Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Get Your Writing Off Your Computer (Fun Writing Contests and More!)

The best way to improve your writing is to write...and write and write and write!  At some point, however, you need to practice submitting your writing.  Today, I'll share four fun places to do just that!  First, I have a little personal announcement:


I entered the MeeGenius Author Challenge and would love your votes!  The challenge is to write a picture book.  Finalists are chosen by votes and the MeeGenius team.  You can read my entry and vote here!

Now, four fun writing contests that are happening right now!!  And, none of them have an entry fee!  


1 - NaNoWriMo First Line Contest.  You finished your novel, right?  Well, you certainly finished one line!  This fun, not NaNoWriMo-affiliated contest ends December 4th.  All you need is the first line of your new novel.

2 - NaNoWriMo First Chapter Contest.  Yes, two NaNo-related contests...tis the season!  To enter, you need your first NaNo chapter--other projects don't count. Do it soon--the deadline is today!  Visit Scribophile for more details!

3 - Holiday Story Contest.  Hosted by the brilliant Susanna Leonard Hill, this holiday contest hits the blogosphere December 19-22.  Honestly, I'm most excited about this one!  Check out the details here (scroll down past the Thanksgiving Story finalists!).


4 - GE Appliance Giveaway.  Put your blogging skills to the test to win a $5000 appliance from GE!  Your entry is a submitted blog post on one of their five topics.  Visit GE for details before December 30th!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a wonderful week with your family and friends!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Define Crazy

Crazy is...

A.  A state of mind.

B.  A chemical imbalance.

C.  An imaginary place to go when reality is too difficult.

D.  Participating in some of these November writing-themed challenges.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Picture Books For Young Children

November is a fabulous time to get to know some picture books about Thanksgiving.  These seem particularly appropriate for younger children.  They are listed in no particular order.

1.  I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie by Allison Jackson and illustrated by Judy Schachner

2.  Ten Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston

3.  The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving by Ann McGovern and illustrated by Elroy Freem

4.  Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon

5.  The Pilgrims and Me by Judy Donnelly and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

6.  Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock and illustrated by Doris Ettlinger

7.  The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi

8.  Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markus and illustrated by Doris Barrette

9.  Ankle Soup by Maureen Sullivan and Alison Josephs

What do you like to read in November?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fun for Children's Writers

This is a fun time of year for children's book writers!  There is so much going on that you might feel like some of these events are birds flocking past you before you before you get a really good look at them!  Here's a few things coming up:

1.  Picture Book Idea Month: November 2011.  PiBoIdMo: 30 picture book ideas in 30 days...sign up before November 3rd!  http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/piboidmo-official-sign-up-starts-today-right-here-right-now/

2.  National Novel Writing Month: November 2011.  NaNoWriMo: Write a novel in a month...get that first draft DONE!  Sign up now!  http://www.nanowrimo.org/

3.  Poetry or Verse Story Writing Contest for Children.  300 words or less.  Deadline: October 31st.  http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/am557/

4.  MeeGenius Author's Challenge.  Deadline: November 1st.  http://www.meegenius.com/challenge/welcome/

5.  Halloweensie Contest hosted by children's author Susanna Leonard Hill on her blog on Halloween!  Check it out at http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2011/10/would-you-read-it-wednesday-13th-pitch.html 

What do you think?  Talk about a busy time of year!  I'm planning on all of these except NaNoWriMo...this year is simply not the time for me!  I hope you have time to check out at least one of them!  Have I missed anything else fun and exciting, especially for picture book writers? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Different Goal Question

About a year ago, I ran across a question on Rachelle Gardner's blog.  I still find myself thinking about it, so I thought I'd throw it out here for some more perspectives!

The question is pretty simple.  Would you rather be (1) an author who publishes relatively frequently, receives mediocre reviews, and still makes a comfortable living writing or (2) an author who can only afford to write part-time but whose work receives fabulous reviews and awards?

I usually find myself leaning towards #2.  I want to produce the most amazing material that everybody loves, and if that means I can't make a living by writing...well, I'm okay with that.  But then there's this magical allure: the idea that I could possibly even make money doing something that I love.  It's hard to shake, and does it really matter whether or not everybody else loves me?

