Brain-Stretchingby Rita Goldner
When I retired a few years ago from a career of long hours and hard work, I planned to just relax and have fun. As it turned out, the fun part didn’t involve much relaxation. I’m the type who’s driven to expand my world, and I continue to wedge new experiences and information into my brain. I jumped enthusiastically into writing, illustrating, and marketing children’s picture books.
My background is elementary school education, so even though I love the whimsy and fun in a picture book, I wanted to write/illustrate work that would teach something of substance to kids. Since I have read hundreds of picture books to my own children and students, I was quite familiar with the good and the bad of writing for children. I’ve seen untrained authors, especially celebrities, write for children because they mistakenly think that the audience is too young to discern quality.
Determined to do this the right way, I pored over books, blogs, and tutorials, and took numerous workshops and classes on writing and illustrating for children. I learned a few things that are not in the bailiwick of authors who write for older readers:
- Action in the pictures has to move from left to right, to train eyes for reading.
- If the pictures show something, it shouldn’t be repeated in the words.
- If there’s a story (not alphabet books or just colors or shapes) it has to have a crisis/conflict, and the solution has to come from the protagonist, not an adult figure.
I also learned tips for all authors:
- Write frugally; find the perfect word to take the place of several.
- Have a story arc.
- Write about what you know.
I’m focusing on that last tip right now. My work-in-progress picture book, ORANGUTAN: A day in the Rainforest Canopy, required a lot of research about orangutans and their habitat in Borneo. I am doing even more brain-stretching by absorbing information about marketing from the Phoenix Publishing and Book Marketing Meetup, and information about printing and distribution from my publisher, Dancing Dakini Press.
Please “like” my business Facebook page, Rita Goldner Illustrations and Books, to see my progress and leave comments.
Rita Goldner is the author of the children’s eBooks Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, both titles in Jackson’s Adventure Series. Rita’s forthcoming book, Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy, will be released in print in May 2015. To view additional illustrations and other books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Follow Rita on Facebook. Contact Rita here.