Sarah and I getting ready to present about apps at the Bologna Children's Book Fair

Sarah and I getting ready to present about apps at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

If you have been following my blog for any period of time, you know I am passionate about all of the following:

  • Writing stories for children
  • Sharing stories with children
  • Using ALL avenues of publishing great books for children (including apps, ebooks, transmedia, etc.)
  • Italy (especially Florence!)
  • Historical fiction (especially books written by Mary Hoffman)
  • Entrepreneurial authors paving their own paths to success
  • Supporting fellow authors

For all of these reasons, it gives me great pleasure to share an outstanding project from my friend Sarah Towle that will not only bring fabulous historical tales to children in multiple formats, but will also create brand new opportunities for authors writing narrative historical nonfiction and historical fiction. Talk about a win-win!

Introducing … Time Traveler Tours & Tales (TTT&T) – a brand new way of imagining and delivering stories to children that will bring history to life for them.

I first met Sarah at the Bologna Book Fair in 2011, when she was launching the first-ever StoryApp Tour and Tale – the critically acclaimed Beware Madame la Guillotine. I was so impressed with what she was doing, I glommed onto her continued to follow her progress and learn from her as I went on to publish my own two storybook apps. Along the way, we became great friends.

TTT&T aims to be the first publishing imprint of its kind–publishing their story-based tours and tales of history in all available formats.

  • Mobile StoryApp Tours narrated by the very people who walked the streets in that place in that time of history.
  • Interactive ebooks that bring the historical period to life.
  • Print and audio versions of each tale.
  • Free curriculum guides for each tour and tale to bring history to life inside the classroom.
Authors Mary Hoffman and Sarah Towle cooking up plans for TTT&T at Writer's Renaissance 2014

Authors Mary Hoffman and Sarah Towle cooking up plans for TTT&T at Writer’s Renaissance 2014

For their official debut, TTT&T have chosen to bring to life one of the world’s greatest artistic and genius giants – Michelangelo and his David. In the Footsteps of Giants is a story woven by one of the best historical fiction writers for children of our time, Mary Hoffman. In it, we get to walk the streets of Renaissance Florence alongside the fictional model for the statue of David (P.S. We all know what that guy looks like – wouldn’t you like to meet him??).

I know first-hand that nobody knows more about Michelangelo than Mary Hoffman. She was on faculty for both of my Writer’s Renaissance retreats, and I’ve had the amazing good fortune of standing before the David in her company. Life will never be the same for me, and now you can have the same treat by reading her book.

Many of you also know I ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of one of my picture books. So I do have a special place in my heart for the power of crowdfunding. It’s the layperson’s way to support the arts and opportunities they want to see in the world. Here is your chance to do the same.

  • If you are a reader, you will enjoy a gripping story of Renaissance Florence with In the Footsteps of Giants and a whole series of historical stories that bring the locations and the events of that time period to life right before your eyes (and feet).
  • If you are a writer, TTT&T will provide opportunities for you to publish your own historical adventures for children.
  • If you are a teacher, you will have brand new ways to bring history alive for your students, using the stories themselves and the comprehensive curriculum guides.

I urge you to consider supporting TTT&T’s campaign to become one of the most exciting publishing imprints of our time. The number of backers is just as important as the total amount raised, so TRULY, no amount donated is too small. Rewards begin at $1.

If you are unable to donate, you can still help by sharing the project in your social media circles. In fact, here’s an easy tweet you can use.

New publisher plans to #turnhistoryon for kids. #writers, #teachers, check it out here: http://kck.st/1PyGzKO #kidlit (Click to Tweet this)

Me being one to put my money where my mouth is, I not only backed this project, I’m also offering a reward for others to do. Look for one of the CREATIVE COLLABORATOR rewards and you’ll see a one-hour strategy session with me on any aspect of your career as a writer, plus the first three Modules of my course, How to Make Money as a Writer. There’s only one of those, though, so if you want it, snag it soon.

There are fabulous rewards at all levels, however. Check out their campaign page to see for yourself.

As writers in the 21st Century, we have to create opportunities for ourselves whenever and however we can. What I love about what Sarah is doing with TTT&T is that she’s not only creating opportunity for herself, but extending that to children’s authors across the globe. I don’t know about you, but that turns me on. 🙂

Footsteps of Giants

Stone Giant Illustration copyright © 2014 by John Shelley Used with permission by Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc. 85 Main Street Watertown, MA 02472 (617) 926-0329 www.charlesbridge.com All rights reserved.

Categories: Apps, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Children's Books, Creativity, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Florence, Friendship, Italy, Publishing, Storybook Apps, Travel, Writer's Renaissance · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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BFDA_Awards_Seals_GOLD_highresI am honored, humbled, and quite frankly gobsmacked to announce that A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS has been awarded a Gold Benjamin Franklin Digital Award by the Independent Book Publishers Association.

In the comments sent to my (awesome!) publisher Little Bahalia, one judge wrote:

“This is an excellent enhanced e-book for kids that introduces the fun plural nouns of various animal groupings—a pride of lions, a bloat of hippopotami, an ostentation of peacocks, etc. Super fun.” [Five stars!]

And even more heartwarming for a writer, and of rhyme in particular, the writing quality component of the award achieved FIVE STARS, and one judge had this to say:

“The book has a nice rhyme structure–not too overbearing, nicely constructed, not forced.” [Five stars!]

On their website, the IBPA acknowledges that the definition of “book” continues to evolve, and they established the Digital awards category to “honor and encourage the field’s innovators.” 

TROOP has received critical acclaim in reviews, most notably being named by the Guardian last year as a Top 50 App for Kids, but this is its first award, and it is major. So I am in the mood to celebrate with a SWEEPSTAKES featuring amazing prizes! I hope you’ll join in the fun. Click here to go there now.

Thank you for celebrating with us!

Categories: A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Giveaway, Picture Books, Publishing, Rhyming, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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anti-resolutionTwo years ago I wrote a blog post that grabbed the attention and touched the heart of none other than Katie Davis, who is now one of my very best friends. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. Katie was so inspired by that post, she created her own special tool to capture her accomplishments throughout the year and evaluate them at the end. She has graciously offered to share this workbook with you – click here for more info.

Here is an excerpt from the original post:

It is so tempting to start listing all the things one wants to accomplish at the start of a New Year, but in my experience, the process (and thus the result) is flawed.

I believe the reason resolutions often don’t work is because they start from a place of lack, of negativity, of failure.  We think about all the things we weren’t happy with in the previous year and set out to “fix” them in the new one…  Lose weight = I weigh too much…  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Write more often = I don’t write enough

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, and achieving them is even better.  However, the goals need to be set on a strong foundation.  So I figured, why not start with what I did accomplish this year and set goals from there.  Let’s first celebrate success and then determine how to carry that forward into the New Year, rather than berating ourselves for what did not get done..

I didn’t write a similar post in 2013, but I should have. It is CRITICAL to reflect on what you DID accomplish in the previous year. How else can you build from the base you already have? If you don’t take the time to tally up and celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, your resolutions will crumble. You’ll be starting from scratch in every category, and starting from scratch feels scary.

Here is what GOALS (vs. resolutions) look like when crafted this way. Lose weight = What did I do last year to improve my health, and what can I do to continue that progress? Make more money = How much money did I make last year, from which sources, and how can I increase output from those sources and add new ones? Write more often = What did I write this year and how am I going to use that writing in the new year while also writing new stories/articles/books, etc.?

Here’s an example from my own year. All year long, in my head, I lamented how little writing I got done. So much so that by the end of the year I was sure I’d done almost nothing. Yesterday, when I tallied it all up, I was pleasantly to find I’d written far more than I thought I had. I had written full drafts that I’d completely forgotten about. Drafts that I can continue revising and working with this year.

I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself. So let’s get started.

Here is a list of my major professional accomplishments of 2013. 

In addition to this list, I ran the 12 x 12 challenge all year, wrote new drafts and revised existing ones, and continued to contribute to Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast. Whew! I’ll be sure to come back to this whenever I feel discouraged about how much I “don’t get done.” 🙂

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list!

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Florence, Goals, Holidays, How I Got My Agent, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Travel, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Works in Progress, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Tim_Headshot_Jan2013I am positively giddy about introducing today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author. The timing could not be more fortuitous either, as Tim McCanna’s outstanding music is featured in my storybook app A SHIVER OF SHARKS, which was just released YESTERDAY! 

Tim tells the wonderful tale of how we came to meet and collaborate on both SHIVER and A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS, but I have to add my own two cents about how phenomenal its been to work with Tim every step of the way. Tim is exceptionally talented in so many ways, and if he has a fault at all it’s his modesty. Many of you who have been following my blog and publication path are familiar with Tim’s work on the apps, but just WAIT until you read his own app, TEENY TINY TRUCKS, releasing from Little Bahalia later this summer. You are in for such a treat! In the meantime, I’ll try to stop gushing and let Tim speak for himself. Please welcome Tim!!

HOW 12X12 PAVED MY PATH TO PUBLICATION

Okay, so technically, I am still a pre-published writer, but in a few months that will all change. Before I get to that, let’s go back in time to early December 2011. I had just finished Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month. Tara mentioned in a final email that some mystery woman named Julie Hedlund was inviting anyone to join her in this 12×12 challenge thingy. For me, it was an instant no-brainer. I need goals and deadlines. Badly. 12×12 hit the spot.

In early 2012, Julie announced that she was being interviewed on something called Brain Burps About Books. Huh? Whah? At the time I was podcast illiterate. But curiosity got the best of me, and I’m so glad it did. After listening to Julie’s Brain Burps episode, I devoured earlier podcasts hosted by author/illustrator Katie Davis. It’s a treasure trove of industry insights—all for free. I was so inspired by Katie’s contribution to the kidlit community, that I was stricken with song. A bouncy little Brain Burps jingle popped out of my head, so I recorded it and sent it as a 100th episode gift to Katie. It’s been her show-opening theme song ever since!

That experience was an awakening for me. Beyond writing and submitting over and over for the sake of getting published, I had finally found a personal way to contribute to the community. It was a discovery that came through a chain reaction of active participation. Without any ulterior motive, I wrote a song to say thanks and make someone smile. (By the way, that feels really good.) But I wasn’t done. There were more links to add to the chain.

I ended up writing a 6-month celebration song for 12×12 as well as a jingle for the Picture Book Academy. Then, in September I got an email with the best subject line ever: “Want to be in my app?” Julie loved the Brain Burps song and offered me the opportunity to write a sing-a-long version of the text for her story app, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys. And now it’s out there! Available to anyone in the world with an iPad! My son says I’m famous.

Around the same time, Julie released her App Proposal Template, which was based on the proposal that had landed her deal with Little Bahalia Publishing. I had a shelved app concept of my own that was going nowhere, so I bought the template and developed a much stronger app proposal for my story. After I wrapped up my work on Troop, I sent my proposal to Stacey at Little Bahalia. Within a week, I got a phone call! And so, Teeny Tiny Trucks is due out this summer. It’s being illustrated as we speak!

Now, did having a brief working experience with Little Bahalia help my chances of getting a contract? Maybe. I don’t know. I hope so. That’s kinda the point! My first publishing deal didn’t come from an anonymous, unsolicited slush pile submission. (Though I always daydreamed it happening that way.) It came through participating in writing challenges. It came through contributing to other people’s work. It came through building relationships and helping others. Katie Davis calls it reciprocity. Whatever you want to call it, the fact is, we all have our own paths to publication—if that’s your goal. After four years, I’m grateful for the path I finally found, and for the friends I’ve made along the way.

Tim McCanna writes books, music, and apps for children. He lives in Mountain View, CA with his wife Trudi and their two grade schoolers, Nate and Sophie. Learn more about Tim and watch his kidlit videos at www.timmccanna.com.

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Authors, Brain Burps About Books, Creativity, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Friendship, Guest Blogging, Music, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Erzsi Deak of Hen&Ink will be accepting picture book submissions from 12 x 12 members in June. This is a special opportunity because “The Coop” as it is lovingly called, is not open to unsolicited submissions!

