Picture Book Month 2013: The Finale: Part 2 – Future Releases


If you’re new to T.A.A. and missed our earlier posts during Picture Book Month 2013, check them out below- 


Picture Book Mania 

(Inaugural Post for T.A.A.’s participation in Picture Book Month 2013, and other more writer-centric events)

Picture Book Month Spotlight #1: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Picture Book Month – Author Spotlight #2: Katie Davis


Picture Book Month – Author Spotlight #3: Two Lost Lights of 2013

You can also find our spotlights and more picture book treats and tributes on our Pinterest board-



If you missed Part 1-

http://talkinganimaladdicts.com/picture-book-month-finale-part 1


Today is the last day of Picture Book Month, and T.A.A. wraps up with whetting your appetite for picture books due out in 2014*-

 (*As with many things book related, the release dates listed here are subject to change, and not all titles have an eBook version at the time this post was originally written)



A Day with the Animal Mechanics


A Day with the Animal Mechanics 

by Sharon Rentta

Publisher: Alison Green Books

(An Imprint of Scholastic)

Pub. Date: May 1, 2014

For the little “Fixer Upper” in your life.




Written by Jenny Offill 

Illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade

(An imprint of Random  House Children’s Books)

Pub. Date: March 11th, 2014


Kids with nontraditional pets will get a kick out of Sparky, a sloth that despite being slower than turtles, and more sedate than your eccentric cousin thrice removed after Thanksgiving has more to offer than what the cover image above leads you believe. 

UPDATE: Check out our full review!




By Tim Warnes

 Publisher: Tiger Tales/Little Tiger Press

Pub. Date: March 1st, 2014


Author-Illustrator Tim Warnes brings us cautionary tale with a twist. The “Old Chestnut” style to the illustration certainly helps my anticipation of this March 2014 release.


Jacob's New Dress

Jacob’s New Dress

Written  by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

Illustrated by Chris Case

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Pub. Date: March 1st, 2014


As those who know me well know, I’m an advocate for N.T.B.M.


(Non-Traditional Boys and Men)

In the spirit of the song, “William’s Doll” (From “Free to be You and Me“) co-authors Sarah and Ian Hoffman bring readers a story that despite any potential controversy it sparks, touches on something every boy and man who was “Different” has to face, but all too often, in a negative and abusive context.

In a world where girls and women the world over are breaking boundaries and redefining what it means to be a girl or woman today, boys and men have been left behind (And LEFT OUT) of the local and increasingly GLOBAL conversation in this age of redefining their non-standard gender identity.

Even if your son/brother/nephew/etc. isn’t like Jacob, this book might be wise to keep on your eyes on when it launches early next year. Trust your Literary Rat on this one…I’m a non-traditional man and proud of it!




How to Cheer Up Dad

By Fred Koehler

Publisher: Dial 

Pub. Date: March 20, 2014


We need more Father-Son Stories in general. Enough said. (Until I review it, of course!)


Here Comes the Easter Cat




Written by Deborah Underwood

Illustrated by Claudia Rueda

Publisher: Dial

Pub. Date: January 28, 2014


It seems dogs aren’t the only rivals for this cat given the title of the latest from author Deborah Underwood, best known for “The Quiet Book” and it’s companion “The Loud Book.” Easter may be many months away (At the time this post is being written) but it never hurts to plan ahead with seasonal titles.


UPDATE: Check our review!


The Driftwood Ball



 The Driftwood Ball

   By Thomas Docherty

    Publisher: Templar Publishing

     Pub. Date: January 1st, 2014









Thomas Docherty’s next solo outing continues the grand tradition of “Going Your Own Way” by using the classic setting of a exclusionary social event with a fresh approach. This is one dance off I DON’T want to miss! (Says the Literary Rat with two left hind paws…)


For more on Thomas Docherty (And his author wife, Helen) check the links above for our author spotlight article featuring their previous solo and collaborative work.


Busy Bunny Days - In the Town, On the Farm & At the Port


Busy Bunny Days: In the Town, On the Farm & At the Port

By Britta Teckentrup

Publisher Chronicle Books 

Pub. Date: February 25, 2014


Think of Richard Scarry’s “Busy Town”

meets Disney’s “BunnyTown” and you have

a rabbit lover’s utopia in picture book form.

(Fun Fact: Your Literary Rat [Though not Chinese] was born in the “Year of the Rabbit” and I’ve had mixed feelings about that…)






By Elys Dolan ()

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Pub. Date: February 25th, 2014


As loyal T.A.A. readers know, I’m working on a fairy tale style novel (Working Title: The Baroque Weasel) but while my weasel is a hero, this picture book by author-illustrator Elys Dolan uses their classic role as a gang trouble making upstarts who try to take over the world.

Will they succeed? We’ll have to wait for February 2014 to find out…

UPDATE: Check Out Our Review!

