An Interview with the Amazing Valerie Bolling
Valerie is an amazing writer. She has created many wonderful books that are not just read but allow children to get involved with the story. Valerie’s gift isn’t that she is a writer, but she’s a fabulous teacher. She devotes her time to everything kidlit. She works hard not only to help children, but also writers to be their very best. I am so honored to know someone as brilliant as Valerie Bolling!
Dani: What was/were your favorite book or books as a kid?
Valerie: I loved books as a child. The books that were read to me as a young child – usually by my great-aunt, Lucille – were Frog and Toad, Curious George, Amelia Bedelia, Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach, and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. As I got older, I began to read these books on my own as well as Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the Betsy, Tacy, and Tib series, and books by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume.
None of these books are about BIPOC children or written by BIPOC authors. Fortunately, I still enjoyed reading, but I’m immensely aware of the importance of diverse books for young readers. Children, especially those who are marginalized, need to see themselves in books. And children who are often highlighted and validated in books – and in society – need to see and learn about the experiences of those who are different from themselves.
Dani: Congratulations on having so many books coming out! Is there anything you did as a pre-published author that helped you get here?
Valerie: I think the most significant thing I did as a pre-published author, Dani, was continue to write. That way, I had a number of manuscripts that were polished and ready or close-to-ready for submission when I signed with my agent, James McGowan.
Dani: When you pitched your first books, did you want these stories to be a series, or is it something that just happened?
Valerie: When I wrote Let’s Dance!, it was a stand-alone book. Later, however, I thought about writing a book about the games children love to play and about musical instruments from around the world, which were similar to Let’s Dance!. When I signed with James, he helped me reimagine these stories, and they are now Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! (Abrams 2022) and Bing, Bop, Bam: Time to Jam! (Abrams 2023).
Together We Ride was also not intended to be a series, but Chronicle bought two books, so I knew I’d need to write another that would be a sequel. They suggested I write a book about swimming, which is how Together We Swim (Chronicle 2023) came to be.
Dani: Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! is a fun rhyming story. What challenges did you have (if any) writing a rhyming book?
Valerie: I actually feel very comfortable writing in rhyme. I’ve written in rhyme since I was a young child, so there’s something natural about it for me. That said, the biggest challenge is to make sure the rhyme is tight. It also has to tell a story – share an experience – that’s engaging to the reader.
Dani: Where do you go from here?
Valerie: I plan to keep writing, and, hopefully, will have more books published that children and adults enjoy. I will continue to give back to the kidlit community as a mentor and presenter for conferences and other writing communities. And I plan to continue teaching picture book writing classes. I have a lot to do to keep myself busy!
Get Valerie's New Book!!!
RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN! written by Valerie Bolling, Illustrated by Sabrena Kadija.
Get this amazing book here: https://valeriebolling.com/ride-roll-run.html
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post any events or opportunities. It’s been a busy summer for me and there hasn’t been much time to write anything. Also so much going on that I haven’t been able to think to write. Just now I’ve started 3 different blog posts. 2 of which I may never finish. But maybe soon.
I want to let you know of a few things I’ve heard about recently! These just happen to all be in the realm of Graphic Novels (though the first is for more than just graphic novel people!).
October 9th, 2022 2:00-4:00pm PDT.
Award-winning & Multi-published Ken Lamug will be talking about everything Graphic Novels! He will be talking about how his book Mischief and Mayhem started as a picture book and became a graphic novel! Ken is a teacher, filmaker, KidlitGN organizer and former SCBWI Illustrator-Coordinator for the Nevada Chapter of the SCBWI. https://nevada.scbwi.org/events/graphic-novel-nuts-and-bolts-with-ken-lamug-award-winning-author-illustrator
Karen Yin is absolutely amazing. She is the founder of many fabulous writer resources. Karen has created Conscious Style Guide, Editors of Color, Diverse Picture Books, and AP vs. Chicago. Her debut picture book, “Whole Whale“ is a wonderful story about animals working together and making room in their world for something huge. “Whole Whale” is one of my favorite books on my bookshelf right now. I don’t want to miss out on Karen’s fabulous new book, SO NOT GHOUL Illustrated by the wonderful Bonnie Lui. I can’t wait to get this absolutely gorgeous book onto my bookshelf. (I will probably also read it to my kids.)
