Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Scholastic Memories Contest

On May 13, 2009 Scholastic Book Clubs announced they had sold more than 6 billion books. I’m not surprised. It may have been my daughter’s order that pushed them over the mark. Who can resist Scholastic book orders?

My Scholastic addiction goes back to my own elementary days. The excitement of tucking a new slick-covered book into my backpack was awesome. I remember the book fairs too. How I loved those cute little animal posters!

So what do you remember about your book order days? Leave me a memory in this comment section and follow my blog. On June 5th, one name will be randomly picked to win a $10 Scholastic gift certificate. Good luck, and thanks for sharing!

*For fun facts about 6 billion books, check out http://bit.ly/BG4En .

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why Writers Should Join Twitter

The stage is black. One spotlight glows on me. No longer a frazzled mom hungering for time to write, I dazzle you with my aqua eyes and sequined dress. My voice is not scratchy from yelling. No. Instead, in Barbara Streisand’s pitch perfect tone you hear…

People who tweet tweople,
Are the luckiest people in the world.

Have you been resisting the urge to sign up for Twitter? Here is my top ten list of reasons writers should give tweeting a try.

10. It will help you build your internet presence.

9. Sometimes you can win free things (I just won copy of Ian Rankin’s book EXIT MUSIC from Little, Brown).

8. You can watch and participate in events like Query Day where novices and experts ask and answer questions about the writing process and industry.

7. You can search for other groupies of shows you love and discuss the episode that left you breathless or made you sniffle.

6. Networking can be fun!

5. It is a nice ego boost when publishers and other gurus follow you back.

4. Twitter is a quick way to promote your blog, website, or books.

3. Writing can be lonely. It’s nice to connect with other people who share your passion.

2. Twitter can lead you to great articles and blogs you might otherwise miss (Make sure you follow Bookgal).

And last but not least…

1. It is the best way to follow editors, agents, and publishers without fear of a restraining order. :^)

So if you haven’t given twitter a try, go for it. My twitter name is quirkywriter. I love to have tweople follow me and almost always follow back. Check out the folks I follow, and it will help you get started.

Now, back to that spotlight…

Friday, May 8, 2009

Editors' Thoughts on Rhyme

Are you wondering if your rhymes are good enough to be published? According to the editors at the SCBWI Carolinas Polishing Your Picture Book Conference it may not be worth the risk. Editor Maggie Lehrman told attendees that because poetry is tough is today's market, Abrams usually sticks to already established poets.

If you do decide to give it a try, make sure the language is natural. Many novice writers try to manipulate sentence structure to make rhymes work. For example:

I want my poem to be seen in print
so to an editor this verse I have sent.

Obviously, "to an editor this verse I have sent" does not sound natural. If a kid wouldn't say it the way it is written, it's not working.

When it comes to picture books, writers are urged to make every word count. Try not to repeat words, and remember that near rhyme is not close enough. Be sure to check your meter, and unless your poetry is perfect, you might want to avoid it altogether.

Monday, May 4, 2009

No No's and Uh Oh's

The following is a list of dislikes and warnings I noted from panel discussions with Maggie Lehrman, Noa Wheeler, and Jill Dembowski at the SCBWI Carolinas Polishing Your Picture Book Conference this weekend.

1. No scatological humor
2. No mentioning rave reviews from kids who have heard your story
3. Do not handwrite your story or send it from one of your characters.
4. No didactic stories
5. No queries (instead, a brief cover letter and your picture book)
6. No comparing your book to Harry Potter
7. The parents who buy your picture book will hate you if it has 2,000 words (keep it closer to 500).
8. Don't discuss marketing in your letter.
9. Don't introduce too many characters at once.
10. Don't use the word child (It's an angry adult word).
11. Unless you're an illustrator, try not to include illustrator notes.
12. They are tired of grandparent stories written for grandparents.
13. If you dare to send a barnyard story, a story about a princess who wants to do something else, or a when I grow up I want to be... book it had better be fresh and great to stand out. These topics are overused.
14. No funky fonts (Times New Roman is preferred)
15. No cold calls

SCBWI Carolinas Polishing Your Picture Book Conference

This weekend I attended the SCBWI Carolinas Polishing Your Picture Book Conference in Beaufort, SC. One of the many highlights was hearing a panel of editors tell what they are looking for and what they would rather not see. The editors attending were Maggie Lehrman (an Editor at Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books), Noa Wheeler (an Associate Editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers), and Jill Dembowski (an Assistant Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). I will be blogging this week to share some of the tips and warnings given by these three.