Friday, October 23, 2015

Strange Talents Revealed

We each have talents, some more than one. Sometimes, we develop strange talents. If you've been reading this blog any length of time, you know I can find four-leaf clovers easily, even while walking. But today, I'm going to share another one of my stranger talents. I can count. Yeah, yeah, yeah...we all can count. Big deal.

At work, we had a discussion about typing speeds. I'm about 65 wpm. Some of the others were about 80 wpm. The average stenographer can type between 100-150 wpm. There are even shorthand competitions and typing competitions out there!

If you use the new Dvorak keyboard...well, check this out:
"As of 2005 , writer Barbara Blackburn was the fastest alphanumerical English language typist in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, she maintained 150 wpm for 50 minutes, and 170 wpm for shorter periods. Her top speed was 212 wpm."
So then we starting talking about how fast people talk. Books on tape are read at a speed of 150-160 wpm. An average auctioneer can say 250-400 wmp. Did you know that the fastest talking person in the world can speak 655 words per minute? Go to minute 2:55 to hear Michael Jackson's "Bad" in 20 seconds. Or watch the whole thing; he's amazing!

So...MY talent is that I can count to 100 in 20 seconds!!! Not as enunciated as John Moschitta, Jr. though. So, you think 100 numbers is equal to 100 words? Not so!

According to Wikipedia (don't judge me - after all this isn't a research paper), "For the purpose of typing measurement, each word is standardized to be five characters or keystrokes long in English,[1] including spaces and punctuation. For example, the phrase "I run" counts as one word, but "rhinoceros" and "let's talk" both count as two."

I say the numbers 1 to 100 counts as 172 words. Trust me, you don't want me to do the math for you. So, maybe I should show a video of ME doing this! Anyway, 172 words in 20 seconds is equal to 516 words per minute!

What's YOUR unique, strange, useless (or perhaps useful) talent? Please share in the comments!!!

Keep on keepin' on...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How a Book Pitch Changes with Each Revision

How do you take a pitch for your book and revise it until it shines? Hard work and input from others! Today, I'd like to share how everyone else's input helped me arrive at the final version. Here's how the pitch for Kaleidoscope Eyes, a nonfiction picture book biography about how David Brewster invented the kaleidoscope, evolved from one version to the next. And this isn't even all the different versions. This book is currently being submitted to AGENTS.

4 Versions of a Book Pitch || revisions | writing | how to write a book pitch | how to revise your book

One of the earlier versions:

For David Brewster, growing up in Scotland before the turn of the 18th century, he asks questions. Lots of questions. He makes sundials, microscopes, and telescopes. He prefers to study light, lenses, and stars, not hunting and sports. While studying light and minerals, he observes a symmetrical pattern and sets out to recreate it. Through a series of repeated experiments, and asking lots of questions, he creates the beauty of symmetry once more, making it perfectly symmetrical, full of bright colors, and easy to show others – all inside a single cylindrical tube.

Comments: Too long. "Lots of questions" is repeated too much. Plus, it's too telling. What are the questions?

First revision:

David Brewster loves science, but when he notices how agate makes light bend, he must discover why. Can he recreate it? Can he improve it? Can he create symmetry? Through a series of repeated experiments, and asking lots of questions, he dreams of sharing his scientific discovery with the world.

Comments: Might be too short. Can you show us how he loves science? Does he really dream of sharing his discovery with the world? What is his discovery? Maybe mention it in the beginning.

Second revision:

David Brewster becomes famous when he invents the kaleidoscope. But that was never his goal. During an experiment with rocks and minerals, he notices light bending. Splendid! Can he recreate it? Can he improve it? Can he create symmetry? Can he use liquid? Can he make it move? So many questions! But David never gives up. His love for science propels him forward to each new question until he names the scientific marvel…the kaleidoscope.

Comments: Don't tell us what he creates in the very beginning. Keep it a mystery. There are too many questions listed. Limit it to three. In the last sentence, change "to" to "through."

Third revision:

David Brewster never meant to become famous. But that's what happened when he followed his passion for science. One day, he notices how light bends. Splendid! Can he improve it, create symmetry, or even make it move? So many questions! But David never gives up. His love for science propels him forward through each new question until he names the scientific marvel…the kaleidoscope.

Comments: When and where does this take place? Second sentence is in past tense. Can you show us how he follows his passion for science? 

