Free Course in Writing Nonfiction!

NF Social MediaFebruary brings cold temperatures, thoughts of love and nonfiction fest.  I’m looking forward to the NF Chicks’ nonfiction fest the most.

The nonfiction fest is a month-long crash course in writing nonfiction for children.  They have lined up 29 award winning nonfiction authors and people in the publishing industry to help us learn the craft of writing NF.  There will be daily posts that include activities to get you writing and researching.

The best part…it’s FREE and there will be prizes!!!

Registration begins January 15 and ends January 31.  Join the Facebook group and visit their website for directions to register.  Now you have plenty of time to get a fresh new notebook to take notes in!

According to their website,  this is the all-star line-up:

Karen Blumenthal/Candace Fleming
Beth Anderson
Carla McClafferty
Melissa Stewart
Heidi Stemple
Barb Kramer
Sophia Gholz
Nancy Turminelly
Donna Bowman
Mary Kay Carson
Traci Sorrell
Cynthia Levinson
Jen Bryant
Jill Esbaum
Kerry McManus, Marketing Director
Don Tate
Meeg Pincus
Lisa Schnell
Susannah Deevers
Vivian Kirkfield
Kelly Halls
Stacey Graham, agent
Bethany Hegedus
Alice Duncan
Rob Sanders
Lesa Cline-Ransome
Chris Mihaly
Steve Swinburne

Make sure you go follow all of these awesome, generous people on Twitter & Facebook.

How can you pass up an opportunity to learn (for free!) from these incredible talents? Go to their Facebook for all of the details and to sign up.

Let me know if you sign up so I can say HI!

Top 10 (or more) Awesome Resources for Writers

“On my desk is a stack of books. Some people call them mentor texts; I call them guardian angels. These are the books that guide me with a whisper of words, inspiring me to find my own voice as I write. They give me the knowledge and wisdom of what good-quality writing sounds and feels like.”

– Georgia Heard,

Finding the Heart of Nonfiction

Books

There is a plethora of books on the craft of writing, but these are my guardian angels. The books I go to time and time again.

WRITING PICTURE BOOKS-A HANDS-ON GUIDE FROM STORY CREATION TO PUBLICATION, by Ann Whitford Paul is the bible of writing for children.  The author writing for childrenhelps you to develop the skills needed to create a well written picture book.  Ms.Paul walks your through generating ideas, creating characters, identifying your point of view, crafting attention grabbing beginnings, plot, word count and tackling rhyme.  At the end of each chapter, you have an assignment that will help build your story layer by layer.  This is a MUST HAVE if you want to write picture books.

ANATOMY OF NONFICTION – WRITING TRUE STORIES FOR CHILDREN, Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas and FINDING THE HEART OF NONFICTION – TEACHING 7 ESSENTIAL CRAFT TOOLS WITH MENTOR TEXTS, Georgia Heard.

Anatomy of NFThese two books are my nonfiction go to advisors.  ANATOMY OF NONFICTION delves into the nuts and bolts of research, and finding the voice of your story (Extremely important!). The authors also walk you step-by-step through submission and different avenues to pursue for publication.

NF nutshellLike the Georgia Heard quote above, FINDING THE HEART teaches you how to use mentor texts as a “guardian angel” to guide your writing so that your topic reads like a traditional story book, not a dry emotionless book report.

 

Several other books that guide me are Martha Alderson’s WRITING BLOCKBUSTER PLOTS and SAVE THE CAT , Blake Snyder, and SAVE THE CAT WRITES A NOVEL by Jessica Brody.

Next topic? How about my favorite websites?  One thing about the kidlit community is that they are the most generous and kindest people around.  Most of these author/writer websites or blogs offer contests, advice, and writing challenges.  If you find anything helpful on these sites, please let them know by either writing a review or purchase their books.

In no particular order-

  1.  SCBWI.org  If you want to be a kidlit author, joining SCBWI is the best money you will ever spend.
  2. Kidlit411  your one stop information shop for children’s writers and illustrators. They also list upcoming contests, information of writing query letters, marketing, courses, and the list goes on.  You’ve got to visit to see everything!
  3. Susanna Hill – offers fun contests, critiques and the Art of Arc courses
  4. Manuscripts & Magnolias – great interviews with debut authors a year after their books are released.  You get some great insight from newly published authors.
  5. Vivian Kirkfield  #50precious words contest, critique services, author interviews, giveaways
  6. Julie Hedlund founder of the 12X12 Challenge (awesome writing community!), Complete Picture Book System and Picture Book Summit

There are hundreds of other great websites out there.  The more you connect with the kidlit community, the more you find!

I want to leave you with one more resources that has helped my writing tremendously.  The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas, offers on-site and online courses.  I completed a course in the fall with award winning, nonfiction author Nancy Churnin. The course was about breathing life into your nonfiction work.  The classes were small and we met online once a week.  It was almost like having a one -on-one mentorship with her.  It was, hands down, THE best writing course I have taken.

I hope that these resources will help you as much as they have helped me.  I’d love to hear your favorite resources, so please leave me a comment and share my blog so that it may help others on their journey to publication. Also, Don’t forget to subscribe so that you can be notified of my next post which is  all about a really fun, free and informational crash course in writing nonfiction!

 

“An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift.”

-Anne Lamont, Bird by Bird

 

Master Study Monday- Your Alien Returns

Happy Monday!

I thought today’s book would be perfect for Halloween!  Living within driving distance of Roswell, New Mexico, we embrace all things space alien!

WHEN YOUR ALIEN RETURNS is one of my favorite books. Of course, I love anything written by Tammi Sauer!  She has the ability to use humor in order to demonstrate the heart of a character.  your alien returns

I love the emotion that is conveyed in the illustrations and the caring that these two unlikely friends show for one another. If only life were a picture book!

 

I hope you find my MSM’s helpful.  They definitely help me dissect the heart of a story and my writing is getting better for it.

Here is my MS sheet for Your Alien Returns  and don’t forget, you can pick up a copy of a blank form here.

I’ll see you later this week with a review of HELLO GOODBYE DOG.  I was lucky enough to win a copy and LOVE the story!

~J

I’m Back!

I apologize for being MIA for the last month or so.  Things in the LaCombe Maison (house) have been wild.

It all started with school getting out in May.  Who can work with 2 teen girls demanding your attention?  I must admit though, I love having them home.  They have turned into pretty cool human beings and we did have some fun.

June found us meeting up with family in San Antonio.   I literally had my last stand at the Alamo.  I tripped off of the curb and fractured my ankle.  BUT, being the martyr I am, I pushed on and walked the River Walk and Market and was OK until I sat down and it had time to swell.  Here we are, two months later, and my ankle still hurts.  I should have listened to my smart hubby and gone to the doctor sooner.

July found me traveling with my girls to Houston for my father’s heart surgery.  Thankfully it was a minor procedure (as minor as them placing something in your heart can be) and he was home in 24 hours and is continuing to do well.

Here we are now at the beginning of August and school is back in sight.  I’m sad that my girls will be heading back to school, but am looking forward to having some uninterrupted time to devote to my writing and blog.

So, for my first post back, I’m leaving you with the review and master study of a book that I picked up in Houston.  Noah Webster’s Fighting Words by Tracy Nelson Maurer is a funny and educational peek at how the famous dictionary came to be.  I give this noah websterpicture book two thumbs up.  If I were still teaching American History, I’d use this in my classroom, even the eighth graders would love it.  It has a great hook and Mr. Noah Webster himself  leaves comments.  It is thoroughly researched and has a full bibliography.

From Lerner Publishing:

Noah Webster, famous for writing the first dictionary of the English language as spoken in the United States, was known in his day for his bold ideas and strong opinions about, well, everything. Spelling, politics, laws, you name it—he had something to say about it. He even commented on his own opinions! With a red pencil in hand, Noah often marked up work that he had already published. So who edited this book? It certainly looks like the ghost of the great American author and patriot picked up a pencil once again to comment on his own biography!

Here’s a link to my Master Study sheet for Noah Webster’s Fighting Words.

Noah Webster fighting words