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Taking a break in the summer from writing does not mean to stop reading.  I have challenged myself to read more books this summer.  If you want to challenge yourself and need to keep track too, then try the challenge on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/

This helps me to also keep track of my reviews of the books.  Sometimes I can read so many books that after a while I lose what I read. Keeping my impressions by writing reviews reminds me of the book. How do you keep track of your reading?

I recently read an article about the summer slide for kids. The data is disheartening for children book authors. Here is an excerpt from the article on Summer Reading 2019:

“According to findings from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™: 7th Edition, there is a rising trend of kids ages 6–17 reading zero books over the summer: 15% in 2016 vs. 20% in 2018. Among 9–11-year-olds, this percentage has doubled (7% to 14%), and among teens ages 15–17 it has increased by ten points (22% to 32%). To help turn this trend around, the report reveals that if parents are aware of the summer slide, their children are less likely to read zero books (16% vs.25%). Yet, 47% of parents with school-age children are not aware of the summer slide and this percentage increases sharply to 63% among families with household incomes under $35,000. “https://www.cbcbooks.org/2019/05/08/summer-reading-in-2019-is-all-about-kids-empowerment-with-scholastic-summer-read-a-palooza/ 

Scholastic and United Way Worldwide are donating high- quality books to communities providing children access to them through libraries and book stores.  Teachers and parents are also trying to reverse this trend. I do not stop reading so, of course, I do not let my kids stop either.

What are some effective ways that help children (and you) to keep reading during summer break? What do you feel is the benefits for an author to read in their genre or outside of it?

There are times when every author must wait for a response from an agent or publisher about a query.  We sit on pins and needles.  Weeks go by and even months on end. Then we might get a form rejection letter. That is not what I received recently. I have gotten glowing remarks in rejection letters and even well-wishers for my book to find a home, but never a slap. I mean a cold, Doc Martin-crass-attitude rejection letter. If you don’t know who Doc Martin is well he is a Doctor in Portwenn, who is very blunt and has no social skills whatsoever. I love this show!

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So I decided because this agent went to the trouble of telling me very bluntly why she didn’t like my manuscript and why she “could not read any further”, I thought that I might as well pay attention to her suggestions and fix the problems. She said I used too many adverbs, repeated names a lot and had no voice. I went back and fixed the grammar problems. I edited the manuscript to the point of taking out a good majority of the beginning and now I hope it sounds okay.  The problem I have left is the voice.

With all the negative comments this made me wonder if the manuscript is just not good enough to be published. I mean is it not the editors who decide that a manuscript is worth editing or fixing? They decide whether a story is worth the work. Are they really expecting a manuscript to be flawless? I am not a perfect writer and I really do not know anyone who is. I just wonder if this agent is right and my writing has no voice. Could I be that boring? Just some insecure thoughts here after my hundredth rejection letter. But who’s counting, right? Keep your chin up. Things can only get better from here!

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Glowing Book Review

I have a wonderful book review of MY book! The author, Aimee Ann, gave my book five stars and a glowing review.  FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN has been self-published for a few years now and I have been needing more recognition for the work. I have had great popularity with my book when it is free but because there are no other reviews on Amazon or other seller sites, there are no sales.

If anyone would love to read the review please use the link below:

https://redheadedbooklover.com/flight-of-the-raven-j-r-wilson/

Please go check out my first self-published book and leave a review. Thanks!

 

 

Reading children’s books has to be a priority for writers in this genre. We need to know what children want to read or why a book is selling. Some of the best books I read this year did not make some of the lists. But here are a few that did.

The NY Times top-selling children books had only one book I have read this year: “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill. 28110852.jpg

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads and you can read my review of it here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2357366254?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

You can also see the full list of books that made the top of NY Times Bestsellers:

https://www.nytimes.com/books/best-sellers/childrens-middle-grade-hardcover/?module=DropDownNav&action=click&region=navbar&contentCollection=Books&version=Childrens&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&pgtype=Reference

From Goodreads Best Middle Grade & Children’s for 2018 the top of the list was “The Burning Maze” by Rick Riordan. A lot of my favorite authors made it on this list.  You can see the full list here:

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-childrens-books-2018

Commonsense media is anotherplace where you can find the top children’s books for the year. One book I have added to my read list (maybe because I really like this author and met him once in person) is by Matt de la Pena called “Carmella Full of Wishes”.  His writing is full of emotion, which makes it is hard not to get swept up into the characters lives.  See the full list here:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/best-kids-books-of-2018

What books were your favorite from this year? Comment below what books did not make the list.

And read some great books this coming new year!

 

 

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I hate dry spells in writing. I feel guilty that I have not written in a while. This guilt then turns me away from writing which is the exact opposite of accomplishing anything productive. So what did I do during this period of “no-writing”? Well, I read some great literature, took a couple of college courses and I vegged in front of the TV. Not a lot of writing. When you have to write lesson plans, reports and other forms of documents, then creative writing seems to take a back seat.

This will have to change this next year. 2019 will be the year of more creative stories and time to write some poetry. I recently read that “Improving your writing through the practice and study of poetry forces you to whip out your magnifying glass and look at your writing up close. Whether you apply poetic concepts to fiction, blogging, or article writing, your engagement with poetry will help you produce better writing.” (https://www.writingforward.com/better-writing/poetry-helps-you-improve-your-writing)

I do not plan to just jump head first into writing poetry. Studying and reading other famous poets will help me get my juices flowing. I have written some poetry in the past. Writing poetry will help me flex those brain muscles I have not used in a while. Let me know what helps you get over your dry spells in writing in the comments below.

