Hi! I know I haven’t blogged in a long time but I wanted to let you know about a new service I’m offering for picture book writers. I call it Penny’s Two Cents and here’s an overview.
Do you have questions about writing for children and getting published? I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but I’m happy to share my Two Cents based on what I’ve learned and continue to learn on my journey as an author. My focus is fiction and nonfiction picture books.
I offer video chat sessions, small-group webinars, and packages. Packages include general/big picture feedback on a picture book manuscript. In my feedback I’ll note the strengths of your manuscript and the places I feel need work. This does not include in-line comments, but I’m very thorough with my general feedback.
We’ll chat via Zoom. (I’m open to other options such as Skype, Google Hangouts, phone.)
If you’d like to know more just click on over to my webpage that has all the details. You can find it right HERE.
To celebrate my new venture, I’m giving away two 30-minute video chats. To win one of the two, all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post. And if you share on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #pennystwocents, you’ll get another entry for that. Please note that you shared in your comment. Tweet what you like or share by copying one of the prepared tweets below. Just copy and post to Twitter! Winners announced June 5th.
Penny sharing her Two Cents! https://pennyklostermann.com/pennys-two-cents/ For picture book writers: Win a 30-Minute Q & A Video Chat with author @pklostermann. #askanauthor #pennystwocents #giveaway
Hey picture book writers . . . win one of two 30-Minute Q & A Video Chats with author @pklostermann. Check out Penny’s Two Cents. https://pennyklostermann.com/pennys-two-cents/ #askanauthor #pennystwocents #giveaway
I never start a new venture without some experimentation. I experimented with Penny’s Two Cents by offering Manuscript Feedback + Video Chats as a prize for a writing contest hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill. I’ve loved chatting with the talented writer who chose the prize. I did a group chat with her critique group and it was delightful. Several were kind enough to give me some feedback. Have a look.
“I really appreciated that thoughtful and insightful manuscript feedback that Penny gave. Line edits can be great for troubleshooting a specific problem but her general feedback was helpful for honing my craft as a writer. Being able to talk with her afterward and get more details about her feedback gave me a new lens through which to view all my manuscripts – not just the one I had sent. Being able to follow up with questions made the feedback infinitely more valuable.” – Package: General Feedback on a Manuscript + Chats
“I really appreciated Penny being so open about her own experiences during our sessions. From the kidlit resources she used ten years ago to the ones she continues to find invaluable, I have so many new tools in my writing kit. Learning more about how she organizes her notes, drafts, and research was enlightening. Even if a specific strategy wasn’t the best fit for the way my brain works, it sparked new ideas and got me thinking outside of the box in ways I hadn’t before.” – Package: General Feedback on a Manuscript + Chats
“Penny is wonderful! I walked away from our talk feeling more aware and prepared for the author road ahead of me. Thank you again!” -Small-Group Q & A
“The group chat was a really exciting opportunity for my online critique group. I try to keep up on webinars and author and editor blog posts but it was so exciting and helpful to be able to ask questions that were specific to our writing journeys. And to be able to ask questions that people don’t always answer in blog posts! Our conversation sparked new questions which sparked new conversations. We’ve had follow up conversations within our critique group and shared revisions based on what we learned in our conversation with Penny. Her two cents is priceless.” – Small-Group Q & A
“Penny’s video chat was like meeting up for coffee with an author. I loved being able to sit and listen to her, and I loved having the chance to ask her questions “face-to-face.” She was a delight!” – Small-Group Q & A
Thanks for stopping by!
Happy reading and writing!
Yes! It’s a dream come true! Read the book and then snuggle under the covers in Old Dragon pajamas!
Purchase links below. Pajamas are sold separately or as a pajama/book set. For pajamas only, check out Rockin’ AB or Hately. BabyGap has the green pajamas and the other sites have the blue. Just so you know, I’ve heard that they run small since they’re a long john type pajama.
Also, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT has been released in a new format, making the story accessible on mobile phones. Moonlite Library now includes my book in a three story bundle of Dinos, Dragons & Pirates!
I tried it out! It’s very easy. First, you have to download the Moonlite app. This small projector attaches to your cell phone and uses the flashlight to project the image. Not all story reels come with a projector so make sure you check that out on their website.
Are you signed up for my newsletter? I share this information and more in my latest issue. And there’s a GIVEAWAY! I’m giving away two copies of A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE. I’ll randomly pick two names from my newsletter subscriber list and send each a copy. I’ll draw names at the end of November and then contact the winners for a mailing address. If you’re not a subscriber, you can click HERE to sign up. Pass this along to your friends and if they subscribe to my newsletter, their names will be in the drawing, also.
To read the current issue, click HERE.
Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
Happy National Poetry Month!
I hope you’ve been enjoying poetry this month. It’s said that April showers bring May flowers! But maybe even better — April brings poetry to the forefront for thirty wonderful days, showering us with a bouquet of language!
This year I’m participating in the annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. Thanks to Irene Latham for being host and organizer. She began the progressive poem in 2012 as a way to celebrate National Poetry Month. The poem grows line-by-line as thirty poets contribute a line each day of the month.
This year, Matt Forrest Esenwine started us off with a “found” line from a song. Then he challenged us to “continue this method and use only FOUND lines!” He did say, “But of course, your line is YOUR line…”
Believe it or not…every single poet so far has found a FOUND line! So onward! I’m following suit!
I’d decided I would turn to kids’ movies for my song since this is a KidLitosphere poem. Catherine preceded me and found her line from Curious George which makes me seem a bit like a copycat! But since I made this decision days ago and had been browsing soundtracks, I’ll just say “Meow!” and get on with it!
Of course nothing I’d found when browsing did the poem justice after Catherine added her line. But I was so excited about her line that I didn’t mind more browsing. Catherine’s line, “There’s no stopping curiosity” is perfect for kids! From the beginning this poem has been about adventure and curiosity is the beginning of adventure.
I’m not one to analyze poetry. I’d rather just enjoy it. But to add a line, I had to do a little analyzing/thinking about the poem thus far. So we have a set up for adventure…an endless summer with a child looking out on a sunny day. Once the adventure starts, another child joins in. Then after a bit of action, it seems the two ponder and reflect. That would be a nice way to wind down to an ending. But there has to be more because April isn’t over.
Enter Catherine and curiosity that can’t be stopped. To me that signals a question or questions that a child might pose about adventure as we build to a satisfying ending.
Awesome! There are so many songs that ask interesting questions! What kind of question/s fit our poem? About the adventure? About future adventures? About life as an adventure? I think my line can fit any of those scenarios.
The line is from Rainbow Connection (The Muppet Movie). The fact that it’s performed by Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) is a bonus in my mind. Take a listen if you like 🙂
Here’s the poem with my added line in italics.
2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem
Endless summer; I can see for miles…
Fun, fun, fun – and the whole world smiles.
No time for school- just time to play,
we swim the laughin’ sea each and every day.
You had only to rise, lean from your window,
the curtain opens on a portrait of today.
Kodachrome greens, dazzling blue,
it’s the chance of a lifetime,
make it last forever–ready? Set? Let’s Go!
Come, we’ll take a walk, the sun is shining down
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
Tomorrow’s here. It’s called today.
Gonna get me a piece o’ the sky.
I wanna fly like an eagle, to the sea
and there’s a tiger in my veins Oh,
won’t you come with me waltzing the waves,
diving the deep?
It’s not easy to know
less than one minute old
we’re closer now than light years to go
To the land where the honey runs
…we can be anyone we want to be…
There’s no stopping curiosity.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
Someone created a Spotify Playlist honoring our progressive poem. I hope they will add my song to the list. It can be found here.
L1 The Who, ‘I Can See for Miles’ / The Beach Boys, ‘Endless Summer’
L2 The Beach Boys, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ / Dean Martin, ‘When You’re Smiling’
L3 The Jamies, ‘Summertime, Summertime’
L4 The Doors ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’/ Led Zeppelin ‘Good Times, Bad Times’
L5 Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine “You had only to rise, lean from your window,”
L6 Joni Mitchell, “Chelsea Morning”
L7 Paul Simon, “Kodachrome,” “Dazzling Blue”
L8 Dan Fogelberg, “Run for the Roses”
L9 Spice Girls, “Wannabe”/ Will Smith, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”
L10 The Beatles, “Good Day Sunshine”
L11 The Carpenters, “Top of the World”
L12 Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Underneath the Lovely London Sky” from Mary Poppins Returns
L13 Carol King, “Hi-de-ho (That Old Sweet Roll)”
L14 Steve Miller, “Fly Like An Eagle”
L15 Don Felder, “Wild Life”
L16 Nowleen Leeroy, “Song of the Sea ” (lullaby)
L17 Sara Bareilles, “She Used to Be Mine” from WAITRESS
L18 Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely”
L19 R.E.M, “Find the River”
L20 Carole King, “Way Over Yonder”
L21 Mint Juleps, “Groovin” by The Young Rascals
L22 Jack Johnson, “Upside Down”
L23 Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson), “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie
Here are our Poem Contributors:
1 Matt @Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
2 Kat @Kathryn Apel
3 Kimberly @KimberlyHutmacherWrites
4 Jone @DeoWriter
5 Linda @TeacherDance
6 Tara @Going to Walden
7 Ruth @thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown
8 Mary Lee @A Year of Reading
9 Rebecca @Rebecca Herzog
10 Janet F. @Live Your Poem
11 Dani @Doing the Work that Matters
12 Margaret @Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine @Dori Reads
14 Christie @Wondering and Wandering
15 Robyn @Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Carol @Beyond LiteracyLink
17 Amy @The Poem Farm
18 Linda @A Word Edgewise
19 Heidi @my juicy little universe
20 Buffy @Buffy’s Blog
21 Michelle @Michelle Kogan
22 Catherine @Reading to the Core
23 Penny @a penny and her jots
24 Tabatha @The Opposite of Indifference
25 Jan @Bookseestudio
26 Linda @Write Time
27 Sheila @Sheila Renfro
28 Liz @Elizabeth Steinglass
29 Irene @Live Your Poem
30 Donna @Mainely Write
Passing the torch to Tabatha!
I’m really not blogging this year because I halted my series, A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt, to free up more writing time (and for a couple of other reasons). But I had to do a post out of the pure excitement that’s been building all day.
Each year, Tara Lazar does an idea generating challenge for those of us who write for children. It’s inspiring and has been a necessary part of my journey as a writer. For years the name of the challenge was PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month), but last year she changed it to StoryStorm. PiBoIdMo took place in November, but StoryStorm takes place in January. It’s a great way to start off a new year of writing.
I have a ton of ideas written down and most of them have come to me during Tara Lazar’s challenge. I actually have over 300 ideas written down. About 56 of those have made it to a first draft or beyond. You may be thinking I don’t need to add to such a long list. That’s where you’d be wrong. I have to generate a TON of ideas to come up with some really good ones. Today’s market is so competitive that a writer must have a story that stands out…that is super unique. So although I have over 300 ideas, there are many that aren’t that great. But some that aren’t that great have evolved or been combined with another to end up as an idea worth writing into a draft. I keep my list handy so I can review it and add to it. My list includes images that inspired an idea, lists, links to articles, and books that would be considered a mentor text for an idea. So it’s an active list that doesn’t just sit when the challenge ends.
So why am I still so excited when I’ve been doing this for years? Since 2011 to be exact. Well, a couple of reasons. Some people in the private Facebook group asked about and idea generating spinner. I happened to know of one and posted it there. I knew of it because I’d used it in the past as a tool during the challenge. A couple of others posted idea spinners I hadn’t seen before and I wanted to add them to my list of ways to generate ideas for StoryStorm. I was pondering how to keep all my idea generating tools in one spot and I decided if I blogged about it that I could always use it as a reference. And I could share it with others who would like some tools and maybe they’d share some of their tools with me in the comments below my post.
So here goes!
Michele Blood posted this spinner. Click HERE is another story starter site.
Images often spark an idea for me. So I keep this site as a tab that opens every day I use my browser. It’s a children’s illustrators site. Click HERE for that.
Speaking of children’s illustrators…pick some of your favorites and visit their websites. They post all sorts of art that helps to spark ideas. In fact, I came up with a poem for the first episode in my blog series when visiting Ben Mantle’s website. He is the illustrator of both of my books. My nephew Landon came up with his own illustration for our collaboration. Check it out HERE. If you want to check out other collaborations in the series, you can find them HERE. There are a lot of guest collaborations along with the collaborations from Landon and me. Something you see or read might spark an idea.
Our own Tara Lazar has compiled some lists that I refer to several times a year…not just during the challenge. Sometimes a word will spark an idea. Other times I challenge myself to combine several words/things to come up with an idea. There are all sorts of ways to use her lists. The first list is 500+ Things That Kids Like. Next is 100+ Things Kids Don’t Like. And then there’s 500+ Fun, Cool and Interesting Words.
Other things I do to generate ideas.
- I go on walks and let my mind wander as I look around.
- I read a lot of picture books to inspire ideas.
- I browse Pinterest. Seriously, just type in a search term as simple as “Kids” and go wild.
Since this challenge has been going on a while, there are years of inspirational blog posts from authors, illustrators, agents, editors, and industry professionals. You can find many of them with links right HERE. I’ve read EACH and EVERY one of these posts but I go back and read them to help generate more ideas. These posts are also a huge source of information about writing for children in general.
Besides getting a ton of new ideas, there are valuable prizes. I love that she has prizes but we all win when we come up with new ideas!
A nice thing about this challenge is that there’s no pressure. Tara expects us to be on the honor system. We don’t share our ideas. We don’t have to have proof (for anyone but ourselves) that we came up with these ideas. If I had to share my ideas it would suck all of the fun out of the challenge. I would feel intimidated by writers who have outlined their complete story each day when all I have is a sentence or two, or a name, or a title. And besides my ideas are treasures. I generated each one and I want to them all to myself. I’ll share them when they become published books 😀
So what are you waiting for? If you aren’t already registered head over to Tara’s blog and sign up. The first post went up today. If you want her blog posts delivered right to you Inbox, look in left sidebar of her blog. Right under her photo click “Follow Tara’s Blog.” Tara blogs all year and I read every post. She’s generous to the KidLit community.
If you’re a seasoned StoryStorm-er, please comment below and share tools you use to generate ideas.
Tools added in comments.
Mindy Alyse Weiss: One thing I like to do is list things that mean a lot to me–both good and bad–currently as well as through the eyes of my younger self or inner child. I’ve noticed that some of the most powerful ones are things that have made me sad. Then I figure out how to make them kid-friendly for the current market.
Thanks to my friend Buffy at Buffy’s Blog for hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. If you’d like to know more about Poetry Friday, click HERE for an explanation by Renee LaTulippe.
Hello loyal followers and friends. Did you notice the words “Final Episode” in the title of the post? I imagine some of you thought I meant final episode of 2017. But I actually meant final as in last. So putting together this post is bittersweet. You know the feeling you get when you make a tough decision? A decision that you think is for the best, but it’s still hard to make? I have that feeling to a big degree right now. In fact, I’m a little teary as I write this. Final sounds so…well…final.
I made this decision for a couple of reasons.
First, I feel that this series has had a great run so I decided…why not stop before it gets tired. Or before I get tired. 😀 Or before Landon gets tired. 😀 Or before our followers get tired. 😀 May as well stop while we all still love it, right?
Second, I devote a lot of time to the series. Besides the collaboration that Landon and I do one Friday of each month, I have guest collaborators the other Fridays. That means finding guests, scheduling the guests, and putting the posts together. I could certainly use more time for my writing and this will give me quite a bit more time. And Landon (believe it or not!!!) will be in high school next fall. We all know that means Busy with a capital B.
I made the decision and we’re moving forward. So enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! And if you miss the poetry and art collaborations, you can always “replay” any episode by clicking HERE. Between our collaborations and guest collaborations, there are 112 episodes for your reading and viewing pleasure!
And if Landon and I miss collaborating there could always be a sequel or special episode 😀
And for anyone who just happened to stop by for their first time today, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew and A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (now an eighth-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration in the fall of 2014 and had so much fun with it that I decided to invite others along. Landon and I collaborate one Friday of each month. The other Fridays I have guests sharing poetry and art in beautiful collaborations. I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.
. . . drum roll . . .
The Final Episode of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt
Before you take a look at Landon’s art, I wanted to make a few comments about it. Landon wanted to do something special for our last episode. He wanted to draw AND animate his illustration! He spent hours (and I mean hours!) getting the art just right for 3-D animation. It’s so wonderful and amazing that I don’t even have words. As usual he added his special creative touch by having Santa tip his hat to reveal a surprise. Not only that … he also included the special object that he’s hidden in his drawings throughout our series. After all, his art wouldn’t be the same without his trusty pencil…right?
Let’s have another
. . . drum roll . . .
So there you have it! The final episode of A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt. Thank you so much for following our series. I’ve looked forward to hearing from our follower-friends every Friday. It wouldn’t have been the same without your interaction in the comments. ❤
Have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends!
Today I’m excited to have Jill Esbaum on my blog. Jill has written a slew of amazing picture books and Frankenbunny is her latest release. It is a delightful book that I have read many, many times since it arrived in the mail.
Jill has agreed to have a conversation about Frankenbunny. But first, the synopsis:
“You know monsters aren’t real, right?”
Brave is easy in the sunshine. Brave is easy near Papa. But can Spencer the Bunny learn to be brave ALL the time—even when his big brothers try their best to scare him?
Spencer the Bunny’s big brothers ALWAYS frighten him with scary monster stories. And the most terrifying beast of all is Frankenbunny, with his crusty fangs, flashing red eyes, and ginormous paws. But when Spencer discovers that his brothers made the whole thing up, he hatches a plan to turn the tables on them and conquer his own fears . . . forever.
Any child who has ever worried about a monster in the closet or felt scared in the dark will love this humorous story about learning to be brave.
And this nice snippet from Kirkus Reviews:
“A good choice for younger sibs terrorized by older ones or for kids who need a reminder that monsters aren’t real.”
Now for the inside scoop from Jill 😀
Penny: I’m impressed at how expertly you captured the universal childhood fear of monsters. Even though as children, we’re told they aren’t real, and logically we don’t “think” they are real…all it takes is a sibling (or a kid in the neighborhood or a kid at school) to raise doubts. I have three sisters and I can tell you that there were plenty monster stories creeping around our house. So I can relate.
Jill: Oh, man. Me, too! My older brother was soooo good at making me rethink truths … like the fact that I KNEW there was nothing in our basement at night that wasn’t also there during the daylight hours. But ask me to go down there alone after dark? No way! Not after the time he sent me down there for something, then flipped off the light, slammed the stairtop door, and called a spooky, “Wooooooo…” to freak me out. Forever after, I was afraid something would grab me down there, even in the daytime. When I HAD to go to the basement, I’d get whatever I needed (quickly) and be halfway back up the steps, congratulating myself for surviving, when it would occur to me that somebody/something could still reach BETWEEN THE STEPS to grab one of my ankles. My feet could not carry me up fast enough! I went around with skinned shins more often than not.
Penny: Frankenbunny is a genius title. When I think of bunnies, I think “cute and cuddly,” which is the exact opposite of monsters. Because of that, the thought of a monster bunny seems unconventional and funny. It’s a title that drew me in and made me want to read the book and find out more. So how/why did you decide that the big, bad, crusty-fanged, ginormous-pawed, red-eyed monster would be a bunny?
Jill: Thanks, Penny. I’ve wanted to write a “scary” story for a long time. But every time I tried to write one with human kiddos, it got TOO scary. Finally, I decided to try one with the most harmless creatures I could imagine – sweet little bunnies. That’s when the title came to me. A bunny-monster, I hoped, would be terrifying to bunnies, but not so scary to kids.
Penny: One of the hardest things about writing for children is making the story relatable. These lines are some of my favorite lines in the book!
“Brave is easy in the sunshine.”
“Brave is easy around Papa.”
“Brave is hard in the dark!”
They’re perfectly placed in the story and are seriously relatable. Also they bring so much “heart” to the story. I’m curious. Did these lines come to you in early drafts, or did you find your way to them as you revised?
Jill: Thanks, Penny. Those lines didn’t come to me until many, many revisions into the story, when I realized it needed a framework, and yes, more heart. Honestly, I worked on this one for a couple of years before I got to a manuscript that felt right. Older versions were submitted and rejected. Rejection: the great revision motivator.
Penny: Along the same lines … “heart” is the thing that brings readers back to a picture book for multiple readings. It’s the elusive element that every writer strives for. Do you have a way of assessing your manuscripts for the “heart” factor? Or any tips for those writers who struggle with bringing “heart” to their stories?
Jill: Yikes, good question! Heart is a tough story element. It isn’t something you can just stick it in somewhere. It needs to be infused throughout the story. The best way to find a story’s heart is to really put yourself into your main character’s head. You have to feel the emotions s/he’s experiencing. Get your protagonist’s false belief/fear/yearning in line, and heart will arise organically.
Penny: The illustrations in this book by Alice Brereton couldn’t be more perfect. They’re incredible and fit the tone of the text to a tee. Most of the time the editor at the publishing house picks the illustrator. Was that the case with Frankenbunny? Did you see early sketches or did you see the art later in the process? What was your reaction when you saw the art?
Jill: Yes, my editor picked Alice to illustrate this story. When I saw her early sketches I was overjoyed – and, of course, trying to picture them in color. I could do that, sort of, by looking at Alice’s work on her website. She has an uncanny ability to capture whimsy and darkness simultaneously. Exactly what FRANKENBUNNY needed.
Penny: Now that you’ve all heard about Frankenbunny I’ll be you are thinking what I’m thinking . . . Frankenbunny would make a great Christmas gift for a child!! And speaking of books for children, one thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been immersed in the world of children’s books is that many people aren’t familiar with newer titles. I have friends that are constantly asking me for picture book suggestions for their children or grandchildren. In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be fun for you to spread some cheer by recommending current books by other authors that could be wrapped up and put under the tree … along with Frankenbunny, of course 😀
I know there are a bunch of great ones, so how about giving us five recommendations?
Penny: Wow! If you read through Jill’s blog posts over at Picture Book Builders you will find plenty of book recommendations.
Thanks for coming by and telling us more about Frankenbunny, Jill.
Jill: Thanks, Penny. I always love visiting with you!
GIVEAWAY! Lucky readers! You can win a copy of Frankenbunny. All you have to do to be in the drawing is leave a comment below by midnight December 21st. (CST)
Those who enter must have a US address.
You can learn more about Jill Esbaum and her wonderful books on her website. http://www.jillesbaum.com/