Day 3…Post

#ThankfulNovemberChallenge, books

Post Script…You are awesome!

The fear of the unknown can make any aspiring author run for the hills. I know this to be a fact, as I ran several times, as far away as I could away from Champ and Nessie’s unfinished manuscript. The question that hung over me day after day was, “What do I with this this story now that it is actually starting to feel like a real book?” There are many things I wish I knew at the beginning of this journey, hence my desire share my new found knowledge with the world!

One of the first, and most important things is figuring out what age range you are writing for, and then write within that word count.

Most writers think they are writing picture books for age 3-7, that is the most common category. If that’s you, then shoot for 750 words, that is the sweet spot. If you write a picture book more than 1000 words, you’re sunk. So don’t be afraid to take out that red pen and slash and dash until your word count is way down!

Another super important tip, is to make sure you start off your story quickly! Many books fail because they lose the attention of the child or parent in the first page. (Sad, but true.) In Champ and Nessie, I had written a long winded, beautiful story setting “deep in the heart of Pangea…” And after I realized my manuscript was 20 pages too long, my first 4 pages of text, turned into 1 paragraph.

In Champ and Nessie on first page, you are immediately introduced to the story setting, the main characters, and then right into a dramatic scene. So try and minimize the backstory as much as possible, don’t set the scene, just tell us what is happening.

You have such a short space to tell your story that you can’t waste any time. The pacing of children’s stories generally move very quickly. Launch your story on the first page, then introduce us to the main problem or “key” point of your story as soon as possible.

Click on my free Children’s Book Length printable for reference!

Check my other posts on Writing a Children’s Book and I hope you find some inspiration to Write Your Story!

Day 2…Plant

#ThankfulNovemberChallenge, books, positive thinking

Think about your goal. Realistically, what will it take to make your dream a reality? How can you make it happen? As a writer I know inspiration can strike in abundance or be lost for months on end. Don’t stress out over things you can’t control. Empower yourself to think positively and take baby steps forward every day!

Really think about what you would like to accomplish and take a moment to think about these 5 prompts below.

  1. My goal is…
  2. First I have to…
  3. Next I will…
  4. Then I will…
  5. Finally I can…

How many emotions just flew through your mind? Excitement? Fear? Insecurity? Confusion? One extremely important thing I learned this year publishing Champ and Nessie, is that you have to water your idea every day! Every. Single. Day. Instead of thinking “I have so much work to do!” or reminding yourself daily that the finish line is so far away, think positive! Don’t think about what you need to do in a month from now, focus on the task in front of you. Baby steps move us forward every day. Think instead “I am so excited to work on this amazing project!”

Plant your seed below! Fill out our Free Goal Worksheet below. Then, focus on what you will need to do next! Notice how I will, and I have to, turn into finally I can!

I hope you will share your journey with me! Email your goal sheet to AdventuresOfChampandNessie@gmail.com!

Click here to download your Goal Worksheet

Check out my post on the Power of Your Subconscious mind! https://champandnessie.com/2019/05/10/the-power-of-you-subconscious-mind/

Day 1…Flame

#ThankfulNovemberChallenge, books

If I ever have the opportunity to ask an author a question, I usually want to know about their very first idea. What was that first, tiny spark that turned into the massive flame that became their completed book or series? I know a lot of hard work went into writing that story in order for me to hold their book in my hands. How did it all begin? I am always fascinated when I hear stories about how a tiny spark, turned into a great flame. Most authors if you ask them will tell you it all started with a single spark of inspiration one random day. I know if you asked me, I would tell you my inspiration came from my husband, over the course of many random (this book is never going to happen) days. I don’t know where or how I came about writing again. It got lost somewhere in the struggle of life, work, and motherhood. I always wanted to feel a lightening strike, a lightbulb moment, where a story came to me in perfect glory. It took me a little while to realize it never happens like that. I finally reached a point in my life where I know, you just have to do what you love. And discovering writing again has made me realize that. Once you have your eyes open to stories and magic and mayhem and mischief, the sparks come from everywhere. I remain fascinated and thankful for these moments of inspiration, especially since I am now a published author.

What sparks will light your flame? Where will your next wave of inspiration flow from?

Write Your Story…

Writing Help FREE Templates

Even if you don’t aspire to be a best selling author, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have your story published.

Have you ever wondered how to write a children’s book, and if you have what it takes to create one? Maybe you have an incredible idea that you can’t stop thinking about. Or maybe you want to put to paper your little one’s favorite bedtime story–the one you made up while snuggling together. Whatever the reason, now is the time to check this dream off your bucket list.

