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Sorry I’ve been MIA again, but freelance writing deadlines demand my time and attention as of late! But I do have a blog post for you, just not here. I’m a guest blogger at the fabulous Donna L. Martin’s Writerly Wisdom series. Today I share how to write a nonfiction proposal–that is, what works for me. (I just thought–because of my nonfiction proposals landing contracts, that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t blogged!) So head on over, when you have the chance!
Oh, and Donna shares that we have taekwondo in common. My children both take it every week day for 1 hour here in Korea. I’m the proud mommy because my daughter received a medal for her red/black combination belt or 1st “poomse.”
When I taught early elementary grades, I loved collecting stuffed animals and anything that had to do with an author’s picture books. I still have a Very Hungry Caterpillar baby rattle that served a dual purpose–for my baby but also to bring to my kindergarten class when we read the famous book.
However, NOW, anyone can make their own fabric characters to go along with their picture books. I just discovered this on two blogs today. First, are you familiar with Joyce Wan’s bright, colorful, and simple illustrations? She has taken her adorable cupcake character and made her own fabric using a site called Spoonflower. Check out her pillows to go with her books here. And then check out her fabric which she designed here.
Second, the U.K. publisher, Nosy Crow, has a new picture book titled Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam. Look at how illustrator Steven Lenton is marketing his book! Incredible! He, too, designed his own fabric and made those adorable gift cushions to go with the book. Awesome marketing! I love the flyers, too.
A writing friend just alerted me to illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky’s Spoonflower page here. You can see his fabric for his popular picture book Z is for Moose. He has a shirt made from his fabric of characters.
So I’m making mental notes of these neat things for someday when I have a cute character in a book. Plus, I have a mom who sews!! In the meantime, I enjoyed browsing at Spoonflower. You can design your own fabric, wallpaper, decals, and gift wrap. I even saw Lego fabric. My son would love that.
Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experience. ~Masaru Ibuka
What do you do to bolster your creativity? The other day I needed to develop a craft for the book I’m currently writing for Legacy Press, and for the life of me, I just couldn’t come up with any good ideas. I put it aside, worked on other things, went for a jog by the river, returned to my desk, but still NADA! Finally, I remembered PINTEREST! Duh! That’s where I should have gone first. If you’ve never used this pin board, it’s a wonderful place for creativity. People pin photographs of things that are meaningful to them, recipes to try, books to read, hairstyles and clothing, just about anything! So I love to look there for ideas, that is, if I remember. Mind you, for this book I can’t copy a craft, but just being in a virtual place staring at boards of awesome creative ideas is wonderful for my brain. Somehow, it got the wheels turning, and I came up with a unique craft that had absolutely nothing to do with what I was even staring at.
So my take-away lesson is that if we want to be creative or find ideas, we need to be in a place surrounded by creativity. If we want to be wonderful writers, we have to surround ourselves with writings and teachings of other great writers. If we want to find ideas for children’s books, we must surround ourselves with children. Seems like very simple logic, but sometimes I think I forget.
What do you do to unearth your creativity? If you want to look me up on Pinterest, I’m at http://pinterest.com/tinamariecho/
I’m not on there a whole lot, as I have much to write and homeschool. But it’s a fabulous place, if you’ve never been.
I’m up to my elbows in “green” topics as I’m in the middle of writing a book for Legacy Press Kids, which is a chapter book with 10 chapters. This book is unique in that it’s classified as nonfiction; however, each chapter has a fiction story for 8-12 year-old-girls along with nonfiction facts, puzzles, activities, crafts, and devotions. I’ve never written a regular chapter book or novel, but this is great practice. I’m actually continuing the same characters this time throughout the book and adding new friends along the way. I’m also aware of my age group so that I use the proper sentence length and vocabulary. So that brings me to my book review below, which includes a section on how to write chapter books. I thank God I was in writing groups with Nancy I. Sanders. She basically taught me everything I know about writing. Now that we’re thousands of miles away, I still hound her and ask her questions. She’s an award winning author of over 80 books and does a superb job teaching others how to write.
Book Review: Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Beginning Readers and Chapter Books by Nancy I. Sanders, 2012
If you’d like to write for the educational market or just learn the differences between beginning readers, this is the perfect book. Nancy explains in detail the structures of the following: pre-emergent readers, emergent readers, easy readers, advanced readers, first chapter books, and hi-lo readers. Whew! She also touches on writing for children’s magazines and how to write a rebus.
If you want to know the nitty-gritty of this world of beginning readers, Nancy starts with the history of how it all came to be, reading levels, standards, word lists, etc…
Each reader section gives concrete examples of the structure: vocabulary, number of words in each sentence, characters, dialogue, plot, setting, topics and themes. She shows you how it all works together under very tight guidelines. I know. I’ve done it! See photo.
I appreciate Nancy’s expertise in sharing tips and strategies along with little assignments you can do to practice writing for this age group. Since chapter books are new to me, when I have some extra time, my kids are hounding me to write one. I’ll definitely use her chapter to help guide me.
The back of the book has a wonderful glossary. When I started writing in 2008, I knew none of the writer lingo and was constantly asking Nancy questions, like why do they call publishing houses a house? What is a royalty check? So this is very helpful for beginning writers as well.
So if you’re interested in writing beginning readers or beginning chapter books, check out this book! Writing for this age group is so much fun!
[This is a spread from my guided reading book Flamingo's Tricks published by Lakeshore Learning 2011. These are phonic readers, and each book correlated to specific sounds. This one corresponded to blends.]
If you’d like to get a feel for Nancy’s book, click here to read the transcript of a workshop she led on beginning readers for the Institute of Children’s Literature, March 2013.
I”ll save the good news for last. I’m working for a freelance project through March that keeps me writing 6-8 hours after homeschooling my children. I feel like I forget to breathe. Let’s just say my brain hasn’t had this much workout for a long time!
I had a ton of fun proofing my upcoming craft/devotion book called My Mini Pet Shop with Legacy Press Kids. The editor emailed me the final copy in book format with illustrations. I had a checklist of items to look for.
The good news…a new book contract! I have until June to write another book for Legacy Press Kids about going green. This was an in-house idea which they asked me to write a proposal for. After revisions, they sent me a contract.
This past weekend I’ve had more time to breathe and catch up on revising and starting a new picture book manuscript. I don’t know about you, but I need to get in picture book gear and mindset by immersing myself in picture books. Being overseas, I don’t have my library to run to, but I found a great web site that features free children’s books to read. Have you heard of We Give Books? For every book you read, they donate money for world literacy. I hope you check them out. I think I’ve mentioned them before. They add new books from time to time. And if you know of others, please let me know.
And last I want to leave you with something to think about. My 7-year-old son is into Lego Ninjago toys and the cartoon, and sometimes I just don’t like them. They seem so evil. Why do boys like these kinds of toys? And then I read a quote from Roald Dahl about the antagonist:
All good books have to have a mixture of extremely nasty people—which are always fun—and some nice people. In every book or story there has to be somebody you can loathe. The fouler and more filthy a person is, the more fun it is to watch him getting scrunched. –Roald Dahl, taken from the back matter of Matilda
So as I plan a new story, I’ll keep this matter in mind. Maybe the evil antagonist makes the good guy more heroic and lovable. And maybe my 7-year-old son knows more about stories than I do. Yesterday he bought a new notebook and said he wants to write stories like Mom.
I’m honored to feature an interview with Mr. Il Sung Na. I first became familiar with his work when I read his debut picture book, The Book of Sleep, and used it for research for a children’s article I was writing about animals’ sleep behavior. Then last month a writer friend’s tweet led me to a book review about another book of his, Hide & Seek, June 2012. I discovered he lives in Seoul also, and so I contacted him for an interview. Il Sung is the author/illustrator of TEN picture books. (Click on the pictures to enlarge)
Tina: How did you get into writing?
Il Sung: I did not intend to be a writer and I am not a writer. When I was in the university, I was not very good at writing. I was rather keen to learn ‘illustrating’. I personally enjoy books that have a simple text but images tell a story more than a text. So that applies on my works, too. I always try to keep a message to tell, even though my stories are so simple.
