February 6, 2024

The WRAD Part of the Writing Life, 2024 Edition

 WRAD 2024 is officially a Wrap! (Well for me at least ... I did my WRAD visits one day early this year!)

World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) is a special literacy event that takes place around the globe on the first Wednesday in February each year. It's hosted by LitWorld, and originally founded by Pam Allyn. For the past several years, author Kate Messner creates a space on her website where teachers and librarians can connect with authors and illustrators who are willing to volunteer to offer free virtual book readings to children around the world. It's one of my favorite book-related events to participate in. 


For the past couple of years, I've used a Sign-Up Genius to help me coordinate my virtual visits. I also now have a Google Form for folks who want to be among the first to find out when the scheduling tool is available for  next year. 

This year I scheduled visits with eight schools. Even with excellent coordination, it's not unusual that one or more of the schools needs to cancel at the last minute due to weather-related school closures or some other scheduling or technical snafu. Also, some schools that hope to meet with me are unable to match their scheduling needs with my available times, and/or my schedule is full by the time they reach out, or there are members of the learning community who were absent on World Read Aloud Day. 

For these schools (and now for you!) I compile some of my best resources as a stand-in for a real-time virtual author visit. These resources are of course not quite the same as real-time virtual visit, (or a full-length, personalized author visit), but they do allow young readers to connect with an author in some fashion, in honor of World Read Aloud Day. Please feel welcome to explore and share these resources with your learning community: 

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Here is a link to a “Hello” slide deck that I shared with the schools/classrooms that I visited.

It’s not the same as a real virtual visit, but it will allow your students to connect with me for World Read Aloud Day in some fashion. (The “speaker notes” below each slide provide my general talking points and related resource links.) 



Speaking of resources, here is the link to the plethora of Resources tab on my website.

From this landing page, you can access things like: 

1. My YouTube channel with full readings of several of my books including Lucy’s Blooms,  Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? and First Day Jitters from the collection of stories in Oregon Reads Aloud. This is where you will also find animated book trailers and companion songs for my three most recent books, as well as some ASL interpreted readings for Lucy’s Blooms and the companion song

2. Curriculum-Aligned Educators’ Guides for Lucy’s BloomsWhere Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, and Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? (All three of the guides include STEM tie-ins, and for my Pirate and Cowgirl books, these guides include Readers' Theatre scripts.)

3. Lesson Plans for Sign Language Story Timesthemed enrichment activities, and fun extras such as Pirate and Cowgirl Name Generators. 

I also have a couple of different “virtual-virtual,” or “self-guided” author visits via Google Slides that you/your students can peruse (the “speaker notes” below each slide provides the talking points I would typically deliver during a school visit): 

Write On! Why Writing is (Possibly) the Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Do


From "Ahoy, Matey! to “Howdy, Pardner!” How to Create Vivid Characters by Giving Each a Unique Voice

Please reach out to me directly and I would be more than happy to provide links to these virtual visits. 

Once a school or classroom has interacted with one of my books, (via the video story times, and/or virtual workshops on Google Slides on your own), I would be more than happy to respond to written questions from students. How this typically works is that the librarian or classroom teacher assigns a “post visit” writing lesson for the students where they each ask me a question (about my books, or my writing process, or my “office assistant, Pickle, etc.), and then you would deliver the full set of questions to me via postal mail or email (in one batched email from you vs. individual emails from students). After I receive the questions, I will reply to the students with a compilation response that I will deliver to you. Here is a link to some examples of my responses from my interactions with other schools. 

I hope these options are helpful resources. Please feel welcome and encouraged to share them with your families and your colleagues, and please let me know if I can be a resource to you in any other way.

Warm wishes,

Dawn

Author Dawn Babb Prochovnic holding her three latest books

Reach out via email, social media channels such as Instagram, BlueskyTwitter/X, or my Facebook fan page, or through my contact form (at the left of this post on the desktop version), if you'd like to schedule a time for me to meet with your students in the future! 

For more posts like this, visit The Writing Life series on my blog.

January 13, 2024

The Storystorm Challenge Part of the Writing Life

One of my favorite and most productive creative rituals is participating in author Tara Lazar's annual Storystorm challenge, a 31-day, online brainstorming event. This year I had the opportunity to be one of the guest bloggers (on Day #6 to be precise). My post is about repurposing party favors and piƱata toys as inspiration for your creative writing practice. You can read the full post here.  

Hosted by Tara Lazar, Art by Courtney Pippen-Mathur

It was such a wonderful feeling to be able to give back to a creative community that has inspired me for many years. And if YOU find storystorm helpful for boosting your creativity and generating ideas (and l assure you, you will!), I encourage you to show your support for the host, Tara Lazar, by purchasing one or more of her books. (If you can't possibly add another book to your bookshelf, you can always purchase a book as a gift for a local teacher or a child in need, or you can check out a copy of one of Tara's books at your local library.)

Something that really stood out for me via the experience of participating in storystorm as a guest blogger is realizing that sometimes I forget to put the best tools in my creative toolbox to use in my own creative writing practice--including some of the tools I'm familiar enough with and enthusiastic enough about to incorporate into my writing workshops, author visits, and encouraging blog posts! 

I love the writing exercise I wrote about in my storystorm guest post, and I've seen many good ideas come from it, both for my own work, and for the participants of various writing workshops I've facilitated for all ages and stages over the years. Even so, sometimes this activity is not top of mind when my mind feels like creative mush, (which, coincidentally, is when I typically most need a creative kick-in-the-pants). 

I've come to realize that writing this post was as much for me as it was for the other writers I intended to share it with. The act of drafting and polishing the blog post helped act as a reminder of how useful the exercise can be for me, and  re-reading the post when it was published to Tara's blog got me even more jazzed up about it. It was as if the writing workshop presenter me was directly speaking to the creative writer me

Although it feels a bit strange to admit that I occasionally need to be reminded to heed my own writing advice, what totally blew me away was how much inspiration I got from just reading the comments on the post. Some commenters offered additional resources that aligned with my exercise, and several commenters offered new and fresh variations on my exercise, which generated SEVERAL new story ideas for my own Storystorm idea file, plus new ideas for my future writing workshops and author visits. How cool is that? 

It was another example of give a little, gain a lot (something I recently mentioned experiencing by virtue of following/commenting on a social media post from esteemed literary agent Carly Watters' Instagram account.)


Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/  
https://www.instagram.com/p/C1kMLfRLoRa/


Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/  
https://www.instagram.com/p/C1mwlymLHIf/

Bonus Tip: If you're not already following Carly's IG account, you should--it's overflowing with helpful, actionable industry info.

But I digress ...

Back to the topic at hand, here is a sampling of some of the variations, additional resources, and idea-stimulating comments shared on my Storystorm post: (Note: I've not provided attributions, as the blog platform's user names aren't necessarily real names, but you can directly access the post and comments here if you'd like to follow-up more comprehensively regarding specific sources on your own.): 

Some of the objects people used for this exercise include: a rock, a collection of Wordle words, and vintage postcards.

Someone googled "vintage toys" and used the images that came up via the search as their "object."

One commenter referred to her cat who happened to be on her lap as she wrote.  

Several people gave inspiring labels for the objects used in the exercise such as, "literary treasures" and "idea generators." Someone said, "My house is filled with objects for inspiration."

Someone did a similar exercise at an assisted living facility, helping the elderly residents use "words from their memories and tactile sensations to write free-verse 'poetry'" then compiled the results into a booklet.

Someone mentioned the exercise would be a great rainy day activity for parent/grandparent and child to do together. One person mentioned that she and her grandchild would do the activity together via WhatApp.


Someone mentioned Rob Walker and the literary experiment chronicled in the book, Significant Objects. (Rob Walker also has a book that I found called, The Art of Noticing.)
 
And, I learned from one commenter that my little glass bird is a Bluebird of Happiness, lovingly made in Arkansas (and I received comments from MANY other people who have special associations with their own little glass Bluebird of Happiness.  

Image of Lucy's Blooms picture book and Dawn's little glass bird aka, Bluebird of Happiness

Thank you once again to author Tara Lazar, for the opportunity to participate in Storystorm 2024 as a guest blogger. I'll continue to participate as a writer for the rest of the month. I'm well along my way to 30 ideas. Storystorm continues to blow my mind! 

January 11, 2024

Birth Stories for Books: THE MESS MONSTER, by Jessica Marie

Welcome to the New Year dear readers, and welcome to another round of Birth Stories for Books interviews and guest posts. Today's guest, Jessica Marie, shares her experience self-publishing her debut picture book, THE MESS MONSTER, which came out in October of 2023 (illustrated by Nicholas Child). 

by Jessica Marie and Nicholas Child

Dawn Prochovnic: So glad to have you on the blog, Jessica, and I’m really looking forward to learning more about your debut picture book, THE MESS MONSTER.

Reading your bio, it sounds like this story might stem from personal experience. Can you share some details about how the idea came to be and what motivated you to move the idea forward to fruition?

Jessica Marie: It actually stemmed from an experience I had in middle school. We were assigned by our English teacher to write a story associated with a picture we had drawn. I drew a monster that was hidden beneath the bleachers. The story was more of a horror story, but the monster shined through in this book. I also am always motivated by my very active and messy daughter, who gets the messiness from her mom. However, the story of the Mess Monster was inspired by my daughter losing her soccer cleats. This story grew into a mother-daughter story with the messiness added to it.

Photo provided by Jessica Marie

DP: Very fun! 

Can you share with us the process and timeframe between your initial idea and the story that was formulated fully enough to produce as an independently-published book?

JM: The story was formulated enough within 6 months. I got sick of waiting for a publisher or agent, so I took matters into my own hands and self-published my manuscript.

DP: There is definitely a lot of waiting (and waiting...and waiting...) involved in the traditional publishing world! It sounds like you discovered a path that was a better fit for you. 

When you compare one of your earliest drafts of this story to the version in the published book, what stands out for you in terms of what is most different? Likewise, is there anything in particular that stands out that was included in your earliest drafts and survived the revision process?

 JM: It was actually created as a monster that lived in the basement. It didn’t have the elements it does today. There was no messiness or family element to the story.

DP: Oh wow. It sounds like the manuscript changed a lot over time.

Reflecting on the journey from idea to published book, are there any individuals, experiences, or opportunities that you credit with opening the door for you to bring this story to publication?

JM: My editor, Kathy MacMillan. She walked me through the publishing process and the art of book creation.

DP: Kathy MacMillan is wonderful! She and I got to know each other because of our mutual interest in American Sign Language. We've been championing each others' work for a couple of decades now! 

How did you and she connect with each other, and can you share how the editorial process worked?

JM: I found her through SCBWI. I am so grateful for this connection. I watched some of her presentations and reached out to her. I now work with her on a weekly basis with all of my manuscripts. It’s been a real blessing.

DP: It sounds like you and Kathy have a fantastic working relationship.

I’m also interested in hearing how you went about the process of connecting with the illustrator for this project, Nicholas Child.

JM: The illustrator was tricky. I was at the end of my rope and stumbled upon the website Reedsy. There you can view illustrations and illustrators and choose one. I was connected to the illustrator who illustrated my books, Finding my ROAR! and The Mess Monster. However, I have since changed my illustrator and she will be working on my new books.

DP: In addition to Reedsy, were there any specific resources you utilized (for example, software, reference books, online classes or tools, etc.) that were most helpful to you along the way?

JM: I did utilize online classes, online tools, and a person who does all of my marketing. I did appreciate the online classes, but my greatest endeavor is working with a marketing person. She is wonderful. She has helped me set up all of my social accounts and is very helpful.

DP: Have you engaged in any book promotion and/or marketing activities that have been especially effective in terms of growing book sales?

JM: I have engaged in book promotions with book conferences and book fairs. Fairs like Oktoberfest and readings at elementary schools have helped with sales. I have also created a Mess Monster lovey to go along with the book. That seems to be helping switch marketing. However, the biggest promotions are in the pre-sales. I have not had the chance to do that with this book.


Photo provided by Jessica Marie


Photo provided by Jessica Marie


DP: Love the lovey! It's so cute! 

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pre-published self? Or, said another way, what do you know now, that you wished you would have known a bit earlier and/or are there any lessons you've learned along the way that could help others who would likewise like to write and independently-publish a children’s book?

JM: It is going to take time, so be patient. I never realized until I was in it just how long it would take. It also comes with many, many rejections, and you cannot take that personally.

DP: I couldn't agree more! 

Is there something you wish someone would ask you about your path to publication for THE MESS MONSTER that you haven’t had the opportunity to share yet?

JM: It brings you immense joy to know that someone loves your book!

DP: That is so very, very true! 

Do you have anything you’d like to tell us about what you’re currently working on?

JM: This book is a series. Right now, I am finishing up The Love Monster, and The Mess MOMster.

DP: Those sound like super fun titles, Jessica! 

Thanks so much for sharing your Birth Story for THE MESS MONSTER with us. I wish you much success with this project and the new books down the line!



Jessica Marie's Bio: 

I am a children’s book author, but longtime maker of messes.  

I graduated from the University of Kansas with my master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education. I taught Kindergarten for several years in Texas. 

I have 3 dogs and a spectacular 8-year-old daughter. I love to do yoga and spend time outdoors. I live in Kansas City, Kansas.  My favorite color is pink and my favorite food is candy.


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Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, the 2023 Walt Morey Award winner, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com.  




December 30, 2023

2023 Year-End Post and Holiday Greeting

As I’ve shared in this space before, one of the ways I reflect on the past and make way for the future is through the tradition of preparing and mailing holiday greeting cards. Although fewer and fewer folks send out year-end greetings, I continue to look forward to this annual tradition—both the receiving and displaying of cards, letters, and photos from friends and family and the preparation of my own annual update. 


If you are one of my regular readers, you know by now that each year I begin the process by paging through my (old-style) calendar, making note of the highlights and ordinary happenings in our household. I next look for themes. I approach the task as an exercise in creative expression, aiming to share our family’s news in a way that is reflective of the world events and/or a major aspect of our personal lives. And, while I am acutely aware of deep levels of pain and suffering in our world, I often choose to center my annual reflection closer to home and on more joyful aspects of our lived experience. 

There were some significant milestones for our family this year, including my oldest child moving out of the family home and my youngest child turning 21 and studying abroad in Siena, Italy—wine country. Closer to home, over the course of the year our family listened to live music and enjoyed a myriad of picnics and happy hours over shared bottles of wine. We visited several local wineries, and hosted our beloved 2017 exchange student, (aka our Italian son) and his family for a visit—which, not surprisingly, involved some fine wine. Add to that the glasses that have been emptied with like-minded folks over the past year whilst lamenting about the state of our world and strategizing for the future, and a holiday greeting that incorporated different wine labels seemed the perfect pour for this year: 


This year’s greeting entailed more customized graphics than I have used in the past, which stretched me creatively and gave me an excuse to experiment more fully with online tools such as Canva. It also required me to prioritize what I wanted to communicate and be concise in my wording—also a challenge! This practice will serve me well in other aspects of my creative writing journey

As I designed, refined, and reflected on this year’s update, I was reminded that fine wines tend to get better with age, and similarly, the strongest stories ripen over time. I was also reminded that individuals have different tastes and preferences for wine, just as individual agents, editors, and readers have different tastes and preferences for stories. Some types of wine pair more naturally with certain occasions and/or particular meals, and some stories pair more naturally with certain moments in time and/or particular readers. The quest is for strong pairings. 

As a New Year gets underway, I anticipate there will be times to crack open new and fresh varietals to taste and explore, and there will be times to reach into the cellar for a well-aged vintage, open it, and let it breathe. 
Here’s to a generous pour of Peace, Love, Joy, and Creativity in the New Year. Cheers to you and yours!

November 28, 2023

The Gratitude Part of the Writing Life

One of my longtime critique partners, Sara T. Behrman, is currently preparing for the April 2024 launch of her debut picture book, THE SEA HIDES A SEAHORSE, a beautiful, poetic, and information-rich story brilliantly illustrated by Melanie Mikecz, and published by The Collective Book Studio. (Pssst...you can pre-order Sara's book now, and watch this space for an author interview as the pub date draws near!) 