Writing and publishing your own children’s book is no longer difficult to do, nor is it financially unattainable. You could actually have your book printed for FREE, yes, free…ZERO money. (but spoiler, this will mean A LOT of work for you.) You could end up spending half a fortune just figuring out how to go about all the steps involved. My hope is, if you found your way here, you can learn from my mistakes and it will save you lots of headaches.

If your ultimate goal is to get published the traditional way, presenting a well-performing, professional book and an established author platform, will ultimately increase your chances of landing a publisher! Truth be told, this was my initial plan, but now that I know how easy it can be, I would not be scared to self publish all my upcoming projects!

There are several steps to set publishing, and many things to consider when you are first getting started. Just remember, children value creativity and individuality. There is no one way to draw. No one way to paint. No one way to write. It’s about being uniquely you, lending your unique voice to your unique story. I hope you are inspired to write your own children’s book!

What is Pangea?

books

With our book release day right around the corner, (October 29th! Yay!) the last few weeks we have been receiving feedback from our ARC team and Beta readers. I realized that not many people know what Pangea is. I was recently discussing Champ and Nessie with a colleague, she said and I quote, “Ohhhh, I thought Pangea was a made up place that you created!” And my response to that was, “Well, you are not the only one who doesn’t know what Pangea is, so don’t feel bad.” If I am being honest, when Zeb first told me his idea for the story, I didn’t remember what Pangea was either! I can’t remember Earth Science from the 4th grade!

In the end papers of our book, Champ and Nessie, I included a map of Pangea, then and now, and a few facts about the evolution of our planet, specifically the breaking up of Pangea. I talked about Pangea briefly on our Instagram page, but wanted to give it the spotlight here on Champ and Nessie. It is after all, where our story takes place.

Pangaea or Pangea is the name given to the supercontinent that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, before the process of plate tectonics separated each of the component continents into their current configuration. There were three major phases in the break-up of Pangea, but it is a bit too complicated for me to get into all those details. You can always check out Wikipedia if you are into dates and eras! I will link below.

About 300 million years ago, Earth didn’t have seven continents, but instead one massive supercontinent, Pangea, which was surrounded by a single ocean called Panthalassa. Over the course of the planet’s 3.5 billion-year history, several supercontinents have formed and broken up, a result of churning and circulation in the Earths Mantle, which makes up most of planet’s volume. This breakup and formation of supercontinents has dramatically altered the planet’s physique, so to speak.

For approximately 160 million years Pangaea existed, many species did well, whereas others struggled. When Pangaea separated, the reorganization of the continents changed the function of the oceans and seaways. The restructuring of the continents, changed and altered the distribution of warmth and coolness of the oceans. As a result, the climate changed. The collisions between the continental plates formed the greatest mountain ranges in the history of the our planet!

As the story of C&N evolved I became very intrigued about Pangea. I started reading articles and researching continental drift. Who knew that that the Hudson Palisades in New York and New Jersey were once apart of Pangea? I am closer to Pangea than I thought! Manhattan Island and now the tree hidden Palisades on the New Jersey shore on the Hudson River, were once touching West Africa. I found that so interesting, as a native New Yorker.

I hope you enjoy discovering (or re-discovering) Pangea. It really is amazing what our planet has evolved into. Fun fact, the break-up of Pangaea continues today! But that is another story, for another day.

Storyboard Layout

books, Writing Help FREE Templates

In chaos, there is calculation.

anonymous

A story in your head may seem clear, but you will soon discover that the idea you have, is not ready for its picture book debut. There are some basic rules you can follow to help you put out a professional book and creating a storyboard will help you visualize your entire manuscript all at once.

A storyboard is a visual narrative layout spanning all 32 pages of a picture book. Creating one will allow you to keep track of your story, and make sure your word and illustration placement is perfect. It can help you think of where to pause with words and let the pictures do their magic. Many writers consider storyboarding an essential tool in the beginning drafts of a manuscript. A storyboard gives you as the author a map of the story from beginning to end. The layout verifies that text, story flow and plot work within the picture book format are consistent. You do not have to be an illustrator to construct and utilize a storyboard. Storyboarding helps you, the author, adjust basic ideas and scenes. Ideally, components of the storyboard move to give the writer control of the story structure. Everyone has there own process, but being able to clearly layout your story will help you in the long run.

When using a storyboard, write the narrative of the picture book in the numbered blocks. Four pages are usually allocated for the title, dedication and biography pages. A single block is a one-page spread, and a double block is a two-page spread. For example, I used a single block for Champ and Nessie, meaning my illustrations were not spread over 2 pages. I also chose to have my author biography at the end of the book, and the copyright and dedication pages are not combined. There are no hard rules here, just do what works best for the layout of your story.

Sketch the characters/scenes in the corresponding block. Know that this is for, you can draw a stick figure if it will help you visualize the story. I used descriptive words. For example, when our main character is confronted with a great white shark, on the corresponding block to the narrative, I wrote “Champ encounters shark, scary, big teeth, friends gathered around trembling.” Once the storyboard was complete, I sent it off to my illustrator and he created the scene. Ask yourself this, “What is the overall message of the storyboard.” Are you on a journey, learning something, helping someone? Is each spread moving your story forward? Once you have your first draft outlined, you can use post it notes to make any changes or adjustments to the spreads. Refer to the working storyboard layout draft when necessary. Plan each scene and put them together in a logical sequence. Plan transition from scene to scene. It will become apparent if you have too much content or too little. You will also be able to control where your text will end on each page. You can manipulate the story to create a dramatic page turn!

Some writers like to prepare a cork board and push pins to assemble the storyboard. Others use a poster board and post it notes. Position the board wherever gives you the best visual perspective. Write out your story board layout on the cards or notes, then you can assemble your storyboard by putting up one card at a time to create a spread. Move the cards around to experiment with the story’s sequence, pacing and plot. Brainstorm with your illustrator and get their ideas. After our first few drafts on post it notes, my husband and I used Adobe Acrobat to assemble our storyboard, it was easier for us to send our notes and ideas back and forth to our illustrator.

Although a storyboard typically has a single-page spread, 15 two-page spreads and the final one-page spread. Not all picture books are created equal. Most picture books are between 24-32 pages. The printing process requires that the number of pages be multiples of 8. Common sizes are 24, 32, or 40 pages. By far 32 pages is the most common and is where you should begin. Once your storyboard is perfect and ready to transform into your manuscript, keep in mind that your trim size, margins, and line spacing all will play a roll in your final product. Whatever platform you choose to self publish, make sure you do your research and set up your template before you begin to type it out. Or you can download one online. I will link a few below.

I created a 32 page template to help you visualize the interior structure of a standard 32 page picture book (Anatomy of a 32 page Picture Book Blog post coming next week!) and a storyboard layout template to help you with your storyboard draft. I hope you find it helpful!

Click on the links below to download.

32 Page Picture Book Layout

Storyboard Layout

Ask yourself these questions once you’ve drafted your storyboard:

  1. Is there enough action and visual interest happening in the story?
  2. Is there a change of a scenery, or does everything happen in one location?
  3. Is each part of the storyboard moving the story forward?
  4. Are there dramatic page turns?

Book Formatting Templates

https://www.canva.com

https://www.bookbaby.com/templates

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834230

Writing a Children’s Book

books, Writing Help FREE Templates

How many times have you been sitting at dinner, or in a café chatting with friends and someone says, “I have this great idea for a story!” I can tell you this has happened to me personally so many times. It comes with the territory of being a writer, or a creative thinker. We live in a world that constantly inspires us. What I have learned throughout this Self- Publishing process is that an idea is worthless unless you do something with it. An idea is not enough on its own, you have to run with it, to make it worthwhile. Even if you don’t aspire to be a bestselling author, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have your story published and hold a copy of your idea, your story, in your hand. It is a really great feeling. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a commercial success. Even if your intentions aren’t to be in every bookstore around the globe (hey, you never know!) your personal success, and sense of accomplishment is what is most important.

If you want to be a professional, you have to be professional about it. You have to think on a much wider scale. Ask yourself this, “What is my niche’?” Is your story aimed for a particular age group, or for children who are learning to tie their shoelaces, or becoming potty trained? Are you trying to inspire or encourage? Is your story about the scary monster under the bed? Do you want to take your readers on an adventure? You will need to narrow it down and really decide what you goal is. And remember, wherever you are taking your readers, always make your story ends Happily Ever After.

Story development. You want a broad, international appeal if you want your story to be a success. If your idea is based on a bedtime story you made up for your own child, think bigger. Not that its necessarily a bad idea, but there are 100’s of books just like that already published. You want your book to stand out, be set apart from all the others. If you are publishing your own book, than this is fine, but if you are thinking, “Oh I would really like to have my books in shops!” Then you really have to start putting yourself into a different frame of mind.

Setting a budget. Ask yourself this, “How big of a project do I want this to be?” Does your story need illustrations? Do you want to hire someone to create your cover art? Should you hire an editor? Do you need someone to help format your book? Technically, you don’t have to spend any money on your book. But if you want to put out a quality book, and I know you do, then you should take setting a budget into consideration.

