Top 10 List of Books on Crowdfunding Platforms—May 24, 2019

top 10 books on kickstarter and indiegogo

There are thousands of projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo and some are really innovative and creative books.

In an effort to connect more book lovers with authors on crowdfunding platforms, here is my list of Top 10 campaigns for this week (in no particular order).

I’m trying something new and am sorting the list by intended audience age so you can more easily find books you are interested in.

Be sure to visit them TODAY as these campaigns are time-sensitive and the opportunity might be gone if you wait too long.

Click on the images below to find out more about these fun books.

#supportindieauthors #crowdfundyourbook #readmorebooks

FOR KIDDOS

#1 The Shapes that Tried to Escape

#2 Season's Race

Can anything be more important than getting in first place? Buckle up and be prepared for lots of adventure, fun, and some tough choices. Who are you going to root for: Summer, Autumn, Spring or Winter?

#3 Venus Underwater

FOR ADULTS

#4 My Kingdom for a Panel: A Shakespearean Anthology

#5 SMV: the magazine that's REAL

#6 Project-Based Learning

#7 Predators in Petticoats

#8 Fairytales for Grown-ups

#9 Recaptcha Magazine

#10 Dear Lois Issue #2

There are so many awesome, innovative, and exciting books available only on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo that not only deserve extra eyes but will help improve the diversity we see in literature.

Supporting authors on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo helps these books come to life in ways they can’t via traditional publishing.

Every week, I’ll post my Top 10 List of interesting and unique books that are on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. The list is curated and covers a variety of genres.

You cannot buy your way onto this list—these are books that I’ve found organically while searching the platforms.

The Secret to Writing Great Dialogue: Three layers

Confession: I am horrible at writing dialogue. 

At the 2019 Stockholm Writers Festival, I took Cassie Gonzales’ dialogue workshop and within minutes, I understood what made good dialogue and why I struggled so much with it.

My characters were communicating clearly.

Clear communication between characters = bad dialogue.

Quick clarification—every piece of dialogue advice in this article came from what I learned in Cassie’s workshop at the Stockholm Writers Festival.

I highly encourage every writer to continue to learn about the craft of writing and push themselves to be better.

What makes bad dialogue?

  • Too much exposition
  • Doesn’t sound real/sounds forced
  • Not plot driven
  • Too many tags, “As you know, Bob…”
  • Repetitive
  • Mundane—”You don’t look well. How are you feeling?” (BOOOORING)

What makes good dialogue? 

  • Contains drama
  • Evokes emotion
  • Descriptive of the personality of a character
  • Creates curiosity for the reader
  • Raises a question

The secret to writing good dialogue:

Every piece of dialogue contains three layers: the said, the unsaid, and the unsayable.

1) Said: “Would you like some coffee?”
2) Unsaid: “…I hate you”
3) Unsayable: “but I’m afraid of being alone”

The unsaid and unsayable can never be in the dialogue. Characters cannot say exactly what they mean.

What is great for your marriage is horrible for your fiction.

If you need to clarify something for the reader, do it in the narrative, not the dialogue.

Every piece of dialogue should have the three layers—said, unsaid, and unsayable.

Start with strong characters in an interesting setting. 

The setting is where the dialogue will play out and the said, unsaid, and unsayable layers will be revealed.

Cassie Gonzales, Creative Writing Fellow at Emory University and overall creative fiction badass, introduced a simple rubric for evaluating all dialogue in literature, film, and your everyday interactions with friends and family.

Writing Exercise 

For example, imagine a story in which two characters are on the brink of divorce.

They can never say they hate each other and are on the brink of divorce, that must be revealed to the reader through their interactions and what they are not saying to one another (the unsaid).

The setting in which this plays out can be something with low stakes—picking out a birthday cake for their child’s fifth birthday party.

Put them in a bakery looking at cakes together.

What they say to one another (the said) is about the cake—but must convey the reader that their marriage is falling apart (the unsaid) and they are terrified about how they are going to co-parent this child together (the unsayable).

The unsayable is the engine for your fiction.

Trust your reader

Trust that your reader is intelligent—more intelligent than you are—and doesn’t need everything spelled out.

Build a puzzle for them to solve if you want to keep their interest. Your reader will be able to read between the lines and feel like the smartest person in the room (because they are).

Dialogue in children’s literature

While reading a bedtime story to my daughter, she chose Fancy Nancy and the Dazzling Jewels (aff link), I realized that the dialogue in Fancy Nancy, a book intended for kids 4-8 years, had these three layers—said, unsaid, and unsayable.

I knew that good dialogue is required for literary fiction but it often goes unnoticed in children’s literature.

We take good dialogue for granted.

In Fancy Nancy, the two characters, Nancy and Bree, have too much jewelry.

Their boxes are overflowing and they come up with the idea to swap out pieces with one another to refresh their collections.

Everything is going well until Bree selects a piece that has emotional value to Nancy and vice versa.

The characters are torn between wanting to be a good friend and needing to be honest about how they feel about the jewelry swap.

Without ever saying the words, author Jane O’Connor effectively tells the reader that both girls are feeling guilt and regret—two tough emotions for kids to understand at this age—about the swap.

The unsayable in this story is that both girls are afraid that if they are honest with one another they’ll damage their friendship.

Pretty deep for what initially looks on the surface like a silly story about jewelry.

It’s that type of complex storytelling and dialogue done in a simple way that keeps parents happy and kids wanting more.

Dialogue in everyday life

After taking Cassie’s dialogue workshop, I began to notice all of the dialogue around me and evaluate what was being said, what was unsaid, and what was unsayable.

I must admit that some people are horrible at communication (they’d make great fictional characters except they are REAL).

There is a lot unsaid in everything they say.

The unsaid is where the power lies.

One character can have physical or emotional power over other characters and this never needs to be said.

Start paying attention to the conversations you have with your friends and family about various topics. 

You’ll probably notice that the more difficult the conversation or topic, more is left unsaid.

Give your characters an interesting setting

People often suggest having conversations about difficult topics while doing something else—the third place setting. This enables the characters to focus on something other than what they really want to say.

Talking while going on a walk or while fishing is a great way to have difficult conversations.

Remember, characters can’t ever say what they really want to say or it becomes boring. Keep them at odds with themselves and one another.

The more insane the “third place” where the “said” things are happening, the more layers you can build into the scene.

If your characters are making funeral arrangements for their father at the county fair, there are tons of smells, sounds, and action happening all around them while they grapple with grief and loss. 

Read, write, write, read

The only way to get better at writing dialogue is to read more of it.

Flash fiction is a great genre for learning how to communicate a lot of information in a very short word count.

Here’s a free course about writing interesting and engaging flash fiction: https://learn.flashfictionmagazine.com/p/free-course

Flash Fiction Magazine has some great pieces and you can have them delivered to  your inbox for inspiration: https://flashfictionmagazine.com/

“If it bores you, it’s not working.” —Cassie Gonzales

Top 10 List of Books on Crowdfunding Platforms—May 17, 2019

There are thousands of projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo but there are some really innovative and creative books out there.

In an effort to connect more book lovers with authors on crowdfunding platforms, here is my list of Top 10 campaigns for this week (in no particular order).

Be sure to visit them TODAY as these campaigns are time-sensitive and the opportunity might be gone if you wait too long.

Click on the images below to check out these fun books.

#1 The Appropriate Pirate

#2 The Bystander Anthology

#3 Ben's Adventures

#4 Go Ahead, Stop, and Pee

#5 TOUGH Women Who Survived Cancer

#6 On Relationships: An Anthology

#7 Share Fairies

#8 Why Bedtime Sucks! The Opposite of a Bedtime Story

#9 Shahnameh for Kids

A children’s book based on an ancient Persian tale about a heroine who stands up to an invading army

#10 Amazing Stories - Special All-Color Issue!

We’re Amazing Stories and we’ve been bringing you new science fiction, digitally since 2012 and also print and audio since 2018. We’re here to raise some money to go to the next level – a special all-color issue for the first issue of our second year with greatly improved print quality!

There are so many awesome, innovative, and exciting books available only on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo that not only deserve extra eyes but will help improve the diversity we see in literature.

Supporting authors on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo helps these books come to life in ways they can’t via traditional publishing.

Every week, I’ll post my Top 10 List of interesting and unique books that are on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. The list is curated and covers a variety of genres.

You cannot buy your way onto this list—these are books that I’ve found organically while searching the platforms.

Why You Can’t Copy Someone Else’s Crowdfunding Strategy

It would be nice if we could just model our campaign after someone else’s successful campaign and see the same results but alas, that isn’t how it works.

Be sure to watch the video below for my reasons why you can’t just copy what someone else is doing.

If you try to copy someone else’s crowdfunding strategy without understanding all of the work that happened in the background and during the pre-launch phase, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Take the time to study as many campaigns as you can, support campaigns in your subject area/genre so you see what types of email messaging authors are sending, and ask other creators about their experiences.

Types of questions to ask other crowdfunding authors

—What surprised you the most about crowdfunding your book?
—What was the biggest source of backers?

—What one piece of advice would you give someone thinking about crowdfunding their book?

Understand that a lot of different strategies can be successful but 70% of authors still fail at crowdfunding their books so you’re going to need to change strategies as soon as you see it’s not getting traction.

Enroll in my free mini-course to find out if crowdfunding your book is right for you.

10 Lessons Learned from Launching on IndieGoGo

Sheri Wall, children’s book author, recently finished her IndieGoGo campaign that raised over $5k for her book, Maiden Mermaid, a folktale in Salado, Texas.

Here are the lessons learned from her IndieGoGo campaign.

Please note that Sheri ran a flexible funding IndieGoGo campaign, so even though her goal was $9k and she raised $5k, she gets to keep the funds. If you have questions about the different types of crowdfunding platforms, click here to read more.

My IndieGoGo campaign is over. Thank goodness! 

While I’m very pleased with the orders I received and the amount I raised, it was way more work than I anticipated. 

I lost sleep. I lost confidence. 

Then the mood goes back up and you feel invincible, and you know your book is amazing. 

Then tears. 

It’s an emotional roller coaster, at least it was for me. 

Ten things I learned from my IndieGoGo campaign in no particular order, not sure any of them are original, and not sure these would all apply to other campaigns, but here goes:

#1 Keep your campaign page as simple as possible

I LOVED how my page looked and all the clever names I came up with for perks. I asked some folks a question like, “Did you see (something on the campaign page)?”

They had to come clean and say they didn’t read anything as it was too confusing and overwhelming. They looked for a dollar amount they were comfortable with and clicked it.

#2 Assume your audience knows nothing about crowdfunding

If it’s your first campaign, underestimate your audience’s understanding of crowdfunding—I had no idea so many folks had never heard of IndieGoGo. I would then follow with “What about Kickstarter?”

Blank stares.

#3 Don’t rely on influencers

Don’t put too much weight on outside influencers’ influence.

I had three influencers with large email lists that were on board to share my campaign at least once with their newsletter subscribers.

They were “so excited” to help, really loved the book, and “couldn’t wait to be part of it!”  

Not one of them actually included the campaign in an email. I got a few shares on Facebook, but that reach is just not the same.

#4 Watch your email open rates

Carefully calculate how many email reminders you will send. Your open rate goes way down the more you send.

I felt I was very conservative, but in the end, I just stopped sending them as they weren’t getting opened anyway.

#5 Be flexible with your social media plan

I had a calendar mapped out that basically went out the window. Sometimes until you’re “in it” the creative ideas don’t come (for example,  my video with the statue).

#6 Upload your campaign video directly to Facebook

Facebook prefers “native video uploads”—meaning, you upload the file and don’t link it from YouTube and will show it more.

I didn’t know this when I started, but when a friend told me, I uploaded my campaign video as a post and the views shot up in comparison to a post with just the link to the video.

#7 Don’t be afraid to reach out to acquaintances

Don’t be afraid to message folks that you don’t talk to on a regular basis. I’m going to have to be extra nice at my high school reunion.

I was blown away by distant folks that preordered and some that even just donated funds. I also messaged folks that “Liked” a post but didn’t comment. Many responded favorably to my private message.

