Search

YA Author Rendezvous

Creativity Unleashed: Books for the young and the young at heart

Month

December 2016

Author Spotlight: Rita Goldner

rita-goldner   By: Michelle Lynn

What are the titles of your works and can you tell us a bit about them?
Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy is my first printed book. Before that I wrote/illustrated two Kindle books about a boy, Jackson, who gets bored with traditional school, and instead uses his art to learn and explore other things. They are: Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure.

Who’s your favorite character from your books?
I fell in love with orangutans even before I wrote Orangutan, but I think Jackson is more versatile, kids can relate to him more, and I can use him for future books.

Orangutan is an interesting book. It not only entertains kids, but teaches them as well. Is there a reason you chose this animal to focus the book on?
I sketch and paint animals from life at the zoo often. I just bring my own folding chair, and really enjoy myself. Over the years, orangutans became my favorite, and I became more aware of their endangered plight. So I started doing research, and decided to write the book.

The images in Orangutan are incredible. Do you do them yourself? And if so, how are they done. Drawings? Computer generated?
They started as sketches of live orangutans. Then after studying the anatomy and expressions, I moved their limbs and bodies around to poses that fit the story. I scanned the final drawings into my computer and tweaked them, colored them, and added texture (hair) digitally. (I use an inexpensive program called ArtRage.) 

I imagine writing a children’s book has its own set of difficulties outside of the fiction world. What are some of the things you have to consider?
I wanted it to be scientifically accurate and educational, but never at the cost of fun. I also didn’t want it to be sad, and the danger of extinction is sad. I chose to leave that out of the story, since there’s not much a little kid can do about it.

Why have you chosen such a young age group to focus your books on?
As I mentioned above, a young child can’t do much politically, but can fall in love with orangutans, and when he grows older, help their critically endangered status. I also have another audience, the adults who read to the child. Hopefully, they can become aware about global environmental responsibility, and habitat protection, and help with their votes and contributions.

What authors have inspired you to write?
Good illustration is so appealing to me it almost eclipses the writing. When my kids were young, I read Richard Scarry books to them, mainly because the pictures were so much fun. I loved Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, too, for the same reason. In recent years, I was fortunate to have Molly Idle, a recent Caldecott Honor recipient and a fantastic illustrator, as my teacher and my inspiration. You’ll notice I said “almost eclipses”. I consider the writing vital, too, and I was influenced when writing Orangutan by several expert wildlife veterinarians, especially at orangutan rescue centers in Borneo. They weren’t writers, per se, but were so passionate about getting the word out, that they motivated me to write a story that would inspire children.

What age were you when you started writing?
I wrote poetry in high school, and occasionally wrote for fun while raising my family and having a different career. But I didn’t take it really seriously until I retired. 

Do you ever experience writer’s block?
All the time, as all writers do. But I also share with them the nutty experience of having writer’s “Aha!” moments in the middle of the night, while trying to sleep.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I always have an outline, and a ton of research, and a picture-book dummy I make for myself, so I can see the flow, and pacing. I also want to have a rough idea of the design while I’m working, and where to put the pictures.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
It was actually serendipitous. I hired my editor to edit four books. I didn’t know she also owned a publishing company, and she then asked me if she could publish Orangutan. Her company only publishes books about the natural world, so she wasn’t interested in the other three, but did an excellent job editing. One of the others was the e-book Jackson’s History Adventure, which I am now re-writing as a coloring book. I plan to self-publish this time, and expect a boatload of challenges.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?
Not really, my publisher/editor is great. Without even knowing what I was doing, I fell into the good fortune that my colleagues search for, for years. Before I met her, I had submitted other books to several agents and publishers, and collected my huge share of rejection letters, but I gave up doing that.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I’m using my black and white drawings, for the reader to color, but it’s a story book, not just a coloring book, with text and “Fun Facts”. It’s about Jackson time-traveling back through centuries of civilization and all over the world to draw and paint his school assignment of a history report. It’s designed for left or right-handed colorists, so the coil binding is at the top. 

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
A piece of really good advice, that’s a lot of hard work to follow, I got from my marketing group. It is to create a book that is as perfect as you can make it, in readability, presentation, and quality of writing, printing and binding. This is not just because of all the competition out there, but because anything less is a disservice to your readers.

What has been the best compliment?
The compliments have been mostly about the illustrations, which I found easier than the writing. My favorite compliments are about kids liking and re-reading it.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
You have to pay a professional editor, and this is much more than a proof-reader.

With any luck, you can get proof-readers for free from among your school teacher friends, in return for your services. The manuscript should already be perfect in grammar, punctuation, spelling and usage before the editor gets it. Then they help you make it interesting to your audience.

