Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Writing Funny Stories

Do you write funny stories for children? A writer friend of mine who is in our critique group is one of those people whose stories make you chuckle all the way through. She has that talent. It comes natural to her. I wish I could write like that. Anyway, if you are unagented and write funny stories for kids of all ages, here is your chance to maybe win representation from the Greenhouse Literary Agency—maybe even publication like last year’s entry. The Funny Prize contest is on and runs through the summer. Deadline is July 29. So polish up that humorous piece you’ve been working on and submit. Best of luck!

 "Touch magic. Pass it on.” – Jane Yolen

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Typewriter Appreciation Month

Who knew? Who knew that the month of February is International Typewriter Appreciation Month? Here’s a neat post on the Mental Floss blog that gives a brief history of the typewriter. Did you know, according to the article, that Christopher Latham Sholes invented the first typewriter in 1867? The article mentions that “The Sholes and Gliden model, wrote capitals only, is the first for introducing the QWERTYT keyboard, which is still used in computer keyboard of today.”
I found this article most interesting. There’s even pictures of the first typewriter models. I love old typewriters and the other day I saw an old Underwood in a thrift shop and almost bought it. I don’t know if it even worked anymore, but just having it in my house would have been awesome. But then, where would I put it? I need to declutter, not add more things. But maybe, just maybe …
And, by the way, just did another school visit where the students drew up this poster to welcome me. Note the flowers. My last name, Flores, means flowers!

Backlist: A publisher’s list of its books that were not published during the current season but that are still in print. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adventures in Book Signings

I'd like to share with you a piece that I wrote, which was published in the Nov/Dec 2012 issue of the national SCBWI bulletin. I hope you like it.
Adventures in Book Signings
                                                                                           By Lupe Ruiz-Flores

Have you ever had to compete with Santa Claus at a book signing? It’s tough competition when you’re trying to hawk your book with Santa only a few feet away, bellowing his Ho-Ho-Ho’s, and giving away candy. Or how about when a customer at a supermarket comes up to the author table and asks, “Where are the flu shots being given? Does Medicare cover this?” Or a lady at a store waves a circular in your face wanting to know, “Where are the specials for pork chops?”
I experienced all of the above when my first picture book was published. My most memorable signing, however, happened at an Herb Festival. As a new author, I was eager to do a reading anywhere and accepted the invitation with an immediate “yes.” Herb festival? What was I thinking? When I arrived, I headed for the tent with the big sign, “Author Reading/Signing.”  Impressive, I thought.
Folding chairs were already set up under the tent … except they were empty. I looked at my watch. Yep. I was on time. But where were the people? The person who had invited me tried to reassure me.  “I’m sure you’ll get a crowd in a little while.” Then she left to attend to other duties.
I waited and waited and waited. Finally, a lady in a tie-dyed blouse showed up. She carried a white paper kite under her arm and a box of brushes and paints under the other. “Are you the author?”
I nodded. Oh, goodie. My first attendee.     
“I’m the artist,” she said, to my surprise. “I’m here to paint this kite in the background while you do your reading. 
Wow. I have my own artist. She looked at the empty chairs. “Where’s the kids?”
I shrugged. “There’s not any around here, I don’t think.”
“There must be. Let’s go find them.”
“Are you serious?” I asked.
I followed as we scoured the grounds looking for kids. The majority of the crowd was couples buying plants, herbs, and potting soil. We found a clown but no kids. Suddenly we spotted two little girls around four years old. We went up to the parents and invited them to our tent for the reading. 
The parents graciously accepted. I started my reading. The artist did her thing with the kite.  After a few minutes, one of the little girls spotted the clown. He was blowing up balloons and she wanted one. Her mother gave me a weak smile, indicated she had to leave, and towed her little one away to see the clown.  I was left with an audience of two—one child and the mother. I focused on the little girl because she really seemed interested in my story. I gave it my all. She clapped at the end. That was my smallest audience ever, but to me, the most appreciative. I gathered up my books, my multi-colored kite, bought an herb plant on the way out, and smiled all the way home. What did I learn? Respect and entertain your audience, even if it’s only one. 

"A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever." -- Martin Farquhar Tupper

Monday, February 18, 2013

Feedback on your story

In the previous post, I mentioned the Austin SCBWI writers’ conference. Here is an excellent blog (SCBWI Southwest Texas) from our chapter that gives a lot more information about the conference.
School Mural

You have an idea for your story, you write it, and then you revise, revise, revise. You have your first or second draft. When is it time to start getting feedback? In the beginning, the middle, or when you’re done? Here is an excellent post on this topic: Ingrid’s Notes. Written by Ingrid Sundberg on her blog, she writes about the pros and cons of the timing of your feedback. Your choice in the end. 

"The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before."
- Neil Gaiman

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Writers' Conference and School Visits

Busy, busy. I just attended the Austin Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators' (SCBWI) annual conference this past weekend. It was great, as usual. Picked up all kinds of new writing tips from the experts. Austin had agents, editors, and illustrators at the conference to provide information and to inspire us in our writing or illustrating or both. What is great about attending these conferences is that you get to meet these editors, etc., face to face. They are very accessible and easy to talk to. Another great thing is that as an attendee, you can submit your work to one of them or all of them, if you wish. They provide the guidelines and you just follow them. How great is that?
This morning, I did another elementary school visit, this time here in San Antonio. I had two sessions, back to back. At the end of the reading/presentation/writing process/interactive writing session, the students asked questions of the author. Here are some of them: Where do you get your ideas for a book? How much money do you make? Have you ever met a famous author? How long does it take you to write a story? What inspires you? Which is your favorite book that you wrote? Do ideas sometimes come to you in dreams?
Aren’t these all fabulous questions? That’s what inspires me to write—the students who get enthused about reading and books.
You’ve got to take a peek at this site called WriteTight. It’s got oodles (is that a word?) of writing tips to tighten your manuscript from bad adverbs to good verbs and other neat stuff. Go for it!

“Rivers are roads which move and which carry us whither we desire to go.” – Pascal

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Writing Tips

I know. I know. You might say this is very basic info. But for those who might just be starting on a writing career, you might want to check out former literary agent and now author Nathan Bransford’s post as to how to format an e-mail query letter. And while you’re at it, here’s another link on the same blog on how to format your manuscript before you submit.
For more writing tips, go to: The 4 Traits of Successful Children’s Book Writers by Laura Backes on the Children’s Fiction Factor blog. I especially like the section where she writes: “Well-published authors don't limit themselves to one genre. They'll write picture books, novels, short stories for magazines, poetry, nonfiction, and material for adult markets such as parenting magazines or writing newsletters."
I’ve written and had published picture books, short stories, magazine articles, newsletters, and poetry. I am presently working on some middle-grade novels as well so I hope I’m on my way. So embrace your writing, believe in yourself, and keep writing!  
Texas Highway
Genre: Refers either to a general classification of writing, such as the novel or the poem, or to the categories within those classifications, such as the romance novel or the sonnet.--Writer's Digest Weekly Planner

Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 ALA Book Awards

It’s that time of the year again. My schedule for school visits is filling up. I always look forward to meeting students and librarians during these visits. I was in Austin last week and the fourth and fifth grade students in my session were enthusiastic, smart, attentive, and asked great questions. What more can an author ask for? My objective was to inspire them to read and write more and I hope I did that. Someday your book will be on one of those lists. Believe it!
By now the 2013 American Library Book awards are out. Here is a link to the list, which includes the Newbery, Caldecott, Pura Belpre, Coretta Scott King awards and many, many others.  
Sante Fe, NM

"Touch magic -- pass it on." -- Jane Yolen