Go Away, Big Green Monster!

Need a fun, quick read to get your kids (and you) smiling? Try my favorite monster book:

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Book Info

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (January 1, 1992) Fiction or Non-fiction: Fun, fun, fiction
Ages: 3-6
Theme: Monsters ūüôā Imagination and Conquering Fears

Opening Sentence: “Big, green monster has two, big yellow eyes”BGM2

Synopsis: The book takes you page by page introducing the monster and all his scary features. Then you work in reverse through each feature again, telling the monster, “You don’t scare me! So go away scraggily, purple hair” etc. until you come to the fun ending “And don’t come back… until I say so.”

Why I like it:¬†It’s just plain fun (and very short) ūüėČ I’m also a sucker for books with cut out pages, or moving parts. LOVE THEM. This one is so entertaining with the layering and how it works so perfectly building up the monster, then taking him away again. Simple, but brilliant!

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Activities:

BigGreenMonsterPlaydough
Click Here to see on http://www.makinglearningfun.com

Literacy Activity

Coloring, Lesson and Snack Time Ideas

Face Pieces Coloring Page

Video

Song

 

Buy the book on Amazon.com

See a complete listing of ¬†‘Picture Perfect Books’ here


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Famous Authors Interviews – Words of Wisdom

Be prepared to be shocked… authors, even the extremely famous ones , are real people – like you and me. ¬†I know, shocking huh? ūüėČ

Honestly though, while I’m glued to my computer for my day job, I enjoy listening to interviews with these real people. Their¬†thoughts are inspiring and motivating – especially if you’re a writer too.

I was capitvated by J.K. Rowling’s interview with Oprah (see below). If you have 45 minutes it’s worth the watch (or listen, like I did). If not, I’ve included links to some other famous childrens author interviews I enjoyed (that are a lot shorter).

Be prepared though – you’ll want to write as soon as you’re done listening. Might want to save some time for that for later.

— click on the author’s name to see the video —

Author InterviewsJ.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series) -CLICK HERE-:

She is the ultimate rags to riches story. One of my favorite things about her is her ability to remember what life was like before fame and to not lose sight of that. So refreshing!

Jon Scieszka (True Story of the Three Little Pigs) – CLICK HERE-:

What a funny guy. I really enjoyed hearing his thoughts on reading and boys – how they struggle to read more than girls. I just enjoyed this interview in general, his happiness is contagious.

Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee, Stargirl) – CLICK HERE-:

I enjoy Spinelli’s writing style – so I was eager to hear his interview. I loved that hated¬†reading the required reading in school because I always struggled with that as well.

Beverly Cleary (Ramona and Beezus) – CLICK HERE-:

Beverly was a children’s librarian before becoming an author. She got in to writing because the children weren’t satisfied with the books that were available.¬†She never received a rejection letter – ever!

 Lois Lowry (The Giver) РCLICK HERE-:

Lois Lowry dropped out of college and finished after he children were all in school. She never submitted a story formally. She was approached by an editor and asked to try writing a story for children – which turned in to her first novel.

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Mo Willems

Mo Willems (Elelphant and Piggie, Pigeon) -CLICK HERE-:

Mo fell into writing almost by accident, but man am I glad he did. I LOVE the Elephant Piggie series.

Katherine Paterson (Author of Bridge to Terabithia) -CLICK HERE-: 

She stresses the importance of reading as an author. She also talks about the real life death that inspired the book The Bridge to Terabithia.

Kate DiCamillo (Author of Because of Winn-Dixie, Mercy Watson) -CLICK HERE-: 

Kate says she loves to finish stories but doesn’t actually love to write them. Each morning she has to convince herself to get the writing done.¬†Man, I can relate to that some days.

Before you head off to to do some writing yourself, would you share comment below about something that motivates you to write? Thanks!

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6 reasons to be grateful you’re a writer NOW

With Thanksgiving being less than a day away, it seems only appropriate to list the reasons we should be grateful to be a writer now instead of decades ago.

Drum roll please.

Thanksgiving

 

1. We don’t have to use whiteout.

Typewriters and whiteout are fun to mess around with. ¬†The tick-tick-swuurrr is oddly soothing, but type a whole novel on that antique? NO WAY! I’m grateful for computers and not having to retype my entire manuscript when it’s time to revise.

 2. SO many books.

According to Nick Morgan on Forbes.com, there are 600,000 to 1,000,000 books published in the U.S. per year. And that’s added on top of the millions of books that already exist! The up side to this daunting number is¬†there will always be a plethora of¬†new¬†stories to read. Definitely something to be grateful for.

3.  Choose your own publication.

We should be grateful that today’s publishing market is a choose your own adventure. If you’d like a road full of rejection with the hope of a substantial advance -choose traditional publishing. Want to risk it all? Choose self-publishing. Or, if you want to have a writing assignment nagging at you multiple times a week the road to blogging is right for you.

 4. You can say that!?

I’m conservative. I don’t read books with risque stuff and can’t stomach most of Stephen King (even though I highly respect him as an author). I know that what I like you might hate and vice versa. So¬†thank you to today’s writing world for giving us variety to please every reader’s appetite.

5.  Spell check? Yes, please!

Yes, you too can have a super smart computer point out all your incomplete sentences and less than impressive spelling mistakes (insert sarcastic “Yay!”). Let’s be honest, having your word processor make you look like a grammar idiot¬†has got to be¬†much¬†less embarrassing than the live human being doing the same that writers of yesteryear had to face.

¬†6. ‘Cuz we are liv-ing in a – a digital world (did you hear Madonna too?)

While I swear writers are the only people who use stamps regularly when it’s not Christmas time – I’m very grateful that more and more publications have moved to electronic submissions. Now instead of obsessively checking my mailbox I can obsessively check my inbox too. Isn’t technology grand?

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

Comment below. Why are you¬†grateful you’re a writer now?

Writing what you know… kind of.

Write what you know quote

My husband¬†suggested I write a book about when I was a teenager and had¬†bad skin. I panicked. Every teenager has bad skin, sure, but for me hiding that “imperfection” became an obsession. And not a very healthy one.¬†Our conversation went a little like this.

“You want me to bare my soul so that anyone that reads my book will know every detail of my inner craziness?”

“Yes.”

“No way. That’s too much. That’s putting too much of me out there.”

He paused (it’s always a long pause with him). “You do know you don’t have to write a story about someone¬†exactly¬†like you. Your character doesn’t have to have the¬†exact¬†same insecurity as you did.”

I wanted to say – yea, of course I know that. But in reality,¬†I hadn’t thought of it ’til then.

He continued. “Just write all the emotion you felt connected with your experience but apply it to another insecurity. Make that¬†their story.”

Duh.

How I hadn’t thought of this before then is beyond me, but knowing it has changed my approach on writing what I know. Here’s some of my new found truths.

Writing what you know doesn’t mean your novel is a page from your journal.¬†My husband put it best, take the emotion from your life experiences, take the likeness of people who influenced you, maybe even set your novel in your old neighborhood, but you don’t have to write your story exactly.

joy

Writing what you know does mean tapping in to your wealth of past emotions.¬†How many of you¬†know heartbreak? Or want? Or embarrassment? What about elation? Or pride for someone you love?¬†¬†You may have experienced these emotions at times in your life that don’t translate in to great story ideas, but the emotion can. Emotion is what makes characters feel human, tangible. Take what you know about those emotions and write that.

Writing what you know doesn’t have to just be from your own personal experiences. I have never known divorce, but I saw my friends live through divorce as a child. As a teenager, I saw friends with divorced parents dreading¬†going to one parents house that weekend. I’ve seen grown friends go through divorce and the heartbreak there. These aren’t my life experiences, but I can still draw from them.¬†With a little bit of puzzle work, I can take those experiences that I’ve¬†seen and apply them just as readily in my writing as I can something that I experienced first hand.

Writing what you know should stretch you. Often the first piece an author gets published is based on a personal experience. It’s true for me. My story,¬†The School Lunch that Almost Killed Me¬†is based on me in third grade – only I loved turkey gravy and rice, not pea soup. While that was not a hard experience to share, there¬†will be some that we hesitate sharing. I recommend we find the courage to share those¬†stories – powerful stuff can come from it.

The main purpose of writing what we know is to make our stories feel alive, human. Nothing can accomplish that better than when we infuse our characters with¬†real¬†experiences, real¬†emotions and the real¬†life as we see it around us everyday. Or as Coca-Cola puts it,¬†“Can’t Beat the Real Thing.”

 

Was the first thing you published based on a personal experience? Tell us more about it below.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: ¬†“Did you say no? I heard yes”¬†–¬†Click Here¬†

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Singing in the Rain: Your Mood and Writing.

My current work in progress is a series of humorous early chapter books about ¬†a kindergartner who’s imagination gets him in trouble. Readers will hopefully¬†walk away smiling and laughing. The¬†problem? Sometimes I just don’t want to write humorous stuff. Sometimes I have tired days or grumpy days or “enter at your own risk” days – and I can’t squeeze one bit of funny out of me.¬†I’ll assume I’m not the only one who has these slumps? Right?

(Please say I’m right – or this post is about to get embarrassing!)

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So, here’s the thought: ¬†How do we, as writers, keep on writing when our emotions contradict what our current work needs?

To me, how to approach it depends on the project. If the project has a deadline and has to get done, you’re going to have to approach things differently than if you’re writing free of restraints. Here’s how I approach the two.

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1. IF THE PROJECT HAS A DEADLINE: I find something that helps me shake off the bad mood.

I can’t stay in a bad mood long when I listen to dance music. It’s inconceivable (insert Princess Bride lisp). Some of my peppy song choices drive my husband a little bonkers, but they do the trick and get me smiling again – ready for thinking of witty, six-year old dialogue.

Meditation works great for me too. I’m religious, so scripture study and prayer are usually involved, but if you’re not religious there are many other forms of meditation that work well too for altering moods.

Last of all, I get up and move. Specifically, I get outside. I have a hard time being down when I catch the dusty smell right before a rain. Or see a tree bowing in the wind as I walk past. My favorite is the evening sun blazing through a filter of green oak leaves. Ooh Рwalks are good for the soul and the mood!

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2. IF THE PROJECT IS FREE OF RESTRAINTS: I let it rest and move on for awhile.

I’m an¬†over thinker; which is a wicked curse (unless you’re planning a big family outing on a budget – really handy there). I find when I force myself to work on a piece that I’m not “feeling,” I over work it. I edit where is doesn’t need it. I hyper focus on details or scenes that don’t need that much attention. I’ve found that if I’m not in the mood to work on a specific piece that I … (drum roll, please) … usually need a break from it. And I take it.

I keep writing though! Sometime I write a short story featuring a character is a similar mood as me. Other times, I look for scenes in my back burner projects that could benefit from my mindset. It keeps me writing without tainting my current work (or making lots of unnecessary fixes for myself later).

And, of course, all of the ideas in #1 work great here too.

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I guess I’m hoping you’ll see that off moods don’t have to turn into writers block. There are ways to work around them – ways to keep yourself in motion and your projects moving forward. Then,¬†if all else fails… there’s always dance music.

It’s catchy. I promise.

Discussion Time:

How do you write through your mood changes? What’s that one thing that puts you in the right mood when you have to keep going? Please share your thoughts below!

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NaNo – NaNo – NaNoWriMo

Am I the only one that thinks of Mork and Mindy whenever someone talks about NaNoWriMo?

Mork and Mindy

Let’s just push past how old I’m feeling at this moment and get to the good stuff. A great blog post, by someone else.

I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, but just signed up to do it this year, all because of Liana Brooks blog post on Critique Circle. She took what ¬†seemed like a monstrous feat and chopped it up into tangible tasks. I’m working on Step 5 right now¬†and kind of wish I could dive into the writing already.

So, without further ramblings, here’s the good stuff. I do caution…¬†once you get to the end of this post you might feel crazy enough to sign up too. You have been warned!

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NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – can we be honest for a second? You are only doing NaNo for one of three reasons:

1) You need to get into a daily writing habit and writing 1666 words a day for a month is a good way of developing that habit.

2) You need to get a big chunk of writing done in a hurry and 50,000 words in a month ain’t a full novel for most genres, but it ain’t too shabby either.

3) You’re friends are threatening to steal your fuzzy socks and your chocolate stash if you don’t join.

See, the 50,000 words you get when you win NaNoWriMo aren’t the prize, they’re the byproduct. Winning NaNoWriMo means spending the month of November turning yourself into a better writer. And I want to help you be a winner.

There’s pages and pages of writing advice on the internet. You could read books on writing, and nuance, and metaphor. If you’re lucky you’ll spend your entire life reading great books and learning from other authors, but not amount of learning is going to help you get off the starting block and to writing a book unless you know where to start. So that’s what this post is about: how to prep for NaNoWriMo.

Mid-October you need to set aside a day for NaNoWriMo planning. You’re going to be doing your research, basic plotting, and some very simple outlining. It you’re a Plotter who needs to have all the details written down, fine, add more. If you’re a Pantster (like me!) you’ll find this method isn’t overwhelming and leaves lots of room for improvisation. Once you’ve got your date set grab something to make notes on and give yourself five hours to work… and yes it’s perfectly fine to do this in fifteen minute increments over the month of October. You’re busy, and that’s normal. ūüôā

Step 1: Write the elevator pitch for your novel.

Don’t get hung up on finding an original plot or the perfect pitch right now. Just pick an idea that tickles your imagination and run with it. The fact that you are writing it will make it unique. Every person is different, and so is every story!

– In two sentences or less write what you’re going to write your book about. It doesn’t need to be perfect, you just need to verbalize it somehow.

– If you don’t know what to write about look for inspiration in art work, online story prompts, the NaNoWriMo Adopt A Plot forum, or on Tumblr where the Out Of Context D&D people give anyone with a pulse an urge to write fantasy.

– Can’t decide on just one plot? No problem! Plan them all out. Start writing whichever catches your fancy in November and write the others next year.

Step 2: Use the Dime Novel Formula

This is 100% stolen from the author of the Doc Savage novels Kenneth Robeson (Lester Dent) and he deserves full credit. Partial credit goes to British author Tim Dedopulos who wrote a NaNoWriMo post in 2010 entitled How To Write A Novel In Three Days. We’re using a modified version of his method….

– Lester Dent said every good novel needed four things: A new way to kill someone, a new thing for the villain to want, a new place, and a menace that threatens your hero at every turn.

– Write down your four things.

Step 3: You Need Four Plot Twists

No one likes a book where they can guess the ending on page one. It’s boring. Plot twists set in the right place along the course of the book will give your reader a wild ride that keeps them reading long past bedtime. Plan on at least four plot twists.

–¬†Plot twist #1¬†comes in the first quarter of the book. “You’re a wizard, Harry.” “I found a wardrobe that leads to a kingdom of snow and my brother ate the evil queen’s Turkish Delight!” etc. You get the idea.

–¬†Plot Twist #2¬†comes about 40% of the way through the book, this one’s the gut punch. The hero loses something, they’re betrayed, something horrible happens and at all cost you must leave the readers thinking there is no way your hero can ever find a happy ending after this. If you’re George R. R. R. Martin this is where you kill [spoiler redacted], you soulless fiend.

–¬†Plot Twist #3¬†comes at the climax of the story, when the fate of the universe hangs by a thread, and then suddenly PLOT TWIST! something amazing happens. Harry comes back from the dead. Loki really didn’t kill Thor. Mulan shoots Shan Yu with a firework and the Emperor bows to her.

–¬†Plot Twist #4… and I know you’re scratching your head here… this one comes in the last pages of the book. The villain confesses they did it all for the love of the hero, the hero pulls the sword from the stone and finds out it’s plastic, the long-lost princess realizes she rescued the wrong kingdom! This is the very final twist that keeps the book alive after the last page is turned. It may seem diabolic, especially if you’re not writing a series, but it lets the reader believe the characters will live on and have more adventures even after the book ends, and that’s important.

Step 4: You Need Three Villains

Early in my writing career I wrote several novels that were great except the pacing and tension seemed almost nonexistent. It wasn’t until I wrote a book with a well fleshed out villain that I realized my early novels suffered from a lack of antagonist. Save yourself some tears and define your villains up front.

– Who is your Primary Antagonist? This is the villain that shows up one page one and gives our hero grief but who may not be a villain all along. If you’re writing an Enemies-To-Lovers romance this antagonist will wind up being a hero in the end.

– ¬†Who is your Second Antagonist? The Middle Villain, is the one who comes in the center of the book (hence the name) and who the hero didn’t see as a problem beforehand. Either this antagonist was a friend before and betrayed the hero, or they become a villain because of the hero’s actions in achieving the first quest of the book. This antagonist carries a lot of weight and deals the hero the most set backs. They’re the one that drives the hero to the moment of despair and strips them of everything (which is why a betrayer makes such a good second villain). While dealing with the second antagonist the hero stumbles into a realization of who the bigger villain is. If you’re writing a series with One Big Villain driving the series (think Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews or Star Wars where the Emperor is the Big Bad) you’ll have the hero defeat a series of Middle Villains in each book and only face The One Big Bad in the final book. If you’re writing a series driven by Hero’s Choice this second villain will bounce between being a villain and being a temporary ally (think the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs or Star Trek where Romulans and Klingons are sometimes enemies and sometimes friends). The other series option is the No Hero series like Game of Thrones where everyone is an antagonist and a protagonist in their own mind.

– Who is the Third Antagonist? The Big Bad, the villain whose presence is felt but unknown throughout the book. In a series, you may not see this person until the end of the series. The best part about this kind of antagonist is it invites readers to reread so they can catch the earlier clues. You really can save this villain for the very end, or at least the last 1/3 of the book. They usually appear around the hero’s Moment Of Despair, when the hero has lost all hope, friends, support, and belief in themself. This is the villain that defines the hero. Because the hero looks up from the mud and blood and despair and say, “I cannot let you do this. I cannot let you win even if I lose everything.” The decision to fight this villain when all hope is lost, at great personal sacrifice, is what makes an ordinary person a hero. And because the hero is coming from such a low point, beaten and fragile, their victory is all the more sweet in the end.

*Whew! Got all that? Okay. Good. Take a breather because the next section is there we’re going to tackle the nitty gritty. You ready?*

Step 5: Building The World

Do you know what derails the most NaNoWriMo novelists? The research. They pause to look up a name, or find a place to set a scene, and then they’re lost down the rabbit hole of research and you find them wandering bookstores in mid-January wondering why people are hanging Valentine’s Day decorations. It’s sad, really. And you, smarty that you are, are going to dodge that bullet by naming everything right now!

– Make a list of 25 female names and 25 male names for your book. You can do it by culture or race if you need to, but get it done before November 1st. And, remember, if you hate the name November 15th you can change it in edits. That’s why we have the Search-Replace function.

– Make a list of all the modes of transport in your book. If you have spaceships or sailing vessels make a list of names for them too. Ten minimum. More is better. Pick a theme if you’re having trouble, like naming all the ships in your fleet after minerals: Jasper, Feldspar, Malachite…

– Make a list of all the places you might set a scene. Name the cafes, name the fields, name the forests, name the nebulas, name the schools, name the rooms. You may not use them all but they’ll be there if you need them.

– Make a list of all your props: weapons, clothes, whatever will be on stage goes right here. If it helps, pretend you’re planning a play. Picture what you might need. And feel free to add more when you start writing. These lists are guidelines only, you can use them or lose them to your heart’s content.

Step 6: The Setting Thesaurus

This is going to take a bit of time, so plan ahead. What you need to do here is follow the excellent example set by Becca and Angela and make a thesaurus for all the scenes.

– Honestly, this is more for the Plotters who need to know everything. Pantsters, write five or six key words to describe each place, one for each major sense. If you have more or have something you really want to see in that place, scribble it down.

РBookmark the Emotion Thesaurus and Setting Thesaurus in case of emergencies in November.

Step 7: Time For The Math

NaNoWriMo is meant to be thirty days of steady writing, but let’s be realistic, unless you’re life is perfect you won’t be writing all thirty days. Look at your calendar right now and decide how many days you can write. For me is about 24 days in November. I take weekends off to spend time with my kids and I’ll be too busy cooking on Thanksgiving to write.

– Grab a calculator. Divide 50,000 by the number of days you have to write. This number is your target word count if you want to have 50,000 words at the end of the month.

– 50,000 isn’t a full novel for adult genres and most YA. If you really want a novel in a month you need to do that math with 75,000 words. I’m sorry.

– Curse yourself. Cry. Google WRITE OR DIE. Thank the creators of WRITE OR DIE for all they have done for you. Bookmark WRITE OR DIE. Tell your family and friends you love them, and then go buy some note cards.

Step 8: The Dread Outline

This trick I actually picked up from a fellow Critique Circle writer my first year participating in NANOWRIMO. She said she spent Halloween night handing out candy and writing scenes on a note card. One card per writing day with all the scenes she needed to write.

– Let’s pretend you have 25 writing days in November and you want 50,000 words. That’s 2000 words on each of your writing days, or one scene per day.

– Pick out 25 cards and write one or two sentences describing a scene you want to write on each card.

– Put a small sticker or check mark on Plot Twist days and mark the days on your calendar. You’ll probably be writing a plot twist on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th of November.

– Rearrange, discard, or rewrite anything that doesn’t seem to make sense.

– REMEMBER! This is only the rough draft. It’s meant to be rough. You are aiming to write something ugly. Everything will be smoothed and polished in edits. These cards can be changed at any time, they’re really here to be your count down clock to victory. No panicking allowed.

Step 9: Write Like A Pro

Can I share a teeny tiny little secret with you? There’s not an author alive who knows what they’re doing. That blank page is just as blank for you as it is for your favorite author. Every person is unique. Every person will write differently and in different ways. There is no wrong way to be an author.

