Just think about it, they’ve poured all of themselves into creating that book you enjoyed. They’ve revised, reworked and fine tuned the words and images you escaped into. They’ve worked hard to get their book(s) published and made available to you.
They deserve a shout out, or a pat on the back, you know they do.
So, that book you’ve just started, or are mid-way through, or are close to finishing? Once you’re finished, use your power as a reader to share your thoughts.
Here are two super easy ways to do just that.
Give it a rating and a review.
It won’t take long. Ratings and reviews can be found on most bookselling sites as well as Goodreads.
You have the power. Books and their creators need your input. It’s a harsh publishing world out there. A little appreciation goes a long way.
Your star rating and review can help new readers find and enjoy the book you loved. The more new readers that a book gets, the more likely it is that the writer and illustrator will have opportunities to publish again.
So please, take a few moments to flex your reading power. Help the authors and illustrators you enjoy have the opportunity to create more books. Your imagination will reap the benefits.
Not everyone recognizes, or feels it to the extent that some do. But among those who do feel the intense draw of books, it is definitely a shared experience.
Walking into a place where books reside is like walking into a space where magic is at your fingertips. Book stores, libraries, second hand bookshops, anywhere there’s a stacked pile, or a shelf lined with books, spells are waiting to be conjured. Forget about window shopping. Shelf scanning, or stack perusing, is an otherworldly way to spend a morning, an afternoon, or an evening.
First, you might notice the titles on the spines, or the authors’ names. You might pull a book from the shelf just to view the image on the cover and then slip it back in its spot. But, when the cover catches your eye, you, if you’re like me, will read the first paragraph, and then maybe more, most probably more.
Holding the top right edge of the cover of the book between your fingertips, you sense its possibility.
What world will you enter? Where will you go within that world? With whom, will you travel?
How will your perspective be challenged, or changed?
Will it be challenged? Will it be changed?
There’s a book out there waiting to weave its spell.
It might be among a stack, or wedged between its neighbors.
Find it and invoke its powers. You, and most especially your imagination, will feel all the better for it.
“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.” – Jane Smiley
I’ve been away from my blog for awhile, but I’m very happy to be back at it, especially because today I’m posting to share the news of a good friend’s well earned success. Below is the cover of her newest picture book which won the Gold Medal in the Key Colors Competition hosted by Clavis Publishing, Inc.
Book description: When two ordinary objects land on a city sidewalk a little girl’s dull day becomes an odyssey of new places and unusual faces. Led to the library on a dragon boat she spies erudite elephants who open her eyes to the beauty of books, faraway lands, and a group of bats with hidden musical ambitions—who need her assistance.
My Key is available through these two sites as well in most bookstores:
Amal’s work covers a spectrum of books, magazines, posters and cover art. Her work is influenced by a lifelong interest in multi-culturalism and any excuse to research a good story. Her fascination with various materials stems from her studies in the conservation of art on paper and is often incorporated into her work. Amal’s art has been featured in museums that include pieces now held in private collections. She received her MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco and is the 2020 Gold Medal Winner of Clavis Publishing’s Key Colors Competition. Her work in children’s books has been recently shortlisted for a regional IBBY Award. To learn more about Amal check out her website and Instagram.
As I thought many readers would be interested in Amal’s creative process along with the book journey of MY KEY, Amal very generously agreed to an interview as well.
Do you remember what drew you to illustration initially? And later on, what made you choose a career as an author/illustrator?
I’d an older sister with a unique method of babysitting: She’d leave me either in the local Baltimore library or Walters Art Museum where, in both places, I was most attracted to large books. Those in the museum were under glass because of their delicate pictures while those in library seemed to cry out for any picture at all. I felt I had at least one task in life…
Do you write/illustrate every day? I draw just about every day but it doesn’t necessarily translate into an illustration. And I write every morning.
Do you have a special place that you prefer to write, or to illustrate? How do you break up the two creative tasks or do you combine them? Would you be comfortable with providing a photo of that place?
I’ve taken over what we never called a living room and created a studio for writing and illustration in the same spot, more or less. I write on one side of the room then swivel around to my drafting table to swap jobs. For the most part the day is split between writing in the morning and drawing/painting in the afternoon.
Do you flesh out the setting of your stories completely before sitting down to write or to illustrate? Do you have any techniques that you use to help you see your character’s world view?
The setting is often the place that helps prompt the story so it’s often there already, but a physical loose outline, where I can insert pages as needed and some sort of map—literally a map that moves the character from point to point—is incredibly useful. Before getting into an illustration though I go over the text several times, then close my eyes to all distractions. Something always appears, eventually, but no real special technique for world view other than experience and observation. There are probably better ways to go about it but these are tools already at out fingertips.
Do you handwrite your first drafts or go straight to the computer? Similarly, what is your illustration process?
I do hand write the ideas because I use the computer as little as possible—my eyes hurt. Illustration is usually totally done with traditional materials: paper, pencil, charcoal, canvas, paints… When visual adjustments need to be made I try and do this by hand as well unless there are spots within the composition where I’d like to add layers and for these I do some stitching in either Photoshop or Procreate to do it.
How many drafts on average does it take for you to feel comfortable that you have a finished piece?
How has your writing/ your illustration changed over the years?
In both cases I started off doing a lot of work for educational publishes with tight parameters that at first you think, well, there’s no way I can get anything interesting out of what feels like a myriad of rules, but then you do and quickly realize the benefits of limitations. The danger happens when the shackles are off—I now apply my own limits or rules which frees me up from a lot of potential confusion and, weirdly, gives space I didn’t before feel I had to both the writing and the art.
Where did you get the idea for My Key from?
It was the memory of a day when I was so bored I thought I’d split in two and I wondered how I’d go about making an illustration that depicted boredom. Redrawing from original sketches I got to a place that felt right and the story took off from there.
Are you presently working on another project?
I’m working on a rather hefty illustrated middle-grade novel.
Is there any genre that you’d like to try that you haven’t, as yet?
Loads. I really haven’t worked in a wide variety of genres and if were up to me it would be mysteries all the way!
Is there anything you would suggest to those who are beginning their careers in writing or illustrating?
Don’t bother to procrastinate, don’t even clean the dishes, you’ll just get them dirty again. Start a routine where you begin your work soon after waking up rather than worrying about making time to work and not actually getting to it. Stop at the same time too.
Is there anything you would like to share with those who might be wondering if they should persevere?
If you feel queasy when you’re not doing it then your only option is to move forward.
As I haven’t received any entries as of yet, I’m extending the deadline for entries for this, my second, “Children’s Book Review Lottery.” All entries need to be in by midnight Wednesday, November 25th 2020.
On Thanksgiving, I will be selecting at random one entry to purchase and review. Entrants can be picture books, early chapter, chapter books, or middle grade books. At the end of the month I will post my review to Amazon, Goodreads, WordPress, Twitter and Instagram (story). I will only post a review if I feel comfortable giving it 3 stars or more. If I feel that the book deserves less than 3 stars, I will send my review directly to the author and ask if they still want me to post it on Amazon (only).
All that’s left for you to do is to enter. Just leave the title of your book, a link to it and a compelling blurb in the comments at the end of this post. In order for your entry to qualify you need all three requirements. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity to get your book more visibility!
I’m happy to announce that I’m hosting my second “Children’s Book Review Lottery”.
Writers and illustrators all need support. Often, as writers when we think of support we think of critique groups, mentors, societies, guilds, conferences, etc. But another area in which we need support involves the giving of and the receiving of reviews. And now, with all that we’re going through, support is all that more important.
I’ve heard it said that it takes 50 reviews, good or bad, to get your title to pop up with the marketing tags of, “Customers who viewed this item also viewed this . . .” My “Children’s Book Review Lottery” is a way of offering that support.
Entrants can be picture books, early chapter, chapter books, or middle grade books. For my first lottery I only had two entrants and was able to offer reviews of both of their titles, but due to increasing time constraints I will only be able to choose one winner per lottery.
At the end of the month I will post my review to Amazon, Goodreads, WordPress, Twitter and Instagram (story). I will only post a review if I feel comfortable giving it 3 stars or more. If I feel that the book deserves less than 3 stars, I will send my review directly to the author and ask if they still want me to post it on Amazon (only). I hope to host “Children’s Book Review Lotteries” as often as time and money will allow.
All that’s left for you to do is to enter. Just leave the title of your book, a link to it and a compelling blurb in the comments at the end of this blog post. In order for your entry to qualify you need all three requirements. The deadline for entry is midnight Sunday Nov. 23, 2020. I will let you know personally if your book has been chosen.
I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing your book!