned a number based upon the order in which they commented. I then used Random.org to generate 8 random numbers from 1 to 676 (the total number of pledge comments). The numbers were matched to their corresponding name, then I ensured that name was on the Storystorm registration post. If the name had been registered, then I double checked to make sure they had not commented on the winner’s pledge multiple times (thus giving them extra chances to win). If all checked out, the winner was verified. (And they all checked out!)

If you are a grand prize winner, please read the following carefully:

I will pair each one of you with a participating agent or editor and contact you via email. You will have until next week to contact your agent with your FIVE best ideas. I suggest you flesh them out into a paragraph each, like an elevator pitch. Something short and snappy. The agent or editor will then provide feedback on which idea(s) may be the best to pursue as manuscripts. The agent may provide short and sweet feedback like a simple “Go for it!” or more lengthy feedback providing suggestions. I don’t know what’s in store for you–but there’s one thing for certain–their feedback will help you determine what to begin writing!

Thank you all for participating this year!

Remember there are PLENTY more prizes to come. Through the end of this month, I will be giving away all the prizes you saw during Storystorm. Who knows what you may win! (You get a car! You get a car! YOU ALL GET A CAR!)*

yougetacar

*You will not get a car.

by Catherine Bailey & Meg Walters

Thank you, Tara, for allowing Meg and I to reveal the super duper, mega official, cover of our book, LUCY LOVES SHERMAN (Sky Pony Press, 2017)! It’s very kind of you to host us, (and we didn’t even have to hypnotize you!). We’d like to share a behind the scenes sneak-peak of how our cover came to life. Meg will kick it off with her amazing illustrator insights,

An Illustrator’s Eye…
In March of 2015 I was contacted by Julie Matysik, then a senior editor at Sky Pony Press (SSP), the children’s imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. Julie and SSP editor Nicole Frail, had acquired a wonderful picture book text written by Catherine Bailey, called LUCY LOVES SHERMAN. Julie had kept a promotional postcard of mine that she had picked up from a NJ-SCBWI Fall Workshop and thought, based on the postcard artwork, my illustrative style might be a good fit for this new project. Although I have been an illustrator and designer for a long time, and attended SCBWI events for years, this was the first picture book I have illustrated. I was beyond thrilled, and couldn’t wait to illustrate Catherine Bailey’s fun characters and bring her wacky story to life.

Julie sent me the LLS manuscript and I began creating sketches of Lucy and Sherman and thumbnails of the story. Lucy loves polka dots, and loves that Sherman also “wears” polka dots. So I wanted to incorporate dot graphics on the cover, as well as Lucy’s clothes. I also liked that the polka dots resembled water/bubbles. Blub, blub!

The final cover artwork was due to SPP January 2016.

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But—as so often happens in publishing—there was a change after the deadline.

In March of 2016 the SPP Marketing Department wanted to move the book release date to coincide with Valentine’s Day to play up the LOVE in LUCY LOVES SHERMAN. They asked me to recreate the cover with more red and add hearts. Marketing also asked that I move an illustration that was on the title page onto the cover. The illustration showed Lucy and Sherman hugging. Here is previous title page art:

lls_titlepage_b

I created several new looks for the cover and after a few rounds of edits, here is new Valentines-ish cover March 2016.

lls_valentines_c

Then the publication date was switched to March of 2017. Since the focus was no longer a Valentine’s day release, we were able to go back to the original blue/turquoise background. SPP only asked that I still keep the characters hugging on the cover. And so, here she is – the final, final cover:

lls_final_d

Sky Pony Press’s Nicole Frail and Julie Matysik, and Catherine, have been fantastic to work with throughout this whole process. I am thrilled for the March 2017 launch of LUCY LOVES SHERMAN!

The Author’s Note…
I am so glad to talk about the cover design of this book, largely because people always ask me if I draw my own pictures. After a resounding “Nope,” I get the follow-up question about how much input that I—as the author—have in the book’s artwork. That answer is usually “Not a whole heck of a lot.” And that’s fine with me! I love that talented artists like Meg add new layers and depth my stories.