– Sit down.

– Write.

– All the planning you did, that’s there for reference. All those lists and names and plot twists were written down so your subconscious could have time to play with the ideas and present you with the scenes when it’s time to write. On November 1st all you have to do is show up and write.

– If you get stuck, check your notes.

– If you go running down a new avenue just make sure to connect with your plot twist.

– Never abandon your villains, they’re what makes your hero a hero.

– Write.

– Keep writing.

– Don’t give up.

– Have fun.

Sign up for NaNoWriMo 2014 here.

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Knowing Your Voice

If I could pick any singing voice to be my own, it would be Karen Carpenter’s. It’s effortless. Her deep alto voice has a richness that my own voice will never have. I sing soprano – not like the angelic choir version of soprano. Think of the obnoxious kid pulling tight on the end of a balloon as the air rushes out. Can you imagine that awful screech? The one that makes dogs howl and little kids plug their ears? Ya, ¬†that’s a little closer to what my¬†upper register¬†sounds like.

But Karen. Oh, Karen.

Carpenters_Alb_Christmas Collection_1

The Carpenter’s Christmas album is nearly a religion at my house. If you don’t love it, we’ll just play it over and over until you can’t get it out of your head. In summer time, when I’m missing Christmas desperately, I sneak her CD in my car and play it for a couple days (yes, days). I sing along, pretending I can hit all the low notes. ¬†Deluding myself that I nearly sound like her. ¬†If only.

Being a “young” writer, I catch myself doing the same thing with my voice in writing. Each author has their own voice – their own “sound.” ¬†I don’t have the pensive rhythm of Lois Lowry or the vibrant descriptions of Stephen King. I don’t have the soothing voice of Chris Van Allsburg or the bubbly joy that Kevin Henkes brings to his writing – but I do have a voice. One that is unique to me. If we try and write like someone else, we’ll be called out eventually. The successful authors¬†know their own voice and create works that showcase it.

What have you done to help yourself find your authentic voice as a writer? How does knowing your voice as an author differ from knowing the voice of the main character in your story? Please reply.¬†I’d love to hear your¬†comments below.

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100 pages or less… that’s all I got in me.

When I was in Ms. Sloans’ third grade class, they split us up by reading levels. Most of the kids in my reading level whipped through¬†War and Peace in preschool. But I was not one of those kids.¬†I hated reading.

Book report time made my stomach churn. Ms. Sloan dropped a list of approved books on each of our desks while we fidgeted in our blue, plastic chairs.

“Pick one from your reading level!” she said.

All I could think was, which one’s the shortest?

During library time, I walked past shelf after shelf of books, letting my finger bump along the spines until I found one of the books on the list. Without glancing at the cover, I flipped to the last page.

“142 pages. ¬†Nope.” I slapped the book shut. I had never read a book over 100 pages and had no intention to start now.¬†I found every book on the list. Flipped to every last page and put most of them back. The book I finally settled on looked boring, but it was only 87 pages (87 pages, I never finished).

I’m not honestly sure how I got away with not reading a novel until fourth grade, but it was Ms. Jensen, a 4’10” ball of spunk, that caught me in my fib. ¬†She called me to her desk and asked me outright if I had every finished a novel. I felt my heart run to hide in my¬†throat. How had she found out? My mom? I couldn’t find the words to answer, so I shook my head no.

“Maybe you haven’t found the right author.” She stared at me. “Let’s try Lois Lowry. Today in library, look at all of her books. Find one that looks interesting to you, and that’ll be your book report book.”

I found¬†Anastasia¬†Again. All¬†160 pages pages of it (gulp). I read it all that afternoon. I read it all the next afternoon, and before too long, I’d finished it. And… I loved it.

“Great!” she said, when I told her my good news. “Now let’s try some others.” She recommended Beverly Clearly’s Ramona books, Ann Martin’s Babysitters Clubs series and on and on. I read them all, and loved them all.

It was the stories I fell in love with, not the reading. Ms. Jensen (and Lois Lowry) taught me that once I was caught up in the story I stopped caring about the page number. I learned to love the characters. They felt like real people. People who went to my school, people who went to my pool. And because I cared about them, I cared about their stories.

For anyone who claims they don’t like reading I say, hogwash! Everyone has a character they can relate to. Someone that can pull you into their world; make you laugh, make you cry, make you wonder. You just have to start looking. Some of them might even be in those darn books over 100 pages.

Happy reading storytime, everyone!

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