The amazing Kate Messner started the KidLit Cares talent auction to benefit the Red Cross relief effort to those communities devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Joanne Levy has stepped up to assist with Round 2 of the auction. Agents, editors, authors, and illustrators are donating services from manuscript consultations to Skype visits to virtual writing workshops.
My Kidlit auction is up now at http://bit.ly/SSRjBL. I'm offering a 30 minute Skype session and a download of my new PRANCING DANCING LILY app. If that doesn't strike your fancy there are many amazing offerings at Come on over and bid at https://www.facebook.com/KidLitCares.
The Society of Young Inklings is a fabulous program that mentors young writers and creators. I love that all their classes and resources are built on one premise - "play develops and deepens creative and critical thinking skills." Humans are meant to play, and in play, we learn best.
I was delighted Jena Brigantino and Helen Pyne, two of the educators involved in the program, invited me to do an interview for their November newsletter, the Ink Splat. You can find it at Young Inklings blog. Most of it revolves around my first book Heart of a Tiger. This book is a testament to perseverance since it was rejected 13 times before it found a home at Dial, then went on to win the Ridgway Award for Best First Book By A New Author.
Persevere, Young Inklings, and write on!
Cowabunga! It's been fun posting on my Creator's blog, but now I'm offto help Farmer Gibson and the herd prepare for the holidays. Farmer Gibson is planning a vegetarian feast for all the farm animals and we'll be decorating the barn tree soon. I'll be popping back in to update you on my book app, but mostly I'll be strolling through the holidays. Happy Holidays to you all!
October 25th, Todd McDonald, the charming librarian at Walter Jackson Elementary in Alabama, e-mailed me with a request to skype with students on Halloween, apologizing for the short notice. The reason he wanted to skype: Walter Jackson had decided to have their very own Pumpkin Run Day, based on my picture book, The Pumpkin Runner. I was so excited! I would have agreed to skype at 2 in the morning.
Halloween arrived and through Skype, I got to meet Todd, dressed as my main character Joshua Summerhayes, and be interviewed by a number of students. Our chat was videoed throughout the school. They told me of the pumpkin seed spitting contest (evidently, a favorite), the pumpkin toss contest, and more. They shared how everyone had run a mile around the track, in celebration of good health and the original Pumpkin Runner. Everyone got a bright orange pumpkin charm for their running necklace.
If all this wasn't enough, the local newspaper, The Decatur Daily, wrote about the event with the title, "Celebrating 'The Pumpkin Runner' New Approach: Walter Jackson students leave their costumes home this Halloween."
Love the center image of a great "pumpkin seed spit!" There are also a few photos of the day below, including the famous Pumpkin Mile Run with Todd McDonald, aka Joshua Summerhayes, leading the way with a smiling student.
I hope to meet all these enthusiastic, dedicated educators someday. What a wonderful example they provide of leadership, learning, and fun! Thank you, Walter Jackson Elementary educators and students. You warmed my heart . . . and inspired me to go out for a run.
P.S. Yes, I am taking the reins back from Prancing, Dancing Lily, who is plum tuckered out preparing for her book app launch. You will likely hear from her again as the big day approaches.
Cowabunga! This Sunday's ending activity is easy-peasy. My Creator kept me up late line dancing!
Write a sentence synopsis of the story you are working on. Then write 3 possible endings for your story. Which one works best? Why?
Simple, but important for your story to come to the right conclusion.
Cowabunga! Won't my Creator be surprised? Today I signed her up for both PiBoldMo and NaNoWriMo. ("No! No! Don't Do It" :( ) She really needs to get going with this writing stuff.
You can join the fun at http://www.nanowrimo.org if you want to write a novel or at
http://taralazar.com/2012/10/23/piboidmo-2012-registration-begins-now-sign-up-here/ if you want to dream up lots of picture book ideas, or join both, like my Creator. ("No! No! Please, no! November is a very busy month.)
I thought I heard a small voice. My Creator? Busy or not, we have stories to write, adventures to have. I traveled the world looking for my perfect dance. You, my Creator, can surely sit in your chair and write for a month.
(Well, I always tell students that it only takes one YES to be on the way to where you want to be. So . . . Yes, Lily. YES.)
Cowabunga! Today we are going to think about the cadence of endings.
Choose ten books from your shelf, the library, or a bookstore. Read the last sentence or two of each book. Note the cadence.
Some writers advise to always end on an accented syllable. It helps to finalize the story. Being a cow, I had never thought about this, but when I looked at my Creator's books’ endings, it was surprising to see that they did, indeed, end on an accented syllable.
Here are the endings to four of her books. Beyond the accented syllable, note that the last word in each is actually a one syllable word, making the end even stronger and more finalized. Boy, I will be the smartest cow in the pasture soon.
The last sentence of The Pumpkin Runner is: “But Joshua Summerhayes still likes to run…with Yellow Dog trailing behind him.”
The last sentence of Heart of a Tiger is: “And all the animals agreed they were fair and honest names.”
The last sentence of Roar of a Snore is: She heard…(page turn) a SNORE!
And the last sentence in my book, Prancing Dancing Lily and my book app is "And together they pranced and danced back to the barn." There is a letter on the last page of the book, but I don't think of it as the ending. The letter ends with "conga cow", but I do sign it as Lily.
Endings are important. Think about them a long time and get the cadence right.
Cowabunga! This blogging and tweeting is hard for a cow. I'm a day late with the Sunday Starter!
If anyone changed the endings in the books listed in your October 7th Sunday Starter, please share. I want to know what happened to me in your version of Prancing Dancing Lily.
Now the Sunday Starter for October 21st...one day late.
Here's your chance to make a chart and learn more about endings.
Select 8 picture books.
Make a chart and put these headings and any others you’d like to add into the chart:
1) Circle endings where the ending echoes the beginning
2) Endings with twists
3) Endings that comfort
4) Endings that satisfy
5) Endings that teach lessons
6) Endings that make you laugh.
Now read the books and classify the endings in the chart. Some of the stories may fit in more than one section. The chart will remind you of the options you have as a writer.
You are powerful!
Cowabunga and Caramba!
We missed the Sunday Starter. Lily and Marsha are in Costa Rica dancing through the jungle and prancing on the beach. Everyone take the week off and enjoy life. We'll be back soon with lots of news about Lily's book app and Marsha's online course.
Cowabunga! My Creator has me tweeting and facebooking and now writing her blog! I believe her Sunday Starters is about endings today. So here's your moovelous activity.
To get you thinking about endings, read these four books...all about cows, of course. Think about the ending and why or why not it works. Then write a different ending, one of your own for every book. My book is the last one. Can't wait to see how you'd change my ending. If I'm not a Conga Cow, I wonder what I'll be.
1) Click, Clack, Moo
2) Sailor Moo: Cow at Sea
3) The Story of Ferdinand
4) Prancing Dancing Lily
Skyping is such a great way to stay in touch with your audience. I meet the best teachers and students this way. Try it. You can meet people in all parts of the country and beyond without leaving your office. In fact, one of the things kids love about the Skype visits is that they get to see my office and gardens.
Last week I had a great time with enthusiastic teacher Kelly White and her first graders. From her sweet thank you, they seem to have enjoyed it too. I love that they wrote their own version of Roar of a Snore. Young writers!
We had so much fun meeting you last week! The kids did not stop talking about how excited they are to become writers! The kids decided to spend our writing time creating our own version of Roar of a Snore. Instead of searching through the house and a barn, we looked through our school to find the snore. Each student made a page describing where they looked for the snore. We had kids looking in the cafeteria, the library, the playground and even the bathroom! Thanks for meeting with us and inspiring both the students and myself! I cannot thank you enough :) Kelly
Last week I did a delightful visit at SAMS, a Montessori pre-school in Marin County, CA. Michele King, the director, has invited me every other year for the past 4 years. I always jump at the opportunity.
Always, I focus on one book and the school purchases the book for every student. This year they wanted me to share HEART OF A TIGER, which is one of my most loved books, but I'd never shared it with PreK before. I'd heard from teachers that kindergartners love it, but wasn't sure about PreK.
I began my 30 minute presentation with a puppet, my LAMB WHO LOVES LIBRARIES, always a hit. Then I read a poem I had written for HIGHLIGHTS along with motions. We did a jungle activity after I read HEART OF A TIGER, but the children were most attentive when I began reading my book about the little kitten who had a big dream, to give himself a name like that of the beautiful Bengal Tiger on Naming Day. They were mesmerized. It was so inspiring to see these little ones totally immersed in a picture book that 6th graders and even adults love.
I've always believed the best stories are for all ages. Last week, that was confirmed.
Here's a picture of the beautiful gardens at SAMS and also a nearby doggie park.
Good Sunday morning, writers,
It's a beautiful day in California. If it's a beautiful day where you are, get up and take a walk before you start writing. Listen to the birds...or the cars...watch the sky...or the skyscrapers. Writers are aware, so go for a walk and look and listen and store up those experiences.
This will be our last beginning activity for awhile. Tomorrow we start on ending activities. Beginnings and endings are supremely important. So, I don't want you to forget your writer's notebook. This week go out and buy yourself a yellow legal pad, a spiral notebook, or a handsome journal. Spiral notebooks work well for me, but it's always nice to open up a journal that you've splurged on at the bookstore. While you're out, pick up a copy of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way at the bookstore or library. Check out her Morning Pages. Those are your activities. And when you return, you must remember to read Julia, open up your notebook, and BEGIN.
