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Creating Fictional Characters With Psychology in Mind


In February I attended a program offered by the Catholic Writers of St. Louis called “Enliven Your Writing with an Understanding of Clinical & Spiritual Psychology.” Psychologist, Dr. Richard Johnson, talked about how a character’s personality makes him act the way he does, and he encouraged us to create characters with attention to their personality.

He covered such a range of information, and it’s impossible to cover everything that he talked about. But I wrote a brief wrap-up for our Missouri SCBWI newsletter that was recently posted on Lori Galaske’s blog, Kid Lit Life (June 16, 2015). Follow the link to Lori’s blog, and a re-print of the article. If you follow the link to Catholic Writers of St. Louis, you can read even more! Then check out Lori’s website, The Other Side.  Read More 
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Meet Margo Dill, Children's Author

Author, editor, book reviewer, writing instructor, blogger—all of these are among the many hats that children’s author, Margo Dill, wears. Her middle grade novel, FINDING MY PLACE, published by White Mane Kids, is an American Civil War adventure about One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg. It’s a piece of history told in such a way that makes learning about the Civil War exciting and interesting for kids.

I met Margo long ago when I was a new SCBWI member in Indiana and she was a member in Illinois. We reconnected again last year here in Missouri where we both now live.

This past Saturday I attended a wonderful program for SCBWI members at the Kirkwood Public Library where Margo talked to us about “Show vs Tell, and Overwriting,” then wrapped up the afternoon sharing her insight about “Social Media and Marketing.” We left with lots to think about and do.

Among the many points that she made regarding Show vs Tell are:
--use strong verbs
--don’t use too many adjectives and adverbs
--use sensory details, action and characterization to help ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’

In regards to Social Media and Marketing, the #1 question to ask yourself is:
What are your goals for your career?
She went over the different ways for writers to network, both in person and online, and gave the benefits of each. She said that every writer should have a blog and a website, even if you’re not published yet.

Margo also recommended Stephen King’s book, ON WRITING, which offers good advice and is interspersed with humor. And check out books that are Mark Twain Award winners for examples of good writing.

Margo has two picture books which will be released at a future date from Guardian Angel Publishing and High Hill Press. Some places to find out more about Margo Dill are:

Margo's Author Website
Margo's Blog
Women-On-Writing
Editor 911
Finding My Place

FINDING MY PLACE by Margo Dill: ISBN-10: 1572494085, ISBN-13: 978-1572494084  Read More 
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Missouri SCBWI Conference Highlights


Earlier this month I attended the MO-SCBWI conference in St. Louis. The high point of attending a conference is, of course, the speakers and all that they have to offer to both aspiring and published authors. Here are some high points from this particular conference:

from Emma Dryden, consultant and former editor—Your website is key. Editors and agents check your web presence. If you’re not published yet, at least secure your domain name, which should be your own name.com, then create a simple page with your bio.

from Ellen Hopkins, YA author and poet—novel writing is ‘story-telling,’ and is not didactic; poetry is ‘painting pictures with words.’ She talked about writing bravely.

from David Harrison, author, on poetry collections—Know the common core state standards and what kids are studying in school. Choose a theme and make a list of possible poems to go with that theme.

from Will Terry, illustrator—The story is most important, then perfect your craft. The ‘tides are changing’—he does illustrations digitally now, and gathers his audience on places such as blogsites, facebook, flickr, twitter, UTube, and eblogger.

from Joyce Ragland, MO-SCBWI Regional Advisor— find a critique group; go to conferences and national conferences; network with other authors and editors.

Some other perks of attending conferences for children’s writers and illustrators—gathering together with others who understand what writers really do; meeting with old friends and making new ones; networking—sharing experiences and learning from each other’s past; getting face-to-face with editors, agents and authors and having an opportunity to ask those ‘burning’ questions.

Some perks of volunteering to help at a conference—spending one-on-one time with speakers as you drive them to the airport or time their critiques, and schmoozing at dinner the night before the conference starts.

There’s always so much to absorb and follow through on following a conference! Look for conferences for children’s writers and illustrators in your region at the SCBWI website at www.scbwi.org.
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November Writer Happenings


Are you looking for some inspiration in the month of November? Fall is winding down and colder weather is on its way. For me that means less outdoors and more ‘hibernating’ with the help of some hot chocolate to warm my insides. All of those ideas for books have been cooking in my brain, and I’m ready for some serious writing time. Here are some opportunities for brain boosters to kick off the cooler months ahead.

Picture Book Idea Month: PiBoIdMo
http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/piboidmo-official-sign-up-starts-today-right-here-right-now/

National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo
http://nanowrimo.org/en/about/hownanoworks

tips from Writers’Digest: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-prepare-for-national-novel-writing-month-nanowrimo

SCBWI Missouri Fall Conference
featuring Heather Alexander, Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers, and Quinlan Lee, Literary Agent for Adams Literary Agency
http://moscbwi.org/Events.html

SCBWI Illinois Prairie Writers Day 2011
featuring six agents, two literary agents and more
http://www.scbwi-illinois.org/Programming.html#2ndDate

I’ll be attending the Missouri and Illinois conferences, and plan to sign up and commit to PiBoIdMo. I hope to see you there!  Read More 
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Storytime and Book Signing for NAME THAT DOG!

"...Jump into the alphabet and pick a puppy name!"

Yesterday I visited the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in St. Peters, Missouri where I read from my book, NAME THAT DOG, for storytime. I met some great kids and parents, and enjoyed talking with them. The kids got cookies afterwards, and I got two beautiful coloring pictures and a hug.

I love getting questions, and talking about how I chose the names for the dogs in this alphabet book of dogs' names. Always, there is someone who knows just exactly what I'm talking about, even thought the inspiration for my poems came from my own dog, Snickers.

Thanks to Shelley for organizing my visit there, and to Ginger for her help. It was extra special because my daughter from Minnesotta was there, too.

In two weeks, on November 5th, I'll be attending the SCBWI Missouri conference at St. Charles Community College in St. Charles. Speakers include Heather Alexander, Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers, and Quinlan Lee, Literary Agent for Adams Literary Agency. For more information about the conference and to register, go to the SCBWI Missouri website at: http://moscbwi.org/Events.html.
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