Tag Archives: picture books

About books and writing them

It’s the first day of February and I am happy to say that I am now a student of Susanna Leonard Hill’s picture book class called Making Picture Book Magic! Susanna teaches small personalized classes that run for a month each. I chose to sign up for February to follow immediately after Storystorm which was the whole month of January. 

Storystorm, run by Tara Lazar, was very inspirational, as usual, and yet it seemed a little different this year but I can’t say just how. All I know is that the ideas I got this time around seem to be improved over previous years in that there were a greater number of possibilities among them. I had more clear ideas for stories whereas in past years they were more vague with many as simply titles and character names. My total this year, after the month of brainstorming, is 41 ideas for stories.

So, back to Making Picture Book Magic … Susanna gave us a list of books she suggests we read if we can, so, of course, I made my requests at the library. I have a few of those books now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also had already been going book crazy – about which my librarians are very happy – and I have “a few” others out now. You can see for yourself.

 

 

They’re three views of the same box of 90 books, most of which are picture books. Another 60+ are on hold for me and will arrive as they’re available.

So, yes, you can guess I’ve been doing a lot of reading; over 100 books in January as recorded on my Books I read in 2018 page. I’ve immersed myself in picture books with the occasional chapter book or novel tossed into the mix. Maybe that’s why my Storystorming was improved this year.  hmm

My only regret is that my book reviews here on my blog have been lessened, and the books that are in my queue to review are still … in queue. I apologize to those authors waiting to see theirs highlighted here. I have yet to figure out how to make progress in my own writing while keeping up everything else, too. Even on Goodreads I write mostly short blurbs after reading a book, but that’s something.

Now I have to get back to my notes for the writing class.

Will you share with me what you have found works for you when you want to learn something? Do you take classes? Do you immerse yourself in trial and error? Do you shadow someone who has the experience? What do you do?

Happy February everyone!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

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My Successes in 2017

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2017.

Since setting goals instead of making resolutions has been my way for many years now, sharing what I see as my successes feels much more positive. So, in 2017 I have surprised myself because I:

1. settled on my word for the year – PROGRESS – and set out to make it happen in my writing as much as I could manage, and grew in confidence as a writer;

2. celebrated my 7th year of blogging here on WordPress on January 9;

3. wrote 144 blog posts, including this one and one scheduled for Dec 31;

4. wrote reviews of 67 books on my blog, 42 of which were written by 12 x 12 members – past and present;

5. interviewed 3 authors here on my blog, and 2 illustrators – my first time to interview illustrators;

6. participated in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm challenge and came up with 30 ideas for stories;

7. entered Susanna Hill’s Valentiny writing contest  (my entry);

8. entered Vivian Kirkfield’s #50 Precious Words challenge (my entry);

9. participated in ReFoReMo (Reading For Research Month) and read over 100 recommended picture books to learn more about writing picture books – and the reading continues;

10. read over 600 books during the year, all but about 60 were picture books;

11. wrote a 500-word story for a writing challenge through InScribe;

12. attended an information session with other local writers, put on by the writers federation of which I’m a member;

13. attended 15 (or more) webinars about different aspects of writing, mostly regarding picture books;

14. attended a full day online Picture Book Summit & won the big prize;

15. participated in all the 12×12 webinars – except for maybe one;

16. gained a picture book writer friend through 12×12 & we share about our writing life nearly every day;

17. earned a place on the 12×12 winners wall because of writing 25 new story drafts, 18 more than in 2016, (12 are required for the win);

18. wrote 6 revisions of stories;

19. got one story polished and submission-ready;

20. submitted story (point #19) to an agent – my first time to approach an agent;

21. received a reply from agent (point #20) with positive comments and helpful advice – a champagne rejection;

22. posted one of my stories in the 12×12 critique forum and received wonderful comments and helpful critiques, one by a critique ninja;

23. was gifted a helpful critique by author Marcie Colleen to further improve my story (point #19);

24. prepared, arranged, and published my dear mother’s children’s story as a photo flip book and had 8 copies printed for family in her honour;

25. believe more deeply I AM A WRITER!

 

 

 

What are YOUR 2017 successes? No matter how small or insignificant they might seem, they add up and fit together somehow. Please share with us in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

 

 

Update and Infographic: 28 boring words and what to use instead

It seems I’ve been absent too much lately from blogging. I’m still around, although not keeping up with everything. On Saturday last week – with hundreds of other writers from all over the world – I participated in an online Picture Book Summit which was amazing. Over 9 hours of amazing, in fact. It’s part of my education in learning about writing for children and I know I’m gradually learning some very good and helpful information.

Thanks to my local library I’ve been doing a lot more reading of picture books again – and other books, too, but mostly picture books. That’s part of the learning process, the really fun part. As a member of 12×12 the goal is to try to write a new story (rough draft) each month, and so far this year I have managed to do that. I’ve even drafted more than one a couple of months! Sometimes the story starts in my brain when I’m relaxed at bedtime and just lingers there long enough for me to scribble it down. One morning I wasn’t awake very long when I started hearing a story beginning, so I had to stay focused on it to capture the story before it went the way of my forgotten dreams. It’s fascinating to me how that happens.

Today I have some information to share with you that could be of help with your writing. It’s an infographic of 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead, and was created by writer and blogger Jack Milgram. (Thanks, Jack!)

To go to the infographic CLICK HERE , but please come back to leave a comment.

Are there any words that bug you or you think are overused or boring?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Update about writing & books; & remember: set your clocks ahead tonight!

Today I realized that I should say something about the contests I entered recently.

My 50 word story, Magic Rainbows, for Vivian Kirkfield’s #50 Precious Words challenge, did not place. There were 251 entries; 40 were chosen.

You already know my 214 word story, Valentine’s Day Surprises, for Susanna Hill’s Valentiny contest, did not place. There were 117 entries; 10 were chosen as winners and 18 received honourable mention.

I like my stories and felt they had promise, so, I admit, I was quite disappointed they didn’t make the cut when it was hard to put them out there in the first place. Once I got past those gloomy feelings I paid attention to the positive comments and urges to work on my stories to develop them further. I am going to give that a try. There could be picture books hidden in there. 

Right now I am involved in reading others’ stories (although I’m still writing) because Reading For Research Month is underway, and a book study (Writing Picture Books), both of which have required reading. I have been borrowing books from the library and keeping our lovely librarians busy. Look at the pile of books I have home right now, plus I have a smaller pile at Dad’s to bring home Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that fabulous?  🙂  Including the ones not shown here I have 73 checked out, and 41 currently on hold to come to me when available. My list keeps growing in either direction because I keep asking for more books.

For the books I borrow I try to write a brief review on Goodreads where I again entered a reading challenge. I set my personal challenge at a total of 150 books to read, which I surpassed by one last year, and I know I can do it again this year with probably even more. Of course, most of them are picture books, but that’s my field of study right now. Picture books. And that’s what I most want to write. Picture books. So most of the books I borrow are … picture books.  🙂

On another note …  For those of you who have to change your clocks (early Sunday morning) …

set your clocks ahead one hour tonight!

Do you use the library much? On that other note, do you have trouble adjusting to the time changing by one hour?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Writing, researching, & more waiting

I was talking to a writer friend today. She writes novels and is published. I haven’t completed the one I started six years ago during NaNoWriMo. She doesn’t write picture books. I am waiting/hoping to get mine published. It’s a waiting game no matter what you write.

She reminded me to not compare myself to other writers. I needed that reminder – again – because I have been thinking about my picture book submission earlier this week, and that many other writers submitted their manuscripts around the same time. Mine will get read but I will be astonished if it is accepted. Why? Because, I thought, the others will be better stories or more suited to the publisher’s interest, than mine. Through the process of elimination mine will be rejected. I thought, but I don’t KNOW. I’m waiting. My friend is waiting, too, for the next step in the progress of her latest novel.

She said if she were to compare she could be insecure because of my writing. WHAT! No way! Because, she told me, I write multiple stories in one year while she writes a story in about three years.  hmmm  My reply to that is it takes longer for her novel because of the length of her in-depth story and all the research she does for it. No matter if it’s world-building or just capturing a moment or incident, it all takes time and effort to create worlds or scenarios and scenes. It’s all writing. It’s all creative expression. It’s all work. And it’s an exercise in patience – definitely not one of my strengths.

I think writing a good novel (one that gets publish ) is an amazing and exciting accomplishment. I’d love to do that, but I don’t yet know if that is within my abilities. For now I am concentrating on picture books because that’s more where my passion lies in my writing. I have to stop comparing. I have to be who I am as a writer.

Look at this fabulous image I found on Twitter:

writing-research

 

 

 

 

She’s a history professor from the future. She said to just carry on as if she’s not here.

Researching your topic is a very important part of writing your story. Even for the picture book I recently submitted, I researched what the characters would be interested in eating. I like things to be accurate.

