Sunday, September 27, 2015

How Writer's Work by Ralph Fletcher

Finally! The secrets on being a writer are revealed.
This slim book of 113 pages explores the different ways writers write. You mean they don't all follow the same secret formula? Unfortunately : No.
What works for one writer may not work for another. This book will help you find your own process.
This book will take you back in time to your deep memories and get you to think about what made you happy?Sad? Angry or Scared? It will help you tackle the times when the seamless writing peters out and you begin to struggle with sentence after sentence.
Several authors give input in to what works for them. There is even a chapter on the dreaded revision (radical surgery).

This is the writing craft book that is being given for this month.
Check back next week to find out if you are a winner.
Winners must reside in the USA. Please leave a comment.
Are you going to writer's conference this fall?
I would like to hear from you if you would like to do a guest blog on your experience.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Interview with Heather Montgomery author of "How Rude!"

Sheila: We have here with us today Heather Montgomery, author of numerous nonfiction books. But it took nine years to get "How Rude" published. That's encouraging to me, to not give up on something you're passionate about. Tell us how you went from idea to book.

Heather: I love bugs! When I started writing books for kids, I automatically turned to insects as a topic. 

One day I watched this crazy bug - an ant lion - slurp out the guts of an ant. Then the antlion tossed away the ant skeleton as if tossing litter out the car window. A "litter bug" - how funny and fascinating! This idea of bugs with improper eating habits struck me as hilarious and a way to hook kids. So, I began collecting information about "bad boys" - bugs who don't mind their manners. 

The problem was, I did not know how to write a nonfiction book for children. I loved books by April Pulley Sayre that use rhyme to introduce information to children, so I wrote it with rhythm and rhyme. It was awful. I loved Megan McDonald's Insects Are My Life, a fictional book that teaches about bugs so I tried that approach. Even I cringed when I read that version. I love the nonfiction poetry books by Joyce Sidman, so I tried that approach. Blaaagh! From 2006 to 2010, I tried and tried and tried but just could not find the right approach for this book. 

Meanwhile, I was attending conferences of the SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), intensely studying books that I respected, and participating in multiple critique groups. I was learning tons and changing my ideas about the what made a "good" kids' book.  

One evening in 2010, I decided to just stop paying attention to how everyone else wrote books and be myself. That night, How Rude!  came to life. All of these "bad boy" bugs in my head were in a competition to see who was the rudest, crudest dude around. The book poured out. 

In an ideal world, I would have sold that manuscript to a publisher the next week and published immediately, but this manuscript was weird! It presented advanced scientific ideas in a quirky, humorous way. It pushed the boundaries in terms of anthropomorphism, tongue-in-cheek humor and expectations of the reader. Rejection letter after rejection letter told me the publishing world was not ready for such an off-beat approach. So, I put it away and worked hard publishing other books. 

But, with the release of the Common Core Standards and subsequent interest in nonfiction, trade nonfiction books began breaking out of the traditional mold. Publishers began looking for unique manuscripts. My bad boys were ready and waiting. The manuscript was submitted in 2013, sold in 2014 and published in 2015.

Sheila: Tell us about the research process and organizing sources.

Heather: Research is my life! I have cultivated a habit of inquiry so I don't see it as a separate process, but looking back, I can say that I spent years researching this book. At the time I did not have a great method for organizing sources. Basically, I stored all of my notes in one huge Excel file and stored academic papers separately.  Since then I have learned to use OneNote (a Microsoft product) and EasyBib (online bibliography) which works much better. 

Sheila: Did you do any interviewing? If yes, tell us how you found experts to interview.
Heather: I often do phone or email interviews of scientists. I track them down through reading their scientific paper on the subject and then contact them through their university department.

Sheila: I know you are passionate about your subjects. It shows in your writing and is contagious. Do you test drive your ideas among your students?

Heather: I'm fortunate enough to teach in an outdoor setting. I've taught thousands of students about insects so I have a pretty good sense of how they will react to wacky, weird or gross bug behaviors, but knowing how they will react to reading about them is a different thing. I am sorry to admit that I did subject some students to early drafts (the rhyming ones) of this manuscript. By watching their faces, I could tell very quickly that they preferred my teaching to my writing. Right then and there, I knew that I needed to make a change.

Sheila:  How did you find a publisher for this book. 
Heather: I found potential publishers through attending SCBWI conferences and workshops plus studying the trade market (reading publications such as Publishers Weekly).

Sheila: Any pitching or query tips you could share with us?
Heather: Know the hook for your book. What makes it stand out from all the other books out there.

Leave a comment to be eligible to win "How Writer's Work by Ralph Fletcher or "Eddie Red" by Marcia Wells

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Eddie Red Undercover by Marcia Wells-Book Review

Product DetailsThere's been some chatter about books for reluctant boy readers and I would like to recommend this one.
If you like the Alex Rider teenage hero  series by Anthony Horowitz then you will love Eddie Red's middle grade equivalent.
Copyright 2014 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 248 pages.
This is Marcia Wells debut novel. Prior to writing she was a middle grade teacher. She lives in Vermont.
Illustrated by Marcos Calo.

Eleven year old, Edmund Lonnrot (pronounced lawn rot) alias Eddie Red, has a photographic memory and not to bad at drawing. His best friend Jonah, is his sidekick and a genius.

How does a sixth grader become an agent? It starts with a trip to the ice cream shop. Edmund's dad has some bad news.His hours have been cut and his parents won't be able to afford the Senate Academy. Before this news has time to sink in, a cry for help comes from the alley.

Edmund's Dad takes off to help. This leads to Edmund and his dad going to the precinct and Edmund sits with an artist and describes the  man he saw running away. When the artist can't get it right, Edmund asks if he can try.

Now the Chief of Police wants to employ Edmund to help them catch art thieves.

Now the fun begins!

It's always good to have a running list of books to read, so a leave a comment with a book for a reluctant reader. You can list more one!

See you next week!
Toni Carlucci, if you're reading this, I need your address to mail Stephen Kin's book "On Writing".

Sunday, September 6, 2015

August Book Winners Announced!

The winner of the August book giveaways are:
Stephen King On Writing-winner Toni Carlucci


Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye - Patricia Weaver

Please send me the address you would like your book mailed to. Pat I have your address and will get it in the mail.

September book giveaways will be Eddie Red Undercover- Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells and How Writers Work- Finding a Process that Works for You by Ralph Fletcher
Please leave a comment to be entered. You must have an address in the USA to win.

What writing books have you found helpful?
See you next week!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group - Waiting

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the the September 2 posting of the IWSG will be Julie Flanders,Murees DupĂ©, Dolorah at Book Lover, Christine Rains, and Heather Gardner! 

You've written your story/article, revised it, had it critiqued within an inch of it's word count.
Now you have sent your baby out and are waiting for a response.
And waiting. And waiting.
Things to do while you wait:
1. Go through your idea notebook or folder. Don't have one? Start one.
2.Research for next project. You can kill a lot of time doing this.
3. Go for long walks, commune with nature.
4. Volunteer at the library, the school, church.
5. Eat chocolate.
6. Start new project.
7. Research other markets to send story to if you haven't already done this.

The key is to stay busy. Before you know it you will get your response back. Be prepared if it is rejected to send it out again.

Good luck!