I would be glad to autograph copies of my picture book, NAME THAT DOG, at your school's Scholastic Book Fair.
Chesterfield, MO children's writers group at Christmas 2013
scholastic Warehouse Book Signing December 7, 2013
At Main Street Books with owner, Vickie Erwin November 30th
B&N with authors Mike Force, Chris DiGiuseppi, and Valerie Battle Kienzle November 22nd
Local Author Open House at MK Library in O'Fallon, November 21st
Carlin Park Elementary School Angola, IN
Sherwood School Scholastic Book Fair in Arnold, MO
ICD Scholastic Book Fair with students--Immaculate Conception Dardenne Prairie, MO
Peggy with children's author Karen Guccione-Englert at the MK Library Local Authors Open House in O'Fallon, MO
Book signing at Indianapolis Fairgrounds, with Mary Igras
Author Visit to Immaculate Conception School (ICD) April 2012
ICD library staff
Edison Elementary School Hammond IN
Lincoln Elementary School Hammond IN
Beta Delta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, Hammond IN
Heather Alexander, editor at Dial Books for Young Readers
Quinlan Lee, agent, Adams Literary Agency
Suzanne Morgan Williams, author of BULL RIDER
Kids Ink Independent Children's Bookstore, downtown Indianapolis
Shirley Mullin, bookstore owner, with children's authors Janna Mathies, Peggy, and Nathan Clement
Thank You cards from Holy Family School in South Bend
Fieler Elementary students
Ms Hanneman's class at Northview Elementary
In the classroom at Northview Elementary School
Talking to students at Northview Elementary
Working together to create a poem in Starke County
Talking with students at Starke County
Author Judy Roth and students at the Starke County Young Artists Day
Booksigning at B&N Bookfair
Anderson's Children's Literature Breakfast, with author and keynote speaker Tim Green
friendly staff at The Bookstore
Author Book Signing
Butler University Chorus entertains with Christmas Carols
Turkey for Thanksgiving?
Stuffee and the author
November: Picture Book Idea Month
Author Panel: the Road to Publishing--Kathryn Page Camp moderating
Kate Collins: adult trade publishing, mysteries
Peggy Archer: children's trade publishing, picture books
Katherine Flotz: self-publishing, memoir
Michael Poore: adult trade publishing, fiction
Cynthia Echterling: e-publishing & small press, science fiction
Author visit to Portage Public Library, October 23rd
Esther Hershenhorn talks about the Reader's story and the Writer's story
Esther shares resources, experience, and opportunities
Trish Batey, Indiana RA
Yellow paper on your back gave a hint of 'What author are you?' for the day
Peggy Archer gives an overview of the 2010 SCBWI conference in LA
Karen Kulinski gives an update on Indiana's HoosierLinks
Janna Mathies at the piano sings "Why It Matters" by Sara Groves
IN SCBWI steering committee with Trish: (L to R) Karen Kulinski, HoosierLinks, Kristi Valiant, Website Coordinator, Alina Klein, Listserv Coordinator, Peggy, ARA (not pictured: Sharon Vargo, Illustrator Coordinator)
New Regional Advisor, Kristi Valiant, talks about plans for 2011
Indiana SCBWI: Outgoing RA Trish Batey, ARA Peggy Archer, Incoming RA Kristi Valiant
Visiting with author/illustrator Nathan Clement and son Theo at the ROAR author event
Autographing for a young reader
Story Time at ROAR's (Reach Out and Read) Evening With the Authors Event in Indianapolis
Reading to young bankers at Citizens Financial Bank in Valparaiso
Some of the crowd at the SCBWI conference in LA
Ashley Bryan, Golden Kite winner for Nonfiction
with Keynote speaker and Golden Kite winner, Marion Dane Bauer
Illustrator and Keynote speaker, Loren Long
E.B. Lewis, Keynote speaker
with Keynote speaker, Gennifer Choldenke
Keynote speaker, Gordon Korman
Chris Cheng, Australia RA and SCBWI Member of the Year
Kris Vreeland, Independent Bookstore manager, Vroman's Bookstore
Eva Mitnick, LA librarian and reviewer for SLJ
Greg Pinkus and Alice Pope on networking
with Lin Oliver, co-founder of SCBWI
Steve Mooser, co-founder of SCBWI, with Sally Crock RAE
Indiana SCBWI members Mary Jo, Shannon, and Peggy celebrate in LA with Heart and Soul.
East and Midwest members celebrate at the Golden Kite Luncheon in LA--Peggy, Courtney, Julia and Mary Jo.
Peggy with Alice and Lisa, co-RAs from IL--friends and roommates
Linda V., formerly of Indiana, with her 'dog-in-training,' Dusty.
Anyone for Literary Bingo?
This is the cornfield just down the street from my house on July 13th. That's me with the boot on my foot again!
Local Authors Day, Valparaiso B&N
Welcome to the Young Artists Fair in Plainfield, IN
Signing books at Van Buren Elementary School in Plainfield, IN
Happy Birthday, Name That Dog!
Little reader loving that dog book!
Celebrating the Book Launch!
Doggy treats at the book launch party
With Jocelyn at the Porter County Expo Center for the Be Kind to Animals Celebration
Speaking to readers and writers at the LaPorte County Public Library in April
Our new grandpuppy, Dudley!
The new Mr. and Mrs. Biggs!
Trish Batey, Indiana SCBWI RA, Stephen Roxburg, Lisa Graff, Helen Frost, Peggy Archer, Indiana SCBWI ARA
Stephen Roxburg, Publisher of namelos, talked about writing the YA novel, the current state of publishing, and his new company, namelos
Lisa Graff, Middle Grade author, talks about writing the middle grade novel and the Slush Pile
Lisa autographs books with a smile
Introducing Helen Frost, YA author and poet
Question and Answer panel--Lisa, Stephen, and Helen
Registration, getting to know you
Schmoozing with other writers
Trish with author, Valiska Gregory
Books for sale--writers can never have too many!
Taking it all in.
Afternoon Tea with the author in Mitchell
Alexis talks about storytime for the very young
My little corner--I love when students come up to talk.
HOW many dogs do you have?!
Authors of the day
Keynote address: Growing an Author with Peggy Archer
Making a book with Katie Mitschelen
Research--detective work, with Peggy Miller
Crafting a poem with Mary Ann Moore
Becoming an artist with Edwin Shelton
Music with the Band
One small hand holding onto another
Name That Dog! Sharing F&G's and write-up in Dial's catalog with group.
Writers Christmas lunch and meeting in Michigan City
Meeting up with Esther and Karen in Chicago
Name That Dog! ISBN: 978-0-8037-3322-0
Writing friends from the beginning!
Drawing a turkey at Hussey-Mayfield Public Library-- Zionsville, IN
Autographs at Hussey-Mayfield Library, Zionsville
"Who likes to eat turkey at Thanksgiving?" --Morton Elementary School, Hammond, IN
Thank you cards from Morton Elementary students
Reading to my grandson's pre-school class at Zion Lutheran School-- Bethalto, IL
Family Book Basket
Courtney Bongiolatti, Editor S&S
Laurent Linn, Art Director S&S
Terry Harshman, Editor CBHI
Author-Illustrators, Kristi Valiant and Sharon Vargo
Kristi Valiant, IN-SCBWI logo winner
Our volunteer crew (minus a few)
author Katie Mitschelen and Peggy enjoying the conference
Janine Harrison, opening remarks
Sharon Palmeri, President IWC and speaker
Kathryn Page Camp speaks on Taxes for Writers
Kate Collins, mystery book author and Keynote speaker
Gordon Stamper, secretary IWC
Peggy, Sally, and Karen--writing friends enjoying the dinner event together
Autographs with a smile :)
Smokies in the morning
Smile and say 'author'!
Ready to start!
Sara Grant, Editor, Working Partners
One on one with Sara
Author and Editor...
Getting to know you...
Sharing thoughts... connecting
Our Kentucky friends...
Trish, RA, Peggy, ARA, Christi and Alina, steering committee members
Picture book author, April Pulley Sayre, speaking in South Bend.
Esther and Heidi
Esther with Steve and Sally from National SCBWI
Heidi and Peggy, friends and poets
We came from Indiana...
...from California and Iowa
and enjoyed the friendships.
Peggy, Karen & Esther--connecting once again.
Critique group gathering at Peggy Miller's house. Karen, Fred, Mary Ann, Katie, Judy, & the two Peggy's in front.
Our daughter, Sarah & our son, Dan both sang original songs at the Porter County Fair in the Colgate Country Showdown.
From Fort Wayne to Whiting, we gathered to talk & gain some bit of insight into the world of creating children's books.
Enjoying the company of other children's writers & illustrators.
Meeting other children's writers.
Smiles were free.
Peggy Archer talks about trade publishers.
Judy Roth talks about working with a small publisher.
Karen Kulinski talks about working with an agent.
Karen fielding questions.
Peggy with the Cat in the Hat
Katie and the Cat in the Hat
I won a collection of autographed books from the IL SCBWI (Society of Children's Writers & llustrators) booth at ALA for the Valparaiso Public Library. An awesome prize! Thank you IL SCBWI!
Peggy, presenting books won at ALA to Connie Sullivan, Branch Manager and Leslie Cefali, Youth Services Assistant, Valparaiso Public Library.
March 1, 2014
Picture books are intended to be read to, or read by, younger children. They’re usually labeled as age 3 to 5 or age 5 to 8. When writing a picture book, we’re told to keep the age of our reader in mind. Picture books help a child develop language and concept. A picture book can either stick to the familiar, or introduce new words or concepts, or maybe do a little bit of both.
One of my critique groups raised a question about language, and words used in picture books that seem to be well over the age of the intended reader. I had questioned some words in a short picture book manuscript that seemed above the age level for picture books. But if you look at some picture books that children love, you can find some very difficult words in them.
Take for example DIRTY GERT by Ted Arnold. Arnold writes some very funny picture books, including PARTS and MORE PARTS, which I love. Here are some of the words used in DIRTY GERT:
photosynthesized … and so on.
The story is about a little girl who loves to eat dirt. What child wouldn’t find that hilarious! The rhyme feeds into the unfamiliar words. Will they ‘get’ all the words? I think not. Will they ‘learn’ new words? I think most kids would learn at least some of them. Will they ‘get’ the story? Absolutely.
A picture book is a combination of words and pictures. The illustrations help the child to figure out what’s going on in the story. Illustrations are a learning tool. And Arnold’s illustrations are hilarious as well as the text.
The text is written in rhyme, so it’s fun to read out loud. Rhyme is a learning tool. Children like to repeat words in rhyme, and it helps a child to remember the words.
A child may not understand the words, but they are fun to say. Even without considering rhyme, they are poetic.
Picture books are fun. And reading this book together is a way for an adult and a child to have fun together while learning.
Some ways that picture books help a child learn include use of language, visual thinking, developing imagination, understanding humor, and exploring emotions.
I wouldn’t worry about expecting a child to understand all of the words in this book. And I don’t think it’s necessary. There is more for them to get from it. And they’ll have fun reading it, which is an important part of childhood.
February 17, 2014
The Caldecott Medal Books for 2014
were announced on January 18th. I was finally able to get copies of them from my library and have a look. The winner—
by Brian Floca
Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2013
Caldecott Honor Books are—
by Aaron Becker
, Candlewick Press
FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO
by Molly Idle
, Chronicle Books
by David Wiesner
, Clarion Books
A few things struck me as interesting.
The Caldecott winner and all three honor books were by author/illustrators.
The Caldecott winner is non-fiction.
All three honor books are wordless, or almost wordless in the case of MR. WUFFLES.
I love when picture books have illustrations on the inside covers as well as inside the book itself. The inside covers of LOCOMOTIVE are illustrated with different historical moments and maps as well as having text and pictures with additional information. On the inside covers of JOURNEY there are illustrations of vehicles of transportation.
FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO
has flaps to open, like in ‘Lift the Flap’ books. The illustrations are very graceful, a good compliment to the type of dance that the flamingo and the little girl are doing in the book.
, the girl with the red marker or crayon reminds me of Harold in HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON by Crockett Johnson, and the door that she goes through reminds me of THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by CS Lewis. You’ll have to ‘read’ it to see the surprise at the end.
Never underestimate the power of a cat in MR. WUFFLES!
As in other David Wiesner books, the detail is fun and interesting.
Unlike the Caldecott Honor books, LOCOMOTIVE
is filled with wonderful words and language. It tells the story of a train, its crew, and a family traveling west aboard America’s first transcontinental railroad. The use of different fonts and letter size, and the many ‘sound’ words (onomatopoeia) throughout the book make it both fun to read and to look at. It reads like poetry—
“…Men came from far away
to build from the East,
to build from the West,
to meet in the middle….”
I listened to a speech online given by Brian Floca at the 2013 National Book Festival
. He talked about how his first idea for this book grew from something simple to something more complicated. He also talked about the research he did before beginning to write and illustrate his book. It included reading many books, visiting museums, looking at old photos from the era, as well as primary sources such as talking to people and taking the trip to get the full picture. He actually drove a train along the same path as the first continental railroad trip. From that trip he took what he found most interesting and began to write—notes, questions, phrases. He also drew things that he saw along the way. Revisions included re-writing the text, and changing and re-shaping his drawings as well.
LOCOMOTIVE has received many other awards and recognitions as well, including being selected as a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, NY Times 10 Best illustrated books of the year and Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2013.
Congratulations to all of the author/illustrators of the Caldecott Medal books for 2014!
January 30, 2014
I’ve joined the world of e-readers—we got an iPad mini for Christmas! So far I’ve only read a couple of children’s books on it and a magazine. It will take time for me to get used to turning pages with the swipe of a finger.
On the news the other day was a segment about e-readers versus printed books and eye strain. It’s sometimes referred to as computer vision syndrome
. They said that reading a book in print, the old-fashioned way, is easier on your eyes. For those of us with vision problems, that’s meaningful. I decided to do some checking on line.
According to the Mayo Clinic website
, “Eyestrain occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, such as…reading or working at a computer. Although eyestrain can be annoying, it usually isn't serious and goes away once you rest your eyes.” If your symptoms persist after rest, then you probably want to see your eye doctor.
e-readers really cause eye strain? From what I’ve read, it depends on many factors. An article in the New York Times
on line says, “It depends on the viewing circumstances, including the software and typography on the screen,” among other things. And that also included the ink on the paper of a traditional book!
Here are some tips for reducing eyestrain
while using an e-reader or working at a computer:
Blink more often—
Many people blink less than normal when working at a computer, which can lead to dry eyes. Blinking produces tears, which moistens your eyes and prevents dryness and irritation.
Exercise your eyes—
Another cause of computer eye strain is ‘focusing fatigue.’ Follow the "20-20-20” rule. Look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at an object that’s at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye and reduces fatigue.
Use proper lighting—
Be sure that your light is directed on what you're doing. Use a brighter light source if you need one. You can also try turning down the backlight on your e-reader. Make sure that your entire room is well-lighted to reduce shadows, but not brighter than your work area so as not to create a glare.
Minimize glare on your screen—
The glare from other sources of light makes it difficult to view the screen and causes eye strain when you try to see past the glare. Position your computer so that neither you nor the monitor faces a window, or close the blinds to reduce glare. LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface.
Adjust your display settings—
Consider brightness, text size and contrast. Try pressing 'control +' to make print larger, and 'control-' to make it smaller again. For more information on this, go to the All About Vision
If you sit at a computer or are using your e-reader for a long time, take mini-breaks. Focus on something else for five minutes or so. Give your neck and back muscles a stretch while you’re at it.
Modify your work area—
Tilt your monitor so that the top of the monitor is slightly farther from the eyes than the bottom of the monitor. If you’re typing from a written page, place your pages on a stand next to the monitor. Make sure the pages are well lighted.
Maintain good posture—
Poor posture not only adds to neck and back strain, it also contributes to computer eye strain. If you are at a desktop computer, adjust your chair to the correct height so that your viewing area is just below eye level. It’s best if your computer screen is at least 25 inches from your eyes.
More tips for those with vision problems:
--Use a larger print size.
--Use bold type.
--Avoid decorative fonts, italics or all capital letters.
--Use 1.5 or double spacing when reading something online.
--Use black rather than colored lettering.
--Try reading with lighter lettering against a darker background.
--Use a font with more space between the letters, such as courier.
--Make sure your eyeglasses are clean and free of scratches. You might consider a separate pair of glasses for use on the computer or e-reader.
Read more on the following websites:
American Foundation for the Blind
In the meantime, I’m enjoying my new electronic reader. It’s quick and easy to get connected online. It’s easy to hold and read on when I’m eating lunch, or in bed at night. I like that you can make the text larger, and change the appearance of the page. It’s less to carry when I’m away from home. And I found a Sudoku app that’s more user-friendly than pen and pencil and eraser! As I get more used to it, I’ll enjoy testing out reading books on it, too!
Happy Reading, everyone!
January 17, 2014
Why does the new year have to start in winter?! It’s cold outside, even here in Missouri! Your brain seems to want to hibernate with the bears instead of sparking those creative juices. If you’re feeling less motivated this season, check out one of my past blog posts featured on the Indiana Writers' Consortium blogsite
this month and find some suggestions that might help you out of that slump! Happy writing!
January 14, 2014
I personally think the official new year should start a couple of weeks into January. By then you’ve made your new year’s resolutions and know which ones you’re going to keep. You’ve got your Christmas decorations put away, probably, except for the ones you didn’t see. Holiday visits and parties are over, and you’re ready to settle back into a routine.
As for those new year’s resolutions—how about changing it to ‘new month’s’ resolutions? That way we get to start over, fresh each month! So January is only half over. Here are a few of my resolves that relate to writing.
Read a book
, other than a picture book, each month—by making it a resolution I give myself permission to stop everything and read! I read Glen Beck’s THE SNOW ANGEL, and Richard Peck’s A SEASON OF GIFTS. So check that one off for January.
at the very least
three days a week—this means working on a manuscript of some kind, and does not include blogging or other writing related things. Ok, I’m going to blame this one on the holidays. I’m giving myself a chance to make up the work these last two weeks. I think I can do that. ReviMo
is helping me with that, too. (Click on the picture on the right for some great inspiration).
something to a publisher, be it a book manuscript or something to a children’s magazine, once a month—I have two great manuscripts ready to go. I also have quite a few poems polished. So I just have to get them out in the mail. This is a ‘can do.’
: have them ready by the end of February—that’s a tough one, since although I keep my records and receipts all in one place, I neglect to log them on my computer throughout the year. I am one of those people who is organized by having everything in neat piles, or spaces. It takes me a day or two to organize and categorize everything for the past year! I think I’ll add a resolution—
my writing expenses, mileage, etc. monthly—ok, that can work since this is still January!
Attend at least two events for children’s writers
this year—maybe I made this one too easy. I’ve signed up for the Missouri SCBWI program on Learning to Work With the Common Core
in March, and I just signed up for the Indiana SCBWI Spring conference
in April. I know I’ll also attend the Missouri Fall Conference
in September. So this one’s a done-deal.
Work on my website and networking
—this one is harder for me, so I’m just going to leave it up as a general reminder. I also want to visit other websites and blogs by children’s writers more often.
I’m a list person. So making a list of new year’s resolutions helps me to stay on track. For some people, this can take a negative turn if it bothers you when you fail at keeping a resolution. Here’s a more positive way to look at it.
Make your resolutions things that you will likely be able to accomplish. Make some easier, and some a little more difficult. For example, if I say that I’m going to write every
day, I know that won’t happen because there is work to do, and I also like to do things with my family and friends, and I know that sometimes other things will get in the way. So I made it three times a week instead. If I do more, then I really feel good!
Reward yourself when you reach your goal. Ice cream, a day out, or a movie night works for me.
Don’t let yourself feel down if you don’t accomplish your goal. Every day is a new start! Re-evaluate your goals each month and revise them if you need to—we’re familiar with revision, right!?
Instead of looking at how much you didn’t
do, look at how much you did
do. Maybe I didn’t get my three days of writing in one week, but I did write two days, for a long time!
If you reach all of your goals too easily, then you probably need to revise them.
Here are a few quotes to leave you with:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” - Zig Ziglar
Happy writing 2014 to all!
December 24, 2013
December is such a busy time of year for just about everyone. People celebrate the season in different ways. For me and my family it’s about celebrating the birth of the Christ Child, and Christmas. Many of us also tie in waiting for the Christ Child with waiting for Santa to arrive. Santa goes by different names in different cultures. Here are just a few.
St. Nicholas was a kind monk born in Turkey. He is known as a protector of children and sailors. St. Nicholas day is celebrated on December 6th.
Sinter Klass is given by the Dutch, who brought the tradition to America.
Christkind is German for “Christ Child, and was something like an angel that went along with St. Nicholas on his missions.
Kris Kringle most likely came from the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1820’s. He would ring his bell and give out cakes and nuts to small children, but if they misbehaved, they would receive a spanking with his rod.
Father Christmas came from England. He would come down the chimney and leave treats in the children’s stockings.
Pere Noel comes from France. He puts treats in the shoes of well-behaved children. He is joined by Pere Fouetard who provides spankings to bad children.
Babouschka comes from Russia. One story is that she put off traveling with the Wise Men to see the Baby Jesus, instead opting to have a party, and regretted it afterward. So she set out every year to find the baby Jesus and give Him her gifts. Instead, she does not find him and gives the gifts to the children she finds along the way.
Santa Claus originated in the 1800’s. By 1840 holiday ads featured Santa. In 1890 the Salvation Army began dressing up unemployed workers as Santa and having them solicit donations throughout New York. But it was Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal Minister, and Thomas Nast, a cartoonist, that brought us the picture of our modern day Santa. In 1822 Moore wrote a long poem titled, An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas. It is what we now know as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas,
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays in whatever way you celebrate! I leave you with an unpolished verse for those of you who are fellow children's writers.
If Santa came to visit
Children's writers late tonight,
Would he leave some magic stardust
To help us when we write?
Would his elves tuck great ideas
in the stockings by our beds,
with words and plots and characters
to dance inside our heads?
Would jingle bells inspire us
and first lines come with ease?
Would action, voice and poetry
await beneath our trees?
May all your dreams become great books!
May ideas soon take flight.
And the joy and peace of Christmas
be with you when you write!
December 9, 2013
We do a lot of waiting at this time of year! Waiting, and wishing, and hoping. There’s a lot of waiting going on for writers, too.
Some writers wait for ideas. You don’t get very far when you do this. You need to make the ideas come to you. Ok, it’s snowing outside. There are stories about snowflakes, snowmen, kids making snow forts, snowball fights, sledding, skating (let yourself get off on a tangent), and much more. All ideas that came from the fact that it snowed.
Other writers wait for time to write. First their house has to be spotless. Then they cook, shop, garden, iron, organize their closets, alphabetize their pantry, watch their favorite TV show, facebook their friends that they just drank a cup of coffee. You get the picture. Writers who write make time to write. They get up at 4 am or stay up until 2 am. They write in the car, waiting in line to pick up their kids, or at the doctor’s office. Their house might be clean but it’s usually messy. They wear clothes that don’t have to be ironed, and they cook once a week (sometimes for the whole week at once). They DVR their favorite TV show to watch next summer. If something happens and they miss a day, or a week, they jump right back in.
Sometimes waiting can be a good thing. Like when we’ve written a first draft that we love, then put it aside, and wait. We forget about it for a couple of weeks, then take it out and read it again, for a fresh look. Because then we can see that it’s not as great as we first thought. And we revise. Because good writing is re-writing.
So finally our manuscript is ‘done,’ and we send it out to publishers. And we wait, and hope for acceptance. But waiting doesn’t mean that we can’t do something else in the meantime. Ok, maybe we’ll celebrate with a piece of chocolate first, or make the bed. But get ready, and start something new! Pick another idea from things going on around you, or from memories. Make it fresh. How will it start? Who is it about? Where will it go?
Woo-hoo! Our manuscript is accepted! And with it comes—more waiting. Waiting for the contract. Waiting for the editor to send her revision requests. Waiting for an illustrator (in the case of a picture book). Waiting to see their sketches and color prints. Waiting for the cover art, and finally the finished book. Done!
But wait! There’s more. We wait for the reviews, and hope that they’re good. We wait to get our books in the mail. We wait to see it in the stores and libraries, and hope that kids (and parents) like it.
Editors (and agents) wait for us, too. They wait for that manuscript that will make them laugh or cry, and that they just can’t put down. They encourage us when they tell us what they’re looking for, on the web or at conferences. And they help us with revisions when we’re lucky enough to have our manuscript accepted.
Like the season we’re in now, we need to do something while we wait. Whether it’s Christmas or another holiday that you celebrate this season, we all do things while we wait for the day to arrive. We decorate our homes, sing carols and songs, light candles, and do things for others.
Writers write new stories, blog, write, read, write, go to critique groups, celebrate children’s books, write…. and wait.
So Happy ‘Waiting’ Times to you! And Happy Stories to all!
