Friday, September 25, 2015

Read Aloud: the Magic of Picture Books

I was lucky enough to hear Mem Fox read her work at this summer's SCBWI LA. I wanted to share with you all a video of her reading, because I think watching her highlights PERFECTLY the complexities involved with writing a picture book:

I talked previously about the most common mistakes that I see writers make. Mem Fox boiled it down to: "Would a child give a damn about this book?"

In the video, listen to the rhythm of her words; listen for the inflections and try and feel the suspense. Picture books, unlike novels, are an interactive experience. When I love a picture book, I don't just recommend to others that they read it; I want to read it with them. I want to read it to them. I want them to feel what I felt.

That's what giving a damn is.

With the right rhythm, tone, repetition, pacing, and narrative arc, you can do that - you can share directly with others the magic you feel as you read. You don't have to be a brilliant reader to do it; the writing and flow does it for you.

Read your picture books aloud before you submit; and have others do so, too. Listen to others read it to you. How do they feel after reading? Did they stumble? Was the rhythm and emotion and spark you felt when you put pen to paper conveyed back to you from the reading?

If not, you've got some work to do.

More read-alouds are on Mem's website.

Monday, September 21, 2015

What's with the Banner?

I'm re-decorating!

I've been meaning to re-design my banner for a while now...and you know, what better way to give me a kick in the pants to do it than to take down what I have?!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Writing to Trend: the Easy Way Out, the Hard Way In

NANOWRIMO is fast approaching, and I'm sure the plot bunnies are hop hop hopping in preparation...what to write?

What's next? What's the next big thing?

Because of course, that is totally what you want to write next.


When you write to trend, you are incorporating elements to try and replicate another book's success. But it isn't those elements that made it great; what makes a book great is a magical unicorn of a thing - writing and hook and timing and passion and cupcakes and jalapenos.

So does that mean you should throw your hands up and leave it to fate? No; it just means that you can't force a great book to happen. You can't pop in the elements and expect that to do the trick; it has to be inspired.

Should a current trend inspire you, or totally be the launch pad for your crazy I've-had-this-in-my-drawer-forever wheelhouse, rock on. Publishing is cyclical, and so even if what your passion is now isn't "on trend," likely, there will be a time for it later (unless it's, you know, something like erotica for children 0_0).

So this NANO, let yourself be inspired; and write that next great book.