Posts Tagged "picture books"

In Spirit Now, Caroline

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in Writing Inspiration | 2 comments

In Spirit Now, Caroline

On June 18, my friend and colleague, masterful writer, generous teacher, and sweet soul, Caroline Stutson, transitioned into Spirit. She went on her own terms after she found out she had cancer. My heart is breaking, but I like to think she is chatting it up with my mom and that they are both enveloped in joy. Caroline was a beautiful writer and a beautiful person. After Caroline left our large critique group, some of us formed a smaller group which would meet every quarter or so. Caroline would drive to my house and then I’d drive us both to Golden to meet the others at the Barnes & Noble bookstore where we’d talk writing, critique a few pages, or brainstorm ideas before sending them to the “big” group for critique. I loved my time with Caroline in the car. We talked about her family, especially her grandson, Alec–a young man of many talents who brought such joy and grandmotherly pride into her life. I was blessed to see this first hand when Alec was in a workshop I gave for teen writers a couple of weeks ago. He shared his ideas and his own writing; his talent, thoughtfulness and maturity showing through so clearly. What an honor to meet him and be touched by his own sweet, talented spirit, however briefly. Sometimes Caroline and I talked about books and publishing. She was often discouraged by the turn in the market; how her manuscripts weren’t being acquired as quickly, how she couldn’t get editors to respond. She was shy and sweet, which was something I loved about her. But we would often joke how this beautiful quality of hers didn’t help her in the publishing world  :-). I always encouraged her to follow up and work for what she deserved because she deserved SO much; as did the readers who were blessed enough to be touched by her work. But no matter what, she was always writing. I think she took some breaks, but she loved it and it loved her and she couldn’t not do it. She began writing largely for herself, for the sheer joy of it, letting the pressures of publication fall away. At the time I understood that concept intellectually; heck, I’d been telling hundreds of students that “it’s about the writing” for years. However, it wasn’t until the last two years or so that I actually felt it, truly understood it on a gut level. Now I wonder if Caroline planted a seed in me that I didn’t even know was there. She was a gifted poet and I think that was her first love. She loved to play with language and had such a talent for rhyme; I learned so much from her! She also tried her hand at a middle grade novel even though it scared her. I was filled with admiration, though I made fun of her for tiptoeing around her characters because she didn’t want to put them in danger—emotional or otherwise. We laughed about that. How lucky I was to know her and share time with her. Sending you love, dear friend. Always. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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PiBoIdMo (almost) Halfway Report

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Picture Books, Writing Inspiration | 0 comments

PiBoIdMo (almost) Halfway Report

On Nov 6, I talked about participating in PiBoIdMo (the brainchild of author Tara Lazar) and I thought I’d let you know how it’s going so far. I’ve been able to come up with an idea every day, but it hasn’t always been easy. Which cracks me up because one of the first questions I usually get at school visits is “Where do you get your ideas?”and my answer has always been–from everywhere! Something I hear from a friend or family member, something I’ve read, something one of my kids has said or one of their friends… And that’s still true. But I realized that the ideas I usually get will just pop into my mind at odd intervals and I’d note them as I was going through my day. Now, when I want an idea to come, it’s not always so forthcoming. I’m learning to not be so hyper-focused on “getting an idea,” and letting them come like they usually do. It’s been interesting to see how determined I am to get a new idea each day, to be able to fill that white square. And I also did the following: Stalked the Internet, reading articles about toddlers and kindergartners–what they like, what the don’t like, what they think is funny, and so on. Talked to my sister who has a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old (both boys) about what their obsessions and/or interests are. Thought back to my own kindergarten days and the preschool and kindergarten days of my kids. The ideas came and I hope they keep coming. I’ve still got 17 days to go! What about you?   Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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Picture Book Ideas–I’m Going For It!

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Picture Books, Writing Inspiration | 2 comments

Picture Book Ideas–I’m Going For It!

Picture book author, Tara Lazar, started Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) in response to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The great thing is you just have to come up with one idea (not an entire story) per day. Of course, the plan is to have a few manuscripts result from these ideas, but we don’t have to flesh those out unless we’re inspired. I decided to do it this year and I’m excited so far. See that pic of my blank calendar below? I printed that on Friday. It has been filled in with five ideas–today’s idea isn’t on there yet, but it will be! I wanted a blank calendar in this post because when I print a blank calendar in connection with writing goals of some kind, I get itchin’ to fill it. I thought it might inspire you the same way. Why Did I Do It? I never seem to be without ideas, but I had a moment a couple of weeks ago, after I’d sent another version of a new PB to my agent, when I thought: What’s my next picture book?  The answer: I don’t know. That kind of freaked me out because with my novels, I always have three or four ideas waiting in the queue. But with the picture books, I’d been so focused on writing and revising the two that are currently out on submission that I hadn’t thought about what would come next. I immediately jumped on my computer–okay, not literally, because that would be bad–and sifted through my picture book folder. A sense of relief flooded me as one title caught my eye. I got excited, wrote and rewrote furiously, and sent it off to my online critique group. But then the question popped up again: What’s my next picture book?  Enter PiBoIdMo! Now, I will confess that I went back through my picture book folder again to see if there were any other ideas that grabbed me. There were three. So three of the five on my calendar are existing ideas. If you think that’s cheating, that’s okay . My goal is to get 30 mostly usable ideas on that baby and if an old idea fit, I wrote it down. If you’ve got viable old ideas, use them! If you’re a picture book writer and haven’t already, I encourage you to sign up (you have until tomorrow, Nov 7). In addition to the satisfaction of making it happen and getting inspired by the guest bloggers, there are cool prizes.  😉 Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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Picture Book Revision Realities

Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in Picture Books, Writing Inspiration | 8 comments

Picture Book Revision Realities

Just before the holidays I received an email with some wonderful, thought-provoking suggestions from my editor for a new picture book manuscript. Here’s a fun tidbit: The manuscript was 515 words. Her email? 769 words, not counting the salutation and closing :-). I point this out because a lot of times new writers believe that shorter means less work. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes it isn’t. To be fair, even though her email was longer than my manuscript, her comments only pointed to a few things, with suggestions for how to approach it. She did a great job of providing examples to help guide me, but kept it pretty broad overall and covering two basic areas: amping up the humor in a few places and expanding my concept/theme. Like any good editor, she left the details up to me. My first attempt was okay, but felt lacking so I’m tackling it again. The moral of this short tale (223 words): Be prepared to revise once a manuscript is accepted. Be open to ideas, but if your vision is different, don’t be afraid to express it. It’s a collaboration, one designed to create the best possible story. With the help of my fabulous agent, I am now able to see what I might do to improve the story and can’t wait to get back to it. Onward! Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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Writer’s Studio: Finding the Emotional Resonance

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Picture Books, Writer Tips & Tools | 2 comments

Last weekend I had the pleasure and honor of presenting at our 2013 Fall Letters & Lines Conference. The session I gave was called “What’s Your Picture Book About? Developing Effective Story Summaries.” One of the most wonderful things about picture books is that there is such a variety of types; not every picture book is a traditional narrative story with a character, a conflict, and a resolution. However, for those that follow this model, I encouraged writers to go deeper and find and exploit the emotional resonance in their stories. Using Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, I posed a series of questions to get us all looking at the story more deeply, beyond just the plot about a boy, Max, who is “naughty,” sent to bed without supper and enters the imaginary world of the wild things where he is in charge. Here are a few questions to get your creativity flowing: How do the circumstances change by the end of the story? How do the new circumstances affect my character?/How does my character change by the end of the story? What single image do you want the child who is reading/listening to the story to walk away with? This is not necessarily an illustration or scene you “see” from the book (though it could be), but an image that encapsulates what your book is truly about. Answering these questions not only will help you develop an effective summary that you can use to entice an editor or agent to want more, but also assist you in making your story one that will stay in the minds and hearts of readers for years to come. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new...

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