November 30, 2013
Saturday, November 30, 2013 is Small Business Saturday – a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities.
Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Conceived by American Express, the first Small Business Saturday was celebrated on November 27th in 2010 as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which target big retail and online shopping. In contrast, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.
My favorite small business is Main Street Books
in downtown, historic St. Charles, Missouri. Owner, Vicki Erwin, welcomes visitors with a smile and a cheerful greeting, depicting the typical atmosphere of an independent bookstore. It feels like family when you walk in the door.
Check out authors and events at STL indie bookstores
, and the STL indie bookstore facebook page
Find out more about Small Business Saturday
on their facebook page.
To find a small business or independent bookstore in your area check your local news station, your local newspapers, or search online.
Happy small business shopping!
November 27, 2013
I’m thankful for turkey
for pie and parades,
for family gatherings,
and football games played.
Give thanks for Thanksgiving!
For bakers and cooks!
But also for magazines,
tablets and books!
Thank you for paper
and pencils and pens.
Thanks for critiquing
and my writing friends.
For artists who illustrate,
authors who write,
Thanks for ideas
that come in the night.
For bold illustrations
that color my text.
For hopes and for dreams
and for what might come next.
Thank you for others,
for all that they share.
For editors, agents,
and blogs, everywhere.
I wish to you all
a day filled with joy!
All of God’s blessings,
and a book to enjoy.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
November 20, 2013
At every conference for children’s writers you will hear the same advice—‘show, don’t tell.’ No one likes to be told
what to do. They’d rather have someone suggest
what they might do. Then if they do it, it becomes their own idea or decision.
The same is true of children’s books. If the author tells
the reader what’s going on, the story becomes dull. If the writer shows
what’s happening, it draws the reader into the action.
So how do we ‘show’ what’s going on without ‘telling’ the reader? By using active verbs. Passive verbs lack a ‘doer.’ In an active voice, the subject is doing the action. In a passive voice, something is being done to the subject.
was, is, are, am, be, been, was, would
More ‘telling’ words
like, as if, seemed, told, felt
Look for passive verbs in your writing. But keep in mind that there’s more to it than using or not using certain words. For example, using the word ‘was’ does not always indicate passive voice. It may just be using the past tense.
He was five years old in October. (past tense)
Read the following example of ‘was’ used in active or passive voice:
The pumpkin pie was eaten by Grandpa. (passive)
Grandpa ate the pumpkin pie. (active)
If you find that you’re using words to ‘qualify’ or ‘emphasize’ what you’re saying, you might try to find a more active way to show it instead.
really, all, some, quickly, very, so, big/little, a lot, slowly, many, cold/hot, loudly/softly
Look at the following lines:
The turkey ran out of the house really fast. (passive—he didn’t only run, he ran ‘really fast’)
The turkey zipped out of the house. (active)
We often hear that using words that end in ‘—ing’ is a form of passive writing. If you use a word that ends in ‘—ing’ with one of the ‘to be’ words (see the list of passive verbs above), there is no action. For example:
He was studying the picture. (passive)
He studied the picture. (active)
when writing picture books is also discouraged—‘Don’t use them!’ we are told. An adverb can be replaced with active writing.
He looked hungrily at the burgers on the plate.
He looked at the burgers on the plate. His stomach growled. (more active)
Writing for children in an active voice is always encouraged, but sometimes passive voice has a place.
Is something happening while the action is taking place? The clock was chiming
might be more clear than The clock chimed
if Cinderella was trying to get back to the carriage before the clock finished chiming.
For emphasis, or for poetic or dramatic effect—
‘…was coming closer down the hall’ or ‘huffing and puffing’
Stories that ‘show’ your characters and ‘show’ what’s going on, draw the reader into the story and keep them hooked. Use active verbs along with action or dialogue to accomplish this.
For a look at how well you handle ‘show don’t tell,’ take out that manuscript that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and highlight the words in your story that you find on the list of passive verbs. Then use a different color and highlight the active verbs. You could even go a step further and highlight dialogue and action with different colors.
There are so many sources on the web that explain active and passive writing better that I do here. You can find more on passive writing at these sites:
RX for Writers
Writing for Children
Writing with Style
Bella on line
. Scroll to the bottom of her post and do a search on her site for How to Use Passive Voice Effectively.