But wait. It’s November. Why am I writing about reading books about black history?
Because black history is American history. And I love reading and writing about American history. I especially love learning the stories in history.
Have you read Lift Every Voice? This beautiful book is by Pittsburgh author Kelly Starling Lyons. She’s a contribute to The Brown Bookshelf, a blog where you can find even more information about black voices, especially those creating for young readers.
ALL young readers.
I first learned about Kelly’s books thanks to my local bookstore, Riverstone Books. Local bookstores are the heart and soul of the story-telling world.
No online book seller hosts meet the author events.
No online book seller brings authors and illustrators to your town to meet children.
Only local bookstores help children see someone who looks like them, telling stories about them.
Support your local bookstore. Visit The Brown Bookshelf and find a new book to love.
This post is an interview with my middle son, about the first book he ever checked out. He’s now in seventh grade at the middle school.
Bat Loves the Night
“I was in English class, and we were in the library, and we all had our iPads out and were logged in and the librarian said, ‘Here’s your check out history. If you want to view all, here it is.’ We had all already clicked on it and were scrolling down to the first books we ever checked out in kindergarten. Mine was Bat Loves the Night. When I saw it, I remembered the moment I checked it out in kindergarten. I was upset that I couldn’t find a book that I liked. We had to check out a book and I couldn’t find one that I liked or wanted to check out. My teacher found it and said ‘what about this book?’ and then I remember really loving this book.
When I saw that book on my check-out history I felt choked up. What did I feel? I felt nostalgic. Maybe I even felt as happy remembering the book as I was reading the book. I also felt sad because I missed my elementary school. Then I remember the major moments in that school. I haven’t thought about my elementary school in awhile, but that book brought back a lot of memories. They came back in a fast pace. My kindergarten teacher was always really kind to me. I feel like if I had a different teacher I would have a different experience in the rest of my years at the elementary school.
Yes, I was able to read the book. I remember we also read Stellaluna in class. I think a lot of people had to have their books read to them, but I was able to read mine. Seeing that book title kickstarted my memory.”
What was the first book you ever checked out? What books do you remember from childhood?
You can find Bat Loves the Night at your local library, or at your local bookstore, like Riverstone.
This month, I’m particularly proud of my new article in the October 2019 issue of Muse magazine “Count Me In: Participate in Important Scientific Research Just by Counting Birds.”
With the bird population declining by 29%, and the threat of state birds not even being able to live in their “home” states, paying attention to birds is more than just a hobby. It’s an act of awareness and conservation. I’m really excited to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count this coming February and hope to join in other bird counts as well.
I’m wondering if a “how to” flow chart for writing picture books would be helpful. I sketched out a quick draft of a flow chart, but thinking it would be faster to just type up a Q&A.
I see a lot of questions in different writing groups from people who have written a picture book and just aren’t clear on the next steps. It got me thinking that a flow chart, or set of instructions, might be helpful. I jotted down this draft, but I’m not sure it’s the best format for presenting the info. And there are many more questions to fit into this chart, like “when should I take a class?” or “do I need a website for my book?” or “this company says it will print my book for me, it costs $10,000, should I do it?”
I want to help people who are just starting out writing picture books, but I also know there are many non-traditional paths to follow in this process. Would a chart like this be helpful or limiting? Even discouraging?
I mean, who says we have to follow the rules? But maybe these aren’t rules, just an outline of the typical paths people follow when writing picture books.
Writing picture books is both difficult and stressful but also wonderful and fulfilling. Let me know if this chart idea is worth doing or not.
So You Want to Be President of the United States! (Capstone, 2019).
Wanted: Someone to be the face of America. The president is responsible for signing laws, making sure the laws are followed, and figuring out the best way to run the country. Find solutions to problems. Clean up natural disasters. Meet with other leaders. It’s a big job. Do you have what it takes?
Writing non-fiction for children is one of my favorite kinds of writing.
In the past year, I’ve written three non-fiction books, one large non-fiction text book chapter, and numerous non-fiction magazine articles all for young readers. I have at least three non-fiction manuscripts waiting for the right publisher to fall in love with them.
Non-Fiction is an essential and exciting part of children’s literature.
It’s also a great way to develop your writing career. If you are interested in making a living as a children’s writer, non-fiction is a great place to start.
And if you’re like me, it’s an easy way to keep learning about the world around us.
I was so grateful that SCBWI offered so many session for non-fiction writers at the annual summer conference in Los Angeles. During the conference, I connected with other wonderful non-fiction lovers! And, I also learned about some excellent websites for non-fiction writers. I have added these to my weekly “to read” list. You should, too!
In August, I attended the SCBWI annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles. While I was there, I learned how to be a good regional advisor for Pennsylvania West, my home region. I learned about how to submit book manuscripts with back matter ideas. I learned that people in LA take their dogs into Target.
And I learned that writing with authenticity and respect in terms of diversity and representation is a part of CRAFT. It’s not about being politically correct or following a trend. It’s about doing research, learning everything you can, and writing or illustrating accurately.
This website offers articles and resources to help creators be more conscious in their work. I’m reading an article a week to help me learn about what I don’t know.
Last week, I read an incredible article on the role of sensitivity readers by Marjorie Ingall. I know lots of people think they can’t write about any characters that aren’t like themselves now. They wonder if everything they create will go through some kind of screening. They are conflating sensitivity readers with censorship.
But sensitivity (and accuracy) is not censorship.
Ingall writes, “It’s also vital to note that white writers can still write characters of color; writers without disabilities can still write characters with disabilities; straight and cisgender writers can still write LGBTQ characters. They just have to be … well, sensitive. When they get it right, in my reading experience, they rarely attract opprobrium.”
And author Julie Berry argues, “Why wouldn’t you want to be as accurate as you can and as reverent as you can be about the real, lived humanity of the people you’re depicting?”
This week, I indulged in a favorite topic: science fiction and fantasy. I was thrilled to read about two of my favorite authors, N.K. Jemisin and Octavia Butler. I was also excited to add four new excellent fantasy series books to my To Read list.
Visit the Conscious Style Guide often. Read and learn. It will improve your craft.
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