Final revision:

David Brewster never meant to become famous. But that's what happens in 1816 when he accidentally invents a brand new toy. The journey begins during an experiment with rocks and minerals, when he notices agate bending the light twice. Splendid! But can he improve it? Can he create symmetry, or even make it move? So many questions! But David never gives up. His love for science propels him forward through each new question until he names the scientific marvel…the kaleidoscope.

I felt that the time period was more important than the locale, so I chose to omit that information. By the way, it was in Scotland. Hope you enjoyed a "sneak" peek inside the writing process and that it can help you with crafting your own pitches.

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, October 12, 2015

New Fiction Writing Retreat for All Levels

I've been working on something HUGE since January 2014, when I got the idea to host a writing and
running retreat to consolidate my travel expenses. I love to travel, but I realized that the only time I do is for writing conferences, retreats, and workshops, or to run in a race. I love both running and writing. Wouldn't it be cool to do BOTH in ONE single trip? I thought so too!!!

The writing retreat is August 3-7, 2016 in Fontana Dam, NC. The culminating event is to participate in the 7 mile trail race on the morning of August 7th. Retreat-goers, capped at 28, get free registration for the race. The race is also open to the public and capped at 250 participants.

Check it out. Go to

If that intrigues you, join our Facebook group too.

YOUR TURN: What are two of your passions? Knitting? Gardening? Reading? Cooking?

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Writers Who Run

Whenever I run, I always gain writing and/or life insights. So I now have a new page tab to share those insights with you. Writers Who Run VIDEOS. See it? Up there at the top? Yep, that one! Go ahead and click on over and check out the videos. There are only 3 right now. Over time, I'll be adding more. Enjoy!

Episode 01: Stereotypical Characters
Episode 02: Focus on Your Goal
Episode 03: Do You Have a Mantra?

??? What has running (or other forms of fitness/activity) unlocked in your life?

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Two Metabolism Diets: The Curves Diet vs. The Hormone Reset Diet

Today's topic is food and dieting, even though I'm not much on the whole dieting scene. I mean, what is the definition of a diet? First and foremost it is, "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats." So, I do not typically "GO ON" diets. I tried one once. It doesn't restrict any foods, but it restricts calories for 2 weeks, then you get more calories. And after looking at these two, I discovered there's about a dozen MORE metabolism diets out there! Which is right? I don't know, but these two seem to come pretty close and have a lot to offer.

Write Wild || metabolism diets | food for runners | eating plans for beginner runners

Two Metabolism Diets: 

The Curves Diet vs. The Hormone Reset Diet

The Curves Diet

The first one I tried is REALLY COOL!!! Not to say it's easy, though. Since when is making a huge lifestyle change easy? However, it totally makes sense. The Curves Diet is for women. Yea! Like I said, it doesn't restrict (well, completely eliminate) any foods from your diet. Here's the basic premise.

There are 2 plans: carb sensitive and calorie sensitive. You take some quizzes and surveys to discover which is true for you. You may have to experiment some to truly discover it once you get going.

There are 3 phases:

  1. Jump Start (2 weeks)
  2. Take it Off (as long as necessary, till you need a break, or you hit a plateau)
  3. Keep it Off (monthly - you only have to "diet" - with restricted calories - up to 3 days a month)
It explains metabolism and how eating less SLOWS your metabolism and eating MORE speeds it up. But there's more to it than that. Just read the book. No, I don't get any money from them. But I've been telling people about this book for over a year now. It just makes sense. But sometimes I get tired of counting calories. 

Basically, you get 1200 calories a day for 2 weeks. Then you get 1600 calories a day for as long as needed until you need a break from "dieting" or you hit a plateau or you reach your goal. When you decide to move up to level 3, you eat normally until you gain your preset weight gain amount of 3-5 pounds. I find that 3 pounds is easier to handle because once you gain it, you diet for 2-3 days until it comes right back off. The idea is that over time of eating normally 1800-2000 calories a day (or more), you boost your metabolism. 

Let's say you hit a plateau. Great! You get to add calories and normal for a few days. I say a few days, because that's how quickly you'll gain those 3 pounds. Then you lose it in 3 days by eating only 1200 calories again - BUT NO MORE THAN 3 DAYS EVEN IF YOU DON'T LOSE ALL 3 POUNDS. Then you eat normal (and healthy, of course). This time, it takes 5-6 days to gain the 3 pounds. Diet for 2 days and lose it. Eat more cals and gain 3 pounds in say, 9 days this time. Diet for a couple days and lose it. Eat normal and this time it might take 3 weeks to gain 3 pounds. You really have to be on your A game with counting the calories though. And you still have to make healthy choices. 

