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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.)

auction

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!

frontcoverlovetriangle

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

backlovetriangle

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!

by Marcie Colleen

When Tara asked me to blog for Storystorm I knew right away that there were two points I wanted to make.

  1. Ideas can come from the most random and wackiest places.
  2. A good idea is invaluable and must be guarded like gold.

To illustrate, I will tell a story from my own writing journey.

It was February 2012 and I was attending my first SCBWI conference in New York City.

Excited and eager to soak up all knowledge about kidlit that I could, I sat in the ballroom and listened to a keynote given by bestselling author, Cassandra Clare. The title of the keynote was “Love Triangles and Forbidden Love: Creating and Maintaining Romantic Tension in YA Literature.” Much of what she had to say made me blush.

I turned to picture book author Jodi Moore, who was sitting next to me, and jokingly whispered, “Doubt I will use anything from THIS in a picture book.”

Jodi responded, “You never know.”

That planted the seed. At that moment, I wondered if there was any way I could possibly write a “love triangle” picture book.

obtuse

For some time, I mulled over the idea and, a little over a year later, the premise finally came to me:

  • Circle and Square are best friends until a more interesting Triangle shows up. Then they both want to be best friends with Triangle, instead.

Now, having a stellar idea doesn’t always lead to immediately being able to draft up the story. Some things take time. At least for me.

Although I had a premise and knew that I wanted to infuse the story with lots of pun-filled, geometry-related humor, I wasn’t quite ready to start drafting.

Fast forward to May of 2013. I just happened to pitch LOVE, TRIANGLE to my agent and she was immediately interested.

“Oooh! Send it to me,” she said.
“Oh, I haven’t written it yet,” I answered.
“Well, you need to.”

A year passed and my agent asked for LOVE, TRIANGLE four times! Finally, she painted me into a corner by pitching it to an editor who also got excited by the concept.

“Now you must write it,” she said with a smile.

Finally, I did.

In November 2014 LOVE, TRIANGLE was sold in a five-house publishing auction to Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins.

Now, look closely at my timeline.

  • First inspiration: Feb 2012
  • Casual brainstorming: Feb 2012 – May 2013
  • Drafting, writing, rewriting: May 2013 – Nov 2014
  • Sold at auction: Nov 2014

So, to my opening points, ideas come from everywhere. Some of them are ready to be birthed right away. Others need some more incubation time. LOVE, TRIANGLE needed over two years and that’s ok.

However, I was particularly careful about keeping my idea to myself. Sure, a few close writer friends and my agent knew what I was working on. But over-sharing it might have led to someone else using my concept to write a similar story. And in all actuality, with the story taking years to develop, it is quite possible someone could have beaten me to the chase.

At times, it was a struggle to not tell everyone about something I was so excited about. But, in the long run, keeping it to myself proved beneficial and allowed me to tell the story when I was ready.

So, go out there and gather ideas.
Soak up life.
Listen to keynotes you might not necessary think you can use in your work.
Gather lots of ideas.
And guard them like gold.

Then, when the time is right, write. If it takes time, that’s fine. I am still working through some ideas I came up with five years ago.

No. I will not share what they are.

But I can’t wait to share LOVE, TRIANGLE with the world when it finally publishes later this year.


marciecolleenMarcie Colleen has been a teacher, an actress, and a nanny, but now she spends her days writing children’s books. Her debut picture book, LOVE TRIANGLE, illustrated by Bob Shea (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, Fall 2017) sold in a five-house auction. It is about best friends Circle and Square, and Triangle who comes between them. Other upcoming picture books include THE ADVENTURE OF THE PENGUINAUT (Scholastic, Fall 2018) which will be illustrated by Emma Yarlett. Marcie is also the author of the SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS chapter book series (Macmillan/Imprint). Marcie is a frequent presenter at conferences for SCBWI, as well as a faculty member for Kidlit Writing School offering courses with a focus on plotting and revising picture books. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband and their mischievous sock monkey. Visit her at thisismarciecolleen.com or on Twitter @MarcieColleen1.

prizedetails

Marcie is giving away Books 1 & 2 from the SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS chapter book series.

superhappybooks

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!

Hey, do you know what time it is?

yayoclock

That’s right, it’s yay o’clock!

And you know what that means, don’t you?

It’s time to meet the SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS!

SuperHappyPartyBears

Welcome to the Grumpy Woods!

Just kidding. No one is welcome here.

No, I’m just kidding again. That’s how these brand-spanking new chapter books begin. See, you’re already laughing three sentences in.

So let me present a more welcoming welcome.

The SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS are unlike anything you’ve seen in a chapter book series. Firstly, they are not some formula regurgitated in rainbow, written by an illusive nom-de-plume. No! These are the first books by up-and-coming author Marcie Colleen. In addition to this series, Marcie has the picture book LOVE, TRIANGLE releasing next year with Bob Shea (BOB SHEA, PEOPLE!!!) and THE ADVENTURE OF THE PENGUINAUT is blasting off soon, too.

Next, these books feature adorable, full color illustrations by Steve James. OMG, you do not know how SUPER HAPPY that makes me!

partyhatbears

I have a reluctant reader at home (I know, can you believe it?!) and the thing she dislikes about chapter books are the black-and-white line drawings. She clings to picture books and their boundless art. With SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS, which she has SWIPED FROM ME to take to the first day of school, she doesn’t even realize she’s reading a chapter book because every page features a color illustration. Not only that, but there’s a flip-book animation in the corner of every title. In KNOCK KNOCK ON WOOD, Bubs shimmies with a hula hoop.

So let’s get back to the story. Every morning in the Grumpy Woods, where the SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS live, the other residents don their cranky pants (really, a whole outfit).

crankypants

Mayor Quill and his devoted subjects relish their grumpiness. They thrive on it. And the SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS? They are ecstatic, dancing, blissful bears no matter what the forest folk throw at them. Nothing can dampen their desire to party. They just wanna bear hug everyone. They see the positive in everything. And you know, what a great attitude to share.

Now, even though the Mayor, Humphrey Hedgehog, Dawn Fawn and the others make their harumphs for the bears loud and clear, the whole party crew, from Littlest Bear to Big Puff, fail to notice. In fact, they worship Mayor Quill. This, of course, annoys the prickly politician to no pointy end.

Therein lies the humor. But that’s not ALL the humor! For parents reading along, there are clever asides and pop-culture nods.

ziggyplaysguitar

Meet Ziggy. Ziggy plays guitar. ‘Nuff said.

Then there’s the famous SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS dance.

partybearsdancepartybearsdancetwo

You wanna dance with me? Well, grab yourself a copy and shimmy, shimmy, shake!

Actually, you can grab TWO copies right here, one GNAWING AROUND and one KNOCK KNOCK ON WOOD, the first two books in the series from Macmillan’s new imprint, imprint. (So nice I said it twice.)

superhappybooks

Just leave a comment to enter. PLUS, if you TWEET, FACEBOOK, REBLOG or otherwise share this review, you gain an extra entry, WOO-HOO! Just leave one comment per each method so I can tally your extra entries.

This will be a PARTY TO REMEMBER! GOOD LUCK!

 

 

headshotby Marcie Colleen

“Show, don’t tell.”

We hear this all of the time. Yet, many writers struggle with this very idea.

Writers like to research. We travel to faraway places, we talk with people who live there. We look through old files and photographs. We mine our memories for tidbits and call upon our imagination to fill in the rest.

We stay cerebral.

But this is where we fail ourselves. This is where we fail our readers.

We all want to write books that make people feel, but in order to do that—we must feel first. We must cry. We must get angry. We must laugh. We must fall in love. We must face fear.

But to achieve true emotion with our words, we need to get out of our heads and tune into our guts.

To do this, I like to call upon the actor’s craft.

Here are 3 tips to get out of your writer’s head and write from the gut.

diary

  1. Keep an Emotion Diary.
    An actor knows that whatever happens to them in life is fodder for their craft. Even at a moment of extreme heartbreak, an actor knows, “I can use this.” Observe yourself on a daily basis. How are you feeling? Don’t detail the situations that are happening to you, but write down what an emotion feels like physically. Tune into your hands, your chest, your legs, and your jaw. These are places we hold emotion.
  2. Be emotional.
    An actor practices playing with emotion. They take the time to experiment in order to better know how to portray it when the time comes. Much like a yogi will hold a pose to build strength, actors practice holding emotion in their bodies to gain emotional fluency. Refer back to your Emotion Diary to remember how a certain emotion manifests in your body. Soak in it. Go about some daily tasks while in this emotional state. (Although keep these tasks solo. You are working on craft here, not ruining relationships and getting a reputation. Hint: scrubbing the tub while angry is amazing!) Observe how the emotion affects your movement and your actions. Of course, when play time is done, find ways to unwind…we don’t want you to end up a basket case.
  3. Embrace the First Person.
    An actor walks in the shoes of others to learn to live in their moments. They speak directly from the mouth, the heart, the gut of the very person they are performing. Spend some time pretending to be your character. You can go through the same emotional practice you did in the previous step, but this time with your character’s situation in mind.

Take your character to the most heightened moment in this emotion. How do they react? Write a letter or a diary entry as your character while holding this emotion. Or create audio or video as your character. Abandon flowery metaphor and other authorly devices for the time being and speak raw, from your character’s gut. You might be surprised what you learn.

It is so easy to fall into summarizing a scene instead of delving in and living each moment. Maybe as writers we prefer to play God and observe the tough situations from afar. It’s more pleasant to be omnipresent than personally absorbed.

But when we learn to write from the gut, our hands may tremble with each keystroke, a lump might form in our throat, tears might well. It’s not always comfortable. Yet it is essential that we learn to breathe life into each moment, so that the very DNA of our story can breathe on the page and fill the lungs of every reader it touches. This is the essence of “show, don’t tell.” In fact, it takes the idea one step further.

“Be, don’t show.”

marcieBefore Marcie Colleen was a picture book writer, she was a former actress, director and theatre educator. In her 15 year career, Marcie worked within the classroom, as well as on Regional, Off-Broadway and Broadway stages. Formerly the Director of Education for TADA! Youth Theater, she also worked for Syracuse Stage, Camp Broadway, the Metropolitan School for the Arts, and Tony Randall’s National Actors Theater. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and Theater from Oswego State University and a Masters degree in Educational Theater from NYU. She has taught theater workshops in the UK and throughout the US, including Alaska.

Marcie’s From the Gut: An Acting for Writers Workshop (being held on September 14th at NJ-SCBWI) helps writers get out of their heads. Her up-on-your-feet techniques feature acting and writing exercises to tap into raw emotion. Through guided practice, writers learn to breathe life into the voice of every character. Time is spent exploring, playing and simply “being” emotion while learning how to transfer the discoveries onto the page in a way that creates immediacy and authenticity for the reader. Participants are given tools to deepen their writing through voice and movement even when alone in their writing caves.

Visit Marcie at www.thisismarciecolleen.com.

headshotby Marcie Colleen

Many of us struggle throughout the year to find the time to write. We struggle to utter the words, “I am a writer.” We feel like we are not progressing. We don’t feel like we have a real writing routine and we fail to write daily.

But for the month of November you are given a gift. It’s like going to the writer’s spa.

Your challenge: create one idea for a picture book each day. One. That’s it. You can do it.

You’ll be amazed at what this little challenge can do for your writer’s morale. Once you put up that antennae you become a lightning rod for inspiration. Thirty days of inspiration! Fill yourself up.  Gather. Slather. Enjoy.

This year will be my third participating in PiBoIdMo and I cannot wait. One look at my desk and you will see…I am ready.

I know. I just made you panic. You are thinking, “I haven’t done anything to prepare my desk! Am I supposed to? Am I failing at this challenge already?!”

Hush, my fellow Type A’s.

Deep breath. Remember, you are going to the writer’s spa. It’s time to indulge your writer’s spirit. So put on some calming music and read through my list of ways to prepare your writing space for PiBoIdMo.

Marcie’s 5 Tips for Preparing your Writing Space for PiBoIdMo 

desk pic

1) Clean the Clutter.
If your brain is cluttered there is no room for new ideas. Same can be true for your work space.So clear it all out. You have a week. It’s not an impossible task. And shhhh…no one said you can’t shove it all under the bed or into the oven (don’t fool yourself, you aren’t going to do any cooking during PiBoIdMo…just cooking up ideas!).  You can always bring back the clutter on Dec 1st.

2) Gather your Gear.
Make a small pile of resources.These are items that will help you with ideas when you are depleting. As a marathoner, I think of this pile as my “Mile 20 pile”. When it’s November 25th you might need one of these “idea joggers”. Some of my favorites are:

originofeverydaythingsOrigin of Everyday Things (Sterling, 2006)

14,000 things to be happy about. by Barbara Ann Kipfer (Workman, 1990)

Rory’s Story Cubes game (Gamewright, 2010)

3)  Schedule some Search Parties.
That’s right. It’s time to explore. Get out. Go to a museum, a cemetery, a garden, etc. And now that the government shutdown is over, you can even go to a National Park or monument! Schedule it now before the month even begins…and don’t cancel. If you are like me, your area has some wonderful places to visit that you never go. Maybe you only go to these places when you have visitors in from out of town. But this month, try to schedule two to four “search parties”. Go and let the ideas come to you.

4) Harvest the Heap of Ideas.
You are going to need some place to collect all of your 30 ideas. There is no right or wrong way here, it really has to do with what works best for you. The first year I used index cards bound by a rubber band.  I loved it because it gave me a full card, front and back, for one idea. Plus, it left room for me to make notes on the card as the idea grew in the coming year. It also allowed me to isolate each idea and not create idea gridlock.  My second year I used a notebook. I know this is what most people do. However, I am the type of person who can easily stick a notebook on a shelf and forget it exists. This year I plan to use a bulletin board. As I create an idea, I will write it on a slip of paper and pin it to the board. That way I can have the ideas visible throughout the coming year and therefore they are more apt to be made into stories in 2014. We’ll see how it goes. Again, it really is a personal thing and it might take some experimentation. The most important aspect is that you write every idea (even if it seems awful) down!

5) Connect with your Cause.
In the coming week, think about why you want to write picture books. Look for a trinket or talisman that reminds you of your crusade. Give it a prominent place on your desk. I, personally, have many reasons why I write for children, but one particular reminder has sat on my shelf by my desk all year. It is a red mud-caked LEGO brick. One year ago Hurricane Sandy ripped through my area and changed life for many.  As I was supposed to run the NYC Marathon (which was canceled, albeit too late in my opinion), my entire team chose on November 4, 2012 to travel to Staten Island, not for the start of the marathon, but to help with clean up. For hours I helped one family empty their basement of their muddied belongings. Heaps of mud-soaked toys, holiday decorations, and memories. Before taking a wheelbarrow-full to the already overflowing piles on the curb, I pocketed this red LEGO brick. To me it symbolizes the hardships in life that affect us all, even children. If I can ease that, even slightly, I will have done what I set out to do.

legobrick

In previous chapters Marcie Colleen has been a teacher and a theatre educator, but now she splits her days between chasing the Picture Book Writer dream and chasing toddlers on the playground as a nanny. Both are equally glamorous!

Her blog, The Write Routine and her Teacher’s Guides, can be found at www.thisismarciecolleen.com.  (She created a teacher’s guide for Tara Lazar’s THE MONSTORE.) You can also follow her on Twitter. Additionally, Marcie is the Education Consultant for Picture Book Month (www.picturebookmonth.com) and contributes monthly, as a Blogette, to The Picture Book Academy’s blog (www.picturebookacademy.com/blogettes), posting on humor in picture books.

She lives with her fiancé and their mischievous sock monkey in Brooklyn, NYC.

 

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

COMING SOON:

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Summer/Fall 2018

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