“SEA HORSE, RUN!” Enters Second Printing

My fourth picture book, “SEA HORSE, RUN!”, received two more reviews and another award.

The Dallas World Aquarium featured my book in their Winter 2011 newsletter, Eco Currents. “Sea Horse, run!” was featured as the “Book of the Month”, and the article states, “This is a great selection for young children, with outstanding illustrations of sea life throughout the paperback book.” So far, seven aquariums have ordered “SEA HORSE, RUN!” for their gift shops.

A random google search produced an unexpected review in December 2011. Rob Schupbach’s blog entitled,  “Raven, Writing Desk, and Children’s Literature: A Children’s Literature Review Blog,” featured “SEA HORSE, RUN!” on December 18th. I love his description of the book:

“Although the book is quite informative, it is also entertaining. After hearing rumors about a dragon, the animals of the ocean were frightened and began to find safe havens. Not Sea Horse. He had the courage to stay behind and protect his friend, coral, who cannot move. Sea horse confronts the danger and faces his fears. He soon realizes that the sea dragon and the sea horse are distantly related. This underlying message of courage in the face of danger and standing by a friend can be very powerful to young students.”

Last but not least, “SEA HORSE, RUN!” is the second place winner in the  “Children – Early Reader (6 to 8)” category of the 2011 Reader Views Literary Awards. Winners were announced March 7, 2012, and all winners are given a gold “2012″ logo to place on their website or on the cover of their book. Read my full article/press release at www.seahorserun.com or visit my awards page for complete list of awards so far.

All the extra attention for “SEA HORSE, RUN!” is paying off. The hardcovers are virtually sold out, so the book is currently being reprinted. Here is a peek at the new cover:

New Cover Designed April 2012 for 2nd Printing.

Go, Sea Horse, go!

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My Apple Dilemma: Keep iWeb or Upgrade to Lion?

Unlike most people, I have not been looking forward to 2012 because I knew 2012 is the year I must resolve my issues with Apple. I’m fairly new to Apple technology. I bought my first Mac in August 2008. After only a few months with my MacBook, I decided I liked Apple so much I wanted to upgrade my desktop which was my primary computer. I purchased my iMac in May 2009. Prior to owning the iMac, I had reached a point in my writing career where I thought I could not carry on much less keep up with the changing technology. I was constantly at odds with my desktop PC. My poor husband was weary of helping me with it. I couldn’t check my email. The internet would not work. I didn’t know how to use the printer. On and on and on! All of those problems disappeared the day I brought my iMac home. By the end of Summer 2009 I was convinced that I made the right choice. Moving everything to Apple transformed my life. My productivity increased. Not only could I use my email, internet, and printer (All by myself!), suddenly I could turn my books into videos using iMovie. I started a YouTube Channel. I began to explore social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Best of all, I joined MobileMe. I loved it so much I purchased a second MobileMe account. I use one account under one username, and the other account under another. Why two separate accounts? One account is for my published children’s books. The other account is dedicated to my unpublished work for adults. I created a pen name for my historical novels and built a website for the novels under my pen name’s MobileMe account. For my children’s books I built two websites under my ‘Tammy Bronson’ MobileMe account: tammybronson.com and seahorserun.com. I felt like I accomplished more in two years with my Mac than I accomplished in the eight previous years with my PC. I shoved my PC onto a storage shelf in the garage and said, “Good riddance!” My Mac was my best friend. Until June 2011.

Apple announces iCloud, iTunes Match; Kills MobileMe

In June 2011 Apple announced that MobileMe would switch to iCloud. The switch is not optional, and some MobileMe features (such as websites built with iWeb) will not transfer to the Cloud. Aargh! How could my best friend do this to me?

I talked to a few Mac people, read articles on the internet, and called web hosting sites. A service rep for a very popular web hosting service told me that iWeb would continue to work. I could still build my websites with iWeb, but I would upload my websites to their server instead of Apple. That representative was only partially right. With a Leopard platform, I can keep using iWeb to build and publish my websites. However, by staying with an old platform (Leopard or Snow Leopard) I can no longer update iTunes which means external devices like iPods cannot be updated either. If I stick with Leopard, I also can’t move to iCloud with the rest of the world. If I want to update software on my computer, I must upgrade to OS X Lion, however; once a computer is upgraded to OS X Lion, iWeb can no longer be accessed as an application. If you do not copy, print, save, or move your iWeb data to another website-builder, iWeb data will be lost once you upgrade to OS X Lion. What is the solution?

Do I keep my laptop computer with Leopard or Snow Leopard as long as possible, so my iWeb program will still exist and continue to work on that computer? A possibility, but not a very good long term solution. Initially, I didn’t want to find a solution. I just wanted to cry. I went through months of trial and error and even private training at an Apple store (paid by the hour) in 2009 in order to learn how to use iWeb. Now it is going away? After much  investigation, I finally formed a plan.

Step 1) Move all of the iWeb content I want to save to another platform such as WordPress. This is the most time-consuming part of my plan. I tried downloading my MobileMe site backups so I could move them to a new host, but those MobileMe/iWeb backups look like a jumbled mess in Dreamweaver. I realized that by the time I sorted the mess out, I could retype everything into WordPress.

As luck would have it, a Word Camp happened in my hometown right after Apple’s announcement. I went to Camp and decided to move my websites to WordPress. After much debate over whether or not to use WordPress.com or WordPress.org, I went with dot.com. While moving my information has been time consuming, I’m pleased with the results. I managed to find a template at WordPress that looks very similar to my iWeb site.

My original iWeb Homepage for tammybronson.com.

I like the font better on my WordPress site. In fact, WordPress has many more advanced features than iWeb. Overall, I’m extremely pleased that I made the switch. After six months I’ve moved one  website (this one- tammybronson.com), and the second (seahorserun.com) is a work in progress. I still have the largest website (my novels) to move. Solution? Unfortunately, there’s only one. Move faster! Now is not the time to work at a snail’s pace.

Compare my old website at tammybronson.com to this Blog. I now redirect ‘tammybronson.com’ and ‘tammycarterbronson.com’ to my WordPress Blog.

Or compare my old seahorserun.com to the new WordPress site.

Step 2) Once all of my websites have migrated to WordPress, I need to upgrade my Leopard to Snow Leopard. It comes in a box. Why buy Snow Leopard first? Why not just get OS X Lion? Apple explains it best:

“To upgrade your Mac to OS X Lion, you must be running OS X Snow Leopard. If you have OS X v10.5 Leopard, purchase OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard now and install it on your Mac. Then buy OS X Lion as a digital download from the Mac App Store.

Step 3) So, now I have Snow Leopard, I can visit the online Apple store and purchase the OS X Lion upgrade. It is an App, so it can only be purchased online and downloaded. You can’t go to your local Apple store and buy OS X Lion in a box. The days of owning your software on a disc are over. Everything is now floating in the ether.

Step 4) Once I’ve installed OS X Lion I can visit my MobileMe accounts and move them to iCloud. At least, I hope I can move both of them.

Using Apple IDs with iCloud

Apple says: “If you have a MobileMe account (you have an email that ends in @me.com or @mac.com), you should enter your MobileMe email address when prompted for your Apple ID. This will set up MobileMe mail, contacts, calendar, and bookmarks on your device. This is also an important step for moving your MobileMe account to iCloud.”

But, what if you have two MobileMe accounts, like me? Can I move both? Apple store representatives tell me that I can. Essentially I will have two iCloud accounts. Please let that be right! One MobileMe account has all of my iTunes purchases and contacts, while the other account has all of my business email, important Safari bookmarks, etc. I paid for two accounts. I want to keep both.

Step 5) Now that I have OS X Lion, I can update my iTunes which means I can finally update my iPod and iPad.

To quote Charlie Brown: “Good grief!”

This would not feel like such a bad transition if step one didn’t exist: moving my websites. I hope by Summer 2012 my Mac and I will be best friends again. For now, our relationship is still a bit frosty.

Further Reading

Lion: Ten Things That Bug Me by Erica Sadun July 2011

Mac OS X Snow Leopard vs. OS X Lion by John Cox, Network World

Snow Leopard vs Lion: Performance Head to Head by cNet

Related articles

2011-2012 Book Awards

Was your book published in 2011? Do you want to enter your book for awards? Some deadlines have passed, but several awards are still accepting submissions. Here are three lists that I created of awards for children’s picture books. I rank the awards as “Best”, “Recommended”, or “Expensive”. Keep in mind these lists are not meant to be comprehensive. There are hundreds of awards out there!

BEST PICTURE BOOK AWARDS
(Organized chronologically by the deadline due date for a book with a 2011 copyright.)

Year Name Deadline Winners Announced Minimum Cost
2012 IRA Teacher’s Choices List/Awards 7/22/11 4/29/12 FREE
2011 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards 9/17/11 10/17/11 $95
2012 Benjamin Franklin Awards 9/30/2011 or 12/31/11 4/1/12 $90
2012 Reader Views Annual Literary Awards 10/31/11 3/25/12 $75
2012 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award 12/16/11 5/1/12 FREE
2012 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award 12/31/11 1/15/12 FREE
2012 Caldecott 12/31/11 1/15/12 FREE
2012 Notable Children’s Books 12/31/11 1/15/12 FREE
2012 Gryphon Award 12/31/11 2/1/12 FREE
2012 Golden Kite Award (SCBWI) 12/31/11 8/1/12 FREE
2011 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards 1/13/12 5/1/12 $99
2012 Indie Book Awards 2/24/12 5/1/12 $75
2012 Giverny Book Award 3/1/12 4/1/12 FREE
2012 Boston-Globe Horn Book Award 5/15/12 6/1/12 FREE

Click on the award above to visit its page or learn more about each award on my upcoming blog post entitled: FOURTEEN PICTURE BOOK AWARDS.

RECOMMENDED PICTURE BOOK AWARDS
(Organized chronologically by the deadline due date for a book with a 2011 copyright.)

Year Name Deadline Winners Announced Minimum Cost
2012 Children’s Choices Reading List/Award 7/22/11 4/1/12 CBC member ship
2011 Parent’s Choice Awards 8/22/11 11/17/11 $100
2011 USA Best Books Awards 9/30/11 10/31/11 $69
2012 Nautilus Awards 1/15/12 6/1/12 $155
2012 IPPY Award 3/15/12 5/1/12 $75

Click on the award above to visit its page or learn more about each award on my upcoming blog post entitled: FIVE PICTURE BOOK AWARDS YOU MAY NOT RECOGNIZE.

EXPENSIVE PICTURE BOOK AWARDS
The minimum cost is per title per category. Late entries for the Learning Magazine Awards can cost $225/category. 

Year Name Deadline Winners Announced Minimum Cost
2012 Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Awards for the Family 7/22/11 12/2/11 $195
2013 Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Awards for Classroom ? ? $195
2013 Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Awards for Children ? ? $195
2012 Mom’s Choice Awards  Varies  Varies $300
2012 Children’s Choices Reading List/Award 7/22/11 4/1/12 CBC member ship

Learn more about these awards on my upcoming blog post entitled: THE HIGH COST OF ENTERING or AWARDS FOR THE BOTTOMLESS BUDGET.

Most states also give awards for picture books. In order to be considered for a state award, your book must be assigned to the state reading list. Cynthia Leitich Smith compiled a great list of State Awards for Children’s and YA Books.

State Book Awards are also listed at:

http://www.corecollections.net/lib_book_awards.htm

Here is great blog post about evaluating the benefits of literary awards. This post has some great advice. I highly recommend reading it before entering your unpublished (or published) work into a contest:

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/12/some-tips-on-evaluating-literary.html

Do you know of an award not listed on this page? Let me know via email: authorvisits @ tammybronson.com.

Summer 2011 in Review

I had a very long “to do” list for Summer 2011, and unfortunately I barely scratched off a few lines. The list carries on into Fall, but where did all the time go this year? Why didn’t I get more accomplished? In retrospect, Summer was dedicated to launching and promoting “Sea Horse, run!”. Come to think of it, so was the Spring…

Sea Horse, run! with Award Sticker

“SEA HORSE, RUN!” 

My first new book in 7 years, “Sea Horse, run!” (SHR), launched on June 1, 2011.

As a children’s picture book, SHR was entered into 16 different awards.

SHR won the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award.

Seven fabulous reviews for SHR, the most reviews I’ve ever received for a single book! Several of the reviews were by major, national publications such as Kirkus and PW (Publisher’s Weekly).

Radio interview on Ozarks At Large which is a daily news program on KUAF, an NPR affiliate. Click on the link to access the podcast. My interview for SHR starts 24 minutes into the show. http://www.kuaf.com/content/tuesday-july-5-2011

I finally joined TWITTER in July where I customized my page with a SHR theme. Follow me: @T_CarterBronson.

SHR was featured in the July 2011 issue of Northwest Arkansas’ Citiscapes magazine, page 35.

Three book signings in bookstores: Barnes & Noble Store#2662, Omaha, NE (Tues, May 17th); Barnes & Noble Store #2721, Fayetteville, AR (Sat July 9th); and Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, AR (Sat, August 6th).

I learned that my original SHR website would soon disappear, so I started a Word Press Blog in July to replace it.

SHR featured July 28th at DallasKidsRead!, a Dallas Children’s Literary Festival at the Dallas Public Library.

Waterman Entertainment in Los Angeles requested a copy of SHR in August.

Created a fun video on drawing the art for SHR entitled, “The Ribboned Sea Dragon.”

SHR shipped to IBPA for display at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The softcover of SHR was released September 1, 2011.

So far, five aquariums have ordered SHR for their gift shops.

BACKLIST, ALIVE & WELL!

With all the attention for SHR, I almost forgot my backlist, but out of the blue, a Barnes & Noble store in Lone Tree, Colorado ordered 25 hardcover copies of Polliwog (2004). Go, Polliwog, go!

Mariposa Press agreed to represent all of my books for distribution in France!

A distributor of English language books in Taiwan, Chang Yi Cultural Company, ordered SHRTiny Snail, & Polliwog.

In addition to carrying SHR in their gift shop, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium ordered copies of Tiny Snail.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art ordered Tiny Snail, Polliwog and Kaleidonotes for their gift shop.

PUBLIC APPEARANCES

Three book signings in bookstores: Barnes & Noble Store#2662, Omaha, NE (Tues, May 17th); Barnes & Noble Store #2721, Fayetteville, AR (Sat July 9th); and Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, AR (Sat, August 6th).

Five conferences: SCBWI Midwinter Conference & Art Showcase (New York City, NY; January 28), Illinois Reading Council (IRC in Springfield, IL; March 17-18), Texas Library Association (TLA in Austin, TX; April 12-15), Arkansas SCBWI Spring Conference (North Little Rock, AR; April 29-30), Tulsa OK Play conference (Tulsa, OK; June 18-19).

2011 Texas Library Association Booth

Two library talks: Dallas Public Library event (July 28th) and Fayetteville Public Library event (September 24th).

Thirty-two author visits (January-September 8, 2011 at Good Shepherd Episcopal School).

For a total of 42 public appearances so far this year.

In the last ten years, the average number of public appearances I make in a year is around 55. Yes, over fifty appearances each year! I have 21 more school visits booked for the fall which brings my 2011 total to sixty-three appearances.

Visit my EVENTS calendar. (Remember to scroll down for the lists of author visits.)

IN SUMMARY

Where did all the time go? Traveling, filling book orders, building 2 new websites/blogs, not to mention mailing packets of books for schools, reviewers, and book awards. It’s no wonder I never found time to revise and submit my novel for possible publication or turn my picture books into e-books. Those “little” projects are now scheduled for completion in the coming months in between the 21 author visits that will take place in 7 different states. I have a feeling there will be more book adventures, announcements, and news in Fall 2011!

Good Shepherd Episcopal School

My first author visit of the 2011-2012 school year was yesterday at Good Shepherd Episcopal School in Dallas, Texas. We spoke to kindergarden through 2nd grade, and the presentations were in the new library which houses almost 29,000 books, an aquarium filled with corals and tropical fish, two parakeets, and a yellow rat snake! Their amazing library is located in the school’s new Center for Creative Learning which is the first elementary school in Texas to be awarded LEED Gold certification established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

From left to right: Author Matthew Shane Bronson, Author/Illustrator Tammy Carter Bronson, and Librarian Liz Fleskes.

Both the librarian, Liz Fleskes, and her assistant, Claudia Hinton, made us feel very welcome. They treated us to lunch from the Corner Bakery along with coffee, snacks and a beautiful display featuring our books.

Good Shepherd's Book Display

The students were well prepared for the visit. They were familiar with every story, and several students sent us fan mail after the program. My favorite is from the youngest student to ever send me an email:

“Hello–My name is Jordan. I am a pre-Kindergarten student at Good Shepherd Episcopal School. Thanks for coming to visit with us today. I wish that I had brought you some flowers. I hope you can come and visit us again.

Jordan

P. S. My daughter was insistent on sending you this thank you email. You obviously made quite an impression today. Thank you.”

What a perfect visit to begin the new school year! Thank you, Good Shepherd Episcopal, for inviting us to your school. We enjoyed meeting your students, and we are grateful for the wonderful memories!

Corals in the Good Shepherd Aquarium

Good Shepherd Episcopal School Author Visit

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9:10-9:40 – Kindergarden/Pre-K (~50 students)

9:55-10:40 – 2nd Grade (53 students)

10:40-11:35 Book Signing

11:35-12:15 First Grade (55 students)

12:15-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:00 Kindergarden/Pre-K (~50 students)

Old Schoolhouse Review

Karen Yuen with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine posted an outstanding review for “Sea Horse, run!” on the magazine’s website today.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I highly recommend this book for its amazing artwork and educational value. This should be a must-read for every elementary student studying oceanography. You’ll be glad you read this book, especially in preparation for an aquarium visit!” (Read the full review.)

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (TOS) reaches out to homeschoolers across the country through their website and 30,000 print issues produced each quarter. Each issue is packed with tips, information, and resources for homeschoolers.

