It’s a Brave New World

As a former educator and aspiring children’s author, I still believe my mantra of “Knowledge is Power.”

I am always trying to better myself and my craft. In today’s technological world, it is much easier to find classes, webinars, self-paced courses and a myriad of other types of education that may not be available in your neck of the woods. I’ve participated in videotaped webinars, live Facebook chats, Skyped courses, and self-paced courses. One thing I’ve learned, is that the KidLit community is the most generous group of people.

To pass on that generosity, I wanted to compile a list of courses for you. I’m sure many of them you are familiar with. If I have not listed one you know about, please share it with us in the comments.

WOW Nonficpic – led by Nonfiction author Kristen Fulton (This begins on Monday, July 10 so if you are interested better sign up quick!) I’ll be there!
Nonfiction Archaeology – also led by Kristen Fulton; 4 week course in July and October. (I’m signed up for October!!)

KidLit College – Agent/ Author Jodell Sadler has created a community of authors, agents, editors and illustrators who present webinars. I’ve learned a great deal by participating in KidLit College.

Story Teller Academy – Author/ Illustrator Arree Chung (NINJA!) has created a wonderful community of published and aspiring children’s writers. He takes you from idea generation to the business of publishing.

Picture Book Blueprints – created by Laura Backes, one of the best-known children’s writing teachers and her husband, Jon Bard. Blueprints is an online guide to the wiring process that leads you step by step to ensure that your story is the best it can be.

12X12 Challenge – Author Julie Hedlund has created a wonderful community for writers of all levels. With the challenge to create a manuscript a month, monthly webinars, forums, and monthly author blog posts it is a wealth of information!

Picture Book Summit -Picture Book Summit is a world-class online conference for picture book writers and illustrators.

I know that I am leaving off a number of other resources, but my brain is on overload! If I left of a resource that you think I need to add, please leave it in the comments!
Happy writing!
Julie

Master Study Monday #2

the snurtchWelcome to our first official Master Study Monday!  I hope you had a chance to read The Snurtch by Sean Ferrell.  I love this story.  It reminds me that we all have our own Snurtch that rears its head from time to time.

Let’s jump into our study.  I’m not going to insult you by discussing the characters or setting, it’s pretty self-explanatory.    How about the problem in the story?  What did you feel was the problem? Was it Ruthie or the Snurtch causing problems?  Do you think kids can relate to the problem?

Inciting incident-  What started the cause & effect ball rolling?  Did you notice how the illustrator, Charles Santoso, began setting up the story on the beginning end-pages and the copyright and title pages?  You are also hooked on the very first page, “Ruthie has a problem at school.”  You want to read more to find out what the problem is.

The escalation of the story follows the traditional “rule of three.”

  • Throws pencil
  • Makes rude noises
  • Grabs George’s drawing

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Let me know!

Does Ruthie solve her own problem?  Yes!  By drawing her Snurtch she learns to control him.  I almost wonder if the Snurtch is a deeper metaphor for jealousy.  I love how the other kids recognize the Snurtch as the one causing problems and Ruthie sees that the other kids have their own Snurtch.

What do you think the universal theme of the book is?

Here is my Master Study Worksheet.

The Snurtch MS

Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

Monday, July 10, we will study Tammi Sauer’s Nugget & Fang.  If you have a title that you would like to study, please share it with me in the comments and we will work it in!

Have a fantastic week and watch your for your Snurtch!

~j

Show. Not Tell.

Dread seeps into my bones when I hear those words.  Like Big Foot, showing not telling is elusive and almost impossible to capture.

How do you balance the show VS tell?

First, you need to know what they are.  Telling is a passive almost abstract way of saying something.  It doesn’t involve the reader.  For example, “Get out of my way,” she said angrily. This tells the reader she’s angry, but it’s boring and slows the pace of the story.  Using adverbs too much will indicate that you are telling, not showing.

Showing is active and helps create a mental picture for your reader.  Let’s use the example from above to demonstrate showing:  Angie shoved Paul aside as she stormed towards the open door, “Get out of my way.”

Did you notice the details in the showing example?  It helps evoke emotion and helps draw your reader in.  You can tell that Angie is angry.  I didn’t even have to use the word “said.”

So, if someone tells you to “show, don’t tell” don’t panic,  take a deep breath and paint a mental picture with your words.

I hope everyone is ready for our Monday study!  Till then, have a great weekend!

J

 

7 Ate 9 Review

I LOVE anything by children’s author Tara Lazar.  Anything.

