Happy Book Birthday, TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS! (and a Double Giveaway!)

In honor of the book birthday of my newest picture book, TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS!, I have such an awesome treat for you! First, a guest post from my incredible illustrator, Zachariah OHora, about his creative process. Then,there is an awesome giveaway where two lucky winners will get some great prizes (scroll down to the end for more information on the prizes, though you don’t want to skip over this great post, do you?)

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Zachariah Ohora

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks!

by Zachariah OHora

When I first heard about this project I was super excited to work with Chad (creative director at Abrams) and Sudipta.
That excitement quickly turned to fear when I realized I’d never really drawn dinosaurs before.

Not even as a kid.

Plus there seemed to be a whole lot of dinosaurs I’d never heard of.

Gallimimus?!
Really?!

I think there were like five dinos when I was a kid and half of them don’t even exist anymore, er, I mean, they ALL don’t exist anymore, but uh…you get the point.

I realized I couldn’t just fudge through with a vague lizard creature.
So I started where all ignorant people do, with a Google search.

Fear turned to terror as I collected images. NO WAY WAS I GOING TO PULL THIS OFF!!!

Then I had an idea. One that might appear brilliant enough to fool everyone into NOT noticing I can’t draw dinosaurs. What if it was kids DRESSED as dinos instead?

TrexColorpalette 1

This seemed like the perfect solution as it allowed me a good deal of creative license.

TrexStudy 2

(Left: One of the first sketches for T Wrecks Boy. Right: Then I thought since he was always wrecking stuff perhaps he couldn’t see out of his mask)

TrexStudy 3

Then Abrams politely showed me a book that already had my “brilliant” idea in it that came out two years earlier.

Illustrator gulps.
Illustrator whines.
Illustrator wrecks!

Illustrator practices and practices drawing dinosaurs!

Until finally the characters ended up having some human qualities but were most definitely dinosaurs!

TWrecksNewNEw-1

Fortunately everyone was happy with the new version and that’s what you see in the book.
Fear of failure forced me to get my proper dinosaur education on. And best of all Sudipta was happy with them too.

Sometimes in a collaboration you have to go way out of your comfort zone.
And that’s a good thing.

zauthorphotoZachariah OHora is an illustrator and author of a number of children’s books. His debut STOP SNORING, BERNARD! was awarded the Society of Illustrators Founder’s Award and was chosen as the PA One Book for 2012. His book NO FITS NILSON! was awarded a Kirkus star and was the Huffington Post Book of the Year for 2013. He lives and works in the tiny village of Narberth, PA with his wife, two sons, and two cats.

Sudipta wasn’t just “happy” with these illustrations — she was thrilled! (Why am I referring to myself in the third person??)

Thank you, Zack, for such a great and insightful post. And just so you know, I hadn’t heard of a Gallimimus either — not until my then 4-year old son educated me on that and all the other dinos in the book (except the Tyrannosaurus — I had heard of that!).

And now, for the part you’ve all been waiting for…

THE GIVEAWAY(S)

In honor of TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS, we here at Nerdy Chicks Rule are going to give away TWO prizes to one lucky winner.

First, the winner is going to score a copy of TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS! signed by both Zach and me! And second, the lucky winner will get an original sketch from the book, signed by the illustrator himself!

Book and art — how can you not like that?

How do I win? asks my faithful blog reader.

It’s very simple.

1. To register, fill in the form below with your name, email, and Twitter and/or Facebook handles. (Don’t forget to hit ‘Submit’!)

2. Tweet or post about the TYRANNOSAURS WRECKS! release with the hashtag #TWRECKS and tag Sudipta (@SudiptaBQ on Twitter or Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Children’s Book Author on FB) AND tag Zack (@ZachariahOHora on Twitter). Don’t know what to tweet/post? Cut and paste one of the suggestions below:

  • Happy book birthday to TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS! http://wp.me/p126Z2-N4 #TWRECKS @SudiptaBQ @ZachariahOHora
  • Do you know #TWRECKS? http://goo.gl/m28AnO @SudiptaBQ @ZachariahOHora
  • Got #TWRECKS? http://goo.gl/7nd3xU  @SudiptaBQ @ZachariahOHora

3. Every time you share using the handles you’ve registered, you’ll get one entry. The contest will close on April 7, 2014 at 11:59pm. At that time, we will gather up all the entries and choose a WINNER!

GOOD LUCK!

Confessions of a Chronic Doodler

It’s HERE! The trailer for THE BOY PROBLEM, created almost entirely from my doodles. My confessions follow, but first, watch the trailer! And stick around for the GIVEAWAY at the end of the post! 

Now for true confessions:  

I’ve never been good at taking notes. I probably shouldn’t admit this while I still have children in school, but often when I’m listening to someone talk, my mind starts wandering. And when this happens, my pen starts wandering too.  I confess.

Ever been on the phone with me? You know those times when you were talking and there were long periods of silence on my end? I was probably doodling. I confess.  doodles

Add to my list of confessions that I doodle on paper menus when dining at restaurants, church bulletins during church, programs when at performances, and in notebooks I take to conferences. I even doodle when I’m listening to my own internal voice. Doodles are crammed in between the words of all of my revision notebooks. If you could stretch out the pen marks from all of my doodles into one continuous line it would probably wrap around the world a few times. Times ten.

2harley2-watermark-copyHere’s another confession for you. I often curse the fact that my artistic skills are limited to doodling. My mother is a real artist, capable of rendering realistic landscapes and still-life paintings. My fourteen year old daughter is becoming an excellent media artist and has even started a little business creating drawings from photos of pets.

But me? I seemed destined only to doodle. And yet….

My doodling skills help me communicate visually. So when I turned in my manuscript for my first novel, THE BOY PROJECT, I included some doodles along with a note explaining that these were just to illustrate my ideas, and a publisher could hire a real artist to do the actual art.  The manuscript sold! And some of my actual doodles were used in it, along with others that they altered a little.

For my second book, THE BOY PROBLEM, forthcoming from Scholastic in April, everyone understood that I’d include some doodles, but that another artist would probably do the work for the book. But my own doodles ended up being the ones that grace the pages. And then, when I hired someone to make the trailer for THE BOY PROBLEM, she built the whole thing out of my doodles.

bookmarksI have to admit, I’m a little shocked by this. I’ve never thought of my artistic skills as good enough for publication. But the book turned out really well! And the trailer is so cute! Empowered by this, I used my doodling skills to create the 8 ball and mustache for these new promotional bookmarks.

The Boy Problem

Book designer Whitney Lyle created the doodles for this cover.

The bottom line here is that I’ve been selling myself short. And I think that as women, a lot of us do this. It’s important for us not to think in terms of what we CAN’T do, but in terms of what we CAN. I will never be able to sell an watercolor painting masterpiece. I’m not likely to create a digital rendering of your pet iguana either. But I can create one heck of a doodle! Go Me!

Oh yeah. There’s another bottom line here. I wanted to introduce my new book trailer to our readers! Did you watch it? See that guy’s head at 0.18. I had to doodle it about sixteen times to get it right. That’s how good I am.  Hey, it’s not about the first fifteen times I couldn’t draw a decent circle. It’s about the one time I did. 🙂

GIVEAWAY INFO:

To celebrate the release of THE BOY PROBLEM trailer, and the arrival of the new bookmarks, I am giving away class sets of bookmarks to teachers, librarians, and bookstores. If you are an individual who wants just one or two you can get some too. I’ll mail these to the first fifteen people to fill out the form below. If you leave a comment too, I’ll throw in a BOY PROBLEM bracelet when they arrive. This Giveaway ends on St.  Patrick’s Day, 2014.

Boy Problem Bookmark Final Front

The Long Road to BEAUTY

The night before her book release,

The skies were cold and dreary.

And in her house

The author groused,

“The wait has made me weary!”

 That opening is an homage to my newest book, SNORING BEAUTY, which will be celebrating its book birthday tomorrow. It’s strange for me to call it my “newest” book in that it was one of the first picture books I ever wrote way back near the beginning of my career, in 2005.

Snoring Beauty, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

“Fun for reading aloud, and children will be happy to help with the multiple snoring sounds.” – Booklist

Let me remind you guys about 2005:

  • Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch over his love for Katie Holmes (they are now divorced).
  • George W. Bush declared, “I’m the decider.”
  • Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith was the top grossing movie, despite it grossing out Star Wars fans everywhere.

That’s how long I’ve had to wait to see this book come to life. And this is how I’ve felt about it:

“This journey has been very slow!

For nine long years I’ve waited!

My kids have grown,

I’ve had six phones!

My patience has abated.”

As an author, I suffer under the delusion that the book is mine – that I am in control of its destiny. (Even after over a decade in the industry, that delusion persists.) But the truth is that there comes a point when the fate of most books is more outside the author’s hands than not. I’ve been very lucky – in the intervening years, I’ve written and published many other books. I didn’t have to wait day after day for the SNORING BEAUTY box – there were other boxes to fill the time until this book’s time had come. But that doesn’t mean the wait was easy. Think about when you miss someone terribly. The presence of other people you love may distract you from missing him, but it never truly takes it away completely. You still find yourself staring longingly out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of him coming to your door. That’s what it was like to wait for this book to go through the production process.

But this is how I felt at the end of that loooooooooong process:

But then she takes a single book

And rifles through the pages.

“It does look grand!

I understand

Why this has taken ages!”

I know I’m biased, but SNORING BEAUTY is a beautiful book. Jane Manning’s art is perfect and it looks almost exactly as I’d imagined it. I’m very proud of it and it seems to be getting a warm reception. While it is never fun to be patient, in this case the old adage is true – good things come to those who wait. Now there’s only one more thing to wait for: tomorrow’s official release date.

I can’t wait.

Some fun SNORING BEAUTY facts:

  • SB dediThis is not my first animal-kissing-human book. I’m not sure what that says about me.
  • Most of the time, my kids fight over who the book is dedicated to. This time, my girls (either of whom could be B.) are fighting to establish that the book is dedicated to the OTHER. The funny thing is that neither of the girls is really B! (The real B., by the way, does snore – I have it recorded! – and is beautiful.)
  • The whole wedding day concept was not part of the original story. All that came out of the revision process as a way to but the focus on Mouse and increase the urgency of waking Beauty that night.
  • I have a checkered history when it comes to mice. Check out my secret things to learn more.

Author Corrine Jackson on Strong Female Characters plus a Giveaway!

Corrine Jackson

Today we welcome Young Adult author Corrine Jackson to the blog to talk about strong female characters. Corrine’s second book in her Sense Thieves trilogy, PUSHED, features Remy, a girl with uncanny healing powers  (a synopsis follows Corrine’s post). You can enter to win a copy by leaving the name of your favorite strong female character in a comment below! You can also enter the official blog tour giveaway. Keep reading for details. 🙂

 Corrine’s thoughts on creating strong female characters:

In philosophical terms, human agency is “the capacity of an agent (a person or other entity, human or any living being in general, or soul-consciousness in religion) to act in a world.” The key word there is ACT. In my undergrad literature classes, we spent a lot of time discussing how agency is what separates our heroes from secondary characters. Heroes take action. They are a force to be reckoned with. How much agency did Oedipus Rex have over his fate vs. the oracle predicting the outcome? How much power did Othello exert in the circumstances that led to the murder of his wife Desdemona, or was he merely an instrument for Iago? What we’re really talking about when we talk about human agency is the power to act. And writers know that action is what propels a story forward.

Too often female characters are powerless to make choices that impact their future. Male characters make decisions for them. This female character is waiting around for a male to save her. She is defined by the man in her life, rather than by the choices she is making. She lacks agency. Sometimes this is used as a plot device, until the last moment when she finally saves the world via some magical power.  

Strong female characters, like their male counterparts, will ACT. She will play a role in her fate, and make choices and decisions that push PUSHED bookthe story along. In my Sense Thieves series, Remy has the power to heal people with her touch, but she’s been raised in an abusive household, taught that people inevitably cause pain. That description of her background isn’t what makes her strong. She could be waiting for a hero to save her. But despite her circumstances (maybe because of them), Remy chooses to help people, to save people because nobody saved her. She heals people even though it frequently puts her life at risk and always causes her pain. That choice to act, even when it’s ill-advised (and puts her in a great deal of danger in PUSHED) makes her strong in my book. The decisions don’t have to be good ones, but the character does have to be making choices to drive the story forward. A female character in this role is a strong one, in my opinion.

*Source: Wikipedia

To find out more about the strong female character Corrine created in Remy, check out this synopsis of PUSHED! (Giveaway details follow. )

She didn’t know how far she’d go—until she was pushed.

