Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"The Little Green Boat" by Chris Stead

The Little Green Boat
(The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly Book 1)
by Chris Stead

The Little Green Boat (The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly Book 1) by Chris Stead

Follow the Breadcrumbs by Chris Stead

The Fastest Kid in the World by Chris Stead

Author Chris Stead stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from book. You can also read my review and enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a paperback or ebook copy of The Little Green BoatThis blog post is brought to you by Kate Tilton's Author Services.

This digital book is enhanced by a parent guide to early learning techniques provided by an early education specialist.
Award-winning author Chris Stead invites readers who love kids books about animals, kids books about the beach, and good old-fashioned kids action adventure picture books to The Little Green Boat. The first entry in The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly universe - a book series for kids - it recalls classics from the likes of Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit), Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), and Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House).
This action adventure for kids takes readers to an Australian beach on a very hot day. Willy Nilly goes for a wander into the sand dunes, where he discovers a little green boat. Upon jumping in for a play, a giant wave takes him out to sea. Stranded, he enlists the help of some dolphins, who carry him to a secret island where he finds a treasure map leading to a pirate treasure chest. But can he brave the crocodiles, bats, monkeys and other dangers on the way?
The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly series likes to take simple everyday activities, but views them through the lens of a child’s imagination. Are these adventures really happening to Willy Nilly or are they just occurring in his mind? Perhaps for a child, reality and make believe aren’t necessarily different things. The Little Green Boat is sure to be enjoyed by those who enjoy the best summer books for children and the best action adventure books of all time.

Book Video
Storytime Pup reads The Little Green Boat by Chris Stead.

A big wave came rushing over the sand with a loud ...
It lifted the little green boat right up out of the sand.
Past the rocks and seaweed, and the seagulls and fish.
All the way out to the horizon.

Praise for the Book
"Just bought this and read it to my 5-yr-old and 3-yr-old and they both loved it!" ~ Wilsaahhh
"What a fun adventure! The kids loved it and I think this story might go on repeat for a while!" ~ Selikas
"My godson loved it, it's now his new favourite book." ~ Gfunk
"We loved this adventure with Willy Nilly, especially when the dolphins helped Willy. My son was giggling throughout and excited to find out what happens next." ~ Kids Gifts and Toys
"A great story that teaches while it entertains. I love the illustrations - beautifully done. The story will get your child turning the page to see what happens next. Best of all for parents, I love that the author includes tips on how to use the book in a learning context to help your child learn more from this story. I would certainly buy the other adventure books from this author." ~ D.Cherry

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Willy Nilly goes to the beach with his family, finds a green boat, and his imagination takes over. The adventure is non-stop, with Willy Nilly encountering massive waves, dolphins, a deserted island, a treasure map, monkeys, bats, crocodiles, and even a helicopter ride. The kids will be glued to their seats in anticipation of what will happen next.
Great to read aloud, with plenty of opportunities for sound effects, actions, and voices. These bits are presented in color as an added prompt. There are a couple of Australianisms, such as "poppers", "mum", and "call 000 for help", which may need to be clarified for children living outside Australia. The illustrations by Ronzkie are delightful. I especially enjoyed all of the little details on each page; the kids will find something new with every read.
A bonus for parents and teachers: at the beginning of the book, there is a section by kindergarten teacher Sarah Nelson on how to use this book in a learning context.

Interview With the Author
Chris Stead joins me today to discuss his book, The Little Green Boat.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
From three to eight we have had really strong engagement. Even younger with the interactive iBook version as it has all the buttons and sounds to play with.
What sparked the idea for this book?
It all began quite out of nowhere. I was driving the family home from a long day in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, and my eldest son was lampooning in the back seat. To calm him down, I started telling this story about a boy going to the beach on a hot day. It’s a familiar environment for my son and he engaged with it straight away. I then began to branch that out into fantasy territory by having him find the titular boat in the sand dunes, then get washed out to sea. He enlists the help of some dolphins, who push him to safety on a deserted island. He finds a treasure map, makes his way bravely past the island’s dangers, and finds a way home.
When I asked him about it the next day, he remembered everything. The character. The setting. The dangers. I realized it had really impacted him. So I decided to turn it into a book, and now it is a series, with the seventh title in The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly series being illustrated as we speak.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
Usually for me it starts with a single scene; an idea will just pop into my head, and I latch onto it as being something special. I then work out how that scene could exist within a story, and roll forwards to the start of the book and backwards to the end of the book, to work out what chain of events would actually make sense. Sometimes these ideas instantly fit with an existing character like Willy Nilly, but if they don’t, they become standalone books.
More and more, that single scene is sparked by something my children say. I will hear them explain a concept or play make believe, and it will inspire an idea. I latch onto that and make sure I jot it down. As well as the seven books out, I have another 16 waiting to be designed (illustrations done), and about 70 more ideas jotted down that I am keen to explore.
Wow! What was the hardest part to write in this book?
I wouldn’t say there is a single part that is hard to write, more that in the design you have to fit the text into a confined space. As it is a picture book, as opposed to a novel, there is only a set amount of space to play with on any given page before you start impacting the image itself. Finding ways to craft a stanza of text so that it fits in that space and make sense is where things can get tricky. Especially as your word choice and dialogue is impacted by the demographic. You can’t simply exchange a long word for a short word that means the same thing if that short word is too challenging for the kids to understand.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope it inspires them to be adventurous. A lot of children’s media nowadays is so focused on pushing a certain moral value or community ethics that they often sacrifice good, old-fashioned adventure or fail to inspire young imaginations. I want my books first and foremost to make kids go "wow" and to fill their minds with possibility. If there is a way to tie in some useful life lessons organically within that, then I’m happy to explore them.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Writing the book took an hour or two at the most. The illustrations took around four months. Then designing it into its various forms – paperback, ePub, Kindle – an additional week. Then building the website, writing up some supporting content, and general marketing has been endlessly going on since, lol.
What is your writing routine?
When my mind stumbles on a good idea, I simply have to write it down straight away. Sometimes that can be a vague concept that I want to tackle later on, but other times a single scene spills out into a whole book very quickly indeed. I have been writing under deadline conditions for magazines and websites for 20 years, so I’m not one who needs to space myself from the world to write. I’ve been writing hundreds of thousands of words a week for decades.
How did you get your book published?
With my years of experience in the media, I already had a lot of the skills required to publish a product. This has allowed me to self-publish at a quality equal to (if not better, in my opinion) than traditionally published work. My little company, Old Mate Media, now helps other indie authors and illustrators realize their dreams by helping get their work to a world-class standard and on sale.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Make sure you are realistic about your capabilities. A lot of the authors I work with believe they can edit their own work, but fail to recognize that editing is about a lot more than just grammar and spelling. It’s about flow, context, character arcs, continuity, themes, and so much more. Others head a long way down the path before realizing that their preferred print-on-demand service doesn’t actually do the trim size they are after. Others assume that any title will work, and don’t do correct keyword research. We’ve found that we can best help other authors and illustrators by bringing all these considerations – the glue that makes a book work – to what’s already a good idea, and elevate it to world class. When we see books that haven’t gone through that process, either sent to us for review or just available for sale, it’s quite clear.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
My biggest passion is surfing, so I like to get in the ocean whenever I possibly can. Other than that I have my three kids, and finding ways to make sure they are experiencing all they can in life is something I am constantly striving for, but not always successful at.
What does your family think of your writing?
I think they like it; how do you tell? Lol! I don’t like my family telling me my writing is good, I want them to tell me where it could be better. They are – I hope – my harshest critics.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I can’t imagine anyone had a better childhood that my siblings and I. My parents love each other, they built us a great home in one of the best areas on the planet, and empowered us to follow our dreams. We didn’t travel much overseas, but we explored so much of Australia, and my parents network of family friends has become like a huge expanded family. So, growing up for me was about a lot of sport, a lot of time with friends, a big outdoor lifestyle, and being blissfully naïve to the heartache and troubles of the grander world.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Loved it. I loved writing more as a kid, and from as young as 11 or 12, I was writing small novels, poems, and even newspaper style pieces about the events unfolding in our neighbourhood. I used to love Enid Blyton books, but I remember one of the first books I read that had a big impact on me was Lord of the Rings. I was about 13, and it inspired so much.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I honestly cannot remember a time when I was not writing. Even when I went through school and university – I have a degree in science – I was always writing on the side. At some point, people started paying me to do it, and that blossomed into a livelihood.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Absolutely. Not so much individual events, but the sense of adventure and imagination directly comes from my memories of being that dreaming child. My wife, I am sure, would be happy to tell you I have never grown up.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I mentioned Tolkien earlier, which was probably a big inspiration in that I love my fantasy stories. I also love my Sci-Fi, but that was probably inspired more by films like Star Wars and Star Trek than actual books – so does George Lucas count? With my current books, however, I am more influenced by styles of production than specific writers. For example, my children love the book There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake by Hazel Edwards, and that style – simple and nonsensical in many ways – inspired the book My Birthday Cake Needs a New Home.
Do you hear from your readers much?
No, not really. In 20 years of professional writing, I have had very little feedback from anyone. To be honest, I am not sure if it would change the way I do what I do; people are just so different that if you focus on one bit of opinion and let it influence you, someone else will be negatively impacted. I could do with the ego boost though!
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
We’re currently making four or five books for other authors at the moment, which is very exciting. As mentioned before, I have a ridiculous number of books ready to be published and we're just waiting for a window of opportunity for us to get them designed and slotted into our schedule. I am editing the second entry in the sci-fi series Adam X right now, which is brilliant! Plus I am trying to deliver as many guides and advice as I can to other authors through the Old Mate Media website.
There’s a lot going on, and I hope your fans – be they authors, illustrators or readers – can sign-up to our newsletter so I can keep them informed of how it all unfolds.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to stop by today, Chris. Best of luck with your future projects.

About the Author
Writing has been a part of Chris Stead’s life since he was very young. In fact, he won the "creative writing" award way back in Year 3 at school as a seven-year-old. During his senior school years, Chris wrote constantly, be it stories while he was sitting at his desk in class not concentrating on the teacher, or writing up news reports on all the sports and experiences the kids in his local neighborhood enjoyed every day.
Fast forward a little and Chris's media career could only be described as diverse. Spanning publications and clients as broad as Maxim Men’s Magazine to the University of NSW to Game Informer Australia and Krash Kids Magazine, he has spent 20+ years writing and editing across the Australian media industry.
In 2014, Chris launched a new chapter in his writing life. He founded his own company, Old Mate Media, and launched the first of a range of children’s books in The Wild Imagination of Willy Nilly series. Chris's vision for the company is that other aspiring writers who would like to create their own publications – no matter what the topic – will enlist Old Mate Media to help them turn their dream into a reality.

Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy (US only) or ebook copy (international) of The Little Green Boat by Chris Stead.