Weekly Readings (#BarkWeek Edition)

WEEKLY READINGS (#BarkWeek) - FINAL V2

Welcome back to Weekly Readings!

 

For those new here, “Weekly Readings” is when your lit. rat reviews picture books I’ve read here and there.

While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again…

In honor of #BarkWeek, we’re digging into our archives for some of our favorite canine-centric reads we’ve reviewed thus far-

Big Mean Mike

Big Mean Mike

By Michelle Knudsen (@MichelleKnudsen)

Illustrated by Scott Magoon (@smagoon)

Publisher: Candlewick Press (U.S.) [@Candlewick]

Walker Books Ltd [@WalkerBooksUK] (U.K.)

Pub. Date: August 14, 2012

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: This is re-post of our original review for Big Mean Mike

I’ve been wanting to read this book since it first came out back in 2012, but it took me FAR longer to finally get to it, but now I’ve finally got my paws on it, and now I get to share it with you, my precious readers.

 

Contrary to the title, this isn’t a “Big ‘n Bad, Huff and Puff Wolfie deal”, but rather the story of a roughneck canine who takes wears his Big and Mean image with pride. What better way to challenge that image then to be surrounded something opposite of big and mean, in this case: tiny and cute bunnies!

 

Illustrator Scott Magoon does a fabulous job sequencing the pacing through his illustrations, and smart use of lineart to infer motion and expression of the characters. be they central or extras in the background. 

As if to say “Mean Mutt versus Relentless Rabbits-SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!” to loosely evoke the high octane spirit of monster truck shows, which is also featured in this book. I’m not a big car guy (despite living in Detroit [aka "The Motor City] my whole life), but I did have my dreams of owning and driving a vintage Ford Thunderbird.

Those of you who grew up with younger siblings (or relatives akin to siblings) will find much humor and catharsis as Mike is surrounded by bunnies at every turn. Or if you were the younger sibling, this is a humorous glimpse of how your big bro or sis felt whenever you tagged along against their will, whether you idolized him or liked to mess with her…(Or some combo thereof)

In any group of friends, there’s always that one or two friends that you might feel a bit embarrassed by, not because of who they are, but how it might look to those who don’t know that friend like you do. 

The title’s a bit of a misnomer, but as you read the story, you’ll see that’s part of the point.

Big Mean Mike is a non-preachy reminder that our self-image isn’t everything, nor is it one-dimensional.  I speak from personal experience in this matter.  

 

I started “Talking Animal Addicts” in large part to shed the shame I used to carry about being into something many others my age have “Grown out of”, or interested in things I was interested in others weren’t, like cooking and liking non-rap music.

All that to say, this is one of those books my 5 year old self could’ve used, but I’m glad it’s here now for the kids who need it, and this lit. rat’s honored to play some small part in spreading the good word, and to loosely quote Mike, “That’s EXACTLY how The Literary Rat likes it!” 

(Check Out the Fan Book Trailer I made for

“Big Mean Mike”)

 

 

Ballerino Nate Cover 2

 

Ballerino Nate

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Illustrated by R.W. Alley

Publisher: Dial

Pub. Date: March 16th, 2006

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: This is re-post of our original review for Ballerino Nate

Don’t laugh, but “The Literary Rat” in his preschool days once wanted to be a ballet dancer, though I lacked the discipline and stick-to-it factor I’ve learned to develop for writing over time, but I’m all for boys who dare to defy “gender norms” with wild abandon.

 

This is one of those books that I would’ve loved to read when I first became enchanted by the ballet, and while it may not have kept me on the ballet path, I would’ve had this as literary empowerment armor whenever some chauvinist lad or lass says “That’s only for GIRLS!”   

Well, I wouldn’t have used the word “Chauvinist” at age 4, of course.   But by age 9, to use a retro tween play on words: For sure! (That was the beginning of my “I Love Lucy” obsession), but that’s a whole other story…

 

Nate, like any sensible nonconformist, has no qualms disagreeing with his “Know-it-All” big brother who by contrast is more “Tom Sawyer” than “Baryshnikov” [buh-rish-ni-kawf], but at times can’t help but wonder “Is he right?”

 

Would I have to wear a tutu?

Do I have to wear pink even though I’m a boy?

Can boys even be “Ballerinas” at all?

 

Well, the latter’s kind of true, but NOT how you think, and I’ll let the book show that to not spoil the pathos!

 

The illustration style is appropriately traditional, hand-drawn watercolors has charm to spare, and accents the movement and grace that any serious dancer (ballet or otherwise) can relate to, and also gives readers with self-proclaimed “Two Left Feet” syndrome a glimpse into the art and practice of dance in general, and ballet in particular.

 

It’s very hard to talk about this book without another famous ballet student in the fantastical fauna universe, but rest assured, this book while great for both genders gives those nontraditional boys something they can quickly identify with.   

While gender doesn’t solely define our identity as it once did (In some parts of the world, anyway…), parental baggage aside, it does play a part, and this book honors that, without stereotyping, and at the same time doesn’t shy away from the questions (be they spoken or unspoken) even the most progressive and open-minded families ask at times.

 

This is in many ways “Angelina Ballerina” for boys, only we have anthropomorphic dogs (and/or wolves, it’s not quite specific either way) instead of mice, but here it’s the youngest in the family that takes center stage.

 

Sadly, unlike the mouselet star with big dreams, this seems to be a one and done, but what a wonderful and worthy one and done it is!

 

If you’ve got a ballet fan of the male persuasion, tell him I said “BRAVO!” and to give him this book.

 

He’ll thank you for it, if not in words, in his actions when one day he too could be a Supremo Ballerino, just like Nate. Ballet Men UNITE!

Check out my fan book trailer for Ballerino Nate!

 

 

Barnaby the Bedbug Detective

Barnaby the Bedbug Detective

by Catherine Stier

Illustrated by Karen Sapp

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

(@AlbertWhitman)

 

Pub. Date: March 1, 2013

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: This is re-post of our original review for Barnaby the Bedbug Detective

 

Of course, I had to get a (domestic) dog story in there, and this is a great one, it’s loosely based on true events, and a different kind of career animal for readers to learn about.

While most career dogs known to kids are police dogs, fire dogs, and given our worldview these days, bomb-sniffing dog used in the military or national guard, this is one of the lesser known.

 

Until recently, I always thought bedbugs were made up, but they’re real, and can be a big problem, even harder to detect than termites. It’s a good thing dogs like Barnaby in real life aid us in keeping them out of our homes.

It’s also a charming story with non-preachy messages of adopting older dogs from shelters, and seeing promise in others where some see only problems, and there’s a little “Leo the Late Bloomer” here as well.

That’s all for now. Next time we’ll have a fresh batch of reviews-WAIT, one last thing-

May the Fantastical Fauna be with you.

ONE LAST NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: If my ramblings convinced you to  buy one or more of the books mentioned above, please support T.A.A. by clicking on the affiliate cover images above or links within the review.

Squeak This Out to your fellow Animal Fantasy Fanatics!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

Weekly Readings VIII

Weekly Readings 8

Welcome back to Weekly Readings!

For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews picture books I’ve read here and there.

While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again…

This week, as you might guess from the image above, your lit. rat’s heart is alive with the sound of music, as I review a quartet of books inspired by movies, music and dance. 

  The Pelican Chorus

The Pelican Chorus (and Other Nonsense)

by Edward Lear

Illustrated by Fred Marcelino

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (An Imprint of HarperCollins)

Pub. Date: April 29th, 1998

 While most picture books tend to be some are just plain unbridled fun! The Late and Great Fred Marcelino breathed new life into his artistic take on a medley of prose and poetry by author Edward Lear (not sure if he’s related to Norman Lear, one of the “Godfathers” of sitcoms).   

 

I’ve had a serious crush on Marcelino’s illustration style for years. If he were alive today, I’d do whatever human possibly to work with him on a project of mine.

 

 

His style is both classic yet with a level of modern flair that’s hard to come by when much of modern illustration and animation has moved to digital plane or CG animation is taking precedence over classic 2D hand-drawn animation, and my stance is there should ALWAYS be room for both.

 

While I respect that computers can make shading and certain other techniques easier to do, I appreciate when the illustrator honors the tactile mediums and keeps them alive in some way.  

 

Maybe it’s because I’m a non-illustrator author (who wishes he were an illustrator) that I feel so strongly about this, but I do feel an added visceral connection to an illustrated book.

 

Be it a picture book or a graphic novel where I know that there’s still that level of organic tactile feel that someone made this by hand, even if they do the final art digitally on a tablet or the computer, there’s that level on handmade warmth that still shines through even if part or all of the final book is created digitally.  

 

Fred was one of those illustrators that mostly illustrate the books of other authors, whereas most illustrators today are also authors who write and illustrate their own books.

I, Crocodile

(Check out our first “Weekly Readings” for my review of “I, Crocodile” which Fred wrote and illustrated) There are also authors who only illustrate their own books. My stories matched with his masterful illustration would’ve been amazing.  

 

Thankfully, there are still many fine illustrators in the world, but Fred will be missed, I never got to know him outside the work he left behind, but thankfully the books he did illustrate (Including Tor Seilder’s novel, “A Rat’s Tale” which is one of my favorite books and was the inspiration for my upcoming debut novel “Gabriel“)

 

From funny, to poignant, and back to funny again, The Pelican Chorus is as much the creation of Fred Marcelino as Edward Lear, as like with his illustration work on “Puss in Boots” and Tor Seilder’s version of “The Steadfast Tin Solider”, Fred was able to put his own spin on a medley of prose and poetry that was first written and published long before his time. It reminds me a lot of the best picture book collaborations today such as Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo, The Highway Rat, and The Scarecrow Wedding) whom we profiled during our Picture Month 2013 celebration, and husband-wife team Helen and Thomas Docherty (The Snatchabook).  

 

When Pigasso Met Mootisse

When Pigasso met Mootisse

by Nina Laden

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleBooks | @ChronicleKids)

Pub. Date: July 1st, 1998

How do you get readers who love fiction interested in nonfiction? Take famous folk from history and give them a fantastical fauna face-lift, of course!

 

Well, in the case of “When Pigasso Met Mootisse” this format works well and gives us a fun vehicle to discover how two folks from different walks of life and ways of doing things, can find common ground, and mutual respect.

 

This book also has the benefit of doing for art history what “The Magic School Bus” does for the sciences: Mix in the fantastical to engage the reader in the factual.  

 

Just like the DC vs. Marvel in the comics space, Mario vs. Sonic in the ’90s era of video games, and most recently the sizable shift from hand-drawn 2D animation to CG on both the big and small screen, there were and still are fierce rivalries in the world of fine art, and the real-life Picasso and Matisse had just as fierce an off and on battle as their animal alter-egos.

 

I was way into art history as a kid, and while I’ve not mined the world from a historical perspective in some time, whenever I come across books about visual artists such as painters, sculptors and niche craftsmen and women in a book I’m always delighted. One thing I LOVE about this book is that they bring together two artists, one more well known and often parodied, with a talent that’s perhaps more under the radar to an American audience.

 

While Pablo Picasso is well known for his arguably “Childlike” approach to his painting, Henri Emile Benoît Matisse is lesser known to the west for his more traditional approach, though he too was chided for his work being too radical yet stuffy for his time, in that respect he was as much of an misfit in the art world as Picasso, 11 years his junior.

 

Nina Laden uses her own angular and offbeat style to capture the essence of her subject artists turned fictional characters, and in doing so brings to light one of the numerous “Odd Couple” stories of the 20th century.

 

The book’s end pages also includes a brief overview of the real life origins and interactions of the artist duo who despite their rivalry, and vastly opposite worldview and art styles, were overall good friends to the end of their days, with one outliving the other.

 

In fact, the great Picasso vs. Matisse rivalry wasn’t so much between the artists themselves, but the rabid fans of one against the other, and I thought the fandom feuds among readers today was bad…

 

All in all, this a book any fan of visual arts should check out, and if you’re already a fan (though hopefully just shy of homicidal as the fanboys and girls of their time) of one or both, you’ll be in for a treat.   Mary Had A Little Ham

Mary Had A Little Ham

by Margie Palatini

Illustrated by Guy Francis

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (@DisneyHyperion)

Pub. Date: September 2nd, 2003

 

Even the shyest souls among us have at times dreamed of life in the spotlight, even your lit. rat likes to pretend he’s a famous actor or performer of some kind.

 

In some ways my upcoming podcast imitative “T.A.A. FM” will give me the chance to in some small way live that fantasy, but with my voice more so than my face, but more on that later, now onto the review…

 

As the title suggests, this is a retelling of the vintage nursery rhyme “Mary Had A Little Lamb” but recast to star a pig by the name of Stanley Snoutowski who leaves his home on the farm to chase the siren song of stardom.

 

Illustrator Guy Francis left nothing to chance, using every page spread from cover to cover, crease to corner, and dedication to end papers, to invoke the spirit of Old Hollywood at it’s best.

 

While also depicting the lows of our swine-tastic protagonist on his way from humble beginnings to the big time, part of which is chronicled via the old school snail mail between, and his girl, named, you guessed it–Mary, alongside Margie’s spare but effective prose.

 

My friend Swinebert Glockchester (of Swinebert and Dempsey fame) has a dad who worked in the movies as an actor, and when I shared the story with him, he said-

 

“This pig fits my Pa to a T, when he was just getting started in show business. Hope Dempsey and me do as well with our endeavors.”  

 

You will, S.B. I’ll do my best to make sure of that. Classic movie buffs and starry eyed thespians alike will find much humor and unabashed optimism abound in “Mary Had A Little Ham.” On that note: Here’s looking at you, Stanley!

 

 

Ballerino Nate Cover 2

Ballerino Nate

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Illustrated by R.W. Alley

Publisher: Dial

Pub. Date: March 16th, 2006

Don’t laugh, but “The Literary Rat” in his preschool days once wanted to be a ballet dancer, though I lacked the discipline and stick-to-it factor I’ve learned to develop for writing over time, but I’m all for boys who dare to defy “gender norms” with wild abandon.

 

This is one of those books that I would’ve loved to read when I first became enchanted by the ballet, and while it may not have kept me on the ballet path, I would’ve had this as literary empowerment armor whenever some chauvinist lad or lass says “That’s only for GIRLS!”   Well, I wouldn’t have used the word “Chauvinist” at age 4, of course.   But by age 9, to use a retro tween play on words: For sure! (That was the beginning of my “I Love Lucy” obsession), but that’s a whole other story…

 

Nate, like any sensible nonconformist, has no qualms disagreeing with his “Know-it-All” big brother who by contrast is more “Tom Sawyer” than “Baryshnikov” [buh-rish-ni-kawf], but at times can’t help but wonder “Is he right?”

 

Would I have to wear a tutu?

Do I have to wear pink even though I’m a boy?

Can boys even be “Ballerinas” at all?

 

Well, the latter’s kind of true, but NOT how you think, and I’ll let the book show that to not spoil the pathos!

 

The illustration style is appropriately traditional, hand-drawn watercolors has charm to spare, and accents the movement and grace that any serious dancer (ballet or otherwise) can relate to, and also gives readers with self-proclaimed “Two Left Feet” syndrome a glimpse into the art and practice of dance in general, and ballet in particular.

 

It’s very hard to talk about this book without another famous ballet student in the fantastical fauna universe, but rest assured, this book while great for both genders gives those nontraditional boys something they can quickly identify with.   While gender doesn’t solely define our identity as it once did (In some parts of the world, anyway…), parental baggage aside, it does play a part, and this book honors that, without stereotyping, and at the same time doesn’t shy away from the questions (be they spoken or unspoken) even the most progressive and open-minded families ask at times.

 

This is in many ways “Angelina Ballerina” for boys, only we have anthropomorphic dogs (and/or wolves, it’s not quite specific either way) instead of mice, but here it’s the youngest in the family that takes center stage.

 

Sadly, unlike the mouselet star with big dreams, this seems to be a one and done, but what a wonderful and worthy one and done it is!

 

If you’ve got a ballet fan of the male persuasion, tell him I said “BRAVO!” and to give him this book.

 

He’ll thank you for it, if not in words, in his actions when one day he too could be a Supremo Ballerino, just like Nate. Ballet Men UNITE!

Check out my fan book trailer for Ballerino Nate!

 

For Parents: Check out the blog “My Son Can Dance” to hear one mother’s journey (author and writing coach, Nina Amir) to her (now grown) son who went from ballet school to turning pro in the field.

If your dancing lad’s seriously into ballet, you’ll find a mix of tips, memoir, and info parents or other caregivers can use to keep their ballerino-in-training  (Yes, “Ballerino” is the male equivalent to “Ballerina” for female ballet dancers, just as the title suggests) on pointe, and empowered to stay the course, despite the gender bias and discriminate folks who don’t “Get it.”

Violet's Music

Violet’s Music

by Angela Johnson

Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

Publisher: Dial

Pub. Date: January 5th, 2004

While we focus on animal stories on T.A.A., we occasionally let humans in on the fun, and this week is one of those times, but I have a certain “pride” to thank for my learning of this title-

I first discovered this book via the PBS series “Between the Lions” that stars a suburban pride of lions who live in a library where you learn the ins and outs of early literacy and the pleasure of read-aloud time. 

I adored that show, even though it debuted LONG after I learned my ABCs and how to read on my own, and while I wasn’t yet the ravenous reader I would go on to be , this did make books cool in a way I didn’t experience in school.

It’s kind of like “The Electric Company” (the Old School 70s version more so than the newer version) but with a fantastical fauna bent.

Laura Huliska-Beith’s patchwork watercolor illustrations nicely reflect Violet’s “Go Your Own Way” vibe, and author Angela Johnson really brings a lyrical flair a story like this demands

When I first had the theme of this “Weekly Readings” in mind, I immediately thought of this book alongside the others I recently read and reviewed above, and recently read it again for this review.

While I heard this book read on the show cited above, I certainly didn’t have it memorized! So I checked it out from the libary and read it again. Happy to report it still holds up. 

As musicians well know, it’s HARD to capture the feels and flows of music, which an art form that depends on sounds that’s hard to infer via prose.

Some stories using poetic forms like various rhyme scheme or certain meter or rhythm almost mimic a singer-songwriter or lyricists’ process.

This book also does something RARE for picture books, the title character actually ages over the course of the story, from rattle-shaking babe in the cradle to emergent tween rocking a REAL guitar. Rock on, Violet, Rock on…

That’s it for Weekly Readings. Check us next time!

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: If my ramblings convinced you to buy one or more of the books mentioned above, please support T.A.A. by clicking on the affiliate cover images above or links within the review(s).

Squeak This Out to your fellow Animal Fantasy Fanatics!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

Weekly Readings VII

Weekly Readings 7

It’s been a LONG time coming, but welcome one and all to another edition of Weekly Readings!

For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews picture books I’ve read here and there.

While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again…This week, we’ve got a duet of Tough Guy tales with a twist-

 Big Mean Mike

Big Mean Mike

By Michelle Knudsen (@MichelleKnudsen)

Illustrated by Scott Magoon (@smagoon)

Publisher: Candlewick Press (U.S.) [@Candlewick]

Walker Books Ltd [@WalkerBooksUK] (U.K.)

Pub. Date: August 14, 2012

 

I’ve been wanting to read this book since it first came out back in 2012, but it took me FAR longer to finally get to it, but now I’ve finally got my paws on it, and now I get to share it with you, my precious readers.

 

Contrary to the title, this isn’t a “Big ‘n Bad, Huff and Puff Wolfie deal”, but rather the story of a roughneck canine who takes wears his Big and Mean image with pride. What better way to challenge that image then to be surrounded something opposite of big and mean, in this case: tiny and cute bunnies!

 

Illustrator Scott Magoon does a fabulous job sequencing the pacing through his illustrations, and smart use of lineart to infer motion and expression of the characters. be they central or extras in the background. 

As if to say “Mean Mutt versus Relentless Rabbits-SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!” to loosely evoke the high octane spirit of monster truck shows, which is also featured in this book. I’m not a big car guy (despite living in Detroit [aka "The Motor City] my whole life), but I did have my dreams of owning and driving a vintage Ford Thunderbird.

Those of you who grew up with younger siblings (or relatives akin to siblings) will find much humor and catharsis as Mike is surrounded by bunnies at every turn. Or if you were the younger sibling, this is a humorous glimpse of how your big bro or sis felt whenever you tagged along against their will, whether you idolized him or liked to mess with her…(Or some combo thereof)

In any group of friends, there’s always that one or two friends that you might feel a bit embarrassed by, not because of who they are, but how it might look to those who don’t know that friend like you do. The title’s a bit of a misnomer, but as you read the story, you’ll see that’s part of the point.

 

Big Mean Mike is a non-preachy reminder that our self-image isn’t everything, nor is it one-dimensional.  I speak from personal experience in this matter.  

 

I started “Talking Animal Addicts” in large part to shed the shame I used to carry about being into something many others my age have “Grown out of”, or interested in things I was interested in others weren’t, like cooking and liking non-rap music.

