Ever wonder how writers find inspiration and structure their writing process? Some draw elaborate plot maps or tack character sketches onto whiteboards. Others say their characters come into the room and speak to them. I lean toward the Indiana Jones method of making it up as I go along.
In a USA Today interview, Newberry Medal winner Kate DiCamillo describes her creative process with Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Candlewick). The author says she often starts a book without a clear idea of how her tale could evolve. She explains Flora is based on her mother's obsession with an Electrolux vacuum cleaner and a squirrel on DiCamillo's front steps that looked ill.
Awesome ..... this Newberry winner started with nothing more than knowing she wanted to write about a squirrel, a vacuum cleaner, and a feisty 10-year old girl!
To learn more about Flora and DiCamillo’s writing life, read the full interview in USA Today here, or visit the author’s website here.
Are you like Kate .... free-flowing and on the fly .... or more structured in your writing process?
We don't get much snow in the southern U.S., so we savor the white stuff when it comes our way.
Beforehand, there's the pre-storm rush to stores for shovels and bread. Most schools close and many businesses delay opening. Then life slows to a crawl as we stay off the roads til temps rise and melt the snow within a day or two.
Some folk hunker down inside with old movies, books, games, and cookie-baking binges. Others root through closets to find warm outdoor gear for a romp in the snow. Kids in search of the perfect hill fashion impromptu sleds from flattened boxes and garbage can lids.
Today, I am delighting in stepping off life's fast lane as the north wind blows. Done the same lately?
What do a girl and a squirrel have in common with an old timey steam locomotive? They’re central figures in stories recognized by the American Library Association as America’s most distinguished children’s book of 2013.
Kate DiCamillo’s fantasy, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Candlewick), won the Newbery Medal as the best children's book of 2013. It features a feisty 10-year old who loves comics and a flying squirrel who can type poetry after a run in with a vacuum cleaner.
Brian Floca’s Locomotive (Simon &Schuster Children’s Publishing) received the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book. Floca’s fact-based tale takes children on an oh-my-gosh-it's-so-real 1869 steam train journey ....a big draw especially for boys who may shy away from reading.
To see some of Floca’s drawings and learn more about Locomotive, click here.
To find a complete list of winners announced by the American Library Association, go here.
What do you think about the 2013 selections? Would you add others to your list of top children's books for 2013?
HOORAY! Just finished a mock-up cover for the second book in my Sweet T Tales series. I'm over the moon that it took less than an hour.
Initially, I tried Create Space's cover generator tool, but its layout templates didn't work with my art. And while my graphic artist will format to perfection and make the cover even better once her schedule opens, my mock-up is perfect for advance reviews AND I don't have to wait for finished cover art to start a review process that often takes several weeks.
Here's how you can create a mock-up cover, too:
What are the odds niece Kristen (studying abroad this semester) could chase away tourists and rain to shoot this British icon against dazzling blue skies AND with that lone bird perfectly posed atop a stone?
Like the indie writing journey, persistence pays off, but sometimes being in the right place, at the right time, makes all the difference.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman
A lonely house. A lonely boy. And monsters lurking in the isolated British countryside!
Neil Gaiman’s tale is a first-person narrative told via flashbacks by a man visiting his boyhood home and remembering what happened to him when he turned seven-years old. The plot unravels slowly, like layers peeled back on an onion, as the man recalls his youth and discovers clues about strange events that changed his life.
Ocean is appropriate for middle-grade readers and up. I don’t recommend it for younger or sensitive readers …. there are some scary characters and a disturbing bathtub scene ….. plus, a brief make-out session between daddy and nanny that’s innocently observed by the lad.
Boys who generally don’t like to read would especially enjoy the audio version of this book. Narrated by the author himself in Gaiman’s deep luscious British accent, it’s easy to imagine oneself as a child .... in that quirky lane .... running from its monsters!
On a personal note, Gaiman penned "The Doctor's Wife," one of my fave BBC-produced Dr. Who episodes featuring Dr. #11, Matt Smith. Have you seen it? I'm truly glad Gaiman uses all media to entertain, enlighten and, scare us!
This week, I met Rysa Walker, author of Timebound and 2013 Winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Grand Prize and Young Adult Fiction category.
She spoke about writing Young Adult literature at my local library, and her historical time travel book is on my to-read list. I was also encouraged by hearing about Rysa's indie writing journey.
(Note to self...next time, remember to snap photo of me with said famous writer!)
Check out Rysa's tips for self-publishing in the digital age.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Great YA or adult read. I especially liked the ping-poinging of two stories about two young women from different eras. However, the author ties both together in a way that makes for a good tale and offers insights into a little-known slice of American history.
View all my reviews
So pumped after meeting this week with artist Irene Jahns and graphic designer Kayte Price about my second book!
"Finding Fuzzy” (its working title as Facebook Friends help me find a very-cool title for this chapter book for early readers) features T's little sister, Jenna.
"Fuzzy" adds an interactive element that allows readers to write their own, unique plot resolution. Plus, it raises the bar in showcasing Irene's watercolors with a larger, full-color book enhanced by Kayte's ideas for cover design and format. I'm aiming for a spring 2014 release on Amazon.
Won't a tale (tail?) about a bunny be a perfect Easter read!
Have a photograph showing someone reading Sweet T and the North Wind? I’d love to post it to my Facebook, Pinterest, and web pages.
T's been on the road since November….from Oregon and Washington to Virginia and Connecticut in the USA, plus crossing borders into Canada's Ontario province as well as Cornwall, Cheshire, and Wales in the UK.
I caught up with T as she visited Jack and Grandmother Mary in Louisiana during Christmas break. They just finished a long afternoon of skateboarding and playing outdoors before settling down to read T’s story.
Here’s how to submit a photo showing someone reading Sweet T:
- Select your photograph
- Include just the first name(s)
- Indicate the state/province where you live
- Send your photo and information through my connect page or via email by clicking here
It will be cool to see how many different places and people T visits!
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