Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Aspiring Author, Her Inspiration, and Her Books

It happened on a perfect, white sand beach in Aruba; me watching my beautiful stepdaughter bask in the glory of being a flower girl in my sister's wedding. As she spun around picture-perfect in the sand, my mind began to spin tales of a little girl crowned "the flower girl princess," spreading flower girl power to weddings all over the world. And that was all the inspiration I needed to put pen to paper and write my first children's story: "Adventures of A Flower Girl Princess."

The inspiration was easy; it was the story, characters, and plot that had me stumped. But, fearless in my endeavor, I turned to  a tried and true resource: books! Avid readers know that the answer to any problem can be found hidden between the pages of books. So I scoured the Internet in search of books to guide me in my quest to become a children's book author.

What I found were two books that have become indisposable: The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children and Writing Children's Books for Dummies.

The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children is written by children's book author, Nancy Lamb. With the experience of having written over 40 books for children and adults, her book provides practical advice, is a great reference resource, and is very entertaining. Literary agent Andrea Brown describes it as "...much more educational than taking an entire semester of Children's Books 101 anywhere." It covers foundation and structure, plot and subplot, characters, point of view, voice and tone, premise, theme, moral, and so much more. It encourages you to feed your creative spirit, but not at the expense of mastering the craft. As I type this post, it sits nestled near me with its creased seam, ink-stained pages, and highlighted passages, at the ready granting advice to this aspiring author.

The second book, my book-writing bible, is Writing Children's Books for Dummies. My first instinct with this book was to discard it. Could a book for "dummies" really have merit in the world of children's book publishing? I know that I am but a babe in the woods, a novice at best, and that I may not be qualified to recommend a book that is seemingly so simplistic -- but here goes! This book has helped me to plan and create, which is appealing to my Libran sensibilities. It has given me the tools to organize my space, my writing habits, and my stories. Written by a publishing executive who was also a children's book writer (Lisa Rojany Buccieri), and an author with nine For Dummies titles (Peter Economy), this reference book takes the novice writer from the basics of writing children's books to understanding the market, through the writing process to plot and scenery, and finishing off with publishing, promotion, and sources for great storylines. In my humble opinion, it is a must have for every novice and aspiring children's book author.

Now, armed with the two books I can't write without, I am moving onward and upward towards my publishing dream. Tomorrow, I submit my first manuscript for a professional critique through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Tune in tomorrow for a recap on my "manuscript via snail mail" adventure. Always, Athena.

1 comment:

  1. Athena, you've got me thinking about what's on my own writing resource bookshelf. I have "The Idiot's Guide to Children's Publishing" by Harold Underdown - a very useful book. My favourite book for the moment is "The Fire in Fiction" by Donald Maass, which, although not specific to children's writers has excellent chapters on writing tension, dialogue, etc. I confess, I brought it with me on vacation.

    Good luck with your critique!

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