Search This Blog


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Revising Picture Books

Someone once asked me, "Why do you go back and make so many changes? If you are a good writer, your first draft should be good enough."

Well, those might not have been his exact words, but the gist of it was - why make so many changes? Why go over it again and again? Why, why, why?

Why? Because picture book writing is not as easy as non-writers think it is.

Sure, there are fewer words.
Sure, they are for young children.
But, younger readers are as important as older readers. Maybe, more important. We need to get children interested and excited about reading, so they will continue to read into adulthood.

I have been editing my latest picture book. I guess you could say it is fiction and non-fiction. I have a cute little story, with sidebar non-fiction information to go along with it. I had a bumpy start writing it, but I finally got past the problems and started to work on the words.

In picture books, every word counts. You search your mind, your thesaurus, your friends' minds and online sources for the best words. Picture book writing is one genre where I don't balk at using ing words. They can add to the flow and rhythm of the story. Instead of saying, they zoom, say zooming. Instead of saying, They dart everywhere, say Darting everywhere.

Use specific words.
Use great action words.
Use onomatopoeia (sound words)! 
I have found taking out the or replacing the with these makes a big difference. 
I have found replacing them and they with specific words makes a big difference.

Most importantly, I have found that going back over a manuscript that I thought was just right - makes a big difference. 

Do not be afraid to take suggestions from fellow writers. It will still be your story!

At the end of our writers' meeting a few weeks ago, a member made an almost inaudible remark and said you could say something like " --- ", and it was the perfect end to a stanza I was having problems with! (You notice I'm not telling the phrase. I don't want to give away what my story is about)

Do you have any suggestions to making the perfect picture book?

I (and my readers) are open to suggestions. 

By the way. I had a great time last week when my husband and I went to see Henry Winkler, co-author of the Hank Zipzer books!

Happy Writing!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Signing

I am having a book signing tomorrow at our local library.

But, it is more than just a regular book signing. In addition to having my books available for purchase and signed by me . . .

I will have light snacks made from recipes in my book, Fun Through the Seasons: Recipes, Crafts and Fun Facts for Kids.

I will have handouts for the kids - a Pumpkin Surprise coloring page for the young ones and a Pumpkin Surprise word hunt puzzle for the older kids. Pumpkin Surprise is one of the stories in my book.

And, I will have bookmarks kids can finish and take home with them. They can trim them with shaped scissors, punch a hole in the top and thread colorful ribbons through it.

If anyone wants to sit for a spell, I will be reading selected passages from my book and my article from this month's Two-Lane Livin' magazine titled, Colorful Pumpkins. You may never color pumpkins orange again!

 Give me a visit if you are in the area. I will be in the children's section of the Ripley Library from 11am till 1pm.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hank Zipzer A Brand-New Me! - MMGM

 Brand-New Me! (Hank Zipzer #17) Age 9-12 Years
This is the 17th in the series
Hank Zipzer A Brand New Me!
Grosset and Dunlap April 2010

It is graduation time and Hank's friends Ashley and Frankie get accepted to the Anderson Middle School Gifted and Talented Program. That means Hank and his best friends will be separated for the first time since they started school.
Hank hasn't completed the community service work required for graduation from PS  87. Luckily Mr. Rock, the music teacher, needs help. While cleaning band instruments, Mr. Rock overhears one of Hank's humorous monologues. He sees that Hank has talent and wants him to apply to the Professional Performing Arts School. All they have to do is have Hank's dad agree to the audition.

Will Hank audition and will he pass? Those are questions answered if you read this book.

In this series Hank is a smart kid, with learning disabilities, dealing with many obstacles during his time in the 4th and 5th grade. The stories were inspired by the true life experiences of Henry Winkler.

I think this series would be a great read for kids with learning disabilities and for kids without disabilities as well.

They are being read by the kids in our county. Our library has a display table just for this series of books. They seem to be popular, because many of them are being read - leaving just a copy of the book cover on display, stating that the book is currently checked out.

Have you or your kids read any of the books? If not, I suggest that you give them a try. These books are well written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. Since I started to write, I have this bad habit of editing books while I read them. I have found that I do very little internal editing when I read these books.

Happy reading and go over to Shannon Messenger's site for more suggestions on Middle Grade books.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Hank Zipzer Niagara Falls, or Does It? MMGM

Grosset and Dunlap 2003
144 pages 
I have been reviewing books from the Hank Zipzer series, so I figured I should go back and review the first book in the series.

It is the first day of fourth grade and the teacher wants the students to write a five paragraph essay on what they did during the summer. Hank is terrified. Writing (and reading) is not one of his best subjects. Hank comes up with a plan to show what he did. His 'living essay' becomes a disaster when he tries to show and tell about his trip to Niagara Falls. He gets detention. Luckily he gets detention with Mr. Rock, the music teacher. Mr. Rock suspects Hank has learning problems and suggests that he be tested.

In addition to the books in this series being extremely humorous, they teach about kids with learning disabilities. And they show how kids like Hank can work through difficulties and overcome obstacles they have in everyday life.

Additional info: Henry Winkler is dyslexic and was not diagnosed until he was an adult. 

Now click over here to Shannon Messenger's site and read about other marvelous middle grade books!

Monday, September 22, 2014

MMGM - Hank Zipzer The Zippity Zinger

In my countdown until Henry Winkler comes to our town.
I take timeout for another of Henry Winkler's Hank Zipzer books!

Hank Zipzer The Zippity Zinger

2003 Grosset and Dunlap
24,578 words

What does Hank do when his sock drawer is empty and it is time to go play catch with his Papa Pete?
He grabs the pair of socks from on top of the laundry basket and puts them on without looking. They turn out to be bright red girls' socks with little pink monkeys on them. And, on top of that, they are his sister's good luck socks!

Well, it seems they also bring him good luck. Bam! Bam! Bam! He throws strikes one after another. They must be lucky! But his sister needs to wear them when she competes in the school's Brain Buster Competition which takes place at the same time as the School Olympiad Softball Game.

His sister HAS to wear them, so what will happen when he pitches in the softball game? Can he pitch without his lucky socks? He doesn't think so, but they had to put him in the game in the last inning.

Will he be able to throw enough zippity zingers to win the game?

Will he win a gold medal to wear around his neck?

Well, I'll leave it up to you to read and find out what happens.

This is another funny book from the duo of Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver.

Now go over to Shannon Messenger's Blog to read about other Marvelous Middle Grade Books.