Saturday, July 15, 2017

Maggie Book Launch

The Maggie Book Launch is underway!

  We have a terrific team that is creating buzz for Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  This children's picture book is illustrated by the amazingly talented Emiliano Billai.   

Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell is for ages 4 - 8 
and will be available in August.


To the Maggie Book Launch Team:

I am honored that you've joined me on this journey.  Thank you for spreading the word about Maggie.  

Amy Miller

Geary Smith

Sharon Blumberg 

Agnes Zimmer

Jennifer Provost

Rosa L'amour

Kim DeCoste

Betsy Lang

Sarah Kazenmeir

Andrea Kay

Kris Swoveland

Karen Kearney Sheetz 

For more information, visit: 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Give 'em a Problem

Want to get an agent interested in your children's story?  Give the protagonist a problem. This is what drives the plot.  Sure, you can write a piece for kids that has a lyrical language and a beautiful setting.  But without a problem, readers won't root for the main character.  There is no conflict.  The protagonist has nothing to go after or achieve.  

There are four types of story conflict:  person vs. person, person vs. self, person vs. nature, and person vs. society. Harry Potter vs. Voldermort is an example of person vs. person conflict.  In the book  Number the Stars,  the conflict falls into the last category.  For more examples, click on this link:

The best children's literature contains a problem that kids can relate to and understand.  It's important that the protagonist finds a way to deal with it. In the end, she must not rely on parents, adults, or friends to help her.  She must solve the problem by herself.

In my upcoming book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell, the protagonist is Maggie. She's a bit like Charlie Brown, a kid down on her luck.  She has a big problem at school.  She's the only kid in her class who has nothing to bring for show-and-tell.  Maggie's conflict is person vs. self.

Maggie thinks out loud and comes up with unrealistic outrageous solutions. Midway through the story, she is filled with self-doubt and begins to lose hope.  This is a big deal for Maggie.  She doesn't want to come to class embarrassed and empty-handed.  

When there is conflict, your story has a better chance of attracting an agent.  Agents know that readers want to care about the main character. Readers want to learn how the problem is going to be solved. 

And Maggie's problem?  What is she going to do?

You can find out what happens to Maggie this summer.  Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell will be released in August.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Finding Reviewers

Clueless.  Nervous.  That's how I felt when my editor told me I would need to find reviewers for my upcoming book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  I had never done this before.  But that's no excuse.  It was time to figure it all out.

Since I'm a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, I turned to the SCBWI book reviewers directory, a comprehensive reliable source.  As I studied the directory, I made a list of reviewers who accepted picture books.  Next, I visited their websites to learn more about their submission policies.

Afterwards, I goggled "reviewers and picture books."  Some of these reviewers like Publisher's Weekly, The Picture Book Review, and New Pages were added those to my list.  Then, I began to fine-tune the list based on three points.  First, a reviewer could not charge a fee. Secondly, the reviewer must guarantee a timely and a fair review. Lastly, reviewers had to have updated websites.

You might think that's all there is to it.  List completed.  But there's one more step.  I learned that an author should comment on a reviewer's website.  So, once a week I read the reviewer's blogs and try to leave a comment.  This step is all about making connections. 

For now, there are about fifteen to twenty reviewers on my list.  My publisher Saturn's Moon Press will probably step in as well, because some reviewers require that the publishing house, not the author, send an advanced copy of the book for review.

Clueless?  Nervous?  Yes, but not as much as when I first started.  I'm still learning.  However, the more I read about reviewers and connect with them, the more confident I'll be when it's time to get reviews.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Official Bookmark

Drum roll please...


The Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell Bookmark

Making the bookmark was fun, but challenging.  I needed to think about spacing, fonts, text color, and overall design.  This took multiple trials, trying to get it just right and weighing the opinions and suggestions of my family. 

I hope the fans of The Maggie Project like the bookmark.  We hope to include it with the purchase of the book which will be released this summer.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Timeline from Creation to Publication

Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell was conceived in 2011.  Ever since signing the book contract, I've kept a record of the steps taken to prepare for the release of Maggie.  

Below chronicles the journey of a debut picture book.   

Wrote the first version of Maggie 2011
Edited, edited, edited and submitted from 2012 - 2015 
Shelved the manuscript for a year 2015 - 2016
Re-edited 2016
Queried late Oct. 2016

Connecting with a publisher:  Fall and Winter 2016
Received an e-mail from an interested publisher:  Nov. 3
Sent an e-mail to thank publisher:  Nov. 3
Spoke to publisher:  Nov. 10
Signed contract:  Nov. 11

Promoting: Winter and Spring 2017
Edited and embellished ending of the story:  Dec. 11
Created a bio and head shot: Dec. 11
Developed a website:  Dec. 15
Studied book signing and how to market the book: Dec. 15 - 30
Wrote two articles about rejection/publication: Jan.  5 - 18
Studied illo styles to give publisher the vision of the book: Jan. 19
Looked at three illustrator's renderings of the character Maggie:  Feb.1
Chose an illustrator*:  Feb. 6
Looked for reviewers:  Feb. 9
Read about school visits:  Feb. 13 -  17  
Created a discussion guide; reviewed the first illustrations:  Mar 1 - 30 
Published articles about Maggie in writer's magazines:  March
Designed gifts for giveaways: April
Guest blogged for other writer's blogs:  April
Had guest bloggers on Apr/May

WHEW!  There's been a lot going on!  And as we look forward to a release date this summer, there will be lots more to do.  Stay tuned to find out the next steps in preparing for the launch of Maggie.  

*I have the honor of working with the creative director in making decisions about the illustrations.  Not every publishing house follows this policy.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sneak Peak of Maggie

Here is a sneak peak of Maggie.  I am honored to be working with Creative Director Melissa Carrigee and illustrator Emiliano Billai.

Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell will be available this summer at Cactus Moon Publishing, Amazon, and other online retailers.

Thank you to my husband and daughter
and friends and writers for their wholehearted support. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Maggie and Trooper

When I write for children, most of my stories feature an animal as the main character. My characters are based on the four-legged creatures that I've read about or the animals that I've known and love.  In my upcoming children's book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell one of the main characters is a dog called Trooper.

Trooper is based on a lovable dog called Charlie (check out his adorable picture to the right).  Charlie belongs to a good friend of mine. His coat is warm brown and and eyes full of expression that say "come give me a hug." On our first meeting, Charlie gave me with lots of wet kisses.  With his big loving personality I knew he'd make a perfect character for one of my stories.

The other character in the book is a little girl named Maggie.  Unlike Trooper, Maggie is purely invented.  She popped into my head (more like barged in) when I began to write the story about Trooper.  Maggie is a kind of Charlie Brown-like character, a woe is me, down on her luck kind of kid.  Every time I sat down to write, her voice was loud and clear.  It wasn't long before Maggie told me she wanted to be Trooper's owner.

In my book, these two characters interact naturally which is pretty cool given that one character is based on something real and the other character is invented.  Both characters have a problem. One problem has a good chance of being resolved, the other situation cannot be resolved.

Yet despite the problems, there's this chemistry, a real devotion between the two that brings magic to the story.  So, you may have surmised that one of the themes of the story is love.

Now that you know a little about the characters, I invite you to meet Trooper and Maggie this summer.  You will be able to see how their personalities play off one another in a story that is sad, funny, and joyous.