I'm not new to talking, sharing ideas, or stating my opinion, especially stating my opinion! After all, I taught elementary school for 30 years! However, my audience has typically been smaller,just family, the classroom, or just talking to myself!

My blog has two goals: be an outlet for sharing thoughts on writing children's books and the path to publication (got my fingers crossed that I'll get there) and a place to chronicle my journey of losing my sight. Sometimes I imagine these two paths will overlap .

Monday, November 19, 2012

                  The Next Big Thing (part deux)

Author, Jo Kittinger
     I am delighted to share my space with a wonderful children's author, Jo Kittinger, who also happens to be the Co-Regional Advisor of the Southern Breeze Region of  SCBWI. 
Jo has written some FABULOUS picture books (see them listed below) and her "Next Big Thing" sounds amazing. Let me turn this over to Jo and her 10 question answers.

What is your working title of your book? 
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was brainstorming with Tony Barash about what subject should be a follow up story to A BREATH OF HOPE, dealing with some legally related topic. We decided to go with a Post Traumatic Strees Syndrome storyline, offering help for those dealing with war-related stress. Tony is the impetus behind the series, which has been picked up by the American Bar Association.
What genre does your book fall under?  
Good question! It's a fiction picture book, but with a definite intent to educate. A page of back matter will offer information for those dealing with PTSD.
*** Wow Jo! I really respect your choice of tackling PTSD for children. There are many children of returning service men and women, I imagine, that are living with these issues in their families. How wonderful to provide them with a resource. Gail
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
I'm afraid I don't know any male child Latino actors to play my main character. For the friend's uncle who has PTSD, perhaps Eion Bailey.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  
Cristian helps his friend, Brie, get help for her uncle who is suffering from PTSD.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
It will be published by the American Bar Association.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  
One day . . .  after weeks of thinking about it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
I wish I could think of something other than my own book, A BREATH OF HOPE. I'm just not aware of other fictional picture books that are explicit in their purpose of teaching about a topic. I enjoy writing both fiction and nonfiction, and this blend of both satisfies both those pleasures.
*** Bravo for filling a need in children's literature. It's important tfor kids to see themselves in the stories they read. Gail
Who or what inspired you to write this book?  
Reading about the vast numbers of our servicemen and women who are struggling with PTSD was a major influence -- then, knowing one soldier and the issues he faced after returning from Afganistan, along with other individuals that deal with other mental illnesses. Individuals who return from war with physical injuries get medals, while those who live with mental injuries are often misunderstood and underserved.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 
 There are service dogs who are trained to help servicemen and women with PTSD. The dogs help the soldiers stay connected with "reality". That's pretty cool!
*** Doesn't it amaze you how many types of jobs dogs can do to help humans? Gail

Thanks for the opportunity to participate, Gail!!
Thank you, Jo. I can hardly wait to get a copy of this book!
And check over at Cathy Hall's blog to read her "Next Big Thing" post.  -

Books Jo Kittinger has authored:

Monday, November 12, 2012

     The Next Big Thing

  I'm excited a writing friend, Debra Goldstein, author of Maze In Blue, has   invited me to participate in a blog tag. For those of you looking puzzled, a blog tag   is sort of like the childhood game of tag, but you're picking someone in cyberspace rather than the playground. Each person tagged answers 10 questions about one of her WIPs (works in progress). I say 'her' because this is to promote female writers!

     Anyway, the answers will give you a sneak peek into what I hope will be a future published children's book. Here goes:

1)  What is the working title of your book?
      So far, I'm calling it, The Anvil Is My Instrument, which is a quote from a speech given by the subject of the book.

2)Where did the idea come from for the book?
       I learned about Philip Simmons, a master blacksmith, during a visit to Charleston, S.C.
3)What genre does your book fall under?
     It is a nonfiction picture book.
4)Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
     Yikes, this is tough since nonfiction picture books are rarely Hollywood material. But, since I'm pretending, I'll dream big....Denzel Washington would be awesome.
5)What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
     The Anvil Is My Instrument tells the story of a humble man, blacksmith Philip Simmons, who went from simple beginnings to world wide recognition for the craftsmanship of his ironworks, and he became one of the the first individuals in America to receive the National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts. With this award, the recipient is viewed as "a national treasure."

6)Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
     I hope to find an agent and publisher with a passion for the story that matches mine. However, I wouldn't rule out self-publishing. I'm open to options. Oh yeah, there's also that movie we were talking about earlier!
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
      I know this will sound crazy, but it took me about a year. Since Mr. Simmons still has living relatives and friends with whom I spoke, they wanted to see the manuscript. That brought about changes. I had two professional critiques done on the manuscript, bringing more revisions.  I think I'm on draft number 7 now. I feel good about this version, and 7 is my lucky number!
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
      When I read It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate, illustrations by Greg Christie, I felt in my heart that this was the type of book I wanted my Philip Simmons'  story to aspire to be. It's heartfelt and shows the character of the man it portrays. 
I want to do that too.

9)Who or what inspired you to write this book?
     I took a bus tour in Charleston that showcased the African-American history of the city. Something about Mr. Simmons touched me. So I went to the Charleston Preservation Society and purchased a book about him. That night on PBS, there was a program on Craftsmen in America. Of course, I turned the program on just as they began to speak about and with Philip Simmons. I knew it was a sign that I needed to write his story.
10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 
Tulip Gate by Philip Simmons
        I believe that Philip Simmons' character, belief system, and perseverance  make him a wonderful role model for all children, but especially African-American children. His beginnings weren't easy- raised by grandparents, working at an early age- but using both brain and brawn- and maintaining a positive outlook on life, despite its tragedies- he lived a long, productive, and prosperous life. His desire always to help others, especially children, is the legacy he left in Charleston. That and the hundreds of gates, fences, window grills, and a pavilion in the airport!          

Well, there you have it; a peek into my writing world. You'll have to excuse me now; I need to go back to my manuscript. Lucky 7, I can feel it.

I asked several writer friends if they wanted to continue this blog tag. One said she didn't have a "next big thing" right now and the others must be busy writing because I haven't heard from them yet! I'll go ahead and post this then add an addendum when I hear from them! 

Addendum for week of Monday, Nov 19th:
Watch for a posting here by children's author, Jo Kittinger and Cathy C. Hall at this link