Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writers Wednesday

"We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." Ray Bradbury

Inspiration . . . Often writers moan over the lack of ideas, but sometimes abundance is the problem.

In a recent conversation, a fellow writer expressed her frustration with trying to select a book project from among her many story ideas.

If you are struggling with the challenge of making the right choice, you'll find some excellent thoughts on the subject in K.M. Weiland's post "How Do You Decide Which Story You Should Write?" @ Wordplay.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Simply Science.
For Nonfiction Monday - - "Life in the ocean : the storyof oceanographer Sylvia Earle" written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola.

Nivola invites young explorers to discover the undersea world through the life of renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle.  Sylvia was Introduced to the warm clear waters of Gulf of Mexico at the age of twelve when her parents moved to Florida.  That introduction became a lifelong passion with ocean life that took her from swimming with dolphins to a dive 3000 feet below the surface.

Nivola's enthusiasm for her subject enlivens the narrative and informs her extensive author's note at the end of the text.  Her beautiful watercolor illustrations are exuberant, detailed, and lovingly drawn.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Jean Little Library.

My selection is "Eat your math homework: recipes for hungry minds" written by Ann McCallum and illustrated by Leeza Hernandez.

McCallum entertains while she informs in this collection of math inspired recipes.  After providing some basic kitchen tips, she explores the Fibonacci sequence with snack sticks arranged on skewers.  Fractions feature chips and Tessellations are tasty in two-color brownies.  Probability Trail Mix, Variable Pizza Pi, and Milk and Tangram Cookies, round out the collection of treats.  The text is completed with a math review, glossary, and index.

The colorful cartoon style illustrations by Hernandez add an additional layer of exuberant fun.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Writers Wednesday

Many of the writers I meet at workshops or critique groups are teachers who were inspired to write a story that relates to their area of curriculum interest or expertise.  These educators often struggle with finding an appropriate venue for their work once it is completed. 

Today's guest post is by Kathryn Starke who has founded a successful company that targets the market for educator/writers. 

Kathryn Starke

            Each day in my position, I motivate children and teachers to enjoy the writing process.  I am an urban elementary school literacy specialist, children's author, public speaker, freelance educational writer, and the founder of Creative Minds Publications and Consulting, a global educational company based in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I have my BS degree in elementary education and my Master's degree in Literacy Culture from Longwood University. I have been in the field of education for a decade, but I have been writing since I was a very young girl. I never imagined that I would become a children's author and be able to share my passion with readers of all ages.

            Having taught in Title I and inner city schools, I realized that engaging and educational literature is necessary for my students to learn to read, and in turn, read to learn. I wrote Amy's Travels, a multicultural children's book based on a true story, to teach the seven continents to my second graders. I originally started Creative Minds Publications to publish and market this trade book to schools in Virginia. This spring, Amy's Travels was released in its second edition and is used in schools on six continents. Our mission is to ensure quality literacy instruction for all students, which is why CMP publishes books written by educators; all our books are complete with curriculum and comprehensive guides to use at home or in the classroom. Turtle Without a Home is an example of environmental literacy, written by educators in northern Virginia, which is also published under the Creative Minds Publications imprint.

            From presenting at reading and writing conferences, I have met so many teachers that have an idea for a title; I now use my experiences to help fellow educators become published authors. I'm never looking for any particular topic, but the story has to match an objective that can be utilized in school curricula. They also have an illustrator or graphic designer ready to take on the project. My clients come to me as unpublished writers simply sharing a manuscript and goal for themselves and for their work. I am most impressed by a story that readers can make a personal connection to as well as learn a life lesson from; a story that makes you think long after you finished reading is a plus. And remember, your target audience is children, so you must use a simple sentence structure that can be read with ease. Many people have a wonderful story idea but do not present a great children's book because there is too much text on a page, which is overwhelming for children and the vocabulary is far too advanced. Think about how you would speak to a child in conversation or teach a child in your class and write that way.

            Thus far, all of my authors have come to me with their own educational materials to match their book, which is very characteristic of teachers. Creative Minds Publications is able to develop and write lesson plans and book guides for any titles published through us or through a publishing company in which we have a partnership. For example, Brandylane Publishers in Richmond, Virginia, publishes nonfiction materials, and we create materials or programs to complement the book to be used in schools or institutions. Danger on My Doorstep is a Holocaust story written for middle schoolers and published under Brandylane's imprint; Creative Minds Publications markets and distributes the book and programs in the educational realm, which is my expertise.  Keep writing, and do not get discouraged by what others may express about your work. Everyone has a story to tell, but it's how you present and market your manuscript or book that truly makes the difference.

For more information about Kathryn Starke and Creative Minds follow these links:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Shelf-employed.
My selection is "Magic trash : a story of Tyree Guyton and his art" written by J.H. Shapiro and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

Shapiro's picture book biography tells the colorful story of  The Heidelberg Project, Tyree Guyton's modern art redemption of his dilapidated neighborhood.  As a child -- Guyton was introduced to art by his grandpa Sam.  As an adult -- Guyton returned home to discover a neighborhood of abandoned houses, litter, and crime -- and set out to make a difference.  He transformed his community with paint and turned trash into treasures that decorated porches, walls, yards, and streets. 
Shapiro's engaging narrative  is interspersed with short sing-song rhymes that celebrate Guyton's energy and delight in art.

Brantley-Newton's illustrations echo Guyton's style through her mixed-media use of collage.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by On The Way to Somewhere with Rena J.Traxel.
For Poetry Friday -- "Extra innings: baseball poems" selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Scott Medlock.
One of the great things about summer is baseball. Hopkins acknowledges America's passion for the game with a collection of 19 verses by various poets richly illustrated in handsome oils by Medlock.  The opening verse sums up the collection's focus on the game for players and fans with: Analysis of Baseball by May Swenson --
It's about
 the ball,
 the bat
 and the mitt.
Ball hits bat
or it hits mitt.
Young readers will find this book is a home run.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer