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

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Vacation and a Contest!

The winner for the Christmas picture book giveaway is...

...Brandy Corona!

Congratulations! I'll be contacting you via e-mail to see which book you'd like!

If any of you remember last year, I mentioned I was going to take December off - from blogging - this year. In the past, I have "gone missing" a couple of times, likely due to stress. So I've scheduled in a small "vacation" this time around.

Remember that the Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest is still going on. 
Just follow the link to read the rules and submission guidelines.

Submissions will be accepted 
through New Year's Eve. 

Now's the perfect time to get your first critique on that PiBoIdMo draft you just wrote for 12x12 in 2012 (or 2013). Looking forward to reading your manuscripts. May the best story win! 

*** Remember that winners are not chosen randomly ***

By the way, if you're wondering how I fared in PiBoIdMo this year, I did it! 
  • 2010 
    • writing - worked on 4 mss
    • PiBo - 30 NEW ideas!
  • 2011
    • writing 
      • wrote 6 new drafts (but none from my new ideas)
      • revised 3 older mss.
    • PiBo - only 7 new ideas...
  • 2012
    • writing 
      • submitted several pieces and got lots of rejections :) 
      • wrote 3 new mss (still none from the PiBo ideas)
      • revised 5 mss
    • PiBo - 30 more NEW ideas!
  • 2013
    • Better things are yet to come! More ms drafts, more revisions, more submissions, more rejections, and maybe, just maybe, an acceptance...

See you next year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

HIGH FIVE #23: Interview with Cynthia Kieber-King

If you're here for the Christmas picture books giveaway, it's in the previous post. Just another day or so to enter that contest. But please feel free to stick around and visit a while.

Please welcome Cynthia Kieber-King, another debut picture book author! I hope you have time to stop by and read her wonderful story before your holiday festivities get underway. 

Title:  Habitat Spy
Author:  Cynthia Kieber-King
Illustrator:  Christina Wald
Publisher:  Sylvan Dell Publishing
Release date:  April 2011
Word count:  172
"Told in rhyming narrative, Habitat Spy invites children to 'spy' the plants, invertebrates, birds, and mammals living in North American habitats: backyard, beach, bog, cave, desert, forest, meadow, mountain, ocean, plains, pond, river, and swamp. Children will have fun discovering the characteristics of each habitat as they find and identify the resident plants and animals, while learning about what living things need to survive."
Here’s a big HIGH FIVE congratulations to you for your debut picture book!

Question ONE: 
What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you.
Only 3?! No fair! Here’s my try:
  1. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf - who can resist this poetic sweet bull?
  2. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann - so cute and funny!
  3. Wonders of Nature by Jane Werner Watson - a beautiful meditative walk through nature

Friday, November 30, 2012

Win a Picture Book for Christmas!

It's been a long time since I had a contest on my blog. And since I  will not be blogging for the last 3 weeks of December, I decided I should do something fun to go out with a bang! 

Be sure to check in for the last HIGH FIVE interview with a new debut picture book author. 

This blog hop is hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Laurie Here and will go from December 1st through December 7th.

Have kids? Know kids? Want a picture book for them? Here's your chance to win one!

The goods? Your choice of one of the following five CHRISTMAS picture books:









Choice Five? SURPRISE PACK! (2-3 used Christmas books)

How to Enter?

  1. ONE ENTRY (MANDATORY): Leave a comment below sharing one of your favorite Christmas picture books, Christmas stories, or a book you remember from your childhood. Be sure to leave an e-mail so I can contact you. I'll also announce the winner online.
  2. FOR FIVE EXTRA ENTRIES: Follow my blog via GFC (Google Friend Connect). Be sure to say in the comments that you also followed.
  3. If you were already a follower prior to this contest, and you would like to have FIVE ADDITIONAL ENTRIES also, then follow via E-MAIL. Be sure to let me know in the comments.
So, that's a total of 6 possible entries per person.

Good luck! And keep on keepin' on...


Read-4-Luck: Fish for Thanksgiving?

I just finished one of the two courses I'm taking at ECU online. Woo-hoo! One down and one to go. Two assignments to submit, and then the Final Exam. Looking forward to having December off. Gonna dedicate that time to WRITING and SUBMITTING. But for today, another perfect picture book Friday to share with the world.

READ-4-LUCK acts as a book recommendation, book review, teaching tip, and writing lesson for children, parents, teachers, and writers. This fun weekly feature began back in October 2010 and is still going strong 

 = Not bad. Might read twice.
 = Fun read first few times. Would get from library again.
 = Very enjoyable. Wouldn't mind owning a copy.
 = Awesome! Multiple readings are never tiresome. May just have to buy it.


This week's Read-4-Luck pick is Faucet Fish by Fay Robinson

Summary: Elizabeth loves fish, but can never get her parents' attention, even after she has filled the house with fish tanks to hold the creatures that keep coming out of her bathroom faucets. What will it take to make her parents listen?



Author: Fay Robinson
Illustrator: Wayne Anderson
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Year: 2005
Word Count: 931
Age: 4-8
Topic/themes: hobbies, listening, problem-solving
Resources: no external ones found - see below for ideas
Opening Lines
"Elizabeth loved fish. She spent every Saturday at the aquarium down the street, drawing her favorite ones. Everyone at the aquarium knew her. The aquarium librarian let her take out all the best books. The fish feeder let Elizabeth give snails to the octopus. The plumber even let Elizabeth help clean the fish tanks."

RATINGS
CHILDREN
The pictures REALLY help this book come alive. Check out the cat! And which fish is the dragon fish? The swirling illustrations go hand in hand with the text on most pages. It's simply a feast. And the story's great too!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pot-O-Gold Blogger Award #19: The Miss Rumphius Effect

So I'm only going to be posting for about a week and a half, then I'll be taking a month off. December is my no-blogging month. So I'll have another award to present in January. For today, it's a poetry blog. 

About this award: 
I created this award for excellent blogs based on... 
  • interesting and helpful content AND
  • visually appealing and easy-to-navigate design
It's an award that says, "Look at this awesome blog! There's a wealth of information here! If you visit once, you'll want to return again and again." In other words, it's like discovering a pot of gold. 

November 2012 goes out to...

Tricia Stohr-Hunt 
of  
The blog of a teacher educator discussing poetry, children's literature and issues related to teaching children and their future teachers.
The Miss Rumphius Effect is an awesome blog that has been going strong for 6 years since 2006, averaging about 270 posts a year. Tricia Stohr-Hunt is a university professor dedicated to keeping poetry strong. 

Why I like her blog:
  • Her Browse by Content tab allows you to look for popular topics she blogs about.
  • The Monday Poetry Stretch posts offer a topic or a poetry form and the challenge to write a poem and share it.
  • The Poetry Friday posts share famous published poems, usually related to some relevant topic or current event.
  • Her posts are always short and to the point.
  • Awesome children's writers and poets such as Jane Yolen, Kate Coombs, Julie Krantz, J. Patrick Lewis, and Steven Withrow regularly frequent the site. It makes me feel like I'm rubbing shoulders with the best of the best.
  • Lots of teaching tips too!
So, go forth and enjoy your new adventure looking for gold. You might just get lost this time, especially if you love poetry.

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Story Element #10: Beginning and Endings

Hiya! I've finally come to the happy end of my literary rope with the 10th installment of the Top 10 Story Elements for picture books. Today's topic is "beginnings and endings" with I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse, author of Mama, Do You Love Me?. (Hope you all had a delightful holiday with family and friends. I did! Gobble, gobble...)


Author: Barbara M. Joosse
Illustrator: Mary Whyte
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Year: 1996
Word Count: 627

Summary: "Two boys discover that their mother loves them equally but in different ways."

Beginnings and endings are always important, no matter the type of story, whether it's a short story, a novel, or a picture book. Beginnings are meant to hook the reader (quite an appropriate analogy seeing as the family in this story is going fishing) and should always give the reader some kind of information about setting or character, at the very least. I heard somewhere, but don't remember who said it, that "first sentences should always do one of three things: set the tone, reveal character, or raise a question." Getting to the end of the book is the act of being reeled in. Make the ending as satisfying as catching a big fish.

The book opens:
"Early in the evening the brothers and their Mama finished supper in the sturdy red cabin and set out to fish."
The next page really reels you in:
"The lake slowed its thrashing to a soft, even beat. The mosquitoes dipped low to the water and the water bugs skittered on top. The moon glowed on one side of the lake while the sun shimmered on the other. This was the time when fishing was best. Max exploded from the cabin, twirling the shovel in front of him. Mama came next, and then Julian. Julian shut the cabin door tightly to keep it safe from burglars and bears."
The story continues to show Max and Julian and how they are different. When they ask who has the most worms, Mama answers that Max found the liveliest, but Julian's were the juiciest.

I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse Paperback Excellent Condition Kid's Children's Book

When they ask, "Mama, who's the best rower?" She says Julian "took the deepest strokes" and Max's "were fastest."

I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse Paperback Excellent Condition Kid's Children's Book

When bed time rolls around and each boy asks separately, "Mama, who do you love best?" She answers by telling Julian, "I love you the bluest! I love you the color of a dragon fly at the tip of its wing....The mist of a mountain. The splash of a waterfall. The hush of a whisper." Then she tells Max, "I love you the reddest! I love you the color of the sky before it blazes into night....A wide open hug. The swirl of a magic cape. The thunder of a shout."

I really don't want to spoil the ending of the book, but how can I teach you a lesson about beginnings and endings without sharing the ending?
"...one in the top bunk, glowing like the evening moon, one in the bottom bunk, shimmering like the evening sun, and Mama in the big bed dreaming of the boys she loved best."
Don't you just have warm cold chills? I tell you I really did get goose bumps when I read this in the store! Did you notice how in the beginning, the setting mentions the moon and the sun? In the end, Joosse brings it back around by comparing each of the boys to the sun and the moon. Of course Mama loves her two boys the BEST! What a GREAT ending!

To learn more, check out the following resources:
Writing Great Beginnings by Harvey Stanbrough
Great Beginnings by Georgianne Ensign

See you next time and keep on keepin' on...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Read-4-Luck: I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse

Here we are the day after Thanksgiving and I have a book for Susanna Leonard Hill's PPBF. However, I typed this up last Friday. I'm visiting my dad. And no I'm not out doing the Black Friday thing. Maybe I should write a book about that. Hmmm...

READ-4-LUCK acts as a book recommendation, book review, teaching tip, and writing lesson for children, parents, teachers, and writers. This fun weekly feature began back in October 2010 and is still going strong 

 = Not bad. Might read twice.
 = Fun read first few times. Would get from library again.
 = Very enjoyable. Wouldn't mind owning a copy.
 = Awesome! Multiple readings are never tiresome. May just have to buy it.


This week's Read-4-Luck pick is I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joosse

Summary: "Two boys discover that their mother loves them equally but in different ways."

Author: Barbara M. Joosse
Illustrator: Mary Whyte
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Year: 1996
Word Count: 627
Age: 2-8
Topic/themes: love, family, siblings, fishing
Resources: see "Teachers" below


RATINGS
CHILDREN
The beautiful watercolor illustrations are bright and colorful. You can even make it a Find-It book by searching each page for red, blue, and purple items! This book really resonates with children because they always wonder who momma loves best.

PARENTS
This was one of the first picture books I ever bought. And that was before I even had kids. When I read it in the bookstore, I got goosebumps and knew I had to have it. It's one of my favorites. Apparently, I have like 50 favorites just like kids have 50 "best" friends! I remember asking my mom this question in a note. I was about 9 years old.

TEACHERS
This book is wonderful for teaching a writing lesson about color and poetry. You can have students brainstorm colors and feelings associated with those colors and write a poem mimicking certain pages from the book. The Six Traits for Writing has the complete lesson plan.

WRITERS
Just do the same thing teachers are having the students do above. For more in depth ways this book can help writers, visit again on Monday for the next installment in Story Elements #10: Beginnings and Endings! You'll get to peek inside the book and see more of what makes it so special.

What was the first picture book YOU ever bought as an adult?


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