My first interview as a children’s book author!

I planned on re-posting the fun interview Andy Mulberry did with me, but that’s not working, so I’ll link to it instead.

Here are the first few lines from Andy’s post:

Welcome Maria L. Berg, Children’s Book Author | Guest Post

It’s Sunday! Which means, it’s time for a fun Q&A with a children’s book author! I’d like to welcome Maria L. Berg to my blog! She’s a fellow Goodreads author and recently released a photography picture book, called… 434 more words

Thank you, Andy, for taking the time to support your fellow authors. What a treat!

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Exploring: “If You Want to Be Great, Think of Ways to Do Things Differently than Everybody Else”–Gene Ho

I found a great video that inspired me today.

I love finding things I’ve never seen, or even imagined before. Something so simple as trusting yourself enough to not look through the lens while taking a picture was exciting enough, but then when he grabbed a camera in each hand to show how you can take pictures behind your back while taking the shot in front of you, well I was delighted.

Revision: The Plan and then What Really Happened

Heron in the reflection of Mt. Rainier

Reflection

Today’s revision was inspired by two things. One, last weekend at writers meet-up we were each challenged to come up with a goal to accomplish during the two weeks before our next meet-up. I announced to the group that I would have a re-write of my first chapter done. This felt like a reasonable goal as I had already presented the first page to my critique group. Two, I read a chapter in The Road to Somewhere (second edition) on reflection that inspired me to read through my first chapter and write a reflection piece.

The plan–To read through the first chapter of my novel and journal on some of these prompts:

Why did I want to write this piece in the first place? Where did it come from?

Has the original idea Changed? In what ways?

What problems have occurred in writing it? How have I resolved them? What problems remain?

What really happened–I forced myself to read through the whole chapter which was only nine pages but took a while because I couldn’t stop myself from making changes as I went. I became overwhelmed by the issues I had with it, but after some deep breathing went back and cut large chunks that didn’t move the story along and weren’t insight into the character’s motivations. I made sure to paste these chunks into a file of removed sections in case I want them later. Then I went back and rewrote page two and three of the chapter.

While rewriting, I wanted to revisit the idea of starting with chapter two, so I jumped ahead. I decided my original starting point is the correct place to start the story, but started editing the second chapter until my brain hurt. So, as with most of my writing, reflection and revision are non-linear processes. A goal of rewriting the first chapter before next meet-up may be more difficult than expected, but a good goal none the less.

New Book! Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly!!

Front Cover Herman Learns to Fly

Front Cover of new book Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly

Back Cover Herman Learns to Fly

Back Cover of new book Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly

Now that the second book is finished and available in both paperback and kindle, I will be back to my regular blogging schedule, finishing up my free guide to self publishing children’s books and exploring guest posts (activities that went to the back burner to simmer while I finished my book).

So, today being Monday Marketing, I am happy to report that my marketing efforts with Gator McBumpypants, specifically with facebook and a targeted email list, resulted in first day sales. Because knowing what works is the only way to wade through all the money traps for self promoters, I am glad I found some freebies that actually work. Be careful with both facebook and email lists to make sure you target to trusted friends and family, then groups specifically interested in your genre — your target audience, then (hopefully) fans, and people who truly want to work with you.

I noticed early in my marketing, my responses came from other marketers who weren’t marketing anything to help me and would have loved to have my money for no reason whatsoever. This almost turned me away from blogging and self publishing, but then I started finding good blogs with my interests. I also focused  my reason for marketing which is selling my Gator McBumpypants books to support my writing and photography obsessions.

I hope my readers will find what they need here on this blog and my other sites as I continue to focus my time on publishing all of my projects. Next steps: An agent for my middle grade fiction book and revising my adult fiction novel while writing the novel all of this has been practice for: Within the Lahar.

Revision: Ask for Help and Listen

Gator McBumpypants offers to help Herman

When you ask for help, you have to listen.

Today I finished the second book in the Gator McBumpypants picture book series, Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly. I thought it would come together more quickly and easily than the first book since I was ready for the formatting, but it ended up being about equally difficult because I was much more critical. Once I had the pdf ready to send off to createspace, I stopped myself: Since I was too impatient to step back for the time it would take to come at it with fresh eyes, I sent it off to two people I knew would give me the honest feedback I needed, a writer (who my writing group lovingly calls the comma police) and an artist (who sees the shapes in the empty space).

I admit I wasn’t completely surprised when I was told that the word angries isn’t a word. I like to make up words or use words in unexpected ways and we had already discussed it in writing group. I was a little surprised that it was the Artist who told me it stopped the flow of the writing and needed to be changed. The same artist who made an eight foot portrait of me called “Maria fights the Robot Spiders” (an obvious representation of my inner two-headed boob dinosaur), told me I needed to stay within the norms of word usage. So, after being only so slightly disappointed, I listened.

Then the feedback from The Writer: I believe I’ve mentioned I am the luckiest girl in the world. I called her worried that she plainly didn’t like it and didn’t want to tell me. No, she was coming up with wonderful changes for every other page by paragraph and sentence. One would think I might be disappointed by my imperfections, but I’m not: I’m  excited to know someone as mindful of good writing as I am that I can trust to find my flaws and be honest with me.

