NOW AVAILABLE: HOW BIG IS A HEART?

I’m delighted to announce that my first picture book, HOW BIG IS A HEART?, is now available. The book centers on Gavin, a young boy who is facing the imminent arrival of a baby brother–all while believing that he’s fallen out of favor in his family in the midst of the new-baby bustle. An interaction with a grandmother with a sweet tooth (and slightly better insight than the rest of Gavin’s relatives) begins to convince him otherwise.

HOW BIG IS A HEART? features bright watercolor hearts and pages. But the goal with these illustrations is to highlight the story, not overshadow it. Also, the text of HOW BIG IS A HEART? is perfect for slightly older readers as well–those familiar with my MG THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY will find a somewhat similar voice or lyrical style in these pages.

The book is a perfect fit for those children who are also going to become big siblings (it’s even a nice gift to bring to a shower when older siblings–full, step, or half–are involved). But it’s also a sweet tale of love within a family, which makes it a good choice for any young reader. The book can prompt those readers to consider how they want to fill their own hearts.

HOW BIG IS A HEART? is available on Amazon. The paperback features a glossy cover (for slightly better durability), and the e-book is discounted to $1.99 (or is a free read for those in KU):

HeartCover2Gavin doesn’t want a little brother.

His mother will have to toss Gavin out of her heart to make room for a new baby.

Yes, Gavin’s become a regular piece of junk you get rid of at a garage sale—out with the old to make way for the new.

Or is he?

How big is his mother’s heart, exactly?

Only Memaw really knows…

 

TODAY, MY … WILL BE A !

You’ve decided to do it–you’re taking that daunting first step! You’ve decided to tackle that elusive goal, the thing you’ve been putting off for another day. You’re going to write your novel, go back to school, brave open mic night, train for a marathon, learn to speak a second language. Whatever it is, you’ve officially taken the first step–and now you need something to celebrate turning your “someday” (…) into “right now” (!)

That’s why I put together these products in my Cafe Press storeNothing feels better than finally taking a first step. First steps need to be recognized–they’re the most important steps you’ll ever take!

FORTHCOMING PICTURE BOOK: HOW BIG IS A HEART?

I’m delighted to announce that my first picture book for young readers is forthcoming; this book has been with me for years, and I’m delighted to finally be sending it out into the world:

HeartCover2

Gavin doesn’t want a little brother.

His mother will have to toss Gavin out of her heart to make room for a new baby.

Yes, Gavin’s become a regular piece of junk you get rid of at a garage sale—out with the old to make way for the new.

Or is he?

How big is his mother’s heart, exactly?

Only Memaw really knows…

How Big Is a Heart? will make a great gift book for any child in a growing family, and will be available in both e-book and print forms.

Sign up for my Picture Book Newsletter to receive the announcement of the official release date, discounts, and giveaways.

POWERING THROUGH FRUSTRATION

51jn4uqtjkl-_sx412_bo1204203200_I’ve been seeing this topic show up repeatedly–in conversations on Facebook as well as on Reddit during my recent Ask Me Anything session: How do you deal with frustration and the feeling that what you’re writing is garbage?

I’m a big advocate of (for lack of a more sophisticated term) “fun days.” These aren’t days off from writing; instead, they’re days in which you push aside your current WIP to write something only for you. Could be anything–a poem, short story, anecdote, picture book text. But it’s short, and it’s never intended to see the light of day, and its sole purpose is entertaining you.

This technique is basically a spin on Dr. Seuss’s “Midnight Paintings”–works he created with the intention of never showing them in his lifetime. Because they wouldn’t be critiqued, he was never guilty of self-censoring, and he could let his imagination run wild.

I find “fun days” can do wonders for your outlook. It literally does bring the fun back to writing. It reminds you of why you ever thought you could make it as a professional writer.

These “fun days” can also accidentally help inform your own WIP (the one that’s currently giving you fits). This is also true of Seuss’s Midnight Paintings; now that Seuss’s late-night works are available to the public, it’s easy to recognize how they inspired or contributed to the Seuss books we’re all familiar with.

If you’d like a little more inspiration for your own “fun days” or “midnight works,” try to snag a copy of THE CAT BEHIND THE HAT (the title appears to be out of print, but I did manage to grab an affordable copy on eBay).

WHEN YOU SEE YOUR BOOK ON TV

Or, at least, Youtube…

I think all writers have been there: you’ve got this fantastic idea for a novel, when suddenly, you glance up from your laptop in time to watch a trailer from a movie that’s describing your current WIP to a T. Or, you take a break from your project to hit the library, only to pull an already-published work from the shelf that tackles the same subject you were hoping to explore (proving, perhaps, there are no original ideas).

I recently saw one of my own ideas on TV…only this time, it was a little different…

My MG ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE features, in part, a made-up sport: Sockball. It’s a bit of a twist on dodgeball, and the most important rule indicates that no one’s allowed to wear shoes of any kind. Alexander, the MC, is in charge of getting his school’s team together. Prevent them from falling, as they always seem to, into an unorganized heap on the gym floor. (Try as they might, they just can’t seem to figure out how to stay upright in their socks!)

Enter Lexie Vaught, a local basketball player who lost her shoe during a game last month. The clip of what happened post-shoe went viral, as even the clip below says, for it’s “bloopery” qualities, but I could hardly believe it…What I’d envisioned when my fictional team played a fictional sport was actually happening in real-life!

Maybe that’s stranger than fiction…

THREE REASONS TO PLACE YOUR BOOK IN A FICTIONAL SETTING

I’ve published books with both real settings (New York / Queens; Peculiar, Missouri; Fair Grove, Missouri; my hometown of Springfield, Missouri, Lake of the Woods, Minnesota) and fictional cities (“Willow Springs” Missouri). Even in my real settings, though, I take plenty of liberties—especially in my YA, FERAL, in which I completely fictionalized the town of Peculiar, Missouri. (I just had to use that name!)

While many authors gravitate toward setting their books in regions or cities that they’re familiar with, I’ve discovered some definite advantages to placing my work in fictional cities:

  1. You don’t get mired in research. As I said, many authors prefer to write about locations they’re already familiar with. But if it’s a new-to-you location, or if you’re writing about a different time period, you can get lost in learning the details—which streets intersected, which businesses were present, names of schools, etc. It can take some serious time away from actually getting your writing on the page.
  1. Your town becomes a character. If you aren’t relying on what already is, you have to craft your town or location just as you would a main character. This can help add a new, often metaphorical dimension to your novel as well.
  1. Your reader isn’t pulled out of the story. If you pick a real location, you’re bound to have readers who live in (or are well-versed with) the area where your book takes place. Bloggers and reviewers always mention the spots in which my own fictional world deviates from the real world when I pick actual cities for my novels. But if your location is fictional, your readers will be immersed in the story only, and won’t be comparing your own setting to the city they know.