by Rita Goldner
Social media marketers in general, and specifically book marketers, are often looking for obscure holidays they can commemorate with a tie-in to a current work. One you may have overlooked this past month was the anniversary of English archaeologist Howard Carter entering the sealed tomb of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen on February 16, 1923. After having searched for five years, Carter had found the secret entrance and the four tomb rooms the previous November. He was carefully cataloging the contents and didn’t get to the final room, with the solid gold coffin and the mummified Tut, until February 16. My tribute to this august occasion is this coloring page from my soon-to-be-released book, Making Marks on the World.
A presenter I heard at a recent writers’ seminar quoted Sir Laurence Olivier advising then-newbie Anthony Hopkins. Olivier had opined that when Hopkins delivered his one line, even though seemingly insignificant, the whole audience’s attention would be on him, for that one second. We seminar attendees inferred that when we are thrust into that same fleeting spotlight by our readers, we had better have something to say, and say it well.
Since I’ve been writing, I’ve been daunted by this momentary center-stage position afforded by readers. As my readers are children, I consider my onus even heavier, but for the same reason, I want to keep it fun. In every book so far, I include “Fun Facts” to supplement the story. Initially I had them mixed in with the story, but my editor wisely suggested I put them in separate boxes, labeled as such. This way, very young kids can ignore them. Older kids can go back and read them later, so the story flow isn’t interrupted. Like all the others in the book, my King Tut page has “Fun Facts” on the facing page, so as not to ruin the picture.
Even in my own reading, I enjoy “Fun Facts.” I’m presently reading the Longmire series by Craig Johnson, since I got hooked by the Netflix series based on the books. He includes nuggets of information sometimes having nothing to do with the plot. For example, on one occasion, the protagonist was riding past the Teapot Dome rock formation. The author inserted a short paragraph about the Teapot Dome Scandal, involving President Harding’s administration, like it was drifting through the protagonist’s mind as he rode past. Every how-to book I’ve read or class I’ve taken about writing cautions writers not to include even one word that doesn’t move the plot forward. This writer breaks the rule, not to the extent of being boring or distracting, and in my opinion, it’s successful.
I continue to break the rule, too, hoping I’ll be equally successful throwing a bit of education in with the adventure.
You can print out a full-sized copy of the King Tut’s Tomb coloring page and new ones each month by signing up for my kids’ newsletter at http://shoutout.wix.com/so/9LYxOHam
Thanks for reading. Your comments are welcome and invited.
Rita Goldner is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series. For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit OrangutanDay.com. Or by the Kindle version here. See her new work at Anthill Books. To view additional illustrations and other books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook.