Thursday, April 30, 2009

National Picture Book Writing Week - May 1-7

I felt a little crazy, so . . .

I took the challenge to write 7 picture books in 7 days.

The basic rules are to write 7 complete and separate picture books in one week. Each picture book must have a clear beginning, middle, and end. There is no required minimum word count because picture book lengths can vary from 50 words to 2000 words, depending on the genre.

Unlike what some people think, writing a picture book is not easy. It is difficult and challenging to write a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. Every word has to count, every image and every action has to speak volumes while still being kid friendly, fun and appropriate for the tone of the book.

Go to to read all of the rules and become a part of this challenge.

She will be posting every day a blog of picture book writing tips and encouragement.

What have you got to lose? A little sleep, maybe.

Along with the gray hairs you might gain from this adventure, you may also get the start of a wonderful picture book.

Good Luck!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Good News!

I am so excited. I received an email this evening telling me that one of my short stories will be published in September!

Helen Polaski is editor and compiler of several anthologies.

Some of them are:

The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings
The Rocking Chair Reader: Memories from the Attic
The Rocking Chair Reader: Coming Home
Classic Christmas: True Stories of Holiday Cheer and Goodwill
A Cup of Comfort for Weddings
Forget me Knots From the Front Porch

She informed me that my story "The Old Santa Hat" has found a home in the Christmas Traditions book as the tenth story. The book will be out in September!

My story was selected to continue to the last round over a year ago. She informed me then that she sent in 85 stories and that the office would cut approximately 10-15 stories depending on space, content, need, etc. She stated she had no control over the final cut.

I waited patiently for 13 months. But, with the email I received tonight, the wait was worth it. In September, I am officially a published author.

As I stated before in my posts, getting published is not quick and easy. You need patience and persistence.

I am not known to be a patient person, so this part of the process is hard for me.

Good Luck and keep submitting!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ida B

As you can see from my side bar, I've been reading Ida B by Katherine Hannigan. This was her first novel.

I'm a little behind. I was loaned this book last year by a writer friend of mine. She handed it to me and said, "Read this." Well, Cheryl, it took me a while, but I read it.

I'm not a book reviewer, but I thought I'd give you my thoughts about this book. If you follow this blog there's a good chance you are a writer (and reader) of children's books, so here goes.

Ida B. is a very unique girl. She is in the fourth grade and she has a mind of her own, so to speak. Even in Kindergarten she appeared to be very smart for her age. But her and kindergarten didn't agree with each other. She liked to make schedules, she liked to think about things and she liked being called Ida B. But the teacher would have none of that. She insisted on calling her Ida and not telling her when it would be 'time' for all the fun stuff. Ida B. says "Could you tell me now so I can make a schedule?" She wondered if she was in a class for bad children and her punishment included losing her name and never being able to make a plan again. She was so unhappy her parents started to home school Ida B, which made her very happy.

She stayed at home with her dog, her cat, the stream, the mountain, and her trees. She named the trees and talked to them every day.
Her mother gets sick and they have to sell part of their land and she has to attend public school. Needless to say, Ida B. was very unhappy. Her heart became cold and hard and she made herself and everyone around her miserable.

This was the part of the book I was not too crazy about. I found it hard to like her. In my opinion she was a very smart child and should have realized what she was doing would only make matters worse. When her mother was sick and needed her the most, she ignored her and wouldn't have anything to do with her. But that's just my opinion (I guess it's the mother in me coming out) and I guess there wouldn't be a story without Ida B.'s struggle within herself. Right?

I loved the ending chapters when she realized apologizing was like spring cleaning. First of all, you don't want to do it. . . Once you get started, though, you find out that you can't just clean out one room and be done with it; you have to do the whole house or you're tracking dirt from one place to the other. I think there is a lesson there for all of us.

In her own way she not only apologizes to Claire and her parents, but to the trees, the stream and the mountain and her cold black heart disappeared.

The book was well written. I thought the transition before and after she wrote of Ida's short stay in kindergarten could have been better, but other than that she did a wonderful job.
She is very good at description and detail.

I'm not sure if I would have chosen the sub title. . . and Her plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World. It doesn't exactly fit the story.

All in all it was a wonderful first novel for Katherine Hannigan and I only hope one day to do half as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Writing Magazines

I recently wrote a post about writing newsletters you can get sent to you on the web.
Most are very informative and they are free.

Now, I have a question for my readers.

Do any of you subscribe to writer's magazines? If so, which ones.

Which magazines do you recommend?

Here are some I have heard of:

Children's Writer
Writer's Digest
The Writer
Writers' Journal (bi-monthly)

Children's Writer Newsletter of Writing and Publishing Trends ($19.00 yearly)
Children's Book Insider + CBI Clubhouse (monthly newsletter $42.95 yearly)

I would love to have your advice and comments on these magazines and newsletters.

I would like to subscribe to a magazine, but it is hard to choose which one to select.

Maybe your advice can help other readers of my blog who are trying to decide which magazine is the best for their buck.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Writer's Newsletters

I get several email newsletters.

I find these very informative. They are filled with news, tips, contests and advice for the writer.

Some of the free newsletters I receive are from the following sights:

Fiction Factor


Cool Stuff 4 Writers

Publishers Weekly (Children's Bookshelf Newsletter)

Writer MaMa Ezine

And I just recently signed up for a free newsletter at Charlette's Web.
I haven't received a newsletter from her yet, so I can't say what will be in it. But you can always unsubscribe from these if you don't like them.

I know you can sometimes get bogged down with too much email. But, I don't consider these junk emails when they send you informative information that may help you as a writer.

If you like, go to these sights and check them out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Never Give Up!

Failure is not such a bad thing, but giving up is.

I've been downhearted, lately. With the recession and the publishing companies being more selective, I'm thinking I don't have a chance. I'm thinking, why should I continue to submit.

I visit how to sights, author's sights, wanna be author's sights.
I strive to learn and get better at my craft.
I gather tips and ideas. I write and rewrite. I enter contests. I send out manuscripts. . . and I get rejections.
I enter stories to critiques in order to get someone's opinion on my writing. . . to find out if my words have a chance out there in the publishing world. But I need to realize that this is only one person's idea or opinion of my work. I need to realize, also, that when I send to a publisher it is only their opinion of my work. I need to continue to search for the right publisher.

I'm sure many of you do the same thing. We need to not get discouraged and give up. If we give up, we will be more of a failure than if we tried and failed, and then picked ourselves up and tried again.

Until we get published we need to continue to write for our own satisfaction and enjoyment. Someday we will receive a surprise phone call, e-mail or letter of acceptance.

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." Richard Bach

Let's journey together on the road to success.
Let's console each other over the bumps and rejoice with each other over the successes along the path to publication.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Author's Quotes and Edits

I found a couple of quotes I wanted to share with you.

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anton Chekhov

When you are describing
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly
But put it in a hint,
And learn to look at all things
With a sort of mental squint.

Lewis Carroll

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." James Michener

With these quotes in mind, I went to my computer and pulled up my first middle grade manuscript I had written. I was so excited when I finished this story, I couldn't believe that I had put so many words to paper (even though, I believe it was a mere 9000 words).

That story has since been re-written a couple of times. The first time, I added more detail to up the word count. And more recently, after reading everywhere that some editors don't read past the first page before putting your manuscript into the slush pile, I went straight to the exciting part, and now the beginning of my story is what used to be the beginning of chapter three.

With Chekhov's quote in mind, I scanned my manuscript, looking for telling.

Here are some examples I found.

The air was hot, and perspiration dripped from Jan's long black hair. She reached in her pocket for a rubber band and gathered her damp hair into a ponytail.

OK, The air was hot has got to go.

Any suggestions? How about - The hot stagnant air in the attic caused perspiration to drip from Jan's long black hair.

The night air was stuffy and lightning flashed in the distant sky.

The night air was stuffy has got to go.

Any suggestions? How about - Crickets chirped in the motionless air and lightning flashed in the distant sky.

The sound of the rain was deafening as it hit the old tin roof, which was inches above their heads.

How about changing it to something as simple as - The pounding rain bombarded the old tin roof, which was inches above their heads.

I've bared my soul and my writing. Feel free to offer your professional (or amateur) suggestions to an aspiring author who is eager to learn and grow.

We all need to be good re-writers. Sometimes we can see the err in other people's writing more than we can see it in our own.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.
I don't claim to be a poet.
But I gave it a try.


This is
the form of the
cinquain. the five lines have
2,4,6,8,2 syllables,
as here.

No need to rhyme, just keep count of your syllables!

You can do it this way.

Title (noun)
description (adjectives)
action verbs about title
feeling about title
synonym for title

Here's mine. . .

I look
out my window
at the pair of robins
tugging and pulling at the worm,
for lunch.

and another. . .

Our books
with worn pages
turning, flipping, closing.
Books always there for all to read.

and another. . .

deep red, hot pink
smeared upon tiny lips.
She wants to be just like Mother,

Cinquains teach you to be simple, direct and precise.

As you see from my samples, I'm not a poet. But I tried.

I usually write rhyming poetry. I may post some of that later in the month.

Now, it's your turn. If you like, write a cinquain in your comment.