Remy O’Malley was just learning to harness her uncanny healing power when she discovered the other, darker half of her bloodline. Now she lives trapped between two worlds, uneasy among her fellow Healers—and relentlessly hunted by the Protectors.  Forced to conceal her dual identity, and the presence of her Protector boyfriend Asher Blackwell, Remy encounters a shadow community of Healers who will put her loyalties to the test.

Pushed to the limit, with the lives of those she loves most on the line, Remy must decide whether to choose sides in a centuries-old war—or make the ultimate sacrifice and go to a place from which she may never return…

 Publisher: Kensington/KTeen   ISBN-10: 0758273347

Buy PUSHED:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million| German Amazon

Add to Your Shelf:

Goodreads

 

The Giveaway below is officially over. Entries were numbered and the total number was entered into the Random Number Generator at random.org, which selected Michele. Congratulations Michele!

Giveaway(s)! There are TWO ways to win a copy of PUSHED!

1. Comment on this post with the name of your favorite strong female character. I hope we get a long list because I’d love to make a strong-female pie chart ! Contest ends on midnight February 15 to enter this blog’s giveaway! A winner will be chosen using random.org.

2. Enter the official blog tour giveaway here: a Rafflecopter giveaway !

You can enter both giveaways. Yay for strong female characters!

More about PUSHED author Corrine Jackson: Young adult author Corrine Jackson lives in San Francisco and has over ten years experience in marketing. She has bachelor and master degrees in English, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. Her novels include If I Lie (Simon Pulse) and the Sense Thieves trilogy (KTeen), comprised of Touched,Pushed, and Ignited (5/27/14). Visit her at CorrineJackson.com or on Twitter at @Cory_Jackson.

Visit other stops on the PUSHED blog tour by clicking HERE.

PUSHED book

How NO helps you GROW

Keith Urban Quote

 

When I heard Keith Urban say the above words during last weeks’ airing of American Idol, I had a YES moment. These are words that I often want to say to beginning writers whose work I critique. These are words that every creative person needs to hear. These are words that I need to tell myself as I parent my children.

Urban was referring, of course, to the many contestants auditioning for American Idol who have failed to be truly competitive. What holds them back is often not a lack of talent. It is the failure to hone that talent. They have not improved because they’ve never opened their minds to the possibility that they need improvement. They have not looked for their flaws, seeking to eradicate them, because they’ve been told they are flawless.

It is a lesson for all who seek to stand out for a skill, craft, or talent. If we live by the old adage, “You can’t improve perfection,” we’d do well to remember another old saying, “Nobody’s perfect.”

I think this is an important thing to keep in mind for every professional. It is crucial for people like writers who work in a highly competitive field. Years ago, I was in a critique group that met monthly.  Two members of my group, every single month, wrote GREAT across the top of my manuscript. That five letter word didn’t help me at all. It made me want to scream, “If it’s so great, why hasn’t it sold? Tell me what’s WRONG with it!” But of course, I never did that. Instead, I eventually quit the group.

Now, I occasionally critique the work of other writers professionally. One writer whose work I’ve had the pleasure of reading is now blogging here at Nerdy Chicks Rule. Before I met Mary, her manuscript came to me with a note that said something like, “I want to know what I can do better. Give it to me straight. I can take it.” While that entire quote is not verbatim, I am positive the last three words are. They stood out. I could tell Mary was a writer who wanted to learn and improve. I immediately knew I’d like her. And I did!

Whether you are an author seeking publication or a singer seeking idolization, it is important to get feedback from someone who will point out your weaknesses. Your work is your own and you have to make final decisions about it for yourself. But I advise writers to look for feedback from the kind of person who will tell you if you have broccoli in your teeth, onion breath, or toilet paper stuck to your shoe. These are the people who want to save you from embarrassment. These are the people who will say, “That’s not so good.” By telling you NO, these people will ultimately help you hear YES!

 

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com.

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com.

 

 

 

 

 

PiBoIdMo Wrap Up: Let it Be

Duck Duck Moose by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

My upcoming picture book!

Now that Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month is over, I thought it would be nice to reflect a little bit on what we’ve accomplished in the past few weeks. If you participated in PiBoIdMo, first off, CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve made great progress on your writing journey. Publishing is an art where creativity and magic come together to make great books. But publishing is also a numbers game – the more manuscripts you create, the more likely it is that some of them will get published. And how do you create manuscripts? Well, it starts with ideas. And now you have lots of ideas – at least 30 if you got through the month! (More if you followed my PiBoIdMo advice.) So you’re all set!

Except…

I’ve got some bad news. Well, potentially bad news. More like bad reality, actually. Except that reality is never bad.

Here’s the reality of the situation: not all of the ideas you have so carefully thought up during PiBoIdMo are picture book ideas.

I know you want them to be. I know that’s what you intended and planned for. I know you have great dreams for these ideas, dreams that are so good that you want to will them into existence.

But for some of your ideas, those dreams will never come true.

I’m not saying these things to upset you, or to de-motivate you. You shouldn’t lose your momentum. I just want you to focus your energy on the best paths to maximize your ability to succeed and get published.

Here’s the thing: your story ideas are like your children. You give birth to them, you nurture them, you guide them toward the goals you have carefully set for them. You know what’s best and you will make that happen.

For those of you who have children, you’re probably already guessing where this is going to go.

With our children, no matter what we have dreamed for them when they were helpless babes in our arms, those kids who once needed us for their very survival somehow end up being the people they choose to be. Not necessarily the people we intended them to be.

This is the kid who was supposed to grow up to be a doctor…

My parents wanted me to be a doctor. They even bought me a $100K science education from Caltech. And in the end, I write books about talking pigs.

With our characters, our story ideas, they will also be who they are, regardless of what we want them to be.

Early on, I said that not all of the ideas you have so carefully thought up during PiBoIdMo are picture book ideas. That is reality. Some of those ideas will turn out to be chapter books, or middle grades, no matter how hard we push them to be something else. (Just like some of our children will become kidlit authors, no matter how hard we push them to be doctors.) That’s ok.

Some of those ideas will turn out to flounder and struggle, will find it difficult to ever realize their full potential. That’s ok, too.

Because the reality is that some of the ideas you have are picture book ideas. They need you to cultivate and develop them, but with your help, they will grow to be wonderful picture books.

The key here is to let your characters be who they are. Let your stories be what they are. If they grow into something different than you thought, follow them on their path instead of forcing them onto your own. The end result will be truer, will have more heart, and will be better written.

Good luck to everyone and see you next PiBoIdMo!

(In case you missed it, here is some more PiBoIdMo advice from Kami and from me from earlier this month.)

What Does THE END Look Like?

THE END. It’s usually a good place to be. It means you have completed a journey. The last day of November marked THE END for writers who participated in NaNoWriMo or PiBoIdMo. They’ve slogged through the hurdles of drafting a novel, or worked through creative bursts of ideas for picture books until they accumulated at least 30. But writer or not, when you’ve completed a task, it is always good to find yourself at THE END of it.

When I get to THE END of a project, I’m usually surrounded by chaos. I think I’m that classic creative type who works best in a mess. Up to a point… This November, I not only participated in PiBoIdMo, but did the final proofing of my forthcoming novel, The Boy Problem AND finished a novel I’ve been working on for years. I met all of my goals! But when I was finished, my desk looked like this:

IMG_20131120_140733_596

As much as this desk helped me get to THE END of two novels, I found I couldn’t begin to start a new project on it. So I did something I don’t like doing very much. I gave up a day of writing to organize. I stacked all of the drafts of The Boy Problem together.  The result was a ten inch, twenty seven pound stack. When you look at that you can kind of see how I work through a novel. With lots of little flags noting pages that still need work. This probably only represents half of them, many were pulled out along the way.

IMG_20131130_205945_656

 

 

There were a few more stacks not-quite-so-impressive stacks as well… but eventually, my desk looked like this.

IMG_20131203_090228_042

Yeah, I know there are still two pretty messy piles, but you don’t expect me to create in a completely clean environment, do you? The point is, I’ve reached THE END of some important projects! And now, with space on my desk, I can start a new project… a new beginning!

I recently received the ARCs for THE BOY PROBLEM! When  an author actually holds an ARC, the book finally feels real! It marks THE END of a great journey!

I recently received the ARCs for THE BOY PROBLEM! When an author actually holds an ARC, the book finally feels real.It marks THE END of a great journey!

Onward we go! What does THE END look like to you?