I am usually very visual, so as I write a story I see it unfolding before me like a movie. I’ve been told that is quite common to writers. I hear what the characters are saying and what is happening around them, and often what they are feeling and thinking. In fact, here’s another oddity about me — in real life I often see the words people say to me in conversation. I see the words spelled out before me, in my mind’s eye. I wonder if that is an advantage for me in my writing … or if I am just strange.  🙂  

Questions for you:

  1. Do you visualize when writing stories? Do you when people talk to you, the way I see the words spoken to me?
  2. Do you research for your stories, or do you not bother much with the little details? 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

Writing and waiting

It’s been a hard summer for me as far as writing goes. I’ve been in a funk, a writing depression, a walled-in place of little inspiration. I realized I was/am experiencing burn-out from a combination of things, burn-out exhibiting itself as low-grade depression and writer’s block. That’s no fun!writer's block

 

 

 

… until a week ago, on August 23, when inspiration hit!

I was talking with one of my daughters about a frustrating, exasperating, tiring situation that’s ongoing (not as a caregiver) and that affects a few of us in the family. Pausing to consider it a moment, I said … “hmm … that could be a story for a picture book!” Shortly afterward I sat at my desk and wrote a very rough first draft of that story idea. I don’t have a satisfying ending for it yet, mainly because there has not been one found for the real-life situation, so that’s something I’ll have to dream up as is fitting for a picture book. I’m happy, though, because it is my August draft for 12×12.

And writer’s block was moved aside.

That’s always good news. Other good news happened today, too.

I’ve got some manuscripts which I haven’t submitted anywhere yet. It’s hard not ever hearing back, or getting rejection replies, so I think I was just not ready to chance it again. In 12×12, members were offered a special opportunity to submit to a publisher looking for new work, with the promise ALL would be read and our work would not be left in the ‘slush pile’. This evening (Aug 30) I took a chance and submitted the story I wrote in February. I did it! It’s gone, I received email confirmation that it was received, and now my wait has begun. If they are interested in working with me I’ll hear back within five months. If not … *sigh*

waiting quote

 

 

 

 

 

In the meantime, I have to get out my other work and get more of them submission ready. And continue writing new stories, of course. That will help fill in the time while playing the waiting game. I need positive creative distractions to keep myself writing.

How are you at waiting? 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

My personal reading challenges

I have an account on Goodreads. If you love books then Goodreads.com is a great place to be. Each year they set up a challenge for us to challenge ourselves to read more, to set goals to read however many books we think we can or that we want to read. I enjoy challenges like that since I’m just a little competitive. And I love books.

In 2013 my goal was 25 books. I made it to 44%, having read only 11 books. Actually, if you look at my list here on my blog for what books I read that year, my total was 34. The difference is because I apparently didn’t report them all on Goodreads. Oops!

I don’t remember what my goal for 2014 was, but I reported 38 books. In actuality, I read 46.

In 2015 I met my goal of 50 books. Yay! (Plus one I didn’t report.)

This year I set a goal of 25, then decided to up it to 50 again. Once I joined the ReFoReMo challenge in March, I said – what the hey! – and reset my goal to 150 books this year. Yipes!  Not to panic, yet.  I am already 64 ahead of schedule at 71%, having read 107 as of this writing. I still have a few more titles on hold at the library for the lingering on of ReFoReMo in my life, and we have about eight months left in 2016. I can do it! (yes I can)  Gosh, I love books!

It may not seem like such a big accomplishment where most of my reading so far this year is picture books. I could never manage to read that many novels in twelve months. BUT … reading is reading. I’m learning about writing while I’m enjoying all those expertly told stories, too, as they serve as mentor texts.

Someday I’ll try to count how many books I have here in my growing TBR stashes♥  Novels, that is. Novels beckoning to me, novels tempting me, calling me.  *sigh*  I want to read them, get lost in them, devour them all!

pile of books

BOOKS.  

Another feature on Goodreads is that other members I’ve connected with as “friends” can recommend books they’ve read. Oh me. Some have.  🙂 

Oh, and while I’m on the topic — thank you to author Darlene Foster who follows my blog and recommended Pompeii by Robert Harris. I bought it through Audible.com and very much enjoyed it. Of course, I could have borrowed it from the library but I didn’t even think of doing that at the time. I really like Audible, anyway.  🙂  I can multi-task that way — listen to the book being performed for me (not just read), which is so great, and work around doing something else at the same time. But not writing. Not while “reading.”  😉

Have you set a goal this year for how many books you want to read? Or is there some other goal-setting you’ve established?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