Writer’s block is something writers have had to face over the ages. It’s the fear of a blank page. The fear of having nothing to say. The fear that your execution of plot, imagery, characterization, and language will not live up to your inner vision or outer expectations. The Writer’s Block First Aid Kit has always had good suggestions on ways to coax back your Muse, including the method of dictating a story rather than writing it down. We are, after all, story TELLERS not story writers. Telling your story to a scribe encourages spontaneity and authentic voice, proponents say. Literary luminaries such as Milton, Dostoyevsky, Winston Churchill, Thomas Aquinas, and Earle Stanley Gardner used archaic forms of this method...Read More
MEMORIES OF FIREFLY NIGHTS
A new version of It’s a Firefly Night, illustrated by Betsy Snyder and published originally in 2013 by Blue Apple Books is being released this month, and I couldn’t be happier! Originally published as a hardcover, it’s a paperback this time around, with a glittery cover and lots of brand-new extension activities in the back matter. (For a sneak peek, and more information, check out the publisher listing at www.blueapplebooks.com/book/its-a-firefly-night/.)
When the book first came out, we did an interview discussing how the story came about in my imagination and then made its way to the bookshelf. I’ve gotten permission to reprint the article here, which is also posted on the newly-updated BAB website (www.blueapplebooks...Read More
MORE SUMMERTIME FUN WITH KIDS AND FIREFLIES
Fireflies—or lightning bugs as we called them when I was a kid, growing up in Ohio—just say ‘summer’! And, whether we can still find them blinking in our backyards anymore or not, these fascinating and endangered creatures are a great summer topic to explore with kids. In my last blog post, several firefly book suggestions were made in addition to my own picture book about the subject, IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT (Blue Apple Books, 2013). Another way to make it a ‘firefly summer’ is to work on firefly-themed craft projects together. Lots of nifty and thrifty firefly crafts to do with kids can be found on the internet. Here are a few good ones I stumbled upon:
BUGGY AND BUDDY, an extensive resource for parents, homeschoolers, and classro...Read More
SUMMERTIME IS THE RIGHT TIME TO READ ABOUT FIREFLIES
With Memorial Day in the review mirror, it’s time to look ahead to summer vacation days and starry summer nights. If there are kids in your life, you may be thinking of how to fill their summer with learning and STEM-fueled fun. If you’re lucky enough to have fireflies where you live in the summer, why not plan an evening firefly spotting session on the back porch? You might want to try to capture a few fireflies (or ‘lightning bugs’) in a mesh ‘bug box’ or clear plastic jar with a lid to take a close-up look before releasing them back to wink and blink across the back yard.
What if you don’t have fireflies to study ‘up close and personal’? You can read books about them...Read More
HOW I SPENT CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK 2018
Launched in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. April 30-May 6, 1018 marked the 99th annual celebration of Children’s Book Week. This year’s CBW theme was ‘one world, many stories’ and everyone found a world of ways to express their love of books and reading. This year, over 800 participating libraries, schools, and bookstores in all 50 states celebrated childhood literacy…many holding two to five events throughout the week, from story times to activity hours. Since 2014, the Children’s Book Council has designated one event per state as a ‘spotlight event’, and I was thrilled beyond belief for my event at Copperfish Books to have been chosen for the state of Florida: https://...Read More
CELEBRATE CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK WITH READING EVENTS ACROSS THE U.S.!
Children’s Book Week is the annual celebration of children’s books and reading. This year will mark its ninety-ninth year, making it the longest-running national literacy initiative in the United States. And it’s just about to kick off again: from April 30 to May 6. Next week, bookstores, libraries, museums, and schools across the country will celebrate the joy of reading in oh-so-many ways.
For a preview of what’s planned for 2018, you may wish to go to this recent article from Publishers Weekly: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/76648-children-s-book-week-2018-preview.html.
But how, you may ask, did Children’s Book Week come about in the first place? Read...Read More
TOP 10 TIPS FOR PICTURE BOOK WRITERS
Creating picture books for kids is at the heart of what I do as a writer. Since I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years now, you might guess that I’ve learned a lot of useful storytelling tools along the way.
Why keep it to myself?
So here it is: my ‘top 10’ list of writing-picture-book tips culled from all those conferences, books, courses, workshops, mentorships, and plain old trial-and-error discoveries as I worked it out on the page.
- Write big or go home! Let your first draft be as large as it needs to be to gather up all the ingredients for your story to be: setting and characterization details, plot twists, wordplay, dramatic dialogue, and so on...
Women’s History Month
Did you watch the Winter Olympics this year? I did! The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, which ended after 16 thrilling, chilling days of competition on February 25th, saw some wonderful moments in the history of women’s sports. While Team USA, which had the fourth highest medal count with 23 in total, saw spectacular performances from all of its 241 athletes, it was the female competitors, like 33-year-old Lindsay Vonn (who became the oldest female Olympic Alpine Skiing medalist with a downhill bronze) and 25-year-old Erin Jackson (who became the first African-American woman to compete on the U.S. Olympic long track speed skating team only four months after taking up the sport) who shone the brightest...Read More
WRITERS ON WRITING: QUOTES FROM THE FAMOUS AND NOT-SO-FAMOUS
“Every first draft is perfect because all the first draft has to do is exist.”
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”
“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”
“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”
“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.”
“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”
“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”
Henry David Thoreau
“My own experience is that once a sto...Read More
MAY YOUR WISHES FOR NEW VISION AND INSPIRATION COME TRUE!
Every new year brings with it creative resolutions: to work smarter, to delve deeper, to tap fresh inspiration whenever we touch the pen or paintbrush. As much as I wish an ‘inspiration fairy’ with a magic wand existed out there…the truth is that we creative types need to be our own fairy godmothers.
First, connect with other creative people to build a support network, if you do not already have one. Join a critique group. You will never regret time spent with like-minded people who are passionate about writing great books for children. If you are already in possession of a cheerleading squad, double down on your commitment to lifting them up as they in turn lift you.
Learn to be your own cheerleader, too...Read More