Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Back Story to Monkey Made Dream. What Inspired The Book.

I don’t know about you, but I love learning the back story to why a book was written or published. I always feel the story behind the story is just as important as the book itself. I’ve been lucky enough to work with many authors and learn these stories and this month, I was inspired by an author team. What makes this author partnership so unique is the fact it is a father and daughter who wrote the book together. However, the story doesn’t just stop there and it’s one that I hope inspires other parents with young or older children.

The Back Story to Monkey Made Dream. What Inspired The Book.

When my daughter was around 7 or 8 years old, we decided to make up a song one afternoon.  I picked up my guitar and together we wrote a song entitled Monkey Made Dream. 

Monkey Made Dream is a children’s song I have sang at coffee houses for years.  I knew  the words to this song would work for a children’s book and we had talked about turning it into a book for a long time. Last year, I found an illustrator and we spent a year working together on making this story come to life in book form. 

One of the reasons I decided to turn the song into a book was because my daughter Heather got married this summer.  It seemed like a good time to work on the project. So last Christmas, I surprised her with the first copy of the book Monkey Made Dream that she helped me write years ago.

I want to thank you Tom and Heather for being my guest here on VBT and sharing the back story to your debut children’s book, Monkey Made Dream. Can you also share with us what inspired you both to start writing?

Tom: I started writing just as an outlet to express myself through story telling.  Song writing is the same way for me. I enjoy telling a story that takes a person somewhere that they can relate to.

Heather: I enjoy writing as a way to escape to a different place and look at ideas in different ways. It is fun to see where a story can go.

Can you share with us a little about your current book, Monkey Made Dream?

Tom: This is a story about a little girl who wakes up for school one morning and finds that her little brother has been replaced by a monkey in his bed.  The story takes you through their day as the little girl tries to explain to everyone about the monkey wearing her brother’s clothes. There is a twist at the end of the story when the truth of the story is revealed.

We are a book marketing group here at VBT. Can you share with us what type of book promotion has worked for you and any special strategies you’d like to share?

Tom & Heather: Well, this is our first children’s book that we have written, so we are just enjoying the whole process.  We self published this book ourselves and our publishing company has been helpful.  The book is on several web sites – Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Book World and others.  We are looking into a marketing plan that will feature this book in many avenues.  Also, our World of Ink Book Tour will help get our book out to many outlets, hopefully, with some helpful reviews.  On the local side, we are having a book signing day in two local communities near us.  We will also use Facebook to get our children’s book out to the public.

How do you see the future of book publishing, both traditional, electronic, and print on demand?

Heather: It seems that self-publishing will grow, because there is an outlet for new writers through the Internet.  Electronic books seem to be growing if looking around at an airport is any indication.

Tom: But there is still something about holding a hard cover book and a cup of coffee.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Tom: Just keep writing every day.

Heather: Enjoy the process!

I thank you for taking the time to share with us the back story of Monkey Made Dream and answering a few questions. We wish you much success.

About the Authors:
Tom Listul wrote Monkey Made Dream with his daughter, Heather Listul Hewitt, when she was eight years old. A farmer from southwest Minnesota, he is also a singer/songwriter. Listul made Monkey Made Dream into a children’s song and has sang it at numerous coffee houses and children’s classrooms. Hewitt is now a speech-language pathologist, who works for a school district with students of all ages. She enjoys helping children develop literacy skills and a love for reading. 

You can learn more about Tom Listul, Heather Listul Hewitt and their book at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/TomListulandHeatherListulHewitt.aspx

Sunday, March 27, 2011

April 2011 Authors' Tour

Finally, Spring has sprung. The birds are chirping, the flowers and trees are just beginning to awaken, and Writers on the Move is having another fresh Authors’ Tour for April.

We have very talented writers and authors who collectively, have tons of writing and marketing experience and information to share.

Last month, we began a new touring feature: one information packed writer’s article will be featured each month; we will also publicize the tours through press releases.

The April Feature article is:
“What’s So Funny ‘Bout Fiction” by Maggie Ball

As usual, we strive to provide more value packed informational content so you can not only learn about the authors’ books and services, but also pick up tips and advice on writing, ghostwriting, marketing, and more.

So, look over the schedule below. Each day in April a different author and information will be presented. Just follow the schedule and click on the corresponding day.

We really appreciate your comments and following.

Writers on the Move’s April 2011 Tour Schedule

1st Karen Cioffi is featuring Elysabeth Eldering
2nd Kathy Stemke is featuring Robert Medak
3rd Stephen Tremp is featuring Karen Cioffi
4th Margaret Fieland is featuring Jennifer Turner
5th Carolyn Howard-Johnson is featuring Martha Swirzinski
6th Nancy Famolari is featuring Jennifer Gladen
7th Debra Eckerling is featuring Virginia Grenier
8th Martha Swirzinski is featuring Mari Taylor
9th Heidi Thomas is featuring Kevin McNamee
10th Dallas Woodburn is featuring Carolyn Howard-Johnson
11th Maggie Ball is featuring Kathy Stemke
12th Virginia Grenier is featuring Stephen Tremp
13th Kevin McNamee is featuring Nancy Famolari
14th Elysabeth Eldering is featuring Donna McDine
15th Marietta Taylor is featuring Shelby Patrick
16th Robert Medak is featuring Margaret Fieland
17th Donna McDine is featuring Heidi Thomas
18th Shelby Patrick is featuring Dallas Woodburn
19th Jennifer Gladen is featuring Jennifer Wylie
20th Jenny Turner is featuring Maggie Ball
21st Jennifer Wylie is featuring Deb Eckerling

Photographer: Idea go, courtesy of Free Digital Photos
Writing, Publishing, and Marketing - You Can Do It

This 34 page e-book is full of writing, publishing (traditional and self-publishing) and marketing information. Kind of a GPS for getting where you’re headed: published and selling books.

Click on the link for more details and a great review:

If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for my FREE monthly newsletter, A Writers World, and get TWO FREE eBooks:

The Self-Publisher’s Guide, 2nd Edition
The Blogger’s Checklist
(The books offered may change periodically)

In fact, check out the sidebar for two free gifts just for stopping by! Click on any of my site links below.

Ghostwriting and Editing for Businesses and Individuals
Do you want to get that idea turned into a book? Do you want to write your memoirs? Do you need editing, proofreading, or a professional critique? Do you need an e-book or white paper to offer for instruction, platform visibility, or a gift? Do you need blog, article, white paper, or other form of content visibility for your business? We’re professional, experienced with keywords and SEO, and we cover a number of writing services. So, please stop by and check us out. Go to: http://DKVWriting4U.com

Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer, and
Acquisitions Editor Intern for
4RV Publishing

Member of the Professional Writers Alliance, the International Association of Professional Ghostwriters, and the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors.

Karen Cioffi Writing for Children and More

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rewriting a Folktale

When a writer’s muse seems to be on vacation, she may be at a loss for story ideas. While there are a number of sites and tools online to help get the creative juices flowing, one tool that writers might overlook is studying folktales.

Reading folktales is a great way to spin a new yarn, especially for children’s writing. I recently did a review of a children’s picture book published by Sylvan Dell that was based on an American Indian folktale. This shows they are publishable.

Folktales, also known as tall tales, and folklore, are stories specific to a country or region. They are usually short stories dealing with everyday life that come from oral tradition that is passed from generation to generation. Most often these tales involve animals, heavenly objects, and other non-human entities that possess human characteristics.

There is Mexican folklore, Irish folklore, Chinese folklore, as well as folklore from many other countries that have tales unique to their area. There is also American folklore that encompasses stories from each of the 50 states. There is a huge supply of stories to spin and weave.

In addition to reviewing a couple of published children’s books that were based on folktales, I wrote a children’s fantasy story based on an ancient Chinese tale.

Interestingly, prior to receiving an outline of the tale from a Chinese nonfiction writer acquaintance, I never thought of rewriting folktales. But, once given the outline I loved the story and the message it presented. The outline itself was very rough and written with an adult as the main character (MC), which is often the case with ancient folktales.

After reading the story I knew the MC would need to become a child. Every children’s writer is aware that children want to read about children, not adults. And, the MC needs to be a couple of years older than the target audience the author is writing for.

Based on this, the MC became a 12-year-old boy. And, since the ancient Chinese flavor of the story seemed perfect, I kept it and made the story take place in the 16th century China. After this was set, a title and the MC’s name needed to be created.

When choosing a title for your book, it’s important to keep it in line with the story and make it something that will be marketable to the age group you’re targeting. I chose Walking Through Walls.

As far as the character’s name, you will need to base it on the time period and geographic location of the story, unless the character is out of his element. Since my story takes place in China, the MC needed a Chinese name.

To keep the flavor of your story consistent, you will also need to give it a feeling of authenticity. This will involve some research:

How did the people dress during the time of your story? What names were used? What did they eat? What type of work or schooling was available? What locations might you mention? What type of crops and vegetation would be present? What types of homes did they live in?

There are many aspects of the story that you will want to make as authentic as possible. And, it does matter, even in fiction stories; it will add richness to your story.

The next time you’re in the library, ask the librarian to show you a few folktales. Then imagine how you might rewrite one or more of them for today’s children’s book market.

Need a children's ghostwriter, rewriter, or editor? Check out
Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi

What to write your own book? Check out this complimentary gift:

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Makes a Good Children’s Book?

What Makes a Good Children’s Book?
By Sherry Ellis

There are many factors that go into the making of a good children’s book.

The first is the story itself.  It must have a plot that appeals to the age of the child it is written for.  It has to be something a child can understand.  It has to be told in such a way that the child falls in love with it.  The best stories are ones that are timeless; where the plot is something that could appeal to a child fifty years from now.

Illustrations are another important factor in the making of a good children’s book.  Brightly-colored illustrations really grab a child’s attention.  The illustrations should accurately portray what is going on in the story.  Really well-done illustrations may even tell a story of their own.  Kids should want to sit down with a book and pour over the pictures.

A book’s cover should be attractive.  There’s an old mantra, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is, we do judge a book by its cover.  If the cover looks appealing, we are more likely to want to read what’s inside.  The same holds true with children’s books.  Children are naturally attracted to books with interesting covers. 

Finally, there’s the language itself.  Descriptive words are important in painting a picture of what’s going on in the story.  Care must be taken to use words that can be understood by the age of the children the story is written for.

Good children’s book writers have the ability to view the world through the eyes of a child.  They are able to remember the feelings and emotions they had as a child.  All of these factors put together help an author create a book that is not only enchanting to children, but also to the adults who read it. 

About Sherry Ellis: Sherry Ellis is a freelance writer who writes articles for parenting magazines and children’s publications.  Her first book, That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN, was published in 2005.  Her second, That Mama is a Grouch, was published in May of 2010.  It was honored as a finalist in the Parenting/Family category of the 2010 USA Book News Awards. 

Sherry is also a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano.  Ms. Ellis lives in Loveland, Ohio with her husband and two children.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Poets Want Artistic Partners for New Chapbook

It's been said (quite a few times!) that a picture is worth a thousand words. Even though Magdalena Ball and I are poets, we think the original author may have underestimated, and we'd like you--if you're a painter or a photographer--to prove us wrong.

We are the coauthors of the Celebration Series of chapbooks of poetry.

They include Cherished Pulse (for anyone you love)   , She Wore Emerald Then (for mothers on your gift list), Imagining the Future (for Fathers)  , and Blooming Red, a Christmas chapbook  . Chapbooks have been a tradition in the poetry world since Elizabethan times. The Celebration Series goes beyond the cliched sentiments in most greeting cards - and does it for about the same price.

All four of our chapbooks are illustrated by artists making each a triple effort.

Cherished Pulse and Blooming Red feature artwork from California artist Vicki Thomas. She Wore Emerald Then features photographs by May Lattanzio (see the cover in the Amazon buy-link at the left)  and Imagining the Future a photo by celebrated composer Ricky Ian Gordon.

We are planning a fifth chapbook lauding women's issues and feminist themes. We are looking for submissions to be used on its cover. Yes, it's a contest.

The winner's work will be featured on Deeper Into the Pond: A Celebration of Femininity to be published later in 2011. There is no pay but since Ball runs respected review Web site The Compulsive Reader (http://www.thecompulsivereader.com/ ), and Howard-Johnson is the author of a multi award-winning series of books for writers including The Frugal Book Promoter, they can promise a wide distribution of the cover image, credit, and a biography of the cover artist in the book, and tons of marketing exposure.

See the other chapbooks' covers at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/poetry_books.htm.

Here is a poem from that chapbook to give you an idea of its contents:


Memory's two voices,
the you-girl
suffering the moment
and the you-now
who interprets.
You promise yourself
you won't fear the secrets,
won't tell what happened
without the feelings.
You deny yourself that
and you become Ursula
stealing your own song,
leaving yourself gurgling
under the sea. You need
the music to tell your story,
to find it, to understand it
to know the truth,
to reach above the
ocean's surface

If you have something you'd like us to see, please e-mail your creative work to Ball at maggie_ball@bigpond.com with SUBMISSION: DEEPER INTO THE POND in the subject line. We hope to have a decision by June 1, 2011 and we reserve the right to select no winner. If a winner is selected, we may also choose runners-up so those acknowledgments may be used by the winners for purposes of marketing. There is no fee for entering, and only the honor and publication of the artwork for being selected. Oh, yes. And two copies of the finished chapbook. We hope to hear from you.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Celebrating E-Book Week with Freebies

This comes to subscribers and visitors as a gift, but also as an example of how authors--yep, even poets!--might use promotional week and month designations as an excuse to promote. This is, after all, what they were designef for! (-:  It is copied from a special edition of my newsletter but could easily be made into a media release.  If you want the freebie, use the link in the letter, not the Amazon widgets; they will let you buy paperbacks, though!

Magdalena Ball and I are celebrating Read an E-book Week by giving e-book copies of our poetry to all comers from March 6 to 12.

Our chapbooks of poetry include Cherished Pulse (for anyone you love) with artwork from California artist Vicki Thomas, She Wore Emerald Then (for mothers on your gift list) with photographs by May Lattanzio, Imagining the Future (for Fathers), and Blooming Red, a Christmas chapbook. All are priced to compete with greeting cards at any time of year but this is a celebration of F r ^ ^ (and e-books!).

Chapbooks have been a tradition in the poetry world since Elizabethan times. The Celebration Series goes beyond the clich├ęd sentiments in most greeting cards—and does it for about the same price.

Now the full series is being offered for f ree during Read an E-book Week from March 6 to 12 to help raise public awareness of electronic reading. Read an E-book Week’s Web site (http://www.ebookweek.com ) provides information on the latest e-book reading devices, different e-book stores, benefits of e-books, as well as the history and the future of e-books. Visitors will be able to download free reads from different major retailers, authors and publishers during the Read an E-book Week event period. The Celebration books can be read in over nine digital formats on any computer or portable reading device anywhere in the world. This is a revolution for both authors, both of whom started their writing careers when the latest technology was a typewriter and carbon paper for copies. To access the free books, visit:


Magdalena Ball runs the highly respected http://www.compulsivereader.com/  review site. She is the author of the poetry book Repulsion Thrust, published to unanimous 5-star reviews. Her novel Sleep Before Evening, published in 2007, was a Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist. You all probably know about my poetry except for the one published quite a while ago by Finishing Line Press, (www.budurl.com/CarolynsTracings  ), which isn’t being offered f ree by contractual agreement. For more information on any of the chapbooks in this poetry series, contact either of the authors or visit media rooms at http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com/
or http://www.magdalenaball.com/

Happy promoting, writing and poetry reading!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson