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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Merry Christmas, Poinsettia!

Source
Merry Christmas! If you received a poinsettia this year, please don't throw it away in a week or two, or even in a month or two. This article came from SheKnows.com and I am sharing it to help preserve the poinsettia's life span. I received a beautiful poinsettia last year, and this year it is still alive, but not thriving. So I did a Google search and found this article. Next year, I hope to have less leggy stalks, bigger blooms, and lots of big red leaves. Enjoy, and good luck!

January/February/March
Simply continue to water the poinsettia as you would any plant, never allowing the soil to completely dry.

April
Now it needs to hibernate a little. So to help it go dormant, beginning April 1, gradually decrease water, allowing the soil to get dry between watering. Be careful the stem does not begin to wither. Should this happen your plant is rejecting your efforts, thus declining fast. After a couple of weeks, the plant will have got use to this drying process, so you can move it to a nice coldish place that stays around 60 degrees F (best bet may be against an outside wall, and definitely out of direct sunlight.) Water very little, never soaking or allowing it to sit in water.

May
About mid-May, cut all stems back to finger length (about 4 inches.) To be ready for the plant's eventual growth spurt, take this time to repot the poinsettia in a somewhat bigger container. If it is still in the plastic pot, I switch it into something more decorative, too. Take your time and water well to wake it up. Now you can bring back to the sunniest spot you have in your home, this will keep it at a temperature up to 75 degrees F throughout the summer and into September. Continue watering on a regular schedule. You should soon begin to notice some regeneration — stalks, sprouts or leaves.

June
You can now move your poinsettia outside for a summer blast of sunshine and temperatures. Keep it in a partially shaded location (never direct sunlight). Water regularly.

July
Right after July 4, take a moment and cut back each stem the length of your thumb tip. It's tempting to leave the growth, but if left uncut now, the poinsettia will grow rather leggy and lanky.

August/September
By mid-August, each branch will have new growth. Once again, pinch or cut them back to a small handful of leaves on each shoot. Now's the time to bring the plant back inside (so the temperature remains regular) and place in your sunny window. Water regularly.

October
To get poinsettias to re-bloom, at this point they must be limited to 12 hours or less of sunlight per day. This might sound tricky, but all you have to remember is that starting October 1 until almost the end of November, keep your plant in complete darkness from 5 pm to 8 am.

November
The last week in Nov. you can keep the poinsettia in the window full time. You should see several flower buds now.

December
Continue to water it the way you did when it was new — and enjoy as it continues to bloom throughout the season!

QUESTION: Did YOU give or receive a poinsettia this year? (Or even last year?) Say, "Me!" if you will join my mission to keep your poinsettia alive all year and see if you can "bring it back" next year!

This article was originally published as "Poinsettias: How to keep them thriving year-round" at SheKnows.com on Nov 27, 2012 by Mar Jennings. You can read the full article, which includes fertilizer information, a little history about the plant, and a blurb to make you WANT to keep the plant all year.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

How to Be Courageous

This is a special blog post written by Barbara Wade, a business coach and mentor. She gave special permission to reprint her blog in its entirety. I thought you might enjoy reading about these 4 basic fears. I think mine falls under the "financial insecurity" block. Don't be afraid to chime in.

How to Be Courageous || Fear by Barbara Wade | overcoming writing fears | business fears

FEAR
by Barbara Wade

My kids are afraid of creaky sounds late at night, shadows on the wall, ghosts, goblins, and ghoulies. I laugh and think their silly fears are “cute.”  
The fears I have as a business owner, on the other hand, are completely rational, accurate, and grounded in reality.  
Right.  
Yes, building a successful business can be tough. And keeping it profitable is a challenge. But I have found that the biggest obstacles to being prosperous are the often-irrational opinions we have about ourselves. It is the sabotaging self-talk and limiting beliefs that hold us back, not the difficulty of any particular task.  
Or as entrepreneur Jen Groover (author of What If? & Why Not?) says, Until you can jump over your inner roadblocks, the outer ones will stay firmly in place.”  
So…. What are you afraid of?  
Fear of Failure
You are going to fail. I mean it. At some point, something you try will not work the way you want it to. Failure is not is not a sign of defeat, but instead an indication of progress. The only way to not fail is to not try. Use your setbacks as learning opportunities. Consider failure as just new, valuable information about how not to do something. Then course correct and move on.  
Fear of Inadequacy
“She’s got so much potential!” Some people continuously bask in the glory of what “could be” rather than take action and maybe prove that all the implied possibility was misplaced. They fear that they are not smart enough, creative enough, talented enough, or lucky enough to succeed. If you find yourself constantly doubting your own abilities, make a list of all the business skills you know you have and you don’t have. Then get help with the latter ones by learning or delegating.  
Fear of Financial Insecurity
It used to be that having a corporate career meant job security, a regular paycheck, health benefits, and a retirement package. Those were the perks of workin’ for the man (or the woman). But these days, owning your own business can actually offer better security. I mean, it’s unlikely that you’ll lay yourself off! Cash flow is probably the biggest challenge to new businesses. So keep your outflows done in the beginning and learn to budget. Always get paid up front and if you offer a payment plan, take a deposit before you start your work.  
Fear of Success
It’s surprising how many people suffer from this (and often they don’t even know it!) They unconsciously undermine their own growth because they are afraid of “getting too big.” While it’s true that a million dollar business brings million dollar headaches, it’s usually not those challenges that create the biggest fears. What if I can’t keep up my success? What will my family and friends think? What if prosperity makes me a self-centered jerk?  You must get real about this kind of fear because it can be so insidious. Plan ahead for future expansion, and remember that as the boss of your business, you get to set the pace of growth. And as far as becoming a jerk, I think money is like a magnifying glass. It accentuates whatever is already there. I’ll let you make of that what you will.  
So don’t let fear stall you and stop you. Use it as a tool to motivate you to action.   

  
Business Coach & Mentor Barb Wade specializes in teaching entrepreneurs how to make more money more easily while enjoying a business and lifestyle that reflects their priorities. Download Barb's "Word-for-Word Scripts To Overcome Objections" and book more high-paying clients now at www.BarbWade.com.

So what are YOU afraid of...? 

Keep on keepin' on... 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

So, I am finally making the time to actually write a blog post...AND announce the long-awaited winner of the Lucky Clover Picture Book WINTER Contest.

Congratulations goes out to...

Kimberly Cowger for Sprinkles Goes to School! 

Kimberly, you will receive your long-awaited critique in your e-mail shortly. And if you have perchance already made these edits, I will even take a SECOND look at your story since I made you wait so long.

Congratulations, Kimberly! Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Zombies Are Coming

Actually, the zombies already came and went and now I'm retaliating. I escaped, and I'm still...

 A - L - I - V - E!!!

I've been up to a LOT these last, let's count them, um...FOUR months!!!

  • the race, of course, you've only read about that for the last four months...
  • working on a website for my first client, Kristi Holl, going live next week! (I'll post the date here so any clicks onto her site AFTER that date, will be my design - currently it's hers... Go ahead and peek and be sure to come back in a week to see the difference.)
  • attended a Week of Writing (W.O.W.) Retreat with the great Kristen Fulton in Georgia (AWESOME!!!)
  • training my assistant at work (I got a promotion)
  • WRITING on a few of my manuscripts, polishing them to get ready for submission
  • enjoying the summer with my family
  • took son to his 1st karate tournament in which he won TWO 2nd place trophies!
  • Judging all the entries for the Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest (winner announced SOON, I promise!!!)
  • planting and harvesting a garden (heard of Salad in a Jar?) 
Enough about me, here's a fun gift for you. A video I just stumbled on in YouTube. If you haven't read The Day the Crayons Quit, then you're in for a treat as a librarian reads the book aloud to a 2nd grade class.

What fun! Enjoy!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Writers Who Run: Push Yourself to the Finish Line

Last Saturday, I ran the 4th largest foot race in the U.S., the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC. It's a 10k (6.2 miles). Nearly 40,000 runners show up to run the race and "Get Over It." Lots of fun costumes and great music. They even had watermelon cups at the finish line this year. YUM! Yep, I'll be going back next year. Can't wait. Did it in 1:21:19, which is slower than last year's time, but I was recovering from two separate injuries, too!

how to finish a race | how to finish a novel | story craft | running tips | writing tips

Anyway, onto the writing lesson and running analogy for the day. Motivation station, here we come! So, what do writing and running have to do with each other? Lots, if you love to do both! Pushing yourself through to the end comes to mind this week.

As writers, we must push ourselves to read more, write more, get the words down, revise, revise, revise. Submit, revise again, submit again. Perseverance is what it's all about, after craft, of course. If we don't push ourselves, no one else will. We must first write the story. Including the ending. Then, we can celebrate, revise, get published, whatever. And we start planning the next book. The characters. The plot. The theme. The format. We must write the next book!

As runners, we must push ourselves to get out and run. To take it easy to get through injuries. To bundle up on those cold days and just get it done. And at races, to make it to the finish line. When we're at the start line, the end is already in sight. It's like writing through the last chapter of your novel. You can hear the crowd cheering for you, and you simply have to finish it. Once we cross the finish line, we celebrate. We plan for the next race. When. Where. What distance. Who will go with us. Who will run with us. What the next training plan looks like. We must run the next race!

To the finish line and beyond!!! Because is there ever really truly a finish line? They just keep coming, and we must continually push ourselves to cross them. Others can't do it for us, they can only cheer us on.

What's YOUR next book about? What's YOUR next race coming up?

Keep on keepin' on... 

Friday, April 11, 2014

High Five #32: Persistance Is Key

Here’s a big HIGH FIVE congratulations to Cynthia Grady for her debut picture book, I Lay My Stitches Down. Thanks for being here today, Cynthia! Get ready for the fabulous five questions and Cynthia's fantastic answers. Take it away, Cynthia!



Title:  I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery
Author: Cynthia Grady
Illustrator:  Michele Wood
Publisher:  Eerdmans
Release date:  February 2012
Word count: Not sure. (14 poems plus historical notes for each poem)
Using the American folk tradition of quilting as a structural framework, poet Cynthia Grady weaves together spiritual, musical, and quilting references with evocative imagery to express the pain, sorrow, and weariness as well as the joy and hope sustained by those living in slavery in America. 
Each poem is named for a traditional quilt block pattern: Broken Dishes, Log Cabin; Birds in the Air, etc. and each poem is spoken in the voice of a different slave (except first and last poems—they are present day speakers). Each page also has an explanatory note that provides historical and sometimes literary context for each poem.
Question ONE: What are three of your favorite picture books? 

This is such a hard question! I never know whether to list all-time favorites or current favorites. But here are three books I love.

  1. The Ghost-eye Tree by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
  2. Ol’ Bloo’s Boogie-Woogie Band and Blues Ensemble by Jan Huling
  3. If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano

Question TWO: All sound very interesting. Haven't read any of them, but I've heard of the third one. Despite not having any children of your own, how do you feel that you were drawn to write for them?

I’m drawn to the artful use of language, and combined art forms working together, so I love picture books for that reason. I don’t see myself as a writer for children so much as a writer who uses (among other things) the picture book form—one tool in a writer’s toolbox.

Question THREE: Interesting! I think that's especially true for nonfiction picture books. Picture books aren't just for children. The elementary schools in my area don't call them Easy Books, they call them Everybody Books. How might your book be used in the classroom?

Stitches can be used in so many ways! I’ve written a teacher’s guide that can be downloaded from the Eerdmans website. Teachers of older students can use it to supplement their study of American slavery as well as using it as a mentor text for writing and studying imagery in poetry, writing monologues, and in writing diary entries. All of the poems are written (mostly) in iambic pentameter, so it can be used for advanced work in poetry writing as well.

Teachers of younger students can use Michele Wood’s incredible paintings to anticipate the poems. Study the illustrations before reading the poem. What questions might the students have? Does the poem answer these questions? Does the illustration answer questions the poem may generate? How does the illustration support and/or extend the poem?

Question FOUR: Great! I think have a teacher's guide makes your book more accessible. Anyone's book, actually. I can see your book being used in an art unit as well. Maybe even have the children create their own quilt squares and/or poems with either the same theme of slavery, U.S. history, or any topic they choose. Well, the question we most want to know is what was your road to publication like?

I’ve been writing and submitting for a very long time! I’ve had a few individual poems (for adults) published, some essays on children’s literature, librarianship, and poetry published, but no books until 2012.

I wrote the first three poems in Stitches while designing a quilt over my winter vacation. They came to me all at once (author’s note contains a little more detail on this). The following February, I was taking a writing class where I workshopped these three poems and was encouraged to keep going. I wrote the next 11 poems over eight months.

I have no agent (yet), so I submitted to editors I’d been meeting at SCBWI conferences. It took me a little over four years to find a publisher (each editor kept my mss. for nearly a year before rejecting!). I think I submitted it a total of 6 times before I sent it to the slush pile at Eerdmans. Six months later I had an offer from them to publish.

I used no illustrator notes, but I did provide a small, 2-inch diagram of each quilt block to go with each poem (in case they didn’t know quilts).

Once accepted for publication, a few poems were tweaked in minor ways, but the historical notes were revised more substantially. I didn’t have book design in mind when I wrote them—some were a few sentences long and others were several paragraphs! I learned that they needed to all be of similar length, so the editor and I worked hard to get them there. Also, my author’s note was originally about 600 words—we ended up breaking it into a preface and author’s note of about 250 words each…. and the title was kept—I came up with it when I finished all the poems. It’s a line from the final poem.

I have 4 other picture book manuscripts that are submission ready, and one nonfiction manuscript currently out with an editor—THAT manuscript has been revised countless times, growing from 600 words to 4,000 words, and now back down to about 500 words—all at the request and suggestions of various editors via conference critiques. I’ve been working on it since 2005!

People are not kidding when they say persistence is key.

Question FIVE: That is such an awesome story. I love that the editor accepted your book even though you still need somewhat substantive edits with the historical notes. I also love that your title was able to be kept. And finally, what are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?

1. Study and analyze the masters in your genre.
2. Play, play, play with language if you want to improve.
3. Get out of your head by doing physical tasks—whether swimming laps or washing windows.

I love these tips, Cynthia! So very true. Playing with language. That could be as simple as playing word games with my kids more often. And being physical really does help. I'm pretty sure I've even read studies about that to prove it. Thank you so much for being with us today! I hope you get an agent soon and that your 2005 book will find a home, too!

You can find out more about Cynthia's other writings on her website.

Keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Writers Who Run: Our Mantra

RACE DAY IS HERE. #CRBR is twitter lingo for Cooper River Bridge Run, which is in Charleston, SC. They happen to share the same mantra I've been using for a long time: "You don't have to go fast. You don't have to go far. You just have to show up!" Anyway, 6.2 miles, here I come.

Running mantra: You don't have to go fast. || Just do it. | writers who run

There's something uniquely thrilling about being among 40,000 people with the same goal - in person. To run a race and cross the finish line. I can already feel the adrenaline swelling within. If you've never tried it, start out with a local 5k. That was my first race. And then I went straight to a full marathon, 26.2 miles. And now I'm hooked. Even though lately, I might only get in 1-2 runs a week. At least it's not ZERO.

Running a race is the equivalent of attending a writer's conference. So many like-minded individuals sharing the same dream, sidled up next to each other to soak in the wisdom of those who have gone before. Imagine. A writer's retreat AND a race, rolled into one event. It's coming. For Writers Who Run.

But today, I run. And hope to not be in too much pain afterwards (and during). I do see ice packs on the horizon. Catch you next week, in a book, on the road, or somewhere in between.

What are YOU going to do this weekend?

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, April 4, 2014

High Five #31 (4 of 14): Rebecca Colby's Big Break - In More Ways Than One

Week 4 of 14: Here’s a big HIGH FIVE congratulations going out to Rebecca Colby for her debut picture book, which just hit the shelves in the UK, and will be coming to the US in May. Read all about it!

Title:  There was a Wee Lassie who Swallowed a Midgie
Author: Rebecca Colby
Illustrator: Kate McLelland
Publisher: Picture Kelpies (Floris Books)
Release date: May 2014 US (March 2014 UK)
Word count: 624 words
In this Scottish twist on a much-loved rhyme, the wee lassie swallows a succession of Scotland’s favorite creatures to catch that pesky midgie—including a puffin, a Scottie dog, a seal, and even Nessie! After all that, the wee lassie can’t still be hungry. Can she? 
To find out more, you can also take a peek at the book on YouTube.

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

  1. Tadpole’s Promise by Jeanne Willis, Illustrated by Tony Ross
    • This is a fantastic book about accepting others as they are, with an ending you won’t forget anytime soon. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but the children I’ve shared it with have all loved it, as I do.    
  2. Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, Illustrated by Scott Magoon
    • This book is mostly monsterly, but like its main character, Bernadette, it also has a sweet side. The book shares the message that you should be yourself. Children will be pleasantly surprised to find out how Bernadette goes about remaining true to her sweet side while still acting like a monster. 
  3. No Matter What by Debi Gliori
    • I bought three copies of this book--one for each of my daughters and one for myself. It is a touching book about how a mother fox reassures her cub that her love for him is unconditional. I love this book and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes! 

Question TWO: Sounds like a lovely list. I bought Mostly Monsterly. Tammi Sauer is awesome. I should read it again. That is if I can find it on my shelves. So...what is your bedtime routine like with your children? How would you say books play a part in that?

I have two wee lassies at home who are 8 and 4 years old. Our bedtime routine is a bit bonkers because I’m not the best at enforcing bedtime. But if the kids have been bouncing off the walls for too long, all I have to say is, “If you’re not ready for bed in 5 minutes, there won’t be any stories tonight!” That always does the trick because they love their books! It’s a family affair and the four of us (hubby too) pig pile into one bed and read a couple of books before going to sleep. It’s a great way to end the day and everyone looks forward to it.

Question THREE: Oh, how I love that your hubby joins in the pig pile for book time. (Do you ever have to actually withhold their stories?) Speaking of stories, how might teachers use your story in the classroom?

Having been a teacher myself, I wanted to ensure the book could be used in the classroom across the curriculum. As such, I’ve produced a free teacher’s guide to the book for students in Kindergarten and Grade 1. The activities range from rhyming games, to measuring with midgies, making Loch Ness monster puppets, learning about habitats, playing Scottish animal movement games, and more. There are also a couple of coloring sheets at the end of the guide that are appropriate for younger children. The guide can be downloaded from my website.

Question FOUR: Awesome! I love that you have a website with resources available. What was your road to publication like and what resources can you give the rest of us?

My road to publication meandered for many years. I started writing picture books when my 8 year old was a baby, and I made every mistake in the book. I hired an illustrator for starters. Then I asked him to illustrate 31 pages of a 32 page book, not realizing until much later that I should have only asked him to illustrate 24 pages. After breaking the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of rejections received, I finally smartened up and found the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and sought professional advice. It was the best career move I’ve ever made. I can’t recommend SCBWI enough. Some of my best friends are SCBWI members, and the support is tremendous! Then I won the 2011 SCBWI Barbara Karlin grant and thought I’d made it. But it wasn’t until 2013 that an industry door finally opened for me.

I like to tell people I got two big breaks in one week: one good and one bad. I broke my wrist ice skating last February, but the day before, I was offered representation from Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Signing with Kathleen really helped to soften the blow of breaking my wrist. A week later Kathleen sold my first book to Feiwel & Friends--which was not the Wee Lassie book but rather a book about a witch parade entitled It’s Raining Bats and Frogs. It was a month later that Wee Lassie sold to Floris Books. The dream had finally come true.

Question FIVE: That is such an awesome story. I love how each writer's journey is truly unique. Congrats on BOTH books! What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication so we can join you in the ranks of "dreams coming true"? 

  1. Read, read, read, then write, write, write! A writer needs to do both on a regular basis.
  2. Be determined to be determined! It can be a long road to publication and you musn’t give up. You know what they say about the difference between the writer that got published and the one that didn’t—the published writer never gave up! 
  3. Think outside the box. Can you come up with something that hasn’t been done before? Or find a brand new twist for a familiar story or rhyme? Don’t ever settle for your first 5 ideas because chances are they are not your best ideas. Challenge yourself to find something new to bring to the picture book market. (And if all else fails, go ice skating and hope for a big break!) 
Thank you so much, Rebecca! Part of the purpose of my blog is to help me read more and write more. And to help us all stay inspired and determined. Ideas, ideas... I suppose you can never have too many.

Keep on keepin' on...


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pot-O-Gold Awards: Author Platform Includes Websites

The Pot-O-Gold "Blogger" Award is now the Pot-O-Gold Award, for blogs, authors, books, and websites.

Today I'd like to share a "new" changed-up (edited and completely revised) feature with you, the Pot-O-Gold Awards! This month, the Pot-O-Gold Award goes out to the following people for the following four categories. Welcome to the NEW Pot-O-Gold AWARDS!!!

BLOG: All News, No Schmooze
  • All News, No Schmooze (News and Notes for Busy Children's Book Writers) by Laurie Wallmark. It is super simple and straightforward. Nearly every day for the past 5 years (since May 2009), Laurie has linked to powerful articles in the kidlit industry. If you haven't heard of this blog, it's worth putting on your blog reader radar. I've learned many things from Laurie's links.
AUTHOR: Jane Yolen
  • Jane Yolen. And why not? She's my Maurice. One of the founders of SCBWI. 330+ books to her name. If you are a children's writer and you have not heard of Jane Yolen, you might not actually be able to call yourself a writer at all. Seriously. If you haven't heard of Jane Yolen, get thee to a library! Some of my favorite books of hers are much older than her How Do Dinosaurs... series. Owl Moon, Where Have All the Unicorns Gone, Welcome to the Ice House, Color Me a Rhyme, Dinosaur Dances, Miz Berlin Walks, Raising Yoder's Barn, and many many more, including middle grade novels.
BOOK: Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae 
  • The book award always goes to a book I actually bought. WHY I BUY! It won't have a summary, be a review, or include a lesson. It's simply why I bought this book. I think it's interesting. I'm picky when I plunk down the dough. Aren't you? I'm curious about why people buy the books they do and thought you might enjoy reading why I buy the books I do. 
  • This book was one of the first picture books I ever bought, long before I ever had any children of my own. I remember standing in a bookstore in the mall, reading over several different picture books. This was cute and fun to read, with great illustrations. But the selling factor? It touched me. I felt I was a better person for having read this book. We ALL can dance, ....? And I do love to dance! What a great message that truly does not hit you over the head.
WEBSITE: Jackie Urbanovic
"...If you’re not sure what your platform-building priorities should be, think about your long-term goals, or where you want to be in 1-5 years. This can quickly become a paralyzing task, so keep it simple. For instance, if you envision having several books published in five years, but you don’t yet have a website, then a platform priority would be establishing one. If you want to grow your reach online, becoming involved in social media or writing online articles (or a blog) is a common step. 
Here’s what I use as a general rule of thumb for platform-building priorities, specifically for new and mid-career writers: 
1. Establishing or improving your website and/or blog. Sometimes this means investing a little money in design or development...." ~Jane Friedman (TweetSpeakPoetry.com)
  • I'm quite positive Jackie Urbanovic invested some money in her website. Since Jackie is an author and an illustrator, her art is easily able to give her website a more personal flair. Here are a few positive things about her site that could be incorporated into yours as well. The navigation links to other pages on her site are fun with arrows and handwritten fonts. Her picture is displayed and is a clear quality image, including a fun border. Her books' main character, Max the Duck, visits the pages too! Her name is prominently displayed in a bold and legible font at the top of the home page. It is color coordinated and has a nice subtle background image of paper texture to go along with the notepad theme. Way to go, Jackie. Not only do I love your books, I also love your site design!
Who would YOU like to see receive the Pot-O-Gold Award? 

Hope you enjoyed the Pot-O-Gold Awards and come back next month on the 30th to see who earns the coveted spots for blog, author, book, and website. Thanks!

Keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Writers Who Run: The Tortoise and the Hare

Are you the tortoise or the hare and which is better? I think all of us are sometimes one and sometimes the other. Perhaps there's a middle ground? I like to think so.

Are you the tortoise or the hare? || overcoming writing fear | how to face your running fears | dealing with anxiety in your writing career | how to overcome anxiety for runners

THE "fearful" TORTOISE

In writing:

  • 10 revisions for one sentence
  • taking a YEAR of "letting it sit" before you submit
  • only writing two new mss (for picture books), or two chapters (for a novel) in a YEAR
You're taking a little TOO much time.

In running:
  • running once a week
  • not making any progress after 6 months
  • taking 3 months off just because it's winter
  • never entering a race b/c you're afraid you'll come in last, or like my first race, people will walk faster than your slow jog (for reals, people were passing me left and right in that cold and hilly 5k)
Get over it, girl! Step up the pace!

THE "anxious" HARE

In writing:
  • Hurry up and get published, even if it means bad illustrations.
  • Hurry up and submit, even if it means the story isn't ready.
  • Hurry up and get an agent. I'm worthless without one.
  • Hurry up and write the story, even though I haven't researched anything at all.
In running:
  • Hurry up and sign up for the 10k race, even though you've never ran a mile - ever.
  • Hurry up and get your 20+ miles in for the week, even if you're only injured a little bit.
  • Hurry up and do 2 extra speed drills for the week, even though you just did one this morning.
Yes, slow and steady always wins the race. But, really, there is a thing as being too slow. It's called inaction. I guess that would be speed zero. Too fast can cause injuries too. We really do want to submit, get an agent, and get published, but it does take time. So hurry up and do you're true homework. SWEAT. Crank out the words. Put in your miles - slow and steady - with the occasional speed workout of agent submissions. 

But when the time comes to slow down, KEEP MOVING. That's called being patient. Perseverance. Marathon runners have to pace themselves. You can't sprint a marathon. And you can't sprint publication for yourself. Your agent/editor/critique partners will be your coach. Listen to them. But never stop running and never stop writing. And if you're injured, pick yourself up and go slow, but don't stop. 

QUESTION: Where are YOU in the spectrum? What's holding you back and what moves you forward?

Live the dream and keep on keepin' on...

Friday, March 28, 2014

High Five #30: Poisoned Author Makes it Big

Piggy backing off of my last event, it's High Five 14:14 time with week 3 of 14 debut picture book author interviews in 14 weeks. Here’s a big HIGH FIVE congratulations to Jennifer Young for her debut picture book, which also won the rhyming category of Spring 2011 for the Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest (deadline for Winter 2014 is fast approaching - Monday March 31). Awesome!!! Get ready for FIVE questions and FIVE great answers!

MeeGenius Books
Title: Poison Apple Pie
Author: Jennifer Young
Illustrator: Lara Apponyi
Publisher: MeeGenius
Release date: March 2012
Word count: 638
After Winka’s wand cracks she quits her witch job in fairy tale land and searches for a new job. But when she turns to her broken wand for help it leads to disaster.   
Question ONE: So, Jennifer, what are three of your favorite picture books? 
  1. Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
  2. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  3. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Question TWO: I see you have a couple classics in there. Nice! I have to say, I also love the movie "Cloudy..." What is your bedtime routine like with your children? How do books play a part in that?

I have three children. I have a son who is ten, and two daughters that are seven and three. My son enjoys tv time, shower and then bed (no more picture books, but he loves the Weird School Series). My seven-year-old daughter just got into chapter books. So at night she’ll read a chapter to me, at times. And my three year old enjoys picture books before bed. We don’t always get a chance at night, but during the day works for us too. Her favorite one(s) right now are the books by Laura Numeroff. If You Give a (Mouse a Cookie) series.

Question THREE: I love learning how different families incorporate literacy into their lives. Our children benefit greatly from it. How might teachers use your book in the classroom?

In Poison Apple Pie, Winka the witch searches the newspaper, a job fair and a career bulletin board to find the right job for her. One way teachers could use Poison Apple Pie in their classroom would be to first discuss different types of jobs available. Then, supply a handout where the student could draw what type of job they see themselves doing in the future. Have them make a list of responsibilities they must do for the job they selected.

Question FOUR: Sounds like fun. Your book could make a great opening activity for a unit on jobs, community, or goal setting. Perhaps YOU could create a few handouts for teachers and make them available on your website. Was your road to publication anything like Winka's road to employment? 

I began writing Poison Apple Pie in January of 2011. I lost count on revisions but I’ll share the titles it went through before final submission. In order from start to finish: Winka’s New Job, Winka the Witch, Winka’s Wand (my least favorite) and then finally Poison Apple Pie.

Before I sent my manuscript to MeeGenius in the fall of 2011 I had received two rejection letters. The one from Ladybug Caraus Publishing. It was the typical generic letter. But the one I received from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Imprint was my first rejection with an editor’s note, yay! I was happy to receive it. It said, "Although I felt your manuscript was unique, the picture book market has become our most competitive."

The reason I sent my manuscript to MeeGenius was because they were hosting a picture book contest and it was free to submit. Even though Poison Apple Pie made it to the final round it was not a winner but they decided to publish it on March 23rd 2012.

Question FIVE: Awesome! I love the title you landed on. Much better than Winka the Witch, the title that won the contest in 2011. What are some writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication? 
  1. Join a critique group or as many as you like.
  2. Critiques may hurt your feelings at first but you’ll learn to love them. Even the brutal ones because they’re the most helpful.
  3. Join a writer’s group. Here are a few: Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12, SCBWI, and CBI Clubhouse. 
    • Also, in November Tara Lazar has a picture book idea challenge where you write one idea down a day for the whole month of November. It’s called PiBoIdMo. I know I left out a lot more but the ones I listed I’m a member of (or at least was at one time).
Thank you so much, Jennifer, for sharing with us. Congratulations, and HIGH FIVE!

Jen: It was an honor to be interviewed on your blog Christie. Thank you for the opportunity! Before I end, I wanted to share with everyone that I had send Poison Apple Pie to Christie back in 2011 because of her contest section on her blog and she did the most fabulous critique on it. Christie, thank you again for all your help!

If you crave "beginner" success stories as I do and receive inspiration from reading how they did it, please, by all means visit the other interviewees and read their stories, too! See you tomorrow for a little tortoise and hare inspiration...

Keep on keepin' on...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Nine Days Left, Including Today - It's Contest Crunch Time

Only 9 days left to get those manuscripts in for the WINTER Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest, even though technically it's already spring. Yea for spring! Deadline is Monday, March 31.

Winners will be announced on April 22.

It's not too late to enter. Just follow my blog via e-mail, then follow the directions and e-mail me your ms. Good luck!!!

Free entry. Win bragging rights, gain confidence, and receive a critique! Winners are not chosen randomly. May the best story win!

Now go write, or revise... Can't wait to see what you've got!

And come back on Friday for another great High Five interview.

Keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Writers Who Run: Overcoming Defeat

We all encounter pain. We must endure it. If we don't we'll never see the sunny rainbow after the storm.

How to rise above the pain || overcoming writing rejections | overcoming running injuries | overcoming defeat

Writers get discouraged, receive rejections, have bad reviews, face writer's block, and more. Runners face discouragement, get injuries, have slow runs, lose races, and more. Let's face it. Life is hard. But we must rise above the pain and endure to the end. Else how will we ever see our dreams fulfilled?

Writing Discouragement


Several weeks ago, I had a "review" of one of my mss come back LOW, so low it made the limbo look pleasant. This is a ms I have been working on and revising for well over a year. My knowledgeable and respected critique group said it was submission-ready.

But a 4 out of 10 ain't ready! Pain and doubt and discouragement seeped in. I almost cried. It's not every day one little opinion of one little person (or organization) cracks the tough skin of a writer.

We are tough. We have to be so that the scratches won't hurt us. Apparently, on that day, that review was more than a scratch, it was a slashing gaping gash. After several minutes passed in agony, I remembered other critiques that ms had received prior. A 7 and an 8. My, I am good, after all. The story has merit and quality.

I'm not a loser writer and I can find a home for it one day. Must. Keep. Polishing. The pain of one bad critique is much like the pain of a bad knee after a run.

Running Discouragement


A couple weeks ago, I hurt my knee somehow. Felt fine during the run, but afterward? Not so much. I hobbled for a couple days, then decided to give it another go. Not smart. Made it worse. Actually hurt then.

How do you rise up above that kind of pain? You take time off. You go slow. You baby it with ice and muscle rub and plain old simple walking. I'm almost above the storm clouds. I'm starting to see the silver lining.

Does it hurt to stop what I love? Yes! Does it hurt worse knowing I have a 10k race coming up in two weeks? Yes! Will I rise above the pain? Yes! That means looking at the pain head-on. Acknowledging what needs to be done.

Slowing down, if that's what it takes.

Will I rewrite my story? Maybe. Will I finish my race last? Maybe. But one thing's for sure, I am a writer who runs. And I will rise above the pain. I will make every story and every run the best that I can. And the next day I'll make it even better. I will take time off when necessary. I will fulfill my dreams. And so will you.

What pain have you had to rise above recently?

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, March 21, 2014

High Five #29: Another Debut Success Story Falls From the Sky

This is week 2 of the High Five 14:14. 14 interviews with debut picture book authors in 14 weeks. If you missed last week's interview with Romelle, you can still read her story. Also, be sure to check out how to be an engaged writer, once you read today's interview.

Today's debut author is Kirsti Call. Happy HIGH FIVE for your debut picture book. Congratulations!!!

Title: The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall
Author: Kirsti Call
Illustrator: Lisa Griffin
Publisher: Character Publishing
Release date: December 15, 2013
Word count: 516
"How many times do you try before you give up?" wonders little Plink. He's a raindrop who can't seem to fall, no matter how many times he tries. Learning to do things isn't always easy and sometimes it takes the support and love of others to succeed. 
Question ONE: What are three of your favorite picture books? I know, I know. Only three?!

1. Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos
2. The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathmann
3. Leonardo, The Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Question TWO: Monsters and babies. Maybe you'll write a baby monster book one day. Do you feel like you have an extra special bond with your children because of books?

I have five children. My oldest and youngest are boys and I have three girls in the middle. They are 12, 10, 8, 6, and 3 years old! Reading is part of our daily life. I keep books in every room and in the car.  If we have a spare moment, or we are waiting for the older kids in car line, I read to the younger kids. All of my kids would listen to me read for hours if I could! Night time reading parties are the best--I feel like I’m sharing something important with my kids and learning how to be a better writer at the same time!

Question THREE: I love that dual action of reading/sharing and learning at the same time. My kids are 7 and 9 and a lot of times when I read at night, they're busy doing other things at the same time. Like drawing, playing with stuffed animals or Legos, or playing DS games. So, how might teachers use your book in the classroom?
 
My book is peppered with fun facts about the water cycle, cloud formation, and the science of rainbows (among other facts), offering an age-appropriate introduction to science. It includes activities, supplementary material, and a glossary.  Teachers can also use the story of Plink who fails and keeps trying despite getting bullied and feeling discouraged.  Persistence is an important skill for kids to learn.

Question FOUR: Sounds fun! I love books that have facts peppered throughout. Persistence is indeed an important skill for kids to learn. And here's the juicy question...what was your road to publication like? I hope you have a juicy answer.

I told this story to my kids when we were stuck at Home Depot trying to order cabinets for 5 hours!  It was raining outside and in a desperate attempt to entertain them, I told them the story of Plink.  They liked the story, so I wrote it down about 3 years ago.  It was my second picture book manuscript and after joining a critique group and showing it to them, I submitted to two publishers. I was blessed to get a contract with Character Publishing 6 months later.  I only got one rejection with this story, but I’ve had dozens or maybe even hundreds of rejections on other stories, since.  I’m now submitting to agents and publishers, hoping to find homes for many other stories.  I’ve got 24 in various stages of revision and 7 that are submission ready right now :)

Question FIVE: That's an amazing amount of stories. I probably have 24+ in idea stage. And maybe 7 submission ready. My children love to help me come up with stories. Unfortunately for me, those ideas are never marketable. What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?

1.  Write. Revise. Submit. Repeat.
2.  Don’t give up.  Rejections are just proof that you are a real writer!
3.  Research your publishers and agents. If your story is really polished, there will be someone who loves it!

I love that 3rd tip. There WILL be someone who loves it, I am sure. It's all about being in the right place at the right time. Thanks so much for sharing some of your story and insight with us today. Debut authors always give such an inspiration to the rest of us. Thanks!!!

Come back next week for another great debut success story!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Writers Who Run: Getting Engaged

Having trouble making commitments because you can't seem to get started? If you feel that what you want to do is simply too big, then don't fully commit right away. Coax yourself into it. Let me explain.

How to make a commitment to your writing | how to fight procrastination | just do it | make a running commitment

You want to get married to the love of your life. But you're afraid to elope tonight. That's okay. You don't have to jump in right away to get what you want right now. You don't have to commit to when you'll tie the knot, or where, or how, or what you'll eat and who to invite.

But if you want to be with your special someone for the rest of your life, then you need commit to getting engaged. You know you're going to tie the knot - eventually. You're doing something. You're saying yes. It's still commitment.

Congratulations on your engagement! So how do writers and runners get engaged?

First, what are the commitments we want, but are afraid to get engaged with? These might be commitments to revise that story/chapter, to run 3x a wk, to sign up for a race, write a new book or story, or some other goal you may have.

Here's how to get engaged.

Just showing up is how you say, "Yes!" You don't have to go far. You don't have to go fast. You just have to "go." Showing up is always half the battle. It's how you'll convince yourself to get started.

Don't have time to run six miles? Don't feel like running at all? Just tell yourself you'll do ONE mile. Don't have time to revise your whole story? Can't decide which one to revise first? Read both stories aloud, then go with your gut and pick one. Decide on one sentence to change. You're sucked in now because you have started the journey by being engaged in the work.

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, March 14, 2014

What's Your Story, Anyway? How Did You Get Your Picture Book Published?

I just finished my PB 14:14 challenge, where a group of bloggers united to read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days. It was cosmic. If you missed it, you can still study our list of nearly 100 books, all of which were published within the last 10 years. And since it's 2014, and I apparently love the number 14 this year, I thought it would be neat to continue on in that theme.

Usually, on the 5th of each month, I share an interview with a debut picture book author so we can all learn how it's done and give us hope and inspiration for our own work. I ask 5 questions. The last time I did this was May of 2013, due to going to school for web design. Now, it's back with a bang. And bigger and better than ever, or at least more often, that's for sure. Beginning today, Friday March 14th, I will be posting a new debut picture book author interview each Friday for the next 14 Fridays through June 14th (okay, you got me, it's actually Friday the 13th in June). Anyway, buckle up and visit often. It's going to be a wild ride!

Romelle [pronounced:  RO-mah-lee] Broas Guittap will start us off on this fabulous journey. Her manuscript, Artsy-Fartsy Spider, won her a critique in the Spring 2012 Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest. You can still enter the 2014 Winter contest. Deadline is March 31. Romelle now has more than one book published, though Artsy-Fartsy Spider is not yet one of them. Without any further ado, please welcome Romelle with a big HIGH FIVE congratulations for her debut picture book!
Picture
Title: Casey Chameleon
Author: Romelle Broas
Illustrator: Lydia F. Ferron
Publisher: Flying Books, Ltd.
Release date: October 2012
Word count: 450
Have you ever seen a pink chameleon? "When I'm tickled, I turn pink," says Casey. What you don't want to see is Casey turning red! Casey thinks someone has stolen her special feather and she finds herself turning red with anger. Can she manage to find her true colors? 
Question ONE: What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you. 

ONLY three? That's like choosing your favorite son or daughter. Here goes:

1) The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
This is my first introduction to what is called breaking the 4th wall and I didn't even know it back then when I first read it to my son 13 years ago. I loved the book for its ingenuity and charm. What I enjoyed most about this book is that it always made my son giggle.

2) Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daly
This book is so funny! The pacing of the text and the illustrations are brilliant. The stick figure drawing adds to the humor of the book. I adore Prudence and her persistence to get a pet. She doesn't come across as whiny or spoiled, but rather sweet and clever.

3) Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
It's absolutely adorable. In this book Mr. Tiger lives in a town where everything is very proper. Then his instinct gets a hold of him and he lets loose. Mr. Tiger transforms from a personified creature to a true tiger. I love its message of staying true to yourself. Peter Brown did a fantastic job relaying this message in a humorous and fun way.

Question TWO: Now I really need to read your book #3. So, 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?

I have two boys. Ages 11 and 13. When they were younger I read to them at bedtime and just before nap time. It was a very special time for us. Now that they're grown, they read to themselves. But books are still a part of our routine. We go to the library 3 times a week and

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Story Element #8 PATTERNS: The Rain Came Down by David Shannon

Today, I'll be sharing Element #8, Patterns. The lesson I'm sharing will be taught through the book The Rain Came Down by David Shannon (Blue Sky Press, 2000).

Story Element #8: Patterns || The Rain Came Down by David Shannon | picture books | story craft

There are multiple ways to utilize patterns in picture books.
  • repetition
  • the rule of three
  • question and answer
  • morning to night
  • rhyming patterns
  • refrains
  • comparing opposites
  • lists
  • building/escalating 
  • beginning/ending
  • daily, weekly, monthly
This book uses refrains, escalating action, and beginning/ending as patterns to tell the story of a rainy day gone bad until a refreshing event lightens the mood. It is simple, yet classically delightful.

The first page says, "On Saturday morning, the rain came down. It made the chickens squawk."

On the next spread, the action escalates. "The cat yowled at the chickens, and the dog barked at the cat. And still, the rain came down." And we are introduced to the refrain. Then the dad yells at the dog and wakes up the baby and the mom yells for everyone to get quiet, but the rain continues. 

A cop stops by to see what's the matter, his car blocking the traffic, and the story moves half a block away where the escalation continues. "And still, the rain came down." So now we see the impatient lady yelling at the taxi driver to hurry up and he honks his horn and the truck driver yells back, then the ice cream truck makes the music go louder, and the beauty shop lady rushes out and bonks into the barber, and on and on it goes. Pretty soon, everyone is yelling at someone. "And still, the rain came down."

Finally, the cop goes back to his car. "What is all this ruckus about?" he says. "And then..." You guessed it! "...the rain stopped!" This is the middle of the story. The story arc matches that of the shimmering rainbow that has now beautifully emerged "across the rooftops." The conflict rises, rises, rises, now we'll watch it gradually descend back to normalcy until we feel the arc of the rainbow wrapping up the rest of the story.

The baker and the pizza maker decide they'd rather be cooking. The barber gives the painter a shave. The lady from the taxi goes to the beauty shop to get her hair done. The boy and the girl get extra scoops on their ice cream. All because the rain came...and left. The final page shows the family with their baby and dog having a picnic in their backyard. The beginning circles back around to where the story started. 

I hope today's lesson has helped you see another example of patterns in picture books. If you'd like to know more, check out Carol Hurst's long list of picture books that utilize patterns.

Assignment: Look at one of your own ms wips and think about how you could better utilize patterns to make it better. Then go read 10 picture books and look for patterns. Then go back to your ms, and work on it some more. Happy writing!

Keep on keepin' on...


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Writers Who Run: Know Your Quirks

When you run, how's your posture? When you write, how's your voice?

How to Deal with Your Quirks || writing and running weaknesses | critique groups

When I run, I tend to stick out my left thumb like a hitchhiker. When I notice it, it feels quirky. I want to correct it. I make the conscious effort to make two open fists and place each thumb on the crease created between the index finger and the middle finger. I think about being even, methodical, and relaxing that quirky thumb muscle.

When I write, I tend to use passive verbs in my first drafts. Through each new rewrite, I am more aware of the sloppy language and create stronger verbs, stronger phrases, and a tighter plot. I must be conscious about my quirks, and over time, I will conquer them.

Do you know your weaknesses, your quirks, and how to deal with them?

When you run, do you throw your left foot out first, does your right elbow lift higher, do you stick out your left thumb like a hitchhiker, breathe in through your mouth, stomp down on your right foot harder at the heel, slump your shoulders, breathe too heavy?

When you write, do you say "just" too much? Do you start every sentence with "I, A, or The"? Do you overuse commas, exclamation marks, or semicolons? Do you tend to use a lot of passive verbs, cliches, -ing and -ly words?

We can stand tall, despite our quirks. We can run strong, despite our weaknesses. We can write well, even when it's hard. We are writers who run and runners who write. Embrace THAT quirk, but never erase it.

Choose one quirk today and focus on a fix to make yourself a better writer or runner.

What will YOU run or write this coming week?

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

High Five: 2 Announcements

right_hand_print_benji_p_01
HIGH FIVE was one of my blogging features that went by the wayside last year while I was studying to become a web designer. And now that it's 2014, the year of cosmic things, I thought I'd bring it back with a bang. What? You don't know what HIGH FIVE is? By all means, take a peek at some wonderful insights from these 27 amazing debut picture book authors.

Announcement #1: Get ready to hear some more! On Friday, March 14th, I'm kicking off the comeback for HIGH FIVE with 14 weeks of awesome interviews. It will be a challenge for me to get everyone lined up in time, but it'll be worth it!

Announcement #2: The WINTER Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest is still accepting submissions through March 31st. So you still have 3 and a half weeks left to get those submissions in. Guidelines can be found on the contest tab above. What do you win? Bragging rights, exposure, and a critique of your ms from yours truly.

Have a great day and keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Writers Who Run: Destination Procrastination

Welcome to my fresh, new feature, Writers Who Run! If you're a writer, and you don't run, stick around anyway for my personal (and embarrassing) confession about my problem with procrastination.

How to Avoid Procrastination || lost writing opportunities | long runs | writers who run | the importance of setting goals

Every year for the last few years, I have signed up to run in a BIG 10k race, the biggest in the southeast. The Cooper River Bridge Run has 40,000+ runner/walkers each year. It's always the last weekend in March or the first weekend in April. I try to plan two races a year, my spring 10k, and a fall half-marathon. For those of you who don't run, a 10k is 6.2 miles and a half-marathon is 13.1 miles. But that's not important here.

What is important is the reason WHY I challenge myself to run these races. It's to give me more of a reason to run more regularly. I love how I feel when I run. I love the cadence of my feet hitting the ground. I love the solitude of nature and the wind blowing in my face (unless it's like today and it's 35 degrees out). I love the challenge of going further, or faster, or stronger each time. What I don't love is being inconsistent. Because that means I run a lot LESS.

Why do I bring this up? Because that 10k is looming right in my horizons. And I have run less than 10 times since Thanksgiving. I'm a procrastinator. I'm not proud of it. Good intentions alone won't get me to the finish line. And they certainly won't beat last year's time either.

And the writing analogy? I failed to meet a writing deadline because of procrastination. I thought I would have more time. Wrong! I lost out on an amazing chance to submit my work for an incredible writing opportunity. Just like I plan to run 2 races each year, I plan to attend a writing conference once a year.

Attending annual writing events gives me encouragement, camaraderie, and new knowledge and strength. But I had better not procrastinate on registration, like I did for this missed opportunity. Regret is not a good feeling. But running is. And so is writing. Good thing registration doesn't open up for another few months because that means I'm still on the ball!

If I can find a way to balance my writing life, my running life, and my personal life, then maybe I won't procrastinate so much. I know you don't like losing out on writing opportunities. And I know you don't like skipping that long run you've worked so hard for.

That's why I started a Facebook group, Writers Who Run, so we can share our love of both passions, and help each other get through hard times, give tips for writing, as well as running. Next Saturday, I'll let you know how today's run went, and what I learned about writing in the process.

What do you do to prevent procrastination? 
What do you do to balance your writing life with everything else? 

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, February 28, 2014

PB 14:14 in 2014: THE LIST (and a few winners)

We made it!!! So here are the winners...

Week 1 - PB critique by Kristy Dempsey ... Jackie Wellington 
Week 1 - PB (Dinosailors) by Deb Lund ... Kimberly Callard
Week 2 - PB critique by Alayne Kay Christian ... Damon Dean
Week 2 - PB (April Fool, Phyllis!) by Susanna Leonard Hill ... Lauri Fortino

 *** GRAND PRIZE ***
PB critique by Lori Degman
Writer's First Aid and More Writer's First Aid by Kristi Holl
2013 Book Markets for Children's Writers from me (Christie Wild)
and 30-minute phone consult with Julie Hedlund
 *** WINNER: CECELIA CLARK ***

CONGRATULATIONS, everybody. I'll e-mail the winners tonight to verify your choices. Thank you so much for joining me. Thank you to all the followers of the event for visiting our blogs and leaving comments. Hope to see you next year!


And here is THE LIST of the Top 10 Story Elements for Picture Books with all the books we have featured during the last 2 weeks. All books on this list have been published within the last 10 years, from 2004 to 2014. Only one book was reviewed twice and both times it was for character, so that's why it's listed twice (two separate links). Enjoy and visit often!

#1: CHARACTER
#2: CONFLICT
#3: PLOT
#4: DIALOGUE
#5: THEME
#6: PACING
#7: WORD PLAY
#8: PATTERNS
#9: RHYME
#10: BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS
And that's the monster list of mentor texts we all came up with together for studying the top 10 story elements of picture books for 2014. Enjoy! And continue to share the love. I'll be doing a Top 10 Element each month on the 14th from here on out.

Keep on keepin' on...