Dawn Arriving at School Author Visit
Over the past several weeks and months, Sara has asked me a few questions related to my past book launch experiences, and I've done my best to respond to each question with meaningful information. Sara has been very appreciative of my willingness to share my time and insights, and I've been sincere when I've said it's my pleasure to support the launch of her new book, just as she and countless others have enthusiastically supported my own. 

It seems like a good time to take pause and share how grateful I am for the folks who have given my work a boost over the years. 

Thank you, each and every one of you! 

Some recent examples include:


*Being invited by author friends, such as Stephanie Shaw, to participate as a guest author at local schools alongside other author friends, such as Mark Fearing.


Authors Mark Fearing and Stephanie Shaw at School Author Visit


Poster in School Hallway Publicizing Upcoming Author Day 

*Being welcomed into my hometown indie bookstores such as Green Bean Books, Annie Blooms Books, and Powell's Books for book launch events, story times/book readingspanel discussions and writing workshops .

Dawn Dressed at a Pirate Leading a Pirate-y Story Time at Green Bean Books

Dawn in Front of Sign at Annie Blooms Books Announcing Panel Discussion

Dawn Teaching a Young Writers' Workshop at Powells' Books

*Being welcomed into my neighborhood library for book launch events (and to keep me supplied in books!). 

A Display Table with Dawn's Pirate and Cowgirl Books at the West Slope Library

*Having my work spotlighted as a Staff Pick by local booksellers at indie bookstores such as Powell's Books .

Dawn's Book, Lucy's Blooms, Featured as a Staff Pick at Powell's Books

Dawn's Cowgirl Book Featured as a Staff Pick at Powell's Books


*Being welcomed into indie bookstores when I travel, such as at Page1 Books in Santa Fe.

Dawn Holding her Pirate Book at Page1 Books in Santa Fe

*Having the opportunity to participate in events such as World Read Aloud Day, because of author Kate Messner's ongoing willingness to help teachers and librarians find authors (like me!) who are available to participate. 

Dawn Holding Her Books Pirate, Cowgirl, and Lucy's Blooms in Zoom Frame


*Being interviewed by fellow authors such as Robin Hall for Instagram Live Eventsfeatured as a guest on many other authors' blogs, and featured in / interviewed for various media publications.

Dawn Being Interviewed by Author Robin Hall on Instagram Live

*Collaborating with talented musicians such as Maiah Wynne, Annie Lynn, and Marshall Mitchell to create companion songs for my stories.  

Musician Maiah Wynne, Holding A Copy of Dawn's Book, Lucy's Blooms

Pirate Alex, One of the Featured Vocalists in the Companion Song to Dawn's Pirate Book

*Having my work championed and celebrated by dear friends and colleagues, such as author Stephanie Shaw and author and founder of Baby FingersLora Heller.

Author Stephanie Shaw Reading Dawn's Pirate and Cowgirl Books

Author Lora Heller Reading Dawn's Book, Lucy's Blooms


*Being invited as a guest author at special community events, such as the Treasure Hunt Adventure organized by Herringbone Books and Holiday Cheer hosted by the Oregon Historical Society.

Dawn's Books Displayed for Scavenger Hunt Event Hosted by Herringbone Books

Dawn Participating in Holiday Cheer, Hosted by The Oregon Historical Society


*Being included in book signing events with organizations such as Willamette Writers at special events such as The Portland Book Festival.

Dawn's Promo Image for a Book Signing at the Willamette Writers Booth at the Portland Book Festival


*Being nominated by my peers and honored by Literary Arts with the Walt Morey Young Readers Literary Legacy Award.

Dawn Holding Flowers and Smiling, Just Prior to Receiving the Walt Morey Award
(Photo Credit: Andie Petkus Photography for Literary Arts)

The list goes on and on. 

And then there all of "the little things" that so many different folks have done to support my work:

Showing up at book events and/or posting event details on social channels; Purchasing my books from indie bookstores; Requesting my books at local libraries; Gifting my books to young readers, teachers, literacy organizations; Writing kind notes and reviews; Offering helpful critiques; Laughing in all the right places; Making introductions to industry insiders such as agents, editors, and book sellers; Sharing pro tips. 

I'm sure I've forgotten something or someone important, but suffice it say, "the village" has really come through for me and my books.

All this said, what I'm most grateful for in my writing life is my readers. I was at a professional gathering a couple of weeks ago, and someone who owns one of my books told me that their child asks to have my book read to them again and again, night after night. That was music to my ears. Speaking of music, I've received videos from music teachers who have led their classes to make music to go along with my books. I've also received videos of children reading one of my books aloud, or repeating a phrase from one of my stories. And sometimes I receive photos of child holding one of my books, close. 

A Child Sitting on the Toilet and Holding Dawn's Pirate Book


Two Children Holding Copies of Dawn's Books


A Child Snuggled Into Bed Reading Dawn's Pirate Book


A Child Holding a Copy of Dawn's Book, Lucy's Blooms

Thank you, dear readers, for bringing my books into your homes, schools, and libraries. May you make many happy memories reading my books with the people you love.  

Find more posts on The Writing Life, here.

October 2, 2023

Birth Stories for Books: THE LITTLEST WEAVER, by Robin Hall

Dear Readers, one of the best parts of being involved in the kidlit industry is making new friends. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Robin Hall and her debut picture book, THE LITTLEST WEAVER (illustrated by Stella Lim, Familius, October 2023). 

by Robin Hall and Stella Lim

I became familiar with Robin and her work because we are publishing-house siblings (I have a book with Familius coming out in 2025). Robin and I first chatted back in May for an IG Live feature that she hosts, and now I'm so glad to be able to interview her! Grab your favorite blanket, friends--bonus points if it's hand-woven--and settle in for an inspiring conversation with Robin.   

Dawn Prochovnic: Welcome to the blog, Robin. I’m looking forward to learning more about the path to publication for your debut picture book, THE LITTLEST WEAVER.  

This is a very tender and touching story. Would you be willing to share the inspiration for it with us, as well as the process and timeframe between your initial idea for this book and the story that was formulated fully enough to submit to an editor?    

Robin Hall: Dawn, thank you for your kind words for The LITTLEST WEAVER. This story started from a need I had to finish a news story I heard back in 2011 after the devastation of the Tohoku Japan tsunami and earthquake. I learned of a father who tried to save his family but didn’t make it in time and saw them all be swept out to sea. I couldn’t stop aching for him, so I wrote a short story to give that sad man a happier ending with a bit of hope. Years later, perhaps 2016, I turned that short story into a picture book. It went through many different variations, complete rewrites, and then deep revisions before becoming the story it is now. I submitted it to my publisher, Familius, in 2018 and they gave me a revise and resubmit. It took me until 2020 to figure out those revisions and send it back. Thankfully, they still loved the story.

DP: Oh my goodness, Robin. What a meaningful way to process a difficult news story. And now you've brought something beautiful into the world as a result.

When you compare one of your earliest drafts of this story to the version in the published book, what stands out for you in terms of what is most different? Likewise, is there anything in particular that stands out that was included in your earliest drafts and survived the revision process?

RH: My original version was set on a whole different continent. One of the best and biggest revisions was to figure out how to make this story my story. I brought it to my home state of North Carolina, with our own hurricanes, and mountains, and strong weaving tradition. 

Something that has stayed the same is the recognition that sometimes we need to let people be sad, to honor that, as part of the healing process. In the book, Laurel says, “Pa, he’s at the cloudy days part. He needs rain showers to get to the rainbow.”

DP: That exchange is such a compelling part of the story. And I love that you chose to set the story in a place that's familiar and meaningful to you. The authenticity really comes through. 

When you compare your creative process for writing children’s books to your creative process as a weaver, what are some of the key similarities and differences? 

RH: Whether I’m weaving cloth or weaving a story, they both need a structure. For textiles, we have vertical threads under tension that are called warp threads. This is the structure of the textile and sets the confines for me as a weaver. The weft threads are what is woven over and under, adding color and texture. I think of a story structure as the warp of my stories, while the weft is my setting, characters, time period, tone, etc. 

Robin's loom with two shuttles on a twill pattern

One thing that is definitely different is I never feel like my writing is done. With weaving, when I get to the end of my warp, the weaving is done, and so am I. It feels good to have projects that so clearly tell me they are done!

Robin standing next to a loom 

Robin holding a completed wool blanket

DP: I'm so glad I asked this question! I LOVE your response. It's so vivid and instructive.

One of my favorite parts of being an author is connecting with young readers at school, library, and bookstore visits, and I’m always looking for new pro tips. Given your experience teaching a myriad of classes, hosting Instagram Live events and now as a visiting children’s book author, what professional advice or suggestions do you have for fellow author/presenters in terms of planning successful (in-person and/or remote) book events? 

RH: I’m still pretty new to being a published author and slowly figuring that out myself. What seems to work is communicating my vision beforehand and leaning into what I know I can do well. 

I also strongly believe in standing in a superhero pose, legs wide, chest proud, hands on my hips, and taking three deep breaths before presentations. Science shows it improves confidence, and it sure does for me. Plus, it helps me take myself a little less seriously and remember to have fun!

DP: Great, practical tips, Robin!

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pre-published self? Or, said another way, what do you know now, that you wished you would have known a bit earlier?

RH: Be patient with the process. Focus on the things I can control (writing a good story) and let go of the rest as best you can.

I also wish I’d known that being author is a little bit like being a mother, we wear a lot of hats. Writer, editor, advocate, publicist, accountant, social media expert, photographer, videographer, and so much more. 

DP: That is for sure!

Is there something you wish someone would ask you about your path to publication for THE LITTLEST WEAVER, that you haven’t had the opportunity to share yet? 

RH: My book is releasing during National Spinning and Weaving Week, and it’s something I had no control over, and my publisher didn’t even know about until I told them. It feels just right to be born during this week.

Robin with a table loom holding one of her favorite weaving books

DP: That is really amazing, Robin. The perfect week for this book to be born, indeed!

Do you have anything you’d like to tell us about what you’re currently working on? 

RH: I’m working on multiple picture books and am also revising a historical fiction middle grade about a boy afraid of water who has to move to a lighthouse. 

DP: I look forward to hearing more about these projects as they come to fruition! 

Thanks so much for sharing your Birth Story for THE LITTLEST WEAVER with us, Robin! 

Friends, you can support Robin's work by ordering a copy of her debut at all of the usual places including  Bookshop , your local indie bookstore and/or your local library. You can also order directly from the publisher.


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Robin Hall holds an MFA in the Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut picture book, THE LITTLEST WEAVER, will release Fall 2023. She teaches creative writing to children, yoga to all ages, and lives in North Carolina on a tiny farm with one husband, five children, four dogs, three looms, and too many chickens to count. Visit Robin at www.robinhallwrites.com and on instagram/Twitter @robinhallwrites. 




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Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the recipient of the 2023 Walt Morey Young Readers Literary Legacy Award and the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at www.dawnprochovnic.com

August 23, 2023

The Creative Recharge Part of the Writing Life

I've been quiet on social channels this past few months. 

Tualatin River Float

That doesn't mean I've been quiet, creatively. In fact, quite the opposite. I've written new stories, made meaningful revisions to others, read stacks of mentor texts, and started actively experimenting to find my voice in new (to me) genres. 

Although engaging in social channels is an important part of the work (and, indeed, helps me meet fellow creatives and other industry professionals, while opening doors to new ideas and information that aligns with my creative goals), it can also sap my creative energy and take away from my writing time. 

When I'm feeling overwhelmed or depleted, one of the best things I can do for myself is get out into nature. 

And one of my favorite ways to commune with nature is paddling and/or floating on the gentle sections of the Tualatin or Deschutes Rivers. One is near my home in Portland, Oregon. The other is near my home-away-from home in Central Oregon. Both are stunning, and both are replete with sensory details that often find their ways into my stories. 

I also love visiting South Twin Lake, the Cascade Lakes in Central, Oregon, and Paulina Lake in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Here are some pics of "Sweet Sophs," one of my favorite paddling companions, relaxing, exploring, and marveling at the natural world around us:

 
Deschutes River Float



Paulina Lake Paddle


Relaxing on Paulina Lake

Do you have a favorite place or way to creatively recharge? I'd love to hear. 

Find more of my posts about the Writing Life, here