From Erotic Romance to YA Fantasy and onto Children’s Literature, April Stults is embarking on an academic adventure with Milo the Doodle Cat and his friends…
By: April Stults
I had a long-standing joke about the genres I’ve included in my journey as a published author. Wouldn’t it be funny if I went from creating hardcore adult romance to children’s books?
In 2008, when I began my writing journey, I was still a college student and wrote what I’d been reading until that point. Children’s literature completely contradicted what I was publishing and reading at that time. Fast forward a decade, filled with countless hours of learning, drawing, and absorbing all the aspects of being a teacher, and it was no longer a laughing matter.
On Christmas break 2019, I started with the illustrations, thinking that I would give up the entire idea if those didn’t work out. I’d seen the struggles other authors had when dealing with the business aspect of putting out a book, and I know myself better than that. So, there I was, ten illustrations in, thinking it wouldn’t be such a silly idea to write a children’s book, but I had doubt.
I took my children’s book and design idea to the students in my brick-and-mortar class, sharing the story with them and listening to what they wanted from the books.
Hearing that they wanted more ways to be creative and to interact with the books left me speechless. Why hadn’t I heard about this before? When you look on the bookstore shelves, you see beautifully designed, colorful books. I’d never thought that kids were interested in something that wasn’t already done for them.
I finished the first set of Milo adventures and set to make it an academic coloring book, leaving it without color and adding vocabulary and discussion questions. This, too, was something my students debated. Adding the vocabulary aids students who may not have exposure to specific language. We learn by exposure, so the more we read, the better our vocabulary becomes.
I added the discussion questions based on the connections I’d always had with my children at home.
We’d read a book, and my curiosity always prevailed. I wanted to know what their thoughts were on certain parts. I learned more about the way they connected with each book in those moments. So, I suppose you could say the discussion questions are there for parents to learn more about their little loves.
From beginning to end, my favorite part remains the beta reader’s portion. It’s the moment of truth when students from other classes had the chance to read and discuss the book with their teacher. My focus was to know what they would change and why. If you ever need an opinion about anything, ask a child between the ages of 7-10. It is entirely unfiltered and beyond refreshing. We ended up changing a few things, but the concept was an overall success.
The exciting part for me has been receiving the pictures with excited and proud faces of these children coloring and individualizing these books.
They make it their own and unleash that creativity that has been the purpose all along.
Milo the Doodle Cat – The Adventures Continue releases early May 2021 and is only the beginning of the series. Milo learns Mindfulness, a workbook releasing in September, and Milo’s Christmas Adventures set for Black Friday 2021.
April Stults is currently working with Our Galaxy Publishing on the second, republished edition of her YA Fantasy series, The Immortal Coven. Broken, the first book in the series, is in its developmental editing stages. Follow her journey to stay updated.