Babar on Paradise Island

Babar on Paradise Island

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

Pub. Date: May 13, 2014

Much like other classic series such as Madeline and The Berenstain Bears, an extended family has carried on where the original creators left off, and the pachyderm who became King is off on yet another adventure, but will paradise turn out to be a foreboding misnomer?  



by Charlie Sutcliffe

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Originally Published: October 3rd, 2013 (U.K.)

(U.S.) Pub. Date: April 1st, 2014


First released in the U.K. in October 2013, Author-Illustrator Charlie Sutcliffe makes his picture book debut in the U.S. in 2014.

FINALLY, a potential male counterpart to Eloise and Madeline. Not sure it’ll rhyme as in the case of the latter…


Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century

Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century

by Jane O’Connor

Illustrated by

Robin Preiss Glasser

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pub. Date: April 8, 2014



The DIY Diva/Fashionista is back and fancier than ever.

What better than a wedding to bring the appropriate glam and big vocabulary to the table. Nancy may not always “Keep it Simple” but she always keeps things sensational!


I Am Otter

I Am Otter (@i_am_otter)

by Sam Garton (@SamuelGarton)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray 

(An Imprint of HarperCollins)

Pub. Date: April 29, 2014

Just like a certain “Wimpy Kid” this character began as a niche online experiment by author-illustrator Sam Garton, and is now entering the print book world in April 2014! Fans of Calvin and Hobbes and Katie Davis (The Latter of which was spotlighted for Picture Book Month 2013) will be in stitches when Otter struts in!

UPDATE: Check our review!

This is only a TASTE of the many picture books we have to look forward to in 2014. They’ll all available for pre-order now. (For those of you early bird shoppers)

If you’ve got an upcoming release that you’re excited for, or any comments on the books mentioned above, please share in the comments below. T.A.A. LOVES hearing from you, our precious readers.

Thanks for spending Picture Book Month with T.A.A. We’ll be back for 2014 and beyond. 

Regular blog posts will resume Monday, December 2nd, 2013. Until then, stay safe as Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. continues, and as always-

May the fantastical fauna be with you.


P.S: Also take time to check out the 

OFFICIAL website for

Picture Book Month:http://www.picturebookmonth.com


UPDATE (12/3/13)piboidmo2013-winnerbadge-700x700

I got to 30 IDEAS in

PiBoIdMo 2013!

Picture Book Month – The Finale: Part 1 (New Voices in 2013)



As Picture Book Month draws to a close for another year, I want to spotlight some new faces, places, and voices that have graced bookstores, libraries, and e-readers* in 2013-

 (*Some Books aren’t available in ebook format at the time this post was originally written)

The Snatchabook (U.S. and U.K. Edictions) 3

U.S. Cover (Left) U.K. Cover (Right)

The Snatchabook

Written by Helen Docherty Illustrated by Thomas Docherty

(U.K. Alison Green Books, October 2013) (U.S. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)

I discovered this on November 1st, 2013, at the START of Picture Book Month, when I was out book browsing, and while I couldn’t get the book at the time, what I read (4 pages) convinced me I MUST buy before year’s end. I will be getting it soon and look forward to a review.

I always feel a bit awkward when I review or highlight a book in rhyme, since when done poorly, really makes a story clunk (I’ve tried, trust me it’s quite a task to challenge oneself with, the literary rat has WARNED you!), and it’s certainly HARD to debut as a new author with a rhyming text, especially if you are NOT also the illustrator (If an agent or editor believes in the project overall,  so long as the rhyming is at least 70% solid, IMHO. Don’t quote me, I don’t yet have an agent, but I’m trying to be positive here!)

My point is this: Like Julia Donaldson from our first spotlight, Helen NAILS the rhyme scheme of her book, which is looser than many rhyme-centric narratives, but works all the same.

Thomas Docherty’s illustrations really brings life and warmth to the world where beloved books go missing, and characters have a Seuss-esque quality to them, and I promise you, I  don’t throw down that kind of statement lightly.

While Thomas Docherty has written and illustrated  6 picture books of his own (And Illustrated “The Snorgh and the Sailor” written by Will Buckingham), “The Snatchabook” is his second collaboration with his wife, and  author, Helen Docherty!


Helen and Thomas (Tom) Docherty

(Helen Docherty, left, Thomas Docherty, right)


Their first book together (Before they were married) was “Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure” (Illustrated by Tom, the story co-written Helen) was released by Templar Publishing in 2010, in the U.K. (U.S. Release in 2011)

Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure


Now we go from one love story to another.


From one between people, to that of our fantastical animal friends on which this site homages, but it’s also a love story to a place you can actually visit (Should finances allow…)-

 Herman and Rosie

Herman and Rosie

By Gus Gordon

(Released by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Macmillan in October 15, 2013)


Like London, Italy, Paris, and more recently India and/or Japan, books have always had a storied history with an ongoing playlist of love songs to iconic settings (Real, imagined, and all in-between) and picture books are no different. In fact, with SO MANY love songs to a specific place, it’s HARD to stand out, but I believe “Herman and Rosie” is one such stand out.


For me, of the many love songs to New York (Real or Surreal), this book DOES jump out in the most positive sense.


