Monday, December 13, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This Writer's Wednesday I'd like to express my thanks for...
- A family that respects and supports my need to write.
- Friends who cheerfully read my work and provide thoughtful comments.
- and Fans who read my books and ask for more.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
From Pen and Ink: I Am Thankful For My Writing Tools by Sue Berger...a post about gratitude. As writers, we often talk about how we struggle with our craft. Here is an opportunity to put that struggle in another perspective.
From Cynsations: Writing Across Formats: Dian Curtis Regan. If you've ever been tempted to venture into a new format, you'll find some great information here about how one format can inform your writing in others.
I began my career writing for adults. Then shifted to children's picture books and even did some screenplays. It was certainly a challenge, but everything I learned has been a positive influence on the other areas of my writing experience.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Somewhere along the line, it's easy to forget to have a bit of fun along the way. Lighten your mood and brighten your day with these recent posts.
At Pen and Ink: Do You Speak Query? by Kris Kahrs
At Teaching Authors: A Savage-soothing Tip for Novelists Pseudo, Real and/or Lost by Esther Hershenhorn.
At The Librarian Writer: 3 Reasons I'm Not Concerned That My NaNoWriMo Word Count is Dismal.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Nonfiction Monday is hosted to day by Shelf-employed.
My selection is The History of Counting, written by Denise Schmandt-Besserat and illustrated by Michael Hays.
To say that this book traces the development of counting would by accurate, but certainly wouldn't give the author all the credit do her. An archaeologist who specializes in the Middle East, Schmandt-Besserat has focused her expertise on one of humankind's most essential activities. Written with scientific accuracy, the book makes this complex topic very accessible without losing track of important details.
The History of Counting moves from primitive counting methods through the expected ancient civilizations from Sumerian to Roman and finally to the Arabic system used today. The text is enriched with discussions of abstract counting, the use of ten digits and a look at people such as the Paiela of Papua New Guinea who utilize unique methods for counting or reckoning "how many."
Written at a fifth grade level, the book includes a glossary and is illustrated with glowing paintings that provide a beautiful counterpoint to the text.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Get ready for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month -- coming in November: catch the post at Pen and Ink.
Check out Writing the Perfect Query Letter @ Write for Kids.
For plotting read, Plot First, Please! @ Through the Toll Booth.
On the subject of Making Mistakes, the post at Adventures in Children's Publishing is well worth the read.
National Day On Writing inspires Teaching Authors to ask the question -- Why do We Write?
Monday, October 18, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
- Built on the "I Spy with my little eye" games familiar from driving trips, Micklethwait encourages her young readers to find shapes in 14 famous paintings from artists ranging from Warhol to Matisse. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn to look at art in a new way and introduce some of the world's best known talents.
Friday, September 24, 2010
- My selection is Ivan's Great Fall: poetry for Summer and Autumn from great poets and writers of the past, by Vanita Oelschlager with illustrations by Kristin Blackwood.
- Oelschlager tells Ivan's story in poetry which begins and ends with her own work. The rest of the story is told through the voices of many well-known poets -- Dickinson, Stevenson, Sandburg, and Whitman, to name a few. Along with each poem is a short note about the author.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
But let me recommend today's post at Teaching Authors. It's well worth the time and be sure to follow up on the links.
There is an excellent list of resource books provided. As writers we must always continue to perfect our craft.
Special thanks to Carmela Martino for sharing.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day so what could be more perfect for Poetry Friday...
"Shiver me timbers,"Harrison's twenty poems in a variety of styles are rich with all the favorite pirate jargon as he sets sail on a voyage to show that a pirate's life wasn't all swashbuckling fun. Floggings and a life ended by the hangman's noose were real possibilities. Written at a sixth-grade level, this is a book designed for older audiences who are interested in pirates and will appreciate the language. The poetry would also be a good choice as a teacher read-aloud introduction to the subject or time period. Harrison completes his book with factual notes.
Friday's Famous First: Can you identity the title and author of this first line? "Laura was washing the dishes one morning when Old Jack, lying in the sunshine on the doorstep, growled to tell her someone was coming."
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
20 Tips for Writing Children's Books by award-winning poet and author Pat Mora.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Before you submit, it is time to give that manuscript a final check by asking if every scene, every conversation, every word is essential.
This isn't about how much you love the writing. Ask yourself two questions:
- Does the story need it?
- Do your readers need it?
If the answer is no, cut it. If the answer is yes...
Then ask yourself two more questions.
- Does the story/reader need that information at that exact place in the story?
- Does the story/reader need all that you've written or would less be better?
Monday, September 6, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
For those of you contemplating the step into self-publishing...here's an interview with Eric Hammel at Jane Friedman's There Are No Rules titled - Self-published Authors Should Band Together.
Think it's too late to take up writing? Be inspired! Read this interview with Hugo Cipriani at Writers in Residence. Mr. Cipriani became a published author at the age of 94.
Monday, August 30, 2010
My selection is Math Fables written by Greg Tang and illustrated by Heather Cahoon. A series of rhyming stories are used to introduce students to number grouping for K-3. Not only are the stories fun and visually interesting, the language will add some new words to the reader's vocabulary.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Today's selection is - The fastest game on two feet: and other poems about how sports began -- written by Alice Low and illustrated by John O'Brien. In addition to the often humorous verse, Low includes facts and a timeline about the origin of the sports that range from gymnastics to golf, basketball to bowling. O'Brien's lively ink and watercolor illustrations are a happy addition to the text.
Friday's Famous First: Can you identify the title and author of this first line? "Muchachos and muchachas, boys and girls, do you know what happened to the fearless little girl who lives in the pink stucco house behind the plaza?"
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Writer's In Residence has an interview with Cheryl Malandrinos from Pump Up Your Book. Cheryl discusses Blog Tours and shares some valuable information about online book promotion.
And don't miss Tales from the Rushmore Kid: Writing Tip of the Day from Ann Whitford Paul and Alexis O'Neill.
Monday, August 23, 2010
I selected Graphing Habitats, written by Sarah Medina. The book is part of the Real World Data series of nineteen titles designed to explain, explore and illustrate how a variety of graphs can be utilized to organize information about subjects ranging from habitats to sports. Written at a sixth-grade level, this would be an excellent crossover book for mathematics and science. The book includes a bibliography, glossary and websites.
Here is the answer to Friday's Famous First: "Grandpa was a song and dance man who once danced on the vaudeville stage." is from the Caldecott Award Winning Book Song and Dance Man, written by Karen Ackerman and illustrated by Stephen Gammell.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Today's selection is Messing Around On The Monkey Bars: and other school poems for two voices, written by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Jessie Hartland. This is a collection of 19 school-related poems most of which are written as a conversation between two speakers. This would be a fun resource for readers theater or to use as an introduction to reading aloud. Students will related to the light-hearted themes that are mirrored in the whimsical illustrations.
Friday's Famous First: Can you identify the title and author of this first line? "Grandpa was a song and dance man who once danced on the vaudeville stage."
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
In the meantime follow this interesting and informative discussion on the Pros and Cons of Traditional publishing vs Self-publishing at Editorial Ass.
Regardless of how you are published, ultimately the goal is to sell books and here is a current article from the LA Times on promoting an author's brand whether it is the books or related products and services. The article discusses Open Sky a new online site designed to allow published authors and others to sell to the public. I haven't checked it out yet and this isn't an endorsement, but it might be worth a look. I'd love to hear from anyone who has done business on the site. What did you think?
Monday, August 16, 2010
My selection is the Robert F. Sibert honor book, The Brooklyn Bridge, written and illustrated by Lynn Curlee. This beautifully illustrated book details the construction of what was once the tallest structure in North America. The text weaves together the engineering feat with the lives of John, Washington and Emily Roebling who brought this historic project to completion.
Here is the answer to Friday's Famous First: "Now don't y'all go touchin' nothin'," Stacey warned as we stepped onto the porch of the Wallace store. is from the Coretta Scott King author award winning book, The Friendship written by Mildred D. Taylor with illustrations by Max Ginsburg.
Friday, August 13, 2010
I'm continuing my "Back-to-School" theme with Hamsters, Shells and Spelling bees: school poems, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins with illustrations by Sachiko Yoshikawa. This book is part of the I Can Read series for K-3. Hopkins has collected twenty poems by well-know poets such as Jane Yolen, Alice Schertle, and J. Patrick Lewis in easily accessible language for young readers. Poems are a variety of styles and range in subject from multiplying hamsters to backpacks, measles to show and tell, art class to the school bus driver. Bright, light-hearted illustrations are delicious.
Friday's Famous First: Can you identify the title and author of this first line? "Now don't y'all go touchin' nothin'," Stacey warned as we stepped onto the porch of the Wallace store.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
At Kidlit.com: "Should you send a Slew?" a post on queries and submitting your best work.
At Adventures in Children's Publishing: "Thank you Rejection" by Terry Lynn Johnson, a post about finding an agent.
At Writer's in Residence: an interview with writer Darrell James discusses what an author can do to prepare for the release of a book and maximize the potential for success.
Monday, August 9, 2010
The traditional apple season - September to November - falls at the beginning of the school year and it's no surprise that teachers make the most of that fact by incorporating apples into classroom lessons.
One Red Apple, written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Karla Gudeon follows the life cycle of an apple from farm to table to new trees growing from the seeds scattered by birds to begin the process anew. The book is beautifully written and employs a young girl to trace the apple's cycle. The illustrations are in a richly colored folk-art style that is perfectly suited to the text. This book would fit very well into lessons on apples, life cycles, seasons, change and the interconnections of living things in nature.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Wow Wednesday at Adventures in Children's Publishing offers a tip from middle-grade author Anita Laydon Miller on making your book more marketable.
And from Through the Tollbooth, a thought provoking post titled "The Times They are a Changing," contrasting the market for self-published vs. traditionally published books. The post incorporates comments and statistics from Stephen Roxburgh's keynote speech at Chautauqua on the future of publishing.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Teaching math is challenging, so I'm always on the lookout for books that can bring some fun to a lesson or help answer the question, "Why do I need to know this?" How Baseball Managers Use Math by John C. Bertoletti and Rhea A. Stewart is one of a series of books that delve into how various occupations: race car driving, deep sea diving, etc. utilize mathematics in their professions. This title looks at statistics and how they relate to the game. Bertoletti and Stewart have also authored How Fashion Designers Use Math.
Here is the answer to Friday's Famous First: "Long ago the Lord of the Sun sent the spark of life to earth," is from the Caldecott Medal Winner, Arrow to the Sun: a Pueblo Indian Tale, by Gerald McDermott
Friday, July 30, 2010
My offering is the Caldecott Honor Book Song of the Waterboatman and Other Pond Poems, written by Joyce Sidman and beautifully illustrated using woodcuts by Beckie Prange. This is a wonderful mix of poetic forms with science facts presented in prose sidebars with a glossary at the end. Sidman's eleven poems cover the four seasons in the life of a pond and it's creatures from spring peepers to a painted turtle's hibernation.
Friday's Famous First: Can you identify the title and author of this first line? "Long ago the Lord of the Sun sent the spark of life to earth."
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
One of the most important things we can do for ourselves as authors is to develop a strong support system of fellow writers who can offer us helpful critiques.
We write in a vacuum and nothing can help elevate the quality of our work like fresh eyes on our manuscripts. I'm very fortunate to have a best friend who is an amazing writer so we are able to share and support each other on our writing journey. Not everyone is so lucky.
There is help out there, but it can take some work to find it. My first recommendation would be join SCBWI - the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. SCBWI has regional chapters that offer a variety of educational and networking opportunities such as writer's days, critiquenics, workshops, etc. This can be a great place to connect with people who share your particular interests.
Local colleges and adult education classes through your city also offer writing classes. These classes are helpful in developing your work, but offer another advantage. Many of the instructors also lead or are familiar with private critique groups in their area.
Of course, you can always consider beginning a local critique group or joining an online group.
Finding the right fit doesn't always happen on the first try. You may have to visit a group more than once to get a sense of the group dynamic or visit more than one group before you find the place where you belong.
Here are some questions you'll need to answer:
- Does the group read the type of work that you write? Yes, good writing is good writing, but there are specifics related to picture books, MG, YA and the genres (mystery, sci-fi, etc.) that you and the other writers will need to know to maximize the experience. A general writing group can be fine in the beginning, but at some point it will be helpful to have at least one other person in the group who is familiar with your particular kind of work.
- Is there an established routine? Does the group spend a few minutes sharing news and then get down to the business of reading manuscripts or do the members devote most of the meeting to conversations about what they are going to write some day?
- Are there rules for critiquing? The comments can be hard to hear, but they should be kind, well-intentioned and offered with clearly stated suggestions for improvement not vague remarks such as, "You need more character development." Members should recognize that their reaction to and assessment of a manuscript is a subjective one. The goal of each critique should be to help the author find their voice, not rewrite the work in the style or voice of the other members.
- Are there rules for the person whose work is being critiqued? It's human nature to defend your work. However, if you are busy forming an answer or explanation for the comments being offered, then the chances are you aren't listening as carefully as you could. Members of the group should be encouraged to listen, to take notes, to consider the comments over time and then to decide for themselves which remarks they will act on.
- Is the group dynamic well-balanced, warm, and welcoming? Does everyone receive fairly equal time to be read and to make comments or does one person's writing or opinions dominate the session. Do the members genuinely like each other and get along? Even if you are leaving the meeting with pages of notes for correction and improvement, do you feel good about the experience? Are you already looking forward to coming back?
Monday, July 26, 2010
My offering is an Alphabet book of a different sort: Caldecott Honor Book, Alphabet City, illustrated by Stephen Johnson. Although this isn't an alphabet book to hand your preschooler, it certainly is worthy of attention.
Alphabet City will require some adult interpretation when it comes to finding some of the more challenging letters that are hidden within the pages of this stunning book. Johnson has discovered the alphabet in an urban setting and presented the letters in paintings that are almost photographic in their realism. The challenge offered by Johnson is to learn to really observe one's environment and see it in new ways. This would be a great addition not only to an alphabet collection, but to an art book collection as well.
Here is the answer to Friday's Famous First: "The afternoon Hillary first saw the elf village, she couldn't believe her eyes." is from the Newbery Honor book Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Taylor Lisle.
Friday, July 23, 2010
My offering is Absolutely Wild written by Dennis Webster and illustrated by his daughter, Kim Webster Cunningham. This collection of 16 poems celebrating a variety of wild animals will appeal to fans of Ogden Nash or Edward Lear. The illustrations - hand-colored linoleum prints - provide the perfect complement to the text.
Friday's Famous First: Can you identify the title and author of this first line? "The afternoon Hillary first saw the elf village, she couldn't believe her eyes."
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
One piece of advice that I offer to every writer I mentor or see in a workshop is "Read what you want to write." Picture books, MG, YA, Thriller, Romance, Mystery...whatever the genre it will help you develop your ear for language.
Find stories with similar themes, structures, characters or plots. Take the book apart and figure out what works and why or if the book fell short of your expectations...figure out why it didn't work.
This can be a difficult task if you are new to the craft of writing and struggling with theme, structure, character and plot in your own work. There is some great help available in the form of book reviews.
Read the book, then read the reviews. Find detailed analysis from book bloggers -- you'll find an extensive list at KitLitosphere Central or subscribe to some of the major reviewers: Booklist, Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, or School Library Journal to name a few.
Reviews will help you understand a book's strengths and weaknesses. These qualities are the same ones editors and agents will be looking for when they read your work so you want to identify your strengths and correct any weakness in your manuscript. Reviews can give you a check list of sorts.
For more on the subject of reading as a writer, be sure and drop by Through The Tollbooth and read the 5-part series from last year that begins here.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Believe it or not, one of the busiest sections of my library collection is the one with the cookbooks. I'm always looking for new additions as I never seem to have enough. Here is a new favorite among my youthful cooks: The Spatulatta Cookbook: recipes for kids, by kids from the James Beard award-winning Spatulatta Website by Isabella and Olivia Gerasole.
Isabella and Olivia won the James Beard award for their cooking website: Spatulatta. I selected The Spatulatta Cookbook even though it has a spiral binding which I know won't have a long shelf life with so many eager hands turning the pages. That negative was balanced by the colorful photographs and sensible one-step-at-a-time directions. Young cooks will find recipes that are fun and healthful. The book discusses basic techniques, tools and measurements and includes a glossary as well.
Here is the answer to Friday's Famous First: "In Heaven there are 1,637 steps from my house to the Western Union." is from the Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, Heaven by Angela Johnson.