By Kathy Halsey
This was my third year of meeting the ReFoReMo challenge, one that has changed for me every year. My debut year, I fretted about filling out forms and doing the challenge “correctly.” Last year I studied nonfiction texts and researched publishers. This year, ReFoReMo inspired me to write out of my comfort zone.
2015…I Was Green
Like most newbies, I was nervous about completing the challenge, finding mentor texts, and organizing my research. The question loomed…what am I supposed to do with this research anyway? Here are my tips for neophytes:
- If you can’t find specific texts, use other books by the author.
- If you live in a remote area with limited library access, check Youtube for book trailers and read alouds with recording rights.
- If you have ADD like I do, check the ReFoReMo research tools page for an easy-peasy graphic organizer that works for you.
- If you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, ReFoReMo’s Facebook page includes a plethora of thematically organized files such as “Books in First Person,” “Texts with Bookish Themes.”
2016…A Leaner Machine
Ah, year two, and I knew much better what to do. I had my organizational tools from 2015 and customized the process to better fit my needs. In a serendipitous surprise, I noticed my reading log encompassed many Charlesbridge texts. I had a previously scheduled professional critique coming up with Charlesbridge editor Julie Bliven. Kismet!
This spurred me toward a serious study of biographies and narrative nonfiction covering 2012-2016.
My story stack included these mentor texts:
I examined first and last lines, nonfiction structure, themes, language, and back matter for common elements that would inform my manuscript revision. I hoped to enhance my chances of making my biography a good fit for Charlesbridge. My revision did garner some interest from Julie, and she complimented me on a strong, marketable topic and theme. ReFo fueled this successful step forward in my writing journey.
This year I read even more voraciously. I read books while eating breakfast; I consumed a steady diet of books that fed my desire to write. I binged on alphabet books, poetry, and classics like JAMBERRY. The urge to write new formats came from this year’s reading list. Several of my new drafts almost wrote themselves:
- An idea for two concept stories came from examining OOPS, POUNCE, QUICK, RUN: AN ALPHABET CAPER and THE SLEEPY LITTLE ALPHABET.
- After reading the HAT series by Klassen, I was inspired to pull out an older draft and enter Vivian Kirkfield's 50 PreciousWords Contest.
- Finally, I YAM ADONKEY flooded my brain with silly puns to use in a humorous tale of my own.
Reading made risky writing possible for me, and I can’t wait to see what happens during ReFoReMo 2018 in this great community that Carrie and Kirstine created for us all. We travel the “write” road together in a ReFoReMo world.
In another life, Kathy taught English and served as a K-12 school librarian. She writes humorous picture books, biographies, and stories that feature outlandish characters. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband Bob and silly Corgi, Wiley. You can check out her blog posts on the GROG blog and learn more about Kathy at http://www.kathyhalsey.com/.