Sunday, July 27, 2014

Writer's Block?

Do you sometimes suffer from what we call “writer’s block?” According to Andrew Lewis Conn’s post, “7 Ways to Beat Writer's Block,” on the Publishers Weekly blog, “… writer's block, similar (to) those other figments, does not exist. There’s writing and there’s not writing (and, within those two large camps, factions of good writing, poor writing, and mediocre writing). Like anything else, there are going to be good days and bad days. But let’s not get all exalted about it!”
A gem! Antique camera!
Wow! So what to do about it if you think you do have it? Well, he posts 7 steps, one of which is (4) place your trust in craft, not inspiration and (5) get your hands dirty. Then there’s (7), write out of love—“double-down on your commitment to doing the work—good work that takes the form of an expression of love—in the hopes that you might carry that torch a few inches forward.”
Let’s get to work everyone! But before you do that, you might want to take a look at this very long list or sneak preview of the upcoming 2015 children’s book titles listed by publisher on the Publishers Weekly blog. 

Happy Writing!

"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson

Monday, July 21, 2014

Illustrators are Visual Storytellers

I was just browsing through some of the notes I took while attending a writer’s workshop last year in Austin. One of the faculty was E. B. Lewis, illustrator and Caldecott Honor winner for Coming Home Soon. He was talking about picture books, but this could apply to any genre. 
“Illustrators are visual storytellers,” he said. “Illustration is a visual interpretation of the written word.” Then he gave some pointers on character development. “Learn about your subject—your protagonist,” he told us. “Know his thoughts, sensations, and settings around him. Take your character out to lunch. What would he eat? Go to his house and open the doors. Look inside. You need to know your character that well. This is called research. Discover what your character is about.”
Someone else mentioned something about character as well.
What is in your character’s pocket? Does he carry around something that is meaningful and symbolic to him? Is it for strength or to sustain him?
Painted Cow
Lots of good advice here. And here’s an older post by Deborah Underwood about the same topic – picture book illustrations and what writers should know about it.

"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tips on Writing

I just got back from California. Had a wonderful time. I saw the San Francisco Symphony perform on the Fourth of July. There were magnificent fireworks afterwards. Great visit. 
Napa Valley
The Ingrid’s Notes blog offers four writing tips on creating great scenes. I really like the following tip that Ingrid recommends a writer should do when editing a scene. It is under the headline, “Is There a Significant Emotional Change in the Scene?” …  You can track the emotion of your scene by drawing emotion faces (happy faces, frowning faces) at the opening and closing of your scenes. The emotion should reflect the emotion your character carries into the scene, and the emotion the character carries out of it in when it’s over. If the emotion-face is the same, for example both are grumpy faces, then you don’t have any dramatic action in the scene. This indicates that the scene may need to be cut or revised.”
Napa Valley

She further writes about dramatic action in scenes, reader expectations, and how to stop protecting your characters. Excellent tips!

And here’s a terrific post by Zachary Petit on the Writer’s Digest blog, titled: 15 Things a Writer Should Never Do. 

"Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks." — Dr. Seuss

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book review and an author's writing process

My bilingual picture book, Let’s Salsa, got another review. This time the review appeared in Crystal
Brunelle’s blog, Reading Through Life. Hope you read it.  
Here’s a post by Newbery medalist, Richard Peck, (A Year Down Yonder – 2001) about the writing process. Titled “Great Expectations: An Interactive Workshop with Richard Peck,”the interview conducted by Matia Burnett appears in the June issue of online Publishers Weekly.  
Excerpts from the interview: “Despite the accolades awarded over the course of his career, Peck said that he, like so many, experiences writer’s block: ‘If I knew how to write the novel I’m writing now, I’d be home writing it. I’m here because I’m hiding from a manuscript – just like you are,’ he joked.”
He also provides a “10-points first impression checklist” so that the writer can compare his/her opening lines against it.  
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Peck at one of the SCBWI-LA conferences. He is a dynamic speaker as well as a great writer.
Do you have a story that’s ready for submission to a children’s magazine? Well, here is your chance to submit it to U.S. Kids (Humpty Dumpty – ages 5-7) and (Jack & Jill – ages 6-12). For complete writer and illustrator’s guidelines, visit the link above. Good luck!
"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mother-Daughter Interview & Giveaway

I am super excited about an online interview, “Guest Interview & Giveaway: Carolyn Dee Flores & Lupe Ruiz-Flores on Writing, Illustrating, & Team Flores,” that my daughter, illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores, and I did for the fabulous blog and website, Cynsations. It was a fun project where we interviewed each other. We had never done that before. 
Books by author and illustrator - "Team Flores"
Make sure you read the entire interview and then enter your name at the bottom of the interview for a chance to win an autographed book from me and one from Carolyn. But do it now as there is a deadline. Happy writing! Let me know what you think about the interview.

"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Writing for Children

Here’s a post by author Marion Dane Bauer of the 1987 Newbery Honor book, On My Honor, that was on the Cynsations blog back in May. The topic? Why Write for Children? She asks, Why do we choose children or young people as our topic, as our audience?” She writes about an early childhood experience that she wrote about, only a few words, but … “For reasons I couldn’t have explained to myself or to anyone else, that moment mattered. That it was just about the smallest moment I could have imagined made no difference. Capturing it brought something alive in me.” Read the rest of her post and get inspired. 
If you’re looking for diversity in children’s books, here is a list, “25 Books That Diversify Kids’ Reading Lists This Summer,” on the Mind Shift blog. 

Check this out – “20 of the Most Magnificent Places to Read Books,” on the LifeHack blog. Enjoy the beautiful pictures of libraries from all over the world. Amazing!

“Plotting is difficult for me, and always has been. I do that before I actually start writing, but I always do characters, and the arc of the story, first... You can’t do anything without a story arc. Where is it going to begin, where will it end.” -- Elizabeth George

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Libraries and Writing Exercises

There’s something about the smell of libraries that I like. I love libraries and I love their smell! I think for me it triggers a lot of good memories spent in school libraries when I was a kid. I thought I was the only one who ever talked about library smells. But here is a link to The Business Insider blog post, Why Books Have Such a Distinctive Smell: The Aroma of Books,”  that addresses this topic. Really! A comparison of smells is made between old and new books and the “chemical constituents … and processes and compounds that contribute to both.” Who knew?
If you’re having trouble getting started on your writing, here’s an article that lists twelve writing exercises to help you. “A 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises,” by Brian Klems, online editor on The Writer’s Digest blog, starts with Day 1: “Write 10 potential book titles of books you’d like to write and ends with Day 12: Gather everything you’ve written over the previous 11 days. Pick your favorite. Edit it, polish it and either try to get it published or post it on the Web to share with the world.” I think this list will motivate any writer. 

No matter what your writing life brings, believe in yourself and keep moving forward. Most writers cycle between periods of self-doubt and periods of confidence. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner