ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE GIVEAWAY

If you’re looking for an exciting giveaway, look no further, because…
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not only do you have the chance to win a Rosie the Dragon and Charlie prize pack, but… a school of your choice will win prizes as well.

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Here’s how: (Each of the following is worth Rafflecopter entry points. The more you do, the higher your chances of winning.)

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1. Sign up for my blog. I don’t post often, so I promise you won’t have multiple blog posts languishing in your inbox. (You can sign up at the bottom of this post.) (If you’re already signed up, awesome!)

2. Check out ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (Kerstein/Wragg) from your local library. (You may have to check it out through Prospector if they don’t have it yet.)

Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves Cover

3. Spread the word to friends and family via social media, email, or old fashioned word of mouth. You can use the hashtag #RosieandCharlieGiveaway if you wish.

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Art by Nate Wragg

 

 

 

4. And, if you want FOUR extra bonus points, you can visit your local Indie bookstore, request they carry Rosie and Charlie in their store, and perhaps even buy a book or two while you’re there to support them! We love our Independent Bookstores!

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Now, fill out the Rafflecopter to enter for a chance to win a Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Prize Pack including:

  • A signed copy of ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES for yourself and the school/classroom of your choice.
  • A free 30-minute Skype visit with me for the school/classroom of your choice.
  • Rosie and Charlie swag.
  • And, if you want, you can have your picture posted on Rosie and Charlie’s Photo Gallery of Fame. (Or your student’s picture, child’s picture, nephew’s picture, dog’s picture, etc). https://laurenkerstein.net/trailer-and-photo-gallery

The #RosieandCharlieGiveaway begins TODAY and runs through August 30, 2019.

(Please note: You will have to sign in to the Rafflecopter using your email address or Facebook account. I have never received junk mail from them as a result of doing so.)

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So… spread the word. Head on down to your local library. Visit an Independent Bookstore. And make waves with Rosie and Charlie!

May the giveaway fairies be with you!

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Feel. Write. Risk.

– Lauren

 

 

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LAUREN’S QUICK-READ CRAFTY TIPS: CONFESSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF A DEBUT AUTHOR

The time has come! ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES is swimming to shelves near you…

TODAY!

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As I officially welcome Rosie and Charlie into the world, I have a few confessions and recommendations about the launching process.

Confession #1: Launching a book is exciting … terrifying … exhilarating … nerve-wracking … wonderful … exhausting … and overwhelming. It is much more intense than I ever imagined.

Recommendation: I noticed the whole process felt better when I let myself feel all of the feelings, instead of fighting them.

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Confession #2: I may be a national public speaker, but I was TERRIFIED to read my picture book to a classroom of children. What if I couldn’t engage them? What if the room erupted into total mayhem? What if … GASP … they didn’t like my book?

Recommendation: Per the terrific advice of my critique partner, Sophia Gholz (THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST), I offered a “sneak peek reading” at my girls’ old elementary school. I didn’t charge, which eliminated a lot of the pressure. I limited it to two 30-minute segments (50 children each) which was perfect. I read, answered questions, and most importantly remembered the advice of my friend, Laura Roettiger (ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON) and just had fun. I highly recommend dipping your school-visit toes into the water this way.

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Confession #3: I’m still editing my book even though it’s finished! I think it’s nearly impossible to turn off our editor eye, even when the book swims into the world. I am relieved, however, that I still love the book no matter how many times I read it out loud!

Recommendation: We all know how important it is to read our books out loud each step of the way. I want to add one subtle tip to this recommendation: Read your book out loud with a child audience in mind. You might even hold it up for your imaginary audience. How will they react? Where would you want to pause to clarify or share? Will each page-spread engage them? This might help you make your book even stronger.

Confession #4: I wanted to do ALL things marketing, but I am only one person. Figuring out where to draw the line has been very challenging for me.

Recommendation: You can’t do everything! Pick a few areas on which you want to focus your marketing efforts. I’ve focused on blog tours, social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), making my own book trailer, hosting a big launch (with fun swag), and ensuring my book had visibility in multiple places (feel free to ask more about this in the comments below). I also created a Rosie and Charlie Photo Gallery and would LOVE to post your photo there! Check it out!