This absolutely gorgeous book will arrive on AUGUST 2, 2022!
About So Not Ghoul:
On her first day haunting a new school, all Mimi has to wear are old Chinese gowns from her great-great-great-great-great-ghost-grandmother. She wants to look horrifying and rattle chains with the cool American ghouls at school, but her ghost ancestors insist she dress and behave like a good Chinese ghost. Desperate to fit in and find a middle haunting ground between her cultures, she plans a ghastly new look. But she questions whether her haunt couture is a fabulous fright or a grave mistake when her family finds out, and another ghoul at school appropriates her Chinese fashion.
This ghoulishly playful ghost story offers a boo-tiful reminder that while sometimes school and family can make you feel invisible, bicultural pride never goes out of style.
PREORDER SO NOT GHOUL TODAY!
I just ordered my copy, now it’s time for you to preorder yours!
Preorder at any of the links below:
Preorder a signed copy of So Not Ghoul: https://www.vromansbookstore.com/book/9781645675570
It’s an absolutely amazing picture book that you’ll treasure for years to come!
You may know the fabulous Cyndi Marko from the KUNG POW CHICKEN series. If you haven’t read the series check it out, it’s a real treat! Cyndi is an award winning author illustrator and has created many books including the Kung Pow Chicken series and THIS LITTLE PIGGY: AN OWNER’S MANUAL, the recently released SLOTH SLEUTH #1 of the detective series and her upcoming books: BOO! HISS!, and GILLY’S MONSTER TRAP
Cyndi creates fabulous stories and fun illustrations for her books. Unlike many illustrators today, Cyndi uses traditional mediums in her illustration. She uses watercolor and ink in her paintings. Cyndi started off wanting to create picture books, but her books worked better as chapter books and older stories. GILLY’S MONSTER TRAP is Cyndi’s picture book debut and I’m just so happy that her picture book dream is finally fulfilled. It makes me so happy to present to you a cover reveal for her all new GILLY’S MONSTER TRAP book! Also check the end of this post for a giveaway!
Before the cover reveal here is a little about GILLY’S MONSTER TRAP:
Gilly loves to flap her flippers in Lighthouse Bay.
Until…a mysterious monster starts menacing the market!
It swipes Gilly’s flippers, snatches fish, and nabs nets. So Gilly hatches a plan: she is going to catch the sneaky rotten monster!
With the help of her sidekick Finnegan, and the townspeople, she builds a trap.
But when things go awry, Gilly discovers she and the monster may have been after the same thing all along: a friend.
PREORDER THE BOOK HERE:
On Sale: 04/18/23
Imprint: Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster
Editor: Catherine Laudone
AD/Designer: Tom Daly
Medium: Watercolor and Ink
AND NOW FOR THE MOMENT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR:
You can win a copy of Cyndi Marko’s Sloth Sleuth!
Comment on this post and let us know how excited you are for Gilly’s Monster Trap!
For another entry follow @CynMarko on twitter and comment with your monster trap idea on my twitter post here: https://twitter.com/DaniDuck/status/1537579533414453248
Deadline Midnight 06/30 PDT.
Sorry, giveaway is limited to people in the US and Canada.
I am lucky today. I get to interview the amazing Sylvia Liu today! I’ve known Sylvia for some time now and am so excited to get her new book Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation. I just preordered it (check out the pre-order swag at the bottom of this post! Sylvia is a co-founder of Kidlit 411 an excellent resource for children’s writers and illustrators!
Besides being a writer Sylvia also is an amazing artist. She creates such beautiful and fun illustrations. She had art in the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art New Waves 2012 exhibit; and art and infographics in Huffington Post, Oceana, and World Wildlife Fund! Sylvia is represented by the great Jennifer March Soloway at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
Dani: Is it easier or harder for you to write a novel than a picture book and does the genre affect the difficulty?
Sylvia: Picture books and novels are very different beasts, but both are hard in their own ways! Writing picture books is like writing a poem, where every word matters, plus you also have to have great characters and a story, all in a few hundred words.
