GUESS WHAT?! #ReVISIONweek 2021 starts ONE month from TODAY! This year’s theme came straight from the mouth of Linda Sue Park at SCBWI’s Big Five-OH Conference. She reminded us how important it is to PLAY and have fun when we write, revise, and illustrate.
If you sign up for my blog, you will receive these posts in your email (hopefully). They will also be ALL over social media and available on my website.
And of course, there will be PRIZES, PRIZES, PRIZES! We will be offering critiques, virtual author visits, signed books, digital books, consultations, and more!
And now, to whet your revision appetite, here’s a Quick-Read Crafty Tip from Lynne Marie:
You can hardly wait, right?!!
Just add your full name below and we’ll know you’re joining us for a week of PLAYING with revisions.
See you soon!
Feel. Write. Risk.
Joana, Katie, Lauren, Lynne, Michal, and Shannon
P.S. DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS? ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE WERE NOMINATED IN THREE CATEGORIES FOR THE KIDS BOOK CHOICE AWARDS! WOOHOO! They are so excited to be nominated along with so many other incredible characters and books. You can vote here until September 8th to help them proceed to the next round!
“No problem, we’re only half-way through, I have so much time to write/illustrate!”
The end of the summer:
“How is it possible that the summer’s over and I didn’t meet a single writing/illustrating goal I set?”
Avoid the end-of-summer balloon blues and try these tips:
Set Realistic Goals (I’m looking at myself right now!)
Realistic goals will lead to more productivity and better feelings of self-worth.
Honor the Fact that Writing and/or Illustrating is Your Job (and Your Key to Sanity)
Imposter syndrome is real and summer only seems to make it worse. We second guess whether or not we should carve out writing time. We convince ourselves that writing isn’t as important as time with our friends, partners, spouses, children, the neighbor who needs help, the pets, you name it (especially after a year of relative isolation).
BUT writing is our JOB (whether we make money or not).
We write because we love it (even when it is painful).
We write because it fulfills our creative needs (even when we aren’t feeling particularly creative).
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO WRITE OR DRAW.
YOU ARE A WRITER!
YOU ARE AN ILLUSTRATOR!
YOU ARE A CREATIVE SOUL!
It is okay to take that time and do the thing you love and want to do.
CREATE! Listen to your characters. Shut out the outside world!
Block out Time and Protect it With Your Life
Whether it’s first thing in the morning or late at night…write. Whether it’s a scheduled day of the week or an unscheduled afternoon…write. Just block time out each week and stick to it.
Wednesdays are my writing day.
Wacky Writing Wednesdays.
NO MATTER WHAT!
I write other days as well, but everyone knows Wednesdays are protected. Wednesdays are THE day, no matter what.
Now, of course, there are exceptions and things pop up, but I ALWAYS draft, research, or revise on Wednesdays, even if it is only for a little while. Find a time that EVERYONE knows is your writing time and PROTECT IT! And don’t forget the sand-timer technique when you write. It will help you carve out the time you want and need.
Remember: Writing and Illustrating Doesn’t Always Mean BIC
You are creating when you play with an idea in your head. You are creating when you plant flowers. You are creating when you pop out of bed to write something down. You are creating when you jump out of the shower to record an idea on your phone. You are creating when you draw a REALLY rough sketch.
Write at the pool during swim team practice (that’s where I revised Rosie and Charlie). Draw for five minutes in the parking lot at camp pick-up. Write in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. REALLY, you are getting closer to your goals with each of these activities!
Engage Your Children in the Process
If you are a parent, and you find that your writing time is often sucked into the vortex of life-y distractions, engage your children in the writing process. Write a story together. Draw pictures of your characters together. Brainstorm silly phrases your character might say. My children are older, now, but their level of investment in my writing astounds and thrills me. It has since they were young, and I’m so grateful that I’ve always involved them. My eldest daughter recently made a project in her ceramics class of two of my new characters because she loves them so much. My youngest daughter painted a picture of Rosie the dragon. Engage your children in the process. They will learn about how much work it takes. They will become invested. And they will have fun being creative with you.
Pick a Small Piece of the Writing Process to Tackle
You might jot down a word bank for your story or write out three new ideas. Just spending five minutes on a task can make a huge difference in your creative fulfillment. Don’t feel you have to revise a whole story in one sitting. It’s okay to work on ONE piece of revision! Here are some posts to reference for additional tips.
Reading is part of writing. Each time you read a book alone, or with your child, you are working on a critical writing-related task. Take five minutes after you read to write down three new thoughts, ideas, epiphanies, or character quirks you collected while you read. Each time you do that, you are writing!