I'm trying to polish off a couple manuscripts right now, so this question keeps floating in front of my eyes while I try to focus on the computer screen.  What do you think--which would you prefer?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Picture Books, Postcards, and Pitches

I have enough to tell you that I'm beginning to feel like a volcano so full of fabulous things to share that I'll just have to let them fly out!

Picture Books
The best thing you can do if you want to write picture books is to read and study them!  Here are three excellent examples of very well-written picture books.  Children love them and adults (at least this one!) can enjoy reading them over...and over and over.  They all have a creative story line with an unexpected ending.

  1. Edwina The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems
  2. Troll Teacher by Vivan Vande Velde
  3. There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea by Jennifer Ward and Illustrated by Steve Gray


Postcards
I am organizing a Postcard Exchange for my preschooler and still have several openings.  If you would like to be involved, please email me!  It will involve sending at least six postcards throughout the United States and to a few other countries.  If you want more details, please visit my family blog here.

Pitches
Susanna Hill, a children's book author, hosts a weekly Would You Read It? meme where she posts a pitch and her readers comment on whether or not they would be interested in the book.  Today, my unpublished story, Witches Don't Dance is the pitch for the week!  I'd love to read your comments on her blog about your reaction to my pitch!

How often do you post on your blogs?  I'm considering posting more than once a week.  How often do you like to see new posts on the blogs you visit?  I love to hear from you!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Imago For A Moment (Challenge 2 From Rach Harrie)

Rachael Harrie has issued her challenge and I decided to participate!  It was actually a lot of fun...I learned a few new words and wrote outside of my element!  The challenge instructions are:


Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title.  It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc.  The blog post should include the word "imago" in the title and include the following four random words: miasma, lacuna, oscitate, synchronicity.  If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.  For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!

I chose to write flash fiction...it is inspired by a little man I know.  And, I decided to be crazy and take on all challenges--so yes, it is exactly 200 words with a mirror.  I'm posting pretty late in the challenge, but if you enjoyed it, I'd love a vote here...I'm #166!

Here we go...

Imago for a Moment

“Fire! Fire!” I donned the extra gear reserved for a call.  In perfect synchronicity, I raised the garage door, flipped on the siren, and adjusted the mirror.  We were off.    

We arrived at a horror scene.  People burnt.  Children crying.  A woman screaming about her dog, still inside the house.  This was my moment.  I was ready. 

I threw open the door and choked on the smoky miasma that tried to suffocate me.  I dropped to the floor and found a decent lacuna with air I could breathe.  I crawled.  I reached.  I hit the ground and clapped my hands.  Finally, I heard a puppy-like whimper. 

The dog was hiding under a couch.  I wiggled left.  I rolled right.  I dodged burning pieces of furniture as they fell towards me.  I resisted the urge to oscitate.  One yawn now could be disaster.

I finally had the dog.  “It’s a good thing you’re a little guy,” I whispered.  This time, I decided to fly out of the house.  It was much faster. 

I dropped the dog.  My hat came off by itself.  The scene changed to my bedroom.  “You can be a fireman again tomorrow.  Right now, it’s time for bed.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5 Magazine Markets for Children's Writers

I've had a lot of fun writing occasional articles for magazines during the last few years.  It's a great way to practice writing, build a resume, and get professional feedback.  I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the magazines that have published my work.  The only draw-backs to writing for magazines include the long response time (it can take months to hear a reply) and the fact that you still have to deal with rejections (sigh).

You can submit work to many magazines for children, but here are five that accept (and some encourage!) online submissions.  These five also offer varying amounts of pay for accepted/published manuscripts.  Perhaps, if there is a lot of interest, I can do another post like this in the future.

Now, five magazine markets that will accept submissions of articles for children online (and pay you for accepted/published work!):

Listen Magazine.  This magazine shows teenagers a positive way of life without drug and substance abuse.  Queries are encouraged and email submissions are allowed.  A theme list and more information is available on their website.

Stories for Children Magazine.  This award-winning, online ezine publishes fiction and non-fiction for children three to twelve years old.  Email submissions are required.  Learn more about writing for them on their website.

Odyssey Magazine.  Part of the Cricket Publishing Group, this magazine focuses on science content for children between nine and fourteen years old.  Queries are required and may be submitted online.  For more information, visit their Submission Guidelines.

Friend Magazine.  Published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stories in this faith-oriented magazine are often based on real experiences and written for children three to twelve years old.  Past issues and content can be viewed online and manuscripts can be sent on speculation through email.  For more information, visit their website.

Yes Mag.  This science-oriented magazine for kids and teenagers prefers queries before manuscripts.  Emailed queries are accepted.  They prefer Canada-related material.  For more information, visit their website.  Note: They seem to only be accepting material from Canadian authors at the moment.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Editing Exercise and Blog Awards

Editing can be a beast, but this writing editing exercise can make it a bit more exciting.  I'm calling it, The Chopper!  Follow the steps and enjoy the freedom that comes from detaching yourself from your writing!


The Chopper:

1.  Start with your manuscript for a picture book, article, or one chapter from a longer work.  Write down the total words.

2.  Cut the total words in half.  Yes, you read it right...in half!  This is your target word count.  Write it down!

3.  Start chopping!  You will need to chop because just plucking a word here or there won't do it.  You can always add things back in if you feel like you've changed too much, but wait a few days.  Do you really need that description, that conversation, or that detail?  Remember your goal is to show as much as possible with as few words as necessary.  It's  a lot of fun to see how different your work can be when it's forced down to half the original length.  It's also good practice to help train yourself to be able to say more with less!

Let me know how it goes!  I'd love to cheer for you!


In other news...

I want to shout out congratulations to Jo and Dawn for taking on the 50-Word Challenge last week!  I totally enjoyed their stories!  If anyone else wants to try it (just for fun!), feel free--I rarely close comments!


And now, for some awards!

Last week I received two blogging awards!  Stuff like this brings out all sorts of silly grins--it brightens my day and makes me want to learn how to turn cartwheels!  I am delighted to pass them on, too!

First, thank you Abby at Something To Write About for the 7 x 7 Award!  Her blog is full of wonderful posts related to writing and things that might interest writers. 

For this award, I choose a blog post for each of seven categories...so, here you go! 

MOST BEAUTIFUL:  Beating a Fear of Success 

MOST HELPFUL:  Writers, How Well Do You Know Your Audience?

MOST POPULAR:  eReaders For Kids

MOST CONTROVERSIAL:   Lessons/Morals in Picture Books

MOST SURPRISINGLY SUCCESSFUL:   P is for Al Perkins

MOST UNDERRATED:  What Do Kids Read?

MOST PRIDE-WORTHY:  Dreaming Big

I would like to pass this award on to the following blogs: 
The Writing Nut
Wavy Lines
Kelly Polark

Next, thank you to Elizabeth at Elizabeth Anne Writes for the Versatile Blogger Award!  Elizabeth writes in many genres and has lots of information for writers on her blog! 

For this award I tell you seven things about myself!  So, here you go:

1.  I signed up to run a half-marathon in February on the beach!  Woo hoo! 

2.  I love to try new things...especially food!  This week, I've tried three new recipes and loved them all...Mmmm!

3.  I'm slightly germaphobic.  I used to be extremely germaphobic, but then I had a little boy who seems to desperately want to cure me. 

4.  I have a small in-home daycare.

5.  I'm a serious science nerd.  College only encouraged me. 

6.  My favorite places in China are probably gardens, Yellow Mountain, and the Great Wall area.  It's no coincidence that they're all outdoors.

7.  Laughing makes me happy.  Life is funny.  It feels good to laugh about it.

Well, there you have it!  I'm going to pass this award on to the following bloggers: 
 (note: Original Versatile Blogger Rules say to pass this on to 15 others...but, since I'm versatile, I'm passing it on to 5!)


Lauren Boyd
Imagine Today
The Restless Writer
Of Thoughts and Words
Children's Books Heal