Archive for children’s books

Website Revamp, Baby!

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

I’m gonna start with this awesome little nugget: I just found out I almost have 1000 blog followers! When and how did this happen? But most of you are very quiet. Say hi; I don’t bite! You all rock with your support. Thank you!

In case you can’t tell this site has had a bit of a makeover. I decided that if things pick up with “Guts and Glory” once the 3rd book is out, I MIGHT need this site to be ready. One thing I did was think about what people are looking for when they come to my site, especially those who ask for the URL from me in person — my books. Which before weren’t featured very well. *Facepalm* SO, now they are! I also shortened my menu and updated all the media and review information. I like it a lot more now. What do you think?

Other than FINALLY finishing Book 3, now it’s time for me to get on with completing http://gutsandglorybooks.com. That will take a lot more work, especially the fannish areas. My biggest challenge, besides Books’ Laboratory (anyone know how to create a game from scratch? EEP!) will be keeping everything safe for the kids who use it. I plan to have a requirement of the Nil Name quiz, so they can use that name instead of their own on, for example, the message boards (for the teens), the fan art area (for kids and teens), etc. I will also not have private message options, and I’ll need some mods and admins to help with the boards and chat.

Of course, the usage of these areas will be EXTREMELY small at first (and — let’s face it — possibly forever) but I don’t want there to be an issue I’m not anticipating, just in case. If anyone has any other ideas to keep the place on lock down, please let me know. The last thing I want is to make an unsafe place for my young readers!

But first, I need your help with the Nil Name quiz. I FINALLY got it to work for people other than me, so if you would be willing to take the quiz and tell me what you got and whether it was accurate, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you!

What’s Your Nil Name? Quiz

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Updates from the Land of Nil

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

Hot on the heels of the new and improved version of Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine (which, by the way, is currently free on Kindle — GO GET IT BEFORE IT’S NOT ANYMORE!) comes its brand-new little sister, The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc!

As you can see, the cover is all ready thanks to the beautious Jessica Douglas.¬†Alas, I am not as prolific as she, and my edits aren’t QUITE up to snuff yet. That said, it will be finished and ready to buy within the week so keep checking back!

You follow me here, so of course you know about THIS blog, but did you know I have a brand new website just for Nil? It can be found at http://gutsandglorybooks.com and it will be full of TONS of fun stuff to do soon! For now, you can earn your Nil name (I’m still adding to that, so if it comes out wrong for now let me know please!) and there’s a contact form to talk to me. Keep checking back though because among other fun stuff, I’ll be adding:

  • A Kid area with games, prints, fanart, and more!
  • A Teen area with message boards, chats, fanfic and more!
  • A special game where you can build tons of fun inventions in Books’ lab!
  • An FAQ page for parents about the books, the world, and the website of Nil.

Don’t spread the news JUST yet though… it’s hush-hush between us for now. ūüėȬ†So much to be excited about! Talk to you again soon!

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 8-ish: Innocent Villainy

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2018 by Jessica Crichton

kiddo

Day 8… ish. I was off work for a week, so… yeah.

Anyway, HI! I have good news — thanks to my wonderful friend Molly, I have the ability to write at home again! W00T! Thank you Molly for letting me borrow your iPad; I will return it as soon as I am able to buy a laptop for myself. Does this mean I will be blogging more? I certainly hope so, but knowing my scatterbrainedness (and the fact that I kinda have a book to write) let’s just wait and see, shall we?

As for today’s subject, I want to talk a little bit about villains. Namely, making them 3-D in children’s books. The norm for giving villains depth in most stories is to give them a great backstory. A hard and fast — and even sympathetic — reason for doing what they do. Who are they? Why do they do bad things? What makes them really TICK, deep down inside? But for parents, who want their children to learn that it’s NEVER okay to be a villain no matter what the reason, and for kids, who see the world in black and white, just how do you keep your villain from being a parody, a shadow, or a mask?

This is a question I have run up against many times in my writing career. I am not afraid to say that 99.9% of my bad guys have been… bland and boring. Tropey. Exactly what you’d expect a villain to be.

Blech.

But I’m not alone in this. Think about the kids’ books you have loved. From Alice in Wonderland to Coraline, from The Wizard of Oz to “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, villains in kidlit tend to just be evil for the sake of being evil. The Queen of Hearts just is a bully. No reason given. Other Mother is demonic and therefore naturally bad. The Wicked Witch*… well… need I say more?¬†As for Count Olaf, I like to say he’s like The Joker with fewer reasons to be nuts. And I won’t even get started on any of Roald Dahl’s monstrous inventions!

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with this. After all, a large part of what makes kidlit fun is the simple good vs. evil aesthetic often inherent in it. And every single example I have given is from a story (or stories) I adore. That said, can we give our young readers more in their bad guys?

As it turns out, the answer to that is a resounding YES! At least according to some contemporary authors who are doing just that.

