authors, blogs, book giveaways, children's books, children's writing, Emma Pearl, illustrators, Page Street Books, picture book author, picture book illustrators, picture book manuscripts, picture books, Sara Ugolotti, support an author

Magical Moonlight

Like many of you, not only do I write a blog, I follow blogs. One of them is Vivian Kirkfield’s blog, Vivian Kirkfield-Writer for Children, Picture Books Help Kids Soar blog on wordpress at http://www.viviankirkfield.com.

After reading Vivian’s blog about the debut picture book Mending the Moon, written by Emma Pearl, and illustrated by Sara Ugolotti, I entered a giveaway to win either a copy of the picture book, or a manuscript critique by the author. I won!

As I had already purchased Mending the Moon, I chose the picture book critique as my prize.

Emma provided me with an insightful and thoughtful review of the present state of one of my manuscripts. She acknowledged its strengths, pointed out its weaknesses and shared thoughts on how it could be improved. She’s even offered to reread it after I complete my revisions!

While in email contact with Emma, I asked if she would allow me to interview her. Emma graciously obliged.

As it’s easier to give attention to shorter posts, at this time of the year, I decided to devote this post to Emma’s beautiful debut book and will follow up with a post that shares Emma’s writing insights.

Mending the Moon, is a lovely tale of inter-connections. It shares the story of a child’s relationship to her grandfather, and their relationship to and with the natural world and its inhabitants.

When the full moon falls from the night sky, Luna wakes her grandfather to help her fix it. Together with the animals of the mountain, from the biggest to the smallest, they search for its broken shards. And when faced with the difficulty of putting the moon back together, the insect world lends its talents to the task. Finally, it takes all the world’s birds to hoist the moon into its proper space and make the world feel right.

MENDING THE MOON’S BOOK JOURNEY as shared by Emma Pearl

I have always loved reading and writing. Something about the magic of immersing yourself in a brand new world, whether it’s of your own creation or somebody else’s, never fails to get me tingling with excitement. It’s the anticipation of what might happen, all those possibilities. Stories are the ultimate human experience, allowing us to live through all kinds of extraordinary events and emotions that may or may not happen in our real lives. They allow us to learn, to believe in magic and to imagine.

I think I was three or four years old when I wrote my first story, a fully illustrated tale about a kind frog who befriended a lonely tree. I never really stopped after that. I’ve written countless stories, plenty of poetry and even a novel in my 20s. But it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I began to think about writing for young people, and it wasn’t until they had both started school that I had the time or the brain capacity to start getting serious about it. So in 2017 at the grand old age of 44, I set about learning how to write properly.

There’s such a wealth of information and resources available online for aspiring writers, and I quickly became immersed in the writing community. I was constantly amazed by the kindness and generosity of other writers – so many people at all levels of experience willing to give their time and knowledge freely to anyone who needed it. And I definitely needed it! 

In that first year of learning, I flitted between novel writing and picture book writing. This particular story started with a silly question – what if the moon fell out of the sky? From that start point, out tumbled four whole stories about Luna – a feisty, kind, brave little girl with a grandfather who guided and supported, allowed her to find answers but never took over. Together, they solved all kinds of natural mysteries and problems, helping to put the world back to how it should be. I knew instantly that the world I was creating filled me with excitement and wonder, but I never dreamed I would even share these stories with anyone else, let alone that Mending the Moon would end up being my publishing debut.

I wrote the four stories over a couple of days in 2017 and then forgot about them. I wrote a couple of novels and many more picture book texts. I began to enter online pitch contests with my PBs, not because I ever expected anything to come from them but because I enjoyed it and it was a great way to connect with other writers.

In 2020 I applied for the WriteMentor summer program with my MG novel and was surprised and delighted to be accepted for a 4-month mentorship with UK author Lu Hersey. It was a wonderful experience and an enormous boost to my confidence as well as my craft. In October that year I entered #PBPitch with several picture books. Again, I did it for the interaction. I didn’t truly believe that anyone got agent likes from those things. Well, I didn’t get an agent like but I got something even better – an editor like! Kayla Tostevin from Page Street Kids had seen my pitch and liked it. I could hardly believe it.

I sent her my manuscript, which in hindsight was still in need of some serious revising, and a week later she replied, saying she had some feedback and would love to see a revised version. We went backwards and forwards a few times. Revisions were hard, but Kayla’s vision was superb and I knew I was making the story stronger with her guidance. She had a quiet confidence that we could get it to a point where it could make it through acquisitions, but even if we didn’t manage to, the manuscript would be in great shape to submit elsewhere. And then, just before Christmas, I received the official offer of publication – a perfect way to finish a year that had otherwise been fairly horrendous on a global scale.

It’s a long path from contract to publication, but the whole process has been an absolute delight and I’m thrilled with how the book has turned out. Sara Ugolotti’s illustrations are out of this world and beyond anything I could have imagined. And best of all, one of the other Luna and Poppa stories, Saving the Sun, has also been contracted and will be out next Fall. It’s a dream come true.

A Litttle About Emma Pearl:

Emma writes fiction for all ages and is represented by Sera Rivers at Speilburg Literary. Mending the Moon is her debut picture book, and Saving the Sun will be published by Page Street Kids in September 2023. Emma is a picture book mentor for WriteMentor (2021/22) and a freelance editorial consultant for picture books. She lives with her family in New Zealand.

emmapearlauthor.com

Twitter/IG: @emmspearl

Purchase Mending the Moon through the links below:

Barnes and Noble

Bookshop.org US

Indiebound

Amazon US

Waterstones

Bookshop.org UK

Amazon UK

Advertisement
Bear Wants More, children's writing, early literacy, gifts, imagination, Karma Wilson, learning, literacy, pre-school classroom

Some Progress

In my last post I wrote about my idea to create a story for one of my students that would be based on Karma Wilson’s Bear Wants More.

I like to give holiday gifts for each of my students and this student in particular loves that picture book. I’m hoping she’ll be excited to see herself interacting with her favorite characters.

Unfortunately she came down with the flu, so she’s been out this week and on top of that one of her classmates came down with Covid. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and my mask on in hopes that the whole class is feeling better in time for the holidays.

I thought I’d share with you the text I have so far. I’ve changed the name of the main character for confidentiality. I can’t wait to add my student’s photos to the book along with the images of her favorite characters.

Audra Wants More!

Audra wakes up. She’s hungry for words.

She blinks her eyes open,

she peers all around.

She spies, through her glasses, some books in a mound.

She’s eager to read them till the last page is turned,

but Audra wants . . . more!

Mouse scampers by with a book in his pail.

“Come along ” Mouse squeaks,

“Let’s read a nice tale!”

So up Mouse hops

onto Audra’s wheelchair,

they whiz down the hall

to read a book about a Bear.

The pages are many and they flip, flip, flip,

but Audra wants . . . more!

The noon sun glows, when along hops Hare.

“Good day, friend Audra.

Is that book about Bear?”

“Yeah,” says Audra.

Hare says “Follow me!”

There’s a nice stack of books

by my cup of sweet tea.

They turn page after page

with a plip, plip, plip.

And Audra still wants . . . more!

Badger shuffles by

with another Bear book.

“Let’s read this one

in my cozy reading nook.”

They head to Badger’s den.

He gives them a tour.

Audra reads the book

and she still wants more!

Meanwhile . . .

back in her room,

wait raven and wren.

When all of a sudden they hear a loud, Boom!

Books have arrived.

They’ve been plopped on the porch.

It’s a big book bounty

for their best bookish friend.

Audra looks toward the door,

wearing a smile so wide,

full of joy she can’t hide.

And she still wants . . . more.

She’s wheeled to the porch,

she follows her nose.

Her friends yell, “Surprise!”

And her happiness grows.

Everything is in a book uproar.

Audra reads and reads, one book, then two, then two times four.

She is full, full, full,

of all the book pictures and all the book words,

and she still wants more!

Bear Wants More, early literacy, Karma Wilson, On Revision, paying attention, revision, teaching, William Germano

Revising Attentively

I’ve been reading the book, On Revision by William Germano. My purpose for reading it was to glean some perspectives, or tips to help me revise more efficiently and more effectively. The ironic thing about reading the book was that it made me think more about my teaching than it did about my writing.