There’s something about the vintage feel that I’ve always responded to, long before I even knew the history behind it, which only enriched my appreciation as I got older.


When I first saw the cover for this book, I almost wanted to weep with joy, because it’s unabashedly old-fashioned, in a tune when being modern is often meant to mean “Simplistic to a fault.”


I’m not bashing simplicity, when it’s right for the story, whether words or text, but I don’t want simplicity to overly dictate stories that frankly demand some finesse and sophistication-

Fancy Nancy

The Fancy Nancy series is what immediately come to mind. Nancy’s “DIY” fashion/interior design spirit wouldn’t have the charm and impact if it had been taken too literally.

Jane O'Connor and Robin

(Robin Preiss Glasser, left, Jane O’Connor, right)

As author, Jane O’Connor has said in interviews, she made the point to series illustrator, Robin Priess Glasser (via NECESSARY art notes) that Nancy’s “Fancy” was less idealized Martha Stewart/Mary Engelbreit, and more playful and resourceful.


Like those old cartoons of kids playing knights wearing pots on their heads to affect those iconic helmets.


Much like how many people are living more financially stringent and (Arguably, at times) frugal, and general embellishment is seen as a sin of the early 21st century.  (I’m exaggerating a bit, but it does FEEL that way sometimes)


But Gus Gordon’s first children’s book reminds me, and I hope others, too, that “Dated” details aren’t always the “Kiss of Death” we often attach to non-modern things in general.


While many young readers (And even their parents born LONG after the ’80s) will not necessarily know that black half moon poking out on the cover is a vinyl record, and that the overall design from the front and back over reminds me of the now “Old School” way people enjoyed music.


Back in the day, if you couldn’t play the piano or a violin (Or the Oboe, as in Herman’s case), vinyl records and their players (From the Gramophones of  to the suitcase-style record players from the ’60s and ’70s) was the way to go to enjoy music without going to a live concert, Broadway show or movies in the oft-debated “Golden Era”, but despite the dominance of music downloads and CD sales peaking in the ’90s (My childhood) vinyl records (From 21st Century artists) are STILL coming out, and here’s why-


As many audiophiles know, vinyl records actually best preserve the highest quality (Uncompressed) audio when thoughtfully produced, which outside of archival preservation for historians, is a tangible reminder that not everything vintage is obsolete and unloved.


While the art style is clean and not what some would call “Busy or Gaudy”  it avoids the “Minimalist” movement in books these days, I don’t just mean minimalism in terms of text (Which I have certain thoughts on that I will share at a later time) but in how the illustrations manage to feel modern yet warm at the same time.


Like Frog and Toad, Mole and Ratty, and more recently brother-sister duo Judy Moody and Stink (This may be “Talking Animal Addicts” but we embrace humans here, too!), I hope Herman and Rosie has as beloved and prosperous legacy for young readers now, and for any literary rattlings of my own that one day will emerge.


Check back tomorrow for part 2 of our finale by highlighting some picture books T.A.A. has their eye on in 2014!


Until then, may the fantastic fauna be with you.


Picture Book Month Spotlight #1: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Picture Book Month – Author Spotlight #2: Katie Davis

Picture Book Month – Author Spotlight #3: Two Lost Lights of 2013


You can also find our spotlights and more on our Pinterest board-


P.S: take time to check out the OFFICIAL website for Picture Book Month-




P.P.S: 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.

Letter From The Editor – Many Thanks


Letter From The Editor

-November, 28TH, 2013-


Many Thanks

My Dearest Readers,

As Thanksgiving  weekend (In the U.S.) lies before us, this is a great time (In between family, feasting, and general frenzy) to stop and reflect on how far you’ve come in your goals,

There are many things I’m thankful for that happened this year. In many ways, 2013 was more lucky than unlucky for me-

I sold my first novel!

The editor for the first phase of revisions truly clicked with me as much as the book.

I began my path toward using video to widen my reach as a writer. 

(Thanks to Katie Davis creating “Video Idiot Boot Camp“)

I began doing reviews for T.A.A. and increased my social media presence and usage.

I launched my “T.A.A. CARES” imitative to spotlight and aid authors and other content creators with PR and funding, and our first two spotlights achieved their funding goals and I can’t wait to own and review their books.

My first year doing PiBoIdMo was successful and came up with 30 picture book ideas (Wish me luck trying to draft them)

I got repay some people who helped me diversify my toolbox of skills as an author.

Were there things I didn’t accomplish? Of course.

I wanted to draft and revise a new novel to submission ready status.

To better foster community on T.A.A.  

I wanted to experiment with self-publishing but ran into issues of quality and lack of finances.

There’s more than this, but I try not to dwell on the negative, and this letter is meant to be hopeful…

Above all, I’m thankful that as 2013 in coming to an end, I made some strides in my slowly moving career, and I wish you all a safe and special Thanksgiving, and for those of you who celebrate Hanukkah (Which coincidences with Thanksgiving weekend in 2013), play a round of Dreidel for me!

