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!

 

 

 

 

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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

#KidlitSummerSchool Week 4 Begins Tomorrow

That’s a wrap for Week 3 Kidlit Summer Schoolers, but look out …here comes our fourth and final week!

We hope you’ve been enjoying Summer School so far and discovered new ways to work, to help your writing and illustrating—and you—grow in the realm of Heart and Humor.

As always, try not to miss class as much as you can. Posts are offered Monday through Friday right here on the blog through our fabulous faculty guest bloggers. And as you know all you have to do is virtually show up here. If you subscribe to this blog, school comes to you instead through your inbox. And don’t forget if you’re not already subscribed, just head to the right sidebar and subscribe—it’s that easy!

Take a look at your class schedule for Week 4. There’s still so much more for you to learn!


As always, please help us share the love for #KidlitSummerSchool by posting about it on Twitter, FB (including in groups of writers), Pinterest, and all other forms of social media. Simply use the tag #KidlitSummerSchool wherever you post. If you want, you can copy the ready-made tweet below and paste it into your feed. Super-easy!

More HEART&HUMOR for Week 4 of #KidlitSummerSchool with blog posts, webinars, exercises, and more! http://www.nerdychickswrite.com

If you didn’t get a chance to make the most our of Kidlit Summer School yet, there’s still time. Check these out:

  • Make sure you are on the email list! All passwords, webinar links, etc. will be sent out through email ONLY. If you are not getting emails, please click HERE to troubleshoot. Because there are so many of you, we ask that you read this carefully before contacting us about a problem. A regular weekly email will be sent out (usually on Sundays). Look for it to make sure you get it!
  • Join our Facebook Group! If you have registered for Kidlit Summer School 2016, follow this link to ask to be added if you haven’t already.
  • Participate in our Twitter #30mdares: This year, Rebecca Petruck will post prompts on Twitter and Facebook twice a week so students have the freedom to arrange group dares that suit their schedules and time zones, or do them on their own. The only “rule” is to set a timer and go without stopping for 30 minutes. You can find her on Twitter at @RebeccaPetruck.   Prompts will be posted Tuesday at 9p ET and Saturday at 10a ET. To get prompts, check the Twitter hashtag #30mdare or visit the Facebook group.Publisher’s Weekly covered Rebecca’s first experience with the #30mdare. You can read about that HERE.
  • FAQ page: Check out the pages for FAQs in the navigation bar for more information on webinars, email, and #30mdares.
  • Cafe Press: Soon our 2016 design will be ready to order from our Cafe Press store. You can own some 2016 Kidlit Summer School Memorabilia. It’s coming this week, yay! 😉
  • Webinars: Stay tuned — we’re still working on these.
  • New to School? If this is your first time attending Kidlit Summer School, check out our updated ABOUT page for a brief explanation of how things work!

GIVEAWAYS:


  • Perfect Attendance:
     
    Remember the blue-star-thumbperfect attendance award? You can get one for attending Kidlit Summer School! We’ll hold a drawing at the end of Summer School for people who commented on every post here on the blog within the first 24 hours of it going up. When Summer School is over, there will be a post explaining how to be entered for the drawing for the Perfect Attendance grand prize.
  • Author Giveaways: Some of our amazing authors will be sponsoring giveaways with their posts. You must comment on their post to qualify for these. Details will be at the end of each post.
  • #30mdare Giveaway: Students who complete at least five of the seven dares will be entered to win a 20-page critique and follow-up phone call from Rebecca. 

ALL PRIZES WILL BE AWARDED AT THE END OF KIDLIT SUMMER SCHOOL 2016!

Kick back today, catch up if you need to … and we’ll see you in class!

The Kidlit Summer School Board of Education.

Follow us on Twitter: @dawnmyoung @kamikinard @leezaworks @marciecolleen @sudiptabq

Week 3 POP QUIZ

badge final 4x4-brighter heart
Now that Week 3 is over, it’s time to review what you learned and take a Pop Quiz. We know you’re all going to ace it and make your teachers proud! So go ahead, take this quiz to see what you learned during the third week of Kidlit Summer School.