However, the wonderful Sky Pony folks invited my feedback on early drafts of LUCY LOVES SHERMAN. I was super flattered and excited. I poured over the images for days. Seriously. At one point my husband threatened to lock my laptop in the trunk of his car. But I couldn’t help myself. Meg did such a great job!

lucy-sketch-1

lucy-sketch-2

Then, as Meg mentioned, there was a big shift towards a more “Valentine’s” feel during the cover design process. My editor, Nicole, emailed me the revamped design. It was very red, very adorable, and very perfect for the holiday. But. (Oh yes, there’s a but!) I worried that Sherman’s red shell would get lost against the scarlet background. So I very carefully and very politely voiced my concerns. Nicole really took them to heart, but her hands were tied. The red had to stay but there was talk about adjusting the shade, which I thought was a great compromise. And then—lo and behold—the publication date was pushed back and the problem solved itself. The cover went back to primarily turquoise.

So there you have it. A blow-by-blow of our mini-rollercoaster ride towards the final cover for LUCY LOVES SHERMAN, which splashes out from Sky Pony Press this March. I think Meg and Nicole and Julie totally nailed it. And I hope you to do too!

Pssst! It wouldn’t be a cover reveal without a free giveaway (Free! Everybody loves free!).

Just leave one message in the comments below and you will be entered to win a 20-minute Skype visit with author Catherine Bailey. The visit can be used either by a teacher/media specialist as a school visit, or by aspiring authors who’d like to chat about writing and publishing.

You made it through!

It doesn’t matter if your journey was like this…

shawshank

Because you have emerged victorious!

shawshankrain

OK, so maybe your journey wasn’t that difficult.

peeweebike

Whatever the path was like…

ozforest

You’ve arrived!

wizard

If you have 30 ideas, you can qualify for one of our AMAZING Storysttorm prizes just by taking the following pledge. Put your right hand on a picture book and repeat after me:

I do solemnly swear that I have faithfully executed
the Storystorm 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge,
and will, to the best of my ability,
parlay my ideas into picture book manuscripts.

Now I’m not saying all 30 ideas have to be good. Some may just be titles, some may be character quirks. Some may be problems and some may create problems when you sit down to write. Some may be high-concept and some barely a concept. But…they’re yours, all yours! Give them a big, fat, juicy smacker! SMOOCH!

marilynsmooch

You have until February 4th at 11:59:59PM EST to sign the pledge by leaving a comment on this post. PLEASE COMMENT ONLY ONCE.

The name you left on the registration post and the name you leave on this winner’s pledge SHOULD MATCH.

Again, please COMMENT ONLY ONCE. If you made a mistake, contact me instead of leaving a second comment.

Remember, this is an honor system pledge. You don’t have to send in your ideas to prove you’ve got 30 of them. If you say so, I’ll believe you! Honestly, it’s that simple. (Wouldn’t it be nice if real life were that straightforward.)

If your name appears on both the registration post AND this winner’s pledge, you’ll be entered into the grand prize drawing: feedback on your best 5 ideas from an editor or literary agent:

So what should you do now? Start fleshing out your best ideas! Write them as elevator pitches. Get ready because YOU might be a CHOSEN ONE.

Other prizes include picture books, manuscript critiques, art prints—all the stuff you saw during the month. All winners will be randomly selected by Random.org and announced next week.

So, sign away and pick up your winner’s badge here:

storystormwinner

YOU’VE EARNED IT!

kermityay

 

by Dr. Carrie Barron

Here is a wonderful quote I just found by psychologist and creator of the Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, Abraham Maslow: “A first rate soup is more creative than a second rate painting.”

