How to Write Like a Professional

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

400 Follower Giveaway

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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!

                    
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