Good luck to everyone’s writing in the new coming year!

When we look at all the places we could shop for a book thirty years ago the choices were slim. Today, because of all the different formats of books there are hundreds of places to shop for books. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. This only creates better opportunities for authors getting their books into hands around the world. Here are the most go to places for self-published and even traditional published authors to have their books sold at:

 

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1330042438

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https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/flight-of-the-raven-8

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https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flight-of-the-raven-j-r-wilson/1127745179?ean=2940154965856

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https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=2530421

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https://play.playster.com/books/10009781546870623/flight-of-the-raven-j-r-wilson

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https://www.overdrive.com/media/3737358/flight-of-the-raven

This list doesn’t stop here. The library and schools have books that readers can find. Even publishers sell their books on their websites. There are thousands of bookstores around the world. And people even sell books on eBay and other sites where you might not get the newest edition but maybe a bargain of a find. What is your favorite place to shop? Which format of books do you like- digital or physical? And finally, where do you think your book has sold the best?

Happy book hunting!

 

Mikey+Pic+1.jpgChildren book authors are some of the most fun people on the planet. They know how to connect with young readers with words and illustrations.  But very few authors can illustrate and write their books too. Mikey Brooks is right near the top of the list of talented authors. Here are some fun facts about him. Mikey Brooks has a degree in English from Utah State University. His love of art is his passion. He works full-time as a freelance illustrator and cover designer.  He has had several awards for his work. In 2014 he won the Huge Howey Award for Best Children’s Book Author and recently won the Best of State 2016 for his artwork in Ice Cream U.S.A. One other fun fact about Mikey is that he was an indie author for a few years before he landed an agent at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC. He is also a member of The Emblazoners – http://embazoner.com/. A website devoted to writing on the hearts of children.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

“Definitely energizes! If writing ever exhausts you then you might be doing something wrong (maybe working on the wrong project? wrong genre?). I feel empowered when I write. I do it first thing in the morning (I wake up at 4:30am well before the kiddos get up) and it really starts my day off on a high note.”

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

“The biggest one is comparing yourself to other writers. We’re all on different levels. Some writers can crank out book after book, month after month, and some seem to trudge along at a snail’s pace maybe finishing one manuscript in a year or two. Both are great! Both are writing. Never compare yourself to others. Write at your own pace. Write the way God intended you to write. He meant you to be YOU, not someone else.”

If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

“Just write, Mikey. And write what you love!’ I could’ve saved myself years (and thousands in tuition) if I’d just headed these words back then instead of writing to please my professors. It doesn’t take a degree in creative writing to write creatively. I’m not saying school is bad, but universities have a tendency to try and make you the type of writer they think you ‘should be’, instead of allowing you to be the writer you are meant to be.”

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

“It didn’t change it much. I mean I had deadlines, which I never had before, but I pretty much wrote the same way. I’ve tried different approaches to try and speed up my writing process but I always go back to what’s familiar.”

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

“I’d have to say, The Stone of Valhalla. It’s a standalone so it doesn’t get the hype that some of my other books get because of their sequels. It’s my favorite because it was actually the first story I ever wrote. I started it when I was 17 and it was written as a YA fantasy. After finishing it, I sent it out to several publishers but never got any offers (except some interest from Harlequin Romances who was disappointed in the lack of adult themes—yikes!). I put it in a file and forgot about it for ten years or so before I pulled it out, rewrote it, and published it as an MG book.”

What’s the best way to market your books?

“The best way to go directly to my readers, which are kids, so I do a lot of school visits. My favorites are to do classroom sizes because it’s a little easier to keep them involved, but I also enjoy doing large assemblies. Visiting schools is the best part of my job as an author. I love kids. I love working with them and seeing how reading can bring magic into their lives.”

How many hours a day do you write?

“I’m a stay at home daddy and work part-time as an illustrator and cover designer so I have to really make time to write. I get up super early and get about 2 hours a day, Mon-Sat. I take Sundays off to sleep in (if you call sleeping in until 6:30-7am sleeping in). Sometimes my wife will take the kiddos to their grandma’s and I can get more writing time in then.”

What is your favorite childhood book?

“I’m super jealous of the kiddos nowadays—they have so many awesome children’s books to choose from. When I was a kid there wasn’t a middle-grade genre (oh, how I wish there would’ve been). The first book I ever read cover to cover was Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon, which is a YA fantasy and probably as “children’s book” King ever got. It was illustrated and I was drawn to the pictures in the book. It was that book that gave me my love of fantasy books.”

Could you give us a list of your books?

                    The Dream Keeper         The Dreamstone        The DreamMakers

 

 

 

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The Stone of Valhalla

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The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis (book 6 in the Atlantis series written by 6 other authors).

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Museum Adventures: The Maya Mystery    Museum Adventures: A Night in Nottingham

 

 

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The W.H.O. Files: Potions in the Pizza

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“I also have picture books. 3 which I author/illustrated and 9 more I illustrated for other authors. Ice Cream USA won 2016 Best of State as well as a finalist in the 5th Annual Beverly Hills Book Awards. Princess Pricilla Enough is Enough took finalist in the 6th Annual Beverly Hills Book Awards.”

What can your fans look forward to next?

“I have several projects in the works and one book with my agent right now. As of now, I don’t have anything scheduled to release this year but I hope that changes soon. I am transitioning from an indie author to a traditional author and I have come to find the traditional route a lot slower than I’m used to. Don’t worry, everyone, I have books coming—I promise!!”

For more information on Mikey Brooks and to see his complete portfolio please visit his website at http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/

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