 

 

1. On Monday, Crystal Allen encouraged you to look for humor in…

a) An incident from your childhood, or someone else’s; (Don’t mention real names, or you’ll become poop to them!)

b) Joke or riddle books

c) “What if” ideas

d) All of the above

 

2. On Tuesday, Marcie Colleen said that showing versus telling allows your readers (or listeners) to experience the story because…

a) Showing paints a picture.

b) Showing draws the reader in.

c) Showing uses description, action, and dialogue to portray how a character is thinking and feeling and therefore, builds emotion…or heart.

d) All of the above

 

3. On Wednesday, Josh Funk shared the following…

a) When limiting your picture book manuscripts to 0 to 300 (to maybe 500) words, it’s important to ensure that what’s being shown changes pretty frequently.

b) Once you’ve given your illustrator enough variety of scenery – it’s time to let them run wild.

c) Put the illustrator in the position to add as much humor as possible.

d) All of the above

 

4. On Thursday, Wendy Mass reminded us that we write for kids to:

a) Teach them what we wished we’d known and to entertain young readers, to make them laugh so that they’ll learn to laugh at themselves.

b) Make them cry to teach them empathy.

c) Show them adversity so they can learn to be strong and to pluck them from their lives and place them somewhere else, in the hopes that when they close the covers of the book they will come back to themselves stronger, with their minds open to new possibilities.

d) All of the above

 

5. On Friday, Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr offered the following suggestion(s) for writing humor…

a) The key to all humor is surprise—a turn of phrase or twist of events that feels unexpected, and sometimes delightfully so.

b) Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be hilarious at the outset. Toil all day, then play all night.

c) Humor Loves Company.

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 Three. 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!)

Okay, now you get a chance to kick back, and enjoy your weekend…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!

See you in Week Four!

Three Tips for Writing Humor: Write Blind, First Things First, and Get Some Help, Already by @writingmatthew and @drawingrobbi plus a #Giveaway

Perhaps my greatest pleasure is making people laugh. Which is why pretty much everything I write is anchored in humor. It keeps my readers engaged. It allows for higher highs and lower lows. But how to create humor? Heck if I know. Writing this post forced me to think the question through. I’ve come up with a few suggestions. Maybe they will help you.

Swanson 11. Write blind. The key to all humor is surprise—a turn of phrase or twist of events that feels unexpected, and sometimes delightfully so. As a writer, I seek humor by creating voices that reflect the world with a pleasing slant. But for these voices to surprise my readers, I also have to surprise myself in creating them. Too much thinking makes for plodding prose. The more calculating I get, the less natural (and therefore, less funny) the writing becomes. For me, the trick is finding a way to think less, not more.

A few months back, I stumbled on a tool that makes it nearly impossible to censor and judge yourself while writing that first draft—because it sweeps away the fruits of your labor before you have a chance to realize how bad they might smell. I describe how it works in our exercise. It might be the simplest, most elegant way I’ve ever encountered to get the mind out of the way so that intuition can steer the writing process in the direction of fresh, uninhibited, funny prose. It’s also a fail-safe cure for writer’s block. And it’s free.

swnason2

2. First Things First. My best jokes usually don’t show up until the end of a writing project. First I lay the foundation (character, plot arc, etc.), then I frame the structure (the specific business that makes up the story), and only then do add the siding and the windows, the molding and the mailbox. My brain has to do a lot of thinking to build the house. But once the guts are in place and relatively watertight, the imps are free come out and romp, elevating the voice and the dialogue, making the tiny adjustments that transform a solid manuscript into a delightful one. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be hilarious at the outset. Toil all day, then play all night.

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3. Humor Loves Company. It’s impossible to be funny in a vacuum. Landing a joke is completing a circuit. It’s a gamble, a gambit, a leap of pure faith. If you are struggling to write humor, find someone to laugh with. It could be a friend to read your draft and tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Or it could be someone to help you build your jokes by making their own contributions. (Remember that comedic TV shows are written by groups of funny people sitting in a room making magic together.)Every book I write is created in close collaboration with my wife, the illustrator Robbi Behr (she who decided to electrocute me above). Sometimes, Robbi’s drawings elevate and extend my jokes by making them visual. Other times, the humor results from tension between the written and visual takes on a given situation. But Robbi is also my first editor, giving me an early gut check on my manuscripts and helping me develop jokes by lending an extra ear.Finally, just spending time with funny people can help get you into the right frame of mind. Humor depends so much on timing and pacing and instinct. Soak it in, and then channel what you’ve learned. Watch funny shows and standup. Read funny books. Be humor’s companion. Call it research. It’s not such a bad way to pass the hours.

