Sunday, November 10, 2019

It’s NaNoWriMo Time Quotes To Keep You Writing

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November 10, 2014

It's Nano Time. Quotes to keep you writing

By Susan J. Berger




It's NaNoWriMo time again.   I am following Dawn Knobbe's lead  and using this years' NaNo to make last years novel into a readable 2nd/3rd draft.
She also did a post on inspirational quotes for NaNoWriMo.
If you've never tried National Novel Month, it's a great way to get a first draft. Deadline is everything . You have thirty days to do it.


 
 
This isn't about being perfect. It's about getting the words out. If you get the words out, the story will come. I guarantee there will be lots of surprises.

"Here's the bottom line; writers write. Sometimes words flow easily. Sometimes it's like sloughing through mud. Either way a professional writer keeps writing." 
P.C.Cast 
 
 "A word after a word after a word is power." - Margaret Atwood

Dory and I have so much in common. I often stop to Google.



“Don't worry about what you're writing or whether it's good or even whether it makes sense.”  
Lauren Oliver
“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
Ray Bradbury.
 
Advice from a Hollywood NaNoWriMo coordinator.
"When all else fails, throw in a Zombie."
Will you revise after NaNoWriMo? Of course, but right now the trick is meeting the deadline.
 
"There's an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.”
Chris Baty
 
“You can't edit a blank page”
 
Happy writing.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Picture Book Querys

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Picture Books queries are a different animal from Mid grade and YA queries. You are going to be emailing your entire ms.

I met with two of the four other members of my picture book critique group this week and we each tried to hammer one out.
One question that came up immediately was what do you put in the "experience" part of the query letter when you have yet to be published? 

Everybody had to have a first query. Even Dr. Seuss. And we all know how that one went. It took him lots of tries to get a "yes" for To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. And he had illustrations!

Then there are those of us who write stories only.  Doreen Cronin's first book was Click Clack Moo. Cows That Type. What did she put for experience?
 Best advice I could find was if you have not yet been published. Don't put anything. Except that you are a member of SCBWI.


Advice from Query Letter Wizard:
The first paragraph. Always. Why? Because most query letters are not read top to bottom. Sad, but true. Agents, buried under mounds of submissions, will give your query only a quick look to determine if the first paragraph grabs and sustains their interest.
This is why you must write and re-write those three sentences so they tell the plot and give compelling information about your protagonist and their challenge.
SENTENCE ONE: Introduce your protagonist (main character) and what they want in the first sentence.
SENTENCE TWO: Describe the obstacle (s) that stand in their way.
SENTENCE THREE: Hint at the possible outcome and the terrible "or else" that could happen if your protagonist does not succeed. Write this "tease" to motivate the agent to read your query second paragraph which expands the plot as it involves your protagonist.

Here's another POV Mary Kole's From KitLit.com

 Since most agents ask that the picture book manuscript be included in the submission, writing a really meaty query for that short a manuscript seems a bit silly. When I see picture book queries — and when I write my own picture book pitches, in fact — I keep it very simple.

I’ve had a book by Katie Van Camp and illustrated by Lincoln Agnew called HARRY AND HORSIE in my sidebar for a while as an example of a great picture book with an outside-the-box friendship hook. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I’m sorry for you, because you’re missing out.

If I were writing a query for HARRY AND HORSIE, it would read something like this:

Harry and plush toy, Horsie, are the best of friends. One night, Harry is trying out his bubble-making machine when one of his bubbles swallows Horsie and hoists him into outer space! Harry has to rescue his best friend — and go on a wild space adventure — before returning safely home.

A quirky picture book with a great friendship hook, spare text and retro-style illustration, HARRY AND HORSIE is sure blast your imagination into the stratosphere! This is a simultaneous submission and you will find the full manuscript of XXX words pasted below. I look forward to hearing from you and can be found at the contact information listed below my signature.

Easy peasy. No need to write an elaborate letter. Just present the main characters, the main problem, and the resolution, then work in a hook (“great friendship hook,” above), and sign off like you normally would with a novel query.

After that, just paste the picture book manuscript. If you are an author/illustrator, include a link to an online portfolio where the agent or editor can browse your illustrations. Do not include attachments unless the agent requests to see more illustrations or to see a dummy.
If you are an author/illustrator you provide a link to your portfolio. One of my PB critique members, Cassandra Federman has a wonderful website. Check out her portfolio. She also has a wonderful book to query.

Places to Query. Things to do.

Here's a link to Manuscript Wish List agents who are looking for Picture Books. I know you always go to the agency website and check guidelines. Here is a link to more picture book agents. It includes link to their websites and my notes. (Suggest opening it in Excel.)
Do set up your own excel sheet so you can tract your queries. I have columns on my submission sheet for Agency, Email, Project queried, Date sent, Date responded and a note about the response  - or lack of response. So many agents do not respond. I know it hurts. We put so much time and thought into querying. But don't let lack of response stop you.
“It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” 
 
Martha Graham

 How do you query your picture books?   Want to show us one?    Leave it in comments or send to penink04@gmail.com. Write on!                   

Monday, July 15, 2019

SCBWI Conference HiJinks When Pen and Ink filmed a Pirate Alphabet.

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The 2019 SCBWI Summer Conference is coming and it seems an appropriate time to share what Pen And Ink did at our first conference together in 2011.
On Kris Kahr's suggestion, we gathered up our pirate paraphernalia and asked authors to put on the pirate gear we thoughtfully provided and take a letter of the alphabet.
You may be surprised to see some of the wonderful people who participated. Below are a few frames from the film.
Lupe Fernandez was our videographer and Hilde Garcia, Kris and I lured volunteers to him. My Only regret?  I was sitting next to Judy Blume at one event and she agreed to do it. But I couldn't find Lupe and the rest of the crew. We had so much fun with this.
Here's a link to our film.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scELy4oxtFU&feature=youtu.be'

The Pirate Alphabet






in 2012 we tried a different stunt. More on that later.
We hope to see you at this year's Summer Conference
https://www.scbwi.org/events/48th-annual-summer-conference-in-los-angeles-la19/

Monday, September 3, 2018

Writing for the Transitional Reader

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by Susan J Berger
For those of you writing for this market, Here's a post from 2012. Has anything in this market changed?

I attended Bonnie Bader's breakout session, Writing for the Transitional Reader. Early Chapter Books at the SCBWI Summer Conference because I wanted to know more about them. 

I find it a confusing subject.

Bonnie clarified many things for me. I did some internet research to try fill in the gaps. As best I can figure out, this information varies by house, so take it with a grain of salt.

Leveled readers: Usually 32-48 pages. Leveled readers have a structured vocabulary.

The best known structured vocabulary list is is the Dolch List I've linked to the one that is alphabetical by grade.

Beginning Readers:
This is taken from Mary Koles's Kid Lit.com

Early readers are the earliest “chapter” stories that a kid can get. They’re very short in terms of manuscript length (1,500 words max) but are broken up into either chapters or vignettes that will give the reader the feeling of reading a book with real chapters in it. Your target audience for these is kids ages 4 to 8. Early readers feature a smaller trim size, some the size of or slightly bigger than a paperback novel, and can go from about 32 to 60 pages. The font size is smaller and they feature spot illustrations in either color or black and white instead of full color throughout, like a picture book.  Even if you think you have a great early reader idea, it has to be a very precise fit for a publisher’s established vocab/sentence/word count guidelines.


Some examples of early readers: LING AND TING: NOT EXACTLY THE SAME by Grace Lin and Good Night Good Knight by Shelly Moore Thomas.

If you use the "look inside me" feature, you can get a very good idea of this format.


Bonnie's example was Young Cam Jensen, (a level three book) 4 chapters. Color illustrations Probably under 48 pages. But, I believe more words than Ting and Ling

Easy Chapter Books

The Princess Posy series:
These books have 10 chapters, and black and white illustrations. They run 96 pages, 2400-3000 words per book - approximately 300 words a chapter. If you go to the link, you can see how the illustrations meld with the text, making some description unnecessary. "She slipped a spoonfull of green peas into Danny's mouth." (Yes you can add an art note to your manuscript Mom feeding Danny in High Chair.) The illustrations shows a mom feeding a baby in a high chair.
Bonnie said this type of book requires simple plot lines,memorable characters with a short hook, and familiar settings. We need to know who the character is and what their problem is right from the beginning. The sentences are shorter in these books. You have to figure out your chapter breaks carefully so that you reader is left with a hook and a sense of accomplishment in finishing the chapter.



Henry and Mudge, by Cynthia Rylant. Color illustrations Seven chapters. 100 words per chapter. Average 25 words per page)
The ever popular Captain Underpants series
These are longer books. 29 chapters LOTS of black and white cartoon illustrations. about 185 pages long.
Boys and girls love this series.


You may have noticed these books are all series books. That's what publishers prefer. Is there room for a single book? Why, yes. Deborah Underwood's Pirate Mom is a stand alone level three reader published by Random House (Three chapters 48 pages color illustrations) I bought a copy at the SCBWI Summer Conference and I think it's hilarious and very accessible to young readers.


Early Chapter Books

These are aimed at ages 7-9, Grades 2-4, depending on the level of reading competence. They run around 128 pages and 10,000 words. The illustrations are black and white and the number of them seem to vary by series. The characters are usually aged 8-10

Bonnie says George Brown Class Clown is about 10,000 words. Take a look at the layout.

The Author, Nancy Krulik, also writes the very popular Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo  Katie looks to be a bit more word dense than George Brown,(smaller print. I counted 100 words on on page and 10 pages in the chapter.) but they are both listed for the same reading level.
My current favorite early chapter books is Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee. This one breaks some rules. There is no Chapter 2. It goes from chapter 1 to chapter 3. I believe it is seven chapters for the days of her "not so good of a week. " I love the humor and the wonderful first person voice.

Another popular early chapter books is Judy Moody  This one had 141 pages but many full page illustrations.


My friend and fellow author Nancy Stewart's blog post Early Chapter Books for Young Readers.  mentions several books I want to check out. 

I hope this clarifies a few things. If you want to look further for information on leveled readers, the best place I found was ReadingA-Z.com. Here's a link to their criteria for Early emergent readers, Level aa to Z. (phew!!) and here is the list of books that match their criteria. If you click on the books. you will see a picture and a word count. Levels aa-books have 17-24 word. Levels A-C seem to average 50 words and use a High frequency word list.

Happy writing and researching.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Kid's Magazine Submissions Quick Guide

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by Susan Berger

Anybody have an article, a story, a poem, a Puzzle or Rebus suitable for a children’s magazine? Here is a list of places where they might be accepted. Be sure and grab a copy of the magazine to check their style, before submitting.

  • Pays $150 per article or story.
  • 500 words younger reader
  • 800 words older reader
  • Stories: 200 to 2,000 words (2 to 8 pages)
  • Articles: 200 to 1,500 words (2 to 6 pages)
  • Poems: not longer than 50 lines (1 page, 2 pages maximum)
  • An exact word count should be noted on each manuscript submitted. For poetry, indicate number of lines instead. Word count includes every word, but does not include the title of the manuscript or the author's name.
  • Stories and articles: up to 25¢ per word
  • Poems: up to $3.00 per line
  • Payment upon publication
 Spider Magazine Age 6- 9
  • Stories: 300 to 1,000 words
  • Poems: not longer than 20 lines
  • Articles: 300 to 800 words
  • Puzzles/Activities/Games: 1 to 4 pages
  • An exact word count should be noted on each manuscript submitted. Word count includes every word, but does not include the title of the manuscript or the author's name.
Rates for Spider Magazine:
  • Stories and articles: up to 25¢ per word (1,000 words maximum)
  • Poems: up to $3.00 per line
  • Payment upon publication
Ladybug Ages 2-6
  • Fiction: read-aloud stories, picture stories, original retellings of folk and fairy tales, multicultural stories. Length: up to 800 words.
  • Rebuses: focus on concrete nouns. Length: up to 200 words.
  • Nonfiction: concepts, vocabulary, simple explanations of things in a young child's world. Length: up to 400 words. (Be prepared to send backup materials and photo references—where applicable—upon request.)
  • Poetry: rhythmic, rhyming; serious, humorous, active, from a child's perspective. Length: up to 20 lines.
  • Other: imaginative activities, games, crafts, songs, and finger games. See back issues for types, formats, and length.
  • An exact word count should be noted on each manuscript submitted. Word count includes every word, but does not include the title of the manuscript or the author's name.
Rates for Ladybug:
  • Stories and articles: 25¢ per word; $25 minimum
  • Poems: $3.00 per line; $25 minimum
  • Payment upon publication
Skipping Stones (multi cultural no pay)
  • APPLESEEDS - general history and cultures (for ages 6-9)
  • CALLIOPE - world history (for ages 9-14)
  • COBBLESTONE - American history (for ages 9-14)
  • DIG - archeology (for ages 9-14)
  • FACES - world cultures and geography (for ages 9-14)
  • ODYSSEY - science (for ages 9-14)
  • Appleseed ages 8 and up
  • Assume 150 words per page; payment approximately $50 per page
Their magazines are:
  • Turtle age 3-5
  • Humpty Dumpty age 5-7
  • Jack and Jill age 8-12
US KIDS RATES AND PAYMENT POLICIES
  • Turtle: up to 35¢ a word fiction — up to 350 words nonfiction — up to 200 words
  • Humpty Dumpty: up to 35¢ a word fiction/nonfiction, up to 450 words
  • Jack and Jill: up to 25¢ a word fiction/nonfiction, up to 700 words
  • Poetry: $25 to $50
  • Photos: $15.00 minimum
  • Puzzles and games: $25 minimum
 
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS MAGAZINE
(they sent me this by email. You cannot find guidelines these on their website)
Submission Guidelines

 Thank you for your interest in contributing to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS, a monthly general-interest nonfiction magazine for 6 to 14-year-olds. NG KIDS' tagline is:

Dare to Explore. It's our mission to find fresh ways to entertain children while educating and exciting them about their world.

Submission Guidelines

 What types of stories does NG KIDS publish?
NG KIDS stories cover a broad range of topics, including science, geography, history, and cultures from around the world. For our departments, we are looking for animal anecdotes and stories about endangered animals.
What kinds of proposals is NG Kids looking for?
Although our staff generates most of our story ideas, we'd be delighted to hear from you about stories that have kid appeal. 
Here are things to consider before pitching to NG Kids:
Entertainment story ideas must offer some behind-the-scenes perspective that is unusual and informational.

Geography, archaeology, paleontology, and history story suggestions must answer the question, "What is fun about that?"
Science and technology story ideas must answer the question, "How does this directly affect a kid's life?"

Natural history story ideas must be tightly focused and exciting. For example: Don't pitch a general story about cheetahs. Do pitch a story on how a cheetah's physical attributes make it the ultimate hunting machine.

For "Amazing Animals," we're looking for animals that have stories to tell about unusual abilities, animal heroes, friendships, or silly situations.
How should one propose an idea?
A carefully considered proposal should be based on a well-researched premise or hook. Do your homework and check the online NG KIDS index to be sure that your idea has not already been covered within the last three years. A good query is short and to the point (about 250 words). It should include a headline that suggests what the story is, a deck that amplifies the headline, a strong lead, and a paragraph that clearly sets out the premise and approach of the piece. The query should represent the style in which the piece will be written. We look for a writing style that's informed but speaks the reader's language and has a sense of humor. Tell us which area of the magazine your story fits into. Please include clips and a resume. 
Once you have the perfect idea, here's who to pitch to on the NG KIDS staff at:
1145 17th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
Science, technology, environment, natural history, and wildlife: Science Editor, Catherine Hughes.

Human interest, "Amazing Animals," and entertainment: Special Projects Editor Rachel Buchholz.

Cultural stories, “Wildlife Watch,” "Fun Stuff," geography, archaeology, paleontology, history: Senior Editor Robin Terry.
If you're not sure about which editor to pitch, send your query to Jill Yaworski and she'll forward it to the appropriate editor.
Any photographic queries should go to photo director Jay Sumner, jsumner@ngs.org.
Please note that we cannot accept phone queries and we cannot acknowledge or return submissions. All submissions become property of the National Geographic Society, and rights therefore are transferred to the Society. 
Happy Writing