Book covers from the workshop of dreams

Book covers from the workshop of dreams

I’m just wrapping up production of the books written and illustrated by the students who took the Spring Term of my Dream Workshop program that is run through Creative Writing for Children.

In many cases, the students provided their own artwork. In others, the students chose royalty-free stock photos, but in those cases, they still had to design their cover, which meant providing instructions on how to crop the photo and which fonts to use.

I’m so proud of my students! The books will go for printing soon and will be in their hot little hands in the next few months.

debbiekim_lookingin

laurenliang_thetimekeeper

sunnykim_pandoraii

gemmayin_partysurprise

sionahn_landofskies

jadenchung_candyrealm

tysonmattu_lost

iankim_secrets

emilylee_hoops

ellyyoo_anadventure

arisolkim_kingdomofenchantia

alexjang_possessionofadangerousmind

sarahpark_oneudonbowl

rickyyin_sixteenamazingstories

aidenlee_secretofportalstreasure

yoyozhang_thesecretflower

tristanmo_cursedcity

sussizhu_thewarbetweenupperandupper

felimwang_thebookofdeath

ericxu_ace

charliechen_thefencingboy

juliakim_anastasiasadventure

charleswang_thehiddenworlds

candicehua_thewatchersvision

Advertisements

TD Book Week Tour ~ Day 6

TD Book Week Tour ~ Day 6

My tour is over, so there is basically no Day 6, just a return to life. However, I’ve been writing this online journal all week so I thought I would take the time to reflect on the week, think about went well, what didn’t, and to offer so heartfelt thanks!

Let’s start with the thank-yous . . .

An awesome network of teachers, librarians, and literary people

Getting a spot on the TD Tour isn’t the easiest. There are so many talented creators in Canada, so I’m really grateful that I earned a spot, especially since I don’t write books with obvious social-justice content, or overtly Canadian content, or anything that grabs the attention necessarily of the media. I do like to think my books have lots of great messages and social commentary about culture, diversity, and gender roles, but they are nuanced.

Which is all to say, I’m very thankful to the CCBC (Canadian Children’s Book Centre) for picking me. Also, I can’t even imagine the work that goes into organizing this tour. So, I give a particular shut out to Shannon Howe Barnes at CCBC for providing me with so many detailed instructions and being at five-alarm alert this entire week, jumping on any and all panicked messages from touring authors (I certainly sent my share of them!).

I also want to thank Emma Hunter and Kirsti Granholm for stopping my event at the Children’s Book Bank in Toronto. I always appreciate it when people who organize tours can see me in action.

Finally, I want to thank all the teachers and librarians I connected with this week. I have a lot of particular “asks” when I come to a school—supplies for set up, rooms arranged a certain way, and so forth. Without fail, every single school, library, and institution jumped into action to accommodate my requests. I really appreciate it!

Even though I was often rushing off to my next presentation, I really appreciate those quieter moments when I had a chance to talk to some of you about writing and teaching writing. I am an educator at heart, and I really love those conversations.

Finally, thank you for saying all those kind things about my books! Writing is hard and sometimes the simplest of reviews or praise can sustain me.

What went well

I guess I already covered this to some extent, but the trip was so well-organized and I was provided with such detailed instructions that it was easy to go from one place or the other. I was never once late, which is amazing!

I felt my personal plan for the trip was strong. I had presentations prepared for the bigger groups and, for the smaller groups, I could use my wizard’s suitcase as a tool for telling stories and engaging the kids. I think I did a brainstorming activity with every single group, except one—if you follow me on social media, then you know I have been inundating you with many pictures of kids brainstorming: suitcases, trees, doors, and maps.

By the way, having a variety of activities and talks is also important for me. It helps keep my brain on track, so that I’m not necessarily just doing the same thing over and over again. Some of this is inevitable—I mean, my story is my story and I can’t really change that or tell it in too many different ways. But delivering different presentations that talk about different sources of inspiration keeps everything varied for me.

suitcasestuff

What didn’t go so well

When you are zooming from workshop to workshop in different facilities, there is inevitably going to be hiccups and problems.