Writing humor: the really short version:

Babies RuinTurn off your conscious thinking, judging brain. Humor comes from someplace deeper. If you can’t force yourself to be funny, let the app in our exercise help.
Don’t feel pressure to make your manuscript funny until you have the basics in place. Funny is the icing. Once you bake the cake, you can turn off your boring old brain and start to play.
Commune with humor, whether through collaboration or seeking feedback, whether by hanging out with funny people or gorging on funny material.

SwansonM_BehrR_headshotHusband/wife, author/illustrator duo Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr have collaborated to create the picture books Babies Ruin Everything (July 2016) and Everywhere, Wonder (February 2017) and the middle grades series The Real McCoys (Fall 2017), all with Macmillan Kids. In addition to speaking and leading workshops on collaboration and creative entrepreneurship, they have produced three small children and more than 70 self-published picture books for children and adults. You can follow Matthew at https://twitter.com/writingmatthew and Robbi at https://twitter.com/drawingrobbi and visit their website at www.robbiandmatthew.com and their Babies Ruin Everything page at http://robbiandmatthew.com/babies-ruin-everything/ and their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Robbi-and-Matthew-819948174807508/?fref=ts

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

GIVEAWAY! Matthew and Robbi are kindly giving away a  Ridiculous Skype conversation . 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.

Reaching A Child’s Heart By Trusting Your Own by @wenmass plus a #Giveaway

MassW_book_001I hope you don’t mind taking a break from your regularly scheduled programing (ie: the craft of writing) for just this week. While considering how a writer might go about infusing their characters with heart, I couldn’t help thinking about how we have to remember to have it for ourselves first. If we want to convincingly create characters who believe in themselves enough to accomplish whatever their goals are within the story, we have to be their role models.

No matter where we are in our writing careers, so often we are (to borrow a phrase from Emerson) “… standing in our own sunshine”. We put ourselves down, we dwell on our failures, we downplay our accomplishments. I suppose there are writers out there who have loads of confidence and think everything they create is brilliant, but we must not hang in the same circles. The things we tell ourselves when something we write is rejected or gets a bad review is much harsher than what we would tell a friend if it happened to them. We would try to build our friend back up, insist they weren’t rejected, that the piece simply wasn’t a good match for that editor. We would remind them of all the rejection letters even the greatest writers got. We would convince them how they’ve gotten so much further than so many others who are still dreaming about putting pen to paper.

So be proud of all your hard work and fortify your heart against disappointment, against unsupportive friends or family who just might not “get” why you want to do this. Don’t ask for permission, because that might never come. Don’t be your own worst critic. There are plenty of others willing to take on that role (anonymous reviewers, I’m talkin’ to you), so rise above that and don’t help them along.

heartburstLet’s face it, we don’t write children’s books to become rich or famous. Our motivations run deeper than that. If you remind yourself why you want to dedicate your life to telling stories that could affect a child in ways you can’t imagine, it just might fill your heart to bursting. Then there will be no more room for negativity, only conviction and purpose.

Here are some reasons I came up with, but you will no doubt add your own. We write for the next generation because we were the kids reading under the covers with flashlights past bedtime and we remember what books meant to us when we were that age. I write out of gratitude for Narnia, for Margaret, for Charlotte and for Harriet, and each of us writes for the child in ourself. We write for our own kids to teach them what we wished we’d known. We write to entertain young readers, to make them laugh so that they’ll learn to laugh at themselves. We make them cry to teach them empathy. We show them adversity so they can learn to be strong. We pluck them from their lives and place them somewhere else, in the hopes that when they close the covers of the book they will come back to themselves stronger, with their minds open to new possibilities. We want to protect them and also challenge them. Writing for children is a big responsibility. By placing a story in their hands, your heart has reached their heart in a really tangible way. Your efforts have made a difference in their life. That’s the goal of the job, right? That’s why we do this. Well, that and getting to work in our pajamas all day.

For the exercise portion of this post, I’d like you to CHANNEL YOUR OWN INNER STUART SMALLEY/AL FRANKEN, look in the mirror and say, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Just kidding. Go treat yourself to a massage and some high quality chocolate before you sit back down to squeeze a little more of your heart onto the page. You deserve it.

MassW_headshotWendy Mass is the author of twenty books for young readers including Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, A Mango-Shaped Space, the Willow Falls series that began with 11 Birthdays, and the Space Taxi series which she co-writes with her husband, Mike. Her most recent is THE CANDYMAKERS AND THE GREAT CHOCOLATE CHASE, (out 8/2/16), which is the sequel to the New York Times bestseller, The Candymakers. She ate a lot of candy while writing those last two. She is currently on a cross-country RV trip where she offered her firstborn to the Ford dealer if he’d fix the air conditioning. He declined the kid, but the RV is nice and cool now. Visit her at wendymass.com, @wenmass on Twitter, and here on Facebook

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

GIVEAWAY! Wendy is kindly giving away a copy of  The Candymakers And The Great Chocolate Chase—hot off the presses! 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.

Author and Illustrator Comic Duos … or 32 Pages to be Schmidt and Andromedon by @joshfunkbooks plus a #Giveaway

If you write picture books, you’ll have the privilege of working with some of the finest artists in the world. You get the opportunity to guide these talented illustrators as they create a variety of fantastic images: glorious images, stunning scenery, pulchritudinous* characters. 32 fully-illustrated pages! How glorious?!?

But 32 can sometimes be a lot. It might not seem that way, especially when it shrinks down to 24-28 depending on how the end pages are used. I know it’s sometimes a struggle to fill those 32 pages with enough varied imagery to keep the book compelling for the reader.

I’ve written in the past about how I come up with ideas (here and here) – my go-to is “what do I want to see illustrated?” Well, I know what I don’t want to see illustrated: the same picture on every page (no matter how pulchritudinous** the characters look).

French toastWhen limiting your picture book manuscripts to 0 to 300 (to maybe 500) words, it’s important to ensure that what’s being shown changes pretty frequently. If you’ve got a scene in your picture book lasting 50-100 words, that’s likely too long. Either all of those words will have to be on the same spread with a single illustration … or … those 50-100 words will be spread across 2-4-6-8 pages … that all have basically the same illustration.

[Note: this may not apply if you’re writing an Elephant & Piggie-style dialogue-driven book – but unless you’re Mo Willems, your book is probably not entirely dialogue with little-to-no action – and even Mo Willems is no longer writing books like that]

Once you’ve given your illustrator enough variety of scenery – it’s time to let them run wild. In my experience, illustrators are some of the funniest, most creative, worst-spelling*** people in the world. I’ve said before that the illustrator is your partner. Like any great comedy duo, you’ve got to set up your partner to knock down those jokes.

pirasaursAnd you, the writer, are the straight man. The Abbott to his Costello. The Fey to her Poehler. The Schmidt to his Andromedon. Put the illustrator in the position to add as much humor as possible.

Throw in puns that could be illustrated should they so choose.
Use the page turns to surprise!
Let the reader expect one thing, but have the illustration show another.

And don’t be afraid to use illustration notes … very sparingly. If there’s a visual gag you’ve got, feel free to throw it in – but make sure only to say what not how.

dear dragon[Warning about illo notes: the illustrator is probably funnier than you are. It might be better to let them come up with the funny ideas to fill in your gaps and not suggest your lame ones]

So, make use of those full 32 pages with the potential for a variety of imagery. And consciously pay attention to the opportunities you’re giving your partner. A Spade plus Farley way is better than either one alone.

 

* You owe me $10, Tara Lazar – I told you I could get pulchritudinous published!

** Twice. (does that mean $20?)

*** It’s true. But I still love you all.

Takeaways

  • With so few words in today’s picture books, it’s important that what’s being shown changes frequently.
  • Put the illustrator in the position to add as much humor as possible
  • Let the reader expect one thing, but have the illustration show something entirely different

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Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people into publishing them as books like Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, Pirasaurs!, Dear Dragon, and more. Josh, a board member of The Writers’ Loft and co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 NESCBWI Conferences, is a software engineer. When not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes picture book manuscripts. You can follow Josh at https://twitter.com/joshfunkbooks and visit his website at http://www.joshfunkbooks.com/

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

GIVEAWAY! Josh is kindly giving away one signed hardcover copy of each of his three picture books: Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, Pirasaurs!, and Dear Dragon (one each to three lucky winners). If you are a registered Summer School student and would like a chance to win, please leave a comment on this post to be entered into the drawing.

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.