Sharon Giltrow wasn't able to post today, so we're giving you a flashback post today. We love how she gives us wonderful book posts from amazing Australian authors every month. Thank you so much for all that you do for us and these amazing authors, Sharon! Let's celebrate Sharon and her amazing book BEDTIME, DADDY!
Humour - “The quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech.”
The Oxford Dictionary
I love this definition because it combines humour and literature, which are two of my favourite things.
As a writer, I aim to include humor in all my stories. Why? Because humour leads to laughter and laughing is one of the first and most universal forms of communication.
When we share a laugh with someone, we share their experiences and feelings. It helps us to connect. As a writer, connecting with your reader is essential. It's also the #1 thing that hooks children in and keeps them reading.
When I wrote my debut picture book BEDTIME, DADDY! I wanted to connect to my readers, by sharing a laugh. So, I included as much humour and heart in my story as I could. I also wanted the adults and children who were reading BEDTIME, DADDY! to share a laugh and connect.
Here are some of my favourite humorous pages from BEDTIME, DADDY! with illustrations by the amazing Katrin Dreiling. I hope we can share a laugh and connect over the coming year.
Written by: Sharon Giltrow
Illustrated by: Katrin Dreiling
Published by: EK Books, May, 2020
How do I write humorous stories? I keep my eyes and ears open for funny ideas. Especially the funny things that children say and do. Children are hilarious. My idea for BEDTIME, DADDY! came from my own children. One night my son was stalling bedtime. So, his dad jumped into his bed and said “Okay then you can put me to bed.” Bedtime is not usually a funny time of day, but when it is a child who is putting their parent to bed, then that’s funny. Then I researched all the things that children do to stall bedtime. From that research, I chose the funniest stalling techniques, ramped up the humour added some heart and Hey Presto, comedy gold.
I hope that my future blog posts, which will feature humorous Aussie books, will help you to connect with the people you share them with.
Share a laugh and connect with someone today.
Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. Sharon has taught for all of her career. Previously a teacher of children who are hearing impaired and Deaf-Blind, she now teaches young children with Developmental Language Disorder. Her humorous debut PB, BEDTIME DADDY! released May 2020 through EK books. Sharon’s humorous follow up PB, GET READY, MAMA! Is due to be released through EK books in April, 2022. Her third PB, LET’S GO SHOPPING, GRANDMA! is due to be released through Dixi Books in 2022. SAMARA RUBIN AND THE UTILITY BELT, book one in Sharon’s early MG series – THE UTILITY BELT, will be released in 2022 through Clear Fork Publishing. With book two TOBY KING AND THE UTILITY BELT to follow.
by Bryan Patrick Avery
When I first auditioned to join the Society of American Magicians, I was asked what name I would perform under. I had honestly never given much thought to a “stage name.” It was then that I received some advice that I’ve never forgotten: The name isn’t important. People won’t remember or forget you because of your name. They’ll remember or forget you because of how you made them feel.
I think about that when I create characters for my books. This month, I’ll share three tips and tricks for coming up with memorable character names.
Tip #1 – Start with a character sketch.
In 2020, I started the first four books of the early chapter book series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS. Because the books take place in a second-grade classroom, I needed to create a classroom full of kids, twenty in all. I’ve never been great at creating names for characters, so this took a while.
I started making a list of names from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities but still struggled to decide on what to name my characters Then, I remembered the advice I mentioned above. Instead of worry about names, I decided to start by creating sketches of my characters, then give them names.
Here’s an example (I added the name later):
“Mordecai Foster (MORDECAI’S MAGIC)
Mordecai is the newest student in Mr. Grisley’s class. He and his family recently moved into town when his father, an Air Force Colonel, was transferred to the nearby base.
Mordecai is the oldest of three kids. He received a magic set for his birthday two years ago and has quickly become an adept magician, entertaining his siblings, and even performing for parties in front of large groups. He enjoys the spotlight but isn’t consumed by it.
Mordecai’s family is never in one place for very long and he sometimes struggles to make friends. He hopes that magic may help him make friends in Mr. Grisley’s class.
What does Mordecai want? To share the wonder and joy magic gives him with others.
Mordecai is African American. He is short and stocky with, thanks to his father, a military haircut. As a magician, he believes that he should look the part, so he is typically dressed in a tuxedo with color-coordinated bow tie and cummerbund. His tennis shoes, also color-coordinated, complete the ensemble.”
I did this for all the kids in the class. Once I had the character sketch done, it was easier for me to name him and begin thinking of him as Mordecai.
So, once you’re ready to name you characters, what are some good sources for names?
Tip #2 – Let your family and friends inspire you.
This can be tricky, but I like to use names of family and friends (particularly young readers) in my books. I never use their full names (for privacy, of course) but it’s been fun delivering books to young people and seeing their faces light up when they see their name is one of the characters. I’ve even taken the opportunity to add the names of friends to my books. In SOCCER SUSPICIONS, for example, the main character is named after my cousin's daughter.
What if you run out of names of family and friends? See tip #3.
Tip #3 – Use the internet.
If you’re looking for a name for a character with a certain ethnic background or from a particular historical period, a simple internet search might help. You can search for the most popular boy names from 1980 (spoiler alert, Michael wins), common Creole names, or whatever else you need. I often print out the lists to keep around for future reference, just in case.
Naming you characters can be fun, but also a daunting task. I hope this makes the process a little easier, and a bit more fun.
That’s all for this month. Happy writing and have a magical month.
At the age of 7, Bryan Patrick Avery discovered a love of reading and mysteries after receiving his first Bobbsey Twins Mystery book. Today, he is an award-winning poet and author of more than a dozen books for children. His middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, an anthology from HarperCollins and the Mystery Writers of America. His Jake Maddox JV Mysteries, OFF BASE and SOCCER SUSPICIONS were released earlier this year by Stone Arch Books. Bryan is the 2021 recipient of the SCBWI Work in Progress Award for his chapter book mystery THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY. He is also the author of THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, and the chapter book series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS.
Bryan serves on the board of directors of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. He lives in Northern California with his family.
By Melissa Stoller
June is the perfect month to spread some joy in life and in writing.
Here are thoughts about sparking ideas that bring some fun into your summer stories:
1) Nature often inspires joy that you can capture and include in your manuscripts. Pick a tree, a flower, or a plant. Write a line incorporating one of your choices. If you can’t get outside, look online at a site such as www.NationalGeographic.com or www.Smithsonian.com for photos. There are also wonderful Apps like “Plantsnap” that help you identify plants in your neighborhood and can provide research assistance for your stories.
2) Cook your favorite recipe. Or buy an ice cream cone from your local ice cream parlor or an ice cream truck. Harken back to your childhood food favorites. Write a story idea based on one food memory relating to summer. Check out these summer food recipes to get started. https://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/summer.
3) Play a word game on a summer afternoon to bring some more words into your life and into your manuscripts. Crossword puzzles are a perennial favorite. My new word obsession in Wordle https://www.nytimes.com/games/wordle/index.html. Pick a word from one of the puzzles and use it in a title and then let your joyful writing continue.
I hope these suggestions help inspire a little summer joy and fun and bring some sunshine into your writing. Let me know in the comments. Happy creating and happy summer!
Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Return to Coney Island and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush; Ready, Set, GOrilla!; and Sadie’s Shabbat Stories. Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom (co-written with Callie Metler and Shirin Rahman, illustrated by Kate Talbot), released from Clear Fork Publishing in October, 2021. Melissa is a Blogger and Course Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Rate Your Story judge, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY, and a founding member of The Book Meshuggenahs. She also interviews authors on her blog, This Writing Life, and offers book tips and resources. In other chapters of her life, Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her family, and enjoys theatre, museums, and Wordle!
by Sue Heavenrich
When I started writing, a published author passed on some Writing Wisdom: Write what you know. I have tried to follow this advice, and failed.
To begin with, as a sciency writer and environmental journalist my whole reason for writing is to Find Out Stuff. And by that, I mean Stuff I Don’t Know. Stuff like:
1. Are cement casings adequate for fracked gas wells?
2. Where are all those ants going?
3. Why did the woolly bear caterpillar cross the road?
(Answers to these questions at the bottom of this post!)
My job as a reporter was to uncover and inform, to witness, to explain. It required research and interviewing people and going to meetings and taking photos. It turns out, writing books for kids isn’t all that different. I start with an event or a question or an observation. Then I try to put it into context in a way the reader will understand. Along the way I do research … probably way more than I need.
Sometimes one idea triggers a ripple effect. I was thinking about fast food one day. Not burgers and fries, more like how fast a frog’s tongue has to move to capture a fly. As I jotted down notes, two lists emerged. One focused on animals that catch their food in the blink of an eye, eventually becoming a Highlights article.
The other became a long list of interesting flies. Here’s the thing: as an entomologist, I think bugs (including flies) are cool. For example, the fuzzy flies that look like bumble bees and striped flower flies that mimic honey bees and wasps. Flies make up a large and diverse order of insects and serve many roles in the ecosystem. They are decomposers, pollinators, predators, and prey—and it was that last that gave me an idea for a book. I joked to a friend that I had “Fifty Ways to Leave your Lover” running through my brain… but eventually I came up with thirteen distinct and grisly ways flies could be eaten. Eventually, that turned into my first picture book, 13 Ways to Eat a Fly. But it was a long, slow evolution and many revisions from first draft (a fly guide!) to final idea of a “counting backwards” book.
During the pandemic lockdown, I collaborated with Alisha Gabriel on Funky Fungi: 30 Activities for Exploring Molds, Mushrooms, Lichens, and More (Chicago Review Press). It releases on June 21. We started by jotting down a list of things we knew about fungi and questions we had. The question list was much longer! Then we thought about things a kid might want to know, things like how fungi help trees talk to each other and how you can see the biggest fungus from space. We asked: is this important to us? Is it important for kids? And what sorts of hands-on activities can we provide to encourage kids (and adults) to explore fungi?
After many (vague number) years of writing I’ve come to realize that doing the research, interviewing people, observing and taking notes is the way I get to that place where I can write what I know. For me, questions are the place to start. The other thing I’ve learned: writing takes time. So pack a water bottle and some chocolate and map out some rest stops along the way.
Sue Heavenrich is represented by Heather Cashman at Storm Literary Agency
Blog: Archimedes Notebook (archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com)
2 They were marching across the kitchen counter in search of molasses, though some of them preferred peanut butter.
3 I think in the fall they are looking for the perfect spot to hibernate. In the spring I think they’re seeking a place to pupate.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
4th Mondays will be a mystery for right now.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break