Late to the Party

18 02 2015

Teeny Tiny WomanLife has been moving quickly since the beginning of 2015. Lots of great news to share, including finishing final revisions on the picture book app, THE TEENY TINY WOMAN (pic on left), I’m illustrating for ustyme, coming out in March 2015, and completing the last of the three YA nonfiction books, ANCIENT EGYPT, due out later this year. It will be part of the UXL World Eras series, along with the other two, IMPERIAL CHINA and WEST AFRICAN KINGDOMS, which are in the edits/copy edit stage.

I’m also excited to announce that I signed with agent Mary Sue Seymour of the Seymour Agency for my adult Amish novel, CHANGE OF HEART.

Seymour Agency

bom-cover-love-profanityIn other news, I received hardcover copies of LOVE & PROFANITY, coming out from Capstone in March. I’m excited to have a story in this anthology, along with this year’s Newbery winner, Kwame Alexander.

And the cover for Book 2 in the WANTED series also arrived. ARCs will follow later this month. Her Cold Revenge 9781630790073 webFor those of you who are eager to read the next installment of Grace’s story begun in Grace and the Guiltless, the saga continues in HER COLD REVENGE, coming out in August 2015. If you can’t wait that long to see what happens, I’ll be posting chapters on Wattpad, starting next week and leading up to the release date.

I also spent time at Kindling Words East, an awesome time of bonding with other authors, illustrators, and editors, followed by a writing retreat. As a follow-up to Kindling Words, I may have some thrilling news to announce later in the spring. And, lest you think my whole life revolves around books and book-related projects, I’m off to San Diego now for a week of sun and fun.

But the truth of it is… My life does revolve around books for the most part, and I love it.

This month is always a favorite for me because the Brown Bookshelf puts out an awesome list of authors. I usually try to give them a shout-out at the beginning of February (hence, the blog title). If you haven’t already been doing so, why not play catch-up and read the fabulous authors they have listed? It’s exciting to see so many friends’ names (and favorite authors) on the list. So while you’re snowed in, here’s a wonderful selection to choose from. 28dayslogoThe only thing that disappoints me is that this list only comes out once a year. Why confine celebrating all these excellent books to one month? Keep reading them all year long. And if these 28 aren’t enough, check out the lists from previous years. Enjoy!

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MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD

4 03 2013

tameka on benchI’m thrilled to be the first stop on an exciting blog tour. Today we’re welcoming Tameka Fryer Brown, picture book writer extraordinaire, who is launching her most recent release, MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD. With a title like that, you just know it’s going to be a great read.Official MOOD cover (552x640)

In fact, I was so struck by the title that it was the first thing I asked about when I interviewed Tameka:

I adore your title, Tameka, and the way you play with words. I’d love it if you could talk about how you come up with your creative ideas and then pull them together in such a lyrical way.

Thanks, Laurie. It is a pretty cool title—but I can’t take sole credit for it. My agent, my editor, the art director, sales and marketing…all of us were involved. It was a major team effort.

I suppose my ideas come to me much the same as most writers’ do: an interesting turn of phrase, human behavior, song lyrics, memories, even dreams—these are all things that have influenced stories I’ve crafted. The lyrical part, I suppose that’s just a characteristic of my personal voice as an author. Even when I’m not attempting to write in rhyme, my stories tend to emerge in some poetic fashion. For example, MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD (Viking Children’s) came out as free verse—and when I say “came out,” I mean that literally.

One day I was being self-reflective, acknowledging that my behavior that day was due to my being “in a mood.” Immediately it struck me that this would make a great title or first line of a picture book (first lines and titles are what usually come to me initially). Once I sat down to write the story, the words just started flowing.

Here’s a sneak peek at the book trailer:

Can you tell us a bit more about your other books–published and in process?

AROUND OUR WAY ON NEIGHBORS’ DAY (Abrams, illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb) is my debut title. I describe it as a love story between a young girl and her close-knit, multicultural neighborhood. MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD (Viking Children’s) is my second picture book. It’s illustrated by Shane W. Evans, winner of last year’s Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and I am extremely excited about it! I fell in love with the sketches when I first saw them, and the finished artwork does not disappoint. The pictures are so colorful and lively—I believe kids are going to adore them as much as I do!

I am working on another picture book project, but I’m keeping the details a secret for now.

Can’t wait to see that secret project go public. And how lucky you are to have two talented illustrators for your books. I loved the art in Shane W. Evans’s award winning title, Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, which is quite different from his work on your book. But both of these books have amazing illustrations. And Charlotte Riley-Webb has a wonderful vibrant style in your book as well as in her many other titles, including Sweet Potato Pie and Our Children Can Soar.

***

Everyone always enjoys hearing authors’ success stories. Can you tell us yours?

I decided to pursue children’s book writing after being a stay-at-home mother for about eight years. I felt it was time for me to get back to some type of cerebral pursuit and, having read tons of wonderful and not so wonderful picture books during that time, I was sure I could write some pretty good ones myself. Of course, I had to learn what “pretty good” was and was not, but I do believe my hard work and persistence are finally paying off.

And I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy seeing pictures of an author as a child. Tameka was kind enough to supply a picture of her as a youngster and as a fifth grader. I’m betting she was a talented writer and storyteller even then.

For more about Tameka Fryer Brown you can visit her website or visit her Facebook page. And be sure to follow her whirlwind blog tour this month.

tameka kid closeup 5th grade





Linoleum Printing and Coretta Scott King Award

20 02 2013

Ellen's Broom coverBecause this is Black History Month, I thought I’d highlight one of my favorites from the 2013 Coretta Scott King Awards. Ellen’s Broom, with art by Daniel Minter. I did mention it earlier in the month, but this time I wanted to explore the art a bit more closely.

Minter’s linoleum prints are painted with watercolor. After experimenting with lino prints this summer (see Jungle of the Night, 5th picture down), I now appreciate how difficult this medium is to work with. Artists who choose it know that they have a long process ahead of them.

First is warming and carving out the linoleum block. I found this the most difficult step, as you have to cut away whatever you don’t want to be printed. It’s the opposite of painting, because you’re taking away rather than adding. Getting delicate detail on the block without cutting away too much or leaving too much behind is a real art.

Once that’s complete, the block must be inked and prints pulled. Once the prints dry, the painting begins. If you make a mistake at that point, it means starting over. (And how do I know this? Don’t ask.)

Minter’s details are amazing, and deserving of the award.* But I also want to mention the great story by Kelly Starling Lyons. I’ve highlighted Kelly’s writing on my blog before, so if you’re interested in finding out more about her, you can read about her One Million Men and Me, which tells about her books and her childhood.

*Interesting fact: Did you know that only one book illustrated with linoleum prints ever won the Caldecott?





Celebrating Black History Month

29 01 2013

The Brown Bookshelf was founded  to raise awareness of wonderful and exciting African American voices in children’s literature. Since 2008, one of their initiatives has been 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best picture books, middle grade and young adult novels written and illustrated by African Americans.

28dayslogoThe 2013 list has been selected and these authors and illustrators will be featured during February:

Feb. 1 – Malaika Rose Stanley (MG)

Feb. 2 – Christian Robinson– (Illustrator)

Feb. 3 – Alaya Dawn Johnson – (YA)

Feb. 4 – Glenda Armand – (PB)

Feb. 5 – Glennette Tilley Turner – (MG)

Feb. 6 – Traci L. Jones – (YA)

Feb. 7 – Brynne Barnes – (PB)

Feb. 8 – Brian F. Walker – (YA)

Feb. 9 – Veronica Chambers – (MG)

Feb. 10 – B.A. Binns (YA)

Feb. 11 – Donna Washington – (PB)

Feb. 12 – Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams – (MG)

Feb. 13 – Octavia Butler – (YA )

Feb. 14 – Ann Tanksley – (Illustrator)

Feb. 15 – Lyah Beth LeFlore – (YA)

Feb. 16 – Tololwa M. Mollel – (PB)

Feb. 17 – Arna Bontemps – (MG)

Feb. 18 – Jasmine Richards – (MG)

Feb. 19 – James Ransome – (PB)

Feb. 20 – Ashley Bryan – (Illustrator)

Feb. 21 – Nalo Hopkinson – (YA)

Feb. 22- Daniel Minter – (Illustrator)

Feb. 23 – Angela Shelf Medearis – (PB)

Feb. 24 – Linda Tarrant-Reid – (MG)

Feb. 25 – Willie Perdomo – (PB)

Feb. 26 – Chudney Ross – (MG)

Feb. 27 – Becky Birtha – (PB)

Feb. 28 – Jaime Reed – (YA)

For more information about the authors and their latest creations, check out 28 Days Later every day this month.

You can read more about the founders of The Brown Bookshelf here.





Celebrate Black History Month

8 02 2012

Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons and Daniel Minter It’s always so exciting to see fellow SCBWI Carolinas members get recognition for their work. I interviewed Kelly Starling Lyons last year for her One Million Men and Me book tour.

Now she’s back with a picture book that just made USA today’s list of four picture books for Black History Month.

The book is illustrated by the wonderful Daniel Minter.

Here’s a blurb from Kelly’s website:

Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. But after it’s announced in church that the marriages of former slaves will be registered, she hears more about why it matters so much. For her mama and papa, who could be sold away at a master’s whim and whose union had no legal protection, jumping the broom was a way to show their commitment to being husband and wife. Now, as the whole family travels to the courthouse dressed in their best, Ellen carries the broom with them. With love, ingenuity and pride, she finds a way to celebrate her parents’ right to be legally married and remember their past.

And here’s the awesome book trailer with more art from Daniel Minter: