If you have followed my blogs and various articles and sites then you know that I am a nurse for premature babies, that we live in a log cabin, and that we love animals. We currently have 5 rescue dogs and 6 cats. Which brings me to the main character in my soon to be released picture book titled Pepper's Special Secret. It is about a young kitten who has a secret.
Have you ever had a secret that made you feel different? Pepper's secret makes her feel different and she has a difficult time trusting others. Check back often to see the release date and cover of Pepper's Special Secret so you can find out what the secret is....it is coming soon, very soon.
I feel the need to re-introduce my author self as I have neglected this site for many months. The long story short is this....life gets in the way of my writing and posting. Uggggggggh. But I have come to the brilliant conclusion that it is the fault of the author, meaning me, that this happens to the extent I have allowed.
That being said, here is the summation of the last few 24 months....
- Hubby and I packed our belongings of 30 years of marriage and downsized relocating to Nashville Indiana. We love it here.
- Bought a house, moved a small cabin to our property, opened a quilt shop, and have rearranged ten times to make it home. We still love it here.
- My mother in law passed away, our youngest son had an auto accident, our oldest son built a home, got injured at work, and both have gone through divorces. We still love it here.
- Worked nights as a Neonatal nurse, changed to being a clinical manager and working part time to give myself time for the shop and writiing, and am currently not working as a nurse. ( giving myself time for the shop and writing)
I love summer, all the activities outside, hiking, swimming, biking, and for me moving to a new home. My husband had a job change which spurred us on to move closer to our retirement dream location. It is only 3 hours away from most of our family and within the same state but still a move none the less. We now have a small log home in the hills of Brown County Indiana surrounded by woods, deer in the back yard, and ravines that hide more animals than I care to think about. Timber rattle snakes come to mind, and fodder for more story ideas.
My favorite thing to do in the summer is to sit outside and read. Even in the stress of moving I still find time to read. And reading helps me to keep connected to our grandchildren too. We read the same books and then talk about them. I love to find out how they feel about the books for children that I am reviewing and they give me great insight into what kids do like. It tickles me to see them excited about Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, and the Goosebumps books- all books I love as well.
Check out the photo gallery for the covers of some of the most recent books on my list. Authors Nancy I. Sanders, Margot Finke, and Beth Reinke are some of my favorites but there are so many. Author Virginia Grenier has won an award for her book Babysitting SugarPaw and so many others. What is your favorite summer book? What are you reading today? Feel free to email me and share what you are reading.
If you have been following any of the blogs for writing and writing for children, there is a popular blog challenge out there that asks the blogger to post each day in April using a letter from the alphabet. I admit I have been somewhat lax due to other writing obligations but, I have combined a couple of letters into posts at my other blog to catch up with fellow bloggers.
For instance, one post included these letters;
A- Attitude- keeping a postitive attitude during the writing process11
B- Business- keeping the business side of writing organized and productive.
C- Characters- keeping your characters real, fresh, and believeable.
D- Drama- keeping drama in the story no matter what the story is about. Drama keeps the reader turning the page.
E- Elephant in the room- keeping the " assumed bad stuff but never said bad stuff" in the story line- ie: alcoholic parent, drug addicted sibling, invisible anger, etc.
F- Keeping fun in the writing even if it is a serious story. Fun for the writer and fun for the characters. F is for flying too, because our son was flying on a medical mission today and it was on my mind.
Today will be G- Gruesome- keeping some gruesome details in every story even when the story is for kids. Examples are fish farting, captains with underpants, boogie men, and all things gruesome like the details in Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine. Kids love gruesome. Adults want gruesome so what they read makes their life seem better. G is definitely for gruesome. Now on to H. There has to be something more intriguing for writers then H is for Happy. After all characters and stories are supposed to be believeable, right?
Excerpt from my first draft of First Aid for First Grade: Mrs. Bittlebottom and The Bloody Arm- comments in the comment or guest book section are welcome.
Mrs Bittlebottom held up an arm. It had something red dripping. Could it be blood? The whole class saw it. The first grade students kept their eyes glued to the arm. Was it real or fake? Wes James leaned closer to the arm. Fake, he was sure of it.
Wes watched and listened. Katie White turned white. Pricilla Estes groaned and put her head on her desk. Eddie Bates tried not to throw up. Wesley could hear him two seats back. He made sounds like his dog, Rex. Rex made those sounds when he gagged on a bone. Wes tried not to laugh.
" If you see a friend bleeding, would you know what to do?" asked Mrs. Bittlebottom. No one in first grade raised their hands.
Wes's heart was beating fast. This was the best class ever. He was going to like first aid for first grade. Charlie did not like first aid or first grade. Charlie didn't listen. He twisted scraps of paper into snakes instead.
Wes and Charlie were best first grade friends. Wes wants to be a paramedic like his uncle. Charlie didn't know what he wanted to be.
Wes listened to everything Mrs. Bittlebottom said about first aid for first graders. He listened when she said " Make sure it is safe to help so you don't get hurt too" and " If you see a friend bleeding, send someone else to get help."
Wes heard her say "First put on gloves or cover your hand with your shirt" and "Put pressure on the cut" He was still listening when she said "Stay with your friend so no one is scared."
Charlie was too busy to listen. Recess was in a five minutes. He kept thinking how he wanted to beat Wes to the slide. He fidgeted. He whispered. He tapped his pencil. He let out a squeeky whistle. The kind you make sucking in air through your front teeth when one tooth is missing.
Mrs. Bittlebottom gave Charlie the "look" and he quickly turned to watch the clock, tick-tock-tic. Finally the bell rang for recess. Charlie jumped up dashing for the door.
"Chaar-leeeeeeee!" Mrs. Bittlebottom said Charlie's name. She said it in a loud voice. Her tongue shrilled the "leeeeeeee" part of Charlie's name. Tiny drops of spit sprayed like a garden hose through her teeth. Charlie slid back to his seat. He thumped his knee against the desk. It sounded like a drum. He was in a hurry to be outside away from first aid and Mrs. Bittlebottom.
What do you think will happen next? Will Wes or Charlie ever need to use their skills in first aid?
I always have exciting ideas brewing. It is hard for me to understand those who have writer's block or say they don't have an idea about what to write. For me the problem is never the ideas, it is following through with those ideas into a marketable story or product. I have no problem jotting down the thoughts, a few character names and attributes, some action ideas, and the place I want the story to take place. My challenge is in fleshing all of these notes into a three dimensional body of concrete material.
And then a big flat............lacking details.........lackluster.....weak......story arc.
How do I deal with this lack of polished skill level? I am taking more classes, I write everyday, and I am always trying to make my writing better. Action, details, conflict, details, emotions, details.... you get the picture.
Writing takes work. It takes work and discipline to get what is in your head down on paper so others feel the story. I want the reader's heart to beat when the character is racing behind an alley from the gunman. I want the reader to sweat when the character is waiting to hear the results of a life threatening pathology report which may put an expiration date on their only child. I want the reader to smell the lavendar that Aunt Rose hung in the bathroom on cleaning day... smell it years after Aunt Rose has passed away because I have created the scene with words so clear that you can taste and smell the purple lavendar bits on your tongue as your heart hurts because your favorite auntie has passed.
This should be the goal of every writer. Make your reader see, taste, smell, and feel the characters right off the page and into the heart. It isn't a job for the faint of heart but it is the job of anyone who writes so others can read.
Writing for children is so rewarding especially when children sparkle with excitement after reading a book. I love watching their faces. The other day my 9 year old granddaughter just made my day. She was reading a book about Bethany, the girl who lost her arm to a shark. Kylie is reading this and was so excited to tell me that I need to read it too. "Grandma, it is a book you would love because it has stuff about God after every chapter. First there is the story and then there is the God stuff, it is really cool."
I was not only humbled that she thought she and I would enjoy the same book, I was thrilled that somehow in life I have influenced her enough that she knows how important God is to me. That is awesome.
As writers we must always keep in mind how our words influence the minds of children. Whether we become award winning in our field or simply write for a hobby, our words will touch those who read them.
It makes me wonder if those who wrote the Bible and documented our history knew then how those words would influence readers today. How have those words of the Bible influenced you?
It doesn't matter what kind of writing you do or what niche you feel is your best, writing takes effort. Writing takes practice, discipline, and some days just plain hard work. The pay off is not always in money either. The pay off is when a reader contacts you about something you wrote that touched their heart in a way to make a difference in their life. With that understanding, what kind of topics and ideas do writers need to stay motivated to keep writing?
I think encouragement in the form of success stories is helpful but the best ideas and resources are those that help me to hone my writing skills. One of those resources is by author Nancy I Sanders. Her book titled Yes! You Can...Build a Successful Writing Career is a step by step guide to making your writing work. She also has a blog at www.nancyisanders.wordpress.com where she lists very helpful links and resources for writers.
Another good source are the websites of published authors. Start by doing a search of your favorite author in the genre you wish to write. From there I am almost certain you will find at least one link to check out. One of my favorite authors is Kevin Henkes, author of Little White Rabbit and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. I was lucky to have heard him speak at the BEA convention last May and was impressed with his down to earth advice. His website at www.KevinHenkes.com offers insight into his writing process and for me it is always fun to see how published authors do it.
A new writer must keep in mind that it can take many tries and rejections before finding the right place for your work. The percent of authors that make it BIG with the first manuscript is small so it is wise to be excited by not discouraged when you don't make it big with your very first story. Embrace rejections as a learning experience, work on honing your writing skills, and be grateful for any acceptances you aquire especially those that pay. Exposure for the first years of a writing career mean more than the paycheck as a new writer builds a platform and a niche.
Keep checking back for more advice and sometimes tidbits of my own writing story. And feel free to share your writing story too. The good thing about authors is that we are a fine group of people that support each other and encourage success without jealousy. You won't find a better group of professional people that share what they know so others can learn and improve.
I will be featuring all kinds of book reviews for children here. Book reviews will be at least once a week. Why is a book review an important tool for you? Here are a few reasons why book reviews are helpful.
- Reviews give you an idea about what the book will tell you
- Reviews lets parents know what topics are covered
- Reviews let parents know what subjects kids your age will read
- Reviews tell the reader if the book is a story or a series of facts
- A fiction story is a made up story about make believe characters in a real life or historical setting. Fiction is fun to read.
- A nonfiction story is based on truth and facts about different topics including weather, science, animals, health, or food. Nonfiction is fun but also educational for the reader. It is always fun to learn something new.
Book reviews also list
- the author
- the illustrator
- the ISBN number
- the price
- the number of pages
- the age group of the reader
You can write a review too. Read a book and write a short review. Email your review and I will post it here so other kids will want to read the book too. I look forward to sharing those reviews with other children.
I will also feature book reviews for adults. Moms and dads who love to read can find interesting books here too. Look for mysteries, suspense, Christian romance, and resoures for parenting. Parents may also email a short review of a book that they find interesting. It would really be helpful if parents share information on parenting books, books on children with illnesses, and other resources they have found to be helpful as parents.