Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Grateful For You

By Janie Reinart



We are grateful for each one of you gathered here. 
Many blessings to you and your families.
Happy Thanksgiving.




Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Bicycle Built for ...Interview with Gabi Snyder and book giveaway


By Janie Reinart

Gabi on her bike.

What's more fun than riding a bike, feeling the breeze on your skin, rolling along? Why riding with your best dog running beside you of course!  

Even today, our guest author, Gabi Snyder rides like the wind on her bicycle. Bikes and dogs from her childhood prompted the story for her debut picture book coming in May 2020! Two Dogs on a Trike is a humorous adventure story, plus a counting book showing pups using different modes of transportation, that is until the family cat jumps into the story.

 All preorder options (Indiebound, Amazon, etc.) are available from the book’s page on the Abrams sitehttps://www.abramsbooks.com/product/two-dogs-on-a-trike_9781419738913/

Welcome, Gabi we are thankful you are here to share your story. Congratulations on your debut picture book. Let's roll and start the interview.

1. Who is your agent? 

My agent is the wonderful Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary Agency (http://bradfordlit.com/). I signed with Natalie in July 2018.

2. How did you get the idea for your story?

 As a kid, one of my favorite picture books was Go,Dog. 
Go! by P.D. Eastman. The silly dogs and sense of
movement and fun in Two Dogs on a Trike are, in part,
an homage to the P.D. Eastman classic. In Two Dogs on 
a Trike we count up to 10 and back down again while
moving through different and escalating modes of
transportation.

And the dog versus cat dynamic that plays out in the
story was inspired, in part, by my childhood pets. I grew
up with a cat we called Kinko (named for his kinked tail)
and an assortment of dogs. Kinko was the undisputed
boss. Now my family includes one dog and one cat.
(They take turns keeping each other in line.) 

 3. What is your favorite part of the story?

For the first half of the story, the dogs are oblivious to the fact that they’re being followed. When we reach “10 dogs,” there’s a realization. That last animal? Not a dog! The revelation spread and the one that follows are my favorite parts of the story. And while my illustration notes made clear who that not a dog is, I didn’t specify where we are. Robin Rosenthal’s illustration for that spread is hilarious and unexpected! I gasped in surprise when I saw it, and yet it feels like the inevitable “of course!” choice. Truly perfection.

4. How long did it take to write? Get to a publisher?

Unlike most of my stories, drafting TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE was fairly quick and painless. It came out mostly whole. Of course, my brilliant critique partners still had suggestions for taking it to the next level. 

It’s also lucky I shared it with my critique partners because I might not have thought to submit the story to agents and editors if my CP, Mary Worley hadn’t encouraged me to send it out. 

I wrote the first draft almost exactly two years ago – in October of 2017. I signed with my agent in July 2018, and we received an offer from Meredith Mundy at Abrams Appleseed in late August 2018. It all happened very quickly – but it followed a long wait! I’d been submitting picture book manuscripts to agents and editors since 2014. 


Gabi's work space.

5. What is your writing routine?

I like to start each writing session with a “free write” to clear away the cobwebs and to capture anything that’s worrying me or that I want to remember. After that, I try to stick to a schedule. I block out a certain amount of time for working on picture book manuscripts. And then, time permitting, I have blocks for revising my middle grade manuscript, writing critiques, etc. I try to work some exercise into the schedule by riding my bike or walking to a coffee shop for a writing or revising session.  

6. What is your favorite writing craft book?

There are so many great craft books – some that offer inspiration and support and others that give very specific, nit-gritty advice. Right now, my favorite go-to writing craft book is Lisa Cron’s STORY GENIUS. It’s geared toward novel writing, but I’ve found it’s helped me think through the internal logic of my picture book manuscripts, too. 


7. What inspires you to write?
Almost anything I see, read, or hear can inspire me. Some things that consistently inspire and inform my writing are nature, my kids, and memories of my own childhood. Tapping into memories of the emotions of childhood – how it felt to be a childliving through a particular moment or situation– feels especially helpful.

8. What are you working on now?

Too many things! I tend to write all over the place, which is both a curse and a blessing. I have a few lyrical PB texts I’m revising as well as a few humorous PB texts. I’m also revising a middle grade novel. 

9. Words of advice for writers. 

Go easy on yourself. Know that the more you practice – the more you read and write – the better you’ll get. You may have to write 20 stories before you write one that begins to match your vision. 

Also, everyone gives this advice but I’m going to give it too because it’s super good advice: write something new. Yes, revise the drafts that call to you. But also, write something new. I promise that what you’ve learned writing and revising those earlier drafts will shine through in your new drafts. Your new first drafts might still be lousy – that’s the nature of first drafts – but they’ll be better than your old first drafts. And you’ll have a better idea how to revise them!

Thank you, Gabi for joining us today. Happy trails and have a paw-some time with your debut book.  

Enter Rafflecopter for a book giveaway of Two Dogs on a Trike, coming May 2020.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
We wish all of our readers a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.


Gabi Snyder studied English-Creative Writing at the University of Texas, with a focus on writing fiction for adults and earned her MA. After a move to Corvallis, Oregon, Gabi become immersed in the world of picture books and fell in love with this form of storytelling. Gabi is also the author of LISTEN (S&S/Wiseman, Spring 2021), a book about listening past the BEEP! WOOF! ERNT-ERNT! VROOM! of a busy morning to hear each sound, even the quietest. 
  Link to blog: https://gabisnyder.com/blog 
 Twitter handle: @Gabi_A_Snyder


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

All About Leslie Colin Tribble and ADVENTURE GUIDE TO CODY

By Suzy Leopold


     Together let’s learn more about a fellow GROGger—an outdoor woman and her many passions, interests, and talents as an environmental educator, photographer, and freelance writer. 

Leslie Colin Tribble

     Along with writing and photography, sharing the love of nature education with adults and children is a passion of Leslie’s. So what better way to combine these interests into a guide filled with history and places to explore and discover in her book:

ADVENTURE GUIDE TO CODY, July 24, 2019
by Leslie Colin Tribble

Leslie wrote an adventure guide about Cody, Wyoming. Filled with beauty and adventure, Wyoming is for those who love the great outdoors--From national parks and monuments to hiking, biking, and skiing.
ADVENTURE GUIDE TO CODY

Robbie
Several years ago, my Mom, sons, and I traveled US Route 85 along the eastern border of Wyoming. On a summer morning we began our road trip heading south after visiting Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota. The destination was Denver, Colorado. We passed through the rough and rugged rolling rangeland, beautiful buttes and wheat fields. The images remain in my memory. I look forward to an opportunity to revisit the many wonders of Wyoming. 

 Do you know the state motto and nickname for Wyoming is The Equality State? Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote in 1869. Women were granted the right to vote to meet the population requirement for statehood. Wyoming became the 44th state in 1890.

Time to learn more about Leslie and her adventure guide.

Q1: Where did you find inspiration and ideas for writing this guide book? I’m quite certain your answer will include the words nature and outdoors found in the wonderful state of Wyoming.


Wyoming Prairie
A1: I wrote the original form of the articles as a commission from our local gear shop, Sunlight Sports. Although Sunlight retains rights to the original articles, they graciously agreed to me re-writing the information and publishing it in a book. There are a lot of people, both residents and visitors, who want to get out, but don’t know where to go. We are so blessed here to have access to thousands of acres of beautiful public wild lands literally within 5 minutes of downtown. I wanted to help folks find out about the beauty that’s right outside their doors and give them enough information to feel confident to go. 

Wyoming Wildflowers
Q2: The cover photo on an ADVENTURE GUIDE TO CODY is inviting. Tell us about the photography you chose throughout the book. Did you use special camera equipment for the beautifully captured photos?

A2: The cover photo isn’t mine - it’s a stock photo from CreateSpace. I couldn’t figure out how to upload one of my own! I actually take most of my photos on my cell phone - the cameras on the newer models are pretty incredible. I do have a Fuji mirrorless camera that I love but a lot of times I forget to take it with me. I rarely leave home without my phone and the best camera is the one you have with you. 



Q3: Share the steps you took to write and publish the
ADVENTURE GUIDE TO CODY.

A3: Don’t let anyone tell you that self-publishing is easy! I didn’t find any part of the process easy. CreateSpace, or as it’s now know, Kindle Direct Publishing, does simplify the process, but there are a lot of hoops to jump through. One I had the book written, I had to figure out how to get it into KDP’s format. A lovely writer friend, Kathleen Birmingham told me about a company that sells programs that make it easier to upload your manuscript. I bought one of those and it really did make life so much easier. The most trouble I had was inserting the photos and keeping the formatting. I had a lot more photos I wanted to use, but in the end I only put in a few. Once you get green check marks from KDP on all the steps, you click publish and within 24 hours there’s your book on Amazon. That part was cool. And then getting the first copies in the mail. Yay!

Q4: Share your love for the beauty found in nature.
Tell us more about your love for hiking the great outdoors.

A4: As a child, I spent most of my time outside. I loved all things nature-related. Getting outside every day is my method of self-care. I love to be out, rain or shine, summer or winter. I think the saying, “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing choices,” is perfect. Some days I get in a lot of miles, other days I just wander and take a look at all the exquisite life around me. I’m not really a focused, goal-oriented hiker. If I make it to the destination or mileage, great. If not, I will have had a great time on the journey.
Backlit grasses of Wyoming
Walrus and Robbie--Two Adventure Dogs
Leslie and her Adventure Dogs
Q5: When out and about, Walrus, the grand dog and Robbie, the adventure dog, sometimes roam with you. Tell us more about these sweet pups.
A5: Robbie, the Adventure Dog, goes with me every day. He’s an almost 7 year old half-lab, half border collie. I got him in a bit of an unusual way. Someone in town advertised a little point-and-shoot camera for sale that I went to look at. The family lived “on the wrong side of the tracks” and I knew that although I didn’t really want the camera, I’d take it because I figured they could use the money. But I’d forgotten to bring cash or my checkbook, so I went to the bank and returned a little later. A small black puppy came over to me, sat down, leaned against my leg and looked up at me with these huge, sad Labrador Retriever eyes. I knew right then that puppy was coming home with me somehow. The person I was buying the camera from said, “Oh he likes you, you can take him too.” So I did! Walrus, the Granddog, and his new brother, Anchovy, hike with us on days when my daughter works. They are both rescues off the Crow Reservation in Montana. Walrus is 5 and Anchovy is probably less than a year old. We think they’re half brothers because they look so much alike, but Anchovy is much shorter than Walrus. You can thank my daughter for their names!
Robbie
Q6: What are you currently reading?

A6: I mostly read nonfiction. I work at the library so get to bring home a lot of books. Currently I’m reading The Secret Wisdom of Nature, Peter Wohllenben; How to be a Stoic, Massimo Pigliucci; and The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden, Rick Darke and Douglas W. Tallamy.

We just got an order of children's books and my favorites were, Mr. Scruff, Simon James; I want a Dog, Jon Agee; and Dog Heaven, Cynthia Rylant. I made half the library staff read Dog H
eaven.

Q7: What are some of the first books you remember as a child?
Do you have memories of writing when you were younger?

A7: I poured over my family’s copy of National Geographic’s Wild Animals of North America. I also had dog breed encyclopedias and read anything that featured animals. I didn’t read the Little House on the Prairie series until I was an adult. If the book featured a person, chances were good that I wouldn’t read it. And I didn’t read horse books, because obviously, dogs were far superior to dogs. I very distinctly remember writing a little book as a school assignment. My title was, “The Boy Who Thought He was a Stamp.” My teacher was totally unimpressed and said something about a better try the next time. I didn’t write for a long time after that.

