Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, Writing Life

The Beatryce Prophecy

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Beatryce Prophecy (Candlewick Press, 2021) by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Sophie Blackall is an unusual but appealing story.

It starts with a prophecy about a girl who will “unseat a king.” Next we meet Answelica, the goat, whom the monks fear. One day Brother Edik finds a child in the pen with the demon goat. Beatryce doesn’t remember anything but her name. And king’s soldiers are searching for her.

Kate is a two-time Newbery medalist and Sophie is a two-time Caldecott medalist.

Read about Kate’s many novels here, her picture books here, and her early chapter books here.

Check out all of Sophie’s children’s books here.

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

I Wish You More

Perfect Picture Book Friday

I Wish You More (Chronicle Books , 2015) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld is such a sweet book with deceptively simple text and lovely illustrations. It’s a great gift book. The pages make me smile.

Each spread shares what “I wish you more” of. So many good lines. One of my favorites is: “I wish you more we than me.” My favorite illustration is on “I wish you more treasures than pockets.”

Amy is a prolific author. A bonus on Amy’s website is that you get to choose the ambiance and see what the umbrella does. Very fun. I had to play with them all. Click on the links on the right for her children’s books, bio, etc.

Tom is an author/illustrator. Read about him here and see all his books here. Below is the story behind the story.

Posted in Business Side of Writing, Promotion

Building Your Own WordPress Website

If you read this post, you’ll see that WordPress website builder is my first go to, plus it has information on choosing a host.

After you’ve written and prepared content for your website (see this post if you need content ideas and this one for preparation info), then follow the steps below:

Chose a WordPress.org theme

  • Finding a theme can be difficult. It’s not just a matter of layout or colors (much of that can be changed), but it’s also about what a theme provides: blogging, e-commerce, etc. I like what this article says: “Your goal should be to find a WordPress theme that has a design you like, is fast, and can be easily customized.” Read more of “Selecting the Perfect WordPress Theme – 9 Things to Consider” for more tips.
  • It can be overwhelming as there are so many choices. Narrow those choices by using the search. Try “author,” or “illustrator” or “writer” or “art” or even a specific color. Remember the images will be yours (although some themes provide banner images that you may keep).
  • Pick three to four themes that appeal to you, then examine each one closely.

For example, Context Blog is a theme aimed at blogging. There are two links on the page to check out, first a Preview. The Theme Homepage link takes you to a Demo. What do I like about this site? Clean, easy to use, good for multiple authors blogging together. I like that blog posts have a light-colored background. The font is easy to read. There are a variety of ways your home page can be set up.

Kidsi Pro offers a rainbow of colors. Besides checking out the above issues, make sure you read the text and the tags—these will tell you a lot. In the tags on this one, it shows blog, so that means it’s easy to set up a blog page. The Theme Homepage didn’t work. Uh oh! I’d steer away from this one then.

Green Wealth is one I discovered by clicking on Latest Themes. Green is my favorite color so it appeals to me. I like that the image is formatted as a circle and I like the soft green backgrounds. When I click on the Demo I see that it has animation. I like the floating dots, but I don’t like the way the picture moves. Animation can slow down a website too, so something else to keep in mind.

  • If necessary, choose more until you can narrow it down to one or two.

Get opinions on your choices from others. For example, one writer I know picked a black background. When she showed it to her daughter-in-law, she felt it was too dark. We changed the background to a medium dark gray blue. But that wasn’t something built into the theme. I had to use CSS to customize it. (And unless you have programmer knowledge or help, I can’t recommend this.)

  • Verify it has what you need as far as what you can build and how much flexibility it has.

Check for tags such as custom colors, custom background, custom menu, sidebar, columns.

  • I also like looking at the ratings and active installations of a theme. If no one is using it, that would make me nervous.

Once you have your host, and have set up a domain name, add your theme.

  • Go to your WordPress dashboard. There is usually access directly from your host. Also, you can access it by your url. Example: myauthorwebsite.com/wp-admin. Of course, a password is required.
  • On the left column, you’ll see Appearance with a subcategory of Themes. This is where you add new themes.
  • Easiest is click Add New Theme and use the search box by entering the name of the theme.
  • Once you’ve added a theme, you must click Activate.

Customize your theme. This is where you make it uniquely yours. (Note: not all themes will have each of these options. Some will have more; others less.)

Under Appearance is a subcategory of Customize. Here you can change:

  • Site Identity. For example, mine is set to Site Title: Susan Uhlig and Tagline: Children’s Author.
  • Colors. Here’s where you change the Background color and Header Text color.
  • Header Image. What image do you want to show on every page? These are usually a short and wide picture. Recommended is a 1000 × 250pixel image. Other size images can be cropped to fit.
  • Background Image. Instead of a solid color background, you can have a background image. Be wary of getting too busy.
  • You’ll probably ignore the Menu tab.
  • Widgets. This is where you can add sidebars and footers. Some themes come with them already.
  • Home page. It can be static or show most recent blog posts. The latter is my preference as there is always changing content on the home page.

All that and we still have not created a page or a blog post.  But the groundwork has been laid. And can be changed. For example, I had a red-toned background for a while, then switched to green.

I’ll do a post on adding pages and blog posts next.

Posted in Writing Life

A Little More Beautiful

Perfect Picture Book Friday

A Little More Beautiful (Waxwing Books, 2023) by Sarah Mackenzie and illustrated by Breezy Brookshire is a sweet book not just for kids. Gardeners would enjoy it too.

An old lady named Lou Alice, who is as “sly as a fox and swift as a bird” decides “to leave each day more beautiful than she found it.” When she offers to plant a garden at the town hall, she’s told it’s too much work for her. So Lou Alice plants at night under the light of the moon. When the garden grows the town hall workers don’t know why but they feel happier than before. Then Lou Alice moves away. No one really notices, except for one little girl, who takes on Lou Alice’s mission of making the world more beautiful.

Author Sarah has created The Read-Aloud Revival encouraging homeschooling parents to read to their kids. There’s a bonus of a very popular bi-weekly podcast. See her other books here.

Read about illustrator Breezy here and check out her portfolio too. She also has an Etsy shop.