Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

Picture Book Cover 00 Back Cover Yellow

I am excited to announce that my children’s picture book Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is now available on my create space estore. It is also available at amazon and can be purchased for Kindle.

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is a full color picture book  about a friendly stuffed alligator who investigates a noise that is interrupting his happy day. Unlike most picture books these days, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is illustrated with photographs. My favorite response I’ve had to the book so far was from a little girl who asked, “Are there really alligators in the lake?”

For those of you who are interested in self publishing a children’s book, now that I have a nice product I am proud of, I will write up a detailed account of the steps I went through and make it available to you as soon as I’m finished.

Finishing – Making a Picture Book

Gator McBumpypants and Herman in the shady placeContinuing with my theme of finishing what I begin, I’ve been spending most of my time finishing the picture book I started in January. At the moment, I sit in the 24 hour waiting period of review from Create Space (Amazon) before I can get to work on my ebook. While I wait, I thought I’d give you some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

1. PATIENCE– Be patient and multi-task. Unlike what the rate of celebrity picture book publications might make you think, making a picture book is hard and incredibly time consuming. You have to love your idea and see it through while you work on two, three or four other things. The pictures for my book, influenced the story, which then influenced the pictures I took. Over time my ability to photograph my story improved which made me take more illustrative pictures. If I had rushed the process, my characters wouldn’t have had time to come alive.

2. Make your book  for a child who wants it (can be you).  I think it would have taken much longer to finish, or maybe I wouldn’t have finished at all, without my niece wanting her finished copy. She gave me perceptive feedback on my pictures and shared the pictures with her younger cousin, telling the story in her own way, which was the best feedback ever (though I’m still a little confused where some of her story fit with the pictures).

3. Know your Tools – If patience and inspiration weren’t so important, I would have put this first. It is my own fault this keeps taking so long. Sometimes when I work this hard, it seems like the majority of Western Society instantly found ways to buy all of the newest technology, and left me out. It took every tool I had to make my picture book, including gifts from every loved one since 2006. But I did it, so I want to share the things that hung me up. I started being frustrated by the difference between what I saw on the screen (RGB) and what my printer printed (CMYK). I spent a lot of time trying to make my Microsoft laptop video card adjust to match the printed images, but that was awful. I have a Mac with Photoshop CS. I got everything I needed from Photoshop CS and learned what I needed from youtube videos. I have many specific pointers based on specific technical issues, but I will save them for when my book is successfully printed.

4. A Book Is Forever – I started this project with the idea that I wanted to see what the pictures of my stuffed animals exploring my world would look like. Now, I’ve made a children’s picture book and I realize I have to take responsibility for my creation. As I face the final stages of self publishing and prepare to release it into the world, I hear my nagging inner voice say Are You Ready? Are you doing your best?

Just last week my mom called saying she found a box of children’s books in my old room. I think, but don’t trust, I put them there on purpose long ago. She wanted to know if I’d mind if she give them to my niece and nephews. I loved the idea. I pictured paperbacks of the Ramona series and some Judy Blume. I remembered reading the entire series of the Rescuers mice on an airplane and Ralph the motorcycle mouse at camp. But then I also saw me reading Dickens, Jaws and A Clockwork Orange. I raided  Dad’s desk to find real books to read. I wasn’t allowed in Dad’s den, and I didn’t sleep so well. I convinced Mom to look through the box, just in case. She found Ramona books and Ralph on his Motorcycle. Talking about them made me want those books back. Maybe when the kids are done reading them, they’ll let me borrow a few. I hope my efforts bring similar joyful reading experiences as the books in that box brought me.

To finish what I begin – Tips for finishing a draft

In you go

With all of the kids spending as much time in the lake as they could before heading back to school, I must have become nostalgic for a moment because I suddenly remembered something from my blue bird (tiny campfire girls) days — “to finish what I begin.” It really stuck in my head so I looked up where I thought it was from, the Blue Bird wish:

“To have fun.

To learn to make beautiful things.

To remember to finish what I begin.  

To learn to keep my temper in.

And to learn about nature and living outdoors.

To have adventures with all sorts of things.

To make friends.”

from alicemariebeard.com/campfire/memories.htm

“To finish what I begin” is my focus in my writing life right now, but a good dose of “to learn to keep my temper in” and fun and friends could definitely help me make beautiful things.

Tips for finishing a draft

1. Jump around – Ideas for scenes don’t usual come in a logical linear order. Don’t let ideas pass you by because they doesn’t happen in the scene you’re working on. Get into it. Write the ending. Write some dialogue that you have no idea where to put yet. I like to use red text to write in a general idea of what I think will happen in the places I skip, so when the idea for something I skipped in chapter one, because I was writing the ending, finally comes to me, I have a quick visual cue telling me exactly where I want to start.

2. Push through – Getting the words and ideas down on the page is the most important part of finishing your draft. Even if the words aren’t feeling quite write, or flowing the way you would like, keep going until you finish the scene, or get to the end of the idea. Don’t give up. Don’t get frustrated. The rewrite is when you get to drive yourself nuts striving for perfection.

3. Be Patient – Though it is good to push through when you have an idea, but it doesn’t seem to  flow the way you’d like, you don’t want to force things. When I want to finish a project, but it’s coming along more slowly than I would like, I often here the mean voice in my head speak up with things like, “I don’t even like this anyway,” or, “Nobody’s going to read this. What’s the point.” That is when I am very grateful I have a supportive friend who says, “Be patient with yourself” and “Tomorrow’s another day.” Some ideas just want more time than others, so be patient.

4. Ask for Help – Any story can be improved by some good research. Reading and looking things up on the internet can add a lot of fuel for ideas, but can also be a time suck leading you down a rabbit hole that somehow ends in useless celebrity gossip. When you really get stuck for story inspiration, ask for help. Think of someone you know who might know more than you do about a certain topic and give them a call. It’s a great break from writing and people really like being appreciated for their expertise. I’m always happily surprised by the solutions people come up with that I didn’t think of.

5. Focus on One Piece at a Time – When you have most of your story on the page, but it’s time to put all the pieces together and get rid of all the red skipped sections, yes, read through, thinking about everything that you have left to finish, but then just focus on one of those sections at a time. Listing everything you have left to do can be overwhelming and make you want to put it aside and do something else. Don’t. Just pick one scene you have left to finish and start with any writing technique that gets you writing. I like to start with dialogue: You may like to describe a setting or a character to get you into the scene. Often times, the little skipped parts in your draft only need a paragraph or two to tie things together, but once you get started, something that once seemed sticky as tar may flow like a river.