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Saturday, March 4, 2017

LAUGH AT THE WEATHER - ATTEND A WEBINAR SERIES


In regions where winter travel weather rates far from optimal, attending any kind of event for writers and illustrators during those months can be a challenge. Or should I say it would be unless, like the Inland NW SCBWI region, you bypass the snow and ice by offering a 4-part webinar series.
On four consecutive Saturdays mornings between January 21 and Feb 11, participants in FROM BRIGHT IDEAS TO THE FINAL PAGE TURN lounged in their pajamas, sipped their tea, coffee, or cocoa, and left their cars in the driveway. For me, it also meant no worries about sharing my nasty winter cold. The nicest part, however, was that these live presentations were also recorded. No angst over scheduling conflicts. No problems if the kids interrupted. No regrets that you missed a golden nugget of inspiration while frantically jotting down another. Next to being there in person, what more could you ask for?
This particular series was on picture books and featured three authors and one author-illustrator. And what a line-up! That first Saturday, Tara Lazar’s (Little Red Gliding Hood, Normal Norman) effervescent personality and wacky humor shone through as she shared strategies from her years as the founder and moderator of Storystorm—formerly PiBoIdMo—to spark us into “Brainstorming Better Ideas.” My favorite takeaway: Think about your story idea next to current popular titles on a bookstore shelf. Will kids pick it up? Will parents?

The Northwest’s own Jessixa Bagley (Boats for Papa, Laundry Day) spoke to both illustrators and authors the following Saturday as she connected her journey to publication with thoughts on how each of us could “Polish Your Personal Style and Voice.” For Jessixa, the key is finding and mining your personal connection to the content—what inspires you, moves you, draws you in? My favorite takeaway: An exercise Jessixa has always remembered from a conference - visualize yourself at your favorite age as a child and write for that child.
You gotta love a guy who can turn breakfast foods into picture books characters. And tell their story in rhyme. Josh Funk (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, Dear Dragon) made known his views on the “To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme” debate while sharing several pithy tips on doing rhyme right. My favorite takeaway from Josh: Remember, rhythm and rhyme is not about whether it works for you, but whether it works for everyone else who will be reading it cold.

The series final presenter definitely does rhyme right. However, after twenty-one years of writing and 37 published books, “Strong Beginnings, Satisfying Endings—And Navigating from One to the Other” is also something Linda Ashman (Hey, Coach!, All We Know, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books) does right. Linda’s hour was jam-packed with information, making me doubly glad I could view the recording again later. My favorite takeaways: the reading list Linda shared of mentor texts for further study of the story structures she spoke on and her motto (borrowed from a fellow writer?)—There are many ways to tell story. Just try stuff.
Following the series, a survey asked if we felt we came away with a) lots of new information, b) a little new information, or if c) we felt we heard it all before. I always find that a hard question to answer. I mean, let’s face it, after attending conferences, workshops, etc., for a number of years, chances are you’ve heard these topics before. However, what I see as the key that keeps me coming back is more about the presenter than the topic. Every writer or illustrator brings their own life experiences, their own unique viewpoint, and their own style of dissecting and imparting information to their presentation. Which is great because we all have our own unique way of learning. What I lose in the info-dump of one speaker, another will make so clear it literally pops like a light bulb. The writing exercise one shares leaves me uninspired while that of another is a genuine “ah-ha!” moment. Add in the marvelous variety of resource books, mentor texts, and inspirational anecdotes and quotes each presenter shares and hopefully you are starting to understand. Even if I feel I may not have come away with new information, I do come away re-inspired by even the most well-worn topic.

So would I participate in a series like this again? In a heartbeat!!
 
 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February 2017 Writing Prompt -- Little Boxes and Friendship




  LITTLE BOXES

Dear Friend,
You are safe with me.
I will not unfriend you
Because your beliefs and opinions
 May differ from my own.
 I do not seek the conformity
Of “little boxes just the same.”
I choose to embrace
The diversity of ideologies
 To which friendship exposes me.
 If this makes things challenging—
When the best we can agree to
Is to respect our disagreement—
Know you are worth it.
My growth as a person depends on it.
You are safe with me.
 
 
If you aren't familiar with the "little boxes" reference, this link will take you to a Pete Seeger  recording of this song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962: Little Boxes
 
 
 

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 2017 Writing Prompt -- Snow Melts






Snow melts, drip-dropping,
Finding my bare neck, snaking
Shivers down my spine.
 
 
 
 

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Month of Story Ideas



In November 2015, I participated in PiBoIdMo--thirty days of jotting down story ideas, characters, plots, or even word lists in the hopes that these bits and pieces might inspire a picture book manuscript. I faithfully jotted down my 30 plus ideas and eventually found at least three I knew I could develop further. With those works in progress added to my repertoire, participating in this event was a success as far as I was concerned and I eagerly awaited November of 2016. 

Then in the fall of 2016, PiBoIdMo founder, Tara Lazar, announced she was revamping the event. The idea was to give it a name more associated with brainstorming motivation. And one much easier to say. Furthermore, it was moving to a new month.  Moving the dates, did away with any conflicts with the popular NaNoWrMo event that many children's writers also like to participate in. I bit back my impatience and looked at these changes as a win-win scenario. As soon as registration opened, I signed on.

STORYSTORM  debuted January 1, 2017. There may be a new name and new art work, but at heart it's still all about chasing those elusive story ideas. Once again, Tara has enlisted some wonderfully creative writers and illustrators to provide daily posts that will sizzle synapses like lightning, blast in a blizzard of bright ideas, and leave participants over the rainbow with a pot of golden nuggets. I don't know about you, but like Pecos Bill, I'm going to jump on this twister and chase me down some stories.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Writing Prompt - December 2016 - Christmas Acrostic


 
 
THE PROMISE OF CHRISTMAS
 
 
Come, celebrate the promised One,
 
Heralded by a shining star,
 
Revealed to all this Holy Night.
 
Innocent babe born in a stable,
 
Sought by shepherds and kings alike--
 
Truth has taken human form.
 
Make haste, rejoice, sing alleluia . . .
 
Announce to all the joyous news:
 
Son of God, Christ our savior, has been born this Christmas Day.
 
 
 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

November 2016 - Writing Prompt - TURKEY SURPRISE

 
 
 
Wednesday saw flocks,
Strutting by without a care,
In for a surprise.
 
Yet Thursday morning,
Not a single feather stirred,
Not a gobble heard.
 
Drumsticks, thighs, or breast?
Vanished like our dinner plans.
We got the surprise.
 
 
 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October 2016 Writing Prompt -- Scarecrow Dance


 
I just read a beautiful picture book, Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin and illustrated by Rob Dunleavy and was inspired to try the reverso poem format in which it was written. Since it's October, the rest of my inspiration came from here: Scarecrow Gallery

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SCARECROW DANCE
 
Magic
Moonlight
Conjures
Music
Windmill
Creaking
Branches
Swishing
Cornstalks
Rustling
Crickets
Thrumming
As
Head
Bobbing
Arms
Flapping
Legs
Swaying
Boots
Thumping
Dance
Scarecrow
Dance
Thumping
Boots
Swaying
Legs
Flapping
Arms
Bobbing
Head
As
Thrumming
Crickets
Rustling
Cornstalks
Swishing
Branches
Creaking
Windmill
Music
Conjures
Moonlight
Magic