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

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SCBWI Farewell Thoughts

Sunday morning came and went. I'm already waiting to go back next year. Attending an annual writing event is one of the best things you can do for your writing. If you missed the 12 writing tips I shared earlier, you'll definitely want to read those!

SCBWI notes: editing, ideas, art notes, and arcs || how to write | writing tips | writing for children

Cynthea Liu led an hour and a half Breakout Session on Plotting Without the Plodding. Basically, edit your:
  1. Sentences
  2. Paragraphs
  3. Pages
By cutting unnecessary dialogue and details, you can smooth out your page-level pacing. Weave in the the details as part of the action. Don't make them separate. Read your work aloud to see if it has "read-aloud power."

To pass the "Idea Stress Test," your book idea must:
  1. be as kid-friendly as it can be
  2. as universally appealing as possible
  3. appeal to the target consumer (kids, parents, teachers, librarians)
For picture book art notes, try this.

If the text says something that could warrant an example because it's not very specific, but may not be sure of the meaning, then you could give an example in the notes to show what you mean. That way, you're not telling the editor or illustrator that you're bent on having it portrayed a certain way.

For example, if the text says "She was quieter than an owl," then you could put (she is an excellent meditator e.g. does yoga poses for long periods of time even when noise is all around her).

Quiet books still have an arc.

Dan Yaccarino gave the closing keynote speech. He shared all about his life and his writing and illustrating journey. We will still get told NO lots of times, even after we get published. There will always be challenges. The takeaway message was to "meet challenges with YES, no matter how many times we hear NO." Very inspiring!

Now go WRITE! And keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

SCBWI Carolinas - 2013

I am sitting in my hotel room on the Saturday night of the AWESOME SCBWI conference in the Carolinas. This was my 3rd year attending. Third year IN A ROW. After that first amazing year, I made it a goal to attend EVERY year thereafter. So far, so good. The people here are wonderful and open and giving. Everyone shares and laughs. It's electrifying to have so much passion around you.

SCBWI writing tips | simple advice for writers | powerful tips for children's book writers

This year, I heard Cynthea Liu, Alan Gratz, Dan Yaccarino, Emma Ledbetter, Patti Ann Harris, Joy Neaves, Emily Easton, and more speak to us. The agent panel was lively with Stephen Barr, Sarah Davies, and Danielle Smith.

A few things I learned:
  1. When submitting attachments (and only when requested, of course), make sure they are .doc and not .docx.
  2. Do what works for you.
  3. Stay true to your vision.
  4. Set clear goals and write them down, even the ones that seem unattainable.
  5. Celebrate every success, but especially the small ones like finishing a manuscript, getting your 10th rejection letter, writing for a solid hour this week.
  6. The main character can be the antagonist, while it's the protagonist who actually does the changing.
  7. To sell a lot of picture books, your book must do at least one of these three things really well (more is better):
    • deal with a subject that speaks to the child
    • use rich language to create special moments
    • create genuine characters
  8. Word count doesn't really matter.
  9. Idea notebooks are important.
  10. It's always about the craft, the actual writing. Keep practicing.
  11. Even in the first 200 words, be grounded in time and place, get to the conflict early on, hint at what's at stake for your character, save all the details for later, and use good language without being too descriptive.
  12. And of course READ, READ, READ. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. REVISE, REVISE, REVISE.
Looking forward to the final workshop with Cynthea Liu and the Closing Keynote with Dan Yaccarino tomorrow morning. It feels good to be recharged.

Today's QUESTION: What do you do to get recharged? Yearly, monthly, weekly, even daily?

My annual SCBWI conference is a definite must! Not sure about the rest of the year, anybody have any great ideas?

