Category Writing Tips

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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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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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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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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WRITING DOWN FAMILY STORIES IS THE PERFECT GIFT

WRITING DOWN FAMILY STORIES IS THE PERFECT GIFT

The holidays not only give us time with family members…it also gives us the desire to remember the people, places and feelings of holidays past.  While the memory of Thanksgiving is fresh, and a new month of holidays to celebrate are at hand, this may be the perfect time to put those beautiful remembrances in a safe place for future generations to cherish.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

Create a family story journal.

Write down your special memories of past holiday celebrations and other important events in your life whenever you think of them.  Take your book to family parties and reunions, and ask older relatives to do the same.  This can be as plain or fancy a ‘book’ as you wish...

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TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG?  THAT IS THE QUESTION….

TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG?  THAT IS THE QUESTION….

And it’s a big question!  For writers, it comes down to a balancing act between the creation of works to be published, and the creation of content to promote the sale of the same.  It’s not easy finding the perfect answer to the question.

However, if you are going to enter the highly competitive blog-o-sphere there are some guidelines to help you do it in a way that is most effective:

Remember that content is king!  People search out information on the internet more often than ever before.  Please make sure that your blog contains useful tips, resources and facts.  Make sure that your content is easily accessed via links that are correct and current...

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How do you deal with writer’s block?

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Excellent question!  Writer’s block and the fear of the blank page is sort of the ‘common cold’ of a writer’s life.  Since I’ve experienced creative blocks numerous times, I’d like to pass along a few thoughts in the hope that at least one will help you should you ever run up against this particular brick wall in your writing:

  1.   “I don’t have writer’s block,” the voice in your head says, “I’ve just been busy!” Denial isn’t a solution for writer’s block but it sure is a sign that writer’s block has reared its ugly head.  If you find yourself fixated on cleaning the refrigerator with a toothbrush, or running errands that take you far, far away from your work space for days on end…you might just be blocked.
  2.  Admit i...
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Introducing MOO-seum: A COW FOR A CAUSE.

Imagine my surprise when Jennifer Cloward, director of the Paso Robles Children’s Museum (www.pasokids.org) and local artist Cindy Burnside contacted me to let me know that the main character in my picture book MOLLY BY GOLLY! THE LEGEND OF MOLLY WILLIAMS, AMERICA’S FIRST FEMALE FIREFIGHTER, had been lovingly re-imagined as a cow sculpture for the San Luis Obispo, California CowParade. Using artist Kathleen Kemly’s wonderful renderings of Molly Williams for the book as her inspiration, Cindy worked her own magic bring Molly to life in an udderly different form.

First, a little background on this unique program: CowParade™ is an international moo-ving public art exhibit that has been featured in 75 major cities since its inception...

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