Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Next Big Thing

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who blog hop and those who will just skip the whole thing. There are plenty of bloggy memes out there in the guise of awards and such, where you answer silly questions about yourself, but this one seemed a bit different (or maybe it just hit me at the right time).

I was tagged by Nancy Hinchliff and asked to participate in the My Next Big Thing blog hop. It's a chance to talk about my big project and learn about interesting things that other creative people are pursing. Here are the 10 questions I was asked to address, followed by some other Big Things by talented people I know.

1. What is the working title of your book or project?
I am currently moving from the production phase to the marketing phase of my biggest undertaking to date, the Animal Store Alphabet Book.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book or project?
I'd been noodling around for a self-publishing project, and my friend Karen Gray-Keeler proposed that I write a book about animals or my husband's pet shop. I was already doing a lot of writing about animals and, at first, this didn't appeal. But I had Kenn bring home a list of all the animals in his store and discovered he had at least one animal for every letter of the alphabet. Lightbulb moment, and a new idea for an ABC book was born.

3. What genre does it fall under, if any?
This is a picture book geared for ages 4-8, and pet and animal lovers of all ages. It's at the printer and you can order your copy now!

4. If applicable, who would you choose to play your characters in a movie?
Don't know that it would or could be made into a movie, but Kenn has provided lots of animals and props for movies and TV shows out of the real The Animal Store. We have created a read-along video version of the book for our Kickstarter backers, beautifully narrated by the talented Mary Beth Schaye, who will definitely play herself in the movie (and is available for modeling gigs as well as voice overs; contact me for more info.)

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript or project?
We conducted a successful $10,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of a gorgeous 32-page full-color, hard-cover picture book about the familiar and strange animals people keep as pets.

6. Will your book or story be self-published or represented by an agency?
Our book is self-published and being printed as you read this. We have also created a variety of companion products, including a coloring/activity book, a poster, 12"x12" canvas prints, an embroidered book bag, and a read-along video version of the book.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
That's hard to say, since I was working on so many different aspects of the project all at the same time. It took about a year to complete the manuscript, but so much else was accomplished along the way.

8. What other book or stories would you compare this story to within the genre?
There are so many great picture books and alphabet books out there. My favorite alphabet book is A is for Annabelle by Tasha Tudor, and in some ways, this book is like that in that it has a similar style of verse. While unique unto themselves, Rebecca Hamlin's beautiful illustrations for our book remind me somewhat of a cross between the vibrant colors of Eric Carle's animal books and the details of Graeme Base's Animalia. (I doubt Rebecca would make the same comparisons.)

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book or story?
I answered most of this up there in question 2, but I'd like to add that collaborating with Rebecca Hamlin on this project has been an amazing experience. Most children's book authors don't ever even get to meet their illustrators, let alone collaborate closely with them. This has been a true and fruitful partnership from the start. Rebecca's talents are beyond measure, I have have come to experience first hand how words and pictures can fuse into a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. We have also enjoyed the help of many other talented folks along the way, including but not limited to: Ed, Steve, Tess, Mary Beth, Judi, Ann and Molly, and my own personal cheerleader, Sarah. I'm grateful to all of you.

10. What else about the book or story might pique the reader’s interest? 
It's gorgeous, fun to read, a perfect bedtime story, a wonderful gift, and a must for every family's bookshelf (she said humbly). It is also the product of a Kickstarter campaign, an entirely new way of funding creative projects. It represents the cutting edge of publishing today—crowd funded and professionally produced by people with passion.

In the next several days, I will post other projects from other creative folks who are participating in this blog hop. Check out their sites, as well as Nancy's, and keep things hopping. These are some really good writers, so don't miss them.

12/5: Norine Dworking-McDaniel:  The book-to-be is a collection of essays from by blog Don't Put Lizards In Your Ears about my being a late in life mom, done "snap-shot style" a la "Shit My Dad Says".

12/6: Kathy Mirkin: Kathy Mirkin's book Posie Pipkin is Not Doomed to be a Duck is about one girl's funny desire to become the star dancer in her ballet school's annual recital, even though she'd rather be goofing around with her friends than practicing ( ages 7 to 10). You can read Kathy's blog here.

Shari Brady: Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye is a story about Carmella D'Agostino, an average sixteen-year-old girl who is faced with coming to terms with her older sister's accidental drug overdose and death. Through Carmella's eyes, we witness the courage and strength it takes for her and her family to overcome their grief and guilt.

Christine Wolf: Christine's manuscript is called My Life Afloat—With her parents both out of work, the anchors of Maeve's "normal" life come undone. Riding the waves of her family's private shame, 12-year-old Maeve tries to save the family from sinking, even as their ship heads toward catastrophe. Christine blogs at My Live Afloat on her website and Riding the Waves on Chicago Now.