Guest Post: Hannah Blatter – Dreams of a writer/illustrator

Hannah Blatter is beginning her journey as an author of children’s books. I was enamored with her personal story and hope it warms your heart too. Over to Hannah:

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Hannah Blatter

In early 2019, I was diagnosed with panic disorder. It took me 10 years to make that step to seek help and receive an official diagnosis. When this happened, I felt like I was inferior, as a mother, as a wife, as a human being. I had these moments, hours, weeks, when I didn’t think I would ever reach my goals. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Like other people can handle this, but I can’t.

My son was 6 years old at the time, and I did not want to feel like I failed him. I didn’t want him to have high hopes and dreams and not go after them if he ever had a mental or physical illness. I never wanted him to feel like he was not good enough no matter what diagnoses he carried.

“In Colorado, you can ride a dinosaur with a saddle”

 

“You could also raft the Zambezi river with a paddle”

I have always had a background in art, working with design and illustrations. I wanted to give my son something, to show him that if there is something he wants to do, it’s possible. I had this idea stirring in my head from working with young children in my job.

When you ask them what they want to do when they grow up, they always say “a firefighter, doctor, mermaid!” and so on. Well, it’s wonderful that they have headway on their careers, however, what about what they want to see? Where do they want to go? There is so much in this world, why not open up their little minds to how much more there is.

I want my son to get the message that if you want to write a book or direct a movie, you can find resources to help you do that. If you want to drive on the longest bridge on earth, there are things you can do to make it happen. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to be scared to do these things. It’s okay to say you’re scared to do these things. And most importantly, it’s okay to ask for help.

“You can go sing on Broadway and learn how to dance”

 

“Or, you can feel like royalty when you stay at a castle in France.”

We all have our limitations, mentally, emotionally, physically. We have limitations in our knowledge, in our relationships, and in our environments. If we all gave in to our limitations, nobody would ever get anything done. It’s okay to accept these things and ask for help to work with them and around them.

So I am asking, graciously, for help to gain access to tools that will give me the ability to show my son that these things I say to him are true. I want to walk into a bookstore with him and see our book. I can say “Look, I get scared, I get upset. I am different. But, I can still do this, and so can you.”

“You could just watch the stars from a Cappadocia hot air balloon”

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A question from Hannah for any children’s authors and illustrators:

What was the most difficult roadblock you overcame in publishing your first children’s book?
I’d love to hear your tips or advice.
Thank you!

Connect with Hannah on Instagram: @blatterhannah

And Merry Christmas!

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Diana’s February Story: The Elephant Child

Pixabay image by Marianne Sopala

I actually recorded this if you want to listen along.

The Elephant Child

by D. Wallace Peach

An elephant child, carefree and wild
Walked into the wintry woods
He followed fox tails and jackrabbit trails
Ignoring his mother’s “shoulds”

Of course, he got lost and chilled by the frost
As night began to fall
To his rump he sunk and tooted his trunk
But no one answered his call

Oh, that cold night, to the elephant fright
The clouds began to snow
He sniffled and shivered, shook and quivered
His nose he needed to blow

The blizzard swirled and snowflakes twirled
He plodded on wobbly knees
His head grew stuffy, the snow so fluffy
He blew out a honking sneeze

Losing hope, he started to mope
When in an evergreen tree
He spied a house, just right for a mouse
And he let go a trumpet of glee

Alas the place hadn’t the space
To fit an elephant’s bulk
The lost little guy plunked down for a cry
His head hung low in a sulk

The house was quite nice, chock full of mice
Who whispered quiet and low
What was that? Did you hear a cat?
Lurking out in the snow?

Across the wood floor, they dashed to the door
Flicked on the outside light
In a rodent flurry, they squeaked and scurried
An elephant! What a sight!

Let’s offer a seat for a tea and a treat
Said a mouse who felt overly bold
I think he is lost so covered in frost
And surely his ears are cold.

Full of care and courage to spare
They crawled out on a limb
They slipped on the ice those brave little mice
And their mission turned quite grim

But they held on tight with all their might
And called to the elephant
Come in from the storm, come in and get warm
But the elephant said I can’t!

Though I’m only four, I’ll bust the door
I’ll break the branch from the tree
I’ll crack your stairs and squash your chairs
I’m far too heavy, you see.

You have to try, hurry in and dry
Get up! Please give it a go!
The elephant groaned, he mumbled and moaned
Though he longed to get out of the snow.

With strength galore, he pushed on the door
The tree branch started to bend
The home nearly fell, and the mice had to yell
Please stop, or we’re end-over-end!

The elephant frowned as the flakes tumbled down
His trunk a bright shade of blue
Oh, what a glitch, mice-whiskers did twitch.
What were the rodents to do?

Now, due to their size, mice aren’t very wise
Their brains are as tiny as seeds
They may not be smart, but they have lots of heart
And sometimes that’s all that you need.

They sketched out a plan as only mice can
And piled his back with sweaters
And blankets and sheets, and curtains with pleats
Tiny coats of wool and black leather

With the elephant warm, and safe from all harm
They dialed their old-fashioned phone
We’re seeking his mother, a father or brother!
This elephant’s all alone!

Well what do you know, because of the snow
His parents were suffering fits
They dashed to him fast and hugged him at last
And stayed for some tea and biscuits.

Thus ends the plight of the elephant’s night
Be careful when out in the woods
You might meet some mice who are caring and nice
But just in case…
Remember your mother’s shoulds.

