‘Going On A Bear Hunt’ – Pre-Sale

In October, I announced my recent labor of love ‘Going On a Bear Hunt’ is on its way. A full-color children’s picture book about the adventure of two city boys who find themselves bored in Lockhart, Louisiana. Uncle Eddie Ray takes Aiden and Austin on a bear hunt like none other.

I’m offering a pre-sale for autographed copies.

Here is a sneak peek of an early illustration, along with an excerpt of the story.Counting Ants 1 Going On A Bear Hunt   Pre SaleSo what do you think? I hope you enjoyed the excerpt, and want to purchase a copy. Thanks for your support!

pixel Going On A Bear Hunt   Pre Sale

 

Going On A Bear Hunt – Coming Winter 2017

 

Last summer, while sitting on the porch of our family’s homestead laughing and talking with cousins inspiration struck. My cousin’s son declared he, his uncle, and brother were going on a bear hunt.

That declaration, along with the ensuing conversation was an aha moment. Just like that, I had a story. Over the next few weeks, I thought about that conversation from time to time. One sleepless night the story literally called me out of the bed and the first draft of ‘Going On A Bear Hunt’ was penned.

I shared ‘Going On A Bear Hunt,’ with the local SCBWI critique group and fleshed the story out some more, working out a few kinks… And sat on it.

Finally, In June of this year, I reached out to an editor. Extremely nervous about her take on the story I agonized over sending it. What if she thought my story was trash? I watched my email for two days waiting for the edits to return.

After a discussion with Krystal Grant, I set a publication date. That meant the ball was in motion.

Nervous as a church mouse I share with you ‘Going On A Bear Hunt,’ picture book to be released Winter 2017. A definitive date will be announced as it gets closer, and I look forward to sharing updates of our progress.

 

My Summer Reading List

Reading List My Summer Reading List

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down and reading a book longer than 36 pages, or a magazine. And I miss it. So, I added one more thing to my list of things to do for the summer… Read a book, or two. Who am I kidding, I’ll be lucky just to finish one book!

But it shall be done.

As I was writing a post, a reading list for school aged children I ran across a few books that I was interested in. Like 10 Books From High School You Must Read Again. The Great Gatsby, To Kill A Mocking Bird, and Invisible Man are a must for that list!

  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. I enjoy reading books before I watch the movie made for it. I’ve searched all over for the movie, maybe I’ll have better luck finding the book. 
  • The Heart Of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend, by Bob Drury. This book is about my cousin’s, husband’s grandfather several times removed. I’m really excited to learn about their family history.
  • The Perfect Summer, by Morgan Billingsley, Jackie Lee, and Gabrielle Simone. In April, I attended an Arkansas Literacy Festival Event where I listened to two of the two young authors. I haven’t gotten around to reading their book yet… But I will!
  • Half of A Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m going backwards with this book. I watched the movie on Net Flix last year, then realize this was the author and book Krystal Grant had spoken so highly of. This is another must.
  • Black Looks race and representation  My supervisor and I started talking about a textbook for ‘The History of American Journalism’ that I now teach. Last fall I found it boring, and difficult to get into. She gave me a few pointers and introduced be to Bell Hooks. She also let me borrow this particular book, a collection of 12 essays…

…the personal and political consequences of contemporary representations of black women and men… Taking on popular music, advertising, literature, television… 

I also plan to read 100 combined picture and chapter books for research.

Whew, I think I’ve got enough on my plate. This is more of a wishlist, and I’ll be lucky to read two by the end of the year. The 100 children books will probably get accomplished first.

I intentionally kept my list short. I still have that dollhouse to finish on my Projects Half Done list. And my deadline is THIS WEEKEND!!! it’s time to set a fire, and get it done!

Do you have a reading list for the summer?

Arkansas Literary Festival with Gabrielle Simone & Morgan Billingsley

Gabrielle and Morgan 1 Arkansas Literary Festival with Gabrielle Simone & Morgan Billingsley

You know that feeling, when you wake up excited about something you’re going to do that day? That was me recently!

I sprung out of bed (sounds cheesy I know), and did not do any of my Saturday chores. That could wait. I was headed to the Arkansas Literary Festival. To be more specific I was excited to attend a presentation of two young writers Gabrielle Simone, a seventh grader, along with Morgan Billingsley, an eighth grader.

The two young authors have co-authored two books The Perfect Present, and The Perfect Summer, with a third young lady Jackie Lee. Jackie wasn’t available, Morgan was Skyped in, and Gabrielle, a Little Rock native was in person for the event.

“You’re never too old to be a superstar in the making!! XOXO” 

Gabrielle’s English teacher, Mr. Tyler Eatherton conducted the interview style presentation. I was so very impressed with the ladies level of maturity. Although very young, they spoke and interacted with the intellect of 20-something young adults.

Mr. Eatherton asked if they’d consider being professional writers when they got older. Both said they have other interest they’d like to pursue, as well as continuing to write. Morgan made it clear “I consider myself a professional now.”

I wanted to give her a high five. You should have seen the huge grin on my face. Not many adults get it. And she so does.

Influences

Both Morgan and Gabrielle are currently working on separate projects outside of their co-authored books. They shared excerpts of stories they’re currently working on.

Morgan is influenced by writer author mom ReShonda Tate-Billingsley, along with other family members. Things her mom says, family activities, or something her bus driver does may end up in one of her stories, especially if she thinks it’s funny.

“She sends me back to the drawing board,” Morgan says of her mom, when she gives her writing to review that’s not her best. “She gives it to me straight.”

Gabrielle is also influenced by her mom, author Celia Anderson, along with family, friends and “All those writing prompts,” she laughs. She identifies with, and loves creating her wacky characters.

Difficulties 

Writers block has not been a problem for Morgan, but explained she can be forgetful. Life is busy with school, volley ball, friends, and writing. It’s easy to forget that cool idea if she doesn’t write it down.

“I have a lot going on,” Gabrielle says. She plays several sports, and right now it’s basketball. Finding the time to write has been difficult. After the literary festival Gabrielle was off to a basketball game that afternoon.

Both young ladies agreed the deadlines are a dreadful part of writing.

LaTonya Gabrielle Simone Arkansas Literary Festival with Gabrielle Simone & Morgan Billingsley

 

Advice

The pair had sage advice for would be writers. I’m telling you, they are wise beyond their years.

“Don’t worry about grammar, just write and come back and fix it.” – Morgan Billingsley

“It’s all about your imagination. Don’t just write and give up, stick to it.” – Gabrielle Simone

When that thing you were so excited about, lives up to and fulfills your greatest expectations… It’s awesome. That’s how I left the presentation of these two young authors. I was so inspired!

Gabrielle signed my copy of The Perfect Summer… “You’re never too old to be a superstar in the making!! XOXO”