Thomas, James, and Scary Jack Frost!

Tigger Goes Ice Skating!

Tigger Goes Ice Skating!

A Great New Book by Agent Mary Kole!

Mary Kole’s new book on craft, Writing Irresistible Kidlit, (Writer’s Digest Books, Dec. 2012), isn’t the kind of book you just read; it’s that kind of book that fires up your brain, makes you stop every few pages to grab a pen and paper, and dash out a line or two. I recognized many of Kole’s points, but the insight was this: Much of what an author does is instinctual; what Kole has done is pull the tools out of the box and assign names to them. How much more useful a tool is when you’re aware it exists!

Culling from specific, contemporary works, Kole explains writing practices and goals. In illuminating “high concept,” she says, “[Readers] want stories that . . . lift them out of the everyday.” Then she asks, “What’s something they can’t experience in reality?” (p. 31) She then cites and deconstructs loglines for Holes, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Hunger Games, and more. It’s this analysis throughout the book that  inspires you to put your own work through the same machinations and see if it’s strong enough to hold up. Tips are specific: “Make your middle grade characters firmly thirteen and under” (p. 8), and her discussion on the six things readers should know within the first chapter (p. 78).

Shaded boxes throughout the text contain exercises addressing character specifics, theme specifics, voice specifics, etc.  Here, Kole takes the abstract and makes it concrete. You’ll want to print these exercises out and put them together for reference, a boiled-down toolbox for all your work.

In Writing Irresistible Kidlit, Kole delivers a user-friendly, specific text on the craft of writing. I found it so useful that it sits on my desk—open—as I work on my next manuscript.

I read Writing Irresistible Kidlit as an advance copy, and Kole uses as one of her published samples my first novel, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. 

In Which We Discuss You Tube, BARGAIN DEALS, Seinfeld, Orny Adams, Orange Blossoms

Did I ever tell you you're my hero? haha

Did I ever tell you I have a You Tube channel? Please check it out! Danette Haworth You Tube Channel Great stuff for authors, including an interview with Barnes and Noble CRM, Geoffrey Shoffstall.

Bargain deals: Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning is available in HARDCOVER FOR LESS THAN $5.00 ON AMAZON! Perfect for your middle-grade reader this Christmas! Also, I've been keeping a craft book open as I work on my new manuscript--lit agent Mary Kole's Writing Irresistable KidLit, available in paperback and ebook. Perfect for the writer on your Christmas list! Look for my review soon!

JERRY SEINFELD and ORNY ADAMS! On separate dates in January, I get to see Jerry Seinfeld at the Bob Carr, Orlando, and Orny Adams at the Improv! I cannot wait! I've never seen Seinfeld live before, but I have seen Orny and he was excellent. Not only that, but he did a meet-and-greet afterwards and was so patient with me and my sister, spending probably fifteen minutes or so with us because my iPhone camera was flaking out (which, honestly, worked out, because we got to spend more time with Orny!). The only thing that could make the new year better? Brian Regan tickets in February! Dare I to spend more money on comedy?

And finally, Casey and I were hanging around in the backyard today, and I swear I smelled the sweet, powdery scent of orange blossoms. My neighbor's trees are ornamented with perfectly round, shiny oranges, but no blossoms. A close inspection of the greenbelt behind my yard (read: marsh populated by gators, river otter, rattle snakes, scorpions and more) revealed some kind of weedy tree, resplendent with tiny white buds, emitting the sweet perfume.

That is all for today! Tomorrow, back to work!

Riley, I Hope You Got an A on your Book Report!

Fifth grade reader Riley sent me this email:

"I love the book me and jack so much i am doing my book report on it so if you could write back that would be so cool. I love the book me and jack."

I wrote back, asking what Riley's favorite part was, and after receiving the answer, I provided never-seen-before behind-the-scenes info on that particular part of the book. In turn, Riley went all out on the book report. Here's the pic Riley's mom posted:

Yay, Riley! It looks like you did a lot of work on that poster! I hope you received an A for your book report!

Awesome Visit at Blankner School in Orlando

Yesterday, I visited Blankner School in Orlando to talk about writing, inspiration, and what makes up a story. I'm here to tell you the students at Blankner were just the kind of people you love to visit! Attentive, engaged, responsive--I saw heads nodding when I hit certain points; people laughed when I hoped they would; and we all had fun with the audience participation bits. Thank you, Blankner students! And good luck on all your writing!

UCF is Bowlbound vs Ball State! (and I don't even care about football!)

The University of Central Florida (UCF), my alma mater, place of fond memories, and land that occupies my dreams in which I have the cliched experience of knowing I have a test but have not attended class and I'm walking and walking and where the heck is the building and if I could find my friends (Ann, Grace, Sieglinde, Steve, Dennis, Colin, or Alan) they could tell me where I'm supposed to be and where my classes are. I can never find them, and the campus is endless, with high tech new building I am unfamiliar with. In any case, UCF vs Ball State! GO KNIGHTS!