Determined Like a Turtle

Box Turtle found in my garden.

Box Turtle found in my garden.

What do a turtle and writing have in common?

When it comes to writing, I’d rather be compared to a bunch of other animals. I’d rather soar, roar and wag my tail. But, alas, progress in the world of children’s books crawls along like a turtle. 

Speaking of turtles, look at the colorful Box Turtle who showed up in our garden. She had bright orange legs and was quite brave. Just like the courage it takes to submit manuscripts, this little lady didn’t shy away from potential danger. Just like my determination to bring my characters to life, she plodded ahead with purpose when I set her down next to a river.  (How do I know she was a she? Her irises were yellowish-brown, rather than red.)

One of the things I do to improve my writing is participate in a Critique Group. I recently wrote an article about writing groups for the Children’s Writer’s Guild called the Critique Group Sandwich. Not only did the CWG publish my post, they included me in their list of contributors.  Yay!

Hon, maybe I’m crawling in the right direction.

Turtle kiss.

Turtle kiss.

Ready to re-locate.

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Box Turtle Source: Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Related Posts:  Stories and CeramicsQuotes and Notes (from the NJSCBWI14 Conference), My Writing Process (Bunny Hop) Blog Hop

 

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My Writing Process (Bunny Hop) Blog Hop

A Florida bunny.

A Florida bunny.

Tween Daughter dressed up as the Easter Bunny.

Tween Daughter dressed up as the Easter Bunny for Halloween.

Thanks to Laura Sibson, I am participating in a “My Writing Process” Blog Hop. I added the Bunny Hop part as a nod to Easter, Spring, and my own beautiful Tween Bunny who is my first reader.

Laura Sibson

Laura Sibson

Laura earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts after discovering a passion for writing novels geared toward teens. Laura’s a fellow runner (she runs much longer distances than me), dog-walker, coffee-drinker, “ingester-of-pop culture,” and mom of teens. She lives in suburban Philadelphia and has impressed me with her knowledge of “Bawlmor” accents.

Laura describes the paranormal young adult novel she’s writing on her blog, Laura Sibson, A journey toward writing dangerously. Her novel sounds spooky and fascinating, and it involves the Black Aggie, a real statue that used to reside a stone’s throw away from my parents’ house, in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.

Do you think its a coincidence that Laura connected with a Bmore girl? I don’t know, hon. You’ll have to ask her!

My Writing Process Questions and Answers:

What are you working on?

Coco, the main character in my chapter book is based on a true story and a real dog. An article describing how a dog ended up on a NJ Transit train headed to Manhattan appeared in my local paper. We had recently adopted a puppy. A story was born! Coco’s inherent doggie abilities and desire to find bones will, hopefully, lead him on many adventures (meaning more chapter books).

In the picture book series I’m writing, my five year-old main character wanted to become a superhero just like his big brother. In the first book, he did it! Now he’s off to conquer the world (and his fears) as the fastest superhero ever.  I’m working on books about the day he thought his mommy was a zombie and about the time he battled deep sea creatures at the town pool.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Guess what one of my goals is? Hint: it’s in the name of my blog.  ENERGY!

I hope my writing grabs readers from the get-go! My manuscripts are populated by relatable characters, alliteration, funny phrases, and a dash of silliness. The universal theme underlying all of my manuscripts is family.  Whether the action revolves around siblings or parents and their children, the action happens between the humor and heart.

Lucy, the model for Coco Mercado.

Lucy, the model for Coco Mercado.

In my chapter book, Coco stays true to his doggie characteristics, but his impulsivity takes him to unexpected places. He meets a zany cast of characters along the way and, inadvertently, saves the day while on the search for the perfect bone. This chapter book (and the others I plan to write), will fill the gap for elementary school kids who are one step beyond First Readers but not yet ready for longer chapter books.

My nephew, my muse.

My nephew, my muse.

Logan, my latest picture book‘s main character, is just like real little boys. How do I know? Because he’s a compilation of my “superhero” nephew, my son, and the boys I teach at pre-school and at the elementary school. My nephew says, “Activate! Pshht! Pow!” So does Logan. My nephew says things are “mega.”  So does Logan. Sibling rivalry amongst my triplets plus one more was rampant.  My hope is that kids will love Logan and his brother’s vivid imaginations while parents will appreciate the heart of the story.

Why do you write what you do?

I write because ideas pop into my head, words and phrases tumble off my tongue, and characters stand in front of me, tail wagging and arms crossed, begging to be brought to life.

I write because the child inside of me connects to children from toddlers to teenagers.  I still love playing in a sandbox, climbing to the top of the swingset, and sledding down a hill at lightning speed.

I write because I believe stories are magical.

How does your writing process work?

An idea or a character or a turn of phrase will start off as a wisp of thought. The ideas, characters and turns of phrases that stay in my head like a song-on-the-radio-you-can’t-stop-singing must be written down. If scenes start appearing in my mind’s eye, while I’m driving, running errands, walking Lucy and, always, when I try to go to sleep, then I have to get my thoughts on paper. The process has begun.

First drafts go to my wonderful critique group. I revise. Second drafts are critiqued. I revise.  Etc!

My most important revision tools are a thesaurus, dictionary, rhyming dictionary and critiques from my group (or an editor or agent, if I’m lucky). More importantly, I take my watch off, don’t answer the phone, concentrate on listening to how my characters would speak and inhabit the world I’ve created.

Last November, I signed up for Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo challenge to come up with a new picture book idea for a month.  Thirty new ideas are now residing in my Idea Box.

Joining the My Writing Process Blog Hop, I’d like to introduce you to (drumroll, please):

Michelle Karéne

Michelle Karéne

 Michelle Karéne

Michelle and I connected on Twitter (Michelle on Twitter, me on Twitter).  Michelle not only has a blog called Michelle Karéne, Children’s Author, is a member of SCBWI and an aspiring children’s writer, she earned her doctorate in Biomedical Engineering, works for a biotechnology company, and has published fifteen articles in various scientific journals. Michelle’s short story, “Magnolia Fall,” will be published in the 14th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection. Michelle, who lives in North Carolina with her family, blogs about her chapter book and young adult works-in-progress, funny things her three daughters say, nature photographs and dinner ideas.  I hope you’ll check out her blog.

Thanks for reading, hon!

 

 

 

 

 

Hop Along Blog Hop

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Blog Hop
Do you love children’s books?  I’m passionate about them!  Let me introduce you to several children’s book writers and answer questions posed to each of us as we Hop Along.
Linda Bozzo

Linda Bozzo

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Meet Linda Bozzo.  Linda tagged me on her blog, Writerlinda.blogspot.com.   She is the author of over 50 non-fiction books for the school and library market. She enjoys writing fiction as well as non-fiction for children.  Many of her fiction stories are inspired by her love of dance.  Linda is  member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She enjoys presenting her writing journey to both children and adults. Linda lives in New Jersey with her family where she can visit the Jersey shore and enjoy the culture of New York City. You can find Linda online at http://www.lindabozzo.com.

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Step Up To the Microphone
It's my turn to answer the Blog Hop questions.

It’s my turn to answer the Blog Hop questions.

Picture Book Idea Month

Picture Book Idea Month

Bulletin board with book ideas.

Bulletin board with picture book ideas.

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What are you working on now?
I’m participating in PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month, which means every day in November I think of a new picture book idea.  My brain is like a window and once I open it, the ideas flow through like fresh air!  My newest manuscript is about two brothers, sibling rivalry and superheroes.
How does it differ from other works in the genre?
My story grabs you from the first line!  It’s different because it gives boys ages 3-6 a story filled with supereheroes, spaceships, tests of will wrapped around funny and realistic brothers, and comic book action words.  Lightening Logan and his big brother Hawk are poised to take on the world.  “Pshht!  Pow!  Activtate!”
Why do you do what you do?
Story ideas, rhyming phrases, settings and characters pop in my head constantly.  I write to give them a place to grow.  To me, picture books are magical.  Picture books have resonance each time they’re read, the words are musical, and adults and children build bonds while reading together.  I strive to create that magic when I write.
What is the hardest part about writing?
When I write, I am transported to another world where I exist with my characters.  The hardest thing is finding a publisher who sees the potential for them to come alive, and is willing to take a chance on a new author.  I continue writing because I truly believe in my characters, stories and the magic that is ready to spring off the page and into the imagination of a child.
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Tag, You’re it!
Lin Vitale

Linda Vitale

Penelope, Linda's muse.

Penelope, Linda’s muse.

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Linda Vitale is an award-winning advertising copywriter and creative director who has worked at top New York City agencies. She has created TV and radio spots, ads and promotions for Chase bank, Max Factor, Campbell’s Soups, American Airlines, Volkswagen/Porsche-Audi, to name a few. The only thing she didn’t write is Mad Men. And she should have, because this was and is her world.  In addition to advertising, Linda has written articles for New Jersey parenting publications. Currently she writes children’s books and humorous dog stories for her blog, muttshappeningnow@wordpress.com. Linda lives in Convent Station, New Jersey, and can be found pounding the keys of her laptop at her local Starbucks.
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Nicole Snitslear

Nicole Snitselaar

written by Nicole Snitselaar

written by Nicole Snitselaar

written by Nicole Snitselaar

written by Nicole Snitselaar

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I’m excited to introduce you to French children’s book author, Nicole Snitselaar.  We met through PiBoIdMo.  Here’s what Nicole says about her writing journey.

