Book I’ve just begun reading:
Zip by Ellie Rollins, Razor Bill, an imprint of Penguin.
Book I’m going to read next:
The Contra Costa Reading Association presents:
Writers at Work
Join us for a morning filled with inspirational ideas from a children’s author, as well as writing sessions presented by outstanding local teachers of writing. Our featured author is
Elizabeth Koehler Pentacoff
Our keynote speaker is children’s author, teacher and is an energetic presenter who shares her love of drama and words in instruction to promote a love of writing. She has presented at schools throughout the state.
This author’s books include: Jackson & Bud’s Bumpy Ride, The ABC’s of Writing for Children, John Muir and Stickeen; An Alaskan Adventure, Curtain Call; Games, Skits, Plays & More, Louise, the One and Only, Wish Magic, Help, My Life is Going to the Dogs, You’re Kidding, Incredible Facts About Presidents, and Explorers.
Writers at Work is for students in grades 2-6 who are interested in writing, parents who are looking for ways to motivate and enhance their child’s writing and teachers looking for ideas to use in the classroom.
Please note: CSUEastBay now charges $5.00 for parking. If possible, please carpool with your friends.
When: Saturday, March 9, 2013, from 9:00-12:30
Where: California State University East Bay, Concord campus
4700 Ygnacio Valley Road, Concord
Cost: $5.00 per child (accompanying adults are free)
$5.00 per adult, unaccompanied by a child
Please make checks payable to CCRA
Stay in touch with CCRA’s events by visiting our website www.contracostareading.org
I picked up a copy of this magazine and didn’t put it down until I had finished the entire copy. Have you read it? Short stories, essays, interviews, poetry and letters all written with depth, humor, and insight. They don’t want opinion pieces or academia. The best thing is they purchase one-time rights, which means you can sell them something you may have sold before.
One section is devoted to Readers Write, which asks “readers to address subjects on which they’re the only authorities. Topics are intentionally broad in order to give room for expression.”
Breaking the Rules January 1 Deadline
Bullies February 1
In The Dark March 1
Honesty April 1
Trying Again May 1
A week ago, my husband and I took a couple of days and drove to Santa Cruz, one of our favorite towns to wander about communing with sea lions and pelicans, eating clam chowder at Stagnaro Brothers, and people-watching throughout this wonderful community. The locals here were able to support their fabulous independent bookstore, Bookshop Santa Cruz and close the large chain one who moved in to close them. Hurrah Santa Cruz!
We stayed in a motel we often visited when our son was young, but we hadn’t been there in years. Away from the bustling crowds at the beach, the motel is quiet, not outrageously expensive or especially classy, but it suits our needs just fine.
Settling into the room, I began unpacking, but paused as I heard my husband chuckling.
“Liz, take a look at this,” he said, gesturing to our surroundings.
The left side of the room had been painted maroon with blood-red flowers stenciled along the top near the ceiling. A print hung near the desk with matching colors; the bedding corresponded too. But the sliding glass door’s curtain shouted bold green, along with its wall. I swear I heard loud screeching in my ears just like I did whenever I walked by a middle school band room during a practice session.
“So the question is, did they forget or run out of money?” I asked as we laughed at the look the decorator achieved.
When you think you are finished with your writing, it might only be half done. Set it aside for a while. Your eyes have grown accustomed to seeing it and you might miss those big, bold errors that are glaring to everyone else. Later, read it aloud to yourself. Print out the pages for revision. A paper copy is tangible and real. After that make your computer corrections.
Do you have too much narration? This technique works best for your less dramatic scenes. When it’s emotionally important, slow-down-the-moment with your senses with action, reaction, thoughts and dialogue.
Highlight your favorite parts of your manuscript. Why are they your favorites?
Analyze the rest of your piece to discover how you can make this writing as resonant as your best, favorite parts.
Don’t over-use tags. If it is clear who is talking, you may not need to say “he said,”“she said.”
Do you have “pet” words? If certain words come up over and over again, get rid of them!
If you were reading this in published book or magazine, what questions would you have? Critique it as a reader, not as you, the author. This is where the “giving it time” will help you. If you’re still too close to it and can’t revise, call in a trusted colleague or pay for a professional editor to help you.
And finally this from George V. Higgins from On Writing: “Reading your work aloud, even silently, is the most astonishingly easy and reliable method that there is for achieving economy in prose, efficiency of description, and narrative effect as well. Rely upon it; if you can read it aloud to yourself without wincing, you have probably gotten it right.”
For those of you children’s book lovers, here is a great link for you:
The Kirkus List of Best 100 Books for Children of This Year
The author A. J. Jacobs wrote The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World as he read the entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica. What’s unusual about this book is the reader gets a look into the factual world with Jacobs’ offbeat sense of humor, as he intermingles it with quirky facts he has learned.
Wouldn’t it have been great if he could have written those encyclopedias when we were doing our homework?
Example: “Elisha Gray filed papers with the patent office on February 14, 1876 for his telephone device – - just a couple of hours after Alexander Graham Bell filed his. Gray really should have rearranged his schedule: first, the patent application, then the grocery store.”
How often do you read an article or book and smile or laugh? Ask yourself, what exactly did the writer do? How can I try this same technique? Practice, practice, practice! And don’t miss Jacobs’ The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible and Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection.
He’s covered intellect, body, and soul. What’s next, A.J. Jacobs?
If you weren’t able to make the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s Summer Conference, read this article to get some of the highlights:
Jessica Barksdale Inclan led a fabulous workshop this past Saturday at the Mt. Diablo Branch’s California Writers Club. Here are a few great ideas she shared:
If your work is too dark throughout? Toni Morrison had this problem in her acclaimed novel, Beloved. The author said she “engineered moments of lightness.”
Don’t know where to start? “Write little pieces and they’ll start talking to each other.”
Why would anyone want to write in second person? It’s good for hiding pain. Read the poem “House of Horrors” by Tom Sayars.
Her best words on plot? Plot is tension. It’s developed by presenting a promise and then dropping bits and pieces in along the way. Your writing should be like a mystery. Don’t show everything at once.
Current trend: Editors hate prologues. Call it chapter one! They hate introductions. Call it chapter one!
1. Read your current project or a piece you have written. Does the tone provide different feelings/emotions? There should be a balance of light and dark, highs and lows. Use Toni Morrison’s advice if there isn’t.
2. Try writing a poem, essay or short story in second person. Or take one of the pieces you have written or a character you have developed and try this point of view here.
3. Read a work you have written and check to see you haven’t told too much too soon. Is there enough suspense and tension in your writing? You may have to take away or drop in more hints of mystery to create a better plot.