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Posts Tagged ‘books for kids’

I did it! I got the font to a size that Amazon’s AI will accept, and the paperback is officially ready for pre-orders. The official release is on February 1st, 2023. I therefore can present…

Drum roll please…

My latest masterpiece! Which actually is a re-issue from 2015. Masters of Air & Fire is a middle grade fantasy, aimed at readers from third to sixth grades. It’s a family drama where the family happen to be dragons, or wyrms. Three young wyrmlings are orphaned by the eruption of their volcanic home and must struggle to find their place in the world. Not only do they strive against each other, determining which of them is in charge, they also run afoul of some small, hairless, alien creatures called humans.

Some of the humans seem friendly. But do they have dark intentions toward the wyrmlings? Other humans are hostile, until the wyrmlings see them as captives with a shared purpose. Deciding which humans to trust is a major challenge of the book. The question of humans domesticating dragons is a sore point for me, and I enjoyed exploring that.

For more on this, there’s a whole post here about the early development of the project.


Masters of Air & Fire

Orlik, Romik and Yazka are wyrmlings, living peacefully on the slopes of Hot Mountain. Until the volcano erupts, and they are separated from their mother. Alone in the world, these three wyrmlings struggle to find a new home among creatures alien to them: humans!

The book is available as an e-book through Amazon and Books2Read. The paperback is from Amazon only.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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The reprint of Masters of Air & Fire (in ebook and paperback) has been complete for a while… Or so I thought! Almost a week after I approved the layout, I started getting notes from Amazon’s AI that the font is too large on one exact part of the book. I’ve been patiently reducing the font size by 1 point and re-submitting. Eventually I’m sure I’ll get it right.

Meantime, I had ordered author copies as soon as I thought I was done with it. They aren’t scheduled to arrive until early February. I’m honestly curious whether my author copies will arrive with the font still in the size the AI doesn’t like, or if the shipment will be pushed back. I do hope it gets settled soon. There’s an appearance coming up in late February that I want to have these books ready for.

Work also continues on the follow-up to “Mistress Henbane,” my as-yet-unsold fantasy short story. Maybe it’s just as well the story hasn’t sold yet, because I keep discovering new bits of background info that have to be reconciled. And now, I’ll get back to that!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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One thing you might not know about me, if you are new to my blog, is that I’m a crossover author. I write all fantasy, but some is for children and some is for adults. My stories often occupy a no-man’s-land between the two. Especially with shorter work, it can be really hard to place stories for publication. (I mean, it’s always hard, but still.)

Word count is one important distinguishing factor. Juvenile magazines typically want stories that are 700 or 800 words. Only a few will take work as long as 1,200 or 1,500 words. A typical short story of mine is between 2,000 and 3,000 words. So you can see that cuts me out of those markets, unless I make a case to serialize a story. (This has yet to happen.)

Even more important, though, is the story’s point of view. For a children’s story, the POV really must be a child, or someone with a childlike perspective. This is why lots of children’s stories have animals as the viewpoint characters. Conversely, a story that is intended for adults might include children, but the point of view will clearly reflect an adult’s perspective.

This distinction is in my mind because I’ve recently finished a story that — miracle of miracles! — came in at 600 words. That makes it ideal for juvenile markets, and there is an important child character, too. But, it is not a children’s story. The POV is an adult, and her thoughts reflect an adult’s concerns like taking care of a disabled child and growing enough food to feed them both. There’s also a dark twist at the end that no child POV would envision.

I often get caught in this bind with editors. Adult publications reject my stories because the tone is deceptively gentle and a child is present. They thus assume it is a juvenile story. But juvenile editors reject my stories because they are too long and the POV is an adult. What’s an author to do?

What I did was to self-publish my misfit stories into the collection, Aunt Ursula’s Atlas. It was my first self-published book, in 2016. You should take a look. And, what the heck! If anyone out there is curious about about children’s publishing, go ahead and toss your questions my way.



Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Here’s another fun picture book for your young dragon lover. Author/artist James Mayhew published through Chicken House in 2003.

It seems there  is a brave and handsome knight who hopes to catch the eye of a spirited princess. Surely the best way to impress her is to defeat a dragon in single combat. The only problem? There are no dragons left in the kingdom. He sets off to search.

This book has a slightly subversive tone, as you see the knight search right by some dragons hidden in the artwork. Then, when a dragon actually does show up to threaten the kingdom, the knight won’t face it without just the right armor and sword. 

Adult readers will probably guess the outcome from the title. Kids may or may not get the point about action being more important than appearance. I personally found the book clever, although the final page irritated me. The princess randomly marries someone other than the tardy knight; why? Her marriage is irrelevant to the point of the book and perpetuates a stereotype that girls can’t be happy when independent. But at least the dragon lives happily ever after!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the U. S, so allow me to say how much I appreciate all of you who read this blog. Some of you comment and click my links, while others mostly lurk, but I am thankful for you!

Now, here’s another great new picture book featuring dragons. The Book Dragon is a rapacious fiend who steals the joy from a hapless village when it snatches all their books away. Can a brave young girl help the dragon learn a better way?

Again, this is a fine gift choice for the young readers in your household.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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This is a cute picture book I spotted in a first grade classroom recently.

Every dragon breathes fire, right? They gain this special ability when they turn seven, and a little dragon named Crispin is very excited about his coming birthday. Soon he’ll breathe fire just like his dad!

But when the big day comes, it doesn’t work out as planned. Crispin breathes… whipped cream! Dad is upset and confused. Over the following pages, he tries many strategies to make Crispin breathe fire like a proper dragon. Only when a crisis strikes does Crispin prove his alternative breathing can be a help instead of a hindrance.

The message here is obvious: all kids may feel “different” sometimes. They may worry about their place in the world. Understanding adults can help them find their way even when they truly are different from the rest.

Not Your Typical Dragon is a great choice for anyone whose child is “different” or who wants to help children accept a peer who is “different.” What do you know, Christmas is coming soon, too!


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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I can’t resist sharing this dragon poem by my good friend, Kenn Nesbitt. It’s from his collection, The Biggest Burp Ever. Kenn is a former Children’s Poet Laureate who has built his life around making kids laugh out loud. Check out his web site, poetry4kids.com. You won’t regret it!

MY INVISIBLE DRAGON
by Kenn Nesbitt

I have an invisible dragon.
She’s such a remarkable flyer.
She soars through the sky on invisible wings
exhaling invisible fire.

Read the rest here…


Subscribe to my newsletter and win a free E-book, The Weight of Their Souls. Find out how on my Facebook page, AuthorDebyFredericks and click the link on the left that says “Join my mailing list.” Easy, right?

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After the long-ago dragon of Ogden Nash’s Custard, here is a more contemporary dragon story. Dragon Was Terrible is a picture book, written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. It was published in 2016.

The title character, Dragon, is terrible in the sense of playing naughty tricks. He annoys people in his Medieval village by making inappropriate noises, TPing the castle, and so on. Everyone tries to bring him in line, and everyone fails. That is, until a clever young boy devises a gentle solution.

This book is simple and fun, perfect for kids around Kindergarten. Many of Dragon’s pranks are similar to what a child would encounter when they start school and have to cope with the new rules and people from outside their own family. If you have kids or grandkids in that age group, they’re sure to enjoy Dragon Was Terrible.


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection and Masters of Air & Fire, her middle-grade novel.

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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Custard is the unlikely hero of a comic children’s poem by Ogden Nash. “The Tale of Custard the Dragon” was first published in 1936 but retains its appeal after 81 years. Indeed, in some ways it was ahead of its time. Whenever you hear someone say there were no girl heroes in 20th Century literature, you can remind them of Belinda, who was “brave as a barrel full of bears.”

The setup is that Belinda has several pets — kitten, mouse, dog — who are all brave and bold, while her “realio, trulio, little pet dragon” just wants a nice quiet cage. They all tease poor Custard — until the day a pirate shows up. Then they learn who’s really the bravest of all.

What the heck, you can read the poem here! It’s more fun than a barrel full of bears.


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection and Masters of Air & Fire, her middle-grade novel.

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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Many of us will remember Serendipity Books. We may have read them as kids, or we may have read them to our own kids. This long series, written by Stephen Cosgrove, has a distinctive look thanks to the soft and charming illustration by Robin James. In these books, a variety of animals both natural and mythical have adventures that end with a clear moral or lesson.

The success of this series carries a really interesting lesson all its own. The author struggled to find books he believer were appropriate for his young daughter. Standard publishers offered hardback books that were fairly expensive, and (he felt) lacked a moral center. Dissatisfied, Cosgrove set out to write his own book. His goal was to offer inexpensive paperbacks with the wholesome tone he was looking for.

Cosgrove did write his book. He found his own illustrator and began to approach traditional publishers. However, editors still wanted to publish in hardback, and Cosgrove was determined to bring out modestly priced paperbacks. Ultimately he decided to publish on his own. The first four books appeared in 1974. They were Serendipity, Wheedle on the Needle, The Dream Tree, and The Muffin Muncher (since revised as The Muffin Dragon) with a series title of Serendipity Books.

Self-publishing was extremely rare in the 1970s. The stigma of vanity presses was strong. But Cosgrove did what every successful self-published author has to do. He identified his audience (Christian families with young children). He decided how to reach them (gentle fables with sweet illustration). He aimed at family budgets with his inexpensive paperbacks.

It all paid off. Serendipity Books were a great success. Cosgrove and James expanded the series with many more volumes. All were independent of each other, although a few characters like Morgan the unicorn and Lop the rabbit starred in more than one book. In fact, the series was such a success that Cosgrove merged his company with Price/Stern/Sloan in order to focus on his writing.

Among the many characters, my favorites are the dragons. Some that come to mind are Creole, who learned that true beauty is within, Trafalgar True, who stepped in to stop a senseless war, the Muffin Muncher, who learned not to be so greedy, and of course Serendipity, the pink sea serpent who searched the world to find out who or what she was.

In all honesty, the Serendipity books seem fairly dated to a 21st Century children’s writer. Telling a story with a moral is not how we approach our audience these days. I find, also, that Cosgrove’s vocabulary is much too difficult for a young reader to handle. So these texts seem more directed at the adult who is reading than the child who is listening.

Nevertheless, the messages still ring true. In classrooms where students struggle with social behavior, Serendipity Books can be a way to help learn about friendship, equality, and respect for the environment.


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

 

 

 

 

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