Hello, amazing readers!
It's a pleasure to have you at the Oasis -- thanks for visiting! This is the place to refresh your spirits, recharge your creativity, and get a literary mood boost!
And with this post, I will be wrapping up the series for the season and taking a break for the summer, but the Chitchat will resume at the end of August. So . . .
Get ready to enjoy this interview! Stretch your smiles wide, and get comfy and cozy for a lovely chitchat because today we have another awesome creative on the KidLit Oasis series... Children's author Lindsay Leslie is here to share some wisdom, insight, and inspiration with us! Plus, check out the DOUBLE giveaway, and other offers at the end of this interview.
Welcome, Lindsay Leslie ! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
A: Thank you so much for having me, Rosie! I wasn't one of those folks who dreamed of becoming an author, but I was one of those folks who could write. It was something I did to manage my emotions (lots of diary and journal writing), to stay busy and focused (on my high school newspaper; journalism major), and to secure myself a job (my career as a public relations exec). And we've all heard this before: it took me having my own children to fall back in love with picture books, but as a storyteller and not just a reader. I dove into craft and leaned on all the resources--SCBWI Austin, Julie Hedlund's 12X12, Picture Book Summit, The Writing Barn--and I also chased every avenue to get feedback and exposure to agents and editors--#PBParty, #PBPitch, #PitMad, and so on. I've met so many fantastic and talented authors and illustrators who inspired me to push on and keep at it.
I never wanted to throw in the towel, but I often wondered if I could ever break through. And then my break came from a pitch during #PitMad for THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS. That's how I connected with Page Street Kids and my editor at the time, Charlotte Wenger. They not only offered on THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS (illustrated by Alice Brereton), but then two subsequent manuscripts of mine, NOVA THE STAR EATER (illustrated by John Taesoo Kim) and the picture book that just released, DUSK EXPLORERS (illustrated by Ellen Rooney). The text for DUSK EXPLORERS came to me from one of the presentations by Julie Hedlund called "The Verse Curse". The story poured out of me and really didn't require much editing. I was so in the moment when I wrote it. I was transported back to my childhood street of Fieldwood Drive in Richardson, Texas. Right now, I'm wishing another story would come to me like DUSK EXPLORERS did. I think a lot of it is being open to the memories, the experiences, and the observations, and being mindful when they cross the transom.
I think my biggest uphill battle with getting into this industry was the very beginning. I was coming out of a depression due to massive panic attacks, and I once again leaned toward writing to give me courage and to pull me out of the pain. What came of that was my debut, THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS. It was very autobiographical. I wasn't ready to share the story about how the book came about until recently. I wrote about it here.
I then had another big health scare in 2017 when I contracted Tick Borne Relapsing Fever, which landed me in the hospital. During my sickness, I had the wherewithal to post my pitches to #PitMad, which led to my first book deal. When I think about these health battles, the trials and tribulations of the creative process and publishing industry don't get to me as much as they would have had I not been knocked down a couple of times. I've built some amazing armor over the years and I'm full-on using it. I've always said, "It's always a 'no' if you don't put yourself out there."
Q: What do you find most challenging in this business, either on the creative or publishing side of things? What do you find most rewarding? What helps you stay motivated?
A: Besides the waiting? OK, seriously, I think it is the feeling that you are just one creator among a sea of so many talented people. Your manuscript has got to shine and shine brightly. Often times I write a story and I love it. I'm head over heels, yet other folks read it and don't get what I'm trying to do. I'm often too conceptual, but I love working in that space and leaving parts of the story up for interpretation. What I find rewarding is when I connect. First I have to connect with my agent, then an editor, and then I get to connect to the readers and to the parents, teachers, and librarians. When they all get it and get the feelings I'm trying to express, nothing is greater. That's what keeps me motivated.
Q: Could you share any craft tools or techniques that you find most helpful to you when working on a project? What does your revision process look like?
A: I feel I'm one of the worst people to ask about process. I'm so willy nilly, but, hey, that's a process, right? I let my manuscript lead me. But in the end, I always ALWAYS put my manuscripts through the ringer with at least a couple of critique groups. I read them aloud to my husband (a novelist) and children (seriously wonderful editors), and, wow, are they honest with their feedback. (Brutal!) I almost always dummy my stories. I would share the dummies for one of my three published books, but I threw them out. Now, why would I do that? Ugh. I won't do that in the future. Sorry folks! My dummies are 8 pieces of 8 1/2 X 11 pieces of paper folded in half. I write each word in with pencil, so that I think about each word. I often read it out loud as I am writing, so I catch words I've doubled up on or those words that just don't lend themselves to the story. I also use the drawer or the file folder and let the story sit for a while. I need space from my story to be able to really see it again for the editing process.
Q: What's coming up for you next? Please tell us about any new releases, exciting news, upcoming events or anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
A: I have the type of exciting news I can't talk about. So, CLIFFHANGER! Also, I'm thrilled that DUSK EXPLORERS earned a starred review from Kirkus, Ellen Rooney and I were interviewed for the June issue of Kirkus (pinchable moment), and Amazon's editors picked it as one of the best books of June 2020 for ages 3-5 (jaw drop). I will be doing a live reading of DUSK EXPLORERS and answering questions over on Books & Books Instagram page (@booksandbooks) on July 4 at 11 a.m. ET. Swing on by!
Wow, what an amazing journey! Congrats on all your success, Lindsay, and I can't wait to hear more about the exciting news you can't talk about now (what a cliffhanger indeed!). It was a pleasure having you and I hope you'll be back to share your next book with us, too!
Readers, please support our featured authors/illustrators by following them on Twitter, requesting their book through your local library, posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and of course, purchasing their books.
I hope you enjoyed this post — comments and shares are appreciated. Thank you!
Connect with Lindsay Leslie:
A diary keeper, a journalism major, a public relations executive, now a children’s author—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. She likes to bring her unique outlook on life, quirky humor, and play with words to the page in picture books. Lindsay is the author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, NOVA THE STAR EATER, and DUSK EXPLORERS (Page Street Kids). She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, two boys, two fur-beasts, a guinea pig, and a tortoise.
D O U B L E G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
Comment on this post by midnight on Monday 7/06/20 for a chance to win
a copy of Lindsay's book (US only please) or a picture book critique!
(Please indicate your preference.)
Two winners will be announced next week.
A few reminders while I'm away for the summer:
July 29 is National Rain Day and, in honor of my upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain,
I'll have something on Twitter @RosiePOV that day,
so stop by and check it out!
(P.S. Sunday Rain is now available for pre-order. Click on the cover to place your order through your local indie bookstore.)
* * *
Register for my upcoming in-person, all-day workshop with Random House Editor, Frances Gilbert, and catch the early bird before the workshop price goes up.
* * *
Register for my upcoming 8-week online course,
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE FOR CHILDREN?
Have a wonderful summer, everyone!!!
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If the classic picture book structure is your favorite and you want to stick with it, make sure you hit all the important points when drafting your story. Here's an easy model to follow – apply it to your manuscript spread by spread, find what's missing or where your pace is disturbed, then modify, mold, and master!
[For a 32-page picture book, you'll have fourteen spreads in which to fit your story.]
1. Introduce your main character (MC) and show us something interesting or special about him/her: skills, quirks, relationships etc. This is also where you set the expectation of tone, type of story, and voice.
2. Establish the MC's normal world. What's the setting? Does the setting play a special role in your story?
3. Develop MC even further. What does he/she want? You might introduce a secondary character.
4. Inciting incident: something happens that disturbs the "normal" and prompts the MC to take action. The MC needs to do something about it, either to restore the balance or to take a step toward their goal/desire that they've had at the beginning.
5. First try: MC fails and the situation gets worse. This failure also brings a little change in him/her. It helps the MC learn more about the world or himself.
6. Second try: MC fails again. Tension escalates. MC has a bit of a different perspective. He learns something from this failure, too.
7. Third try: MC fails once again. This time it seems like all is lost and there's no way out of the mess.
8. MC reflects on the situation and contemplates his next move. MC gets past the defeat, finds hope, and the motivation to try again.
9. MC gathers his/her strength and skills learned from previous experience and makes a decision to solve his/her problem in a different way.
10. The preparation: does the MC need to gather supplies, resources or dig deeper to ensure success this time?
11. Final battle. The MC makes the biggest effort here, using all of his/her previous lessons learned and new resources.
12. MC wins! He/she solves the problem. You can use a twist, a surprise, or a clever solution here. The most important thing is that no one else solves the problem for your MC. It should not feel like a coincidence, either. The more original this part is, the more of the "golden factor" your book will have. Don't use the first idea that comes to mind. Search further and think outside-the-box.
13. A satisfying ending. MC might not get exactly what he/she wanted, but what they need. Tie it back to the beginning.
14. MC is changed as a result of his journey. Show the "new normal" for your MC with a hint of what the future might look like for them. Finish on a positive, hopeful or humorous note, depending on the tone and type of story. Make sure it matches what you've established for the story's world from the get-go.
That's it! There's some wiggle room here and there, but overall this model should give you some guidance on how to develop your classic structured picture book.
This is only the frame to get you started with your draft. As for the rest of the elements that make for a great picture book, like an original idea, vocabulary, voice, literary devices, imagery, page turns, illustration potential etc., those are subject to future posts.
Leave a comment and share your biggest challenges, advice or thoughts on crafting your classic structured picture book.
About the Author
Rosie J. Pova is a
award-winning children's author, speaker, and writing coach on a mission to inspire children not only to read and write more, but to use their creativity, follow their passions, dream big and believe in themselves.
Rosie visits schools and shares her inspirational journey as an immigrant from Bulgaria and how she became a published author, encouraging kids to persist, push through rejections, and hold a high vision for themselves.
Rosie's upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain, will be released in March 2021. It's a story that celebrates imagination, the love of books, and new friendships.
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jessica Schmeilder of Golden Wheat Literary.