Monday, March 30, 2015

A Surprise At The Library

At the beginning of last week, it was warm and spring-like and my crocus were in bloom. But before I really had a chance to enjoy them, that last sprinkle of snow from old man winter's big duffle bag of weather descended upon us. Unfortunately, my crocus did not survive, but I still see remnants of what will undoubtable be beautiful daffodils once the snow melts.


And speaking of beautiful, when Emily and I made a trip to the library, I found they had acquired some new books. Of course that in and of itself is a wonderfully exciting event, but imagine how my level of excitement jumped dramatically when I found two of the books were by some of my on-line author friends.

The first book I eagerly devoured was Peanut Butter and Jellyfish by the ever popular Jarrett Krosoczka. It is a delicious tale of friendship and forgiveness. Peanut Butter and Jellyfish are great friends who work hard to ignore the unkind comments that Crabby spews at them each day. Despite his bullying, the two go to Crabby's rescue when he is trapped in a lobster trap. Working together they manage to rescue him, find out the reason behind his taunting, and in the end, make a new friend out of a one time enemy.


The second book I read has been garnering lots of praise and recognition, especially since it recently won the Caldecott Medal. It is The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. Beautifully illustrated and written, Beekle is the story of an imaginary friend waiting to be imagined. His wait is long and disappointing, so he sets off on a journey to the real world to find his friend. The real world seems strange to him and after much searching, he still doesn't find his friend. Just when it seems that all hope is lost, he hears someone calling to him. His friend has finally found him and they find they are just right for each other.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


The Top Five Things I’ve Learned as an Author       

 

Patience: The publishing industry often seems to move at a snail’s pace, so if you don’t have
patience you will go mad. It takes time for agents, editors, or publishers to go through the mountains of slush they receive on a daily basis. Because of this, an author needs to learn to play the waiting game without becoming discouraged.


 

There Are No Short Cuts: There are no short cuts when it comes to the publishing industry, at least not if you want a quality book. Whether you publish traditionally, self-publish, or go the hybrid route, you cannot skip important steps like having a professional editor read through your work. You also cannot have the “Field Of Dreams” mentality. Just because you write it, does not mean the fans will come.  It takes a lot of hard work to build a fan base, a platform, or a brand.

 

It’s Up To You: And speaking of hard work and brand building, it is up to you. It is not your
publisher’s job to promote you and your book. They may offer assistance, but not necessarily. By definition, a publisher is a person or company that prepares and issues books, journals, music, or other works for sale. They are not your public relations department. They are not your salesman. They are not your go-to-guy.

 

You Will Make Mistakes: You will make mistakes along the way and that’s okay. Anyone who takes the time to try new things, anyone who takes the time to be creative, or anyone who takes the time to interact with others is bound to make mistakes. I have sent an agent a request and typed Mr. instead of Mrs., as well as having asked a fellow literary blogger if he would link to my page because I needed more traffic. Definite faux pas, but mistakes I learned from and did not repeat.

 

Persistence: Establishing yourself takes time as mentioned in point one, but it also takes persistence.
You have to stick with your writing, your marketing, your social networking, your pursuit of an agent or publisher, your pursuit of excellence, or any other numerous tasks related to being an author. You cannot give up just because the journey is long and difficult. You have to believe in yourself and your writing and know that eventually, all the waiting, the hard work, the brand building, and the learning from your mistakes will pay off.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Change Is Inevitable

Despite our wishes to the contrary, change is inevitable. My husband felt this keenly over the past weekend as he attended a Father/Daughter Dinner with our daughter, Emily. He was so proud to be her escort, but at the same time, looking at her so grown up in her dress and  high heels, it made him wish he could freeze the hands of time.


Most parents have probably felt this at some point. Heck, even children can feel this as you find out in Olivia Measures Up. Olivia is thrilled to finally measure tall enough to ride the coasters. Her brother is not yet tall enough, but her parents mention that one day he will probably be taller then her. Olivia has a hard time coming to terms with the fact that her brother might be taller then her at some point and goes out of her way to convince him he should stop growing. In the end, she comes to realize that no matter how tall her brother might get, one thing would never change. She would always be the older sister.


And while there is nothing at all that we can do to hold back the tides of change, we can encourage creativity. Creativity comes in many forms, music, art, writing, cooking, inventing, gardening, and so forth. One way of encouraging creativity is to encourage reading. Reading be it fiction or non-fiction opens the doors to the universe where anything is possible.

If I Build A Car is a prime example of this. As Jack rides along in the back seat of his father's car, he begins to tell his father about the car he will create some day. As we follow his whimsical journey of creation  told in jaunty rhyme form, we see just how much fun dreaming and creating can be.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days


Monday, March 16, 2015

Tea Parties, Books, and Birds.

Last week, as I do every year, I went back to my hometown to visit with the children from the After School Group. This group is very special for several reasons. The first being that it is run by Barb Annon. Miss Barb was not only my 4-H leader when I was young, but she is also the mother of one of my besties from junior high. What is so amazing about that you ask? To which, I would reply their farm. The farm I spent many hours visiting. The farm where I gathered eggs, swung from ropes in the barn, and had a generally good time. The farm that inspired my choice of farm animals for my Fern Valley characters.


The second reason is the children. The children who yell, "She's here. She's here," as they run down the hall announcing my arrival. The children who so eagerly share with me the stories they have written. The children who surprise me every year with something unique. This year's surprise was a recreation of a tea party in the first book of my Fern Valley series. A recreation that included cucumber sandwiches, mint tea, poppy seed muffins, hand made napkin rings, and a mason jar filled with flowers for a centerpiece.


 
 

It was a perfect beginning to the warmer weather we have been experiencing. It also made me want to read some special spring books for this week's review. The first book I read was Have You Heard The Nesting Bird. This book is very multi-faceted in that it describes each bird flitting past the nesting bird and it describes the sound each makes. This was particularly interesting since my husband and I were discussing all the birds we heard outside that morning. It takes you on a bird watching journey past the robin who sits quietly on its nest until its bright blue eggs hatch. And as an added bonus, at the end of the book there are questions and answers which explain why the nesting bird was so quiet compared to the other birds. A great read for the younger children still in the picture book phase and even for those who have graduated to chapter books.


The second book I read was The Gentleman Bug. Gentleman bug is different then the other bugs because he loves to read. Even though other bugs make fun of him for this, he doesn't mind being different. That is until a new ladybug came to town. In an effort to gain her attention, he dresses in a new suit and goes to a party where he hopes to meet her . Unfortunately she pays him no mind and an embarrassing accident sends him running home. Later, he receives an invitation to the library where he meets the new librarian which turns out to be Ladybug. Happily, they become fast friends.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days

Monday, March 9, 2015

Just Around The Corner

There are piles of snow still lingering in my front yard, but I know that spring is just around the corner. And to prove it, the weather cooperated this past weekend and climbed to an incredible forty-two degrees. This was extremely agreeable to Emily and I since we had a fundraising breakfast to attend. Emily was busy bussing tables, I was busy selling books, and we didn't even have to wear our warmest socks or sweaters.




With the onset of warmer temperatures, I thought it most appropriate to read about___ SPRING! As you all know, I like to mix it up by reading both newly released books and those a bit older. This time around, I read, Andrew Henry's Meadow, which was published about ten years ago casting it into that bit older category.


Andrew Henry is a middle child, but he doesn't mind because he keeps himself occupied with his inventions. His family doesn't appreciate his creative genius, so he embarks on a journey to find a place where he can build a small house of his own. Suddenly children seem to pop from the woods like mushrooms after a rainstorm, each asking Henry to build them their own special little house because they too are under appreciated by their families. As the days pass, the families begin to search for their missing children, and in the process, they discover an incredible village in Andrew Henry's Meadow.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Libraries, Special Dolls, and Daring To Dream

This past weekend our library hosted a My Doll And Me event where girls arrived with their favorite doll. Emily asked to go and decided to take her American Girl Doll. She was a bit worried that at ten, she would be older then all the other girls, but once she saw her friend Katie, all doubts were erased.

It was a lovely event and the head of our library put on a spinning demonstration. She showed the girls different types of wool, wool combs, bobbins, and so much more. The children's librarians read books about dolls, taught the girls some old-timey games, and helped them decorate sugar cookies.



This fabulous event made me want to find a doll book of my own choosing to review and I found a gem in The Birthday Doll. Franny was thrilled with a birthday doll she received in the mail. It spoke a phrase, had adorable curls, and a frilly dress. Even her brother Ben was intrigued, and asked Franny to make the doll speak over and over. Franny received several other gifts when four friends came to her party. The last gift, was wrapped in a crayon covered bag and was an old cloth doll. Franny was not impressed, but after trying to cuddle with her fancy doll which was stiff and scratchy, she realized that sometimes the best gifts aren't new and modern but are old and well loved.


I also read a beautiful book called Hana Hashimoto Sixth Violin. I hadn't realized when I chose this book that it would have such strong Japanese ties, but once I started reading and realized this, it made me smile. Bobby's recent trip to Japan is still fresh in my mind and so it was fun to read a book with definite Japanese flavor. Hana Hashiumoto spends a wonderful summer in Japan listening to her Grandfather play the violin. By summer's end, she decides she wants to play the violin as well and her parents agree. Once home, Hanna decides to enter a talent contest despite her brothers less them encouraging remarks. While not proficient, Hannah dares to dream of performing and gives the audience a wonderful experience.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, February 23, 2015

An Arctic Dream and A Really Tall Tale!

As we head into the last week of February, I look around and still see great piles of snow. This, of course, means lots of shoveling, lots of warm fires, lots of soup, and lots of seeds for our outside friends.


It also means a winter book and a really tall tale! The winter book I chose  to review is titled Polar Skater, and although it dates back to 2004, you can still get it through Bargain Books on Barnes and Noble's site for only $1.99. Quite thrifty for a book worthy of four to six year olds.

If you chose to read, Polar Skater, you will dream with a young girl who longs for a pair of skates. Once obtained, the true dreaming begins as she leaves the crowds behind and skates with the beasts of the arctic. An audience of seals, whales, snow geese and such, help her to embrace the freedom skating brings until it is time to once again join those she left behind on her skating journey.


The tall tale I chose,  an extreme tale if you wish, was about the ever so famous Pecos Bill. This particular story called Pecos Bill Tames A Colossal Cyclone, granted us insight into Pecos Bill's unfortunate ousting from his family's wagon and his subsequent rescue by a wolf pack. An emotion filled reunion with one of his long lost brothers, his training as a cowboy, and his wild ride on a cyclone are sure to further thrill the reader. And  the explanation of how the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon came to be, might even elicit a chuckle or two from the adult readers.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, the sequel, Return To Fern Valley, and the soon to be released Cooking In Fern Valley (fall 2015)! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.