Monday, November 28, 2011

Story submission

With the holidays fast approaching, I haven’t written much lately, but I did submit a picture book story about a woodpecker with attitude that I had filed away some time back. I revisited it, dusted it off, revised a bit, had it critiqued by my writer group, and sent it off to publishers. Wish me luck!

Researching publishers takes quite a bit of time as well. It’s all part of the writing process. Having a link to publisher websites helps. Here’s a children’s book publisher website that has valuable information on guidelines, agents, manuscript formatting, and so on. Website: Signaleader

During the holidays, I like to read from two books given to me by writer friends whose stories are included in the books. It’s a real treat for me!

Don’t get too frazzled during the holidays. Relax a bit, drink some tea, and read a book. Enjoy!

“What does an editor do? Michelangelo said it best: ‘I saw an angel in the marble and I just chiseled till I set him free.’” – Deborah Brodie

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What is a story?

What is a story? We’ve all been told that a story has to have structure, i.e., a beginning, a middle, and an end, right? Well, according to Brian A. Klems, a blogger for Writer’s Digest, he writes that a story has to have much more than that. He addresses this topic in his article, “The 5 Essential Story Ingredients.” 

 Some of what he writes: “stories have an origination, an escalation of conflict, and a resolution. Of course, stories also need a vulnerable character, a setting that’s integral to the narrative, meaningful choices that determine the outcome of the story, and reader empathy. But at its most basic level, a story is a transformation unveiled—either the transformation of a situation or, most commonly, the transformation of a character. Simply put, you do not have a story until something goes wrong.”

Read his entire article as he defines the “5 essential story ingredients,” which are Orientation, Crisis, Escalation, Discovery, and Changes.


 “I can create my own theatre in picture books. I love the flow of turning the pages, the suspense of what’s next.”Don Freeman

Monday, November 14, 2011

Panel discussion with publishers

Recently Ingrid Sundberg, YA writer and illustrator, posted on her blog, Ingrid’s Notes, an excellent piece covering the 2011 SCBWI-LA summer conference panel discussion with five publishers. Ms. Sundberg writes on her post some of the questions raised by the moderator to the panel: 

What kind of skills does an author or illustrator need? What do you expect from them more than just the ability to write? 

What about self publishing? 

How does New Media affect picture books? 

Visit her blog to find out the answers to these questions and many more. I was there during that panel discussion and found it extremely helpful and interesting.  

And here’s a peek at the Publishers Weekly Children’s Books (long list) - Spring 2012 Sneak Previews Compiled by Shannon Maughan 

Happy Harvest 

“I always yield to the inevitability of events in my novels even when it causes me to shift course, toss away pages and notes and make sudden revisions.” – Robert Cormier

Friday, November 11, 2011

YA Debut novel

I just returned from a book signing at Barnes & Noble for a writer friend of mine, Guadalupe Garcia McCall. It was a lively event where kids from the middle school where McCall teaches performed in mariachi groups to the delight of the crowd.

The YA book, Under the Mesquite, published by Lee and Low Books, is McCall’s debut novel. I first met McCall two years ago at the SCBWI-LA conference where she was on a panel of Latino writers. I found out she lives very close to San Antonio so we’ve become friends. 
Guadalupe Garcia McCall

It’s always a pleasure to see writers you know, especially local ones, get published. We all know how much work goes into the writing process and so we congratulate one of our own. Wishing you the best with your new book, Lupe!

“An author who is proactive in her book’s marketing and promotion is much more desirable than one who waits for the publisher to make the first move.” – Writing Tip from Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Picture book illustrations

I’ve always said that a picture book is collaboration between the writer and the illustrator. In my opinion, the illustrator brings our stories to life. I always have my own vision when I write the story. However, I’m always amazed at how much better the illustrator’s vision is for the same story. I leave it up to these talented artists to work their magic.

Take a peek at the 2011 Best Illustrated Children’s Books by the New York Times Book Review. The post, published by Pamela Paul on Arts Beat blog, announces the ten titles. 

You might also enjoy Shirley G. Webb’s post, “A Book is Born,” on the Institute of Children’s Literature blog. She describes her excitement when she first became a “published author.” 

“Know yourself. Listen to a lot of music. Don’t whine. Maintain your sense of humor; indulge your sense of play. Persist, persist, persist.” – Kathleen Krull

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Critique groups

I know I’ve mentioned critique groups before. I just had a critique session with my group yesterday and their comments were right on target. In certain areas of my manuscript where I had misgivings, the group readily picked up on it without me mentioning it beforehand. That was enough validation for me to revise those parts.

The Austin SCBWI has a brief description of what a critique group is. They mention the “sandwich” method, which I’m sure many of you have heard before. Critique etiquette and group parameters are also addressed. Join a writing group in your area and form a critique group. You’ll not only make lifelong friends, but you’ll get valuable feedback.  

A group of writers, including yours truly, recently participated in Educator Appreciation Day at a local Barnes & Noble. The teachers and librarians in the audience were treated to presentations by the authors. A booksigning followed. We had fun!

Educator Appreciation Day

"Nothing one ever experiences or feels is wasted." -- Lynne Reid Banks