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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Author Henry Herz reads ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN

With many of us stuck at home with young kids, my publisher Familius asked me to make a video of my Alice in Wonderland prequel picture book, ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN.

In this imaginative prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice finds herself at a gray, dreary boarding school that is decidedly up the rabbit hole. From the relentless clocks to the beastly students, Alice’s world is void of color and cheer–until Alice finds a secret garden and begins tending its wilting inhabitants. When Alice’s love touches an ordinary caterpillar, a lory bird, and a white rabbit, magical things will happen–and that, as you know, is just the beginning of the story. Filled with literary allusions and clever nods to its classic roots, Alice’s Magic Garden is a delightful prequel that beckons an escape to the whimsy of Wonderland.

Click on the image below to watch the video. You can order signed copies through the BOOKS page on this website or your local independent bookstore. Enjoy!

 


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Author Henry Herz reads GOOD EGG & BAD APPLE

With many of us stuck at home with young kids, Schiffer Publishing asked me to make a video of my picture book about bullying inside the refrigerator, GOOD EGG & BAD APPLE.

Not all the foods in the refrigerator get along like peas in a pod. The vegetables are steamed, and Bad Apple and Second Banana are the problem. Good Egg suggests his friends try different responses to these two bullies. They try hiding, then standing their ground. At first, Good Egg’s tactics don’t bear fruit. Only by using his noodle does Good Egg avoid getting scrambled and save his friends’ bacon. In this story told on two levels, young readers will be entertained by the hijinks of the anthropomorphic food characters and will appreciate the allegory about not letting one bad apple spoil the bunch. Adult readers are served plenty of food for thought with hilarious gastronomical idioms and puns. An author’s note explaining all the wordplay adds English language educational opportunities.

Click on the image below to watch the video. You can order signed copies through the BOOKS page on this website or your local independent bookstore. Enjoy!

Good Egg and Bad Apple


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How to Write a Query Letter

You’re a writer the moment you write. But if you want to be a published author, one route is to obtain representation. That means researching which literary agent(s) seem like a good fit for your writing and sending them query letters. Literary agents are extremely helpful to a writing career because they can submit to publishers that are closed to unsolicited submissions, negotiate better contracts on your behalf, and some provide editorial guidance. The following post by Mary Kole can be read in full at Writer’s Digest.


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Join the 2019 Picture Book Critique Fest!

Want to participate in Picture Book Critique Fest 2019? Do you write or illustrate picture books? This MASSIVE one-time picture book critique giveaway celebration is for you! They have 35 picture book critiques to giveaway!

The vision for this event is to celebrate the critique and revision process and to help build the KidLit community. It is hoped that actual, living, breathing books will be birthed out of this process.

The festival is happening October 3rd-25th. The deadline to enter the raffle will be October 25th 9AM CST. 35 winners will be randomly selected and then “paired with their person” based on information provided on the registration form. Winners will be announced the evening of October 25th on Twitter, Facebook, and on a Picture Book Spotlight blog post.

Want more info on how it all came together and why it’s happening? Go to PBSpotlight.com!

Here are the industry professionals who’ll be providing the critiques:

 


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Interview with picture book author Heather Macht

Heather Macht is the author of THE ANT FARM ESCAPE! (Pelican, 2019), REX THE…WE-DON’T-KNOW (Pelican, 2019) and YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR (Pelican, 2015). Macht has a degree in Fine Arts, is an active member of the SCBWI, and is the Assistant Administrator, the Newsletter Coordinator, and a volunteer judge for Rate Your Story. She loves spending her Saturday’s in bookstores or in libraries with friends. Macht’s happily married and currently resides in Florida next door to a quiet beach. When she’s not writing, Macht enjoys painting, reading poetry, and watching scary movies with her husband and children.

For what age audience do you write?

Thanks so much for having me! I mainly write picture books for children, ages 3-8. Two of my picture books, YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR and THE ANT FARM ESCAPE! are also STEM book with fun science facts woven in. The best part about that is I’ve even had some adults come up to me and tell me how they learned something new from reading my books. Mission accomplished!

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book, THE ANT FARM ESCAPE!, follows a group of worker ants who, unbeknownst to them at first, are trapped inside a young girl’s ant farm. After digging tunnels and setting up a home, these tough ants soon devise a new plan to break free and head outdoors! Also, a lot of people don’t know that worker ants (the ants that do all the tough work, food-finding, and heavy lifting in an ant colony) are ALL female! The Ant Farm Escape! is filled with STEM facts about ants and shines a positive light on that fact, showing young readers just how tough girl power truly is.

Henry: Do the male ants just hang out and eat snacks?

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope readers have a lot of fun reading it – that’s always the most important thing to me, and what I always take to mind first, when writing a new book. The book has a lot of humor and fun scenes throughout, so it should bring giggles and smiles to the faces of its readers! Also, I hope everyone reading learns a lot more about this amazing matriarchal species – I’ve learned a lot myself when researching about ants and writing this book.

Henry: I’m filled with ANTicipation!

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

For my STEM books, it’s most challenging finding a completely original and clever way to “trick” my readers into having fun. I first want to make sure I’m telling an interesting story that would stand alone without STEM facts. Once I have that down, then I start adding the STEM facts that tie in with the story. While it’s definitely challenging making sure everything is original and matches up appropriately, it’s definitely rewarding.

Henry: YES! Fiction is the melted cheese to nonfiction’s broccoli.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

Not giving up. I’ve had tons of rejections (hundreds) that span across the course of 18 years! It takes a lot to dust yourself off an keep going after being told “NO” that many times. Here’s something to keep in mind: if you get a rejection it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, it doesn’t mean your idea is lousy, a lot of times it just means you may not have found the right agent, publisher, or market for your story. Keep trying!

Henry: Word.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I will never forget this moment: I was at an event, selling books, and a young girl stood in line waiting patiently for me to get done talking with the adult in front of her. When he finished and left, I started talking to the young girl. To my surprise she told me she already had my book, YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR – it was her favorite, in fact! She said she went to my book launch party, wanted to tell me how much she loves my book, and how she wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up.

Feedback like that means the world to me. I may not be on the “bestsellers” list, but that’s just as good in my book!

Henry: Exactly. It’s not like we’re doing it for fame and fortune.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I wish I would have known about critique groups when first starting out. If you’re an aspiring author, and don’t have a critique group, GET ONE! I’m currently a part of two amazing critique groups, and they are so beneficial in helping me get my manuscripts in perfect shape before submitting.

Henry: Absolutely

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Yes, I live in poems! One of my favorite quotes is the ENTIRE poem: Listen to the MUSTN’TS by Shel Silverstein:

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be

And, since I’m an art major, I’ll quote my favorite artist while I’m at it:

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work?

Does shoosh-ing my kids and husband count? 😉

Henry: The judges rule yes, yes it does.

In all seriousness, before I start a new book I like to spend an hour or so reading books. They could be my favorite picture books or new ones in the bookstore, but I look for inspiration first in the existing…then new inspiration usually flows.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

My superpower would be to NOT be afraid of dangerous sea creatures. Seriously, I love the idea of swimming in the ocean…but I loathe the idea of being surrounded by creatures that could bite me. So, yeah, swimming in the ocean is sadly a NO from me.

Henry: I can’t imagine why.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I would love to have Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, and Shel Silverstein over for dinner. Could you imagine the poetry they’d recite?

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

I’d have to say Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things. How amazing would it be to spend a night causing a ruckus with them?

Henry: Best. Answer. Ever.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I really enjoy cooking super-spicy pad thai, baking rum cakes, watching scary movies with my husband and kids, and looking for seashells on the beach.

Henry: Do you like drinking pina coladas and getting caught in the rain?

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Ha, I’d love it to read: “Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me.” I mean, of course I’d want an Emily Dickinson poem on my tombstone!

Where can readers find your work?

My books are available in brick and mortar stores, libraries, on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, and on my website at http://www.heathermacht.com. Thanks so much for having me!

Henry: Thanks for visiting with us, Heather.


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Interview with children’s author Marsha Diane Arnold

Called a “born storyteller” by the media, Marsha Diane Arnold’s picture books have sold over one million copies and been called, “whimsical,” “inspiring,” and “uplifting.” Her books have garnered such honors as Best First Book by a New Author, Smithsonian Notable, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and state Children’s Choice awards. Recent books include GALÁPAGOS GIRL, MAY I COME IN? and LOST. FOUND, a Junior Library Guild selection illustrated by Caldecott medalist Matthew Cordell, which received three starred reviews. Marsha was born and raised in Kansas, lived most of her life in Sonoma County, California, and now lives with her husband in Alva, Florida, near her family.

For what age audience do you write?

The best stories, those that hold enduring truths, are really for all ages, so  

I like to say I write for all ages. (My publishers usually note my books are for ages 4 to 8.) Before moving to picture books, I wrote an award-winning, syndicated column entitled homegrown treasures. My column was read by grandparents, parents, teens, and toddlers, all sitting together, enjoying “story.”

Mostly, I write picture books. I also write board books, like BABY ANIMALS TAKE A NAP and BABY ANIMALS TAKE A BATH, and am working (from time to time) on a chapter book and middle-grade novel.

Henry: I’m in the same boat. I’ve published only picture books, but am trying my hand at middle-grade.

Tell us about your latest book.

GALÁPAGOS GIRL began as a tiny seed in 2007, when I visited the Galápagos Islands. My naturalist guide was Valentina Cruz, whose family were some of the first inhabitants of the remote island of Floreana in the Galápagos.

Through email and video chats, Valentina shared her adventures growing up on Floreana with her parents and eleven brothers and sisters – stories of living with wild nature, of swimming with sea lions, of finches flying into their house to sample her mother’s homemade jam. Her idyllic life led her to become a biologist and naturalist guide so she could share with the world her knowledge and love of the islands and their unique flora and fauna. She’s the inspiration for my fictional character Valentina in the book.

I’m thankful to have Lee & Low as my publisher and Angela Dominguez as my talented illustrator. GALÁPAGOS GIRL is bilingual with an author note and back matter that includes information on each of the animals mentioned in the book.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

In general, my wish for my readers is that my books give them some whimsy and fun, a lot of enjoyment and entertainment, heaps of inspiration, and something to ponder.

I hope when my readers read GALÁPAGOS GIRL, they will feel the joy of being in nature. From a unique perspective, they will glimpse a way of life different from their own. I hope they’ll close the book with a desire to help keep all wildlife safe.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Those rejections! They always make me question my value as a writer, but eventually, “I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.”

Henry: Yes, the two most valuable author attributes (after writing ability) are being thick-skinned and indefatigable.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

I can do it. Being an introvert and filled with self-doubt most of my life, that’s a powerful lesson. Each of us can do it!

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Author visits! What wonderful times I’ve had visiting schools from California to Puerto Rico, from Germany to Kenya. In Alabama, I had to run three miles at a school where they’ve been celebrating THE PUMPKIN RUNNER with a day of races and games for six years! At one Kansas school, they built a tornado on the school’s roof to celebrate THE BRAVEST OF US ALL. One librarian called my visit a “Big Vivid” for the school community, an inspiring memory that will stay with them forever. In truth, my visits to schools have always been “Big Vivids” for me.

Henry: Run three miles!? Now, that’s a commitment to a school visit!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Think of rewriting as polishing a stone until it’s smooth and bright and beautiful.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I have two that come back to me again and again over the years.

You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.” Taisu Deshimaru

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” Henry Beston

Henry: Lovely

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work?

No strange rituals here. Maybe a walk in nature, which, sadly, for many today, may seem like a strange ritual.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

The power to let everyone see that all humans, all creatures, and all plants are part of a precious web of wonder. Then maybe we’d respect and care for one another as we should.

Henry: I’m reminded of the Tree of Souls in the Avatar movie.

That’s my serious answer. My not-so-serious answer is to be a Teleporter! Is that a word? What fun to be able to transport instantly to any place on this magnificent planet. As inhabitants of Earth, I think it’s our responsibility to experience as much of it as possible. My air miles aren’t stretching far enough, so to be able to instantly move from place to place would come in handy.

Henry: Plus, it would be easier to conduct school visits!

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I must choose naturalist and writer Henry Beston. Afterall, he’s responsible for one of my favorite quotes.

Charles Dickens – because he’s the master of creating fascinating characters and he still influences the way we celebrate Christmas, what with “A Christmas Carol” and all.

J.R.R. Tolkien – for his brilliance.

Wait! That’s not right. I need some women at our salon.

Henry: You had me at Tolkien

Let’s include Emily Dickinson. She won’t take up much space. “I’m Nobody!” she wrote, “how dreary to be Somebody.” I have always loved her poetry.

To round things out, let’s invite two more. Eudora Welty, Pulitzer Prize winner and lovely Southern lady. Her ON WRITING is so readable, so excellent.

Sheila Turnage, another writer who is a master at creating characters, like her Miss Moses LoBeau, would be my living author. I want to learn from Sheila how to write great middle-grade novels.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Dragons, for certain. The Galápagos marine iguanas on the Galápagos reminded me a bit of dragons.

Henry: “My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, THE HOBBIT

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Travel! When I’m traveling, I love to hike, scuba dive, snorkel, and see new sites and sights. I also love being home, surrounded by my family, exploring the rural roads in our golf cart, swimming, and investigating the natural world.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

A Kansas farm girl, protector of nature, lover of family, whose writing was enjoyed by all ages.

Where can readers find your work?

Readers can find my books in libraries, bookstores, and online.

They can find me at www.marshadianearnold.com and www.earthsvoices.wordpress.com and at my course at Children’s Book Academy (http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/writing-character-driven-stories.html )

Thank you, Henry, for inviting me to your website! I had fun answering your questions.

Henry: You’re welcome. Thanks for spending time with us.