Would You Read It Wednesday #71 – Civil (MG Fantasy/Adventure) AND A Huge Announcement!

Well, the proverbial cat is out of the bag.

Months have I slaved in secrecy, awaiting the moment to unveil my latest hair-brained scheme, and what should happen?  It accidentally gets unveiled elsewhere before I got to tell you!

I’m kind of hoping most of you didn’t see it… but I know some of you did because you told me!  And on the off chance you did… or might… I thought you really ought to hear about it here first – straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were 🙂  (I know – first with the cat, now the horse, all this ridiculous cliche…!  Sorry, it’s nerves :))

So, slightly before I am truly ready, I will share my long-kept secret!

Ready?  (Steady now!  Deep breath…)

2013 is the first year since 1987 to have four different numbers!

Hee hee.  That is actually true but it’s not my long-kept secret.  I’m just foolin’ with you 🙂

Seriously, are you ready?

What’s that?  You need Something Chocolate?  Well of course you do!  It’s Wednesday!  Go get something.  I’ll wait.  In fact, here, let me offer you some Monkey Cake!

Photo copyright Stacy S. Jensen 2012 used by permission

Mm mm good and chocolaty!!!

Now then, ready for the secret?

Frankly, I’m a little afraid to tell you in case you don’t think it’s as fun as I do.  Maybe that’s why I’ve been hemming and hawing, tweaking and perfecting and generally mucking about and finding reasons not to tell you.  But the time has come.  Stiff upper lip and all that.  (See?  There’s the cliche again!  It’s like a disease… a disease of nerves! :))

Last May I thought to myself, you know, self? I think I’d like to write a writing course.  I know a little about writing and a little about teaching, and I would like to share with people who would like to learn.

So I got to work and, in between other writing and blogging and taking our son to visit every college on the eastern seaboard and westward into Ohio this summer and on into fall… and then winter…, I wrote a course on how to write picture books.  I polished and tweaked and roped in some beta testers (who shall not be named to protect the innocent but you all know them :))  I added lessons and took lessons away, turned some lessons into supplements and some supplements into lessons.  I reached out to 10 talented artists who very kindly contributed their fabulous work at a fraction of its worth to decorate the lessons and inspire my hopefully someday students.

And the result is my little writing course:  Making Picture Book Magic!  (I wish I could make that sparkle or something!  How about we all pretend it’s sparkling? :))  Look!  Here’s the awesome  header graphic designed by our own fantastic Loni Edwards!

illustration copyright Loni Edwards 2012

Making Picture Book Magic is designed to fit into a busy life-style and be fun, friendly, and affordable.  Each lesson will be delivered in a manageable-sized piece by email.  I did not reinvent the wheel, but I hope I do have something to offer that isn’t quite like anything else out there.  It is my opinion, for what it’s worth :), that it’s helpful to take multiple courses if you can because different people say things and explain things in different ways, and sometimes one way will make more sense to you than another.  Different courses stress different things and offer different exercises, resources and experiences.  There are lots of great writing courses available – Emma Walton Hamilton’s, Anastasia Suen’s, the Institute Of Children’s Literature’s (which I took many years ago) just to name a few.  But I’d like to be able to add mine to the mix in case it’s helpful.  And by working hard to make it affordable, I’m hoping it will be an option for lots of people.  You will note that there is now a tab in the header above.  You may click on it, or HERE, and learn all about the course if you are interested.

But in case you aren’t, I won’t go on about it any longer now.  It’s time for Would You Read It!!!

Today’s pitch comes to us from Wendy.  In what seems like a former life, Wendy was a middle school science teacher and principal. Now a writer and mom, she has published several personal essays and articles on parenting and education. When she is not pulling her sons around the backyard on a sled (100 laps on a recent afternoon), she works on her middle grade novel and her blog, The Family That Reads Together.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Civil
Age/Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy Adventure
The Pitch:  Five seventh graders–a sensitive ballplayer, a new student from Africa, a feared social outcast, a popular cheerleader, and a 9-year-old technical genius–are invited to join a secret time-traveling society. Soon, they must work together to chase an enemy through the bloody battlefields of Gettysburg, an increasingly dystopian Washington, DC, and their own dangerous school hallways. Charlie, Thabo, LV, Adriana, and Caitlin fight against time to restore history, rebuild a country, and survive middle school.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Wendy improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)
Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in February, so you have time to polish 🙂 for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Wendy is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I am looking forward to getting the finishing touches done on my course just in case anyone ever wants to take it!

Oh, and if you haven’t signed up yet but you’d still like to, the Free Virtual Conference runs until Saturday the 12th (one more expert was added) so hop over and check it out!

Have a supercalafragilisticexpialidocious kind of day, everyone 🙂

How About A Writing Course?

Before we get involved in other things, let me take a second to remind you that the contest to win a signed copy of PENNY LOVES PINK is still open.  Please scroll down, read Cori’s interview, and enter to win if you’re interested.  You have until tomorrow (Friday Feb. 18) at 9 AM EST to enter, and it’s a prize definitely worth winning!


I don’t know about you, but I generally feel I need all the help I can get 🙂

When I go on school visits, and even teach writing workshops to kids, I always tell them that writing is a process.  Nobody gets it right the first time.  Revising and editing are part of the game.

Learning to write is also a process.  I’m sure there are lots of people out there who are truly masters of the craft, but I don’t feel like I’m one of them just yet.  Although I have a number of books published, I still feel like I’m learning.  My writing can always get better.

Whether you’re published already or not, if you feel like you have things to learn, or areas you could improve on, one great option is a writing course.

There are lots of them out there.  I can personally speak for those offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature and Jordan Rosenfeld, both of which are available online.

If you’d like something more “real” (i.e. an actual physical class that you go to and see other people!) I can also highly recommend The ABCs of Writing or Children.  Here’s the info if you’re interested:

The ABCs of Writing for Children will be offered again at Merritt
Bookstore, Front Street, Millbrook, NY, on Tuesday afternoons from 1 – 3

Class will meet once a week for 6 weeks
Dates: April 5, April 12, (skipping April 19), April 26, May 3, May 10,
May 17

Karen Kaufman Orloff – ex-magazine editor and author of four picture books
PLEASE!) and a regular columnist for “The Poughkeepsie Journal”

Della Ross Ferreri: Author of two picture books (STAR OF THE SHOW, HOW
WILL I EVER SLEEP IN THIS BED?), and two beginning readers (PICNIC ON THE
SIDEWALK, HEY! YOU’RE EATING MY HOMEWORK!) plus numerous poems/articles in
children’s magazines

Class will cover:

• How to get ideas
• How to structure a story
• Writing in different genres, including rhyme
• Creating great characters
• First drafts and re-writing
• Writing effective query letters
• Submitting to publishers

In addition, there will be:

• Manuscript critiques
• In-class writing exercises
• Ample Q & A time

Small, intimate class setting. Informal atmosphere.


For more information, contact Karen (orloff@bestweb.net/ 845-896-8038)

The only drawback with Karen and Della’s class is that you have to live within driving distance of Millbrook, NY (or have a private jet – but I’m thinking most of us aren’t quite there yet :))

Have any of you taken courses?  If so, please share them and tell us how your experience was and whether you’d recommend them!