Saturday, March 18, 2017

ReFoReMo Day 18: Keila Dawson Takes the Challenge


By Keila Dawson


The reading list of fiction and nonfiction books in this challenge is both large in number and broad in scope. Have you read books you may not have otherwise because they’re on the ReFoReMo list?  I have. Some I had missed; others didn't grab my attention. But reading what our guests wrote about what made the books they recommended special piqued my interest. So I read them. And I'm glad they were on the list because regardless of the topic or genre, a well written book is a good mentor text.


via GIPHY

Participating in ReFoReMo just may inspire you to take another challenge.

·        If you’re drawn to fiction, have you read a nonfiction book that challenged you to learn more about the elements of that genre?

·        If you’re drawn to realistic fiction, have you read a nonfiction biography that challenged you to write one?

·        If you’re drawn to writing 500 word manuscripts, have you read one with 100 words that challenged you cut 400 words from your current work in progress?

·        If you’re an illustrator or author-illustrator, have you read a book that challenged you to write the text or experiment with creating a wordless picture book?

·        If you’re drawn to humor, have you read a quiet book, or one about a serious topic that challenged you to explore why it resonated with you?

·        If you’re drawn to lyrical language, have you read a poetry book or a rhyming book that challenged you to study those techniques further?

No, military strategy will never appeal to me even if one of our esteemed guests recommended a book on the topic! But even though we typically read what we write, there’s a chance you’ve read a book this month that may inspire you to take your reading, research and writing in a new direction. 

Happy reading!



Keila Dawson is a ReFoReMo Contributor. She’s hiked the rice terraces in the Philippines, climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan, and Mt. Sinai in Egypt. Keila finds adventures in picture books too. When she isn’t traveling, reading or digging in genealogical archives, Keila is writing and visiting schools. She enjoys sharing her love of Louisiana and world cultures with others. THE KING CAKE BABY, her debut picture book released in 2015, by Pelican Publishing Co., Inc.






















170 comments:

  1. I have, indeed, read more non-fiction than usual. This is a help since I'm trying to break out of fiction writing and try my hand at a biography for once. Nothing like good mentor texts! Thanks, Keila.

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    1. Lots of great biography mentor texts in this challenge. Good luck Katelyn!

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  2. I agree-it's good to read outside of your normal interests. And you can get inspiration from anything you read. Thanks for the post, Keila!

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    1. Right? ReFoReMo inspires me every year Rebecca. There's always so many good books to read and study.

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  3. T have read books that I otherwise would not have read due to this challenge and also due to friends' recommendations. Sometimes a book surprises us and we learn something valuable.

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  4. Thank you for reminding us that as we broaden the types of PBs we read, we should challenge ourselves to broaden our writing skills.

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  5. I have opted to read some of the ReFoReMo suggested mentor texts that I wouldn't normally have self-selected. In doing so, I challenged my inner perceptions and broadened my perspectives. In fact, reading one non-fiction picture book sparked an idea for me, which resulted in my own non-fiction idea. Thanks for sharing your helpful hints!

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    1. YAY Meli! Good luck with your new idea!

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  6. These are great challenges. I have read many books that I would not normally have read, and I am grateful for that!

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    1. Me too Linda. Thanks to ReFoReMo and all the great guest recommendations.

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  7. I agree it is the contributors reason for picking the mentor texts that I find most interesting and a great reason for me to read them too.

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    1. Understanding why someone else enjoyed a book sure can open a reader's perspective. Thanks for joining us Sharon!

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  8. One challenge leads to another, keep reading and learning. Thanks for the reminder.

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  9. I agree that REFoReMo is a wonderful opportunity to read outside my box & get inspired to write differently.

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  10. Thank you, Keila! ReFoReMo is introducing me to a variety of books!

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  11. Thanks for the reminder to vary our mentor text reading. It's like cross fit training -- it makes you stronger and flexible!

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  12. Thank you, Keila! I tend to read more PBs during ReFoReMo. Every post seems to include one PB that's new to me.

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    1. Welcome Manju! I can't wait for March to read all the recommended books and learn why others enjoyed them.

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  13. Thanks for reminding us to go outside our comfort zone, creatively.

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  14. Thank you, Keila. I try to read everything. You never know where inspiration will strike.

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    1. Exactly David. It's so rewarding to read a book that inspires!

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  15. Hi Keila - thanks for setting out a great challenge for us as we make our way through ReFoReMo and beyond. And thanks for all that you do to help with this great challenge!

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    1. Welcome Melissa. Thank you for being a part of our ReFoReMo family!

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  16. Yes! This challenge is really helping me to read more broadly.

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  17. Thanks for reminding us to go outside our comfort zone. I plan on reading non-fiction now and challenge myself to better understand it and maybe take a stab at it.

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    1. Good for you Nancy! And boy do I love a well written non-fiction. I will join you in that challenge. :)

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  18. Hi Keila, thanks for this thought-provoking article. Didn't realize how much this challenge could tweak my thinking as a writer.

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    1. Welcome Rita. Amazing to see how reading even one book can influence what we write.

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  19. Nice post. Good reminder that all reading is fodder for growth and experimenting. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Absolutely! So happy you joined us MrB.

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  20. Yes, we do tend to read more of what we write which is why I'm so, so glad for REFOREMO. I'm breaking out of my tunnel vision! Yesterday, after putting the 60 something books in piles of What I love, What I don't love, What I want to read again, What I will call our small town library to order, What I'm going to buy, What will help some of my own writing RIGHT NOW, I was struck again at the power of picture books. They make you laugh, cry, think about your life, give you hope. In short, they change you. Thank you, Keila for affirming the value of breaking out of our comfort zones. And now I will go find, A KING CAKE BABY!

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    1. WOW Karen, you are one organized ReFoReMo'er! Agree, picture books pack a punch. So happy to have you in our kidlit family.

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  21. Yes! This has helped me try different genres. I love getting recommendations of "good" mentor texts as there's so much out there...

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    1. Exactly why I love to ReFoReMo Susan. I do enjoy reading books others have enjoyed and learning why.

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  22. Great questions and I think the more we stretch ourselves the better we write. Thank you for your post. I think most of us try things out of our comfort zone, at least I hope so.

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    1. Welcome Deborah. It may not be easy to venture out of our comfort zone, but definitely helpful to the creative process. Happy you're here with us.

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  23. Great thought-provoking post! Thanks.

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  24. What a great post! I have read several books that are out of the norm for me, and others that had been on my "to do" list for a while, and I have enjoyed stretching!

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    1. Thanks Sandy. So happy the challenge is helping you S-T-R-E-T-C-H!

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  25. The list has also nudged me to study some authors that weren't really on my radar. Each book on the list opens a new club in which I want to be a member. Thanks for your post.

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    1. So happy the challenge is helping you expand your reading!

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  26. I have read some gems I never would have picked up had it not been for this challenge, Keila. You have asked us thoughtful questions here. TY. Here's to another week of reading!

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  27. Reading the mentor texts has certainly broadened my understanding of the vast array of picture books which are available. I do plan to try my hand at some different kinds of writing in the future. Thanks for stretching us!

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  28. So important to keep an open mind and read all types! Thanks for the reminder that we can learn from a variety of texts and authors.

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  29. great reflection post! And so true. Guess what? MOTHER BRUCE, and the others from the funny picture book day, inspired me to write funny! I just completed my first ever humorous manuscript-and I have reforemo to thank for it!

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  30. Yes reading these PBooks is inspiring me to try other genres and to change up my process. Always a challenge. I love New Orleans so I'll have to check out The King Cake Baby!

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    1. Nice to hear Susan! I know what it means to miss Noo-Awe-LEENS!

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  31. I have read a mix of the nonfiction and fiction books. I've even gone off the list to research subjects and styles. ReFoReMo has opened so many titles to explore-it's an adventure in writing and illustration. Thank you, Keila, for asking the questions that keep pushing me forward :)

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  32. I just want to kick myself for not taking part in ReFoReMo before this year. This has been fantastic!