#8 Some promises will be broken

Know that some folks will never follow through on their order or pledge—even after they call you and ask what they can do to support you.

Sigh, but life happens.

#9 Focus on the why

Educate your friends on how to share your campaign. Kindly remind them to always start with a personal message as to why they are sharing and just don’t hit the share button.

#10 Engage early and often on social media

Start engaging early with your friends and followers on Facebook so your posts will be seen by them later.

The more you comment on other’s posts, the more likely Facebook is to show your posts back to them.

At least it seemed that way.

Instagram is all about engagement as well, but I did very little on Instagram just because I’m not that familiar with it.

In conclusion

Will I ever do another one?

It’s too fresh in my mind to say.

I started producing books in my empty nest stage, and it was never actually with the intent to be able to live off the income or grow a large network. But it is all a bit addicting.

If I do ever have a repeat, I will at least know what to expect and be able to prepare mentally.

When Sheri’s not writing, she likes to cook, eat, decorate, bargain hunt, and stay active.

You can see all of Sheri’s titles on amatterofrhyme.com and follow her on Instagram @sheri.amatterofrhyme.

Bio

When Sheri’s not writing, she likes to cook, eat, decorate, bargain hunt, and stay active.

You can see all of Sheri’s titles on amatterofrhyme.com and follow her on Instagram @sheri.amatterofrhyme.

Sheri’s Books

If you like children’s books, be sure to check out my children’s book, When the Clock Strikes on Halloween, now available for pre-order on Kickstarter until May 15.

Click here to check it out! 

How to Build a Collaborative Author-Illustrator Relationship

A great book is always created in collaboration.

There are writers, editors, designers, illustrators, and printers who all work together as a team.

An essential component of the team is the relationship between the writer and the illustrator. If you’re not the illustrator yourself, you have to explain your vision for each page.

If you don’t have a vision for your book, you should hire an illustrator who has a style that you love. By hiring them, you are asking them to create your vision in their style.

How to build a strong collaborative author-illustrator relationship

Short answer: develop a relationship built on mutual respect and trust

Long answer: read below

Synchrodestiny

Synchrodestiny, coined by Deepak Chopra, is about taking advantage of unpredictable moments in your life.

“You need to notice things that happen in your life that are out of the ordinary,” Dr. Chopra. “Seize that moment of unpredictability and ask ‘what’s the opportunity?'”

What are your goals?

If you are writing a stand alone book and you aren’t going to have a long-term relationship with your illustrator, then “dating around” might not be as important to you. Finding the right personality fit isn’t as important as finding an artist with the style you love and budget to match your bank account.

If you’re going to create a series, you’ll want to have consistent illustrations in all of the books, so finding someone you can work with long-term is important.

Finding the right person who is open to building that relationship with you takes time, effort, and energy, but it is so worthwhile.    

Work with people you trust

So many indie authors are looking for illustrators and they search portfolios, scan websites, and proceed with necessary caution and hesitation.

There is a real fear of intellectual property theft and copyright infringement on both sides of an author-illustrator relationship.

You also have to balance creative style, personality, method of working together, and of course, budget.

When people ask me about how I chose my illustrator, I tell them that we had a relationship established first.

That’s quite an unpopular answer because most people don’t want to invest the emotional labor in creating that relationship.

Finding an illustrator

You can search Facebook groups, Instagram, or artists’ websites and portfolios but in all cases, I recommend casting the net far and wide.

There is the right illustrator out there who matches your style and budget perfectly, you just need to find them.

I’m a firm believer in serendipity, or as Dr. Chopra says, synchrodestiny, because the best collaborations in my life have all sort of “fallen together.”

Over the past few months, I’ve been contacted by authors and illustrators asking for help and advice with their Kickstarter campaigns.

Pei Jen, a new illustrator on the scene, contacted me when her first book went live on Kickstarter. She had some questions on how to get more eyes on the campaign.

Building a relationship

A few weeks turned into months and we communicated back and forth via Facebook Messenger.

We chatted about the business aspect of self-publishing, as it’s not always straightforward, and over time, we developed a relationship built on mutual respect and trust.

Because I knew I’d be working closely with my illustrator over the next year to develop the three books in my series, I really wanted to be sure that I had a collaborative relationship with my illustrator.

I also wanted them to be somewhat interested in the books they were illustrating and not just a transactional “gig” like you find on Fiverr.

Building something together

Once you start working with your illustrator, be sure to understand each other’s work flow.

  • Are you going to communicate via email, messenger, WhatsApp? 
  • Will they send you a sketch first?
  • Will they place the text on each illustration or will you hire someone else to do that?
  • Talk with them about empty space for text as they’ll need to accommodate that into their art
  • Do you want single page or full page spreads? Maybe a combination of both.
  • Where will they place the final image files?

Pei Jen and I discussed the concept of the book and the direction of the entire series as a whole. She immediately had ideas and brought her creativity to the table.

“I want to be sure there are diverse characters in the story, so please include kids of different races and ethnicities.”

“Of course. Every child should see themselves in the book,” she replied.

Perfect.

New sketches and illustrations came through Facebook Messenger and my heart raced every time I got a ping from Pei Jen.

The book was coming together in ways that I never could’ve imagined.

She took my vision and brought her own creativity to the book to elevate the entire story.

She was incredibly responsive to my suggested edits and together, we found a harmonious way of working together.

Nurture relationships—both professional and personal

You never know who will become central in your life and when you’ll need their help the most, so my advice is to nurture relationships and see where they lead.

Build trust through communication, consistency, and generosity and you may be surprised what happens.

Take a look at Pei Jen’s artwork in our first collaborative effort together, 

When the Clock Strikes on Halloween

Top 10 List of Books on Crowdfunding Platforms—April 26, 2019

In an effort to bring more book lovers and readers to platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo on a regular basis, here is my list of Top 10 campaigns for this week (in no particular order).

Be sure to visit them TODAY as these campaigns are time-sensitive and the opportunity might be gone if you wait too long.

Click on the images below to check out these fun books.

#1 A book about global solutions you can do in your backyard

#2 Chapter One

#3 Don't Give In!

#4 Cafe Macabre

#5 A Bestiary of Fantasy Creatures

#6 Resilient ME Journal for Kids

#7 Sleeping Around America: Revisiting the Roadside Motel

#8 The Moon is Following Me

#9 Echoes of Silence

#10 Femme Type Book—Women in the Type Industry

There are so many awesome, innovative, and exciting books available only on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo that not only deserve extra eyes but will help improve the diversity we see in literature.

Supporting authors on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo helps these books come to life in ways they can’t via traditional publishing.

Every week, I’ll post my Top 10 List of interesting and unique books that are on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. The list is curated and covers a variety of genres.

You cannot buy your way onto this list—these are books that I’ve found organically while searching the platforms.

Lessons Learned from an Entrepreneurial Conference

In March, I presented at the annual Spark Conference, a female entrepreneurial conference and spoke about how crowdfunding can help entrepreneurs grow their audience. (Shameless plug: visit my book’s crowdfunding campaign here.)

While there, I learned how to SEO my website, connected with old friends, and made new connections that surprised me.

I was one of the only people who had flown into the conference—everyone else was local to Amsterdam—so I felt a bit like an outsider.

One can easily identify other outsiders at a conference because they often stand at the edges of conversation and hang around the coffee machine.

Those were the people I approached first and introduced myself. Once two outsiders join forces, they’re no longer “outside” and the group grows less intimidating.

Here are some additional lessons I learned while at Spark: 

Success means something different to all of us

Defining your version of success is so important because it means something different to every single person in the room. Some women had left their office jobs and were just starting the entrepreneurial journey whereas others were celebrating selling 100k books.

We’re all at different stages of our careers and maturity as entrepreneurs, so it’s important that you define your goals and understand that the conversations you have with others will be through their lens of what success means to them.

A rising tide raises all ships

This motto was said a lot during the conference and there was great emphasis on approaching all conversations with how we can help one another.

A panel discussion covered competition and envy and explained how those thoughts and emotions are not only destructive but they come from a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance mindset.

