It’s a Blog Party! With Cake! (Okay, No Cake, But Lots of Good Writing Stuff)

Lisa tyre bookAs promised, I mixed up all the names of those who commented to win Lisa Lewis Tyre’s Last in a Long Line of Rebels and out popped…hold on a tic. I also promised to share writing gems from the SCBWI conference I attended. So those who didn’t win today would still win, so to speak.

And as it happens, Lisa Lewis Tyre is hosting a Writer Wednesday Blog Party wherein we’re invited to link up over there with our writerly wisdom. So stand back whilst I multi-task, writer style:

From Kaylan Adair, lovely editor at Candlewick, I learned much about the middle grade reader. Honestly, most of my manuscripts are middle grade, so you’d think I’d already know much about the middle grader, and from an instinctive place, I do. But it was nice to have an in-depth look at middle graders and what makes them tick. If you’re writing for middle graders, consider Kaylan’s best tip: find the “flawed” heart of your middle grade protagonist. These characters are almost always good kids who are flawed in some way; they want to do the right thing but often make the wrong choices (which they come to regret). Many middle grade stories don’t quite work because they’re missing “heart.” Bottom line: You’ve got to have heart, flawed though it may be, to have a compelling middle grade story!

From Heather Montgomery, author of How Rude, Real Bugs Who Won’t Mind Their Manners (Scholastic 2015), I picked up a few tips on breaking barriers in non-fiction. But I can sum it all up in Heather’s favorite mantra: Don’t do boring! There are so many different approaches to non-fiction now, but you won’t find the stodgy styles of our youth. Read a dozen or more of the latest non-fiction books out there, including Heather’s books, and find out how writers are dialing up the excitement level if you want to tackle this hot publishing trend.

From Kami Kinard, author of funny middle grade books, including The Boy Problem, I got some great ideas about incorporating unconventional formatting into a manuscript, namely her first tip: The text box is your friend. And I could barely concentrate on what she was saying after that, I was so eager to get back to one of my manuscripts that had all kinds of opportunities for unconventional text boxes! But if you want to understand more about her ideas, read her books. They’re chock-full of unconventional and fun formatting.

So, how’s that for writer gems and multi-tasking? And if you want even more writing wisdom, join us at Lisa’s place!

Oh, d’oh. Almost forgot to tell you who won Last in a Long Line of Rebels. It was Debra (and P.S. you’re gonna love it, doncha know!)

Winner! Winner! (Is It You?)

Ada cover 72dpiIf Ada Byron Lovelace were still with us, she’d get a big kick out of me using Random.org to choose a winner for Laurie Wallmark’s book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. 

Not that I really understand half the applications over there on Random.org, but I know there are LOTS of numbers involved, and Ada was all about the numbers. You can see what I mean if you just dash back and check out last week’s post about the book and Laurie’s interview. Gosh, I love this book! And I know that whoever wins this book will enjoy it, too!

Speaking of which, that winner would be Charlotte Dixon! Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine will be on its way to you soon!

A big thank you to Laurie Wallmark for stopping by and sharing her book and the journey with us! It’s always so inspiring for me to see writers I know get their stories out there. And speaking of that, another writer friend’s having a book birthday today: Lisa Lewis Tyre and Last in a Long Line of RebelsShe’s also promised to stop by with her book so stay tuned. The next book giveaway winner could be you!

Friday’s Fun Find: We Have a Winner!

2014-08-12 15.16.02Libby often joins me when I’m reading on the deck and I thought I’d let her pick the winner of There’s a Hamster in My Dashboard by David W. Berner. Wouldn’t that just be cute as a button?

But Libs (formerly known as The Tiny Terror) hasn’t quite got going this morning. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Libs is scrunched under her covers, snoozing away. And lest you think that I’m just being a meanypants, let me say that it’s 10:15 here, people.

10:15.

And so Libs (now known as Lazy Bones) did not draw a name. I had to rely on Random.org who (that?) fortunately is always awake and rarin’ to go. And so this terrific book of essays goes to…Kidlit Gail!

I am thrilled that Gail won this book as she just recently got a pet of her own, a beautiful black lab known as Pippi. But that’s another story, friends, and maybe someday, Gail will write it for us!

Winners and Writing Retreats

2014-07-11 07.04.06I didn’t get back from the Week of Writing Retreat till yesterday and though I learned a ton and had an AMAZING time with a bunch of new, wonderful writer friends, I did spend a week up in the North Georgia mountains where the dragonflies were the size of a Buick and the towels remained damp all day and the phone service and internet were sketchy. So I walked in my house, took a deep breath and clicked my heels:

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home…

And now, I have a TON of work to do and a bunch of amazing ideas and a whole bunch of thank you’s to write to wonderful agents and editors (who feel like my new best friends, too). But first, I thought you might enjoy a little insight into the pitching process, which culminated on our last day at the retreat. I shared that information over at The Muffin today.

Um…I should probably mention that you might not learn a ton about pitching. I mean, it was ten o’clock last night when I wrote The Muffin blog post and though my brain was going for AMAZING, I think what my fingers typed was more…well, a little less than wonderful. But it was witty. Sort of. Maybe.

Well…whatever. I hope you enjoy it. (I’m pretty sure the moth on my mirror–yes, he or she stayed with me all week long–would’ve laughed its teensy little butt off. And speaking of laughing one’s butt off, PATRICIA CRUZAN, you won Not Your Mother’s Book…on Family! Wheee! I’ll be in touch!)

 

What You Can Do, If You Really Want To (And That Includes WINNING!)

2014-05-08 11.52.45

Obviously, Libby (The Tiny Terror) can’t be bothered with doing much of anything on this lovely spring day. But I have been taxing my brain with Nina Amir’s (who’s currently on a WOW!  tour) book, The Author Training Manual.

Goodness, it’s a thorough–and thoroughly thought-provoking–book on writing! With training exercises! (And you can win it!) But I’ll tell you all about the book when she stops here in June. For now, I’ll just pass you along to The Muffin, where I discuss a specific thought-provoking tidbit, inspired from my recent reading.

To wit: your willingness to do what it takes to make your writing a success. But you must also know what your idea of writing success is.

I know. It’s pretty heavy thinking material for such a lovely spring day. Maybe you should read something light and funny before tackling this mind-bender. Something like Susan Nees Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe Picture Day. 

If you’re Tina M. Cho, you get to read this winning book, courtesy of me. For the rest of you, well…you’re on your own to find Susan’s books. But believe me, they’re totally worth it.

And please, don’t be a Lazy Libby. Find what you’re willing to do, writing-wise. Because that’s totally worth it, too.