MORE SUMMERTIME FUN WITH KIDS AND FIREFLIES

MORE SUMMERTIME FUN WITH KIDS AND FIREFLIES

Fireflies in a Jar

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...

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SUMMERTIME IS THE RIGHT TIME TO READ ABOUT FIREFLIES

SUMMERTIME IS THE RIGHT TIME TO READ ABOUT FIREFLIES

Lantern and 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...

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HOW I SPENT CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK 2018

Dianne Ochiltree Children's Author

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://...

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CELEBRATE CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK WITH READING EVENTS ACROSS THE U.S.!

CELEBRATE CHILDREN’S BOOK WEEK WITH READING EVENTS ACROSS THE U.S.!

child reading

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...

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TOP 10 TIPS FOR PICTURE BOOK WRITERS

TOP 10 TIPS FOR PICTURE BOOK WRITERS

Lady writing on her computer

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.

  1. 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...
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Women’s History Month

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...

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WRITERS ON WRITING: QUOTES FROM THE FAMOUS AND NOT-SO-FAMOUS

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.”

Jane Smiley

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”

Virginia Woolf

“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”

Stephen King

“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

Ernest Hemingway

“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.”

Herman Melville

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”

Sidney Sheldon

“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...

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MAY YOUR WISHES FOR NEW VISION AND INSPIRATION COME TRUE!

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...

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Reflections of 2017

Reflections of 2017

As the New Year draws near, it makes sense to press the pause button on holiday merry-making to reflect on 2017 book happenings I’ve been lucky enough to celebrate.

This spring I was a guest speaker for the Visiting Writers Forum at Ringling College of Art and Design, speaking to students and community members about my creative process and the picture book format (https://www.ringling.edu/visitingwritersforum).

In the summer I spoke with kids and grownups about research done for my historical nonfiction title, MOLLY, BY GOLLY!, at the Marion County Public Library, in Ocala, Florida.  While in the Dianne Ochiltree speakingarea, I made stops at the Ocala Barnes and Noble bookstore as well as the B&N in the Villages for story hour appearances...

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DEALING WITH WRITER’S BLOCK, PART 2

DEALING WITH WRITER’S BLOCK, PART 2

Q:  Once I’ve gotten past writer’s block, how do I keep my creative momentum going so it doesn’t happen again?

A:  Each writer will find his or her own methods for keeping the words flowing.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Make your writing a real priority, every day.  Remember Jane Yolen’s ‘B.I.C.’ (Butt in Chair) mantra?  Take it to heart and put it in action.  Make your writing the first thing you do each day, if possible.  If this isn’t possible, get out your calendar and see where else you can fit a block of writing time in your day.  You don’t have to write the same number of minutes at the same time of the day to make writing a daily routine...

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