Roundup of Great Reads!

One of the lovely perks of social media and blogging is getting to know lots and lots of writers that I would never meet in person. And one of the joys of meeting other writers is sharing the joy of publication, whether it be a book or a magazine article, a poem or a short story. Most of the time, I blah-blah-blah about my own publications because–well, let’s face it, y’all, the name of the blog is Cathy C. Hall. But today, today is different.

Today is all about you and your lovely publications. Because geez, Louise, y’all. YOU have been busy writing good stuff!

And when I say you, I mean Becky Lewellen Povich, whose memoir, From Pigtails to Chin Hairs, is like a chat at the kitchen table over coffee. Her book is a collection of vignettes, a story told through snapshots of another time and the people and places along the journey of her life. You can’t read this book and not see and hear Becky on every page…or rather, the Becky that she’d become.

Or the you that’s Beth Cato whose The Clockwork Dagger kept me up reading til 1:30 in the morning! It’s a steampunk fantasy  adventure that’s fun and daring and textured and true, and if you haven’t hopped on to one of her blog tours to win this book, you’re missing something special. I’ve loved Beth’s short stories forever–and I’ve been drooling over her recipes (at Bready or Not) forever, too–but this novel might top them all.

And you, too, Julie Hedlund, whose just released picture book, My Love For You Is The Sun, is like a bedtime lullaby.  Her rhyming text, combined with the clay art  illustrations of Susan Eaddy, will rock little ones to sleep, night after night after night. Julie is the founder of 12 x 12, a writing challenge that’s a must for anyone serious about picture books. And you can see in My Love For You Is The Sun a culmination of all that she’s learned–and so generously shared with the kidlit writing community.

And last, but certainly not least, you, Krysten Lindsay Hager whose True Colors just landed in my Kindle reader, thanks to those lovely Lit Ladies and their giveaway! I’ve been laughing at Krysten’s take on…well, just about everything for years and now she has a book?  The tagline alone is brilliant: “Landry never imagined acceptance could leave her feeling so rejected.” How’s that for a great hook?

I love when writer friends succeed on that road to publication, don’t you? And if you’re ever in Georgia–and by you, I mean Becky, Beth, Julie, and Krysten–come say hello.  And I’d really love it if you signed your books!

 

Calling Children’s Writers: Start Your Writing Engines

It’s the start of the new year and you’d like to rev up your brain and start writing, right? You might want to begin with Shannon Abercrombie’s challenge:

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Whether you’ve penned children’s books or dashed off a middle grade novel or tackled a young adult novel, here’s something you can sink your writing teeth into: Start The Year Off Write, twenty-one days of writing prompts and esteemed authors and illustrators sharing their insights. And prizes! LOTS of prizes! (And yes, I know it’s already started, but January 5th was just a few days ago. YOU CAN DO THIS. Um…I’m not sure I can do this because I’m already signed on for this next challenge…)

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Meg Miller’s planned a week-long slate of revision stuff, including blog posts and videos and prizes! LOTS of prizes! ReViMo is specifically geared to picture book writers, so if you’ve ever participated in Picture Book Idea Month and have a slew of dusty drafts, here’s a great opportunity to shine ’em up. And you’ll notice that it starts Sunday. Gosh, that’s four whole days to get your little ducky picture book drafts in a row. You’ll need a couple polished-up picture books if you’re interested in this next challenge:

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It’s the 12 x 12 challenge over at Julie Hedlund’s, where picture book writers can sign up for one of three levels (there’s a fee for each level) for a year-long dose of writing inspiration, advice, and prizes! LOTS of prizes! Registration continues for quite a while, so you have time to revise, work on writing prompts and really get your writing engines revved up before the fun begins.

There are SO many authors and illustrators and writers in the children’s community who give back with challenges and contests and advice and support. It’s amazing and generous and I so appreciate the time and effort it takes to coordinate these and all the other surprises that these and other writers have in store in 2014. I love to participate in these challenges, love meeting other writers, love how my writing improves along the way.

And yeah, I can’t lie. I love those prizes. LOTS of prizes.

(Know of a writing challenge? For essay writers or short story writers? Novelists or poets? Do tell–and don’t forget to mention the prizes!)

Walking Through the 12 x 12 in ’12!

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Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

At my desk, my forehead’s glistening–

A not-so-pretty sight

I’m struggling tonight

Thinking of the 12 x 12 in ’12.

Gone away is the bluebird,

Here to stay is the fail word

It sticks in my head,

Flashing in red,

Thinking of the 12 x 12 in ’12.

But I can go and read what’s up at Julie’s blog–

And pretend that I’m an author, too.

They’ll say don’t give up, go back and try again.

the 12 x 12 in ’12 is fun to do!

So I’ll sit and conspire

Now my thoughts are on fire–

To face unafraid,

the books that I’ve made

Walking through the 12 x 12 in ’12!

Thanks again to Julie Hedlund and all the writers, authors and illustrators who shared their picture book journeys and expertise! I’ve had a blast, walking through the 12 x 12 in ’12!

Top Ten Reasons Why I’m Glad I’m Halfway Through the 12 x 12 in ’12

1. I WON A CRITIQUE!!!

2. I have FIVE (and a half) picture book manuscripts that I’m totally mostly  sorta happy with!

3. I’ve gleaned a ton of PB tips from Julie Hedlund and a slew of guest posters over at her blog!

4. I’ve found that I really can write a picture book draft in a day when it’s the last day of the month and I have to get it done in time to sign up for the monthly giveaway (see #1)!

5. Did I mention that I won that awesome critique from Debbie Diesen?

Ummmm…so it looks as if I’ve only made it halfway through the Top Ten List. But that’s okay. I’m only halfway through the 12 x 12 in ’12 challenge. When I finish the challenge in December, I’ll finish the Top Ten list, okay?

Besides, I’m a writer, y’all, not a freakin’ math genius.

P.S. You can zip over to Julie’s where a Halfway Blog Party’s going on all week. You’ll find a ton of bloggers with their own (possibly better than mine) reasons for doing the 12 x 12 in ’12!