“Good teachers, after all, don’t just demand attention. They pay attention.”-William Germano

It’s true, but I had never thought about it that way. When I work with students, it’s most often in a one-to-one situation. I work on the visual skills they need to develop, or the tools they need to use to access visual information, or on the tactile and braille skills they need to learn to gain access to the world around them. The best way to do that is to find out what they like, what motivates them. Once I can do that everything gets easier and more fun for both of us.

In his book, William Germano describes the act of paying attention in this way, “If you write, you’re asking your readers for some of their time, time they could easily spend on anything else. You’re not just providing them with a text; you’re inviting them into the text. Be a good host. Pay attention. Refill glasses. Pass the nibbles.”

This might not be a new perspective for some, but it definitely was for me. It’s so clear and tangible.

In my teaching, I spend a lot of time thinking up ways to capture my students’ imagination, their attention, in order to get them invested in the skills they need to develop. Why hadn’t I thought about that with the stories I write for children? Maybe it’s because the stories are for potential child readers. If I think in terms of actual readers it might give me a better perspective. I’ll have to try it out.

The funny and exciting thing is that I’ve just started a project (a holiday gift for a student) in which I hope to channel the magic that Karma Wilson created with her book Bear Wants More. One of my students absolutely loves this book and will work so hard to get to the reward of having it read to her.

She is able to say few words, “more” being one of them and she has excellent timing when we read the book together.

My hope is to further develop her early literacy skills by personalizing the familiar book’s setup. My student will be the main character and she will want more and more and books read to her.

It’s only in the planing and playing with stages; it’s got a long way to go.

It’s challenge, but I can just imagine my student’s reaction to seeing herself in a book, and maybe that’s just the perspective I need.

I’ll let you know how things are going as the project progresses.

Adam Zagajewski, Clare Cavanagh, contemplation, creativity, imagination, Pádraig Ó Tuama, poetry, Poetry Unbound, Transformation

Creative Conflict

Photo by Tim Gouw on Pexels.com

I’m a big fan of Poetry Unbound. If you haven’t heard of it, I’d recommend checking it out.

Every week a different poem is shared aloud by Pádraig Ó Tuama. He not only reads the poem, but also offers his perceptions on what the poem or the poet is speaking of.

This week I listened to “Transformation” written by Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanagh. It’s vivid imagery and the way in which the poet expresses his dutiful search for his elusive creative spark struck a chord in me.

Transformation

I haven’t written a single poem in months.

I’ve lived humbly,

reading the paper,

pondering the riddle of power and the reasons for obedience.

I’ve watched sunsets (crimson, anxious),

I’ve heard the birds grow quiet

and night’s muteness.

I’ve seen sunflowers dangling

their heads at dusk,

as if a careless hangman had gone strolling through the gardens.

September’s sweet dust gathered

on the windowsill and lizards

hid in the bends of walls.

I’ve taken long walks,

craving one thing only:

lightning,

transformation,

you.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Listening to the poem and Pádraig’s critique of it got me thinking about my creative focus. By day I’m a teacher for the visually impaired and blind and by night a writer of children’s books.

My writing takes second place in my daily list of to do’s. It has to. But my creative connection is not so much lost, as the poet’s was.

It can at times feel that way, especially if afternoon or evening obligations eat into my opportunity to write. The tasks I want to get to sometimes get pushed back for days in a row and that can leave me feeling at a creative loss. Where was I? What was I trying to do? These are some of the questions I ask myself when I’ve been away from writing for too long. Don’t worry, my family thinks I’m talking to the dog. Thankfully, she’s usually close by.

I have also recognized this feeling when I’ve finalized a draft I’ve been working on for awhile. What will I do next? I wonder. Where will I find a creative spark for a new story?

Have you ever lost or misplaced your creative connection? Or have had to place it on hold? What have you done to get it back or engage it again?

Uncategorized

The Creative Process

Some insightful thoughts from a fellow writer on the creative process. I hope you enjoy the post.

Surprised By Joy

Be the moon and inspire people even when you are far from full.” – K. Tolnoe

I’ve thought a lot about why I write – to process my experience in life and to connect with this great Word Press community. But recently a friend asked me how I write and it became the topic for my post on Wise and Shine today: When I Write.

(featured photo from Pexels)

View original post