Three Cheers for the Final Giveaways!

badge final 4x4-brighter heartWe Nerdy Chicks feel SO LUCKY to have the chance to work with a faculty full of authors who are smart, inspirational, and generous. All of our authors graciously shared their time and their knowledge. Some threw in a giveaway too. Let’s hear if for all of our author-teacher-bloggers!

Hip-Hip-Hooray!

We want to take a moment in this final post to thank all of you summer schoolers too. Your enthusiasm and energy are amazing. So CHEERS to you too!

Yippeee!

Now, we are finally ready to announce the individual post giveaway winners, so it’s time for cheer number three, so everyone give a big

YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Winners were selected from those who left comments on the individual posts using the Random Number Generator at Random.org.

You can find the winner of each giveaway listed on the chart below. (If you click on it, you will be able to see it as a larger image.)

Winners, the author hosting the giveaway should contact you in a few days to arrange getting you your prize.🙂 Congratulations!

Thank you again to all of you who shared your time, energy and enthusiasm for writing with us this summer. We appreciate your comments! May your words carry you to wonderful places!

The Kidlit Summer School Team

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In case you missed it, we announced other winners in this post HERE.

Happy Writing Everyone!

 

 

 

 

More Prizes!!!!!!!

badge final 4x4-brighter heartSo Hurricane Matthew blew by and some of us lost power, internet, and a whole lot of time to evacuating. And some of us (ahem) still do not have proper internet… so we’re announcing a few more prizes this week, and hoping that we can make up for lost time next week and award those awesome author prizes that went along with the posts!

If you won one of these prizes, CONGRATULATIONS! You will receive an email in the next few days giving details on how to claim it.🙂

Cue Drumroll…

The winner of the #30mdare prize is Shelly Hawley-Yan! Congrats Shelly! Rebecca will be in touch with you soon to arrange the details about your critique! 

The winner of our July 7 prize is Lori Mozdzierz! Hooray Lori! You will receive a free Tote Bag and Notebook with the KLSS Logo designed by Bonnie Adamson.   

The winner of the Brtote-bag-klss-16ainstorming session with Kami and Sudipta is Lynn Marie! Yipeeee Lynn Marie! We’ll be in touch soon. 

The winner of  the May 31 Tote Bag giveaway is Carol Baldwin!!!! Three Cheers for you, Carol! You’ll receive a free tote bag with the KLSS logo designed by Bonnie Adamson. 

Thank you ALL for the comments! Winners were selected using Random Number Generator at Random.org.

More prize announcements coming soon!

Stepping Toward those Awesome 2016 Prizes!

Hello Kidlit Summer Schoolers! We’re sorry for the delays on awarding the prizes. A bunch of us on the board have been hit with some of those “Life Happens” moments recently and so we’ve had to push back our usual announcement times.

But we are rallying and organizing now, so we want to announce the first of those prizes!

In our last post at the end of Kidlit Summer School, we asked everyone who had perfect attendance to leave a comment. Over a hundred of you left comments! Wow! Using the random number generator at Random.org a number was selected, and the person who left that comment is the winner of the prize.

Congratulations Dayne Sislen! You won the Perfect Attendance Award for Kidlit Summer School 2016!!!! 

Now lets move forward on the #30mdare prize. For this prize, the amazing Rebecca Petruck is giving away a 20 page critique and follow up phone call to one writer drawn from all who participated in one of the #30mdares. If you participated in at least five dares, please fill out this very very short form so we can award that prize. You have a whole week to fill  out the form, so please do it before midnight on October 9! The winner will be announced the week of October 10.

The time to enter your name on the form is over! We’ll be announcing the winner soon!

What about the other awesome prizes? We are gathering data, drawing names, and compiling lists! We will start announcing the winners of those prizes the week of October 10 too.

Thank you all for participating in Kidlit Summer School! Keep Writing!

Final #KidlitSummerSchool Updates, Webinars, and THANK YOUS!

Hello, Summer Schoolers! Week 4 has sadly ended, but we still have a few treats left for you. Think of it as Afterschool for all of you overachievers.badge final 4x4-brighter heart

We want to bring your attention to what is to come in the week ahead, including TWO great Summer School webinars! Here we go!

#KidlitSummerSchool Afterschool Webinars:

This coming Thursday, August 11th, at 8pm EST we will be hosting our very special Author Roundtable webinar with Authors Crystal Allen (MG), Josh Funk (PB) and Jo Whittemore (MG) who will share their expertise on children’s books and their own personal writing journeys. Details on getting a link to watch this webinar and how to submit your questions for the panel were sent out yesterday. Please check your inbox and refer to that email for further information.

Questions for the Author Roundtable must be submitted by midnight EST on Tuesday, August 9!

And that’s not all! Stay tuned for a very special upcoming webinar with folks from the publishing world. We will announce when we have details to share!

Both webinars are going to be a clucking good time, filled with lots of Nerdy Chick knowledge. You will not want to miss out.

blue-star-thumbPerfect Attendance Award: Did you leave a comment on every author post within the first twenty four hours that it was posted? If you did, you are eligible for the perfect attendance award! If you qualify, just leave a comment right here on THIS blog post. Start your comment with the words “Perfect Attendance” (So we can easily pick you out from others commenting about Summer School.) One name will be drawn from all of the contenders to win the Perfect Attendance Prize.

What about the other prizes? The #30mdare prize? The individual post prizes? The pre-registration prize? The grand prizes? All of the other great stuff? We will have details about all of the other prizes and how they will be awarded in a separate post on the blog. That’s something to look forward to!

smiling-gold-star-thumbLastly, a sincere thank you to each of you for joining us these past four weeks. #KidLitSummerSchool is for YOU and we hope that you have enjoyed yourself, met a few friends, and learned a craft-tip or two. We’re proud of you! You get a gold star!
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Thanks also to our awesome faculty of bloggers and all of our webinar participants. It really was a fantastic summer, right?!
Now go forth, you heart and humor-filled geniuses.

The Kidlit Summer School Board of Education
@dawnmyoung @kamikinard @leezaworks @marciecolleen @sudiptabq

Week 4 POP QUIZ

badge final 4x4-brighter heart
Alright, are you ready to show off all that you have learned in our LAST Pop Quiz? We know you’re all going to nail it and will surely show off your heart and humor! Take this quiz to see what you learned during the fourth and final week of Kidlit Summer School.

 

 

1. On Monday, Terra McVoy encouraged us to add heart to our stories through the following:

a) Developing character relationships to better understand motivation.

b) Learning specific details about character in order to make them more complete and real.

c) Understanding that building character is the hardest and most complicated aspect of writing, but is worth the time.

d) All of the above

2. On Tuesday, Kelly Starling Lyons’s prompts writers to create soulful stories by…

a) Putting yourself in your characters’ shoes.

b) Studying writers who do it well.

c) Look for internal cues within yourself. Make yourself feel.

d) All of the above

3. On Wednesday, Jason Kirschner made us laugh by adding the following to his stories…

a) Funny sounding words.

b) Exaggeration.

c) Visual gags and fart jokes.

d) All of the above

4. On Thursday, Mimi Cross demonstrated how she uses the following to “listen” to her character’s heart:

a) Interviews with the character.

b) Meditation to prepare yourself to really listen to what the character is saying.

c) Listening to yourself as a writer and connecting on a deeper level.

d) All of the above

5. On Friday, Bonnie Adamson’s case studies illustrated what lessons she has learned to add heart to her stories?

a) Find your star player and make it *all* about him.

b) Draw on real people you’ve known to flesh out tropes like “the class clown,” or “the homecoming queen.”

c) Energize your characters with something totally unexpected.

d) All of the above

Hip, hip hooray, you got an A right? 100%? If you’re unsure, go back and check out the posts from Week Four. This is an open blog test. (And you don’t even have to turn it in. Grade yourself and then pat yourself on the back!)

You did it! Now you get a chance to kick back, and enjoy the rest of your summer…or if you didn’t get a chance to go through all the KLSS posts yet, no worries, you can go back anytime and catch up!

 

Does Your Story Need a Heart Transplant? by @BonnieAdamson and #GIVEAWAY

Three case histories

Sometimes I have what I think is a great idea for a story. I plot it out, polish the text, start thumbnailing scenes and begin working on character design. And then I hit a wall. Many of the elements are there, but the story just won’t come to life. This happens most often when there’s something in the way of the characters.

Character = engagement = heart. When I haven’t fully engaged with my characters, there’s no heart and the project flatlines. In that case, the task is to give the characters some breathing room. Maybe the plot has taken over, or  there’s too much detail choking the story—or maybe I simply haven’t given the characters enough to do.

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Whose story is it?

For a long time, I didn’t know who the main character was in this story. I didn’t *care* who the main character was. A fellow who has accumulated enough points to win the big prize at the rodeo, doesn’t.  Misunderstandings ensue, plus slapstick humor and a surprise at the end. I liked it. I really, really liked it. But the story wasn’t breathing on its own.

The fix

A critique partner read the manuscript to her daughter. She reported that the daughter was sad when the fellow at the beginning didn’t win the trophy. Sad??? This was only a minor plot point! What about the funny stuff and the twisty ending? What did it mean?

It meant this young listener had found the heart I wasn’t even aware was missing.  Eventually, after much whining and thrashing about,  I realized I had to commit to the trophy-less cowboy. The immediate solution was to switch from a storyteller’s voice to close third person. The opening went from something like “Have you heard the one about . . .?” [plot-centered] to “Pete never met a trophy he didn’t like.” [character-centered]

Bam.

The lesson

Find your star player and make it *all* about him.

Read your manuscript to an actual child.

AdamsonB_post art 2

The lock-up.

I thought I had this one nailed—a classic underdog-saves-the-day story with heart built right into the concept. Yay! But was saving the day enough? What if readers didn’t care about my little bumbling bee from the start? I was also having a lot of trouble coming up with a visual identity for her main rival. Worse, this seemed to be the main character’s only story. I know you’re not supposed to think in terms of sequels, but I had a character I liked who was totally boxed in by a dead-end plot.

The fix

The Miss Marple Trick. Agatha Christie’s famous sleuth solves mysteries by observing behavior she can relate to that of inhabitants of her tiny village. One day while trying for the umpteenth time to come up with a sketch for my main character’s nemesis, I suddenly thought of two girls I had known in high school. One was better at *everything* that ensures popularity in that environment. The other was not so much an underdog as simply and thoroughly eclipsed by her friend. Eureka! Once I understood the dynamics  the story became more about the relationship than saving the day, and future story possibilities opened up.

The lesson

Draw on real people you’ve known to flesh out tropes like “the class clown,” or “the homecoming queen.”

Read vintage British murder mysteries.

AdamsonB_post art 3

A thicket of details.

For this story, I did oodles of research to make sure the setting was authentic, accumulating notes upon notes about jungle habitats. I had a hook and a decent text and even some quirky character traits for the main character. But the obsession with the setting and the research had used up the energy that should have gone to showcasing the characters. My quirky crocodile didn’t have enough to do and came off as merely  part of the scenery.

The fix

Pure serendipity. In  organizing a list of portfolio pieces by project, this one happened to be followed by a wordless story that had its own problems. How about a mashup? What if the protagonist in the wordless story showed up in the jungle? Bingo! The crocodile leapt at the chance to reveal himself as a method actor, uncovering motivations I had not been aware of. The text hasn’t changed, but now there’s a much richer subtext playing out in the illustrations, and the secondary characters have gotten into the act as well.

The lesson

Energize your characters with something totally unexpected.

Have more than one idea in your portfolio.

If  *your* stories lack heart due to characters that are hidden in plain sight, boxed in by the plot, or smothered by the scenery, check out the download for exercises that will help you find the right treatment.

Meanwhile, the stories above are all off life-support and should be up and around soon. Stay tuned!

BonnieAdamson-2016 b&wBonnie Adamson is the illustrator of Bedtime Monster and the “I Wish” series of picture books for Raven Tree Press, as well as Rutabaga Boo!, written by the lovely and talented Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and due in Spring 2017 from Atheneum. Visit Bonnie at www.bonnieadamson.com.

If you are registered for Kidlit Summer School, you can download a worksheet of Bonnie’s writing exercise at our Exercise Book. This is a password-protected area—only members allowed! Please check your email for the password.

GIVEAWAY! Bonnie is kindly giving away a Kidlit Summer School tote bag, featuring her fabulous design. For a chance to win, please leave a comment below.

Don’t miss your chance to get perfect attendance! Leave a comment on this post within the first 24 hours. Moderators have to approve first-time commenters, so your comment may not show up immediately.

Listening to Your Characters by @mimicross and #GIVEAWAY

“She’s gonna listen to her heart
It’s gonna tell her what to do.”

— Tom Petty

And it’s going to tell you, the writer, what to do. Listening to your main character’s heart—is going to tell you what to write.

But how do you listen to a fictional heart?

CrossM_bookcoverPartway through writing Shining Sea I realized that the voice of my main character, 17-year-old budding singer-songwriter Arion Rush was becoming harder to hear. Her heartbeat was growing faint. Soon I began to understand, it was because I didn’t know her heart.

