Paper People: Jason Gallaher

Without a doubt, my favorite part of blogging is absolutely interviewing! I’m so happy to bring you another (hilarious) Paper People interview with 2017 debut author Jason Gallaher. There’s been a bit of a break in the series, so I’ll give you a quick recap.  Paper is the traditional gift for the first anniversary, its also one of the common fundamental elements of all books, in this case, picture books.  All of the authors interviewed here are celebrating (or have recently celebrated) the first anniversary of their debut picture book, and have learned much in the process.  As a writer, I’ve definitely learned from those prolifically published authors across all genres, but these debut authors are still in the trenches of building their career and have so much wisdom and first hand experience to share. I hope you enjoy my talk with Jason as we talk about his debut picture book, crossing genres, perfect titles and so much more.

Jason, thanks for being here! I start all of my interviews the same way (blame it on my southern roots.)  So, before we get started, can I get you something to drink? Do you have any almond milk? I have been completely won over by it. Or a Diet Coke? But definitely not the two of those together.  

Absolutely! I’ll take a diet coke too, the fountain kind with really good ice! So, the first time I was introduced to you was last year during NaPiBoWriWee, before WHOBERT was even released.  It was a great interview (as they all are.) That leads me to my first question, do you participate in any writing contests/challenges? I do participate in writing challenges! I don’t do them habitually, but I do them when I need a little jumpstart. My first challenge was Tara Lazar’s Story Storm back when it was PiBoIdMo. The year was 2014, I completed the 30 ideas in 30 days, and one of those actually sold the next year (it still hasn’t been announced yet, but hopefully soon! And yes, the next year was 2015 and we are currently in 2018! Publishing can take a long time!).

I participated in Storystorm for the first time this year and am happy to say I finished with a solid list of 30 ideas!  I did NaPiBoWriWee again too, but only finished with four drafts instead of seven.  Last year, during that interview you talked about how you love titles. I totally get that! What is your creative process when you’re working on a picture book? Do you struggle when your creative process happens out of order? I’m such a sucker for titles, and that’s where my picture book ideas always start. Sometimes it takes years for an idea to come to me that will fit the title, but I don’t force it. I just let the title sit in my brain, and then it’s when I’m doing something mundane like reciting Anjelica Huston’s filmography that the lightning bolt of an idea strikes and I throw my hands up in the air and scream and the dogs start barking and my husband gets concerned that I’ve hurt myself, but I have no time to worry about any of that because I have to run to my computer to get down the first draft! So, my PB creative process isn’t really a struggle when I write title first, but it’s definitely more dramatic.

The mental images of all that commotion are golden! I’ve giggled every time I’ve read over your answer. Let’s talk about WHOBERT! I am a fan of so many picture books (obviously) but the ones that have all 5 members of the Prevost family clamoring for a turn to read are few and far between.  Let me tell you, that’s WHOBERT in our house! His lack of self-awareness is HILARIOUS, I think because it hits a little close to home for everyone. (Except me, of course.) How long was the path to publication for WHOBERT? From first draft to SOLD. Per usual, WHOBERT came to me first as the title. But I didn’t know exactly who, who Whobert was or what he did. But it was when I was writing a grad paper on Shakespeare in the spring of 2014 that it all clicked. It was near the end of the semester and I was getting so much Shakespeare-fatigue that I started reading his plays out loud in a really dramatic voice. Then I got that lightning bolt moment. I knew this was Whobert’s voice, and I knew that I had to poke fun at myself taking myself so dang seriously in grad school. I was really inspired by the “who, who” call of owls, I figured “who” was a great start to any question for a detective, and SHAZAM! WHOBERT WHOVER: OWL DETECTIVE was born. I wrote a couple drafts and had them critiqued by two amazing authors: Stacy McAnulty and Jill Esbaum. From there, I had my revision critiqued at the CenCal SCBWI Writers’ Day by Annie Nybo who was then at McElderry Books. She gave me fantastic notes and told me to resend the manuscript to her if her thoughts resonated with me and I revised WHOBERT. Those notes super duper resonated, so I revised, then signed with my agent, then we sent WHOBERT on back to Annie. She asked for one more round of revisions, I got to those, and then after we submitted it to her again, Annie acquired WHOBERT in March of 2015.

