Story Boarding

img_3248-1

It’s a new year and the last month and a half have been really busy with life, travel, and holidays. However, Timmy’s Show and Tell is progressing well. Rose has completed the storyboarding and character sketching stage, and has moved onto the full page illustrations which I have been excited to see develop from the sketches.

The storyboarding happened in two stages. Rose and I communicated about how the illustrations would appear in terms of full, half, or multi spreads. She designed a large canvas where she drew out the pages and sketched very bare images as we continued our discussion of the illustrations. Some pages were more difficult this time to relate the images in my mind, but dialoguing with Rose helped us think through how the words and the images would work together to communicate the story.

After designing the one page storyboard, she took the illustrations and created a storyboard book sketching more detailed pictures and scribbling in words to see how the space would work. The book was great to start to see how the story would come alive in readers’ hands.

While creating the storyboard, Rose also worked on character sketches. The two main characters, Timmy and Flippy, were the ones I had the most opinions about. She had my sons demonstrate different poses that Timmy might be in at different points in the story. Sometimes they posed more reluctantly than other times. They enjoyed being part of the process though and asked many questions. It was fun seeing them become a larger part of creating the story they inspired. In terms of Flippy, I thought about a bullfrog first, but after researching bullfrogs, it appears they do not make good pets. So we went with a smaller version: the green frog (not a tree frog).

green-frog

I hope you enjoy the video of the sketch book below!

 

And the Winner Is…

img_3256

Timmy’s Show and Tell! It was close in the voting. Thanks to everyone who participated! Rose has already started on the storyboard for this book, and it is coming along great. For those of you who voted for Forest Friends in the Fall and Once My Daddy Bounced a Ball, you may be interested in knowing that as a consolation prize for those manuscripts I submitted them to Chronicle Books.

Chronicle Books is a traditional publishing company that still takes unsolicited manuscripts, the catch being that they read thousands of manuscripts a day. It can take up to six months to hear back, and you only hear back if they select your manuscript. I understand they are busy. I understand that I am probably one of a million authors submitting manuscripts to them. But they also say if you don’t try, you won’t succeed. So here’s to throwing my hat in the ring.

Rose and I have begun to collaborate again with the story Timmy’s Show and Tell (if you haven’t read the excerpt you can read it here). My plan is to blog about our stages as we go along for anyone interested in the process behind the creation.

The first stage has been finished, which is writing the initial draft of the manuscript. This manuscript I wrote a while ago, but have recently come back to it and edited some of the sentences. The editing process of the manuscript for a picture book can be layered over the process of illustrating because as the stages of illustration begin, the manuscript will be revisited over and over again to make sure the words and the illustrations complement each other in the best possible way.

The second stage has also been completed, which is designing the page layout in the book. This involves deciding what kind of spreads the words will go with in the book. Spreads typically come in three major formats: full spreads where the illustration covers two pages of the book; half spreads where the illustration covers one page; and multiple illustration spreads where 2 or more small “snapshot” illustrations cover one or two pages.

The third stage is creating the storyboard, which is where we are currently. I will follow up with a blog about that process upon completion of the stage.

Once My Daddy Bounced a Ball

img_3228-2

The last option is Once My Daddy Bounced a Ball. This is a book that travels through the imagination of a child after the daddy bounces his rubber ball and loses it. It is geared toward 2-4 yr olds, but with the illustrations could be more 6 months to 4 years old. This book could be a board book as well as a picture book. The excerpt is the beginning and the end of the story. Enjoy!

 

Once My Daddy Bounced a Ball…

Once my daddy bounced a ball…

Which bounced off a giant flower shade in a garden…  

And then it bounced off a speeding car driving down the road too fast…

And then it bounced off a school bus taking children to school…

And then it bounced off a train taking people to work…

And then it bounced off a helicopter taking off from a hospital…

And then it bounced into a baseball stadium…

And then it bounced off a baseball bat swung by a player…

Which made me sad because I liked my bouncy ball…

But the next morning, I found it in my backyard.

 

Just a reminder if you haven’t already to read the other posts and vote by liking or sharing whichever one/ones you feel are the best. Thank you for helping me decide which book I should pursue next!

Forest Friends in the Fall

img_3225

The next option is Forest Friends in the Fall. This book is a combination of 3 short stories about Red the cardinal, Squeaky the Squirrel, and Monk the Chipmunk. These stories would be geared toward 3-8 yr olds and could be used as readers in a school setting. The following excerpt is the first of the three stories. Enjoy!

 

Forest Friends in the Fall

Squeaky and Red Play Hide and Seek

“Good morning,” said Squeaky as she came out of her leaf nest high up in a tree.

“Good morning,” said Red coming out of his nest and hopping onto a branch. “It looks like it is going to be a beautiful day. It’s a little cold, but sunny.”

“What do you want to do today?” Squeaky asked.

“Let’s play hide and seek,” replied Red.

“Ok, but you know the rules, no flying,” said Squeaky.

“And no climbing trees,” answered Red.

“Right,” said Squeaky, “I’ll hide first.” Squeaky scrambled down the tree to the forest floor. Red glided down from his branch.

“I’ll count over there. You go hide,” said Red.

“Ok,” said Squeaky and she scurried off.

“1, 2, 3,” Red started to count. Squeaky saw a hole in the bottom of a tree. “I could hide over there,” she thought. “No. Red will look there first.” She ran farther down the path.

“4, 5, 6,” she heard Red counting. She saw a bush and thought, “There is a good hiding place.” Then she thought, “No. Red will look there next.” She ran still farther down the path.

Then she saw it; a hole in the ground, and she quickly scurried into it backwards to hide her tail.

“7, 8, 9, 10! Ready or not here I come,” yelled Red.

“He’ll never find me in here,” whispered Squeaky to herself.

“Who won’t find you?” A voice in the hole said.

“Ahhhh!” yelled Squeaky jumping from the hole.

“Found you!” Red yelled seeing Squeaky jump from the hole.

“That’s not fair,” said Squeaky.

“What’s not fair?” said the voice in the hole.

“You scared me,” answered Squeaky. “So you found me.” She said to Red.

“Who scared you?” Red asked.

“The voice in the hole,” answered Squeaky.

“My name in Monk,” said the voice in the hole. “Why did you come into my house?”

“Sorry,” said Squeaky. “Red and I are playing a game.”

Monk poked his head out of the hole. “What game are you playing?” He asked.

“Hide and seek,” replied Red.

“Can I play?” Monk asked.

“Of course,” said Squeaky, “but first you have to come out of your hole.” Monk came out.

“It’s your turn to count, Squeaky,” said Red. “I found you even if you were scared.”

“Ok, fine,” said Squeaky walking over to the nearest tree and covering her eyes.

“Remember the rules, Red, no flying or climbing trees.”

“Ok,” he replied. “Come on Monk let’s go hide.”

“1, 2, 3,” Squeaky started to count while Red and Monk hid.

The new friends spent the rest of the day playing hide and seek together.

Adventures with Brothers

cropped-img_2464.jpg

The second option is Adventure with Brothers (Book 1). This is the first of a series of three books each told from the perspective of one of the three brothers. The first book is told from the perspective of the oldest brother. In each book there will be three short stories. The first story is their adventures riding bikes. The second story is about special Fridays where they go to work with their daddy and their adventure on public transportation. The story here is the last of the three in the first book. It is the story of the older two brothers waiting for their younger brother to be born and to be able to play with them.  These stories target the ages of 3-8. I hope you enjoy it!

 

The Long Wait

Our mama and daddy told us we were going to have a new baby. So we waited and waited and waited.

Then we found out we were going to have a new baby brother.

When mama asked us what we would do with the baby, and my brother said, “Smash the baby!” and then laughed when mama and daddy said, “No, no. We will love the baby.”

So we waited and waited and waited. And Mama’s tummy got bigger and bigger and bigger just like it did with my little brother.

Then one day Mama and Daddy went to the Birth Center and left us with Grandma and Grandpa.

So we waited and waited and waited. Grandpa and Grandma brought us to the center later and we met our new brother. He was small and cried a lot.

When we brought him home we wanted to hold him and kiss him and hug him. We also wanted to play with him, but Mama and Daddy said he was too little.

So we waited and waited and waited. Then one day baby brother started to laugh and laugh. So we danced and jumped and sang. We still wanted to play with him, but Mama and Daddy said he was still too small.

So we waited and waited and waited. Then one day baby brother sat up and didn’t fall down. So we ran and jumped around him. We still wanted to play with him, but Mama and Daddy said he was still too small.

So we waited and waited and waited. Then one day baby brother started to crawl. So we crawled with him. We still wanted to play with him, but Mama and Daddy said he was still too small, but that he was getting bigger.

So we waited and waited and waited. Then one day baby brother started to stand up. So we held his hands and helped him walk. We still wanted to play with him, but Mama and Daddy said he was still too small, but that he would be big enough soon.

So we waited and waited and waited. Then one day baby brother started to walk. So we ran past him showing him how to run. We still wanted to play with him, but Mama and Daddy said he was still too small, but that we needed to wait just a little longer.

So we waited and waited and waited. Then one day baby brother started to run. So we ran with him, and played with him. We rode our balance bikes and kicked balls and played cars. The wait was over and it was worth it. We love our baby brother who isn’t a baby anymore.

Onward and Upward

img_3208

Even though my first book, Speckles and His New Home, hasn’t yet been officially released, I am thinking about the next manuscript I would like to publish. In order to help me decide which one I should pursue, I am going to share four excerpts from different manuscripts over the next couple weeks for people to vote on. I will also include a blurb about the story.

This is how I would like people to vote:

  • If you really like the manuscript excerpt, please share the link of the excerpt on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. This would be the highest vote for the manuscript.
  • If you like the manuscript excerpt, please like the blog post on Facebook or Twitter.
  • If you don’t like the manuscript excerpt (I won’t be offended), please do nothing.

I will be collaborating with the illustrator of Speckles, Rose Anderson, again for this next book. We hope to blog about the progress of creating the second book as well once the votes are in. Look for the posts to come out in the following order:

 

Timmy’s Show and Tell – Sept. 27th

Adventures with Brothers (Book1) – Sept. 30th

Forest Friends in the Fall – Oct. 4th

Once My Daddy Bounced a Ball – Oct. 7th

 

If you would like to participate, but have not yet signed up to follow my blog, please do! Your participation is greatly appreciated. I look forward to all the comments, but please remember the excerpts are rough drafts of the possible manuscripts.

There Are A Lot of Speckles!

img_5760

It has been a long wait, but the wait is over. Speckles and His New Home has arrived! The last part of the publishing experience now begins: getting the book into the hands of readers. This seems to be the complicated part of the publishing experience, as I noted earlier. Now it is time to schedule events, do readings, go to markets, etc.

It is exciting, but can also feel overwhelming when thinking about all the time and effort that still needs to go into the distribution of books. I don’t regret it. It was all worth it to read this book I wrote and my sister-in-law illustrated to my sons on the couch.

I was at work when the book arrived working on planning the Spring semester for my students. My phone rang and it was my son Liam who loves to call people and talk on the phone.

“Hi Daddy!”

“Hey buddy, what’s up?”

“Speckles came today.”

“Awesome, buddy!”

“There are a lot of Speckles!” I laughed, imagining the boxes stacked taller than both of my sons.

“Do you want to read it when I come home tonight?”

“Yeah before bed.”

My wife, Rebekah, texted a photo of the boxes after I got off the phone with Liam. They were indeed stacked taller than both of my sons.

To be honest, it was hard to concentrate at work and not go around showing my colleagues the picture Rebekah sent to me. So that’s what I did… sometimes.

When I got home from work, my boys were playing on the floor with toys, and a book was out on the table. They told me they had already read it, and liked it a lot. I sat down and read it with them again before supper. And we read it again before bed. It was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Having a Mascot: My Experience with Indie-Publishing

FullSizeRender

My first book, Speckles and His New Home, will be released Oct. 4th, 2016, but my journey with Mascot started in March of 2015. After contacting them on the advice of my friend Keri, who had already been working with Mascot, I submitted five or six of my manuscripts. I waited less than a week to hear back from Josh at Mascot.

When I submitted my book ideas, I was not completely sure I wanted to go with Mascot. Josh, the representative who called to talk with me about my manuscripts, was very encouraging, and talking to him started to convince me that Mascot could be my road to publishing. After learning more about the company and what they would be able to offer for the price they were asking, I decided to take the leap and start the journey.

The first step was signing a contract, so that I could be assigned a project manager who would work with me and Rose. Meghan was my first project manager. She helped guide Rose in how the illustrations would need to be formatted and worked with me on editing the manuscript. It was helpful to have outside (non-family or friend) feedback to see how another might view the story. Every suggestion she made was just that–a suggestion. I maintained creative control and never felt pressured to change anything. I did, however, take many of the suggestions and made changes accordingly.

About a year into the process I was assigned a new project manager, Jenna, who then started to work with us. She helped us navigate the submission of the illustrations, editing the PDF of the book, and getting it onto the printers. She was very helpful with suggestions and made herself available for any questions we had along the way.

The last member of the group I have worked with is Kate in the marketing department. She has provided me with some materials and guidance as to how the process of selling and distributing my book will work. The dialogue has been beneficial, helping me think through the huge task of getting my book into the hands of readers.

The journey has been a long one, and it is one that hasn’t yet finished. I will continue to work with Mascot as I wait to receive Speckles and His New Home, and begin the final phase of the adventure: finding people to join me and read this story.

Finding Mascot: My Road to Indie-Publishing

3B43ABDE-7435-4449-9355-D1223CD3D9D7

There’s more to publishing a book than writing, editing and printing a manuscript. If that was all, more people would do it. There is the added element of illustrations for a picture book which, if you draw as well as me, will be a talent you will have to find elsewhere for an additional price. Once you get the book into the printers, there is the marketing and distribution, the largest, most time consuming aspect of publishing. Publishing a book can become a massive undertaking.

Distribution of the book takes a lot of leg work especially if it is your first book. Publishing companies usually take care of marketing and distribution. If it is a traditional publishing company in the industry like Simon & Schuster, Candlewick Press, Harcourt, etc. then you will have great distribution (and most likely a literary agent), but make pennies on the individual book sales, which feels like you aren’t being adequately compensated for the original creativity of the work. You may even lose creative control once the book is accepted.

If you self-publish the entire process is up to you, and the task of marketing and distribution can become overwhelming unless you have great talents with social media and web design, a lot of networks, and a team of volunteers. However, there is a third option that I will call indie-publishers.

For an upfront cost, these publishers assist with the task of editing and printing your manuscript as well as marketing and distribution. They make themselves available to help get your book out there where you may not have connections; not at the same level as a traditional publishing company, but they also don’t leave you with pennies for your individual book sales. In fact, you maintain the creative license through the production and keep the majority of the profits from individual book sales.

I’ve searched for a literary agent, but they are difficult to find. I sent in many different manuscripts to many agents who were listed as working with children’s books or picture books. However, most of the responses (and maybe they were just being nice) basically said they liked my stories, but it wasn’t the type of writing with which they usually work. They seem to be very specialized and finding one that would support me and be a voice with the publishing companies proved to be difficult and time consuming. It took a minimum of about 6 weeks for the agents to get back to me, some up to 6 months, and some not at all.

So I looked into other possibilities. My friend, Keri Ems, who was in the process of publishing with Mascot Books, recommended I look into them. After seeing the cost for self-publishing wasn’t much different from indie-publishing, I decided to submit some manuscripts to Mascot. They told me they liked my manuscripts and helped me choose the one they thought would most appeal to readers for my first book. Thus, the process began to publish Speckles and His New Home.