Lots of cool stuff has been added to my website this week. I hope you have time to explore.
For Kids: Get entangled in spidery fun with all these activities–
And for more adventures try these–
- More Links and
- Natalie Rompella’s ALL ABOUT INSECTS
- Coloring Pages from a variety of Guardian Angel Publishing books, plus the Doggie Day Camp coloring page to the right.
Last but not least, don’t skip this feature article on a great inventor and true nature lover–
For Teachers and Parents: More ways to be environmentally friendly in your daily lives–
Tips for Writers: Don’t miss this long list of industry updates–
I hope you have a wonderful time with these end-of-summer treats. Let me know which ones you liked best.
I’m very pleased and excited to tell you that DOGGIE DAY CAMP: VERB AND ADVERB ADVENTURES, the second book in Guardian Angel Publishing’s The Pet Grammar Parade Series, will be coming out soon. DOGGIE DAY CAMP explores verbs and adverbs with Bubba the dog.
Kit Grady created the amazing illustrations for the book. And like the first book in this series, KITTY KERPLUNKING: PREPOSITION FUN, this book also provides a study guide and lots of great activities. Already the teachers who have seen book love it and plan to use it in their classrooms.
Here is a clip from one review, Doggie Day Camp: Verb and Adverb Adventures is not only an entertaining story, but also an excellent resource to introduce grammar concepts to young readers and reinforce the use of verbs and adverbs to older readers. I’m looking forward to more books in Cynthia Reeg’s grammar series.– Kelly Secrease, 6th Grade Language Arts
Nettleton Intermediate Center
By Mayra Calvani
I used to think writing children’s books was boring. Writing for those demanding, whining creatures? Are you kidding? Not for me. No thanks.
That was a few years ago.
Now, nothing fills me with more joy and excitement than writing a picture book or a novel for tweens. Writing for children is like stepping into a fresh, magical, innocent, marvelous world of color and words. Writing for children is, in fact, like walking on a rainbow.
So how did the change happen?
Easy. I had children.
I recently read an interesting post by another children’s author about how in order to write good children’s stories, one must know children. Of course, as always, there are exceptions to the rule, but in general, I find this observation to be true. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one must have children in order to write great children’s stories, but it does mean that one must interact with them, know their fears, fantasies, dreams. In sum, one must have a clear idea of what goes on inside their little heads and hearts.
In my case, having children brought out a tender, gentler part of me to the surface, a part I didn’t know I had. Suddenly, as I read to my little daughter every night, picture books, with their beautiful and evocative illustrations, began to appear very appealing to me. I don’t remember when the exact moment happened, the moment when I thought, ‘I want to write a children’s book.’ But I do know I went from extreme to extreme: from chilling horror to sweet picture books. Two very different worlds, but I’m able to switch from one to the other without much problem. On the contrary, each one serves as a refreshing break from the other. So I may work on a lovable children’s story in the morning, and dive into a disturbing werewolf scene in the afternoon. It’s fun, like having split personalities, without the crazy element (or at least, I hope so!).
So far, I’ve written four picture books. Two have already been published: The Magic Violin (http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/magic-violin.htm) and CRASH! (http://crashthepuppy.blogspot.com/) The other two are in the illustrating stages and will be released next year. I also have a finished tween novel in the editing stages and another one in progress.
The world of children’s book publishing is extremely competitive, to say the least. It takes hard work, dedication, perseverance and commitment to become a published author. I know the stakes, but once you step into that magical rainbow, there’s no turning back.
Mayra Calvani (http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com/) is a multi-genre author, reviewer, dog lover, and animal advocate. A regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine and American Chronicle, she is also the author of CRASH!, a children’s picture book about a little boy and how he learns to care and find the perfect name for his new golden retriever puppy. Check out her ‘Crash the Puppy’ blog at http://www.crashthepuppy.blogspot.com/.
Illustrating. I started drawing my own pictures when I was 4 or 5. I didn’t really learn to write creatively until a few years later.
And is one easier for you than the other?
Drawing is easy but time consuming. Writing is time consuming and difficult. Writing is harder. It’s easier to move a pen and get the drawing you want than choose the right words for a critical moment in a story.
How has your career as an illustrator evolved?
I started drawing children’s books in 2005 when I stumbled into the business. I have gone from doing a hand full of illustrated books to dozens of new titles a year, now.
Your career as a writer?
My agent has many manuscripts my wife and I have written, and on average I have a couple written works published per year. It’s been good and rewarding.
Tell us about your most recent release. What was your inspiration for it?
Well, an upcoming release will be Professor Horace, Cryptozoologist. I got the idea from watching all of those mythical and legendary creature shows on National Geographic and The History channels. The book is fun, where an old professor goes in search of the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot and a Ropen. He finds them, but also uncovers the reason they all have yet to be discovered—they simply do not wish to be found. Thus, he makes them a promise—he shall not tell a soul of their meeting. But, when Horace returns home, he’s now the subject of curiosity… did he meet these creatures or not?
Tell us about your other children’s books.
GAP (Guardian Angel Publishing) recently published Dreamchaser, written by my wife Kristen and me. It was about an urban youth pondering trading in his education for a career in the NBA. My wife is writing a book titled The Jumbo Shrimp of Dire Straits, which I am illustrating. GAP will be publishing that, too. It’s about a Captain and his crew who take the old shrimp boat out into hazardous seas in search of an enormous Jumbo Shrimp. I am still writing a sequel to Esther’s Channel for Baker Trittin Press, and have illustrated books coming out from Sable Creek Press, Little Light Press, and Start Again Ministries. There are many vanity press titles I have illustrated for new authors, too, coming from Xlibris and Lifevest Publishing.
Where do you find your inspiration and new ideas?
I remain curious, always. That helps. You begin to imagine quite a bit. Even Jumbo Shrimp the size of a ship.
Describe your working environment.
I write at my home computer, or longhand at times and type it in later. I draw using a cheap clipboard, flair pens, and sit or lay on the living room floor when I illustrate. I scan all my art into my work computer, and color and finish it there.
Where can readers learn more about you and your works? And where are your books available?
What are you working on now?
Another illustration job for a sequel to Donna Shepherd’s Topsy Turvy Land book. It will be the third Topsy title I have illustrated, the first published by Hidden Picture Book Publishing, the second coming soon from LWP Inc. I am also starting illustrations for Donna on a manuscript she’s written titled Bradybug.
I know you are a master of promotion. Can you share a few of your secrets with us?
Use the internet. Put up fun, active, book and theme pages that promote your titles. Just get out there and shake the trees, fruit will fall.
What advice would you offer aspiring writers and illustrators?
If you have talent, the only way you will fail is to quit or give up. For every one book published, there’s a thousand that never were because a writer or illustrator threw in the towel. Don’t give up on your dream
Wild and wonderful illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier jump off the page.
Rattlesnake Jam is a rhyming romp of a picture book. Crazy old Gran and Pa argue over how to cook up the rattlers he catches. Gran is determined to bottle them into her cure-all rattlesnake jam, yet Pa longs for Gran to make him rattlesnake pie.
Visit the webpage where Gran and Pa hang out and rattlers slither about..
Peek into GRAN’S KITCHEN, work on a PUZZLE or a COLORING SHEET,
or WIN an autographed copy of “Rattlesnake Jam.”
Guardian Angel Publishing, 2008.
ISBN: 1933090847/ 978-1933090849
REVIEW by Cynthia Reeg
Genevieve, a shepherdess with a knack for “nonsense stories,” leads a herd of disgruntled but lovable “grey and dirty brown” sheep. When the rain persists for too long, Genevieve tickles one cloud after another until the sun shines through. It is then the sad, pale, bored rainbow comes into view. After a few of Genevieve’s silly stories, the rainbow sees the joy in the world all around and is no longer sad. Instead, it cries happy, colorful tears which drip onto the sheep huddled below—creating rainbow sheep.
Ms. Chatel has woven a truly colorful and unique story with RAINBOW SHEEP. Her original wool fiber art scenes capture the story’s warmth. This children’s tale with its rich language will beckon readers and listeners back again and again to revel in its soft, sweet words and magical visions.
RAINBOW SHEEP offers bonus pages which explain the art of needle felting with instructions on how to make your own rainbow sheep and felted soap. A glossary is included as well. This book seems like a perfect summertime (or anytime) read to delight and entertain young readers.
A story CONTEST is in the works right now, sponsored by Ms. Chatel. She is encouraging young writers to create their own colorful stories and submit them to her website. To find out more about the contest, click on the link above.