Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Starting Tomorrow.. 30 Poets/30 Days

April is National Poetry Month and Gregory K. over at GottaBook is hosting 30 days of children's poetry by 30 different poets. The participating poets include Nikki Giovanni, Nikki Grimes, Mary Ann Hoberman, Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yolen, and many more! Each poem will be a previously unpublished poem!

Pop by GottaBook to read more about it and follow along for all 30 days.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

When Smart Authors Get Taken

When considering submitting to publishers, contests, and agents, it's always a good thing to check them out first! Take a look at this article When Smart Authors Get Taken and see why even smart authors get scammed sometimes. To do your own search, I recommend Preditors and Editors for a comprehensive list of contests, agents, publishers, magazines, and much more.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Dynamics of Writers Groups

There's no doubt that writers groups are one of the most helpful tools in polishing your manuscripts. A good writers group will give you advice on what works in your piece and what doesn't, as well as share their tips on editing and publishing.

Obviously, every writers group is different. Each member brings his or her own style, personality and background to the table. Every group is run differently, with a different set of guidelines and critique styles. Writers groups can even vary in the way they prefer to format their manuscripts, as I have recently learned.

I belong to two critique groups, one online and one in person. Often, what one group doesn't catch the other will. The online group tends to look in depth at things like "Where does the plot not make sense?" and "Is this part believable?" The face-to-face group usually catches my typos and inconsistencies. A lot of times, what comes up in one group doesn't come up in the other. I can't imagine not attending one or the other at this point. Together, they make a great combination.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nine General Rules to Follow When Submitting Your Book

To those of us who have been in the writing business for awhile, these rules are no brainers. But for those just starting out, this list is an important one to read and consult.

Nine General Rules to Follow When Submitting Your Book or Manuscript to an Agent or Editor

#5: Writers Send Submissions In Strange Formats and Colors, is a pet peeve of mine. I did some freelance reading for a subsidy publisher for awhile, and the range of formats, colors and fonts was astounding!

If it doesn't look professional, don't send it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

5 Reasons Why Angeline Jellybean is the Perfect Easter Gift

Don't forget that April 12th is Easter! In honor of Easter, I bring to you the 5 Reasons Why Angeline Jellybean is the Perfect Easter Gift:

1. Books last longer than candy.
2. Slipping Angeline Jellybean into your child's Easter basket might act as a gentle warning before they tear open and devour all of their jellybeans and chocolate.
3. The vivid illustrations by Stephen Macquignon conjur up thoughts of spring.
4. Easter morning can become a time for learning about all holidays throughout the year as your kids read about Angeline.
5. At $9, it's more for your buck than fake Easter grass and dyed wicker baskets.

You can find Angeline Jellybean on Amazon.com and at the 4RV Store.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Overflowing with Ideas

I now have no less than three different ideas for Middle Grade and YA novels. The one I'm currently working on (still half way) and two more.

This weekend, Mark and I were driving by a florist shop in Baltimore. I saw the name and said "That sounds like the title of a fantasy novel of some sort." Mark instantly had the plot. Soon, I had dreampt up the characters, and now I'm wrapped up in creating the setting and attempting to put it on paper before it has faded from my memory.

Mark and I plan to work on this one together, although I really wish I had the time and energy right now to just sit down and let it all flow out of me in one big rush. That would be such a relief and would help me relax too. These characters are haunting me.

Idea #2: I was looking around for something historical to write about. I want to either do non-fiction or an historical novel. I was researching famous teenagers throughout history, and somehow I landed on figure skaters. As a teen, I loved watching figure skating, and I looked up to young skaters like Michelle Kwan. I combined this love with an historical event, and boom! The idea was born. Its a Middle Grade novel that takes place in the 1960's and revolves around figure skating, and that's all I'm going to say about it for now.

The problem, of course, is that I must work and eat and sleep. I can't write all day, or even every day. And I can't let myself get lost in a new project if it means abandoning my current one, which is very likely since I'm half way through and running out of steam.

What's odd is that I used to think I could never write a novel, and now they're all I can think about. I'm constantly putting myself up to the challenge. I can write anything and everything I want to. As I sometimes say, I could write my way out of a paper bag, and I could write my way out of a plot hole if I had to.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. . . in my own time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spaces after periods

I never thought I would have to talk about the number of spaces after periods in a workshop setting. I've just had it ingrained in my brain for so many years now (since I first started learning MLA) that you put one space after periods, not two. It's also what we teach people in typing and word procesessing classes. It's the new way. Putting two spaces after a period is very old school. (I will admit, until sometime mid-college, I was also convinced that you should put two spaces after a period, until I found out that rule was archaic.)

Here is an explanation from http://www.writing911.com/writing/good-writing-tips/punctuation/one-space-after-a-period-or-two-weve-got-the-answer.html :

Today, using just one space is correct. In BC times (Before Computers), printing presses and typewriters used letters that were all the same width. To help readers see that a new sentence was starting, we inserted two spaces. Today, computers compensate for the varying widths of letters. An "m" no longer takes up the same amount of space as an "i" does. Thanks to these proportional fonts, we no longer need that extra space.

Even the Chicago Manual of Style says that one space is correct. But it seems like everyone still has their own opinion about this topic. I'd like to hear what you think.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

An Update on the new YA novel

As some of you may know, I've been working on a YA novel since late December. I've hit the 19,000 word mark and I'm amazed! I think I am almost halfway done with it, so in another three or four months (if I keep up this pace) I should have it completed.

This book is my baby. It's the first time I've ever worked on a novel for so long without getting bored. I contribute that to a couple of things. One, I was forced to write a full-length novel for my grad school thesis. That process taught me the discipline and drive I need to make it through this project. Two, the topic is something very close to my heart. It's a realistic and gritty novel and I can't seem to put it down. I'm invested in these characters and I want to see them succeed. I can't abandon them now.

So, if you don't see me blogging for awhile, that's why. I'm off writing a novel!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

An Interview with Kathy Stemke

Kathy Stemke is the author of Moving Through All Seven Days, upcoming from Action Alley Education. This book inspires movement as children learn about the days of the week. The lyrical rhymes also teach them how to spell each day! The activities at the end of the book are designed to reinforce the concepts as well as give impetus to movement exploration.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing poetry when I was a teenager to express all those new feelings and frustrations.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was an anthology of poems and photography. I’ve always liked using mixed mediums to express myself.

What, in your opinion, is the most important element of good writing?

Imagination. A book has to be different to get the attention of the public. It must also have lots of unexpected surprises.

Why should someone buy your book, “Moving Through All Seven Days?”

This book not only teaches the days of the week but how to spell each day as well. The illustrations are colorful and are full of action. Children will be inspired to explore all types of movements as they have fun learning.

If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?

Pursue your dreams! It’s sad, but I know so many extremely talented people who never tried to follow their dreams. I’ve found that if you have passion and persistence, you will succeed at accomplishing many things. One thing leads to another. Just never give up!