Tina: How long have you been a writer/illustrator?
Il Sung: I started my career as an author/illustrator right after my graduation at Kingston University in UK in 2006. I was lucky to have my first book published right away. So I have been an author/illustrator for seven years now.
Il Sung: I get most of my ideas from real life or my experiences. For instance, I got an idea of ZZzzz:A Book of Sleep when I lay down on a bed to sleep one day. I suddenly wondered how do animals sleep? Then I got up and wrote down two words, ‘sleep and animals’, on a piece of paper. Then I researched how animals sleep in many ways. When I woke up the next day, I was getting into the fact there were so many different ways to sleep! I wanted to make this into a story.
Another one of my books, Brrr:A Book of Winter, also started the same way. At that time, I was struggling to get ideas for a new book right after I moved to Seoul from London. It was a freezing cold day. I put on several layers of warm sweaters and jumpers. And the thing popped in my head as I look up at the sky through the window in my studio, ‘how do animals live or survive during this cold winter?’
If you observe things around you and throw questions to yourself ‘how or why’, then you can start to find there are so many things that you want to tell a story to other people.
Keep your eyes and ears wide open! And you have to know well what you are doing and telling, because you are the person who knows your story very well but no one else.
Tina: Do you have an agent? If so, how did you acquire your agent?
Il Sung: I had a couple of agents when I was in London, but they did not get me a job. So I left them when the contract expired after a year. I had been doing all my own since 2008, but recently I have an agent again. [but not for books] They approached me via email, and we had a proper good conversation for a future vision. So they are now acting as an agent for all other commissioning except a book commissioning.
Tina: How did you make your first sale?
Il Sung: Yes! Always the debut book is important! I was lucky to meet people at the graduation exhibition, and one of them wanted to have another meeting with me after the show. And the meeting went well as they wanted to make a book with me. That was the moment that I will remember for a long time. Luckily, my first book got many people’s attention, and I made another book contract with the publisher.
Tina: What’s your studio like?
Il Sung: My studio has very ordinary look as it is a place that I share with a couple of designer and illustrator. But I’m always thinking about having my own studio.
Tina: Are you involved with any professional writing groups?
Il Sung: None! I wish I could join some professionals as a group. This is very isolated job as I need to do everything by myself.
Tina: Can you share a piece with us and how you created it?
Il Sung: I write down several words first, and think and think again if it could be a good idea and not too cliché. After careful considerations I transform those words to a few sentences. It could be a beginning, ending or a rough storyline. Best thing is I make notes as many as I could on my sketchbook and come back later to see if I am still interested in those ideas.
For me, there are a lot of writing and researching before I make it as an image. Sometimes I make a doodling at the same time, but it only comes when I have rough ideas about an image. It could be a character, one of the images in a story, just one little drawing about a story or even it has nothing to do with a story but doodlings.
Il Sung: I am working on a new title with a Korean publisher. It is about a little boy who doesn’t want to go to bed. He has many reasons why he doesn’t want to sleep! And I will work with a US publisher this year! The story is not done yet; it is still progressing.
1. ZZzzz:A Book of Sleep (2007)
2. The Thingamabob (2008)
3. Teacup in a Storm (2009)
4. Brrr:A Book of Winer (2010)
5. Hide and Seek (2011)
6. Shhh:A Book of Babies (2013)
I only have Korean titles, so I will try to translate it to English.
7. 황금강의 왕 (The King of the Golden River, 2009)
8. 누구일까? (Who is it?, 2011)
9. 하늘을 나는 물고기 (The flying fish, 2012)
10. 거인의 정원 (The Selfish Giant, 2012)
Thank you so much, Il Sung, for sharing your path to publication.
His web site: http://www.ilsungna.com/
My son helped by choosing a name out of the bag. And the winner is…. (imagine a drum roll)
Congratulations, Sarah! And I’ll be getting in touch with you.
Last week my writer friend Barbara Bockman awarded my blog the Sunshine Award. Thanks so much, Barbara!
“I am now extending this honor of the Sunshine Award to 3 more Bloggers.”
This prize is given to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” As an award winner, here are some suggestions to follow for this Award.
1. Thank the person who gave this award in the beginning part of a post about it.
2. Answer the questions below about your favorite things.
3. Pass the award on to fabulous bloggers who bring sunshine into your life, link their blogs, and let them know you have awarded them in your post
These are some of my favorite things:
Favorite Color –pink
Favorite Animal –hamster
Favorite Number –9
Favorite Drink – Dr. Pepper
Facebook or Twitter – Facebook
Your Passions –Writing/Reading/Learning about God
Giving or getting presents – Both
Favorite Day –Saturday (My son calls it a Nothing Day)
Favorite Flowers –pink roses
The blogs I have awarded are listed below. A huge hug and thank you to each of these bloggers for inspiring me with their knowledge, humor, and creativity:
Story Patch Blog by Carrie Finison, my writing friend
Kathy Ellen Writes by Kathy Ellen Davis, another writing peep
Design of the Picture Book by Carter Higgins, who teaches fabulous design principles
I was blog tagged by Tracy Campbell to participate in “The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.” These answers pertain to my book, which was just released by Warner Press in January 2013. After the questions, I tag other authors, where you can read about their “Next Big Thing!” Please join us!
What is the working title of your book? God Is So Good Coloring Book,
written by Tina Cho, illustrated by Debbie Meyer
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I read an ad that Warner Press accepted manuscripts for coloring books. I researched the publisher’s other coloring books and thought of an idea that fit with their line of existing coloring books. My son was 3 years old at the time, and I wanted a way to show him and other young children how God could be good.
What genre does your book fall under? children’s activity books
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Well, this isn’t your typical book. But if it were a cartoon, my children and their friends could represent the kids in the illustrations.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In this coloring book, children learn how God is good in every day situations.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This book was published by Warner Press as work-for-hire.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I wrote it in one day in December 2008, submitted it November 2009, and it wasn’t accepted until April 2012, and published January 2013!
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? other coloring books
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
As I said above, I wanted a way to explain God’s goodness to little kids, especially my own.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s cheap, and a fun way for kids to learn about God. It’s based on the popular song, “God Is so Good.” One line in the book says “God helped me be brave when Mommy pulled my tooth.” At that time, my daughter had many loose teeth, and it was a very emotional time for her.
Please continue reading “The Next Big Thing Blog Hop” at my writing mentor’s site:
and at one of my critique partner’s sites Stories a la Mode
You have the chance to win this coloring book. If you want to enter, please leave a message stating how God is good to you.
I’ll put names in a hat and have one of my kids pick. The coloring book is available through Warner Press and Christian Book Distributors. Thanks for stopping by!
I’m ecstatic about this new year 2013 and all it beholds! Why? I have some books coming out this year, which I’ve already alluded to in previous posts. More about that in upcoming posts.
I’m also involved in the 12×12 again, headed by Julie Hedlund. If’ you’re interested, you can register here. We are picture book writers who will attempt to write one new story each month. I participated last year and now have 12 manuscripts to revise.
One of my goals or words for 2013 is PROACTIVE. I learned this from Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Being proactive is a character quality of effective people and leaders. If you want to be published, you have to be proactive. I wrote about this on Debbie Ohi’s blog in November here. So this year, I want to submit my stories more and think of new queries and/or proposals. I’m also learning about new venues in which to write. Currently, I’m writing for middle school distance learning, go figure!
I’m also reading two books on the craft of writing: Second Sight by Cheryl Klein and Yes You Can Learn How to Write Beginning Readers and Chapter Books by Nancy I. Sanders.
All my writing wouldn’t be possible without inspiration. God has led me on this journey. I have a devotional blog here.
May this be a successful writing year for each one of you. I leave you with a quote from another author…
“The writing you don’t do today is lost forever. Tomorrow’s may be better–but it may depend on the less exciting groundwork you can lay today.” by Kristi Holl
Go forth and write!