All that to say, this is one of those books my 5 year old self could’ve used, but I’m glad it’s here now for the kids who need it, and this lit. rat’s honored to play some small part in spreading the good word, and to loosely quote Mike, “That’s EXACTLY how The Literary Rat likes it!” 

 

(Check Out the Fan Book Trailer I made for “Big Mean Mike”)

Fox and Fluff

Fox and Fluff

By Shutta Crum

Illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

(@AlbertWhitman)

Pub. Date: September 1st 2002

 This is one of those I just happened to stumble across in one of my many book hunts, and I knew when I started doing book reviews on T.A.A. last year, I knew this was one of the books I’d most want to recommend.

 

I meant to to time this review for Father’s Day 2014, but life and tech got in the way, and hey, now more than ever before in recorded history, dads need empowering all throughout the year!

What happens when a hungry fox and orphaned baby chick meet? Not what you might think…

Fox decided to spare the poor “Mixed up” chick and takes his leave.  However, the chick (named Fluff)  has chosen Fox to be his “Papa.” Despite Fluff’s best efforts to be a hunting partner, Fox knows the only thing to do is leave Fluff in the care of others his own species. The only thing is, Fluff’s too “Foxy” for them! (Peep! Peep! Grr!)

While masterful mother and child books are eternally bountiful, we’re still playing catch up with dad and child stories, particularly ones that reflect the more varied and open-hearted fathers of the 21st Century, versus the dictating “Master of the House” image that for many families and cultures still persists today.

 

One of the issues I feel plagues a lot of dad and child stories (particularly in books for older readers)  is that they’re either silly to a fault or so strict you want to reach into the story, and drag them by the ear before they do their kid untold emotional damage…Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, thankfully in the picture book space we’ve got dads of varying styles and temperaments. Similar to “Big Mean Mike”, Fox has an image to uphold, further enhanced by being a carnivore, he hunts bunnies, mice and the like-and Fluff’s attempts to “help his Papa” only complicates matters.

 

I usually am wary of “Accidental Dad” stories as they can make look more incompetent than they really are.

 

But this book avoids that pitfall as we see Fox slowly (by picture book standards) evolve from wanting to be rid of Fluff, to being unable to imagine life without him around.

 

The ending (which I won’t spoil here) is the cherry on top to a charming, well-told and drawn tale.

 

For anyone (especially you single dads out there) looking for the fatherly companion to “Are You My Mother?” look no more, you’ve found it in Fox and Fluff!

 (Check Out the Fan Book Trailer I made for “Fox and Fluff”)

That’s it for Weekly Readings. Check back next time!

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: If my ramblings convinced you to buy one or more of the books mentioned above, please support T.A.A. by clicking on the affiliate cover images above or links within the review(s).

Squeak This Out to your fellow Animal Fantasy Fanatics!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

The Literary Rat’s Crowdfunding Chronicles – Part 1: Overview

 

Conseil_Tenu_par_les_Rats (Now Hear This)

 

I know I’ve been MIA a lot the last few months, and life stuff aside, it’s also due to a BIG project I’m about to undertake for my debut novel “GABRIEL” coming soon from Alten Ink-

GABRIEL.POSTER.2.page.002

 

 

Alten+Ink+Logo+Transparent

Since Alten Ink is a small press, they face a unique set of challenges,

and after talking it over with my editor, I decided to launch a crowfunding campaign to be able to enlist the services of a professional illustrator, and cover other key expenses which I’ll detail prior to launching the campaign.

 

 

Before I go on, for those of you not yet in the know, crowdfunding is a process where authors and other creative types reach out to their wider community to not just donate money, but share in the belief of bringing their passion projects from dream to tangible reality. Below are a list of the most common crowdfunding platforms-

Kickstarter_Logo_a_lThe newest kid on the block in the crowdfunding arena. See a short tease from the “Kickstarted” documentary about Kickstarter’s Origins (which was also a successful Kickstarter project in and of itself! Talk about Meta-Much!)-

 

 

 

indiegogo-1560x690_c

The oldest and most open global crowdfunding platform to date!* (*at the time this post is written).

 

Learn more About Indiegogo (and general advice from one of it’s co-founders) here-

Pubslush-LOGO

Learn More about how the first Authors Only crowdfunding platform came to be from the VP/Co-founder herself-

 

 

 

TAA_CARES 2

As some of you long time T.A.A. fans may remember, in September 2013 we launched our “T.A.A. CARES” imitative, where we lend our time and money to promote and support authors and artists in need of a little extra help to bring them dream projects to life.

