Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Google Docs

As many of you know, I have collaborated on several projects with children's author Corey Rosen Schwartz. When we first started, we used instant messaging and back-and-forth emails. It wasn't the most efficient method of co-writing, but we made it work.

Then came Google Docs, and it changed our writing lives! How did we ever collaborate without it?

With Google Docs, Corey and I can view and edit the same document at the same time, and see each other's changes as they are made. There is no need for sending files back and forth through email, or copying and pasting.

But even if you are not one to collaborate on writing projects, there is still something to love about Google Docs. You can upload documents and invite people to read them and/or edit them, which is a great tool for critique partners. And, of course, it is also a good way to back up your files online.

So, check out Google Docs if you haven't discovered it yet!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

PB, or not PB? That is the question.

Most of the stories I set out to write are intended to be picture books. The few exceptions are those that I have written specifically for children's magazines and, of course, my novels.

However, my recent acceptances (here and here) have made me look at my writing a little differently. I've written dozens of picture book manuscripts. Sold zero. I've written several magazine stories. Sold EIGHT. And that's not counting all the how-to articles and poems and puzzles I've sold over the years.

Does this mean that I should be putting more effort into submitting to magazines? I think that is part of it. But another thing to consider is this question: "Is this story really meant to be a picture book?"

What makes a story perfect for the picture book format, or another perfect for a magazine?Here are some key differences I see between picture books and magazine stories.
  • A picture book is a marriage of text and illustration. The story would not be truly complete without the pictures. However, in a magazine story, the tale is told completely in the text with no need for illustrations.
  • A picture book can be written with very little text, in various formats. A magazine story is usually (though not always) written as traditional prose.
Of course, there can be some overlapping, and that is where the big question comes in. Should I market this story to magazines or book publishers?

This is the question that was running through my mind the other day when I decided to send my story Dragon Night to Highlights. When I really took a look at it, I realized that Dragon Night would be a great fit for a magazine. Why should I hold out in the hope that it might be a picture book some day when I have so many other true picture book manuscripts in my files?

Why limit myself? I can take each story idea as it comes and decide then what it is meant to be.
PB, or not PB? I'll answer that question one story at a time.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

summertime rhyme

I has been one week since school got out, and what do I have to show for it?

I've basked in the sunshine,
sipped on iced tea,
stayed in bed late
(a huge treat for me),
entered some contests,
had lunch with a friend,
browsed an antique store
(did not reach its end),
went bicycle riding,
and played at the park,
sat on the deck until
well after dark,
munched watermelon,
made pudding-pop treats,
wrote a few poems,
soaked up the sun's heat,
gazed at the stars,
walked my two dogs,
researched some agents,
read some cool blogs,
played Legos and Mario,
Boggle and more,
chatted with good friends
who knocked on the door,
and now I'm just sitting here
spending my time
writing ANOTHER blog post in rhyme.

Monday, June 07, 2010

How to Write a Poem in 2 (or 3) Easy Steps

1. Begin with an emotion based on a personal experience (joy, fear, loneliness, wonder, curiosity, etc.).

2. Transfer that emotion into words that are pleasing to read and not predictable or cliché.

3. (optional) Give your poem perfect meter and rhyme while still following step 2.

The goal is for the reader to experience that emotion with you through your writing. If you can do that, you will attain some success as a poet.

Easy, right?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Today is the last day of school. And the start of what I intend to be a fabulously fun, perfectly productive SUMMER.

It begins in an hour and a half when I pick up my kids and head on over to Dairy Queen to celebrate.

Happy Summer, everyone!