No, it’s not Rosie and Charlie playing superheroes.
It’s not Calvin clunking up the steps of another new house.
And it’s not Lillybelle refusing to be in distress.
Do you hear that sound?
It’s the sound of people cheering as they gear up for our first #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day of 2021!
Moldilocks is sipping and slurping tea as she prepares.
U is jumping high with excitement because…
On January 20th, we’ll immerse ourselves in revision magic! Please add your name to the comments below if you’d like to join us. Don’t forget to make sure you’re following Lauren’s blog. And as a special treat for this month’s Tune-Up Day, we’ll share two short videos that are chock-full of revision tips!
As always, we’ll have PRIZES, PRIZES, PRIZES just for participating. If you spend at least a few minutes thinking about revisions, you can enter to win.
Chewie thinks best when playing ball. What helps you think best?
Tabitha and Fritz have a purrfect idea. They’re trading places for a change of scenery. Surely that will help their creativity.
So, don’t delay.
Capture your creative spark.
Make some noise!
Spread the word!
And rev your revision engines because #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day #1 is about to begin!
Feel. Write. Risk.
Lauren, Joana, Katie, Lynne, Michal, and Shannon
(P.S. Please join Lauren Kerstein and Natalia Moore on February 7th at 2:00 pm (MST) as they help Calvin find his home for a while with storytime, an art demonstration, and a video about the journey of a picture book!
Hello everyone! You are in for such a treat today! Erin Dealey, my friend and beloved agency sister, is visiting my blog to share quick-read crafty tips for writing a manuscript in epistolary format. Her suggestions are outstanding!
And speaking of outstanding. HAPPY ONE WEEK BOOK BIRTHDAY to DEAR EARTH FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN ROOM 5 (Erin Dealey/Luisa Uribe).
If you haven’t read this book yet, dash to your computer to order it from your favorite local indie or anywhere books are sold. It is FABULOUS! You can watch the book trailer here:
And now, without further ado, Erin Dealey take it away…
Feel. Write. Risk.
I love this motto in the header of Lauren’s blog: INSIGHT AND INSPIRATION. It sums up the journey of my new picture book, DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5 (Harper Collins/ Illus. Luisa Uribe / Dec. 1, 2020). It was a bit of a risk to write this story in letters, but I felt like Earth might have a lot to say about how kids can help her, and express how grateful she is when they do.
Thinking of writing an epistolary story? Here are six Quick-Read Crafty Tips for you:
Know your characters. Who is writing the letters? Who will write back? My theater students know if you’ve been cast in a role in a play, the first thing to do is learn all you can about the character. I do this as a writer too.
Create a bio. Delve into their world.
In DEAR EARTH, Room 5 is making class New Year’s Resolutions and decides to help protect Earth, but they aren’t sure how. Some may think it’s crazy for them to write to Earth, but the kids in Room 5 are believers. They have high hopes. In thinking about the character of Earth, I felt like being out there in the vast universe might get lonely sometimes. In my mind, Earth does not get many letters, so she is thrilled to hear from Room 5. And in these crazy times, Earth’s spirits are lifted by Room 5’s positivity and dedication.
Note that not much of this is actually said, per se, in the text of DEAR EARTH… But knowing these details helped me to craft the letters they exchange.
Illus. Luisa Uribe/ DEAR EARTH/ Harper Collins)
Establish a strong voice for each character. Make a list of distinct words or phrases that each character might use in their letters. Make sure these match their age and experiences. Rhythm and length of sentence also help establish tone of voice. In DEAR EARTH, I wanted Room 5 to follow the basic format used to teach letter writing. I didn’t set out for the letters to rhyme, but they did. Room 5 breaks with the rhyme from time to time, which made their letters seem more kid-centric to me. And when Bernard takes over in the summer, I felt like he might not be a super-rhymer at first. (But he takes a risk!) Earth, on the other hand, has many more years on the kids in Room 5 and I felt like her letters would be both lyrical and caring.
Note that writing in rhyme is tricky. You can’t always say exactly what you want, because of established rhymes or rhythm. I solved this issue in DEAR EARTH… by letting Room 5 and Bernard break the rules when they needed to, because why should they be experts in rhyme? The postscripts are an example. I tried to make sure, however, that the breaks weren’t too abrupt, and that they still matched the tone.
Listen. When you’re deciding how a character might reply to the previous letter, listen. What is the character in the previous letter trying to communicate? Make sure the next letter is a reply to this, and not just a random letter designed to move the plot forward.
Plot?Yikes! Yes, you need a plot, even in an epistolary manuscript. You may not have a classic narrative arc, but your main character needs to change somehow by the end. This handy STORYSTORM TEMPLATE UPDATED pdf might help you here. In DEAR EARTH, you will see that Room 5, Bernard, and Earth have evolved by the end of the book. (I’d explain further but–No Spoilers!)
Study a few mentor texts. As far as epistolary picture books go, I’ve always been a big fan of Mark Teague’s Mrs. LaRue books (Scholastic), and my all-time favorite is THE JOLLY POSTMAN (Allan & Janet Ahlberg/ Little Brown). Of course, you can also take a look at DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5. : )
(Illus. Luisa Uribe/ DEAR EARTH/ Harper Collins)
Risk. Yes, it’s a bit risky to write a story in letters but GO FOR IT! I like to tell students that authors play with words. Why not play with format too? It was a risk for Room 5 to write to Earth, just as it’s a risk for you to submit an epistolary manuscript to an editor or agent. But who knows? Like Earth, they might just WRITE BACK!
(Illus. Luisa Uribe/ DEAR EARTH/ Harper Collins)
P.S.DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5 (Harper Collins/ by Erin Dealey /Illus. Luisa Uribe / Dec. 1, 2020) is available wherever children’s books are sold.
“A well-thought-out presentation of an important environmental message.” Kirkus Review
Well, somehow 2020 just keeps rolling on. As we approach the holidays, I have a few thoughts for you about our creative work this holiday season. I also wanted to share the trailer for HOME FOR A WHILE (Magination Press/Illustrated by Natalia Moore) that my amazing younger daughter helped me create.
But first, let’s talk about pickles and pie.
Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving in our house without pickles, pie, dairy-free mashed potatoes, and vegetarian stuffing. Those staples render smiles on everyone’s faces and happiness in our tummies.
Although the holidays are going to look different this year (well, everything looks different this year), we can still hold onto things that are important—like pickles and pie. Maintaining small pieces of important traditions is a way to bring some joy to catawampus holidays. It offers a way to manage conflicting and complicated emotions.
In HOME FOR A WHILE, Maggie helps Calvin learn strategies to manage his emotions by finding activities that bring him joy—like shooting baskets. We can always find joy, even in tough times.
You can also find joy when you create. Instead of putting pressure on yourself, engage in creative activities that make you happy. Perhaps that means playing with words or silly puns. Perhaps that means creating a scene with visual language that transports you to another place. Perhaps that means drawing a picture of a brand-new creature.
Throw away the pressure.
Find the joy.
And identify your strengths…
Our strengths provide a foundation for success—a life raft in rough waters. Take a moment to identify three of your strengths. Then be sure to nurture those strengths as much as possible. For example: I have a particular affection for and strength in making dairy-free mashed potatoes. I hold onto that each year with everything I’ve got!
Maggie helps Calvin see strengths in himself that he never saw before. Nurturing our strengths is critical to emotion regulation, opening our hearts, and finding joy.
So, as you approach the holidays, allow yourself to grieve the traditions you’ll miss, and make time to celebrate the traditions you can still include—like pickles and pie. Hone in on your strengths and use them to propel you forward in life and in your creative pursuits.
HOME FOR A WHILE is moving into bookshelves on February 2, 2021, and is available for preorder wherever books are sold. I hope you enjoy the trailer:
So you want to create a world that’s specially designed for your character. You have a lovely vision in your mind, but translating it to paper isn’t flowing as easily as you’d hoped. Well, I have a Quick-Read Crafty Tip for you!
First, think about your main character. Who is your MC? Be as specific as possible.
Then, think about the world you’d like to create, and put those five senses into action!
Now, answer the following questions:
In your character’s world, what would you…
Create word banks for each of your senses. Here’s a sample.
Remember: specificity is your friend. (But not specificity in a way that takes away your illustrator’s say. For example, don’t add colors to your manuscript, but do add the specific food (kumquats) that your main character loves!)
Let’s look at an example: Perhaps your world is Rosie and Charlie’s world—a world in which you can adopt a dragon and it isn’t all that odd. Here’s a sample of the world-building word bank I might create for Rosie and Charlie.
I hope this strategy will help you create an intriguing, enticing, and larger-than-life world for your character.
You made it to Day #7 of our Bite-Sized #ReVISIONweek!
Now, where do we go from here?
It’s rather challenging to keep up with writing and revising right now. If bite-sized pieces worked for you this week, keep going. Break down your goals into small, manageable steps. Think of each step like squares on a bingo card. Select a square or two each day/ each week to tackle.
Here are some ideas for bite-sized next steps.
You can also make your own bingo card of bite-sized writing and revision steps.
Speaking of next steps:
I’ll be sending out a blog post with a Prize Rafflecopter TOMORROW. You’ll have until midnight (MST) on Thursday, September 17th to enter.
SO DON’T DELAY!
Winners will be announced on Friday afternoon, September 18th!