Marketing Samples



Should You Write Outside Your Culture?

by guest blogger Candid Brandon


Writers have the gift of making stories come to life through creativity and imagination. It is this gift that allows them to be creatively boundless. Writers’ inquisitive natures can lead them to be fascinated by other cultures and moved to write about them. Many things can trigger these fascinations like travels, personal relationships, books, movies, and other random encounters. Fascination can then turn into the desire to write about a culture outside their scope. Writers writing outside their cultures has long been an important debate in the children’s literature field. Questions come up such as: is it wrong to write outside your culture? What are the precautions you have to take? Why would you want to write outside your culture? These are honest and valid questions to ask. There are plenty of examples of writing outside your culture gone wrong; however, there are many great examples as well. So the question still remains, should people write outside their own culture? I say, yes! It is needed. Many untold stories would not be heard if it weren’t for people writing outside their culture. But there is a tremendous amount of personal shedding, responsibility, care, and research that an author must and should take if they are going to plunge into this territory of writing. Remember these two words “authentic” and “accurate. As you write, you should constantly ask yourself if you are being accurate and authentic.


Here are some specific thoughts to consider as you prepare to write about a culture outside your own.


  1. Research

Research is essential. Research the culture, watch videos and movies, view pictures and art work. Immerse yourself in the culture so that you can depict it accurately and authentically.


  1. Shed

Shed what you think you know about the culture, personal perceptions, and bias. As difficult as that may be, it needs to happen so you can write with a genuineness that is evident within the pages.


  1. Language

Books can be flawed by lack of attention to language detail. If it is a period piece of writing, it needs to mimic language of that particular period. Use words correctly, especially if you’re writing words of another language. Be careful of how you use words, such as words outside cultural beliefs like religious words or phrases. Over use of slang or dialect can seem inauthentic. Be sure to choose your words wisely.


  1. Names

Spend some time on developing character names. Difficult names are very confusing and frustrating for readers. However, accurate and authentic names indigenous to the culture and time period are important to your writing. Find uncomplicated alternatives for names so that they are easier to read and remember.


  1. Setting

Be sure to be accurate of time zones, landscapes, architecture, nature, and wildlife. For example, tigers aren’t found in Africa (they are native to Asia); illustrations or text reflecting that would be inaccurate.


  1. Find Helpers

The Internet can connect you to people who can help you learn about the culture you wish to write about. Utilizing people of the culture, professors, museum curators, other authors on the subject, and any other expert can help you bring your multicultural story to life accurately and authentically!


BIO: Candid Brandon is a guest blogger at Book Bridge Press. Candid has an M.A. in Children’s Literature from Eastern Michigan University and a B.A. in Mass Media Arts from Clark Atlanta University. She loves reading children’s books and is proud of it! Candid has a special interest in multicultural children’s literature because she cares deeply about how different cultures and people are portrayed in books for children. Despite Candid’s special interest, she is a major advocate for literacy and getting ALL good books into the hands of ALL children! You can find her teaching creative movement to very active preschoolers and writing her own blog, Children Kissed by the Sun (


What Was Your Favorite Picture Book As a Child?

What was your favorite picture book as a child? Mine was a book published in 1975 that I doubt many are familiar with: Ultra-Violet Catastrophe: Or, the Unexpected Walk with Great-Uncle Magnus Pringle (Margaret Mahy/Brian Froud). I treasured it and pored over it again and again. I identified with the main character, Sally, who spent her days in trees as Horrible Stumper the tree pirate. I also spent my days in trees, particularly the maple in our front yard, talking to tree gnomes and sending maple seeds down to the ground, miniature-magical helicopters. I loved the story of irreverent Sally having adventures with her equally irreverent Great-Uncle Magnus Pringle, despite prim Aunt Anne Pringle’s wishes. I loved the luminous watercolor artwork and the depiction of Sally with ever-disheveled hair and scratched up knees.

I researched this book a little bit to discover that the illustrator, Brian Froud, is none other than illustrator for another favorite book, Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book. This book was given to me by a friend at the first publishing house I worked, and where I first learned that you could have a whole career making kid’s books—my first love. This book is special to me because it marks that place in time. My love of fairies grew out of my love of gnomes, first introduced to me by way of a book from my step-father, the classic tome simply titled: Gnomes (Wil Huygen/Rien Pootvliet). The inscription reads: To Aimee with Love on your 9th Birthday, Oct 30, 1979. I remember opening this gift, just home form girl scouts and still in my little green uniform. Being a school night, the birthday celebration was small—just my parents and me and a simple, from-scratch German chocolate cake. But the book had such an impact on me that I can recall even these tiniest of details. I lived with this book for years, studying every bit of it, memorizing everything there ever was to know about gnomes. I loved how the text looked handwritten. I loved the washy watercolor artwork. I started looking at the world with a microscopic eye, trained at ground level. I looked for gnomes in every small outdoor space. I built tiny little furniture for them with twigs and acorn shells and robin feathers. My book still sits on my bookshelf today, the jacket yellowed with age but otherwise in pristine condition, for even though I’ve probably paged through it hundreds of times, I took absolute care with it.

I can’t find my copy of Ultra-Violet Catastrophe, nor do I know how it came to me as a child, but I still remember it vividly. Once in awhile my now seven-year-old son will briefly attach to a book in that way, but I don’t think he’s found the book yet. Once in a beautiful while I’ll watch him studying the pictures in a book intently by himself, then requesting it at bedtime several nights in a row. He’ll always pause on one page in particular and study it. I don’t ask what he’s thinking, I just watch him and I know—that feeling of complete immersion, of escaping into a character, into a scene, into a story.

I’m still discovering new favorite picture books every day, and I still look for gnomes and fairies, now while tending my own flower gardens. What was your favorite book as a child?


An Interview with Book Bridge Press Client Bethany Masters

Just arrived!

We hope you'll visit the Book Bridge Press website and read our new interview with author and photographer Bethany Masters. She explains how her book An Osprey Summer is helping to connect her with new and exciting opportunities in the Education Marketplace.

For the complete interview, please visit: Interview with Book Bridge Press Client Bethany Masters.

BB: How did you get interested in osprey?

I have always loved nature, and spent many hours as a child exploring the banks of the Mississippi River.  Later, I studied to become an artist.  The river, with its abundant wildlife, became a favorite subject for my painting and photography.   I discovered the osprey nest on Channel Marker 825.6 when I was out on the river with my camera.   I had never seen osprey before.  I was captivated!  Over the next few years, I took more than 600 photos of that nest, documenting the osprey pair as they raised each new batch of chicks.  I began to learn about the rhythm of the nesting cycle and formed a special bond with these magnificent birds.

BB:  What inspired you the take your images and create a book for children, and how did Book Bridge Press help you bring it to life?

I learned so much from the osprey family.   They live virtually in our back yard here in the Twin Cities, yet I knew that most of my students had never seen an osprey.  I wanted to share this special experience with them. My book began as a PowerPoint presentation for elementary students.  I decided to create a book that could be used by parents and educators.  Book Bridge Press helped me take that initial “manuscript” and turn it into the polished product that I knew it could be.  They offered technical advice on preparing my photos and text for publishing, and they guided me through every step of the publishing process.