Sunday, January 27, 2013

Writing Short Stories

Do you like to write short stories? I came across an article a while back that addresses what the writer calls a “short story sweep.” I had not heard of it before now. Blogger Brian A. Klems’ article, “How to Broaden Your Short Story’s Scope,” written on the Writer’s Digest blog, goes into detail of what a “sweep” is. 
He writes: You may never have heard of the sweep; it’s not discussed in texts or fiction seminars and may sound a lot like background, setting, exposition or backstory. The sweep certainly incorporates elements of these (and, like them, can be used for effective foreshadowing), but it’s also more. The sweep encompasses grand events—physical, historical, generational, psychological, emotional—and involves a sense of time and distance, stretching the reader’s mind beyond the expected confines of the short story.
He goes on to show examples of what he’s talking about and these are pretty neat. I found his article fascinating and I think you will too. Next time I write a short story, I will refer to what he has written in his article. 
And if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, try the Creative Writing Prompts blog that has hundreds of ideas to choose from. Good luck!

“Although there are no set rules on length, a short-short story usually runs 500-1500 words, a short story about 2,000-7,000, a long story about 8,000-15,000, and a novella about 20,000-50,000.”  Writing Tips from Reader’s Digest Weekly Planner

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Contracts

Lucky you! The year just started and already you have a contract for your first book. Fantastic. If you have an agent, he/she should take care of all the legalities, but what if you don’t have one? What to do? There’s an article titled, “Book Contract: What’s Negotiable and What’s Not?”, written by Writer’s Digest online editor blogger, Brian A. Klems on this topic. It’s a very short article that also refers you to the Author’s Guild for more comprehensive details. 
If you’re a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (which you should be if you write for children), link to SCBWI for additional information on book contracts. A good book to have on hand as well is The Writer’s Legal Guide, which I have in my library.

Good luck with your book!

“I dive into a story the way I dive into the sea, prepared to splash about and make merry.” – E.B. White

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2012 Children's Book Reviews

Publishers Weekly blog has published the reviews for the 2012 children’s books. Here is the long list.
You’re going to enjoy viewing these beautifully-organized-home libraries. Wish mine looked as neat as the ones on the apartment therapy. I guess that’s why they call it “therapy.” Those libraries look so cozy and warm. One can just imagine sitting there and reading all day. Some people are so darn creative. 
I absolutely plan to buy Ruta Sepetys’ new book, Out of the Easy, because I so enjoyed her previous one, Between Shades of Gray, (not the other one). I met her at one of the SCBWI-LA conferences. The historical fiction, Between Shades, is set in Lithuania during the war. Sepetys did a magnificent job on that book. I wish her the best with this new one. Here’s an interview with Sepetys on the Publishers Weekly blog.
Author and Sepetys
 Writing Tip: Professionalism is an attitude. For a writer, this means professional presentation of queries and manuscripts, a thorough study of the market, and the ability to deliver assigned work on time. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Writing in different genres

What if you’ve written in several genres, i.e., picture books, middle grade, and young adult, and are trying to find an agent? Do you submit queries to a different agent for the different genres? That is one of the questions asked on agent Mary Kole’s KidLit blog. In her article, Getting Agented in Multiple Categories, she addresses this topic plus many others. Find out more about agents and how to query.
And while we’re on the subject of writing, visit TheLatinoAuthor blog where they have tons of information on writing for children and other writing topics plus business tools you might want to know about.

“The longer you put off getting serious about writing, the longer you put off success. Procrastination is a writer’s biggest enemy.”Barbara Seuling

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Children's Books - Genres

Just a reminder that Highlights has a fiction contest going on right now. The deadline is January 31, 2013. There will be three prizes of $1,000 each or tuition to their famous writers’ workshops. And best of all, there is NO FEE. So what are you waiting for? Why don’t you start the year off right by submitting that story that you finished a while back? Five hundred words is doable. So polish it up and get it out there. That is the first step. The second one is to mail it out—now! 
Here’s a very helpful link to the Evelyn B. Christensen blog where guest blogger Laura Backes (Children’s Book Insider) lists the different genres of children’s books, i.e., from picture books, easy readers, chapter books to young adult. You will find out what ages are appropriate for which books and the word count, more or less, for the different types of books. 
In case you’re wondering about printed books versus e-books, here’s an interesting article by Nicholas Carr, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal blog. Titled, “Don’t Burn Your Books—Print is Here to Stay,” Carr points out that poll numbers suggest that print books are here to stay—at least for a while. 

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you do; but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Writing Life

Today I was reading the January 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest. On the editorial page, the editorial comments by editor Jessica Strawser grabbed my attention. Part of what she wrote: “ …in the writing life, I think it really comes down to how we view the blank page: those of us who find it exciting—full of possibility, hope, even adventure—and those who see it as intimidating—capable of inducing guilt, anxiety, even dread.” She had a lot more to say about this, but in the end, she wrote: “We all face it (blank page) with those same mixed feelings of self-doubt and possibility. And we all have the power to fill it with a story that can touch readers, fulfill our dreams, and even change the world.”
Wow! She got it right. Some days, I am filled with anxiety at the thought of facing that blank page. Other days, the words just seem to flow and all is right with the world. How about you?
San Antonio River Bridge
 And once you’ve actually written that story that no one but you can write, here are some basics on getting started on children’s writing and illustrating by Harold Underdown. Not only does this blog have great info, but it gives you references to go to as well. Best of luck in 2013 and Happy Writing! 

“Refrain from editorializing in descriptions of your work. An agent or editor shouldn’t have to be told your story is thrilling or heartbreaking; your description should show or reflect these qualities.” – Writing tip from Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner