Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life Experiences: No pain, no bestselling book.

Plot. H’what is this mysterious thing known as a plot? The plot is very important. It defines half of the things that happen in the story (the characters define the other half). Great, we know that a plot is important, but how in the world do you find one?

You have two choices. Either follow en masse and pen a picture book about sparkly vampires and their serious need to visit a dermatologist, or be inspired. Might I suggest the second option?

First, think about your life. Any particular anecdotes that spring to mind? Can you change it a little so that it applies to children? For a serious example, say that, for a few years now, you’ve wanted to get rid of your old Toyota and buy that luxurious Porsche, and finally you’ve saved up the money. However, before you can buy your dream-hicle, your aunt falls down some steps and breaks her hip. Even though you really want that expensive gas-guzzler, you give up the money so your auntie can walk again. Well, move that into a kids’ universe. Tami wants to purchase an expensive new doll that costs, say, twenty dollars. Tommy, her brother, scoffs at the saving. They both receive five dollars a week as an allowance. Every weekday, the ice-cream man comes around, selling cones a dollar each. Tommy buys a cone each day, spending all five dollars the week. Even though Tami truly wants a cone and can’t stand her brother eating one, she keeps on saving her money. At the end of the month, Tami has twenty dollars and Tommy has none, having wasted it all. Proudly, Tami prepares to buy the doll. On the day before, however, Tommy accidentally breaks his knee playing soccer. Tommy can’t play soccer now, and he’s terribly upset. Tami swallows her pride and, to make Tommy feel better, she spends her twenty dollars on a soccer-ball-player action-figure. Tommy thanks Tami, but Tami is sad because she didn’t buy that doll she wanted. Two months later, it’s Tami’s birthday, and Tommy, having saved all of his allowance, gives Tami two dolls—one for her, and one for him to play with her. Tommy agrees to play dolls with Tami. Tami knows that she did the right thing. It’s a lesson in giving gifts, in savings, and in one good deed deserves another. Your life experience was just turned into Tami’s Gift, a picture book.

Next time, I’ll discuss nature as an inspiration.

~Nicole Izmaylov

Thursday, October 21, 2010

HTWAPB: Category, Category, Category!

At the insistence of several of my peers, I've decided to do a series entitled How to Write a Picture Book (HTWAPB)!

The first thing you need to do is decide to write a picture book. Now you have to decide something very important. There are basically three very common types of picture books. First, extremely simple ones for very young readers, usually ones meant to teach something, that sometimes follow a simple plot with little to no details i.e.

(1) "A is for apple, B is for bread; C is for Cutie Cat curled up on the bed."

(2) "1 bag of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 3 eggs, 4 sticks of butter . . . count, count, count, you made a cake!

Then, there are more "advanced" books, often with "cute" or "cartoony" illustrations, that follow a basic plot with many details that kids can easily connect with i.e., It was Elmo's birthday! Everyone was very excited. Elmo wondered what present he would get. The day started out beautifully. The sunlight streamed in from the window. Oh boy! thought Elmo. Mama Monster came in with a big birthday cake. “Happy birthday, little Monster,” she said. [etc.etc.]

Finally, there are the very advanced picture books, often with much more serious artwork, that usually tell a serious, very advanced plot and use the pictures as a means to express powerful images. These advanced ones are the ones you see about historic events, heritages (like the famous African-American “flying” picture books), and things like that.

But there’s an additional fourth category that is not so common. This fourth category consists of poetry picture books. These tend to fall somewhere between the second and third categories. Then is the fifth category of nonsense or novelty books. Nonsense books are silly (meant in a complimentary way, of course)rhyming books like those by Theodore Geisel, which usually fall between the first and second categories, and novelty books are those with “tricks,” like holographic pages, shiny stickers, coloring pages included, etc., that also typically fall between the first and second categories. From these five categories, one would first choose which one to do. Then the proper subject matter can be chosen.

First, you could pick between the first three categories, then maybe also add one of the last two. Theoretically, The Cat in the Hat is a Category 2 Nonsense Book (or Category 1, depending on how you look at it).

What category are you looking to put your book in?

~Nicole Izmaylov

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nicole Izmaylov receives Gaya Award for 2010!

Nicole Izmaylov was well received with a bow from one of the judges who said, "You're better than I am. I'm going to have to watch you!" at the 2010 GAYA Award presentation Saturday evening. Nicole holds the first official award for FutureWord and has broken ground for Independent publishers to move ahead with hope for their dreams in the publishing world to become a reality.

Her perseverance and pride as well as leadership has shown Nicole to be a role model for young authors. Her genuine interest in learning what the public wants and to please her audience rather than please herself sets her apart from many others.

As Victor Hugo said, "If I only wrote for myself I should lay down my quill."

I think Nicole's enthusiasm shows great strength of character and an extraordinary gift to the literary community. I know she is a gift to FutureWord. And like all greatness, those who have followed her seem to have a touch of the same sparkle of light.

Such is the salt of the earth. Ronnie and BB's message to the world:

"The Importance of Love and Friendship!"

Remain a beacon, Nicole! Congratulations from all of us!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gaya Awards! The banquet is open to the public!

Nicole Izmaylov will present the "Inspiration" at the Georgia State Convention banquet, which will be held at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. The banquet will commence on Friday, June 25, 2010 at 6 PM EST.

Nicole also received a notice by mail along with silver labels to distinguish her book, Ronnie and BB, as a candidate for the prestigious GAYA Award. The GAYA (Georgia Author of the Year Award) is held each year annually and an author is awarded merits for outstanding achievements in literary works.

This award is presented by the Georgia Writers Association. This event is scheduled for the 19th of June. These are two separate events.

Nicole's first book is about Ronnie, a bumblebee who meets up with a mole named BB. These two characters, created by Nicole Izmaylov, share her message in an acrostic poem that reminds the readers that love and friendship are never to be taken lightly. Her twenty-four page children's book is perfect bound 8.25 by 8.25 with colorful illustrations by Valerie Bouthyette.

Nicole interviewed with this publisher by telephone prior to re-submitting an acrostic poem-story. I asked her if she was familiar with acrostic poetry.

Publishers seek authors who can supply what the publishers believe the readers would enjoy. At the time, I saw the need for acrostic poetry. It wasn't until after I spoke with Nicole that I truly realized how skilled she was in literature and poetry. I made an agreement to see what she could do with acrostics when she replied that she worked with acrostics in the past. Within an hour, I received the first draft of the poem-story converted into an acrostic.

Nicole was born in Atlanta and received national recognition for literary and musical compositions, including the "Reflections" award for literature during her elementary school years and various times throughout middle school. Her personal interests include: writing poems, playing violin and piano, and acting in the drama club at her school. She is now attending seventh grade at Webb Bridge in Alpharetta, Georgia. She recently interviewed on Cynthia Brian's internationally syndicated radio show, "Be the Star You Are." It was during that interview that Nicole made a vocal submission to FutureWord for a forthcoming novel.
Michelle Izmaylov had her own fame established as one of the "Top 20 Under 20" on Her award-winning novel "Dream Saver" sold 35,000 copies. Michelle will also be in attendance as a nominee for her science fiction, "The Galacteran Legacy: Galaxy Watch."

Are the girls nervous? Well, maybe, but when you are already used to the limelight it doesn't hurt to look it straight in the eye.

If anyone would like to attend the awards, the ceremony begins at 7:30 PM and is free and open to the public. There is a fee of $55.00 for the banquet, which precedes the ceremony and begins at 6 PM, but this money is going to a great cause. Just click on the link GAYA for more information. The deadline for purchasing tickets for the banquet is June 8th.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nicole Izmaylov has a Storybook Reading Session for children!

Nicole is working away at leading the youths of today to move toward goals. Her latest achievements of literary awards are posted on the web site at

In these pictures it is evident that Nicole is playing a defining role in the lives of some very young pupils.

These pictures were taken during a Storybook Session where Nicole took the lead to read to the children. She not only read her own book, but other books as well. Afterward, Nicole assisted the teacher in leading the group to sing and dance.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Talk about Drama: Nicole's Performance in /Airline/

Think writing is Nicole's only talent? After winning a Webster Artist Award for her performance in /Alice in Wonderland/ last year, Nicole dominated the stage again in her school's rendition of /Airline/!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nicole Izmaylov to Interview with Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian. "The Oprah of the Airways" will be interviewing FutureWord's prodigy author, Nicole Izmaylov in a short radio interview tomorrow, Thursday, March 18th, from 6:37-6:45pm ET on that internationally syndicated radio show, Starstyle-Be the Star You Are!

The invitation came from Cynthia Brian in an email to Nicole Izmaylov, who immediately sent me the exciting news!

I could tell from Nicole's email that she was enthusiastic and flattered by the invitation. Most of all though, she loves to talk about writing and her book, Ronnie and BB is just a beginning for her writing career.

Cynthia Brian, a TV and radio personality and author of motivational books, including Be The Star You Are was enamored by the amiable wit,kindness and intelligence of the 13 year-old debut author and sent her the invitation.

I know from experience that this young author has a brilliant intellect and no question can put her on the spot.Nicole submitted her first manuscript to FutureWord in July of last year. When she was told that FutureWord needed acrostic poetry, she came up with the work in just a matter of minutes and emailed it straight back to us.

Normally publishers post what they are looking for in the Writer's Market and experienced writers and authors check that reference to see if they can write what the publishers want. Does this author have what it takes? I would say, give her an assignment and she'll love the challenge. Instead of turning away and pouting that her story was not acrostic, she set to work to MAKE IT HAPPEN! So, as a publisher, would you reject that manuscript?

Neither did FutureWord and the challenge was more than moderate. Nicole has now received written notification that she has been nominated for the Author of the Year (GAYA) award and plans to attend that event in June this year.

Click Starstyle-Be the Star You Are! for the link or you can go to

Cynthis Brian is also a philanthropist who dedicates time promoting charities while leading others to be the best they can be.

I have listed contact information for Cynthia below. I plan to be there!

Starstyle-Be the Star You Are!® Radio
925-377-STAR (7827)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cynthia Brian: A Stellar Inspiration for Nicole Izmaylov

Valleys and mountains lie silent in the early hours, swallowed in a sea of shadows. The door of the farmhouse whispers open; it shuts as softly. The small girl goes about her morning chores, feet bare by choice, padding softly on the grass and dirt, checking on the chickens and the sheep and the tractor, thinking of the fruit she will pick later that day. And all the while a rim of light grows against the horizon, gathering first in the low gaps between hills, rising till it overflows, until finally it floods higher and washes the sky with day. Just then, she pauses for a moment and turns her head towards the sun. And her bright eyes grow wide with eagerness as she smiles and kneels to tend her garden.

“Say yes to life,” is the recipe for success that has always guided Cynthia Brian, a farm girl turned New York Times best-selling author and television/radio personality. Born in Napa Valley in Northern California as the eldest of five children, this “Renaissance woman of the new millennium” has dedicated herself to making waves of change in pursuit of her lifelong mission of serving others and globally enhancing the quality of life for all people. “Recognizing . . . our differences are our greatest strengths,” says Brian.

True to her dogma, she has recently written Be the Star You Are! for Teens, a novel concerning teen empowerment in a century when young people are torn between parental rules and restrictions and cultural messages about beauty, wealth, sexuality, and other critical issues.

In many schools and universities, students understand what it means to be pushed to the limits of their abilities. “Young people are especially pressured to live up to their parents’ expectations and society’s expectations,” says Brian. In the midst of a struggle to achieve perfect scores and excel in every subject, we become one-sided and lose our abilities to be well-rounded individuals. Instead of perfection, Brian praises an ideology based on accentuating the positives in life. “My philosophy,” she says, “has always been to strive for excellence. There is no perfection. And if we live by that motto, we are going to be comfortable with ourselves.”

Be the Star You Are! for Teens encourages young people to bring out their inner light and explore creative expression while remaining true to themselves. The collection of stories, intentionally divided into very short chapters that are easy to read in only a few minutes, are all true tales told from the hearts of teens discovering the gifts of acceptance, communication, faith, healing, love, understanding, and many others.

In compiling the collection of tales, Cynthia Brian had to choose from many stories submitted by contributors. The ones that ultimately made it into the book were all very different, although they shared one common theme. “[Each] story has some kind of positive outcome or a lesson or an exercise [we] can learn from,” she says, something that is particularly important in a century when young people are too often pressured to perform beyond their immediate means.

Constant failure can lead teens to depression and to abandoning their goals and dreams. “Many people live their lives with a negative viewpoint . . . [and] believe that nothing good will ever happen to [them],” Brian notes. Instead, she hopes to teach her readers to live their lives with the belief that no dream is unattainable. “Everything is possible,” she reminds us. “If we are willing to work hard enough and hang in there long enough, we can achieve anything we want in life.”

In addition, many teens struggle with their perceptions of a culture that anticipates nothing short of perfection. Be the Star You Are! for Teens seeks to challenge that notion. After all, Brian believes, although it is important to always do your best, no one is perfect. “I am very imperfect. I make tons of mistakes,” she says with a laugh, adding, “I say failure is fertilizer. I’m a gardener. I put failures on the compost pile and use them as lessons. Everything in life is a lesson as well as a blessing.”

In learning from our mistakes lies the key insight of Cynthia Brian’s novel. As we journey throughout our lives, we will be faced with risks. If we never dare go out on the limb, we will never discover the true meaning of who we are. “If we take no risks, we will never gain anything,” Brian encourages. “Are we going to fall flat on our faces? Are we going to embarrass ourselves? Are we going to make mistakes? Yes, yes, yes! But the more mistakes [we] make, the more successful we will be.”

Young people will always be encouraged to reach greater heights. But the real challenge in today’s century is striking a balance between expectations and one’s true self. “The important message for students is to find your passion, to find your purpose,” Cynthia Brian fondly shares. “When you find your passion and you find your purpose, you find your life. And the way you find that life is by being the star you are. Dig deep into your heart and your soul. Discover what makes you tick. And don’t be afraid to go out there and be different because being different is being a superstar. That’s what makes us shine.”

~Article by Michelle Izmaylov

Friday, February 26, 2010

GAYA (Georgia Author of the Year Award) Nomination

If you thought Nicole was accomplished before, just wait until you hear the latest! Her book, Ronnie and BB, was recently nominated for a Georgia Author of the Year Award. Sponsored by the Georgia Writers Association, which seeks to recognize excellence among Georgia's authors the GAYA is one of the oldest literary awards in the Southeastern United States.

Categories include:

First Novel
Creative Non-Fiction:
Specialty Books
Children’s and Young Adult Literature:
Young Adult
Picture Book

Final announcements of the winners will be made in June, so watch for updates soon!