I always prefer presenting in libraries or gathering spaces—not necessarily because they are more intimate or friendly (they are), but because of acoustics. Some gyms just are terrible for presentations. That’s no one’s fault—gyms are obviously the biggest places in schools for accommodating large portions of the student body. But, in some gyms, not even a microphone really helps—it just causes your voice to bounce off the walls in a different way.

I also had a technology fail on my last day. My remote to my computer simply stopped working halfway through two presentations. Thankfully, I don’t show my fluster, so I was able to compensate, but I really wish this hadn’t of happened! Everything had worked perfectly all week long. Hey, I lasted the week—how come my technology couldn’t?

Managing energy

Speaking of which, managing energy is something I’ve had to learn how to do over the years. It’s not only the daily public speaking and workshopping, but when I put myself into this intense creative headspace, that means a lot of ideas are swirling around in my brain. Because it’s not that I’m simply presenting—I’m doing these brainstorming sessions with the kids, which is all about idea generation.

So, each evening when I made it back to my hotel, I found it hard to unwind. (This is the case whenever I’m doing a writing camp, an artist-in-residency, or a tour. Intense periods of creativity are hard to turn off like a tap.) There were many times when I would take my brainstorming journal with me to dinner, so I could unwind with doodling. Ultimately, I suppose writing this daily journal/blog has been one other way to do this.

Questions, questions, questions

Each day, I posted my favorite question of the day, but I wanted to tackle one more that I didn’t mention from the week: “Do you ever take ideas from the brainstorming you do with the students in your workshops?” This question came from a teacher and it is a good one.

The short answer is “No.” I always do my brainstorming on a sheet of chart paper in my interactive brainstorming sessions and while I often take a photograph of what we create, I always leave the paper itself behind (in case the class wants to use it in their follow up activities).

Often cases, what we come up with on that chart paper is a fusion. It’s a combination of multiple ideas pitched my way my participants, ideas that then go through the filter of my imagination, and get my own twist. For example, students often give me multiple competing ideas for a doorway, a tree, or a magical object, and I end up combining them for the item we put on the page. This is the power of group brainstorming—the idea that makes it onto the page has been enriched by the multiple suggestions and is more interesting than just any singular idea coming from myself or any one student.

immanuelcs-market

The truth is that I want the students to write something from the brainstorming—not me! I feel like I generate enough ideas in my own brainstorming journals. Though, I will admit to stealing names from students, though it’s usually not their character names—it’s usually their own names! If a student has a name that I really like, then I ask them if I can add it to my one of my name “banks” for future use. (I’m ALWAYS on the hunt for good character names!)

The hardest part of the tour

Well, this one is easy. The hardest part of the tour has been being away from Marcie and Hiro! In the past, I’ve only had to worry about being separated from Marcie, but now that we have Hiro, it’s even harder. He’s too young to really understand what’s going on, and I have just missed cuddling him every night and interacting with him and being there for great moments like this one:

hiro&goslings

That’s a photo Marcie sent me yesterday. So cute! Of course, technology helps being away because I can facetime Marcie and Hiro everyday, but Hiro often just gets a little confused that he can see and hear me, but can’t touch me.

But I will be back soon, Hiro!

About Book Week

TD Canadian Children’s Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children’s books and the importance of reading. Hundreds of schools, public libraries, bookstores and community centres host events as part of this major literary festival.

 

 

TD Book Week Tour ~ Day 5

TD Book Week Tour ~ Day 5

Well, it’s over. The final day of TD Book Week came to an end on Friday, and I managed to survive with my voice mostly intact. One more day probably would have killed it!

Mapping a story

I did two sessions of mapping a story, one at two schools that shared the same librarian (the schools are only five minutes apart).

In the planning stages of the tour, I had provided the schools and libraries with a list of my brainstorming sessions and most picked “enchanted trees” or “secret doorways.” These two schools, however, chose “mapping an adventure”—it was nice to get a little variety today. Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE designing doors, but when you are doing multiple sessions several days in a row, a change of pace is good for my creative energy.

