Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Visual Literacy in Picture Books

I found this article, “Read A Picture…Book | Bold New Titles for Bolstering Visual Literacy and Discussing Design,” posted on the School Library Journal blog particularly interesting because I write picture books. The article reads: “ … these newly published picture books make clever use of visual presentation to convey information and story essentials, establish ambiance and tone, and challenge readers’ imaginations.”
Listing nine picture book covers, there is a description of each and how most of these “… also enrich visual literacy by encouraging children to interpret symbols and pictures, explore the interaction between words and images, and analyze pictorial content to determine meaning and significance.”
I recommend you read it. Super interesting.

“What does an editor do? Michelangelo said it best: ‘I saw an angel in the marble and I just chiseled till I set him free.’”  -- Deborah Brodie

Friday, July 26, 2013

Opening lines in writing

Do you struggle with opening lines? As writers, we are constantly told that opening lines should draw the reader in right away. Until I read this article, “Why Stephen King Spends Months and Even Years Writing Opening Sentences,” posted on The Atlantic blog, I did not realize how many times famous author Stephen King goes over and over those opening lines until he’s completely satisfied with the result. This is a great article that you must read. His advice is spot on: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” 
By the way, I just wrote a query letter for a historical fiction that I recently finished and I mailed it out yesterday. Wish me luck. If you’re ready to send out that query for your finished manuscript, you might want to go over this blog post, “How to Write the Perfect Query Letter,” on The Writer’s Digest blog. 
It’s always nice to walk into a Barnes & Noble bookstore and see your book on display. Note: bottom left (Alicia’s Fruity Drinks).

Hook: Aspect of the work that sets it apart from others and draws in the reader/viewer.—Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Writing Tips and Illustrator Interview

I just read an article on The Guardian Children’s Books blog titled, “Making your writing the best it
Cactus in New Mexico
can be: top tips from children's books editors.” It addresses such topics as: 
“End Note? …by far the most important part is the end. Enjoy the journey: the reader must enjoy the journey and so must the writer. Performing: all writers are performers, performers on the page. Finishing Off: …finish your work. Many good writers start off and fall by the wayside through lack of determination. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Read.
The editors in this article elaborate more on each topic. I found the article really helpful.  See for yourself.
And for you illustrators and writers as well, here’s an excellent interview that illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores did on the Wendy Martin Illustration blog.
Pocket’s annual fiction contest is taking submissions. Make sure you submit that story you’ve been working on before the August 2013 deadline.
Galleys: The first fully designed (but usually unproofed) version of a book that has been divided into pages. -- Writer's Digest Weekly Planner

Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Awards and Diversity in Children's Books

I’ve been reading the latest issue, July/August 2013, of The Horn Book magazine. This is a special
one focusing on the 2013 Awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, Coretta Scott King Award -CSK) and the acceptance speeches given by each winner: Katherine Applegate, (Newbery), Jon Klassen (Caldecott), Katherine Paterson (Wilder), Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author - CSK), and Bryan Collier (Illustrator – CSK). I must tell you that I was extremely moved by the comments and encouraging words of inspiration mentioned by the award winners. 
It’s wonderful to read how they got started, their diverse backgrounds, their respect for children, their journey to where they are now, and what the future holds for them. Hooray to all of them for their awesome books that bring joy to young and old alike! Here is a link to these and other awards. Enjoy.
And here’s a good article, “10 Great Multicultural Children’s Books,” by Emily Temple posted on the Flavorwire blog that addresses diversity (or lack of it) in children’s books. She compiled a list of “a few great children’s books with diverse characters and stories …” 
I’ve enjoyed reading a few of those myself. How about you? Have you read any of them? Those that I have not read, I will add to my list. 

A quote from Madeleine L’Engle from The Horn Book magazine, July/Aug 2013 issue: “You have to write the book that wants to be written… And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Writing for middle graders

If you’re into writing for middle graders, take a peek at this post, “The Manic Minds of Middle Grade Writers,” on the Project Mayhem blog. Addressed in this post is the topic of romance in middle-grade stories. How does a writer write about that or should they? In this article titled, “Romance in Mg-finding the Balance,” a make-believe kid named Giles writes: “Many writers choose to avoid it.  It’s too tricky in their opinion so they stay far away from it.  But that’s not right.  We middle graders deserve to have romance in our books and it’s up to you writers to create it for us.” Interesting. 
And here’s something that’s pretty unbelievable. Ireland just came out with a stamp that features a 224-word short story. Neat!

Middle grade or mid-grade: The general classification of books written for readers approximately ages 9-11. Also called middle readers. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book nominated for award

A very nice surprise came via email yesterday. My bilingual picture book, Alicia's Fruity Drinks/Las aguas frescas de Alicia, is a finalist for the 2013 Writer's League of Texas Book Awards Competition. The winner will be announced in September. The other nominees in the picture book category are Jeanette Larson, Hummingbirds:Facts and Folklore from the Americas, Don Tate, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Taylor Started to Draw, and Kelly Bennett, One Day I Went Rambling. Congratulations to all and best of luck!

“A good picture book begins with delight, ends with wisdom, humor, warmth, or love, and means more than it says.” Barbara Williams