I think I can stop right here, as to me that says it all. When you follow an impulse, pour your heart, engage your hands and play around with the elements or ingredients, you are being creative. Make a soup and do it your own way.

soup

Inspiration? It’s great if it comes but not necessary. Just pick up the pot, spoon, chopping knife and throw your fresh, multicolored carrots on a cutting board. Sometimes, the feeling comes after the activity begins. If you wait for the muse, you might become anxious if she doesn’t show up. You might procrastinate, become inhibited, feel abandoned and twiddle your thumbs while fretting about your shortcomings. Take care of yourself and conjure your creativity at the same time, by starting something, anything, no matter what your mood. Because it can change your mood. And that is reason enough. Your soup doesn’t have to be that good. If you are practiced, maybe your soup will be stupendous. If it is less than you hoped, there are more opportunities to learn. The best thing is that you engaged your hands in a meaningful way, immersed in a process and tried to master something new, which is good for mental health. Meaningful hand use elevates mood and mind, according to researcher Dr. Kelly Lambert.

creativitycureThere are other forms of meaningful hand use. What about writing by hand versus typing? Writing by hand though not efficient, can fill a need. Putting the inner self on the page is an act of creativity. Holding a pen and handling paper is visceral. I think about the artist Louise Bourgeois and her Drawings for Sleep. Drawing helped her manage her insomnia. By creating absorbing problems to solve via hand to paper, she was transported to a different place. Many, many people tell me that handwritten lists are a way to deal with anxiety.

So whether it is a soup, a drawing, a list or a poem, bringing your true self fully to the task to is a creative act. I get really inspired when I find great quotes like the one above. If a first rate soup is more creative than a second rate painting, think of all the creative people out there who might be inspired, motivated and assured if they only knew who they really were and what they could do!


carrieheadshot-200x300Carrie Barron, M.D., (Grace Caroline Barron, M.D) is the Director of the Creativity for Resilience Program at Dell Medical School in Austin, Texas and a board-certified psychiatrist/psychoanalyst. She served on the faculty of the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and maintained a private practice in New York City for almost two decades. Carrie has published in peer-reviewed journals, won several academic awards and presented original works on creativity and self-expression at national meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Via articles, interviews and quotes, she contributes to many podcasts, radio shows, magazines and newspapers. Carrie maintains a blog on Psychology Today, has taught at en*theos Academy for Optimal Living, the Hudson Valley Writers Center and Columbia and is on the Honorary Board of RiverArts. Visit her at carriebarronmd.com.

prizedetails

Dr. Barron is giving away a copy of her book, THE CREATIVITY CURE.

Leave ONE COMMENT below to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once on this blog post. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!

by Kirsten Hess, Bookseller

14440841_1348278475191245_8005145897934685266_n-1It has been wonderful to read the posts in Storystorm this month, to get a peek into the creative processes that go into the many wonderful books that we carry in our shop, Let’s Play Books! Bookstore. We opened our doors three years ago in Emmaus, PA, in a one-room shop. This past September, we relocated down the street to a three-level building that more than triples our space.

Just as a number of writers and illustrators have been inspired by their own children, I became involved in children’s books through our daughter. Let’s Play Books! began as a non-profit in Delaware, Ohio, in 2010. I wanted to instill a love of stories in young children through books and theatre. As our daughter grew older and our family moved, Let’s Play Books! adapted and changed, culminating in the opening of the Emmaus shop in 2013.

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We try to set a fun and creative mood in the store—the kind of place children might perhaps find themselves in one of the books from our shelves. Because that’s what it’s all about—the story. Whether through pictures or words or the two combined. Stories of bugs or bunnies. Stories of discovery and mystery. Stories that make us laugh or cry. But in some way they all encourage a young reader to engage with herself and the world around her. We work to find books that stir the imagination and touch the soul.

This year's Newbery Medalist visiting the shop, pictured with Let's Play Books patron Annette.

This year’s Newbery Medalist Kelly Barnhill visiting the shop, pictured with book club participant Annette.

When a child visits our shop, we try to learn what type of story excites and interests him. Of course, tales of fantasy and adventure often rank high, as well as mystery and suspense, with young characters that kids can identify with on some level. We are also seeing an ever-increasing demand for titles, from picture and board books through young adult, that introduce children to issues our society is dealing with. Many parents want to introduce their children to subjects such as racial and cultural diversity, bullying, and getting along with others quite early. In the middle-grade years, LGBTQ and gender identity are topics not widely discussed until recent years, but are now accepted and sought out by young readers and their parents. At Let’s Play Books!, we strive to contribute to a culture of acceptance and inclusion through the books we stock and the authors that visit our shop. For us, a bookstore is a place of exploration and preparation as young readers grow into roles in the local community, as well as national and global society.

