Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

 To all my Writing Friends I wish you

I love Valentines.  Not as a romantic holiday because, let's face it, I didn't marry a terribly romantic man (wonderful yes, romantic, uh no) and I can grab a romance novel any day of the week.  But Valentines means there will be chocolate readily available -- so what's not to love?

Plus, I dislike cut flowers.  I prefer flower's who won't die in a week and aren't crazy expensive.  Not knocking those who do, just my personal preference. But if my hubby would get me bouquet like this I'd be in heaven... oh wait.  He did get me books.  Good man!

For picture books on valentines one of my favorites is Snowy Valentine by David Petersen
This is a not-too-girly, not-too-pink valentine story about the thought of Valentine's.  Beautiful illustrations compliment the story to perfection.
Sometimes you love a character no matter what situation you put them in.  And I will always be a fan of Scooby and the Gang. So another fav is just because...
Don't judge. I loved Scooby Doo! WrestleMania too.  John Cena and Scooby.  Yes, please, and thank you.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weather you are being showered in flowers and chocolate or sharing a quiet day with your favorite book characters.  Valentine's isn't just about romance.  It is about love. A child loves their parents, a couple loves each other, a dog loves to see you come home, a reader loves their books. Books and chocolate....


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Author Interview with Carrie Charley Brown Founder of ReFoReMo

Today on Reading, Writing, and Reaching for Chocolate I'd like to welcome Carrie Charley Brown.
Carrie Charley Brown juggles ideas every day as a children’s writer, teacher, blogger, and mom.  She is the founder of the 2015 ReFoReMo Challenge, or Reading for Research Month. You can learn more about Carrie’s writing journey, her KidLit Services, ReFoReMo, and many other amazing authors and resources, at her blogsite Carrie On… Together!

 I’ve never heard of ReFoReMo. Is it new?

Thanks for asking, June.  You know how an idea starts small and bats at your brain for a while?  Then, finally when it reaches that a-ha moment, it comes out fast and furious?  That’s what happened with ReFoReMo!  The first annual event will take place this March.
Some of our best ideas flit around our brains for a while before they take off. So what is ReFoReMo?
The ReFoReMo Challenge, or Reading for Research Month Challenge, was founded to help picture book writers reform their writing by reading and researching mentor texts.  You just can’t be a good picture book writer if you don’t read other great picture books.  Well, I guess you could…but it would be extremely rare.

I agree, it would be like a cake decorator who's never eaten sugar. Hard to imagine. How did you come about creating it?

I constantly grow as a writer when I study stellar models.  At the same time, I am motivated by participating in writing challenges.  My first was PiBoIdMo, which led to the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, NaPiBoWriWee, and ReviMo, among others. I’d been featuring the Carrie On…Book Clubs on my blog for two years, but had geared it mostly to children.  That’s when the gears started turning.  I wanted to offer some sort of reading challenge for writers.  This past fall, I served as a 2014 Fiction Picture Book panelist for the CYBILS awards.  In my dash to reserve all the nominated titles (more than 200) I flooded not only my library card, but my kids’ cards, too.  It was a challenge to read and research so many books in a one and a half month period!  I recognized how motivated I felt after reading a great model and how discouraged I felt after reading the not-so-greats. At its conclusion, I reflected on the event and realized I had found my challenge.

I participate in PiBoIdMo and 12x12 as well. The kidlit community is wonderful and supportive to our creative growth. Tell my why you feel reading and mentor texts are so important.

Books take us on adventures, even when we are studying them!  Mentor texts offer endless possibilities to explore.  If I want to amp up my humorous voice, I read tons of funny picture books.  I might break it down and analyze what made me laugh, how the humor was infused, how the illustration played a role, how kids would relate, etc.  But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg!  You could analyze plot, structure, dialogue, characters, point of view, the “It-Factor,” voice, hooks, and on and on and on.

Oh the "It-Factor" that thing we all know and recognize but can't describe. I'm curious, who are the authors that inspire you?

Do you understand how hard that question is?  J I am inspired by many, and all for different reasons.  Many of the authors that inspire me are prepublished.  They work super hard in the kidlit world and utilize tons of resources.  Their work is fabulous, just undiscovered by the right person.  They offer tons of support and inspiration to others. My writing partner, Kirsti Call, and my critique group inspire me.  Just look at their collection of books here!  

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk Coming Sept 2015  Seriously, my list is long, and many times it is one piece of an author’s work that inspires me most, rather than the entire body.  Imagine that, the mentor text itself inspires me most! Yes, it’s true, the author had to write it, but don’t forget:  there is an illustrator, too.  A picture book is a work of art all around.
I love the way Adam Rubin’s BIG BAD BUBBLE makes me laugh. 
I admire how Lois Brandt’s MADDI’S FRIDGE brought tears of joy to my eyes. Picture books make us feel things and it inspires me to know that kidlit authors have the ability to touch the lives of children.

There are so many wonderful writers, it's hard to choose just one! Is there anything else you think we should know about the event?

ReFoReMo is open to all picture book writers: newbies, prepublished, published.  A picture book writer’s learning never ends.  Those interested may sign up for updates now by  visiting the ReFoReMo blog here. 

Official registration is open from February 15-March 1, and allows the writer a chance to enter a private Facebook group and prize drawings at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.  While our ultimate goal is to read 105 books, the main effort is to read and research consistently.  A little every day will show you the way! I hope to share the experience with all of you.


Just for Fun a Fast Five Favorites

Favorite picture book when you were little?

Pickle Chiffon Pie by Jolly Roger Bradfield

Dogs or cats?

Neither.  While I like both, I have enough to manage with three kids. J  But, if we are talking books… then CATS- I love HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT by Deborah Underwood and BAD KITTY by Nick Bruel.

Coffee or Hot Chocolate?

Coffee!!  With flavored creamer.

Spicy or Sweet?

It all depends on my mood.  Today I’ll say sweet. Now if you had asked salty or sweet, I could say that I love a combo of the two. Like if I have scrambled eggs with cheese, then I also have to have the pancakes to balance it out.

Mmmm now I'm hungry. Favorite picture book now?

Impossible to pick just one!  I’m addicted to picture books, June! J  But since you are forcing me, I will say FOUND by Salina Yoon. It exhibits tons of clever, creative humor, a compassionate, thoughtful character, and a super sweet perfect story arc!

This was fun!  Thanks for inviting me, June!       
It was wonderful having you Carrie.  I hope all our readers will head on over to the  2015 ReFoReMo Challenge. I'm off to the Library to study some mentor texts. (Which sounds so much more professional than "I'm going to read until my eyes cross."




 http://www.kirsticall.comhttp://paulczajak.comhttp://carolordonekster.comhttp:www.benclanton.comhttp://www.loisbrandt.com http://www.benclanton.com