Archive for the ‘children’s books’ Category

You want to write a children’s book? But how?

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

 

  1. Immerse yourself in a variety of children’s books.  Go to the children’s section of your local library and bookstore and       READ.  If you want to write a picture book, read 1000 of them.  This is your research.  This is your education.
  2. At home, with children’s books all around you, study the books as though you were taking a class.  Discover their structure, introductions of conflict, character, rhythm, repetition, the rule of three, and other techniques in children’s literature. Realize stories need to be kid-like, with kid-like dialogue, with kid appeal.
  3. Read these books out loud.  Internalize the rhythm of children’s books.  Internalize the structure.
  4. Brainstorm your book.  Let it flow!  Write a rough draft and see where it takes you.  Remember, it’s just a rough draft.  (Say that to yourself 100 times. Internalize this.) Write several rough drafts.  What age child is your audience?  Play with the format and the voice.
  5.  Read every draft you write out loud.  They all need to have a natural in-born rhythm.  When you master it, you’ll know it.
  6. Join SCBWI.  The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is the reason many of us children’s authors are published.  After you’ve joined, make use of every free document on their website. www.scbwi.org
  7. Take a class.  Or several.  Go to SCBWI conferences and meetings.  Keep reading and studying.
  8. Find or form a critique group.  Writing partners are also great.  Both writing groups and writing partners help with critiquing, motivation, and support.  At a signing I had for my book, The ABCs of Writing for Children, two women wanted to write for children.  I told them to get together.  They had coffee after my talk and started their own partnership.  One day several years later, I received an e-mail from them telling me they’ve been meeting and writing . . . and publishing ever since!
  9. Don’t forget the children’s magazine world.  Many stories for children may not be picture books, but short stories for children.  There are opportunities for paying markets for short stories and nonfiction in magazines in print and online.
  10. Don’t rely on the opinions of your neighbor’s children, or your friend’s.  They will love it because they love YOU.  Be honest with yourself.  If the story has been done before, publishers won’t want it.  However, maybe you can take your story and give it a new twist or slant.  Look at it a new way.
  11. Persistence pays!  Don’t let the rejections get you down.  There are large, medium and small publishers out there!  Dr. Seuss was rejected 27 times before he found a house willing to take a chance on him.
  12. My favorite advice is from prolific children’s author Jane Yolen.  BIC.   Butt in chair.  If you keep at it long enough and you are willing to grow and change, you WILL succeed.  When you read your published book to children in the audience and they smile, get involved, and shout out answers to the action in your book, you’ll know it was worth every minute.

The Bad Guy: Is He Making You Do Things You Shouldn’t?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Bad Guy Target Silho

 

The Bad Guy:  How do you deepen him making it integral to your plot?

In the first draft of your novel, are the villains were plain old stereotypes?

Mines were just bullies, through and through.   How could I create fully fledged three-dimensional characters?

Trying to deepen mine, I free-wrote scenes.  Suddenly the bully turned  into a goody-two-shoe!  How did I do that?

When I woke up the next day, a line of dialogue from this character spoke to me.  Next, I read over yesterday’s work.  I had wasted the whole day!

I started over. When the character spoke to me, she accidentally (?) shared her secret desire.  Bingo.  It felt real.  It felt right.  Now this bully is hanging around with me as I take a walk, wash the dishes, and empty the washing machine.

Don’t worry if your first draft, first ideas, or even second or third drafts don’t quite hit their mark.  We have to wade through our initial thoughts to discover the truth underneath it all.

Remember author Sid Fleischman’s words:  “Nothing is wasted except the paper.”  And in our electronic world, that’s not even an issue.

It’s all part of the process.

Writing Prompts:

  1.  What is your most useful way you deepen characters?  Do you hear their dialogue first?  Discover them through narration?  Illustrate them through art?
  2. Secondary characters are as important as major ones.  Think about them as much as you do your protagonist. Write a journal for them.  What is in their closet?
  3. Revising can be the most fun ever.  When those tidbits and discoveries click your plot comes together.  Write about your process on your latest project.  Save it!  Reread it before you begin your next writing.  It helps to see what has worked for us in the past.

 

 

Discover Behind-the-Scenes Secrets at Chronicle Books!

Monday, July 21st, 2014

 

Admit it.  You’ve always wondered what goes on behind the scenes in book publishing.  Discover how editors and publishers make their magic!  Editor Melissa Manlove will give a fascinating presentation this Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 7 pm, at 1846 Union Street, San Francisco.

PLUS – - get 25% off everything in the Chronicle Store!

 

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Attention Readers! Parents! Kids Win Books!

Monday, June 9th, 2014
The Storyteller Bookstore 
Reading for kids ages 5 – 18

What have you been reading?  Enjoying?  What are your passions?  Kids, discover a terrific reading listdesigned especially for you - the BEST BOOKS EVER -  to read over the summer!

 

Offered with your reading difficulty and breadth of subject in mind.

 

Every staff member at the Storyteller can personally address your needs. Kids receive postcards of encouragement and reminders about the deadline.
Sign up by visiting the Storyteller during June 2 – June 30, 2014, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.   Kids must sign up in person with an adult. Please allow 20 minutes per individual for registration and book guidance.Cost:  $25

What do you get?  A discount on reading program books!

 Complete the program?  There’s a popular end-of-summer party and a golden Summer Reader Riches certificate worth $15 of store merchandise.

 
What’s not to love? 
 
Books you can’t wait to crack open!  Professionals at your service!  Increase your reading skills! 

The Storyteller Bookstore is located at 3506-E Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA  94549.  925-284-3480

 

What do Editors think? Authors? Behind the Scenes Peek, Here!

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

I absolutely LOVE The Quiet Book, and its writer, Deborah Underwood.  Scholastic Editor Arthur Levine, famous for being JK Rowling’s editor, has been a treasure at writing conferences for years.  Imagine when they join other authors in a terrific tribute as to what happens between editors and authors.  

Enjoy!

http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=13192

What secret elements make a quest/adventure book great?

Monday, November 25th, 2013

If you’d like to read a great new middle grade, choose Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early, a quest adventure story about a boy dealing with his mother’s death after WWII. Sent to a Maine boarding school, protagonist, Jack, is unhappy and feeling friendless until he’s intrigued with Early Arden, a unique character with a fascination about pi, who leads him through Appalachia.

Vanderpool’s poetic style lures the reader forward. Here is a scene where they fish with Gunnar, a minor character they meet on their journey. Gunnar carries an emotional, heart-wrenching past.

“You have a fine cast,” called Gunnar.

“I know. My brother taught me before he went to the war.” Early swished his line back and forth. The motion seemed to take him away somewhere.

Gunnar’s expression registered what he knew, what we all knew, of the fate of so many of those brothers who went to war. He looked at me, asking the question he didn’t want to say out loud. Did Early’s brother make it back?

I shook my head in answer. No, Fisher was dead.

Gunnar allowed the quiet to take over as Early moved farther out into the water and into his own thoughts.

Finally, Gunnar spoke, his voice so fluid and moving, it could have come from the river itself. “I once hear a poem about angling. It say when you send out your line, it is like you cast out your troubles to let the current carry them away. I keep casting.”

I liked the sound of that. The river pressed and nudged, each of us responding to it in different ways, allowing it to move us apart and into our own place within it.

Notice the unique dialogue of Gunnar, creating a fully formed person in just a few lines and a second layer of meaning within the words, so you’re not just reading a scene about fishing.

Another aspect which is fascinating about this book is how this Newbery Medal-winning author broke the rules. (In order to break the rules, you must first establish that you know them.) Although in writing adult novels (and nearly always in the movies), authors (and screenwriters) are allowed to fictionalize history for the sake of character and plot. In children’s books, this has been a distinct no-no. Why? We don’t want to confuse nonfiction facts with untruths for kids. But at the end of this book, Vanderpool has a page: PI: FACT OR FICTION? Here she lists the truths about this captivating number, since she has bent the truth within her story.

Writing Prompts:

1. Write a quest/adventure short story with the above elements in mind. Before you begin, think and wonder about your story, developing the plot and characters within you. Daydream, jot notes, and free write about the back story of each character first.

2. Can you write a quest poem? Any style you choose!

3. Create a piece of art with a quest/adventure theme.

4. As you begin reading a book, use post-it notes to mark the scenes that are evocative. Why do they work so well?

Best Quotes from Children’s Books

Friday, July 19th, 2013

What is your favorite quote from a children’s book you have loved?

A few of my favorites:

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered.
- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“But dying’s part of the wheel, right there next to being born. You can’t pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that’s the blessing.”
- Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”
- E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”
- L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Writing Prompts:

1. What is your favorite quote from a children’s book? Use it to inspire a short story, poem or essay.

2. List your fifteen favorite children’s books. Do any of them inspire memories of your childhood? Write about them.

3. Choose one children’s book that has meant something important to you. Why is it special?

Here are some other great quotes from children’s books:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/briangalindo/15-wonderful-quotes-about-life-from-childrens-books

California Writers Club Young Writers Contest Luncheon Features Author Mike Jung

Monday, May 6th, 2013

When I told an author friend who was speaking at our luncheon this Saturday, she YELLED into the phone, “YOU GOT MIKE JUNG?  I’M COMING!”  

She lives in San Jose, so it will be quite a ride for her.  “He’s hysterical!” she said.  “He’s one of the most entertaining and fabulous authors EVER!”

As for me, I can’t wait to meet the young writers who created such fabulous poems, short stories and essays.  What’s more, if you didn’t get a chance to read them yet, you can here.  They will be on display!  The students and their families, teachers, and friends as well as adult writers and members of the public will get a chance to meet everyone, see their work, play a game/quiz with the student writings, and learn the secrets of the writing and publishing industry from this fantastic author and speaker.  The information is below.  See you soon! 

The Young Writers Contest Award Winners will be honored at the next meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Special Guest speaker, Mike Jung will address the contest winners, members and guests.  His topic is “Writing—It’s Not for The Chicken-Hearted”. He will explain how to choose your idea, find your process, and share your work.

Mr. Yung is the author of Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities, a superhero novel.  His essays have appeared in the anthologies Dear Teen Me (Zest Books, 2012), and Break These Rules (Chicago Review Press, 2013).

Sign-in is from 11:00 am to 11:30 am, with presentations and luncheon from 11:30 pm to 1:30 pm. Registration is $20 for CWC members, $25 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, May 8. Contact Robin Gigoux at ragig@aol.com. or by phone at (925) 933-9670.  Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is: http://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com/

Contra Costa Reading Association Writers at Work

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Please Post

The Contra Costa Reading Association presents:

                                                               

                                                                                                Writers at Work

Join us for a morning filled with inspirational ideas from a children’s author, as well as writing sessions presented by outstanding local teachers of writing.  Our featured author is

Elizabeth Koehler Pentacoff

Our keynote speaker is children’s author, teacher and is an energetic presenter who shares her love of drama and words in instruction to promote a love of writing.  She has presented at schools throughout the state.

This author’s books include: Jackson & Bud’s Bumpy Ride, The ABC’s of Writing for Children, John Muir and Stickeen; An Alaskan Adventure, Curtain Call; Games, Skits, Plays & More,  Louise, the One and Only, Wish Magic, Help, My Life is Going to the Dogs, You’re Kidding, Incredible Facts About Presidents,  and Explorers.

Writers at Work is for students in grades 2-6 who are interested in writing, parents who are looking for ways to motivate and enhance their child’s writing and teachers looking for ideas to use in the classroom.

Please note: CSUEastBay now charges $5.00 for parking.  If possible, please carpool with your friends.

 When:           Saturday, March 9, 2013, from 9:00-12:30

Where:         California State University East Bay, Concord campus

4700 Ygnacio Valley Road, Concord

Cost:              $5.00 per child (accompanying adults are free)

$5.00 per adult, unaccompanied by a child

Please make checks payable to CCRA

Stay in touch with CCRA’s events by visiting our website www.contracostareading.org

Publisher’s Weekly Article: The Children’s Industry

Friday, August 10th, 2012

If you weren’t able to make the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s Summer Conference, read this article to get some of the highlights:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/53496-scbwi-summer-conference-a-gathering-of-kindred-spirits-.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly%27s+Children%27s+Bookshelf&utm_campaign=a27b52a677-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email