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Book clubs have become a big part of the Let’s Play Books! community. We have four levels of ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) Clubs, in which children read, review, share and discuss books prior to their publication. We also have middle-grade Sci-fi/Fantasy, YA Grab-Bag, and four adult book clubs. The move to our new location enabled us to expand our adult offerings, now a growing share of our business.

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The new shop includes a Community Room, places to sit and read, play chess, build a puzzle or color and draw. The third-floor “Cattic” has become a popular space for events or to hang out with bookshop cats Garfield and Bernie. We also encourage writers and illustrators to settle in and work in the shop!

Thanks for including us in Storystorm!

Kirsten Hess
Founder and Owner, Let’s Play Books!
letsplaybooks.com
Facebook & Twitter @letsplaybooks

by Audrey Vernick & Liz Garton Scanlon

Audrey: Like all picture book origin stories, this one starts years ago. Liz and I knew each other but not well at this point, if I remember correctly.

kittenLiz: I was clinging to you like a kitten because I was trying to learn to write my first novel and I’d chosen you (lucky you!) to teach me!

And one day out of the blue, we received an email from our mutual agent, Erin Murphy, that included a book review of a forthcoming title with a brief description. And Erin wrote that if Liz and I ever had a book baby, it would be something like this particular book. And all I could think, right at that instant was, “I want to have a book baby with Liz!” It was all-consuming.

And I was like, “Squirrel!” Meaning, “We don’t have to write our novels today?!?!”

I believe that at this very time, I had a terrible cold. And sometimes I write like I talk, and I remember writing “aben,” instead of “amen,” in an email to the two of them about our some-day collaboration.

And then we talked about having stuffed up noses and how when you say “Mom” it sounds like Bob and before we’d exhausted the email thread, we were part-way there.

bobnotbob

One of the ground rules Liz and I set up at the outset might be responsible for some of the magic of our process. Because there IS magic. It’s so much more fun writing a book with Liz than by myself—and this was the rule: NO “TRACK CHANGES”. We emailed each other updated versions of the file.

We freely cut what we wanted, regardless of which person wrote it. We added stuff. We re-arranged. I never found myself reading for the parts I wrote or the parts she wrote—it was really just about the story. The rules also dictate that if you miss something desperately, you can try make a case for bringing it back. I can only think of one example when I did that. And I don’t remember Liz ever trying it, on account of only one of us being a baby.

Oh, I’m a baby too but I think everything Audrey cut deserved it.

One thing I remember was that Liz started us off with the character Little Louie, and we had about maybe half a page written, and one of the lines I added was “Little Louie wasn’t all that little” and Liz knew, instantly, to move that line to the top. Which is where I NOW understand it belongs, but I didn’t know that then.

And that’s always true—not just for this story, or for our next collaboration (DEAR SUBSTITUTE, illustrated by Chris Raschka, due in 2018) but for all stories—you need to pay attention to what belongs where and to what the story needs. For whatever reason, we found it easier to really listen to the story during this practice of listening to each other. Even though it was all stuffed up. Ta-da! More magic. And more fun.

Speaking of fun, guess what we’re debuting today, right here and now with you all? Our BOB, NOT BOB book trailer! Designed and produced by the boy genius Jacob Vernick. Enjoy.

And then email a friend and write something together. Seriously. Take a load off.


AudreyAP  LizPortait2013_0001-(ZF-0850-58463-1-006)

For more fun from these quirky collaborators, visit Audrey at audreyvernick.com and view Liz’s website at lizgartonscanlon.com.

 

prizedetails

Audrey and Liz are giving away a copy of BOB, NOT BOB.

Leave ONE COMMENT below to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once on this blog post. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!

As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box.

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My Picture Books

WAY PAST BEDTIME
illustrated by Rich Wake
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
April 2017

7 ATE 9: THE UNTOLD STORY
illustrated by Ross MacDonald
Disney*Hyperion
May 2017

THE WHIZ-BANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Summer/Fall 2018

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