Friday, September 24, 2010

Illustrators - Editor's Day

I mentioned Editor's Day in my previous blog. Writer/illustrator Carolyn Flores' blog elaborates a bit more on this event, especially from the illustrator's point of view. One of the highlights of that day was the portfolio display by many of our area illustrators. There is so much talent as evidenced by what we saw in those portfolios. 

Rio Grande Valley

I have been writing this morning and took a break to reread some of the passages in the book, Bird by Bird written by Anne Lamott. Some of the phrases, which I had highlighted: "... to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame.  - ... to pick up the one-inch picture frame and to figure out a one-inch piece of my story to tell, one small scene, one memory, one exchange."

Sometimes when I'm writing and I feel overwhelmed, I take Lamott's advice --  piece by piece, bird by bird.  

"It is not remembering the incidents that took place when you were young that enables you to write for young people; it is remembering the emotions that accompanied those incidents." -- Sue Alexander

Monday, September 20, 2010

Editor's Day

This past weekend we had our regional SCBWI Editor’s Day. Writers and illustrators from San Antonio, Austin, Houston, McAllen, and other surrounding cities attended. Sarah Shumway, senior editor from Harper Collins Children's Books and Julie Ham, editorial assistant from Charlesbridge, presented talks that kept us glued to our seats. They spoke to us about character and voice and provided information on their submission and acquisition process. They also critiqued manuscripts.

Our keynote speaker, award-winning poet and writer, Dr. Carmen Tafolla, inspired us to forge forward in our writing. She spoke about her own journey to becoming a writer and conducted a brief workshop that had everyone in the audience writing. Art Avila, of Raining Popcorn Media, and Illustrator Heather Powers conducted workshops for the illustrators. It was quite a weekend indeed.   
Julie Ham, Moderator Peggy Caravantes, and Sarah Shumway

Ruiz-Flores and Dr. Carmen Tafolla

San Antonio RiverWalk

At the end of the day, the editors were treated to a Mexican dinner on the San Antonio RiverWalk.

"What I do with my books is to create windows to my world that all may peer into. I share the images, the feelings and thoughts, and I hope, the delight." -- Walter Dean Myers 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Avoiding Pitfalls

We all value our time and want to be productive in our writing, right? But sometimes we get a little discouraged or sidetrackeded along the way or we lose sight of our goals. Very easy to do. Writer’s Digest blogger Sage Cohen writes about the “Top 10 Productivity Pitfalls for Writers to Avoid,” in a recent online article. One of the pitfalls he mentions is not having a “clear big-picture vision.” Another one is fear. Lack of short-term goals is also on the list. I think some of us have been been guilty of one of these at one time or another. But that doesn't last long. Then we get inspired to move on and we do. We learn to avoid those pitfalls and get back to what we love to do and that is to WRITE!. Do not give up! Keep on writing! 

"However readers make a book theirs, the end is that book and reader become one." -- Alberto Manguel from his book A History of Reading (1996)

Friday, September 10, 2010


If you’ve ever had problems with writing dialogue, here is a blog that might help you. Author and literary agent for Curtis Brown Agency, Nathan Bransford, blogs on this topic in his online article, “Seven Keys to Writing Good Dialogue.” “Good dialogue has a purpose and builds toward something,” he writes. Visit the link to learn more.

Sometime ago I had the pleasure of meeting author Pam Munoz Ryan at the Highlights Foundation writing workshop at Chautauqua. As a guest blogger on, she talks about the writing process. Esperanza Rising and Becoming Naomi Leon are two of my favorite books written by Ms. Munoz Ryan. Her latest, The Dreamer, is also exceptional. Read about her insights on the writing process in the link above.
Ruiz-Flores and Pam Munoz Ryan
People often ask, ‘How do you start a book?’ Well, I’ve always started this way … Chapter 1.” – Paula Danziger

Monday, September 6, 2010

On Writing

If you like to write for children but are a little confused about the word count and all the genres out there, here is a good article defining what is what. Blogger Brian A. Klems of Writers’ Digest online magazine explains the different categories in his brief article, "Questions and Quandaries – Writing for Kids."
Santa Fe
Just finished reading two wonderful books. The first one, On Writing for Children & Other People by Julius Lester (1969 Newbery Honor for To Be a Slave) was both inspirational and shares the storytelling experience. The other one, What’s Your Story? by Marion Dane Bauer (1987 Newbery Honor for On My Honor) offers practical advice from the first step in starting a story to the final step of polishing. I met Ms. Bauer at the SCBWI-LA conference where she autographed my book. She offers more writing tips on her Website.

"To do without tales and stories and books is to lose humanity's past, is to have no star map for our future." -- Jane Yolen

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I know the SCBWI-LA conference is already one month old, but I’m providing this link to their official blog. The comments and pictures give an insight of what went on during the conference. It’s worth taking a look at this. I also mentioned in a previous post about the Latina panel at the conference and the topic of multicultural books. Ingrid Law’s blog goes into much greater detail where she interviewed all three Latina authors, Jennifer Cervantes, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, and Guadalupe Garcia McCall. As I am in the middle of writing a multicultural middle-grade story, I find this most interesting. 
Cervantes, Ruiz-Flores, Gonzalez

I met with my critique group yesterday and today am busy revising the chapter I presented. I’m still amazed at how each one of us brings something totally different to the table and each provides good constructive feedback. I am blessed to be in such a great group of writer friends.