Sunday Post: Children’s Games – Monopoly Rocks! – My 500th Post – Plus a Giveaway!

My blogging friend, Jake, over at Time After Time,did a post this past Sunday on Children’s Games – and I knew I had to participate!

 

5-year old Jeremy playing Monopoly with his grandpa.

5-year old Jeremy playing Monopoly with his grandpa.

Why should we play games with kids?

  • It’s a great way to spend time with children – affirming the fact they they are valuable and worthy of your precious time!
  • It provides an amazing opportunity for conversation – one of the finest language-builders for kids!
  • It develops math and literacy skills – In Monopoly, for example, Jeremy has to figure out how much change he should get when he purchases a property, he has to read the chance, community chest and property cards, he has to count the spaces as he moves his piece!
  • It’s FUN for both parent and child!

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What games do you and your child play?

Playing games is only one of the ways we can spend time with our kids. Kids also enjoy arts and crafts. They really enjoy helping out in the kitchen. And they LOVE being read to. In honor of this being the 500th post on my blog, I’m giving away a copy of my parent/teacher/child activity book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. In the package, I’ll also include a couple of  craft supplies to get your child started on his next  project. Please leave a comment here and on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/showmehowbuildyourchildsselfesteem.

We’ll announce the winner in our Mother’s Day post!

Visit http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com for weekly Sunday posts.

 

Author-Illustrator Writing Process Blog Hop

Monday Writing Magic: The Leap from Reading to Writing

When I first started blogging, I posted every day…YIKES! What was I thinking! Menu Monday (a child-friendly recipe), Timeless Tuesday (several quotations), What’s in Your Child’s Bookcase Wednesday (picture book review), Healthy Habit Thursday (health tip related to children), Follow Me Friday (school or library visits), Saturday Reflections and Cinema Sunday (kid-flick review).

Lately, I’ve been focusing on my writing for children, so I’ve cut down on my blogging…usually only posting once a week. But today is my FOURTH day in a row of posting!!!!

And what a special post this is!

Recently, my dear friend, picture book author Clarike Bowman-Jahn, tagged me in an author-illustrator writing process blog hop and, since I am knee-deep in revisions and up-to-my-neck in story ideas, it seemed like the perfect time to participate.

By the way, Clarike’s NEWEST picture book, Edmund Pickle Chin – A Donkey Rescue Story (co-authored by Susan April Elwood and illustrated by Lynne Bendoly) is HOT OFF THE PRESS. Click here to check out the ebook version. I’ll be reviewing it as part of her book blog tour.

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Clarike has also undertaken a huge memoir project. Her blog provides all kinds of wonderful resources and links for writers. Why not stop by and say hello.

The hop has four questions…so hold on to your hats…here are my answers!

  1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

I almost feel guilty calling this work. I’m having so much fun and I get so much joy from writing – It does not feel like work. I’m part of the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge…this encourages me to stay on task and write at least one picture book draft every month…I’m working on that draft right now. I also participate in two critique groups where I submit a manuscript each month for critique and then I get to critique the stories of my critique buddies…that means NINE critiques I need to do…plus this month, I’m participating in Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo and I’m in a critique group for that…so an additional two critiques each week. I am learning so much from critiquing someone else’s manuscript AND reading the critiques that the others do. I’m currently polishing one picture book manuscript to resubmit to a small niche publisher…polishing another to submit to a small publisher who I met through Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo…polishing a rhyming picture book to submit as an entry into the Golden Quill RhyPiBoMo poetry contest. I’ll bet you can see the sparkle from all of that polishing. I’m also planning to try my hand at a picture book about dinosaurs (yes, I know, there are 10,000 of them already) and one about the All-American Girl’s Baseball League of the 40’s and 50’s.

  1. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

Sometimes I don’t feel my work does differ…in fact, sometimes, I pick up a book, turn the pages, and say – OH NO! THAT WAS MY IDEA! Has that ever happened to you? But I do know that all of my writing for children contains a core of positivity – my background in early childhood education and my own positive outlook on life lead me to do that. I am trying to learn to add humor because I know that kids love a funny book…and if they don’t love it, they won’t read it!

  1. WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

I’ve always loved books. I know how important a book can be…one book CAN make a difference in a child’s life. I hope that my books will bring a smile to a child’s face and help a child approach life with a positive attitude.

  1. HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

I’m a pantser, not a plotter. I get an idea – hear a phrase – see something interesting – and I want to write about it. So I sit down and write. And then I look it over and cross out a lot and write some more. When I am pretty happy with what I’ve written, I go over it for spelling and grammar and then I submit it to my critique groups. I take their feedback and suggestions and revise. And then begin again. Look over – cross out – write some more. Submit to critique groups. When I feel it is ready, I submit it – but that hasn’t happened as much as I had hoped this year – I plan to improve that for the second half of 2014.

I think this is a perfect time to speak a bit about studying the craft of writing. I know we’ve all met people (some of them writers) who think that writing for children is as easy as 1,2,3. And most believe that writing a picture book is a piece of cake. Well, take it from me…if it is a piece of cake, it is a piece of the most complex layer cake you have ever eaten! The spark or idea is just the tip of the iceberg…there are so many elements (character, plot, structure, strong beginning, satisfying ending, etc.) that go into writing a great story…and once that is written, you are only just starting the process. Many revisions later, it is time to let other eyes look at it. Then, based on the feedback, more revisions.

You can learn a lot about writing for children from books…there are many excellent ones out there…Ann Whitford Paul’s is my favorite. Attending conferences is another layer that can help…the workshops and presentations will teach you so much. But there is something else that can add so much to your understanding of the whole process – taking a class. And with everyone’s busy schedules, the online courses that are offered are perfect!

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In February, I attended Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic class. I only wish I had taken it last year when she first offered it.

  • THE LESSONS – 5 weeks of in-depth lessons that addressed every important element in writing picture books
  • THE ONE-ON-ONE ATTENTION – Susanna was an incredible mentor – commenting and giving personal help every day
  • THE SMALL GROUP SETTING – Susanna keeps the group size low – I believe the classes cannot have more than 8
  • THE CAMARADERIE – There was a wonderful feeling of comfort and trust amongst the participants in my class…I know we will be helping each other out with critiques and encouraging words as we continue writing in the future

One of the greatest joys of being part of this writing community is connecting with other like-minded souls. It is now my pleasure to introduce to you FOUR amazing women who are also passionate about their writing. Cathi is a gifted artist and illustrator who wrote an amazing book about kites which I reviewed last year…Ellen is one of my RhyPiBoMo critique buddies…and she introduced me to Monica and Artemis…see how this amazing spider web works.

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Originally from Colorado, Cathi currently lives and works in Madison, Connecticut where she owns a Creative Design Services Studio: C & D Studios.  She is a working artist, illustrator, photographer, publisher and designer and, although the projects, subjects and work objectives have changed over time, the passions, artistry and skills have sharpened with new experiences, resources and challenges.

She finds herself drawn towards designing for the web where she likes to empower clients with emerging resources. Cathi is also a member of the SCBWI Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the NESCBWI New England Connections SCBWI. Her photography and photojournalism work has been recognized by The Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual excellence in journalism awards 2008 for published magazine covers and for photo-journalism stories. She handles web design, identity, branding, logos, photography and illustration for clients internationally and offers training, consultation and all kinds of design services for print and for the web. Cathi works with several Art galleries throughout New England as well. As an illustrator she is best known for her work illustrating College Mascots for the CBC Collection – officially licensed and approved Fine Art Illustration work for institutions and retail product lines. As a children’s writer, she is best known for her picture book, Be The Kite.

Find out more about Cathi here: http://www.bethekite.com/about-the-authorartist/

The Studio – web design graphic design etc;
Link to Be the Kite!  video preview:
Other Illustrations at www.CBCMascots.com

 

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ELLEN LEVENTHAL

Ellen Leventhal is an educator and writer in the Houston, TX area. Ellen has a BA in Elementary Education and an M.Ed. in Special Education. She began her career as a special education teacher and currently works part time with students in second through eighth grade. Ellen’s writer’s dream came true when her first children’s book, Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets, was published in 2006. Hayfest, A Holiday Quest and Bully in the Barnyard soon followed. Now she is busy working on a middle grade chapter book, another picture book, and a compilation of essays. Ellen’s favorite part of her work is visiting schools and sharing her stories and passion for literacy. She loves working with and learning from other writers and the children she meets along the way.

Find out more about Ellen here: http://spacecityscribes.wordpress.com and http://www.e2books.com/

 

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MONICA SHAUGHNESSY

Monica Shaughnessy draws on her experience as a lifelong Texan by creating characters larger than the Lone Star State. Her works span multiple genres, including adult mystery/suspense, YA, middle grade, and picture book, but they all carry her signature offbeat style. If you’re looking for something outside the mainstream, you’ll find it in her work. When she’s not slaying adverbs and polishing prose, she’s either hanging out with her rescue dogs or stargazing in her backyard.

website: www.monicashaughnessy.com

blog: monicashaughnessy.wordpress.com

twitter: @bizarrebooks

 

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ARTEMIS GREENLEAF

Artemis Greenleaf has always been fascinated by the mysterious, and she devoured fairy tales, folk tales and ghost stories since before she could read. In 1995, she had a near-death experience which turned her perception of the world upside down. She lived to tell the tale (and often does, in one form or another), and went on to marry an alien. She lives in the suburban wilds of Houston, Texas with her husband, two children and assorted pets. She writes novels, short stories, and non-fiction.

For more information, please visit artemisgreenleaf.com.

 

I hope you all enjoyed meeting the four authors I tagged.

I know they all plan to do author/illustrator writing process blog hop posts…I hope you will go and visit them to say hello…and perhaps some of you know them already!

Now I’m off to work on my poetry submission for RhyPiBoMo…or maybe it’s time for some popcorn and a movie with hubby!

Christopher Cheng – Will Write for Cookies Goes to Australia

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

TODAY’S GUEST

CHRISTOPHER CHENG

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Going to writing conferences rocks! You attend great workshops. You listen to amazing presentations. You learn so much. One of the best perks, though, is that you meet incredible people.

I connected with award-winning author/illustrator Christopher Cheng at the AFCC/SCBWI conference in Singapore last May. His presentations sing…his books sparkle. When I asked him if he would participate in Will Write for Cookies…and he said YES…I’m sure he was able to hear my happy hip hip hooray – all the way on the other side of the world!

Chris is a sought-after speaker for SCBWI and other groups…and travels all over the world – he just returned from the Bologna and London book fairs. If you check out his website, you’ll find his blog where he shares what he sees and hears at these conferences.

Chris Cheng and bini in LondonWith wife, Bini, in London.

 

Chris…I’m so happy you could do this. I know that everyone is anxious to hear more about you.

 

Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

 

CS Lewis, CS Lewis, CS Lewis (I still have my very first copies) – oh and very early on … A.A Milne
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

 

That it is so much fun … and lots of work too!

 

 

Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

 

I have notebooks that go everywhere with me and then when each is filled – on one side only, the opposite side *might* be needed for Continue reading

#PPBF – Interview with Tim McGarry on I AM JACK and Bullying

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday. I’m sharing an interview with veteran theater performer, Tim McGarry. Tim is one of the founders of Monkey Baa, Australia’s award-winning theater company dedicated to creating and producing exceptional quality theatre and programs for young people and their families, teachers and communities throughout Australia and internationally. Tim has just completed a successful US tour of Susanna Gervay’s I AM JACK. I was fortunate to connect with him and he graciously agreed to share some of his thoughts about the show, the tour and the important topic of bullying.

First, a bit about the book.

 

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I AM JACK

Written by Susanne Gervay

Illustrated by Cathy Wilcox

Published by Tricycle Press (2009)

Ages: 8-12

Themes: Bullying, friendship

Opening lines: “Mum is talking to Nanna. she said she’d only be a minute. That’s a lie. A minute means an hour in Mum time.”

Synopsis: From School Library Journal – “Despite his lame jokes and his attempts to keep things normal, 11-year-old Jack has a serious bully problem. At first his mother, preoccupied with her job and her boyfriend, seems too busy to have the heart-to-heart talk Jack needs (and too unimaginative to wonder if something’s wrong). Eventually, Jack is ostracized at school, where even “nice guys” can’t afford to be friends any more. When the school is alerted, they respond with an anti-bullying program and support for Jack as he gradually regains his place among the students.”

Why I like this book:

  • Written in short sentences, Jack’s first-person narrative makes it easy for kids to read and relate to the story
  • There is a clear lesson here about the role of schools in combating bullying, but it does not dominate the story
  • Cartoon-like drawings help keep the tone of the story relatively light
  • This book will empower kids to speak up about bullying and hopefully step forward if they see a bullying problem

How parents can use this book:

  • Great opportunity to talk about bullying – what can a kid do, what can a parent do, what can a teacher do
  • Show the book to your child’s teacher – it’s a great resource for schools

Bullying is a widespread problem…it follows each generation…it rears its head in playgrounds and schoolrooms, in bedrooms and in the workplace. It impacts young and old…but children are especially vulnerable. Susanne’s powerful book comes to life on the stage…those who see the show will walk away with a better understanding of what it means to be bullied and why it has to stop…now.

The theater production of I Am Jack is presented by Monkey Baa Theatre Company, directed by Sandra Eldridge and adapted for the stage by Eva Di Cesare, Tim McGarry and Sandra Eldridge. It just finished a successful US tour and I was thrilled to have a chance to ask Tim McGarry, the star of the one-man show, a couple of questions.

 

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Tim, thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate your willingness to share some thoughts with us.

 

Me: How did you come to be involved with I AM JACK? 

 

Tim: I’m one of the founding members of Monkey Baa Theatre Company and therefore very much involved in the process of selecting the works that we choose to adapt for the stage. We had come across Susanne’s book I AM JACK many times. An extraordinary story – but the challenge we felt as a small company, in adapting the work was that it required at least six actors to tell the story and for a small company that was never going to be financially or logistically possible for touring. 

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About 18 months later, we again considered the work and one of us, Eva Sandie or I, I can’t recall who, came up with the idea of adapting the work as a solo piece for one actor. This would allow the story to be told in multiple locations to a wide audience base – a kind of back to basics theatre, affordable, tour-able and compact. When we approached Susanne with the idea she was delighted – and we then set ourselves the task of developing Jack into a play – an 18 month process.

 

Me: Have you had personal experience with bullying?

 

Tim: I went to an all boys Catholic High School in a middle class area of Sydney. Bullying was pretty rife and very much ignored by the hierarchy. I recall one boy in my class being bullied mercilessly. It got to a dangerous situation – he’d arrive at school with dark rings under his friend of mine, Andrew, said to me one day “Can you see what’s happening to David?” I said yes, but there is nothing we can do. Andrew disagreed vigorously and said let’s just bring him into our group of a lunch time. So we did – and slowly but surely the bullying stopped. It was such a courageous act on Andrew’s behalf…  Continue reading

#PPBF: When I Was King – Sibling Rivalry

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Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday. Before I share not one, not two, but three wonderful books that address the topic of sibling rivalry…I want to encourage you to hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog where you will find many other awesome picture book reviews. AND, if you are an illustrator or an aspiring one, please check out her NEW Illustrator Contest.

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I also want to give a shout-out to Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo, a month-long challenge for those who want to/love to write rhyming picture books. Every day, Angie’s blog has a post that is a complete workshop in itself…with Golden Quill guests who share information and inspiration. I’ve always loved poetry…Angie’s posts are like a college course…deeply examining the subject and then relating it to writing picture books. The Facebook page interaction is amazing and so helpful. As of today, there are 200 participants registered! The critique groups that were formed at the beginning of the month are proving to be incredibly supportive. Even if you didn’t sign up before…or you don’t think you can participate fully, please check out the blog posts…each one is worth its weight in gold!

And now to our picture book review!

When I first started blogging, most of my posts were geared towards parents with young children. In past year or so, since I’ve been so actively involved in writing (and learning how to write) picture books, many of my posts have had a more ‘writerly’ emphasis. But the Building Self-Esteem Using Picture Books and Other Activities teleseminar I did on Wednesday, reminded me that parenting concerns are still number one with me. And, when you think about it, that’s one of the main reasons I want to write great picture books. With that in mind, here are three books that will bring a smile to any parent’s face…and will help older siblings deal with the difficult challenge of accepting and loving a younger brother or sister.

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When I Was King Continue reading

Goal-Buster: Sheri McCrimmon

Last Tuesday was April Fool’s Day!

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Lucky for you, this is today…and I’m not fooling when I tell you we have a special GOAL-BUSTER guest…my dear friend, Sheri McCrimmon.
I met Sheri at a local SCBWI meeting in Colorado Springs two years ago. It was a Sunday…I think we sat next to each other…we chatted and exchanged manuscripts for critique…and that night I emailed her with a request to drive me to Denver very early the next morning…and she immediately said, ‘YES!” You don’t find many people who would do that.
Sheri is an amazing woman, true friend, talented writer, spot-on critique partner, active participant in the kid lit community…and a sweetheart for agreeing to share her goals for 2014 and her plans for reaching them.
So, without further ado, except for a big thank you, here is Sheri!

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Vivian, thank you so much for the invitation to share my writing goals. This has been such a helpful exercise for me! I hope that it will be helpful to others as well.
Sheri’s Writing Goals for 2014:
1) Have 10 polished books in submission circulation by year’s end. (As of March 15, I have nine ready).

How:
A. Write and send query/cover letters using what I’ve learned with the help of Mira Reisberg’s awesome picture book class (and free webinars) at the Children’s Book Academy, 12 x 12 resources and lots of googling. (As of March 15, I have one picture book out to two different agents, another to one agent and yet another to two agents). This process is more terrifying and slower than I had hoped, but I am moving forward.
B. Continue to revise, revise, revise. . . with the help of my awesome critique posse, 12 x 12, Rate Your Story and Continue reading