She has an innate ability to weave her words into a humorous tale that results in laughter by both children and adults.  That my friends takes talent!

Her latest creation is a pun filled tome that answers the life-long question of why 7 Ate 9. Written in film noir style, you follow Private “I” as he tries to discover the truth behind 9’s disappearance.  Illustrator Ross MacDonald added to the fun of this book by playing along with the puns in his illustrations.  His drawings evoke a 1930’s-1940’s feel with rotary phones, vintage clothing and period storefronts.  This book is loaded with math puns and fun word-play.

As a former teacher, I can see so many used for this book in the classroom.  Math puns and number fun aside, it is packed with figurative language, idioms, strong verbs, plot, etc…

This book is a MUST HAVE!!  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Even the book trailer is fabulously created!

If you love this book as much as I do, please go to Amazon and leave a review.  Support other writers!

‘Till Friday,

Julie

Master Study Monday #1

I know, Monday’s are like potholes in the road of life, but I hope that Monday Master Studies will brighten your day and help you build a mentor text resource.

I participated in Arree Chung’s 6-week Storyteller Academy and learned so much!  If you aren’t familiar with Arree, he is the author and illustrator of Ninja! (2014), Ninja! Attack of the Clan (2016), ninjaThe Fix-it Man (2016), Out (2017), and many more wonderful books.  Arree, like most of us found his path to writing on a long and winding route.  He went from producing lots of spreadsheets to working at Pixar!  He has taken his experiences and turned them into a wonderful course for writers called Storyteller Academy.  The summer term is already underway, but I encourage you in joining me in enrolling in the Fall session.  You can find more information here.

One of the things I learned from the 6- week course is what Arree calls Master Studies.  He encourages you to read, read, read!  He breaks down the elements of a good story so that you can get better at writing your own stories. 

A great story has these elements

·        Character/setting

·        Inciting incident (what event starts the “ball” rolling)

·        Problem

·        Escalation (events that build in intensity to the climax)

·        Solution (how is the problem solved)

·        Theme /Hook (is there a universal theme: friendship, be yourself, etc…)

I have found that making this a habit extremely valuable.  I try and complete a minimum of 3 studies a week.   Taking it one step further, I created a form to “dissect” the story elements.  So they are handy, I print them out and  keep them in a notebook as a mentor text resource.  I hope that what I have created will help you as well. You can download the Master Studies form I created to use for your own personal study. 

masterstudieswksht

Master Studies Worksheet PDF

 

 

Here is an example of my chart for Gemma Merino’s The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water (2013).

croc.jpg

Each week, I will post the next week’s book so you can study it along with me.  So, go grab a copy of the snurtchThe Snurtch, by Sean Ferrell, and we will compare Master Study Worksheets next Monday!

 

Happy reading!

Julie

Summer Revamp

Summer vacation is only 4 weeks old but it’s already kicked my rump!

The week after school was out, we hit the road to soak up some Texas history at the Alamo (I was in heaven!), some culture at the historic Market Square (and fabulous Mexican food!), the San Antonio Zoo where inspiration hit and I sketched out a story while sitting beside the carousel, and Sea World.

We are home now, and I realized that my daughters, M & K, are growing up way to quickly, so, I’ve been spending as much time as possible hanging out with them. BUT, it’s time to get back to work .  Am I the only one who likes to organize and redecorate during the summer?  Last year, my poor hubby came home from work one day to find that I had painted our second bathroom.

This summer I am in the mood to organize and much to my daughters’ dismay, I  started by cleaning out their closets.  I eliminated toys of days gone by, clothes that no longer fit and rearranged bedroom furniture.  Next stop is my closet…I’m working up the courage to tackle that!

I am also going to revamp this blog.  First up, I will attempt create a schedule for the blog and I hope that you will join me for…

 
• Monday Master Studies- inspired by Arree Chung’s Storyteller Academy
• Wednesday Writing- craft of writing, reviews, education
• Friday Fun-anything that I find interesting!

I will go more in-depth about each topic this week starting with our Monday Master Studies tomorrow, Monday, June 26.

I will also be offering some free downloads that I have created! I hope you will join me and participate in learning, having fun and building community.

Remember…
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. ~Pele

While in Abilene, ( story here) my family completed the “scavenger hunt” for all of the storybook sculptures.  It was a fun beautiful day.  When we got home, we checked all of the books out from out library and read them again.

Here’s a look at the sculptures through my lens.

Make sure to visit the Storybook web site to learn more about the artists and book characters represented.

Abilene-Storybook Capitol of Texas, Part 2