Wednesday Writing Update

Hello Readers,

I’m keeping myself honest with weekly writing updates.

So this week I’ve been on vacation. Just keeping it real. Even so, I’ve done four critiques on picture books in progress. So that’s something.

And today I spent a little time revising a fiction pb that is loosely based on an actual person of historical significance. I’d say it’s a slice of life from their childhood as I’ve imagined it.

And that’s all folks! Tune in next Wednesday for more updates.

Kid Lit Love: CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT by Nancy Churnin

Welcome to Friday’s Kid Lit Love!  Today I’m super happy to be interviewing Nancy Churnin and reviewing her picture book, CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT, published in 2018 by Albert Whitman and Company. Nancy is the author of several more books listed below.

I was pleased and excited to receive CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT for a few reasons.  First off, I’ve never written a picture book biography but it is something I’ve been thinking about trying so reading lots and lots of picture book biographies is  a goal for me right now.  Nancy’s book really impressed me in how it can take on the feeling of a fictional story in the way it is written.  Her particular style makes a great mentor text for me.  Yay!

And then there’s the fact that no matter how old I get, I just love getting mail.  Any kind will do (except bills of course).  Letters, packages, etc.  If it is addressed to me, I always open it with anticipation.

Finally, I grew up with a Dad who had a passion for golf.  Along with this passion, he was raised with a set of beliefs that are challenged by this story.  Though I have great love and respect for my father, some of his beliefs needed to be challenged, and I’ve always known that so I’m really happy this book exists. I’m well aware that there are more people who were raised in the same manner as my father and share those strongly held, yet misguided beliefs.  So for me, the story is very relatable.

My Review:

From the opening lines of the story, I was hooked.  I wanted to turn the page.  Would Charlie get caught? Nancy’s writing brings Charlie’s story to life.  Children will root for Charlie as he pursues his dream to play golf.  From his beginnings secretly playing late at night, to his days serving as a caddy, to playing on the PGA tour in front of a cheering crowd, the story takes us through Charlie’s golfing career, inspiring us through the challenges he faced.  It also celebrates his accomplishment in terms of being the first step towards allowing black people the freedom to play on the PGA tour which had been impossible before Charlie Sifford. I highly recommend this story .  It would serve as a great discussion starter in any classroom.  What if your most loved passtime had to be hidden from others?

The Interview:

Introducing……author, Nancy Churnin!  Welcome, Nancy!

 

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What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Words and stories are the invisible threads that connect us all together in one large human spirit. It is the most incredible joy to learn that something I’ve written has inspired someone to smile, to hope, to believe that he or she can make a positive difference in the world.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Write what you love! What will make your book stand out is the passion you put into it. If you write what you love, you will find yourself telling the story the way only you can tell it. That authenticity of you speaking from the heart will go to the heart of your readers. Also, persevere and have patience. It’s not for us to know how long or winding the journey will be. But if you keep going, you will get there.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I am inspired by people who who have dreams that can’t be deterred, by people who are kind, by people who persevere until they’ve made the world a better place. Those are the people I like to write about, the people that I hope will inspire kids to dream big and help others, too.

Why do you write for children?

Kids are open to inspiration. I hope my books touch all ages and it has meant so much to me when I’ve been told by adults that they’ve been moved by my stories, too. But kids have more time to think and are more open to asking questions that go beyond to survival to how they can make the world a better place. That’s why I think books about inspiring people can have more of an impact on children than on any other group. Also I just love spending time with kids — they tell you exactly what they think, with no filters, which is always fun and refreshing!

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

With CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT, I hope readers will take home the message that you can achieve your dreams if you don’t give up and that by achieving your dreams, you can open the door for others to achieve theirs, too.

Author’s bio: Nancy Churnin is the theater critic for The Dallas Morning News and author of THE WILLIAM HOY STORY, HOW A DEAF BASEBALL PLAYER CHANGED THE GAME (Albert Whitman), on the 2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids list, the 2017 Texas Library Association’s 2X2 and Topaz lists, the 2018 Illinois School Library Media Association’s Monarch Award Master List and Connecticut’s 2018 Charter Oak Children’s Book Awards list. MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN (Creston Books) is the 2018 winner of the South Asia Book Award, a finalist for the 2018 Children and Teen’s Choice Book Awards, a 2017 Junior Library Guild selection, a 2018 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, on the 2018 ILA-CBC Children’s Choices list and a Silver Eureka Award-winner. CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT: HOW CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER IN GOLF was featured at the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis May 19, 2018. Coming out in 2018: IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING in May and THE QUEEN AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE in October. In Spring 2019: MARTIN & ANNE. A native New Yorker, Nancy is a graduate of Harvard University, with a master’s from Columbia University School of Journalism.

Website: http://www.nancychurnin.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyChurninBooks/

Twitter: @nchurnin

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Wednesday Writing Update

Hello Lovely Readers!

Welcome to my Wednesday writing update.  This is where I let you know what I’ve been working on this week in my writing life.  Summer is a time where I shift my focus to more picture book writing as I do not have to teach for a couple of months.

Below are my latest book dummies.  I just fold 8 pages of 8 1/2 by 11 paper in half and staple them together.  Then I print off my manuscript and cut and paste based on 12-14 spreads to make a 32 page picture book.

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These are the two I worked on this week.  My next step is to read them aloud and record them with my phone.  Then I play back the stories and listen for any flaws.

This week I’m also working on revising an older manuscript I hadn’t touched in several months.  That story will also need to be made into a dummy fairly soon.

I am also reading a lot of comparative picture books as mentor texts.

What writing projects have you been working on this week?

Discover children’s books by Cynthia Mackey

Summer Reading Challenge Week 3

Happy summer and welcome to my #PBHOT62 picture book challenge update!  I joined this Summer Reading Challenge  hosted by Rena Traxel.  By the end of the summer I will have read 62 picture books (maybe more) in a variety of interesting places.  Here’s my list of all the picture books and fun places I’ve been reading this week:

  1. Read someplace blue. (my blue chair). Blue Whale Blues by Peter Carnavas. (Book #15) Imagine a whale who wants to ride a bicycle only it turns out that bicycle is actually a shopping cart.  Cute.  How will he go for a ride?  What will he do when he finds out it isn’t really a bike?IMG_4942

2. Read someplace calm. (fountain). Where the Giant Sleeps by Mem Fox and Vladimir Radunsky.  (Book #16) You cannot go wrong with Mem Fox.IMG_4956

3. Read someplace high. (2nd story window) Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Marc Barnett and Jon Klassen.  ( Book #17) This book reminds me of my childhood and I love the story in pictures that happens alongside the text.  Brilliant.IMG_5052

4. Read someplace odd (my car) If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin E. Stead.  (Book #18) This book was so poetic that I even took a photo of one of the pages of text because I loved the writing so much 🙂IMG_5026IMG_5027

5. Read someplace sunny. (my patio) How to Draw a Dragon by Douglas Florian  (Book #19)1442473991

6. Read someplace fancy (piano).  Lulu’s Piano Lesson by Arlene Alda (Book #20)IMG_4946

7. Read someplace inspired by Penny’s books (my kitchen…A Cooked Up Fairy Tale by Penny Parker Klostermann) Tiptoe Joe by Ginger Foglesong Gibson and Laura Ranking. (Book #21)

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It has been tons of fun to do all this reading research and I’m looking forward to the next batch of seven books as well as the next week of places to read in Rena’s Challenge. There are so many wonderful picture books out there!  What are you reading this week? Picture books? Romance? Thriller?  Feel free to share. 

Need Your Input for Books in Progress

Let’s have some fun and choosing which books to self-publish/send out on submission next… I need a little reprieve from making decisions so maybe you can help.

Here’s a synopsis of five different manuscripts I’m currently working on. I’d like to get your impression.  In the comments, let me know which story you’d most like to see made into a picture book!

1. Kelsey Meets the Monsters

Kelsey must face her greatest fear when her little brother is kidnapped by monsters.  Will Kelsey be able to overcome her fear and save Thomas?

2.  Dinosaurs by Design

Finlayson’s autism means he is just as passionate about loving dinosaurs as he is about hating the beach. One day there is no babysitter and no choice… Finlayson must go to his most feared and hated place… the BEACH!

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3. Allison’s Tree

Allison’s best friend is not a girl or a boy; her best friend is a tree.  In this gentle ode to trees, find out why Allison loves her best friend and what Douglas the fir tree can teach her about true friendship.

4. Honey Cakes for Oscar

Find out what happens when Oscar, a very hungry bunny, must reconcile his fear of bees with his love for honey.

5. Finn and Katrina’s Ferry Fairy Excellent Adventure

Journey with Finn and Katrina as they sort out how to keep their new friendship alive after a misunderstanding about what brought them together in the first place.

Which story gets your vote? Why?  I’m excited to hear your responses. Please share!

A Real Life Katie Shaeffer

Though this does not count as inspiration for the book, here’s a great example of a real life Katie Shaeffer.  One of my preschoolers, age 5, wanted to bring something for show and tell and it could not be a toy.  He and his Mom showed incredible initiative, resourcefulness and creativity to visit the beach, collect the items and then using a glue gun, put together this awesome pirate ship.

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Celebrating the real Katie Shaeffers of the world and their trusty assistants who help make it all happen! Creativity can be part of your lifestyle just like Katie’s in the story.

Check out Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker, an inspiring book for you and your child!

Joining the 12 by 12 Picture Book Challenge

In January I did something that makes me feel nervous and excited at the same time.  I joined the 12 by 12 picture book challenge. And now I will immerse myself in writing all year long.

Although I’m very new to the world of writing, I believe in myself as a capable creator of children’s literature and I want to be part of that world.  For this challenge, I must write 12 picture books drafts in 2017.  One draft each month.  Revising a draft also counts.  I may need a little stronger tea in my mug this year to help me out with this 🙂

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Joining the 12 by 12 community gives the opportunity to get feedback from other writers in an online format.  This is so valuable as writing is all about getting feedback and doing revisions.  I have so many ideas swirling around in my head and hope to get them all down on paper into a solid draft form.

The challenge is open to new picture book writers and more seasoned writers as well.  There are lots of SCBWI members (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).  So far I find it to be a very welcoming and supportive online community.

Now it is March and I am right on track with my writing.  The 12 by 12 challenge continues!

Collections

Katie Shaeffer would just love this tray of miscellaneous items!  

It always amazes me how a simple collection of items can be so inspiring for a child.  My group of preschoolers can do amazing things with the most random objects.img_3206

“Katie assembled and constructed; she glued and she taped; she stacked and she hammered, until finally her creation was done.” -from Katie Shaeffer, Pancake Maker

Here are some real examples of creations made by young children with miscellaneous items:

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I believe young children are capable and can do amazing things if given the opportunity! That belief together with the inspiring creations I see children make daily helped inspire the story Katie Shaeffer, Pancake Maker!

Here’s a synopsis of the story:

Join Katie and her friend Baxter in this fun story as they use a passion for collecting and building to find a way to realize Katie‛s pancake dream! This upbeat energetic tale with great potential for reading aloud will appeal to adults and young children alike. The book includes a predictable rhyme that will have children chiming in as the story unfolds. Children will celebrate with Katie and Baxter as their pancake dream becomes reality! Recipe included. Author: Cynthia Mackey Illustrator: Paula Nasmith

Contact me if you are interested in receiving an advance review copy of the story! I hope to have these available soon.

authorcynthiamackey@gmail.com