Writing novels is like putting together a complex 3D puzzle with moving parts. For me, genre doesn’t affect the difficulty as much as the theme, plot, and audience. For example, my middle grade contemporary, Manatee’s Best Friend, has a more straightforward plot and is geared for the middle of middle grade, while my sci-fi, Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation, has a twisty plot and is geared to upper middle grade. For those reasons, Hana Hsu was more difficult to write.
Dani: Do you have any fun rituals around writing?
Sylvia: I’m a very visual person, so when I plot my books, I like to draw graphs and put sticky notes on a poster board. This is my plot chart for Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation (don’t look too closely, or you might see some spoilers!). I listed all the chapters/main scenes on outside of the arc and included themes or internal character arcs on the inside.
Dani: What inspired you to write Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation?
Sylvia: I love science fiction in all media, and the cyberpunk subgenre in particular, so when I started writing middle grade, that was the type of story I was drawn to. The idea of a girl finding out about a corporate conspiracy against her classmates whose brains are about to be connected to the multiweb, came from reading about companies like Cambridge Analytica using people’s online data to manipulate us.
Dani: What kind of research did you have to do for this story, or was most of it based on already learned experiences and ideas?
Sylvia: After I came up with the premise, I did some research about the science of connecting brains to the Internet and came across some studies on mice. It wasn’t until after my story was under contract that the news about a certain billionaire’s efforts to do the same came to light. As I built the world, I would find cool research that supported my ideas (like bioluminescent trees). I also consulted with my sister to understand genetic editing.
Dani: What’s next for you?
Sylvia: I’m working on a Chinese myth-based fantasy that I’m excited about!
Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation Pre-order Campaign
Sylvia Liu has a preorder a campaign going on right now. Get the awesome swag in the image above!
BONUS: 20 lucky pre-orders will get a stunning 10×8 inch fine art print by Kathryn Ault Noble. You must submit proof of purchase (or proof of library purchase request) to be eligible for this gift.
Get a Signed Book: https://bit.ly/HanaPBks and get swag plus a signed book!
Pre-order Campaign: http://www.enjoyingplanetearth.com/pre-order-campaign.html (go here to get your swag after buying the book!)
Order from the Publisher or Anywhere Else Here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/669649/hana-hsu-and-the-ghost-crab-nation-by-sylvia-liu/ (You’ll get a book plate with the swag!)
An absolutely wonderful opportunity has arrived for LGBTQIA2s+ kidlit creators. Applications for the Queer Kidlit Mentorships is now open until June 15th. This opportunity is for both writers and illustrators! The amazing Jeanette Bradley has gathered 14 awesome Mentor volunteers for this event! You can apply here: https://queerkidlit.weebly.com/mentors-2022.html This event is brought to you by #QueerKidlit chat Wednesday nights on Twitter at 5:30pm PT/8:30pm ET and organized by Jeanette Bradley.
We have: Adib Khorram, Aida Salazar, AJ Irving, Alex Gino, Chris Tebbetts, Elizabeth Lilly, Jenn Reese, Kaylani Juanita, Keisha Morris, Lee Wind, Megan Dowd Lambert, Rebecca Kim Wells, Rob Sanders and Robin Stevenson! Bios for each of the mentors is here: https://queerkidlit.weebly.com/mentors-2022.html The artwork for our logo was created by the fabulous Anne Appert.
The mentorships are for pre-published writers and illustrators. There are no fees in applying to or receiving a Queer Kidlit mentorship. Sign up here before June 15th: https://queerkidlit.weebly.com/mentorships.html
If you were mentored in 2021 we ask that you don’t apply again until 2023 (if you applied and didn’t get a mentorship, please apply again). Queer Kidlit chats are run by @KatjaBookDragon, @KiannaShore, yours truly and various kidlit creatives!
I want to introduce you to a wonderful new course from the Children’s Book Academy! This course is for anyone interested in writing and/or illustrating graphic novels. Classes start May 9th! I absolutely love Mira Reisberg and her classes. I will be taking this course, and I would love if you could join me! You can sign up for the course here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/2022graphicnovels.html There will be submission opportunities following the course they are called Golden Tickets, and just take a peak and see all the fantastic people waiting to see your work!
