Wednesday, November 24, 2010


If you're an aspiring picturebook author, you have to visit this website Illustrators upload amazingly colorful artwork, and writers paint the pages with their beautiful, funny, rhyming,and prose words. It's a writers playground! Seriously...I think I may be addicted. Thanksgiving is today, and I can't even begin cleaning my house until I've blogged, tweeted, and FBed about this site.

*Shameless plug to follow. Please Forgive me.* Oh yeah, and there are monthly and weekly competitions, with themes and prizes. This week, my story, What Do Monsters Do, is a weekly semifinalist. My pen/computer name is Writermama2. And in 1 day and 15 hours from now, the public will get to start voting on their favorite stories for this week. If you could check out the link and vote for me, I'd really appreciate it. But, honestly, only do it if you think it's the best story in the competition. I don't want to win because you like me. I want to win because I really and truly earned it. Just don't tell me if you didn't vote for me. My ego is very fragile:)

Thanks in advance!And Happy Blogging & Happy Thansgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

The Details
The Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop will be a quick 2 day hop. Midwinter's Eve is the longest night of the year, so why not spend it entering some great giveaways? The hop will run from 12:01 AM on December 21st to 11:59 PM on December 22nd.In order to enter, all you have to do to is 1) follow this blog, and 2) leave a comment below.

The Prize
The winner will receive a copy of the book Jingle Bells, Batman Smells (P.S. So Does May.) by Barbara Park.

*Winners must have a US address, and they must forward their address to me within two months of the award notification. Otherwise, they forfeit their prize.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

5 Reasons Hermione Granger Is Awesome

With the release of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 less than a week away, I felt that I needed to create a little more buzz for the book. You know, because the book doesn't have enough already.

So, below, are the reasons why I think Hermione Granger may just be the greatest character EVER! Enjoy! And please go out and support the movie. You know, because it probably won't do that well unless we all go out and support it.

5 Reasons Why Hermione Granger Is Awesome

1. She's REALLY smart, and she adds to the story. I hate to say it, but I'm tired of the female characters in most MG and YA novels. Most of the girls are either dumb, or they pretend they're dumb, which REALLY drives me insane. And if they are smart, they have so many other flaws that it diminishes their character. I love that Hermione does her thing, and doesn't apologize for it. She's not perfect, mind you, but she's pretty darn close.

2. Yes, she loves Ron Weasly, but she doesn't sit around pining after him all the time. Her love is appropriate. She simply waits for Ron to realize that he's an idiot, and that she's the love of his life. You're not going to see Hermione Granger stalk anyone or make any love potions. No. She bides her time, and wins him over the old fashioned way.

3. Hermione is not afraid to get her hands dirty. The thing that I love about Hermione is that she can brew a kick $#@ poly juice potion, yet throw together a rockin' look for a ball. You won't see Hermione Granger going around tying ribbons in her hair that match her robes. No. She knows how to be one of the guys and a lady. Bravo!

4. Hermione is loyal. Most girls would've jumped the 'friend ship' when they realized that their best friend was public enemy #1 of Lord Voldemort. Well, not Hermione. Hermione proves to be even more loyal than Ron, Harry's first real friend. She sticks by Harry's side through everything, thus proving that girls are way better than boys. (Hahaha. Had to throw that in there.)

5. Hermione is intuitive. She always seems to know how the other person is feeling. When Neville learns that Bellatrix is free, she has to explain how he is feeling to her less intuitive friends. And when, Cho Chang is feeling bad about liking Harry after Cedric's death, Hermione has to explain that, too. Hermione is all knowing. She is the heart and the brains of the Harry Potter Series! And that's why she is the perfect character! She stands out in a book that makes other books cower in the corner, ashamed to be sitting on the same shelf! Well, at least that's how they would feel if they had feelings. (Which they totally don't! Right?)

*Some of the facts may be muddled with that of the movie. Having read the books and watched the movies, sometimes facts run together. If something is amiss, feel free to correct me in the comments.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Writer's Day Off

So, today, I'm stuck in the house, writing and blogging. Then, suddenly, an idea hits me like a foul ball to the frontal cortex. This is lame! I want to go outside with my children! I want to take a trip to the library! And, frankly, I don't want to blog, twitter, or edit today! *33 year old throwing a tantrum*

So, today, I'm declaring a writer's day off. And I encourage you all to do the same. We can all pretend we're on an idea scouting adventure. Maybe, that will make us feel a little less guilty abadoning ship.

Who's with me?

* Cue theme music as I storm off with my two children in tow.*

(Ironically, I was also doing laundry like Mr. Jason Mraz was in my theme music. Honestly, that's probably what pushed me over the edge. You guys already know how I feel about laundry. You've seen the poem.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Copyright Law: 5 Things That Every Author Should Know

*Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am not a law student. And, frankly, I could totally be wrong. In truth, that happens a lot. I am a flawed, flawed individual.

Ok, so now that I've warned you about my fallability. And, hopefully, you've accepted this documented truth. Time to delve into the myths and truths about obtaining copyright of your ideas and stories as interpreted by ME, Jessica Stanford, self proclaimed Copyright Expert. NOT!

1. The moment that you write your mansucript, it is protected against plagiarism or reproduction without your consent. TRUTH! In fact, you never even have to contact the US Copyright Office if you don't want to. Or, you could purchase a legal copyright for every single thing you pen. It's totally up to you! It just depends on how you feel about plagiarism.

Personally, I'm a glass half-full kinda' gal, but some of you may be conspiracy theorists. So if you honestly think that you've written the next 'Twilight' and worry that someone might steal your big story, then maybe you should copyright your work legally. Here is the link to do it electronically
(Or, is it secretly my personal email disguised as the US electronic copyright site? Muhahaha! You'll never know!)

If you're like me and write stories on a semi-daily basis, you may want to try the poor man's approach instead. I email my stories to my critique buddies and ONLY post stories on password protected sites. That way, I have a time and date stamp to verify my claims. And, then, I only have to worry about a dozen or so people stealing my stories. And, honestly, they all seem great. I'm not really worried at all!

2. Book ideas are copyrighted the moment you dream them up. Wrongo! Big time Myth! They're not even your's once you verbalize them to everyone you meet. Calling 'Copyright' is not like calling 'shotgun', just ask Al Gore, inventor of the internet. Hehehe! (Yes, I went there in my blog about picture books! It was just too tempting to resist.) According to the US Copyright Office, "Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, system, method, device, name, or title."

So my advice: hold on to your ideas until they are actually written. Otherwise, you open yourself up to someone stealing your great ideas! And if you want to write the twentieth book on hibernation, have at it! You have the right. Ideas are not copyrighted. However, that doesn't give you the permission to steal a writing buddy's idea! In fact, that's a major 'party foul'. So don't do it!

3. My copyright is protected forever. In fact, my future generations can live off of the royalties of my highly successful book. Half Myth and Half truth. According to the US Copyright Office " As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. " However, for works that are cowritten, they are protected for seventy years after the last living author dies. So, technically, the next two generations might benefit from your work. Woohoo!

4. I can totally take someone else's story and just rewrite it in my own way. I can write it better, anyway. They'll never know. Wrong. Maybe? And, wrong, you big jerk! Stealing is stealing! And the law is the law. The end!

5. I can post whatever I want and claim that it's 'fair use'.
Half myth and Half Truth. In order to be fair, you just can't go around using other people's work, unless you have the author's permission. You can, however, use a part of an author's work to crictize, comment on, use to teach, or use in a parody. But be forewarned, using 'fair use' as an excuse for stealing someone's work could get you into trouble, especially if you're profitting from it. So to be safe, unless you are honestly using someone's work, you should just stay away from other people's stuff. And if you're not sure about the terms of 'fair use', please look it up. After all, you wouldn't want someone using your working inappropriately, would you?

So in conclusion, know the law. It could very well make you or break your piggybank. Here is great article if you're interested in learning more about your rights as an author. And, of course, check with the US Copyright Office. After all, they are the experts.

Happy Writing, Everyone! And, remember, stealing is NOT cool!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name

When writing a story there are a lot of things to consider: plot, pacing, word count, setting, titles, voice, solutions, etc. The list goes on and on. And if just one of these laundry list of items falls flat, the whole story can suffer because of it.

Today, on the blog, we're going to talk about the power of a character's name. Some may think that naming a story's character/characters is a simple task. But surprisingly, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing a name.

