Children’s Books’ Formats

Hello everyone!

While preparing my post New Jersey SCBWI 2017 Annual Conference submissions, I came across Summer Edward’s blog post “Types of Books for Children and Teens- Formats Explained.” It contains word count, page length, and format advice for the main genres of children’s books. I highly recommend her post.

Happy writing!

Katie

How do you like those apples?

Hello everyone!

“Play is a child’s work and this is not a trivial pursuit.” – Alfred Adler

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to choose one of the six word groups below and write a short story that uses all of the words mentioned. To make this even more challenging, you can roll a die to determine which set of three words you must use. (All of the words in the lists are from cards randomly drawn from the game Apples to Apples.)

  1. Chickens, Gossip, Zen
  2. The Little Mermaid, The JFK Assassination, Scene of the Crime
  3. Quicksand, Pro Wrestling, A Crawl Space
  4. Confucius, Roman Numerals, Dr. Kevorkian
  5. Firefighters, Jimmy Stewart, Leather
  6. The 1950s, Pond Scum, Marriage

*This writing prompt was inspired by an activity Justin Tappan had us do at our critique group.

Happy writing!

Katie

Writer’s Conferences

Hello everyone!

Back in June, I attended the 2017 New Jersey Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators Annual Conference.  I learned a lot and got to meet many interesting writers, illustrators, agents, and editors.

In her blog post, “How to Prepare for a Writer’s Conference,” Julia Yong offers a writer’s conference packing list and tips for how to get the most out of a writer’s conference while there.

Although Julia’s packing list is very thorough, I would like to add four more items to it.

  1. Tissues – You never know when you or someone else will need one.
  2. Hand sanitizer or baby wipes – You’ll be meeting a lot of people.  If you or one of them are sick, you’ll want to be able to clean your hands.  Getting into a bathroom can be difficult at conferences.
  3. Band-Aids – Like tissues, you never know when you or someone else will need one.
  4. Dental floss – If you have a pitch session after a meal, you’ll want to make sure the agent isn’t distracted by something stuck in your teeth.

I hope you find “How to Prepare for a Writer’s Conference” helpful when preparing for your next writer’s conference!

Happy writing!

Katie

Read, Write, and Blue

Hello everyone! Happy Independence Day!

In honor of our country’s 241st birthday, I decided to do a theme based writing prompt which will also serve as practice in following submission guidelines.

Your challenge is to write a flash fiction story with an obvious beginning, middle, and end that fits into the theme.stars

Theme: Red, White, and Blue

Word Count: 1,000 words

Happy writing!

Katie

Recommended Reading for Writers

Hello everyone and happy Father’s Day!

Due to additional job responsibilities, summer plans, and writing deadlines, I will be posting two times per month for the rest of the summer.

The more I write, the more I discover how truly essential reading is to developing one’s craft. There are two books which I believe every writer seeking publication should read and a reading strategy which, in my opinion, all writers should employ.

Book Recommendations

The Essential GuideThe first book is The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, & Thrive on Your Own Terms by Zachary Petit. In his book, Petit offers advice on how to break into the freelance market, build a platform, write a professional query letter, conduct interviews, and more. Although his book’s target audience is freelance writers, much of his advice is valuable for those who do not wish to become a freelancer. In addition to being informative, Petit’s voice is very conversational and often humorous, causing the book to read more like a novella than a “how to” book. I highly recommend The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing to anyone who wants to write professionally.

Writer_s Market Deluxe Edition 2017Another valuable resource is the Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition 2017 (aka the writer’s Bible). It contains:

  • Writing Related Advice (i.e. how to write a good query letter, how to build a platform, etc.)
  • Lists of:
    • Literary Agents
    • Book Publishers
    • Consumer Magazines
    • Trade Journals
    • Contests and Awards

Other books which are similar in content, but geared towards specific genres are Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market 2017, Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market 2017, Poet’s Market 2017, and Guide to Literary Agents 2017.

Reading Strategy

Read in your genre. If you want to write poetry, read poetry. If your passion is science fiction, read all the science fiction you can get your hands on. Do you want to write short stories? Read short stories, especially ones printed in the publications you plan on querying.

The young adult novel I am currently editing, The Four Crystals, is an allegorical fantasy. Obvious books to read for this genre are The Chronicles of Narnia, Eragon, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I hope you find these book recommendations and the reading strategy helpful.

Happy writing!

Katie

What if…?

Hello everyone and a special congratulations to teachers and students everywhere for concluding another school year!

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers

My family loves to play games. One which often results in lots of laughter whenever we play it is Imagine iff….

Writing Challenge

Your challenge for the next two weeks is to use the six Imagine iff… cards below to write a short story.

Instructions: There are three steps to this writing challenge. Steps 1 and 2 should be completed before reading Step 3. Together, Steps 1 and 2 should take between 5 and 15 minutes to complete.

thGNWQR3ZMSupplies for Steps 1 and 2: You will need a piece of paper and a writing implement.

Write down your answers as you read the questions. Do NOT read Step 3 until after you have completed Steps 1 and 2.

Step 1: Choose a person you know well or about whom you have strong opinions. He/She can be a friend, family member, or well-known person (contemporary or historical figure).

Step 2: Answer the following questions (from Imagine iff… cards) for the person selected. Write down your answers.

Question 1: Imagine iff… _____ were giving a big speech tomorrow. How would he/she attempt to calm his/her nerves?

    1. Picture everyone in the audience in underwear
    2. Meditate
    3. Nerves? What nerves?
    4. Focus on only one person in the audience
    5. Never look up and read straight from note cards
    6. Cram all night and sleep through the speech

monkey wrench & monkeyQuestion 2: Imagine iff… _____ were a tool. Which would he/she be?

  1. Monkey Wrench
  2. Shovel
  3. Vice
  4. Leaf Blower
  5. Orbital Sander
  6. Chainsaw

Question 3: Imagine iff… _____ were a section in a newspaper. Which would he/she be?

  1. Opinion
  2. Coupons
  3. Picture Page
  4. Stock Quotes
  5. Dear Abby
  6. Travel & Leisure

beach ball 3Question 4: Imagine iff… _____ were a ball. Which would he/she be?

  1. Magic 8-Ball
  2. Beach Ball
  3. Wrecking Ball
  4. Ball Bearing
  5. Medicine Ball
  6. New Year’s Ball

Question 5: Imagine iff… _____ were a type of painting. Which one would he/she be?

  1. Self Portrait
  2. Abstract
  3. Paint by Numbers
  4. Watercolor
  5. Face Paint
  6. Landscape

dust pan & broom 2Question 6: Imagine iff… _____ were something found in a closet. Which would he/she be?

  1. Bowling Pin
  2. Toys
  3. Dust Pan/Broom
  4. Umbrella
  5. Mouse Trap
  6. A Mess

Step 3: Write a short story. Question 1 is your conflict – your protagonist has to give an important speech tomorrow. The items from Questions 2-6 have to appear in your story. You may use the person you selected as your protagonist or create a new protagonist.

Happy writing!

Katie

Responses to Stress: Fight, Flight, or Freeze

Hello everyone! Happy Memorial Day!

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” – Lou Holtz

Everyone reaches a moment in their life where they face a situation (physical, financial, emotional, relational, etc.) which feels too overwhelming to handle. There are three basic responses to these situations:thS1LJR4YA

  1. Fight – Work to resolve the problem
  2. Flight – Remove oneself from the situation
  3. Freeze – Avoid or ignore the issue

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to come up with a potentially crippling situation and write a short story about how the protagonist handles it. The issue can be internal (a health issue or mental disorder) or external (a difficult relationship, financial troubles, a sick loved one, etc.). You must have a goal for the protagonist to either succeed at or fail to achieve.

1. Beginning: Introduce your high stress situation and decide how your character will respond to it (fight, flight, or freeze).

Things for You to Consider as the Writer:

  • What is the protagonist’s attitude towards the situation?
  • Will that attitude change over time?

2. Middle: Come up with three ways that your protagonist will try to accomplish his/her goal and a minimum of one consequence for each action taken. I strongly recommend that the first two attempts fail or that they are only partially successful. The results of the first two attempts should add to your protagonist’s stress in some way. The protagonist’s third attempt should be your climax.

Tension 4Example Responses to Stressful Situations:

  • confiding in and/or depending on someone (e.g. God, family members, a friend, a therapist, etc.)
  • trying to manage stress through:
    • a healthy diet and/or exercise
    • impulse shopping
    • excessive eating
    • using a controlled substance (e.g. drugs, alcohol, etc.)
  • becoming depressed
  • responding irritably to people
  • making a major life change
  • etc.

3. Conclusion: Does your protagonist succeed or fail?

Happy writing!

Katie