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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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Family Book Basket

I believe the Christmas season brings out the best in people, and there are always those who stand out among the rest for their generosity. The Belles of St. Mary's Church in Kouts, Indiana raffled off themed gift baskets once again this year in early December as a fund raiser. One of the baskets was a Family Book Basket. The books included in the basket would be a prize by themselves, but what made this one so special were the books that were donated and autographed by the authors and illustrators. A heartfelt thank you goes out to the following authors and illustrators, as well as a children's book reviewer and a bookseller, who very kindly donated books for the basket.

Nathan Clement, author and illustrator, for his picture book, DRIVE published by Front Street/Boyds Mills Press. Find out more about Nathan, including his up-coming book, at his website, http://stickman-studio.com/.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, author, for her picture book, GRANDPA LOVES, published by HarperCollins. Visit Rebecca and her books on her website at http://www.rebeccakaidotlich.com/.

Esther Hershenhorn, author, for her picture book, THERE GOES LOWELL’S PARTY!, published by Holiday House. You can find Esther and view her books on her website at http://www.estherhershenhorn.com/lucky.html.

Kristi Valiant, author and illustrator, for the following chapter books which she illustrated and that accompany the Our Generation dolls: THE MYSTERY OF THE VANISHING COIN and THE ADVENTURES AT SHELBY STABLES. Find Kristi and more about her books at http://www.kristivaliant.com/.

Mary Harris Russell, children's book reviewer, who donated several picture books which she recently reviewed for the Chicago Tribune. See http://articles.dailypress.com/2002-12-24/news/0212240020_1_eric-carle-sloth-jack-prelutsky.

And finally, Darlene McDonald of Barnes & Noble in Valparaiso, who donated several books for different ages to the book basket. Find out what's happening at B&N in Valpo at http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2138.

One of the un-anticipated pleasures of writing for children has been meeting the many wonderful people in the world of children's books. And that alone is its own reward.  Read More 
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What Are Your Stories?

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!

I Character—Who?

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.

III Plot—How?

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!  Read More 
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Oh the Possibilities!

For the past 17 years we been blessed with Esther Hershenhorn, Illinois SCBWI RA, whose catchy enthusiasm, positive thinking, and insight into the world of children's books has helped many children's writers and illustrators move forward. She encouraged us to tell our stories, pointed us in the right direction, and helped us to connect. Lucky me, that her generosity spilled over into Indiana.  Read More 
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