There is an adage in the audiobook industry that the right narrator can make a bad book good, and a good book great. I like to expand on that by saying that the pairing of a great narrator and a great book is a kind of alchemy that creates a new art form all its own. Audiobooks bring a written story to life—not on page or stage or screen, but through the physical act of storytelling.
Karen Jameson is the author of Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (Putnam, 2019). Her most recent book is Woodland Dreams, illustrated by Marc Boutavant (Chronicle, 2020). More stories are in the works. She was awarded the Sue Alexander Grant for the Working Writers Retreat (SCBWI-L.A.) for her lyrical picture book Woodland Dreams. Karen has retired from teaching to write full-time. She took a moment to answer some questions for the Kite Tales blog.
As the year draws to a close, it’s always a good time to go back and reflect on the things that have moved and inspired us along the way. Especially in trying times, going back to the moments that brought light into our world can help us continue to be inspired and come up with new ideas that might not have occurred to us before.
Creating may have been tough for most of us this year, but we had many encouraging authors, editors, agents, and illustrators sharing with us their insights on how to keep going when the times get tough. Sometimes the reassurance that giving ourselves a break was indeed what was needed. And sometimes we just needed to let our stories come out on the page.
Ann Whitford Paul is the New York Times best-selling author of the picture book series If Animals Kissed Good Night and of the definitive children’s picture book writers’ reference book, Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication. She was kind enough to chat with us and share how her series got started, what’s next for her, her advice for other writers, and more
CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! With over twenty children’s books published, there’s so much to talk about, but your If Animals Kissed Good Night series is a favorite of mine. The fifth book in the series, If Animals Gave Thanks (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), is out in time for the holidays. How did this series get started?
Wendelin Van Draanen, a member of the SCBWI Central-Coastal California region, has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series, and wrote Flipped, which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ, and became a Rob Reiner directed Warner Brothers feature film.
Stuck in an endless hole of research? Overwhelmed by what you still must learn in order to write your manuscript? Is it stopping you from moving forward?
Here’s how to refocus and make a directed approach that will break you out of your standstill.
When I worked as a Hollywood film executive, part of my job was researching topics our CEO was interested in. I had to cover the topic quickly, gain a thorough working knowledge of it, then regurgitate what I learned in an interesting, easy-to-digest way. Topics ranged from the concept of Biohacking, to researching a video game company, to “futurists” and what they’re thinking about!
I usually had a few hours to turn my research around and zero knowledge of these topics beforehand. Under time pressure and a desire to impress my boss, I learned how to do comprehensive research in no time flat. Here are some tips to help you do the same!
Editor’s Note: Author Janie Emaus will be available to chat with you on Twitter this Friday (October 2) from 12 pm to 1 pm (Pacific Time). Keep on reading for her story of perseverance, #PitMad and success, and get your questions ready for the live Twitter chat!
I believe it’s the most important factor in my long writing career. I kept the valuable parts of each rejection (of which there were hundreds), tossed away the rest and put my butt back in the chair.
At the start of quarantine, I checked in with my writer friends. All of them reported they simply couldn’t write or open a book. They berated themselves, something painfully easy for writers. The anguish of loss and uncertainty during this global pandemic was taking a toll on their creativity. Feeling no different, I was terrified of even glancing at my half-baked manuscript. I feared it would go unfinished.
Hollywood executives are on the prowl for the book or series that could become their next franchise long before a manuscript is published. But what are they looking for and how do they find it?
We’ll hear from Nathan Schram, Senior Manager of Animation Development at Nickelodeon, and Maddie Breeland, Development Executive in charge of developing material for Fox, Disney and most recently Anvil Pictures, about how they find your book.
COLLEEN MCALLISTER: What does the process look like as far as how you look for book manuscripts to option?
The announcement was posted in Publisher’s Weekly. The cover was revealed. The date was set and events were scheduled. My debut picture book was ready to launch.
Or was it?
Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way to Win, published by Cardinal Rule Press and illustrated by Alicia Teba, features a competitive girl set on winning her school’s field day events. The book’s release was scheduled to coincide with end-of-the-school-year activities. In March, when the pandemic caused us to shelter at home, we thought it would soon be over. Then reality set in. Schools, bookstores, and parks closed. Suddenly, my calendar was empty. But the book was being released and I wasn’t going to give up on my dream of it reaching children. It was time to make a new plan: