New Gator McBumpypants Picture Book Now Available!

Gator McBumpypants in Shelley Comes Out Of Her Shell is a sweet story about the challenges of making new friends. It also covers themes such as empathy and knowing when to ask for help.

Last year, I designed and made a little box turtle. I had an online contest to name the turtle and the winning name, contributed by Amy Chesler–Thank you again, Amy–was Shelley. Shelley first appears at the very end of Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye. If you haven’t read it yet, it is a story about Dee Dee the duck flying south for the winter and having to part with her friends.

In this new book, Shelley gets her own story. She is finally convinced to go on an adventure with Gator McBumpypants and Herman, but she gets a sliver and then is stuck in her shell! Shelley was very fun to work with. Her fabric has a little shimmer when the light is just right. I also designed her so that she tucks into her shell.

For those of you who have been following along with my writer’s journey here at Experience Writing (and Maria Berg’s Writing Life before that), you may recall that Gator McBumpypants was inspired by a photography assignment. I needed models and didn’t have anyone readily available. I grabbed a couple of my stuffed animals and took them outside. While I posed them and photographed them, the story of how they met and became friends came to me. That was the birth of Gator McBumpypants Hears A Scary Noise.

Since publishing that first picture book, I have designed and made two new characters, Dee Dee the duck and Shelley the box turtle. Creating the characters and stories is fun and challenging, but I also continue to use these books as photography projects.

Each year I focus on a specific technique. Last year I tried out colored filters, a wide angle/fish-eye lens and a difficult setting. Though the images using the colored filters and fish-eye lens did not make it into last year’s book, the techniques may be incorporated in the future. The setting was too beautiful to distort and the fall colors did not need a bit of enhancement.

This year, I learned bokeh shape photography. The word bokeh comes from Japanese and literally translates as “blur”. Using a hand-cut filter, I am able to create shapes with every point of light in the unfocused area of my photograph. I incorporated some of the bokeh images into the book and I think it brings another dimension of magical fantasy to the already fun mix of photography and play.

As the characters and stories progress and grow through the series, I, as a photographer, grow as well. Each year is a new adventure. I hope you will think about bringing the joy and play of Gator McBumpypants books to your family this year.

Happy Gator McBumpypants Day!

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#NaNoWriMo Day 26: Puzzles From Childhood

Winner-Congrats

Day 26
Word count:51,225 words
Word count goal: 52,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Encore
Save The Cat: Finale

Today is an exciting day! I became a NaNoWriMo 2017 Winner yesterday, surpassing the 50,000 word mark in my novel. That makes today the first time I have continued NaNoWriMo after reaching my goal. I still have many scenes to go before this story comes to an end.

Please don’t feel discouraged if you have not finished. There is still plenty of time! Pick  a prompt, a warm-up or a challenge and get those words on the page.

Today is also very exciting because-drum roll please-it is the cover reveal for Gator McBumpypants in Shelley Comes Out Of Her Shell. And here it is!

To celebrate, the kindle editions of the last two adventures, Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye and Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three, are only 99 cents through the end of November!

#vss very short story

Cathy hunted everywhere for the last piece. She dug through the carpet, searched under the bureau and was about to write a complaint to the manufacturer when her cat spit-up the half-chewed, missing piece. Instead of a complaint, she begged the manufacturer for a replacement, if at all possible.  This was the third letter like this Petra had received this week.

Plotting with Tarot

Yesterday, we took our first look at the entire hero’s journey.

my hero's journey

Using the method of adding up the card values, we came up with a theme of Justice. However, novels have many themes, so today, I used the other method suggested in Mapping the Hero’s Journey. I removed all of my Hero’s Journey cards from the deck and Justice, I shuffled and drew : Seven of Cups

The Seven of Cups- This is an interesting theme card for my novel. It represents that what you desire has no relationship to your ability to actually get it and that temptation offers temporary pleasures that can bring permanent damage. This is an important theme seen through my antagonists, but also something to make clear to my protagonist. It sometimes takes the rug to be pulled out from under our feet in order to wake up and take stock of our lives before it is too late.

Ask Your Character

  • What is the main thing you and your partner or spouse argue about?
  • Why is s/he wrong?
  • Why do your opinions on this issue differ so much?

Word Of The Day

plenary: adj. n. 1. full in all respects; complete; absolute 2. fully attended by all qualified members

8 Action Verbs:

assembled           completed              designed             expressed

investigated              outlined               retained            translated

Poem prompt

Write a poem about assembling a puzzle or playing a game from your childhood. Focus on the imagery, the pieces, intention and focus. from litbridge.com

I recognize the design as I pull the box from the shelf

The familiar outline of the challenging uneven edge

As the pieces we assemble create an image of the past

The moments here resemble a joy that didn’t last

Hours of cooperation this puzzle to complete

Due to years of lost, discarded pieces only lead to defeat

 

Awesome Sentence Challenge

Verb collecting: Pick one concrete noun. Perhaps the closest object to you. Now list all of the things it can do; all of its verbs.

