Tara Lazar and James Burks – Picture Book Month

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Click here if you missed our first spotlight!

 

Today’s entry in our Author/Illustrator spotlights (in honor of “Picture Book Month“) features debut author Tara Lazar and illustrator James Burks.

 

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Tara Lazar is best known for founding PiBoIdMo (Pie-Beau-Id-Moe), otherwise known as “Picture Book Idea Month” back in 2008, and is now in it’s 6th year!

 

PiBoIdMo was created as a challenge to NaNoWriMo, aka “National Novel Writing Month” to give authors and/or illustrators of picture books an event to call their own!

 

But while both challenges are a month long. the similarities end there, for while NaNoWriMo’s goal is to draft a whole novel in a month, PiBoIdMo’s about generating 30 ideas for picture books.

 

While your lit. rat’s primarily a novelist, I do want to jump into the world of picture books, and last year was my first year taking part in the challenge and I got my 30 ideas.

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I’m taking part again this year and while I’m not at 30 ideas yet, I will make some headway this final week of November!

 

 

 

Anyway, while Tara was building community through her PiBoIdMo challenge, she was working away on picture books of her own, and is now beginning her path as a published author-

 

The Monstore

Her debut picture book, “The MonStore” (Illustrated by James Burks) was published on June 4th, 2013 by Aladdin, and T.A.A. will be reviewing it soon!

 

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Her second picture book “I thought This Was A Bear Book” (illustrated by Benji Davies) will be published by Aladdin in August 2015.

 

Learn More about Tara, her books, and PiBoIdMo, at her official website: http://www.taralazar.com 

 

Also, check out her interviews on

“Brain Burps About Books” the #1 podcast about the business and craft of Children’s Publishing, founded and hosted by author-illustrator Katie Davis

 

Ep. #201 (How To Get Ideas For Your Picture Book | Picture Book Idea Month)

 

Ep. #68 (Picture Book Month)

 

She’s Also on Twitter via @taralazar

 

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Illustrator James Burks first began his career working in animation, his best known film being  “The Iron Giant” (Released August 6th, 1999) which is celebrating it’s 15th Anniversary in 2014, and later began his foray into illustrating children’s books-

James Burks Books

In addition to illustrating Tara Lazar’s debut “The MonStore” and “Open Wide!” (written by Stephen Krensky), James also writes and illustrates his own books: From the “Bird Squirrel” graphic novel series, to picture books such as “Gabby and Gator” (Coming out in Paperback February 2015!) and “Beep and Bah”

 

Learn more about James at his OFFICIAL website: http://www.jamesburks.com

 

He’s also on Twitter via @jamesburksart 

 

Also, don’t forget to check out his interview on

“Brain Burps About Books”

 

(Ep. #204:Tips for Illustrators with James Burks | Celebrating Picture Book Month)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#WeNeedDiverseBooks – A T.A.A. Retrospective

Grace Lin and Jerry Craft

(Grace Lin’s photo [Left] taken by Alexandre Ferron)

 

While we’re usually about fantastical fauna fighting the good fight on T.A.A., there are times we must give humans their due, and this is one of those times today.

 

In honor of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, check out these classic episodes of “Brain Burps About Books” (#1 podcast for Children’s Publishing: Hosted by author and “Writerpreneur” Katie Davis) with author-illustrators Grace Lin (Ep. #151) and Jerry Craft. (Ep. #108

 

You can also check out a (SHORT) video your lit. rat made in discussion another perspective in the battle for more diverse books-

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

 

“The Literary Rat” Taurean J. Watkins and “Writerpreneur” Katie Davis

 

 

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As promised, T.A.A. fans, yesterday I did my first LIVE video interview with Katie Davis, in celebration of her expanded and updated ebook guide “How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller“, now available ONLY on Amazon, which you lit. rat HIGHLY recommends picking up! It’s already reached #1 status in “Marketing” category after only a few days on the market! See the reviews (many beyond mine), read a preview and judge for yourself.

You can watch the video via our YouTube channel, but you can also watch it here-

[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/ZoLIUoIHVFw” /]

Forgive my nervousness (in the video) there were tech issues on my end. I will do more “Hangouts on Air” and will work at being more natural and less nervous.

That’s it for today, but I’ll have more cool stuff planned for next week, in the meantime, I hope you’ll check out T.A.A’s YouTube channel for more fantastical fauna goodness. Have a great weekend, All!

