Friday, March 31, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 29: How Did You Win?

Which title are you claiming after this ReFoReMo experience?

Knowledge Winner? Reading Pro? Research Guru?

Whatever title you claim, we hope you'll agree that you are richer than you were before you began.

As the posts went live, we revealed a multitude of amazing giveaways from our generous presenters. The time has come to officially enter yourself in the prize drawing! We don't require you to show us your research notes or a list of the books you've read. We're on the honor system. If you read regularly, established a mentor text research habit, and commented on every post, you have an opportunity to enter the Rafflecopter below for the extra prizes.

You can review all the prizes by clicking the arrows/dots under the first prize name (Mentor Texts for Writers eBook). To keep things simple, we are not opening separate Rafflecopters for each prize. Just enter the drawing one time and you will be entered in the drawing for all of the prizes. We will award prizes in the same order as they are listed. We'll keep the Rafflecopter open through April 7, and strive to announce the winners by April 11. In the meantime, please grab your Winner's Badge below and post it on your blog, website, or social media. A special thank you goes out to our super talented resident illustrator, Lori Nawyn.

For those that are new to ReFoReMo, we are a year-round blog, posting every Tuesday. However, after this incredibly busy month, we will be taking a greatly needed blog break after the April 4 and 11th posts. We look forward to sharing with you regularly again in May.

But, before we go...

What revelations did you have during ReFoReMo 2017? Did you learn something awesome from a certain book? Did one particular post speak to you? What was your overall takeaway from ReFoReMo 2017?

If you have problems posting a comment below, please join us for wrap-up discussions in the Facebook Group.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 30, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 28: Thank You

by Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call

You are part of the ReFoReMo family now. Let’s have a HUGE group hug!

Time for a curtain call… a bittersweet celebration of everyone that contributed to this great challenge. We can’t imagine what ReFoReMo would be like without our amazing guest presenters. Their valuable, varied perspectives and recommendations were priceless! They kept us inspired and energized! Thank you, thank you, thank you!  We encourage you to revisit their work and keep a watch on their achievements.  Consider doing an author study (or publisher study) on each of them!

Let’s hear it for this amazing team!

Wow! It’s incredible to see everyone here in one place. Encore! Encore!

Please give an extra standing ovation to our phenomenal Facebook group welcome captains, Janie Reinart and Keila Dawson. They welcomed you into the group, helped share ReFoReMo fever, and spread good discussion vibes.  Thank you, Janie and Keila!

And our challenge would be rather plain without our ReFoReMo character, created by Lori Nawyn, our resident illustrator. Lori's illustrations are so creative, diverse, and adorable! The Winner's Badge comes out tomorrow!

We would also like to thank you, too! The discussions were on fire this year! You didn’t hold back and you really opened yourselves up to one another in the group. It’s been so much fun getting to know you and we hope to see lots more of you.

ReFoReMo 2018 will be that much better because you are part of the family. We look forward to bringing you weekly posts until then, but we’ll need a bit of a break first. Whew!

We are so thankful for the additional prizes donated by our ReFoReMo presenters. Look for the Rafflecopter (prize drawing entry form) tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 27: Kirst Call and Carrie Charley Brown Explore Excellent Endings

     Your ReFoReMo Co-Coordinators

As the sun sets on ReFoReMo 2017, we’re not about to let the ending fall flat. The best endings roll around to the beginning and leave the reader with a craving for more. In 2016, we wrote a post on Bold Beginnings. Where there’s a beginning, there must be an ending, right? We’ll start you off with two examples, and let you explore the remaining mentor texts mentioned in our previous post.

Kirsti’s Pick: Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos (a ReFoReMo 2017 presenter) & Joy Ang  

Ending Style: The ending surprises and makes you wonder--a delightful ending that leaves you craving more.

Beginning: “When Baby Billy was born, his family noticed something odd.  He had a mustache.”
Ending: “‘There, there’  she said.  ‘Everybody has a bad mustache day now and then.’
‘Let’s dry your tears,’  his father said.  ‘The new neighbors have a baby who is your age.  He’s coming over to play.’ DING DONG.”  The last page is an illustration of a smiling Mustache Baby facing his new playmate, a baby with a beard!

When we compare the beginning with the ending, we see that it could be seen as a roll-around ending...starting and ending with facial hair. 

The ending is unexpected, yet perfect. The ending leaves me craving for more.  How will the playdate go? Will Mustache Baby like Beard Baby? When the second book (Mustache Baby Meets His Match) came out, I couldn’t wait to find out what happened with Mustache Baby and Beard Baby.  

Carrie’s Pick: The Monstore by Tara Lazar (a ReFoReMo 2015 presenter) & James Burks
Ending style: Ties the ending back to the beginning- A perfect roll around.
Beginning: “At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gumballs, there’s a trapdoor. Knock five times fast, hand over a bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside… THE MONSTORE.”

Ending: “So the back of their crooked old bike shed, under a box of rusty roller skates, there’s a trapdoor. Knock five times fast, hand over a bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside… THE MONSTORE 2. Just remember: No returns. No exchanges.”

Comparing the beginning to the ending, it is easy to see how this ties together perfectly. It comes full circle! The contrast comes down to:
  • Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe vs their crooked old bike shed
  • The last box of sour gumballs vs a box of rusty roller skates
The structure is familiar, yet fresh! And oh, so clever. Which creates immediate satisfaction. Then there’s the last line, “No returns. No exchanges.” which is used several times throughout the story. Knock out!

Take the time to compare and contrast beginnings and endings. Learn from those that satisfy. After reading and researching so much in just one month, we know you are exhausted. But we also hope you are craving more and ready to roll around to the beginning of a new, more informed chapter of your writing career. If you haven’t already, it’s time to turn your mentor text research to your work in progress.
  • Where does your story fall flat? 
  • What have you learned about writing from what you read this month? 
  • And of course, how can you improve your ending and make it a surprise, yet inevitable?

As you keep reading new picture book releases, ask yourself these questions:
  •  How do you see the market changing? 
  • What remains ever true and consistent? 
  • What trends are vanishing? 
  • How do the newest releases tap into original concepts? 

Although ReFoReMo 2017 is coming to a close, your reading and research should carry you to new, educated heights.
We’ve got two more days of celebration ahead of us. Don’t miss gratitude tomorrow and prize entries on Friday!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 26: Jodell Sadler Talks about Poetic Pacing, Pause, & Delivery

My favorite picture books bring kids into a new experience.  Leo A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett presents a ghost but also shares what it feels like to be misunderstood as that character. Leo finds a new guest in his house and he brings a tray of food. He’s being a great host. The family sees this as a floating tray. There’s a great compare-contrast in this.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña was like this as well for me. Peña allows readers to travel by city bus to a soup kitchen, and they discover the likes of Nana and her unique worldview and personality. Hers is a world that includes trees that drink through straws, seeing the world with your ears, and seeing the beauty where others never think to look. That was huge for me and made me a huge fan in a snap.

We share a story through great pacing, genius page turns, and opening hooks like we see in these two giraffe (yes, a huge giraffe fan!) books: There’s A Giraffe in My Soup by Ross Burach and One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck. Burach surprises readers by setting up for one event and then delivering just to the left or right of that expectation. In this story, animals are delivered to the restaurant while food is delivered to the zoo. Kids see the waiter bring soup with eye’s poking out. They guess it’s a frog but the page turn flips to an alligator leaping! In One Word from Sophia, the book opens in stunning fashion:

Set up: “Sophia’s birthday was coming up, and she had five things on her mind—One True Desire and four problems.  Her One True Desire [much like mine] was to get a pet giraffe for her birthday.”
Unexpected: “The four problems were… Mother, who was a judge, Father, who was a businessman,…”
You see the fun in this and kids love it!

So, there’s no bars held to fiction for all this pacing greatness. Nonfiction is just as stellar. I love, love the opening of Brave Girl, Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909!  Experience just the opening:

Set up: “A steamship pulls into the harbor, carrying hundreds of immigrants—and a surprise for New York City.”
Unexpected: “The surprise is dirt poor, just five feet tall, and hardly speaks a word of English.”

There’s also those certain books that present poetic pause. These titles are playful and engaging, and keep a keen focus at the negative space of good writing. The author decides what to leave off the page, when to use contrary, or shares what something is not. They tend to steer just left or right of what’s obvious, and suspend readers in the beautiful, more emotional moment of a story.

These things cannot be underestimated. In crafting that story that comes to life for a reader, writers who pay attention to these things will craft better books. We see this in titles like Flight School by Lita Judge. This was my fastest pick up yet at a bookstore. Brilliant opening page offers great lyrical writing, heart, voice, and careful crafting that instantly connects reader to character. The first page of Flight School reads:

“I was hatched to fly,” said Penguin. “When do classes start?”
“But you, dear, are a penguin,” Teacher replied.
“Undeniable,” said Penguin, “but I have the soul of an eagle.”

These examples all present that “going far enough” in the editing process to include poetic pacing, great poetic devices: alliteration, repetition, vivid verbs, ousting adverbs and articles, while also weaving in pause to emotionally connect within their own certain rhythm of ‘just right words at those just right moment’ within a story.

 Jodell is generously giving away one entry into her Pacing Picture Books class! 

Jodell Sadler is a master pacing guru, founder of KidLit College, and editorial agent with Jill Corcoran Literary Agency.  She has served as an art director, marketing consultant, senior designer, MFA grad, professor, and teacher. Connect with her on twitter at @JodellSadler, @KidLitCollege and Join KidLit College’s 2nd Birthday Blog Bash - 30+ Day Gift-Away starts on March 25.

Monday, March 27, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 25: Dr. Mira Reisberg Explores Anthropomorphism

By Dr. Mira Reisberg

Most of you know what anthropomorphism is, but for those of you who don't, anthropomorphizing is when the author or illustrator uses animals to stand in for humans and gives them human-like qualities. Anthropomorphic characters are race neutral and sometimes gender neutral, can lighten heavy messages, and don’t need parents. Kids love animal stories. Editors and agents are always looking for something fresh and new. Here are some anthropomorphic stories with fresh protagonists, plus one fun anti-anthropomorphic story that I’ll start with.

Sparky by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans where a sloth stays true to its real sloth-like self despite the desperate entreaties of his owner. Hilarious!

Doreen Cronin’s Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Fly, and Diary of a Spider series all illustrated by Harry Bliss.

Emily Gravett’s wonderful Meerkat Mail and one of my all time faves, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber.

And of course Mo Willem’s enduring pigeon character in the Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus series are just a few. See if you can find an unusual character to tell your story as Miranda Paul does in her upcoming Blobfish Throws a Party!

Mira is donating a free course! The winner choice of a Hero's Art Journey or Scrivener course or Writing Wonderful Character Driven Picture Books. Each of these courses are an incredible way to take your mentor text studies to the next level! To be eligible, please comment on this post and make efforts to read mentor text regularly.

Dr. Mira Reisberg is an editor and art director and a former children’s literary agent. She’s also the director of the Children’s Book Academy and will be co-teaching an extraordinary interactive Mastering Middle Grade Writing and Illustrating e-course for complete beginners to award-winners with Hollins University prof. Hillary Homzie starting Mon April 3rd right here Mira’s passions (obsessions) include kid’s books, helping others get published, being creative and creating community. Join her mailing list to get a wonderful resource for plotting picture books with underlying themes right here