My 2017-18 School Year in Review

During the 2017-18 school year (which, I’m defining as ending on June 30th – therfore, beginning today, on July 1st), a lot of fun stuff happened.

Three books I wrote were released:

I had readings, signings, & events at:

  • 11 Public Libraries
  • 11 Conferences & Festivals
  • 16 Book Stores

I visited 108 schools

  • 8 in-person visits
  • 99 virtual visits
    • one of the visits was a double-visit – two school in the same districut skyped in at the same time

Dear Dragon was named a 2018/19 Missouri Association of Librarians (MASL) Show Me Award Nominee AND a 2018/19 Indiana Library Federation (ILF) Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee.

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk was named to the 2018 Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA) Picture This Recommendation List.

How to Code a Sandcastle was selected to the 2018 Summer Indie Next List by the American Booksellers Association.

And for 2018-19 … who knows what’ll happen? Have a fabulous summer everyone!

(don’t forget about the *big* MISSION DEFROSTABLE preorder giveaway – details available here:  https://mailchi.mp/2d7e5b10c2c6/the-great-mission-defrostable-pre-order-giveaway)

_Mission Defrostable

 

Where I’ll Be Next

Two for You

1. Iver & Ellsworth written by Casey Robinson & illustrated by Melissa Larson

2. 100 Bugs! A Counting Book written by Kate Narita & illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

Featured Interview in Huffington Post

I was interviewed by The Book Doctors in the Huffington Post today in an article entitled “Josh Funk on the War Between Pancakes & French Toast, SCBWI & Getting Published” – it’s probably the most in depth interview I’ve done to date, with some seriously awesome questions, such as:

  • How did you go about getting a book contract not only for Lady Pancake, but also for your next two books which are coming out?
  • Hasn’t anyone told you that rhyming books don’t sell? How did you overcome this ridiculous idea, and why do you think people keep saying that?
  • What are some of the most horrifying things about being a professional author?
  • How has being a member of SCBWI helped you in your career and as a person?
  • Why in the name of all that’s good and holy would you choose to get into the publishing business? Have you had your head examined recently? Been checked for brain parasites?
  • How do you keep it so funky?
  • and more …

And I got to share the #TeamKrush logo designed by Jessie Devine.

Team Krush Logo TeamKrush

Check out the entire interview here.

Two for You

(two books I highly recommend)

1. Backhoe Joe written by Lori Alexander and illustrated by Craig Cameron

Backhoe Joe

Want a backhoe for a pet? Of course you do!

2. There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie written by Rebecca Colby and illustrated by Kate McLelland

there was a wee lassie

A Scottish twist on this much-loved rhyme!

nErDcamp rEcap

Brace yourself: this post is gonna be long. If you’re like me, you might want to just look at the pictures.

I spent last Monday and Tuesday at nErDcamp in Michigan. What is nErDcamp? It’s a conference for educators focused on reading and literacy founded by members of the Nerdy Book Club (if you don’t know what that is, stop reading this and go here now). Over 900 educators from all over the U.S. and Canada attended the two day conference.

So let me tell you what happened with pictures.

Sunday morning I flew from Boston to Detroit.

Boarding Flight from Boston to Detroit
Early Morning jetBlue flight

After chilling at the airport for a bit, I hitched a ride with educators Lesley Burnap, Jason Lewis, and Debbie Ridpath Ohi (author/illustrator of Where Are My Books?, illustrator of I’m Bored and Naked – two separate books). We stopped at Bob’s Big Boy for a snack on the way from Detroit to the Hampton Inn in Jackson.

Josh Funk at Bob's Big Boy
Jason, Big Boy, Lesley, & me

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi debbieohi.com]

Debbie did one of her found art doodles (see more of her found art doodles here).

debbie ridpath ohi's found art doodle of josh funk on the way to nerdcamp
Red Pepper Boat to #nErDcamp

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi debbieohi.com]

After checking in at the hotel, we met up with my good friend Jess Keating (author of How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied, How to Outswim a Shark without a Snorkel, this October’s How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue, and next February’s Pink Is for Blobfish, AND member of #TeamKrush) and her husband who shall henceforth be referred to as #NerdyPhotographer. Along with Debbie, we headed over to the high school where nErDcamp would take place starting the next day. We stopped by the rock for this photo:

nErDcamp Rock with Josh Funk
Debbie, me, & Jess

Then we headed into the school

Welcome to nErDcamp 2015
the steps into the school

where I dropped off some swag,

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Activity Kits
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Activity Kits

and a little more swag,

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Bookmarks
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Bookmarks

and offered (Jess and Debie) to help.

Jess Keating and Debbie Ohi breaking down boxes
Jess and Debbie breaking down boxes

We met nErDcamp co-creators/founders/planners/chairs Colby Sharp, his wife Alaina Sharp, and Suzanne Gibbs.

Jess Keating, Debbie Ohi, Colby Sharp and Josh Funk meet
Jess, Debbie, Colby, and me

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi debbieohi.com]

We met other conference volunteers (also twitter friends) including Jen Vincent, Niki Ohs Barnes, & Ryan Hanna, before heading to the infamous Olive Garden for dinner to meet up with even more educators (also also twitter friends) Kacie Rodgers, Kurt Stroh, Sara RalphMichele Knott, Kathy Burnette, Amy RalphMichelle Simpson, Melissa GuerretteCarrie Davies, Ann King DiBella, and more!

Josh Funk at nErDcamp pre-dinner at the Olive Garden
Mingling after my eggplant parm.

[Photo by Debbie Ridpath Ohi debbieohi.com]

While hanging out in the Hampton Inn ‘bar’ for the evening, I shared Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast with several new friends who hadn’t seen it before. I also took the opportunity to share Dear Dragon and Pirasaurs! sketches, and it was a blast to see these readers’ reactions. And then I went to bed…

only to be woken up at 6:30 by the fire alarm which quickly shut off. When it came back on for the second time three minutes later, I headed to the lobby to check it out and it (apparently it was a malfunction), but I stayed to eat breakfast, only to receive this at 7:17:

Followed by the #joshdidit hashtag starting to trend (for the record, I didn’t do it). While the alarms continued to blare on and off (until about 8:30), I split a waffle with Debbie,

Sharing a waffle with Debbie Ohi
Sharing a waffle with Debbie

and I had a nice chat with debut author Cassie Beasley (Circus Mirandus).

Cassie Beasley eating breakfast and drawing an elephant's butt
Cassie Beasley drawing an elephant’s butt

We arrived at nErDcamp and headed to the ‘Green Room’ for presenters where everyone had a fantastic gift bag filled with homemade boutonnieres that Mrs. Sharp made out of an old Robinson Crusoe text, along with a bunch of other great stuff. I met several awesome authors over the next few hours including authors Edith Cohn (Spirit’s Key), Kristen Kittscher (The Wig in the Window), Tracy Holzer (The Secret Hum of a Daisy), Erin Soderberg (The QuirksPuppy Pirates), Aaron Zenz (Chuckling Ducklings), Ruth McNally Barshaw (Ellie McDoodle Diaries), Louise Borden (Baseball Is …), Leisl Shurtliff (Rump, Jack), Laurie Keller (Arnie the Doughnut), Tricia Springstubb (Cody and the Fountain of Happiness),  Jerzy Drozd (Warren Commission Report), Lisa Graff (A Tangle of Knots), Lauren Castillo (Nana in the City), Philip C. Stead (Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat), Erin E. Stead (A Sick Day for Amos McGee), Matthew Cordell (Wish).

Josh Funk, Lisa Graff, Lauren Castillo, Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead, and Matthew Cordell at nErDcamp
me with Lisa Graff, Lauren Castillo, Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead, and Matthew Cordell

[Photo by Lauren Castillo http://www.laurencastillo.com]

Yeah, I managed to sneak into a picture with a few of these all-stars! Nearly 1,000 people filled the auditorium

nerdcamp auditorium
Filled to Capacity

for Nerd Talks by Ruth Ayres, Sue HaneyDonalyn Miller, Lisa Graff,

Colby Sharp Live Streaming Lisa Graff's Nerd Talk
Colby Sharp Live Streaming Lisa Graff’s Nerd Talk

and this awesome 8 minutes from Pernille Ripp,

I wasn’t scheduled until session 2, so I grabbed a quick bite to eat in the teacher’s lounge and hung out with Donalyn Miller’s awesome family. And then I led the “Picture Book Panel” featuring NINE Picture Book Pros: Miriam Busch (Lion, Lion), Larry Day (Nanook & Pryce), Matthew Cordell, Philip C. Stead, Erin Stead, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Lauren Castillo, Deb Pilutti (Ten Rules of Being a Superhero), and Matt Faulkner (A Taste of Colored Water).

#nErDcampMI Picture Book Panel
Busch, Day, Cordell, P. Stead, E. Stead, Ohi, Castillo, Pilutti, Faulkner

[Photo by Aliza Werner twitter.com/alizateach]
And there I am standing at the edge of Debbie’s view from between the pair of Team Caldecott:

What a thrill it was to lead this panel with such a stellar cast! And it went very well! Everyone got a chance to speak, and we even had a few laughs (I think it was with me, not at me…).

After session 2, I went to see Mr. Schu talk about his favorite books of the year so far. He started with picture books, and had so many on his list, he got as far as … some of the picture books (sorry Non-Fiction, Middle Grade, Graphic Novels).

So this post is taking forever to write, and I’ll bet almost nobody is actually reading this far, and it’s Saturday night, and my wife wants to spend some time with me (yay! she loves me!), so I think I’ll just post some pictures with captions for the rest of the way.

Donalyn Miller Mr. Schu John Schumacher
Donalyn Miller & Mr. Schu


Picture by Debbie Ohi
 
Jess Keating Troublemaker Jess Keating as Lauren Castillo’s Troublemaker


Photo by Debbie Ohi

colby sharp, lauren castillo, mr schu john schumacher, travis jonker, team81
#Team81 (Colby, Lauren, Schu, & Travis Jonker)
Publishing Panel
Publishing Panel Closer Up (I’m drinking water)
Nerd Camp Publishing Panel
Ruth McNally Barshaw’s amazing sketch of everyone on the publishing panel! We got #Barshawed!
Josh Funk Jennifer L. Holm
Jennifer L. Holm, bunny ears, and me

Nerds in a Car Josh Funk Lauren Castillo Debbie Ohi
Nerds in a Car (me, Lauren Castillo, Debbie Ohi, Jason Lewis, Melissa Guerrette, Lesley Burnap)
Melissa Guerrette & Jillian Heise being suspicious
Everyone at Dinner After Day 2

So, all in all, nErDcamp was amazing. I met so many awesome educators and authors and friends.

I’ll end with this tweet (you may recognize one of the images):

See you next summer!

Josh Funk’s Guide to Writing Picture Books (in 12 easy steps)

Yesterday I updated my official website (joshfunkbooks.com) to include a new Resources for Writers section.

Josh Funk's 12 Step Guide to Writing Picture Books

For those of you that have been following this blog for a while, those 12 lessons may look familiar. I took my Tips for Writing Picture Books series and reorganized it a bit to make it a little cleaner and available all in one place.

See all of Josh Funk’s 12-Step Guide to Writing Picture Books

Lesson #1: So, You Wrote a Book. Now What?
Lesson #2: Picture Books Are Short
Lesson #3: Every Word Counts
Lesson #4: The Illustrator Is Your Partner
Lesson #5: Show Don’t Tell
Lesson #6: Write with Active Emotion
Lesson #7: Story Arc Components
Lesson #8: Don’t Write In Rhyme
Lesson #9: Rhyming Is All About Rhythm
Lesson #10: Some Ideas Don’t Work
Lesson #11: Keep Learning
Lesson #12: Now You’re Ready! Dive In!

I hope that these lessons help any prospective picture book authors, as it’s basically a massive brain dump of things I’ve learned in the last ~4 years.

Feel free to share – and enjoy!

My First Trip to NYC

I’ve been to New York City before. Many times, actually. With my parents. On school trips. With friends. Twice in college to see Conan. With my wife. But I realized as I got off the train at Penn Station on Monday afternoon that I had never been in New York City alone. It strangely felt like I’d never been before. And I’ve certainly never had an experience quite like the past few days.

I was invited to speak at the Sterling Publishing Sales a Conference this past Tuesday (er, I was invited months ago, but the conference was this past Tuesday, forgive my grammar).

Wafflaku Belgian Waffle Bar
The Sales Conference was not held here, but … Belgian Waffle Bar!

What happens at a sales conference, you ask? This is where the Editorial, Publicity, and Marketing departments of the Publisher reveal the upcoming season’s list of books to the Sales Representatives who will then try to sell those books to bookstores around the U.S. and Canada. And let me tell you, Sterling’s Fall list looks awesome (and I’m not just saying that cause I wrote one of the books on it).

Why was I invited, you might still be wondering? Sterling thought I could get the sales reps excited about LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST.

Josh Funk at Sterling Sales Conference with LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST
Me and the extra large book cover!

After a quick breakfast and some remarks by the editorial director, my editor introduced me with some very kind words. I shared a sneak peak of the book trailer (coming soon, I promise, Mr. Schu), and talked a bit about the book and what some of my marketing/promotional plans might be. And then I got a sneak peak of everything else Sterling is offering this Summer & Fall.

The Sterling Editorial, Marketing, & Publicity team showing off MIND YOUR MONSTERS by Catherine Bailey & Oriol Vidal

At the end of the day, everyone went out for done fancy cocktails (I got a Shirley Temple, just like my editor). At a luxurious dinner (where I should note there were zero children), I got a chance to chat with many of the sales folks, about breakfast foods, kids books, and everything else. I met Jeff Anderson, author of the forthcoming middle grade from Sterling, ZACK DELACRUZ: ME AND MY BIG MOUTH. And got to hang out with many of the the other book creators on the Sterling team.

zackBut the remarkable thing was that people treated me like I was something special. In all seriousness, this was strange. A good strange, but I never thought anything I would do or say would be worth paying attention to.

(I mean I think everything I do and say is worth paying attention to, but until now, nobody else ever seemed to feel that way).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I keep thinking how fortunate I am to have found perfect homes for three of my manuscripts, connected with a great agent, and made all these friends along the way. This whole ride just seems so surreal. But I’m not saying I’d trade it in.

It’s strange, and might even be crazy. But it’s crazy awesome.

Tips for Writing Picture Books: Keep Learning

It’s important to know ONE thing: You don’t know EVERYthing. So …

Keep Learning

I debated on whether to call this post Find the Right Critique Partners or Be the Worst … and Learn from People Better than You. I think there are a couple points I want to touch on regarding progression with your craft.

First, you don’t have to do it alone. The kidlit community, both online and in person, is full of friendly people who cheer each other on. Whether through SCBWI, PiBoIdMo, 12×12, or one of the many social networking groups, there is a profusion of resources available. You just have to ask.

Baby Hedgehog *

Find a critique group. This is critical. It sounds like a cheesy acknowledgements section of a middle grade novel, but the truth is that I’d be nowhere without the many critique partners who’ve made my writing better over the years.

But don’t be the best in your critique group. If you want to keep improving your writing, be sure to work with people who are better than you (by this, I mean better at writing). I can definitively say I have never been the best one in any of my groups – and that fact has played a large role in any success I may have had.

There are many other ways to continue learning. One is by going to conferences, retreats, and workshops. This can get expensive and potentially prohibitive, but luckily lots of classes have popped up online that range from very affordable webinars to even free (see Nerdy Chicks Write Summer School, currently in session).

Read books in the genre you write. This is important for several reasons. It will help keep your focus on the audience for which you’re writing. It will also give you an idea of the business side of the writing world. What are publishers buying? What are librarians, teachers, parents, and children enjoying?

How do you keep learning? Do you find it important to continue expanding your knowledge of kidlit? Why?

Next time I’ll share why it’s important to …

[fill in later before you post this, otherwise you might look kind of silly and you wouldn’t want that, would you, Josh?]

Wow, that sounds like an interesting topic! Betcha can’t wait to hear about that!

 

See all of Josh Funk’s 12-Step Guide to Writing Picture Books

Lesson #1: So, You Wrote a Book. Now What?
Lesson #2: Picture Books Are Short
Lesson #3: Every Word Counts
Lesson #4: The Illustrator Is Your Partner
Lesson #5: Show Don’t Tell
Lesson #6: Write with Active Emotion
Lesson #7: Story Arc Components
Lesson #8: Don’t Write In Rhyme
Lesson #9: Rhyming Is All About Rhythm
Lesson #10: Some Ideas Don’t Work
Lesson #11: Keep Learning
Lesson #12: Now You’re Ready! Dive In!

* You might be wondering why I inserted a picture of a baby hedgehog earlier in this post. If you are, then you’re not thinking hard enough.

NESCBWI 14 Conference Recaps

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m pretty quiet, reserved, and shy. I don’t really like talking much, especially about myself. You’ll also know I’m pretty sarcastic.

Therefore, rather than talking about my experience at last weekend’s conference (May 2-4), I thought I’d share some of my friends’ recaps. So here they are:

If I missed your blog post, feel free to share it in the comments, or just post your own thoughts on the grand spectacle that was NESCBWI 2014.

Who’s ready for next year?

Think outside your

crayon box