Wednesday, December 29, 2010

100 Books In 100 Days

Writing guru and children's author, Anastasia Suen, teaches a writing workshop in which she says that aspiring authors must read 100 books, in order to learn the ins and outs of writing for children. And although I haven't taken her course yet, I find myself agreeing with her. How can one become a picturebook author, if they don't know the characteristics of a great picture book? And how can one identify great stories, if they haven't read great stories?

So starting on January 1st at 12:01 am, I will be starting a book challenge entitled "100 books in 100 days". And I hope that all of you will join me.

The rules of the challenge are simple: 1. Read 100 picture books or 100 chapters, in 100 days 2. Check my blog weekly to see what books I have read during the challenge. 3.Comment as often as you like. 4. At the end of the challenge, write your name in the "I read 100 books in 100 days" final post, indicating that you have completed the challenge. And as a prize, you be able to display the "I read 100 books in 100 days" button on your own blog page. (100 clip art button above. Technically, it's 100days of school clip art. But I think it'll work out great.)

Who's up for the challenge?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mid Winter's Eve Blog Hop Giveaway Winner

Thanks to all of my new blog friends for stopping by. I'm glad to see that so many of you love Junie B. as much as I do. She has given my class many hours enjoyment. And one day, when my brood is a little older, I know that my boys will love her, too.

And now for the winner. Can I get a drum roll, please?

The winner is.....mmafsmith, a.k.a Maria. Congrats, Maria! I'll be in touch with you soon. I hope you enjoy the book:)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Year's Writing Resolutions: 5 Ways To Keep On Track

As this year draws to an end and a new year quickly approaches, I find myself doing what everyone does at this time of the year-making resolutions. 'I am going to spend more time on writing. I am going to quit talking about sending out my manuscripts, and just do it already. I am going to find a literary agent. And before the year is over, I am going to get a publishing deal.' The end. Period.

Every year is the same. We make resolutions, and we break resolutions. Sure, we mean them when we say them, but it's just words. So how do we make this year's writing resolutions stick, when others have failed? And how do we hold ourselves accountable for our writing goals?

Below are 5 tips to keep you on track, all year long.

1. Make realistic goals. Saying that you are going to write a book that tops the New York Times' Best Seller list, might be a bit lofty for your first manuscript. And while I realize that it's not impossible to do, it's defintitely improbable. So start out small, and gradually increase your goals as your skills improve. Saying things like 'I will write every day for one hour' is achievable, if you're a newby. Or 'This year I am going to send out one manuscript'. Set goals that you think you can achieve. After all, only you know your comfort level, and only you will know if you've achieved your goals or not.

2. Join A Critique Group. If you're looking to improve as a writer, you HAVE to join a critique group. Showing your stories to friends and family, no matter how truthful they are, is not the same thing. Your friends an family are not experts in writing. So even if they tell you that your work is spectacular, you're never really going to know unless you've put your manuscript in the hands of fellow writers. Writers know all the little nuances that make a story great. If you ask one of your family members about your story's arc, they might say something like " Wow! I must've missed the part about the big boat. Let me read it again." That's when you know that you've picked the wrong person to give you criticism. Not to say they won't have anything valuable to add, because they will. They just won't know critical writing elements that you'll need to improve. So join a group. It's the gift that keeps giving.

3. Write your goals down. Something about writing a goal down seems to make it more real. When you look at that little paper with your goal on it, it serves as a visual reminder. And when you're doubting yourself and wanting to quit, that little paper will not let you do it. Believe me, I've tried. So be like Nike, and just do it. You'll be glad that you did.

4. Provide a timeline. A timeline also serves as a visual reminder. But in a way, it's a little more. A timeline keeps us on track. It keeps us on time. And the rule of thumb with timelines is this, you can definitely work faster than the timeline, but never slower. Timelines are a great kick in the pants, when you need a little extra push to get a book proposal or manuscript completed. Just be sure to set realistic timeline goals. Saying 'I will be done with my picturebook manuscript within the month' may be a realistic timeline goal. But saying ' I will be done with my novel in a month' is probably not. Notice I said 'probable', not 'impossible'. Only you know you know your limits.

5. Be prepared to tweak your goals. Some goals are quickly achieved, and if this is the case, you need to be ready to change your goals. Don't stop writing because you already achieved your first goal, and aren't due to start your next chapter until the following month. That's just nonsense. The goal of goal setting is to 'Keep Moving Forward'( Meet the Robinsons quote). So as long as you are doing that, then you are on the right writing track. And don't feel upset if it takes you two months to perfect your picturebook, just because your goal was one. Again, as long as you are writing, then you are achieving the ultimate goal. So keep it up!

What are your writing goals for this year? Do you have some? Please feel free to share.Just be prepared to get a swift kick in the pants if you're not doing the work, because I run a tough ship. And please, feel free to do the same for me:)

Happy Writing & Goal Setting

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Polar Express

One of the greatest Christmas stories of all time, is now online for teachers and parents to enjoy with their children. Click on the ticket to the right, to board the Polar Express. All Aboard!

Lesson Links Below

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Video From The World Quidditch Cup

It used to be the that the highest honor that an author could achieve was having his/her own book published, and maybe, if they they were lucky, winning an award or two. But nowadays, the skies the limit for our budding authors and authoresses. Having your book published is just one of the wonderful possibilities in store for writers today. Because in this century, there's movie deals, action figures, theme parks, bedding sets, pillows, fragrances, board games, etc. The list is endless.

And having said that, I'd like to introduce you to something that I just stumbled upon today. Something that we've only read about in books and dreamt about at night, but never really thought was possible-an intercollegiate Quidditch Cup. Yup, you heard me right. Quidditch is now an actual game that is played at nationally accredited colleges throughout the land. In fact, one of the most prestigous schools in the world, Harvard, is one of the participating colleges.

And that's not even the best part. The best part is that there's an actual rule book posted online. And how-to video, just in case you're not really into reading manuals. Heck, there's even an International Quidditch Association to consult if you want to learn even more.

So check it out. Better yet, start a team. If you do, I will gladly post pics of your team on my blog and tweet about you all the time. Because, honestly, as much as I think this is hysterical. I, also, think that it's quite possibly the coolest thing ever. It makes me miss my long lost college days, and wish that I could back, if only for just one little game of "Muggle Quidditch" and a few drinks of butter beer with friends.

How To Play Quidditch (as explained by ECQ players) from Lauren Milazzo on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Waasup, Friends?

If cloud nine were an actual place and that's where people really went when they were ecstatic, then I'd have to say that I'm its latest resident. Not only was I lucky enough to be a finalist in last month's Storybird challenge; but yesterday, I found out that I won a mansucript review from a published author, courtesy of Tara Lazar and her lovely PiBiIdMo challenge. Thank you, Tara!

So if you've been wondering why it's been eerily silent on my blog lately, those are just a few of the reasons. It's not because I don't love you anymore, because I totally do-fervently, in fact. I've just been keeping busy this month.

In addition to all of those things, I'm smack-dab in the middle of final edits for a few of my pb manuscripts,and I've finally mustered up enough courage to send them out. This is huge!

And just so I don't go completely batty while I'm waiting, I also plan on entering a few more contests along the way, just to keep my mind busy. You know what they say about watched pots and all, they never boil. So I think it's important to keep busy while I wait for acceptance or rejection, don't you?

So my questions to you are these: What are you up to? What do you do while you wait? Well, other than your day job, and parenting. And do you have good news that you'd like to celebrate on this blog? Because I am in a celebrating kind of mood this month. Let's all celebrate together!