Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Best Children's Picture Books of 2012

Well, Thanksgiving is over. And speaking of Thanksgiving, here is a link to bookish balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. 
Now Christmas is almost here. Where did the year go? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to do this year as a writer? I didn’t. Time just slipped by too fast. Perhaps it’s not too soon to start setting those goals again for the coming year. Before 2012 is over, here’s the list of the Best Children’s Picture Books of 2012, listed in Publishers Weekly. Awesome. One of these days, your book and mine will be among those on the list. We can dream, can’t we? It’s not impossible. Never give up on your dream.
Santa Fe, NM
Here’s a link to something that’s pretty cool—a three-person rocking chair. What a great idea. Looks a little weird, but hey! It accomplishes the task.
“Books are a delightful society. If you go into a room filled with books, even without taking them down from their shelves, they seem to speak to you, to welcome you.” – William E. Gladstone

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Picture book illustrations

Illustrators and writers as well—you need to take a look at these, “20 stunning book illustrations,” on creativeblog.com. I’ve always said that a picture book is collaboration between a writer and an illustrator. A writer writes the story, but the illustrator brings it to life. I am in awe of the talent of these artists. I have been so lucky to have gotten such great illustrators for my four books. I’ve seen the sketches for my next two books coming out in the spring and am delighted with what I’ve seen so far. The visual images in a book draw in the young reader. And we have illustrators to thank for that. 
On a different note, I would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends. 
“The greatest children’s books are about the journey to wisdom.” – Jane Yolen  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Writer's retreat and poet laureate

A few days ago, I treated myself to a one-day writer’s retreat in Austin. Smack in the middle of Austin but still secluded is The Writing Barn, perfect for an event like this. The converted barn is large, has lots of character, and is surrounded by trees and cactus and rocks … well, you get the picture. It was rustic. The tree branches groaned as they banged against the barn’s tin roof.  Two deer came out of the woodsy area and meandered around for a while as we watched them from inside the screened-in porch.
It was nice to get away, meditate, be around other writers with the same passion as you, and then get inspired to write, write, write. Being in a setting like that brings out the creative juices. My writing flowed and I hardly lifted my pen as I wrote and wrote. No laptops, no IPads, simply notebooks and pens. It was really, really nice. When was the last time you treated yourself to such an outing? There are plenty of opportunities around the Texas area. Ask around and you’ll find them.
A few days later, I participated in a Picture Book panel at the Corpus Christi ESC Region 2 event on Tuesday, November 13. While there, I met up with Texas Poet Laureate Jan Seale. It was a thrill seeing her again. I first met her at a Laredo bookfest event a few months earlier where I bought her book, The Wonder Is.  
Author and Poet Laureate Jan Seale

"When you choose a creative life, you never grow old. It's forever young and forever growing." -- Salome Jens 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Picture book writing tips

Last summer when I attended the SCBWI-LA conference, one of the workshops I enrolled in was one on picture books headed by author Ann Whitford Paul. Some of her comments: picture books are action! On plot: each event is coming from the event before. The music of picture books: use words that SING! Read your book out loud. Pay attention to the sound of letters. Long vowels are more active and powerful than short ones. Number one rule: main character solves the problem. All this and a lot, lot more. Go to the author’s link above for more of her writing tips.

Mexican pottery at El Mercado
"Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that the critics don't like -- then cultivate it. That's the only part of your work that's individual and worth keeping." -- Jean Cocteau  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Story Structure

If you’re a visual type of writer, you might find the following post by Ingrid Sundberg on her blog, Ingrid’s Notes, helpful. We’ve all read about story structure when developing our stories. Ingrid actually shows us the story structure in diagrams, pyramids, arcs, and branches. The breakdown of the story is visually pleasing and helpful to writers.
Pumpkin Patch
And here’s some encouraging news in an article, “Majority of Young Readers Still Use Libraries,posted on the Publishers Weekly blog. Part of the article reads: “Some 80% of Americans ages 16-29 have read a book in the past year, and 6 in 10 say they have used their local public library, but ..."
"When you choose a creative life, you never grow old. It's forever young and forever growing." -- Salome Jens