How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs... and How to Avoid Them

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

READ-4-LUCK: Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman

READ-4-LUCK is the weekly feature that acts as a book recommendation, book review, teaching tip, and writing lesson for children, parents, teachers, and writers.

 = Not bad. Might read twice.

 = Fun read first few times. Would get from library again.
 = Very enjoyable. Wouldn't mind owning a copy.
 = Awesome! Never tiresome for children, parents, teachers, or writers. May just have to buy this book.

This week's pick is Blue Chicken written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman.
From the jacket flap: All this chicken wants to do is help. But when she spills a pot of blue pain, the other animals sure don't find her helpful. And things only get worse - and more and more blue - the harder she tries. Poor chicken! can anything undo the blue?

Publisher: Viking
Year: 2011
Word Count: 134
Book Level: 1.2
Age: 4-8
Topic: Chickens, Art, Helping
Theme: Making things right, Saying sorry
First Lines:
At last! This picture is almost finished. the chickens are white, their coop is brown...and this day is perfect for painting the barn.
RATINGS
CHILDREN:  My kids said: Look! Blue chickens! Look! It's raining outside! Look! She's painting the barn too! This is a visual feast full of clever moments.

PARENTS:  I love looking at this book! It is just so fun. I like explaining the small details to my children. The more you read it, the more lines you remember, and it becomes even more fun to read.

TEACHERS: 
 This book needs to be a part of your integrated art unit. Preschool teachers could teach about color, animals, and friendship or as a preview for a farm unit. Teachers of older grades could definitely benefit from teaching children that wonderful things can happen in their art from accidents.

WRITERS: 
 I can't believe this powerful book only has a mere 134 words! Aah - the advantages of being an author/illustrator! 

This is Deborah Freedman's second book. You can also read an interview with her about her debut book, Scribble.

Be sure to visit other "perfect picture books" at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Call Me Bamboo

How long does it take to become a writer? Hopefully five seconds. Okay, twenty minutes? But you ARE writing, right? If you write, then you're a writer. The real question then is how long does it take to get traditionally published and become an established author?

How long does it take to become an author? || writing advice | getting published | author success stories | the 10,000 hour rule

Writing is a long and lonely process, but in today's world we do have each other and we can accomplish more together than we can alone. Today's topic explores the length of time it takes to write and get published.

Bamboo grows very slowly when it first starts out from a tiny shoot, even when it's watered daily and has plenty of air and sunshine. For four years you'll see virtually no growth. That's because all the work is being put under the ground - the root system, a deep supportive structure to withstand the miraculous growth for the next year. In year five, bamboo can grow up to as much as 80 feet tall! They can grow 39 inches in 24 hours. Wow!

Writers are like that, too. If you connect, pay it forward, practice the craft, work diligently, and be persistent, you will grow too. You will finish lots of projects. You will perfect your own style. You will get published. You can make a living as a writer. (Though most writers do have other sources for income, that's a topic for another day.)

How long does it take to write a PB manuscript in the first place? I've heard from 1 day to 3 years, or from 1 week to 2 years. So...let's say from 1 day or 1 week up to 2-3 years. Average time? A year? How many revisions? Two or three up to 20+. It depends. Whatever works for THAT story is what it needs. Patience IS a virtue.

How about the publishing bit? Remember, you are a bamboo! Average is 9 years. I heard once that it takes 6-10 years to become an established author. (Or 2-5 books!) Aaron Shepard says it takes 8-10 years. Remember the 10,000 hour rule. You have to do something for 10,000 hours to be considered proficient at it. So stay productive and get it done!

So how long have you been at it? Me? Since the summer of 2009. So I've got 2 and a half years down into the rooting system. How about you?

Keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Contest and Giveaway Winner

Four leaf clover ImageThe Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest is now accepting entries for the Winter Contest. The deadline is March 31st and the winner will be announced on the 4th Saturday in April (4-28-12). The winner will receive a free detailed critique from me and bragging rights. You may enter in any one of four categories: Early (age 2-5), Regular (age 4-8), Non-fiction (age 5-10), and Rhyming. For more info on how to enter, please visit my Picture Book Contest tab.

Remember, you only have FIVE weeks left! So I won't take any more of your precious time...go WRITE!

Oh wait! I have a winner to announce.

I had a 300 Follower Giveaway this week. Thanks to all who celebrated with me. Too bad I couldn't give away 300 hours, minutes, or even seconds. However the winner will receive a picture book: Big Chickens Go To Town by Leslie Helakoski, illustrated by Henry Cole. And the winner is...

...Penny Klostermann! Just e-mail me your mailing address and I'll send it on over. Congratulations!

And if you missed last Saturday's Pass-the-Paper post about Leonard the Pig, come join in the conversation and see if we can't give him what he wants most in life: to roll around in the mud. Big fun!

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

READ-4-LUCK: Hilarious "Biography"

READ-4-LUCK is the weekly feature that acts as a book recommendation, book review, teaching tip, and writing lesson for children, parents, teachers, and writers.

 = Not bad. Might read twice.

 = Fun read first few times. Would get from library again.
 = Very enjoyable. Wouldn't mind owning a copy.
 = Awesome! Never tiresome for children, parents, teachers, or writers. May just have to buy this book.

This week's pick is Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Stacy Innerst
In tall-tale fashion, this book retells how Levi Strauss went to California during the Gold Rush, saw the need for a sturdier kind of trouser, and invented jeans.
 
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.
Year: 2011
Word Count: 1098
Book Level: 3.9
Age: 4-8
Topic: History, Biography, Inventions
Theme: Humor, Tall-tales, Solving Problems
First Page
     "Gold!" somebody yelled. Next thing anybody knew, the whole world rushed to California and started digging up the place. The trouble was, they rushed so fast, they lost their pants.
RATINGS
CHILDREN:  This book is so much fun. The pictures are quite funny, too. Kids get a big kick out of seeing grown men walking around wearing nothing but a big barrell.

PARENTS:  This has got to be the funniest picture book I have ever read. I was laughing so much, my son said, "Mom! Quit laughing! Slow down. Now what did that part say again?" If you don't like the word "DANG!" then maybe you won't want this one. But it's still just so much fun!

TEACHERS: 
 Perfect for integrating into a tall tale unit. Or a Social Studies unit on the Gold Rush, or clothing, or the West. What fun you can have! The author's note in the back also gives the real deal on what went down. Very interesting - good for 5th graders to see that history can give ideas for great stories.

WRITERS: 
 Another PB full of voice. I SO wish I had written this book! A great book to study. Think of all the fodder we have to write about...the world is FULL of history! All I can say is WHAT FUN! I can't wait to map this one out!

Be sure to visit other "perfect picture books" at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Keep on keepin' on...

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