I AM SO HAPPY TODAY!
I get to REVEAL THE COVER of my third debut picture book of 2019!
FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK
I’m absolutely head over heels in love with the incredible woodcuts that illustrator Mirka Hokkanen created.
Just take a peek inside at the first spread:
Published by Pomegranate Kids, the book launches on March 15, 2019, but you can preorder it on Amazon or from Indiebound or if you want a signed copy, you can order it from my local indie, Toadstool Bookshop. I also plan to have bookplates that I will sign and send to people who buy a book from their own local bookstore or from Amazon.
The story has a very special place in my heart because it was inspired by the fly fishing trips I took with my husband when we lived in Colorado. The pristine mountain river habitats we frequented were home to many endangered species: kit fox, yellow mud turtle, peregrine falcon, and of course, river otter.
Note to parents and teachers: the back matter is fabulous! We’ve created a glossary that includes details about each of these animals…and the kids will LOVE the fun facts. Do you know which is the fastest animal on the planet? The peregrine falcon who tops 242 miles per hour as it dives to the ground to pick up prey. And as parents, we sometimes complain because our babies need frequent feedings. How about the yellow-billed cuckoos who feed their young THIRTY-ONE times a day!
A huge thank you to my critique buddies who saw this lyrical piece years ago when it was titled: Visitors to Deep Pool, an idea that was born during Tara Lazar’s Storystorm Challenge . I’m also extremely grateful to my agent, Essie White, who fell in love with this manuscript and had a vision to pair it with the woodcuts of one of her illustrators, Mirka Hokkanen – pure genius! And of course, I so appreciate the PomegranateKids team who are bringing this story to life in such a beautiful book which I know children will enjoy as they count the animals, listen to the music of the lyrical language. and discover how conservation efforts can reap great rewards.
I hope you all have a wonderful week. Thank you for letting me share my good news with you…and I hope you will spread the word about FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN!
My next picture book has just been announced in Publisher’s Weekly!
FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK started out as a PiBoIdMo idea in 2012. Thank you, Tara Lazar! The next year, I wrote it as a 12×12 draft. Thank you, Julie Hedlund! I revised it many many times. Thank you, critique buddies! And sent it for feedback and it got a ‘1’. Thank you, Rate Your Story. And this past year, the manuscript went out on submission. And my agent paired it with Mirka’s amazing illustrations because she just knew that Mirka’s art and my text were a match made in heaven. Thank you, Essie White!
I’m truly enjoying the collaboration of the entire team…editor, illustrator, and me, the author. I know that many times, authors and illustrators are kept apart…but Mirka and I have helped each other–we have each other’s back. Let me share what happened.
I had researched each animal before I wrote the book. I wanted animals local to an area in Colorado where I flyfished many times with my husband. And I chose animals that were endangered or threatened because I know that it’s important for young children to develop an awareness of our fragile environment and how each of us can make a difference.
But when Mirka began illustrating…as every good illustrator should…she did her own research. And messaged me one night…the Golden Cheeked Warbler doesn’t live in Colorado!!!!
Sure it does, I told her. It lives in Colorado Bend State Park!
So she sent me a link to Colorado Bend State Park…and, after reading more carefully, I discovered that Colorado Bend State Park is in…
…TEXAS! And the Golden Cheeked Warbler is ONLY found there. Oops!
We researched some more and picked another wonderful bird…the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. And I can’t thank Mirka enough for her careful attention to detail. That is why making a beautiful book is really a collaborative effort between author, illustrator, and editorial team.
Mirka has been amazing…sharing the illustrations with me–I love them all! And she agreed to let me share an illustration she made for Valentine’s Day that has a few of the animals that appear in our book…the otter, the turtle, and the fish…oh yes, and the butterfly.
The quote is by Gregory Brown…perfect for us to keep close to our hearts as we travel through this somewhat crazy, often tragic world where we are trying to spread hope and love with our writing.
SPEAKING ABOUT WRITING…are you ready for the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge? I hope so!
I wanted to give everyone a heads-up for the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge that is just around the corner. I want to make sure everyone has plenty of time.
March 2nd is the birthday of the incredible Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. For the last two years, I’ve hosted a little contest based on Bennet Cerf’s challenge to Seuss to write a children’s book using only 50 words. And the classic Green Eggs and Ham was born. It’s true that the story has over 700 words…but only 50 unique words.
In 2016, I thought it would be fun to try to write a story for kids with ONLY 50 words. With a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wondered if I could do it. And then I opened the challenge to everyone. Much to my surprise and amazement, there were 128 entries! And last year, there were 253 entries.
Please put on your thinking caps and get busy writing. On March 2nd, I’ll post the opening of the contest and you will have until March 6th at 11:59pm to post your story. Here are the guidelines:
#50 PRECIOUS WORDS WRITING CHALLENGE GUIDELINES
- Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count of the story is 50 or less.
- It can be prose, rhyme, free verse, silly or serious…whatever works for you.
- Title is not included in the word count.
- No illustration notes please.
- On March 2nd, I will put up the contest post and you will need to post your story in the comment section of that post. If you have your own blog and want to post your story there also, please do. And let us know your post link. I ask for the link so that people will visit each other and find new friends in the kid lit community. Please make sure you put your name in the post. If you have any trouble at all posting the story, please email me and I will be happy to do it for you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Deadline for posting the story in the comments is Tuesday, March 6, at 11:59pm.
- Winners will be announced in a special blog post on Sunday, March 11.
- Winners? Of course, there will be winners…and prizes, too!
I’m still putting together the prizes (hint,hint, hint…if anyone would like to donate a prize, please email or PM me. But here are a few so far:
- A critique from my beloved agent, Essie White (some of you may remember that the winner of the first year’s contest chose Essie’s critique as her prize…and she subsequently signed with Storm Literary Agency and THAT story, plus a sequel to it, will be published next year!
- Your choice of ONE of the following from author, mentor, and founder of Sub Six FB group, Alayne Kay Christian: Picture Book critique or Chapter book critique (first three chapters), or Complimentary Art of Arc course.
- Picture Book manuscript critique from author Lori Degman.
- Picture Book manuscript critique from author Melissa Stoller.
- Picture Book manuscript critique from author Amber Hendricks.
- Picture Book manuscript critique from author Katey Howes.
- Picture Book manuscript critique from author Julie Abery.
- Signed copy of OFFICER KATZ AND HOUNDINI from author Maria Gianferrari
- A piece of original signed art and a copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL plus a silver seal necklace from author/illustrator Patricia Keeler.
- Rest & Relaxation package with two picture books and a surprise from author Maria Marshall.
- A signed copy of CAT IN THE CITY from author/illustrator Jill Weber.
- $15 credit in her TeachersPayTeachers store from Barbara Leyne (GradeOnederful)
And there will be more!
So dear friends, many good and hopeful things going on amidst the sad happenings. Our prayers are with the families who have been impacted by this latest tragedy. Many ask what we can say to our children. I think what is most important is for us to reassure our children that we love them and that we will do everything in our power to keep them safe.
Please do stop by tomorrow for our Q&A Will Write for Cookies chat with author and circus guru Jackie Leigh Davis, a yummy cookie recipe, AND a giveaway!