How To Promote Your Children’s Book (Even BEFORE it’s Published!)

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I know I’ve been a bit quiet on T.A.A. lately (As far as the blog goes) but I can now share why, and how it can help writers build platform before and after releasing your book, whether you do it the traditional way or take on the challenge and opportunities open to indie publishing-

I know that writers at all levels face the increasing challenge of building platform (I prefer “Community”) but unpublished, debut and emerging authors face unique challenges that more experienced authors don’t, or they have options to combat the challenges of today’s publishing landscape that only experience, luck, and some degree of success can provide.

Everything from building mailing lists, creating videos (NOT just book trailers people!), offering other services to diversify our skillset and help supplement our income,  engaging in social media, the list goes on…

While many writers today need to do more than just write their stories or articles, the fact is we can all to easily forget we are HUMAN and we JUST CAN’T DO IT ALL! Period. We also can’t always afford to take classes, go to conferences, and even our local library may not have the resources we need because nationwide budget cuts to public services like libraries cut deeper each year. The last time I went to library to check out some market guides (at a time when I couldn’t afford to buy my own copy as in years past) the most recent edition of CWIM (Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market) was 2007, and it was 2012 at the time!

I often have to buy my own market guides and other craft books I needed when they just weren’t in my library’s collection, even through inter library loan.

I’m not whining but stating a fair fact, and writers do each other no favors pointing fingers or making light of their struggles. What’s easy or straightforward for me is just plan HARDER for someone else, and vice versa.

The business of publishing on it’s own is more than hard enough to navigate. We don’t need fellow writers making it harder than needs to be. 

But one way to make it easier is to share the load, authors helping other authors band together.

For authors who’ve FINALLY turned that iconic corner to selling their first novel or nonfiction book, one way is by participating (and eventually FORMING) launch teams for soon to be published books

Some launch teams are formed around a , such as the “Class Y2K” initiative that began in 2007 and every year since that a diverse group of debut children’s/YA authors team up and combine their creativity, time, and some money, to make promoting that all important first book easier and less alone

Authors are also reaching out to other writers, either those releasing books around the same time, or asking potential readers/customers of their book to spread the word, send review copies (Be they PDF files or old-school paper ARCS [Advanced Reader Copies] or Galleys of the book pre-publication) and review it on Amazon, on their blog if they have one, and share the news on social media platforms like Goodreads, one of the most prominent ways authors can connect with avid readers, not just other writers, and this distinction is hazy at times, but important.

I’m taking part of a launch team for”How To Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller – 2nd Edition” an upcoming ebook guide by author Katie Davis, she’s written and illustrated 8 picture books, two novels (1 Middle Grade and her upcoming YA debut “Dancing with The Devil” which you can preview  now on Wattpad: http://katiedavis.com/read-preview-dancing-devil-wattpad-whoa), and let me tell you, she knows marketing backwards and forwards!

I received a review copy for this book and am working on the review to upload on Amazon and here on T.A.A. I can tell you right now, I’m ALREADY using many of the tips and resources from this book, but you’ll have to wait for my final review this Tuesday (3/25/14) to find out more.

The 1st edition of “How To Promote Your Children’s Book” (which released in 2012) had given many writers at all levels hope, and renowned former editor at Simon and Schuster, Emma Dryden, has given advance praise of the soon to be released 2nd edition, saying “EVERY WRITER should use this tool!”

But here’s the kicker for the writers out there, to celebrate the launch of the expanded, updated, 2nd edition. From 3/25/14-3/31/14, the second edition will be on SALE for $4.99 USD, HALF the price of the first edition, but THRICE the content, and if you send the sales receipt to support-@-katiedavis.com (BEFORE 3/31/14!) you’ll receive a slew of bonuses to further super-charge and streamline your marketing efforts, pre and post publication. Finally, I’m also interviewing the author herself, Katie Davis live via Google+ Hangout on T.A.A.’s YouTube Channel, Thursday, March 27th, 2014, and you can get your marketing questions answered!

Even if you can’t make it live, just post your questions in the comments and Katie and I will get to as many as we can.But the deadline for submitting your questions is Sunday, March 23, 2014 BEFORE MIDNIGHT EST (Eastern Standard Time) I’ll share the easy access link info here at T.A.A. next week!

I hope to see some of you there, and if not, they’ll be a replay available on our YouTube channel. Please share this with your writer friends this weekend, they’ll thank you for it later, trust your lit. rat on this one! (~Wink~)

A Different Kind of Book Trailer

Fan Book Trailers

Writers, we all know book trailers (When done right and tight) can bring readers a thrilling tease for their book, and we commonly think of book trailers for books we’ve written recently, trailers for books a little long in the tooth can be a great way to recharge and renew interest in backlist titles.

Authors (Such as Katie Davis, who we profiled during Picture Book Month 2013, and created “Video Idiot Boot Camp” where I learned to tackle and eventually embrace the power and reciprocity of video) uses this tactic to great effect.

But for readers, or writers who are pre-published or struggling to build a platform, making book trailers for your favorite books can be a great way to show the author your support and show your potential readers what you’re like through what you love to read.

For authors and illustrators, it’s a great way to support your colleague’s work and helps your visibility as well, especially if you write in the same genre. It’s also a great way to crossover to a new audience and show your current audience and platform in a new light.

 

Recently, I did a trailer for a book I didn’t write, but love and want this first book in a four book series to get more love and attention-

[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/cJIIAcJubZs” userdata=”Taury” /]

 

It’s a way to “promote” T.A.A. and my author brand without it being directly about me or my writing specifically.

Today, I share yet another fan-made trailer for a book close to your Literary Rat’s Heart-

 

[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/dQDJe2b_teY” userdata=”Taury” /]

I’ll soon be writing a feature series on how readers and authors can support the unsung authors and books that don’t get “Bestseller” attention by creating book trailers of books you love, especially if they’re older titles that don’t have ones of their own (In the “Old Days”days when trailers were only for movies)

While I love doing book reviews on T.A.A. and plan to do more in 2014, fan made book trailers are another way to engage your audience and (For authors and/or illustrators) build one’s platform (I prefer to call it “Community”) without pushing yourself in annoying or uncomfortable ways.

This is also positive way we can share our love and fandom to authors and our circle of avid book lovers, be they fellow writers or lay readers.

Since most authors don’t read any comments or reviews of their own books (For varied and personal reasons), this is a way we (Be it author or lay reader) can share our love for their work without the critical factor reviews (Even positive ones) can have.

What do you think of my newest fan book trailer? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. T.A.A. loves hearing from its readers.

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

Weekly Readings (Holiday 2013 Edition)

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With one week before Christmas, it’s high time I shared some of the books I’ve read and will be re-reading this holiday season. Two are modern classics (In your humble Literary Rat’s Opinion, anyway…) and three are new titles released in 2013.

Two aren’t specifically “Holiday” books but were released before or in December 2013 and even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, two of the three books still have the spirit we try to bring to the winter holidays, friendship, being grateful for what we have, and sharing it with those dearest to us.

As long time readers know, Weekly Readings is when I share some of the picture books I’ve read in the last week or so and give mini-reviews of them. This week is Holiday Themed, but again, even if you don’t celebrate a specific holiday, there are books you can get great enjoyment from, and I’ll start with one of them now-

 

Herman and Rosie

 

Herman and Rosie

by Gus Gordon (@IllustratorGus)

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (An Imprint of Macmillan)

Pub. Date: October 15th, 2013

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 City (Real or Surreal), this book DOES jump out in the most positive sense.

The story follows titular characters: Herman, a crocodile salary-man who loves playing his oboe, hot dogs in winter, and movies about the ocean, and Rosie, who loves toffee, movies about the ocean, and singing her heart out at a jazz club at night, after working in the restaurant biz by day.

While both Herman and Rosie love life in the city, it can feel lonely at times, sometimes lacking the kind of community building more directly inherent in a small town, or county within a large city or town.

The illustrations do an excellent job projecting the urban motif, using collage scrapbook-like elements to further enhance the overall charm to the illustration.

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.”

Please understand, I’m not bashing simplicity, when it’s right for the story that’s fine, whether we;re talking words or text, but I don’t want simplicity to overly dictate stories that frankly demand some finesse and sophistication.

These two have a lot in common, yet like most city slickers, start out as two wayward spirits who are strangers to each other, but certainly not to the readers of their story.

