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Manuscript Revision Retreat with Darcy Pattison

Last month I attended a Manuscript Revision Retreat with Darcy Pattison. It was a warm, cozy setting in the home of one of our Missouri children’s authors, and everyone there was fired up with enthusiasm.

For those of us whose school days are long behind us, we were re-introduced to homework! A month before the retreat we were given the first of our assignments which included books to read, manuscripts to read and evaluate from our retreat group (mine was the picture book group), and submitting a cover letter and manuscript.

Unlike most of Darcy’s revision retreats, we didn’t stay overnight, but left to go home and work on our manuscripts before returning the next morning—more homework. I felt that I got a lot accomplished in the bits of time that we had to re-write.

Between the time before the retreat and when it ended on Sunday mid-day, I cut my picture book manuscript from over 1100 words to under 850 words, and improved the story while doing so.

Much of the same advice can apply to novelists and picture book writers as well. I think that the biggest benefit for me was the focus on sensory details and word choice. Varying sentence length, attention to the number of syllables in words, and attention to vowel sounds and the sounds of consonants to create mood shows what power the ‘right’ word has in your story. Focusing on the last word on the page and making that word strong brought new insight to making a picture book dummy.

It was a very satisfying week-end in more ways than one. It was two days focused on writing for children without distraction, with new insights, tips and information, shared evaluations and critiques from other children’s writers, in the company of enthusiastic writers who are dedicated to writing good books for children.

You can visit Darcy Pattison at her website: http://www.darcypattison.com/ or click under the photo.

Some recommended books for writers:
NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS, by Darcy Pattison
30 DAYS TO A STRONGER PICTURE BOOK by Darcy Pattison
A POETRY HANDBOOK: A PROSE GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING AND WRITING POETRY by Mary Oliver
THE FIRST FIVE PAGES by Noah Lukeman

Some websites to visit:
www.PublishersMarketPlace.com
www.rhymer.com
http://www.aaronshep.com/kidwriter/index.html
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Meet My Friends, the Authors!

Concluding the four days of Random Acts of Publicity (check out Darcy Pattison’s website at www.darcypattison.com), I thought I’d post the websites of some of my friends who write for children. Some are famous, some are not. All are wonderful writers, and good friends.

Indiana has been my home for most of my life, and there I met many wonderful children’s writers. Following are a few of their websites.

Katie Mitschelen: http://www.kathrynmitschelen.blogspot.com
Katie, is a member of my critique group in Michigan City, Indiana. She is a children’s author whose first book, MOUSE’S BEST GIFT, was illustrated and published on the store windows in downtown Columbus, Indiana at Christmas time! Also published in several children’s magazines, Katie writes fiction and non-fiction for children. Visit Katie at her author blog site, Droppings.

Peggy Reiff Miller: http://www.peggyreiffmiller.com/index.html
Another member of my Michigan City critique group, Peggy writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry for children and adults. Her passion is the seagoing cowboys. Go to Peggy’s website for more about her and her writing. Then click on the link to go to her website about Seagoing cowboys to read stories from some real cowboys (http://www.seagoingcowboys.com/).

Sharon Biggs: http://sharonbiggswaller.com/about/
Sharon writes for a ‘whole bunch of magazines!’ Her book, THE ORIGINAL HORSE BIBLE, is now out from Bow Tie Press. Sharon also writes YA and middle grade books. Find out more about Sharon, and horses, on her website.

When I started out in SCBWI, some of my first contacts were authors in our neighboring state of Illinois, specifically in the Chicago area.

Esther Hershenhorn: http://www.estherhershenhorn.com/home.html
Esther is an award-winning author of picture books and middle grade fiction for children. She is also the former Regional Advisor for Illinois SCBWI, which is how I first met Esther. “Lucky me!’ she says. “I spend my days doing what I love and loving what I do.” Find her smiling face, and information about Esther and her jobs as an author, along with answers to questions about being an author, on her website. Also link to the website Teaching Authors (www.teachingauthors.com) where Esther and five other children’s authors blog about writing and things related to writing for children.

Heidi B. Roemer: http://heidibroemer.com/
Heidi is an award-winning children’s author of children’s pictures books and poetry. My favorite is COME TO MY PARTY, and Other Shape Poems. Always willing to help out other children’s writers, Heidi is the former Assistant Regional Advisor for Illinois SCBWI. She joins two other children’s authors to blog about non-fiction books for children on their website, Wild About nature (http://wildaboutnaturewriters.blogspot.com/).

Carolyn Crimi: www.carolyncrimi.com
For a website with humor that matches the style of her hilarious picture books for children, visit Carolyn Crimi’s website. Read more about Carolyn and her books, and tips for children’s writers.

I hope you have fun surfing the net for these and other children’s authors!  Read More 
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More Writing Prompts for November!

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!  Read More 
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Random Acts of Publicity

Darcy Pattison has declared this week, Random Acts of Publicity Week 2010. The idea is to choose an author or book (or more than one) that you especially like and promote it. I love this idea!

One of the books that I chose was "Fair Cow," by Leslie Helakoski. I met Leslie at O'Hare airport on the way to the SCBWI conference in LA last month. That's when I first read "Fair Cow." I loved it! Leslie is both the author and illustrator.

Petunia Pig is determined to help Effie get ready for the state fair competition. "...we have to get you in shape," she says. She 'fixes' Effie's hair, her hooves, her tail, and her walk. "Don't forget to smile," Petunia tells her. In the end, Effie just can't resist being herself. This is such a fun book!

One of the things that I got out of participating this week for myself was that I wrote my first book review and posted it on Amazon and on GoodReads.com.

I hope you enjoy "Fair Cow" as much as I did.  Read More 
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