Monday, May 26, 2014

Research Like a Writer

If you’re looking for a list of Latino authors and illustrators, visit the Latinas4latinolit site. For a small fee and to help promote literacy, the site offers the L4LL DIY Summer Reading Camp for children, which “includes more than 100 original downloadable printables centered around 10 themes to develop children’s reading and writing skills during their 10-week summer reading program.

If you are in the middle of or thinking about writing historical fiction, here is a brief article on the Publishers Weekly blog, “How to Research Like a Writer,” posted by Andy Weir, author of the science fiction thriller, The Martian. 
He writes: "The first problem you run into is the inherent unreliability of information on the internet. A lot of it is inaccurate, most of it is slanted, and some of it is deliberately misleading... But there's more to research than just looking up facts... Eventually you have to make subjective calls ... Once you've done all the research, you move on to a much more difficult task: Informing readers without deluging them with information."

Visit the above website for more information on this topic. 

The path to inspiration starts
Beyond the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.Charles Ghigna

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My story in an anthology

Good news! McGraw-Hill Education has published my bilingual picture book story, The Woodcutter’s Gift/El Regalo del leñador, in a Spanish textbook anthology titled, “Maravillas.”
Congratulations to Illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores and author Peggy Caravantes on their 2014 Honor Award from Skipping Stones Multicultural Magazine for their book, Daughters of Two Nations.  
Here’s a really good article on whether to use present or past tense when writing a novel—the pros and cons of each. On the Writer’s Digest blog, Brian Klems posts excerpts from On Writing Fiction written by David Jauss. The article titled, “The Pros and Cons of Writing a Novel in PresentTense,” lists the advantages and disadvantages of past or present tense in novels.
One of the advantages: Present tense has more “immediacy” than past tense. One of the disadvantages: Present tense restricts our ability to manipulate time. There’s much more in this article. A good read.  
Pockets is accepting submissions and lists the different themes for each month. Click here for more details.
The Book Smugglers is also accepting submissions for short stories. Visit their website for guidelines. 

“I want to remake the world; anything less is not worth the trouble.” ― Karen Cushman
Author and Karen Cushman

Monday, May 12, 2014

Down Memory Lane - A visit to my elementary school

A few days ago, I took a nostalgic trip walking down the halls of my elementary school. I peeked into the rooms where I spent my early years. The big clock in the hallway was still there, intimidating me like that first time when the teacher asked me to step out into the hall and find out what time it was. Too embarrassed to tell her I couldn’t yet tell time, I waited and waited staring up at clock’s round face looming before me. Finally a janitor came by and helped me out. 
Same hallway - same clock
The cafeteria is as I remember it although there is no longer a piano on the small stage. We used to have music in those days. Our piano teacher led us in song at least once a week. I always looked forward to that session.  
Although the school is no longer an elementary, it is still a school – a Headstart school. Little people lined up and filled the hallways on their way to class. These tiny tots were exuberant and full of energy. It was a joy watching them get a head start on their education.
I browsed through a thick, heavy, embossed leather book – an archive of years past put together by one of my former teachers. No high tech stuff here, but merely pages and photos of teachers, students, school clubs and events that brought back memories of my school days. 
Archives - Leather Book
The library. Ah, yes. The library. That’s where I fell in love with words and books. No longer a library, it is now a storeroom. It looks a lot smaller than I remember, but hey, in those days everything seemed large to me. The new round library is awesome. It is cozy, warm, and inviting. Just like libraries should be. 
I’m glad I got a chance to revisit. I’m pleased that my old school is still there, although in a different capacity now. So many memories … the cafeteria, the playground, the friends, the teachers, the books. It was fun going back.  
Here’s an interesting article on picture books. In a blog post, “Tip Sheet: Picture Books Are for All Ages,” published on the Publishers Weekly Shelf Talker, Elizabeth Bluemle writes: “A 32-page picture book may cost the same as a 350-page novel, but a picture book is read over and over again, and each time there may be something new to discover. The more reading a children does, especially of books with rich language, the more fluent he or she becomes as a reader.” Read the rest of the article.
Here’s a link to Latino/a Authors & Illustrators from across the nation on the Latinas4latinolit blog. Visit their websites to find out what they are all about. 

Never try to chase trends. Write what you love, and write the best book you can, and worry about publication later. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Celebration of El Dia over but books and literacy continues

El día de los ninos/El día de los libros was over yesterday. But we will continue to promote books and literacy all year long. A few days ago, I was honored to help celebrate El Día at three Houston libraries and a pre-school center. After the readings, there were arts and crafts for the children, music by mariachis, and piñatas. It was a fun event! Here are a few pictures from the event.

Pinata for the children 
Our books at the El Dia event in Houston
Author reading
Illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores and Author

 By the way, my two newest books, Let’s Salsa and Lupita’s First Dance, made it to the “Top 50 Latino Childrens Books,” list on the Mamiverse blog. 

If you already have a book out and would like tips on how to promote it, visit the Wild About Words blog where Cynthia Leitich Smith’s post offers outstanding tips on how to “promote your book like a pro.”  

And Pockets magazine has a new theme online for writer submissions. 
“Believe in yourself and you can achieve greatness in your life.” – Judy Blume