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!)

Friday’s Fun Finds, Kidlit Style

I do so love my regional SCBWI conferences, and honestly, I could list a dozen reasons why. But for today, I’ll stick to the two that Cathy-on-a-Stick helped me find this past weekend in Decatur, Georgia, when Springmingle hit the town.

2015-03-14 13.49.04You know how you read a book because you meet an author somewhere online and you love the book and then you find out the author is coming to your little hometown conference so you finally get to meet her?

I love when that happens! So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Kami Kinard showed up and we finally had a chance to meet in person and, you know, chill a little. Her books are fun and funny and engaging and smart. Pretty much like Kami.

2015-03-13 18.54.16And then there’s the author who is your keynote speaker and you see the title, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, and you think I have to read that book and after you do, you think everyone should read that book. So I was thrilled to meet Meg Medina, too!

Well. You can see why Cathy-on-a-Stick was pretty much beside herself, havin’ fun, kidlit style.

School’s Out For Summer…(Or Is It?)

Okay, I can’t lie. (Well, I can.  I can actually lie quite well. But not today.)

When I was teaching, I’d be the first to belt out Alice Cooper’s anthem, “School’s out for summer! School’s out forever!” In fact, I’d belt that song out ALL THE WAY HOME.

BUT when I was a kid, going to school, and summer came ’round, I was one of those nerdy girls who …well, missed school.

badge for summer school

There. I said it. And I’m adding this to it: I’M LOVING THE NERDY CHICKS SUMMER SCHOOL!

Oh, my word. I love the forms! I love the homework exercises! I loved last night’s webinar (even if technically, I was watching So You Think You Can Dance at the same time). I’ve loved every wonderful post (Summer School started on Monday, July 21) and I love that these wonderful writers are giving away prizes, too. And you can still register (till July 25th) and join in the fun. (It doesn’t matter if you write picture books or middle grade or young adult or even adult fiction. The subject for this year’s summer school is “Building Character.” Every story needs characters, and this summer school class will help you build your characters into something amazing.)

I LOVE IT ALL. ‘Cause it’s school in the summer, y’all, and I’m still a nerdy girl at heart.

(And that’s the truth.)