The bottom line: Focus on the marketing tasks that feel right for you! And remember, marketing isn’t just for those who are launching. No matter where you are in your writing career, write down marketing strategies that catch your eye. These strategies will help you perfect your pitches, hone in on your writing, and prepare your future launch.

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Confession #5: Launching a book increased my writerly self-doubt. It didn’t erase it. Writerly self-doubt (as my friend and critique partner, Katie Frawley says) is real. My anti-muse is not a nice creature. You’ll never write another book again! Nobody will like Rosie and Charlie! People will wonder how you ever landed an agent/editor.

Recommendation: Stay connected to supportive people via critique groups, writing challenges (#NaPiBoWriWee, #ReVISIONweek, #ReFoReMo, #StoryStorm, #12×12 (Julie Hedlund), and #FireButtChallenge…), and writing organizations and opportunities like SCBWI and Rate Your Story. The relationships you’ve built will act as your Patronus!

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And TRUST! Trust the process. Trust your writing. Trust your muse. Most importantly, trust yourself!

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So, as ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES officially splashes into this world, I want to extend a huge thank you to this incredible KidLit Community! Thank you for your support. Thank you for creating a safe environment in which I could share my confessions. Thank you for enriching peoples’ lives with your creativity!

I also want to thank Deborah Warren, Marilyn Brigham, and everyone at Two Lions for believing in Rosie and Charlie from their first ripple to their BIG SPLASH! I am forever grateful! Thank you to my family and friends who have celebrated each success and hugged me through every setback. Thank you to ALL of my critique partners who have held my hand and supported me unconditionally. Writing is a team effort!

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Finally, a HUGE thank you to Nate Wragg, whose creative genius brought Rosie and Charlie to life in the most amazing way. I am in awe of your talent and vision, and look forward to our next Rosie and Charlie journey together! (YES! YAY! Another Rosie and Charlie adventure is on its way!)

waving-together.jpgArt by Nate Wragg

 

So, write on! Live courageously! Make waves!

As Charlie would say, “You’ve got this!”

 

Feel. Write. Risk.

– Lauren

QUICK-READ CRAFTY CHALLENGE: ReVISIONweek

A brand-new challenge is coming your way! 

Welcome to:

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Writers, REV your engines!

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You know those manuscripts you drafted for 12×12, #FireButtChallenges, and NAPIBOWRIWEE? You know those ideas that filtered through your StoryStorm notebooks into actual drafts? Well, it’s time to begin the revision process! First drafts may be painful, but don’t despair! Revision is where the magic happens!

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This challenge is simple.

First, pick your seven most viable* manuscripts.
(*A viability assessment checklist will be on its way to your inbox before the challenge begins!)

Then, grab your chisel, pull on your armor,

and GO!

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Here are the details:

WHO: ReVISIONweek is hosted by Michal Babay, Katie Frawley, Lauren Kerstein, Lynne Marie, Joana Pastro, and Shannon Stocker.

WHEN: ReVISIONweek will take place in September each year. With school in session, our brains are free to create! This year, the challenge will be: September 16-22, 2019.

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WHERE: Your favorite place to write and revise.

WHY: In the words of Kelly Barnhill, “That’s the magic of revisions – every cut is necessary, and every cut hurts, but something new always grows.”

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WHAT: Each day, you’ll receive a Quick-Read Crafty Tip to guide you along the way. Comment on one of the posts, and you’ll be entered into the grand prize drawing for critiques and giveaways.

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HOWWe all have different styles, habits, rituals, and rules when it comes to our writing. Each day, we will provide information about a particular area of revision. Feel free to focus on that area, or revise in a way that works best for you! Do you like slashing word count first? Do you prefer to focus on characterization? Do you fly by the seat of your pants and follow your feelings? Try something new or stick with what works. The goal here is to devote your brain to the essential work of revision. We’re here for inspiration, encouragement, and support!

SO… grow new words, kill your darlings, and let the magic unfold!

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If you’d like to participate, please sign up for Lauren’s blog by clicking on the link below. (If you have trouble signing up, please feel free to contact Lauren through her website.) That way, you’ll be sure to receive the viability checklist, Quick-Read Crafty Tips, and further information about ReVISIONweek.

In the words of Charlie, “You’ve got this!”

Feel. Write. Risk.

Lauren, Joana, Katie, Lynne, Shannon, and Michal

LAUREN’S QUICK-READ CRAFTY TIPS: TAKE YOUR READER’S BREATH AWAY

Why do certain stories inspire laughter, gasps, or tears? What creates THAT emotional spark? Why do some books live in our hearts, forever?

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Resonance is elusive. But, when it is woven into your story well, it is a palpable, evocative, life-force.

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How do you establish, enhance, and increase resonance in your manuscript? It is my hope that the following steps will guide you along the way.

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STEP ONE: ANALYZE BOOKS
Here is a small sample of mentor texts. There are many magnificent books from which to choose. Pick a few and dig in.

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As you read…
Think about your physical reaction.
What sparks tears, gasps, or laughter?
What makes you ache for the character?
What prompts you to hug the book to your chest?
What details tempt your senses?

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STEP TWO: ANALYZE YOUR OWN STORY
What emotions are you trying to evoke?
What emotional arc do you want to establish?
What emotions does this particular character experience?
How does this specific character show emotion?
What words/dialogue would this character use?
Which scenes/spreads need more emotion?

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STEP THREE: USE TOOLS

  • Specificity Of Words: Are you using words that truly dig into the emotional experience?

In KNOCK KNOCK: MY DAD’S DREAM FOR ME, Beaty uses very specific words to cut to the core of the main character’s emotion:

“Papa, come home, ‘cause I want to be just like you, but I’m forgetting who you are.”

  • Tone: Have you established a tone that supports the emotion you’re trying to evoke?

In IDA, ALWAYS (Levis/Santoso), Levis creates a tone and cadence that supports the emotional connection between Ida and Gus.

“But every morning, when keys clicked and shoes clacked, Gus crawled out of his cave
and spent his day with Ida. Ida was right there. Always.”

  • Sentence Length: Make intentional decisions about the length of your sentences so
    that you can effectively highlight emotion.

In the above example, the sentence structure takes the reader on an emotional journey. The use of the single-word sentence “Always.” is evocative and effective.

  • Look Through a Child’s Eyes. What is important to children? What is important to
    your main character?

In THE REMEMBER BALLOONS (Oliveros/Wulfekotte), the main character talks about his favorite balloon—the one that is filled with his last birthday party. He says: “…I can still taste the chocolate frosting.”

What a wonderful sensory detail! This line provokes a visceral reaction in the reader as we imagine chocolate frosting on our tongue.

  • Create Space for Mixed Emotions. Our feelings are often mixed and muddled. Create space for this in your manuscript.

In the millionth revision of one of my manuscripts, I recently wrote the following line to highlight my characters’ mixed emotions: “I feel Grandma’s tired all the way through the phone so I whisper, ‘yes’ even though I want to scream ‘NO!’”

  • Pacing. Pacing is a critical component of our manuscripts. In addition to the ways in which pacing moves the plot forward, it also highlights conflict, motivation, stakes, and supports emotional resonance.

In THE RABBIT LISTENED, Doerrfeld shows us the magic of pacing and white space as a tool for increasing emotional resonance.

“So eventually they all left…

until Taylor was alone.”

Doerrfeld’s beautiful illustration accompanies the words, “until Taylor was alone.” The combination of pacing, white space, and sparse words creates an incredibly touching moment.

  • Hone in on Your Language: Be as specific and evocative as possible. Show. Show.
    Show.

First draft sentence: “She felt sad he was gone.”

Now dig deeper: “Tears rolled down her face when she realized he’d left.”

Now dig even deeper: “She reached for him,

                                                              but…

                                                                      he wasn’t there.”

  • Visual Language. Visual language is critical in a picture book. The more your language baits your illustrator, the better. Visual language supports emotional arc and resonance.

