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Monday, November 17, 2014

MMGM - Rude Dude's Book of Food

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

I am telling you about:

Rude Dude's Book of Food
by: Tim J. Myers
Familius LLC 2014


I write a column for children every month in Two-Lane Livin' Magazine. My column is titled, Fun Facts for Kids.

I have learned two things:
Kids love facts.
Kids love learning facts written about in a fun way.

Tim Myer's book is all about facts written in a fun way. It has eight chapters about the crazy-cool stuff we eat. Food is fascinating when told about by the Rude Dude. Most everyone loves chocolate - right? But, I bet they didn't know about chocolate's trip down history. Also, learn all about hamburgers and one smart cookie. That's not chocolate chip cookies, but fortune cookies. And, we learn that awesome pizza has a short history in America. and you wouldn't believe the different toppings some people put on this favorite snack bar food.

Well, you get the idea. This book is all about foods kids love and it is written in a fun, and sometimes wacky, way. For all the teachers out there, in addition to learning a lot of neat facts about food, there are also lesson ideas and info on how the book meets common core standards.

So, if you know someone who wants to learn good, fun and weird facts about some of their favorite foods, this is the book for them.

 For more reviews on books click here to go over to Shannon Messenger's Blog.

Happy reading!

Friday, November 7, 2014

She said. He said. I said.

I recently read an article on writing in deep point of view. I always wondered what this meant. Among other things, it said that in deep point of view dialogue tags are replaced with action, body language, voice description or emotion. Replacing the tags makes your story feel more real.

That got me started on my little tangent of finding and replacing said's in my manuscripts.

Of course, you can't take away all of them. Tags serve the purpose of: identifying a speaker, preventing reader confusion, making long dialogue sections more digestible, and they provide opportunities to insert action or description - thus becoming an action or description tag.

Then there are adverbial tags. I try to avoid these - she said quickly, he said coldly, she said angrily.
These words can  make a tag seem more obvious and remind them that they are reading a story instead of experiencing it. Don't be lazy, let the person's dialogue and/or actions show that they are angry.

Last night, I took on the task of finding all the said's in a Middle Grade manuscript I had written. I deleted over 100 of them!
About a week before, I had checked another Middle Grade manuscript I had written. I didn't notice how many I deleted in that one, but it was quite a few.

In case you are wondering, here is one other way to help create deep point of view in your manuscripts:
Get rid of thought words/sense words, such as felt, heard, realize, look, decide and saw.
Why? Because these are telling words that you tack onto the start of a sentence that show the world as it is filtered through the character's eyes. 
Instead of saying, "he felt the hot rays of the sun on his body," say "the hot rays of the sun beat down on his body." I know that's not a very good example, but it gives you an idea of what I mean.

So, give it a try. Like me, I bet you will find a lot of dialogue tags and thought/sense words you can get rid of - and it won't hurt your manuscript a bit. In fact, it will make it better.

Anyone else have thoughts to add to this conversation? If so, tell us in your comment.

Happy Writing!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloweensie Post

I've entered Susanna Leonard Hill's 4th Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!

Everyone participating writes a 100 word or less Halloween story that includes the words pumpkin, broomstick and creak.

Here is my entry which is exactly 100 words, not counting the title:


Witches shout trick or treat
and sing a scary tune,
then they swoop and fly about
beneath the yellow moon.

Zooming on their broomsticks,
they fly to the pumpkin patch,
but crash into some ivy
and start to itch and scratch.

They hear frightful creaks
and turn around to meet
a sickly Mr. Frog
crooning trick or treat.

Grabbing ten fat pumpkins
they scoop out all the goo
and toss it in their pot
and stir their stinky brew.

They share with Mr. Frog
to cure his throat’s high pitch,
but keep the rest to spread
upon their itchy itch!

Well, that's it. 
Wish me luck. 
She has great prizes to give away to the winners. Go here and check out the other entries.

Happy Halloweensie everyone!

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.