Hello, dear readers!
Here, at the Oasis, the inspiration keeps going. And as always, it's great to have you visit! This is still the place to refresh your spirits, recharge your creativity, and get a literary mood boost!
Now, stretch your smiles wide once again and get comfy and cozy for a lovely chitchat because today we have another spectacular creative on the KidLit Oasis series... Children's author Nell Cross Beckerman is here to share some wisdom, insight, and inspiration with us!
Plus, check out the DOUBLE giveaway and my announcement of an epic all-day, in-person workshop with Random House Editor, Frances Gilbert, at the end of this interview!
Welcome, Nell! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
A: I first started out writing middle grade. I actually wrote a book and got an agent, but then found myself completely blocked for revisions and quit writing for 10 years (and had kids.) I felt like a failure. As my kids started to get older, I realized that I was their role model, and if I wanted them to be brave and live big, I had to as well. Finding the book, THE ARTIST’S WAY, by Julia Cameron, helped me understand my creative blocks and how to nurture my inner artist. Everything fell into place after that—I was definitely my own worst enemy!
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: The thing that feels the most challenging, that we hear time and time again, is that all the agents and editors are totally subjective. You only need ONE yes. So you can doubt yourself if the “nos” pile up, but you just need that one person to connect with your work. This has happened on every project with me. It’s funny to see my first book coming out, getting nice reviews, and to look back at all the rejections it got early on. But it just had to find that right home. This is the biggest challenge we writers have to wrap our heads around.
The most rewarding for me so far is finding my critique group and being part of the kid lit community. My group is incredibly special—we are super supportive but we also challenge each other. Most importantly, we keep each other going. During these pandemic times, they are my group chat. And I love going to conferences and meeting more writers, agents, and authors.
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: My creative foundation is from THE ARTIST’S WAY. Morning pages, writing freely for three pages first thing in the morning, always helps if I’m feeling stuck. Then also: going on an “artist date”—this is doing something alone, just for fun. For me that might look like going to get a huge cookie and a big glass of milk at a bakery and just reading a book, it might be going on a hike and turning off my phone, it might be doing something totally unusual like trying to watercolor a dummy of the story I’m working on (I’m not an illustrator!). I’ve tried to dummy in different ways and it has helped me with revisions and tickled my brain in a different way. For one project I used Keynote slides and just pulled images off the internet to convey the visuals I was looking for. It helped and was fun! I also work with a freelance editor and check in with my critique group, and then finally my agent, Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, who has incredibly savvy thoughts and knows how to pull the best out of me. One last exercise—I’ll go to the library and find a bunch of mentor texts and retype them. I’ll read them aloud over and over and try to get their brilliance into my bones.
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: DOWN UNDER THE PIER released April 7 from Cameron Kids, illustrated by the fabulous Rachell Sumpter. It is inspired by the Santa Monica Pier and all the time I spent there with my kids—everyone knows how to have fun on top of the pier at the amusement park, but it is down under the pier, at low tide, where the real magic happens. I plan to do a series called “Demystifying the Debut” where I retrace all my steps and share my experience and advice in having my debut published. Please join my mailing list at www.NellCrossBeckerman.com if you want to get those sent to you! You can also see the book’s trailer here.
In 2021 I’m looking forward to my second book, WHEN THE SKY GLOWS, coming from Beach Lane Books/S&S with the fantastically talented David Litchfield illustrating. That will be a non-fiction book celebrating all the different ways that nature makes the sky glow, and the bonds formed by those witnessing it.
My agent is just now sealing the deal on my third book, which I’m completely thrilled about—it’s another lyrical nature-themed story. And I have a really special picture book out on sub now, that I wrote in collaboration with a TV personality that I’m very excited about, fingers crossed on that one!
Thank you, Nell -- it was a pleasure having you and chatting with you! All the best with your projects and your journey! I hope you'll be back to visit again.
Dear 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.
Connect with Nell Cross Beckerman:
Nell Cross Beckerman writes picture books for children, inspired by the magic of nature and the human spirit. She has produced, written, and directed shows for VH1, MTV, MSNBC, and the Discovery Channel. Her dad is a retired biologist and her mom was a YA librarian in the Bronx in the '70s. She lives in Venice Beach with her husband and two daughters.
G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
Comment on this post for a chance to win either a picture book critique by Nell or a copy of DOWN UNDER THE PIER. (Let me know which one you'd prefer.)
Shares on your social media are greatly appreciated! Thank you.
A full-day, in-person workshop with Random House Editor Frances Gilbert!
Does your picture book have a strong "hook"? Why does your work get rejected? What goes on behind the scenes of a "Big Five" publishing house? Frances Gilbert, Editor at Random House, will share invaluable insight into the publishing process, discuss what grabs her attention, offer a different perspective on some "rules" and address common fears writers have. Plus, a limited number of written critiques will be available as an add-on for those who act fast. All that and much more!
Catch the early bird registration and sign up to reserve your spot before the seats sell out! More details here.
The winner of Kelly Jordan's picture book critique is . . .
Wendy Passantino! Congrats, Wendy!
Look for an email from me to connect you with Kelly for your prize.
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kid lit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System™ that is proven to help emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals.
Rosie's latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie also loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women's and moms’ topics, sharing her journey from a Bulgarian immigrant to a published author.
Find out more about Rosie's online courses, mentorships, and her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.