How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Common Writing Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur Author... and How to Avoid Them

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Z End

We have finally reached Z end of Z A to Z Blogging Challenge. And Z end of April. But I'm not going to ZZZZZZZZZ during May. I'll be back to Z regularly scheduled blogging program:

  1. Mondays - On writing...
  2. Wednesdays - On picture books... (Z Read 4 Luck book review, recommendation, and mini writing lesson)
  3. Saturdays - On life... (High Five interviews, Pot-O-Gold blogger awards, Pass Z Paper, and contests...)
And I'll leave you with Z best ending of all in classic picture book literature..."and it was still hot."

Who knows which book that comes from?

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for YOUR Pot-O-Gold Blogger Award for April

BLOG TITLEHere YE, here YE...announcing YOUR Pot-O-Gold Blogger Award...

If you love books, then go visit I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. With a weekly book giveaway, it has just over 3,400 followers. The format of the site is clean, simple, and fresh. The tabs at the top make it simple to navigate throughout the site. This isn't a blog that gives writer advice, but definitely gives lots of reviews. Most genres are included. There are lots of Blog Hops you can participate in as well. Occasionally you will find wonderful interviews with writers. If you haven't heard of this site, then take a moment to check out this popular blog. You may get hooked and want to visit every week!

The story behind the award.
Congratulations!


 Here are the rules:
  1. Say thank you to the person who gave it to you.
  2. Write a post and include the image of the award, a link to the person's blog who gave it to you, and a link to my blog, WRITE WILD. (Copy and paste the rules in your post.)
  3. Award four bloggers this award and tell why each is a Pot-O-Gold! (If you receive this award more than once, you only have to forward it the first time.)
  4. Share four simple things about yourself: 1-a time you had to exercise FAITH, 2-something you HOPE for, 3-something (or someone) you LOVE, and 4-a time when you felt LUCK.

Keep on keepin' on...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Finally, my promised book review of Kristi Holl's latest book, More Writer's First Aid: Getting the Writing Done.

Before I knew who Kristi Holl was, I had purchased a copy of her book, Writer's First Aid. After following her blog for some time now, I had the exciting opportunity to review her new book, More Writer's First Aid. Just like her blog, Kristi consistently delivers hope "to ease the pains of the writing life and help make your writing dreams come true." If you struggle with consistency, focus, time, fear, setbacks, inspiration, or family commitments, then this is definitely the book for you. It is divided into four main sections with twelve short articles, or chapters, in each section. My favorite chapter is "Breaking the Procrastination Cycle." I never knew that procrastination happened in stages and that they were predictable. I'm still trying to identify my own specific problems and the root causes. More Writers First Aid is a book to read and re-read year after year. Encouragement goes a long way to help us persevere until we're published. If that's your goal, then you definitely need this book. And if you're already published, Kristi's advice will provide the encouragement and inspiration you need to get published again and again.

And for Mother's Day, I'm going to buy a hard copy from Amazon.com for myself. The digital PDF version just doesn't do it for me.

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for WE WANT another Read-4-Luck WEDNESDAY

This week's READ-4-LUCK pick is Maggie's Monkeys by Linda Sanders-Wells and illustrated by Abby Carter.

When Maggie reports that pink monkeys have moved into the refrigerator, her mother and father play along and accommodate the invisible visitors, much to the frustration of Maggie's older, reality-obsessed brother.
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Year: 2009
Word Count: 707
Book Level: 2.7

RATINGS
CHILDREN:  Funny, imaginative, playful, sweet, and heartwarming. All at the same time. For boys AND girls. They will especially love the silliness of the pink monkeys. And a cool narrator voice helps too.

PARENTS:  I love how something annoying turns into sibling acceptance and protection instead of rivalry. I wanted to read this one again, but nearly 7-year-old wanted a new book. He usually doesn't like the same books over and over, unless it's one he loved. But he would certainly sit beside me and look at the pictures and listen to me read it again, if I were to read it aloud again. Which I would. And probably will.

TEACHERS:  Can you say "writing lesson"? There is action, plotting, and great characterization. And extremely excellent dialogue. All grade levels, really. How creative do you want to get? Middle schoolers could even have fun with this. You could turn it into a lesson on persuasive writing.

WRITERS:  This one is worth a closer study. Things jumped out at me as I was reading it aloud the very first time. The very first sentence introduces the problem, or at least A problem, though not really THE main problem of the book, "Last week, a family of pink monkeys moved into our refrigerator." It goes on to say at the end of the very first page, "Nobody else could see any monkeys, but that didn't seem to matter to anybody except me." WHAM! Right away, a problem for this first-person point-of-view book. Then it goes right into three wonderfully short but descriptive examples of how the rest of his family played along with little sis, Maggie. Then there are three examples of the brother telling his family to quit being senseless, but they each reply with their own cleverness. Then he tried to accept the monkeys and get used to them, but the tension between bro and sis escalated because he couldn't seem to do anything right. Then brother's two friends come over one day. And he finally comes up with a solution that will leave you smiling. Be sure to also check out the dialogue. It's fabulous! Lots of action words. It goes right along with Monday's revision post.


Enjoy! And keep on keepin' on...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Venus, Mars, and Jupiter...Verbatim

Alien Space Alien 154When I was a child, I wrote a 10-page hard cover book in school, complete with color illustrations. I was probably in the 4th grade. If you want a laugh, then keep reading:
The Poem and How It Came to Be
One day at school, my friend told me about the moon people. Of course I didn't believe her, but...eventually she said that it was true. 
On the night of February 14, 1929, Valentines Day, I saw the moon people.  
The night was clear and fresh, with the smell of perfume in the air. I was coming home from a blind date and that is when I saw the Marshans on Mars (moon people). I got in bed and slept until my alarm clock rang in the morning at seven O' clock. 
At school I told my friend and she said, "See, I told you so!" I asked her if they were green or purple and if they were green or purple and if they make good companions. 
She said, "They are ORANGE and they DO make good companions." 
On the way home the two ninth graders walked home together and talked about the Marshans on Mars, or rather, the Moon People. 
They made up a poem which says: "Girls go Mars and get more candy bars while Boys are at Jupiter getting more stupider! 
They laughed and giggled until they would burst with laughter while walking home from school. 
And, that is the story of how that poem came to be. The End!
Verbatim, punctuation and all. Pretty good for a fourth grader, but hilarious to me now! Martians. Tense change. And so much more... I was thinking of a V word and thought of Venus. After getting the book out, I discovered Venus isn't even mentioned in the little story. I guess I was thinking of another book, Mars and Venus in the Bedroom. But that's for another day...
Any memories of your childhood writings you'd like to share?
Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Understanding the Writing Process

eyesI recently read a writing article that touched on the four main stages of writing: Prewriting, First Draft, Revision, and Proofreading. I wasn't surprised to see that the revision section was the longest. Revision means to see again. Revision doesn't mean to line edit; it means to look at your manuscript with new eyes. Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Theme. Try to reduce your story's theme to one sentence. If you can't, it may not be focused enough yet.
  • Favorites. Don't play favorites with your favorite phrases. Try to objectively step away and see if they're really necessary for the story. If not, get rid of them.
  • Characters. Are each of them necessary and relevant to the plot? Can they be combined or even deleted? Are they fleshed out enough, especially the main character?
  • Motivation. Why do your characters act the way they do? Is it arbitrary, or necessary? Character development should naturally flow from a combination of their actions and the plot.
  • Dialogue. Is it full of common words that aren't necessary? Are the words being said actually important and moving the story forward? Can you identify each character by what he is saying?
  • Tags. Replace most of your tags with "said" and "asked." Actions really do speak louder than words. "I can't believe you ruined my lego creations," Shawn sobbed loudly. "Why do you have to be so mean?" he added remorsefully. OR... "I can't believe you ruined my lego creations." Tears fell from Shawn's cheeks. "Why do you have to be so mean?"
  • Verbs. Use strong verbs to keep the action active, not passive. Even in the example above, the tears are being active. I could make the character Shawn more active by simply saying that he cried (not sobbed AND added). It also deleted two adverbs.
  • Show, don't tell. I'm sure whole workshops have been dedicated to this. Simply put, it means show the reader through strong writing of using strong verbs so the reader can actually see the action. Sometimes telling is necessary, but it should be short and have a purpose.
  • Senses. The five senses intensify the experiences of the characters for the reader.
And if this isn't broad enough for your own revision, definitely take a step back and play the what if game!
What is your favorite way to revise?
Keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Thank You For Joining Us Today!

[corey+signing+cropped.jpg]Today's interviewee (sorry it's three weeks late) for April's HIGH FIVE is Corey Schwartz. So you have a cute picture book out co-authored with Tali Klein. Here's a big HIGH FIVE to you! Hop! Plop! was published in 2006 by Walker Publishing Company, Inc. 


Summary: When Mouse and Elephant go to the playground together, it seems as if everything they try to play on together is broken until they finally find the piece of equipment that is just right for them.


