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Off to Great Places!

There she is-my baby girl.

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Today is her day.  She is on her way.

She’s leaving for a flight that will take her far away.

Her destination you ask?

Graduate School.

What will her future bring?

What will she bring to her future?

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To paraphrase from Dr. Seuss’s, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Will she succeed?

Yes! She will, indeed!

(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

Thank you for putting up with my beginning rhymes. The following will explain why I couldn’t help myself.  As you read, my baby girl is heading off into the world and it just so happens that her departure coincides with the Children’s Readathon hosted by This Is My Truth Now blog. Check it out at https://thisismytruthnow.com/2018/08/02/childrens-readathon-picture-books-week-1/

During this first week of the Readathon participating bloggers were asked to review one of three classic picture books. And I chose for the reasons mentioned above, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  And I have to say, there’s just something about Seuss that once you read it you can’t help but rhyme and rhyme and rhyme, or at least that’s what happens to me.

That being said I had never read this classic Dr. Seuss book until last May when my daughter received it as a graduation gift.  Upon reading it I found it to be a thoughtful, poignant guide for those stepping out to begin life’s journey. It includes all the hang-ups and bang-ups, the lurches and slumps that happen to all of us. But its message is consistently positive, affirming to the reader that they’ll get through it all and better than that, that if they keep at it they’ll be a hugiferous splendiferous success!  (it happened again)

Anyway, if you’re making that first big step on life’s journey, or if you’re redefining your journey and are ready to once again step out into the foray, I recommend you read Oh, the Places You’ll Go! 

And after that- go to it.  There’s mountains to move! Hooray! Hooray!  (and again)

 

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Show and Tell and Feel

Show and don’t tell. That’s the advice all writers know, but its a balancing act, as we have to tell a little bit. What to show, what to tell? Telling increases the pace. Showing puts us in the thick of things.

But what about a different perspective to the meaning of “show”? What about feeling, you know, in the tactual sense.

Young readers love the visual aspects of picture books. It makes their reading experience richer and way more fun. Likewise, young readers who aren’t able to see love the addition of tactual elements in books.  It makes their reading experience richer and, you got it, way more fun. But what to “show”?

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Above are two print/braille board books to which I’ve added tactual elements for my students. My students are pre-braille readers. They are learning their braille letters and to use their tactual exploration skills. The simple addition of texture for the sheep and of a plastic spider and a tube for its water spout along with accompanying sound effects from an IPAD app allows them to be more engaged readers.  With the addition of these “showing-feeling-hearing” elements the books were requested for repeated reads. Just what a writer, reader and teacher loves to hear!

When picking out what tactual elements to add to a picture book’s page its important to think about what detail will help the tactual reader get the most out of the text or image on the page. Too much tactual representation could cause confusion. Simpler is better. Isn’t it always.  One or two important details to involve the reader is ideal, more than that is overload.

It’s a thought that can be applied to writing, especially for the picture book audience.  Don’t you think?

If only tactual elements could be cost effective enough to catch on with mainstream print picture book publishers, then children who are blind or visually impaired (tactual readers) could have access to as many books as visual readers. Wouldn’t that be grand!

 

First Listener

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It’s always good to read your writing out loud, to hear how it flows or doesn’t, to hear the differences or lack there of in characters’ speech patterns.

Teddy’s heard all of my rough drafts, my works in progress, my polished manuscripts, my brainstorming ideas, my blog posts, you name it.  He’s heard the best of them and the worst.  I’ve even asked  him to come up with a few ideas when I was stumped.  Although he never did, I knew that he always agreed with my perspective on things. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Teddy was my creative companion ever patient with my thought and writing process. If I was at a transition point for which I didn’t know which way  was the right way to go, or at an ending which wasn’t working, or if I was confused about just how a character would behave, I’d talk it out and Teddy listened.

Once I’d finished Teddy would suggest we get a snack- his favorite part of the writing process.  Then he’d look up at me with his beautiful brown eyes and I knew I’d figure it out, whatever the “it” might be, after all Teddy believed I would and I couldn’t let him down.

Sadly, my first listener, Teddy, fondly nicknamed Teddy Bear, passed away two days ago.  I’ll always miss him.

 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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I was perusing the new picture books in  my local library and came across this special book.

What If . . . written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Mike Curato is the story of a little girl who loves to create stories with paper and pencil. When she thinks about what would happen if her pencil disappeared she sees herself creating stories in all sorts of ways because she knows in her heart that no matter what happens, and for as long as she lives, she will always create.

Its lyrical verse and vivid imagery are captivating, and uplifting.  What a great message to share with young and old, with anyone who has a creative spirit, be it writing, music, art, baking, dance etc.  To create just for the sheer joy of doing something that makes your soul feel good.

 

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Read What If . . . , I think you’ll be inspired.

Happy creating!

 

 

 

 

 

Ouch!

 

Your writing shows promise, but I am not in love with this manuscript the way I need to be to move forward. For this reason, I am going to pass.

Smack!

While I appreciated the chance to read, I’m afraid I’m not connecting as much as I’d need to in order to feel like the right match.

Pow!

It’s cute but just doesn’t feel fresh enough.

Ba-Bam!

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Not a TKO, but I’m feeling a bit woozy, to say the least.

So I should just hang it up. I get it. It seems to be the general consensus from those three agents.

Right.  Probably should. Who’d miss me if I left the party ( the writing one) now? Not them, for sure.

I mean I have my students and creating tactual books, and high contrast targets (they are visually impaired and some are blind) that get them interested in learning does take a good amount of time and creative energy. I enjoy it and its fulfilling. Why ask for more?

Right?

That’s where I was at this week- but story ideas kept following me-I’d try to shake them off- lose them- but still they popped up- and I thought well maybe I’ll try again- but the definition of insanity was tapping on my consciousness.

You know the one- Insanity: doing something over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

“Are you sure you want to do  this?” I imagined it (the definition) asking. Yep, I was starting to lose it…

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And then I read kaylaann’s post https://kaylaannauthor.wordpress.com/2018/07/11/author-tip-101-never-stop/

where she wrote-

Being an author means never giving up and never stopping.

Thanks Kaylaann, I’m not insane, I’m a writer.

I feel better now.

 

 

Critique group critiquing

Yikes! I’m in a predicament.  I have to give input on something that is confusing at best.  Where do I start?

You know when you’re reading a piece you’ve been asked to critique or edit and while in the solitude of your own space a sentence jumps out and smacks you in the face, but not in a good way. You shake your head and reread it. First silently, then aloud to your dog who was sleeping peacefully before said sentence made its appearance known.

 

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Yes, can you believe it, that is what they wrote? I ask my trusty and furry companion.   He cannot.

His eyes suggest, as does his yawn, that I should move on. That maybe the next sentence will be better.

You know you’re in trouble when your forehead starts to ache. Each line across it deepening, and your dog gets up to find a quieter more peaceful spot.

How to put criticism or correction nicely?  It’s an oxymoron of sorts. Now I know how to deal with this oxymoron, or I thought I did.  I have in the past couched phrases to gently nudge, but its not my go to response, and its definitely not in this particular case.

Critiquing is headache provoking! At least for me it is.

You’re trying to make sense of what’s in front of you, all the while having a running inner monologue full of exclamations and explitives and at the same time trying to think of how you could, and should put a positive spin on your criticisms.

I think its time to take a Tylenol.

If this is a window into the daily task of an agent or editor it’s no wonder they push manuscripts aside if they’re not captivated after reading the first few lines.

What was it that Thumper said to Flower in Disney’s Bambi?  “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”  That is a tempting road to take-but no that won’t go over well.

I’ll look at the manuscript again later, maybe I’ll have an epiphany and come up with magnificent efficient constructive criticism on the second go around.

Also I think its time I look at what I submitted.  Is my critique partner reading my piece thinking exactly what I’m thinking about their piece? Not only do I have a headache, now I’m a bit nauseaus as well. I’ve got to go reread and probably revise.

‘Til soon,

Pssst-if you have any advice or suggestions on how you’ve constructively critiqued a difficult piece I’d appreciate it if you’d share them.

Are you kidding me?

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I hit the submit button, I did.  Absolutely, positively, most definitely!

I mean I thought I did.

Didn’t I?

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Uggghhhhhhh

So, you can guessed what happened.   Please listen up, so this doesn’t happen to any  one else, although I have a feeling it probably has.

One day while minding my own business a glorious email popped itself into my mailbox.  It had to do with the word Yes-such a splendid word.

An agent, liked my submission and wanted to see more.  A whoop was heard throughout the house.  Yes! Yes! Yes, yes, yes!

I had to read it a couple of times, just to make sure.

Here’s where the story gets dicey.  In my excitement to deliver the “more” that was asked of me.  I reread, tweaked, revised and submitted not one, not two, but three picture book manuscripts.  I was told later that that was a bit too overexcited a move.  Note to self-one manuscript per submission-anyway, I waited.

Its important to the story to note that my first submission to this agent was responded to   in two days time.  That being said I waited, one week, two weeks, four weeks . . . you’ve got the picture.

As time went on I checked the agency’s site to see if they had the stipulation of if you don’t hear from us forgetaboutit, but alas they didn’t and so I waited some more.

Two months, three, four, let’s try six months go by.  Yes six months.

And then I get an email from query tracker saying that they’ve received word from agents who are questioning query tracker as to why they haven’t received responses from authors that they’ve requested manuscripts from and so of course I check the query trackers online submission form and low and behold my submission wasn’t there.

It Wasn’t There!

IT WASN’T THERE!

After much gnashing of teeth, I  realized it was a second chance, so I revised tweaked and resubmitted one manuscript. In fact I just did and I did it on my birthday because I think that’s lucky, at least I hope it is, it better be, please let it be . . . and I received notification that the submission uploaded.  Why oh why didn’t I look for that the first time?

A word to the wise- check, recheck, double check . . . come to think of it I’ve gotta go check.

Good luck!

Has this every happened to you?  Let me know your submission stories.

’til soon,