Erzsi Deak 1So. What to say about Erzsi Deak, who is my own agent, albeit only for a short time (read: we haven’t gone out on submission with anything yet).

Here are a few things. She is whip-smart and forward-thinking. As a “boundary-pusher” (can I find more phrases to hyphenate?) in publishing, part of the reason I knew we’d be a good fit is because she doesn’t shy away from new challenges or the opportunity to chart new ground. She does not see herself as just a seller of manuscripts but as an advocate for her clients’ careers. Another thing I appreciate about her is that she’s not a “client-coddler” (there’s another one, AND I think I made that one up). Meaning — she will stretch you to do your best work and beyond. Ask a straight question and you’ll get a straight answer. I’ve already found that quality of hers immensely helpful in thinking about and planning my writing projects.

Last, but certainly not least, she LOVES picture books. But she is, to put it in her own words, a “hard ass” about them. 

In short, I’m proud to be one of the chicks in the coop and hope some of my 12 x 12 brethren will join me there. 🙂

I asked Erzsi what she looks for in a picture book manuscript, and here is her response.
PICTURE BOOKS: LESS IS MORE AND S IS FOR STORY! 
What I’m looking for in a picture book manuscript is a shorter (often less than 500 words; definitely less than 1000 words) character-driven story with a beginning, middle, and an unexpected inevitable ending that rides both the inner / emotional and outer / action threads and speaks to the universal needs of kids everywhere without being banal or trite or derivative. A text that leaves plenty of room for illustrations and that will stand the test of many readings. Verbs and language that dance, shout and sigh across the page and through the story. A character or characters we care about and want to hang out with. Again and again. I’m not looking for pure poetry, rhyme, nor anything didactic. I love quiet stories and laugh-out-loud stories. I’m not the right reader for gross-out books just for the sake of being gross. If you can include wordplay, terrific, but not where the story gets lost.
To sum up: Write a terrific original story with an unexpected inevitable ending in fresh language that leaves room for an illustrator — and multiple re-reads. And have fun!
Easy, right?? Just KIDDING!

A little bit about Erzsi Deak, founder of Hen&ink, from the Hen&ink website

“Hen&ink is a literary studio with a twist. We aim to work in the traditional publishing arena, but also to encourage and develop work across cultural borders, genres, and media.

Hen&ink founder, Erzsi Deàk, brings her 25+ years experience on the international stage, connecting individuals and companies with those around the globe who can make things happen – no matter where you find yourself.

With her growing list of prize-winning clients and new voices from around the world, Erzsi Deàk meets often with publishers in the US and UK and aggressively markets domestic and foreign rights, attending the Bologna, London and Frankfurt rights fairs. 

Erzsi’s book, PERIOD PIECES: STORIES FOR GIRLS, was a Bank Street pick and her articles on the world of children’s publishing regularly appear in CHILDREN’S WRITERS & ILLUSTRATORS’ MARKET. Based in France, Erzsi ran the international arm of the SCBWI for nearly ten years, developing and mentoring writers, illustrators and publishing programs in 28 countries. She founded and organized the SCBWI Bologna Conference and was awarded the SCBWI Member of the Year in 1999 and 2008. 

But mostly, Erzsi is on the forefront of the international publishing scene, doing what she does best, connecting people across borders and genres.”

Full 12 x 12 submission guidelines and requirements for Erzsi will be posted in the Submission Station section of the 12 x 12 Membership Forum, accessible to Little GOLDen Book members by 2:00 p.m. EST on May 31st. In the meantime, here are links with more information about Erzsi.
Good Luck!
Hen & Ink website and blog: http://www.henandink.com
Erzsi’s website and blog: http://www.erzsideak.com/
Erzsi Deak’s profile on LinkedIn
Erzsi Deak on Twitter
Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Books, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Storybook Apps · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Child Reading Troop

Another “real life” child reading TROOP

Another week. Another celebration.

Quotes on Gratitude

“If you have lived, take thankfully the past.” — John Dryden

“Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for.” — Barry Neil Kaufman

“One regret dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough.” — Hafiz of Persia

Gratitude list for the week ending March 2

  1. Well, there’s that “signing with an agent after four long, long years of trying” thing. Erzsi and I have had two wonderful meetings so far this week and I am bursting with excitement over all the possibilities. I don’t think I’ve ever been so motivated to get back to focusing on my writing!
  2. Speaking of writing, it was a wonderful feeling to work on app #2 in the TROOP series.
  3. 12 x 12 registration closed for the year with more than 475 members!
  4. Had great friends visit on the tail end of their skiing vacation. Our kids got along fabulously which gave us lots of time to catch up, drink some wine and eat lasagna!
  5. Had what was by far the best parent-teacher conference for Jay so far!
  6. PadGadget gave TROOP a review that had my convinced the review’s author (Emily) had been inside my head during the writing process. LOVED it!
  7. My dog has plenty of faults, but he is so gentle and loving with children. I appreciated this quality in him more than ever when we had two children visiting who at first were deathly afraid, but were giving him hugs at the end.Whats-a-Book-App-27-Writers-Cover-with-TBB-logo-Final
  8. I am honored to be one of 27 authors featured in Karen Robertson’s new book, What is a Book App and Could You Create One? (my mug shot is on the bottom left corner) Karen is so generous of her time and talent when it comes to promoting other authors’ work, and my son ADORES the Treasure Kai apps!
  9. Gorgeous bookmarks, postcards and business cards for TROOP arrived.
  10. Good snuggle time with Jay while Em was at a sleepover.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, Dogs, ebooks, Entertaining, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Publishing, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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It's Here! It's Here!

It’s Here! It’s Here!

You know, I had a whole long list of things I was grateful for this week, not the least of which was getting to see Katie Davis this week, but I’m so wound up right now I can’t see straight much less write a coherent post! Why?

Because A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS was published on the iTunes store today!!!

I am a published author – for real.

I could write 1000 posts and not be able to fully express my gratitude to the many, many people who have helped me along the way to making that statement. At the very least, however, I must thank Stacey Williams-Ng at Little Bahalia Publishing for loving my story as much as I did and for bringing her creative genius to the project, to Pamela Baron for the gorgeous illustrations and to Tim McCanna for the catchy, addictive tune.

The making of this app was a team effort, and that team includes all of my friends, family and colleagues who have put up with me through cheers and tears and everything in between.

Okay, I realize this is starting to sound like an Oscars speech so I’ll stop now before the music starts shooing me offstage.

THANK YOU!!

Categories: A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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A Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites

I have the great honor of being the guest blogger on Writer Unboxed today, where I “unbox” the rules for writing storybook and book apps. Hope to see you there!

Categories: A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Books, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Today you get a two for Tuesday 12 x 12, as the authors are a husband and wife team – Chris and Mel Bugaj. Even more exciting is the chance to share their unconventional path to publishing, proving once again what exciting times we live in as authors. As they embark on publishing their 50th story through their podcast and blog – Night Light Stories – they are now venturing into the app space. Congratulations Chris and Mel, and welcome to Tuesday 12 x 12!

Hi All! We are Mel and Chris, a husband and wife duo who started writing children’s books about thirteen years ago. After years of writing query letters to publishers, we decided to make a platform to tell our stories. Being two special educators, we recognized the impact of listening to audio stories on the reading abilities of students. Therefore, we thought it would be fun to create an audio podcast.

We started the podcast and compendium blog four years ago as a creative project to do together. We thought it would be a fun alternative for families, educators, and classrooms to listen to our stories on car trips, around the house, as part of listening stations, as literacy projects, or anytime.  We also thought that since our kids seemed to enjoy the stories, other kids around the world might like them too.  We say in the podcast that the stories are “for children of all ages” and it is our hope that families are enjoying the stories together.

One of our goals for the project was, of course, to get published. Recently one of our stories, Dragonfly, Dragonfly, Show Us the Way, was produced as a fully-illustrated e-book as in-app purchase from a children’s literacy app called Flying Books. We have a few other Night Light Stories currently in the process of production for release within this app as well. It’s a fun experience to see our stories come to life!

The 12×12 has really helped us feel like we part of a community working toward the same goals together.  We had a challenging summer to say the least with some unexpected personal events, so this really helped us keep our eyes on our goal of producing one picture book a month to post on our podcast. On top of that, the “Featured Author Posts” and “Tuesday 12X12” provided us with useful information and inspiring stories. Thanks, Julie, for posting so many incredible resources! And keep on rocking the picture book writing 12×12’ers!

Chris and Mel are the proud parents to their seven-year-old boy and four (and a half)-year-old girl. They are both special educators in their thirteenth year of teaching. Mel has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. Currently, she is a Supervisor for student teachers for Walden University as well as a Homebound Teacher in the evenings. She also has a solo blog that she writes about the silly antics of her family called According To Mags. Chris is a speech-language pathologist and founding member of the Assistive Technology Team for Loudoun County Public Schools. He and a co-worker were published by the International Society for Technology in Education. Their book is called “The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools“.  After hours he also produces and hosts the A.T.TIPSCAST, an award-winning podcast about free or commonly found technology that can be used to help students meet their educational goals.

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Apps, Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Goals, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Storybook Apps, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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The old cliche’, ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat,’ has never been more true in publishing than it is today. (Never mind that I’ve always wondered why one would want to skin a cat in the first place – morbid)

But I digress. Today I am hosting 12 x 12 in 2012 author Elizabeth Dulemba, who has a story about a story (LULA’S BREW) she wrote years ago that is finally coming to life as a print book. It’s spooky (in keeping with the Halloween theme) how similar Elizabeth’s experience is to my own with A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS. I’m so delighted that her book will now be available in print for even more children to enjoy.

LULA’S BREW: Never Give Up

We always hear that line in book publishing, “Never give up.” But what does that look like when put into application? I’ll share the experience of publishing LULA’S BREW, because she most definitely fits the bill.

I started writing the story back in 2005. I created an entire book dummy and began to submit to publishers. My family and friends loved it, of course, but I received rejection after rejection – you know the story. Then in 2007 I entered one of the dummy illustrations into the SmartWriters.com competition, and won! The judge was a top New York Art Director and breathed some life back into my determination, but sadly, not into my story. LULA’S BREW went into a drawer.

Then in 2009 apps came along. I’ve come to trust my radar for new ideas and it was dinging like a fire alarm. I sought out a start-up app development company (they were all start-ups back then), pulled Lula out of a drawer and got to work. I had a feeling Lula was the right story for the app – she was short, funny, and most of the art was sketched out… but not colored. I had one month to fully render the entire story to have the app out in time for Halloween. Luckily, since the art would be small (72 dpi for a small screen) I was able to work quickly. I even did the voice recording in a mock-up sound studio in my developer’s living room. And we met the deadline!

Back then, LULA’S BREW was one of the first children’s book apps available for the iPhone, so she got fabulous exposure by being featured in the iTunes store for months, and on the popular blog “Moms with Apps.” When the iPad came out, I adapted her again and again she was out for Halloween. All said, Lula was downloaded over 10,000 times.

People obviously loved the story. One mother even sent me a photo of her daughter dressed up as Lula for Halloween! Her daughter loved LULA’S BREW so much, she wanted a copy in hardcover. But I couldn’t oblige her… yet.

Meanwhile, as the iTunes library crowded with more and more selections, Lula lost her spotlight. I thought of self-publishing, but that was a beastie I knew I didn’t want to take on.

Then recently in the July 2012 Shelf Awareness, I read an article about a small publisher out of California, Xist Publishing, who was turning ebooks into print books. What? Again, my radar went off and I emailed them. They flipped over LULA’S BREW and now she will be physically available for purchase in early October. (Pre-orders for signed copies can be made now through my local independent children’s bookstore, Little Shop of Stories – via phone at 404-373-6300.) Wahoo!

LULA’S BREW took a complicated, seven-year journey to get published, but I never gave up on her. If you can’t get in the front door, try a window, but keep trying. It’s worth it.

Want to win a copy of LULA’S BREW? Leave a comment anytime between now and midnight EST October 14th. I’ll draw a winner on the 15th.

 

 

 

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Apps, Authors, Autumn, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Giveaway, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Publishing, Storybook Apps · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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