Editing and revisions. The story that you have might be really good. The chances of you writing the perfect manuscript right off are rather slim. You will need to edit and rewrite again and again (and again and again…) to develop your story. Don’t hold onto your favorite phrases or tiny ideas you have in your story. If you have a beautifully written line, or a scene that after editing doesn’t work in your storyline anymore, get rid of it! You will spend more time and energy trying to make it work. Let it go. There is a formula and flow for picture books. A lyrical, rhythmic flow. If you are trying to make it rhyme, and it wont – don’t force it. Just tell the story. A picture book does not have to be a rhyme. Make sure words that rhyme mean something.

Illustration and Cover Design. For obvious reasons, pictures are really important. Make sure your illustrator is a picture book illustrator who understands that. Don’t cram your story with description, let the illustrator help set the scene. Think of your story as a script for your illustrator. They will read it and have idea’s to help enhance your writing. Think about hiring a cover designer.

Networking and Social Media. If you really want to be a children’s books author it will help you exponentially if you have the support and help from other authors. They will help inspire and encourage you. They are a great resource for all the things you don’t know.

Self Publishing. There are so many different platforms that you can use today to self publish your story. We used Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing. But there are several very reputable sites, do some research and use what works best for your project. Sometimes a story just comes into your head. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to cross the finish line. It can be a daunting process, and it really isn’t easy. You will need to dedicate some time and learn the different software’s for layouts. If you don’t have any experience in the printing and design world, there will definitely be a learning curve. But don’t be discouraged. You can learn. Uploading your final perfect manuscript will be a great reward. Know you will make mistakes along the way.

Outsourcing help. Think about what you can and cannot do. I knew I wanted to be in the drivers seat for the interior book design, but even as a seasoned editor I knew I wanted another set of eyes proofreading my story. I also wanted an unbiased opinion on my writing. Someone to constructively criticize my work, and help me turn my story into the manuscript I wanted it to be. Of course my mom is going to think my story is amazing, she’s my mom! (She has to say that.) There are many sites you can refer to to help you hire a freelancer. I used UpWork.com. There are over 50 categories you can refer to for writing. I was able post my job and search for freelancers who I thought would be a good fit for my project and invite them to bid on my posting. I hired an amazing editor. It was money well spent!

To recap: Set a timeline and figure out your budget. Write your story, edit the story, really develop the story. If you need to, hire an illustrator. Edit your story again with the illustrations, then edit it some more. (You will do this a lot!) Hire an editor if you decide to and send to them for review. Make sure your format and layout is correct for the platform you are publishing your book on. Order a proof for review. Let other people read it and tell you what they think. Send ARC copies, get feedback from your target audience. And remember that even the most experienced self publisher has to go through all these steps.

The next step – Marketing your book! This is a whole other world. Some people can just sell things. For others this will take time. I will have another post dedicated specifically to marketing your book!

It takes an inordinate amount of luck to have a best seller. But even if you want to have a few copies of your book for your family and friends, which is great, hopefully these tips may help you.

And lastly , get your mind on your next book! The most successful authors never stop writing.

Stay inspired friends!

Star light, Star bright…

books

Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

Hopes and Dreams

I never imagined I would be working on a Children’s book series with my husband. I never thought I would know about things like Bookstagram and Authortube, or what ARC copies were. But here we are 1 day away from announcing the release date of our debut Children’s book!

I always dreamed of writing a book someday. I had a few chapters written, but then life happened and honestly, I couldn’t even tell you where it was saved. I always thought to myself, I am not sure what to do once I get a book written, so I think my brain just started stalling. Years ago there was no such think as Amazon Direct Publishing, or IngramSpark. Even with 100 YouTube videos and “how-to” articles, the whole self publishing platform has been quite the learning curve. Connecting with you all on Champ and Nessie has been a dream come true. I want to thank you all for following along with us on our self publishing journey.

I have read that the #1 rule for marketing your book (or yourself as an author) is to make sure you are honest with your community. If you say you are going to do something – do it. No false promises. I struggled with this last month because we decided to delay our book release. I felt like a failure. And most importantly, I felt like I failed you all. The point I am trying to make is, we are all human. Sometimes circumstances are out of our control and you hit a road block. So I did something I have never done before – I did not quit. I refused to be defeated, especially by technology. So, I restocked the Oreo’s and regrouped. As it turns out, this was the best thing that could have happened. It showed me that not only was I capable of overcoming this obstacle, I am now better because of it! And so is Champ and Nessie! I can’t wait to share our story with you, and I pray you will never give up on your hopes and dreams.

