Pitch It to Me

~ The PITCH IT TO ME Challenge ~

Hello, and welcome back for the second “Pitch It to Me” Challenge! The first challenge was a success, with guest pitcher, author Melissa Stoller, taking first place. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to read the pitches, vote, comment, or to support wonderful members of our writing community.

Here’s a recap of how this works. I pick one lucky writer’s picture book pitch for the post. I write another for the same story, and have a guest write a third. YOU get to vote on your favorite. The winner gets bragging rights, and the writer ends up with three pitch ideas, feedback, and a complimentary critique of the story.

This month, Candace Spizzirri pitches AMBER MAE SAVES THE STRAYS. Our guest challenger is … drum roll please … the fabulous author, editor, and publisher, Alayne Kay Christian of Blue Whale Press. You can learn more about each of these ladies and their work below.

You have until January 1, 2019 to vote on your favorite pitch. They are in no particular order. Please only vote once, but feel free to tell your friends about us and get them in on the action.

Let the challenge begin!

About Candace:

Candace holds a degree in child psychology with an emphasis in emotional development. She is an active participant in SCBWI, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Writing Challenge, Children’s Book Insider, Writing Magic Writing Lab, critique groups, and a graduate of the Children’s Book Academy. Candace writes picture books in both prose and verse, and finds joy in spending time each day writing and honing her craft. You might also find her breaking into dance moves that are not in the least bit embarrassing.

Follow her on Twitter: @CCSpizzirri1

About Alayne and Blue Whale Press:

Alayne Kay Christian is the content and developmental editor for Blue Whale Press and an award-winning children’s book author of the chapter book Sienna, the Cowgirl Fairy: Trying to Make it Rain and the picture book Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa. She is the creator and instructor of a picture book writing course, Art of Arc. She has been a professional picture book and chapter book critique writer for five years. She has been a critique ninja for Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 picture book challenge forum for three years. Alayne is a graduate of the Institute for Children’s Literature and she has spent the last ten years studying under some of the top names in children’s literature.

You can connect with Alayne through the following:

Alayne’s Website: http://www.alaynekaychristianauthor.com/

Alayne’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/alaynekay.christian

Blue Whale Press Website:    https://www.bluewhalepress.com/

Blue Whale Press Facebook Page:    https://www.facebook.com/BlueWhalePress/

Alayne’s books: Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa and Sienna, the Cowgirl Fairy: Trying to Make it Rain

Concluding Remarks:

Thank you to Candace and Alayne for participating in the Pitch It to Me challenge. They were simply WONDERFUL to work with. If you would like to be part of a future challenge, please contact me per the instructions found here. I will see you all again for “Pitch It to Me” on March 16, 2019!

 

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Finding Creativity, Uncategorized

Marcie Colleen on Sparking Whimsy & Rocketing to the Moon

Hi, y’all! Today on the Wonder of Words blog we have super talented author, Marcie Colleen, answering questions about her latest picture book, PENGUINAUT!, and on sparking creativity.

Welcome, Marcie! Thanks so much for being here. PENGUINAUT! is such a wonderful combination of humor and heart-squishes. My five year-old went grocery shopping with me recently and was BESIDE HIMSELF EXCITED when the buggy ahead of us was full of 2 liter soft drinks. He was sure they were planning on rocketing to the moon!

PenguinautSoftDrinks

Wondering why Mermaid Girl & Dinosaur Boy are reading with fizzy drinks surrounding them? You’ll have to read the book to find out! 🙂

LOL! That’s awesome! Definitely rocketing to the moon.

1. When and where did you get the inspiration for Orville’s story?

Back in December of 2011 a friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:

fbNow, as a writer, I can’t control where my ideas come from. And after reading this, I became so curious about penguins and their lack of necks which would prevent them from looking at the stars. I asked, “what if?” (that is what writers do, we are constantly asking “what if?”). What if a penguin saw the moon for the first time and became so enthralled that he wanted to find a way to get there?

As with all stories, this one went through lots of revisions (39 to be exact!) and lots of re-imaginings. Along the way, I have lost the “falling over and discovering the moon” bit, but the adventurous spirit of Orville lives on in the published book.

2. I love the idea of penguins willing to fall down for a chance to look at the stars! And 39 revisions—that makes me feel better about my own manuscripts. What is your favorite part of the creative process?

