On My Shelf BLOG

Kentucky Christian Writers Conference 2017

I spent last weekend at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference in Elizabethtown, KY. I had a great time, made new friends, took a lot of photos, met with my agent, reconnected with an old friend, ate the best food I’ve ever had a conference, and, oh yes, learned a few things along the way.

IMG_3021The keynote speaker was the one and only “Gotta Tell Somebody Gal” Twila Belk. She’s funny and friendly and poignant. Her keynotes were a blessing to me.



Other workshop leaders included:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


IMG_3015Carlton Hughes served as our emcee, and Lydia Walker led us in Praise and Worship.  IMG_2916





Many thanks to Lisa Greer and the Planning Committee for a job well done.

And many thanks to the Lord for making a way for me to attend.

KY Christian Writers

kcw-logoToday and tomorrow I’m participating in the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

This is my first time at this particular conference so I’m kind of excited to see what the Lord is going to tell me or show me today and tomorrow.


I’m also looking forward to some face-to-face time with my agent, Cyle Young with Hartline Literary Agency.

How about you? Are you attending this weekend, too?

If not, which conference are you headed for this year? Tell us all about it, please!

Blogging About What?

cropped-jeanpbs02.jpgI’m stuck and I need your help!

I started this blog with the intention of summarizing one book about writing, and one picture book each week.

The picture book side is going well. Each year I get a whole new supply of wonderful books to read and discuss. But I get the feeling that, while I’m enjoying the picture books, my hoped-for audience is not gaining anything worthwhile from these posts.

Also, I’ve found that I can’t keep up with one book about writing per week. Not and do those books justice. I can’t read and digest them that quickly. Also, again, I think I’m not meeting the needs of my target readership.


Will you help me by telling me what YOU want to learn from ON MY SHELF?

Should I change the focus? To what?

Should I change the title? To what?

Should I post only once each week?

Do you have questions you want answered? Like what?

Should I focus on a different audience? Writers? Children? Parents? Teachers?

Should I simply shut down for a while?

Are you already trying to follow too many blogs?

Should I focus on a monthly newsletter instead of a blog?


Please respond so I can get some guidance. I don’t want to waste your time or mine shouting into empty space.

Please respond here in the Comments, or

Email me at jean@jeanmatthewhall.com, or

Leave a comment on my FaceBook page JeanMatthewHallAuthor

Thanks so, so much!

Feathers Not Just for Flying

51qrw4rngql-_sy384_bo1204203200_Feathers Not Just for Flying is a nonfiction picture book written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. It was published by Charlesbridge in 2014.

Feathers Not Just for Flying is a beautiful book. Brannen’s illustrations are soft as down. The palette is muted colors of the earth, sky and sea. Easy on the eyes, yet inviting the reader to study every inch of beautiful space.

Stewart’s text is also soft and gentle. Yes, each page is filled with interesting tidbits about a specific bird and what makes its feathers useful and unique to that bird. But her language is both inviting and easy to follow. The way the text is laid out invites the readers eyes to skim and skip from one bit of text to another.

As I meandered through the pages I remembered my attempt a few years ago to create a book with the same format. I thought it was pretty good. But a couple of publishers did not. I soon learned the facts I had garnered through many hours of research were soon inaccurate. Research on the particular animals I chose is constantly revealing new things about them.

So, I filed it away. But reading Feathers Not Just for Flying has inspired me to pull the manuscript out and dig into updated research.

In the back matter Stewart explains to readers that AFTER tons of research she spent three years “tinkering with” the text of the book. I exhaled! You mean I’m not alone in spending years writing and rewriting the same manuscript? Hurray!

And (according to her website) Stewart has published more than 130 books! I’d call that a full-time job.

ph_ms1On Stewart’s website she has posted her “Revision Timeline” for another of her books, No Monkeys, No Chocolate. From inspiration to finished books on shelves was TEN years!


I feel so much better now about my own snail-paced writing process.

Thanks, Melissa.


Reading Starts Here

Square Mikey Meme“Picture books live on, in the physical world and in our psyche, ever ready to be performed again. And that is a joyful thing.”



I rediscovered a website that is all about picture books. I’m enjoying my short visits there. In 2012, and 2013, Candlewick Press put up the website “Reading Starts Here.” It contains 365 very short videos related to specific picture books. Some videos are of editors or other staff members at Candlewick. Many are by school teachers and librarians. Some are videos of parents and/or kids reading their favorite picture books aloud.

But all videos on “Reading Starts Here” are about picture books and their impact on people—both big and small.

Drop in and keep clicking. I’m sure you’ll find inspiration for new picture books and maybe ideas for trailers for your current books.

Have fun!

A book titled BOOK

If you have an obsession with books…

If you are never without one, just in case you have a minute or two of waiting time…

If you need to charge your Kindle more often than your cell phone…

If you can’t possibly think of a better gift than a beautiful book…

51ukkugng9l-_sx258_bo1204203200_You will love the charming picture book titled, simply, BOOK. David Miles birthed it from his imagination. Natalie Hoopes breathed life into it with (I can’t find the best word to use here) with enchanting illustrations. Familius published it and shared it with the world in 2015.