When we focus on the abundance around us, we no longer compete with others, and we are given the unique opportunity to lift one another to a higher level.

I turned to the woman next to me and said, “I really enjoy hiring fellow entrepreneurs because I know that the money I give to that person will allow her to pay another entrepreneur for her services and so on and so on.”

It’s like micro-economics in a small circle. The more you invest in one another, the more you all succeed.

Creativity is not magic, it just looks like that to people who don't know how much work goes into creating something

Creativity is not magic. It’s also unlimited. We all have the capacity to be creative.

It’s the whole 1% vs. 99% inspiration vs. perspiration thing. Creativity is really just the outcome of a lot of hard work and perseverance. 

If you work hard and don’t give up, you’ll make it farther than most people. 

Don’t approach creativity like it’s some magical process only available to a select few—we all have the ability to create wonderful things.

LinkedIn makes it easy to connect

This one was a practical tip, but if you have the LinkedIn app on your phone, which I recommend installing before going to a conference, you can turn on the Bluetooth option and connect with everyone who is in your same vicinity. 

This took away the pressure of having to print and collect (and not lose) people’s business cards but it also took away a bit of the face-to-face interactions.

Once the conference is over, follow up with everyone who you connected with and let them know what you’re working on. You never know who might be interested in what you do.

Building a business takes time

Building a business takes a long time. Building a successful business takes even longer. How long? The answer was different for everyone.

One speaker said he changed directions multiple times in the past 20 years. He also admitted that as an entrepreneur, he suffered from Shiny Object Syndrome (you can read more about that here) and that he learned to punt interesting opportunities to other people rather than try to take them all on himself.

We have limited time, resources, and bandwidth, so being picky about your projects is a good thing.

As entrepreneurs, we have that indefatigable “can do!” spirit but it can often distract and derail us from getting things accomplished.

Ready to raise the tide and lift some ships?

Go check out my book’s campaign here and share it with one person you know will love it.

https://bit.ly/clockstrikeshalloween

Top 10 List of Books on Crowdfunding Platforms—April 19, 2019

In an effort to bring more book lovers and readers to platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo on a regular basis, here is my list of Top 10 campaigns for this week (in no particular order).

Be sure to visit them TODAY as these campaigns are time-sensitive and the opportunity might be gone if you wait too long.

Click on the images below to check out these fun books.

#1 A Tale Told By An Idiot

#2 Eliza Explains Book Series

#3 Whistle-Stop Thistle

#3 Aiden McGee Gets a Case of the Actuallys

Can Aiden use his brilliant mind and crack the code to being kind?

#4 Ellie Marches On

#5 The Moon is Following Me

#6 Money Monsters

#7 Children's Picture Book Against Islamophobia

#8 I Am Hexed

#9 The Mindful Kitchen: Your recipe for life

#10 Chart Imitates Life: A book of semi-rad illustrations

There are so many awesome, innovative, and exciting books available only on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo that not only deserve extra eyes but will help improve the diversity we see in literature.

Supporting authors on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo helps these books come to life in ways they can’t via traditional publishing.

Every week, I’ll post my Top 10 List of interesting and unique books that are on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. The list is curated and covers a variety of genres.

You cannot buy your way onto this list—these are books that I’ve found organically while searching the platforms.

Check out my past Top 10 lists here


Top 10 Books Lists on Crowdfunding Platforms Today

The Story Behind the Story: The birth of a silly Halloween rhyme

The story behind how When the Clock Strikes on Halloween came about. You can grab your copy here.

It was a dark and stormy Halloween night…actually, it was.

October in Sweden is really dark, and it wasn’t nighttime per se, but rather 3 pm which is quite night-like in terms of daylight.

The kids and I were at the dentist’s office for my daughter’s wellness check-up. She opened her mouth wide, and we discovered she had one cavity.

Given that it was Halloween and the kids were about to eat more candy than usual, we had a brief discussion about sweets and tooth brushing while on our way to the car.

As we walked through the parking lot, my son asked me, “Why does everything spooky on Halloween happen ‘when the clock strikes twelve?’”

I don’t know where this thought came from—my kids usually throw bizarre questions and ideas at me—but this one started a conversation between us.

“I don’t know. Maybe something happens every hour on Halloween. When the clock strikes one, mummies come undone…” I said in a spooky voice.

“When the clock strikes two, witches stir their brew.”
“When the clock strikes three…what happens at three-o’-clock?”
“Goblins need to pee!” he chimed in, giggling maniacally.

And so it went, on and on until we had a few rhymes.

Capturing the magic

The kids climbed into the car, and it dawned on me that I needed to write these rhymes down before they disappeared and became a hazy memory of “that fun conversation we had on Halloween.”

I’ve lost so many good ideas by thinking that I’d remember them later only to have no idea what we talked about.

The kids buckled in, and it was after 10 minutes of frantic scribbling in my notebook later that I remembered they were back there.

“Can we go home now?”

“Why haven’t we left yet?”

The backseat was getting complainy.

“Guys, Mama’s busy writing something. Hang on one more minute, ok? Then we can go.”

It wasn’t one more minute.

I had a problem

Nothing rhymed with twelve. Nothing.

Also, seven and eleven were tricky unless I wanted to rhyme them with one another, which I didn’t.

I left those rhymes as blank spaces and vowed to revisit them later.

Seeking validation

Being the obsessed-with-a-new-idea type person, I had to validate my idea and see if it was any good. I created some Instagrammable images with clip art, added the text, and published them on my account.

It was Halloween evening…I didn’t have much time left in the day to be timely.

The hearts and comments started to pour in.

“So fun!”
“Lovely!”
“Haha, love the goblins.”

The initial reader feedback was good enough for me to take it to the next level.

I shared the images in a children’s book writer’s Facebook group and asked for more feedback—this time from my peers.

“I think you just wrote your first board book,” came some encouragement from Sheri Wall, “it’s really fun!”

It was vital for me to test the quality of the story before moving to the illustration phase. Illustrations can hide a bad story well—they are really good at that.

I wanted my contribution—the nucleus, the purpose of the story—to be solid before hiring an illustrator.

Hiring an Editor

I hired an editor, Tamara Rittershaus, who told me that my meter was a mess.

What meter did I even want anyway?

My story was a jumbled mix of iambic trimeter, tetrameter, and pentameter. Did I want anapestic?

Ana who

I had no idea what Tamara was talking about, and, feeling like I didn’t know English as well as I thought I did, I set off to Google and YouTube different types of meter.

After a lot of thinking and reflection, I settled on iambic trimeter. That had the best rhythm and was the simplest for the age range. Also, most of my verses were already in iambic trimeter, so I wanted to keep it easy.

My next two books can expand in length and complexity, but the beauty of this story was its simplicity.

Iambic trimeter felt right.

Making it more than just a cute story

Cute stories are great but I know that teachers love books with a teachable element to them.

My books dealt with time, and my son was struggling to understand the concept of time in first grade.

A friend suggested placing a large analog clock opposite each illustration to introduce young kids to the concept of time.

The story could hold water on its own and now I had a teachable aspect of the book.

Parents and teachers would appreciate it for more than just a cute story and kids would learn something new while reading it.

“Am I crazy? Does this work?”

I sent an advanced copy of my book to a few kindergarten and first grade teachers.

“Oh, it definitely works! I was surprised at how much my kids didn’t know about time until we started the questions at the end of the book. We had a good class discussion about the differences between morning, afternoon, and evening. I’ll be reading this to my class during the Halloween season.”

And with that, a book was born…

Actually, it wasn’t that easy. (It never is, is it?)

Luckily, my illustrator Pei Jen understood the vision I had for the book and elevated it beyond what I could imagine with her creativity.

The final illustrations are so much fun and the kids love looking for the little clues on every page.

Be sure to order your copy of When the Clock Strikes on Halloween TODAY because the special rewards are expiring soon and only available to supporters of the Kickstarter campaign.

So, hop on your broomstick and place your order for a copy (or two) today. 

when the clock strikes notebook
My original notes from that 20 minutes in the parking lot on Halloween 2018