When Herman loses his job (Due to lack of sales), and Rosie learns the jazz club where she sings is forced to close down, the two once mostly content souls have been infected with the “Lost my job, (Herman) Lost my Passion, (Rosie), whatever will I do now” blues…

They spend days and weeks at home.

Herman too bummed out to play his Oboe.

Rosie too down in dumps to sing and share her song to others.

Eventually, the two find their way back to their musical passions and soon after, AT LAST, find each other…
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.

This book manages to feel modern without also feeling cold and lifeless. It also brings a certain flair to the everyday hustle and bustle that those of you who are urban dwellers will find familiar, yet those you in the boonies will feel right at home with theme this book organically projects: connections to friends helps fight the day do day doldrums we all face, wherever in the world we call home.

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

 

 

 

Melrose and Croc (A Christmas to Remember

Melrose and Croc: A Christmas to Remember

by Emma Chichester Clark (@emmachichesterc)

 U.K. Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s UK

U.S. Publisher: (Bloomsbury Kids) Orginally Walker & Company (An imprint of Macmillan)

U.S. Pub. Date: October 3rd, 2006 

U.K. Pub. Date: October 3rd, 2005

This is the first in a series of books starring  a dog named Melrose and the plucky little reptile, Croc. Like “Herman and Rosie” this is a story about two lonely souls in the big city, but gives a more childlike quality to the characters and a softer tone to the charming illustrations by author-illustrator Emma Chichester Clark, best known for her “Blue Kangaroo” series, the first of which won the Christopher Award

Those of you who grew up watching “Oswald” back before Nick Jr. was its own channel (Created  by author-illustrator  Dan Yaccarino) Melrose and Croc have that unassuming quirkiness that stands out from other books.

I honestly feel in love with Melrose and Croc long before I even read a book in the series, buddy stories always get my heart going as I didn’t have many friends growing up, or when I did they moved or I moved and it didn’t last, so books have been healing in a way for my not having a lifelong bond to call my own.

Melrose and Croc is especially endearing to me because like Herman and Rosie, this odd couple creature duo not only become friends, but you get this unspoken sense they’re become the other’s family, too.

Melrose the slightly paternal straight man (Er, dog) and Croc, the adoring kid brother those of you with more wild kid siblings might’ve liked to have instead…(I’m an only rat, so I bow out on that here)

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Coyote Christmas: A Lakota Story

By S.D. Nelson

Publisher: ABRAMS

Pub. Date: December 1st, 2007

Fans of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” will love how the infamous trickster of Native American myth and lore lets greed and mischief get the better of him, with frenetic and “biting” results!

The Snatchabook

The Snatchabook

Written by Helen Docherty

Illustrated by Thomas Docherty

U.K. Publisher: Alison Green Books

U.S. Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

U.K. Pub. Date: October 2013

U.S. Pub. Date: December 2013

In the forest, books and story time are celebrated and sacred (You know, really super important), but books start going missing, ruining the late night joys of story time, whether it’s the one reading a book to themselves, or a family reading to each other before bedtime, and a rabbit named Emily is determined to find this thief of books and get them back.

Illustrator Thomas Docherty (Helen’s Husband and also an author himself) channels his inner Seuss in the illustrations that properly compliment Helen’s solid but non-traditional rhyme scheme and can happily stand up to author-illustrator duo, Julia Donaldson and Axel Schrieffer (Who brought us gems like “The Gruffalo” and most recently “The Highway Rat”)

The Snatchabook manages to envoke a feeling of nostalgia (For those of us old enough to have that perspective, and you don’t have to be 30+ to have it, in my opinion…) and deliver the modern reader’s demand for quick moving tale that lingers in the RIGHT ways and for the right REASONS. Something that may sound counter-intuitive, but something you’ll get when you read this book for yourself and/or to others.

But make no mistake, this story is no fake wannabe, when your literary rat compares ANYTHING to someone as beloved (And often debated about) as Seuss, it’s NOT faint praise, and is still a solid title in its own right, and Helen and Thomas Docherty have a lot to be proud of. The Snatchabook is their second collaboration in book form, and I believe it will be known as their breakout work, you heard this first from your Literary Rat, I highly recommend it, and that will be that.

Lyle at Christmas

Lyle at Christmas

By Bernard Waber

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pub. Date: September 29th, 2003

 

Back during T.A.A.’s celebration of “Picture Book Month” I shared my thoughts on the death of author-illustrator, Bernard Waber, best known for “Ira Sleeps Over” and the Lyle the Crocodile series of picture books. For his close friends and family he’ll certainly be missed, but readers who grew up with his books, or found them later in life (As in my case) we’re grateful his books and their illustrations remain.

This is a charming Christmas story with surprisingly frenetic moments to help the pacing feel smooth and slow in a GOOD way. I’m always impressed when I come across characters that don’t audibly speak are able to show their actions and feelings without the narrator feeling omniscient in a distant way that feels annoying telling when read aloud. Trust me, as a writer myself, that’s not easy to do.

 

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Written by Jerry Davis

Illustrated by Katie Davis (Yes, they’re related!)

Pub. Date: November 2013 (Sales End 12.26.13)

Those of you who followed T.A.A. back in November may remember my highlighting this book before, and this is my review of the book originally on Amazon

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: I was given a review copy of this book, but am not personally affiliated with either the book’s author or illustrator, other than sharing fellow respect for them both as an author myself.

As commercialized as most holidays have become, I do believe the hallmark values of Christmas still exist, even without the direct religious contexts, and you don’t have to just mine the classics of yesteryear to share stories that delight and teach (NOT preach…) with the “Little Chicks” in your life.

“Little Chicken’s Big Christmas” is a 21st century example of just that. Again, it doesn’t preach its message, but is a natural part of the story.

Rather than obsess over wanting toys for himself, Little Chicken instead wants to give a gift, reminding all of us (Particularly us “Big Chickens”) that kids can be just as capable of generosity as St. Nick himself, who clearly has been around longer than most…

As is common with picture books (Though there are exceptions), you needn’t have read the previous book to get enjoyment out of this one, but those who have read L.C.’s Big Day will enjoy various through-lines in the illustrations by Katie Davis, who usually is also the author of her other picture books, the words in this story (As in the original book, “Little Chicken’s Big Day”) were penned by her husband, Jerry (As made obvious via the cover)

For those of you wary of literary family team-ups, I promise you this one works, and I love when the fun and joy book’s creators have is translated into a solid experience for the end lay reader.

One of the hallmarks of a picture book is how well it stands up to that idealistic image of parent reading the book to their child. I am not a parent yet, but I would not hesitate reading this story to one of my own.

That said, some books are dependent on not just the interests, but the overall temperament of the child him or herself.

Because L.C. himself is as bouncy and direct as most kids are, even the most fidgety ones are welcome.

Katie’s spare and smartly directed illustrators, along with Jerry’s spare text and light refrain and repetition naturally guide the story on a swift click.

I do hope Simon and Schuster imprint, “Margaret K. McElderry Books” (Who released “Little Chicken Big Day”), seriously considers bringing this story to print in the future.

Fans of Katie Davis in general (Or L.C. in particular) make no mistake, NO corners were cut in either the presentation or execution of this story, and while picture books are still best realized in print, this digital first sequel is no less worthy in overall quality, and as a print book-centric reader myself, that’s saying a lot!

I knew when “Little Chicken’s Big Day” came out in 2011, it would not likely be the last time we’d see L.C. grace the literary landscape, and this holiday follow-up has happily proven me right.

If you’re reading this review at the time before sales end on December 26th, 2013, this is the FINAL week and a half for you to buy it for your Kindle, or the Kindle app for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 8, or web app for PC or Mac.

If you need a little more convincing  watch the trailers for this book-

[sz-youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDO67tBm1Ls&feature=c4-overview&list=UUXaZSMw3JR9jEo-x7B549wQ” userdata=”Taury” /]

This was made by your very own “Literary Rat” Taurean J. Watkins, who was part of the OFFICIAL launch team.

Trailer #2 was made by the Illustrator, Katie Davis-

 

 [sz-youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLA6lBeQhNI&feature=c4-overview&list=UUG2zl8V-E8jSOf8DRaG_BkA” userdata=”Katie Davis” /]

 

You can find these videos and more on our “T.A.A. Holiday Showcase” Pinterest board-

http://www.pinterest.com/taureanjwatkins/taa-holiday-showcase-2013/

You’ll also want to like us on Facebook for more fun fantastical fauna goodness, and special holiday goodies you’ll only find there.

That’s it for today. Until next time,

May the fantastical fauna be with you.

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.

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.

 

KatieDavis2013

(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-

 

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(*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.