Also there will be a Clip Studio class that comes with the class. It will be available soon! I’m an instructor for the Clip Studio course and hope that it will help you with your graphic novels. If you don’t have Clip Studio yet — look it up. When it goes on sale it’s very inexpensive!
If you just want to learn more about graphic novels there will be an absolutely free Masterclass on April 24th at 4pm PT. Sign up is here: https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-graphic-novel-masterclass.html
Until April 10th there are scholarships available for this course! The Larissa Marantz Merit and Need Based Scholarships are for underrepresented writers and illustrators who want to take Mastering Graphic Novels. BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled, Low-Income and more can apply for these scholarships. Please apply, especially if you are a BIPOC because Mira wants to make sure that most (if not all) of these go to BIPOC! https://www.childrensbookacademy.com/larissa-marantz-merit–need-scholarship.html
If you have any questions about Mastering Graphic Novels or for the scholarships, please let me know!
I wanted to let you know about a a fabulous illustration class I took a few years ago. Make Your Marks and Splashes with Mark Mitchell is a great way to get started in Illustration. I’ve been so busy that I know I’m posting this late. Go here to join this great course: https://illustratechildrensbooks.com/ms-spring-2022/
In this course you will learn all of the basics for illustration along with lots of advanced techniques as well. No matter where you are in your illustration career you will benefit from Mark’s class!
I feel like explaining this course is a little strange, because it’s very intense and involved. Having said that it also was very laid back and fun. Yes, both at the exact same time! Probably because the course material is easy to get into even though there is a lot to learn. Plus the whole class is a low stress environment, which helps me out a lot!
There are a ton of videos to watch for class. Having taken university courses, I’d say this is like a whole degree’s worth of art classes in one course! If you missed out on university art courses, don’t worry! You’ll get caught up on it all here!
Probably the most exciting part of this class is meeting with Mark your classmates online for the huddles! Mark is an excellent teacher who will help guide you every step of the way through illustrating.
Sign up here, but hurry as classes start on the 24th! https://illustratechildrensbooks.com/ms-spring-2022/
I had an issue with my website and haven’t been able to update. Apparently it was a problem I caused for myself! I’m back and I have more resources. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post/update more often now! To find the list of events and resources I’ve compiled so far go here: https://www.daniduck.com/kidlit-events-and-resources/
Deadline March 13: There are a bunch of scholarships available from the Highlights foundation. There are so many I won’t list them all, but check it out: https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/scholarships/
Deadline March 14: Owl Kids Call for Writers who are Canadians/Permanent Residents of Canada. 8 Week program for writers who have been underrepresented in North America. Must not have been published previously with Owl Kids: https://neighbourhoodartsnetwork.org/news-and-events/call-for-writers-owlkids
Deadline April 30th: WNDB Publishing Internship Grant https://diversebooks.org/programs/internship-grants/
If you didn’t see this Sami Ellis created a Master list of Mentorship Programs: https://twitter.com/themoosef/status/1494015788910620673?s=21 You should be able to view this list without having a Twitter account.
I meant to update sooner, but I was having trouble with the WordPress editors I use. I think blogging is okay, but updating the resource page was a pain! Here are some new events and resources to help you out. If you have a resource you want to share please contact me here: https://www.daniduck.com/contact/ I’m especially looking for resources for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled, people from underrepresented religion/cultures ect.
Here are the updated resources I’ve collected since my last post. You can see them all here: https://www.daniduck.com/kidlit-events-and-resources/ There are a few here. There are some things that I know about that I’ll be able to announce soon!
Feb 12 – Registration opens for the Indiana Graphic Novel Conference Opens: https://indiana.scbwi.org/events/graphic-novel-101/ (June 9th event)
Charlesbridge is looking for Editors and BIPOC Creators (authors and Illustrators): Charlesbridge editors are offering free, 30-minute sessions to participants who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) to discuss their manuscripts. During these sessions, the editor will offer specific constructive feedback on manuscripts, cover letters, and the submissions process, as well as guidance about the publishing industry if requested. These sessions are designed to help you refine your manuscript and prepare for submission to publishing houses or agents. https://www.charlesbridge.com/pages/connections
Cake Creative is looking for writers. WFH – They help writers develop their writing and you write their stories: https://cakecreativekitchen.com/contact-us