Think about your hopes and dreams and then move a little closer to them each day. Embrace them, nurture them, and work towards them every day. Then follow your hopes and dreams as far as you can. Do not let little road blocks defeat you. Let each day be filled with new possibilities, and every question keep you going. Like Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Raising Readers

books

Children are made readers in the laps of their parents.

Emilie Buchwald

At my baby shower in lieu of a wishing well, I asked everyone to bring their favorite children’s book and inscribe it. As a writer, and lover of books, I wanted to start Logan’s library as soon as possible. And let’s be honest, books can be expensive.

My almost four year old has accumulated over 150 books. Each one in its special place on his meticulously organized bookshelf. (I can’t wait to get Champ and Nessie on the shelf!) We have spent so many Monday’s at Story-time meeting authors at Barnes and Noble. And of course, we come home with a new book every week. Since birth, I have purchased a special book for him for every milestone and wrote something Love, Mom inside every one. I’m that mom crying in the aisle at B&N reading a story like I’m reading a Hallmark card. For instance, have you read Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You, by Nancy Tillman? Or God Gave Us You, by Lisa Tawn Bergman? PSA if you didn’t, grab tissues! I always like to purchase a book as a souvenir or a gift. If it brings you back (or takes you to), a special place or memory even for a moment, it’s worth the space it takes up on the shelf.

If you read the blog post “On Frayne Pond” which was published on Champ and Nessie September 11, 2019. You would have read about why we love Vermont. While we were there this past summer we took a ride to the “OG” Vermont Country Store. Being a tiny book lover, Logan picked up Night Night Vermont by Katherine Sully. It’s a beautifully illustrated story depicting all the memorable landmarks and landscapes in Vermont. Every time we read it, he recognizes a place we went or something we did in Vermont and it jogs his little memory. It warms my heart to see him excited for reading. Pair that with my D. Lasser Ceramic hand crafted mug, and you have a match made in bedtime heaven. Bring on the Sleepy Time tea!

Everything is linked below!

Night Night Vermont

God Gave Us You

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You


https://www.lasserceramics.com

Vermont Country Store

On Frayne Pond

books

These Walls… If these walls could talk of things that they remember…Stories of cherished loved ones, rooms filled with joy and shouts of laughter. If these hallowed halls could share the tale they speak…of children having pillow fights and playing games of hide and seek. If these window panes were eyes, I guess they would have seen it all…Each dream dared big enough to dream, each little tear, each hug…each sigh. If this house could share its talks of the lives inside these walls…it would tell you of unfailing love and all the memories tucked away…That is what these walls would have to say.

Anonymous

Many years ago, before Zeb and I were officially a couple, he asked me if I would be interested in spending a weekend together in one of his favorite places on Earth. His family home in Vermont. Being that I was head over heels for him, I happily agreed. He later told me he knew “I was the one” that weekend, and truth be told, I knew too.

From the moment we arrived I knew this was a very special place for Zeb. We spent the next 72 hours wrapped up in conversation, holding hands watching the fireplace flicker. He was filled with stories and recanted memory after memory of all the time he spent there as a child. I just sat there in awe of the affection he had for his family. I was having all the feels for his loving and sweet sentiment.

We relived all those memories together as we swam in the pond on the property, took a spin in the kayak, listened to his Grandmother’s Mozart and Beethoven collection as we sipped coffee from our ceramic mugs. Quietly enjoying each other’s company and the peacefulness of the evergreens from the deck perched off the side of the house. We walked hand in hand through his Grandparents beautiful garden, picking the last of the blueberries and raspberries. It was completely enchanting. He took me to Bromley Ski Mountain and we took a ride on the alpine slide, ate artisanal cheese from the local farm, drank wine and consumed about 4 boxes of maple candies. I vividly remember Zeb standing in the doorway to the kitchen holding two glasses of wine, he said “So, I’m not seeing anyone else…how about you don’t see anyone else either?” And that sealed the deal on our now 11+ years together.

This past winter our 3 year old son made his first ski tracks at Bromley, and played in the ski school while we drank a beer around the outdoor fire pit and reminisced about how we “fell in love” in Vermont. In July we spent a few days together “On Frayne Pond”, what I jokingly refer to it as. We are blessed to be able to keep making new memories here as a family. Watching our son fearlessly jump off the dock in the pond with our nephew, swimming and playing together. As their Great Grandparents, Grandfather, Uncles, Cousins and Father has in the years before. Precious times spent together in a very precious place.

We all have different memories of this magical place. But together we have a beautiful story that will be apart of the “Frayne Pond” legacy forever.