Thank you, Karen, for the wonderful review!

Embracing Negative Reviews

Why would you want to embrace a negative review of your book? Because understanding and respecting another’s point-of-view is possibly the most essential skill of a serious writer. Once you learn to absorb and apply the information from someone else’s feedback, you can push yourself to grow and improve as an artist. I’m not saying all feedback is useful. As a writer, you have to learn to distinguish between the helpful and not-so-helpful comments. This comes with time and experience. It’s easy to use helpful comments to your advantage, but remember that sometimes unfavorable feedback is worth embracing, too.

Let’s use my Kirkus Review for “Sea Horse, run!” as an exampleRather than ask the reviewer why he didn’t like the story, I simply thanked him for his time and begged him NOT to publish the review on the Kirkus website. After further reflection, I’m publishing the full review here as an example to other writers of what can happen when you ask someone to generate an unbiased review of your book.

Here are five simple steps that may help fellow writers extract the positive from a negative review:

1) Respect the reviewer’s opinion. In other words, do not write back to the reviewer and explain why they are wrong. Do not ask the reviewer why they did not like your book. It will not change the review, and ultimately it is unprofessional. Just remember every review is subjective. Accept the review, as it is, and move on.

2) Be objective. Decide whether or not the comments are ‘helpful’ or ‘not-so-helpful.’ The best way to do this is to set the review aside for a few hours or even a few days. This allows you time to calm down and think rationally when you reread your ‘negative’ review.

3) Dig. Extract as many helpful quotes as you can. All you need is one positive word. Many dust jackets boast powerful one-word reviews: “Stunning…” or “Beautiful…” are both positive words that can be extracted from my Kirkus review. I use this phrase from Kirkus to describe my book on tear sheets:

“…the pictures are a delight; children will love looking at the vast array of beautifully detailed, softly colored sea creatures that are bestowed with endearingly expressive qualities…A Beautiful Book…”

4) Focus on the positive. Don’t punish yourself by reading and rereading negative comments over and over again. If there is nothing positive in your review, set that review aside and focus on the positive feedback you receive from other people.

5) Have an attitude of gratitude. This is a lesson I embedded in my first picture book, Tiny Snail, and although I meant it for children, this lesson has served me well as a serious writer. If a reviewer takes the time to read your book and write about it, thank them.

Now with all this said, here is the full review of “Sea Horse, run!” provided to me by Kirkus:

An undersea tale about a brave sea horse, illustrated with lovely, lush watercolor and pencil pictures.

Coral loves to sing, but for reasons unexplained Sea Horse is the only animal who can hear her. One day when Sea Horse is next to Coral, several sharks dart past and Coral sings “Sea Horse, run far, far away.” But Sea Horse merely hugs Coral, stops the shark and asks why he is fleeing. The shark trembles with fear and announces that a sea dragon is coming, explaining that they are “fearsome, terrible beasts.” Next, a large slithering eel with pointed teeth approaches Sea Horse with the same warning of impending doom. And a gigantic octopus with an eye half the size of Sea Horse hovers menacingly above and tells Sea Horse that the sea dragon’s tentacles will engulf the entire reef and “crunch Coral.” Each time a threatening creature approaches, Coral repeats her warning. But loyal Sea Horse refuses to budge, telling Coral “I will protect you…I will save you from the dragon!” But the reader is left to puzzle exactly how that would be possible. The story lacks a foundation that could clarify and define the relationships; an early explanation of how the other creatures came to their conclusions about the threat posed by a sea dragon, or some exploration of the general dynamics of this particular undersea world would help readers understand and enjoy the story more. Unfortunately, because of Coral’s lack of varied dialogue and visual individualization, her character as well as her relationship with Sea Horse wants for an emotional connection. But the pictures are a delight; children will love looking at the vast array of beautifully detailed, softly colored sea creatures that are bestowed with endearingly expressive qualities. At the back of the book is a two-page spread illustrating the various undersea animals of the Australian coral reef. Also included are facts about sea horses and sea dragons, and a map showing the locations of coral reefs around the world. A well-furnished website supplements the book, including a teacher’s guide and a host of downloadable activities for children.

A beautiful book that’s more fun to look at than to read.

*******************

I received this review in May 2011 and within a matter of weeks I won my first award for “Sea Horse, run!”:  the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best Picture Book. I focus on the award, but if not for my feedback from Kirkus, I would not have written the sequel to “Sea Horse, run!” entitled Three Little Dragons (Due for publication in 2013). That makes my Kirkus Review invaluable. Thank you, Kirkus, for inspiring my next book!