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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#pb10for10: Creatures/Objects Galore!

It’s August 10th, which means everyone’s sharing their favorite PBs with each other. Yay!

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Educators Cathy Mere and Mandy Robeck run the #pb10for10 event every year. Those who participate choose ten picture books they cannot live without and share them on their blogs.

My theme for my 2016 picks: creatures and inanimate objects. Hope you enjoy!

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PB Gush: There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight

I’ve been waiting to get my paws on this picture book and, just as I suspected, it did not disappoint. There Was on Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight, written by Penny Parker Klostermann and illustrated by Ben Mantle, is officially one of my favorite PBs. The rhyme is fun, fast-paced, and flawless. And the illustrations pop with color and hilarity.

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Flexing Your PB Muscles

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but picture books are stinkin’ hard to write. Creating a compelling story arc with memorable characters that appeal to both kids and adults is hard enough. But aiming to keep the story under 500 words? Ideally 300 words or less? That’s incredibly difficult.

When I write my PB manuscripts, I tend to start long, then edit down with each draft. This is effective for many reasons. It allows me to form my arc and flesh out the characters. I can fully realize the story before I have to slash words.

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