Sunday, September 14, 2014

Writing Tip: Outlining

Great news! I am one of the authors and illustrators selected to be part of National Picture Book Month in November to help celebrate why picture books are important. You can visit the website for more information and to see all those wonderful artists and authors who were selected as well. Stay tuned for November!
Here is the 2014 list of hundreds of authors who will be signing and presenting at the Texas Book Festival in Austin on October 25-26, 2014. It’s a wonderful weekend of books, authors, signings, music, food, etc. Hope you can attend.
Many writers outline while many others do not. Sometimes I do—not really a long-drawn out outline but a brief one to map a road of where the story is going. Most times I don’t. If you’re wondering whether you should or not, here’s a Writer’s Digest post by Brian Klems titled, “7 Steps to Creating a Flexible Outline for Any Story. You decide for yourself.
And for more writing tips that include: (1) write a first draft nonfiction picture book, (2) write and submit a NF article to Highlights, (3) how to find an agent, (4) picture book celebration and (5) build your own website, visit the Blogzone blog written by author Nancy I. Sanders.  
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

Friday, September 5, 2014

Writing Rules?

Twisted tree in LA 
We read books on the specifics of the writing process, what to do, what not to do, etc., etc. I have so many books on writing, I sometimes get confused about the do's and don't's. So when I read this article,How to Break the Rules of Writing and More,” I found this article had a sort of twist to it. What! Break the Rules?
The interview of YA author Ransom Riggs conducted by Adrienne Crezo on The Writing Prompt Boot Camp blog (Writers’ Digest), is pretty interesting. Below is an excerpt from the interview with Riggs:
“Do you follow any specific writing rules?"
"I always distrust overly specific writing advice. I don’t agree with it, necessarily. When you’re thinking about what to write or how to write something, it’s too easy to make a lot of arbitrary rules for yourself. I think the difficult thing with learning how to write is not learning the style or rules, but figuring out what story you want to tell.
I spent a lot of time telling the wrong stories, especially when … I was in college or when I was a kid trying to imitate C.S. Lewis or Stephen King. I never understood why my writing didn’t take off. I would think, well, the sentences are correct, and the characters are talking and everything looks right, and it seems like a story. I did exactly what [they] told me to do, but there’s no blood in it and I don’t know why. It’s something you have to learn, how to tell the right stories for you, and it’s this completely ineffable thing.”
See what I mean? Does this work for you? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s worth reading.
Here’s a lengthy list or sneak preview of the upcoming Spring 2015 Children’s Books posted on Publishers Weekly. 
Did you know you can have your book and eat it too? Check out these marvelous book cakes on the MentalFloss blog.
“Remember that sometimes, especially early in your career, a byline is more important than a pay check, since it bolsters your confidence, builds your reputation, and may lead to other sales.” – Writers’ Digest Weekly Planner

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tips for a Writer

Here’s a post on the Writer Musings blog that covers a lot of territory on the writing process. From “honing your craft” to “submission process” to common advice,” this post proves to be most helpful. Included as well are topics such as book reviews, author interviews, and “a bunch of advice from editors and agents.” 
Sand castle at Century Plaza Hotel - SCBWI-LA Conference
Which, speaking of editors, here’s a post on the Writer’s Digest blog, titled “An Intimate Look at Working with an Editor.”
Here’s an inspiring article by Elizabeth Bluemle on the Publishers Weekly blog, titled “Vermont’s Youngest Librarians (Ages 11 and 6).”
Hope you enjoy all these articles and may they inspire you to write and write and write. Wishing you a safe Labor Day.
Pathway - SCBWI-LA 2014


"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Saturday, August 23, 2014

2014 SCBWI-LA Conference and writing contests

The SCBWI-LA conference I attended a couple of weeks ago was awesome, as usual. I learn something new every time I attend. Plus I meet old friends and make new ones. Here is a fabulous link (SCBWI-LA 2014 Conference) that will take you right there and show you what I am talking about. 
Writing Workshop Group
On the last day of the conference, I attended an intensive, interactive all-day writer’s workshop led by Bonnie Bader, editor-in-chief of Penguin Young Readers. There were discussions on the writing process, writing exercises, revisions, and critiques of manuscripts. There was picture taking as well, of course. Here is our enthusiastic group at the end of an exhausting but very productive day!
A writer friend of mine and a member of our critique group just got published in Cricket Magazine. Here is another magazine, Highlights, which is taking submissions and this link shows their current needs. 
Me with Author Meg Medina (L)
And here’s a short deadline (August 29, 2014) for submitting a YA 1200-word story to The Institute of Children’s Literature YA Fiction Writing Contest. There is a $15 reading fee. 

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss

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