Great News! The new Gator McBumpypants adventure is now available!

cover-gdsgTreat the children in your life to the newest Gator McBumpypants adventure Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye.

In this (the fourth) Gator McBumpypants picture book, Dee Dee invites Gator McBumpypants and Herman on a grand adventure. They spend a wonderful day exploring, but Dee Dee hasn’t only planned a day of fun. She has something she needs to tell them. Why did Dee Dee plan a special day? And what big secret is she keeping for the end?

This book is a nice companion piece to Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three. In that book Herman makes a new friend while out flying. Her name is Dee Dee and she is a duck. Dee Dee is special because she can fly like Herman and swim like Gator McBumpypants. The book is about finding ways to play together even when you are different and have different abilities. 

cover of third book in Gator McBumpypants and Friends series

 

I really enjoy how the visual contrast of the two books matches the differences in the stories. Dee Dee Makes Three takes place at the beginning of the summer. The majority of the photo-illustrations are in bright, direct light and the characters are presented in close, tight shots. It’s about the joy of making new friends and getting to know them. The new story Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye takes place at the end of the summer and is about adventuring out from home. The photo-illustrations reflect this with long shots in slanted light and warm fall colors.

So treat yourself to a mini-escape  and join Gator McBumpypants and his friends on a fun adventure.

 

Happy Gator McBumpypants Day!

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Tooling up for the new book: the photography of Gator McBumpypants

An array of affordable photography equipment

Some very affordable photography tools to enhance the magic of Gator McBumpypants

My first picture book, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, started out as a photography project. I was taking an online photography course and needed models for an assignment, so I took a couple of my stuffed friends outside and started taking pictures. As the photo shoot progressed, a story came into my head about how this alligator met a baby pterodactyl who was attempting to fly.

Last year, with my third book, Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three,  Mother Daughter Book Review published my post about a new hybrid genre in picture books. I believe that photo-illustration in children’s fiction will grow, but the photos need to be imaginative, colorful and fun. So, as I do with every one of my books, I have challenged myself to make my photo-illustrations even better.

After becoming very frustrated with the costs of photography equipment, I got creative. I

fisheye

Fish-eye effect

discovered that a very cheap fish-eye lens made some great effects, so I looked at other incredibly cheap options for effects I want.

Here’s what I’m trying out for the fourth Gator McBumpypants adventure picture book:

Some Extra Light

Last year’s photography focus was on light. I worked very hard on interior lighting and had some success with a small headshot studio. However, Gator McBupypants and his friends will be on an adventure in a place where I can only bring a small backpack, so I found some small light sources.

Macro Ring 48 LED Light

This light makes a great circular light in eyes, as apposed to the regular rectangle. Human subjects complain of its brightness when I stick my lens that close to their eyeball. However, Gator McBumyppants and his friends probably won’t be bothered.

Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

I’m excited to finally have a directional flash. This should be great for creating or reducing foliage shadows.

Some Extra Color

Opteka HD Multicoated Graduated Color Filter Kit

These color filters give a subtle effect over only a portion of the lens and rotate to the section of the image you wish to color.

Opteka HD Multicoated Solid Color Filter Kit

These solid color filters blanket the entire image and may be useful for dramatic mood.

Some Unique Perspective

55MM Professional Lens Filter and Close-Up Macro Accessory Kit

This is fun for getting pictures of flowers and insects, perhaps some close-ups of things Gator McBumpypants sees on his adventure.

Super 500mm/1000mm f/8 Manual Telephoto Lens

This is great for birds and other critters that are far away. I’m looking forward to experimenting with photos of the gang from far away.

More Unique Perspective

Recommended photography books:

The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life

Bryan Peterson’s Exposure Solutions: The Most Common Photography Problems and How to Solve Them

I hope you’re getting as excited as I am for the fourth Gator McBumpypants book. Don’t forget to like Gator McBumpypants and Friends on Facebook to keep up with all the fun activities leading up to the book release.

I’m excited to say: It’s that time of year again!

dee-dee-talking

I’m not talking about back to school or even the gorgeous turning of the leaves. What time of year is it that I’m so excited about? Gator McBumpypants time!

The manuscript for the fourth Gator McBumpypants adventure is complete and I’m making a new friend for Gator, Herman and Dee Dee.

To share my excitement about the new book, I am having a contest:

Can you guess what kind of animal the new friend will be?

The first twenty people to guess correctly will receive a free digital copy of the new book before the book is released!

Enter the Contest

Please type “Gator’s New Friend” in the Subject line and the kind of animal in the message box.

Good Luck! Winners will be announced October 1st, 2016.

 

Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three First Draft Thanks To A Thousand Words A Day

Dee Dee the Duck with her new friendsThough I did not write another 1,000 words since I reported yesterday, I did write 570 words to finish up the first draft of my third picture book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series: Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three. That brings the weekend total to 2,014! By my math, I made it to the goal of 1,000 words a day (though I still have to write 1,000 today, but that’s for tomorrow’s blog). I’m very excited about this book, not only because it’s fun to take pictures of stuffed animals in the wild and tell their stories, but because Dee Dee is the first of my characters that I designed and created myself. Spoiler alert! I plan to make a box turtle next.

For the rest of my 5,000 words this week I will be working on two projects:

One is a middle grade novel that I plan as a series. It’s about a nine year old girl who realizes she can interact with spirits to help them with their unfinished business. However, she doesn’t want anyone, especially her classmates, to know, so she creates a business getting rid of household noises.

The other project is a series of short stories about a lake spirit. The story I’m trying to finish is called “Creation of the Lake Spirit” and is about half done. I hope to finish this week.

As part of the Novel Recommit challenge, I said I would post my word count each day, so I will keep you posted. I have a couple of more instructional yet-to-be-finished blog posts saved in my drafts to dust off for you throughout the week and hopefully some very fun pictures of Gator McBumpypants and his new friend Dee Dee as the week progresses.

Happy Writing!

Avi: Read Good Writing

Murder1Today I discovered an amazing children’s author: Avi. Avi has written over seventy books for young readers to young adults and is still writing. My first foray into his work was a fun historical fiction novel called Murder at Midnight about a magician’s assistant and the magic of the printing press. This evening, I plan to read Crispin: The Cross of Lead  which won the Newberry Award. crispin

Curious to learn about his writing techniques, I was delighted to find that he has a writer’s blog called Wordcraft. It is insightful, candid and full of useful information. I plan on spending plenty of time catching up on the last three years of his posts. He kindly put up a tag index, so I can go through his posts by topic.

I especially enjoyed reading an entry on re-energizing. Avi wrote “There is another way to re-energize, to wash away your author’s eyes of murky fog: read good writing. Not just any writing, but something you admire, that the world has told you is good, that is good.” His writing is my re-energizer today.

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.

Exploring: Kindle Free Downloads – Lots of free books, why not?

Mt. Rainier reflected in Lake TappsSince I’ve been pushing my free kindle download all week, I decided to go explore the free kindle download offerings. I was pleasantly surprised.I now have an eclectic library on my Kindle Cloud Reader. I found children’s picture books. I found books on social media marketing. I found cookbooks. I found an exercise motivation book (which I needed). I found books on speed reading (so I can read all these books really quickly) and of course Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise. Last day, folks. Don’t miss your chance to download it for free!

So with all these fabulous free kindle offerings out there, why aren’t people’s libraries exploding? I have to admit, the kindle cloud reader and library weren’t exactly straight forward to use at first.

When you download a kindle book, it opens in kindle cloud reader while you’re at amazon.com, but when you go back to amazon.com, your kindle cloud reader isn’t on the menu. It is at https://read.amazon.com/. Also, when you search free kindle ebooks in the amazon.com search box, you don’t get the nice selection of kindle ebooks. I finally found them here.

Have fun exploring all the fabulous free books!

Happy Thanksgiving

Herman rides on Gator McBumpypants' head next to their book.

Herman is thankful that Gator McBumpypants doesn’t eat flying things.

Gator McBumpypants wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. And to the turkey he says,

I don’t eat flying things if that’s what you’re worried about.

Don’t forget to pick up your free kindle download today to share with the whole family!

And for more fun Gator and Herman now have their own theme song and it is now on their video

A Good Reads Give Away for Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

Gator McBumpypants

Gator and Herman stop to smell the flowers.

Happy Monday! This is the second week of my new posting strategy and I want to thank all of my new followers and commenters for making this part of my writing life so much fun! I’m enjoying these targeted daily posts: They are not only fun to write, they inspire me.  So as a thank you (and a marketing strategy suggested by readers), I’m having my first Good Reads giveaway. Over the next month, you can sign up for a chance to receive one of two signed copies of Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise. The winners will receive their copies in time to give them as gifts! That is if you can bring yourself to possibly part with all that cuteness.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise by Maria Berg

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

by Maria Berg

Giveaway ends December 10, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Any other authors having giveaways you want to tell us about?

Do you have other promotion suggestions?

Agent Query Progress

A small break in the clouds.

A small break in the clouds

For once, I felt I was making some progress in my search to find agents to query. Then, the moment I was sure I had found someone and would get my first query letter out today, to my complete horror, her blog said she wasn’t accepting queries at this time. I clicked back to her agency page and there it was under her picture in red letters, not accepting queries. I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had noticed that before I started researching her further. At least I hadn’t read a bunch of books she represented before finding out she wasn’t accepting queries, this time.

Today, unlike most days of my frustrating agent search, I have found someone who looks interesting. She’s interested in writer/illustrators for middle grade fiction, which excites me. A while back, I read that editors liked to use their own illustrator, so a writer was better off not sending illustrations with the story. However, after reading that this agent wants illustrations, I’m going to get to work on the drawings to go with my story, at least a couple, and send them in with my query. I’ve been wanting to draw my monsters anyway, and I’ll need them if traditional publishing routes don’t work out, so this day just got a whole lot more fun!

Anyone have any tips on making the agent search easier?