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Getting Social

26 May

On May 18th, I had the pleasure of joining the amazing Laura Backes Bard, the founder of Children’s Book Insider, for a live Zoom chat focusing on board books.

Click here to watch the replay on CBI’s YouTube channel. Considering that this was my first live interview, I think it went pretty well. Whew!

An Unexpected Cover Reveal

While prepping the day before the interview, I discovered that HarperCollins had revealed the cover of my latest board book, Let’s Be Friends, several weeks earlier than I was expecting. How perfect! I was able to share the cover during the interview.

Board Books

If given a do over, I would spend a few minutes gushing over little ones and their caregivers, all of whom have my heart. Board books, after all, are at the center of the sacred ritual of reading to babies and toddlers. When I was a young mother, I took every opportunity to snuggle with my baby and a book. Libraries and bookstores were our regular haunts. At night, when my son begged me to keep reading past his bedtime, I usually indulged him. Childhood is fleeting, after all. In hindsight, I know I made the right choice, despite the brain cells that I certainly lost to lack of sleep. :o)

Human babies are only tiny for an instantโ€”their growing up is as swift as the beat of a hummingbird’s wing.

Kelly Barnhill, The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Board books give authors and illustrators opportunities to share in all of that good stuff. What a gift.

This CBI interview made me realize that board books are a sweet spot for me. I absolutely adore babies, and two-thirds of my writing credits are board books, but before this interview, I had never considered that I had a specialty. As I learn to write for older kids, it’s comforting to think of board books as home.

My friend Michelle and her daughter Sophia, enjoying “Healthy, Healthy, Love, Love, Love.”

Dreaming of Writing for Children?

Laura Backes and her husband Jon Bard have spent decades collecting helpful information for children’s book writers. If you want to get into the business of children’s books, explore Write4Kids.org and Children’s Book Insider.

CBI’s YouTube channel is a great place to start! There are tons of topics from which to choose. I’ve listened to every interview, and have learned from all of them.

Write4Kids.org is chock full of helpful info, too. While you’re there, sign up for the CBI newsletter, which is amazing! Priceless content, for the price of a cup of coffee.

If you’re looking for a class, CBI has got you covered. Their Writing Blueprints are revolutionary self-paced online courses tailored to various genres, at a very reasonable rate. I’m about to begin my own journey with one of these blueprints, and will keep you posted!

Meanwhile, if you have any questions about board books, give a shout!

Here are my two most recent board books. :o)

Click here to order Healthy, Healthy, Love, Love, Love

Click here to pre-order Let’s Be Friends (available everywhere on Dec 1, and in stores on Dec 14)

Present Much?

28 Apr

Book Week

I recently gave a 30-minute presentation to an assembly of socially distanced, masked 6-12th graders and their incredible teachers at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Forest City International School in Johor, Malaysia. What an honor!

The wonderful upper school principal asked me to include:

  • pathways into becoming an author/illustrator using my personal story (“A Day in the Life”) as a springboard
  • other career opportunities in publishing
  • the importance of resilience, relationships, and responsibility
  • course recommendations for potential authors and illustrators
  • a list of skills to develop
  • at least five minutes at the end for Q&A

Wowโ€”so much to cover!

Prep Time

Between book deadlines, I spent an entire week putting together a PowerPoint presentation. I made tons of visuals, which allowed me to sneak in lots of my own art. Yay! Also, I knew from experience that I would be very nervous, and the slides would keep me on track in case of a brain malfunction. As an added bonus, the visuals would hopefully aid comprehension. (Did I mention ESL? Most of the kids SSM-FC speak English as a second or third language.)

Time to Kill Some Darlings

I rehearsed for days, cutting content after every run through. Half of the slides that I created ended up on the discard heap, including some really great ones about the illustration process. Those, I relegated to individual classroom presentations, given to younger students on other days during Book Week. In the end, even with all of the editing, I still went on a few minutes longer than I should have. Everyone seemed happy, though. I think it went pretty well. :o)

Live and Learn… and Research!

My only regret: I cut RESEARCH from the list of skills that an author or illustrator should develop. What was I thinking! I had so much to say about research that I had to cut itโ€”there just wasn’t timeโ€”but I wish I’d simply left the word on the slide. Research is an integral skill for writers and illustrators!

When working on any kind of historical project, of course, careful research is critical. I love working on biographies, because I love research! Learning makes me feel young and vibrant. But research is important in less obvious areas of publishing, too… especially when it comes time for authors to submit proposals to publishers. It’s essential to spend time determining which publisher is best suited for your project, and then, how they prefer that you submit it. It can take a lot of digging to figure all of this out.


Oh, well. Next time.

If you like, click here to see the complete presentation.