Question ONE: What are three of your favorite picture books (because we all know you really have way more than three)?
Okay, virtually impossible to pick, but here goes.
Knuffle Bunny - by Mo Willems
That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown - by Cressida Cowell
Bear Snores On - by Karma Wilson
I would pick Ollie and Claire by Tiffany Strelitz Haber, but it's not out yet!  (Philomel, 2013)
Question TWO: How did you come up with the idea for your debut book? And what was your road to publication like?
Ah, phew.  An easy one.  In fact, I already answered the first part of that question on my blog.
As for my road to publication, I was incredibly lucky.   I sent Hop! Plop! to a half a dozen carefully researched publishers in Sept of '02, and the waiting game began. It turned out that my friend, Katie, had a friend at Walker. By November, I got the inside scoop that Walker was interested.  One by one, rejections trickled in till all my eggs were in the Walker basket.  Finally, in June, I got the official offer.  Though ten months seems like a long time, I consider myself fortunate to have gotten out of the slush without an agent or a conference contact. 
Wow! That is amazing! 
Question THREE: What are your top three tips for writers about writing, publishing, or whatever you have learned along the way that stands out as being very important, but no one ever talks about?
Network, network, network!   Connections mean a lot in this industry.   Go to conferences and interact with editors and agents via Facebook and Twitter.  Most importantly, form relationships with other writers.   You never know who might be the one to give you a lead or reference.   Of course, an agent is not going to rep you just because you know one of her clients. BUT an agent may take the time to give you comments (as opposed to a form rejection) if they have a personal connection to you.  My agent, Kendra Marcus, was a referral. She gave me specific feedback on my manuscript, THE THREE NIJA PIGS, and she invited me to submit it to her again if I addressed her concerns. Those small courtesies can make all the difference. 
Good to know. And congratulations on your second book!
Question FOUR:  How might teachers use your book in the classroom?  (This is also good for parents!)
Hop! Plop! can be used in any number of ways (lessons on size, weight, balance, rhyme, onomatopoeia, etc)  but when I read it to kids, I like to focus on the friendship aspect of the story.   I read the book, often in conjunction with another friendship story, and then discuss friendship. Did you ever do anything nice for a friend? What? How did it make your friend feel? How did it make YOU feel? That sort of thing. Kids can then draw and/or write about their favorite friend. 
As a teacher, I can see a whole unit on poetry and science being developed for second graders. What fun!
Quesition FIVE: What are your biggest challenges and greatest joys in parenting? Do you read picture books to your own children? What are some of your ideas for instilling a life-long love of reading in children?
The truth is, I have screwed up in almost every area of parenting (eating, sleeping, you name it!) except for one - developing language and literacy skills.
Here is my daughter enthusiastically "reading" (and signing) at 15 months!
I read to my kids non-stop.  But we did more than read books together- we played with books!  I'd give them porridge in three different sized bowls (with three different sized spoons!)   We'd build three houses out of foam mats, and my son would be the wolf and knock them all down.  We'd add our own stanzas to repetitive pattern books.  "Jordan, Jordan, who do you see?  I see Joshy looking to me." I even made that one into a big photo book for my daughter's preschool class.
There are so many ways to have fun with books! My daughter is now seven and has been reading independently for years, but there is nothing we love more than curling up with a hilarious book and laughing our heads off together!
Oh, well said! Thanks so much for sharing with us today. It was a delight to have you. My own daughter is four and she loves "reading" Too Purpley! by Jean Reidy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A to Z Blogging Challenge

A is for please ACCEPT my APRIL APOLOGIES. B is for BLOGGING challenge. C is for CHEATING because I'm going to do it all in one post. D is for DON'T ever take a blogging break. E is for EFFORT because this is going to be really difficult. F is for FRIENDS because my FRIENDS cared enough about me to be concerned and to GOOGLE my contact info to call and check on me. HOW HAPPY they were to find out that everything was okay and that I am not ILL. 
J is for "JUST keep singing..." from Finding Nemo, when Dorie helps Marlin go deep into the abyss to retrieve the scuba diving mask. K is for KEEP on KEEPIN' on, my motto. L is for don't be a LAZY bones LIKE me. M is for MAKE writing a priority in your life. N is for NO, I can't do it all. O is for don't OMIT your OWN writing from your schedule. P is for PRIORITIZE. 

Q is for QUIT making excuses because you are QUITE POSSIBLY the most important writer you will ever know. REST assured that us writers will RALLY together for the REST of our lives.

S is for SLEEPING Bear Press. Two books especially:

  1. S is for STORY: A Writer's Alphabet, and...
  2. B is for Bookworm: A Library's Alphabet
T is for TEACH because writers love to TEACH about their craft, about a nonfiction TOPIC, or to share a memorable character. T is also for TOMORROW because U is for UNFINISHED. I will continue the journey with the rest of YOUUUUUU later...

Keep on keepin' on...

I haven't forgotten about my HIGH FIVE debut spotlight for April. Coming soon...!!! Who do you think it will be?