A teen writer publishes against all odds

For her high school senior project, Kendra Stefan wanted to write, illustrate, and publish a children’s book, and I agreed to mentor her through the project. As writers out there know, a book is a lot of work. For Kendra, the challenge was over the top. She was suffering from heart failure.

We got an early start, working on the book between her other studies, her numerous doctor’s appointments, and rising fatigue. As we got her story down, her condition declined and her position on the waiting list for a donor moved up.

When the story was essentially done, but the illustrations just started, Kendra got the call. In July, she received her new heart.

Kendra’s work on the book continued while she recovered in the hospital – between rehab sessions, medication adjustments, and the hard and painful work of building up her strength.

When she was released for visits home, we worked on the book. Still unable to return to school, we inserted the artwork. Between her follow-up doctors’ appointments, we formatted. Between her naps, we uploaded and worked through the myriad of glitches that plague even seasoned authors.

And then Kendra hit PUBLISH. Jackie Moves to Bunsvill is live in print and ebook.

She’s running a sale today and tomorrow – the ebook available at the low price of $.99.

If you feel like giving this young writer a big smile, click this global link:

Amazon ebook or Amazon paperback.

Now back to Kendra. She was kind enough to do a mini-interview with me.
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Hi Kendra, so you hit the publish button on your first book! How does it feel?
It showed me that I really did write a book. I was so surprised that I actually wrote a book! It was an adrenaline rush.

 

 

What did you enjoy most about writing a children’s book?
I think the thing I enjoyed most was drawing the characters for the first time and coming up with their personalities and how all of those different personalities would mesh together. It gave me so much creative freedom… there was no limit.

What did you like least?
Working with [the formatting program] and fixing grammatical errors. Just because it was so tedious and time-consuming. Diana and I spent three hours just to fix two words.

 

 

Was there anything that surprised you about the process?
Yes. There was a lot that surprised me. I never knew it would take so much time and so many computer programs. I was surprised by how easily I would make mistakes.

What might you do differently next time besides not having a heart transplant in the middle of the process?
I would work more at lining up dates and setting up plans to do readings instead of doing it at the last minute.

 

 

Any advice for other young authors?
As soon as words start flowing through your head, write it down because you can always organize those ideas into stories.

Any other books in your future?
I think so, but I don’t know when. I think that my books in the future will be more targeted towards teenagers and adults.

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Thanks to everyone for stopping by to learn about Kendra’s journey and her book! I was so honored to play a small part.

Now get busy writing!

Halloweensie Contest

Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting her 8th Halloweensie Contest. Last year she got 235 entries. Wowza! To enter, write a kid’s Halloween story using no more than 100 words including cauldron, shiver, and howl. Visit her site for complete rules if you want to play along, but hurry.

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A Beasty Brew

“Beauty blood.” Grissella Ravenclaw squinted at the potion’s blurred label, shrugged her crooked shoulders, and poured. The cauldron burbled with a green, stinky goo. She wrinkled her warty nose and swallowed the goop down anyway. She’d be the queen of the Goblin’s Halloween ball.

Her stomach gurgled.

She shivered and burped.

Then her nose bulged into a toothsome snout, and her ears perked up. Gray fur covered her skin, ending in a fluffy tail… and itchy FLEAS! Her paws on the shelf, she read the label with wolf-sharp eyes. “Noooo,” she howled. “I wanted beauty blood. Not beasty blood! Aahhroooo…”

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Happy Halloween!

Jumping Genres

I’m delighted to be over at Julie’s today with a short and somewhat silly post about “Jumping Genres”… what possessed me, after years of writing for adults, to write a book for children. I hope it brings a smile. 😀

Facets of a Muse

Please welcome my good blogging friend, D. Wallace Peach. Besides having a wonderful blog where she shares poetry, short prose from writing prompts, and peeks into visits with her grandson, she’s a prolific fantasy/sci-fi author. Since she writes for the adult market, I wondered why she chose to write a children’s book, so I invited her to stop by and shed some light on the subject. Take it away, Diana!

Available in Print: USA, UK, Canada, India

Julie asked me what possessed a writer of adult fantasy and sci-fi books to suddenly write and illustrate a children’s book.

The answer isn’t quite straight-forward, but it’s not that complicated either. I never set out with a children’s book in mind, but sometimes the ingredients come together and it’s a matter of timing more than intent.

The main reason is Tornado Boy.

Tornado Boy is 4 years old…

View original post 411 more words

Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters

My first children’s book is out in print. During my writing break over the summer, I tried my hand at illustration. It was hard and I learned a lot. I have a whole new respect for professional illustrators! You are amazing.

Thank you to all the authors who offered their feedback on the text (a simpler print and no italics). I realize it looks small in these images, but I did order proofs of the book (twice) and the actual size works fine.

I published this through Createspace, and it was a (grizzly) bear dealing with the images. Took me days and days and days to get the dpi right.

I was never going to subject myself to the agent-seeking process again, but I did, rather lamely, send queries to 7 agents in August. No takers, naturally, and I didn’t care a whit. This book was written for fun, illustrated for fun, and published for fun.

I hope you enjoy a few peeks at the illustrations.  And, of course, it has a happy ending.

Only in Print: USA, UK, Canada

Grumpy Ana Goblyn is sour, dour, and cranky. Her lips droop in a frown. She’s bored with every place and person in her friendly town. With the help of her father, she builds a spaceship and travels to a soggy planet where she meets her perfect monster playmates. But there’s a problem! The monsters see her grouchy frown and think she’s a monster. In this children’s space adventure, Ana discovers that her attitude affects her happiness, and she can change it if she chooses.