Over the past few years as a K-8 literacy coach I’ve worked with students to help them create and connect with their writing identities. I wanted them to live “writerly” lives and explore what it meant to be a writer. I wrote a book about that exploration (Close Writing). I know, as writers we […]
AN APOLOGY TO MY FOLLOWERS: I know this isn’t Tender Tuesday or Wacky Wednesday, and not even Theatrical Thursday… Please accept my apology for publishing this on Freaky Friday! (I’ve been a little busy….)
Many of you may not be aware that I’m in process of publishing my first Picture Book! I waited for months to have the carefully chosen publishers respond to my query and tell me how anxious they were to get the project to print. I dreamt of bidding wars over my manuscripts- seriously! You’re shaking your head right now, thinking another disillusioned novice gets a dose of reality. Not exactly! I have had some experience with publishing in a former segment of my life and after retiring from my full-on career as an IB principal- threw myself into writing 3 humorous Middle Grade novels (the Frenchie Series). (I’m being cheeky here and pointing out that they’re listed in the blog roll to the right of this post with links to Amazon and Red Tuque Books- just in case you’d like to check them out… ha!)
I was in a BIG rush to break into the book publishing world at that point and just couldn’t wait around for publishers to acknowledge receipt of my manuscript (MEANING: those that would even consider glancing at an unsolicited manuscript). That’s right, I never looked too hard for a literary agent. I figured I had researched enough and through my amazing educational career with literacy, knew which publishers would be ideal for my books. Well, wasn’t that a bit of a shock when they didn’t immediately call, upon receipt of my query packets, to offer a contract?
At that point, I thought I could make it work on my own, so I published with CreateSpace (self-publishers associated with Amazon). Let’s just say, I’m not sure anyone actually found my novels, even though they promised great distribution, if authors did all the right things. I totally worked diligently, booking readings, setting up a website, blog , twitter accounts, and Pinterest boards. I put my ebooks out on Smashwords, as well as Kindle, so that it would be available on all e-reader platforms. I found a Canadian Distributor (Red Tuque Books) and purchased ads for catalogues and literary newspapers, etc. I set up tables at X’mas and summer markets, and the list goes on…
What was the lesson learned from all that effort? THE BOOK BUSINESS is a difficult one to break into (near impossible, in fact, no matter how many webinars you watch, How To books you buy, subscriptions you have to Writers Digest, Book Baby, Canadian Children’s Book Center, etc.). However, in spite of all that, I still had to listen to my inner voice that was saying, “Hey Mary, do you think you’re a writer?” The answer is YES! And I had one particular story going through my mind, ever since I started sailing the Pacific North-West in my late 40’s on our TwoCan Catalina sailboat. I knew I had to publish it, and as I wrote this picture book, at the core of the inspiration were the delightful cartoons that were created and published monthly by Pacific Yachting Magazine’s COCKPIT CONFESSIONS’ cartoonist. Each vignette for this repetitive language picture book, had to have an amusing twist that would engage children, as well as parents and grandparents, and the entire boating community. The day I set up a meeting with Dave Alavoine in Starbucks in North Vancouver, was a day I’ll never forget.
Dave and I gave each other hints for how we’d recognize one another. (I had already been on the web looking at his past shows of his political cartoons, so I assumed I had a bit of an advantage.) But no, he was the one who figured out it was me- could it have been the meeting agendas laid out or the stack of my Frenchie novels, that gave me away? I chuckle to myself when I reminisce about that first meeting. I left it feeling like I was walking on air. He was such a lovely man and could visualize what I was looking for in the cartoons as we went through the text (which laid the context) and the action and dialogue I envisioned for each of the 23 images. Although, he was already committed to another book deal (Learn to Sail the Hard Way) and, of course, had monthly commitments with Pacific Yachting Magazine, he agreed to collaborate with me on OUR project, WHO’S the CAPTAIN?
This is the image that will be used on the cover of our book (I thought you might just like to have a sneak preview …)
In my next installment I’ll explore more of the “tender moments” that transpired between Dave and Mary in their collaboration process of this awesome picture book that is on its way to becoming a reality! The core element to the success of this project has been INSPIRATION!
I know many of you who read my TENDER TUESDAYS have inspirational stories of you own. I would be so grateful if you would click on LEAVE a COMMENT below this post and leave your story. I promise to respond to all comments that are left. It enriches our experience, when one shares their thoughts with us. Please do!
I devote time daily to read Kristen Lamb’s blog (Kristen Lamb@wordpress.com). She is a writer who dedicates her energy teaching others how to improve their craft. This author’s writing tips grab your attention. One of her recent blogs was about “TNT”. What is this, you ask? It’s basic, but oh so succinct- “TODAY, NOT TOMORROW”. This caught my attention, while awaiting the proof of my third book of the Middle Grade Frenchie Series. It shook me out of that pleasurable reverie of thinking I was almost finished and deserved a break. Not so! Authors continue to grow and develop their skills by writing daily. And with a new book, it is time to prepare for its launch-contacting reviewers, setting up book events, updating my website (http://www.twocandobooks.com), publishing testimonials, and booking my favorite activity of all – school and library presentations.
Thank you Kirsten Lamb for focusing me, once again. Summer break is over and this author is ready to live the mantra- TNT!
Below is the new cover design for Frenchie Diva- Follow the Blog. Knowing that I made changes to the Frenchie Series’ cover, I’d love to have your feedback. Do you think it has more appeal to the TWEEN readership (9-13 year olds)? Please leave a comment, I value your input. I’d especially like to hear from Middle Grade readers, authors,parents teachers, and librarians. As well, if you are interested in reviewing Frenchie Diva, please leave your email address in the Comment section. Thanks for your support!
Is that Frenchie puppy adorable or what? Wait till you read the novel!
After reading the article entitled Meet the Agent- Barbara Lowenstein in Writer’s Digest (Feb., 2013), it occurred to me it might be helpful for my blog readers to know more about Mary Laudien, the Middle Grade Author. I decided to follow Kara Gebhart’s simplified format to provide this info to my blog followers (All 3 of you, but I know there are many more of you who were just waiting for an invite to subscribe!). If you seek more detailed information, you can always go to my website: http://www.twocandobooks.com
Who is Mary Laudien?
- a retired innovative educator (Known for successfully transforming the public schools she was principal of into International Baccalaureate World Schools)
- a newly appointed International Baccalaureate Recognition Ambassador (The IB program provides a world class education with its best educational practices.)
- an author with two books in her Frenchie Series published and a third written and ready for publication
Why Does She Write?
- to share her love of Kidlit and promote strong reading and writing skills in schools (her passion)
- to have a blast writing humorous, entertaining Middle Grade books for “tweens” (that even reluctant readers will want to pick up and read)
- to share her novels with kids in schools and libraries as a way to inspire experimentation with powerful blog writing
- to use her knowledge of “tweens” and create contemporary novels that acknowledge this age group (ages 9-13) as fun, interesting, dynamic and developing. It gives kids, parents and grandparents a chance to laugh at themselves and not take family change and themselves quite so seriously (single families, extended families, career moms, latchkey kids, new pets, responsibilities, technology issues, etc.).
Why Write Blog Posts?
- modeling blog writing for Middle Grade Readers. The Frenchie Series have blogs written nightly by Ethan (the 13 year old main character) to all of his Frenchie followers-Frenchie’s Best Friend
- using life experiences and interests and writing entertaining, powerful blogs for others to critique
- helping middle grade readers, educators, parents, librarians and pet lovers to find me
- seeking readers who can enjoy the humor in contemporary life and adore their pets
- helping other writers (students included) in their journey to publication
- other writers
- creating “shabby chic” furniture pieces
- voracious reader
- decorating and fashion
- volunteer work: International Baccalaureate Recognition Ambassador
- Zumba dancing and fitness
- speaking French
- dog sitting my sons’ French Bulldogs – Bert and Cecile
- entertaining friends and family
- living author: Jodi Picoult (provocative examination of social issues that make you think from all perspectives)
- dead authors: Maeve Binchy (humor and strong character voices) and Roald Dahl (humor and imagination)
- city: Paris, France
- TV Shows: The Good Wife, Gray’s Anatomy, Parenthood, HBO’s NewsRoom
- Foods: citric (lime) salad dressings, seafood, Lindt chocolate, nuts, avocados
- hosted a children’s radio show in Lahr, Germany for the children of the Canadian Armed Forces (CFN)
- seconded to the University of Regina to teach in a model demonstration school on campus
- opened the smallest German import store in a Freight Elevator in Regina, Saskatchewan (wooden toys, X’mas decorations and nutcrackers)
- re-opened 2 primary schools in West Vancouver (Eagle Harbor and Cypress Park)
- led West Bay Elementary’s (West Van, B.C.) transformation as principal of the first public school in Western Canada to become an authorized IB World School
- have grand dogs: French Bulldogs (Bert and Cecile) named after Mary’s sons’ French grandparents (Her inspiration for writing the Frenchie series!)
- keeping up technologically with an author platform. One learns so much (which is awesome), but there is always more that can be done. It’s important to make educated choices about what the most effective ways are to reach one’s readers.
If you thought this was interesting or helpful, please don’t hesitate to pass it on to others, leave a comment, subscribe to my blog posts…whatever. I love to write and share some of the wonderful things that I am learning through other books, blogs, tweets, webinars, authors and conferences. Your feedback is valuable to me.
A Five Star Amazon Review for Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars “A Great Story” Jan 20 2013
By NancyofUtah – Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
This second book of the Frenchie Series written by Mary Laudien is another fun-packed story. One can only imagine the chaos in the home when two puppies take up residence. From puppy surprises to training classes and other events involving Ethan and his mom, this is another hilarious read. It’s not only a humorous story of family and dogs, it’s all about kids growing up, learning about responsibility, and learning about charity. This story is packed with values for parents and young adults. I enjoyed this well-written story.
Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog
Who would enjoy these humorous reads?
- pet owners or “pet owner wannabes”
- those who read novels that are hilarious enough to give you belly laughs
- anyone “gaga” over their pet
- all age groups – Grade 5+ and any walk of life (students, parents, grandparents, pet groomers, pet trainers, pet care professionals, families who love animals, teachers, librarians)
How would the series benefit middle years students?
- excellent novels for inspiring students to extend writing skills to blogs
- stories that addresses leadership and fundraising initiatives in a school setting to reinforce the concept of MAKING A DIFFERENCE
- novels that captures the attention of the most reluctant readers through the humor and the change of text fonts for the blogs
- novels that provides students with meaty debate over character traits (trustworthiness, risk-taking, caring, responsibility) and relationships (single parenting, extended families, friendships, customers)
Book Club discussion points available on Mary’s Website http://www.twocandobooks.com
Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog is now available at CHAPTERS in NANAIMO!
(Ask any book store to order copies for you from Red Tuque Books in Canada)
How to order copies?
Go directly to http://www.twocandobooks.com to the Frenchie’s Best Friend & Frenchie X2 pages for all the links to paperback, ebooks, and kindle versions
eBook Format (iPad,Nook, Kobo, …)
Paperback: http://www.redtuquebooks.ca (Canadian distributor to individual customers, libraries, schools, independent book stores),
http://amazon.ca/dp/1466480998 (in Canada)
People are asking where to find the Frenchie series to purchase. Hopefully this will give you the information you need. They are only a click away. Thanks for your interest in my novels!
Juvenile Novels: Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog and Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog
Synopsis of Mary’s Books: Society is “gaga” over their pets. In the first book (Frenchie’s Best Friend-Follow the Blog), Ethan enlists the aid of his quirky, scheming Grandmother and a following of bloggers to realize his dream of becoming a French Bulldog owner. The story is a covert operation of misadventures processed on his nightly blog, “Frenchie’s Best Friend” unbeknownst to his over-stressed and somewhat oblivious single mother. The journey is both humorous and unnerving, as Ethan sets up a bargain “doggie wash” business in his mother’s laundry room. The story has all kinds of appeal to readers who are dog crazy themselves or are looking for a book that keeps them turning pages with each new chaotic and comical challenge Ethan faces in his subterfuge journey.
Two adorable Frenchie puppies “had Ethan and his mother at first lick”. Well, at least they had Ethan… A must read for anyone who has ever brought home a brand new puppy X 2 for the very first time. The sequel- Frenchie X 2- Follow the Blog takes the surprise ending from the first novel and sends Ethan and his Mom into the realm of puppy ownership with not one, but two adorable and very different Frenchie puppies.
Juggling the responsibilities of caring for and training not one new Frenchie puppy, but TWO, while simultaneously keeping his reluctant, bamboozled mother on side is full on! To say nothing of monitoring his conniving grandmother; who knew she would start playing cupid and encourage his mother to start dating? And through all of this chaos and craziness, Ethan tries to maintain friendships, balance schoolwork with his Doggie Wash business, lead a major school fundraiser, and most importantly, continue chronicling his journey on his nightly blog. His constant struggle with trustworthiness (partially due to the modelling and meddling of his somewhat devious Grandmother) continues to put Ethan into crazy situations spiralling out of control that the reader expects to blow up in his face momentarily.
Mary recently retired from her position as Principal of West Bay Elementary and Cypress Park Primary (International Baccalaureate World Schools) in West Vancouver, British Columbia. With her newfound freedom and the gift of time, she is happiest when writing her own books for the students with whom she spent her career. She is convinced that they’ll enjoy reading her novels just as much as she has fun writing them. In actuality, she had such a great time with Ethan (the thirteen year old main character) and his Grandma Sis’ covert scheming and crazy predicaments, that Mary constantly found herself chuckling aloud while she wrote. She is loving the feedback she receives from her readers of all ages when they describe the “belly” laughs they’re experiencing while reading the first two books of her Frenchie Series.
Mary’s grown-up sons both have French Bulldogs. They are passionate about their “Frenchies”-Bert and Cecile! Mary’s “grand-dogs”, with their big personalities, comical antics, and adorable dispositions, were the creative stimulus for this novel. The story has all kinds of appeal to readers who are “dog crazy” themselves or are looking for a book that keeps them turning pages with each new chaotic and comical challenge that Ethan faces in his covert plan. However, Mary cautions her readers from trying any of Ethan’s techniques in pet grooming!
And remember, if you aren’t yet totally “gaga” over “Frenchies” before reading this novel, you will be by the time you finish it… GUARANTEED!
WHAT EDUCATORS ARE SAYING ABOUT FRENCHIE’S BEST FRIEND
It was wonderful to have you at the school and to be such an inspiration to the kids. I’m looking forward to the continued adventures of Ethan in Frenchie X 2. -JH
Thank you very much for the visit Mary! You completely captured my 6/7 class’ attention this morning. – A
Pet lovers and wannabe dog owners are sure to be captivated by Frenchie’s Best Friend: Follow the Blog as they follow Ethan’s crazy adventures in his covert dog grooming business.
Teachers, consider this book for your literature circles as rich discussion can occur about commitment, being principled and multiple intelligences. Today’s tech savvy kids will relate to the mix of traditional text and Ethan’s communication via his blog. You might even be inspired to have your students respond to this book in a class blog of their own.
Recommended for grades 5+
IB PYP Teacher-Librarian
West Bay Elementary School (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program World School)
WHAT EDUCATORS ARE SAYING ABOUT FRENCHIE X2
I finished your first book and could not wait to start the second one. Your perfect ending in Frenchie’s Best Friend resulted in me picking up Frenchie X2 right away and it is so funny! I think this is a great read for an adult too and can see teachers enjoying reading this book to their students.
I enjoyed every moment of Frenchie X2~~ so funny and so real life. You are such a creative writer. So when does the third book come out? I am looking forward to the next in the Frenchie series.
There should be enough copies of these books in every classroom with teachers’ hopefully incorporating literature circles. Imagine the discussions taking place between children!!!! I would love to be a fly on the wall! What great fun!
My Masters in Ed was on literature circles and I gave workshops all over the city of Calgary. It was my dream to see this process happening in every classroom. Your novels are perfect for engaging and exciting readers.
R. W. (Retired Assistant Principal of Abbeydale School, Calgary)
Mary Laudien would love to visit you at your school, library, or book club- absolutely anywhere that middle grade readers enjoy FUN and HUMOR!
All Middle Year’s Author Visits (appropriate for Grades 5, 6 and 7) include a prompt to provide a personal connection to her books, readings from Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog and the sequel Frenchie X 2- Follow the Blog, discussion of what inspires her books, tips on writing entertaining blogs, an interactive blog writing challenge, and answering questions regarding the writing and publishing process. Her student workshop is presented over 50 minute blocks.
Mary is an educator, recently retired as a Principal. She is happy to present to groups of up to 75 students. Her approach keeps the students engaged and participating. A copy of each book is donated to the school’s library with her author visit.
Mary’s paperbacks are reasonably priced so that they are affordable for all. Her first book is priced at $6.99 and Frenchie X 2 is priced at $9.99. Mary is anxious to continue her work with “Making a Difference” that she was involved in as a principal. Thus, she reimburses 15 % of all book sales at schools and libraries to go towards their favorite charity or PAWS for a CAUSE (SPCA). There is a chapter or two in Frenchie X 2 that deals with fundraising through the Kielburger’s initiative of “ME to WE” and thus is a motivating connection for the students.
To inquire about availability and expense rates:
What a blast Mary Laudien had at Hazelgrove School in Surrey last week! The students must have read her Author Visit flyer because the Grade 4’s, 5’s and 6’s (all 300 of them!) arrived at the sessions ready to have fun. They laughed during the blog readings, they related to the pet owner wanna-be Ethan, and they enjoyed hearing about the chaotic mis-adventures that the thirteen year old main character and his quirky and conniving grandmother get themselves into.
Sharing what inspired the author to write the Frenchie series and exploring the elements of creating powerful blogs set them up for a Give-Away Contest. Four signed copies of Frenchie’s Best Friend-Follow the Blog were left with the teacher-librarian to be presented to the four students who met the author’s “Write a Blog Post Challenge” in the most entertaining way. The students had the opportunity to return to their classrooms to write a brief blog post based on their author visit experience. They were provided possible topics for their blog post: an opinion about the author presentation, an opinion/review about the Frenchie series, a recommendation of Mary Laudien’s novels (or not), or a personal connection made to the books/blogs/ or characters. The response was overwhelming! Let’s just say, the author had a few hours worth of highly entertaining reading to narrow it down to four winners! That was the focus of their blogs- provide information in an entertaining and informative way using their personal “voice”.
Mary Laudien found the blogs well constructed and the personal connection made and relevancy of the novels with the students was thrilling. Hazelgrove is full of pet /dog people and some even showed up to the presentations with French Bulldog t-shirts to show their enthusiasm! They also thoroughly enjoy humour as chronicled by their own humorous experiences with puppy training and care in their blog posts.
The staff filled in evaluations of the author visit and these are some of the comments made:
They would recommend the author visit to other colleagues for students in Grades 4,5,6 and 7.
Some of the strengths of the author visit/ Frenchie series, included:
animal appeal, humour, making connections, relating to real life experiences, author relates to the students and their interests, kept the attention of the students, inspirational, demonstrated by another adult that creative writing/writers’ workshop is a worthy endeavour, the Frenchie series appeals to an intermediate audience nicely by incorporating humour and narration, stories that all students can connect to in some way, all kids love dogs, shows that books are written by regular people and that students might also be writers, great books for literature circles (debate around personality traits and character), good read aloud novels, a tool for inspiring blog writing, a fun read for DEAR/ Classroom Library, strong character depiction, realistic fiction with current trends like single mom, latchkey kid, pet lovers, dog people
Book an Author Visit at your school – anywhere on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland of Vancouver, Portland, Vancouver, Washington. Mary would love to visit your school or library- anywhere where students enjoy fun and reading! (All visits are charged a minimal fee to cover travel costs. She is happy to have schools share the costs.)
To make a booking go to http://www.twocandobooks.com