Q8: What current WIP or non writing project are you working on? 
A8: I actually haven’t done a lot of writing for kids the last couple of years. I’ve had some family issues, health issues and was concentrating on getting my Adventure Guide to Cody published. I do have a couple nonfiction PB’s I’ve been working on for awhile. I did a mentorship with Lisa Amstutz and that was really helpful in getting those two manuscripts finished and polished up. I need to get them off on submission before the end of year holiday lull. 
Red Canyon, Wyoming
Q9: Rite in Rain, Defying Mother Nature creates durable and useful memo books and journals for outdoor use that are environmentally friendly. Do you have a pen, pencil, and/or journal of your choice?

A9: I do most of my writing and journaling when I get back home, unless something really strikes me when I’m out. I love pretty journals, and beautiful pens, but I usually end up writing on a spiral notebook with a free ballpoint I picked up somewhere. Those back to school sales and their 4 for $1 spiral notebooks get me every year. I do have a few pens I keep at home as my good writing pens, which means you’d better not use them!
Q10: Published authors inspire us. Studying carefully crafted books
as mentor texts help writers grow as writers. Name one, two, or three favorite authors and why you like and respect their work.

A10: I absolutely love Kate Messner’s nonfiction picture books, especially her “Over and Under” series. They are perfect in every way - from the text, to the author’s notes, and the illustrations. I also enjoy Nancy Churnin’s biographies - it’s been fun to follow her success and see which people she will write about next. The book that got me thinking that maybe I could write was Chipmunk Song, by Joanne Ryder and illustrated by Lynne Cherry. It was an early (1987) nature-focused picture book that was lyrical and lovely. 

Bison with Ancient Wisdom Eyes

Q11: I note several excellent articles written by you in Yellowstone Valley Woman, YVW. Tell us about the free magazine that “strives to be the leading voice for women and women’s issues in the Billings area”.

A11: I had already done some freelance writing for local publications when I contacted the editor at YVW and asked if they needed someone to cover the southern end of their distribution area. I’ve written several articles for YVW and their sister publication, Raised in the West. It’s always fun and I learn so much. Most recently I wrote an article about my recent brush with breast cancer.

Q12: Finally, where can the followers of the GROG Blog
find more about you?

A12: Leslie's guide on Amazon: ADVENTURE GUIDE TO CODY
Posts by Leslie: Yellowstone Valley Woman 
Instagram: Sagebrush Lessons 

Thank you, Leslie, for sharing the many wondrous views from your adventures, through your photography, and interesting facts about Wyoming.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Eileen Meyer Launches A. LINCOLN (and a Giveaway)! ~ by Patricia Toht

Eileen R. Meyer's new book, THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN: POEMS ABOUT OUR 16TH PRESIDENT, begins with a definition:

"superlative - 
adjective 
1. of the best or highest quality; supreme..."

The word applies to Abraham Lincoln, the beloved American president, in so many ways. But it also applies to author Eileen R. Meyer. She is one of the most dedicated and hardest working authors I know. Her research skills are impeccable. Her poetry is prime. Come discover her sources of inspiration, her methods of research, and her clever ideas for marketing.

PT: I'm so excited that your new book, THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN: POEMS ABOUT OUR 16TH PRESIDENT, was released yesterday, Eileen! What drew you to Abraham Lincoln as the subject of this book?

Eileen: Thank you, Patty! I'm excited, too, that this book is now available to young readers. A number of years ago, I read an adult biography about Abraham Lincoln. (As an Illinois native, I've always admired our state's most famous leader.) While reading the book, it struck me that there were still so many interesting stories about Lincoln that could be shared with children. Most young readers know the basic framework of Lincoln's life, but they're probably not as familiar with other stories about him. That was the first germ of an idea for this picture book.

PT: Your three earlier books were picture books, but THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN is a 48-page, nonfiction, poetry collection. Quite a change! What did you enjoy most about writing it? What were the biggest challenges for you?

Eileen: This book IS quite a change, Patty! I adore writing poetry. I began my writing career by selling poems to magazines, such as Highlights, High Five, Ladybug, and others. Though it is an unusual approach, I wanted to tell true stories within the framework of a poetry collection, highlighting a different story with each poem.
Text by Eileen Meyer
Illustration by Dave Szalay

Why poetry? Poetry provides the reader with an opportunity to slow down, pause, and reflect. Using lyrical language, sound, rhythm, and form, a poem can engage a reader in a very special way. Additionally, most poems are what I would call "bite-sized" - they include plenty of white space on the page - which allows readers to form their own connections.

What did I enjoy most about writing this book? Learning more about Abraham Lincoln! When you undertake a nonfiction project, you know that you'll be spending oodles of time immersed in your subject matter. Reading and spending a lot of time in thought about Abraham Lincoln was a delight!

As for my biggest challenge? With many books about Lincoln in the market, I needed to find a way to tell stories about Lincoln's life that was both fresh and interesting. The "superlative" theme and writing poetry was my "aha!" moment. 

PT: This book required extensive research. How did you go about finding resources? Any tips on organizing your research? And how did you decide which information to include in the book's back matter?

Eileen: I LOVE research projects! Generally, I begin by reading books about my topic. I take lots of notes to ensure there is enough fresh content before I move forward with the project. Truly, I find that the books help steer my path. The books' authors always reference special collections, museums, historical sites, historians, and other topical experts throughout their book text and in the footnotes. That helps direct the next steps of my research.


Eileen at the Lincoln Memorial
Photo by Carol Stalun Photography
Though it takes more time, I'm a big believer in personally visiting important historic sites to conduct research. For this book, I traveled throughout Illinois and also visited Washington, DC. I spent time at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site, the National Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Lincoln Memorial. By visiting many of these important sites, I was able to form a deeper understanding of Abraham Lincoln and his impact on others.


University of Illinois Library,
1891 book compiled by
Secretary of State Seward's son
As for organizing my research, I take a lot of photos when I visit historic sites and I take good notes. I keep my notes in 3-ring binders for easy reference. My photos are kept on my laptop computer; I might also print out some key photographs.


Regarding the back matter, I had a conference call with my editor early on in the project and we outlined those elements. The author's note, timeline, resources (books and websites), quotation sources, and selected bibliography were all key components. I'm especially excited about "The Superlative YOU" page in the back matter. It encourages young readers to consider the ways in which they, too, are superlative.

PT: You and fellow Grogger Julie Phend wrote a terrific post about promotional book swag. How are you using swag for THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN?

Eileen: I think book swag is so much fun! Some folks hire publicists for their marketing. Some plan fancy launch parties. I decided that I wanted to use my marketing budget for some innovative pre-order swag. Folks who pre-ordered copies of my book were able to contact me and receive this swag package:
"Be Superlative - Be Like Abe!" youth-sized silicone wristband
• One-of-a-kind Lincoln cork coaster for your coffee (a great way to start the day with a reminder to "Be Superlative!")
• A snazzy Lincoln pencil
• An author-signed bookplate to place inside the book
• Two bookmarks featuring illustrator Dave Szalay's awesome art
• Activities (only available in this offer) for a young reader 
• A lucky Lincoln penny

Another plus of the swag is that I can continue to use it at promotional events to come. It was fun to create a little excitement leading up to the launch!

PT: Are you able to tell us what's next for you?

Eileen: Thanks for asking, Patty. I'll only say that I've started researching another history topic and I'm in the preliminary stage where I'm reading books. I've also visited a key historic site. My husband is a good sport, and on a recent trip to the National Book Festival in Washington DC (to listen to some fabulous KidLit authors present programs), we took a little side trip. Traveling for research projects is lots of fun!
Eileen at the Library of Congress

PT: Thank you, Eileen, for a post that's "the most"!

Discover more about Eileen: 
Website - www.EileenMeyerBooks.com
Facebook - eileen.r.meyer children's author
Twitter - @Writer_Meyer
Instagram - eileenmeyerbooks


**** GIVEAWAY ALERT! ****

For a chance to win a copy of
THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN,
comment below.
For an additional chance, 
share this post on social media
and tag Eileen 
(handles listed above this alert).

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Debut Cover Reveal! for Claire Annette Noland

By Janie Reinart & Claire Annette Noland



Hi, I’m Evie, and I’m excited to tell you about a new book


I love to jump, run, and win and I have the trophies and ribbons to prove it.  

I was super excited and ready to compete in our school Field Day.

My friends kept winning and everyone cheered. 
Except me
I hate losing. 
Finally, during the last race of the day, I was winning
But something happened and I had to make a big decision
You can read all about it in a new book starring me called: 
EVIE’S FIELD DAY – More Than One Way to Win 
Today is the day that I get to share the cover -
Ready, 

           set, 
         
                   go -



I'm super excited for you to preorder here.


Now – here’s a few words from author Claire Annette Noland and illustrator Alicia Teba.


Claire, what inspired you to write Evie’s Field Day?
C.N. As a mom and teacher, I’ve seen first hand how hard it is for children to lose when playing games and sports. On the other hand, some winners aren’t very gracious. I wanted to write a story exploring the issue of sportsmanship and the old saying “it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.” Children are under so much pressure these days. I just want them to be able to have fun and encourage each other.
Alicia, what about the text drew you to illustrate Evie’s Field Day?
A.T. I just fell in love with Evie's character. She is a strong and brave little girl who wants to be the best and number one in all she does. I related to this, as she wants to be perfect, but she finds that being perfect or the number one is not what really matters. It is good to win if you enjoy the process, but if you are sad and have anxiety you are doing it wrong. Playing is already winning and most importantly, little things in life bring you more happiness than winning a competition. 
Claire, can you tell us about the road to publication for Evie’s Field Day?
I read a call for submissions from Maria Dismondy of Cardinal Rule Press. She was looking for manuscripts featuring children facing a problem. I knew I had a manuscript that fit her specifications so I sent it along. Amazingly, when I got “the call,” Maria shared that a friend had recently asked her if she had suggestions for a child who really struggled with losing. Then, my story came into her mailbox. Perfect timing, right?
I am really enjoying the process of publication with Cardinal Rule Press. The communication has been clear and frequent. I was able to participate in a marketing class taught by Maria and understand how much needs to happen for a successful book launch. I have redone my website and been trying to increase my social media presence. One of the most positive aspects of this adventure has been becoming a member of the 2020 Debut Crew which is a group of debut picture book authors working together to promote each other’s books.


Alicia, can you tell us a bit about how you illustrated Evie’s Field Day?

When Maria Dismondy from Cardinale Rule Press told me about the idea of using black and white and basic colors for the book, I loved the idea, as one of my favorite techniques is using pencil in a sketchy style. 
Since I was little, I have always loved to draw. It is such a pleasure when I can work with characters and stories that move me and that can make me enjoy the process. This was definitely the case.

Congratulations Claire and Alicia! You are blue ribbon winners. Have a great run with Evie.

Thank so much, Janie, and the rest of the fabulous GROG bloggers for hosting the cover reveal. EVIE’S FIELD DAY – More Than One Way to Win  (Cardinal Rule Press) will be racing to a bookshelf near you in May 2020.

Evie wants one lucky reader to have the opportunity to win a copy of Evie’s Field Day! Just leave a comment and a name will be chosen to receive the book when it is released in May of 2020.
Evie’s Field Day is available for preorder on Amazon: 
Claire Annette Noland writes from her home in Central California. You can learn more at https://claireannettenoland.com/ 
Twitter: @claire_noland
Also, visit her blog at http://afieldtriplife.com/
Alicia Teba illustrates books, stationary, calendars, book covers and more from her home in Spain. You can learn more at
Twitter: @AliciaTeba