One great example is, of course, J.K. Rowling. Is Voldemort evil? Yes. Does he do bad things? Ohhh yeah. But Rowling also delves into his past, weaving a tragic story of a boy who struggled with loss and defeat at a very young age. Does she use this to excuse his actions? Not at all! But it does show the reader that he is more than a scary mask floating on the wind. And this is even more prevalent in her “lesser” villains, especially in young Draco Malfoy, whose character development is a work of art akin to Michelangelo’s, in my humble opinion.

But I digress.

*Fangirls*

*Ahem*

Another example can be found in the “Percy Jackson” books, though to be fair Rick Riordan kind of cheated on that end, using myths and legends who already embody the rich depth that only comes from centuries of storytelling. But I digress. His villains still count.

Still, these examples are as few and far between as the list of fantasy and sci-fi children’s books on Amazon. (Hint: it’s¬†small.) Maybe I’m just not seeing it. Maybe I’m reading young readers wrong. Or maybe — just maybe — we need more depth, more magic, more wonder, in kidlit overall. Not just in its villains, but in… everything?

I’m in danger of getting off-topic here though. Let me return to villains. (Though I’m seeing another blog topic in the near future…)

Rowling and Riordan (and maybe others I missed; add them in comments!) have shown us that yes, kidlit villains¬†can be 3-dimensional, if we choose to focus just a little more on them. In fact, keeping with the “marketing” aspect of this blog series, making a children’s literary world deeper and richer overall has proven to be extremely successful and popular among young readers. So why don’t we do that more often? That’s the question I’ve asked myself lately, and why I¬†plan on doing the same with my villain in “Guts and Glory.” At the moment Dr. Fixit is little more than a shadow. I’ll be changing that in book 3.

It’s time to make Nil¬†real.

MUAAAHAHAHAAA!

 

*(I hope it goes without saying that I’m talking about the ORIGINAL CHILDREN’S book by L Frank Baum.)¬†

 

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 5: Social Media Madness

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Hello all, and I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

I’m back at work now, and therefore back writing to you. Today I’m thinking about social media marketing, this blog, and ways to use them all in-tandem to their best advantage for getting the word out there about “Guts and Glory”.  Things I’ve thought about so far are…

  • Some kind of “ad” campaign where Books’ inventions are being promoted in apocalypse punk style (But I don’t know how interesting that would be to people, especially my young readers.)
  • A”recruitment” campaign into the Dark Crows
  • A “call to adventure” style campaign where readers have to sort clues and such to find their way into Nil
  • A Nil-related contest of some kind
  • A quiz or quizzes related to Nil and its characters

Hmm… What do you think? What would get the kids excited to see Book 3’s debut? What would get the young readers interested in Nil and its denizens? If you have any other ideas or just brainstorming, please leave them in the comments.

Whatever the campaign ends up being, for the full Social Media gauntlet I’m looking at linking:

  • This blog
  • My Facebook fan page
  • My Twitter feed
  • Goodreads
  • YouTube (Especially for book trailers!)
  • Patreon (Gotta do some more research into how to utilize it for kidlit in particular.)

Still thinking! Gotta find a way to get a computer at home, too. I can’t do everything I need to do by February on my work breaks alone… Hmm…

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 3 (Part II): Which Ends in Vetting Indie Kidlit

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Well, that was fun.

It looks like I may have to make a new pen name under the same profile on Amazon, though I don’t know if that will remove the old name or if I even can. Trying to research it is kind of a nightmare too. Nothing comes up about it at all that I can find.

In the end, I just emailed them. It’ll probably be answered after Christmas.

For now, I updated my RSS feed from here (so this should show up there now too — hi Amazon!) and will be doing little tweaks here and there. One thing I DO know is, I’m glad I’m doing this now instead of right before the third book is finished!

Speaking of doing things ahead of time, after emailing Amazon my spaz brain kicked in again and I started looking into reviews.

Ahhh! Another big knot!

There are so many review sites out there, and so many reviews OF the reviews that my brain is spinning just trying to untie it all. Kirkus seems safe, but I still need to look into just how much good they do indie authors, as I’ve seen many differing views on it, plus it’s expensive at between $425 and $575 a pop.¬† ¬†There’s also my whole “kidlit author” thing, which makes it more complicated as many reviewers don’t review children’s books at all, and often those that do only review trade published titles. I have gotten a great review of “Dr. Fixit” from Erik at This Kid Reviews Books¬†and I would love to get more specifically for kidlit that actually take indie books.

One issue I keep running into time and time again is the fact that children’s books are SERIOUSLY hard to get accepted by libraries, bookstores, schools, and, as you see, even review sites. Now, I understand. I do. Everyone wants to make sure the books children read are vetted to be safe for them. I get it, and I wholeheartedly agree. That said, there’s got to be a better vetting system than trade publication. There are literally hundreds of thousands of books that are great for kids, that would help them learn, grow, and see the world in a billion better ways, that never get trade published simply because the big houses (and even the small presses) don’t have enough time and resources to devote to them, so they have to reject them. What if a group of teachers, scholars, and established children’s writers and editors got together to create a solid, dependable vetting system for indie kidlit, to keep parents happy AND let kidlit authors reach our readers?

Well… I just went off on a tangent, and I’m almost off work so I have to go. Just… think about it. If you know of any system in place, or you like / hate the idea, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!

Adventures in Book Promotion Day 3 (Part I): Amazonian Knots

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

Sooo… Amazon.

These days, it seems self-publishing is only really doable with the help of the online bookselling monolith. In some ways that’s great! Having their help with everything from sales presence to the creation of the actual, physical book is a BIG help! But in other ways… it can feel like a worse knot than Piper’s Rapunzel (self-promotion-within-self-promotion FTW!)

If you clicked the first link here, you saw that I have a little work to do cleaning up my profile before the big “Guts and Glory” push. My bio is a bit dated, for one, and my name is certainly outdated. The covers are the latest covers (which to be honest surprised me), but that will be changing soon as well (SQUEE!) Last I checked, which to be honest was far too long ago, there were three different versions of “Dr. Fixit” on Amazon. Now, there’s only the latest one on my author page (paperback vs. ebook notwithstanding), and when I do a search it’s the same (WHEW!) so that’s nice to see. Unfortunately now I have another version I’ll be updating onto the site, so I’m a bit worried about confusion there…

I have really two choices here, as far as I can see:

  • Begin a whole new profile on Createspace (Amazon’s self-publishing platform) under Jessica Crichton as opposed to Jessica Rising.
  • Rework my current Createspace profile to update everything.

There are pros and cons to both of these choices. For the former, obviously starting a whole new profile would make it clean and crisp from the gate, which is always nice. Plus, a quick Amazon search for “Jessica Crichton” turns up nothing except a link to Michael Crichton, which would be a great little bit of inner-site promotion even if his books are very different than mine. However, it would leave the Jessica Rising profile out there in stasis, including two different versions of “Dr. Fixit” and “Zombies” on the Amazon site, which could get really confusing really fast. Confusion is the LAST thing I want on my readers’ minds! The latter would take more work and probably frustration (Amazon isn’t known for being that user-friendly to indie writers) plus I’d worry I’d miss some bit of something and end up with a little mess leftover in the end, but it would bypass that whole doubling up thing, and I already have a years-long presence on Amazon there, including reviews I don’t want to lose. (Which, if you’re a writer, you know is seriously important!)

Hmmm… I think I’m going to try the latter and see how it goes. The reviews are certainly worth the extra work, though I still worry about missing loose ends.

Stay tuned: this particular post is going to have a Part II soon!

 

A New Journey: Adventures in Book Promotion Day 1

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2017 by Jessica Crichton

I have some confessions to make:

  1. I am a consummate procrastinator.
  2. If there’s an easy way to do it, I’ll tend to choose that route.
  3. I am made of 90% Hope and 10% Do.

As a writer, you can imagine where that’s gotten me in my career. A whole lotta nowhere. If you have followed me on here, read my books, and/or otherwise support(ed) me, let me say right off the bat that I SOOO appreciate you! I don’t think you’re nothing.

Please don’t leave.

That said I, like most writers, would very much like to do this whole writing thing full time, and at the moment, thanks to the above conglomerate of craptastic characteristics, I can’t. I can’t even come close. So here and now, I have another confession to make:

  • I want to change all of it.

Due to our *wonderful* current administration, it’s quite possible that this will be the last year I get a decent tax return (or one at all). As such, I’ve decided to invest a large portion of it in my future and my career. (If you’re thinking, “well it’s about time”, may I kindly refer you to #1 above?) However, money isn’t going to be all I need to kick-jump my lifelong career aspirations. I’ll also need stamina, tenacity, focus, drive, motivation, moxie, energy, time, self-discipline, and lots of other physical tools and personality traits I have never really though of myself possessing.

This is KINDA scary, folks!

My plan is to release “Guts and Glory” as a full, complete trilogy in mid-February, to great fanfare and angelic choirs and all that, but my work is starting NOW to make it all happen. I have found I need to do the following ASAP:

  • Commission new, professional-level covers of awesome eye-catchingness: DONE! Jessica FREAKING Douglas herself will be redoing the covers for me, and she is AMAZING! I’m SO psyched about this I can barely contain my pee! Check out her work here. SQUEEE!
  • WRITE AND EDIT BOOK 3: In the Works. See below for details.
  • Research book promotion companies and steps: Working on it!
  • Plan a solid, manageable, and effective promotion and writing/editing schedule between now and February 15th: Not yet started, but will soon!

It goes without saying that I will be updating this blog as well, hopefully on a day-to-day basis, as it will be my Central Hub of Writingness through it all, as blogs are wont to be. I do have ONE little issue impeding me, which I hope to fix soon, and that’s the fact that I have no computer at home. (I’m writing this on my break at work. Heh.) But I have hope that will be fixed soon, as the Universe will provide.

Thank you all for your support and love. I have felt it over the years, and now it is carrying me through this HUGE step. I will keep you all updated! I love you!

Postscript: (yeah, that’s what P.S. stands for) It just occurred to me the time of year in which I’m writing this. Honestly, I didn’t even consider this a New Years Resolution, and even after realizing the date, I still won’t. Those are notorious for failing. I won’t fail.

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