You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Nate Wragg’ tag.

by Lauren Kerstein

As we ponder new ideas this month, I thought it might be helpful to think about the books we loved as children, as well as imagine the books we wished we’d had. Ideas are lurking in those musings. I just know it!

What books did you love most as a child?

  • Think about the books that changed your life.
  • The stories that resonated with you.
  • The characters who still live in your mind and heart.

Whether you were an avid reader or not, I bet you can remember a book that really mattered to you.

I vividly remember a few books that enriched my childhood life. I remember my third-grade teacher reading The Giving Tree (by Shel Silverstein) and crying. I realized in that moment that books have power.

I also remember the impact Pippi Longstocking had on me as a child. Pippi lived life on her own terms. I wanted to live my life like Pippi.

Write the book that will live in children’s hearts the way your favorite book lives in yours.

Second, think about what books you wish you had as a child? Picture your childhood self. What made you laugh? What made you cry? What books would’ve supported you through tough times? What books would’ve made celebrations even richer?

Write the book you would’ve loved as a child.

As you think about your childhood, and books that would’ve helped you, jot down your memories, feelings, and wishes in a word bank. Here’s an example of the beginnings of a word bank about some of my childhood memories.

 


Teacher crying

Baby pools at preschool that were filled with grass (yuck)

Giving away our dog when my sister was born

Singing outside our house in front of my favorite tree

Collecting tree sheddings and pretending they were seahorses

New Jersey

New York

Bird bones in our backyard

Favorite babysitter, Liz

Skunk spraying dog

Tomato soup bath


 

Are there any story ideas lurking around in your word bank?

Remember, ideas are flashes of brilliance that sneak into our minds, saying, “peek-a-boo—try to catch me.”

Catch those ideas. Write them down (WITHOUT judgment). Then write down the emotion, themes, dreams, desires, dislikes, and thoughts that live in each idea. Make your idea 3-D so that the manuscript you write will reflect all of the richness of that first flash.

I use a template when I write down new StoryStorm ideas so that I can capture as much of the initial resonance as possible. You can find the template on my website at laurenkerstein.net/critiquestemplates.

Finally, as you write down your ideas, remember all ideas are works in progress until they’re not. Perhaps thinking of an idea as a work in progress will quiet your inner critic for a moment. The idea for ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (Illustrated by Nate Wragg) came from my work as a child therapist, my experience as a mom, and my understanding that children want power and control. Who am I kidding? We all want power and control, just like Pippi.

Rosie and Charlie began as a how-to book (How to Put Your Mommy to Bed). Although the manuscript morphed and changed a LOT, the original spark and heart remained. The idea was a work in progress. The heart was not. Ironically, the original flash of the idea (How to Put Your Mommy to Bed) is the basis for the second Rosie and Charlie book that is due out this Fall (ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT).

So, reach into your childhood. Remember your favorite books. Mine your memories and think about books you wish you had. Then, catch those flashes of brilliant ideas. Those ideas just may become books children will remember…

…FOREVER!


Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, Josh, their two dragons…er, daughters, Sarah and Danielle, and her rescue dogs, Hudson and Duke. She is represented by Deborah Warren with East West Literary Agency. Lauren’s debut: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES splashed to bookshelves in June 2019. The companion volume, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT, is expected Fall 2020. Lauren also has another soon-to-be announced book upcoming in 2020. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with Rate Your Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12×12. Visit her at LaurenKerstein.net, on Twitter @LaurenKerstein, Instagram @LaurenKerstein, or Facebook.


Lauren is giving away a picture book critique.

Leave one comment below to enter.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below.

Good luck!

authorphoto_anika_deniseby Anika Denise

Tis the Season!

What’s in the secret sauce of a successful seasonal title? Anika Denise, author of Monster Trucks, a high-octane Halloween tale of vroom and doom, divulges tips on crafting seasonal stories that SELL!

First, what’s a seasonal title? (It may seem obvious, but indulge me a moment, kidlit peeps.) A seasonal title is any book that relates to a season or holiday, be it Halloween, Hanukah, Easter, Earth Day, Back-to-School or Black History Month. (Think table displays in bookstores and libraries.)

So, why am I singling them out? I mean, shouldn’t we all just write good stories, and if they happen to have a holiday hook, all the better?

Yes! But this might get your attention: At a recent SCBWI retreat, Christian Trimmer, Executive Editor at Simon & Schuster, revealed seven factors that help get a picture book acquired. Number one was: “Be a Celebrity!” (Unless you’re Kelly Clarkson, read on.) Number two: “Get that Promotion!” In other words, books with potential for holiday placement are more likely to catch an editor’s eye.

Excellent! So how do you write a seasonal story that sells?

BE SEASONAL, BUT NOT OVERLY SPECIFIC

My editor on MONSTER TRUCKS, Nancy Inteli, pointed out that while she frequently acquires seasonal titles, she especially seeks books that aren’t so narrowly holiday focused that their shelf life is limited. “Monster Trucks has a clear Halloween hook,” she explained. “But it also appeals to the truck-loving crowd, which makes it a perennial.”

monster-truckscover

That’s not to say you should abandon that Arbor Day book you’re writing, just keep in mind that a broader seasonal story might have a better shot at finding a home.

Another great example of a not-so-specific seasonal book: Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown. Although Creepy Carrots is quite likely on every Halloween book display table in America, it’s not strictly a Halloween book. Quirky and funny, it and can be read and shared all year round.

And speaking of quirky and funny…

ORIGINALITY IS KEY!

It’s always key. But when traversing well-trodden territory like “Back to School,” you better come packing a twist. Take School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson, for example. It explores first day jitters from the SCHOOL BUILDING’s perspective. Genius! And delightfully original.

RAMP UP THE READ-ALOUD APPEAL

One happy outcome of writing a seasonal title is, booksellers, librarians, teachers and parents are going to want to incorporate your book into story times. It helps to keep this in mind as you polish your manuscript. Humor, action, poetic techniques, evocative language and relatable characters will ramp up your read aloud appeal.

baking-day-interior-copyright-christopher-denise-2014

In BAKING DAY AT GRANDMA’S, bouncy rhymes, rhythmic refrains, and descriptions of sweet scents filling the air (hopefully) engage and entertain the read-aloud crowd. And although the new board book edition is being marketed for Christmas—at its heart—BAKING DAY AT GRANDMA’S is a cozy wintertime tale about spending time with family.

So if you’ve got an idea for a seasonal story simmering on the back burner, fire it up and submit! Tis the season!

Thank you for the useful information on selling a seasonal book, Anika. As the first stop in Anika’s MONSTER TRUCKS blog tour, we are giving away a copy to a random commenter. One comment per person, US addresses only, please. Good luck!

monster_trucks_interior1-1024x419

Anika Denise is the author of several critically acclaimed books for young readers including three illustrated by her husband Christopher Denise: Baking Day at Grandma’s, Bella and Stella Come Home, and Pigs Love Potatoes. Publishers Weekly hailed her latest picture book Monster Trucks, illustrated by Nate Wragg, “a mash-up made in heaven” in a recent starred review. When not writing tales of vroom and doom, Anika can be found zipping around her hometown of Barrington, Rhode Island in her monster minivan, or reading not-so-scary stories with her husband and three kids. Visit her online at AnikaDenise.com, or on Twitter @AnikaDenise.

Let me take you back to the first year of PiBoIdMo—2009. (For those unindoctrinated, that’s Picture Book Idea Month. Wait, can a picture book writer even use a highfalutin word like unindoctrinated? Or highfalutin?)

Well, it’s 2009 and my good friend Corey Rosen Schwartz is having trouble meeting the 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge. She despises her ideas. Corey takes her frustration out on Facebook, where all passive-aggressive complaints go to get their wings. She shares several titles on her idea list which feature the precocious blondie:

  • Goldifox and the Three Hares
  • Tawnylocks, Goldi’s Little Known Twin
  • Goldi-Rocks and The Three Bear Band

She posts these same titles on her blog under the caption “Goldi on the Brain” (a serious affliction for fractured fairytale writers). And you know what? Everyone on Facebook and the blog LOVES the third idea. (Remember the Rule of Threes?) One person, Beth Coulton, even offers to collaborate. They write it together and it gets bought by Putnam in 2010.

And so, a book is born. Isn’t it adorable? Don’t you just wanna pinch its cheeks?

goldirocks

The concept is clever—the Three Bears form a band but they can’t find a lead singer who can hit the high notes.

goldiint1

They hold Idol-like auditions and the fairytale characters just don’t cut it. Sorry, Little Red, you’re not going to Hollywood. No golden ticket for you.

goldiint2

(I wonder if Papa Bear is supposed to be Simon? But Simon wouldn’t dare don a bandana, right? V-neck tees are much more his style. Maybe Papa is Keith Urban.)

Meanwhile, Goldi wreaks havoc in their studio.

goldiint3

She even drools on their keyboard!

goldiint4

What are the Bears to do? They have to get rid of the golden-haired menace!

Or do they?

Well, you can find out right here. Because I’m giving away a signed copy of GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS to one lucky winner! Just leave a comment below and a winner will be randomly selected in one week. Good luck, music fans!

And congratulations to Corey, Beth and Nate on the release of their new book!

Like this site? Please order one of my books! It supports me & 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 11,913 other followers

My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


THREE WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN
illus by Vivienne To
HarperCollins
January 7, 2020

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
August 2020

Blog Topics

Archives

Twitter Updates