Example: pen: write, scribble, draw, ink, snap, point, letter, word, press, scratch, flourish . . . twirl, swish, click, break, dry, fly,

Get creative. When you think you’re done, come up with five more.

Today’s Simple Task

MC conquers antagonist. Self-revelation.

Warm-up Exercise

Choose three different emotions. Pair each emotion with a different animal. Write three scenes. In each scene, use only attributes of the chosen animal to show your MC expressing the paired emotion.

Recommended Word Crawl

Since I wander beyond 50k for my first time during NaNoWriMo, I thought I would attempt the Beyond 50k Word Crawl.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Name this turtle and get your name in the next Gator McBumpypants book!

A one of a kind stuffed box turtle made by Maria L. Berg

What should my name be? Enter the contest

Creation makes its own calendar

I thought I was way ahead of the game. I had big plans and was gonna do it right this year. I mean, I have experience. I have my online presence set up.  I filled in my Google calendar. I had a marketing plan. Everything I had done would make this book easy, right?

WRONG

At times it felt like the earth itself was against me. Record high heat and illness when I had signed up for the SCBWI  critique and record rains when I had planned my photo shoot. At other times it felt like a complete waste of time to create a book about a child  coping with the loss of a friend moving away, when everyone was in a state of constant hyperbole.

And then, the one person who I could count on to take Gator McBumpypants very seriously, who would police my commas and make sure that I wrote the best I could, died. I still haven’t dealt with it. One third of my critique group is gone. She was amazing and beautiful and knowing her gave me hope for humans.

So, that Google calendar reminds me what I haven’t done and I ignore it. My marketing plan was based on things I have been told to do, that honestly, haven’t given me returns so far.

Yesterday and today, as I worked on the turtle that I have imagined for so long, but was not  ready to make until now, I thought about the joy of creation. I remembered how much I enjoy the process of forming an idea and letting it grow, then using my bits of fabric and stuffing to create a three dimensional sculpture that will have thoughts and feelings and adventures for readers to live in.

It is alchemy of the best kind. I am in love with this turtle.  I love it because at times it felt impossible but I had to make it, and because I made it as close to my model as I could (a very angry looking turtle), but still made it adorable which was my goal.

Please join in the creation of Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye. Name this turtle on the Gator McBumpypants and Friends facebook page and you will not only name a new friend but get a special thank you in the book.

Thank you for being part of my writing life and letting me be part of yours.

Update: The turtle’s name is Shelley. Congratulations to Amy Chesler who won the contest.

 

 

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

Marketing: A little outside the box.

Gator and Herman's first movie on youtube.com

Gator McBumpypants and Herman’s First Movie is on Gator McBumpypants’ Youtube.com channel.

Since my writing life is completely consumed with promoting Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise this week, I’m jumping off schedule and continuing to talk about promoting your book. I announced my kindle free days everywhere I could think of yesterday, so how do I keep the internet’s attention today?

I stepped away from writing today and explored a couple other art forms. I took some pictures that didn’t get used in the books (book 2 coming soon!) and made a little youtube movie. One of the fun things that you can do with google+ is create a youtube channel. I made one for myself and a separate one called Gator McBumpypants and Friends.

Making the movie in Windows Live Movie Maker was pretty straight forward once I figured out that I could speed up the picture rate by using fractions in the duration box. The hardest part was picking some music since the program didn’t include music editing and just started the music choice from the beginning. Luckily, I have a large library of music I wrote, so I don’t have to infringe on anyone’s copyright.

This first film is just a quick, fun promo. I plan to do more with pages from the book and perhaps reading the first few pages. I’ve seen some really nice book promo videos online. I think video is a great way to get people excited about your book. Check out Michelle R. Eastman’s promo video for The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Andy Mulberry did a really nice interview with Michelle R. Eastman on her blog andymulberry.com/blog

I also went over to RedBubble,com and made some Gator McBumpypants merchandise.

Gator McBumpypants baseball shirt from RedBubble.com

What about a fun T-shirt?

Gator McBumpypants tote bag from RedBubble.com

or a lovely tote bag?

A Gator McBumpypants coffee mug from RedBubble.com.

or enjoy your hot beverages with Gator McBumpypants and his friend Herman the baby pterodactyl.

RedBubble is a great site where I’ve set up a portfolio of my photography. They will put my photos on a variety of merchandise including t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, cards, pillow covers and the adorable items shown here. All would make great gifts! It is also, yet another social media site with a nice journal entry space where I’ve been letting people know about my kindle free days.

So, to sum up, book promotion doesn’t have to be hitting people over the head with your book and free kindle days announcements, it can be fun promotional art projects that then give you an excuse to go post about them on all your social media sites.

Anyone else found promotional ideas that are a bit outside the box?

