Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Blog Location

Hello, everyone. Just a note to let you know that my blog is now on my website, www.luperuiz-flores.com. Please visit me there.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

2014 Laredo Book Festival

Last week Laredo, Texas, held its annual book festival at their beautiful Laredo Public Library. It turned out to be a huge success. Librarians, educators, and the general public were in attendance. Authors and illustrators from all over Texas were part of the lineup. We all had a wonderful time doing book readings and meeting with the public. Looking forward to next year’s event. While there, we stayed at the famous La Posada hotel right by the Rio Grande.
Librarians at the Bookfest
 On the Writer’s Digest blog, Chuck Sambuchino’s (Guide to Literary Agents) post includes an interview with author Kira Peikoff on the topic, “5 Tips for Writing Suspense.” She writes: “Get your protagonist in trouble as soon as possible and never let her get too comfortable or too safe." From (1) Structure Scenes like Min-Novels to (5) Raise questions and delay the answers, Peikoff's article covers "some tips for budding thriller writers that I wish I'd known from day one ..."
Authors & Illustrators & Friends
La Posada
La Posada

Net Royalty: A royalty payment based on the amount of money a book publisher receives on the sale of a book after booksellers’ discounts, special sales discounts, and returns. – Writers’ Digest Weekly Planner

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Writers' League of Texas Book Awards

 Congratulations to all the winners and finalists for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Awards. I am honored to have been one of the finalists in the category of picture books for my book, Lupita’s First Dance. Wonderful to see so many of the authors I already know. Cynsations blog has a complete list.
Here’s an interesting post on the Project Mayhem blog, which also appeared on the Cynsations blog. In this post author Isaiah Campbell writes about rejections, rewrites, killing off his darlings in the rewrite, and just plain perseverance before he finally got published. Take a look. Interesting read. 
Kaeden Books is accepting submissions for children’s fiction and nonfiction. For details and guidelines, go to their link. 

Picture Book – A type of book, aimed at preschoolers to eight-year-olds, that tells a story using a combination of text and artwork, or artwork only. –Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Just what is a prologue and should we use one? The definition of a prologue according to Wikipedia is: “A prologue or prolog (Greek πρόλογος prologos, from the word pro (before) and lógos, word) is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information.”
Soooo …  forward to Ingrid’s Notes blog, post “4 types of prologues.” She writes: “ … the first step is to identify what kind of prologue one is writing and the objective of that prologue. We need to know what we’re writing and why, before we let the opinions of what’s ‘in vogue’ influence our writing decisions.” 
The four types she writes about are (1) Future Protagonist, (2) Past Protagonist, (3) Different Point of View, and (4) Background Prologue (which by the way, she writes that this is the one that gives a bad rap. If you’re considering using a prologue or not, read her post. Very interesting. 
Our recent SCBWI Southwest Chapter Bookfair at a local Barnes & Noble was a huge success. Not only did we have local authors and illustrators signing their books, but we also had Akiko White, Cakelustrator, demonstrating her talent, plus Xavier Garza reading from his Lucha Libre picture books, Pura Belpre winner, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, giving an inspiring talk, and Alberto Ramirez, demonstrating how to be a clown. 

Lucha Libre

Alberto the Clown
Guadalupe Garcia McCall
And here’s a treat. View homes of eight literary legends on the Mashable blog. Enjoy!
"Short-Short: A complete short story of 1,500 words or less." -- Writer's Digest Weekly Planner

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Writing Tip: Outlining

Great news! I am one of the authors and illustrators selected to be part of National Picture Book Month in November to help celebrate why picture books are important. You can visit the website for more information and to see all those wonderful artists and authors who were selected as well. Stay tuned for November!
Here is the 2014 list of hundreds of authors who will be signing and presenting at the Texas Book Festival in Austin on October 25-26, 2014. It’s a wonderful weekend of books, authors, signings, music, food, etc. Hope you can attend.
Many writers outline while many others do not. Sometimes I do—not really a long-drawn out outline but a brief one to map a road of where the story is going. Most times I don’t. If you’re wondering whether you should or not, here’s a Writer’s Digest post by Brian Klems titled, “7 Steps to Creating a Flexible Outline for Any Story. You decide for yourself.
And for more writing tips that include: (1) write a first draft nonfiction picture book, (2) write and submit a NF article to Highlights, (3) how to find an agent, (4) picture book celebration and (5) build your own website, visit the Blogzone blog written by author Nancy I. Sanders.  
No matter what your writing life brings, believe in yourself and keep moving forward. Most writers cycle between periods of self-doubt and periods of confidence. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Friday, September 5, 2014

Writing Rules?

Twisted tree in LA 
We read books on the specifics of the writing process, what to do, what not to do, etc., etc. I have so many books on writing, I sometimes get confused about the do's and don't's. So when I read this article,How to Break the Rules of Writing and More,” I found this article had a sort of twist to it. What! Break the Rules?
The interview of YA author Ransom Riggs conducted by Adrienne Crezo on The Writing Prompt Boot Camp blog (Writers’ Digest), is pretty interesting. Below is an excerpt from the interview with Riggs:
“Do you follow any specific writing rules?"
"I always distrust overly specific writing advice. I don’t agree with it, necessarily. When you’re thinking about what to write or how to write something, it’s too easy to make a lot of arbitrary rules for yourself. I think the difficult thing with learning how to write is not learning the style or rules, but figuring out what story you want to tell.
I spent a lot of time telling the wrong stories, especially when … I was in college or when I was a kid trying to imitate C.S. Lewis or Stephen King. I never understood why my writing didn’t take off. I would think, well, the sentences are correct, and the characters are talking and everything looks right, and it seems like a story. I did exactly what [they] told me to do, but there’s no blood in it and I don’t know why. It’s something you have to learn, how to tell the right stories for you, and it’s this completely ineffable thing.”
See what I mean? Does this work for you? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s worth reading.
Here’s a lengthy list or sneak preview of the upcoming Spring 2015 Children’s Books posted on Publishers Weekly. 
Did you know you can have your book and eat it too? Check out these marvelous book cakes on the MentalFloss blog.
“Remember that sometimes, especially early in your career, a byline is more important than a pay check, since it bolsters your confidence, builds your reputation, and may lead to other sales.” – Writers’ Digest Weekly Planner

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tips for a Writer

Here’s a post on the Writer Musings blog that covers a lot of territory on the writing process. From “honing your craft” to “submission process” to common advice,” this post proves to be most helpful. Included as well are topics such as book reviews, author interviews, and “a bunch of advice from editors and agents.” 
Sand castle at Century Plaza Hotel - SCBWI-LA Conference
Which, speaking of editors, here’s a post on the Writer’s Digest blog, titled “An Intimate Look at Working with an Editor.”
Here’s an inspiring article by Elizabeth Bluemle on the Publishers Weekly blog, titled “Vermont’s Youngest Librarians (Ages 11 and 6).”
Hope you enjoy all these articles and may they inspire you to write and write and write. Wishing you a safe Labor Day.
Pathway - SCBWI-LA 2014


"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Saturday, August 23, 2014

2014 SCBWI-LA Conference and writing contests

The SCBWI-LA conference I attended a couple of weeks ago was awesome, as usual. I learn something new every time I attend. Plus I meet old friends and make new ones. Here is a fabulous link (SCBWI-LA 2014 Conference) that will take you right there and show you what I am talking about. 
Writing Workshop Group
On the last day of the conference, I attended an intensive, interactive all-day writer’s workshop led by Bonnie Bader, editor-in-chief of Penguin Young Readers. There were discussions on the writing process, writing exercises, revisions, and critiques of manuscripts. There was picture taking as well, of course. Here is our enthusiastic group at the end of an exhausting but very productive day!
A writer friend of mine and a member of our critique group just got published in Cricket Magazine. Here is another magazine, Highlights, which is taking submissions and this link shows their current needs. 
Me with Author Meg Medina (L)
And here’s a short deadline (August 29, 2014) for submitting a YA 1200-word story to The Institute of Children’s Literature YA Fiction Writing Contest. There is a $15 reading fee. 

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Writer's Block?

Do you sometimes suffer from what we call “writer’s block?” According to Andrew Lewis Conn’s post, “7 Ways to Beat Writer's Block,” on the Publishers Weekly blog, “… writer's block, similar (to) those other figments, does not exist. There’s writing and there’s not writing (and, within those two large camps, factions of good writing, poor writing, and mediocre writing). Like anything else, there are going to be good days and bad days. But let’s not get all exalted about it!”
A gem! Antique camera!
Wow! So what to do about it if you think you do have it? Well, he posts 7 steps, one of which is (4) place your trust in craft, not inspiration and (5) get your hands dirty. Then there’s (7), write out of love—“double-down on your commitment to doing the work—good work that takes the form of an expression of love—in the hopes that you might carry that torch a few inches forward.”
Let’s get to work everyone! But before you do that, you might want to take a look at this very long list or sneak preview of the upcoming 2015 children’s book titles listed by publisher on the Publishers Weekly blog. 

Happy Writing!

"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson

Monday, July 21, 2014

Illustrators are Visual Storytellers

I was just browsing through some of the notes I took while attending a writer’s workshop last year in Austin. One of the faculty was E. B. Lewis, illustrator and Caldecott Honor winner for Coming Home Soon. He was talking about picture books, but this could apply to any genre. 
“Illustrators are visual storytellers,” he said. “Illustration is a visual interpretation of the written word.” Then he gave some pointers on character development. “Learn about your subject—your protagonist,” he told us. “Know his thoughts, sensations, and settings around him. Take your character out to lunch. What would he eat? Go to his house and open the doors. Look inside. You need to know your character that well. This is called research. Discover what your character is about.”
Someone else mentioned something about character as well.
What is in your character’s pocket? Does he carry around something that is meaningful and symbolic to him? Is it for strength or to sustain him?
Painted Cow
Lots of good advice here. And here’s an older post by Deborah Underwood about the same topic – picture book illustrations and what writers should know about it.

"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tips on Writing

I just got back from California. Had a wonderful time. I saw the San Francisco Symphony perform on the Fourth of July. There were magnificent fireworks afterwards. Great visit. 
Napa Valley
The Ingrid’s Notes blog offers four writing tips on creating great scenes. I really like the following tip that Ingrid recommends a writer should do when editing a scene. It is under the headline, “Is There a Significant Emotional Change in the Scene?” …  You can track the emotion of your scene by drawing emotion faces (happy faces, frowning faces) at the opening and closing of your scenes. The emotion should reflect the emotion your character carries into the scene, and the emotion the character carries out of it in when it’s over. If the emotion-face is the same, for example both are grumpy faces, then you don’t have any dramatic action in the scene. This indicates that the scene may need to be cut or revised.”
Napa Valley

She further writes about dramatic action in scenes, reader expectations, and how to stop protecting your characters. Excellent tips!

And here’s a terrific post by Zachary Petit on the Writer’s Digest blog, titled: 15 Things a Writer Should Never Do. 

"Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks." — Dr. Seuss

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book review and an author's writing process

My bilingual picture book, Let’s Salsa, got another review. This time the review appeared in Crystal
Brunelle’s blog, Reading Through Life. Hope you read it.  
Here’s a post by Newbery medalist, Richard Peck, (A Year Down Yonder – 2001) about the writing process. Titled “Great Expectations: An Interactive Workshop with Richard Peck,”the interview conducted by Matia Burnett appears in the June issue of online Publishers Weekly.  
Excerpts from the interview: “Despite the accolades awarded over the course of his career, Peck said that he, like so many, experiences writer’s block: ‘If I knew how to write the novel I’m writing now, I’d be home writing it. I’m here because I’m hiding from a manuscript – just like you are,’ he joked.”
He also provides a “10-points first impression checklist” so that the writer can compare his/her opening lines against it.  
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Peck at one of the SCBWI-LA conferences. He is a dynamic speaker as well as a great writer.
Do you have a story that’s ready for submission to a children’s magazine? Well, here is your chance to submit it to U.S. Kids (Humpty Dumpty – ages 5-7) and (Jack & Jill – ages 6-12). For complete writer and illustrator’s guidelines, visit the link above. Good luck!
"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mother-Daughter Interview & Giveaway

I am super excited about an online interview, “Guest Interview & Giveaway: Carolyn Dee Flores & Lupe Ruiz-Flores on Writing, Illustrating, & Team Flores,” that my daughter, illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores, and I did for the fabulous blog and website, Cynsations. It was a fun project where we interviewed each other. We had never done that before. 
Books by author and illustrator - "Team Flores"
Make sure you read the entire interview and then enter your name at the bottom of the interview for a chance to win an autographed book from me and one from Carolyn. But do it now as there is a deadline. Happy writing! Let me know what you think about the interview.

"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Writing for Children

Here’s a post by author Marion Dane Bauer of the 1987 Newbery Honor book, On My Honor, that was on the Cynsations blog back in May. The topic? Why Write for Children? She asks, Why do we choose children or young people as our topic, as our audience?” She writes about an early childhood experience that she wrote about, only a few words, but … “For reasons I couldn’t have explained to myself or to anyone else, that moment mattered. That it was just about the smallest moment I could have imagined made no difference. Capturing it brought something alive in me.” Read the rest of her post and get inspired. 
If you’re looking for diversity in children’s books, here is a list, “25 Books That Diversify Kids’ Reading Lists This Summer,” on the Mind Shift blog. 

Check this out – “20 of the Most Magnificent Places to Read Books,” on the LifeHack blog. Enjoy the beautiful pictures of libraries from all over the world. Amazing!

“Plotting is difficult for me, and always has been. I do that before I actually start writing, but I always do characters, and the arc of the story, first... You can’t do anything without a story arc. Where is it going to begin, where will it end.” -- Elizabeth George

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Libraries and Writing Exercises

There’s something about the smell of libraries that I like. I love libraries and I love their smell! I think for me it triggers a lot of good memories spent in school libraries when I was a kid. I thought I was the only one who ever talked about library smells. But here is a link to The Business Insider blog post, Why Books Have Such a Distinctive Smell: The Aroma of Books,”  that addresses this topic. Really! A comparison of smells is made between old and new books and the “chemical constituents … and processes and compounds that contribute to both.” Who knew?
If you’re having trouble getting started on your writing, here’s an article that lists twelve writing exercises to help you. “A 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises,” by Brian Klems, online editor on The Writer’s Digest blog, starts with Day 1: “Write 10 potential book titles of books you’d like to write and ends with Day 12: Gather everything you’ve written over the previous 11 days. Pick your favorite. Edit it, polish it and either try to get it published or post it on the Web to share with the world.” I think this list will motivate any writer. 

No matter what your writing life brings, believe in yourself and keep moving forward. Most writers cycle between periods of self-doubt and periods of confidence. – Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner

Monday, June 2, 2014

How an Illustrator Creates

The following post by Illustrator April Chu on the Lee and Low blog, is an interesting read for both writers and illustrators. She writes about the illustration process for her book, Summoning the Phoenix. She shows how she brainstorms, researches, does thumbnail sketches, and much more. Included in the article are black and white sketches and final art of beautiful colored illustrations. 
Here’s a fascinating look at a You Tube piece, “47 Charming Facts About Children’s Books,” narrated by author John Green, on the Mental Floss You Tube. Enjoy. 

If you write Christian books, Anaiah Press is accepting submissions. Have a great writing day!!

You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things.” -- Neil Gaiman

Monday, May 26, 2014

Research Like a Writer

If you’re looking for a list of Latino authors and illustrators, visit the Latinas4latinolit site. For a small fee and to help promote literacy, the site offers the L4LL DIY Summer Reading Camp for children, which “includes more than 100 original downloadable printables centered around 10 themes to develop children’s reading and writing skills during their 10-week summer reading program.

If you are in the middle of or thinking about writing historical fiction, here is a brief article on the Publishers Weekly blog, “How to Research Like a Writer,” posted by Andy Weir, author of the science fiction thriller, The Martian. 
He writes: "The first problem you run into is the inherent unreliability of information on the internet. A lot of it is inaccurate, most of it is slanted, and some of it is deliberately misleading... But there's more to research than just looking up facts... Eventually you have to make subjective calls ... Once you've done all the research, you move on to a much more difficult task: Informing readers without deluging them with information."

Visit the above website for more information on this topic. 

The path to inspiration starts
Beyond the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.Charles Ghigna

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My story in an anthology

Good news! McGraw-Hill Education has published my bilingual picture book story, The Woodcutter’s Gift/El Regalo del leñador, in a Spanish textbook anthology titled, “Maravillas.”
Congratulations to Illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores and author Peggy Caravantes on their 2014 Honor Award from Skipping Stones Multicultural Magazine for their book, Daughters of Two Nations.  
Here’s a really good article on whether to use present or past tense when writing a novel—the pros and cons of each. On the Writer’s Digest blog, Brian Klems posts excerpts from On Writing Fiction written by David Jauss. The article titled, “The Pros and Cons of Writing a Novel in PresentTense,” lists the advantages and disadvantages of past or present tense in novels.
One of the advantages: Present tense has more “immediacy” than past tense. One of the disadvantages: Present tense restricts our ability to manipulate time. There’s much more in this article. A good read.  
Pockets is accepting submissions and lists the different themes for each month. Click here for more details.
The Book Smugglers is also accepting submissions for short stories. Visit their website for guidelines. 

“I want to remake the world; anything less is not worth the trouble.” ― Karen Cushman
Author and Karen Cushman

Monday, May 12, 2014

Down Memory Lane - A visit to my elementary school

A few days ago, I took a nostalgic trip walking down the halls of my elementary school. I peeked into the rooms where I spent my early years. The big clock in the hallway was still there, intimidating me like that first time when the teacher asked me to step out into the hall and find out what time it was. Too embarrassed to tell her I couldn’t yet tell time, I waited and waited staring up at clock’s round face looming before me. Finally a janitor came by and helped me out. 
Same hallway - same clock
The cafeteria is as I remember it although there is no longer a piano on the small stage. We used to have music in those days. Our piano teacher led us in song at least once a week. I always looked forward to that session.  
Although the school is no longer an elementary, it is still a school – a Headstart school. Little people lined up and filled the hallways on their way to class. These tiny tots were exuberant and full of energy. It was a joy watching them get a head start on their education.
I browsed through a thick, heavy, embossed leather book – an archive of years past put together by one of my former teachers. No high tech stuff here, but merely pages and photos of teachers, students, school clubs and events that brought back memories of my school days. 
Archives - Leather Book
The library. Ah, yes. The library. That’s where I fell in love with words and books. No longer a library, it is now a storeroom. It looks a lot smaller than I remember, but hey, in those days everything seemed large to me. The new round library is awesome. It is cozy, warm, and inviting. Just like libraries should be. 
I’m glad I got a chance to revisit. I’m pleased that my old school is still there, although in a different capacity now. So many memories … the cafeteria, the playground, the friends, the teachers, the books. It was fun going back.  
Here’s an interesting article on picture books. In a blog post, “Tip Sheet: Picture Books Are for All Ages,” published on the Publishers Weekly Shelf Talker, Elizabeth Bluemle writes: “A 32-page picture book may cost the same as a 350-page novel, but a picture book is read over and over again, and each time there may be something new to discover. The more reading a children does, especially of books with rich language, the more fluent he or she becomes as a reader.” Read the rest of the article.
Here’s a link to Latino/a Authors & Illustrators from across the nation on the Latinas4latinolit blog. Visit their websites to find out what they are all about. 

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