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Read Me on Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari (NOT Google Chrome)

For some reason, one of my lovely blog follower friends got malware on their site. Then they commented on my site, and now Google Chrome browser (my favorite) won't let you read any posts on my blog. Won't let me even GO to my blog from Chrome. So, if you see my title, please use another browser when reading my blog. If anyone has any thoughts, tips, or ideas on how to fix the problem, please share! I tried deleting the comment, but I don't think that fixed a thing. In the mean time, I had an interview at a school today. I'll find out Friday if I get the 6th grade Language Arts position. (I hope so!!!!!)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How Pet Peeves Make You a Better Writer

Apparently I don't like doing MUNDANE simple things over and over and over and over and over. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out my last post about my top three pet peeves. You can share yours too, in the comments.

How pet peeves can make you a better writer

It's a good thing I don't find writing mundane and simple, even though parts of typing can often seem that way when I'm trying to delete a single word and I have to repeatedly hit the delete button because my fingers keep missing.

Pet peeves can help you find a character flaw to add depth to your characters. If you have a repetitive-type pet peeve, then you'll understand that revision is something that needs to be repeated often. Sometimes over a long period of several years. And that's how pet peeves can make you a better writer. Making changes to create a better story, something that won't irk an editor of your adoring fans.

Things I LOVE!!!

  1. Revising a story over and over, sometimes for years, just to get it RIGHT! Very satisfying.
  2. A balmy summer's day with sunshine, a few clouds, and a gentle breeze - in the mid-70s. And a motorcycle ride to boot!
  3. Hugs and kisses from my children. That never gets old.
  4. Going to bed at the end of a long day.
  5. Sleeping in.
  6. Finding a coin on the sidewalk, in the couch, in the laundry. Collecting
  7. And blogger comments!
Apparently repetition was the theme for the last two days. 
What are some repetitive things YOU like and don't like?

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pet Peeves

Feel the need to vent a bit? Me too! My top three pet peeves.

Pet Peeves || just for fun | dirty laundry

  1. When I'm folding the laundry and I'm going too fast and/or my vision fails me and I turn a perfectly good right-side out shirt INSIDE OUT because I thought it was inside out to begin with! Grrr...
  2. When I'm typing and I miss the shift key at the beginning of a sentence. Three times in a row! Such a simple thing and I'm deleting back back back over and over just to get it right!
  3. When I go to pick something up and I miss. Multiple times! Why can't I just pick it up the first time!!!
And the runners up...
  1. When I use ALL CAPS, italics, and boldface type in the same blog post. Can't I just pick ONE, one, one and stick with it?
  2. When I'm talking to someone and they have to ask "What?" more than once. 
  3. When I'm talking to someone and I have to ask "What?" more than once.

More runners up... (things that just annoy me, but don't make me go "GRRR!")
  1. When the cap is left off the toothpaste.
  2. When a wet towel is left on my bed.
  3. When the toilet seat is left up, when the kids don't flush, when the little boy misses, when the TP isn't replaced on the roller.
  4. When someone says, "You need to..." A LOT!
And the opposite? Come back tomorrow for how pet peeves make you a better writer.

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest SPRING 2013 WINNER

It's time to announce the winner for the SPRING 2013 Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest! A huge congratulations goes out to...

...Lauri Meyers with her 800-word manuscript, Mapmaker!

Carter, a "famous" mapmaker, uses a map to go everywhere, even to the kitchen for breakfast. He is sought after for the flawless maps he creates, but when he makes a mistake drawing a treasure map, Carter has to face his fear of getting lost to rescue a pirate.

Congratulations, Lauri! Since this is your second time winning, you will no longer be eligible to enter in future contests. That's a big bummer because I really enjoy reading your work. You can expect your critique within five business days.

Just a reminder: the SUMMER 2013 is currently open for submissions. Get those submissions sent in! Just e-mail your ms to me according to the manuscript guidelines. The deadline is September 30.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Write the Next Book

Everyone tells you the best way to get more sales is to write the next book. So I've started my own business to help other authors do just that. By developing a web site for them, they will have more time to write that next book instead of focusing on how to change the font on their header or learning how to create a link or insert an image. I realize these examples are fairly simple, especially when it comes to blogging, but a website? That's another creature all together. At least a professional looking one is. Anyone can turn a blog into a website, but it won't have that polished website feel to it. It'll have a very BLOG-ish feel to it.

I just started my final college course in the Website Developer program yesterday. I'll be finished in December. So as a tribute, I'm sharing my home page for Write the Next Book Web Designs with you. Since I'm not ready to launch the whole site live yet, this is just a sneak preview. The FULL version will be coming soon, though! Hopefully by New Year's or Valentine's.


Actually you can click straight to the link as well, writethenextbook.com. Going to school and keeping up with a blog is very hard to do simultaneously! Anyway, have a good day!

And keep on keepin' on!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Famous Author, Famous Illustrator

About a month ago, I started a sparkly new feature: Favorite Pages. At last, here is the NEXT blog post, and as promised, I will share the answer. Thanks for being patient.

Favorite Pages #1: ANSWER

The book is written by a famous author: Margaret Wise Brown.
The book is written by a famous illustrator: Felicia Bond.
It was published by HarperCollinsPublishers in 1956, 1989, and 2002.

And the book is...BIG RED BARN.

Do any of you own this book? Had it as a child? What's your favorite page?
___________________________________________________

And now...for the next two days, I shall immerse myself in WriteOnCon.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Favorite Pages #1

I thought I might start a new feature. We'll see how it goes. It's short, fun, and suspenseful. Here's the premise.

  1. I'll read a picture book and be enlightened.
  2. I'll say, "Oh! That's my favorite page in the whole book!"
  3. I'll take a picture from a page inside the book and post it on my blog.
  4. I'll share why it's my favorite. 
  5. And the next post, I'll tell you which book it is!
You guys guess which book it is and see if you're right, then decide if it's your favorite page too! Most of all, share with others, and have fun! Thanks for still being here, even though I pretty much skipped all of June! The winner for the Lucky Clover contest will be posted soon. And by the way, I am now accepting submissions for the SUMMER session.

Favorite Pages #1:


"While the moon sailed high"

Why this page is SO awesome: 
The moon is a reflection in the tub of water, with a toy boat sailing in it. Such a wonderful juxtaposition of words and images. So nice. Toward the end of the book, too. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

HIGH FIVE Interview #28: Nancy Viau

Nancy Viau already has a book out, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head, but it's not a picture book. Her debut picture book is Look What I Can Do! out just four months ago. And a second picture book only a mere one month later, Storm Song. Nancy has been patiently waiting for me to post her interview. And all you lovely readers who noticed that I skipped last month, and missed the High Five, it's here, it's here, it's here! Please welcome the the lovely, patient, talented, and wonderful Nancy Viau with us today!

Title:  Look What I Can Do!
Author:  Nancy Viau
Illustrator:  Anna Vojtech
Publisher:  Abrams Books for Young Readers
Release date:  March 12, 2013
Word count:  250

Slither like a snake! Leap like a frog! It’s not easy to learn new things, especially when you’re little. Look What I Can Do! celebrates how baby animals in the forest overcome challenges. The refrain sends a positive message, encouraging children to keep trying even if things seem difficult at first. With rhythmic text and extraordinary artwork, Look What I Can Do! affirms the important milestones that children achieve each day, and is the perfect story hour or bedtime read.

Title:  Storm Song
Author:  Nancy Viau
Illustrator:  Gynux
Publisher:  Amazon Children’s Publishing, formerly Marshall Cavendish
Release date:  April 16, 2013
Word count:  120

As thunder and lightning approach, a family gathers inside to play, sing, eat, and snuggle together until the weather clears. This sweet story captures both the excitement of a thunderstorm and the reassurance needed for children. The lively, rhythmic text mimics the storm sounds while the bold, playful art shows this special family time.

Question ONE
What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.

This list changes every week, but here are my answers right this minute.  

  1. This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers
  2. Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli
  3. The Butt Book by Artie Bennett

Weekly, huh? Wow!  I love moose books and butt books and Eileen Spinelli, too!

Question TWO
How often did you read to your children when they were younger; do you feel like you have an extra special bond with your children because of books? Did you read to them once they were teens?

When my kids were young, I’d always read to them here and there throughout the day—signs at the grocery store, billboards, food labels(!), but bedtime was a special time that we shared books. It didn’t matter if it was a book on bug eyes or a fairy tale, we’d ooh and ahh over the words and the art until we were too sleepy to see any more. Sure, we bonded over the stories, but it was the ritual that meant so much. No matter what kind of day we had—terrific, terrible, annoying, happy, cranky, sick, etc.—we always snuggled together and ended it with a good book. As teens, the kids read on their own, but every once in a while we’d read the same book (or magazine article on anything from cool surfing spots to hot make-up tips) and compare notes.

Sounds wonderful! I agree that the book ritual makes it easier to strengthen that parent/child bond. And that's why we need SO many awesome children's writers.

Question THREE
How might teachers use these books in the classroom?

Both spring releases have excellent tie-ins to curriculum and can reinforce preschool to grade two lessons on science (habitats), nature (weather), character education (self-esteem, growing up, fears), and families. Since both are in rhyme, educators can use them to introduce rhyming words, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and plenty more! On my website, www.nancyviau.com, there are comprehensive cross curricula guides for all my books, and they’re FREE.

Sounds wonderful! I think educators need as many curricula tie-ins as they can find, especially science!

Question FOUR
What was your road to publication like?

I have such a convoluted, long journey to picture book publication. Are you sure you want to hear it? I don’t want to scare anybody! : ) When I began writing over ten years ago, it was picture books that stole my heart. I loved fiction and was particularly fond of rhyming stories, sweet stories, and anything with a science theme. But submission after submission led to rejection after rejection. A critique partner suggested I try writing for an older audience, and voila—as luck would have it, a middle grade book, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head, was born. However, I never stopped working toward having a picture book on the shelves. Several manuscripts went to acquisitions, but as it turns out, a really simple rhyming story I started years before, Look What I Can Do!, was destined to be my debut. Prior to Abrams acquiring it in 2009, it went through numerous revisions (too many to count), rejections (20 +), and title changes (6). To my surprise, a second picture book, Storm Song, sold a year and a half later. I seriously thought it’d take another ten years! Currently, I have one picture book and one easy reader out on submission (agented), and I’m caught between working on several new story ideas that inspire me during the day and rewriting a few older ones that keep me up at night.

I don't think that's convoluted at all. Sounds like the "average" writer's journey; just read through my list of other High Five interviews! It is so awesome!

Question FIVE
What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?

  1. If you love a story, don’t give up on it. Take those rejections and use what the editors suggest to make it stronger, but try not to sacrifice what you love about the story.
  2. If it’s not in you to write every day, don’t do it. Write when you are inspired because that’s when you’ll create your best work.
  3. Make connections with editors at conferences and submit work to them!

Thank you, Nancy, for all your wonderful answers, for sharing your journey, knowledge, and insight with us. I hope my readers buy your books and that you find a home for all your future books. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

400 Follower Giveaway

Source
In February, I celebrated my 3rd year of blogging, which means I've started my 4th year. In April, the 4th month, I wrote my 400th blog post. And I recently gained my 400th follower, and now up to 404. So, it's time for the awesome 400 Follower Giveaway! 

But first, a quick reminder that the Spring Session of the Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest is now OPEN to receiving submissions. Enter now through June 30 for a chance to win a critique. Be sure to follow the submission guidelines and send in your best work.

So, back to the giveaway, since I have 400+ followers (THANK YOU!!!). Here are 4 clues:

  1. It might have cost 400 pennies.
  2. It probably contains 400 words.
  3. It definitely can be used 400 times.
  4. and it will certainly cause 400 laughs.
(...it's 4 Mad Libs books... SO much FUN!) I recently participated in a blog hop giveaway where one lucky reader won a Napoleon Dynamite Mad Libs. But this one, you get ALL FOUR!!!!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment WITH your e-mail. Answer one question: What is (one of) your favorite feature(s) on my blog? And follow me if you think you'll return again, but only if you want to. Open until Tuesday, May 28th at midnight. Winner will be announced on Thursday May 30, along with the next Pot-O-Gold Blogger Award winner. Good luck!

Again, thank you all so very much for making the blogging worth it. If it weren't for you, I might not have lasted this long. Thank you for being here with me in cyberspace and dropping in from time to time. Thank you for your support and encouragement. THANK YOU!!!! 

Keep on keepin' on...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

HIGH FIVE Interview #27: Karen Casale



Today's guest is Karen Casale, the very lucky writer extraordinaire. She writes, markets, submits, and sells! A former assistant librarian, she knows what it takes to keeps book safe. I think you'll enjoy her story. Read on! And be sure to give her a high five!  

Title: Never Let a Ghost Borrow your Library Book: Book Care Guidelines from the Library Secret Service
Author: Karen Casale
Illustrator: Cecilia Rebora
Publisher: Upstart Books
Release Date: October 2012
Word Count: About 900

Summary:
Two Library Secret Service (L.S.S.) agents inform kids how to care for books in an off-the-wall, comical way. Don’t let your pets eat your library books; don’t let Mom or Dad munch on them either. Never let a ghost borrow your library book because ghosts have a habit of disappearing. The book is filled with tips and pointers for novice and seasoned book lovers alike.

Question ONE
What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.
  1. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (because I feel like I am spying owls in the cold woods along with the characters)
  2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (because I just want to join in the wild-thing fun and gnash my terrible teeth)
  3. All the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems (because they are so funny and I love the reader interaction)
Yes, all classic picture books. I love them too!

Question TWO
How often did you read to your children when they were younger; do you feel like you have an extra special bond with your children because of books? Did you read with them once they were older?

I still read with my 11-year old son, Evan. We read chapter books, novels and lots and lots of picture books. He loves reading with me. My other two sons are 19 and 16. I used to read all the time with them before bed. Even when they got too old for that, they would stand in the doorway and listen when I read to Evan. Every summer, we would choose a novel or two and read together taking turns. My kids know how important books are because we read so much. And they see me reading all the time.

That is so cool your older children stand and listen in.

Question THREE
How might teachers use your book in the classroom?

Teachers can use my book in the classroom to show students how to take care of any type of book, not just library books. I wrote this book when I worked as a library asst. at an elementary school library and wanted a book on book care to use with my K-2 students. I couldn’t find one that wasn’t ancient, so I started making a list and then wrote it.

Interesting! 

Question FOUR
What was your road to publication like?

Like I said earlier, I started this book because I couldn’t find one to use with my students. My husband is a Sgt. in the police dept. so I started thinking about the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service and came up with the L.S.S. agents and aliens and ghosts. From there it started pouring out. I probably revised about 10 times, until I felt like it flowed and had everything it needed.

I knew Upstart Books published books about the library and reading so I sent it in. I only sent it to Upstart and they accepted it. I guess I was really lucky, but I targeted specifically to them and it paid off. It took almost three years from idea to publication. My editor asked me to tone the book down a bit and make a few minor changes, but it pretty much stayed the same as my original work.

My illustrator, Cecilia lives in Barcelona Spain so we’ve only talked once through email after the book was published. I never used illustrator notes, but I worked with the art director closely and she had Cecilia revise some sketches because I wanted the characters to look like real Secret Service agents and I wanted ghosts throughout the book.

My goal now is to get an agent. Researching editors and publishers is a lot of hard work and I like the writing part much better. I am a member of SCBWI and that really helps. I have a few manuscripts out there now.  My editor at Upstart is considering a companion L.S.S. book called Never Let an Alien in the Library. I have one book out to an agent and one query out with a small publisher.

Yes, I'd say extremely lucky! Sounds like you have a lot of exciting things on the horizon.

Question FIVE
What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication? 
  1. After you write and revise, read your work out loud. You will notice parts to revise once again. You will hear the flow and find words that don’t work.
  2. Join SCBWI and go to conferences – it’s the best thing any novice or experienced children’s author can do. 
  3. Go to the library and read every picture book you can to see what works, to see what’s new, to see what publisher is publishing what.
  4. You said three, but number four is Never give up!
Thank you SO much for being here with us today! And congratulations, again, on your debut book. My readers and I wish you all the best of luck with your book and all your future endeavors. Come back and visit whenever you can.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Winter is Over; Spring is Here (Winter 2013 contest winner)

sportstraveler.net
The winner of the Winter Picture Book Contest was supposed to have been announced on the 22nd of last month, but due to the A to Z Challenge, my entire schedule got sideswiped. Will you accept the 2nd of this month instead? I hope so! It was a difficult contest to judge with so many great entries. However, I could only choose one. Without further ado, the winner of the contest is...

Jodi Cardillo
...for her book manuscript...
Priscilla the Aqua Star

Congratulations!!!
Priscilla the blue whale swims like a natural. She's the star of the ocean. But when she tries out for the synchronized swimming team, being a star isn't what she thinks it is. Priscilla must learn how to work with others if she ever wants to be a star in the show.
Jodi, you can expect your critique within two weeks. Congratulations, again. Remember, if you ever get it traditionally published, give me a shout. I'd love to interview you for my High Five feature.

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Phantom Tollbooth

The answer to April's A-Z Blogging Challenge is...The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer. Written in 1961. Look at all the different book covers. It was even turned into a movie in 1970. Copyright renewed in 1989. The section I quoted from was found on pages 150-155. Congratulations to all those who participated, stopped by, and made guesses. If you got it right, you get 10 extra gold stars and a handful of M&M's. Kudos to you all. Have a happy May!

                    

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Z END (Z whole passage)

Z is for Z END, Z whole enchilada, and Z day you get to "guess" what book I have been using for the past 30 days. Go ahead, throw your answers around in the comments. Tomorrow, I'll unveil the answer! Here's the whole passage, from pages 150 to 155:



A gentle voice sang out, "Right this way; I'm in the parlor."

"Can I talk now?" cried Milo happily, hearing his voice once again.

"Yes, but only in here," she replied softly. "Now do come into the parlor."

Milo walked slowly down the long hallway and into the little room where the Soundkeeper sat listening intently to an enormous radio set, whose switches, dials, knobs, meters, and speaker covered one whole wall, and which at the moment was playing nothing.


"Isn't that lovely?" she sighed. "It's my favorite program - fifteen minutes of silence - and after that there's a half hour of quiet and then an interlude of lull. Why, did you know that there are almost as many kinds of stillness as there are sounds? But, sadly enough, no one pays any attention to them these days. Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn?" she inquired. "Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause in ta roomful of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're all alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful, if you listen carefully."

As she spoke, the thousands of little bells and chimes which covered her from head to toe tinkled softly and, as if in reply, the telephone began to ring, too. "For someone who loves silence, she certainly talks a great deal," thought Milo.

"At one time I was able to listen to any sound made any place at any time," the Soundkeeper remarked, pointing towards the radio wall, "but now I merely--"

"Pardon me," interrupted Milo as the phone continued to ring, "but aren't you going to answer it?"
"Oh no, not in the middle of the program," she replied, and turned the silence up a little louder.

"But it may be important," insisted Milo.

"Not at all," she assured him; "it's only me. It gets so lonely around here, with no sounds to distribute or collect, that I call myself seven or eight times a day just to see how I am."

"How are you?" he asked politely.

"Not very well, I'm afraid I seem to have a touch of static," she complained. "But what brings you here? Of course--you've come to tour the vaults. Well, they're usually open to the public only on Mondays from two to four, but since you've traveled so far, we'll have to make an exception. Follow me, please." She quickly bounced to her feet with a chorus of jingles and chimes and started down the hallway. "Don't you just love jingles and chimes? I do," she answered quickly. "Besides, they're very convenient, for I'm always getting lost in this big fortress, and all I have to do is listen for them and then I know exactly where I am."

They entered a tiny cagelike elevator and traveled down for fully three quarters of a minute, stopping finally in an immense vault, whose long lines of file drawers and storage bins stretched in all directions from where here began to where there ended, and from floor to ceiling.

"Every sound that's ever been made in history is kept here," said the Soundkeeper, skipping down one of the corridors with Milo in hand. "For instance, look here," She opened one of the drawers and pulled out a small brown envelope. "This is the tune George Washington whistled when he crossed the Delaware on that icy night in 1777."

Milo peered into the envelope and, sure enough, that's exactly what was in it. "But why do you collect them all?" he asked as she closed the drawer.

"If we didn't collect them," said the Soundkeeper as they continued to stroll through the vault, "the air would be full of old sounds and noises bouncing around and bumping into things. It would be terribly confusing, because you'd never know whether you were listening to an old one or a new one. Besides, I do like to collect things, and there are more sounds than almost anything else. Why, I have everything here from the buzz of a mosquito a million years ago to what your mother said to you this morning, and if you come back here in two days, I'll tell you what she said tomorrow. It's really very simple; let me show you. Say a word--any word."

"Hello," said Milo, for that was all he could think of.

"Now where do you think it went?" she asked with a smile.

"I don't know," said Milo, shrugging his shoulders. "I always thought that--"

"Most people do," she hummed, peering down one of the corridors. "Now, let me see: first we find the cabinet with today's sounds. Ah, here it is. Then we look under G for greetings, then under M for Milo, and here it is already in its envelope. So, you see, the whole system is quite automatic. It's a shame we hardly use it any more."

"That's wonderful," gasped Milo. "May I have one little sound as a souvenir?"
"Certainly," she said with pride, and then, immediately thinking better of it, added, "not. And don't try to take one, because it's strictly against the rules."

Milo was crestfallen. He had no idea how to steal a sound, even the smallest one, for the Soundkeeper always had at least one eye carefully focused on him.

"Now for a look at the workshops," she cried, whisking him through another door and into a large abandoned laboratory full of old pieces of equipment, all untended and rusting."This is where we used to invent the sounds," she said wistfully.

"Do they have to be invented?" asked Milo, who seemed surprised at almost everything she told him. "I thought they just were."

"No one realizes how much trouble we go through to make them," she complained. "Why, at one time this shop was crowded and busy from morning to night."

"But how do you invent a sound?" Milo inquired.

"Oh, that's very easy," she said. "First you must decide exactly what the sound looks like, for each sound has its own exact shape and size. Then you make some of them here in the shop, and grind each one three times into an invisible powder, and throw a little of each into the air every time you need it."

"But I've never seen a sound," Milo insisted.

"You never see them out there," she said, waving her arm in the general direction of everywhere except every once in a while on a very cold morning when they freeze. But in here we see them all the time. Here, let me show you."

She picked up a padded stick and struck a nearby bass drum six times. Six large woolly, fluffy cotton balls, each about two feet across, rolled silently out onto the floor. "You see," she said, putting some of them into a large grinder. "Now listen." And she took a pinch of the invisible powder and threw it into the air with a "BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM."

There you have it, A to Z-ers! Z whole passage laid out before you. If you don't know the answer, don't read the comments. Google it and see if you can figure it out. When you're ready for the spoiler, read the comments and click over to see 17 different book covers for this classic children's book.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for YOU


"You see," she said, putting some of them into a large grinder. "Now listen." And she took a pinch of the invisible powder and threw it into the air with a "BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM."

HINT: A handclap looks like a single sheet of clean white paper. Laughter looks like a thousand tiny brightly colored bubbles. And music is woven in looms to create tapestries, rugs, bolts of cloth, and brightly colored handkerchiefs.

Tomorrow is the day you get to GUESS. And I'll share the WHOLE passage, too! It's from pages 150-155.  The book

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for except


"except every once in a while on a very cold morning when they freeze. But in here we see them all the time. Here, let me show you." 
She picked up a padded stick and struck a nearby bass drum six times. Six large woolly, fluffy cotton balls, each about two feet across, rolled silently out onto the floor.

Two more days left!

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for what


...what the sound looks like, for each sound has its own exact shape and size. Then you make some of them here in the shop, and grind each one three times into an invisible powder, and throw a little of each into the air every time you need it." 
"But I've never seen a sound," Milo insisted. 
"You never see them out there," she said, waving her arm in the general direction of everywhere...

Hint: Some might say it's a chapter book, others would call it a middle grade novel. Either way, it contains black and white pictures throughout.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for very

...very easy," she said. "First you must decide exactly...

Only FOUR more days left of the A-Z blogging challenge. Hope you've done your research. What book am I using? Think you know? Tell us in the comments: I know, I know, I know!!! Z is almost here, with the FULL passage and your chance to guess what book I used.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for untended

...untended and rusting."This is where we used to invent the sounds," she said wistfully. 
"Do they have to be invented?" asked Milo, who seemed surprised at almost everything she told him. "I thought they just were." 
"No one realizes how much trouble we go through to make them," she complained. "Why, at one time this shop was crowded and busy from morning to night." 
"But how do you invent a sound?" Milo inquired. 
"Oh, that's...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for through


...through another door and into a large abandoned laboratory full of old pieces of equipment, all...

Remember, all you book lovers out there, this whole month has been a blogfest of epic proportions. I've been quoting from a single book, and if you think you know which book it is, you can tell the world on April 30th! Z day!

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for steal


...steal a sound, even the smallest one, for the Soundkeeper always had at least one eye carefully focused on him. 
"Now for a look at the workshops," she cried, whisking him...
Clue: This book was published in the 1960's and again in the 1980's.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for rules


"...rules." 
Milo was crestfallen. He had no idea how to...

Hint: this book has less than 300 pages. Remember to wait until Z day to share which book you think I'm using. Missed a day? No problem! Just click the links to the left in my blog history.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for quite


...quite automatic. It's a shame we hardly use it any more." 
"That's wonderful," gasped Milo. "May I have one little sound as a souvenir?" 
"Certainly," she said with pride, and then, immediately thinking better of it, added, "not. And don't try to take one, because it's strictly against the...

10 bonus points to anyone who can guess the next word, and if you haven't caught on by now, it starts with the next letter of the alphabet: R.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for people

...people do," she hummed, peering down one of the corridors. "Now, let me see: first we find the cabinet with today's sounds. Ah, here it is. Then we look under G for greetings, then under M for Milo, and here it is already in its envelope. So, you see, the whole system is...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for old


...old one or a new one. Besides, I do like to collect things, and there are more sounds than almost anything else. Why, I have everything here from the buzz of a mosquito a million years ago to what your mother said to you this morning, and if you come back here in two days, I'll tell you what she said tomorrow. It's really very simple; let me show you. Say a word--any word." 
"Hello," said Milo, for that was all he could think of.
"Now where do you think it went?" she asked with a smile. 
"I don't know," said Milo, shrugging his shoulders. "I always thought that--" 
"Most... 
Hint: both author and illustrator have a J in their names.

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