Take Care,

Taurean J. Watkins (Taury)

-Editor-in-Chief/Literary Rat

Talking Animal Addicts

Good Word Friday


Good Word Friday Banner

Today’s post will be brief today as I have pre-Thanksgiving shopping to do among other things. But I did want to share some great stuff real quick-

For those of you who’ve been following T.A.A.’s posts during November, you’ll know I recently backed a Kickstarter campaign for author Julie Hedlund’s “My Love for You is the Sun” as part my “T.A.A. CARES” imitative to give authors and other content creators a helping hand (Er…Paw) in spreading the word and donating money alongside whatever grass routes PR your literary rat can provide.




Two days ago, Julie (Who I spotlighted in a recent blog post) reached her funding goal-


Julie Banner 2

But there’s still PLENTY of time to donate if you haven’t already. One of the great things about Kickstarter is that as long as you earn the minimum of funds needed to deliver a project, you can earn more than that, and allow for stretch goals that further benefit the project.

The funding period won’t end until December 12, 2013, and any donations beyond this point will allow Julie and her publisher, Little Bahalia, to aid in promotion and expand her school visits when the book releases in Fall-Winter 2014.

In honor of Julie’s Kickstarter success, T.A.A. will do a special giveaway, and due to the limited time frame the last time I tried to do a giveaway, I’m making this as simple as I can. Please check back next week when I announce how you can win a copy of “My Love for You is the Sun” and other fun prizes.

If you haven’t met Julie yet, learn more about her in my author spotlight here- http://talkinganimaladdicts.com/t-cares-julie-hedlunds-epic-adventure

Find Julie’s Kickstarter campaign page here: http://kck.st/18aRZgT

That’s all for today. Until next time, may the fantastic fauna be with you.

Picture Book Month – Author Spotlight #3: Two Lost Lights of 2013


Today’s Spotlight will be a little different, and possibly tissue-inducing, but I hope no less inspiring. 


While I’m all for celebrating the variety, depth and daring feats accomplished in picture book art and text today, I want to take this spotlight to give honor and reverence to two author-illustrators who we lost in 2013-



Marc Simont (1915-2013)

I wasn’t as familiar with Marc Simont’s work, at least not directly, but learned some interesting things in doing research.

A few years ago, I wrote a series of stories about a character named Crocodile Flint, a gruff reptilian sleuth with a semi-hard boiled tone, and some of the feedback I got was advising me to read other mysteries for chapter book readers, and one of the books suggested for me to read was the “Nate the Great” series which is a mystery series for emergent readers (Kids 6+), and though the series is written by Marjorie Weinman , it was Marc Simont who did the illustrations for the early books in the series when it debuted in the early 70s-

Nate the Great (1st)


 Today, the series is currently illustrated by Jody Wheeler-

Nate the Great, Where Are You

(Cover for “”Nate the Great, Where Are You?”

to be released in May 2014)


But in addition to illustrating the works of other authors, he also penned and sketched books all his own, most notably his picture book “The Stray Dog” that became a Caldecott Honor book in 2001-


The Stray Dog

 (*Click the cover image above if you’re interested in purchasing)

As for Crocodile Flint, it evolved from being a chapter book to a novelette type story that I will soon be publishing it via the new reading platform called “Snippet” but I’ll share more details on that in the near future.


And speaking of crocodiles…


Bernard Waber (1921-2013)

Lyle Montage #1 Lyle Montage #2

I saved Bernard last for the simple reason that it was the most INTENSE for me personally as an author early on in my career. It was a week after my birthday this year when I heard the news on Facebook, and it truly rocked my world, in a non-awesome way. I still get shaky thinking about it as I type these words. For, much like the death of Maurice Sendak in 2012 (Also in May, ironically enough), this was the most core-shaking author death for me since Brian Jacques (Author of the Redwall series, and my unofficial “Rival”)

Of his many notable books, his most well known are “Ira Sleeps Over” and his series starring “Lyle the Crocodile” which are are a personal favorite of mine. What I love most about the Lyle series is how even though Lyle never speaks, you still feel you know him. He’s the kind of character where actions and expressions say all you need to know, and despite the “distant” narrator, it doesn’t feel like you being told what Lyle thinks and feels, and anyone whose tried to write a tight first person or close third POV know this is NOT easy to do.

While picture books are usually in third person, and often past tense, there are some in eithe first person, and even second person (If You Give A Mouse A Cookie), that with a skilled author can bring freshness to the narrative and it’s adjoining illustrations without being pretentious.

That said, it’s not easy to use a detached narrator and avoid the issue of readers not feeling connected to the characters or being told how they feel.

Of course, back in the days of silent films, this was a common way stories were told visually, with an occasional caption in the place of spoken dialogue (For those of you saw my original welcome video for T.A.A., the last bit at end was a riff on old silent movie dialogue cards)

But the advantage of picture books (And by extension, Comics and/or Graphic Novels) is to use visuals to express what words alone either can’t convey, or are unable to within the vocabulary and word count constraints inherent in picture books especially.

This is made more impressive by the charming illustration style and how facial expressions really pop.

While some “Modern” picture books can take it to task in the wake of the “Minimalist” movement of books in general this first decade in the 21st century, for me, this is a case where the old-fashioned feeling of the story is its strength, rather than as a liability.

The word “Dated” has negative connotations in publishing, but to me, what really dates a book isn’t necessarily slang (Though is a legit concern, especially in novels), but it’s stance to the reader.

For me, the most enjoyable picture books are the ones where as clearly labored and thought out they may be, they never read self-conscious to neither the kids or the parents (Or other family members) who share the story together.

It had always been my hope that I’d get my Lyle books signed, and shortly after learning of his death, I went to “The Book Beat” (An independent bookstore in my home state of Michigan) and bought a signed hardcover of “Lyle and the Birthday Party” and will be a cherished part of my personal library, and will NEVER sell it! (Short of financial desperation or family inheritance)


For a chatty, detail freak like myself, when you can relate so pogiantly to a character who doesn’t speak, you can’t help but say “WOW!” if only to yourself.

Being primarily a novelist, taking away a character’s ability to speak in WORDS for me is like taking a kid’s favorite toy without asking, cruel and jarring, but it also inspires me to better pay attention to facial ticks and unspoken (yet still RELEVANT) feelings of my characters.

Vital for picture books, but still apply to novels, though there’s more freedom of structure and word choice because of the larger canvas you have. In short, I’ll miss you, Bernard Waber, but I thank you for bringing your books into this world.

I came to the joy of picture books later than many, but I know that I’d be just as charmed by Lyle at 4, as I am now at 26, with no kid siblings or kids of my own (Yet…) to hide behind.

My site may be called “Talking Animal Addicts” but Lyle shows us that animals (real or imagined) still have a voice. This is merely a voice you need to feel and see rather than hear.

Have you Marc Simont’s “The Stray Dog” or Bernard Waber’s “Ira Sleeps Over” or one (if not ALL) the Lyle books, and any of his other books? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments. Your literary rat loves to hear from you.

We’ll lighten up the mood on our next spotlight with highlighting picture

books by authors and/or illustrators who made their debut in 2013.


Until then, may the fantastical fauna be with you.

Picture Book Month – Author Spotlight #2: Katie Davis

Today, as Picture Book Month Continues, I’m happy to introduce an author who’s helped me as much as I now hope to help her now, and made the word “Business” less of a dirty word for me. (It used to ber a MAJOR “Hulk Trigger” to hear that word), but while I’m not cured, I’m at least in rehab. author-illustrator (And all-around “Writerpreneur”

[Writer + Entrepreneur] Katie Davis.



(Meet Katie, Author, Illustrator, Video Marketing Maven and unofficial “Soothsayer of Reciprocity”)


Katie is the author/illustrator of 8 (Soon to be 9!) Picture Books, from her debut classic “Who Hops?” (1998) to fan favorites, “I Hate to Go to Bed”*, “Kindergarten Rocks” and “Little Chicken’s Big Day” which also marked Katie’s first collaboration with her husband, movie producer/author, Jerry Davis, who has his a hand in many well known animated films, most notably the first “Toy Story”, “Ice Age”, and (Katie’s Fave) “The Iron Giant.”

Jerry’s most recent film “Epic” debuted in theaters back in Spring 2013, and is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, or digital download.

Fans of Little Chicken (L.C. as I like to call him) will be glad to know a holiday follow-up is soon to launch, making this Katie’s 9th picture book, and 2nd collaboration with her husband, Jerry-




(*Though “I Hate To Go To Bed” is sadly out of print, it will be re-issued in ebook format with remastered art by Katie, eventually…If you can’t wait, you might be able to hunt out a used copy or find a library near you that still has a copy in the stacks)

Katie has also written a middle grade novel, “The Curse of Addy McMahon” that also sadly is out of print, but again, some books are worth hunting for used, and again, utilize your local library if you can…

On the upside, Katie will soon grace the YA literary landscape for first time with her upcoming (Long Overdue) novel, “Dancing with The Devil” (Title subject to change) scheduled to be released by Diversion Books sometime in 2014.

In addition to her picture books and novels, Katie has also released various nonfiction, such as the ebook guide, “How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, tricks and secrets to create a bestseller” (Which will eventually release in a second edition packed with new content and revised changes to previous info), and in May 2013 (Your Literary Rat’s Birthday Month!) launched “Video Idiot Boot Camp”, an on-demand, 8 lesson course designed to teach authors and other professionals how create engaging videos without needing tons of money, fancy equipment, and the camera skills of Hollywood Cinematographers.

As part of the First Generation of VIBC graduates, who had ZERO experience creating video this time last year, I can personally tell you, with Katie (And her alter-ego sidekick, the Fairy “Vid-Mother”) as your guides, you will succeed in the emerging shift to video-centric content.

YouTube gets a billions of views a day!

Why shouldn’t authors like Katie and myself get a fraction of those views for the content we work hard to provide?

Those of my long-time readers who are also authors, you too can and should grab a slice of the video viewer’s pie, there’s MORE than enough to go around, unlike the pies we can eat…

But don’t just take my word for it, this is a recent video I made to help Katie promote her upcoming release of “Little Chicken’s Big Christmas”-

[sz-youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c_OXGnDo-s” cover=”https://i1.ytimg.com/vi/0c_OXGnDo-s/2.jpg?time=1384398380350″ userdata=”Taury” /]

(I know the cover in the video is white, but I think the final cover will be Green, but I chose the white cover Katie posted on her blog when she hadn’t decided yet and the white contrasted better for the video)

I recently joined Katie’s “Launch Team” to aid in getting the word on on this book. For those of you who listen regularly to Katie’s “Brain Burps About Books” podcast (The No. 1 podcast geared specifically to the craft and business of children’s publishing) know Katie’s (Self-proclaimed cynic as she is) BIG on reciprocity, which is key to not only her success, but that of other writers such as myself who she’s helped reach the next level in the writerly skillsets thanks to her ability to break things down into steps that foster the hope to do better, know better, BE BETTER.

In that spirit of gratitude and reciprocity I learned from Katie (And Julie Hedlund who I spotlighted for my T.A.A. CARES initiative) I joined the team to aid Katie in the Thanksgiving launch of “Little Chicken’s Big Christmas”  and here’s why-

While “Little Chicken’s Big Day” was traditionally published by Simon And Schuster imprint “Margaret K. McElderry Books”, L.C.’s Big Christmas is going the indie route, and this being a holiday release, hence the reason for the concentrated launch, and it was a cool way to get some marketing experience and insights to help make the launch of my debut middle grade novel GABRIEL (pub. date still unknown to me, but I’ll have a BIG UPDATE to share in the near future) that much stronger, and for those of you who gave me so much support and imparting whatever advice you gave me, I’ll do all in my power to be worth the wait.

Plus, this book fits my “Animal Story” theme, and now that I’m addicted to doing video, this just gives me more ways to practice what I’ve learned from VIBC.

The teaser video I did for “Little Chicken’s Big Christmas” was just the FIRST step, I will also be reviewing the book (After getting a review PDF copy from Katie over the weekend, should all go well on her end) and do a review on Amazon at a later date at or just before launch, and later re-post on T.A.A., alongside reviews of other holiday books (Already in my private library) I’ve been LONGING to re-read and review for T.A.A.

You can check out the teaser videos I made for my upcoming middle grade novel, Gabriel from yesterday’s blog post: http://talkinganimaladdicts.com/video-remixing-2

Julie Hedlund (Who I highlight yesterday to support her “Epic Adventure” on Kickstarter) has also taken VIBC (She was the “Original Vidiot” back when VIBC was still in beta) and she herself admits to owe Katie an insurmountable debt and gratitude (As do I) to gain knowledge to something that is now key for writers and other content creators to learn, because while book trends come and go, the demand and need for video is a FINITE game-changer, and no writer wants to be “Left Behind”-

[sz-youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF-PVpFH3Lg” /]

But UNLIKE another “No [Rhymes with [“Mild”] Left Behind” program/mandate that has been bane the bane of many parent, teacher and non-traditional student’s existence, as writers, we can take video wherever we want, and like the best parents, teachers and mentors for kids and teens, video can “Meet us where we are.” Here’s a quick example-

When a teacher or parent has a child (or teen) who is struggling to read at grade level, or just doesn’t like to read, or they struggle with math, or have social problems. The best teachers find ways to meet students where they are right now, even if that’s WAY far off where the student needs or even WANTS to be (Even struggling students can be Type A overachievers, you know, if a bit disguised)

Creating video (Like writing) is the same way. While I’d LOVE to do the kind of tight, engaging videos like many of my fellow VIBC colleagues, I need to remember that like me, they learned this over time and much trial and error (Just like me), and  throughout the course and in the VIBC Facebook Group (Which ONLY students can join and access) Katie always instills this constant: “It doesn’t have to be ‘Perfect’ but needs to be as professional and tight as you can make it technically, so any imperfections are minor and don’t detract from the overall experience.”

I struggle a bit here as while I’m not a perfectionist regarding video (The I am with say, QUERY LETTERS, which can be onerous and drive me screaming into H***!) I do want it to be professional enough so it represents that I as author take my work (While creative and fantastical) seriously, and not to jerk off the viewers I want to have, some of who will someday buy my books as they’re released.

That said, in my re-do of my welcome video for T.A.A., I had to use a photo of myself, not because I’m paranoid of being on-camera pseudo-real time, but because recording myself via phone or laptop webcam is too low for my standards, plus the fact I talk like a stereotypical chipmunk auctioneer, and people can have a hard time understanding what I’m saying, something those who of you that watched my original welcome video know all too well (Sorry about that, but I will be better next time.)