My favorite part of the process is when I can call on my pals and get feedback on what I have written. They always help me see the lack and where I can make things stronger. I love that process. Brene Brown talks about how no art is created without midwifery. And my books have required a lot of midwifery. That collaboration is the best part of creation for me.

Penguianut cover low res

3. Yes! I rely heavily on the wonderful Wonder of Words PB critique group as well as my in-person Write Club ladies for MG & YA. I feel I’m a stronger writer after taking your Study Hall over the summer too. Do you have other creative outlets or hobbies? Do they cross into your writing?

 

I have lots of other creative outlets. I like to dabble in music, singing and playing a little ukulele and guitar. I also love to cook. I run every day. I suppose these do cross over into my writing, as they allow me to replenish my inner well. They fire up the imagination, spark whimsy, and encourage experimentation. So, they might not cross into my writing directly, but they certainly do play in.

Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 9.56.24 AM
Illustrator Emma Yarlett did a superb job on capturing Orville and his zoo friends

4. Do you have any tips you’d like to share about finding creativity?

 

I very much think of creativity as a muscle. The more you work the muscle, the more you will build. Therefore, take time to infuse your day with play and imagination. As you do that, your creativity feelers will grow and before you know it, you will be finding stories everywhere you look.

5. So true. I love this permission to play and use the imagination! Creativity usually seems to inspire more creativity. Do you have another book project you’re working on that you could give us a hint about?

 

My next picture book comes out in Winter 2020 from Macmillan. It’s called The Bear’s Garden and it will be illustrated by Alison Oliver (Moon, BabyLit series). It’s about an intrepid girl, her beloved stuffed bear, and the garden they create in a forgotten corner of their neighborhood. It is inspired by a real community garden in Brooklyn, New York and it’s so wonderful to see my former neighborhood come to life through Alison’s gorgeous art. It truly will be a love letter to the place both Alison and I have called home.

 

Community gardens are such a wonderful thing I’m happy to see popping up more and more regularly. This story sounds beautiful! Thank you so much for your time, Marcie! And y’all, her Study Halls are GREAT. We highly recommend. Check out her website for more information.

20160113_D800_marciecolleen_headshot_9442_3x4In previous chapters Marcie Colleen has been a teacher, an actress, and a nanny, but now she spends her days writing children’s books! She is the author of THE SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS chapter book series with Macmillan/Imprint, as well picture books, LOVE, TRIANGLE, illustrated by Bob Shea (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins), and PENGUINAUT!, illustrated by Emma Yarlett (Scholastic). She lives with her husband and their mischievous sock monkey in San Diego, California. Visit Marcie at www.thisismarciecolleen.com or follow her on Twitter @MarcieColleen1.

 

For y’all’s creativity prompt inspired by this interview, watch your social media feed to see if a post sparks whimsy in you. Let me know in the comments, and I’ll randomly choose a winner for a picture book manuscript critique by me!

Book Reviews

Book Review – Once Long Ago

Once Long Ago, the book I read as a child until it fell apart, is the book I have chosen for my first review.

Once Long Ago: Folk and Fairy Tales of the World, first published in 1962 by Golden Pleasure Books, is a collection of 70 traditional tales from 49 different cultures retold by Roger Lancelyn Green and illustrated by Vojtěch Kubašta.

As well as compiling myths, legends, and fairy tales from around the world, Green was a biographer of children’s writers and a member of the Oxford literary group, the Inklings, along with J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.  In Once Long Ago, Green’s writing retains the fairy tale format of earlier versions while creating a magic that appealed to me as a child, and still does as an adult. My old favourites, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Snow White, are all included and I quickly gained new favourites: the Australian tale, The Bunyip, the Flemish tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and the Norse tale, Why the Sea is Salt.

I have read questions online about how accurate Green may have been in writing stories from cultures other than his own. We have to remember that this book was published in 1962 and to have a volume of such diverse tales from a wide range of cultures is to be commended. I am choosing to believe that Green researched these stories thoroughly and took due care and time when creating his versions of them. The English story, The Three Bears, does support this view since there is no Goldilocks in sight. Instead, the original character, a little old woman, is the antagonist.

Not only is this book a fine example of great storytelling, it is also a work of art. Born in Vienna, Kubašta moved to Prague when he was four. He studied architecture and civil engineering but soon moved into his life-long career as a commercial artist and book designer. He is perhaps most famous for his pop-up books. His illustrations in Once Long Ago are bold, bright and filled with emotion: the image of the old witch on her raft of snakes in the Armenian tale Zoulvisia is impressively evil, the arrogance of the chicken in the Spanish tale The Half-Chick is cleverly depicted, and my favourite image of all, that of the girl in the English tale Coat of Rushes accepting her new silver dress from the fairy, is hauntingly beautiful.

A few years ago, for a significant birthday, I treated myself to my own copy of the book to the tune of $NZ500 ($US330). It may seem odd that I am reviewing a book now classed as “hard to find” and costing a fair penny to buy should you find a copy. What I want to illustrate is the need for children to be exposed to traditional tales, and not just those of their own culture but stories from all around the world. I learnt about people different to me through these tales and I would like to think this created a strong foundation for fairness, acceptance and tolerance. I encourage you to find a modern collection of traditional tales from around the world; one filled with stunning illustrations and magical stories, preferably one where the stories are written and illustrated by people who grew up with them. Since this is such a personal choice I can’t recommend what volume you buy, but I can say that if your children read it until it is faded and frayed then it is a book well-loved and one they will carry with them forever.

Pitch It to Me

~ The “Pitch It to Me” Challenge ~

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first “Pitch It to Me” Challenge! I am excited to bring this interactive learning adventure to our Wonder of Words blog. It’s intended to be fun and engaging, show how creative we can be with our story pitches, and support the hard-working and WONDERful members or our writing community.

Here’s a recap of how it works. I pick one lucky writer’s picture book pitch for the post. I write another for the same story, and have a guest write a third. YOU get to vote on your favorite. The winner gets bragging rights, and the writer ends up with three pitch ideas, feedback, and a complimentary critique of the story.

To start us off, Kari Gonzalez pitches her picture book manuscript, PRINCESS PARTY NINJA. Our guest challenger is author Melissa Stoller. You can learn more about each of these ladies and their work below.

You have two weeks to vote on your favorite pitch. They are in no particular order. Please only vote once, but feel free to tell your friends about us and get them in on the action. Let the challenge begin!

 

About Kari Ann:

Kari is a published poet, but she is most enthralled with her new-found love of writing funny and witty picture book escapades. Her first draft writing process is fast and furious to get stories out of her head, which of course makes room for more! Her three cats are kind enough to share their home with Kari, her husband, and their two little girls.

Connect with Kari at: https://www.karianngonzalez.com

About Melissa Stoller:

Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection – Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and 2019); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, Fall 2018). She is also the co-author of The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is an Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, an Admin for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with SCBWI/MetroNY. Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy. When not writing, she can be found exploring NYC with family and friends, traveling, and adding treasures to her collections.

Connect with Melissa at:

www.MelissaStoller.com

http://www.facebook.com/MelissaStoller

http://www.twitter.com/melissastoller

http://www.instagram.com/Melissa_Stoller

http://www.pinterest.com/melissastoller

Concluding Remarks:

Thank you to Kari and Melissa for participating in the first Pitch It to Me challenge. If you would like to be part of the next challenge, please contact me per the instructions found here. I will see you all again for “Pitch It to Me” on December 15, 2018!

Finding Creativity

Our First Post & Fruitful Inspiration

Thank y’all for cheering on our FIRST blog post. What an honor! And what a gift it is to write and collaborate with the wonderful ladies you’ll meet here over the next few months. Each brings a unique perspective and makes this writing journey more companionable.

Another thing that makes this writing adventure feel a little less lonely is when authors share their thoughts, tips, and techniques in blogs.

The origin of creativity—taking a tiny sparkly observation and turning it into something as magical as a book—has always been one of my favorite parts of writing.

So you’ll see that my posts focus on the creative journey and different ways writers find inspiration, in hopes that it will inspire creativity in you.

Let’s discover the WONDER OF WORDS with picture book author, Krissy Bystrom Emery and her Suitable Fruitable book series. I first came across her when she posted about her book in our local mom’s group on Facebook. There aren’t many picture book writers in my area so I was instantly intrigued and even more so when I saw she’d be holding a reading and craft session at our Barnes & Noble.

pqCMLabJ
Mermaid Girl & Dinosaur Boy really got into the reading, holding up signs and ‘rumba’-ing along with Piper the Paw Paw Fruit & friends!

CMC: Hi, Krissy! It was great meeting you at your signing! I adore the creativity of your title, THE PAW PAW FRUIT DOES THE CHA-CHA SCOOT (Mascot Books, 2018). It definitely caught and held my attention. Where did you get the inspiration for your story?

KBE: I have always loved writing fictitious stories and have done so since I was a little girl. It’s natural for me to take a piece of my day to day experiences and write about it in a way children can understand. One thing we always enjoy is experimenting with new fruits and foods through taste testing and dissecting. When the N. American Paw Paw fruit was brought to my attention by my sister, who has a doctorate in the field of nutrition and has studied many interesting fruits, we were eager to learn more about it. From this, my storyline was born and I wrote The Paw Paw Fruit Does the Cha-Cha Scoot.YwvOO4HZ

CMC: What is your favorite part of the creative process?

KBE: I really enjoy the rhythm of a rhyming story, so often I find myself writing in rhymes. I form a musical beat in my head that I feel children can enjoy and relate to and possibly create their own tune as they read along. Just knowing that I am reaching a child’s mind and filling it with positive information is the most fulfilling thing ever to me.

CMC: Do you have other creative outlets? Do they cross over into your writing?

KBE: Everything I do circles back to children, my family, so, in essence, I feel like I am writing stories in my head all the time. Being present for my family is my top priority and with four children there is not much time for leisure activities of my own. Whatever they are into at the moment is what I am into. Currently, it’s tennis, gymnastics, and homework—which in itself is an artful adventure!

CMC: I like the idea of homework as an artful adventure! Do you have any tips about finding creativity?

KBE: Use your own life experiences good, bad, or indifferent to find your own creative style. Everyone is influenced by something or someone—so look around and find what makes you tick.

CMC: Creativity seems to inspire more creativity. Do you have another book project you’re working on that you could give us a hint about?

KBE: My book series focuses on introducing unique fruits and vegetables to children. If you haven’t seen the bold and beautiful looking pitaya fruit, it’s definitely an interesting fruit to explore. My next book will focus on this fruit, also known as the dragon fruit, so stay tuned!

CMC: My kids are looking forward to this new fruity character. 6qxvlZzM I love when books come alive for children. And yours inspired us to try something new. Thank you for writing this fun series and for answering my questions.

Y’all check out her books at suitfruitbooks.com and on Facebook @SuitFruitBooks to see where her nutritiously delicious mission takes her next.

And thank YOU for being here on our inaugural post! We hope you’ll tune in on the third Saturday of the month when you’ll hear from the talented Sandra Sutter.

For your creative challenge:

What have you eaten recently that you could turn into a story?

About

Welcome to The Wonder of Words

Welcome to our blog, The Wonder of Words. We are a team of writers focused on children’s literature. We are excited to explore various features that encourage readers and writers of all ages to explore more children’s books. Postings will be on the first and third Saturday of every month. Feel free to review our bios and learn more about us and our focus. Thanks for stopping by!

Candice Marley Conner

An avid reader of fairy tales, Candice takes turns with her Mermaid Girl and Dinosaur Boy on who plays the villain. Evil cackles have been mastered by all. She and her family love exploring any sort of watery, magical place, be it beaches, swamps, rivers, and even mud puddles.

Candice is a member of SCBWI and an officer for the Mobile Writers’ Guild. Her debut picture book Sassafras and her Teeny Tiny Tail will be published in 2019 with Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing. You can find her work in collections such as Pieces: A Mobile Writers’ Guild Anthology, Fireflies & Fairy Dust: A Fantasy Anthology, Chicken Soup for the SoulBabybug Magazine, and online at Mothers Always WriteMamalode, and The Good Mother Project.

She adores discovering how books go from a wispy spark to something you can hold in your hands, so her posts will focus on finding creativity and interviewing authors on how their books came to be.

Gabrielle Schoeffield

When she isn’t conjuring up ways to embarrass her teenager, Gabrielle enjoys travel, exploring, and researching new book ideas. If you need her, try looking in the cornfields where you may find her listening to the wind rustling through the corn or the thunder of horse hooves on the wind as they engage in a battle at Gettysburg over 150 years ago.  Her passion for writing is reflected in her weekly newspaper column and her blog, Butterfly Kisses and Silly Wishes, where she shares her thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of a writer’s dream.  Gabrielle is an active member of SCBWI, Maryland Writers Association, and graduate of Children’s Book Academy.

Gabrielle will blog an A to Z mashup of writing ideas, from alliteration to the zany journey to publication, and everything in between.

Katharine Derrick

Katharine loves reading books until they fall apart. The first book she read like this was a huge volume of folktales, called Once Long Ago. Unfortunately, it was on loan; she hopes that when her mother returned it to the original owners, they understood just how much that book was loved.

Once Long Ago started a life-long search for story.  Katharine’s first published work was a fifty-word micro; more recently she has been published in Takahē magazine with her short story ‘The Auburn Trail’. She has had numerous pieces of flash fiction appearing online in Flash Frontier, one of which gained her a Pushcart nomination. She is a key organizer for writing events in Northland, her local district in New Zealand, and teaches applied writing at a local polytechnic. Her current works-in-progress are picture books and a YA novel.

Katharine will be reviewing children’s books from picture books through to young adult novels to find out what makes them spark.

Sandra Sutter

Sandra doesn’t know any dragons, bears, werewolves or yellow-bellied marmots, but she loves to write about them. A wife, mother, and master finder of silver linings, she fuels her creativity with coffee, craft beer, and an extra-helping of vacations.

You’ll find Sandra happily learning more about her craft in online courses, conferences and critique groups. She is also an assistant for the Children’s Book Academy writing and illustration courses. Her debut picture book, The REAL Farmer in the Dell, a humorous, modern retelling of the popular children’s song, is set to arrive spring 2019 with Clear Fork Publishing. Sandra focuses primarily on writing fiction and nonfiction picture books with heart and humor, as well as fun and adventurous chapter books. There is also a good versus evil, suspenseful and somewhat romantic young adult project just waiting for her to finish one day. Stay tuned, and read more about her writing at: www.sdsutter.com.

Look for Sandra’s blog posts under the title “Pitch It to Me”. For each post, she will select one picture book pitch to review and share alongside her alternative pitch for that story and a third, guest contributor’s pitch for readers to vote on a favorite. May the best pitch win! And hey, no matter what, the lucky writer will end up with feedback on three fantastic pitch ideas and a complimentary critique from yours truly on the full manuscript. Submitting your pitch for the next post is easy!

  • At least two (2) weeks prior to Sandra’s next post, send your pitch to: sandra@sdsutter.com;
  • Write “PITCH IT TO ME” in the subject line and keep the pitch to 70 words or less;
  • Place the pitch in the body of the email (attachments will be disqualified);
  • Sandra will email the winner with instructions for sending the full picture book manuscript (<700 words fiction; <1000 words non-fiction);
  • After the contest, Sandra will send the winner a complimentary critique on the manuscript.

Tina Shepardson

Tina was that child who wrote pages and pages of stories and tied them together with ribbon and yarn. Those paper-tied books opened doors to many babysitting jobs and eventually her teaching career. An award-winning teacher for over 29 years, Tina has shared thousands of books with children. Now she’s a Debut Picture Book Study Group Admin, a Children’s Book Academy graduate and course assistant, and an active member of 12×12 and SCBWI.  Find her in Upstate New York with her family, walking their Akitas, teaching, and enjoying the latest snowstorm. Learn more at http://www.tinashepardson.com/.

Look for Tina’s blog posts under the title “Best In Show”. Each post will center on the art of showing versus telling. She will provide strategies and interviews from authors on how they find just the right words to show their story.

Yvona Fast

Yvona began writing at age ten when she won a $25 bond for her essay, My Favorite American—despite the fact that she was an immigrant and had only been speaking English for a little over a year. In 1993, she contacted the editors of Christian Single magazine with a one-line query. ‘Happenings in Siberia’ was her first published piece.

She’s gone on to publish many more articles, poems, and essays on topics ranging from health and cooking to disabilities and careers. Her weekly column, ‘North Country Kitchen’ has run each week since 2005 in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Her books include Employment for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome or Non-Verbal Learning Disability: Stories and Strategies (2004), My Nine Lives (2011), Garden Gourmet (2013) and Different (2017).

Yvona has taken numerous writing classes, participates in several critique groups, and is an active member of SCBWI and the Adirondack Center for Writing.