Whenever there was a ‘musical moment’ in the story, Arion explored her feelings through songwriting, and her lyrics definitely showed what was in her heart. But everywhere else in the novel, her feelings, her wants, her needs—were hidden.

I decided I should speak to her.

But when I tried to interview Arion the first time, I didn’t get very far.

EXCERPT, INTERVIEW 1:

Me: Hey Arion, how are you? And, where are you?

Arion: I’m in my room at the lighthouse.

Me: Cool. So . . . you probably know, I’m having a little trouble figuring out what’s up with you.

Arion: Yeah, I know. I also know you want me to be nicer than I really am.

Me: Okaaay . . . How about I ask you a few questions?

Arion: Sure. Doesn’t mean I’ll answer.

Me: That’s . . . fine. Let’s start with basics. What’s your favorite color?

Arion: Red. That’s the only thing you got right about me.

Me: Huh. Well . . . that’s something. How do you like Maine?

Arion: I love Maine. I feel like, I belong in the woods. There’s a certain kind of wildness here. It makes me—I can’t believe you just stopped to fix a typo, are you even listening?

Was I even listening?

Most of us take listening for granted. We believe we’re good listeners, and that everyone knows how to listen. But many people aren’t accustomed to listening on a deep level, and that’s very often where characters speak to us.

In preparation for a second interview, I practiced specific meditation exercises that encouraged me to listen to my body, and focus awareness on my breath and emotional flow.

The next time I interviewed Arion, I was much more prepared to listen.

I heard about Arion’s relationship with her mother, and learned it was a source of pain. I found out Arion experienced anxiety due to her sister’s accident, but also that her sister had treated Arion badly in the past. As a result, Arion had closed her heart off to others, including me. She worked on her songs alone, and at the start of Shining Sea, she hadn’t sung for many people.

But by the end of the book, Arion is well on her way to becoming a performer, and more. I’m convinced her transformation occurred not only because I started listening on a deeper level, but because I’d spent some time with my own heart.

EXCERPT, INTERVIEW 2:

Me: I’d like to talk a little more about your mom.

Arion: Look at her canvases.

Me: Um . . .

Arion: Look at the brush strokes. The colors. See all that freedom? All that wild self? See her letting go of control, of normal? She’s not worried about what people think—I’m tired of worrying about what people think. It wears on me. When I’m in the woods, or when I feel the salt air on my skin—

Me: Slow down. Wears on you? Isn’t that kind of an adult thing?

Arion: I’ve been taking care of myself for a while, in case you haven’t noticed. Dad’s got his boats, Mom’s got her art, and Lilah—even before the accident, Lilah was mom’s favorite. She sees Lilah’s wildness, that’s part of it. She thinks it’s like her own. She doesn’t get my wildness. Hey, how about a cup of coffee?

Me: ???

Arion: I need caffeine. Arion RUSH—hello?

Me: I’m here.

Arion: Are you?

Me: Yes, I’m listening.

Arion: I’m becoming an artist.

Me: (Stunned) I’m impressed you know that.

Arion: It hurts.

Me: (Floored) Why?

Arion: I’m different.

Me: Every adolescent feels that way. Every person feels that way.

Arion: Different, like—there’s something wrong with them?

Me: Well there is something wrong with you. You’re not afraid of Bo, and he’s a Siren.

Arion: That makes him wild. I am too—inside. I’m wild, in my heart. Can you write that?

Mimi Cross is an author, singer, and songwriter. Grammy award–winning artist Rosanne Cash has described Cross’s writing and singing as “Fusing delicacy and power, heart and gut. Inspiring, evocative, and refreshing.” Cross received a bachelor of music from Ithaca College and an MA from New York University and is the creator of Body of Writing, a practice combining yoga and writing that boosts creativity. Her novels, Before Goodbye, and Shining Sea are published by Skyscape. She resides with her young son in New Jersey. Visit her online at mimicross.com

If you are registered for Kidlit Summer School, you can download a worksheet of Mimi’s writing exercise at our Exercise Book. This is a password-protected area—only members allowed! Please check your email for the password.

GIVEAWAY! Mimi is kindly giving away a copy of Shining Sea, the paperback or MP3 audiobook version. Winner’s choice! For a chance to win, please leave a comment below.

Don’t miss your chance to get perfect attendance! Leave a comment on this post within the first 24 hours. Moderators have to approve first-time commenters, so your comment may not show up immediately.