Posts Tagged ‘Children’s Books’

It has been a little over a year now since I made the decision to pursue my dream of becoming a professional writer, and things seem to be moving along. I feel I am currently sitting on a unique original idea which could very well be the ticket in helping me realize my dream. In the research I have done I have been unable to find one book which utilizes the style I do. This is not to say they are not out there, but the only thing I have found which is similar is the Dr. Seuss books. I believe this concept and series has real marketability to it. When I compare my finished work to some others that are currently on the market it is clear what I have been able to put together is a superior product.

This is all fantastic and it makes me so excited to know I am this close to realizing my dream. It feels like it is right in front of me just waiting to be snatched up, but for some reason I am afraid to reach out and grab it. Why can’t I take that final step to complete everything? I think what it comes down to is my fear of failure. I have failed at everything I have tried to accomplish in my life, and the thought of failing at this is terrifying. I feel like this is my last shot at accomplishing the last dream I have left. If I fail than what do I have left to cling to in hopes of becoming more than I currently am?

I originally thought I would realize my dream through writing poetry. I thought this right up until I realized there is no future in this type of writing. I was a bit disappointed to learn all this since I had just written a poetry book with no future projects in mind. I really wasn’t sure where to go from here since all I really knew how to do was expressing myself through what I called poetry. I have no writing training to speak of, and my grammar skills are at a fourth grade level. I thought for sure I was dead in the water.

I currently have one book “Trapped Within My Illness” which is currently under review by “Graywolf Press.” I feel this poetry collection is better than the three I had previously written, but I am not expecting much to come of this. I have all but stopped looking for publishers to review my work, but if I come across one I will for sure submit my manuscripts to them. I love doing this so I will continue to write poetry and self-publish my work in hopes of once I start doing readings people may be interested in owning something I have written. If not I really won’t be disappointed, because I love the emotional release writing poetry brings to me.

Once I realized there was no career in writing poetry I was kind of at a loss for what to do next. I know when I first started this blog I had dreams of one day having fifty-thousand visitors a week, and that I would be making enough money to live off of with just the advertising alone. I again had to face the realization that this blog will more than likely never receive fifty-thousand visitors a year let alone a week. I was a bit saddened by this at first, because I love doing this blog so much and it would have been great to become a career blogger. Knowing this to be true has caused a bit of a conundrum. I am afraid because I love doing this so much that it is taking my creative time and energy away from other projects. I battle back and forth contemplating if I should slow down and take a step back in order to work on other projects. I think I would have a hard time giving this up though.

Since I started this dream I have come up with many different book ideas. There were some I thought were great then after further consideration I decided to scrap them. Then there were other ideas I still think are great and they would be a blast to work on. These ideas are just sitting there with no work being done towards completing them. The problem with these ideas is they are all more than likely to take me a year or three to complete. Considering my personality I am unsure of my ability to write something so lengthy. I also do not have enough confidence in the ideas themselves to spend three years on something which may or may not ever become a reality.

It was in one of my ideas though that I feel I have found my talent and voice in such a unique way that this idea may be the one which helps me realize my dream of becoming a professional writer; my “Dylan Thomas” series. I have already written two installments in the series, and I have another two hundred or so ideas just waiting to be put to paper. This series is based and written around my youngest son Dylan. In the manuscripts I have finished thus far I have been able to include my other kids in the story as well. This makes working on them so personal and enjoyable. These are picture books which are written entirely in rhyming format. This format and the way I present them are currently to my knowledge not being done. I was really surprised when I wrote the first one just how well the story flowed. When I finished the first and second book it honestly felt like magic. I had never written something I have actually been proud of, until I wrote these two books. I hired an illustrator and thus “Dylan Thomas: Finds His Courage” was self-published. I have received nothing but positive feedback from the book, and everyone who read the next installment “Dylan Thomas: Bedtime Songs” have said that this version is far better than the first. I figured I was all ready to start submitting these books to literary agents.

Nicole looked into what all goes into trying to find a children’s literary agent and what she discovered was that it is best to have multiple stories to submit to them so they can see that your idea is not just a one and done deal. It was decided that the best course of actions was to write a few more manuscripts to include with the query letter we planned on sending to agents. I have known about this for around two months, yet I have not spent a minute working on it. There may have been times I got prepped to start on a title, but I ended up working on something different. I have been just floored for why I have not been more proactive on finishing these projects. My most recent hurdle was creating an outline for each story, and day after day it went un-worked on. Well last week I got a rush of creativity and finished completed outlines for four additional stories. I have yet to take the next step to begin completing them.

I wonder what the hold-up is. I make the time to work on my poetry and blog posts, but I have been avoiding actually working on the one thing which will further the possibility of realizing my dream. I then realized perhaps I am putting this off because once I finish these and start sending them off to agents, and I don’t get picked-up then I may be faced with the stark reality that my stuff may not be good enough. I think if I was faced with such a reality I would be utterly devastated since these children’s books seem to be where my talent is at.

I need to make the time and take a courageous leap of faith and finish these next few manuscripts. I need to get them out to agents to see if there is any reality in my dream. I would rather know now in year two or three that the possibility of my dream coming true is close to zero. I would rather know now then spend another five years chasing something that is a long shot. Right now I have a quality, original and well written children’s books which can be turned into an ongoing series aimed at children ranging in age from 1 to 11. If this doesn’t get picked up I am honestly not sure I am able to top this complete idea.

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Even though I know very little about it; I just can’t help but love poetry. I love the way I am able to express my inner most emotions and capture them on paper. I am not educated on what the various forms of poetry are; I just write. When I was younger I would write a few then toss them aside, but I would share them with very few people. I would get words stuck in my head, these words were so intense and jumbled I would have to grab a piece of paper and just write them down. I never kept anything that I wrote, but I wish I would have. I also used to write short stories, but sadly those were tossed as well. In college I would get stoned out of my mind and write some kick ass papers. I some how managed to get A’s on 95% of them. I really wish I would have kept them, especially my papers which basically got me kicked out of a Crown College (A private Christian school.) I only just started keeping my writings, and thanks to the wonderful internet I am able to share them with whoever stops by.

I was first turned onto poetry when I read the book “Where The Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein.  I loved everything about this book. The way it flowed and captured my imagination was fantastic. I vowed in my young dreamer way that someday I would write poetry that would appear in a book. My other inspiration which enthralled me was the Dr. Seuss books. His books seemed so magical. I wanted to write stories that emulated that certain flow which made his books so great (I sort of modeled my children’s books off his style.) I was later influenced by Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Jim Morrison, and Edgar Allan Poe  to only name a few. These inspirations made me want to be a writer. This was always a dream I have had, but never thought anything would ever come of it. It was one of those things you store deep inside. The only time it is mentioned is in a “wouldn’t that be great” conversation.

As I grew up I still held onto this dream of becoming a writer, but focused very little on honing my craft. I cannot remember the last grade I was in where I was really present and trying. I was a space case who cared little about school; because of this I learned very little about grammar and sentence structure which still stunts me to this day. I remember in fifth grade I wrote a short story about something or other. I handed it in and I remember the teacher making a comment about how someday I would become a writer. I do not remember this teacher’s name, but her words have been the words that have always kept the fire burning inside of me. I bet you she probably doesn’t even remember making that comment; yet I carried her words with me for twenty years, and it has given me hope.

So now here I am. My first book was published by a shady publishing house so I consider that work gone, and I do not consider this as an accomplishment because technically my book wasn’t really published. I self published my next two poetry books which is great but it is not the same feeling as having an agent tell you one of the larger publishing houses has agreed to publish your work. Poetry is a dead art form and there is not much demand for it these days. I think most current poets don’t even bother trying to publish their work; they are just content with it being on their blog, or on one of the many poetry websites. Seeing your work on a computer screen is nothing like seeing your book in print.

I haven’t been able to write any kind of poetry since I published those last two books I think that was back in September. I went through a similar drought after my first book got published. I think what happens is it is emotionally draining process. I tap into the sap of my soul and pour out the love and pain in my life. When I start writing I just can’t stop it is like one right after the other it is truly a magical experience. The problem is I just don’t know how good my stuff is. I have received a handful of reviews located on my website http://thephilosophyofme.com/book-reviews.html. One of my favorite reviews which aren’t located on my website is from Simone at http://spontaneousoverflow.com/wordpress/?p=1751, Even though this review does not necessarily paint my writing in the most positive light; I still seem to like it. I would love to take several writing courses at schools to hone my skills. I think my mind is a perfect tool it is just dull at the moment.    

I wish I lived during the time when poetry was considered an art, and heralded by the people. I have been doing research and literary agents will not represent poets, there is just no market for it. This sucks because I am currently working on three other poetry books, but I am getting to the point where I say to myself why even bother putting in the time for something that will never be read? The question I have is should I continue to work on my poetry projects or just focus on something different? I am really excited about my Tao Te Ching poetry book. I think this one will be my best yet, but should I even take the time? I really think the only way I am going to find readers is through doing live readings; which I hope to do my first few in January. I figure this will be the test to really gage if my work is any good. My goal is to get a local following, and one day become the main headliner, if I am able to do this then I can take some satisfaction that my work has not fallen on deaf ears.

I was talking with my mom last night asking for her advice, and to hear her comforting voice to talk me down from the mania I was in. I was having issues on how to manage and structure a certain on-going theme for this blog (will touch on this in separate post.) This complete lack in structure and organization was crushing my brain. We started talking about “Dylan Thomas” my children’s book series. She brought up a great point which has always been in the back of my mind, but I always try to bury it away. She said that I may have a hard time finding an agent because of the poetry books I have written, as well as the content on this blog. When she said this it brought my personal fears to the forefront of my consciousness. This buried realization along with my mania transformed into complete panic.

I am well aware the only way I am going to realize my writing dreams is through my “Dylan Thomas” series. Children books are far more popular than poetry books, and I don’t mean to toot my own horn but the two books I have already written in this series are bad ass. We have to read to our youngest for fifteen minutes every night, and I am always amazed on how some of these books were even published. My writing style for this series is poetry mixed with a Dr. Seuss feel. I felt I was 100% certain I will get an agent, but at the same time an agent may be afraid to sign me because of my adult poetry books and the content on this blog. I know when I first started writing this blog; much of the material was centered on my mental illness, but lately I have not focused so much on my personal struggles, unless I absolutely need to get it off my chest.

Like I wrote in “Piss Off Corporate America” I wonder if I have nuked the bridges between me and the possibility of being signed by a literary agent. If I send my query letter to them will they Google my name and judge me based off who I am, or will they judge me by the content of my manuscript? I am just sick with anxiety over this, because I can do nothing about it. I self-published two of my three poetry books so I very well could pull them off the market, but there is nothing I can do about my other one. It is already on Amazon, and has been the vocal point of various different discussion boards. There is also nothing I can do about what I have written on this blog. I can shutdown my account but I think everything I have already written will be here forever. Although this blog has a modest following I cannot imagine not writing in it. Oh shit I just realized I could probably change the author name on here! Do you guys think that is a good idea?

In the end my question is this. Do you think I will be rejected by children’s books agents because of my persona of being as my mom put it “a complete fucking lunatic?” Should I change the author name on this blog? Should I pull my two self-published poetry books for sale off the internet, or should I just use a pen name for those as well? Doing all this will require hours of work, so do you think it is worth it? Please feedback and answers to my questions are greatly needed so I can cure my panic.

Thanks

You can purchase my books at www.thephilosophyofme.com

On Saturday September 18th “Dylan Thomas: Finds His Courage” was published. This is a very exciting time, because I have been working on this project for the past seven months and I am very happy it has been released. This is the first installment in a long series of books based off my son Dylan. My other two children will also be included in every book. This series is geared towards 1-10 year olds; the stories will be varied in topic subjects. One book can be about Dylan being potty trained and one about Dylan’s first day at kindergarten. I have already started working on the next book “Dylan Thomas: Bedtime Songs.” I have a three to four week deadline to have it written and edited. I think I can honestly hit this deadline.

This book has a nice niche in the market, because it is written entirely in rhyming poetry. To my knowledge there are not many out there following this format. The first draft was written in story form but did not make it through the focus grood. Many people thought the story was rather boring. I decided to alter the story to write it in its current form. This edition was met with praise from the focus group.   

The next step is to start marketing it. I was able to put a link on WordPress but it would not allow me to add the picture which means readers will not see it. I viewed my site and all I see is a small box with a red X through it. I doubt this will draw people to the link where people can purchase the book. I posted a link on my Facebook status message, but these status messages get lost in the shuffle of Facebook posts. I can not figure out how to create a permanent link on my account. I do have my website where people can purchase the book, but I have very limited resources to advertise this site, so I receive very little traffic.

I need to get my Philosophy of Me business cards made up so I have the option to strike up conversations’ and hand them out to drive sales. I know these business cards will prove to be valuable when I finally start doing readings. I can also place advertisement on message boards. Nicole has found many sites where I can get professional reviews from which would provide great exposure and give me more things I can send to agents after the next installment comes out. I am a bit overwhelmed with all the reading material to get this started. Below are two links to where you can purchase this book. I received a comment from Johanna asking to see a preview of the book, and that preview is offered on the purchasing site.

I hope to get your support, the more sales the easier it will be to interest literary agents. It would also help if you could post the lulu link and either e-mail to family and friends and or post the link on your Facebook and ask people to repost. This worked great for my previous book.

 http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/dylan-thomas-finds-his-courage/12677841

 www.thephilosophyofme.com

On Friday I ordered my sample copy of “Dylan Thomas: Finds His Courage.” I should receive the copy in about a week or two. This book is the first installment in a series of children’s books I am writing. It has taken some time to finally get this thing together and ready to be published. My illustrator and I have learned some valuable lessons during this process. I hope these learning tools will aid us in our future installments. The main thing we learned was having the book edited prior to starting the illustration phase, and we have decided each book will have its own separate illustration style. This will be nice because we can keep things fresh.

If everything looks good this book should be available for sale end of September or early October. I really hope everything turns out on paper as well as it shows on the computer. I am worried the quality will be less than perfect, and the illustrations rely heavily on bright eye popping illustrations. If the quality does not come out we may need to look for another printing company which will only further delay its release. 

This series of books is based around my son Dylan. I chose to use his middle name Thomas because Dylan Thomas is the name of one of my favorite poets. Since the series will always be written in rhyming poetry I feel the name is perfect. The stories will always star my son, but each one of my kids will be in the story as well; in fact every character and location in these books will be based off people and locations I know. We will be publishing one more book “Dylan Thomas: Bed Time Songs,” which I am currently writing. Once this one is published I will begin to shop these books off to literary agents in hopes of getting published by one of the larger publishing houses. I understand I have a much better chance of achieving my dream of becoming a full-time author with this series as opposed to my poetry and blog.

I hope to get the support of my readers so I can show agents solid sales numbers. I will let everyone know the day it is released.

The events over the last 6 months has opened up many doors for me. I was able to realize my life long dream of becoming a published author. This accomplishment gave me the courage and confidence to attempt some other personal dreams. I was able to create a website, albeit a pretty lame one but a website I can call my own. I started a daily blog, and I founded The Bucket List Foundation. Since all these things have happened the creative flood gates have been opened which has given me the motivation to start other book projects. The following are the current projects I am working on. Due to my ADD I need to work on multiple projects, because I grow board with working on just one at a time.

Dylan Thomas: This is a children’s book series written in poetry form. The goal is to create stories which appeal to ages 2-10. I want the rhyming and lush drawings to not only draw the kids in, but also make the stories enjoyable for the parents as well. I have completed the first story, but I have run into a wall with an illustrator.

The Definitive Theology Timeline: This is a working title. My goal is to track religion from its conception and its evolution into what we know today. I intend to include every possible religion I can. I am not going to go into great depth on each one, just some basics like creation stories, Gods, messiah, end-times and the basic belief system. I am guessing each chapter will be about fifteen to twenty pages. I am around 200 pages deep into this with a long way to go.

Deceived: (working title) This book examines how the Christian religion has allowed itself to be destroyed by the word of man. You would be amazed how much the bible has been changed to not only create copyrights, but to change the originally meaning of the “Word of God” to fit mans needs.

The Mind of a Madman: (working title) This is a novel written in poetry form describing the inner workings of a psychopath, starting from the time of conception up until… the rest will be a surprise.

The Philosophy of Me: The life and mind of no one special: This will be a book based of 365 days of my blogging experience. I am unsure if a blogger has created a book based off a year of their posts, but I thought I would give it a try. If nothing else perhaps I will create more exposure to my cause.

Finally I am working on two other poetry chapbooks, which at this moment in time have no names. The goal is to self publish then shop the manuscripts to publishers and literary agents.

I had an idea back in November for a children’s book series staring Gary Olson. I would tell my youngest son stories about this guy named Gary Olson. I would normally just make it up as I went along, and he loved it. He would often repeat back stories of what Gary Olson did. I told one story about how Gary Olson was not ticklish, and how all the people in the town tried to tickle him. My son would tell people “did you know Gary Olson isn’t ticklish.”

I finished the first draft sometime in January. I was just finishing up my poetry book, and anytime I tried working on it; I was having writers block. I had a list of story ideas five-pageslong. I was unable to produce a complete story. I was riding home from work, when a story idea hit me. I grabbed my recorder and spouted off a story. I typed the story up, and passed it off to my illustrated Tim Bush.

Later that week Bush called me and gently told me the story was horse shit, being the writer I could not believe his criticism. I posted a Facebook message looking for a focus group to get some other opinions. I sent it out to about seven people, and all seven confirmed; the story needed a lot of work.

I was having trouble adjusting the story, everything I thought of would ruin the meaning of the story. I was racking my brain, and I was coming up with nothing. I put it to the side; I thought if I stop trying so hard eventually it would come to me. I thought of telling the story through poetry, I was now interested and motivated to complete.

Two weekends ago I was struck with a creative rush, I hopped on the laptop and I was off. I decided not only would I use poetry form, but I would have it rhyme as well. I finished three pages, but I was constantly interrupted by my kids. I lost the creative juices, so I put it aside.

I was determined to finish the book on Saturday. I started writing right after I had my coffee, and I did not stop until 8pm. I completely altered the story, instead of the character Gary Olson; I used my youngest son’s first and middle name Dylan Thomas. I loved the idea, I felt more motivated using my children as characters. I was able to relate to their individual characteristics. I also love that the main character is also a famous poet. I not only used my youngest, nut I also included my other children.

I finished the second draft, and sent it back out to the focus group. The consensus was positive, everyone seemed to love it. There were suggestions on a few things I should change, there was the ending and the character that was my daughter. I can not change my daughters character, it is an inside joke which the family finds funny. The other suggestions were to change the ending, I am not going to go into detail on this, but I purposely ended the story without confronting the bully.

I just need to format it and pass off to Bush. I hope he can complete the illustrations so I can work on getting this published. I am going to self publish the book, and just market the hell out of it. If I can show the book is selling I will shop the book around to literary agents. If I am able to sign with an agent, It will make it a lot easier getting myself published by bigger named publishers. I am very excited!

People throughout the world have dreams and aspirations of becoming this or achieving that, unfortunately some realize their dreams and others do not. Many of us get sucked into the day to day demands and our dreams get put aside; filing it away for a later date. My dream has always been to become a published full-time writer. Prior to a month ago I found myself shelving this dream under the “This will never happen so why bother” file.

Starting a family at such a young age caused me to focus on making money to pay the bills, and my daily activities involved making sure we could do just that. My focus to the best of my ability was focused on my family. I honestly never thought I would amount too much except being a father and husband, nor did I think any of my personal dreams would come to fruition. I have always loved writing, prior to heading down this path I would write small poems on a scratch paper and toss them in the garbage. I always thought poetry was an extinct art and would lead me nowhere. Little did I know the events that started as my downward spiral resulting in a suicide note to my family would become a published book. The confidence of my book being published gave me the confidence to start this blog. I am now working on other projects to further my writing career.

I am in the first year of my 15 year plan, and to be honest with you I did not expect anything to happen with my book, and I expected nothing to happen with this blog. I have such low self-esteem of myself and this low self-esteem makes me think I will fail in everything I set out to do. In my perceived failing; my 15 year plan would become yet another disappointment in a long line of failures. To my surprise things are working out a little differently.

I did my first newspaper interview about my book, with my local paper. I was so nervous leading up to this. While I was doing the interview it all felt so surreal. I could not understand why anyone would be interested in anything I do or have done. When it was all finished I had a strange sense of accomplishment. I was able to open up my book of goals and check something off. It was such a glorious experience.

I have this strange feeling, something I am not used to. I have this feeling of joy, and a very strange sense. The exact feeling escapes me, and I am having trouble identifying it… The feeling is pride, I can not remember the last time I was proud of myself. It is a great feeling, and a feeling I hope to build on.

**Since this publication in February 2010 I have published my first children’s book “Dylan Thomas: Finds His Courage,” with another one due out in early 2011. I have also finished my next two poetry books “Yin” and “Yang.” These titles will be available in October or November 2010. I have done two additional interviews, and soon I will start doing readings at local coffee shops. I also started “The Bucket List Foundation.” It amazes me how things have been working out. I am still not a full-time writer, but I would have to say I am on my way.**