Monthly Archives: March 2016

Birth of a Book, #2

Well, today I am reporting on the development of the back matter for this book. When a fiction book takes on a real subject, like gardening and or cooking, often “back matter” a section of real information on the topic is included. The back matter in this book is for the parents/teachers who are reading the picture book to a child, so the style of writing is much different.

Since we could go with gardening or a recipe for the back matter int his book, I consulted with my publisher. He chose gardening. So, I turned to research, my own memories and solicited the memories of others (via facebook) about gardening with children.

Just finished editing that section and will send it to the editor when I return the final version of the manuscript this week. My deadline is March 31 but I want to get it in a few days early if I can.

Today I am going to a library in Henderson NC to tell Hispanic stories–none will be about gardening, but you can bet I will study the faces of my young audience to see what resonates with them–as I always do–and apply that to my written work.


(The photo below is of grapes. I don’t have these in my garden, but have picked fruit with my children in pick your own–are there any pick your own grape places near you?
Pick your own is another great option if you cannot have a garden.









Book Review!

Taking a short break form Birth of a Book to post a review of a Board Book you will want to consider to any child under age three.

One Spring Lamb

Written and illustrated by Anne Vittur Kennedy

Tommy Nelson Books

Retail $8.99

ISBN 978-0-7180-8782-1


In a board book, it is important that the dogma as well words and pictures are all accessible and fun for the littlest readers. One Spring Lamb scores a five out of five on all fronts. The lamb is appealing without being anthropomorphic. Drawings are cleverly done and the storyline of counting to ten and going through a day with the lamb brings  a well thought out repeat appearance of several elements—the children, baskets, eggs. All of the fun elements of the book are tied up in the end with a reminder that all of these elements are gifts from God. And more importantly, that the joy of the holiday comes from knowing Jesus lives and loves the child.

This book will be a wonderful addition to any toddler Easter basket.


Have some news on the next book coming soon. For now would like to share this:

For those of you fighting with your hair, perhaps you will get a chuckle by reading this poem of mine accepted by the gracious folks at Silver Birch and up on their site today

link to the post. Cheers!

Birth of a Book, Blog # 1

Blog Entry Number One

March 12, 2016

Contract is Signed!

So, I mailed the contract back to the publisher this week. The contract’s basic legal language is fine. I was satisfied with the legal provisions. The important part of the contract as far as all of you other writers are concerned is the “deliverable” list. This list is my list of deadlines for each step of the way. It also outlines the deadlines for the publisher and the illustrator. I went through my calendar and marked each deliverable date on my calendar.


First things first! The manuscript for Summer in a Bowl is due on March 31. Before you start to think me crazy for accepting such a deadline, there is something you need to understand about picture books.  Last year, I sent Summer in A Bowl to the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators to be evaluated. I took their comments to heart when finishing the book. It has been revised at least seven times.


When you send any picture book manuscript to a publisher for consideration, you send the entire thing! Don’t send a draft. Send it as finished and polished as you can make it, but  be open to making changes suggested by the publisher. Conversely, don’t make major changes unless they fit into your vision. Also, most picture book publishers choose the illustrator, so don’t send illustrations along unless they are called for. Truthfully, I have seen only ONE traditional publisher that requested illustrations. One out of hundreds.


After I wrote WHOOSH! I searched and searched to find a publisher who shared my vision for sharing stories of families, happy families in cities.  I was so pleased with the illustrator he choose, a woman who also shared my vision for how the characters should look, well….



Picture Book by Joan Leotta

After WHOOSH! was published by THEAQLLC, I worked furiously on my other picture book ideas and sent Summer in a Bowl to THEAQLLC as well.

We discussed the illustrations, briefly. This book will be entrusted to the same illustrator. Now, time to polish a bit more. This book’s manuscript left open the possibility of what is called “back matter.” “Back matter” is usually a bit of non-fiction prose that goes along with and hopefully adds to the reader’s experience with the story. In this case, I am thinking about adding a soup recipe. The other possibility is to hold the recipe and use it for advertising the book, as handouts when I speak on the book, and as information in a packet of teacher information for school gardens.


My habit is to print out a document once it has reached this stage, giving me a physical item to work with. As I review the document, I will picture scenes in my head and picture my primary target audience—a parent and child reading together. On another read through I will picture another target audience, a teacher reading to students. Oh yes, I’ve done this when making the other revisions, before I sent it to the publisher, but I shall do it again. Probably twice again before returning it to the publisher on or just before March 31.

At the same time I am doing all of this, I need to try to build my audience for WHOOSH! and for the upcoming book.

I’m waiting now to hear from my publisher about the back matter. What do you think about the back matter, dear blog readers?



Birth of a Book!

Actually three books!

Please do sign up to follow the progress of the next three picture books that feature Rosa, the small girl at the center of WHOOSH!

I’ve signed the contracts and you can follow my progress on this blog and on my FB page, Joan Leotta, Author and Story Performer



Picture Book by Joan Leotta

I’m a Guest

The blog is on costuming–applies to writers and tellers

first few sentences here–for the rest, go to Lois’ blog!



Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. She is a poet, essayist, journalist, playwright, and author of several books both, fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She is also a performer and gives one-woman shows on historic figures and spoken word folklore shows and teaches writing and storytelling. Learn more about Joan and her books at her website.

Storytelling—An excuse to play dress-up!


Joan Leotta performs at 2012 Southport NC Dickens Festival

Civil War Costuming

As a professional performer and writer, I have the excuse to wear “costumes.” When I perform shows from the US Civil or Revolutionary War eras or other historical periods, I find that costumes help reinforce the verbal and storyline cues. Moreover, wearing the clothes of a person of that era, allows you as performer to literally “walk in the shoes” of the characters you have created