Articles by Meg @ Lulu

What’s New at Lulu.com?

Over the past few months, we’ve been focusing on ways to make Lulu.com an easier, more engaging experience for authors and shoppers alike. You’ll notice that as of today Lulu.com has a brand new look and feel, which has been developed with the goal of streamlining your experience. The new Lulu.com will help you connect with the tools or books you’re looking for faster. Here’s how:

  • 0814_Website_Rollout_Header_ENBookshelves on the logged out landing page will be continuously updated to highlight Lulu.com books to readers looking for a specific genre or book based on time of year.
  • If you need help, services and forum discussions are available from the page you’re visiting, putting help at your fingertips.
  • The book builder tool shows you the exact cost of the book you’re publishing as you build it so you can better understand your money making potential.

Want to learn more about our new look and features? Check out our latest Prezi which walks through the new site. So, take a look around the new Lulu.com and let us know what you think! Leave a comment for us on our Facebook page or tweet us with the hashtag #NewLuluDotCom.

The Power to Connect: Children, Writing and Storytelling

Pam Allen is a world-renowned literacy expert, author and motivational speaker. She has often spoken about the many reasons why starting children’s education in writing early in their academic careers is imperative. Of course, Allen supports the reasons we’re accustomed to hearing—writing builds confidence in a child’s sense of self while facilitating emotional growth; it helps kids create and strengthen their identities; and develops critical thinking skills.

But there is more to Allen’s advocating for the early introduction of creative writing: the importance of language and its ability to connect children with their parents, teachers and families.

It is natural to communicate with people and, in return, be understood. Providing children with the ability to express themselves through the written word at a young age opens myriad possibilities for self-expression, while simultaneously building confidence and reassurance in their communication abilities.

In Allen’s own words, “The human desire to connect through language begins with a baby’s first smile. It is never too early to start your child down the path of a writer’s life. By engaging in the act of writing, we are engaging in the valuing of life, valuing one another, and valuing the precious moments we share.”

Through a child’s imagination, we can experience the extraordinary stories fabricated only by the young. Writing and storytelling the Lulu Jr. way offer a pathway for children to continue to grow their writing skills. As the result, teachers and parents are seeing better communicators, learners and innovators that are more closely connected to those around them.

Why children should be writing stories

We couldn’t agree more with Gail E. Tompkins. As a professor of literacy and early education at California State University and author of numerous books touting the benefits of learning composition skills from an early age, Prof. Tompkins has consistently acknowledged the importance creative writing carries in early childhood education.Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 2.06.23 PM

Prof. Tompkins outlines seven unique reasons why children should write stories. These are:

  1. to provide entertainment for the child and others
  2. to foster artistic expression
  3. to explore functions and values of writing
  4. to stimulate imagination
  5. to clarify thinking processes
  6. to search for and identify the child’s identity
  7. to improve reading and writing skills

Well documented as pillars of early education, these seven benefits greatly affect how children learn, express themselves and think critically later in their development.

We’re big fans of Prof. Tompkins’ work at Lulu Jr. as we continue to work toward our mission to inspire creativity, strengthen literacy skills and build self-esteem among children with Lulu Jr.’s Education Programs. Our free book-publishing programs support writing and language arts curriculum through project based learning, communication and collaboration.

Lulu Jr.’s Storybook and Classbook programs allow teachers to meet the needs of the classroom while inviting students express creativity through their own writing and illustrations.

We love being a part of early education and sharing the findings and research from established educators like Prof. Tompkins. We hope you’ll take the time to explore Lulu Jr.’s Education Programs by visiting http://www.lulujr.com/teachers.php.

Summer is not quite over…get in a good read before it ends!

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Summer is perfect for tackling your reading list. Whether you’re an avid reader that keeps an ongoing list of books on your phone or tablet, or a more casual reader who picks up a book from time to time, nothing beats the heat like laying in a hammock or by the pool with a great book.

But what if the unspeakable happens. What if one of the books you’ve chosen for this favored reading time is not what you expected? What if halfway through the book you realize that the book is just plain not for you?

There are studies that map the ability of a person to stop reading a book they’ve started to specific personality traits. Specifically, if you can’t put down a book you take your reading time less seriously compared to a reader that evaluates the intrinsic worth of the book at about halfway through and makes a conscious decision to continue reading the book to the end. Of course there are also those that believe that a book is never really “finished.”

Regardless of what kind of reader you are, choosing your next book can be both exciting and overwhelming. We’ve compiled some of our favorite books on shop.lulu.com as a casual list of good reads, and are constantly learning about more books that are gaining popularity. And, of course, there’s always Lulu.com’s bookstore, which is packed with hundreds of thousands of titles, including tomorrow’s next big hit.

Happy Summer reading. We hope you have a blast.

Lulu Jr. is launching new educational programs

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.02.52 PMAt Lulu Jr., it is our mission to inspire creativity, strengthen literacy skills and build self-esteem among children. We believe that teachers and educators are critical partners as we work to achieve this goal by helping students bring their stories to life as published books.

Today, we are excited to announce the latest advancement in storytelling with the launch of Lulu Jr.’s Education Programs.

Lulu Jr.’s Storybook and Classbook programs support elementary school writing and language arts curricula through project based learning, communication and collaboration at a time when children are developing their skills as storytellers, writers and critical thinkers.

Each program is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate every teacher’s individual creativity and needs at the classroom level. The Storybook program allows an individual student to write and illustrate his or her own hardcover book. The Classbook program, enables several students to work collaboratively on a single story

Teachers have unlimited access to Lulu Jr.’s online writing and publishing tools. Plus, it’s always free to participate in the program, including planning, writing, illustrating and publishing the book. Once completed, parents, students and teachers can order the final work as a professionally printed and bound hardcover book.

Be sure to explore Lulu Jr.’s Education Programs. We look forward to seeing your students’ stories come to life!

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Marquel Sherry

What first motivated you to write a book?

I’ve wanted to since grade school I just could never get a whole story out. NaNoWriMo kind of helped push me to finishe a story.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

The editing part was hardest for me. It was relatively easing getting everything typed out but it was painfully tedious going back and trying to fix things

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Go for it. Even if you think it’s crap. I still kinda think my stuff is crap but someone obviously liked I so you never know what other people are going to think of your work.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

I think it’s definitely targeted to people who enjoy fantasy writing, and romance. I’d most recommend it to people who enjoy Norse myths (especially Loki) to check it out since it is centered around them.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

Fantasy and romance have been two genres I’ve always loved reading myself especially when they are smushed together so I wrote what I liked to read I guess.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

It’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be, which I don’t think is the normal experience so I feel bad saying that I just slipped into it and everything fell into place.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

Winning the Wrimos accelerator contest. I entered because I was bored and had no intention if winning at all it was one of the biggest shocks I’ve ever received. Still can’t believe it really.

Will you write another book?

I have a lot of stories in my head and I have a sequel to the book I published sitting in my brain so yes I shall at least try to write more.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

My family, friends, and my boyfriend Lonnie who tried to help edit my book, tried to correct something in the first chapter that I didn’t take very well and ended his short editing career, but I love him for putting up with me.

Find her book, To Free the Fox, here.

Meet NaNoWriMo Accelerator Author: Ashley Stinson

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.37.25 PMWhat first motivated you to write a book?

I’ve always been a voracious reader, particularly of fantasy novels. Writing seemed like a natural extension of all this reading; the practice of building a world, filling it with people, thinking of stories to breathe life into that world–that all became a fun diversion for me as a young girl. I’ve just been writing ever since.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge about the writing process?

For me, the biggest hurdle when it comes to writing a story is actually getting it down in words. Dreaming up plots and premises is fun and exciting; things feel fresh and new and full of possibilities. When it comes to actually writing it, I always find my sentences too stilted, my plots too dull, my characters too wooden. I end up agonizing over every word and thought and find myself disheartened.

If you could offer an aspiring author any piece of advice, what would it be?

Keep at it. No matter how hard it might be to find the time or inspiration, make yourself write. You can always fix anything you’re not happy with when you finish–but first you have to get it all down.

Tell us a little bit about your book…who should read it and why.

In a nutshell, ‘The Ballad of the Broken Soldier’ is about a plot to assassinate the king of a country called Tahlehsohr. It follows a group of would-be assassins–men and women with their own agendas and goals quite apart from one another’s, and who don’t even particularly all get along with each other–as they try to get to the king without being caught and killed. Meanwhile, royal spies are stalking their every move and none of them can really ever be sure of the loyalties of their fellows. Adults and young adults with an interest in fantasy, intrigue, or just watching people argue ought to check it out.

Why did you chose to write in this genre?

Fantasy has been a passion of mine since as far back as I can remember. Crafting a full world with it’s own customs, belief systems, and history is an especial passion of mine, and fantasy lends itself well to that, for obvious reasons.

Has writing and completing a book been the experience you thought it would be?

It’s not quite the experience I imagined. Before you’ve finished a book, you have an image in your head that the moment when it’s all done will represent some fundamental change in who you are. Or at least I did. I thought that would be the moment that I really started to feel like a writer–I imagined I’d suddenly have all these insights into story telling and the creative process and how to tweak a reader’s heartstrings. But that doesn’t happen all at once; it turns out that just finishing a book isn’t a magical formula for knowing everything there is to know about writing.

What has been the biggest surprise so far in your author journey?

It’s been a surprise to me how writing becomes both harder and easier. For one, it’s been easier for me to find the discipline to sit down and tell myself, “Okay–today you and I are going to work on this story. We’re going to finish these scene.” At the same time, the words come more slowly. I weigh them more carefully than I used to. It’s been a surprise how much editing I’ve begun to do even while I’m putting the words down.

Will you write another book?

Of course. I can honestly say that writing is a part of me. If no one ever read a single word I wrote, I’d still be writing books.

Is there anyone you would like to thank who helped or supported you?

My parents have been very supportive of me. My mom, in particular, loves to see the things I write, and she’s very vocal about what she thinks of it. And I have supportive friends who are also writers–so they commiserate with me when things are tough.

Find her book, The Ballad of the Broken Soldier, here.