Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weekend Link: Mercer Mayer and the Zippererumpazoo

Mercer Mayer's video of him (or rather Reginald) reading Professor Wormbog in Search For the Zipperumpazoo, is a great study in how to write and read a story.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Weekend Links: Nonfiction, Mentor Texts and Whimsy

I've had the pleasure of listening to the WOW-Nonfiction Webinars. Kristen Fulton is the brains behind WOW and her fantastic website has all the links and info you need to get started writing nonfiction. And best of all, the Week of Writing Nonfiction is coming up. Here's a brief blurb:
"Welcome to Week Of Writing also known as WOW. For one week you are challenged to perfect, hone and produce great Non-Fiction Picture Books. This includes True Non-Fiction (Biographies and Historical events as well as How-To books and information or reference books), Faction (Facts presented in a fictitious way), and of course Historical Fiction (totally fictitious story based on real people, real events or real places)."
For more information, click here:

In fact, it was through one of Kristen's webinars where I heard Marcie Atkins' presentation on using mentor texts. Using mentor texts is essentially a self-taught class on how to write. You chose books or authors you love, dissect what works and use that to improve your own writing. Click here for more links to Marcie's website including the link to her presentation:

And just for fun, see the video above. Everything you need to know about writing picture books and getting rich off it from the horses...I mean elephant's mouth. Thanks Mandy Yates for putting it together. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Resistance and The War of Art

“It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”

Steven Pressfield

I just read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Ok, I confess, I didn’t read it. I listened to the audio book. Twice. (Warning: Don’t listen to this book when your children are around. He uses some profanity.) And then I bought the book so I could highlight stuff. It’s so good! It’s all about resistance. Really? I thought it was just me who insists that I really, really, really want to work on my books, but when I get an opportunity to do it, I decide I have to organize my closets or purge my email box or make homemade sauerkraut. You mean this happens to other people too? What a revelation.

One form of resistance he talks about is not finishing things. I do that! Right now I’m about 85% done with two projects, and I’m feeling that pull to walk away for a while. I don’t know what to do about the end of a story I’m writing, and I’m wrapped up so tightly about it that nothing I’ve written this week really works. But I’m going to win these battles. I’m not giving in to resistance.

Pressfield talks about the culture of healing that exists in places like Santa Fe, New Mexico. (I have some favorite gurus from that area.) If we accept the idea that we have to heal ourselves emotionally before we can do our work, we are giving in to resistance. He says:

 “The part of us that we imagine needs healing is not the part we create from. That part is far deeper and stronger. The part we create from can’t be touched by anything our parents did or society did. That part is unsullied, uncorrupted, soundproof, waterproof and bulletproof. In fact, the more troubles we’ve got, the better and richer that part becomes.”

He says it’s our personal lives that need healing, and that has nothing to do with our work. But it can be healing to our personal lives when we do our work. I have experienced this myself in a big way, but it still struck me as an epiphany.

He goes on to tell the difference between a professional and an amateur. If we really want to write books or make art, we have to turn pro. We have to show up every day no matter what.

The third part of The War of Art is about where our inspiration comes from. Pressfield calls it muses or angels. I believe angels whisper in our ears. I believe the stories I write exist before I write them, and I just have to let them come through me.

So now, every time I feel resistance coming back, I put this audio book on and listen for a while. If I know my enemy, I can win the battle.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Weekend Links: Writer Resources

I signed up for 12x12 and Start the Year off Write. I've seen some great resources flying across the Facebook book groups. Here's a few of them:

A relatively new website that has a massive inventory of children's publishing topics. It's like a Costco for writers:

Katie Davis (see video link above) has a YouTube channel with videos on various topics of kid lit, especially how to market yourself and build your *buzzword* platform:

And finally, if you're meter challenged like me, here's Rhyme Weaver's link, a nuts and bolts resource for writing in verse:

Have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Weekend Links: L.M. Montgomery and Patricia Polacco

Anne of Green Gables has long been a favorite of mine. I've read them as a child and an adult more times than a calculator can count, but I never really knew the story behind the author. 

L.M. Montgomery's life is tragic and magic in what she was able to create out of her imposed limitations. But her life is also a warning, one that is worth understanding. Above is a small snippet about the complex life of L.M. Montgomery.

And I couldn't leave this clip behind of Patricia Polacco speaking at an elementary school. I had no idea she started writing for children when she was 41 years old. Woohoo!

Have a great first weekend of a new year.