I am so excited about our latest Craft and Business of Writing Children's Picture Books interactive e-course starting next Monday, for so many reasons. One is that I'm co-teaching with fabulous acquiring agent Allison Remcheck who is building her Picture Book client list, and one of the many other reasons is our new course assistant Bonni Goldberg who teaches writing in universities, on cruises and through her book Room to Write. Bonni will be helping a variety of ways including sharing prompts. Here's her intriguing guest post for us. Thank you Bonni.
Inspirational Sparks: Ignite Your Writing
No matter where you are in your career as a writer, you continually sit down to write and find out what you (and your characters) have to say. As you write, you cultivate your creativity and grow as a writer, if you pay attention.
Here are two writing studies (my word for prompts) to both inspire your writing and to show you something about your relationship to your creativity. The studies are from my book, Room to Write, but I’ve added special options relevant to kidlit writers.
Notice which option is most enticing and the one that is least appealing to you in each study. The former lights your creativity up and the latter is a challenge. You decide which spark to kindle. I’d love to know your choice and read your results.
One of life’s greatest pleasures is the ability to taste. Salty, sweet, nutty, sour, fruity, spicy, and on and on. What is your favorite food? Your comfort food? What do you refuse to eat? Taste is a delicious place to hone your descriptive skills. Describing flavors can be as simple as listing their ingredients or as complex as portraying the way different foods and spices relate to one another.
Even more enticing can be describing the way a person tastes. By this, I don’t mean cannibalism, but rather the flavor of a person: their physical taste (such as when you kiss) or that of their personality. What flavor is your best friend? Your dog? What is your flavor?
WRITE only through your sense of taste. Speculate on and imagine the taste of whatever surrounds you. Without necessarily writing about food, have you or your main character experience the world as flavors. Turn all your characters into different foods.
Dear Abby Within each of us is the collective wisdom of our species. You can gain access to it through the act of writing. Your writing is moving when the reader recognizes a truth that resonates deeply. We read and write as often as a way to remember as a way to learn.
Writing stories and poems calls on us to hear the voices of reason, passion, advice, and concern conversing inside us all the time. It isn’t that we need a quiet place to work so intently we won’t be distracted, but that we need quiet to concentrate on listening to one voice at a time. Each voice from our collective wisdom is also the kernel of a character developing.
CHOOSE a situation in your life about which you need advice. Start by presenting the problem. Listen to the different internal voices that respond. Then home in on one voice at a time and transcribe the advice verbatim. Use one or more of these voices to develop characters. Or have one or more of your characters write to Abby (or someone else) for advice and receive an answer. Or have a character experiment with receiving three very different advices and see what happens when your character tries each one of them.
It’s been quite a week, so I decided to scrap my planned blog post for this month in favor of encouraging you to get some quality reading time in. With schools and activities shutting down, and everyone being encouraged to avoid crowded areas, many of us are finding ourselves at home with our families. This is the perfect opportunity to take on your “To Be Read” pile, and even engage the family.
Here are some of my favorite chapter books and middle grade novels, and a look at my TBR stack. Enjoy!
Magic Treehouse, written by Mary Pope Osborne
This series is the gold standard in chapter books. Also check out the Merlin Missions books in the series. They’re written at a slightly higher reading level.
A to Z Mysteries, written by Ron Roy
A terrific mystery series with millions of copies in print. The three sleuths are fun to root for and very relatable. Ron Roy’s Calendar Mysteries is another great series featuring the sleuth’s younger siblings.
Noelle at Sea: A Titanic Survival Story, written by Nikki Shannon Smith
Featuring a young Black girl aboard the Titanic, this book is full of twists and turns and plenty of emotion. It’s part of the Girls Survive series, which features 3 other titles by Nikki Shannon Smith: Sarah Journeys West, Ann Fights for Freedom, and Charlotte Spies for Justice.
The Kingdom of Wrenly, written by Jordan Quinn
Prince Lucas and Clara Gills set off on amazing adventures in this enchanting series which features sea monsters, dragons, and treasure. A great series for new readers.
Denis Ever After, written by Tony Abbott
Follows the story of Denis, a young boy who tries to solve the mystery of his own death. Poignant and suspenseful, this is a book you won’t want to put down.
Greenglass House, written by Kate Milford
This Edgar Award winner features Milo, a young boy who lives at a smugglers’ inn. Snowed in with a dodgy cast of characters, Milo and his new friend try to solve the mystery of Greenglass House and find out a lot about themselves in the process.
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street, written by Lindsay Currie
Tessa Woodward tackles a century-old mystery in this spine-tingling story. This is a perfect read aloud, too!
The Moon Within, written by Aida Salazar
Celi Rivera’s life is overcome with changes in this captivating novel in verse. This book earned 4 starred reviews, and for good reason.
The Parker Inheritance, written by Varian Johnson
This Coretta Scott King Honor book tells the story of a decades old secret in small town in South Carolina. When Candice finds an old letter addressed to her grandmother, it starts her out on a quest to solve a puzzle which promises a fortune.
As promised, here’s a glance at my abbreviated TBR pile:
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.