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 🙂


I was fighting the urge.

I really was.

I told myself Quite Sternly! that I was not going to overwhelm you with billions of pictures of our exquisite new granddaughter.  And I’m really not.  Except I just have to post these two.  Because I’m totally hooked.  But then I’ll stop.  I promise 🙂

One of her beautiful face – she looks a lot different with her eyes open, doesn’t she?

… and one of her tiny feet, because baby feet are simply irresistible 🙂

Okay.  That’s it.  I’m done 🙂

But speaking of being hooked, I am, coincidentally, reading Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers At Page One and Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton.  And it’s got me thinking about first sentences.

So I’d like to challenge everyone to a new twist on a combination of Monday and Wednesday’s posts.  Here’s what to do:  pick up the book you’re currently reading.  Type into the comments the title and author of the book and the very first sentence.  I’m assuming it hooked you because you’re reading the book, but please say whether it did or whether you were just willing to be patient for some reason, and please also say whether the book is delivering on it’s promise so far.  Not only will this be fun for writers to learn from, it will give all of us some recommendations for good reading 🙂

I’ll go first.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
“They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.”
YES – I was hooked, and YES, so far the book has more than delivered on its opening promise – it’s terrific!

I can’t wait to see what you guys are reading and how good (or not) the first sentences are!

Have a great weekend!

New Vocabulary

For those of you who think today is Tuesday and I am late posting my Monday post let me just say….



you may be right.

Seriously, what happened to Monday?

… sucked into the void…

But never mind.  Here we are.

This may shock you, but I am not the most technologically advanced person.  In fact, (this is so embarrassing I have to whisper) I don’t even really know how to text!  Of course, this is partly because I have a cell phone from the Roosevelt administration (Teddy), a situation which is hopefully being remedied this week so I can join the rest of civiliaztion as we know it…  But I digress…

Anyway, along with all the technology I find confusing, there is a new vocabulary.  Can you imagine what people would have thought 20 years ago if you’d told them you were googling them?  Or if you had answered a query of “What have you been up to?” with “I’m blogging”?  When did we start having beta readers as opposed to just readers?  And who the heck is Mr. Linky?

Really, although these words now make sense, a lot of them sound made-up, along the lines of caaberry (which was my daughter’s personal word for strawberry.)

But made-up words can be fun.

At the risk of dating myself (again) I’m wondering if anyone remembers Sniglets, brain child of comedian Rich Hall?

If you don’t, a sniglet is “any word that doesn’t appear in the dictionary but should.”  For example, “sark – the marks left on one’s ankle after wearing tube socks all day,” “lactomangulation – manhandling the ‘open here’ spout on a milk carton so badly that one has to resort to using the ‘illegal’ side,” and “doork – a person who tries to enter through a door clearly marked ‘exit’.”  There were books and calendars of sniglets, and even a game.

Two of my favorites for which I can’t remember the sniglet were the dance you do when attempting to put on stockings (possibly chub?) and the act of trying to vacuum up fluff that won’t come off the carpet, so you pick it up, look at it, then put it back on the carpet to try again.  If anyone remembers that word, please tell me!

As writers, there is a place for inventive language, and as writers of books for young children, a place for nonsense words as well.  Language was meant to be fun as well as useful.  What better way for children to learn and appreciate language then to play with it?

What words have you made up in your writing?  What words have your children invented?  Do you have family words you use for certain situations?  Do you have favorite kids books that play with language?  Do you remember any sniglets?  Please share!!!