Let’s end the summer feeling proud of the progress we made no matter how much BIC time we actually had.
Remember, no matter how much you accomplish, “You’re quite huggable,” just like Calvin!
Happy Monday! If you are feeling anything like I’m feeling today, you’re longing to jump into writing for the week, and struggling to actually take the plunge. I thought I’d share my Monday action plan in case it is helpful to you:
Write this blog post to warm up my fingers and brain.
Read one mentor text.
Critique one manuscript.
Work out and watch Night Shift. Analyze the way they develop characters while I watch. 🙂
Shower. Ponder plots and characters while I shower. 🙂
Flip my sand-timer over and dive into outlining for my adult novel for 60 minutes.
Critique one manuscript.
Flip my sand-timer over and research a new PB idea for 60 minutes.
And if I can squeeze it in, flip my sand-timer over and work on revisions on a PB for 30 minutes.
I didn’t mention the crunchy snacks I will probably consume throughout the day, but eating, thinking, and writing go hand in hand, right?
I also didn’t mention my definition of success:
If I can work out, critique one manuscript, read one mentor text, and work on one manuscript today, I am going to consider that a HUGE success. If I accomplish this whole plan, well then, CAKE for all!
I hope this action plan helps motivate you! Pick two or three things you want to accomplish today or this week and then dive in! In the words of Charlie, “You’ve got this!”
Here’s an inspirational quote to fuel your week:
May your writing enrich your life and enhance your happiness!
And now for our 2021 #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day #2 Prize Winners:
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL WHO SPENT TIME REVISING and to all of the winners. We will be in touch to help you claim your prizes.
And don’t forget about our annual week-long #ReVISIONweek challenge!
We can’t wait to revise with you September 30-October 6, 2021!
One of the questions we are often asked as writers is whether we are pantsers or plotters.
A pantser flies by the seat of their pants.
A plotter meticulously (or not so meticulously) plans out their manuscripts.
You can even take an online quiz to see who you are.
I never know how to answer this question because each manuscript demands a different, individualized approach. But at some point in the process, I need to both plot and pants my way through.
So, I’ve decided I’m a plotser. And no, I’m not referencing the Yiddish word, “plotz”, although I often want to plotz at some point during the writing process.
In my mind, a plotser is someone who falls in between flying by the seat of their pants and actively planning parts of the manuscript.
Anyone who has followed my Quick-Read Crafty Tips or who knows me, knows I LOVE spreadsheets, templates, and graphic organizers. Some might say I think in template, but I also love to see where characters might take me.
I love listening to characters.
I love the unexpected twists and turns along the way.
I also know that at some point, no matter how I initially approached the manuscript, I have to go back to check that I’ve planted seeds for every twist, turn, and event. Otherwise, the events won’t feel organic and seamless.
The “planting seeds” concept struck me quite hard while on the elliptical yesterday. Let me explain…
In order to get my butt to the elliptical, I have shows that I’m only allowed to watch while working out. In the show I’m currently watching, the concept of seed planting leapt off the screen and into my brain. I decided to create a template (I know…shocking!) in order to track the plot twists and subsequent seeds I need to plant.
Here are some examples (I’m not mentioning the name of the TV show so that I don’t spoil it for anyone):
Imposter Syndrome is real. It’s real for pre-published writers. It’s real for published writers. It’s real for prolific writers.
But in the words of Florence + the Machine, “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that shaking off Imposter Syndrome isn’t as easy as it sounds.
And yet, it is so darn hard to write with Imposter Syndrome on your back.
What if instead of working against Imposter Syndrome, we find a way to work with it?
Here are a few strategies to try:
I HEAR YOU: Okay, Imposter Syndrome. I’m not hiding from you anymore. I hear you.
You don’t think I’ve got what it takes? You don’t think I’m a real writer? Well, here are three writing tasks I’m going to do today to prove you wrong:
Read mentor texts and look for words I love.
Open a manuscript I haven’t looked at in a while and write notes about three ways to improve it.
Read an article about craft and write down something new I want to try.
TAKE THAT, Imposter Syndrome!
BORROW YOUR ENERGY: Hey Imposter Syndrome, you sure use a lot of energy yapping negative thoughts in my ears. I’m going to borrow that energy and turn it into something useful.
I’m going to:
Set a 15-minute timer and cull through a manuscript for words that I can strengthen.
Create a new character (or revisit an old character) and write out all of the expressions they might use.
Critique someone else’s work to help them on their journey.
BOOM! See! I’ve got this, Imposter Syndrome!