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  33. Thanks for encouraging us to break free of our ruts.

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  34. I love the reading list as it challenges me to read outside of my PB reading comfort zone. Love ReFoReMo! Thanks for your post, Keila

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    1. So happy you are enjoying ReFoReMo Tracey!

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  35. I've read all kinds of books I probably wouldn't have read otherwise and I've been enjoying myself.

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    1. YAY for you Christine! Happy you hear you are enjoying the challenge.

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  36. I agree & I was so inspired by 2 of the suggestions that I began a totally new PB manuscript, myself. - Alice Fulgione

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  37. I had thought to focus my reading on NF PBs as mentor texts for my own NF MS. But several posts piqued my curiosity to read more widely. My favorites have been works I might never have tried, and I find they share craft skills that I desperately needed. Thanks for encouraging us.

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    1. Keep going Carmela! Thanks for joining the ReFoReMo family.

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  38. I've read books I didn't know about, and some I did but underestimated before I read them. Inspired to try writing using a new format!

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    1. Isn't that the truth, never judge a book by the cover, the subject or title. LOL!

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  39. The fun of the challenge is. . .well, the challenge of going outside that comfort zone, as you said so well!

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    1. Great reminder to read outside our comfort zone to push ourselves and our writing -- thanks Keila!

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  40. Interesting suggestions in your post. Thank you.

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    1. Welcome Judy. Happy you joined the challenge.

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  41. I agree -- sometimes a book you wouldn't have chosen for yourself provides an insight or inspires you in an unexpected way. Thanks for challenging us to try something new, Keila!

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  42. Yes! When I started this challenge a few years ago, I definitely read outside of my "comfort zone" and opened myself to reading things I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own. Now I think I am much more open to new genres and types of PBs and always look forward to this challenge for that reason.

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    1. I hear you Heather. I am so happy Carrie and Kristine started this challenge!

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  43. KEILA: THANK YOU for the WONDERFUL list of questions to get us thinking outside The Box. One of my favorite things about ReFoReMo are the recommended books I have read, where otherwise I wouldn't have given a chance in the bookstore. I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH by reading outside my own BOX of interests! Once again demonstrating "you can't judge a book by its cover." THANK YOU!!!!

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    1. Welcome Natalie. We keep reading and keep learning!

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  44. Leila thanks for challenging us to expand our reading through mentor texts. I am working on a lyrical manuscript and will follow your advice to check out thumping books and poetry books.

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  45. This challenge has pushed me to read books that wouldn't normally have been on my radar. I've found some I love, some I haven't, and somne that have learned valuable lessons from.

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    1. Me too Julie. Glad you joined the challenge.

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  46. I agree- ReFoReMo has encouraged me to read and study books that I might not typically try. Lots of inspiration! Thank you for this post!

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  47. Thank you Keila. Yes, one challenge leads to another. It is also room to keep reading and learning. Thank you for your contribution to my Pinterest Boards.

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    1. We do love a good challenge Maritza. Thank you for all your contributions to our kidlit community.

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  48. Oooh...I have been inspired to write a picture book with fewer words...my lowest is 178 words.

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  49. thank you for inspiring me I look forward to REFOREMO every year. thank you for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

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    1. So happy you joined the family Terri. :)

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  50. This challenge is so fun because it pulls us along outside of our normal interests and introduces to mentor texts we might have passed up for one reason or another. Thanks Keila.

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    1. Agree, I look forward to the recommendations.

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  51. My answer is yes! I have appreciated all the opportunities to expand my picture book experiences.

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  52. Great post, Kelia! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on reading outside the box. I agree that it’s the contributor’s reasons for choosing a mentor text that hook me into reading it, when I would have passed it up otherwise.

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  53. Thank you, Kelia, for all that you do for ReFoReMo.

    Even though I have a preference towards what I want to write, reading across genres helps me to grow as a writer.

    ~Suzy Leopold

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  54. reading a diversity of genres is always a good idea - because you never know what will spark your imagination or turn out to be that "must use" mentor text.

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    1. So true Sue. The reason I love the ReFoReMo challenge. :)

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  55. These are great questions; ReFoReMo has stretched me to reach beyond my usual reading interests, but also confirmed my preferred genre in reading and writing.

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    1. Such a good challenge in so many ways.

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  56. Keila, these reflections are spot-on. When I started ReFoReMo, these were the exact goals I had: to read books I otherwise wouldn't have likely grabbed at the library, to learn about genres that don't usually pop onto my "to-write" list, and to hopefully reflect on works that are different from my typical reading and writing. And that's exactly what's happened. I've read about 200 books in 3 weeks, and I've been inspired with new ideas every day. It's thrilling to see so many people getting excited and finding new ideas for creating!

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  57. The PB biographies have been the real eye-openers for me. I almost always stay far away from anything that looks like it might be biographical for fear it will be too dull for my kids. But the ones chosen by our mentors have been really good! Liz Tipping

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    1. So true Liz, today's biographies are so interesting and nothing like those I read in school.

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  58. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have certainly been inspired and amazed by many of the books I've read so far for ReFoReMo. I've read a lot of books I probably never would have sought out or come across on my own, especially the non-fiction ones. I'm not sure if I'll try writing non-fiction, but I have really enjoyed and learned from reading them and seeing how interesting and creative non-fiction can be.

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    1. Welcome Susan. So true, so much to learn from every well written book.

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  59. ReFoReMo challenges me to study genres and books that I often don't gravitate toward. It has been a real eye-opening experience for which I'm grateful!

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  60. I try to read across topics and styles, but somehow there are dozens that come up in this list that are new to me. Lots of exciting fun reading - and I enjoy considering what in each text "works", even if I don't connect with the story. So much to learn.

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    1. So hard to keep up with many books coming out year after year. Yet another reason to take advantage of ReFoReMo. Happy you joined us!

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  61. I was pleasantly surprised how much I've enjoyed the non-fiction stories.

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    1. I am so happy there are so many in the market Maria. They sure help learning about nonfiction topics fun.

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  62. Thanks for the thoughtful post. I've been on a PB biography kick lately, and was glad to see a number of those inspiring books listed. I've read more NF PBs. And I was been inspired to write a shorter manuscript--220 words in the first draft. Now I have to try to more than cut it in half! Or maybe I'll just do another at 100 words. Might be easier.

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    1. YAY Kim! I am in awe of our reading list. So many great stories. Good luck!

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  63. Keila, Great questions to think about while I'm reading. I am in awe of all of your adventures so far. Hopefully I will read future books of yours about those adventures.

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    1. Welcome Traci. Working on those stories Traci. :)

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  64. Great ideas and lots to think about, Keila. Thanks for the challenge.

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  65. Thank you Debbie. Good luck with your writing!

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  66. The types of books I've read with this challenge has inspired me to think out of the box. Thank you for the inspiring words Keila!

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  67. There are a lot of books on the list that I don't think I would have ever come across if it wasn't for ReFoReMo. I would love to try a wordless picture book at some point. Thank you for your post!

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    1. Welcome Anne. Take the challenge! Good luck.

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  68. I am definitely reading more NF! Great post! Thank you!

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    1. So many good NF books on the market. Thanks AJ!

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  69. I have really enjoyed reading picture book biographies and feel inspired to try my hand at writing one.

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    1. So happy to hear you are inspired to try something new. Good luck!

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  70. Thanks for your post! I love ReFoReMo and exploring different books, stepping outside of my reading comfort zone. I am drawn to the humorous PBs, but also have been excited by the NF/biographies. Really impressed with Radiant Child. I would love to write a bio, but not sure that research is my thing :)

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    1. So many stories out there to inspire our creativity. So happy you are enjoying ReFoReMo Kristen!

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  71. I'm just getting caught up on all the ReFoReMo posts tonight but I'm already feeling more inspired than I have in weeks! Thank you for a great post and congrats on your success!

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    1. Welcome Jamie and thank you for hanging in there with us!

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  72. I hope to catch up with my mentor books this week. I've been heavy under deadlines, so now I am a free bird! For a little while anyway. Thank you for the thoughts to consider. The books I've read have been wonderful examples that I know will help my writing. Thank you!

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    1. Welcome Angie. Free to read sounds like a good way to spend a day. :)

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  73. I love your advice to try something different, Keila. Too often, we stay in our comfort zone...but I think it is when we are challenged that we unleash our creativity. Great post!

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    1. Isn't that the truth Vivian. One day, I will focus and finish one of several NF bios I've started! That's my challenge. :)

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  74. I'm a challenge junkie! I would rather be working on challenges than cooking supper! (Then, again, I'll do anything to get out of cooking!) Thanks for the suggestions. And the challenge for April is....

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  75. Great advice, Keila. I will definitely take you up on challenging myself to read other genres! Thanks :)

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  76. On the day of this post, I was off judging a speech and debate event. So I packed up my research (five picture books) and read during the breaks between rounds. Because the books were not what I might have been drawn to, I paid attention to which ones I got lost in and during which ones I found the other judges in the room distracting. I also paid attention to which book made me put it down and begin writing. The experience brought a whole new level to the research.

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  77. Thanks for your advice, Keila! I've read books I wouldn't have picked up because of ReFoReMo. :0)

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  78. Reading nonfiction books has been the biggest gift for me from ReFoReMo. Expanding my reading horizons has opened up a world of writing possibilities. So grateful!

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  79. These lists during the challenge have introduced and expanded my reading list, for sure.

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  80. Over the years, I have brought home a slew of PBs - mainly nonfiction - to study.
    This has been wonderful because a) it has made me focus on a category instead of hopping all over the place b) there is a lot to learn from every PB topic and theme -especially in how the mentors have grouped them in their blog posts... it ties the concepts together c) learning from illustration styles that I wouldn't normally gravitate to... and I'll stop there, for now. :)

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  81. I've read many books I probably wouldn't have found if I hadn't done this. I've also learned so much about how to use PBs to inspire, inform and educate myself about the art of writing picture books.

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  82. Thanks for great advice, Keila! Reading the sweeter books or the non-fiction texts have definitely inspired me to try something new. Cindy

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  83. The questions you pose, Keila, really are a challenge! I will try to write something different from what I typically do and see how it goes. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  84. I love the idea of breaking out of my comfort zone and experimenting with something new!

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  85. I had the pleasure to review Keila's book :) Thanks for your recommendations!

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  86. ReFoReMo has definitely challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and read books from all genres. Now I have a broader perspective and bigger appreciation!

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  87. Thanks, Kella for reminding us to leave our comfort zone now and then. Enjoyed your post.

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  88. Yes! This challenge has definitely introduced me to books I hadn’t picked on my own. Studying various styles is also helping consider the strengths and weaknesses of my own voice. Thanks for your post!

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  89. I agree! I'm learning from all the books and posts, even when they might not have piqued my interest before!

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  90. What a great way to challenge ourselves.

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  91. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.ReFoReMo definitely has an impact my craft. Last year I was inspired to try a different approach to a PB biography.

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  92. I was trying to stick to nonfiction this ReFoReMo, and I've read a lot more NF than I usually do. But, the fiction titles are too good to miss. It's always helpful to have the lists.

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  93. I tend to do a lot of reading that relates to projects I'm working on, and I really appreciate being exposed to how OTHER people lump together titles in these posts and being sent to new titles that I'd've otherwise missed.

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  94. Keila, thanks for this important reminder to step outside our norm and challenge ourselves with things that are new and different. Great advice! I'm going to search out more non-fiction and quiet books.

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  95. These are fabulous reflection questions. Thanks!

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  96. Great questions. When I was in New Orleans I got the baby in the cake.

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