Creating a Marketing Plan for Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

Gator and Herman Marketing

After publishing Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, I focused my marketing plan exclusively on creating an internet presence. I created author pages, joined good reads, sent out email announcements and created a Gator McBumpypants page on my website. Now, I feel ready to expand my marketing plan. To do that I need to know my customers better. Though my intended audience is a small child with a healthy imagination, I need to concentrate my efforts on appealing to his or her parents. So, this week plan to spend time researching parent magazines and blogs. I’m going to look closely at how children’s books are advertised and try to find some tips to share about promoting children’s books. I found one blog that I’m going to request to review my book. Next week I should have more information about requesting blog reviews.

I’ve ordered physical copies of my book to sell at a local Holiday Craft Show along side the holiday crafts I’ve made. While I await their arrival, I will be busy creating a media packet to take to local bookstores, libraries, schools, and any other outlets I find that sell children’s books. The physical marketing aspect of my marketing plan will be more difficult for me. I’m hoping a good response at the Holiday Fair will motivate me to reach out to these other outlets.

Have any other marketing ideas for self-published children’s books?

I can’t wait to hear your success stories.

Busy Writer’s Life Update: Gator McBumpypants 2 and searching for an agent

Herman becomes a dragon at Hogwarts

Herman becomes a dragon at Hogwarts

I can’t seem to stick to my goal of a weekly blog, but I’ll keep trying. However, while I’ve been neglecting this blog, my writing life has been very busy indeed.

First, I’ve finished the text and taken the pictures for the second book in my Gator McBumpypants series. I’m pretty sure I’ll stick with the title Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly. I had the idea for this second book as I was working on the first. The reactions from my readers the moment they finished the first book (e.g. “Herman needs to learn to fly”, “When does Herman learn to fly”, etc.) prompted me to not waste any time before writing the sequel. I hope to have the second book available for the holidays. I plan to finish my guide for self publishing children’s books while I go through the process a second time. That way I’ll be sure I don’t leave anything out. Look for it in late November/early December. If any of you have specific questions about self publishing children’s books  you would like me to answer, please ask in the comment section, so I’m sure to put it in my free guide for you.

Secondly, I’ve been working on my query letter for my Middle Grade Fiction story. A well rounded writing life should at least attempt traditional publishing routes, right?  The rough draft is finished and edited. The summary and hook for the query were positively reviewed by a group of writers. The hard parts over right? Ohhhh, NO. I spend countless hours each week trying to figure out which agent/s I want to query.Many books I read say to read everything I can in my genre, find a book similar to my work that I like and find out who the author’s agent is. Every time I finally find something similar, find out who the agent is, research the agent on agent query or their website –the agent isn’t accepting new clients. So frustrating!

I’ve decided to do the opposite of the original advise: find an agent that sounds promising and accepts new clients, then read the books they represent. This last week I found a little help in my search, a great blog called Middle Grade Ninja. Middle Grade Ninja has mini interviews (7 questions) with a list of authors and a list of agents. I’ve been going down the list of agents, cross checking them on agent query and then looking for any other interviews on the web. Then, if they still look promising (so far I’ve found two), I’ll download the books they represent from the library, saving so much time and money. I usually don’t like reading ebooks on my laptop. I don’t have a kindle or other specific ebook device, so I’m not sure if I would feel differently, but I’ve only read all the way through about 5 books on my laptop. I don’t like the glow behind the words; I tend to read what I can in about 10-20 minutes and then not go back.  However, for this project I love ebooks. I can find out in the first 10-20 minutes if the work is like mine, if I like it, if it was well edited, etc. Imagine having to request each book at the library and wait for the few you could find to become available and the cost of purchasing the ones you couldn’t get from the library. I have to admit, the downloadable ebook is the true friend of the author attempting to find an agent through a query letter.

Thirdly, I’ve been focusing on reading. My whole life I’ve been a voracious reader. I often come back from the library with ten to twenty books at a time. However, for the last few years, the majority of the books I read to the end were How To books. I would pick up plenty of novels, but not get past the first few chapters. Finishing a few of the novels I read  in the last year was like listening to a dentist’s drill through my eyes and letting it echo through my brain. Hopefully, that’s all over. I finally joined goodreads (to set up my author page for Gator McBumpypants) and after reading an article about the new recommendation algorithm, I spent some time rating many of the books I’ve read. At first I didn’t think the recommendations were very accurate, but after a while I started finding book descriptions that sounded very interesting. Every book I chose to read from the recommendations, so far, has been great! I’m very excited. I used to think I was an intellectually eclectic reader, but I’m finding out that, though my interests are vast, they are also semi-specific. It’s nice to not have to wade through ALL the muck to find what makes me happy. I’ve posed this challenge to my critique group: to find a the closest book to your work. I’m looking for something like my novel, but I still haven’t found anything close. I’m hoping goodreads will be a catalyst to finding some similar work through my preferences and friends. Meanwhile search engines and libraries will continue to be my stabbing grounds.

Have you found the novel you will compare your work to, or use after the fact as a learning tool? I’d love to hear how you found it.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! What will you be this year?