"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

5/30/14

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Chicks Run Wild

Thought I would participate in Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday again this week. Read this one the first time a couple months ago, and still find it delightful. Check out more perfect picture books here - and this week's new ones on Susanna's blog.

Title: Chicks Run Wild
Author: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Illustrator: Ward Jenkins
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011, Fiction
Age Range: 2-5 years
Theme/Topics: rhyme, bedtime,

First Page: Every night up in their beds,
pillows fluffed up by their heads,
chicks are tucked beneath the sheets.
"Go to sleep, now," Mama tweets.

Synopsis: Mama tucks her chicks into bed at night but as soon as she leaves the room, her chicks run wild! She joins in to show them how to have a wild time, until the chicks finally fall asleep. Then Mama goes wild in her own way.

Resources: The author, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, has developed a teacher's guide for this book, which can be found here. I also think that, since it is mentioned in the story, teaching your child how to do the chicken dance might be fun. Here's a link to a YouTube video that shows how to do it.

Why I Love It: The rhyme is delightful, the pictures are SO fun, the word choice perfect, and the end a very fun surprise (though the summary above kinda gives it away). I don't think I stopped smiling once while I read it. A fun, clever story. My youngest child is 10, yet I liked this one enough to actually purchase it - which says a lot. Since reading this one a couple months ago, I have become a huge fan of its author, and am in the process of reading every one of her picture books. I love it THAT much.

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog.
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

5/28/14

Joanne: A Writer Blog Hop

I'm guessing several of you folks have seen this blog hop around here and there. I know I have. And my dear friend and accountability partner Zoe McCarthy invited me to join (be sure to check out HER blog, Creative in Everything, which is full of inspiration and wisdom!), and I agreed.

And this is how it works - each person who participates in the blog hop answers four specific questions about their writing, then mentions three other writers who have agreed to participate, along with a link to their blog. A week or two after the post goes live, the other writers do exactly the same thing.

And so, here I go, answering the four questions:

What am I working on?
In addition to my posts twice a week at the FaithWriters blog (I'm the official blogger there) and other posts monthly at a couple other sites, I am working on two picture books at the moment. One I wrote as my "March picture book" for Julie Hedlund's 12 x 12 and I am currently editing, critiquing, and polishing it up so it's nice and shiny for review at the website RateYourStory. I plan to submit it for a critique rating on their next "free submission day," which is June 1.

The second picture book I'm plugging away at is still in the brainstorm/barely-starting-a-rough-draft stage - it will, God willing, be my June picture book. Not giving too much information, but it involves an elephant and his favorite band. Will see where it goes from there!

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
If I weren't a generally optimistic person, I might say that mine is different because it isn't as good. ;) I have only been focusing on picture books for six months or so, so I'm still learning. But I AM an optimistic person, so I can give you a better answer than that, I think.

My stories all have hope in them - whether they are funny, serious, or whatever else they might be. And it's not just any hope - it's hope in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It may not be stated explicitly, but it is always there in the background - just as it is in my life. And, of course, I bring my unique history/love of children/voice to whatever I write.

Why do I write what I do?
Because I love it, and feel called. As I said above, I've only been on this particular writing path for a short time - and it was my time at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference last year that eventually sparked me to change from inspirational historical fiction to picture books at the beginning of this year - though I DEFINITELY got my feet wet last November with the wildly fun Tara Lazar and her PiBoIdMo (that's Picture Book Idea Month, in case you didn't know).

I love kids, and writing for them is a challenge, and lots of fun for me. I still have A LOT to learn (i.e. I am most definitely not ready for prime time), but I am enjoying every step of it (well, ALMOST every step LOL).

How does my writing process work?
Photo source
It varies some, but in general my ideas come to me either when I least expect it, or when I am purposely trying to find something to write about (such as during PiBoIdMo). I'll often flesh it out on paper a bit until I have something I can build a story on. Then I'll start writing. Often, I will start longhand (I do quite a bit of writing while waiting for carpool), and type in what I write out later, making some preliminary changes as I go. I'll then print out what I have so I can write more longhand on the same sheet of paper if my next opportunity to write is away from my keyboard.

I do some editing as I go along, but also give my story MANY, MANY look overs (and have others do the same) before I consider it truly done. In general, I save over old drafts - but I'm trying to be better about saving into new files so I can see "where I've come from." The PB I'll be submitting to RYS currently has seven drafts.
 
And now, for passing it on:
I have to be honest - I had QUITE a lot of trouble finding folks who hadn't done this already or felt they had the time to do a post like this. But I DID find a couple.

Suzy Leopold is a wife, mother, grandmother, educator, and writer whose passion is sharing the importance of the love of learning with children and their families. You can visit her blog to learn more about her.


Karlene Jacobsen is a mother, wife, home health worker, nursing student, and writer who writes romance and contemporary fiction. You can check out her blog, Undaunted Devotion, for inspiration and more about her.

Be sure to stop by their blogs - now, and in a week or two! And if you haven't been tagged in this blog hop and would like to be - consider yourself my third person :)


My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

5/23/14

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Guess Again!

It's been a while, eh? :)Well, it appears I might be SLOWLY working my way back into blogging. I found a blog hop/meme that I think will be QUITE fun, and decided to jump in this week. I guarantee it won't be an every week thing - but I'll certainly share on occasion.

Just for your own info - Perfect Picture Book Friday is a feature on children's author Susanna Leonard Hill's blog where people share information on favorite picture books on their own blogs, then link their post in the gadget on her post. She keeps an entire list of all the ones featured for anyone's reference (check it out here!). Now that I am reading a picture book a day for research, I figure this will be a good place to share my gems. And I have to tell you, my first one is JUST that! 


Title: Guess Again!
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Adam Rex
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009, Fiction
Age Range: 4-8 years
Theme/Topics: guessing, humor
First Page:
He steals carrots from the neighbor's yard.
His hair is soft, his teeth are hard.
His floppy ears are long and funny.
Can you guess who? That's right! My...

Synopsis: Trust me - the answer is NOT what you think! This is a book that will kep you guessing again and again and again (and laughing!). The author sets up what seem to be "easy" rhymes - but then each one is absolutely NOT what you would expect. The illustrations add to the fun.

Resources: Personally, I think this would be an AWESOME mentor text for kids learning about poetry - and probably surprises/twists in writing as well. Inference as well. :) Studying the rhyme and meter and such could help them learn, in a fun way, what makes a poem a poem.

Why I love it: It is, in a word, hysterical. The poetry is so masterfully done that the surprise at the end of each stanza is completely, well, surprising. The art is super clever - and it is fun (for adults AND kids) to figure out how they were "fooled." I shared this book with my kids (ages 10 and 13) - they loved it. With my husband, my hairdresser, and just about anyone who would listen - and each one was delighted. So extremely, extremely clever.

So, hope you'll give this one a look - and check out OTHER perfect picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's place.
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

5/22/14

The Ministry of Silence

Job's friends get a bad rap - and, in general, I'd say they deserve it. But they DID do one thing VERY right.

I'm over at Jewels of Encouragment today, talking about how we respond to people who are grieving. Sometimes, we don't know what to say - and that just might be correct. Hope you'll see what I mean and read about the ministry of silence.
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

5/10/14

Counting Down the Days

(Just in case you are curious, I wrote my Barn Door post from yesterday almost two weeks after today's post - so the similarity in theme is NOT purposeful. Really ;)) 

Waiting can be aggravating - or fun. Even when it is for something super exciting, the way you look at it can make a huge difference in whether the time drags or flies by. 
 
I'm over at Jewels of Encouragement today, talking about waiting for summer - and something even MORE exciting. Hope you will stop by and see how we can count down the days - and what our attitude should be. 
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

5/9/14

A Month to Go!

Four weeks from today is my kids' last day of school for the school year - and are they ever excited (and anxious - more the latter than the former, I think). We will be taking advantage of quite a few activities and attractions in our area over the summer months.
The Barn Door

I'm over at the Midwest blog The Barn Door today, talking about some of them. Hope you will stop by to see what is coming soon for the Sher family!

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

5/6/14

Omission or Commission?

The Bible is not just a book of things to avoid - and not sinning isn't as easy as NOT doing bad stuff. Sometimes, it can be the other way around.

I'm at the Internet Cafe today, talking about some times when not doing something IS the sin - and what it means. Hope you'll stop by and learn about The Sins of Thou Shalt.

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

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