Today it is my pleasure to be the first stop on a blog tour for picture book Author Laura Sassi’s new book: DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE. You’ll find other stops on the tour at the end of the post. Now, here is Laura:
How to Write Picture Books – Diva Style! by Laura Sassi
Thank you, Darlene, for hosting me on my DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE blog tour. I’m so excited that my protagonists, Delores and Fernando, are finally making their debuts, but as any well-trained diva knows, singing on stage is just the final thrill. What comes before that? Hours and hours, even years of hard work! But is it all worth it? You bet!
So now, in celebration of opera and divas and picture books, here are five fun tips for writing picture books – diva style! Enjoy!
1. Go to the opera… a lot!
If you are going to be an opera star, it only makes sense that you immerse yourself in the glorious world of opera by attending operas, listening to opera music, and all-around saturating yourself in all things opera. Likewise, if you want to write picture books, it only makes sense that you immerse yourself in the world of picture books. For me, this means making regular trips to the children’s section of my library, or my favorite local bookstore, and reading, reading, reading! I read with two purposes: first, just for the pleasure and joy of it, and second… to learn. That’s why I always bring along my writerly opera glasses and a notebook so that I can thoughtfully ponder and record what makes each opera (i.e. picture book) sing… or not.
2. Rehearsal is important. If you want to be a diva, you have to spend time rehearsing and developing your craft. For opera stars, I imagine this means a daily routine of warming up with scales, practicing a variety of pieces, working on voice projection etc. Similarly, if you want to write picture books, you have to be willing to invest the time and effort into writing daily. My daily writing routine includes free writes (my version of scales), as well as working on a variety of poems, blog posts and the handful of picture book manuscripts I’m playing with any given moment.
3. Control those crescendos.
I’m not an opera expert, but it seems to me that in the field of opera, like in the field of picture book writing – less is more! I mean divas don’t just cut loose and sing at the top of their lungs willy-nilly! No, they artistically control their voices so that it plays a magical role in telling the opera’s story. Likewise, as a picture book writer – and especially as one who loves to rhyme – I work hard to control my crescendos so that every word, sound, phrase, action, magically and purposefully moves the story forward.
4. Be confident, yet humble. (i.e. be willing to learn from others)
Confidence is good, but if you want your singing, er writing, to shine, I’ve learned over the years that confidence must be tempered with an open heart, open mind, and gracious spirit when receiving constructive feedback. As a young writer I thought my writing was fabulous! But now that I’m more seasoned, I look back on those early pieces and cringe. They would definitely have benefited from a little more humility and willingness to productively process and put into place suggestions from more experienced writers!
(Which leads me to my last bit of advice.)
5. Everything’s better with a buddy!
As Diva Delores discovers at the opera house, the journey to success is just all-around better with a buddy. Likewise, I’ve found that the picture book writing journey wouldn’t be the same without a nice support system. For me this includes my family, my lovely agent, and the wonderful network of like-minded children’s writers I’ve connected with over the years, many of whom have become dear friends and trusted critique partners. So, my last bit of advice for writing picture books – diva style! – is to find a buddy or two to encourage you and help you grow along the way.
BIO: Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014) and GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015), DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, 2018) and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie.
Here’s the schedule for the blog tour. Follow the links below to check out each website.
March 8 Darlene Beck Jacobson TOPIC: Guest post: “How to Be a Picture Book Diva” – writing tips: http://www.darlenebeckjacobson.com
March 16: Susanna Leonard Hill TOPIC: Perfect Picture Book Friday Review – details TBA : https://susannahill.com/blog/
March 19: Melissa Stoller TOPIC: “THREE QUESTION INTERVIEW” on story, creativity, connection- through the lens of DIVA DELORES: https://www.melissastoller.com/blog
March 23 and 24 Vivian Kirkfield TOPIC: Cookie Interview/ PPBF: https://viviankirkfield.com
April 3 Kerry Aradyha TOPIC: TBD but something dance/music/opera related because that’s the focus of her lovely children’s blog: http://kerryaradhya.blogspot.com
April 10 Carol Gordon Ekster TOPIC: Interview: https://writersrumpus.com
For a chance to win a copy of DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE, leave a comment on this post. Your name will be entered in the random drawing. Share this post on social media and you will get a second chance to win. Winners will be announced on this blog on 3-28-2018.
A great way to remember and honor your favorite author is to post a review of one of their books on Amazon or Goodreads. Happy reading.