Mira Reisberg: Will Write/Teach/Edit for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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MIRA REISBERG

Aspiring authors and illustrators often ask: what are the steps you need to take to climb the ladder of success in this industry. There is one thing the pros all agree upon: HONE YOUR CRAFT. And one of the ways to do that is to take classes. In 2014, I jumped in with both feet and signed up for five different picture book writing classes. Towards the end of the year, I realized that even though I was ‘only a writer’, it might be helpful to get the perspective of an illustrator. I thought this would help me become a better writer, especially with my pacing and page turns. So, in December of 2014, I signed up for Mira Reisberg’s Illustrating Children’s Picture Books, and was thrilled to connect with the mentor I had admired from afar. The class rocked. I did learn more about pacing and page turns…and even gathered my courage and posted a thumbnail storyboard at one of the interactive webinars that were part of the class. And now I have three pbs debuting in 2019 and two in 2020.  

 

Mira Reisberg has helped MANY authors and illustrators get published. She has worn just about every hat in the industry including award-winning illustrator, author, and literary agent. Mira holds a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s literature. She has taught children’s literature courses at Washington State University, Northern Illinois University, San Francisco City College Extension, and UC Berkeley Extension. Mira also works as an acquiring editor and art director at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s book imprint Spork. Receive free goodies from her at bit.ly/CBA-Gift  and learn about the Children’s Book Academy here http://bit.ly/CreateKidsBooks

Hello Mira…it is such a pleasure to have you here. I know everyone is anxious to get an inside peek at this publishing industry from an editor’s POV

Hi Vivian, thank you for having me here. It was such a pleasure having you in the course and I’m so delighted that we’ve stayed friends and that you’ve been so successful.

ME: And what luck for me, Mira, that I will get to hug you in person next year at the Australia/NZ SCBWI conference in Sydney! I was lucky enough to take your Illustrating Picture Books class back in 2014. The content is fabulous. But can you tell us a bit about how you work with students in the course? Is it different from the way you work in your position as an editorial art director?

 

 MIRA: As you know I love helping people in a very hands-on, love-connected way. When I was a university professor, I wasn’t allowed to be so heart-centric but having my own school, I am. In both my teaching and art directing and editing I give very specific suggestions and provide examples. A long time ago I had a publisher who would just say “that’s not quite it yet,” which would make me crazy because I had no idea what “it” was. So I like to give very specific suggestions that the person can take or leave.

 

Our interactive courses, such as our upcoming illustration course, are very comprehensive with daily lessons that include worksheets and handouts for working with ideas, and creating children’s books along with video demonstrations teaching drawing, painting, collage, stamp making, dummy making, etc. along with interviews with experts sharing their techniques and experiences. It’s all the technical and business aspects of making a book and getting published.

 

There’s way too much to describe but besides sharing over 30 years of experience and learning in the biz, my favorite parts are about working directly with students in the courses and the folks that I acquire for Spork. In the courses, I get to do this through a very interactive Facebook group, the weekly live critiques, and the optional additional one-hour critiques that I do via shared-screen Skype and Photoshop. I do it this way so I can show and tell and teach at the same time.

 

In all aspects of my life, I am a teacher. In just the past 8 months I have art directed eight picture books from last year’s illustration course students including two writers who took the course and whose stories I fell in love with. I’ve developed a technique that I think has been very effective in art directing. I look at the work at each stage and make video critiques where I can literally point at things that I think can be strengthened. Sometimes I’ll take something into Photoshop and demonstrate how to make something recede or make a character cuter or play with body language and include that in the video as well. Then we’ll talk via email and also via Skype. It’s a wonderfully collaborative process where I often bring the author in as well because once the art stuff is happening the text often needs to change because it can be shortened or because the art will show that something isn’t clear in the text or that could be improved. I don’t want the author to be prescriptive about what the illustrator can or should do, but rather to have it be a collaborative love fest and it usually is.

ME: The Children’s Book Academy is a household word in our kidlit community. Why did you start CBA?

MIRA: The Children’s Book Academy started as the Picture Book Academy after I’d been a university professor teaching Kid Lit survey courses to future teachers and Children’s Book Writing and Illustration courses to graduate students. I didn’t like institutional teaching with grading and rubrics, where everyone needed to be on the same page at the same time. I really wanted to teach in a much more unconventional and love-centric way where people could learn at their own pace and in their own way and really help each other. I wanted my students to learn through pleasure and their own personal desire to grow and blossom, so I started the Academy. Because of my Ph.D. and university work, I knew how to set up comprehensive sequential systems of teaching and learning using scaffolding techniques, but the rest of it I developed myself through hard work and vertical learning curves. I am so grateful that it has paid off for our students.

 

ME: I know you’ve had a long and successful career as a mentor and teacher for kidlit. How have your own experiences as an author and illustrator, as well as an art director and editor and agent, helped you in your position as an instructor?

 

MIRA: I am very fortunate to have been in the business for over 30 years and to discover fairly early on my life’s work so that I could help others. I’m able to bring all of these experiences together to provide really rich experiences teaching both technique and business skills for my students to help them create fantastic books, many of which get published. I am so thrilled that my students have published over 220 books that I know of, and won many, many awards. It makes me feel like a proud mama.

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As a teacher, I continue helping my students long after the course ends as you can see in this video with just some of our now published students that we did a year ago – https://youtu.be/t3QRa3vovvI  With both the students that I hire to write and illustrate books for Spork, plus other now published former students, I’m doing all sorts of marketing stuff to help them succeed. It’s obvious, I do a little too much, but I truly love this work. I’m hoping to do less in the future but not sure how. I’ve also contracted two of my own books that I’ve written and am illustrating, which I’ll be sharing in the illustration course as well.

ME: What advice would you give aspiring authors and illustrators who are just starting their journey?

MIRA: There are three things I’d advise them to do. One, take courses like the Children’s Book Academy. The second is is to play, and experiment. If you take a playful approach rather than a work approach you’re going to be open to revising and experimenting, doing things over and over until you get your work where you want it to be. If you play and experiment, you’ll enjoy doing it more, you’ll get hooked on the endorphins and do it a lot, and this too will grow your skills. The third thing is to join a critique group so other eyes can see your work. We set these up for you in our interactive courses but you can also join a critique group through SCBWI.org, which is another fabulous resource for you.

ME: Oh WOW! This has been amazing, Mira! Lots of great insider info about the editing process and how your CBA Illustrating Chidren’s Picture Books class works. And I love your advice to play and experiment…I think sometimes we get so serious about our writing, we forget it needs to be fun!

MIRA: Vivian, thank you so much for interviewing me. I really got into this and it made me think about what I do and why. One of the things that came up for me is that when I die, I’ll go knowing that I’ve done a lot of good in the world, and that’s a wonderful thing.

ME: Oh my goodness…it’s always good to reflect on what we have accomplished as well as what we want to do as we move forward, Mira. But I’m planning on continuing our friendship for a good long time…so you’ll have decades more time to do more good things. 

And one good thing that appears at the end of our Write for Cookies post is always a recipe for a sweet treat. Since Mira doesn’t eat foods with gluten or with sugar, I’m sharing a link to a fabulous website with not one, not two, but FORTY Gluten-Free Sugar Free cookie recipes.

Paleo-Cookies-Horiz-728x381Photo courtesy: https://wholenewmom.com/recipes/paleo-cookies-sugar-free-cookies/

And dear friends, please let me know if you try any of them…I want to try ALL of them!

Thank you all for spending your precious time here – and I know we are all thanking Mira for stopping by. I hope this post gave you an inside peek at some of what goes on when a book is acquired by an editor. If  you are in search of online classes to help you hone your craft, I know Mira would be delighted to have you stop by CBA.  She often gives free webinars where she teams up with other editors to offer tips and techniques on writing picture books…and guess what? There is one coming soon:

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PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway over at Sarah Hetu-Radney’s blog

Hello dear friends!

I’m so excited to invite you over to Sarah Hetu-Radney’s new website. She’s one of my in person SCBWI buddies and she kindly asked if I’d be willing to do a three-part interview for her new blog, EYE ON WRITING.

You’ll find out a couple of interesting facts about me from when I was a little girl.

PLUS, I’m giving away a Picture Book Manuscript Critique to one lucky winner who leaves a comment on Sarah’s blogpost: https://sarahheturadny.com/meet-vivian-kirkfield-part-i-friendship-justice-and-determination/

Please share on social media, because I’m sure that everyone wants to find out what happened on that picnic in the park with my best friend, Jane, when I was seven years-old. And it will be nice for Sarah to get to meet all of you!

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I’m sure there will be no doubt as to which one is me and which one is Jane.

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. I just finished the revisions for the big HMH compilation book – more news ahead as soon as they sign the illustrator. And I’ll soon be sharing information about my traveling plans for 2019…all I’ll say right now is that I’ll be traveling through FOUR continents! And hope to be hugging lots of kidlit friends in person!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: 100 BUGS: A COUNTING BOOK Plus Giveaway

Hello dear friends! Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday to you all!

Summer is here in New England with hot temps, iced tea, and…

LOTS OF BUGS!

And today’s book is the perfect one for a very buggy day. 

Thanks to the generosity of debut picture book author, Kate Narita, if you leave a comment on this post, you will be entered into the giveaway of a copy of 100 BUGS: A COUNTING BOOK. And, if you don’t win the copy, please consider buying one, asking your library to add one to their collection, telling a friend about it, and leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any of the book review sites. This is the best gift you can give to authors who write the books you love to read!

100 Bugs a counting book

100 BUGS: A COUNTING BOOK

Written by Kate Narita

Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (June 2018)

Ages: 5-7

Themes: Counting to 100, bugs

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

How many bugs can you count? From walking sticks to spittlebugs, dragonflies to katydids, discovering 10 bugs at a time, you just might see 100 bugs!

Little explorers will learn 10 different ways to count to 10, using 10 different kinds of bugs, and get all the way to 100 by the end of their adventure. With Suzanne Kaufman’s bright, whimsical illustrations and Kate Narita’s clever rhyming text, 100 Bugs! is part look-and-find, part learning experience, and all kinds of fun.

Why I like this book:

  • Bugs, bugs, and more bugs – a topic most kids LOVE to learn about
  • Fabulous illustrations
  • Clever rhymes and super interactivity to engage the kiddos

RELATED ACTIVITIES

  • First off…take a walk and find bugs! 
  • Make a list or chart of all the bugs – place them in different categories like flying, crawling, creeping.
  • Create one of these crafts

16-Creative-Ways-to-Make-Bug-Crafts-with-Kids_A-Little-Pinch-of-Perfect-6-copyPhoto courtesy: https://alittlepinchofperfect.com/creative-bug-crafts-with-kids/

Visit: https://alittlepinchofperfect.com/creative-bug-crafts-with-kids/  for detailed instructions on any of these fun crafts.

Thank you for spending your precious time here…please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the book giveaway. And have a safe and happy weekend!

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Edmund Pickle Chin and A Few Words To Honor Clara Bowman-Jahn


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Some of you in the kid lit community may have heard the sad news of the passing of Clara Bowman-Jahn. Clara was one of the first people who welcomed me into this picture book writing world. She was a bright light of kindness and was always looking for ways to help others.

Since today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, I am reblogging a portion of a post I did back in 2014 when her second picture book launched.

 

Edmund Pickle Chin – A Donkey Rescue Story

Written by Clara Bowman-Jahn and Susan April Elwood

Illustrated by Lynne Bendoly

Publisher: eTreasures Publishing (April 2014)

Ages: 4 and up

Themes:Animal rescue, animal abuse

Synopsis: From eTreasures

Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story is based on a true story. Edmund, the main character, is an abused donkey who is the first of many animals to call Evermay Farm, a small rescue in central Georgia, home. Susan, Edmund’s care giver in the story, not only gives the shy donkey the time and patience he needs but gives him a new name every day of the week. The title takes on one of those nicknames she so lovingly calls him. As Susan starts to take in new critters, Edmund finds himself changing. As his name grows, so does his trust and acceptance. Edmund soon learns that he is not only needed but wanted. This confused, frightened donkey’s life changes as he becomes a hero, a babysitter, and a companion to the other residents at Evermay Farm.”

 

Why I like this book:

  • Beautiful illustrations
  • Wonderful introduction for young children to the need to care for and be kind to animals
  • Helps children understand that everyone feels strange in a new place…but we get more comfortable as time passes
  • Based on a true story
  • When you can make a non-fiction book appealing to children, you have a winner!

How a parent can use this book:

  • Talk about how people need to be responsible pet owners – what do animals need?
  • How do different animals help us? How should work animals be treated?
  • Visit a local animal shelter
  • Older children can take part in a fundraiser for a local animal shelter

 

Related Activities:

paper-plate-donkey

PAPER PLATE DONKEY

If you visit my blog often, you’ll know that I love to use paper plates as the base material in crafts for young children.

You will need: 1 paper plate, construction paper, scissors, glue, markers or crayons.

  1. Color the plate gray or brown (depending on the crayon colors available or if desired, your child can paint it).
  2. Cut out the eyes, nose, hair, teeth and ears from construction paper and glue in place.
  3. Use the paper plate as a mask or puppet to role play parts of the story.

For more donkey crafts go here: http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/donkeys.html

 

Clara Bowman-Jahn is one of the talented authors of Edmund Pickle Chin.

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Clara Bowman-Jahn worked as a registered nurse for thirty two years finally trading that job for her true love, writing. Clara’s short stories have been published in three anthologies, Campaigner Challenges 2011The ‘I’ Word and Charms Vol. 2. She is also the author of Annie’s Special Day, a children’s picture book. Her second picture book is a true story, Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story.

When Clara is not writing, she volunteers by teaching ESOL to adult students. She also likes Pilates, blogging, reading books and taking long walks with her husband. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic, Pennwriters, Bethesda Writer’s Center and Round Hill Writer’s Group. She lives in rural Loudoun County, Virginia with her brilliant husband, and two cats. She is the proud mother of two wonderful grown sons and a grandmother to a delightful grandson.

 

Susan April Elwood is the other talented author of Edmund Pickle Chin.

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Susan April Elwood has worked with children for over twenty years in Northern Virginia as a preschool teacher, kindergarten assistant, and a library assistant. With her passion for animals it made perfect sense to combine the two and write an animal story for children, teaming up with author Clara Bowman-Jahn.

Susan and her husband Tom moved from Northern Virginia in 2007 to central Georgia where they founded Evermay Farm, a non-profit rescue for farm animals. This is the setting for the book titled, Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story. The story is based on Edmund, a donkey, the first of many animals to call Evermay Farm home. Susan and her husband Tom have two treasured sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law and a precious grandson. In her free time, Susan enjoys photographing animals and antiquing.

 

To read more awesome picture book reviews, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Thank you, dear friends, for spending your precious time here. I hope you will stop by tomorrow as I continue remembering Clara on Will Write for Cookies with a post she did for me several years ago on GOALS.

 

 

PICTURE BOOK COVER REVEAL: NINITA’S BIG WORLD

WOW…what an honor! I get to reveal the cover of Sarah Glenn Marsh’s latest picture book!!

 

ninita_cover

 

I first fell in love with the subtitle…I mean, how can you not be head over heels about NINITA’S BIG WORLD: THE TRUE STORY OF A DEAF PYGMY MARMOSET? And then I saw the cover…Ninita is super cute, right? The book pubs from Clarion in 2019, and here’s a short blurb to get you thinking about it:

 

Meet Ninita! She’s a pygmy marmoset—the smallest type of monkey. As a baby, she was the size of a human thumb. Full grown, she fits easily in the palm of a person’s hand.            

Ninita is deaf, but that doesn’t stop her from exploring the world. She loves to climb, taste new foods, and follow interesting smells to exciting adventures. With her sharp eyes, Ninita is always spotting things that her pygmy marmoset friend Mr. Big and the other animals miss—sometimes creatures even smaller than she is!

Pygmy marmosets are native to the Amazon rainforest, but Ninita and her friends live at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Florida, where they are helping to save animals from extinction. Published in partnership with the RSCF, this charming story introduces readers to biodiversity and wildlife conservation—and to a tiny, adorable little monkey who is making an important difference in the world.

What a wonderful idea for a story…and based on a true character…that makes it even better! And here is a little bit about the author.

Sarah Glenn Marsh is an author of young adult novels including Reign of the Fallen and Fear the Drowning Deep, as well as children’s picture books like Selfie Sebastian and A Campfire Tail. An avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life, she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their tiny zoo of four rescued greyhounds, three birds, and many fish.

 

When she’s not writing, she’s often painting, or engaged in nerdy pursuits from video games to tabletop adventures. You can visit her online at http://www.sarahglennmarsh.com, and follow her on Twitter @SG.

Earlier this year, I featured Selfie Sebastian and A Campfire Tail on Perfect Picture Book Friday and I gave away a copy of each. Maybe next year we’ll be able to turn the spotlight on NINITA’S BIG WORLD: THE TRUE STORY OF A DEAF PYGMY MARMOSET and do a giveaway.

There’s a big beautiful week coming up, dear friends. Happy 4th of July…wherever you are going and whatever you are doing, I wish you joy, peace, and safe travels.