Please contact me if you would like me to speak at your school, or autograph books at your Scholastic Book Fair.
Recent Author Visits
October 31, 2010
The more I see, the more I find!
Well known writing teacher and author, Darcy Pattison, has declared November 30 Days to a Stronger Scene month! Another choice for ways to get those juices flowing, starting tomorrow, November 1st.
Darcy has created a facebook page for a discussion of creating scenes. Here's now it goes.
First, write a scene of a story. Then, think about scenes and how they work. Add to the discussion on her facebook blog, or on Darcy's webpage. Then read other posts and Darcy's fiction notes to stretch your understanding of story scenes.
Find the discussion on Facebook at: http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/blog/fiction_notes_believe_in_your_story?ref=mf
or go to Darcy's website and check out her Fiction Notes at: http://www.darcypattison.com/.
And if you're looking for something more on pictue books, check the link to 31 Days of Writing the Picture Book, from August 2008, at: http://networkedblogs.com/9QD9x.
November is almost here, so get down and write!
October 29, 2010
Welcome to National Novel Writing Month, and now, to National Picture Book Idea Month, as well!
I'm not a novel writer, so I've never taken an interest in National Novel Writing Month, which is November, but many children's novelists do. Novel writers know this as NaNoWriMo. The idea is to complete a novel in 30 days.
Sound unrealistic? In this contest the only thing that matters is output--quantity vs: quality, enthusiasm and perseverance over craft, permission to make mistakes and not be perfect. Thirty days and night of literary abandon! Who knows? You may end up with something good enough to revise. So if you are a novelist and would like more information about NaNoWriMo, go to http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/whatisnano.
Now for us picture book writers. Tara Lazar has created PiBoIdMo, a 30-day challenge for picture book writers!
From her website: "The concept is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript. You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.
You might think of a clever title. Or a name for a character. Or just a silly thing like “purple polka-dot pony.” The object is to heighten your picture-book-idea-generating senses so by the end of the month, you’ll have a file of ideas to help inspire you throughout the year."
Writers who complete the 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge will be eligible for prizes.
The kick-off will be posted this Sunday, on Halloween. You’ll be asked to officially sign-up in early November. Visit every day during the month of November for a new post on inspiration and creativity from guest bloggers.
For a list of guest bloggers, and for more information, go to Tara's website at http://taralazar.wordpress.com/piboidmo2010/.
So, novelist or picture book writer, have fun being creative in November!
October 20, 2010
“… It has been said that reading can serve as a window to the world; if that is true, then writing is what opens the window. That window must be opened for all.”
-- from The Human Context for the National Day on Writing, Kylene Beers, President, National Council of Teachers of English
I love this quote. I'd like to share the following information about the NCTE National Day on Writing with you.
On September 29, 2010, the Senate passed a resolution declaring October 20, 2010, the National Day on Writing. The following information was taken from the NCTE National Day of Writing website.
People in every walk of life, in every kind of work, and at every age write more than ever before for personal, professional, and civic purposes.
•They write through text messages and IMs, they use video cameras and cell phones, and, yes, even traditional pen and paper.
•The social nature of writing invites people in every walk of life, in every kind of work, and at every age to make meaning through composing.
•More and more people in all occupations deem writing as essential and influential in their work.
Why a National Day on Writing?
In light of the significance of writing in our national life, to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and to help writers from all walks of life recognize how important writing is to their lives, October 20, 2010, will be celebrated as The National Day on Writing.
The National Council of Teachers of English invites you to explore and celebrate the integral role writing has in each of our lives by participating in the National Gallery of Writing.
Everyone! We encourage everyone to submit a piece of writing: students, teachers, parents, grandparents, service and industrial workers, managers, business owners, legislators, retirees, and many more.
A National Gallery of Writing where you can contribute any type of writing composition that matters to you.
The National Gallery of Writing and Local Partner Galleries are open for submissions.
Online at www.galleryofwriting.org and in small towns and large cities nationwide. Writing is for everyone and is everywhere.
Because we, as a nation, are writing like never before—through text messages and IMs, with video cameras and cell phones, and, yes, even with traditional pen and paper. Whether it is done in a notebook or on a blog, writing, in its many forms, has become daily practice for millions of Americans.
GET STARTED TODAY at www.ncte.org/dayonwriting
Help us put writing front and center by:
• Starting a Local Gallery: Curators wanted. You can start a local gallery for your classroom, your town, or your civic group. Once your gallery is established, you can solicit writing on any topic or theme you’d like—the possibilities are endless!
• Contributing Your Writing: Writers come from all walks of life, and everyone has something important to share. Upload your writing—whether it’s a story, a video montage, an audio file, or a photo—to the gallery of your choice.
• Celebrating Writing Nationwide: Join us—and thousands of other Americans—as we celebrate writing.
For more information on how you can help celebrate, visit www.ncte.org/dayonwriting. Then follow the links there for more information on writing.
October 13, 2010
In my last blog I gave a short wrap-up of what Esther Hershenhorn had to tell us about Getting Our Stories Right at the Indiana SCBWI program for children's writers. Writing is a solitary job, self-disciplined, and writing is a one-person job. Events for writers not only help us to become better at what we do, but give us a chance to connect with one another.
The Benton House was a beautiful setting for our program on October 9th. A warm fall day, with leaves of many colors, added to the atmosphere for a day of friendship and inspiration. And just in case there were people there that you hadn't met before, we all became a famous author for the day. With 'your famous author name' on your back, hints from others helped you discover which children's author you were. Pat Wheeler was the first to figure out her new identity.
Trish started out the program with some stretching to help limber us up. Then it was on to the first part of Esther's presentation.
Delicious snacking, book sales and schmoozing came during a break in the program. Then it was back to Esther for the rest of her Rx for Children's Book Creators.
Following the program, we got updates from Karen Kulinski on HoosierLinks, which is moving forward to connect SCBWI members across the state, and from myself with a short wrap-up of the SCBWI National Conference in LA this summer. Updates were followed by door prize give-aways, and a wonderful performance by Janna Mathies who played the piano and inspired us even more as she sang 'Why It Matters' by Sara Groves.
The day ended with a thank you to Trish Batey as she stepped down as Indiana SCBWI Regional Advisor, handing over the reins to Kristi Valiant, who took over as our new Indiana RA. Kristi gave an overview of plans for Indiana members in 2011 and heading into 2012.
Trish was then treated to a surprise, with thankful words and gifts, which included an SCBWI tote bag illustrated by Pat Cummings and signed by the founders of SCBWI, Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser. Tucked inside were SCBWI note cards, the new SCBWI baseball cap, a Writers Block with a Writer's Survival Kit, and a Jar of Inspiration filled with quotes from children's authors. Indiana members contributed to a Memory Book, with notes, illustrations, and memories of the past two years while Trish was at the helm.
Thanks, Trish! For your energy and enthusiasm, and for everything you did for Indiana SCBWI during your time as RA.
Welcome, Kristi! We couldn't have a better person to take over the lead as our new RA in Indiana.
October 13, 2010
On Saturday Indiana SCBWI hosted Esther Hershenhorn, who talked to us about ‘Getting Your Stories (plural) Right.’ The Character was Esther herself, former Regional Advisor for Illinois SCBWI and current board member for SCBWI, award-winning author, speaker, and writing coach. The setting was the beautiful Benton House in Indianapolis, IN. The Plot…
Esther talked about the two stories you tell as an author: the story you have to tell your readers, and the story you’re living as a writer. These stories need to intersect meaningfully.
There are 3 elements of story: character, setting and plot. Of these, Character is everything!
Get to know your character. Ask yourself ‘What’s on his iPod?’
You need to know two things that about your characters (yourself and your story character): what your character wants (the physical plotline), and why he wants it (the emotional plotline).
Ask yourself: Why do you write for children? What do you want out of it?
II Setting—When and Where?
You live in the character’s book world, but you also need to stay current in the children’s publishing world. Learn from others, through libraries, book sellers, teachers, editors and others. Read children’s literature. Keep a reader’s journal. Write down the books you read.
Plot is characters in action, overcoming obstacles, by cunning and craft. Events are linked by causation. Things happen for a reason. Every scene, every character, etc., matters.
Esther’s description of plot, put simply, is:
Oh—Oh, my!—Oh, dear!—Oh, no!—Oh, yes!
In story, there must be action. The character must act against an obstacle. Then he re-acts with accompanying emotion. This is the emotional plot line.
Your plot as a writer asks three questions:
What do you want?
Why do you want it?
How do you get it?
In conclusion: Write from who you are. Write true to yourself.
Finally: Never throw out the beginning pages of your writing—it’s where the heart of your story is.
More on the ‘rest of the day’ later!