Today, just over four months after the publication date of My Llama Drama, I want to reflect on and share with you the myriad of people involved in the process and the important roles they've played.
Thank you to the following people. They all come highly recommended, so fellow authors, feel free to reach out to them!
Tamara Rittershaus, Editor.
I once heard someone say, 'Surround yourself with people smarter than you if you want to be successful in business.' Being an author is a business as much as us creatives want to deny it, and making smart choices about the people you surround yourself with in the business of publishing your book matters. I was SO lucky to find Tamara at just the right time! I'd been sitting on my manuscript for a few months, unsure of what to do next but knowing I needed to find a trusted, respected and smart editor to help me out. Tamara was just that person! Not only is she an excellent editor, she is a brilliant poetry coach, so my manuscript and I were in expert hands.
Bear With Us Productions
Publishing a book can be daunting; editors, illustrators, book design, marketing! Where to start? Who to turn to after your manuscript is polished? Thankfully I found Andy and Richie at Bear With Us Productions (BWUP)! BWUP offers the full package, for the debut author with little to no experience right up to authors simply looking for an awesome illustrator to bring their story to life. I was immediately drawn to the range and quality of illustrators on their list, and was lucky enough to request and commission the work of a fabulous illustrator through them. They also took care of all the formatting and design of the book, including selecting fonts, composition of the page spreads and cover, some marketing material and taking care of the final files ready for print. It made the process so easy!
Eduardo Paj, Illustrator.
Finding the right illustrator is CRUCIAL to the success of the book so this process is not one to be done quickly or taken lightly. As mentioned above, I found Bear With Us Productions first and did some research before getting in touch with them. Before I reached out I already knew Eduardo was the illustrator I wanted to work with. His talent for illustrating different subjects was a perfect fit for My Llama Drama and I love his 'Disney-esque' style! Working through Andy at BWUP I was able to provide my 'vision' for the overall book at the beginning of the process and with regular check-in points throughout Eduardo brought my story to life! He worked his magic and without a talented illustrator like Eduardo those little llamas could have been in all sorts!
Of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention my family, friends and writer/author groups in the process! Without their support, love and shoulders to lean on I could have easily put the manuscript in the drawer never to see the light of day.
In mid-August I had the absolute honour of being interviewed by the inspirational Barbie Robinson from Living Arts Canberra to discuss all things My Llama Drama.
Living Arts Canberra is a local not for profit arts media company advocating for the Canberra artistic community. You can find out more about the brilliant work of Barbie and her Richard here.
Being my first radio interview I was super nervous, but Barbie quickly made me feel right at ease with her beautiful presence and gentle reassurance. Thank you, Barbie!
You can hear the interview and read Barbie's blog post about me and My Llama Drama here.
With the looming launch date of my debut picture book, My Llama Drama, and my work behind the scenes plugging away on the development of what I hope will be new published stories, I've some thought into why I've chosen to rhyme in some stories and not in others.
Firstly, I think it's important to dispel one myth close to my heart about rhyming stories. As a teacher and reader of a gazillion picture books, I've held tightly to my misconception that writing in rhyme was easy!! I'm here to tell you... IT IS NOT - some authors just make it look easy!
I wrote My Llama Drama over a few days with the initial intention of it being a poem for my son that we could enjoy together. When it blossomed into a full blown rhyming story I decided (after several months of sitting on it by the way) that I needed professional help to get the story ship-shape.
Now, I have to be honest. I thought my story and the rhyme within it were pretty good until I got myself a wonderful editor. Naively thinking my story only required a bit of a spit and polish set me up for a wild ride!
Tamara Rittershaus and I worked backwards and forwards over many, many weeks to get My Llama Drama (originally called 'Llamas Can't Talk!') to a perfectly publishable place. She is the most brilliant poetry coach and a perfectionist to-boot, so I was in very capable hands and trusted her every word and suggestion. Turned out... it wasn't so much the story that needed so much work - it was the poetry!
She taught me about meter, beats and where they should be placed dependent on the type of poetry I was going for, stressed and unstressed syllables (look these up, it's fascinating) and how to select words that would work universally, not just in good ol' Oz. I learned that to rhyme is not hard... it's the rhythm of poetry that trips a lot of us up.
I tell you, I will never be able to read a Dr Seuss book the same ever again! Not only do I now wear my author hat in a bid to understand the mechanics of his writing, but I have a new appreciation of how bloody hard he must have worked to get his stories to that place.
"The problem with writing a book in verse is, to be successful, it has to sound like you knocked it off on a rainy Friday afternoon. It has to sound easy." - Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss)
Yes, indeed, Dr Seuss!!
So, why rhyme?
Yes, they're hard to write, but when written well what makes rhyming stories so good for our little readers?
Here are just a few reasons to include rhyming texts in your child's/student's book collection:
So, having said all of that, I can't guarantee I'm going to write forevermore in rhyme. It's tricky but when you get it right it's so worth it! In fact, I've started a new picture book manuscript in rhyme and then decided to write it in prose too to see which I preferred. Right now, rhyme isn't winning this time, but we'll see!
I believe there's a place for diverse and rich texts in all our lives, including rhyme AND prose. Do you have a preference? I'd love to know in the comments below.
Who am I?
Hi, I'm Lisa. I'm a writer, educator, and creative type. I live with my husband and son in Canberra, Australia.