Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Goodbye ReFoReMo & Jose Cruz Busts Out a Treasure Map

Dearest ReFoReMo Community,


After devoting our hearts and time to serving the writing community for 7.5 years, we are retiring the Reading for Research Challenge and blog. ReFoReMo was born with the goal to help others develop mentor text study habits and see them from multiple perspectives. We’re proud of our contribution, but more importantly we’re proud of you, our ReFoReMo community! We know how many writers love the challenge and rely on it for inspiration and accountability every March. Our hope is that you will continue those habits on your own now. We plan to do the same, giving our own writing more time and attention. Our Facebook Group will always be there when you want to discuss mentor texts or ask for recommendations. Our website(s) will stay put, too, so that you can go back in time and access the education for years to come. 


As a celebration of our time together, we’re featuring our last seven posts over the next seven days in memory of seven years. We hope you’ll celebrate with us!


We encourage you to leave your favorite ReFoReMo memories in the comments and also in the Facebook group. We love you!


Sincerely,


Carrie & Kirsti


And now, a special reflection from one enthusiastic ReFoReMo participant, Jose Cruz:

My first ReFoReMo was a game changer.

While I fancied myself an accomplished literary explorer, the list of assigned readings made one thing clear: I was walking in circles. My reading orbited solely around my own interests and experiences. Without realizing it, my manuscripts were restricted and unchallenged.

But with ReFoReMo as my map, I unearthed treasures during that first challenge which led me to even greater mentor text riches over the years. Let’s unroll the parchment and follow the dotted lines to three of my favorite discoveries.

Tone


NANA UPSTAIRS AND NANA DOWNSTAIRS

led me to…

TEN BEAUTIFUL THINGS


As an author, my inclination is to go big and bold, to tickle the funny bone rather than tug on the heartstrings. These two softly spoken texts revealed the value of slowing down and taking note of smaller moments, from road trips to family gatherings. They also pull off two impressive feats of tone. First, both books center on emotional upheaval, yet they ground the reader in the harmony of the characters’ close relationships. Second, the authors maintain a delicate and unhurried voice, yet the action still possess a forward momentum that compels the reader to reach the end of the journey. These mentor texts are particularly instructional when I want to write a manuscript that’s more lyrical in its prose but still captivating in its arc.

Multiple Hooks


THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY: THE CREATION OF DIAMONDS AND THE LIFE OF H. TRACY HALL 

led me to…

HOW TO SOLVE A PROBLEM: THE RISE (AND FALLS) OF A ROCK-CLIMBING CHAMPION 

When you’re starting out as a PB author, like I am, it’s easy to assume that your manuscript is only telling one story. False! In fact, the more messages our manuscripts communicate, the better our chances of creating stories with depth. Writers wanting to master multiple hooks should look no further than this PB bio combo. They provide factual details regarding the lives of their unsung protagonists in addition to fascinating information on their respective subject areas, geology and sports. And both tell moving stories of perseverance. Add all those hooks together (hidden figure biography + new subject area info + persistence message) and you have a package irresistible to readers (and publishers).  I use these texts as a checklist whenever I want to ensure that my manuscripts are hooking readers in different ways.

Ensemble Casts


THANK YOU, OMU by Oge Mora

led me to…

OUR LITTLE KITCHEN by Jillian Tamaki


I’m a bit of a loner by nature, so my manuscripts tend to revolve around individual characters making their way through a conflict. This pair of colorful texts opened my mind to the endearment of community narratives. Both authors utilize a bright, playful tone that ensures the hustle and bustle of the ensemble cast moving through their busy landscapes remains upbeat. Characters are drawn with quick, broad strokes that impart personality without bogging down the word count. Community narratives have become increasingly popular; writers wanting to try something different from the standard Hero’s Journey should seek out this dynamic duo.

By expanding my reading horizons, I expanded my writing horizons. Now, I look at my manuscripts more critically with a fuller understanding of what's possible in picture book writing.

We all face those deep, dark, and uncertain picture book waters. What will your treasure map look like?

You may be surprised where it will lead you. 

Jose Cruz is a children’s librarian and author living in Southwest Florida. When he isn’t playing with puppets, doing silly dances, and acting out stories at home, he does those same things at work. You can follow him at https://hauntedcruz.wordpress.com/ and on Twitter @hauntedcruz.









77 comments:

  1. Carrie & Kristi - Wow, has it really been 7 years? I've loved participating in ReFoReMo! The two of you created such an amazing challenge and gift for so many of us. Thank you. ReFoReMo will be sorely missed!
    I can't tell you how appreciative I am of your willingness to leave the website (and past posts) and the Facebook site in existence. I hope the book lists will remain as well.
    Wishing you both continued success in your individual writing and any other endeavor(s) you undertake. You are both wonderful friends and excellent mentors. Thanks again for helping jumpstart a number of years of writing.
    Hugs,
    Maria

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  2. Thank you both so much for all you have done to benefit all the writers out there... including myself... I've truly enjoyed your blogs and will miss them.

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    1. Hopefully, you can revisit them when needed, Yvona! Glad to hear how helpful it was for you!

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  3. Carrie & Kristi, thank you so much for time and energy and heart you have put into ReFoReMo for over 7 years! I completely understand needing more time your own writing and creative pursuits!
    I have learned so much over the years from you both and all the challenges. I was so proud to be asked to contribute to the blog in 2021. Ty for keeping the entire platform accessible. Wishing you all the best and much success. I will miss the challenge and yearly reading lists.

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    1. We appreciate you, Kathy, and wish you lots of success with your writing, as well! Of course, we'll stay connected over the years. <3

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  4. I usually couldn't complete your challenges "on time" but always went back because - you guys are great! Happy new adventures to you!

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  5. All GREAT things must come to an end. The hard work that was put into the challenge and website is evident. I often wondered how much time both of you took to keep this up. I loved having those lists to refer to and thank you for keeping them up. Now, onto your own writing. Looking forward to hearing about your successes.

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  6. Carrie & Kristi - Thank you! Your years of inspiration have been so valuable to me. I appreciate the motivation ReFoReMo gave me each year as well as the exposure to new books. All the best with your writing and beyond!

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    1. I'm so glad to hear that! Thank you!

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    2. Ohhh yay! So happy that we've helped! But of course our guests get tons of credit, too! :)

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  7. Say it isn't so! I am going to miss the challenge and the month-long list of recommended reading. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you have contributed to the kidlit community, Carrie and Kristi. All good things have to come to an end. Jose, I enjoyed reading your thoughts and look forward to following your career.

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  8. Wow, 7.5yrs! Thank you so much for these blog posts over the years. I enjoyed reading & being a small part of the Reforemo challenges.

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    1. We're so glad you participated, Tina!

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    2. It's ALL about our community and guest perspectives! Thanks so much!

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  9. So grateful for all the resources you've added to the kid lit community!
    Thank you!

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  10. Thank you so much for all your hard work. I have gone to the files on the ReFoReMo Facebook group often and have always come away with great ideas and comps to review. I will miss the blog posts coming to my email, but I know there is a time and season for all things. Peace, love, and best wishes to you!

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    1. And 6 more posts to come before you have to refer to previous valuable posts. :) Happy to hear that it helps!

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  11. Oh, wow! ReFoReMo has been such a wonderful learning experience! I will miss it come March, but I know I've learned ways to check out stacks and stacks of library books to read and research. Thank you so much for all of the hard work and inspiration! We are going to miss you and all the great posts. Like this one today! Best wishes!

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    1. Hope to see you around the online writing communities, Angie!

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  12. Thank you for all that you have done for the writing community! Wishing you both the very best with your writing.

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    1. You are welcome, Darshana! And thank YOU for contributing, too! We could not do it without incredible perspectives like yours!

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  13. Seven years? Wow! Thank you Carrie and Kirsti for the time and effort and guidance you have shared. I would never have even known what a mentor text is without ReFoReMo.

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  14. ReForReMo, both the challenge and the Facebook group, have been such an amazing resource for me. Thank you!

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  15. It's hard to believe it's been that long! But then it's hard to believe I've been writing picture books since 2012. Thank you, both, for your huge contribution to the kidlit community, and thank you for being so instrumental in my growth as a writer. All the best as you focus on your own writing! And hope to see you around the water cooler in the FB group!

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    1. I've also been writing picture books since 2012! Thank you, Jilanne!

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    2. Me too! Go 2012-ers! Thrilled to hear that we've been instrumental in your growth! Of course, we could not have done it without the valuable perspectives of so many! Best wishes and hope to "see" you online soon!

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  16. ReFoReMo has been such a gift. Thank you, Carrie and Kirsti, for all the time and hard work you've devoted to this wonderful resource. I've learned so much from ReFoReMo!

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  17. Thanks for all the hard work, many, many hours, and tireless nights you put into ReFoReMo!
    You've helped countless aspiring writers get a start, get an inspiration, and have the audacity to continue when the going got rough.
    Many kudos for all you've accomplished!

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  18. Thanks for all your time and effort. I was introduced to so many books that I had missed. My best to you and all who have been a part of this project.

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  19. Thank you Carrie, Kirsti, and team for all the insight and heart that y'all put into 7.5 amazing years!! I've learned so much about the writing and illustrating creative process. Your mentor text files are a sure go-to for me!! Thank you for keeping the website open for us to keep in touch with everyone. I wish you all the best as you continue your creative journeys. Brava!!!

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  20. Thank you for your hard work and the wonderful book lists and FB posts. I'll definitely miss them but am happy I can still access those invaluable resources. Happy writing!

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  21. Time flies when you're having fun! And what fun it's been learning while reading and writing with ReFoReMo! ❤

    Thanks for all you do for our writing community. ✍

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    1. Love you, Keila! And thanks for all you do!

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    2. Thank YOU for your expertise, Keila! HUGS!

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  22. It's been a great run and I have most of my lists still printed out and around for those needed mentor texts. Thanks for putting SOOO much energy into this event. Best wishes for your future endeavors!

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  23. Thank you for all you have done for our writing community.

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  24. Thank you for you both for introducing so many mentor texts in articles that taught me so much. Your inspiration will be missed, but I so appreciate that you are leaving up your website. Happy journey as create!

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  25. On one hand, I feel sad because I loved your reading challenge and only discovered it this year. On the other hand, I am looking forward to hearing about all of the exciting projects you will be focusing on now. Best wishes for the future!!

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  26. I participated in your challenge for several years. Using mentor texts is a key in my writing. I’m now writing about Engineering. Since I’m not an engineer, everything I’ve learned is from mentor texts and you’ve taught me how to find them, how to use them. I look forward to seeing what your future projects will be.

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  27. Thank you for "paying it forward" in countless ways, sharing your expertise and helping all of us to grow as writers. I cannot imagine the amount of hours you've devoted to this incredible resource for so many years. God bless you both!

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  28. Your legacy will be in new picture books for years. Thank you for making us all look at craft in new ways to make our work better!

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  29. Carrie and Kirsti,
    Thank you soooo much! I love ReFoReMo. This resource has had a HUGE impact on my writing journey. I've even gone so far as to come up with a process for using a mentor text or texts interactively as I revise. I didn't even know the term mentor texts when I first started writing but I learned over the years that I've used them from the get-go. And your blog and challenge has added to my mentor text toolbox!
    Best to y'all going forward...see you around the kidlit community!

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  30. I haven’t commented as much in recent years as I did in the beginning, but I want to tell you how much I appreciate having your blog there as a resource. Thank you for leaving the posts up for us. And thank you so much for challenging us to really dive in and study a lot of great picture books to learn our craft better!

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  31. ReFoReMo has always been a highlight of my writing year. Thank you for many years of learning.

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  32. Carrie & Kirsti, I can't believe it's been 7+ years! As the librarians in my local library can attest, I've discovered, and shared, so many wonderful picture books because of ReFoReMo. As my "books to request" list shows, I now look for the mentor texts and comp's as I delve into new manuscripts. Thank you for creating this wonderful and nurturing community that's helped me, and I'm sure many, many others, grow in our craft. To your continued success!

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  34. Dear Carrie and Kirsti,
    I learned of ReFoReMo its second year, and enjoyed it so much. I love picture books and was learning about writing them, but when life brings changes some things have to be set aside awhile. I still participated in reading the books for your annual event for 6 years and loved it. Thank you for introducing us to so many wonderful adventures. All good things to you both.

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