Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"I was sure that I was going to write stories myself when I grew up. It's important to put it like that: not 'I am a writer,' but rather 'I write stories.' If you put the emphasis on yourself rather than your work, you're in danger of thinking that you're the most important thing. But you're not. The story is what matters, and you're only the servant, and your job is to get it out on time and in good order." –Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials trilogy

Ehhh!  So I couldn't help myself! I had to post this quote for you! I figure this is pretty good stuff to read just before you sit down to write. 

Also don't forget Query Tracker is hosting a pitch contest for PB/MG/YA only. Here is the link. It ends tomorrow morning! Today is the last day to enter! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Wee Little Notice

Wow! Thanks to all who read the blog! I've reached 100!

I have to take a break. I can't seem to get out from under the weather! The medicine I took for a respiratory infection had some side effects (which I won't mention here). So hopefully it will all be over this week and I can get back to blogging next week.

I'm going to have to do something a bit different once PiBoIdMo starts. I'm thinking my posts will be centered around that event and less around my agenda or usual topics/themed posts.

I have two awards I still need to give away and I've been thinking long and hard about who they will go to. I'll reveal that when I get back.

Also, please do comment on what kind of fun prizes you would like here. I really would love to know what gets you excited. I have something fun in store for you--a little surprise.

So do enjoy your Halloween or maybe even Dia de los Muertos!

Here is a fun draw your own Jack-o-Lantern website to keep you busy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fanatic Friday

Here are some of my great finds from all over the web--things I've been focusing on learning and mastering:

Cynthia Leitich Smith put out an interview with Gayle Brandeis who is the author of My Life With The Lincolns. You can read the interview at her blog Cynsations. Brandeis answers questions about being an author and a mother. She also speaks about her research process, etc.


Now this is the kind of librarian we all need! This is one determined librarian! I certainly wish all libraries had enough dinero for all the wonderful programs that they provide the public, especially those that are for children.

I sometimes still have a bit of trouble classifying my WIP. Do you? Well, have no fear! The Big Ol' Genre Glossary is here to help--brought to you by Jennifer Laughran, a literary agent specializing in children's and YA fiction. This is a moment you should have full clarity on--a defining moment for any author as they realize what it is they truly love to write!

Ever wonder about those confusing paragraph/chapter breaks? Sometimes they can be a kick in the rear...unless you understand them. Not Enough Words certainly cleared it up for me!

I've been watching the SF Giants baseball games with my DH and I have to say that not only is their pitcher Tim Lincecum quite handsome, but he is also extremely talented! I'd like to be able to say I'm just as good a pitcher myself. I'm hoping you feel the same. So here's a head start on that. Here and here are some more wonderful links to help out. I hope it helps!

Also, If you haven't checked out who my wonderful fellow crusaders are, please do so by clicking the badge to the right!

What aspect(s) of the craft have you been focusing on in your writing? Post the link if you have it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tinker with Tools Tuesday: Ka Boom!

I'm so excited! Tonight I will be at the Charlotte Motor Speedway observing a Zambelli Fireworks show! I've been anticipating this for quite a while now and finally this is the night it will happen. I know I have said it before but here it is again: sometimes the best tool an author can have in his/her pocket is...

*drum roll and colorful confetti*

RESEARCH...plenty of it!

I can't stress that enough. It is important to know what you are writing about. It is important to get it right. I like to get it right! Don't you?

I'd like to think an author should be precisely like Curious George. Yup! That clever monkey knows what he is doing! Can anyone really ever be too curious? I don't know about that one.

photo credit

<-----see this here? That is Zambelli doing its job!

I plan to take the kids at a later time in the future.

Hopefully I'll get a picture or two to share with you guys, if they allow it. I feel like I'm going undercover. In a way I am. I'll be under cover by the darkness just before I hear that first Ka-Boom!  Bad joke? No? I'm laughing anyway.

Have you had any fun research adventures lately? Any that got you deep in trouble like Curious George? I've heard of some authors who actually go undercover for research. Have you? 

Sidenote: We just got a puppy and I need a few suggestions. I was thinking of naming the dog after literary figures or after an animal from a kidlit story? Any ideas? Anyone ever named pets this way? 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Masterpiece Monday

I'm currently making a Piñata so this post will have to be short, but read through to the end for clues as to what is in store for all of you as I near 100 followers!

Here are a few books that have caught my eye:

Keeping with the Latina/Hispanic theme...

Here are some books by Julia Alvarez. I love how she covers many controversial topics that children may have a hard time understanding. What better way to help children understand change, different cultures, adoption issues, and political issues, than to write a story about them. 

An adopted girl finally searches for her past. 


A Picture book story about "a secret tribe of beautiful people who live underwater in 'cool blue caves hung with seashells and seaweed.' Avoiding humans at all costs, they come out to hunt for food only at night. But the most remarkable thing about theciguapas is that their feet are on backward."

The story about a girl from the Dominican Republic. When Anita's "father gets taken away by the secret police, Anita and her mother go into hiding in order to avoid capture. Anita, of course, keeps a diary."


 A story about Mexican immigrant workers and the challenges their children/families encounter in the face of deportation as a result of  being undocumented. 


One last book that sounds like a fun read but is not from the multicultural genre:

Here is a prologue from the book. It held me at the edge of my seat. I better go buy this one soon! 

I have to say a BIG thank you to all my Lost Boys and Girls and those following through Facebook Networked Blogs! You guys are awesome! I'm nearing 100 followers and I keep thinking, "Oh no what to do! What will I do when I reach 100 followers (through blogger not FB)?" So I'll let you know now--I do have something planned for you. What I need to know is what kind of prizes would you like? PB, MG, YA Books? Critiques? Fabulous notebooks to store those amazing story ideas in? Pens that shine on the page as you write about your amazing adventures in Neverland, or maybe just your journal? An LED booklight?Anything else that comes to mind? Spit it out while you can! I can't wait for the fun to begin! 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Facts of Life

Children say some of the strangest, (but funny) things. Sometimes they spew out the greatest common sense that ever existed! 

Mommy: "Mommy's eye is all red." 
Saturday: "You need a shot in your eye." 
Mommy: "Can I just put some drops in it?" 
Saturday: "Yes, first you have to put in one eye drop, then eat 4 cookies, and then go poop 2 times and your eye will feel all better!" 
Mommy: "Sounds good." 

Saturday: "Mommy, you should not eat poop. It tastes yucky and it will make you very sick. Don't ever, ever eat poopy! 
Mommy: "Okay, okay! Thank you. I won't eat poop!" 
Saturday: "Good job Mommy."

So unless you are one of those parents who feels this is the way to handle gross things...

here are a few books for the scientist who is much too curious about poo and other seemingly disgusting  things...

For the kid who always knows what to do:

 What is the funniest thing a child you know has concluded about bodily function(s)? Any funny (and obviously sincere/innocent) "know it all" situations? Tell me your favorites. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Doolittle About It

The pain in my head stays mainly in the brain. The pain, the pain, stays mainly in the brain.

Headaches Hardly Happen Here. However, Horrible Happenstance Helps this one Happen.

Aawuuuu! Awuuu!

Heaven help her!

Okay, I was just having a wee bit of fun. I might as well, since I have no control whatsoever over when this respiratory infection will go away. Cease to exist! Aww, see how powerful I think I am.


IF there is anything to know about Eliza Doolittle, it is that she bloomed (into a proper lady) quite well. The point is, she bloomed. As authors we'd like to think we can do the same (into proper authors obviously). And while doing little about it will get us nowhere, Doolittle about it will absolutely take us many places or at lease it will make us realize what we are doing wrong.

For example:

1. Doolittle with your vowels, they should stand alone or at lease fit in.

A    E   I    O    U


Auuuewww,  Eeeeew, Iow, Ohhh, Ewww

One of the mistakes I constantly make in typos is typing soembody instead of somebody or soemthing instead of something. Gosh it drievs me nuts! I cna't stnad it. LOL.  BUT as an author I must Doolittle about it and fix the problem EVERY SINGLE TIME! I would hate to think "soembody"  found its way into my query letter or manuscript! Proofread. Keep it constant.

2. Doolittle with your manuscript. Don't mind it at all...only

"Move your bloomin' (notice I said bloomin') arse."

See how nicely she put it! Edit. Make changes. Take note of (BAIC) "bloomin' arse" in chair. Make it bloom. Own it.


3. Doolittle to fool everyone. No point in putting on an act. Higgins might disagree. Never mind that though.

Make your characters worthwhile and  believable. Pin point that dialogue. Show us things about your characters, don't tell us everything about them. Let us figure some of it out for ourselves. No point to tricking anyone after all that hard work! Be yourself in your writing---a good voice is the best kind to use in this instance, so use your own. You may find a few things on all this here.

4. Doolittle to disagree, until it is worth the time and effort.

No point in pulling your hair out over every word. No point in changing that sentence unless maybe the whole lot of your critique group despises it for the most brilliant reasons. Don't let anyone take a stroll all over your MS unless you are willing to wipe up the muddy footprints and ready for a possible BIG CHANGE. Leave all your reservations behind. Make good with what you have and aim for perfection but only if it fits.You have to, after all, live with what you have written. So here and here and here are a few things you could do to be sure your aim actually is set on perfection.

5. When there is absolutely nothing left to do there is always PiBoIdMo 2010! Doolittle about picture book ideas!  Here's the link! Don't miss out!

Anyone  else have a Doolittle moment? I'd really like to know what yours are.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing


such a lonely, horrible word, that is unless you make do about it. With a respiratory infection looming around I was bound to get it too. To think all the garlic, onions and vitamin C I've been eating could ward it off. Nope!

So while I have been (mostly) stuck at home with it, I've also been pretty busy. I perfected my pumpkin empanada recipe (I had to make a few changes to it) that I want to include in one of my books! At least by my standards, I even managed to make them LOOK delicious. So the workshop for today was getting acquainted with perfection, recipe perfection. Which is quite important if it might possibly go in a book.

Here they are: "scrumdidlyumptios" is what my DH calls them.

This got me thinking about books that have recipes in them. OR books that explore food but don't necessarily have recipes in them. Books like this one:

Thunder Cake is so easy to make, and quite delicious. My children definitely enjoyed making it with me, but mostly they just licked the batter. Tomatoes and all! Here is the recipe for it.

Here are some more along with some recipes or activities related to the kidlit--so that you always have something to do about nothing. 

Walter the Baker by Eric Carle

 Here are some pretzel recipes along with a bit of pretzel history.
Have some fun with Carle and his books here
or just play with some Play-Doh here.

There is always much ado about popcorn with:

Learn about de Paola and his books here.
Or make a popcorn cake with this recipe and read the fun poem/song while you munch away. 
Explore an overload of popcorn madness, find the encyclopedia popcornia, find more great popcorn reads, and ask Poppy anything you like with this website.

Read Wende and Harry Devlin's  Cranberry Thanksgiving for some a berry fun secret recipe. 

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World is just as fun but so is Enemy Pie. I couldn't find the Enemy Pie recipe but here is one with Granny Smith apples so that you can make An Apple Pie for Dinner.

There are so many good ones! Too many to list! 

 What can you do with a Paletta by, Carmen Taffola 

Here, here, and aqui are are a few things you can do with Paletta! 


This book contains 2 recipes! Here is a link to a multicultural bakery Los Bagels where you can find recipes and a bit of the history of the bagel and the bakery itself.

So when there is much ado about nothing...I challenge you to try to find something to do. Writing or not, much ado about something is better than nothing.  You get the point.

What are some of your favorite kidlit book/recipe combo favorites?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fanatic Friday: Spinning with Advice

Don't ever duplicate Mad Hatter Syndrome in your writing unless you intend to confuse your audience or create an unusual character. Did he ever make any sense either way? DO emanate the power and endurance of the Energizer Bunny--you are going to need it. Always, ALWAYS be ever so curious--go beyond imagination-- seek out the surreal, then simplify it--condense.

"There is profundity in simplicity." --Burt Stout

The above is my own advice for writing. While browsing the web I came across several others. To read them all click here  and read the comments section, maybe even put in your two cents and get a chance to win  a copy of The Forrest for the Trees. 

These are a few of my favorites from the comments section:

"Know when to STOP editing."

 "Edit yourself ruthlessly."

"Select a topic. Prepare the facts. Establish a structure.Eliminate distractions (hardest!!) Dash to the finish."

"Good, better, best- Never let it rest 'Til your good gets better and Your better gets best!"---WandaV

"Come in two scenes late and leave them early."

"Imagine the possibilities."

‎"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass..." ~ Anton Chekhov

"Start your story where the action is."

"The other 'best' writing advice I've ever received came from several sources before it finally sank in a couple years ago, and is specific to my own writing weakness, TMI (Too Much Information, given too soon). 'Does the reader _really_ need to know this _now_, or can it wait?' That's the most helpful question I can ask myself during the editing process.--"Lori Benton

‎"A professional is just an amateur who didn't quit." ~Richard Bach

very simple - "have the characters touch one another at some point, or touch something in the world."

"You may be told that you can't write, but never let anyone say that you don't write."

"Do your research. It applies to everything: craft, content, publishing, marketing ... every aspect of being a writer. Do your research."

"Don't force it. Writer's block means something's wrong. Either something's out of character, or you don't know your character(s) or their goals or something well enough to continue."

"Concerning'"resist the urge to explain:'
Don't tell the reader anything -- ANYTHING -- let them figure it out for themselves."

“Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head.”-- Finding Forrester

"BICHOK. Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard."

And here is a great post posted by, MotherReader. She is the organizer for the Cybils Fiction Picture Book category.

Picture Books Aren't in Trouble Just Because NYT Says So

Much can be said about both. What do you think? Personally, I feel we need to educate everyone about picture books--share them whenever we can. We need to voice our concerns about the market--be sure that we get the facts straight. We need to let people know who we are and what we do or things like this NYT article will do it for us. Stand up. Stand out. Have a voice! Be immovable and steadfast in promoting the picture book and children's literature. Thank you to those who do so already. You ARE a priceless commodity.

For more fun, check out (I came across this one while visiting this wonderful blog ) this sound advice full of Tips for Writing Picture Books.

And finally...well I'll have to get back to this one. Ciao. Much ado about nothing was never more fun than now. LOL. Keep guessing. Eventually you'll figure out what I'm up to. Hee hee! IF you can guess, maybe I'll scrounge up a prize.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Woeful Workshop Wednesday:Lost in Laundry

***this a repost from the date 10/06/2010  so disregard the date above on the post as it is not accurate for this posting. I had to delete the old posting. 

Apparently, it is Mad Hatter Day. IF you haven't read my interview with Hattter yet please do so here. You may find yourself lost in thought with such clever pensiveness on Hatter's part. I'm celebrating with some herbal tea (my poor sore throat needs it anyhow) and maybe I'll watch Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland. Maybe I'll swing by Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to get in the mood and find a few more great reads for the week. Or you can join me in my visit here for a Mad Blog Hop and a Mad Hatter prize at the end of it! Okay, the prize IS taken already, but here is a beloved riddle from the book and the unexpected answer to it!

 Moving on...

 Before I sign off, this workshop wouldn't be over without sharing what I have written for the

First Crusader Challenge--Writers' Platform-Building Crusade

Click the link to find out all about it!

It has been quite fun! Anyhow, here is what my wild imagination came up with:

Lost in Laundry
by Angela Peña Dahle with help from other literary characters

      I sat down to write the other day and all I could think about was my mile high pile of laundry scattered all over the bedroom floor. What was underneath it? Is it possible it is even clean anymore? An adventure was waiting underneath that laundy. I knew it. My kids knew it. Thankfully, my husband didn't know about get the idea.
      The first thing I did was grab my super squeaky dish gloves. For all I knew there were rotten banana peels underneath, maybe a booger or two. Unlikely? Maybe. Probable? Yes. Then it occurred to me that my children (who were already attacking the pile) were the ideal critters for this job so I tossed my gloves on the counter, made myself a smoothie, and pulled up a chair to oversee Project Laundry. Oops! I mean Adventure Laundry. So while my kids were yanking at shirts and tossing pants and socks into the air I began to hear voices (no I'm not crazy). I really did.

      “This is a muy muy big pile dudes!”
      “Why all the whispering dude?”
      “I thought we were having a siesta.” said another.
      “No. I cannot sleep.”
      “Is it the sleep maskito dude? They never work for me.” whispered another.
      “This noise is too big for my ears.”
      “What noise?”
      “What! You don't hear it?”
      “Que Loco, Skippito! What are you talking about?”
      “Don't you hear it? It sounds like an elephant stomping around!”

      And faster than you can say children, chores and chocolate, we were all digging into the laundry for Skippyjon Jones. Skippito wasn't Lost in Spice, or even on Mars! He was lost in our laundry! We had a pretty good idea where the rest of our missing books were now. Thank heavens! 
      The search was on. Unfortunately for us, the more we dug into laundry the less and less we found books...until, we heard another voice:

      "A game of Quidditch should be easy work."

      Unlike our laundry adventure, Quidditch was sounding pretty good to me right about then. Instead, into the pile we jumped and before we knew it we were hearing all kinds of voices:

     "I meant what I said and, I said what I meant."

     Was he talking about Skippito's elephant?

     "I wish Pooh were here. It's so much more friendly with two." 

      "You know, Spoon—I wonder if you realize just how lucky you are. Your friends will never know the joy of diving headfirst into a bowl of ice cream. They'll never know what it feels like to clink against the side of a cereal bowl. They'll never be able to twirl around in a mug, or relax in a hot cup of tea."

     I bet Spoon would never ever dive into laundry the way we were though. Of that I was sure.

      "But I don't want to go among mad people."
      "Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

      Even my kids and I had gone mad--with laundry. And voices. This guy knew what he was talking about! We searched that pile until we had a grand total of 32 books.We sat on the floor with chocolate and read our beloved books. We read all but one. I wondered if we'd ever find that reckless cat.

      "Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."

      Oops! Ah! There's number 33! He might be reckless, but he sure was right. Today HAD been fun!

    And surprisingly somehow the laundry got done!

Disclaimer: This story includes characters created and owned by Judy Byron Schachner and various publishers including but not limited to Dutton Children's Books. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. The "voices " that are heard by the main characters in this story are quotes from works of literature and I take no credit for writing those portions of this fictional piece. The dialogue between Skippito and his Chimichango's is purely fictional and made up by me based on what I felt he would say if he were actually under our laundry. 


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