The sparse text and the elaborate artwork weave together to deliver the message that there is nothing else in the world quite as wonderful as a book.

And that’s all I intend to tell you about it.

You really need to experience this picture book for yourself. And then maybe share it with a person about half your height. Be sure you take your time and savor every detail.

I borrowed BOOK from my local library. But I might just need to buy a copy of my own to keep ON MY SHELF so I can enjoy it again and again.


Get Caught Reading Picture Books


“Picture books live on, in the physical world and in our psyche, ever ready to be performed again. And that is a joyful thing.”


Did you know that May is Get Caught Reading Month? I didn’t, and I almost missed the whole thing!

You can find out about this initiative at GetCaughtReading.org and have an entire year to prepare for it. Now that’s what I call planning ahead.

I asked some friends of mine to get caught reading picture books so I can share with you here. Looks like everyone is having a great time!


Oh, you have only ONE MORE DAY to get caught reading something fabulous, so, get crackin’!

MANY THANKS to Stephen Prahl, Jan Prahl and Amie Parham for the pix. Keep reading!


And MORE THANKS to Ellie Wakeman and her first picture book Bella Gets Rescued.




Now I need to get busy. I have a FEW

picture books I want to read, too!


Building Relationships with Editors

Mentors for Rent

I was sharing in the Writing for Children Facebook Group (previously the Mentors for Rent Facebook Group) about some submissions I was making, and how some were to editors I have relationships with and others were to editors I’ve never had contact with. Several folks had questions, and I said I would share a bit more about these relationships–how they start and how they work–for me, anyway.

How Do They Start?

  • Often in-person meeting at conference or event. I have developed relationships with editors who critiqued my work or who I heard speak at conferences. An in-person meeting is a great place to start.
  • Speaking together at events. Being a speaker puts you on a professional level, so you’re slightly more on even ground. There are often speakers-only events at conferences, too—cocktail parties or whatnot. Those chance for conversation help you both get a feel for whether you might work…

View original post 610 more words

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled


Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins was published by Harper Collins Children’s Books in 2016. This crazy dust jacket is a hint as to what is inside.

This is one of the most fascinating picture books I’ve read. On one level it’s about a boy (Frank) and his dog (Lucky) and their relationship. But each page holds more, much more, than a plot point or character revelation.

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled shows Frank and Lucky going about their lives together and separately always learning and growing. Learning. A lifetime of learning. That is what Frank and Lucky Get Schooled is about on a second, maybe deeper level.

Or is their relationship the deeper level? Hmmm. Have to cogitate on that one.

Perkins is both author and illustrator. (Oh, I’ve wished a 1000 times I had studied art and children’s literature.) So, the page layouts of this book are varied—very varied.

  • Some pages have one full-page illustration with superimposed type.
  • Some pages have one or two vignettes with a line of type.
  • Some pages have speech balloons.
  • Some pages have several sequential boxes that show the story.
  • Some pages have a map.
  • Some have pull-outs.
  • There are even a couple of double-spread.

Very interesting. I’ve read it three times and I’m going back for more.

But the most intriguing aspect of this book for me is that the text is this synergistic weaving of the narrative about Frank and Lucky, AND piles of nonfiction information about multiple disciplines of the sciences and mathematics and even a little history, art, geography and foreign languages thrown in. Both the narrative and the information seem to be part of a casual conglomeration of scientific information delivered by a precocious ten year-old narrator.

The nonfiction material is woven in effortlessly. Just like a talkative ten year-old answering your casual question about how his day went with a ten-minute sentence rehashing everything from brushing his teeth that morning to losing his socks on the way home from school.

art-nouveauIt’s wonderful!


And such a sneaky way to “school” unsuspecting readers.

AND writers who desperately want to become picture book authors. <sigh>

Buy it. Borrow it from a library. Sit on the floor and read it at a bookstore. It’s crazy cool!

More Online Resources for Writers

write-593333_1280Websites come, and websites go. The same is true of blogs and cell phone numbers, right? And so we make a habit of updating our “address books” or we become bogged down in dead addresses.

The following sites offer valuable information and opportunities for writers. Please give them a click to find those that meet your needs.

Oh! Please let them know that Jean Matthew Hall sent you their way! Thanks.

Critque Circle                         https://www.critiquecircle.com/

Scribophile                             http://www.scribophile.com/

K.M. Weiland                         https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/

C.S. Lakin                               http://www.livewritethrive.com/

Writer’s Digest                       http://www.writersdigest.com/

Institute for Writers               https://www.instituteforwriters.com/about/institute-of-childrens-literature/

Writers Helping Writers        http://writershelpingwriters.net/resources-for-writers/

Nancy Sanders                        https://nancyisanders.wordpress.com/

beautiful-15728_1280Word Weavers International  http://www.word-weavers.com/

Cyle Young                             http://www.hartlineliterary.com/cyle_young.html  & http://cyleyoung.com/

Almost An Author                  http://www.almostanauthor.com/

SCBWI                                    https://www.scbwi.org/