Now that I’m committed to video, I’m going to eventually invest in some better equipment, because I do want to be on camera for some of my videos and want to be clearly seen, no matter if you’re viewing it on a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

 (Katie’s a pure Apple devotee, but while I love my iPhone and the iPod Touch [3rd Generation] I used to own before it, and iTunes and QuickTime, PCs have their advantages, too. That said, if I can EVER afford or win a Macbook, I’d get one for Screenflow, I think I’ll navigate it FAR easier than Camtasia [The only known equivalent to Screenflow for PC users], which is only on Macs, why Apple?! You let us PC folks use iTunes and QuickTime but not Screenflow?!)

Katie, if you ever read this, know you aren’t alone in the “Babbling” habit.

This is part of why my videos never hit that 30 second to 1 minute “Sweet Spot” because I’m such a chatty, detail freak, and I’m really more afraid of potential viewers going “Huh?” than “This is a tad too long” as much as I don’t want to go on for longer than necessary, but I’m getting there.

That said, I thank cheddar I find this fun, since the videos I’ve done so far have taken hours to time everything just right, finding legal to use content and music is the easy part (Thanks to the resources and links provided and recommended in VIBC) and what I’ve found on own, it’s bringing the content together that’s the time-consuming part. Some of it’s learning curve, but also just what they take on average.

But it’s worth it when you finally get what you envisioned/scripted to work. Something you know as well as I now, right?

Anyway, that’s all for today.

Check tomorrow for a special spotlight on great authors and/or illustrators who’re sadly no longer with us. Until than, may the fantastical fauna be with you.



T.A.A. CARES – Author Spotlight #2 – Julie Hedlund’s Epic Hybrid Author Adventure

As I mentioned last week, T.A.A. CARES is kicking into overdrive for the winter holidays, and in honor of Picture Book Month, our next author spotlight is children’s author Julie Hedlund-

Photo-2-crop (Julie Hedlund Mini)

(Meet Julie, the ORIGINAL “Guru of Gratitude”)


I first discovered Julie when she first guest starred on an episode of “Brain Burps About Books” (Episode  #78, to be exact, which you can listen to here: http://katiedavis.com/78), the #1 podcast about the business and craft of Children’s Publishing, founded and hosted by author-illustrator Katie Davis, who discovered Julie by following her progress back in her “Pre-Published” days as a blogger who back in January 2012 fueled the spark of the picture book writing challenge known as 12×12 (Now in its second year) that has already become a living phenomenon for picture book authors and illustrators the world over.


For those still unaware, 12×12 is a writing challenge specifically for picture book writers and author-illustrators. It’s a YEAR long program designed to provide support, tips and tricks, and inspiration to the writers who participate. Anyone who’s tried to write a picture book will tell you that it’s NO CAKEWALK (What is a “Cakewalk” anyway?) To put it bluntly, and forgive the cliché, it’s harder than it looks. Really.

In some ways, 12×12 is like the picture books writer’s equivalent to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month that begin in November 1999 and been held yearly every November since), in terms of an active community support from fellow writers, the event’s founders, and over the years various bestselling authors providing pep talks, and sometimes taking on the challenge themselves.

Some authors even BEGAN their emerging careers via NaNoWriMo, though not necessarily debuting or otherwise publishing the books they originally drafted during NaNoWriMo.

But there’s  one KEY difference to keep in mind. Unlike NaNoWriMo, or similar MONTHLY events like PiBoIdMo (National Picture Book Idea Month)  where you just have to jot down 30 IDEAS for picture books, not full drafts, or NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month, Originally Founded in April 2003, and has since occurs yearly in March), 12×12 is a YEAR LONG program where the goal is to draft as CLOSE to 12 picture books that you can get, and at those who register in early January are eligible fabulous prizes, and introduced in 2013 was the chance to get critiques from agents, editors, and published authors that can help take your manuscripts to the next level. But you NEED to register in early January to be eligible, and on that note, and there’s something else that’s to key to remember.

Starting in 2013, 12×12 (Which was free its inaugural year) has evolved to a tiered-payment model, partly because year-long events take a LOT of planning, administration, moderating, rounding up authors, agents and editors to lend their expertise and support that takes them away from their own work, and yes, a fair amount of money, for the running of the site and its community, and being able to offer such rad prizes for the writers who take part.

Also because while this event can help writers, writers are also in business, and like in any other career, we balance our charity GENEROSITY (Things we gladly give away to our blog readers, newsletter subscribers  close writer friends, etc.) and things we charge for to maintain our livelihood.

Keep in mind that many writers are also parents, have spouses, and often have to work two or MORE jobs for the bulk of their income. Not all authors are able to earn a living solely through their writing.

I’m not a parent or married, but I STILL HAVE issues with finances, or lack thereof, and like Julie, I too am trying to find ways that will earn me income without putting my writing dreams on indefinite hold.

Something a few of my writer friends (Who are parents and in some cases caring for their own now elderly parents) are being forced to do. Authors provide services that  allow them to stay in the business of publishing, even if the path to selling your first book (Or your second, third, or 20th) is LONG.

PiBoIdMo (National Picture Book Idea Month) is also run in a similar manner regarding eligibility for the prizes author and the end. Though PiBoIdMo, and most other writer challenges are free to participate, some like NaNoWriMo appreciate donations to both keep the site (and it’s conjoined community) running as smooth as possible, and to give back to worthy causes.


It’s on that note I get to what I ask my T.A.A. readers to do to help support Julie. In addition to founding and hosting her 12×12 picture book wiring challenge; she’s a regular contributor to the “Brain Burps About Books” podcast, got repped by a literary agent, published her first picture book APP called “A Troop is a Group of Monkeys” illustrated by Pamela Baron, is now also available in print, both from Little Bahalia Publishing, and contributes to CBI’s “Fighting Bookworms” clubhouse community (For paid subscribers of the monthly Children’s Book Insider newsletter) as their “Guide to the Future of Publishing.”



She’s also a SCBWI member (As am I, though my membership expired this month and I have to wait until December to renew…[Sigh])


Her (Potentially) next picture book is a bedtime verse tale called “My Love for You is the Sun” will also be published by Little Bahalia Publishing, but here’s the twist, being a small press, Little Bahalia can really worth directly with authors in a personal,  more intimate way that larger publishers often can’t, partly due to their larger overhead costs, unless you’re one of their bestsellers (And even then there are countless variables involved on a per author basis), but what larger publishers can lack in being more personable with their authors, can (At least PARTLY) make up for in wider distribution, better line up reviews on sites like The Horn Book, Kirkus, and School Library journal, connecting with library systems nationwide, and some significant marketing efforts in addition to whatever authors do on their own.


Plus, larger publishers (I don’t mean JUST “The Big 5” Folks!) are also high-end indie publishers like Candlewick Press, Chicken House, Nosy Crow, and FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX (aka The ORIGINAL “F.S.G.”) having more pull in brick and mortar retailers, which for print books (ESPECIALLY in the children’s book market) is a BIG DEAL.


Ebooks have their place, and are a strong preference for some teens and adults, especially if space for print books is limited, etc. But children by and large (And adults, myself included) still prefer print books, and in picture books especially, are still the preference of teachers and parents, especially the “rare few” who are able to make time to read to their kids, day or night!


In order for Little Behalia to publish, “My Love for You is the Sun” they need additional funding for the illustrations, and final production costs they can’t cover alone, and Julie (With assistance from her agent) worked out a deal with Little Bahelia Publishing to start a Kickstarter campaign to earn the needed funds, which would allow Little Behalia to add this book to their future release list.


Here’s what I ask of you, my loyal readers (Especially if any of you are authors or have blogs tied to children’s books, parenting, or literacy) to spare some time (And Money if possible) to Julie’s crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter-

 (FYI, that GORGEOUS ILLUSTRATION is only ONE of the 20+ pages of art to accompany the final printed book)


As with my previous spotlight for “FETCH” this is a project I believe in, and I know from following Julie since 2012, she is a writer you can trust. I would NEVER spotlight projects on T.A.A. CARES if they didn’t come from real people who put their trademark grit and heart into it.

Even though publishing is a business (Which is hard for me to type because I feel it can have negative connotations due to the jerky scammers that sadly do exist from time to time. It’s NOT always “Lack of will to work hard” but “Lack of MONEY!” which isn’t the same as saying “I don’t want to pay for good help” but I just can’t fund it all alone. Period.), writers still need to put PASSION into what they do.

Potential readers, especially kids and teens, know when you’re not genuine. While authors need to have tightly written stories to warrant the costs of publication (ESPECIALLY authors who self-publish with no help from a publisher) they still NEED the love and passion ONLY THE AUTHOR can provide. But even the most business-savvy authors can’t do it ALL ALONE!

Kickstarter (Among a few other sites) is another way for authors who can’t head up the costs to publishing themselves, and because Kickstarter’s platform is “All or Nothing” if the total needed funds aren’t meant, the project “fails” and all donations are returned to their respective donors. (Called “Backers” on Kickstarter)

To crack down on jerky scammers, and to aid in avoiding various integrity issues, Kickstarter also has to screen and approve proposed projects, so you need to be sure your proposal covers EVERYTHING, and like with traditional publishers and literary agents, projects can be rejected, but once the project’s approved, you’re in the system, and from there it’s up to you to ensure you do all you can to promote the project (In a sane NON-spammy way!), and let fate do the rest…


As an soon-to-be published author myself (Also via the small press route) it allows me to give back to authors on the same path as me. To deliver the most genuine and passion-soaked stories I can to share with the world, and (While I do want to make some money) I long for the day to receive a letter (Paper or iPad) from a kid or teen who fell in love with a book I’d written, just as the authors I love and admire touched my heart and inspired me to be part of this wonderful tradition of storytellers.

In closing, my loyal readers, I ask you to spread the word, and if you can, spare whatever money you can to ensure that like FETCH, “My Love for You is the Sun” finds its way not just to publication, but to the readers (Young and old) who need it most. You know I will.

Until next time, may the fantastic fauna be with you.