I get excited about researching background information for stories and articles I am writing. I just finished a Picture Book Blueprint Course developed by Children’s Book Insider, and I am diving into the character of the protagonist in my new series of princess stories. The story came out of one of my writings in my cozy Inspiring Writing Group, where everyone loved the princess in the story. I continued the story of the princess, with a story I told to my 5-year old granddaughter one evening. It seemed like a good idea to put the two stories together to make a children’s book.
Like many authors who want to write a children’s story, it seemed pretty simple. The stories are short and geared toward a young audience. I was sure that with fun illustrations, I had a story. The next step was to share the story with children in the target age group. I happen to have a 16-year old niece who was willing to read the story to her siblings, two of which were in the target age group. To my surprise, they thought the story was confusing. My older niece liked the story well enough to suggest some changes; one being to make it into two stories. It’s amazing that I made the same mistake I worked with a former client on––too many ideas in one story.
So, I dug into the Blueprint class. Ugh! There are so many worksheets to define my main character and get to know her. But as I answered the questions on the worksheets, I realized there was more I wanted to know about current princesses; where they live and what they do. Originally, I was picturing a princess in the time of Queen Elizabeth’s children. From the Netflix show, “The Crown,” I pictured preschool through kindergarten children in the nursery with their nanny. They would occasionally appear before the king and queen.
As my story of the princess evolved, she was wearing clothes a princess from the current decade might wear. (This is where the worksheets were helpful). If I had determined what the princess typically wears before I wrote the whole story, I would have realized I was flipping back and forth in my mind from “The Crown” to my 6-year old granddaughter. That is why, even though I enjoyed the princess story, it was difficult to read it over and over. I sensed something was wrong. When you get the feeling parts of your story aren’t working together, it’s time to stop and investigate the problem.
I do love to investigate and research a problem. I was very curious about modern day princesses. What do they do? Where do they live? I saw pictures from Women’s Weekly, of handsome princes and adorable princesses; like Prince George and Princess Charlotte going to school. With some real pictures in my mind, it was time to put an age and face on my princess. I began making her real rather than a figure flitting around in my imagination. Not too real, and not a replica of Princess Charlotte, but a more consistent and modern princess. Outlining what the princess in the story might be wearing, where she might be going, and what she might have in her room, helped me to see inconsistencies in my story.
As I read the story over again, I realized I was mixing an idealistic realistic princess with fantasy and magic in the narrative. I liked the praying mantis sprinkling magic dust to make the little dog talk, since the insect is said to have magic powers (ok, too much research). I also liked the talking dog, but it didn’t fit the story. I had to ask myself, “How real do I want to make the story?” Is it realistic, fantasy, or both? I like fantasy and imagination, so the princess hears her little stuffed dog talking and imagines her stuffies coming to life. They don’t really. The fantasy is in her mind; therefore, she has the power, not the magic. It’s important to decide who in the story has the power, who resolves the problem, and how many other necessary characters to include.
For a picture book, illustrations tell half the story. After I rework my story––again––I will work with illustrator, Janet Hignight, to bring the princess in my story to life with pictures. Now, it is fun again, to write a children’s story.
by author, Nancy J. Miller
Vegetable Kids in the Garden (hardcover, softcover, and ebook)
by author Nancy J. Miller & Illustrator Janet C. HIgnight
The Vegetable Kids Cafeteria Club (color your own book optional)
Why buy "Vegetable Kids in the Garden" hardcover at the lowest price ever? Great reviews. Fun book. Encourages kids & adults to eat more vegetables. Authors love reviews and author will send Vegetable Cards email (to print) or mail after purchase. Mable isn't the only one reading my books. Buy the book and read reviews at: Amazon.com
"I loved that not only was Vegetable Kids In The Garden fun but also excitingly educational. In this book, children will acquire a robust learning experience about vegetables, from vegetable activities, learning interesting facts, finding out about the different types of vegetables, and a special message to parents. What was a bonus feature to me was to discover that there were Vegetable Cards available for purchase. Children can take these cards to the grocery store and help to create a meal using different colors of vegetables. Their involvement with the meal can pique their interest in eating their vegetables. If you have a finicky or picky eater that won't eat their vegetables, try using the principles in Vegetable Kids In The Garden by Nancy J. Miller." Vernita Naylor, Readers' Favorite.
Buy The Vegetable Kids Cafeteria Club, eat a carrot, and find a child to read it with.
Don't forget to give the book some stars. Thank you!
I often find that I am curious like Lucas in, “Vegetable Kids in the Garden.” My curiosity draws me to read about things I find interesting like wondering where the Christmas holiday originated.
According to the National Geographic website St. Nicholas was originally a Greek bishop known as a protector of orphans, sailors, and many more. The story goes on to say that in Germany, St. Nicholas transformed into a scary character who rewarded good behavior and threatened the children who misbehaved. It seems that in the Netherlands, tradition held to the kind gift giver and brought him to America.
“In the Netherlands, kids and families simply refused to give up St. Nicholas as a gift bringer. They brought Sinterklaas with them to New World colonies, where the legends of the shaggy and scary Germanic gift bringers also endured.” National Geographic,
Even when brought to America, Christmas was nothing like what we celebrate today. It was said to be more of a rowdy community blowout. The date of the holiday has changed over the centuries, celebrations have evolved, and the purpose of the holiday has changed. Over time there has been a theme of giving and then chastising the children to be good, and then commercializing the holiday. More at the National Geographic website (it does have many ads to navigate).
Many of our current Christmas holiday traditions come from the 19th century like one of my favorites, the lighted tree. The tradition of using electric lights instead of lighted candles, started 1883 with Edward Johnson hiring Thomas Edison to put electric lights on a tree for everyone to see. I thought it was interesting that a commenter on the story said they would just put a bucket of water next to the tree in case the candles caught fire. How would that fit with our modern décor? More at the Smithsonian Magazine,
I hope your holiday brings you friends, family, good food, giving to those who are less fortunate, and making a fun day for the kids. We plan to take our grandkids again this year to meet the superheroes who give in so many ways to traumatized children. I always enjoy seeing my friend, Batman, who started the nonprofit, The League of Heroes Inspired. When Christmas is about giving, it fits with new as well as old traditions.
Interesting that it is both National Novel Writing Month and National Career Development Month. What do they have in common?
Writing a novel involves:
Writing for career requires good communication skills including:
Successfully managing a creative solo business also requires the same skills and more. Being able to effectively tell your story to potential customers, clients, and employers demand discipline and creativity. A professional Life Coach will help you create an impactful career life story using metaphor, storytelling, visualization, and structured tools and assessments. You can start by communicating your strengths and values to yourself or to a friend, but a professional coach can take you to the next level in your Creative Solo Business and career.
Notice how the color of each card makes you feel. Do you like the warm hues of red and orange or the cool colors of green and purple? Click on each card to learn more.
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Nancy Miller, M.S. is a Career Counselor, Life Coach, and writer. Nancy will assist you with story ideas, organizing your book whether fiction or nonfiction, and choosing a method for publishing and printing.