Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Books

I recently came across a wonderful blog http://ramblingsofawannabescribe.blogspot.com.  I really enjoy Shannon Messenger 's posts and love her idea of MMGM (Marvelous Middle Grade Monday). Since I have narrowed my writing focus to picture books and middle grade novels (or shorter articles for 12 younger), I've begun to read more extensively in these age groups.  Let me tell you, middle grade books are awesome!  Of course, I thought that when I was younger, but now that I've begun to read them again I realize they are just as good when you're an adult.  Sharing the books I read with others seems like a great way to spread BOOK LOVE!

Starting in October, I plan to share one middle grade novel review on Mondays as part of MMGM and one picture book review on Thursdays.  (Of course, who doesn't love a good picture book!)  I hope you stop by next week!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Exciting Day

In today's mail I received a complimentary copy of the September 2011 issue of Nature Friend magazine. This particular issue was special, since the article on page 14 was written by me!  "Acrobatic Insects" started as my final assignment for the first class I took with the Institute of Children's Literature.

For those of you just starting out in writing, the journey of this article is another example showing how patience in the writing world is so important.  I originally submitted the article in September 2010.  I checked the status in December and received a letter this past March stating they were putting the article on hold for the next year for possible use.  Thus more waiting began ... until today.  Receiving the envelope in the mail was a total surprise, but so worth the wait!

Check out Nature Friend magazine - "Helping Families Explore the Wonders of God's Creation."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fun Picture Books

Thought I would share a few fun picture books I have read recently.  Hope you enjoy them too! 


by: Marla Frazee
Published August 31st 2010 by Beach Lane Books

The Boss Baby - Need I say more?  He's in charge, and he knows it!

Marla Frazee is one of my favorite illustrators, and this book showcases her amazing talent.  Parents can enjoy this humorous look at a baby as the CEO of a large "company", while kids will love the craziness of the baby's demands.  

by: Mary Newell DePalma
Published January 1st 2010 by Arthur A. Levine Books

Little Lorikeet finds a beautiful strawberry and decides to take it to her grandma.  Unfortunately, it falls into the river.  Lori's animal friends try to help her, but through a series of adventures the strawberry is lost.  With no present for her grandma, Lori and her friends make a present that is even more special.

I loved the forward moving motion of the adventure in this story.  Every action leads to another action and continues pulling the reader along.  The animals are so cute and lovable, they pull at your heartstrings with their reactions to events. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review

Have you ever wondered what thought processes run through an editor's head when reading a manuscript? How they are able to determine which manuscript could flop and which could be a hit? Cheryl B. Klein is senior editor at Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, and her book answers those questions. It is an amazing collection of transcripts from Cheryl's speaking engagements and blog and web posts over the past few years. Each chapter represents a different presentation or post, one being Cheryl's presentation to our very own Michigan SCBWI at the fall conference in October 2007.

Examples are one of the most helpful aspects of this book. Throughout the chapters, Cheryl refers to books she has edited and even goes into early revisions to clarify her points. Two chapters that can be especially helpful and fun to read are simply titled "The Annotated Query Letter from Hell" and "The Annotated Query Letter That Does It Right." She takes two letters point by point and shares how the letters are either a put-off or entice her to want more from the author.

Another large portion of the book is broken down into the four major elements of fiction: Point, Character, Plot and Voice. Great detail and time are spent on each element including discussion points and exercises meant to strengthen the writing of any manuscript. Picture book authors will benefit greatly from the chapter that details the process of writing a picture book, going so far as to create a manuscript and turn it into a picture book dummy.

She ends the book by summarizing information from previous chapters and pulls it all together into a wonderful revision guideline meant to encourage revision and provide simple goals that are achievable, not scary and unattainable. The book then ends as it began with a look into an editors' heads and the relationships they hope to form with their writers.

I recommend this to all children's writers on any part of the writing journey, whether it be young adult, middle grade or picture books. Definitely time well spent.

My review was originally published in the Summer 2011 issue of SCBWI-MI News. 

For more information on Second Sight, check out Cheryl Klein's website http://www.cherylklein.com/.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Writing Journey

My son just started reading my old copy of The BFG by Roald Dahl.  This brings a smile to my face for two reasons: 1) I loved Roald Dahl and read almost all of his books when I was younger.  2) My son trusted me on a book I said I enjoyed enough to give it a try.
I can honestly say that I don’t remember much detail of The BFG, but I do remember loving the book. Reading has brought so many happy memories, I hope to be able to pass that on to the next generation, my boys included.
The writing journey is long, but to feel the joy of seeing a child reading a book of mine will be worth the wait.