A Writer’s Journey: From Inspiration to Book and App

Our guest post this week is written by a Mom-With-App and author who published her story through PicPocketBooks. I especially like these articles because they demonstrate the variety of modern options for publishing creative works. 

From a young age, I dreamt of creating my own picture book

Inspiration first struck with my son Dominic. I wrote and illustrated my first book Under Bright Rays and Sparkling Stars over the course of about a year. I didn’t think to seek out guidance or critiques back then. I just blindly submitted the book dummy to publishing house after publishing house, and got back rejection letter after rejection letter. Disappointed, I let my book go back to being just a dream.

Inspiration struck again some ten years later when my sweet Cassia reached the fun little age we refer to as “the terrible twos.” Sweet became sweet and sassy, and one day when she was acting, well, two, I found myself saying, “Don’t be sassy, Cassie.” And it hit me. I heard my words and just knew, that was the title of my next book.

But a title isn’t a book.

All mommies know you can’t help but be inspired by your children. They see the world as their playground.  My husband and I work in a turn-of-the-century fire house we turned into a photography/art studio, and Cassie sometimes comes to work with us. While we keep a toy box full of dolls and toys, she prefers to play in the makeup/wardrobe room. One day I was busy painting and heard her squeaky little voice. “Look, look, look at me. I’m a princess.” I looked over and Cassia was all made-up with bright pink lipstick, rainbow colored eye shadows and a sparkling crown on her head.

And my story was born.

I knew I had an idea that would appeal. What little girl doesn’t love the color pink and all things princess themed? But I didn’t want my book getting lost in the “pink princess sea of books.” I chose to make my story one children could relate to, rather than pure fantasy. I wanted the main character to feel real. While Sassy Cassie is very sweet, she has a little sass in her too. I also decided to make my story educational, appealing to parents and children alike. As an added bonus, the final pages include an introduction to the color wheel and a fun guide to color mixing, teaching children how to mix every color of the rainbow and more using just five paint colors.

This time I knew a good idea wasn’t enough.

I work visually, so I started to sketch Cassie before writing word one. Once I had had the sketch down, I painted the cover. From there, I alternated writing with sketching and painting throughout the project. This worked well for me. If writers block set in, I’d move forward by working on a sketch or painting.

This time, however, I didn’t send out my book dummy without outside input. Instead, I took that first draft to a writer’s critique circle I found through Meetup.com. The critiques and suggestions I received from my fellow writers were invaluable, allowing me to really polish every aspect of my book.

Unfortunately, I learned that even a polished book might not be enough to get published.

At my critique group meetings, I saw so many amazing picture books. I kept wondering, why are they not published? I knew it was challenging especially in this genre so I did some more research and learned that most publishing houses receive thousands of submissions, but typically publish only a couple dozen books per year. It seems it takes more than just talent to get published. It takes talent and luck.

But I found another option.

My sister-in-law was the one to tell me about Moms With Apps. Storybooks apps were relatively new and this was the perfect place for me to learn more about this  industry. With a bit of research in the world of book apps, I decided to submit my book to PicPocket Books. They seemed a perfect fit. And I guess they agreed because I had a ‘yes’ within just a few days. I was thrilled! It was a joy working with PicPocket founder Lynette, as she guided me through the process. A few months later I’m happy to announce the Sassy Cassie Book app recently launched in September 2012!

Never give up on your dream.

I know many of you out there reading this may share my dream of writing or illustrating (or writing and illustrating) your own picture book. The app industry has entered the spotlight and is growing stronger every day. This is a great time to make your picture book dream a reality. Make the time to create, and find a good support group to help you polish your work. Remember, every book starts with just one thing ~~~ an idea. All you need to do is build on that and believe in yourself!

About the Author: Nancy PLA Schneider, better known as PLA, is a mom, artist, writer, and illustrator with a passion for children’s picture books. When she was little, she favored picture books and art supplies over dolls and toys. Her priorities have changed now that she’s all grown up. She favors picture books and art supplies over shoes and jewels. PLA was born and raised in Orange County, CA, where she lives with her husband, her son, and her Sassy Cassie. 

She’s currently working on her next book, Sassy Cassie, A Halloween Princess. Please follow www.facebook.com/StudioSassyCassie, say “hello” and enter to win some sweet-n-sassy stuff! Learn more about PLA and her artwork at www.studiosassycassie.com.





3 Replies to “A Writer’s Journey: From Inspiration to Book and App”

  1. Nancy, this is such a terrific testimonial of the power of apps making writer’s dreams come true. This new format is a huge opportunity for many writers and I’m inspired by the way you sought help from writer’s groups and professionals to make sure your story is strong.

    The fact of the matter is, publishers do get THOUSANDS of manuscripts every year and publish a fraction of them because that’s all the market can bear. And many of the new books published are from existing authors.

    Congratualations on your app. Now the challenge will be to market it so as many kids as possible can enjoy Sassy Cassie!

    For other writers wanting to learn how to turn their books into apps (or market them), I have a couple of free reports available at http://www.digitalkidsauthor.com

    Well done Nancy!! I’m sharing your inspiring story with my contacts.

    Karen 🙂
    Author of the Treasure Kai book app series
    Author’s Guide to Book Apps
    How to Market a Book App

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *