WHAT’S YOUR SUPER POWER?

WHAT’S YOUR SUPER POWER?

Creative writing lesson plan for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students using Molly, by Golly! as mentor text

Do you have to wear a cape, leap tall buildings or become invisible to be a HERO?  That’s the topic kids will tackle as they brainstorm, write and illustrate a picture book starring themselves as a very special hero, someone who uses his or her power to help others.

Because we’ve just celebrated Fire Prevention Week (October 7-13) firefighters were are on my mind more than usual.  Firefighters are always on my mind!  I come from a family filled with firefighters: both men and women, past and present, volunteer and paid.  That’s one reason why I was so determined to tell the story of Molly Williams, the first female firefighter in America...

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OUR LAST BACKWARD GLANCE TOWARD SUMMER…AND FIREFLIES.

OUR LAST BACKWARD GLANCE TOWARD SUMMER…AND FIREFLIES.

True, Labor Day is in the rearview mirror. And the new school has begun. But…before we wave bye-bye
to summer, I’d like to take time to re-post a 2013 interview. So, let’s turn back time and re-visit my
chat with children’s author/illustrator extraordinaire, Betsy Snyder (www.betsysnyder.com). Betsy is
the artist responsible for those drop-dead-gorgeous visions of a summer night, a little girl and fireflies in
our book, IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT.

Originally available only in hardcover, it has been released this summer in a paperback version from Blue
Apple Books (ISBN 978-1-65905-618-6). The interview originally appeared in Rob Sanders’ outstanding
blog, PICTURE THIS! (robsanderswrites.blogspot.com)...

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3…2…1 – You’re on the Air!

3…2…1 – You’re on the Air!

MicrophoneEver listened to a podcast or a radio interview and wondered, what it’s like to be a guest?  Is it scary or fun?  Is it live or recorded?  What’s the proper attire for the occasion?  Etiquette?  And so on.

Since I’ve had the pleasure of doing such things to promote my books for about fifteen years now, I’d like to share a behind-the-scenes peek at how these interviews work, and how YOU can prepare for them when you are invited to speak with a radio or podcast host about your newly-published book.

The first tip is to relax!  Flip your thoughts sideways to the FUN setting.  Your host wants you to succeed.  The listeners want to be entertained...

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BEATING WRITER’S BLOCK WITH A NEW TOOL:  TRANSCRIPTION!  

BEATING WRITER’S BLOCK WITH A NEW TOOL:  TRANSCRIPTION!  writer with writers block

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...

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MEMORIES OF FIREFLY NIGHTS

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...

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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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