NEW DEFINITION: I realized something, Imposter Syndrome. In order for you to have power, I have to believe your definition of what a writer is. Well, I’m here to tell you that I have my own definition and I like it much better.
A real writer is someone who:
Puts words to paper, even if it isn’t every day and even if the words aren’t quite working yet.
Reads about craft.
Puts their butt in a chair (or stands at their desk) and attempts tasks to further their writing.
So take that, Imposter Syndrome! I hear you, I siphoned your energy, and I have my own definition of real writers.
You’re welcome to float around, if you must, but I refuse to give you power!
Rather than flooding your inbox, I’m sending out one blog post chock-full of important information, helpful writing tips, and an exciting #BookBirthday announcement! Hold onto your hats…
GUESS WHAT! GUESS WHAT! GUESS WHAT!
HOME FOR A WHILE is moving into bookshelves TOMORROW! I’m ecstatic to see this book make its way into the world! Click the cover for a sneak peek!
HOME FOR A WHILE is a book from my therapist’s heart! I wanted ALL of the children with whom I worked to see themselves in the pages of a book. I wanted to create a book that offered hope, positive emotion regulation strategies, and showed the impact we can have on others when we see their strengths.
It is tricky to create compelling characters, especially when we want to be realistic and hopeful at the same time. Here is a Quick-Read Crafty Tip to help you with this process..
In their book, Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions, Pat Harvey and Jeanine A. Penzo talk about the way temperament impacts children’s reactions (and adult reactions for that matter). This is one of the best books I’ve ever read as a parent and as a therapist. Their insight about children’s reactions are applicable to real life and to writing. They can help us sort out our characters and develop them more fully.
Here are a few examples of the way temperament might impact reactions (as adapted from Harvey and Penzo). Let’s think about a child who falls off a bike:
Child A: Initial Reaction: Gets up, brushes themselves off, gets back on the bike
Delayed Reaction: Talks to caregivers about what happened
Child C: Initial Reaction: Gets up, kicks bike, walks away, head down
Delayed Reaction: Doesn’t want to talk about what happened, might yell or “act out”
Child E: Initial Reaction: Cries, runs around screaming for help, refuses to get back on the bike
Delayed Reaction: Very difficult to soothe, cries inconsolably, angry at caregivers, but can’t explain why, might react in a “behavioral” way
This paradigm has not only helped me as a parent and clinician, it has also helped me as a writer. Who is your character? How do they react to adversity? How do they react to attempts to be comforted? What is their initial reaction? Delayed reaction?
These questions acted as a guide when I wrote about Calvin. He leans more toward the Child C temperament. His negative thoughts and feelings impact and fuel his actions. He doesn’t want to talk about what happens. His emotions are so intense at first, that he can’t access Maggie’s support.
He tries to calm his body, but his emotions get the better of him.
With patience, persistence, and positive strategies, Calvin is able to calm his emotions and accept Maggie’s concern and caring. Calvin is able to tackle his emotions like a superhero!
Thinking about Calvin’s temperament helped me make each scene more authentic, believable, and resonant. I hope this tool will help you develop your characters. What role will temperament play in your character’s narrative and emotional arcs?
And finally, here are the prize winners from our first #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day of 2021. Joana, Katie, Lynne, Michal, Shannon, and I had a blast revising with everyone! We can’t wait to see you for our next #ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day on April 7th, and our full #ReVISIONweek September 30th-October 6th!
Congratulations to all! We will email you regarding your prizes.
I hope you have a wonderful, productive, creative week!
This April, I am hosting a month-long celebration of independent bookstores, just in time for Independent Bookstore Day on April 24, 2021. Each #BookBirthday Tuesday, I will post a collection of book wisdom from booksellers around the country.
If you have a bookseller you love, please share this post with them on social media or via email! I’d be thrilled to feature them! And if you’re a bookseller and you’re interested in participating, please fill out this Google Form by March 15th. I’d LOVE to include you in the celebration!
Here’s a sample of the fun to come from Second Star Books to the Right!
I hope you’ll join me in April for bookseller wisdom and a sneak peek at the amazing independent bookstores that enrich our lives.
Here are a few of my local favorite bookstores:
And…don’t forget to BUY books from your local bookstores. Books change the world!
Feel. Write. Risk.
(P.S. Natalia Moore and I are hosting a Book Launch Party with Second Star to the Right for our new book HOME FOR A WHILE (Magination Press). We hope you’ll join us on February 7th at 2:00 pm MST!)
P.S.S. Please join me at another one of our fabulous local Indies, BookBar Denver, for a virtual storytime on February 11th at 4:30 pm MST.
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!