Writing, I’ve always loved writing!
But writing is so more rewarding when it can be shared.
I am lucky to have had  many picture-books published these last years.
Most of my books are in French.

But you will never guess how happy I was when Top That published two of my English stories!

Why do I write in English?

In fact, English was my first language as a little girl, and it just rings so familiar to my ear. My parents read to us many picture books who came from Great Britain. I would even say, they only read English books!

It was so much easier for my mother! She is Scottish. She married a Dutch man (my father) and they lived in Belgium, and later in France. And my first language was English… It took time for my mother to learn French !

And I got to speak French once I went to school at the age of 4.

Today I am the mother of five young adults.
I have been wririn songs and nursery rhymes for… as far as I can remember! I have several CD’s released.  (one about English nursery rhymes in French and English )

One day, I decided it was time for me to start writing more than just songs.

I really enjoy this activity and hope that you will enjoy discovering my stories!
If you want  to learn more about me, my life, my books, you may visit my English blog or French blog.

The Next Big Thing – Blog Hop

The Next Big Thing Hop: the traveling blog that asks authors whom they consider the NEXT BIG THING, and then has them pass along the questions for those authors to answer in their blogs.

Rules: Answer ten questions about your current Work In Progress on your blog. Tag one to five writers / bloggers and add links to their pages so we can hop along to them next.

Thank you, L.A. Byrne for tagging me! Click on L.A. Byrne to learn more about this amazing  writer for young adults.

What is the working title of your book?

Cora Gets Carried Away

my triplets at age 3 1/2

my triplets at age 3 1/2 before they could read

my plus one at age 3 1/2

my plus one at age 3 1/2 before she could read

Where did the idea come from for the book?

From ages three to five, my children “read” by turning pages and memorizing words.  But they needed mom and dad to read a book to the end.  Most of the time we did.  Sometimes, we were too busy (or tired). Learning to read is huge. I was inspired by the frustration my children felt when they could recognize letters but couldn’t yet put them together to form words or sentences.

What genre does your book fall under?

Picture book.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Since Cora is a kitten, she would be illustrated.  Here are some illustrators who could bring Cora to life:

Stéphane Jorisch, Ned YoungMelinda Beavers, Rebecca Evans

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

(Forgive me, I made it two sentences.)

Although Cora has memorized the first page of her book, she can’t read and she and her doll, Pixie, have to know how who stole the princesses’ crown, but in Cora’s attempt to get her mother, father and brother to read to her she gets carried away—and then is in the way when she acts out scenes from the book.  Who will read to her now?

 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I truly hope Cora will be represented by an agency.  I am actively searching for an editor and agent who are acquiring new authors and open to picture books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The idea for Cora popped in my head when my youngest daughter was three years old.  Now she’s eleven!  In the original version, Cora wasn’t a kitten and she had a different name.  I worked on that version for years, then put it away for awhile.  I was so taken by Little Red Chicken in Interrupting Chicken that I decided to give the main character a make over. I came back to the manuscript a year ago ready to take it in a new direction.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan–because Betty Bunny and Cora the Kitten are both spunky, energetic girls.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein–because despite Little Red Chicken and Cora trying their parents’ patience, they are very loved.

Zoomer by Ned Young–because Zoomer and Cora have vivid imaginations.

Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells—because children see themselves in the realistic but funny sibling relationships.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When my youngest daughter was Cora’s age, she wanted to read “a hundred” books every night.  She has piles of books by her bed so her room is Cora’s room.

When one of my older daughters was Cora’s age, she believed her invisible friend was real.  She inspired me create Pixie, the doll who is very real to Cora.

I have been driving around in my car for years repeating the rhythmic first two lines of A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.  I worked hard to create a similar rhythm to the first two lines of my book.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

In Cora Gets Carried Away, the subversive humor means the story is humorous on two levels.

There is a parallel between Cora’s own life and the story-within-the-story, an original fairy tale.

The story-within-the-story’s first and last stanzas anchor the beginning and end of Cora Gets Carried Away, compel the reader to want to find out, like Cora, how who stole the princesses’ crown, and has the potential to become its own book, an add-on to the main story.

are big brother and little sister really getting along?

Are big brother and little sister really getting along?

Tag!  You’re it.  Next up on “The Next Big Thing–Blog Hop”:

Leslie Zampetti, writer of Middle Grade fantasy

Kim Beck, writer of Young Adult dystopia