Yesterday afternoon the FedEx truck parked in my driveway. Pulled up the long, winding drive. Sat there, while the kids waited by the door, ready to pounce on whatever he brought. The FedEx guy climbed around in his truck for a while. And then he drove away.
Ten minutes later, he came back. "Fell down next to the door I guess," he said and handed me an envelope.
What do you think it was? My beautiful-wonderful-contract-and-first-half-advance for Violet and the Woof!
I have to celebrate these small moments, because doctors call with test results, toddlers refuse to poo for five days, teens raid the refrigerator right before dinner, baby says his first word, "Da!" when Daddy walks in. Real life takes over. So for a moment, in the midst of life, I'll stop and savor.
And then there were three ... books by me! It is with supreme delight that I announce Eerdmans Books for Young Readers will be publishing my picture book, Mama Earth's New Year. Yay!
The very first copies of Halloween Good Night!!
I've been doing this writing thing for more than fifteen years. You'd think I would have an airtight process by now. You'd think I could write a book like “how to write a book.” Right? You'd think I wouldn't flounder with each new project as if I were the first one to wonder if a round stone could roll. Because really, this isn’t my first rodeo.
I started the first semester of graduate school knowing just a little more about picture books than I do about worms. Children love them, they come out on rainy days, and if you cut them in half, they really do die.
13 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Writers. Writing has changed since the days of typewriter and correction fluid (remember the little bottle of white-out with the brush, remember how strong it smelled, how fast it dried, how fun it was?). Pen and paper have been replaced in many fields by smartphones, mobile devices and laptops. But until recently it never occurred to me that more than just writing could be aided by technology.
The 3 Act structure provides a perfect framework for any genre of picture book, about any subject. Plus thinking of it in terms of the grid we drew together, it can help immeasurable with pacing and troubleshooting a story that just isn’t working.
I first started thinking about tension when I heard Donald Maass speak at a conference some years ago. He described how the simple scene of a man looking at his watch while waiting for a bus can go from bland to Bang in a matter of words. Since then I have often noticed the varying levels of tension, both in books I have enjoyed and in those I haven’t. Here I'll discuss the ten levels of tension, and what they mean to the writer.
I can't believe how long it's taken me to post these photos. Actually, yes I can. I'm horribly lazy when it comes to keeping up with my online presence. What's worse is I actually like to blog and Facebook and whatnot, but these children! The chickens! The garden! My editor and agent who actually - gasp - expect me to write now and then!
I know, excuses excuses.
I am so full of exclamation points! See, just this morning I was showing Maggie the cover art pdf. She, always attentive, noticed the little square on the back cover where the bar code will go. "What's that?"
I believe four key elements unite the best of the best rhyming picture book texts: Structure, Speech, Surprise, and Story. Books that fail will be lacking in one (or more) of these key areas; those that succeed will demonstrate at least passing-grade competence in all four. Now to examine these elements more closely.