For example, are there other REALLY famous literary characters that already have this name? In my latest picturebook W.I.P, this was a big problem for me. And now, I have to figure out how I'm going name a dog that is found after kids make a wish on a turkey's wishbone, without naming the dog Wishbone.

Is this name too hard for your target audience to pronounce? If your target audience is birth to pre-k children, than Chrysanthemum might not be a great character name for one of your characters. However, if your target audience is early, school aged children, this could be really funny and kind of perfect. In fact, it might just add to the story's theme.

Does your character's name add something to the story? If Fudge from the Judy Blume series were called Bobby, for example, would the story have been as funny? I think not! In fact, the whole storyline behind his name was one of the funniest parts. Imagine a boy kicking his Kindergarten teacher because she won't call him by his nickname, Fudge. Now that's hilarious to both kids and teachers alike!

So what are some ways that we can go about naming our characters? Below is a list of 5 ways that you might try to use.

1. Name your character after his/her character traits. For example, if your character went through a terrible life situation and is struggling with finding a way to deal with her faith and the terrible loss, naming her Faith might be a great idea. Then, you could even name the book Finding Faith so that you're talking about her finding herself and her actual faith.

2. Pay your respects to loved ones by using their names in your stories. In my opinion, this is even better than dedicating a book to them. If one of my manuscripts is ever sold, it's almost certain that one of the characters will be named after one of my children, my parents, grandparents, or an old family name. In my manuscript, The Peanut Butter Prince, the princess is name after my mother and the queen is named after my grandmother. In my manuscript, Let's Go Fishing, the two brothers are named after my two sons. And, in The Twins of Er and Est, the two brothers are named after my dad and dearly, departed Uncle Larry.

3. Name your characters after constellations. J.K Rowling is known to use this strategy from time to time. Brother's Sirius and Regulus are examples.

4. Use a baby name generator. This is actually good for two reasons: 1. It will help you discover the meaning of the name. This can really help you with making your character live up to their character traits. For example, this pb author once toyed with writing a YA novel in which a prophet child was born. In said ms, I gave my child prophet the name Jeremiah simply because it was biblical. Little did I remember at the time, but Jeremiah was actually a prophet. Score! And his name meant 'to rise up'. Double Score! Turns out, I couldn't have picked a more appropriate name. 2. You can see all the different spellings of the name and pick something that is more unique for your character. After all, we all want to be unique, right?

5. Use intitials kind-of like a Mnemonic device, but with a twist. Instead of using it in a way that helps you remember a thing, you use it in a way to spell out a character's traits or interests instead. I, personally, love it when authors do this. For example, if you have a story about a kid who loves bats, maybe could you name him Benjamin Alexander Tripp. Alone the name looks completely normal. But when you just look at the initials, it spells out 'bat'. Trust me. Readers love little hidden things like this. That's why the Da Vinci Code was so successful.

Picking a character name is anything BUT easy! After all, would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? I don't think so! Sorry Shakespeare, but I have to disagree with you on that one!

What are some ways that you have used to pick your characters' names? Is there something that you have tried that is not on this list? Something that might making picking names a little easier? I'd love to hear your feedback!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

And the winner is....

Halloween Eve, I held my first, annual Halloween Book Hop-Hop. And, boy, it fun for me! There was dancing, music, and most importantly, prizes. And, I'd like to think that everyone who participated at least had an interesting time.

The winner of the Halloween picture book contest was Christie Wright from Write Wild. And, this week's winner is Megan Bickel from The Write-At-Home-Mom.

Congrats, Megan! Thanks so much for particpating! You were a great sport! And, there are so few of those left in the world these days.

Please email me your address, and your prize will arrive in four-six weeks:)

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If you're like me, you're fascinated by other cultures. You read books, cruise the web, and try to learn as much as you can about what makes people around the world tick.

Well,today, I happened upon a really cool tool that feeds into that particular hobby of mine, the flag counter. Not only do I get to display flags from around the world and encourage international camaraderie between picture book authors such as myself, but I also get to see which countries are actually viewing my blog. Awesomeness!

If you share this hobby of mine, here is the link to get your own flag counter

Happy Blogging, everyone! And, remember, sharing is caring!