That is the main issue of wanting to share your work with the world; you have to be willing to ask for feedback AND listen to it, if you want to make your best work.

Exploring: Book treasure at the local thrift store

Stephen King Pop-up bookI often stop by the local Goodwill to peruse the books. I recently found a hardback of Eco’s Foucalt’s Pendulum in excellent condition and a Complete works of Poe. This week, I found an extra special treasure: A Stephen King Pop-up book! For those of you that haven’t read the story (originally published in 1999), The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is about a girl who gets lost in the woods. Because she is a big Red Sox fan and her favorite player is Tom Gordon, she pictures Tom Gordon guiding her through her ordeal. Following the baseball theme, the story is broken into innings. The pop-up features are very creative.

Pop-up carinterior page three panelThis will be the perfect gift for the biggest Stephen King fan in my family. I had no idea Stephen King had a pop-up book. What a great treasure. The copy even has a signature on the back.

DSC05853Anyone have any idea who’s signature that is? I couldn’t find anything on the internet. A treasure and a mystery.

Exploring the thrift store can be great for special gifts. I found three nice books to check off my shopping list.

Happy Hunting!

Revision: Overused Words

Whole story word cloudAn important aspect of revision is the hunt for overused words. One good way to do that is to use the “Find” option in your word processor: type the culprit in the find field and see how many times you’ve used it and where it is located. Each writer has different words they tend to gravitate toward. Creating a personal overused word list will become very helpful. I know that I overuse just which I can usually just find and remove. There are many lists of overused words on the internet to help you get started. Here’s an example:

From Claire Fallon’s article in the Huffington Post:

Here are 12 words that have been so overused they really don’t mean anything anymore:

  • literally: Originally meant “in a literal or strict sense,” but is used as a more general intensifier for things that are not strictly true. Because of this, “in a figurative sense,” the exact opposite of the original meaning, has now been added to the dictionary as a definition for literally.
  • unique: Originally meant “unlike anything else,” but is used to mean “different, to some degree, from the standard or the norm.”
  • awesome: Originally meant “causing feelings of fear or wonder,” but is used as a general, positive descriptor like “great” or “cool.”
  • amazing: Originally meant “causing overwhelming surprise or astonishment,” but is used as a general, positive descriptor like “great” or “cool.”
  • totally: Originally meant “completely, in every part,” but is now used as a general intensifier, much like “really.”
  • basically: Originally meant “essentially” or “fundamentally,” but is now used as general verbal filler.
  • incredible: Originally meant “impossible to believe,” but is now used as a general, positive descriptor like “great” or “cool.”
  • really: Originally meant “actually true,” but is now used frequently as a general intensifier.
  • very: Meaning “to a high degree,” we all just need to stop using it in every other sentence.
  • honestly: Originally meant “in an honest and genuine manner,” but is now often used as general verbal filler.
  • absolutely: Originally meant “in a complete and total manner,” but is now used as a general intensifier.
  • unbelievable: Originally meant “impossible to believe,” but is now used as a general, positive descriptor.

I recently read a book that had a serious seemed problem.

“seems”
—This word weakens the sentence it is
used in. If something happens it shouldn’t “seem
to” happen it should simply happen.
                              from slcc.edu
 Thesaurus: seem
Jullianne Q Johnson said this about the word seemed: A new problem word arose, and I blame it on writing reports for a job I had working with at-risk kids. In these reports, we were not allowed to say anything like “Bob was sad,” because we didn’t know it, we were only observers. So we had to write things such as “Bob seemed sad.”  Seemed. Unless one is a lawyer or an eye witness in a court of law, seemed is a very boring word choice. My usage was under 100 times, but I axed quite a bit of them for being too uninteresting to live. If it wasn’t for my word cloud, I wouldn’t have known “seemed” was a problem.
She recommends using a word cloud to find overused words. She puts her whole manuscript into  Word it Out. I decided to try it with the first ten pages of my middle grade novel. Word cloud for first ten pages of My Monster is Better than Your MonsterThat was fun. Hitting the Random Settings button changed the colors and font and the Redraw button changed the arrangement. It looks about right. I’ll head back to my manuscript and “find” looked and like to make sure they aren’t overused.

Marketing: The second book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series

winter flowersA deep, heart-felt Thank You to everyone who downloaded Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise last week–80 downloads and 4 new reviews!–a very happy return on a free 5-day campaign. Now, hopefully, some word of mouth from the people who read the story can help me keep the momentum going.

This week, my writing life is consumed with publishing the second book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series, Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly. While I go through the process of getting all the pictures just right, formatting the text, making the cover and uploading to CreateSpace, I’m going to write the step by step guide Publishing Your Children’s Picture Book like I promised. This is the broad outline I’ve come up with:

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Create Space Set-Up
  3. Formatting the Interior Pages
  4. Making a Cover
  5. Review
  6. Kindle Formatting
  7. Distribution
  8. Marketing and Promotion

Have I forgotten anything? Are there other topics you would like me to cover? Please let me know in the comments.

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