Essentially, this type of mapping is writing with pictures—the students not only plot an adventure but create settings along the way—and, of course, characters, too! Here are some of the story-maps they came up with:

TDbookweek_mapping02

TDbookweek_mapping01

TDbookweek_mapping03

TDbookweek_mapping04

TDbookweek_mapping05

TDbookweek_mapping06

TDbookweek_mapping07

TDbookweek_mapping08

TDbookweek_mapping09

TDbookweek_mapping10

TDbookweek_mapping11

TDbookweek_mapping12

TDbookweek_mapping13

As you can see, many elements of the story are in place. In fact, I feel like some of these look like the adventure route on a Candy Land-style board game.

Final round of door brainstorming

The very last session of the tour was done at the Woodside branch of the Toronto Public Library. They invited in a classroom of tweens for a presentation and door brainstorming. I figured it was a Friday afternoon and they might be low energy, but they really produced some great designs: Just check these out:

tpl_woodside-door01

tpl_woodside-door02

tpl_woodside-door03

tpl_woodside-door04

tpl_woodside-door05

tpl_woodside-door06

tpl_woodside-door07

tpl_woodside-door08

tpl_woodside-door09

tpl_woodside-door10

tpl_woodside-door12

tpl_woodside-door13

tpl_woodside-door14

tpl_woodside-door15

Also, some of the kids started spilling into other areas, designing characters, such as this one sheet from a very talented kid:

TDbookweek_characterbrainstorming01

I was also enamored with this drawing that one student did of my artifacts:

TDbookweek_objectbrainstorming01

Speaking of my artifacts, this was the last time I unpacked and packed them back again before taking my flight home this weekend. They all survived! I didn’t break or lose a single one. Of course, kids continually asked to sell me the props, but I always say the same thing: “make your own!” Because, really, I don’t feel any of my props (other than the suitcase) is that complicated to make. Prop building is like writing—it takes mostly patience. And none of the supplies I use are that complicated.

artifacts_TDbookweektour_2019

Doing a workshop at the Toronto Public Library was a really great way to end the tour. Sophia, the library assistant, was a great host and she had just finished reading The Secret of Zoone and gave me a glowing review. Hey, I’ll take a glowing review from anyone, but, of course, it’s always special to get a good review from a librarian, because they are the ones who really read a lot and know their stuff. So, thank you, Sophia! I really appreciate your comments about my book.

Favourite question of the day

I actually got this question a few times this week, but I decided to feature it today. It was: “What is your favourite place that you traveled to?” (REAL place—not imaginary; I had to clarify!)

It’s always hard to answer this question. There are places I go to on a regular basis for work or family reasons: Korea, Japan, and England. But I think my favourite places I visit are the ones that are new to me, the ones that can offer me a surprising or unusual experience. I love nothing more than stepping out of my hotel door and being walloped by smells, sounds, and sights!

Book signing

After my last official TD Book Week visit, I had one more stop: the local Indigo book store at Scarborough Town Centre. My publisher had asked me to stop by and sign some stock. There were six books in the store, so I signed all of them (and one sold while I was there!).

In particular, though, it was fun to walk into the store and see my book positioned face out—this is obviously a good thing, because it means the book gets more attention.

zoone_scarboroughindigoshelves.jpg

Well, it’s time for me to go and get some grub, and some rest! I think I’ve earned it!

About Book Week

TD Canadian Children’s Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children’s books and the importance of reading. Hundreds of schools, public libraries, bookstores and community centres host events as part of this major literary festival.

TD Book Week Tour ~ Day 4

TD Book Week Tour ~ Day 4

It was another fun and busy schedule on Day 4 of my TD Canadian Children’s Book Week tour!

Knocking your socks right off

The first thing I want to say is that I have been having a great time and I think the students have, too. In fact, I can now say with all authority that my presentations will knock your socks off—literally.

Doubt me?

Well, I have the proof. After my very last presentation of the day, I found this lone sock hanging out on the gymnasium floor!

williamarmstrong-sock.jpg

But back to the beginning of my day, which started with me waking up in Markham to dismal weather. It was cloudy, rainy, and cold—in other words, what it feels like on a typical winter’s day in Vancouver. (Or, admittedly, often in June.) That was a good excuse for an extra cup of coffee, which I got at the Starbucks conveniently located in my hotel lobby.

I jumped into the car and headed to my first school Saint Francis Xavier—or, as they like to call it, SFX. Sounds like a cool Sci-Fi channel, but more importantly, it makes it a lot easier to autograph books to their school!

This friendly display welcomed me as I entered:

sfx-welcome

Perhaps more importantly, so did a tray of delicious snacks. Little touches like that can really help an author keep going in the middle of a buzzing tour.

Enchanted Trees

Every presentation I did today was in a gymnasium, which means I had a lot of big groups. I did two sessions at SFX, the first one involving 220 kids, grade K-3.

I rolled out my brainstorming session on enchanted trees for these guys; it always seems to be a good fit for younger kids.

Our “group” tree ended up looking like this, with keys for fruit and a flying pig as a critter:

sfx_tree00.jpg

Here are some of the trees the kids came up with:

sfx_tree01

sfx_tree02

sfx_tree03

sfx_tree04

Magical Doorways

For the second session at SFX, plus my presentation to grades K-8 at William Armstrong Public School, we designed magical doorways.

There have been a lot of doorways designed this week, but I was intrigued by what one boy did today. It was something very simple, something you would think would be quite intuitive, but something I haven’t seen any other kid do. He folded his paper in half so that he could physically open his doorway, then draw, on the opposite side, where his door led to!

williamarmstrong-door10

Here are some of the other doors that kids designed in these two sessions:

sfx_door01

sfx_door02

sfx_door03

sfx_door04

sfx_door06

williamarmstrong-door01

williamarmstrong-door02

williamarmstrong-door03

Favourite question of the day

There were a lot of great questions from my three sessions today, so I’m going to pick a main favourite, plus two honorary ones. So, my ultimate favourite is: “Why is writing special to you?”

I liked this question because I’ve never been asked it before. I’ve been asked similar questions, such as “Why do you like writing?” . . . but not one worded quite this way. And I tend to pay attention to specific wording in questions (I guess that comes with the territory of being an author and a teacher).

I will say that I had trouble answering the question. I’m not sure that I’ve ever thought of writing as something “special.” It’s a part of me, yes. But it’s always felt so integral, like a limb. Maybe it’s something I’ve taken for granted? I’m not sure . . .

Now to the honorary questions. Honorary favorite question #1 is: “Which character did you like writing the most?” This one is also hard to answer.

In terms of my Kendra Kandlestar books, I think it was Agent Lurk and Uncle Griffinskitch, because they both changed a lot across the series, and it was fun to see their growth, motivations, and history.

Uncle Griffinskitch

lurk_battlement_shard

For The Secret of Zoone, I’m tempted to say Tug the skyger because he is just so much darn fun!

Tug on the sofa

But, ultimately, I’m going to say Ozzie’s Aunt Temperance and I think it’s for the same reason as Aent Lurk and Uncle Griffinskitch. Her back story, her compulsions, and her motivations were very intriguing to me. Even though Ozzie is the clear main character in the book, I somehow feel the Zoone story is hers.

Aunt Temperance sketch

Honorary favorite question #2 is: “Can I have your key?” I like this question, because I get to answer “YES.” As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, my Zoone key is 3D printed, and I have provided the file on my website (you can download it here).

Aunt Temperance's Zoone Key - orange background

I didn’t get to lost

Now to the big news of the day: I didn’t get lost. Not once! (First day this happened on the tour!)

Well, one day left . . . hard to believe it’s almost over! (Insert sad emoji face here.)

About Book Week

TD Canadian Children’s Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children’s books and the importance of reading. Hundreds of schools, public libraries, bookstores and community centres host events as part of this major literary festival.

 

TD Book Week Tour ~ Day 3 (robots are liars)

TD Book Week Tour ~ Day 3 (robots are liars)

Day 3 of TD Canadian Children’s Book Week marked the mid-point of my tour and it was very different from my previous days, mostly because I got to spend the whole day at one school. This was a nice switch! When you are a prop guy like me, there’s a lot of set up and pack up, and I only had to do it once today—as opposed to Monday and Tuesday, when I had to do it multiple times, and as quickly as possible to make the next event. (Hey, it’s my own fault!)

An oldie but a goodie

I spent the day in a gorgeous hundred-year old school called Summitview Public School located in the town of Stouffeville, Ontario. I was so busy hunting for the school that I didn’t even see the big sign out from with my name on it. The librarian pointed it out to me, so I rushed out at the break to take this photo, and one of the exterior of the building:

Summitville_sign

Summitville_school

Trees, doors, and a magical item or two!

Because I was there the entire day, I got to speak to the entire student body, from K-8, but in different groups, which I really appreciated. It not only made each group more intimate but allowed me to tailor my content to each age level.

For the younger group, that meant a lot of raw creativity and energy. We brainstormed magical trees and, for the group tree, ended up with a potion tree that was happy to dole out his magic to any passersby (the greedy little dragon who lived in his branches, however, had other ideas!)

Summitville-tree00

Of course, each student also created a tree of his or her own, and I managed to snap a couple of shots:

Summitville-tree02

Summitville-tree01

For the intermediate groups, I was able to combine the brainstorming with a little bit more of a discussion on the writing process. They had such great questions! And, of course, they had some very intriguing designs for their doors. Here’s just a handful of the ones that were produced:

DC266BFD-1F70-4004-A52D-12731580D9D1

0D4EE817-2EE1-4F3F-9D72-99A208C1EDA1

4B73728B-72C1-4A7D-8064-5C5B069914C2

16E5F49A-76DC-48BE-9352-79F88EA737CE

224FF666-F271-43DD-85EC-7C853C184250

3588E19D-1DEC-4773-9F09-1B304DD734CA

346896B7-DF71-4E11-A5DC-B644570CA357

73486227-3862-4545-AE6B-FAC1FE592AC3

CA05CA71-94BA-40BD-8996-9D7BFA7720A9

DB6B930A-54C6-4DFF-8A83-EA93E53B96FF

My final group was with the Grades 6-8. I had a lot of time with this group so I really covered some of the professional aspects of publishing, such as how a book cover is designed. Of course, I did allot some time for brainstorming, and we did the idea of magical markets.

This group was a little reserved to begin with, but at one point the cork suddenly popped and they burst forth with ideas. They pitched so many of them at me that we actually ran out of time (the teacher had to do the equivalent of yanking me off the stage with a long cane)!

Some of the items they came up? Well:

  • a jar of human souls
  • a vial of toenails from a king
  • a skirt that allows you to fly
  • shadow spray
  • truth serum (in a bottle shaped like a question mark)
  • a bottle of dragon tears
  • a portable hole
  • an orange, which, whenever you peel it, offers you a different type of fruit (and it’s unlimited)

Summitville-magicalmarket-group

A piece of advice I gave them is to try and be as specific as possible in their ideas—and they took it to heart. That’s why I was given ideas such as “a bottle of king’s toenails” as opposed to simply “toenails.” When you’re specific, the ideas are more interesting and more evocative!

What an engaged and creative bunch—all of them! It was a really great day, which was capped off with more event . . .

Adding to the Buzz

Fiona, one of the older students, started a podcast at her school called “What’s the Buzz?” (The school’s sports teams are “the stingers”, so they got a bee theme here). So, at the end of the day, I sat down with Fiona and recorded a short interview. She was so poised and confident (and prepared)—I was impressed.

Summitville_fiona_interview

Kindred spirits

It’s not just the kids I enjoy meeting at schools—it’s also the educators. I certainly love to talk about the process of writing, but I also love to talk about the process ofteachingwriting. I’ve had so many great conversations with teachers and librarians these past few days, and it was no different at Summitview. Constance Calvert, the librarian, runs a really great show and I really enjoyed talking “shop” with her!

Favourite question of the day

I’m going to pick two favorite questions, and I feel like I’m entitled because one was from an actual session and one was from the podcast I did with Fiona.

So, from one of my workshop sessions: “Are your favorite characters always your main characters?” (The answer is “no!” I often prefer the side characters in my stories in terms of the ones I grow quite attached to.)

My other favorite question came from Fiona’s interview and was the last one she asked me, which was: “What’s the one questions that I didn’t ask that you would like me to?”

I chose: “What character in your book are you most alike!” (I won’t tell my answer here—I think I’ll wait until the podcast is posted!)

Did I get lost? Yes, because robots are liars

Um . . . does a bee buzz? In yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned that the potential for me getting lost today was low, because I had less travel. I should have never written with such bravado because the robots ganged up and sent me on a whirlwind circle around the greater Toronto area. Google Maps, my GPS, even the hotel website all provided an address that sent me down a freeway with NO hotel. So, basically, I’m in the middle of a stretch of freeway with nothing around me and the GPS is telling me I have arrived at my destination.

I pulled over more than once to try and figure it out. Eventually, I looked up the hotel on Google Maps, found a nearby Tim Horton’s, and plugged its address into the GPS and that got me to my destination. (Take that robots!) I’m staying here for three more nights, so at least I won’t have to hunt for the hotel tomorrow.

Oh, oh.

Did I just jinx myself?

Stay tuned . . .

About Book Week

TD Canadian Children’s Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children’s books and the importance of reading. Hundreds of schools, public libraries, bookstores and community centres host events as part of this major literary festival.

 

10 Easy ways to support an author

10 Easy ways to support an author

This spring has been a busy one for myself and many of my friends. Seems like everyone in my author circle has a new book to launch, so we’ve been having fun celebrating and getting lots of personally autographed books.

My own book, The Secret of Zoone, came out officially on April 9th, and we celebrated by launching at our favorite local indie store, Kidsbooks.

signing-hiro&marcie

However, it wasn’t the first launch of the season. Preceding mine was the release of two new books by my friend Holman Wang: Great Job, Mom!and Great Job, Dad!

Holmanbooklaunch.jpg

At his launch, Holman talked about the different ways that readers can support authors. And make no mistakes about it—authors need support! Even though it might not seem like it to the casual reader browsing the shelves of the local bookstore (or the virtual shelves of amazon or any other online retailer), authors aren’t necessarily automatically getting tons of reviews or attention for their books.

Any attention helps!

So, provided to me by Holman, here are ten easy ways to support an author’s book:

1. Tell your friends about the book
The age-old strategy of word-of-mouth is still the best!

2. Write a review of the book online.
For the record, here are the links to the pages for my new book The Secret of Zoone:

Please consider rating the book (which is a simple click on most sites). If you have more time, consider leaving a review. Honest ones are welcome; this may not seem that intuitive, but ALL reviews generally help authors—even negative ones.

3. Take a book selfie for Social Media
This one can be a lot of fun, especially if you want to get creative. Some people like to show them reading the book in a certain location that relates to the book. (For The Secret of Zoone, I encourage people to take pictures of them reading it in front of doors. The older the door, the better!)

4. Turn the book face out on store bookshelves
You know when you peruse the shelves and you see some only as spines and others as facing out with the cover? Well, obviously the ones face out will get more attention!

5. Read the book in public
I don’t know about you, but whenever I see someone reading at the coffee shop, or on the subway or plane, I always sneak a peek at the cover!

6. Check out the book from the library
Some people feel bad for not buying a book, but only taking it out from their local library. But this really helps! It keeps an author’s book in circulation. Plus, if the library doesn’t have the book, but is getting lots of requests, then they will order copies of the book.

7. Lend the book to a friend
That’s the great thing about books—you can pass them on. Personally, I always love it when I see a dog-eared copy of my books knocking about at a school or library. It means that it has been read.

8. Ask your favourite bookstore or specialty retailer to carry the book.
There are thousands of books published every year, and not all of them automatically go into stores. So public engagement and requests really help.

9. Follow the author’s social media
This is a simple click, and most current authors are on the major sites. Myself, I’m on facebook, twitter, instagram, and youtube. I also have a newsletter that you can sign up for here.

