April 30, 2009

National Picture Book Writing Week

Author Paula Yoo has created a fun contest for those who have plenty of picture books ideas, but need the inspiration to actually write! Paul has created National Picture Book Writers Week, affectionately called, NaPiBoWriWee, May 1st - May 7th. The challenge is to write a complete picture book each day, for seven days. As Paula states, this contest does not imply that writing a picture book is easy or that a PB can be written in one day. As we know, writing for children is a serious challenge. I recently listened to a radio interview with actress Brooke Shields, who published her second book. I was thrilled when she stated that writing a children's book is one of the most difficult challenges she ever faced. With this contest, however, Paula gives writers to opportunity to develop ideas, with a clear story arc, and win a copy of her book. You may find yourself writing a real gem (and about one hundred revisions later) will be ready for an editor's eyes! Good luck. http://www.paulayoo.com/

April 28, 2009

Get Thee To A First Page Session!

I have previously written on this blog about First Page Sessions offered through the SCBWI. This information bears repeating, as it's a great experience and you can't beat the price. Last week I attended a N.J. SCBWI First Page Session in Princeton. What is a First Page Session, you ask? At these sessions, you bring only the first page of a manuscript (one typed page, double-spaced). It is submitted anonymously and the pages are read aloud to the editors and the entire group. (No stress involved, as no one know who belongs to what manuscript). The editors (usually two) comment on the first page. Would they turn to the next page? Does the writing/setting/character set this manuscript apart from the thousands of others in the slush pile? If it's a rhyming text - is it forced rhyme? Is the meter correct? Is it a great opening paragraph? How can it be stronger? This is valuable information, coming straight from the editors. Michele Burke, Associate Editor, Knopf and Crown Books and Allison Wortche, Assistant Editor, Knopf (a Random House imprint) offered great tips for the writers in the group. Solid, concrete information that will turn a first page into a gem. In today's market a first page must pop. Your immediate goal is to entice the editor to read page two - and ultimate goal of published.

April 23, 2009

Earth Day: Children's Authors Share Tips

Yesterday was Earth Day and there are lots of fabulous children's books available on the subject. As a writer, one book I found particularly compelling is Recycle This Book! : 100 Top Children's Authors Tell You How To Go Green, written by Dan Gutman (author of Million Dollar Shot and My Weird School series). Adults can benefit from reading the book and kids will love reading tips from their favorite authors. A terrific book for the classroom (attention all teachers!)(attention parents looking for a unique end-of-the-year teacher's gift!). This collection of essays, stories and tips includes these authors:

Jerry Spinelli (he donates and buys from thrift stores)
Lois Lowry (uses an outside clothesline to dry laundry)
Roland Smith (spend more time walking)
Laurie Halse Anderson (combine trips/errands to use less gas)

Some tips are easy to implement and some are a real challenge. Those of us who are writers, know the challenge of using less paper. Multiple revisions, query letters, rejected manuscripts - it all adds up to paper waste. My personal tip for paper conservation (aside from having every manuscript acquired upon first draft!) : use every piece again. Our home office has a stash of gently-used computer paper. The other side is used for artwork, homework, math problems, errand lists, website addresses, phone messages, grocery list, notes to teachers. This Earth Day I will challenge myself to adopt one new tip from the authors listed in Recycle This Book! Maybe if Dan Gutman writes Volume II, he'll include this author!

April 20, 2009

Alaska Cruise and Contract!

This post may be of interest to those who dabble in various genres: I received an email from Hay House Publishers promoting their Alaska cruise and writer's workshop "I Can Publish My Book!" July 11-18, 2009. Hay House, a self-empowerment publishing company, is promoting that the winner receives a publishing contract and $10,000 advance. I thought it was an interesting marketing tool. Who knows - if you were planning on booking an Alaska cruise, and you are trying to land a contract - maybe you could be the winner! Let me know if you are the lucky person! Details

April 16, 2009

Interview on Tara Lazar's Blog

Tara Lazar, who has a fantastic blog chock-full of information, recently interviewed me. We discussed my journey from meeting my editor at a SCBWI conference to acquisition to marketing Tonight You Are My Baby: Mary's Christmas Gift. Visit Tara's blog and join the fun! Plan to stay awhile and check out Tara's interviews with other children's book authors. http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/tonight-you-are-my-baby/

April 14, 2009

Crosswalk Article

In this Easter season, Crosswalk.com published my reflection article on Jesus' last journey through a mother's eyes. Just as Mary was part of the miracle of Christmas, she is also part of the Easter miracle. http://www.crosswalk.com/spirituallife/women/11601947/ Easter blessings to all.

April 7, 2009

Thank You!

A great, big "Thank You!" to the Ladies Auxillary of St. Mary's Church. I was invited to speak at the monthly meeting last night and everyone was so gracious. The group generously donated to our foundation, At Least Kids, for research/support of pediatric brain tumors. Thanks to all for this lovely, wonderful suprise!

April 3, 2009

Are You Repeating Yourself? Good Job!

Repeating yourself can certainly be an awkward habit, but in the world of children's books, it can be a fantastic tool! In children's picture books, a catchy phrase adds rhythm or familiarity or humor. In reading aloud to children, particularly in a group setting, repetition really adds to the interactive nature of the book. In my book, Tonight You Are My Baby: Mary's Christmas Gift, the repetitive phrase "Tomorrow you will be King, but tonight you are my baby" repeats five times in a 32-page picture book. I must admit, the usefulness of this phrase caught me completely by surprise. Fortunately. in multiple school visits, I learned to invite the children to repeat the phrase with me while reading the book and they LOVED it! The appeal of joining with the author, helped the children stay involved and kept me from reading "at" them. Many of the children remarked that this was their favorite part of the visit. While writing your own manuscripts, take time to review other books that have a repetitive word/phrase/action. Several examples: Bear Feels Scared ("And the bear feels scared"), The Perfect Nest (some form of "This is my nest"), Chicks and Salsa ("Ole!"). Share this tool with other writer friends. The strength of repetition... well, bears repeating!