 

So far, the projects your lit. rat’s backed and spread the word on all met their funding goals, and are now published/will be seeing publication (Covers seen below)-

 T.A.A. CARES #1

Fetch by Adam Glendon Sidwell

Illustrated by Edwin Rhemrev

Publisher: Future House Publishing

(Check out T.A.A.’s review)

 

My LOVE for you is the SUN by

Julie Hedlund (@JulieFHedlund)

Illustrated by Susan Eaddy

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Pub, Date: September 9th 2014*

(*Date subject to change, review coming soon!)

 

Chalky and the new Sports Car

by Stanley Potter

Illustrated by: Jordan Henderson (@taleandteller)

Publisher: Little Thunder Co.

(Check out T.A.A.’s review)

 

 

While many children’s authors pitch picture books, comics/graphic novels, or projects with a serious educational bent, novelists like myself can and do use crowdfunding platforms to reach their publication dreams-

T.A.A. CARES #2

Learn The Story behind Rhoda’s Ocean-

Learn the Story behind “Steam In The Willows”

 

Soon, your lit. rat will be embarking on his crowdfunding adventure, and I hope you’ll be along for the ride. Check back T.A.A. throughout the coming weeks as I document my crowfunding saga.

 

You can learn see what Gabriel’s up to (and learn how to be part of our virtual promo team) on his newly launched OFFICIAL website! 

 

Next time, I’ll go over in-depth why I decided to enter the world of crowdfunding from more than the backer perspective.

 

Until then, have a safe weekend, and may the fantastical fauna be with you.

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Meet Gabriel!

Meet GABRIEL

Today I’m happy to finally announce that the OFFICIAL website for my debut novel GABRIEL has launched!

 

You can learn see what Gabriel’s been up to (and learn how to be part of our virtual promo team) and you also find them on Facebook and Twitter

 

They’ve even got their own channel on YouTube!

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SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING “GABRIEL”

We’re still on holiday break during the 7/4 holiday weekend, but check back T.A.A. tomorrow for a special announcement regarding my debut novel GABRIEL (Tweet Gabriel and his friend via @GabrielandRum), enjoy the video below, and tell your friends to share the video and stop by to learn how you can be part of bringing Gabriel’s story into the world-

 

 

 

Until tomorrow, stay safe, have fun, as always may the fantastical fauna be with you.
 

*NOTE: the link in the video will go live 7/6/14 

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When “Writing the Next Book” is NOT the answer…

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After a significant hiatus, your lit rat is slowing getting back to his regular schedule, and today is the first in a multi-part series of post about “The Next Book Blues.” This is what many writers (including yours truly) face after they “finish” their current book.

Normally, I’d start a series like this by giving an overview of what “The Next Book Blues” is, but to keep you on your toes, I’m going to discuss this topic in reverse order for two reasons-

 

1. To help writers (who don’t have this problem) get why this is a problem so they can better respect/understand writers they know who directly or indirectly shows signs of “The Next Book Blues.”

2. Sometimes thinking about a problem in reverse eases understanding, like how some writers prefer to write out of order or with the ending first, or they’ll revise a complete draft from the end instead of the common linear “beginning to end” approach. With those points in mind, here we go-

(NOTE: The points below are for career-minded writers)

While it’s true that one book does not a writer make, writing alone doesn’t improve your skills either, by which I mean, drafting new work without revising or rewriting previous work as needed is only solving HALF the equation.

There are important lessons persevering on a particular story or novel can teach us. If I didn’t spend eight years on GABRIEL, I’d never have the stamina to stick with a new project, not just to revise or rewrite as needed, but to sell it, and edit it again with my publisher’s editor via the traditional model, or put in the vast amount of money and time to indie publish.

Sometimes that “Next book” lecture does more harm than good. Again, depending on the kind of writer you are, and the nature of the project.

While many successful writers swear by the thinking of “Only writing NEW books will I improve as a writer” it’s not my experience, and I’m not alone.

While it’s true that building a body of work is vital for many writers, that doesn’t mean we can whip out quality work in that often idealized “Assembly Line” fashion.

While the common wisdom is “Deadlines empowers most writers” they don’t for me.

Now that doesn’t mean I never meet or set deadlines, nor am I saying deadlines don’t matter or aren’t important, but I couldn’t do everything on a strict deadline, or at least not without turning into a harried, witchy troll that is NOT going to help me connect with the readers I want to have, and turn me into  the “No. 1 marketer” for my writing, and remember, not every writer used to be a master marketer before coming to publishing, and we need to give newcomers unversed in marketing a break.

We are only one person. We can’t do it all and that’s something more easily business-savvy writers NEED TO GET, or they’ll lose the people who most need your help and guidance.

One of the issues I take with the “Long Tail/Blacklist” mantra many indie authors are screaming to the virtual rooftops is that it puts too much emphasis on quantity over quality.

As I say often among my writer tribe-

“There’s a BIG difference between writing 10 books and those same 10 books being a equal quality and substance.”

Too many writers preach quantity without talking about the nuances and patience necessary to have a (QUALITY) body of work.

Also, understand I say this from the perspective of writers who don’t work in highly competitive genres, like  romance (ESPECIALLY category) that demands high output and working in certain restraints if you want to break in commercially.

Finally, keep in mind some writers have more multifaceted skill sets than others, and that effects how fast or slow they work as much any external shake ups in publishing.

Not all authors can ghostwrite or do work for hire projects, or write nonfiction (an eternal market as I keep hearing…) which can be a BIG way to up your publication credits and further establish you in the industry.

But there are ALWAYS authors who may not be as versatile, but are GREAT at what they can do.

Some writers don’t need as much time to draft, revise or rewrite, and others like myself , simply require that extra effort and time,  even though we may wish otherwise…(for reasons of mortality aside from our low capacity for patience….)

Also, keep in mind that every story is different, and every writer’s career track is different, some will require more or less time, and often the greater the learning curve for the writer, the longer it takes.

I’m in no way devaluing or downplaying the personal and professional reasons why it’s important to build your body of work and not to be stuck on one book.

But especially for highly impatient writers (of which I’m one) not being able to persevere means that story may not reach salable quality.

We as authors have to VERY CAREFUL to not confuse diligence with procrastination when it comes to drafting new work versus revising/rewriting older work that hasn’t published yet.

Not all past work is inherently “un-publishable” just because the first draft or three didn’t pan out. and giving up on it too soon could start a chain reaction of producing but stopping short of reaching the level it can sell an reach readers.

Bestselling author Jackie Collins once said that she wrote one book after another, and while her craft may have improved, she wasn’t trying to publish anything! (partly because she was given polarizing discouragement from others growing up)

But I suspect (I don’t know her personally, BTW) it’s  also because she had such a forward-thinking mindset, she overlooked that she wanted to get published, but just produced book after book for her own amusement, which is valid, but it can also be out of fear, external, internal or both.

It was only until her husband made her rethink a previous book she’d written that she persevered to sell. I say all that to say that drafting book after book isn’t enough.

Crafting drafted books is no less important, especially when we’re starting out and those first sells are especially “Hard Won” as in my and other author’s experiences.

Sometimes writers can be so forward-thinking, they don’t take ENOUGH of a step back to realize, “Hey, I can sell this book and write others, too!”

This is where I stalled.

I admit I did put Gabriel on such a high priority that it kept me from doing other books, but I will NEVER regret taking the time I did getting it up to snuff enough to reach my selling it, even if I’d been a better writer and already established with well-received books already, that’s a story I’d slog in the trenches for,  while hopefully writing/selling other books, too, of course!

Regardless of our experience/skills/professionalism, some books-

JUST.

TAKE.

LONGER.

PERIOD.

The key thing I hope all writers (and even lay readers) can understand is that sometimes quality must override quantity.

As writers, we can’t beat ourselves up to the point of nervous breakdown-

Breaking/Staying in publishing is already hard enough. We needn’t make it harder by being crueler to ourselves than even the worst teacher or boss treated us!

Writers with especially keen business savvy, please hear this-

“Self-discipline and accountability is no excuse to be a slave driver to ourselves or others in our corner.”

Writers, what you think? Do you feel there’s too much (out of context) pressure toward quantity over quality?

How do you navigate the push-pull between productivity without taking shortcuts that will hurt your books and career in the long run?

 If you know a writer suffering from “The Next Book Blues” I URGE you to guide them to this post.

Readers, what’s your stance on this? I’d to see some conversation brewing in the comments. 

 

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