Hi everyone - I hope you all enjoyed the holidays! Today I'd like to introduce you to Jayne Peters. Jayne has written a delightful children's book (illustrated by Adam Murray) called Messy Jessy.
Jayne was kind enough to provide a copy of her book for me to review. I have to say - I loved it!! Having a "Messy Jessy" of my own, I was laughing and nodding through every page from the mismatched socks to the spilled juice and at almost thirteen years old - it all still applies to my daughter. But as the book states, "I'm not Messy Jessy; I just love being me!"
Anyone who has had a "Messy Jessy" of their own will adore this book (and you know you've got at least one in your brood). The bright illustrations are fabulous, but what I love most about this book is how Jayne appreciates and embraces her Messy Jessy's personality instead of trying to change it.
I asked Jayne if she could tell us what it's like to write for children....
As a newly published author I am now writing “for” children. It feels a lot like what I have been doing for years as a teacher: writing “with” children. And I love them both. In fact, sharing my writing with my students has always been enlightening. They are so honest and provide me with valuable feedback. Now…if you don’t have your own classroom filled with budding readers and writers, it is important to find other writers that you can share your stories with. You can learn a lot by joining a writer’s group (I know I did). I also have a writing buddy who reads from a variety of genres and is honest about my stories, even when I am not ready to hear it.
Everywhere you look there is advice about writing. When writing a picture book you need to tell a story and have characters that children can relate to. You need to try to hook your reader and map out your story so you can see how it will flow. All great advice.
My advice is that writing picture books for children requires tons of research and practice. The research, which sounds daunting, is so much fun. If you want to write for children you need to read a variety of children’s books. Spend time in libraries and bookstores or cuddled at home. Spend time with kids. Find out what makes them tick. As you examine children’s books become aware of the author’s craft (how they put words together, choose certain words opposed to others, organize their story, etc…). Mimic the parts of their craft that you like in your own writing.
While researching, keep your writer’s notebook close by so that you can write down ideas that pop into your head (I tend to forget them if I don’t do this.). The first stanza for Messy Jessy materialized after reading a picture book to my youngest daughter for what felt like the trillionth time. (Good thing I loved the book as much as she did.)
It sounds simplistic, but in order to become a better writer you need to practice writing and keep everything. You never know when your previous writing will spark another idea. Setting aside some writing time each day is ideal. My writer’s notebook is filled with stories I have started. Spend time letting your ideas percolate. I often write to a point, put it away for a bit and then look at it again with fresh eyes.
Most importantly, keep reading and keep writing.
To Learn More about Jayne and Messy Jessy: