Monday, August 26, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour

1) What is the working title of your next book?
   I have two books coming out in 2015. One Plastic Bag and Water is Water.

 2) Where did the idea come from?
One Plastic Bag is based upon the story of a real woman I've had the pleasure of meeting. The story is inspired by her efforts as one of the first women in her country (The Gambia, Africa) to undertake a grassroots recycling project and beautify her village.

The idea for Water is Water literally popped into my head one day. I'm a big science/nature fan. I grew up minutes away from Lake Michigan, and originally entered college to study aquatic biology.

 3) What genre does your book fall under?

Both fall under the picture book category with a non-fiction component (something akin to faction, perhaps?). OPB is probably for a little older audience (5-12), while WIW's text appeals to the very young (3-7).

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I'm not sure if my books really would ever be animated or turned into films. However, my agent did retain film rights just in case :). I really have no idea who would play the parts, though. I'll pass on this one...

 5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One Plastic Bag: A narrative story inspired by Isatou Ceesay and the recycling women of Njau, Gambia.

Water is Water: A backyard, year-round water journey as seen through the eyes (and hands) of a group of children.

6) Who is publishing your book?
OPB - Millbrook Press (Lerner Publishing Group)
WIW - Neal Porter Books (Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan)

 7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

OPB - I wrote the very first draft within a week or so. Mind you, the story had been stewing in my head for nearly six years prior to actually writing it, and I'd interviewed more than 30 women from the recycling co-op in the years leading up to this. I revised it and began submitting it about three months later.

WIW - I actually had four first draft versions of this book, which each took months from idea to something that resembled a complete first draft. Then I had to choose which version I liked best and wanted to continue working on. I chose, and did more revisions on that version. Then, my agent loved it, but asked for a few tweaks. Then, my editor loved it, but had some ideas for it. . .then. . .you're starting to get the point, right? The real question is not how long it takes to get the first draft done, but to get the actual book done.

 8) What other books would you compare these stories to within your genre?
I'm not entirely sure what to compare WIW to yet, but OPB is comparable to THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (picture book version).

 9) Who or what inspired you to write these books?

I think I already answered this!

 10) What else about the book(s) might pique the reader's interest?

Water is Water is going to be illustrated by Jason Chin.

Just In: I've also learned who will illustrate One Plastic Bag and I am SUPER THRILLED. But....I can't announce it yet. I know, I know.  I will announce who as soon as I get the go-ahead from the publisher (doesn't the suspense kill you??). Connect with me via Facebook or Twitter so you can share in the exciting news as soon as I post it.

Next up on the Next Big Thing Blog Tour is Jacque Duffy, all the way over in Australia! She'll be posting soon about her exciting new book that's coming out soon.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Standing Up for Girls

Those of you who know me know I've never been much of a "girly" girl. But that doesn't mean I don't value being female.

On the contrary, I've been pretty outspoken throughout my life on standing up for girls' and women's rights. I also believe in helping re-define an inaccurate role or image that has been placed upon many women and girls throughout history and across borders. 

Those of you who know about the subject of my forthcoming book (One Plastic Bag, 2015) and my involvement with Books for Africa may understand some of the avenues through which I've advocated for women's groups.
Miranda Paul & Isatou Ceesay with namesake, "Isatou-Miranda"

So when I saw that LitWorld was inviting children's authors (and anyone, anywhere) to "Stand Up on 10.11.13 for every girl's right to build a fierce, fearless future, lit from within," I knew I was in.

Over the course of the coming weeks, I'm going to be working on crafting one girl's story to share with the world as I pledge to stand up for her on October 11th, the International Day of the Girl. I hope you'll come back to visit my blog that day, and maybe even share a story on your own site. Read more to find out how you can #standup4girls!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What Every Aspiring Writer Should Know About "The Writing Life"

I've learned a lot about the writing life over the past decade. And there's still so much I discover as my path bends and diverges with each new assignment, manuscript, or phase of my journey. Next month, I'll be speaking about that journey to a room full of new and published authors and illustrators.

But as I share my inspiring, humorous, and even painful stories with writers, I realize that my path is only one path. So I turn to you, fellow writers, and ask you to share with me a little bit about your journey. Specifically, I want to know what you might tell a new or aspiring writer (young or old) about the realities of being a writer? Here's the call I posted on Facebook earlier:

WRITERS: I am working on my keynote speech for the Wisconsin Writers Association conference for the fall and would love your input. My speech is about the realities of "The Writing Life". If you were to share one tip or surprising aspect about the journey toward making writing your career, what would you say to aspiring writers of all ages? (And let me know if I may share/credit any of your words of wisdom in my speech)?

Feel free to e-mail responses if you have something to add. I'm not sure what I'll be able to incorporate into my speech, but my intention is to make sure I speak to every type of writer in the room at the conference, including those who self-publish, those who are older than me, those who write in different genres or for different markets, etc. Thank you for your help!
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