Category Archives: writing

Teachers Can and Do

I always hated, and never believed,  that old chestnut that teachers are people who cannot actually do what they teach–nonsense! Teachers are those who share with us the technology (so to speak) of the art or craft  they have fallen in love with. They want to share with us what they love, share the how-to and the mystery of it.

They become educators when they draw out of us our desires to pursue a field to the limit of our ability, usually thanks to their support, inspiration, and ministrations of technique and method.

As a working journalist, story performer and more I want to share with others what I have learned and to inspire others to follow their dreams in whatever field they desire–esp in

writing and story performance. Yep, I talk and write for audiences. It’s that simple!

This month I have had the opportunity to be a teacher and to share my love of these two modes of communication on Donna Washington’s Blog, in Ruby for Women Magazine (writing only in that one. March starts a three-part series for those who want to get started in writing) and here, on this blog by reminding you that I have two new publications out this month–My children’s book, Rosa’s Shell and my book of poems, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon.

PS Today the literative.com site has one of my writings up as the prose winner of their winter contest!

https://literative.com/writing-contest-winners/cold-snap-creative-writing-contest-winner/

Do check it out!

I’m happy to come and and talk to your school or group about writing (for adults, for children, poetry) story performance (or to give a story performance!)

Please do contact me and let me know if you would like me to come! Those who do, if they are fortunate enough also share what they know by teaching!

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A Short Tale for the Holiday

Take a look at this tiny tale!

I’ll be working on it to make it better and larger in the coming months–or do you like it as is? I’d love to have your input!

Gregor the Ghost woke up late afternoon on Halloween, his very favorite day. He would walk along the streets and no one would be afraid! They would think he was just another child in a ghost costume! When the moon was high, he joined the crowds going from house to house for candy.

He noticed a girl dressed as a green and yellow spider all by herself.

“What’s wrong ?”

“No one wants to go with me. They say I’m too scary ”

Gregor laughed.”Spiders don’t scare me.”

Ghost and spider gathered candy together. Neither one scared the other!

Never Done

A writer’s work is never done!

I am busy working on PR, blog hops etc for Summer in a Bowl and also at the same time working on poems, my usual quota of articles, and coordinating with my publisher on revisions in the texts of the NEXT TWO Rosa books–Rosa and the Red Apron and Rosa’s Shell

 

Heather Zeissler of THEAQLLC has been wonderful to work with.

If you want me to come to your school to talk about the process of writing picture books or  to talk to your group about how I got started writing picture books, just email me at joanleotta@atmc.net

 

 

 

Summer in a Bowl,Progress Report

Right now I am in a hold pattern. I am waiting for the illustrator to do her magic, conjuring up the images that will bring my words to life for young readers.

I thought while we were waiting I would answer a question that many people ask of authors–how real is this story?

Like WHOOSH!, this story was inspired by a real afternoon in my life. Yes, there really was an Aunt Mary. Yes, I did watch her make soup from the ingredients in her garden! Yes, I did help her gather those ingredients.

Aunt Mary passed on many years ago. She was the mother of three of my wonderful cousins, John, Diane, and Ernie.

Diane sent me these photos of her Mom to share with you.

Here is the real, wonderful, lovely woman who inspired Summer in a Bowl:

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National Poetry Month and Gardening

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So, this post is doing dual duty. I hope it will keep you in mind for gardening. Yesterday I turned in the first deliverable on my book, Summer in a Bowl. Picture books are a sort of long form narrative poetry. Thus the connection.

Also, gardening and story or poem prompts–obvious connection there. Prompts are like seeds for a story or poem. Plant one on a page and they can give your mind a jump start. Apply the hard work of writing around this (akin to weeding and watering) to harvest a finished poem or story! Voila!

My usual monthly post on Suzanne Lurience’s working writer blog will go up  in a few days.

Here is the bonus prompt for Poetry Month–seven one word prompts for poems–of course if you can squeeze an entire story out of one of these–huzzah to you!

Seven April Poem Prompts

1.Rain

2. Roses

3. Redbud

4. Iris

5. Late

6.Exercise

7. Walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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….

 

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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?

 

 

Meet Cheryle Williams; How Authors Can Establish a Presence on Goodreads

2-Cheryl July 2015 photo P3-544aaCheryl had this to say:

HAVING A PRESENCE ON GOODREADS – HOW TO BEGIN
By Cheryle Williams
Many thanks to Joan for inviting me to speak on her blog today. Joan asked me to talk on how I set up the Goodreads discussion page for Desert Breeze Publishing authors. Bottom line, several months ago I saw a void and floated the suggestion that we needed to have a corporate presence on Goodreads. Fellow authors expressed interest, so I started to play at the Goodreads site just to show it could be done. It was surprisingly easy to set up.
First off, why Goodreads? It’s the world’s largest site for readers showcasing what they read and making book recommendations. It currently has more than twenty million members. It’s a continuous party atmosphere as you list the books you read, rate them, write reviews and recommend them to others. You can friend other authors and ask them questions about their works. As you buy a new book at Amazon or an audiobook on Audible.com, Goodreads offers the option of posting news of your sale on Facebook, so all your FB friends can marvel at your good taste and intelligence. (Or you can turn down that option if you don’t want them to know.)
If reading is your thing, then this is the site to play on. For authors, it’s a chance to showcase yourself as part of a publishing community. That’s why I started the discussion group for Desert Breeze authors. I saw that other small press publishers had a Goodreads group. For new authors who don’t know which publisher to submit their works to, searching the different publishing sites listed on Goodreads is a good way to find a publisher. An active group shows that the members are committed to promoting their brand. It shows a healthy publishing company. DB authors are proud of the DB catalogue and we’re always ready to publicize our accomplishments.
To start a group, go to Goodreads.com and either create an account or sign in with Facebook. Click on ‘Groups’ on the toolbar, then click on ‘Create a Group’. It’s a breeze after that. You’ll make a decision whether you want the group to be public or private. I chose to make the Desert Breeze group open to all, because fans will join to keep up to date with our publishing company. For ‘Rules’, I listed only one: Be kind and supportive of your fellow authors.
As moderator, I went to Bookshelf on the Goodreads DB home page and began typing in the names of my fellow DB authors. As their titles popped up from Amazon.com (Amazon owns Goodreads), I added all their DB titles with cover, title, and link back to Amazon to buy. Forty-four authors have 228 titles listed so far. Then I went on the DB Yahoo group and invited authors to join, advising them their books were already uploaded. This became a continuous process as more authors joined and I uploaded more titles. Authors can add their own books to the Bookshelf, but many authors asked me to please add them, and I was happy to do it.
The purpose of this activity is to create awareness of Desert Breeze as a company and build interest and loyalty among readers, hopefully leading to increased sales. I also added six discussion threads that we have kept going.
– Book Launch News, Awards, Signed a Contract, General News. (This thread is tagged to always stay in the top position.)
– Blogging or Guest-Blogging? Post link here.
– Websites of our Authors.
– Our Reviews for Desert Breeze Titles.
– What is Your Current WIP, DB Authors?
– Post Your Promotional Appearances Here.
Individual authors can add additional topics as needed. As comments are added, an email indicating new activity in your group appears in your Yahoo inbox, if you so wish, and the activity is reflected on the Goodreads Home Page. The site also has options for posting photos, videos, adding a poll, and sending an email message to all members.
Here’s the link to the Desert Breeze Goodreads page. Hold down the Control key and click on: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/163604-desert-breeze-publishing
best,
Cheryle Williams, DB author of Strangers in the Province of Joy, YA contemporary (Sept 11, 2015) and Stairway to Heaven, YA angel paranormal (Sept. 2014)
http://www.cherylewilliams.net
https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.e.williams.5
cherylewilliams205@yahoo.com

Cheryle is a fellow Desert Breeze author. She established the Goodreads site for Desrt Breeze authors. Here is a line on her latest creation.
1-StrangersInTheProvinceOfJoyCoverArt300x300icon(1)

Here is the blurb about the book with that lovely cover!
Short blurb:
In Strangers in the Province of Joy, a YA contemporary by Cheryle Williams, two high school juniors Max and Azar, both age seventeen, find that love is hard enough without adding stress, school and family issues to the mix. The title comes from a prayer card Azar treasures with the phrase, “Let us not be strangers in the province of joy.” Can Azar and Max work through all trying obstacles and forge ahead with peace and confidence into their future? The heat level is sweet. This is a clean read.

Thank you Cheryle, for sharing your knowledge with us.