Category Writing Tips

Black History Month Road Trip

READY FOR A ROAD TRIP? CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH WITH A VISIT TO A MUSEUM DEDICATED TO PROTECTING, PRESERVING AND INTERPRETING THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. 

Black History Month is the perfect time to expand your understanding of African American history and culture.  How better to do this than visit one of the three largest in the country?

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, located in Washington, D.C., is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by an Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans...

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH

A BRIEF HISTORY OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH

February 1st marks the start of Black History Month, a nationwide celebration of African American culture, achievement, and progress toward social equality. It’s celebrated in schools, museums, community centers, churches and the media.  While we may take the existence of this annual acknowledgement of the contributions Americans of African descent to our country’s greatness for granted today…Black History Month was not always on the calendar. 

CARTER G. WOODSON (1875-1950)

The celebration of Black History Month began as “Negro History Week” in 1926.  This ground-breaking celebration was created by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher...

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WRITING IN THE NEW YEAR

WRITING IN THE NEW YEAR

It’s a bright and shiny new year!  That means you may have put, “start that novel” or “write four hours a day” or something else intended to light a fire under your muse in 2019.  Now that you’ve set your intention to focus more time on your writing, you might like a few bits of inspiration and guidance from two of the world’s most successful authors:  Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. Although their published genres are quite different, their advice will ring true for any writer wishing to go pro or boost your writing career in the next 12 months.  Here goes:

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days.” J.K. Rowling

These are wise word...

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Holiday Reading for Kids (and Adults)

Holiday Reading for Kids (and Adults)

December is upon us, and that means…the holidays have arrived.  Still shopping for a little one on your gift list? Please consider giving the gift of reading.  I’ve selected a few classics to recommend for the picture book reader…or heck, anyone who loves the holidays!  Here goes:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss…who wrote and illustrated over 50 classic children’s books with total sales of more than 100 million copies. Here’s a new release of his unforgettable 1957 holiday story from Random House, with an added surprise–a punch-out piece to play with.  For ages 5 to 9. ISBN-13: 978-0394800790; ASIN: 0394800796

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Classic Story by Thea Feldman and illustrated by Erwin Madrid.  Deluxe 50th ann...

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THANKSGIVING WRITING PROMPTS FOR KIDS

THANKSGIVING WRITING PROMPTS FOR KIDS

Pumpkins

November is a time for harvesting the bounty of the garden and gathering up thankful thoughts.  Kids have a bounty of creative energy just waiting to be harvested, too. Why not take some time together to write something to share with family and friends on ‘turkey day’ later this month?  It’s a good bet your small author will come up with something everyone will be grateful to hear before or after the feast.

All you need is a little time and some supplies—paper, pencils, crayons, markers—and a lot of imagination.  Depending on the age of your young writer, the form his or her work takes might be a poem, short story, essay or a single vivid sentence punctuated with illustration...

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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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