I also want to share that I'm writing an online course for Dr. Mira Reisberg's amazing the Picture Book Academy. We've entitiled it Writing Character Driven Picture Books and it will include videos, essays, book lists, and activities. We're very excited about the course and hope you will check it out when it becomes available, which should be later in October.
Happy writing, everyone.
If you think it might be fun to explore the new digital world of book apps, this event might be just what you're hoping for. The best digital apps allow children to explore and delight in the world around them. They allow the child to help move the story along. Digital apps can be an engaging format, one many authors want to explore.
You may have heard, my Prancing Dancing Lily is "mooving" into this new digital world. Thanks to the wonderful team at RipplFX.com, readers will now be able to hear Lily moo, see her dance, and much more. As part of the celebration, RipplFX will host this event in San Francisco.
The scoop and the link are below.
“How to Create and Market a Children’s Book App,” is a one day intensive workshop for aspiring authors and illustrators seeking to successfully publish and market their own digital titles. The $99 workshop will be presented on Saturday, October 27, 2012, in San Francisco by Karen Robertson, author of the award-winning and internationally-acclaimed App Store “Top 5” download "Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island," as well as “The Author’s Guide to Book Apps” and “How to Market a Book App.”
Karen will guide attendees from manuscript to published book app in her fun and easy-to-understand, step-by- step process that has brought numerous other titles to realization and success in the App Store.
Joining Karen is a who’s-who line-up of world-renowned and prolific Children’s book and app authors and consultants, including:
• Marsha Diane Arnold, published author of 11 picture books and international speaker and writing workshop leader,
• Alex Beard, painter and author of the critically-acclaimed, best-selling “Tales From the Watering Hole” collection,
• Melissa Northway, Author of the award-winning story book app and book “Penelope the Purple Pirate,” and
• Carisa Kluver, founder of DigitalStorytime.com, the internet’s leading review and daily deal website about the best kid’s iPad book apps.
Seth Socolow, Founder of the San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago App Shows, the nation’s preeminent series of tech development and launch events that has brought countless ground-breaking apps to market, will moderate a panel of these gifted authors, entitled “The 5 Things I Wish I’d Known.”
“How to Create and Market a Children’s Book App” provides step-by-step and proven processes covering concept and content creation to implementation and launch with key outcomes covering understanding the difference between eBooks and Book apps as the best format for your work to budgeting, marketing and legal rights and issues. This seminar will also provide networking opportunities for authors, creators and artists who are in need of talent and partners in order to bring their titles to a successful reality.
If this sounds like just what you've been hoping for, sign up at Eventbrite
Good morning, Sunday Starters. I hope your writing week went well and you've been enjoying Sunday Starter activities.
Remember you want your first story line to be so compelling that your reader can't put the book down. Begin with the introduction of your character and his/her problem or with the first thing you think your reader needs to know.
Here's an activity that will help you to the perfect beginning:
When you have your story idea and have begun to write, try starting your story in at least 4 different ways. You might vary where you start or who you start with. You might mention the setting in one beginning, but delete it in another. Try a funny beginning, then try a quieter one. If you've started in third person, try now to write it in first person. Or write in a completely different point of view. For example, if you're writing a story about a farmer and a duck and your farmer is telling the story, switch to the duck's p.o.v. Could be fun!
Now, which of your beginnings is your favorite and why.
Enjoy the creating! See you next week at Sunday Starters.
Good morning, Sunday starters! This week's activity is easy-peasy. I like to make learning our craft as fun...and as easy...as possible, because the actual writing is super hard!
This week's activity is simply about observing how you react to words on the page and thinking about it a bit. Have fun and enjoy your writing week.
Sunday Starter for 9-16-12:
Search the picture books in your library or local bookstore. Find five with a great first line. Then find five with beginnings you dislike. Why do these beginning lines work or not work?
I have moovelous moos for all Prancing, Dancing Lily fans. In October Lily enters a new world, the digital world!
Last week I spent most of the day at RipplFX taping an interview, a podcast, and of course, some drumming and bell ringing, all in preparation for Prancing, Dancing Lily launching as a digital app. Lily is even thinking of joining Facebook, so you may see her charming cow face around here soon.
Part of our launch celebration will be a San Francisco event on October 27th. Karen Robertson, the Digital Kid's Author and well known app developer of Treasure Kai will be sharing her knowledge on how to create and market a book app. I'm so excited to be on a panel with her, acclaimed artist Alex Beard, and story book app author, Melissa Northway. You can sign up for the event at How To Create and Market A Book App.
Hello, Sunday Starters,
How was last week's activity? Love to hear from you about how it went.
For this week, let's try this. Choose four of your favorite picture books. Read and enjoy them again. Now, write a new beginning to each of them. It's all right. Don't be scared. Remember, this is a learning experience, just for fun.