Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dream Gardens Podcast

In January, I was interviewed for my first podcast! I had the opportunity to talk with Jody at Dream Gardens about a middle grade novel that I love: Ms. Bixby's Last Day.

In very brief summary, Ms. Bixby's Last Day is the story of three 12-year-old boys on a quest to bring a celebration to their beloved teacher who has to leave the school year early due to a serious health crisis. The book is deeply moving, funny, full of adventure and heart....and I can't recommend it enough!

Take a listen here. Even better, pick up a copy of John David Anderson's book and share it with the kiddos in your life. I think you will love it.

Happy reading,


Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Children's Book Academy

Well, hello!

It has been awhile since I've posted here, but that is because I've been absorbing myself in an absolutely wonderful writing class. At the beginning of January, class began for the Craft and Business of Writing Children's Picture Books via the Children's Book Academy. The course is taught by Dr. Mira Reisberg and Kelly Delaney (editor at Knopf), and it takes a scaffolding approach so that it is useful for those at the very beginning of their writing venture as well as those who are farther along.

It has been great, and I've really wanted to glean as much as I can while the course is up (this is our last week!). This is not an ad, but if you have ever considered taking a writing course but didn't know if the expense was worth it, let me share why I have loved this course:

1. The course is densely packed with useful information. For over a year now, I have been reading about and studying the picture book business and the craft of writing for children. And I have learned a lot in doing so! But this course goes beyond all of that. Dr. Mira has so much to share from her vast experience as an author, illustrator, former agent, and professor of writing, so each day's lessons are such a treat with much to absorb. We study picture books and what makes them successful, tips for developing character and plot, editing for brevity, how to pitch to editors and agents, and how the business side of it all works once the book is acquired. And more.

2. The homework is relevant to our goals. Dr. Mira's assignments specifically target aspects of the manuscripts we are working on. In our shared homework page, students post assignments, which range from our story ideas to our hook to our characters to our endings. Then, we all comment on each other's work to help improve the ideas and execution of those. This has really helped me to develop and tighten my manuscript in a useful way.

3. The webinars. Each week, there is a webinar that focuses on a different topic: hooks, conflict, endings, etc. Students are given a deadline to post their ideas or actual excerpts from their manuscripts, and then Mira and Kelly critique them via the webinar. I've learned so much through having my ideas critiqued, as well as hearing their advice to others.

4. The community. Through the homework comments, the webinars, class Facebook page, and critique group in which I was placed, I have loved the community aspect of this course. I didn't know this was something I needed so much, but it's certainly something I'm going to seek out as I continue writing. In addition, Mira and Kelly are warm and welcoming, full of love and extremely generous in helping aspiring authors grow.

5. The golden ticket. Finally, there is a golden ticket opportunity to submit our work to editors and agents. This hasn't happened yet, but soon we will pitch our story, and if the editors and agents that Mira has lined up are intrigued by our pitch, they may ask to see our manuscript. No guarantees here, but I'm beyond excited and hopeful for this opportunity.

So there you have it. It's a fabulous course that I highly recommend, and I'm sad that it's almost over. Good thing we have access to the course materials for 6 more months as I'll likely go through the process again. :)


We have still been reading some fabulous picture books, so I have some lovely reviews planned for the coming weeks!

Happy reading and writing,