10. Buy the book for yourself and others
If you (or your child!) loved an author’s book, then buy extra copies as gifts for birthdays or other special occasions. Book gifts can always be combined with other items that relate to the books. For example, you could buy a small stuffie of an animal that might appear in the book. (Sadly, there are no “skyger” stuffies yet—but let’s hope that happens!)

Of course, it’s one thing for ME to ask people to support me, but I feel that being a part of this community means also doing the supporting. I’m really lucky that a big part of my career is teaching creative writing to tweens and teens—that means I have a lot of opportunities to introduce books to my students, and to connect them to the authors.

Each time we have a book discussion in one of my classes, I tweet and tag the author so that they (and others) can see that we’re focusing on their book that day. This has been a huge success for me as a teacher because my students have LOVED connecting with the authors and are always thrilled when authors acknowledge our messages.

One recent success for us was when we discussed the book Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger (he of the Origami Yoda fame). I tweeted out a picture of my class holding up the book and wearing—you guessed it—fake mustaches. Tom Angleberger was so thrilled he offered to host questions from my students about the book. What an opportunity for them!

FakeMustaches!

So, I’ll close out this post by giving a shout out to some of my friends and colleagues who have recently launched books.

I already mentioned the books by Holman Wang, but here they are again—Great Job, Mom!And Great Job, Dad!:.

Matab Narisimhan‘s new middle-grade book, Embrace the Chicken, came out in January:

embracethechicken.jpg

 

Eileen Cook’s new young adult book, You Owe Me a Murder, was launched March 8th:

youowemeamurder

Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Kallie George launched their new books, Mya’s strategy to Save the Worldand Wings of Olympus on April 25th:

Tanya&Kallie booklaunch.jpg

Nafiza Azad’s debut, The Candle and the Flame, comes out May 14th:

candle&theflame

 

Lots of books to celebrate this spring season. I hope you enjoy them. As for me? Yep, I have a lot of reading to do!

All the things worth worrying about—and the things that are not

secret_of_zoone_coverI’ve been a little anxious lately in advance of the release of my new book, The Secret of Zoone, worried about ALL THE THINGS. Will the book sell? What if it “fails?” This is my first book with a big New York house. What if this is my only shot, and I blow it?

Then, yesterday, I had an uplifting and grounding experience when I visited Meadowridge School to deliver a presentation and workshop.

First of all, there were so many joyful faces, so many kids dressed in beautiful, colorful clothes for Lunar New Year. One of these kids was a student who took my creative writing class last year. I can’t believe I bumped into her in such a giant school! She called me from down the hall, then came and hugged me. She was with her mom, who insisted that we take a photo together.

Afterward, I delivered my presentation and workshop to some pretty enthusiastic fans of Kendra Kandlestar. One girl came with her hair in Kendra’s seven braids and a boy came as Professor Bumblebean (and he talked like him throughout our workshop session, too!).

meadowridge2019_kendrahair.jpg

It was pretty overwhelming to receive their outpouring of love for Kendra. Their joy as we workshopped together was palpable. We wrote “visual stories” and were having so much fun that I lost track of the time—and I guess they did, too, because we went right through recess (there’s no bells at the school).

meadowridge2019_presenting.jpg

Then, as I was packing up all my dragon eggs and other magical items I had brought to inspire the crew, I noticed a book on display on the library bookshelf. It was a book written a few years ago by another student under my mentorship. It was so cool to see it so prominently featured there, and I thought how it must inspire all these other kids who come to visit the library.

meadowridge2019_briansbook_mythofgryph.jpg

As I drove home, I contemplated, not for the first time, what it means to be a children’s author, and how strange it is to release something into the world that you then completely lose control of. These kids have a relationship with Kendra Kandlestar that transcends ALL THE THINGS. They could care less how many other kids have read it, how many copies it has sold, or if it was written a kajillion years ago.

I don’t know if these kids—or any kids—will love my new characters of Ozzie, and Tug, and Fidget in the way that these kids love Kendra, Oki, and Captain Jinx. But there will probably be a few. And that is humbling.