A big shout out to the fifth graders at Lewis and Clark Elementary!
I had a great time today talking with them about writing nonfiction. They listened well, asked good questions, and made me feel right at home.
They even introduced me to a resource I didn’t know existed, myON.com, an interactive digital library. We listened to some of my VAMPIRES AND LIGHT book. Cool voices! These smart students and their equally-wise teachers use it all the time.
Thanks to super teachers, Ms. Raney, Ms. Williams, and Mr. Lewis, and to Assistant Principal, Katie Lawson.
Go get ’em, fifth graders! I can’t wait to see where YOUR interests take you!
[Photo credit: Ms. Raney]
Happy New Year, Everyone!
I went a little ape in 2013, and my newest book, CHIMPANZEES: THE SMARTEST ANIMALS, is the result.
Here’s what my publisher, ABDO, has to say about this book:
Go inside the mind of one of the most intelligent animals on Earth. Learn more about chimpanzees, how they use their cleverness to survive, and how they are astonishing scientists with their surprising smarts. Complete with well-researched, clearly written informational text, primary sources with accompanying questions, charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, and maps, multiple prompts, and more. Aligned to Common Core Standards and correlated to state standards. Core Library is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.
I hope you have a chance to read about these amazing, oh-so-human-like creatures. They are fascinating and endearing and definitely worth taking care of.
All the best to you and yours in 2014!
Here’s a cool idea: a blog which celebrates picture book biographies! It’s hosted by Donna Bowman Bratton. You can read all about it here: http://www.birthdayographies.blogspot.com/.
Thanks, Donna, for featuring my biography of Taylor Swift! And Happy Birthday, Taylor!
I’m delighted to announce that my newest celebrity biographies were officially released yesterday. Please join me in welcoming DEMI LOVATO: TAKING ANOTHER CHANCE and VICTORIA JUSTICE: TELEVISION’S IT GIRL (Lerner Press, 2013).
And guess what? School Library Journal has already reviewed the series, which also includes books about Bella Thorne, Carly Rae Jepsen, Cody Simpson, and the band The Wanted! You can read their review below.
“Gr 5-8–Along with high-appeal content, these celebrity biographies also offer high visual appeal with an engaging, colorful format and numerous photos. However, there is perhaps too much happening. Sidebars (which details the stars’ favorite foods, movies, etc.) can distract from the texts, which are often choppy and too casual. Quotes from the actors/performers are scattered throughout, and full-color photos adorn almost every page (in addition to a final spread in each book devoted just to “pics”). The titles read more like teen magazines than biographies, but that might not be a problem if libraries have high demand for information about these particular stars.”
I sure had fun writing about these ladies. I hope you have fun reading about them!
My latest book, GRIZZLY BEAR, is out with ABDO, and I wanted you to know.
ABDO says this about the book:
“Around the world, skilled animals hunt and catch their prey. Learn more about the grizzly bear and the special characteristics that make it such an excellent predator. This title takes you on the hunt with well-researched, clearly written informational text, primary sources with accompanying questions, charts, graphs, diagrams, timelines, and maps, multiple prompts, and more! Aligned to Common Core Standards and correlated to state standards. Core Library is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.”
I hope you’re having an awesome day!
critique. (I promise, I had been doing this long enough to know that you should
never expect to get a manuscript acquired from a critique. But this time it
group critique with a Random House editor to be held at the Jennifer De Chiarra
literary agency. (Thanks so much to Jennifer De Chiarra and to Stacy Mozer for
these awesome critique opportunities!) So I sent off two manuscripts.
got an email with the title of one of the manuscripts. Was the editor writing
me for some reason?
from the editor who was giving me the critique. It was from a wonderful agent I
had submitted to via an online form a month or two earlier. The agent (now my wonderful agent) liked my manuscript
and wondered if I had anything else.
a very good mood. What a great day!
amazingly detailed written critiques she had prepared for each of us. She was
so thoughtful. As I began to skim through mine, I was very pleased. She was
very complimentary about my first manuscript and believed it would find an
about my manuscript. Again, she was very complimentary, but the final line
really got me. She “would like to consider acquiring it for their list”
with my agent. Hooray! She liked many of the manuscripts I had sent her. Soon
after we heard from my editor, and WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT? was
acquired. It was quite the whirlwind (though as I waited to hear back time
seemed to pass very slowly :o) .)
heard from both my agent and my editor was incredible!
three or four rounds of revisions on DIGGERS. The first round was right after
it was acquired. I completed the revisions that my editor had suggested on my
manuscript in her initial critique. I removed some verses entirely and replaced
them with others. Others I polished to make them flow better.