I also think if you’re self-publishing, you should use a smorgasbord approach to buying services. Research and find an editor, a book designer, an illustrator if you need one, and a printer. I think this is cheaper and gives you more control than getting a package deal from a paid publishing company.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
I get a really slow befuddled start in the morning, sometimes not getting rolling until noon. Then I build up a head of steam in the late afternoon, and hit my stride at night.

What others are saying about Rita Goldner:

“The information relayed is very educational, but it’s the illustrations, which are so colorful and vibrant that give this book its appeal. Young kids will be entranced, particularly those who love monkeys (and oh so many kids do!).”

“Combining beautiful art, a nice story and good scientific facts’ this book for children get its act right. With fun facts in each page, kids are introduced to orangutans and their environment.”


Rita’s Young Adult Author Rendezvous page is HERE.

Rita’s Website is HERE.

Michelle Lynn at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE.

Advertisements

Super Cool Toys and Apps for Writers

writer  By K.R. Conway

Looking for cool Christmas ideas for the writer you know?

I taught at the Young Writers Workshop (which is part of the Cape Cod Writers Center Summer Conference) and I’ve gotta tell ya – my class of crazies totally rocks.

I have eight of the brightest, wildest teen writers this side of Hogwarts. They are tackling everything from twisted retellings, to high fantasy dragon shifters and dream thieves, to awesomely wicked horror and family murder and magic, to bookworms-turned-assassins, to glorious contemporary dramas. I look at my class and each writer there is dedicated to their story, their characters, and (amazingly), one another.

Thank heavens there isn’t a story-slam at the end of this because my clan of teen writers would wipe the floor with ya!

In just a couple of days, they have joined forces to pull the best stories and voice from each of their manuscripts, offering twists and turns and solutions to one another that the creator never saw coming. I’m showing them my personal tricks of the trade and they are intent on getting it right. They are determined. Fearless. They are true story-crafters and can write circles around many adults.

Because all writers should indulge in a few tools of the trade, I am listing a couple awesome apps and toys for my class here on my website. Of course, you TOO can steal a peek . . .

AWESOME APPS:

Lists For Writers: http://thinkamingo.com/lists-for-writers/

Evernote: https://evernote.com

Index Card: http://www.denvog.com/app/index-card/

AWESOME TOOLS:

Aqua Notes

Fisher Space Pen

Laptop Cooling Pad

Neo2 Alphasmart

Storiarts clothing

Woodlands End Table

Dragon Speech-to-text software

iworkz Foldable Keyboards (for writing on the fly)


Author K.R. Conway has a page on the Young Adult Author Rendezvous Website HERE.

Christmas Book-list for Boys

book-boy-2   By T.D. Shields

When it comes time to shop for gifts – whether at Christmas or any other time of year – I often go looking for a good book to share. I love reading so much that a new book is always a welcome gift, so I like to do the same for other people. Of course, the problem with giving books is that sometimes it’s hard to know what to give!

In light of that, I thought I’d share some suggestions and maybe you’ll find some books on my lists that are new to you or perfect for the reader in your life.

I’m going to start with a list of books for boys. It can be tough to find books for boys, so I went to the source. I have three boys (ages 6-10) and I asked for a list of books they love and/or would want to find under the tree this year.

Recommendations from the 6-Year-Old

  • This kiddo loves the Doreen Cronin books about the animals on Farmer Brown’s farm. His favorite is Duck for President, but he’s also a big fan of Click, Clack, Moo and Giggle, Giggle, Quack. https://goo.gl/vDfY7E
  • Another favorite is the Pete the Cat series by James Dean. https://goo.gl/oLgJBN
  • And though he’s getting a little old for the Sandra Boynton board books, he still likes to look through them now that he’s old enough to start reading them for himself. Cute stories, funny pictures, and easy reading-levels make these a good fit for my beginning reader. https://goo.gl/8Ofgx1
  • And, of course, don’t forget the indie options you can find on our YAAR website. There are lots of fantastic choices there! https://yaarendezvous.com/kids-picture/

Recommendations from the 8-Year-Old

  • It’s sad but true, 8-year-old boys love gross humor. That why this kiddo loves the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey. I’ll admit that I don’t particularly enjoy it when he wants to read me a funny (to him) section about mega-farts or Professor Poopypants, but I do love it that he enjoys reading these so much. https://goo.gl/axwaAP
  • Another hit with the 8-year-old set is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. The first couple of books in the series have been made into movies, but there are plenty more books in the series. Kids who enjoy the movies could get hooked on the books. https://goo.gl/0X7Fwl
  • For some reason it’s become a big thing for kids to spend time on YouTube watching OTHER people play games like Minecraft. I don’t get it, but I’ve given in and let the kids watch some of them. Dan TDM is a hugely popular star of Minecraft YouTube videos and now he has started writing books as well. If it means that my kiddo is interested in spending less time watching videos and more time reading, I will buy the book – so we picked up Trayaurus and the Enchanted Crystal when it came out last month. It was a big hit at my house, so your little Minecraft fanatics might enjoy it as well. https://goo.gl/Q5W3Xl
  • In the non-fiction area, this kiddo really enjoys a series of books called Who Would Win by Jerry Pallotta. These books take two animals that spark kids’ imaginations – for example, a killer whale and a great white shark – and analyze the animals’ temperaments, abilities, and other characteristics to determine which would probably win in a fight between the two. Maybe you have to be a kid to really appreciate them, but my son finds the books interesting and entertaining – and he even learns something along the way. https://goo.gl/Ow8lSH
  • And once again, don’t forget the great indie options! We haven’t read all of these (yet!), but we’re working on it. Both the eight-year-old and the ten-year-old really liked The Monsters Anonymous Club and have plans to read The Chosen. https://yaarendezvous.com/mg-fantasy-mystery-humor-sci-fi/

Recommendations from the 10-Year-Old

  • The ten-year-old is an avid reader and loves adventure. He devoured the Harry Potter books before moving on to a new fantasy series called Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. It took some work for him to get through them all, but he loved the stories so much that he persevered. They are really fun books; my 13-year-old daughter and I read and loved them too! https://goo.gl/CWXKm7
  • Now that he’s finished with Fablehaven, the ten-year-old has moved on to a new series by Brandon Mull, The Beyonders. This is another fantasy series and while I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, my son tells me that it’s really great. He’s finishing up book 1 and already checking to be sure that he’ll be able to get book 2 right away. https://goo.gl/fdKWc6
  • He also likes the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. This is a great series because it mixes a fun adventure story with real facts and figures about various topics, so kids can learn while they’re entertained. There are a lot of books in this series, so it could keep your kiddo busy for a while! https://goo.gl/K4Rbyk
  • Though he loves fiction and fantasy books, my son is also a big fan of non-fiction as well. He likes anything to do with animals. He recommends any animal book from National Geographic because there are lots of interesting facts. He also enjoys Wild Kratts in book and video formats because of the wealth of animal facts. https://goo.gl/CINImF
  • When it comes to the YAAR indie offerings, I’m planning to introduce this kiddo to several of the titles in this section. I think they’ll be right up his alley! https://yaarendezvous.com/mg-fantasy-mystery-humor-sci-fi/

That should be enough to get you started!


You can see more about author T.D. Shields in her interview HERE!

T.D. Shields has a page at Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE!

Find Young Adult Author Rendezvous on Facebook HERE!

Happy Holidays from everyone here at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous. We hope you’re reading good books, eating good food, and enjoying time with good people!

YAAR Does NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo Experience - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by Lauren Mayhew

National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short, challenges people to write 50,000 words in 30 days, that’s an average of 1667 words per day. I’ve struggled to write that many words this whole year, let alone one day. You can read more about NaNoWriMo here.

I went into this challenge very pessimistically. Both of my published novels are around the 50,000 word mark, and they each took me around a year to write. Doing this in 30 days wasn’t just going to be exhausting, but mentally challenging too. However, I did it, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

I haven’t finished the book yet, which is encouraging, as this may turn out to be the longest book I’ve ever written! Chapter six is completely missing, and I haven’t written the ending yet, so I’d hope there’s at least another 5,000 words to add, not including all of the edits I’ve already made in my head!

NaNoWriMo challenged me to write in a way I’ve never written before, and I think I’ll continue in this way from now on. I wrote everything straight into Microsoft Word. Normally, I write by hand and type everything up later. There was no way I’d have the time to do that with NaNoWriMo, and it’s helped me to write quicker which can only be a good thing.

But I’m not the only one who took this challenge head on! Quite a few of us here at YAAR decided to give it a go, here’s what they have to say about their experience, seven days after it’s over.

NaNoWriMo Winner's Certificate - Young Adult Author RendezvousThis was my fifth NaNoWrMo and my fifth win. I love November. It’s the only month of the year that I truly write every day. My challenge now is to keep going until I finish this book … oh and to have fun with my local NaNo peeps at our “Thank Goodness It’s Over Party!” on Saturday. – Debbie Manber Kupfer

Every November I get excited. Not only because it’s the holiday season, but the creative juices around the world start reeving up and it’s addictive. Especially in the book world. And it’s all because of NaNoWriMo This is my second year to join the movement, my first year to “win”, and it was such a wonderful experience. Yes, I have mega bags under my eyes and I’m seriously sleep deprived, but the words that flowed, the relationships that were built (both literal and fictional, the stories that will come of it… EPIC.)Lili Mahoney

For the first time in my writing career, NaNoWriMo actually coincided with a time when I was able to get a lot of writing done. It really truly motivated me to write every day, which is something I rarely do. In the span of only 30 days, I was able to get 50,000 words written AND plan out the rest of the book (which will likely be over 100,000 words). Having others do this at the same time was awesome!Patrick Hodges

I had grand intentions for NaNoWriMo… I was going to finally get back in the habit of writing every day! I was going to finish my book! I was going to remember that I love writing and it’s something I do for fun, not as another chore! In the end, I didn’t write every day. I didn’t finish my book. I eked out my 50,000 words by the skin of my teeth on the last day. But I did it and most of all I rediscovered my love of writing, even in the midst of my crazy life!!T.D. Shields

I’ve done NaNoWriMo for four years, but this was the first year I ever made it to 50,000 words. My secret was getting up to speed by writing 1,000 words a day during the previous month. You really discover which parts of a book you’ve thought through and which parts you haven’t when you have to produce three to five pages a day on it.Paul Briggs

This was my first time doing NaNoWriMo and I finished my book with 60,000 chaotic, raw, heartfelt words. I’m not sure what I’ll discover when it comes to editing, but having that rough draft done feels amazing! I’d say overall my experience was overwhelming, intense, beneficial, and gratifying. I’ll be ready to do it again next year…or in 2025.Tenille Berezay

Nanowrimo was like going on a literary bender, but with not nearly enough booze.K.R. Conway

This was my first time doing NaNoWriMo and I completed my first draft of a novel that I first had the idea for over ten years ago. The challenge gave me the opportunity and the excuse to write it, and I am absolutely in love with the manuscript. Keep an eye out for my novel, Paranormal Painless.Shannon Rieger

Save

Esmeralda’s Chanukah

prettymenorah    By Debbie Manber Kupfer

Esmeralda Grunch woke up from her bed deep inside the hibernating tulip. The tulip was snoring again. The flower sprite nudged its petals hoping to coax it back into silent slumber, but to no avail.

Reluctantly, Esmeralda reached up and parted the crimson petals. A harsh burst of frigid air slammed the sprite and for a moment she contemplated going back to sleep, but that wouldn’t do. Tonight was the first night of Chanukah and she had an important task to complete before sundown.

She eased herself out of the sleeping tulip and shivered as a huge snowflake landed on her nose. Ugh, she hated snow. Her friend Lucinda, who lived in the snowdrop at the other end of the garden loved snow, especially as her bloom was the only one that didn’t hibernate during the winter months.

As she flew over the garden she saw the other sprites busy with their holiday preparations. Some were wrapping presents, others were collecting fairy gelt, and still others were painting dreidels. In the middle of the garden was a fairy ring made of brightly colored toadstools and in the center of the ring sat a large silver menorah. Two candles had been set in its holders – an emerald one for the first night and a deep azure candle for the shammas or helper candle.

Esmeralda flew down to a stately sleeping daffodil and tapped gently on its petals.

“Wake up Daphne! It’s almost Chanukah. You can’t sleep the day away.”

“Don’t get your wings in a twist, Esmeralda. I’m coming.”

“Have you got the potatoes?”

“Of course, I’ve got potatoes. What do you think I am – a troll? Give me a hand here. No wait a moment, let me use my wand.”

The daffodil sprite took out a canary colored wand and levitated the bag of potatoes out of the recesses of her floral home. The sleeping daffodil made little grumbling noises, then settled its petals and returned to its dreams.

Next they visited Moshe who was sitting on the ground by his marigold cradling a large glass bottle.

“Ah, there you are ladies. I have the oil ready. Only the best from my friend, Olive.”

Next stop was Percy who dragged a huge copper skillet out of his petunia. The pan was easily twice his size. Daphne levitated the oil and the skillet and the four flower sprites flew on to the edge of the garden to the home of Phoebe, the phoenix. Phoebe lived in a sunflower that burned brightly and yet magically did not melt the surrounding snow.

The phoenix flew out to meet the sprites. “Ah, you arrived. Now we can make the latkes for tonight’s celebration.”

All that day the sprites grated, mixed, and fried, while Phoebe the phoenix supervised the flames. By sundown they had a tray of piping hot latkes.

Daphne took out her wand once more and levitated the tray and they all flew to the fairy ring to watch the phoenix light the candles. Then they shared the latkes, exchanged presents, and played dreidel for fairy gelt.

Finally, tired and happy, Esmeralda made her way back to her tulip, where she settled herself into her petal bed and fell fast asleep.


Check out an interview with Debbie HERE.

Debbie has a page on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

You can see the YA Author Rendezvous on Facebook HERE.

As ever, we hope you enjoy this month of joy. From everyone here at the YA Author Rendezvous:

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: