Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit, fall fanatics! What's cuter than bunnies and bears? Bunny and bear board books, with a fall and winter theme, of course. :) Today we have the fantastic Amber Hendricks on the blog talking about her newly released board books, Autumn Leaves Fall and Forest Friends Sleep (illustrated by Gavin Scott). Gentle rhymes and colorful illustrations fill each spread. Want to know more about Amber and her cute and cozy seasonal stories? Read on...
Q: Hi, Amber. Thanks for stopping by #SeasonsOfKidLit! We're excited to have you and talk about your new board books Autumn Leaves Fall and Forest Friends Sleep, part of the Little Nature Explorers Series. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this series?
A: Hi, Heather! Thanks so much for having me and for sharing more about my newest board books, Autumn Leaves Fall and Forest Friends Sleep, illustrated by Gavin Scott and published by Amicus Ink.
I love this question because although I had dreams of eventually authoring books throughout different age ranges, I never intentionally set out to write a board book series. The Little Nature Explorers series had a very serendipitous start and was born from an idea to enter a writing contest. For anyone unfamiliar with Vivian Kirkfield’s annual 50 Precious Words contest, the idea is to come up with a fully fleshed out kid-centric story in less than 50 words. Easy-peasy, right? I love all things nature and have always admired authors who could write lovely rhyming text that conveyed so much with so little, so set myself the challenge of incorporating both into my entry. It was a steep learning curve but I count myself lucky to have CPs (critique partners) that excel at rhyme to help me along the way.
I had so much fun that I decided to try again the next year! After pitching the idea to my editor and an R&R (revise and resubmit), those entries eventually grew into the first two titles in the Little Nature Explorers Series: Butterflies Soar and Wildflowers Grow.
Q: What makes these books the perfect Autumn read?
A: While both Autumn Leaves Fall and Forest Friends Sleep explore the transition from summer to fall to winter, what really makes them the perfect Autumn read are Gavin’s incredible illustrations. Warm and cozy, each inviting spread follows adorable animal friends as they experience the vibrant changing leaves and prepare for a long winter’s nap.
Q: Gentle rhymes sound easy, but we authors know they are challenging, especially when it comes to using the same meter/outline throughout a series. What tip do you have for anyone looking to write rhyming board books?
A: What a great question! I think it is so important to read widely in whatever genre, style, or age range that you want to write for. It is easy to assume that rhyming is simple when in fact it is notoriously difficult. Reading current rhyming board books by different authors can really help train your ear (and mind) for the rhythm and flow of rhyme done well. But just like any other type of writing, learning the craft is paramount. There are many fantastic resources available for anyone looking to learn more about poetic devices such as meter, stressed and unstressed beats, lyrical language, action verbs, and perfect rhymes vs. near rhymes, including the very popular Lyrical Language Lab by Renee LaTulippe.
Q: Congrats on signing with your new agency, Deborah Harris Literary Agency! How exciting. What was the process in finding the perfect agent like?
A: Thank you so much! I am over the moon to have signed with such a knowledgeable agency and even more pleased that they saw something worth championing in my writing. Though my journey has been long, winding, and full of ups and downs, my process probably looks pretty familiar– research, query, wait, repeat. The rejections were hard, the silence even harder, but each no created another opportunity to learn, polish my stories, hone my craft, and discover the perfect agent for me. I’m grateful to the agents and editors who took the time to include kind words with their nos. That kindness, along with encouragement from my critique partners, kept me trying.
As writers and illustrators, we hear the phrase “it only takes one yes” all the time and I firmly believe that persistence is key to reaching that yes.
Q: What can we expect to see from you in the near future?
A: Many things, I hope! I am so excited to be back out on submission with picture book manuscripts that I love, and hope editors will as well. In the meantime, I am working on revising my first middle grade novel. It may never become a book-shaped thing but I’m so proud that I was able to check “writing a MG” off my bucket list!
Congrats, Amber! We hope to see many more of your titles on the shelves soon!
Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?
A: Treat! I will gift a copy of my newest board books; AUTUMN LEAVES FALL and FOREST FRIENDS SLEEP to one winner!
OOOOO, thanks so much! What a sweet treat!
Contest Details: To enter to win Amber's newest books, comment below and let her know why you're excited to read them! One winner will be announced on or about November 4th.
*Note: Book giveaways will be shipped in the US only.
Reminder: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of ten (10) Rate Your Story Speed Passes.
About Amber Hendricks:
Born and raised in the Midwest, Amber Hendricks grew up reading everything she could get her hands on- including the morning cereal boxes. Her passion for reading melded into writing as well, and by the age of 11 she was writing and binding her own “books”. Amber has worn many hats in her career but she has always circled back to her first love of reading and telling stories. Though Amber currently resides in Missouri with her husband and two children, she can often be found lost in the pages of a good book.
For more about Amber, check out the below links:
To purchase Amber's books on Amazon, or to leave a review, click here.