The Hormone Reset Diet

This one claims that you can lose up to 15 pounds in 21 days. I'm thinking, "Yeah, right." But
apparently LOTS of people HAVE! I don't have that kind of goal in mind though. The Hormone Reset Diet book is written by Sara Gottfried, MD. She goes into lots of scientific explanations that really help you understand food and your body.

You eliminate 7 categories of foods over 21 days. Every 3 days you eliminate a food associated with a specific hormone and you do it in a specific order. Read the book! When you understand it, you are more willing to follow it.

  1. red meat and alcohol (progesterone, I think) - chicken and fish and eggs are fine
  2. sugar (insulin) - you're allowed 15 grams a day, it adds up quick! (20-25 grams is actually the recommended amount; and I average 67!!! I don't even eat a lot of sweets!)
  3. fruits (leptin, it's what helps you feel full) - berries are allowed
  4. caffeine (estrogen, I think)
  5. dairy (growth hormone) - almond milk is recommended
  6. grains (don't remember, but I say that grain-free is actually the new fad diet these days)
  7. toxins (testosterone) this includes processed foods and environmental factors such as air, lotions, makeup, shampoo, etc.

The point of doing this is to listen to your body and how it reacts. Your metabolism can reset itself in regards to a single hormone in 3 days. So when you go off red meat and alcohol, you stay off it for the full 21 days. Sugar would be for a solid 18 days. Etc. You don't go hungry because you eat 3-4 cups of vegetables a day. One whole pound.

If during the 21 days, you lose 3-5 ponds during any 3-day elimination, then that is your problem food and is what is causing you to not be able to lose weight. At the end of the 21 days, you do a re-entry phase where you choose the most difficult food whether by hunger, cravings, or whatever. And you add it back in for one meal, at the same meal, for 3 days and note how it affects your body.

I gave it a start, not officially, but trying to prep myself. It helps you discover if you are lactose intolerant or sensitive, casein sensitive, whey sensitive, gluten sensitive, etc. So, why would a person try to go dairy free and get almond milk, then make a smoothie with WHEY protein powder? Duh! (That was me...) I'll get there. Gotta go get that special protein powder! Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.

YOUR TURN: What dietary change have you implemented that made the most difference in your health and/or weight loss? Have you tried either of these? How did you like them?

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lucky Clover Picture Book Writing Contest WINNERS

Yes, I am finally posting (*hides behind wall of shame*) the Lucky Clover Picture Book Writing Contest WINNERS for the last YEAR!!!

Spring 2014 Winner is...
Susanne Whitehouse
for her book, The Troll and the Tea Party.

Summer 2014 Winner is...
for her rhyming book, Zoo Shoes.

Fall 2014: No entries

Winter/Spring 2015 Winner is... 
Susanne Whitehouse
for her book, Pirates Wear Tutus.

Thank you to everyone who entered. I apologize for making you all WAIT. (*A little forgiveness wink...* It is publishing after all.)

Yes, critiques ARE coming if you haven't already received them. Congratulations to the winners of the Lucky Clover Picture Book Writing Contest. Hip, Hip, Hooray!!!

Keep on keepin' on...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Yep, Forrest Gump made it famous, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're
gonna get." If any of you read the last post about the 500 Steps to Getting Published, well, today is the 501st blog post and the answer to the 501st step to getting published is...CELEBRATE WITH CHOCOLATE!!!

However, I don't have any wonderfully good and exciting news to share. I'm probably on step #458 or something. Anyway, today's celebration is "embrace your own journey."

No matter what kind of chocolate you most enjoy, share with others. Not only should you share chocolate with others, but you should also share your life with others.

Have a wonderful day!

YOUR TURN: So...what IS your favorite kind of chocolate?

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

500th Blog Post: 500 Steps to Getting Published

Today is my 500th blog post! Wow.! Who knew this day would eventually come? I mean, it's not like I was waiting for it or anything; it just happened. So, woo-hoo!!! Right? I thought I was going to do something epic and spectacular when this moment came, but now I can't think of anything.

500 Steps to Get Published | writing humor | productivity for writers | author goals

For my 100th blog post, I listed 100 random things about me. Not going to do that for 500. No way.

For my 200 follower milestone, I listed 200 WORDS about me, basically in a random word cloud.

So, for my 500th blog post? Hmmm... How about 500 steps to getting published in 500 words.

  1. WRITE
  2. WRITE
  3. WRITE
  4. read
  5. read
  6. read
  7. read
  8. read
  9. WRITE
  10. WRITE
  11. WRITE
  12. read
  13. read
  14. read
  15. WRITE
  16. revise
  17. WRITE
  18. revise
  19. read 
  20. read
  21. read
  22. WRITE
  23. revise
  24. WRITE
  25. revise
  26. WRITE
  27. WRITE
  28. WRITE
  29. revise
  30. revise
  31. revise
  32. read
  33. edit
  34. revise
  35. WRITE
  36. edit
  37. revise
  38. WRITE
  39. read
  40. read
  41. read
  42. POLISH...
  43. SOME...
  44. MORE...
  45. chocolate
  46. query
  47. letter
  48. postage
  49. stamps
  50. send
  51. off
  52. sase
  53. wait 

Monday, September 28, 2015

I'm Back...

Rise of the Machines by Kristen Lamb
I know I haven't posted anything on my blog since March 5, so I'll keep today's post short and let you go on about your business. I started a new job in March where I commute 45 minutes each morning and each evening. Being the Content Marketing Manager for Kimmel & Associates has been keeping me pretty busy. It's a dream job where I manage a team of writers and contract out blog article assignments, edit them, and post them on the Kimmel blog.

I've since gotten a slight blog facelift as I've changed my blog header and title. I used to call it "Write Wild," with the subtitle being "On Writing. On Picture Books. On Life."

After reading Kristen Lamb's Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, I decided to change up my blog title. This is the premium book for authors and how to get a digital platform. It talks about marketing and the science behind how people decide to purchase things and how books are different than most things. VERY good book! I highly recommend it!!!

Now my blog is "Christie Wright Wild." with the subtitle being "Dancing Through Time and Space." I can always change the subtitle later on as well. But at least the blog now has my name instead of only the URL using my name.

Also, Write Wild Co. is now the name of my company - all things writing related, etc. That's it for today! Told you I'd keep it short.

YOUR TURN: Have you changed anything in the past 7 months? Updated your blog? Changed a name? Bought (and read) a new helpful book (relating to ANYTHING)?

Keep on keepin' on...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

PB 14:14 in 2015 ~ Prize Day!!! (and The List - coming soon...)

The Valentine Vision:
Read, Study, and Share
14 Picture Books in 14 Days

~ Every February 14th ~

The day you've all been waiting for is finally here! Picture book prize packs to be awarded for all your hard work. FIVE WINNERS. Can I get a drum roll, please......

Week 1 

Prize 1: Picture e-book by Romelle Guittap ... winner is ... Lindsay Bonilla!
Prize 2: Picture book CRITIQUE by Amy Dixon ... winner is ... Vivian Kirkfield!

Week 2:

Prize 1: Picture book CRITIQUE by Kristen Fulton ... winner is ... Joyce Tucker!
Prize 2: Picture book manuscript SUBMISSION invitation to Laura Whitaker (normally agented-only submissions) ... winner is ... Manju Howard!

Grand Prize

  • An awesome PB 14:14 wall calendar

  • A PB manuscript critique by my agent, Jodell Sadler

  • The book, How to Promote Your Children's Book, by Katie Davis

  • Free tuition to Kristen Fulton's Nonfiction Archaeology class
  • ......and the winner is...... Linda Hofke!

    CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE!!! Also, the winner of the non-participant COMMENTER PRIZE to win this book donated by Damon Dean (also a participant) is ... Charlotte Dixon!

    But, really? We're ALL winners! Because TOGETHER, we have created an awesome LIST of over 100 books, with 172 examples of how to use one of the top 10 story elements in our own manuscripts. Examples are awesome and you guys ROCK!

    I wanted to hurry up and get the winners announced, but the very next post on my blog will be THE LIST. Come back often and enjoy the fruits of our labors. For now, you can revisit last year's LIST.

    Thank you all so very much for participating! Last year, we had 11 participants. This year, we had 18 total. Nice! Maybe next year, we'll break 30?

    Oh, by the way, the elements in order for how much we gave examples for each one (I was right, by the way!):

    1. THEME - 25
    2. WORD PLAY - 22
    3. CHARACTER - 20
    4. PATTERNS - 18
    6. PLOT - 14
    8. PACING - 12
    See you soon and keep on keepin' on...

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    Day 14: How Big is a Million? (Patterns)

    The Valentine Vision:
    Read, Study, and Share
    14 picture books in 14 days

    Welcome to DAY 14. Today's lesson is on...

    How Big is a Million?
    by Anna Milbourne
    Title: How Big is a Million?
    Author: Anna Milbourne
    Illustrator: Serena Riglietti
    Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd.
    Year: 2007
    Word Count: 565
    Top 10 Element: Patterns

    Little Pipkin wonders how big things are. He goes on an adventure to find one million of something. 
    We have the pattern of questions and answers. We have the pattern of threes. And we have the pattern of counting. As well as repetition.

    1. How wide is the sea?
    2. How high is the sky?
    3. Is the moon made of cheese?
    But the thing he wanted to know most of all big is a million?
    He counts his fish at breakfast...TEN.
    "Ten's a big number of fish for breakfast," he said."But if ten's this big, how big is a million?"
    To which, his mother replies, "A million's much, much more than ten." So off Pipkin goes.
    He finds 100 penguins, and asks them,
    "If a hundred's this big, how big is a million?" And they say, "A million's much, much bigger than a hundred."
    They ask if he would like to stay and huddle to get toasty-warm, but he continues on his search.
    Then he runs into a seal cub and they see a thousand snowflakes. He stays to play for a bit, but then continues on his search.

    He goes back home disappointed that "he hadn't found a million of anything at all."

    A pattern of 3 at the end again, because it really repeats the structure of the whole book:
    • TEN yummy fish, 
    • a HUNDRED warm penguins, 
    • a THOUSAND pretty snowflakes, and a brand new friend,
    Then Mama says, "Here's your million, my little Pip. You can make a wish on every single one." And there's a little sign in the lower right hand corner of the page that says, "This way to see Pipkin's million" and you see... him and his mama looking at this...

    This is actually the poster that came with the book, but the end papers are also covered with a million stars. My kids and I figured out that 1 million is a 10,000 sets of 100. OR 1,000 sets of 1,000. Wow.

    Do you think one day we'll have a million books featured in PB 14:14? Great job everyone! Come back tomorrow to find out who will become the prize winners. And I'll update the book LIST soon too!

    Anybody want to take a GUESS as to which element was featured the most this year? Last year, it was CHARACTER. I'm guessing, yes guessing (haven't tallied yet) that this year's will be either character or theme. What do you think?

    Here's the link to add your own DAY 14 blog posts...

    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    Day 13: The First Vision: The Prophet Joseph Smith's Own Account (Conflict)

    The Valentine Vision:
    Read, study, and Share
    14 picture books in 14 days
    The Linky code: <script type="text/javascript" src="" ></script>

    Wordpress link:

    Welcome to DAY 13. Today's lesson is on CONFLICT.

    Title: The First Vision: The Prophet Joseph Smith's Own Account
    Illustrators: Cary Austin and Greg Newbold
    Publisher: Bookcraft
    Year: 2001
    Word Count: 1000+ est.
    Top 10 Element: Conflict

    This is the story of Joseph Smith, from Sharon, Vermont, born December 23, 1805 and how he prayed to God and received an answer to his prayer.
    This book is a nonfiction picture book published in the religious market for 5 years olds to 105 year-olds. is very dear to my heart. It is told from Joseph Smith's own account. Joseph faced a life of conflict. When he was young, he moved a lot, especially according to times back then. Not uncommon, but still a conflict for a young child.

    When he lived in Manchester, New York, the whole town "lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It became general in all the sects in that region of country."

    Indeed, the different religious sects in the area began to stir up conflict upon themselves.
    Great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people.
    The respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted. Yet it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words.
    This is Joseph's account some time after the events he later experienced. At the time, he was 14 years old. During this time, he distanced himself from all these parties. He was confused.
    It was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
    One day he read James 1:5...
    If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
    He reflected on that passage again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, he did. After a long time, he finally decided that he must either remain in darkness and confusion, or do as James directed and ask of God. So he went to the woods to do so. He suffers great internal conflict up to this point.

    As soon as he kneels to pray, another force of conflict ensues. The dark spirit tries to overcome him and doom him to destruction and make it where he could no longer speak aloud.
    At the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.

    Two Personages appeared to young Joseph.
    One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other -- This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
    To summarize the ending, he was answered that he should join none of the churches, for they were all wrong. His own family belonged to multiple sects, at least two, maybe more. Joseph surely worried what they might think. They knew he didn't want to make a quick decision, not knowing for sure, which one he should join. Thus the reason for his prayer, to determine which to join.

    Later in his life, he was persecuted, laughed at, questioned, tarred and feathered, beat and spit upon, cursed at, chased away, imprisoned, and more. He died a martyr in a jail house when a mob attacked. But he always held fast to what he knew to be true as an answer to his prayer that day. A testimony that what he read in the book of James was indeed true. If you ask God, in prayer, with sincerity, he will answer you.
    I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it.

    Now there's some conflict for you! That was my "older" book for the PB 14:14 event. Tomorrow's book will be on a much lighter note. If you would like to read the full version of the account for which this book is based, you can read Joseph Smith -- History here.

    Here's the link to add your own DAY 13 blog posts...

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    Day 12: Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman (Beginnings and Endings)

    The Valentine Vision:
    Read, Study, and Share
    14 picture books in 14 days
    The Linky code for Blogger blogs: <script type="text/javascript" src="" ></script>

    The code for Wordpress blogs:

    Welcome to DAY 5. Today's lesson is on Beginnings and Endings

    Looking at Lincoln
    by Maira Kalman
    Title: Looking at Lincoln
    Author: Maira Kalman
    Illustrator: Maira Kalman
    Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
    Year: 2012
    Word Count: 1004
    Top 10 Element: Beginnings/Endings

    A young girl is curious about Abraham Lincoln and tries to find out more about the life of the nation's sixteenth president.
    You would think that this book would be feature the story element of character since Lincoln was indeed a great character. Or conflict. But I chose beginnings and endings. I'm sharing the opening 3 spreads and the final 3 spreads.

    Opening Spread:

    One day, while walking through the park on my way to breakfast I saw a very tall man. He reminded me of someone, but I could not think who.
    Notice the pink sidewalks.

    Spread 2:

    Spread 3:

    Just in case you can't read the "fine print" it says, "I could look at him forever."

    And now for the final 3 spreads:
    The news spread. People across the land wept with grief for their fallen leader. But a great man is never really gone.
    Next to last:

    Abraham Lincoln will live forever. and if you go to Washington, D.C. in the spring you can walk through the cherry blossoms and visit him.
    The final spread:

    And you can look into his beautiful eyes. Just look.
    Need I say more? Again with the PINK. Those cherry blossoms...

    Here's the link to add your own DAY 12 blog posts...

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    DAY 11: The Artist and the King by Julie Fortenberry (Theme)

    The Valentine Vision:
    Read, Study, and Share
    14 picture books in 14 days
    Today's Linky code for Blogger blogs: <script type="text/javascript" src="" ></script>

    The code for Wordpress blogs.

    Welcome to DAY 11. Today's lesson is on THEME.

    The Artist and the King
    by Julie Fortenberry
    Title: The Artist and the King
    Author: Julie Fortenberry
    Illustrator: Julie Fortenberry
    Publisher: Alazar Press
    Year: 2014
    Word Count: 572 (if I counted correctly)
    Top 10 Element: Theme

    A young, spirited girl brings new life and joy to her kingdom while experimenting with an unfamiliar and new art form.

    When people hear "theme" they think of lots of things: thematic teaching units (a unit on math using vehicles, a language arts unit with farm animals, a science unit with a skeleton theme), birthday parties (pirates, princesses, legos, animals, Nerf, Pokemon, music, dancing, etc.), or maybe even "the theme of this year is..." (Let your light so shine, Do unto others as you want to be treated, The Blank Page, etc.).

    But in books, theme is SO MUCH MORE THAN THE TOPIC. The theme is more than what the book is about on the surface. Theme is what it's about on a deeper level. The takeaway lesson. The "So what?" of the story. Theme is not to be confused with writing the unpopular moralistic or didactic "teaching" story. You can write a GREAT book and still get the theme across if done well. This book is an example of that. It is by utilizing character, conflict, plot, dialogue, beginnings and endings, that theme is able to come through.

    While this book is also a good example of pacing and beginnings/endings, I believe it is THEME that made me purchase the book. It is such an endearing little book with a heartwarming theme told in a timeless way. When I read it aloud at the SCBWI bookstore, I instantly fell in love. Maybe because I heard the author speak. Maybe because it was the energy of SCBWI. Maybe because my sister is an artist. But, really it's because it spoke to me. It almost brought tears to my eyes. Nobody likes being rejected. Everyone needs love and acceptance. This book shares that exquisitely, and shows how forgiveness can bring people together and heal hurting hearts.

    Daphne, a young artist, was drawing a mean picture of the king when the wind grabbed a hold of her paper and slapped it in the king's face. He yelled out and punished her by taking away her red artist's beret and replacing it with a dunce cap made of the very art she had created. Being the artist she was, she tried to make it look better, "less duncey."
    Maybe if she wore it to one side. Or under her hair. She tried adding colorful decorations. And with a piece of fabric, the cap looked almost regal! With the right fabrics, it could match her different dresses. Soon she was getting compliments.
    And she started selling her own.

    But, of course the King noticed and wanted all the dunce wearers banished into the wilderness. He marched his army right into the town square.
    And straight to his own daughter!"My dear girl, step aside or be banished with the others."The Princess threw down a cap.
    And she "walked into the woods." I love that phrase "walked into the woods." Not only does it have great alliteration, but it is simple. Not stormed, trotted, ran, stomped. Simply walked. It shows how sad she was.

    Daphne saw the King all alone and his spear hovering dangerously over her beautiful cap. She ran to rescue it, but noticed the King was crying. She apologized for the mean picture she drew. Then he apologized for being mean, even his own daughter had said he was. Do you feel the powerful emotions rising up within you yet? Daphne picked up the cap and handed it to the king.
    "But your daughter loves you. Look!" said Daphne. ...For My Dear Father, with Love...Now the King was crying even harder.

    "We can still bring everyone home." And so they did.

    And the next day, even the villagers who had been exiled long ago were coming back home. And everyone shouted for Daphne, "Long live Daphne! Long live the artist!"

    Now, THAT, my friends, is a good example of THEME.

    Here's the link to add your own DAY 11 blog posts...

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    DAY 10: Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer (Patterns)

    Read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days
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    Welcome to DAY 10. Today's lesson is on...

    Mostly Monsterly
    by Tammi Sauer
    Title: Mostly Monsterly
    Author: Tammi Sauer
    Illustrator: Scott Magoon
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    Year: 2010
    Word Count: 348
    Top 10 Element: #8, Patterns

    On the outside, Bernadette is a lot like the other monsters in her class, but when she shows that she can be sweet, her classmates reject her until she finds a way to fit in again.
    Opening Spread:

    This book utilizes the patterns of THREES to structure the story.

    1. She lurched. 
    2. She growled. 
    3. She caused mayhem of all kinds.
    "Sometimes when she was all by herself..."
    1. she liked to pick flowers.
    2. And pet kittens.
    3. And bake

    When it was time to go to school, she was nervous.

    1. everyone lurched, except Bernadette (she wanted to hug)
    2. everyone growled, except Bernadette (she wanted to sing)
    3. everyone caused mayhem and destroyed buildings, except Bernadette (she built a "tinker toys" I Love You monster)
    When she noticed she needed help, she pulled out her secret weapon, TREATS! The other monsters asked,
    1. Bug parts?
    2. Fried snail goo?
    3. Fish heads dipped in hot sauce?!
    But the other monsters did not like her cupcakes with sprinkles, so they ran off to recess and acted like monsters.
    1. They stomped.
    2. They slobbered.
    3. They scared the leaves off the trees.
    Then she got an idea...and made everyone a card.

    Even the artist worked in threes. On one spread, it shows this card in the center and one on either side of it, with no other text.

    And the ending?

    Everyone DID finally give her a group hug. Most of the time, Bernadette did lurch and growl and cause mayhem. But sometimes...
    She was just Bernadette. And that was okay too. (shows her watering a flower)
    If one of your manuscripts isn't quite gelling, try using the pattern of threes, and see if it helps the story come alive or feel more structured. Grrrrr.... 

    Keep on keepin' on...

    Here's the link to add your own DAY 10 blog posts...

    Sunday, February 22, 2015

    DAY 9: Telephone by Mac Barnett (Dialogue)

    Read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days
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    Welcome to DAY 9! Today's lesson is on...DIALOGUE.

    Telephone by Mac Barnett
    Title: Telephone
    Author: Mac Barnett
    Illustrator: Jen Corace
    Publisher: Chronicle Books
    Year: 2014
    Word Count: 130
    Top 10 Element: Dialogue
    In this picture book a string of birds on a telephone wire play a game of telephone, with the usual mixed up results.
    This book is pure dialogue. And so much fun. Anyone who's ever played this childhood game will want to read this book. Here's the first spread:

    "Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner."
    And the game ensues!
    Hit pop flies and homers, Prop planes are for fliers, Put your wet socks in the dryer, and on and on it goes.

    Today's lesson: PLAY with dialogue. Have FUN with it. See where it might lead you. In this book, it eventually leads Peter to fly back home for dinner. What about you?

    Here's the link to add your own DAY 9 blog posts...

    Saturday, February 21, 2015

    [PB 14:14 in 2015] Guest Blogger #2: Heather Ayris Burnell; and DAY 8: Petunia Goes Wild by Paul Schmid (Character)

    Read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days
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    Welcome to DAY 8!!! And our guest blog post #2 to kick off week 2. Please give a warm welcome to Heather Ayris Burnell! She's here to talk about how much she loves STUDYING PICTURE BOOKS!!! And since you're here, we know you love it too! Thanks so much, Heather, for taking the time to share your thoughts and be with us today.

    Bedtime Monster
    by Heather Ayris Burnell
              "I love studying picture books. What could possibly be more fun than going through huge stacks of illustrated stories?

    One of my favorite things to do is pull all of the picture books I can find on a certain subject off of the library shelves. As a librarian I use themes to create fun book displays. As a writer I use them to learn about what’s out there.

    Studying by theme can help you learn what authors have done with a certain type of character: princesses, pirates, trucks, robots, dogs, bugs, porcupines…. You can find virtually every sort of character when you start looking.

    Want to see what's been done at on a specific emotion? Love, happiness, fear—you'll find it on the shelves. Concept books abound. You’ll get a real feel for what's out there when you read through a big stack of them.

    My PhotoThere are so many books on subjects like friendship, going to school, and being yourself—all the parts of growing up. There are holiday books (I just love Halloween and Christmas books). Art books. Bilingual books. Books about people in the neighborhood. Retold tales! And there’s my personal favorite—books about the library.

    What are your themes? Go check them out! Librarians love it when you check out lots of books. Just in case your library shelves looking a little thin or you can’t get out to the library, look up the collection online. You’ll have your card maxed out in no time.

    Join the Club!
    Heather Ayris Burnell is the author of Bedtime Monster.  She runsSub It Club writer and illustrator support group and curates the Monster List of Picture Book Agents on her blog. You can find her on twitter @heatherayris.

    Petunia Goes Wild
    by Paul Schmid
    Title: Petunia Goes Wild
    Author: Paul Schmid
    Illustrator: Paul Scmid
    Publisher: Harper
    Year: 2012
    Word Count: 313
    Top 10 Element: Character
    Petunia decides to stop being a human child and start living the life of a wild animal, much to her parents' displeasure.
    This is actually the second book in the Petunia "series," the first being A Pet for Petunia, which I have not read. I picked this book up at the bargain table somewhere.

    So how do you study character in picture books? How does studying character help you write a picture book with a strong character? Example, example, example. Petunia is definitely a character.

    On Monday, she eats her breakfast off the kitchen floor.

    On Tuesday, she roars to everyone from her front yard.

    On Wednesday, she takes a mud bath.

    On Thursday, she told her parents she needed to live in a cave and they told her, "You are not an animal."
    But Petunia felt that there had been some mistake.
    Being human was too ... clean ... quiet ... too hafta.

    So she asks her parents if she can be their pet instead. And they answer with a resounding, "No, you may NOT!....(a whole page full of adult explanations lasting nearly 100 words).
    Petunia needed to escape.
    That's just like an animal thing her character would think. If an animal felt trapped, it would escape too. So, why not Petunia? So she finds a box and writes "mail to Africa" on it and puts lots of stamps on it. She climbs in and waits, hoping for the moment when she can be "wild and free."

    Then she hears her mom singing in the kitchen and realizes that tigers don't sing or tickle or tuck in at bedtime. So she climbs out and saves her box in her bedroom for other animal days and goes back to the kitchen to be with her mom.

    In this particular book, we learn that sometimes a strong character may want to escape from who they are to explore life's boundaries. Maybe you too can create a character in one your picture book manuscripts in which he or she will try to escape from something. It's just one way to create Story Element #1, Character, into your own books.

    Here's the link to add your own DAY 8 blog posts...


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