Here is an example from THE BLUE HOUSE DOG (Blumenthal/Gustavson), which is about a stray dog named Bones.

“One summer day, Bones must have been thinking more about food than anything else. He didn’t see the car pulling out.

“Watch out!” I screamed 

as I raced towards him.

The car braked—

There was an awful screech.

I got there just in time.”

  • Well-Placed Voice-y Dialogue. Well-paced voice-y (that is definitely a word) dialogue can enhance your resonance.

In WOLFIE THE BUNNY (Dyckman/OHora), Dot says:

“HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!”

Can you feel Dot’s fear and frustration leaping off the page?

And in ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (Kerstein/Wragg), Charlie says,

“Wait! This time, let’s review the rules before you leap in.”

Can you feel the intensity of Charlie’s worry? Do you have a visual image of their last pool outing?

I hope these tools help you on your emotional journey. This list is not exhaustive, but rather highlights some of the tools in your writer’s toolbox.

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Remember: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.” (Anonymous)

Massage your manuscript! Play with words! Dig down deep, and…

take your reader’s breath away!

Time and time again.


In the words of Charlie, “You’ve got this!”

Feel. Write. Risk.

Lauren

 

LAUREN’S QUICK-READ CRAFTY TIPS: INVESTIGATING THE POWER OF PACING AND VOICE THROUGH MUSIC

What can music teach us about pacing and voice?

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SO much!

But, let me back up for a moment.

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Pacing and voice are two of the most powerful writing tools we have in our toolbox. They help us better understand our character, support our plot, and keep our readers engaged. Pacing and voice also evoke emotions, increase our character’s relatability, and have the power to inspire a visceral reaction. covergirl GIF

Unfortunately, finding the right voice, and mastering the perfect pacing isn’t easy. We might feel like we are circling around it, but can’t quite get it right.

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I don’t like watching video clips. But thankfully, my sister encouraged me to watch Josh Groban spontaneously singing … are you ready for this … “Trip Advisor” reviews. 

And let me tell you, it is 5 1/2 minutes of writer’s GOLD!

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If you want to truly understand how music informs pacing and voice, you MUST watch this gem!

As you watch, pay close attention to Josh’s tone of voice, the melody he chooses, and his intentional use of pacing. (Side note: You will also see the ways in which voice and pacing can add humor to your work!)

 

 

Amazing, right?! Sheer BRILLIANCE. And hilarious as well!

Now, here’s your homework: Spend time listening to music in order to deepen your understanding of pacing and voice. And then, practice applying the lessons you’ve learned to your writing. You can use the following questions as a guide:

INVESTIGATING THE POWER OF PACING AND VOICE THROUGH MUSIC

As you listen to music:

Note the pacing.

Identify the voice.

Think about how the pacing and voice make you feel.

Are you experiencing a visceral reaction— either positive or negative?

What components of the pacing and voice are creating that reaction?

As you write, think about the following:

What did you learn from listening to music that you’d like to apply to your manuscript?

What reaction do you want your readers to have?

How do you want to make them feel?

Are your choices around voice and pacing supporting the emotional reaction you’d like to spark?

Is your narrative arc unfolding at a pace that feels consistent with the story you’re trying to tell? 

Is your narrative arc unfolding at a pace that feels consistent with your character?

Is your character’s personality as strong as it can be?

If you shifted your voice and pacing, could you increase emotional resonance, strengthen your narrative arc, or hone in on character development more effectively?

Which pacing tools are you using?

Which pacing tools would you like to try to use for this particular story?

Lauren H. Kerstein

And remember:

Enjoy the music. Believe in yourself. And dance at your own pace.

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In the words of Charlie, “You’ve got this!”
Feel. Write. Risk.
Lauren

 

Lauren’s Quick-Read Crafty Tips: Revising “Being John Malkovich” Style

After I … pardon this expression … vomit out my first draft, I usually go through the following stages of manuscript madness.

Stage One: JOY: I did it! I pulled this idea out of my head and poured it onto the page. Yes! It’s as brilliant as I thought it would be.

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Stage Two: DESPAIR: This is the worst thing I’ve ever written. It doesn’t matter how many times I revise this mess. Crap is crap is crap.

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Stage Three: CHEERLEADER: R-E-V … I-S-E! Get out your hatchet! Sharpen your chisel! You can do it if you try!

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Stage Four: UNCERTAINTY: I have my hatchet and my chisel, but where do I begin?

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Stage Five: YOU ARE THE TEMPLATE QUEEN (Sung with wild abandon to the tune of Dancing Queen): You have lots of writing tools. Use them! Templates make revisions HAPPEN!

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And then it’s time to dig in!

First, I review the templates I completed before I even began my first draft. These usually include my “Planning” and “Page Spread” sheets. 

I also make sure I’ve:

– Read mentor texts.

– Identified comp books.

– And, determined where my book fits into the market.

– Next, I engage in a “Being John Malkovich” moment and jump into the brains of editors or agents. What are they looking for? How can I wow them? What might pique their interest?

Finally, I maximize my Malkovich moment by pondering the following checklist:

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Picture Book Revision Checklist
Revising “Being John Malkovich” Style

Character

  • Did I create a unique character?
    • Is my character’s voice strong?
    • Is my character’s voice consistent?
    • Did I sprinkle expressions, feelings, and reactions into the story that are unique to this character?

Story

  • Is this story as unique as possible?
    • Is my setting unique?
    • Did I create a unique spin on an evergreen topic?

Layers

  • Did I add multiple layers to my manuscript? For example, in ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES, I layered friendship, learning a new skill, problem-solving, courage, swimming, and dragon-antics into the story.

Spreads, Visuals, and Structure

  • Did I introduce the character, setting, motivation, and conflict in the first two spreads?
  • Did I create salient visual images on each spread?
  • Does each two-page spread offer a new scene?

Arcs

  • Is my narrative arc woven as tightly as possible?
  • Did I create an emotional arc that is resonant?

Foundation, Framework, and Planting Seeds

  • Did I plant seeds at the beginning of the book for items/themes/characters that appear later in the book?
  • Does my conflict remain the same throughout the story?
  • Are my foundation and framework strong?

Language and Literary Devices

  • Did I use the juiciest, yummiest, most deliciously descriptive words possible?
  • Did I rely on my “favorite” words or did I think with my thesaurus?
  • Did I choose words that support the voice I want to create?
  • Did I use literary devices– alliteration, consonance, onomatopoeia, puns, assonance?

Pacing and Tension

  • Does the tension increase throughout the story?
  • Is the pacing fluid?
  • Does the pacing slow down when it needs to, and speed up when it needs to?

Audience

  • Is the content accessible to the particular age of the child to whom this story is aimed?

 

Remember– Even though vomiting out that first draft is really hard, the TRUE work comes with revising. The blood, sweat, and tears help you grow as a writer. (They may also inspire screaming, swearing, and temper tantrums, and that’s okay too!)

In the words of Charlie, “You’ve got this!”

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Feel. Write. Risk.

Lauren

http://www.LaurenKerstein.net

If you enjoy reading these crafty tips, please sign up to follow my blog by entering your email below. I promise I won’t inundate your inbox!

LAUREN’S QUICK-READ CRAFTY TIPS: TAKING CONTROL

I have the most outstanding critique partners.

OUTSTANDING.

We celebrate successes, challenge each other, and encourage perseverance no matter what! We also help each other recognize the things we HAVE control over versus the things we don’t, so that we don’t spend all day spinning circles in our minds…

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Each morning, I say to myself:

“Focus on the things you can control!”

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This mantra has proved quite useful. Here are five things I know, with complete certainty, that I can control in this writing world.

  1. ENGAGEMENT: I can engage with members of the KidLit community in order to deepen connections, save my sanity, enrich my writing, stretch my creative brain, and nurture critical relationships. StoryStorm, NaPiBoWriWee, ReFoReMo, KIDLIT411, and 12×12 are just a few of these incredible communities.
  2. MY CRAFT: I have control over writing, revising, researching comps, and studying the market. I can take control over honing my craft every single day.
  3. CRITIQUES: Once I feel ready to share my babies with others, I can submit them to my critique groups over and over again until they are polished enough for the “real world.” My critique groups are worth their weight in GOLD!
  4. READING: I can read books in my genre, out of my genre, and everything in between. I can read about craft, industry, and other authors. I can read jacket copies, pitches, and book reviews. I truly believe reading is the key to writing.
  5. MY REACTION: I can control my reaction to industry challenges — the waiting, rejections, and criticism. I can SAVOR the joys, successes, and accomplishments with everything I’ve got! And, I can decide when there’s room on my shoulder for my inner critique and when it’s time to pack her bags and ship her out!

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As you trudge forward on your writing journey, remember to spend more energy on the things you CAN control, instead of dwelling on the things you can’t! Divide your day– perhaps using your hourglass timer (see my last Crafty Tip)– between activities that are in your control and practice letting go of the rest!

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In the words of Charlie (when he reassures Rosie the dragon in my June debut):

You’ve got this!

 

Feel. Write. Risk.

-Lauren
http://www.LaurenKerstein.net
If you enjoy reading these crafty tips, please sign up to follow my blog by entering your email below. I promise I won’t inundate your inbox!

 

Lauren’s Quick-Read Crafty Tips: The Magic & Magnificence of an Hourglass Timer

Raise your hand if you wish you had another 24 hours each day just to read through all of the terrific blog posts we receive about craft, book debuts, author stories, and the industry?

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Me! Me! Me! I do!

With that in mind, I’m launching a blog post series that includes short, easy to digest writing tips that can be read in under five minutes. These tips are designed to inspire you when you’re brain feels like mush, encourage you when your inner critique is screaming, and support you on your writing journey.

I’m excited you’re here!

 

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And now for today’s tip:

The Magic & Magnificence of an Hourglass Timer 

Last year, at the 2018 Rocky Mountain SCBWI Letters and Lines Conference, Claudia Mills suggested using an hourglass timer to track writing time. She has written over 50 books in one-hour increments each day. This suggestion has changed my writing life. I turn off all distractions — YES — all distractions (social media, phone, email…) and write while the sand runs through the glass.

Write, write, write, repeat.

My productivity has increased tremendously! (I even leave my timer where my kids can see it so that they know I’m in the middle of a one-hour writing block. This prevents interruptions … well, let’s be honest … about 50% of the time. But 50% isn’t bad!)

Thank you, Claudia Mills, for this career-altering recommendation!

 

What strategies help you protect your writing time and fine-tune your focus?

Here’s to a year filled with confidence, creativity, and self-care! I look forward to sharing this journey together!

Feel. Write. Risk.

-Lauren
http://www.LaurenKerstein.net

 

You Know You’re an Author When…

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  1. You frantically talk into your phone to capture an idea while taking a walk.
  2. You carry your manuscript everywhere you go, just in case inspiration strikes.
  3. You truly believe your imaginary world could be real.
  4. Your bedtime looks like this:                                                                                                   Lights off, roll over. AHA! Roll over, lights on. Write. Write. Write. Lights off, roll over. AHA! Roll over, lights on. Write. Write. Write.
  5. You think of the writing community as extended family.
  6. You love your characters like children.
  7. You analyze narrative arc, details, character development and emotional arc in movies and every single book you read.
  8. You spend an hour agonizing over ONE sentence.
  9. Your child asks: “Did you hear me? Are you writing a book in your head again?”
  10. You find yourself searching for slivers of paper everywhere you go in order to write down an idea.

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And…

11. You notice you’re mumbling to yourself in public, in a rather embarrassing way, to hear how sentences sound out loud.

What “you know you’re a writer” tidbits would you add to this list?

Feel. Write. Risk.

-Lauren

SPECTACULAR NEWS!

Wow! It has been a long time since I posted! Ironically, my last post was September 2016. (Watch for the Irony Alert! at the end of this post.) I’ve been writing, writing, writing and nearly forgot about my blog. But…

I have SPECTACULAR NEWS so…

I’m B-A-A-A-CK!

I am ECSTATIC to announce that I am now represented by…

*DRUM-ROLL PLEASE*

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Deborah Warren with East/West Literary Agency!

HURRAY! HURRAY! HURRAY!

I met Deborah two and a half years ago at the SCBWI Rocky Mountain Region Conference. I also had the opportunity to meet one of Deborah’s incredible authors, Erin Dealey, at the conference. (Check out Erin’s fantastic books at http://eastwestliteraryagency.com/ or http://erindealey.com/.)

Additionally, I met one of Deborah’s soon-to-be illustrators, Dow Phumiruk at the conference. (Dow and Jeanne Walker Harvey’s new book, Maya Lin, is exquisite!) Between the Writer’s Rap (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYqMA2mPG7I) and Erin and Deborah’s information-packed presentations, I knew I wanted Deborah in my corner.

And now,

she is!

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Interestingly, the picture book I submitted to Deborah represents the best of the best decisions I’ve made thus far as an author. (It is certainly easier to recognize this in retrospect!) I wanted to share these decisions in case they are helpful to others.

#1: SCBWI: Joining SCBWI has been an enriching and terrific experience! And, as I mentioned, an SCBWI conference introduced me to Deborah! (https://www.scbwi.org/)

#2: Jodell Sadler’s KidLit College: I took a pacing course through KidLit College right out of the 2016 gate! The course was EXCELLENT and helped me grow by leaps and bounds as a writer. (http://kidlitcollege.org/)

#3: Carrie Charley Brown’s Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo) (2016): During ReFoReMo, I read a post by Tammi Sauer entitled: How to Do the Structure Strut. This post planted the seed for trying different structures in future picture book manuscripts. (http://www.reforemo.com/)

#4: Paula Yoo’s National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) (2016): During NaPiBoWriWee, I wrote a first draft of the picture book that would ultimately morph into the manuscript I submitted to Deborah. Since I’d accepted the challenge of writing seven picture books in seven days, I decided to write this manuscript in a different format than I typically tackled. (Tammi Sauer’s post meet Paula Yoo’s challenge!) (http://napibowriwee.com/)

#5: Tara Lazar’s Storystorm (Formerly PiBoIdMo): Although this idea did not originate during Storystorm, I relied on my Storystorm templates for the NaPiBoWriWee challenge. The templates helped me flesh out my narrative arc, emotional arc and character development. (https://taralazar.com/storystorm/)

#6: Critique Groups: My manuscript toured my critique groups, again and again and again. Critique partners are INVALUABLE!

#7: Goodbye Comfort Zone: I decided to step even further outside of my comfort zone and stretch my manuscript to be as unique as possible. I “killed some darlings” and revised again.

#8: Miranda Paul’s Rate Your Story (RYS): I revised, revised, revised and submitted to a RYS free submission day. My feedback was incredibly encouraging! I received a “2” (1 is the best score) and danced a teeny, tiny celebratory dance. I was getting closer. (http://rateyourstory.blogspot.com/)

#9: Learn From Rejections: I revised AGAIN and submitted to a handful of agents. Although my manuscript was rejected, I received important feedback. This manuscript had to be even more unique. I “killed more darlings” and…YUP…

I revised again.

#10: Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge: This is my fourth year in 12×12 and I’ve loved every minute of it! I was a GOLD member the first three years which allowed me to submit to an agent each month. (http://12x12challenge.com/)

You’ll never guess who I submitted to in September 2016 (Irony Alert!)

I’ll give you a minute…

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YES! You guessed it!

Deborah Warren!

Deborah requested two rounds of “revise and resubmits.” Her editorial feedback was brilliant!

I revised, revised, revised.

I resubmitted.

And…

the rest, they say, is history!

WAHOOOO!

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I feel incredibly grateful for the support, encouragement and opportunities available through the KidLit community. I am honored to join the talented authors and illustrators at East/West Literary Agency! I can hardly wait for the next step in my author journey!

Feel. Write. Risk.

 

-Lauren