revisions is when I changed the tractor verse from “Do their dads sing Old
MacDonald for a barnyard bedtime song?” to “Do their dads sing Old TruckDonald
for a barnyard bedtime song?” That idea just came to me as I was making
the verse flow better and it has been another hit with my young readers. During
the truck slumber parties I often do for little ones, we all have a grand time
singing Old Truckdonald. :o)
changing one of my verses to make it about monster trucks. Some parents and
grandparents have mentioned how much their kids appreciate the inclusion of
monster trucks, so this was another awesome suggestion!
me with one more super-important question. I had not answered the question I
posed in my title. Where DO diggers sleep at night? Yikes! How could I NOT answer
that question? But, how COULD I answer that question? After some thought, I
added two more verses that imagined where all the trucks could be sleeping…
though I kept it in question form just like the rest of the manuscript.
In each round of revision, she challenged me to make the manuscript better and
us a bit about it, without giving away the plot?
“a tale of a very competitive dinosaur named Tina and some disappearing
contestants at the Miss Dinosaur Pagaent.”
came from a joke. One day for some reason, I joked to my husband about a
dinosaur beauty pageant. He laughed and told me, “That could be a picture
book.” The idea stuck in my head and I kept working on it through many,
many rounds of revisions. (In fact, I even wrote a blog post about this one
titled “How Many Times Can I Revise 500 Words?”)
TIARA-SAURUS REX will be published by Bloomsbury
in 2014. Can you tell us about
the acquisitions process?
My wonderful editor at Bloomsbury wrote back to my agent and said that she was
in the process of prepping the manuscript for an acquisition meeting with her
group. From the time we got that email, I was so excited and so nervous. What
were the chances of my manuscript going through acquisitions? I knew that many
manuscripts got that far and still got rejected. So I hoped and waited. (And
the NY Metro area had a major storm during that time that shut everything down.)
phone call from my awesome agent. We were going to get an offer! And then came
the email with the offer! It was real!
picture books in the works. A couple about dinosaurs, a couple about jazz, and
one fun one about a dragon.
most surprising thing about it? What’s the most rewarding?
thing about officially being an author is how badly I keep wanting to get the
next book published. Somehow in my dreams of being an author, I always imagined
how wonderful it would be to get a book published. (Which it is! Yay!) But in
my dreams, I almost imagined that as the end. But in real life, it is fantastic
to get a book published…. and I can’t wait to work on getting the next one
out there (and hopefully the next one and the next one and the next one!).
and bookstore visits. I was a classroom teacher for many years and I love to teach
writing. It is so much fun to get to be the visiting author who teaches kids
us about your publishing journey, Brianna. Best of luck with the rest of the trip!
You know how sometimes a situation presents itself, and you think, “I could help with that!”?
That’s what happened to me late last week when a writing buddy posted this notice on Verla Kay’s blueboards, a children’s book writing and illustrating message board:
“Well, I recently accepted a position as principal/curriculum coordinator at a local charter school here in Texas. We are a PK-8th grade campus with approximately 300 students. Over 90% are at poverty level. Our library is coming along slowly. We are in need of lower level AR books (PK-2nd grade for sure). Our library budget is nonexistent. We could use new or gently used books. If anyone knows of publishers/bookstores/individuals who might be willing to donate some books, I’d greatly appreciate it. We are the Ehrhart School in Beaumont, TX. Thanks so much!
I thought about all those kids needing books for their library with no funding and with school just weeks away. I thought about the complimentary copies of my books just sitting at home in my office not being used.
I contacted Larry and asked if he’d like some of my books. I knew they didn’t meet the Accelerated Reader requirement he requested, so I wasn’t sure. Larry responded with a big yes. I got the address of the school and boxed up my books.
I happened to mention my exchange with Larry to a writer friend. She wanted to donate some of her books, too. That started the ball rolling.
I contacted Larry, again, and asked if he’d be okay with me posting his message about his school’s need for books on my blog. Maybe other authors and publishing folks would donate their books. Maybe they would re-post, re-blog, tweet, and message their friends. Maybe we could send lots and lots of books to Beaumont, not just my five.
Thus, Books for Beaumont was created!
If you’d like to help the kids of The Ehrhart School, please send your books to:
The Ehrhart School
Dr. Larry Haynes
Beaumont, Texas 77701
Here’s their website: http://ehrhartschool.org/index.jsp.
Feel free to share this post. Let’s fill the shelves of the Ehrhart School’s library. School starts August 26, so don’t delay!
(And don’t forget: your donations and postage are tax deductible as business expenses.)
Thanks for helping with Books for Beaumont!