Ever Optimistic

I participated in another Twitter Pitch party. I haven’t received and “hearts” on my pitch.

THE LITTLE PRINCESS + THE SECRET GARDEN

An independent girl takes a job at a whimsical greenhouse in hopes of a beautiful reward. She will have to rely on her determination and pluck to get through the mud, worms, and other messy challenges. #PitMad #PB

The road to publishing is long for most. I have a degree in literature, and I quit a career in technical editing and writing to stay at home with my children. That is when I started this blog.

I’ve been writing intensely for almost 10 years. To some that’s a lot, to others just a warm up to the publishing marathon. For me it’s joy and frustration, maddening and elation.

The bottom line is that I believe this is my path. I am suppose to write. Whatever that means.

I may not receive any likes on my pitch, but I did pitch. I had a screaming seven-month-old and a two-year-old vying for my phone and attention, but I pitched! I’m proud of that.

-Rachel

Advertisements

Essay or Children’s Book?

Every children’s book is a short story, but not every short story is a children’s book.

I’ve been writing children’s literature for about a year, and I still have so much to learn. Where can I improve most? Stop over thinking, and over complicating the story.

Even though my goal is to reach children, I’m still writing for adults. My strongest writing is short non-fiction. Therefore, my children book manuscripts are based on my own childhood. That’s my comfort zone.

The problem though, is that I’m reflecting on these experiences with the eyes of an adult – and that is how they are written.

Children understand big concepts, and depending on the age, they are starting to grasp big emotions. However, when I start focusing on the moral, and lessons-learned from my experiences, the fun and adventure can fade out of focus.

I’ve edited a lot of children’s book manuscripts that are “in-work” and I’ve noticed this trend. We need to write to keep a child’s attention and it’s hard, we want to put our big adult ideas all over it. Kids are smart, they have keen ears, and when we start hammering morals and lessons into stories all they hear is, “preach, preach, preach” and let’s be honest, nobody wants to hear that (especially a seven-year-old). Yet children’s book authors are quick to make that mistake.

So, if you’re wondering where my focus is when I’m editing its to take the “preach” out of my text. Carefully weaving the moral or lesson into the story.

I typically let my writing lead and I follow. Sometimes I’m disappointed when I set out to write a children’s book and end up with a personal essay, but I firmly believe that we write how and when we need to write. Through writing we dig into our sub-conscious and unravel a truth we’ve been searching inward to find.

If we end with a different genre than we intended, well then, so be it.

-Rachel McKee

Why I Won’t Illustrate My Picture Books

In my last post I shared a new project that I will be working on. I decided to take a break from novel-writing and write a few picture books that have been churning in the back of my brain.

I’ve since written two picture book manuscripts. A few people have asked if I will be illustrating the books myself.

That’s a solid nope!

Here’s why:

cat-drawing

Yep, that was illustrated by yours truly. If I didn’t write “Meow!” you would probably be confused as to whether this is a mouse, bear, rabbit, possibly a bat, or a cat.

Have a lovely day folks, and rest easy knowing that the future generation will not be subjected to my crazy illustrations.

-Rachel McKee

Illuminated Literation Is On Instagram

After seven years of being with a photographer, I’m finally learning photography. I’ve been hesitant because my husbands camera is so much more complex than a point and shoot, not to mention the post production process and using Lightroom (an editing program). I don’t think I give enough kudos to Miles and the other photographers that I follow. (You guys rock!)

My Illuminated Literation Instagram account is  what the hip kids call a #bookstagram account. All of my pictures so far are focused on books. If you would like to learn more about #bookstagram visit the blog Paper Fury and read How To Fabulously Get Started on #Bookstagram.

If you would like to follow me, and watch me hone my photography skills, my Instagram account is called Illuminted_Literation. (If you click the hyperlink it will take you to the account.)

If you do follow, and you also have a public account for your blog or any other interest, please comment on one of my pictures and let me know so I can follow you back.

I (hesitantly) would like share a few of my photos that I have posted thus far. No laughing. I realize you are used to seeing Miles’ pictures on Illuminated Literation and in full disclosure he took the cover image for this post. (I’m not that good with a selfie stick. Although, I guess a real photographer would use a tripod.)

Aesop's Fables

Grimm Maurice Sendak

Grimm Maurice Sendak

When I began my #bookstagram account I thought it would be filled with pictures from my YA collection, but so far most of my photographs are illustrated children’s books. I use the term “children’s” books very generically here because Mama doesn’t share these books with Little Destructo.

Again, if you would like to follow Illuminated Literation the #bookstagram account is Illuminated_Literation.

Cheers to new hobbies.

Rachel McKee

Top 10 Titles for Toddlers (Chosen By My Toddler)

Have you ever been shopping for a baby shower or a first birthday and thought to yourself, I want to buy the little one a book, but which one? Fortunately there are thousands of baby books out there, but my son will tell you, not all children’s books are created equal. Children are fickle, but no with their literature. My son is loyal to his favorite titles. He carries them around with him, and flips through their pages repetitiously. He implores me to read these books over and over again.

A toddler will also let you know quickly if the book is not his cup of milk. Mine will turn on his diapered bum and ignore me if I read him a story that is not from his “favorite” list.

Here are ten children’s books that have been proven tried and true by my toddler.

  1. “A Baby Is Born” by Melanie Zanoza bartelme (Author), Steve Whitlow (Illustrator)
  2. “Little Owl’s 1 2 3” by Divya Srinivasan (Author, Illustrator)
  3. “Red Truck” by Kersten Hamilton (Author) Valeria Petrone (Illustrator)
  4. Moby Dick: A BabyLit® Ocean Primer (BabyLit Books) by Jennifer Adams (Author) Alison Oliver (Illustrator)
  5. “On The Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman (Author, Illustrator)
  6. “Barnyard Dance” by Sandra Boynton (Author, Illustrator)
  7. “How Do I Love You?” by  P. K. Hallinan (Author, Illustrator)
  8. “Little Blue Truck” Alice Schertle (Author) Jill McElmurry (Illustrator)
  9. “In My Jungle” Sara Gillingham (Author) Lorena Siminovich (Illustrator)
  10.  “I Love You Through and Through” by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak (Author) and Caroline Jayne Church (Illustrator)

The best part about this list, is that you can find all of these books on Amazon. I hope this makes baby shopping a little easier for you.

Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee