PB Gush: Best Frints in the Whole Universe

At the 2016 summer SCBWI conference I had the pleasure of attending a session led by editor Neil Porter. During that hour, he invited author/illustrator Antoinette Portis on stage to discuss and read from her picture book, Best Frints in the Whole Universe. I fell in love with this PB instantly. It has everything I love in a PB: quirk, humor, and a lot of heart. It’s one of my favorites and I’m excited to gush about it today.

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Meet the Characters of Jackie Azua Kramer’s The Green Umbrella + Giveaway

Today is a special day on the blog because I’m gushing about The Green Umbrella, a darling picture book written by Jackie Azua Kramer and illustrated by Maral Sassouni!

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I was given an opportunity to read it last fall and I instantly tumbled head over heels for this story about imagination. The language is gorgeous, and the texture and intricacies of the illustrations had me finding new details each time I read. I COULD NOT put this book down.

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PB Gush: Oh No, Astro!

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s Astro! And he’s picking up speed fast. Oh No, Astro! written by Matt Roeser and illustrated by Brad Woodard is filled with fun words, stellar illustrations, and space-y facts, all sure to enthuse future space cadets. And to top it off, the humor will have little ones laughing from cover to cover. Grab your telescope and prepare for some serious gushing. I love this book!

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Interludes and Rev-ups

There’s one struggle I constantly have with myself as a writer: whether or not I’m allowed to give myself permission to take a break.

That sentence even sounds silly. Of course I’m allowed to give myself permission. It’s my own writing. Duh. But doesn’t it fly in the face of all the advice we hear from various well-known writers?

Write every single day. Write at the same time every day. Find your writing routine and stick to it. Don’t stop.

But a couple of months ago, I found myself overwhelmed with the approaching holidays and all that I needed to do. I promised myself I’d crochet gifts for my immediate family members and committed to crocheting items for a holiday boutique. (I’m an avid crocheter, for those of you who don’t know.) That, coupled with the pressure I’d put on myself to keep up revisions on my middle grade novel, was too much to handle. I could only exhaust my creative energy in so many places.

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Mapping Out My Plot

Drafting a novel is one thing, but figuring out where in the heck to start with your revision is an equally daunting task. After reading my first draft and recording all plot, character, setting, and other problems in a notebook, I still felt overwhelmed at all I had to fix. I knew I needed to start on my plot first, but I wasn’t sure how.

After combing the internet, I stumbled upon this DIY MFA article on mapping out your story like subway routes. It calls for identifying the important scenes of your plot and subplots, and then marking where they stand alone and where they converge. The point is not only to analyze the arc of each storyline, but to see where they come together.

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My 2016 Halloweensie Entry

It’s my favorite time of year—Halloween! For a month (or maybe three) it’s socially acceptable (I think) to watch Hocus Pocus on a loop. Don’t judge me.

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It’s also time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s 6th Annual Halloweensie Contest! To enter, you must write a 100-word-or-less Halloween story containing the words spider, ghost, and moon. Judging criteria include kid-friendliness, Halloweeniness, story quality, writing quality, and creativity/originality.

I encourage you to participate. It’s spooktacular fun! Read my entry below.

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How to Revisit “Kid” You

If only I could go back in time to walk in young me’s shoes. Sure, research via reading books and talking to kids is arguably just as effective for churning out kid-friendly stories, but wouldn’t it help to be 7- or 12-year-old you for even an hour? To relive those kid feelings and write them into your current stories?

Well, if you wrote stories when you were a kid, I suggest you dust off those gems and read. As a kidlit writer, you strive to capture how children feel in your stories and characters. When I reread my old stories, I’m transported back to that time and, even if just momentarily, feel those kid feelings of excitement, wonder, possibility, and fear.

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PB Gush: President Squid

I first heard part of this book read aloud at the SCBWI LA Conference in August. Editor Melissa Manlove read it with gusto during a panel and she had the audience of 1,000+ people cracking up. So when she abruptly closed the book halfway through, you bet your bottom I had to finish it. President Squid by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Sara Varon is a fun and LOL-worthy PB with one ridiculous protagonist. This (very current and relevant) political satire will get the whole room rolling.

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Celebrations and Inspirations

It feels good to be back on the blog! The past five weeks have been busy to say the least. Not only have I been settling into my new digs and working on a massive project at work, I’ve also been writing my second middle grade novel. And after spending hundreds of hours clacking away on my laptop with film scores buzzing in my ears (I can’t listen to music with words when I write), I’VE FINALLY FINISHED THE DRAFT.

Where’s the champagne?

I’ve still got a long way to go with revising and fine-tuning, but first drafts are my least favorite. Ever. So this is yuuuge.

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The Ups and Downs of Noveling (in GIFs)

Hello, blog readers! I went to the SCBWI LA summer conference a couple of weeks ago. It was amazing and I plan to share the highlights here soon. I just haven’t yet found the time.

That’s because the conference was the kick in the butt I needed to write my second middle grade novel. The one I’ve been meaning to write for 6 months or so. So the past two weeks have been just a bit busy for me. Like writing-21,000-words-in-14-days busy.

Because all of my free time (and energy) is going toward getting that novel finished, I don’t have much to share today. Instead, I figured I’d gift you my recent writing life in the form of GIFs. I hope you can relate. Enjoy!

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