You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Heidi Stemple’ tag.

Get ready for a new classic flying into bookstores next week: A KITE FOR MOON.

 

Late last year I had the pleasure of hearing Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple speak about the genesis of KITE and the long, winding journey it took. I’ll let Jane and Heidi take it from here…

Heidi: My mother and I have written about 22 books together and every one has it’s own process. KITE FOR MOON began in a completely different way.

Jane: Initially, it was my picture book. A combination of remembering the moon walk (Heidi was only about 2 and a half at the time, which we watched on our very small TV) and the fact that all through my growing up, my father was a kite flier. In fact he was the International Kite Flying Champion and president of the of the International Kite Fliers Assn. My card said, “May design own costume.”

Both my agent and I liked the manuscript, and so she sent it off. It kept getting rejected.

Heidi: Eventually, everyone gave up on that manuscript and it wound up collecting dust in a drawer. At some point, at least a couple years later (but, likely close to 5) I was asked to find it and send it on to an agent friend of ours who was looking for a project for one of his illustrators.  But, before I sent it, I read it.  It was not good. It was too sentimental and too long—too wordy, wordy, wordy. I’m pretty bossy, so I told her. And asked if I could take a whack at it.

The bones were good. But, it promised an ending it didn’t deliver. It needed serious pruning and a ton of focus.  So I did that.

 And sent it back to JY. (Yes, that’s how Heidi refers to her mom.)

Jane: I saw immediately that while Heidi had seen this as an editing job, and while she kept a great deal of my prose, what she added made it her book as well. And I insisted that her name be on the manuscript as well. There was a bit more back-and-forthing till we were both satisfied. Then the book went out with both our names attached. And lo! Zonderkidz (an arm of Harper Collins) bought it. And they started looking for an artist.

Heidi:  We were sitting at a conference listening to lectures when Matt Phelan got up to speak. His art was being shown and, there was a piece he had with kids in a classroom and my head exploded. THAT was our kid!  I poked JY in the side (she didn’t appreciate that) and whispered “Kite! Kite!”

Once I explained what I meant, we both went to work on Zonderkidz to approach Matt to illustrate. He said yes.  The only thing we changed after that was the last page originally said ‘listened’ and we changed it to “watched” based on Matt’s amazing last page. I don’t want to give anything away, but when I read the last 2 pages, I still get choked up.

Jane: We’ve read the book to a number of audiences so far, mostly adults, mostly writers, and when we get to the last two pages, everyone chokes up or gasps. I am not sure that was what we were going for. But my husband and I had given that same sort of gasp when Neil Armstrong walked down the ladder and stepped on the moon. I hope all our readers, young and old, feel the moment. Though this is not the story of Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first on the moon, it is the story of something monumental about how one small child becomes an adult who does something truly out of this world.

I listened to Jane and Heidi read the book, and I gasped, too.

If you want to gasp at your own copy signed by this amazing mother-daughter duo, please leave a comment below.

A winner will be randomly selected in a couple of weeks!

Good luck!

 

by Heidi E. Y. Stemple

I, like every author on the face of the earth, am always asked where I get my ideas. We all, pretty much, have the same answer. Ideas come from everywhere. It sounds too pat and too vague. But, frankly, it’s the truth. Ideas do come from everywhere.

I’m always surprised when writers say they are worried they’ll never have another idea. How is that possible when they are under every rock, behind every door, in every café… And, the ideas I find are not floating around only in my orbit, they are in yours, too. What’s magical about ideas is that when two people see the same thing, they can spin that same experience into two (or three, or seven) wildly different stories. My idea may be a linear narrative nonfiction picture book and yours may be a fantastical YA romp in fairyland—both sparked from the same word or sight or situation.

An editor saying she was tired of pink princess books sparked the idea for a book about princesses doing active not-particularly-princess-y things. Spotting an enormous young moose in my backyard set me off on a year-long quest to find a plot for my moose character named E. Norm Moose. An online conversation about the publishing business led me to say, “I never count my chickens…” and I immediately thought of a farm-yard counting book. Taking part in a citizen science project for many years led me to a manuscript about its history. I was recently moved by a piece of art created by a friend, to write a story to flesh it out because I needed to know more about the characters. Some of these ideas are now books, some are manuscripts, and some may never get past the idea phase. But, that’s the reason to have more ideas than you think you could use in one lifetime. Ideas are never wasted. You may come back to an idea years from now, or cannibalize it later to fit into a story you have not yet written. Often, an idea I think will be an entire story is just a character, or a small scene in a larger story. Sometimes, the initial idea doesn’t work but is the gateway to an even better story. No idea is worthless. Keep every single one.

So, what is my advice for Storystorm? Open your eyes and ears. Pay attention to the world around you—live in it, not just in front of your computer screen. Eavesdrop on conversations. Let your mind wander. Once you are open to finding ideas, you’ll be surprised how many will appear. The hard part comes after, of course. Crafting a strong story with the perfect voice and creative arc, that is unique and authentic, and that an editor will fall deeply in love with and be able to convince the pub committee that it is sellable, well, that’s another post all together. That citizen science book? It took me 4 years to figure out how I wanted to tell it. NOT ALL PRINCESSES DRESS IS PINK started out about clothing and wound up about more active princess stuff. I’m still working on the moose story. But, all those stories, and every story—every book— begins with an idea. What are you waiting for? Go out and find them.


Heidi didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published more than 20 books including You Nest Here With Me, Not All Princesses Dress In Pink, and 2 Fairy Tale Feasts cookbooks, as well as numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children.

Heidi lives on an old tobacco farm in western Massachusetts where she writes, reads, cooks, sews, and once a year, calls and counts owls for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Her website is HeidiEYStemple.com and she’s on Twitter @heidieys.

Heidi is giving away a signed copy of YOU NEST HERE WITH ME.

younesthere

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

Good luck!

 

 

7ate9

Like this site? Please buy one of my books! It supports me and my work!

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.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive kidlit news, writing tips, book reviews & giveaways via email. Wow, such incredible technology! Next up: delivery via drone.

Join 11,463 other followers

My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


illus by Melissa Crowton
Tundra/PRH Canada
June 4, 2019


illus by Ross MacDonald
Disney*Hyperion
October 15, 2019

THREE WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN
illus by Vivienne To
HarperCollins
Spring 2020

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
August 2020

Blog Topics

Archives

Twitter Updates