That whole process from first draft to sold was pretty quick, just under a year. But I think it’s important to say that the relatively fast sale timeline would not have been possible if it weren’t for a number of happy milestones that happened along the way that I had nothing to do with. First, there was the fact that both Stacy McAnulty and Jill Esbaum were available to look at my manuscript and gave me great advice. Then there was the fact that I met Erin Murphy at a picture book intensive weekend in the fall of 2014, and she introduced me to my agent, Tricia Lawrence. Then it was that Tricia decided she’d give me a call and took a chance on me after a delightful two-and-a-half-hour conversation. Then there was the fact that I was paired with Annie Nybo for that SCBWI critique and the fact that Annie happened to get my humor and saw what the WHOBERT draft I submitted to her could become. Not to mention, Jen Rofé of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency let me intern with her a couple years prior and introduced me to the children’s lit world. If not for each of these amazing women, WHOBERT may never have come to be.

So many people helped and so many factors outside of my control lined up perfectly to make publication of WHOBERT happen. We see articles online all the time about people who sell their books so fast, but I don’t think it’s often highlighted that a book’s publication is reliant on so many people and meeting those people at the right place and the right time. If any one of these mentors hadn’t entered my life, WHOBERT could still be in my computer and not on bookshelves. So if you’ve been trying to sell a manuscript for a long time, keep at it! Be an active part of our writing community and you will meet those people and have those happy accidents that lead you to publication. This is even true after your first book comes out. It’s been over two years since I last sold a manuscript, but I’m trying to keep myself at the keyboard every day, and seek as much help and guidance as I can.

What a refreshingly healthy perspective on the different paths a manuscript can take. WHOBERT is such a clever story, I’m so glad all the stars aligned for a quick publication.  What books helped to shine a light on your writing path as you were working through WHOBERT’S revisions? Are you a believer in mentor texts? I am such a believer in consuming other authors’ and illustrators’ work and being inspired by them, but when I’m working on a revision I try not to read others’ books when I’m in the revise mindset. I don’t want to get so into their rhythm or voice that I subconsciously repeat it. But I do read a ton of picture books outside of my revisions and there are a number of people who inspire me: Dashka Slater’s ESCARGOT is so flipping hysterical and I want it to be a requirement that kids get a copy of this book when they are born; Jessie Sima is amazing at writing and illustrating whimsical worlds that I want to live in; Jessixa Bagley knows so well how to bring out emotion and make you feel (her book BOATS FOR PAPA makes me cry. Every. Single. Time. I. Read. It. And I’ve read it at least thirty times). I could go on and on!

I second every single title you just mentioned! I haven’t read BOATS FOR PAPA yet, but it’s waiting for me at the library today, actually. In nineteen days, on July 18th, you’ll have been a published author for one whole year! Happy Book-iversary!  Do you have plans to celebrate? My plans are to keep on writing! I love our industry so much, and I want to be a part of it for as long as I can, so I’ll be at my keyboard on July 18th trying to come up with something that hopefully will make people laugh!

Do you remember the first time you saw WHOBERT on a bookstore shelf? Tell us about that moment! The first time I saw WHOBERT on a shelf was at BookPeople, our local (and so flipping fantastic there isn’t a word that can express it) independent bookstore in Austin, TX. They had a whole parliament of WHOBERTs sitting there at their welcome desk, and my heart stopped. It was so surreal. I couldn’t stop smiling and flipping through multiple books even though I knew every book had exactly the same thing in it. I just loved it!

You are so good at capturing a moment and helping your readers (aka me) to be right there with you.  When you talk about seeing WHOBERT for the first time, I get all kinds of warm fuzzies! How did you get it on those shelves? Did you have any marketing tricks up your sleeve that you used for the books release? The person who was the absolute best help with marketing was Kirsten Cappy of Curious City. She is a GENIUS when it comes to creating materials that can help make your book sing. She made an entire Whobert Story Hour Kit that you can find here!

Now that you have one year under your belt I’m curious: What’s been the most surprising thing about making it to the published side of the industry? The most surprising thing has been how much getting that first book on the shelves just makes you want more! I feel like Cookie Monster screaming, “MORE COOKIES!” only replace “cookies” with “books.” I have this fire in my gut that ignited on July 18, 2017, to have the whole process of publication happen all over again.

See there, you did it again! (#allthefeels) I know enough about you to know that you have a MG fantasy in the works. (That sounded stalkerish! I meant ‘Your website says you have…’) What’s the most difficult part of switching genres for you? What’s drew you to write for the MG audience? Haha! I’m an open book when it comes to…my books. I am completely obsessed with middle grade. I think overall there is an optimism about the world—even in darker MG—and I really like the general MG theme of trying to find your place in a community. I also love fantasy-adventure, and what drew me into writing the genre in MG is that I can develop fantastical worlds with kids who really appreciate the magic going on around them. I can discover these whimsical places through their eyes and really feel their enthusiasm and wonder. The hardest part about going into MG from PBs was getting down all the description. My PBs are really dialogue heavy, so it took me a bit to get into that, “Don’t forget to mention where they are, or what they’re wearing, or what smells so bad” rhythm.

What’s your favorite part of writing MG? What about PB? My favorite part about MG is getting to really dive deep into a world. Fantasy-adventure specifically is so fun for me because I love exploring how magic could enhance, alter or shake up an already confusing time of self-discovery.

My favorite part of PBs is getting to be just plain silly. I love being wacky and flamboyant in my PB writing. I write visually and use a ton of physical humor because, above all, my absolute favorite thing in writing PBs is making people laugh.

Gallaher Headshot

You do that so well!!! Do you have anything coming down the pipe?  Where can we find and follow you on social media? I have another picture book coming out, but so far, we are still looking for an illustrator. As soon as I can sing this one from the rooftops, I totally will! I can say that it’s unrelated to WHOBERT, and it’s about my favorite subject: love!

You can find me online at jasongallaher.com; on Twitter and Instagram as @draftingjason; and on YouTube where I gab books at youtube.com/c/jasongallaher. Let’s all be friends, everybody! Thank you so much for having me! This was a hoot!

 

Wasn’t that fun??? See why I love this so much?? The best part is that I have a STACKED schedule of Paper People interviews to post this summer. (There were quite a few wonderful debuts that celebrated their fist anniversary over the spring that I missed, I’m sad to say. You can find a great, comprehensive list of 2017 debut picture books here.  If you’re looking for summer reading suggestions its a great place to start!) Stay tuned my friends!

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

Advertisements

Week 2 of our #100PictureBookSummer

There’s laundry that desperately needs folding, a dishwasher waiting to be unloaded, my floor is filthy, conference calls and chart audits are calling my name and there are sheets in the washer because, well, accidents happen.  But it was the moment the dog ripped the hose faucet right off the wall outside, I decided to call an audible.  I’m not always good off the cuff but I packed sandwiches, grabbed a baseball hat, a handful of juice drinks and loaded the kids in the car before I had a chance to talk myself out of it.  I’m writing this from a picnic table of my city park.  Thankfully it’s an unusually breezy, not-so-humid kind of day over here so we aren’t really breaking a sweat… yet, and this just felt like a good compromise. I try hard to keep up the juggling act, working from home for a local hospice company, writing enough to make a difference, keeping some semblance of cleanliness and cooking something relatively healthy, more often than not and I usually do a decent job. Today is just one of those days where the balls that I’m tossing around just aren’t feeling the vibe I’m putting out.  Or, maybe they are reading my moods correctly and I just desperately wish there was something different I was offering.

I call it the parenting paradox.  The fact that, as a mom, the one thing I don’t have the energy to do, is often the exact remedy for the overwhelming stress of adulting.  Things like playing board games, picnics at the park or bike rides WITH my kids around the neighborhood (as opposed to SENDING them on their own) always end up giving me a huge return on the investment of my time and energy.  Reading picture books with them falls into this category, too. It’s one of the main reasons I started this challenge last year and knew it was important to continue it this summer. It’s too easy to let these lazy summer days slip away in the midst of housework, real work and commitments.  I can quickly get consumed with checking off the things on my to-do list and loose track of the opportunities right in front of me.  I need something to make me sit down, slow down and share my energy with the ones who really need it.  I need much more than 100 picture books, but this is a good place to start.  This week we had an incredible, funny and feel-good stack of books.  We laughed a lot, re-read more than one on a daily basis and finished off the list of ten in record time.  I hope you find a new favorite from this list, I know I found a few!

1.       It’s Not Jack & the Beanstalk written by Josh Funk, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor (Funniest. Picture. Book. Ever.)

2.       The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (So dang clever.)

3.       Little Red Rolls Away written by Linda Whalen, illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris (cross your fingers for me!)

4.       Pup and Bear written by Kate Banks, illustrated by Naoko Stoop

5.       Small by Gina Perry (cross your fingers, again, if you don’t mind!)

6.       Gus, the Dinosaur Bus written by Julie Liu, illustrated by Bei Lynn

7.       The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

8.       Pink is for Blobfish written by Jess Keating, illustrated by David DeGrand (WOW! on repeat) 

9.       Max’s Castle written by Kate Banks, illustrated by Boris Kulikov (The whole series are favorites that we keep going back to)

10.   Shark Lady written by Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens (This one totally lived up to the hype, in fact it exceeded it!) 

In an article I read this week, 12×12 featured author Michelle Cusolito talked about writing in real life.  She said that at different times, writing was both important to her self-care and important to step away from.  The theme of her post centered around those big things that happen in life that have a tendency to throw you sideways, but the significance of the lesson need not be lost on the little day-to-day decisions either.  I think the real struggle of the juggle, with writing, working, ‘momming’, and life in general, is recognizing when I need to step away, when it’s time to embrace, and when I need to jump on my own bike and pedal as fast as my legs can carry me. I hope you find the energy you most need and the motivation to use it well. I also hope you’re reading something fabulous.

 

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP   

#50PreciousWords

Tommy’s Two Wheels.

“It’s broken, buddy.”

“My training wheel? This is the worst day.”

“Want to try riding without them?”

Tommy’s stomach flipped.

          “Two wheels? But, will you help?”

Dad smiled, “Foot on the pedal.”

          “Don’t let go!”

“Push!” Wobble.

          “Don’t let go!”

“Pedal!” Wobble.

          “Don’t… let…”

“Go!”

         “This is the BEST day!”

 

Well there you have it! That was HARD.  For a lot of reasons, one, 50 words is a lot less than you think. Two, I really wanted to rhyme… really, really, really, but in the end, the story didn’t, so I let it go.  Three, I’ve been feeling a little creatively tapped out. I nearly gave myself a brain cramp trying to get this story down on paper and four, did I mention it was only FIFTY WORDS? The struggle is real for a naturally wordy person like myself.  I will almost always use 45 words to say something, when I really only need 5.

Here’s a fun fact! This story is loosely based on true events.  My five-year-old (MC) had an unusually tough day at school, last Friday. You know, in the big picture, the day wasn’t so bad for him, but as his parents it was tough on us.  As my husband and I tried to shake off the events of the afternoon and start the weekend MC took a minute to survey his options. He was punished… from a lot, but he’s the pragmatic sort and quickly settled on a bike ride. After a couple trips up and down our street, he parked to his beloved hand-me-down bike and declared, “I think I’m ready to take my training wheels off!” And he was.

In a moment, the day was transformed by the pride on his face and the squeals he let out as he quickly got the hang of riding on two wheels.  Any lingering frustration and frazzle, my husband and I were still feeling melted away as we watched him conquer the open road.  In the end, it was a great weekend and we all survived the punishment. It’s been ten days and every evening it’s still an act of Congress to get that kid off of his bike and inside for supper. That fateful Friday will forever live on as the day he rode without training wheels (after earning himself a trip to the principals office).

There are so many incredible entries, head on over to Vivian Kirkfield’s blog here and check out the comments section for a plethora of short and sweet stories. I give myself and everyone else who entered an A+ for completion. I’m not kidding- That. Was. Hard.

The End.

(Also, I think I’m going to give myself bonus points for using the words plethora and pragmatic after 9pm on a Monday)

Stay tuned for my visit with Camille Andros next week!

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

 

Twitter & Truths

I had a topic in mind for today’s post… #PitMad is this week and I am completely Twitter illiterate.  So, I was going to delve into the abyss of my Twitter knowledge and talk about the ‘140 character struggles of a wordy girl.’  But sometimes, and this week included, the words just won’t come, despite my intentions and best efforts.  At the eleventh hour, I didn’t even have 100 words.  If you write, then I know you know the struggle.  (The irony of it all isn’t lost on me… the fact that I can’t find enough words to write a post about my struggles with Twitter and its 140-character limit.)

Thankfully for my bloggers-block self, I did find inspiration in a different form this week, so if you’re interested, read on!  As a blogger of the ‘Aspiring Kid Lit Author’ variety, I know I’m not an original idea.  There are countless posts each week, from prolifically published authors, pre-published authors and everyone in between discussing their struggles, strategies, and successes. I love it and I consider myself blessed to be in good company.  Every now and then, a post or an interview comes through that’s refreshing in its honesty and its approach.  This week, the Kid Lit world was blessed by not one but two, and I can’t get enough of them.  If you haven’t checked out KidLit411’s Author Spotlight interview with Katey Howes, or 12×12’s Featured Author post by Anna Forrester, you are sorely missing out.  I’m lucky enough to have ‘met’ (in the polite, electronic form) both women.  They’ve been kind, encouraging, friendly and informative.  But in this interview and this post, they are both vulnerable, authentic, and real.  It’s always great to read about a books release and an author’s success, but maybe it’s even more helpful to know that even for the ones who seem to have it figured out are still sloshing about in slush piles, or adjusting their expectations.  I’ve been lapping up the wisdom that both authors have imparted on the rest of us and you should too!

And just to clarify… I do get the premise, I need a good, punchy pitch for my picture book manuscripts. I need to get my point across in a few words, saving enough for the necessary hashtags, and then hope to attract the interest of an agent.  I’m close, very close to sending out a round of queries.  I’m waiting on a couple of contests to announce their winners, and then I’m moving forward.  So #PitMad falls at a great time for me.  Maybe one of the agents from my shortlist will take notice, or maybe I’ll be introduced to someone I hadn’t had the chance to consider. Either way, that’s my mission for this week… I have three MS that are ‘ready’ and I get to tweet a pitch for each, three times. That’s nine tweets, with 18 hashtags and a total of 1,260 characters… whew, I just reread the instructions, just three tweetes total, can be for the same or different manuscripts.  Still, what am I hanging around here for? I have to get to work! See you later alligators!

Before I go, next week is the second installment of Paper People and I. Am. So. Excited. (Does it bother you when people add periods for emphasis?) But seriously, I had the chance to talk with Jason Kirschner, author/illustrator of Mr. Particular and the whole experience was a blast.  Please come back and check it out, I guarantee you’ll learn something and laugh a bit along the way.

 

Okay, that’s it. I’m really finished now.

 

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

Week Three of Our #100PictureBookSummer.

This week, the local chapter of SCBWI held a panel on ‘Creating Books for Children’ and the different avenues of publishing (traditional vs self).  I’ve not been able to make it to any SCBWI meetings prior to this one, but for a first timer, it surely did not disappoint.  It was energizing and inspiring to be in a room full of like-minded people from right here in my own community.  Because of this meeting, our library haul came in a little later than usual, but my kids have not wasted any time diving in. (To clarify, SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.)

Here’s our list for the week, and again, I’ve included the link to the Book Nerd Mommy post containing the entire list of 100 Picture Books for Your Summer Reading.

  1. Puddle Pug by Kim Norman
  2. Through the Forest by Stephanie Broccoli and Catherin Bidet
  3. Corduroy by Don Freeman
  4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr, John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert
  5. ..Jane by Patrick McDonell
  6. What A Wonderful World by Bob Thiele and George Scieszka
  7. Rain by Linda Ashman and Christian Robinson
  8. The Snurtch by Sean Ferrell and Charles Santoso
  9. Float by David Miyares
  10. Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal

 http://www.booknerdmommy.com/100-picture-books-summer-reading/

(Jamberry continues to elude me! I’ve read the adorable story; I want my kids to read it too but I can’t seem to get my hands on a copy.  Each year we make strawberry jam, except we call it jelly… and I think it’s technically strawberry preserves but you get the point.  Jamberryyyyyy, where are youuuuuu?)

I don’t plan to make a habit out of this, but I went out of order on the list.  Float and Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt are two that wouldn’t have come home this week had I not, but I’m sure glad they did.  What’s great about this group of books is that theme, which is summed up in the title of one of its own, What A Wonderful World.  From learning about Dr. Jane Goodall to the magic world of earthworms that exists below the surface.  The stories in these books embraced the wonders of the world in which we all live, even if sometimes those wonders includes the perfect puddle for jumping.  I’m making a prediction here, all three of my guest reviewers will choose the same book from the stack.  Never mind what mom thinks, what does she know anyway?

 

And I was right, today’s favorite was…

The Snurtch–  (spoiler alert!) OC says, “In the beginning, the Snurtch is always bothering her but then everyone realizes they have their own Snurtches”.  MC and YC agreed, calling the book “hilarious” and “silly” respectively.  That’s high praise for boys their age.

(YC wanted to make sure that Puddle Pug was listed as an Honorable Mention, “because, Mom, you see, there’s dogs and puddles and I like that too.”)

Ironically, or not, all our ‘snurtches’ were out in full force this morning, so I thought it a perfect opportunity for us each to describe them, hoping they would run and hide.  Mine is orange, with yellow hair and horns.  OC decided hers was “teal, and turquoise, and purple, and black, and blue with some brown.”  MC is fully immersed in the ‘imitation is the greatest form of flattery’ phase, otherwise known as ‘I’m going to say exactly what my mom says’ so his was also orange, but with some nudging, has black hair and bull horns.  YC’s is green (as is everything in his life) with green eyes and green hair.

We still have a couple of days to love on this stack of books.  I hope you have something good to read on this warm Wednesday afternoon as well!

 

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

Week One of our #100PictureBookSummer

I’m excited to report that our #100PictureBookSummer is off to a great start.  Thanks to a little careful planning and a couple of library cards, we are well on our way. My kids were excited to come home to a stack of ‘new’ books yesterday and dove right in.  Here’s our list for the week:

  1. Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio & Christianson Robinson
  2. Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
  3. Jamberry by Bruce Degen*
  4. Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan
  5. Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin & Harry Bliss
  6. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Whinfield Martin
  7. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andrea and Guy Parker-Rees
  8. You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang & Christopher Weynat
  9. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  10. A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Steve Johnson

*As I was typing this, I realized that we didn’t make it home with Jamberry for some reason.  Hm, well that’s a sweet one (no pun intended) to kick our week off next week! Here’s the link to Book Nerd Mommy’s 100 Picture Books for your Summer Reading that we’re following if you missed last week’s post.

http://www.booknerdmommy.com/100-picture-books-summer-reading/

These first ten were a wonderful mix of new and old favorites, featuring everything from adorable puppies to terrible monsters.  There is a definite theme that carried through many of these books and that is the importance of being true to yourself, even if what you know to be true goes against the grain of popular opinion.  I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite from this list.  As a mom, I want to use the pages of Emily Whinfield Martin’s delightful little book as wallpaper in my kid’s bedrooms so they can be surrounded by its wonderful message of love.  I’m also a history buff and I knew that I was holding an important piece of history as I read The Snowy Day, but the combination of The Snowy Day and A Poem for Peter together was powerful.  Diary of a Worm and Leonardo tickled my funny bone and caused a healthy dose of giggles from both my kiddos and me.

When I approached my daughter with the prospect of a summer filled with books, she was quick to agree, but not without making she and her brothers received a bit of recognition too. Always a negotiator, she thought it would be fun if she and her brothers could share their favorite books with you as well. That was an easy deal to shake on, so here’s a little about the three guest book reviewers that will be joining me all summer.

  • OC (oldest child) is seven years old, with wonderfully curly hair and a personality to match. She’s well rounded and a bit impulsive; you can be sure there are grass stains on her powder pink dancing tights.  She has an inquisitive mind to match her giant and generous heart.
  • MC (middle child) is five and a future superhero if there ever was one. He loves fighting bad guys, hunting zombies and practicing his ‘incredible ninja moves’.  He does life at his own pace and is filled with an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm for life… all day every day.
  • YC (youngest child) is three years old and our comedic relief. He loves making us all laugh and does it well.  He’s into (almost) anything his older brother tells him is cool, but really loves trucks, trains, and playing in the dirt.  He believes ‘the more, the merrier & the messier, the better’.

So, there you have them, without a doubt, the cutest and chattiest guest reviewers to ever grace these pages. I’ll have more from them next week and a fresh batch of books! Happy Summer!

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

The Summer of 100 Picture Books.

Whew, okay, I’m glad that’s over.  Maybe you disagree, but for me, spring cleaning is fun at the beginning, exhilarating when you’re in the thick of it and utterly exhausting as you near the end.  Now that I’m (almost) clutter free, I can say without hesitation that I am very eager for summer to start.  I’m happy you found your way back here today because I’m excited to share a bit of our summer plans.  Look at the title of this post again, it’s more than that, it’s a goal!

Earlier this week, via Instagram, I came across Clarissa, aka @book.nerd.mommy, and her post 100 Picture Books for Your Summer Reading.  Let me tell you, it’s a great list; new titles, old favorites and everything in between.  For the past few summers, my kids and I have all had big reading plans.  The unfortunate truth is that I often lost track of things through swimming lessons, play dates and summer excursions.  This summer, there’s no excuses, we have a list to follow, and by my calculation, we have 10% covered just with our own home library.  I’ve included the link to her blog post, where you’ll find her carefully selected titles, with a brief explanation of what makes each story so lovable.  She also shares a free printable version of the list.  My list is printed and posted on my bulletin board already! I extended the challenge to my kids, and my oldest, who loves to answer for her brothers eagerly accepted.

In the spirit of the sweet, slow pace of summertime, I plan to scale my blog posts down to once a week.  In place of my Wednesday posts, I’ll let you know how our #100PictureBookSummer is going. My plan is to keep you posted on our progress, and share our favorites from the week. Here’s the link…

http://www.booknerdmommy.com/100-picture-books-summer-reading/

If you can, take a few minutes to peruse her website.  Clarissa has a wonderful ‘Beyond the Book’ section of arts and craft activities to help Picture Books become interactive for children.  She also shares recipes to accompany some of your favorite books (Truffula Tree Cupcakes, anyone?), and literacy tools for those of us with young, growing minds.

Here’s to 100 books, 10 fun weeks and 1 great summer. If you think this sounds fun, we’d love for you to join us.  I’ll be sharing here and on Instagram (@jennifergprevost).  Our first batch of books will be ready for pick-up from the library today!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.  My thoughts are with those who have lost someone, now or then, near or far, in service for this great nation.

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

#SocialMediaStruggles

I was a part of the original Facebook generation.  I remember waiting, anxiously, for Facebook to find its way to our campus.  It did so right at the end of a semester, in the perilous time where finals were approaching and grades really mattered. I allowed myself to join as a reward for surviving another semester of nursing school and was instantly hooked.  I wish I could say that I kept up with the crowd, that it was easy for me to stay excited about and that it’s been a beautiful love affair ever since.  Sadly, it has not been.  Navigating Facebook was never an issue, but as it ventured away from a college networking site, and into the worldwide monster it is now, I lost enthusiasm.  My relationship now is friendly, but for the ten plus years in between, it’s been downright contentious.  It came to the point where my real-life friends, and even my husband at times, stopped asking, or caring really, when I mysteriously disappeared from Facebook, knowing I would always come back.  I appreciate it now, more so than I have in a while, and I’ve even branched out a bit. #backonagain

One of my writing friends, shout out to The Monster’s Club, told me that I needed an Instagram.  She added that it is one of the best places to keep up with the Kid Lit world, up and coming authors and new release books.  I’d be silly to pass that up, right?  Except I’m 30 years old and 7 years late.  Long story short, my social media-savvy sister agreed to spoon feed me everything I needed to know to get started.  So, I did and then panicked a bit.  Surely the Instagram world will sense that I’m illiterate?  I thought for 48 hours about my first post, and bam, I used my first hashtag.  I’m a few weeks and a handful of timid posts into it now… I have exactly 12 followers. EEK. #bitthebullet

The blog, not one but two Facebook accounts and now Instagram.  WHO AM I?  Do you want to know my secret? I am enjoying it.  They’re all pushing me in different ways, outside of my quiet, little comfort zone.  After all, I’m going to need people to buy my books one day, I’d better get a head start on finding them.  More importantly, I’m making connections and building a network.  I’ve been talking about this very thing since Magnolias was born, and each ‘follower’ is proof that it’s working.  #socialmediawin

I do struggle with boundaries though.  I’ve found that the days when I check Facebook early, I end up checking it often, often mindlessly, hoping for ‘notifications’, I don’t know why I have a hard time realizing that checking seldom and seeing 10 notifications is much more exciting, then slowly collecting one at a time.  In the same way, I’m excited with each new ‘like’ or ‘follow’, on Instagram or WordPress, but like many people, I’m sure, I tend to get carried away once I start looking.  And now I have a hard time keeping up.  My finger accidently brushed up against my screen while I was trying to figure out this whole hashtag thing, and I found a message from my sister.  What? How the heck did that get there? (B, I’m going need you to call me and talk me through this one.) Bear with me y’all, I’ll figure it out soon enough.  Surely I’m not the only one, right? #thankgodforlittlesisters

#toomanyhashtags?

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP