Monday, December 16, 2013

Writing Biographies

Do you like to write biographies? In one of my critique groups, one of our writers writes biographies. The rest of us in the group are amazed at the amount of research she does for each book. Of course she doesn’t use the entire volume of research notes, but what she does use makes for a fascinating story.  
Here is a very brief discussion on writing biographies by Dr. Alma Bond, author and guest blogger on the Writer’s Digest blog. On her article, “How to Write a Biography: Writing from the Heart,” she writes: “As you do your research, select details to write about that you find particularly interesting. It is far more important to write in an engaging manner than to dwell upon historical dates and facts. Your readers will remember the former, and not the latter. That is not to say that research is not important.” 
And here’s another interesting post on the Concord Monitor blog. The article, “Like Strega Nona, Tomie dePaola’s stories endure,” children’s author and illustrator Tomie dePaola is interviewed in his studio amid the tools of his trade. You'll enjoy the photos.
I’m taking a short break from my blog during the upcoming holidays. But here’s wishing you blessings during this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

“Nothing one ever experiences or feels is wasted.”Lynne Reid Banks 


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Cookie Exchange

Today I baked twelve (yes – 12!) dozen cookies for our annual  Christmas Cookie Exchange Party. It’s a time when we gather together as family and enjoy conversation, music, and goodies. It’s a nice time to just relax and enjoy each other’s company. Here are pictures of the “before” and “after” of my cooking-baking day. My cookies are now ready to go in pretty Christmas bags. Yum. Yum. 
And here are some treats for you: A list of the “The 13 Best Children’s, Illustrated, and Picture Books of 2013” on the online Publishers Weekly from the source
Here’ an online guest blog interview with Nikki Grimes on the Teaching Books website.
For both writers and illustrators, here’s a video on the School Library Journal blog by Caldecott Honor author and illustrator Peter Brown on his creative process.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Multicultural Books

Latin@s in Kid Lit is a website listing multicultural books and much more. Their Mission/Vision:

·       engage with works about, for, and/or by Latin@s;

·       offer a broad forum on Latin@ children’s, MG, and YA books;

·       promote literacy and the love of books within the Latin@ community;

·       examine the historical and contemporary state of Latin@ characters;

·       encourage interest in Latin@ children’s, MG, and YA literature among non-Latin@ readers;

·       share perspectives and resources that can be of use to writers, authors, illustrators, librarians, parents, teachers, scholars, and other stakeholders in literacy and publishing.

Here’s an interesting interview by NPR on “How Cynthia Rylant Discovered The Poetry Of Storytelling. The award-winning author talks about her life growing up in a West Virginia coal mining town and then she addresses the topic of writing and the creative process. 
Yesterday the Southwest SCBWI chapter held its annual Holiday Schmooze. We all had a fun time, snacking and talking about books, what else? One of our members was kind enough to host the party at her lovely home. If you are a writer or an illustrator and haven’t yet joined the SCBWI in your area, you should. There are so many benefits to being part of this great organization. Find out what SCBWI can do for you.
Reprint rights: Permission to print an already published work whose first rights have been sold to another magazine or book publisher. -- Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Conflict in Your Story

Does your story have enough conflict to keep the tension up and the reader interested?
“Try stuff. See what happens. Let the justification come later. Just continue to think trouble, trouble, trouble. Make it worse. Turn up the heat. That’s conflict, your best friend as a writer.” That is what Brian Klems’ post on the Writer’s Digest blog, “5 Tools for Building Conflict in Your Novel,” addresses.
He assigns five tools to help the writer who is struggling with conflict in the story. They are: “The
New Mexico
Novel Journal, Questions to be Answered, Dreams, Ongoing Mystery, and Guy with a Gun.” You might want to read this article if your story is lacking conflict.
And here’s some awesome stuff. Reading nooks. Do you have a favorite reading nook? I do. A very comfortable armchair by the fireplace. What’s yours? Take a look at these creative reading nooks on the Book Riot blog. Like I said – awesome!

“Good writing is clear thinking made visible.” – Bill Wheeler

Friday, November 29, 2013

Picture Book Month

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving Day. I just returned from a trip to San Jose, California. Spent the Thanksgiving holiday there. Beautiful weather, lovely place.
Before the month of November is over, I’d like to share this post on the Picture Book Month blog. It’s about interviews with famous authors on the subject of why picture books are important. Make sure you read it if you’re into writing picture books or even if you’re not. The discussion is super interesting.
One of the interviewees, author April Pulley Sayer, writes: “A picture book is a delicious form. There’s just enough time for a journey, a concept, a bit of push and pull of language. A picture book can refresh you, teach you, comfort you, and help you set sail into real life with inspiration…” Visit the blog above for more.

Never try to chase trends. Write what you love, and write the best book you can, and worry about publication later. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Make Every Word Count

Words have power. As writers, we know that. So when writing, we need to make sure we use our words wisely. On the Highights Foundation Workshop blog, Writers on the Move, Patti Lee Gauch, former editorial director at Philomel, posted  some rich details such as “ … to write with simplicity we must use concrete words; concrete nouns. Be specific. Use words wisely. Understand what particular means. Objects have great value, such as a woman wearing the same hat.”
And on the same post, Newbery award-winning author, Linda Sue Park, writes about “… analyzing each and every word. Every word has to work hard. A noun that appears in the first part of the book is not a force unless it is repeated at the end.” 
On the Publishers Weekly blog, this post, "Inside Stories About Memorable Books” is about interviews conducted with twenty prominent editors talking about their memory of a “personally meaningful children's book project” they worked on. It’s an insightful read. 
Note: The Bookshelf Muse blog has moved to Writers Helping Writers.
F&Gs: Folded and gathered sheets. An early, not-yet-bound copy of a picture book.—Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Literary Agent Representation

I am very happy to announce that I now have an agent and am being represented by the Hummingbird Literary Agency. It happened at the summer SCBWI conference in Los Angeles. Founder and agent, Mira Reisberg, and I hit it off. We talked, emailed back and forth, she asked to see some of my work, and a few weeks later, we signed a contract. I’m looking forward to a long working relationship with Ms. Reisberg who has worked as an illustrator, writer, editor, art director and designer. A woman of many talents!
Here’s an interesting guest post on the Cynsations blog: “Ammi-Joan Paquette on An Abundance of Book Releases: How Much Is Too Much?” How does one handle having too many books released around the same time? (We should all have this problem, right?) Ms. Paquette handles this in a very professional manner. See for yourself.

SCBWI: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

ESC Conference in Corpus Christi, TX

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Education Service Center, Region 2, TCEA Technology Conference in Corpus Christi, Texas. Four other authors and illustrators were in attendance as well. Librarians and teachers packed the center. We presented and talked about our books. I always enjoy going to Corpus Christi. The city has some fabulous eating places. Watching the seagulls fly over the bay lifts my spirit. It is a great place to visit.
I now have my two latest books in my hands. They arrived a few days ago from the publisher. The books are now in bookstores and online. The illustrations in Lupita’s First Dance/El Primer Baile de Lupita and Let’s Salsa/Bailemos Salsa are gorgeous. The colors are vibrant and full of energy. I am so pleased with the art that the illustrators, Robert Casilla and Gabhor Utomo, did on my books. Such talented people!
There is a brand new SCBWI website where you can view my books, the synopsis for each one, and book reviews. Just click on Member Bookstore and type in my name: Lupe Ruiz-Flores and my books come up! Awesome website!

“The struggle to master a medium, whether it’s words, notes, paint, or marble, is the heroic part of making art.”Chris Van Allsburg

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Revisions in writing

A writer friend of mine is moving out of state and decided to give away some of her books on writing before she moves. She has hundreds of them. I was giddy with excitement as she handed me several boxes filled with books. The first one I read was Gates of Excellence: On Reading and Writing Books for Children by the awesome author Katherine Paterson of Bridge to Terabithia and many other books. Although Gates was published in 1981, everything she wrote still applies. Not only was the book inspirational, but she had so many quotes in there. One of my favorites on the topic of revisions: “I love revisions. Where else in life can spilled milk be transformed into ice cream?”
And speaking of revisions, here is an excellent interview on the Cynsations blog with author Caroline Carlson, The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot. She details her pre-and-pro contract revision process. 
Here’s an interesting bit of information. Author Alice Munro, who just won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, got her share of rejection letters. Talk about perseverance! Gives the rest of us hope.
Take a peek. This is simply unbelievable! A gown made out of Golden Books. 

Contract: A written agreement stating the rights to be purchased by an editor, art director or producer and the amount of payment the writer, illustrator or photographer will receive for that sale. – Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Festivals

I’ve attended many book festivals since becoming an author. Book festivals are not only fun but a great way to promote your books. When I first started I didn’t know what to expect. But the more an author participates in such events, the smoother the ride. Author Chuck Sambuchino’s post on the Writer’s Digest blog, “How to Maximize a Book Festival Appearance: 9 Tips,” offers excellent advice if you’re ready to participate in one. 
Here’s a wonderful piece about a librarian who opened a rural-one-room library in the Ozarks. Heartwarming story. Bless librarians who are book lovers and our friends!
And if you like biographies, you must read Daughters of Two Nations, which just came out. Published by Mountain Press and written by Peggy Caravantes and illustrated by Carolyn Dee Flores (my daughter), it is a must read.
 SCBWI: The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (

Monday, October 14, 2013

First Drafts

Are you a writer who outlines before starting? Do you write an entire draft and then go back and make revisions or do you write, revise, and edit, chapter by chapter? I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way. I believe whatever works for you—go with it. Here’s an interesting post on the Writer’s Digest blog on the benefits of writing a draft first in case that’s what you want to do. It is titled, “7 Reasons to Write an Entire 1st Draft Before Going Back to the Beginning.” Benefit Number 7 is: “One of the greatest benefits of writing a truly awful, lousy, no good first draft is that it can only get better from there.” What do you think?

And if you’re in the middle of writing a short story, you might want to enter the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. The early-bird deadline is November 15, 2013. 

Final draft: -- The last version of a polished manuscript ready for submission to an editor. – Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Avoid the Slush Pile

Are your stories going into the slush pile? Do you keep getting rejection letters? Do you want to change that? You might want to read this feature article and get some tips on, “Getting Out of the Slush Pile,” by Harold Underdown. He writes about the different types of manuscripts, cover letters, agents, and even the acquisition process. A must read.
Here’s a “Favorite Picture Books of the Fall list on the Publishers Weekly blog ShelfTalker. I love the design and art on the book covers. They draw you in and make you want to buy that book. I have a great respect for illustrators and their awesome talent. 
Here’s a neat post of quotes from famous writers about writing for children. Follow this link. 

Dummy: A loose mock-up of a book showing placement of text and artwork. – Children’s Writers & Illustrators Market

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Handling bad book reviews

Now that you’ve written and published a book, here come the book reviews. Good and bad. So how do you handle the bad ones? Even famous authors get bad reviews once in a while. Do not despair, though. According to Beth Bacon’s post on the dbw (Digital Book World) blog, “…any review is publicity.” Her article, “5 Ways for Authors to Handle Bad Book Reviews,” addresses this topic in some detail. You might just want to read the entire article.
And if you are in the middle of writing the Great American Novel, take a peek at a post on the Writer's Digest blog titled, “5 Things Novelists Can Learn From Screenwriters.”  Screenwriter David Magee offers excellent tips on structuring your story, i.e., scenes, tension, plot, character, and dialogue. I guess these two posts have the number "5" in common, huh?

Backlist: A publisher’s list of books not published during the current season but still in print. – Children’s Writers & Illustrator’s Market

Friday, September 27, 2013

Character development in stories

Here’s an excellent Cynsations blog interview with K.A. Barson, author of 45 Pounds (More or Less). Barson goes into detail about how she develops her main character. She asks questions of the character, what is it they want, how is she/he trying to get it, their reaction to certain situations, etc. My favorite line of that interview is: “Sometimes the only way to get to the heart of the story is to step out of it and spend time with the characters somewhere beyond the pages of the draft, using things like letters, interviews, journal entries, and scenes outside of this story.”
Here’s a question that author Nathan Bransford asks on his blog: “Do you re-read your books when you’re finished writing them?” Well, do you? Read his interesting answer to find out if he does or doesn’t. 
Here are three different links and the submission guidelines to Cricket magazine. For Cobblestone. For Odyssey. For Faces. Best of luck!

“Slant: The approach or style of a story or article that will appeal to readers of a specific magazine.” –Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Monday, September 23, 2013

Writing picture books

I’ve been getting excellent feedback on three picture book manuscripts that I’ve written. They have potential, I am told, but still need some work, especially bringing the word count down. So I’ve been busy editing and revising. Here's a good article on Harold Underdown's blog posted by Margot Finke on "Writing Picture Books: The Basics." 
At the SCBWI-LA conference, I learned that I need to Invite, Entice, and Encourage a reader with the first few lines of my book. Make the reader want to join you on the journey. Show through human action. Action verbs are very important. Make sure your words are moving the story forward. Some think writing picture books is easy. Let me tell you. It’s not. But it’s a lot of fun. Enjoy the journey.

Speaking of word count, the Children’s Writer is sponsoring a Seasonal Poetry Writing Contest. The word count limit for that is only 300 words. Yikes! The deadline is October 31, so if you like to write poetry, you’d better hurry. For more details, click here.

Halloween is right around the corner. Check out this blog post on BuzzFeed about Halloween costumes that use book characters. It’s really cool.

Pen Name: The use of a name other than your legal name on articles, stories, or books. Also called a pseudonym. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The story question

The Horn Book’s blog post just came out with their, “Book Review of the Week,” for the middle of September. On the review are picture books, middle-grade books, and young adult ones. Take a look.
I am rereading the book, Writing Picture Books, by Ann Whitford Paul. I met Ms. Paul at one of the SCBWI-LA conferences a while back. She was charming. Her book is full of sound advice for writers who write in this genre. She mentions the “story question,” that a writer must ask before starting the story. She writes: “…it behooves writers to think of a general question about the underlying issue they are trying to unravel in each new story.” In other words, what does your character want or what happens if? She continues, “…spend time carefully formulating your question and answer. If you do, the writing of your book will be infinitely easier.”
It's one of the many books I have on writing picture books.  I especially like this one because it is a "hands-on guide," with writing exercises at the end of each chapter.

“Each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him choices. It gives him freedom. These are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things.” – Lois Lowry

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I just finished editing one of my picture book manuscripts and I cut, cut, cut to bring the manuscript down to a decent word count. I workshopped it with my critique group last week. Their comments were right on target. After revisions, my story was tightened, the word count was down, and it still
Gumballs anyone?
made a lot of sense when I read it again. That’s what is great about being in a critique group. They point out what you might not notice because you’re so close to the story that you miss these things.

In the book, The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, revision is defined thus: "... good writing involves hard revision. means that each draft is a step toward the finished product."
Here’s a cool blog post by author Nathan Bransford titled, Bestselling Novels by Year. His list starts with 1900 and goes all the way to 2012. You’ve got to take a look at this. 

Trends: Never try to chase trends. Write what you love, and write the best book you can, and worry about publication later.—Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cynthia's Blog for Writers

I highly recommend author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog, Cynsations, to anyone interested in writing. Her blog is full of fabulous information, interviews with authors, giveaways, etc. In her own words, her blog is “ …a source for conversations, publishing information, writer resources &  inspiration, bookseller-librarian-teacher appreciation, children's-YA book news & author outreach." Click on the link above and see for yourself. You'll love it! 
Speaking of blogs – my two latest bilingual picture books coming out in November, Let’s Salsa and Lupita’s First Dance, are featured on La Bloga blog. Nice!
I bought quite a few books at the August SCBWI-LA conference and am trying to read as many as I can between a million other things I have to do. Just finished reading the historical fiction, Forge, by Laurie Halse Anderson, Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney, The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck, and the YA novel, I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña.  All were autographed by the authors. Neat, huh? Have a few more to go.
And if you’re interested in who’s moving where in the publishing business, visit Harold Underdown’s blog, Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children's Books: The Purple Crayon, and find out.

Genre: Refers either to a general classification of writing, such as the novel or the poem, or to the categories within those classifications, such as the romance novel or the sonnet. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Slice of life

Just returned from a two-week visit to California. The weather there was wonderful and everything is green, green, green. The flowers are blooming like crazy there. Took a side trip to Santa Cruz Beach, the boardwalk. Beautiful scenery. Also went to a place called the Mystery Stop located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz. It was crazy. A person stands up straight but is actually leaning backwards or sideways. Weird, I tell you. According to the literature in the pamphlet, “some unseen magnetism or phenomenon just upsets all former ideas of equilibrium.” I got dizzy watching all the visitors leaning backwards. Crazy!  
I also visited an Indie bookstore called the Village House of Books in Los Gatos, California. It was
small and really cute and cozy. I spoke to the owner and wished her success as they just recently opened. She expressed interest in carrying some of my books in her store. We exchanged emails. Which brings me to the topic of business cards. Do you have one? You should! You never know when they might come in handy. Always carry these cards with you. This post on the Publishers Weekly BookWorks blog,
Business Cards of Famous Literary Characters, is most interesting. Check it out.

Santa Cruz Beach

Flowers in Los Gatos
“Slice-of-life vignette: A short-fiction piece intended to realistically depict an interesting moment of everyday living.” – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Saturday, August 17, 2013

2013 Laredo Book Festival

I just returned from the Laredo Book Festival held on August 16. There were seven Texas authors participating on an author’s panel. We met with local librarians and talked about our writing process and our books, from picture books, to middle grade, to young adult titles.  After the morning session, we had a wonderful lunch with the library staff. Then the book festival opened its doors to the public. Dozens of children and parents strolled through the library and the book festival got underway. A ribbon cutting ceremony took place with Laredo’s mayor taking part.  
Author Panel
I did a reading of one of my books to an enthusiastic crowd of children. It was great fun meeting the people who came up to our tables to talk about school and books. I was so impressed with everything the library has to offer and its beautiful décor. It was a delight being there. This was the second time I’ve been invited to their book festival! Don’t you just love those types of events?

And if you write poetry for children, here's something you might be interested in: the Children's Writer Seasonal Poetry Writing Contest.
Some of the librarians with authors

“Never try to chase trends. Write what you love, and write the best book you can, and worry about publication later.” – Writing Tip from Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The First Chapter

I’ve been going over my notes from the SCBWI-LA conference. So much to digest after days of intense sessions. Covered during these sessions: visual imagery, dialect, voice, characterization, mystery, drama, external/internal dialogue, interior growth, and so much more. 
San Francisco Wharf
“The first chapter is the hardest part of the book,” one of the instructors said. I totally agree with that. In that first chapter, you, the writer, are making a promise to the reader that you will take him/her on a journey with you. You must deliver on that promise with the rest of the book. You must invite, entice, and encourage the reader to stay with you, is what the instructor said. So remember that. Chapter one carries more weight. It almost exists as its own.
Enjoy the writing journey. Have fun! And this is just for more fun. Here’s a link to create a “heart” bookmark.

“I want to write a book that will be read from beginning to end with a mounting sense of anticipation and discovery—read willingly, with a feeling of genuine pleasure.” – Russell Freedman

Friday, August 9, 2013

More on SCBWI-LA Conference - 2013

For more detailed information about the keynote speakers and their comments plus tons of great pictures taken at the SCBWI-LA conference, link to this site on Publishers Weekly

A couple of comments from an author whose workshop I attended:

Look at the size of those books!! LAX Airport

The first chapter is its own beautiful entity.

For the rest of the novel: am I staying on the journey?

In the end, everything has to come together.

Show through human action.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

42nd Annual Summer SCBWI Conference - 2013

Awesome! That is all I can say about the 42nd Annual Summer SCBWI conference, which was held in Los Angeles. How can it get any better, I say? But it does. The keynote speakers were outstanding. Some breakout sessions had standing-room only. The intensive workshops for both writers and illustrators did not disappoint. Not to mention the illustrator’s portfolios on Portfolio Night. These artists are sooooo talented!! There were 1266 people in attendance representing 46 states. Some came from as far away as Japan, Egypt, Chile, India, Peru, and many other countries.    

Author with Laurie Halse Anderson
Some comments from the keynote speakers: 

A writer has the gift of magic. 

Magic is when we submerge ourselves in different cultures.

Magic is art.

Celebrate the color of life.

Find your angel. Find your muse.

Author with Andrea Pinkney

Nothing makes sense, but books do.

Write a killer first page.

Write books with new rules.

If there is a weakness in your manuscript, make it a strength.

Feel the heartbeat of your character.

Preserve wonder.
SCBWI Bookstore
Black & White Ball (Penguins)

            For lots more, go to the SCBWI blog. Plus above are some of my own pictures. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Visual Literacy in Picture Books

I found this article, “Read A Picture…Book | Bold New Titles for Bolstering Visual Literacy and Discussing Design,” posted on the School Library Journal blog particularly interesting because I write picture books. The article reads: “ … these newly published picture books make clever use of visual presentation to convey information and story essentials, establish ambiance and tone, and challenge readers’ imaginations.”
Listing nine picture book covers, there is a description of each and how most of these “… also enrich visual literacy by encouraging children to interpret symbols and pictures, explore the interaction between words and images, and analyze pictorial content to determine meaning and significance.”
I recommend you read it. Super interesting.

“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

Friday, July 26, 2013

Opening lines in writing

Do you struggle with opening lines? As writers, we are constantly told that opening lines should draw the reader in right away. Until I read this article, “Why Stephen King Spends Months and Even Years Writing Opening Sentences,” posted on The Atlantic blog, I did not realize how many times famous author Stephen King goes over and over those opening lines until he’s completely satisfied with the result. This is a great article that you must read. His advice is spot on: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” 
By the way, I just wrote a query letter for a historical fiction that I recently finished and I mailed it out yesterday. Wish me luck. If you’re ready to send out that query for your finished manuscript, you might want to go over this blog post, “How to Write the Perfect Query Letter,” on The Writer’s Digest blog. 
It’s always nice to walk into a Barnes & Noble bookstore and see your book on display. Note: bottom left (Alicia’s Fruity Drinks).

Hook: Aspect of the work that sets it apart from others and draws in the reader/viewer.—Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Writing Tips and Illustrator Interview

I just read an article on The Guardian Children’s Books blog titled, “Making your writing the best it
Cactus in New Mexico
can be: top tips from children's books editors.” It addresses such topics as: 
“End Note? …by far the most important part is the end. Enjoy the journey: the reader must enjoy the journey and so must the writer. Performing: all writers are performers, performers on the page. Finishing Off: …finish your work. Many good writers start off and fall by the wayside through lack of determination. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Read.
The editors in this article elaborate more on each topic. I found the article really helpful.  See for yourself.
And for you illustrators and writers as well, here’s an excellent interview that illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores did on the Wendy Martin Illustration blog.
Pocket’s annual fiction contest is taking submissions. Make sure you submit that story you’ve been working on before the August 2013 deadline.
Galleys: The first fully designed (but usually unproofed) version of a book that has been divided into pages. -- Writer's Digest Weekly Planner

Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Awards and Diversity in Children's Books

I’ve been reading the latest issue, July/August 2013, of The Horn Book magazine. This is a special
one focusing on the 2013 Awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, Coretta Scott King Award -CSK) and the acceptance speeches given by each winner: Katherine Applegate, (Newbery), Jon Klassen (Caldecott), Katherine Paterson (Wilder), Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author - CSK), and Bryan Collier (Illustrator – CSK). I must tell you that I was extremely moved by the comments and encouraging words of inspiration mentioned by the award winners. 
It’s wonderful to read how they got started, their diverse backgrounds, their respect for children, their journey to where they are now, and what the future holds for them. Hooray to all of them for their awesome books that bring joy to young and old alike! Here is a link to these and other awards. Enjoy.
And here’s a good article, “10 Great Multicultural Children’s Books,” by Emily Temple posted on the Flavorwire blog that addresses diversity (or lack of it) in children’s books. She compiled a list of “a few great children’s books with diverse characters and stories …” 
I’ve enjoyed reading a few of those myself. How about you? Have you read any of them? Those that I have not read, I will add to my list. 

A quote from Madeleine L’Engle from The Horn Book magazine, July/Aug 2013 issue: “You have to write the book that wants to be written… And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Writing for middle graders

If you’re into writing for middle graders, take a peek at this post, “The Manic Minds of Middle Grade Writers,” on the Project Mayhem blog. Addressed in this post is the topic of romance in middle-grade stories. How does a writer write about that or should they? In this article titled, “Romance in Mg-finding the Balance,” a make-believe kid named Giles writes: “Many writers choose to avoid it.  It’s too tricky in their opinion so they stay far away from it.  But that’s not right.  We middle graders deserve to have romance in our books and it’s up to you writers to create it for us.” Interesting. 
And here’s something that’s pretty unbelievable. Ireland just came out with a stamp that features a 224-word short story. Neat!

Middle grade or mid-grade: The general classification of books written for readers approximately ages 9-11. Also called middle readers. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book nominated for award

A very nice surprise came via email yesterday. My bilingual picture book, Alicia's Fruity Drinks/Las aguas frescas de Alicia, is a finalist for the 2013 Writer's League of Texas Book Awards Competition. The winner will be announced in September. The other nominees in the picture book category are Jeanette Larson, Hummingbirds:Facts and Folklore from the Americas, Don Tate, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Taylor Started to Draw, and Kelly Bennett, One Day I Went Rambling. Congratulations to all and best of luck!

“A good picture book begins with delight, ends with wisdom, humor, warmth, or love, and means more than it says.” Barbara Williams

Sunday, June 30, 2013

School Visit Notes

A few days ago, I got a really neat surprise in the mail. A packet full of thank-you letters and stories that the third graders at my last school visit wrote. I read them all. They were so touching and sincere. Here are some of the comments in the letters: 
You told us one cool and funny story. I might want to be an author like you… I loved the book you read. Now I know how to start a story... I like how you explained the pictures (illustrations)… I like how you see some things interesting and then you write it … I want to be an author like you. I will remember this day … I love your books because there are surprises that come up … Thanks for showing me the recipe for books. Now I want to be a writer…  
The packet also included short stories and illustrations that the students wrote on templates that I provided. Many of the students came up with really great ideas for stories. This is why I write. It is children like these who inspire me. 
You might want to look into this blog, Project Mayhem, which has some great links to writers, readers, etc., that you will find interesting and useful. 

Blurb: A testimonial from a book reviewer or a well-known person in a book’s field, usually found on the outside cover or jacket of a book. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner