Category Archives: librarians, pre-school teachers, kindergarten teachers, parents, parenting, fathers, daughters, mothers, daughters,

Fiona McVie Interviewed Me

Fiona McVie in the UK interviewed me and that interview is live today!
Click on the link to connect.
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Picture Book by Joan Leotta

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:

aunt mary 3

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Step!

The next step in the process of getting Summer in a Bowl into the hands of readers is preparing a summary. Now, if I had done a more traditional query and had been working with a publisher I did not know, the summary would have been in my query letter. As you recall, in this case I was approaching the publisher who had done WHOOSH! so, after a phone conversation, I just sent him the entire manuscript.

For me, the summary is the hardest part of the process. I love to talk about my book. I get very enthusiastic and well, restricting myself to just a few words–rough!

This summary will be what potential future readers will see on Amazon. Would you be interested in buying the book after reading this?  If you have changes to suggest, please let me know. My publisher and I both believe in this book and want to see it in the hands of as many children as possible.

Please look this over and let me know if any changes are needed!

Summary for Summer in a Bowl By Joan Leotta

Rosa and her Aunt Mary spend every Thursday together in the summer, tending Aunt Mary’s garden.

On this last Thursday of the season, they harvest the vegetables and Aunt Mary cooks them. Rosa is not sure she wants to try them until her father proclaims the dish, “Delicious!” and Rosa discovers that the soup is a way to preserve all of her summer fun. Summer in a Bowl is a wonderful introduction to the joys of gardening with children and the fun of cooking with children.

 

 

 

Prompts for April 8-15

More one word prompts on the theme of gardens! Have you thought about setting an extra challenge to yourself? Perhaps writing in couplets?

8. shovel
9. dirt
10. bushes
11. bouquets
12. weeds
13. leaves
14. strawberries
15. rake

The book is coning along. As I write the prompt words I picture little Rosa with her Aunt in the Garden behind her Aunt’s house. In the early 1950s many Italian Americans devoted their entire back yards to garden space. No wide expanse of lawn for them. Every inch was taken up with
comestibles. Yum

Sentence prompts from me

Looking for writing prompts? In addition to my one word poetry prompts for April on my own blog, Suzanne Lurience hosts me once a month with story prompts–of a more substantial nature (poetry too if you wish)Be sure to check out the new writing prompts for the week, here:
 
 

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?