Suzanne Williams, Author of the Month: Brief Reflections on a Writing Career, Plus Advice for New Writers

The just-launched MEDEA THE ENCHANTRESS is Book 23 in the popular Goddess Girls series.

Thirty years ago I saw my very first published piece of writing in print. It was an article for an educational magazine with nursery rhyme-based creative writing ideas for kids.

After that first success, I wrote many other magazine articles over a period of a year or two, none of which sold. Eventually I decided to abandon magazine writing and pursue what I really wanted to write — namely children’s books. When I announced this decision to my ever-supportive husband, he said, “Why not? Your articles are being rejected, you might as well write a book.” Believe it not, I am still married to the guy.

Fast forward to today and no one is probably more surprised than I am (except maybe my husband) to find that my list of published books for children has grown to over seventy. Admittedly, more than half of those are books I’ve written in the last eight years with my incredibly talented and hardworking coauthor, Joan Holub, but that’s a topic for another time.

Though there’s always an element of luck involved in selling a book (or a series of books!), I’d like to think I’ve learned some things during the past thirty years that are worth passing on. So here goes…

Advice for New Writers: Five Tips

1. Take the first baby step. Begin by doing ONE thing.

My first one thing was taking a class in writing for children. The structured assignments with feedback from an instructor, plus basic information on how to submit my work, were all extremely helpful, giving me a good scaffold to build on.

2. Keep on taking baby steps.

Why baby steps? Because trying to do too much at once or looking too far ahead can lead to frustration, or worse, make you want to quit before you even get started. Take it one sentence, one paragraph, one chapter, one story, or one writing assignment at a time.

Writing one article a month was another of my small steps when I was first beginning to write. So was the decision to write a book, page by page and chapter by chapter, and then one more book, and another, and another.

3. Surround yourself with resources and connect with other children’s writers. 

Read and analyze books that are like the ones you hope to write. Read books about writing. Become a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and attend local chapter meetings in your state. Attend a writers’ conference. Join a critique group.

I’ve done all of the above. Besides learning a lot in the process, I’ve become friends with some really wonderful fellow children’s book writers. Joan Holub and I first met at a local SCBWI conference as a matter of fact!

4. Don’t give up.

I’ve cried or raged over some rejections, especially early on in my career. But over the years I’ve learned to develop a thicker skin. As Issac Asimov wrote: “A rejection of a story is not a rejection of the writer. It is no crime to be rejected or even a sin. Editors do not hate a writer when they reject a manuscript and do not therefore plot the writer’s destruction.” Comforting to know, right?

5. Celebrate small victories.

Each baby step is a victory of sorts. Even your first form rejection. Because it means you got up the courage send something out. When you graduate to personal rejections, where editors actually comment on a story while still rejecting it, that’s a victory too. Editors generally won’t take time to write a personal note unless a writer shows promise.

Setting up a regular writing schedule and sticking to it is also a victory. So is completing that first story or article. Celebrate those moments. (In all honesty, I should follow my own advice here more often. Life should be a series of little celebrations, don’t you think?)

Recently, I was interviewed by a blogger who asked me this unusual question: If someone made a movie of your life, would it be a drama, a comedy, action film, science fiction, or other genre of film?

I answered, “a slow-moving documentary, maybe?” Because even though I’ve been writing for thirty years, I am still taking baby steps. With each new book I break down the actions I need to take to finish that book, from gathering ideas to making an outline to writing the first draft, and so on. I chart my daily writing goals (like drafting four to five pages a day, for example) on a calendar, and monitor my progress.

If the above makes me seem a bit like the tortoise in the Aesop’s fable, well, that’s okay with me. I’m a firm believer in “slow and steady wins the race.” Baby steps not only keep me on track with my writing (and in a way that doesn’t overwhelm), they also help me to live a balanced life with time for other activities I value, like reading for pleasure, visiting with family and friends, walking, yoga, and travel.

What baby step will you take today?

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment to enter for your chance to win a FREE paperback copy of Goddess Girls: Medea the Enchantress by Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub! Suzanne will hold a drawing and announce the lucky winner January 30.

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Dori Hillestad Butler, Author of the Month: The Underground Ghosts

August is a pretty good month. I celebrate a birthday in August. So does my son Ben. This year I’m also celebrating publication of The Underground Ghosts, which concludes my Haunted Library series.

It’s a “Super Special,” which is the technical term for a book that’s half again as long as all the other books in the series. But The Underground Ghosts is also a “super special” book to me because it’s a sort of “love letter” to the city of Seattle.

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I just moved to the Seattle area three years ago, and the day we pulled in I felt at home in a way I’d never felt before. There’s something about the Pacific Northwest, and the Seattle area in particular, that speaks to me.

When I started The Haunted Library, I knew how the series would end. I knew what would happen in the final scene, but that element was just a moment. I still needed a story to carry me to that final moment. And because this was the series finale, I felt like this story needed to be bigger than the other stories in some way. But how?

My editor said she wanted this book to be a “Halloween Super Special.” A super special is automatically bigger, and Halloween centered seems appropriate for a ghost series. That helped…but I still felt like I needed something more for a series finale.

otter award logo color_180Then, right before it was time to start outlining this book, I found out my first Haunted Library book was on Washington State’s first Otter Award list. The Otter Award is sponsored by the Washington Library Association’s School Library Division and celebrates transitional chapter books. Students in Washington state vote on the winner from this short list of contenders. I was thrilled that Washington librarians created an award for transitional readers, and even more thrilled when they put one of my books on that first list. It’s what prompted me to bring my characters to Seattle for their final story.

Somewhere along the way I realized that maybe this search for a bigger, more special end to my series wasn’t about my characters so much as it was about me. I started this series when I lived in Iowa. So it’s set in Iowa. But now I live here…and maybe instead of saying good bye to my characters (and, in a sense, to Iowa, too) what I was really looking for was a way to say, “Hello, Seattle!” in one of my books. This book is my Hello, Seattle!

It comes out August 15, which is Ben’s birthday, and I couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate pub date because Ben is the one who led us all here. He was an intern for Microsoft in 2008 and then got a permanent job offer for the following summer.

Our younger son Andy came out here in 2012 to go to the University of Washington.

Every time my husband and I came out to visit, we fell a little more in love with Seattle. Finally, in 2014 we decided to follow our kids.

As I began plotting my “Seattle Haunted Library” book in early 2016, I thought back to a family vacation we took in 2007. It was our first trip to Seattle. One year before Ben’s internship. Back when we thought, “Gee, this is a nice city,” but none of us had any idea we would all be living here one day. Back when our kids looked like this:

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And this:

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And my husband and I looked like this:

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What were the highlights of that trip? Where did we have the most fun?

Pike Place Market:

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The science fiction museum. Well…that’s what it was called then. You had the science fiction museum on one side of the building and the experience music project on the other. Today it’s all one big museum, the Museum of Pop Culture:

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And the Seattle Underground:

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Until we took the tour, we had no idea what lay beneath those purple squares in the sidewalk. It’s a fun tour! I’ve been on it several times because I’ve taken most of our out-of-town visitors on it.

I started thinking about some of the things I’ve seen down there…and a plot began to form.

So the book is called The Underground Ghosts, but the series is The Haunted Library. I couldn’t possibly set a Haunted Library book in Seattle and NOT have any scenes that take place in the Seattle Public Library. Especially when the Central Library looks like this:

 

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It’s even more interesting on the inside. Take a tour if you’re in the area! Or take the virtual tour right now.

My friend Linda Johns is a librarian there. She’s also the author of the Hannah West mysteries, which are also set in Seattle. Check them out! Linda was kind enough to give me a behind-the-scenes tour of the library when I was still plotting out my story, which brought everything together for me.

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I wrote most of the book right there in the library. They have a writers room, so I had a quiet place to work every day. Whenever I was stuck on a particular scene, I could just walk around my setting for a while until I got unstuck.

The parking attendant got a little suspicious when he caught me wandering back and forth in the parking garage one day. We had a conversation (parts of which ended up in the book).

Seattle friends…Seattle kids…I hope you have as much fun reading this book as I had writing it!

And if you’re not going to Oregon for the eclipse on August 21, please come to my book launch at Secret Garden Bookshop (2214 NW Market St. in Ballard) on Sunday, August 20 at 2:00pm. Hear more behind-the-scenes stories of this book…brush up on your Seattle trivia…and purchase a signed copy of the Underground Ghosts! Sunday afternoons are a great time to visit Ballard because you can also visit the farmer’s market and you can park for free!

If you can’t make the book launch, leave a comment on this post to enter a drawing to win a FREE signed copy of the Underground Ghosts. I’ll draw the winner on August 15, pub day!

*UPDATED AUGUST 16, 2017

Okay, yesterday was August 15. Pub day for the Underground Ghosts as well as Ben’s birthday. So I thought it was appropriate to have him draw my winner.

Yes, we gave him dragon meat for his birthday. After we ate the dragon meat, I put all the names in the can, shook it up, and told Ben to pick a good one.

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The dog wanted in on the action, too! (Actually, he wanted the dragon meat!) You probably can’t read the winner, so here’s a close up to prove we’re on the up and up here at OAV:

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Congratulations, Denise!

And here they are together in one photo. My August 15 “babies”:

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A Creativity Tsunami

 

It’s easy to think there’s nothing we can do that will make a difference in the tsunami of suffering and hatred that bombards us, whether the cause of that tsunami is external or internal.

But there are creative ways we can all make a difference.

As children’s book creators, teachers, parents, and as all people (because we’re all creative)…

 

Your acts of creativity, your willingness and passion for sharing your gifts, and your concern for young people is a good place to begin.

 

 

 

 

 

I can hear you now. “But I don’t have any talent!” or maybe you’re the one thinking, “Yes, I create, but it’s just for me.” Or this—

“I’m just a teacher, not an artist.”

 

Creativity is not talent. Creativity is a problem-solving practice.

Everyone is creative.

From dinner plans to business plans, we create on a daily basis. Being creative is an action, not an inborn trait. It’s about keeping your mind open, seeing possibilities, mashing together unlike objects to form something new.

Creativity rarely happens all at once. It’s a process, but it’s one that doesn’t always look or act the same.

Sometimes we get an idea and then either knowingly or unknowingly identify it with previous experiences. At this point, we might not have a clue where the idea will lead us. Often, we don’t quite get to the next step—discovering which qualities from those past experiences will transform the idea into something new.

And when we don’t make that connection, we call it failure.

That’s wrong. Creativity requires risk, perseverance, and a willingness to fail.

That’s where you need to change your story. Not a story you may be writing, but the story you may be telling yourself.

I’ve had lots of those stories. I attribute them to Miss Midge, my inner critic.

 

I was 25 when I first submitted a manuscript. It was rejected. I didn’t send anything in again for 15 years, using the near-universal belief “I don’t have time to write.” But then, as a pregnant 40-year-old, I knew I’d never have time, so I began. My husband would laugh at how I celebrated rejection letters. I gave myself a new belief, which was that each rejection meant I was a step closer to finding a home for the manuscript.

It’s like checking off a list. We just don’t know how many items are on that list until the end arrives. You need to hold out until you reach that unknown quota.

So how does creativity make a difference?

Creativity promotes wellbeing. We gain satisfaction from seeing what we’ve created, which helps to foster and maintain a positive outlook.

Just think what we could do with more of that!

But it’s not just about us. And that’s not all creativity can do.

 

Creativity opens minds and hearts. It increases understanding, confidence, collaboration, and empathy. It creates communities and lays the groundwork for making a difference in the world. And it’s contagious.

Creativity breeds more creativity.

We model art through our creative actions, which can inspire others to do the same. The problems we deal with need creative solutions. Practicing and promoting creativity inspires out-of-the-box problem solvers.

So, where do we start? At the beginning! We need to ensure that creativity is a valued part of our education system. But just how do we help students claim their creative birthright and be the problem solvers we so desperately need?

First of all, we give them basic skills, knowledge, materials, and activities that strengthen creativity. Then we encourage risk-taking and confidence. Oh, and along with that, they’ll need safe places to develop their own ideas and harness their own passions. In other words, we need to actually teach them techniques, tools, and applications of creative expression, and then get out of their way so they can take leaps and reach heights we can’t imagine.

Because it’s their imagination, their creativity, their ideas and expression that will solve our problems.

Along with that, of course, we need to give teachers the tools they’ll need to facilitate teaching creativity. They need workshops, strategies, models, and mentors. They’ve weathered enough and need a little creativity to solve the current educational issues. Let’s get out of their way, too.

The tsunami is real, but we who commit time and energy to nurturing creativity will help change the tide. Ripples can make waves. With enough of us, we could start our own creativity tsunami.

Who’s with me?

Where and when will you start?

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment to enter a raffle for your chance to win one of two FREE picture books from Deb Lund! One lucky commenter will receive Dinosailors, and another will receive All Aboard the Dinotrain. The contest will close May 31, 2017.

Joan Holub, Author of the Month: How a Night Owl Gets Day Things Done

Do you get up early, feeling immediately creative?

If so, I’ve always wanted to be like you. Alas, I’m a night owl. To me, the evening hours feel all cozy and less interruptible by outside forces. My energy peaks and my brain sparks with creativity. I get a lot done…


Coming in 2017:
Tool School  Scholastic picture book
Vampoodle  Random House early reader

But I can’t live out of step with most of the world. I have to get started earlier than comes naturally. So I begin my day working on something that doesn’t require me to be at peak creativity. Research. Emails. Designing a book postcard.

Then I ease into writing–the kind that doesn’t require me to dig deep. Morning is not the time to start a new story or make critical creative decisions on one I’ve begun. Instead, I might do revisions on a first draft Goddess Girls series manuscript—not the final-stage fine-tuning kind. No, the easy kind, like perusing Google images to get a consensus on a new mythology character’s hair color, or moving hunks of story around for better logic. Organizing facts is easy and fun for me in the mornings–probably one reason I write nonfiction in addition to fiction.

I’ve been thinking about what it is to be a night owl a lot lately because Nyx is a night owl. She’s the star of Nyx the Mysterious, the newest book (#22) in the Goddess Girls middle grade series I co-author with the amazing Suzanne Williams. Nyx is the bringer of night in Greek mythology. An important job. Yet no one at Mount Olympus Academy seems to get that. (I do, Nyx! Honestly, would they really want it to be day all the time?) Evening and night have beneficial qualities. Darkness serves us as a time to dream, both creatively and in a rejuvenative sense.

For us naturally-night-owl authors, the point is to find things we can do in the early part of our day that will act as bridges to what we hope to accomplish every afternoon or evening—create something new and surprising on the page.

Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl like Nyx and me, it’s really all about getting started. About finding a way to accomplish your goals, whatever they may be!

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *
Nyx the Mysterious
Book birthday: April 4, 2017
Goddess Girls series
Middle grade, ages 8-12
Simon & Schuster / Aladdin
Giving away two copies signed by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams.
Please post a comment to enter (with contact so winners can be notified win).

Joan Holub is the New York Times bestselling author of Mighty Dads, illustrated by James Dean. She is the author and/or illustrator of about 150 books for children. To read more about Joan and her books, visit:
http://www.joanholub.com
http://www.facebook.com/goddessgirlsbooks
http://pinterest.com/joanholub/
https://www.goodreads.com/Joan_Holub

 

Trudi Trueit, Author of the Month: For All the Champions

My mom was my champion. She believed in me long before I believed in myself. For a chubby, near-sighted, shy kid, her faith became my heartbeat. My mom gave me the precious gems of wisdom every child should possess: find your passion, follow your gut, never away give your power, persevere through hard times, pick yourself up when the world kicks you down. Plus, she was my best friend. I could tell her my secrets and know they would be safe.

Three years ago, when my mom died, my spirit turned gray. I tried telling myself all the things we say when a loved one dies: she wouldn’t want me to wallow, take comfort in the memories, grieve at my own pace. Still, I had trouble tapping into my creative core. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write, but I couldn’t figure out what to say. I was a jumble of emotions. Which ones should I pick? And how should I express them? Was there a right way? A way that would help me heal? One day, while looking at a picture of Mom and me I kept on my desk, I thought, ‘I feel like you took a piece of me when you left.’ And the answer came back, ‘Maybe so, but I also left a piece of myself behind.’

Me. I was, of course, that piece.

I knew I needed to write. Anything. Everything. Just write. So I did. I let my feelings of anger, sadness, frustration, and loss pour out onto the page, even if the things that came out made no sense, especially if they made no sense. I wrote short poems or jotted down memories of us; sometimes, the best I could do was scribble a sentence or two about how I was feeling that day. It took time but ever-so-slowly, the color came back into my soul. I am a firm believer that writing is cathartic. If you are willing to be honest and write about the messiness, it can save you.

Some of my work during that difficult time later became the seeds for a middle grade novel. I found myself writing a story about a 12-year-old girl named Kestrel (my mom loved birds) whose family travels to Canada after the death of her grandfather to help her grandmother save the family business. For many children, like Kestrel, the loss of a granddaresdontsssparent will be the first time they come face to face with death. Kestrel wants to be there for Grandma Lark (another bird) but isn’t sure how. Is there a right way? A way to help her grandmother heal? Or will she only make things worse? (Sound familiar?) The two begin a journey to find the answers together and, in the process, forge a powerful and lasting bond. MY TOP SECRET DARES AND DONT’S will be released next month from Aladdin MIX.

A few years before my mother passed, she told me she had her first inkling I would be a professional writer when I was seven years old. This surprised me, because we’d had many conversations about my career over the years. “You never said anything to me about it,” I said. “No,” she said. “It was your path to choose, your path to walk.” True enough. She had always supported me, but never steered me. She’d taught me to make my own choices then stepped back and let me do just that – another one of her gems.

Each day, as I sit down to write, I think how blessed I was to have a champion like her. We all need them in our lives. If I can be that for even one young writer than I will have fulfilled my artistic purpose. I think Mom would agree.

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

The giveaway of an Advanced Reviewer Copy (ARC) of MY TOP SECRET DARES & DON’Ts is now over!  Congrats to our winner: LYNN A.

truditrueit2016Trudi Trueit is an award-winning author of more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children. She enjoys giving online presentations and leading writing workshops for elementary through middle school students. Click HERE to find out how you can bring her into your classroom via Skype or Google Hangouts. To read more about Trudi and her books, visit her website at www.truditrueit.com.

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Suzanne Williams, Author of the Month: Writing the “Take-Off” Story

When I was an elementary school librarian many years ago – after I’d begun to get published but wasn’t yet writing full-time – I did a lot of writing with intermediate grade classes. Plotting a story can be a difficult task for young writers (and old!) so one of my favorite ways to involve kids in fiction writing was to take plot at least partly out of the equation by having students rewrite familiar non-copyrighted, public domain stories. (Think folk and fairy tales, myths, and legends, and even songs, nursery rhymes and jump rope rhymes.)

Typically, after reading aloud several published picture books that were good examples of “take-off” stories (ask your librarian to recommend his/her favorites as there are dozens of them), I would ask students to choose a familiar fairy tale and then rewrite it while changing *one element of the story. I’d remind them that they’d need to vary the events and characters some to stay in keeping with their original big change. The resulting stories were always a lot of fun, and kids had a blast writing and sharing them. (For samples of three student fairy tale “take-offs” click here.)

*Elements to change (pick one):

  1. Point of view change:  Switch the good guys/bad guys.  (Examples: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas.)
  2. Setting change: Change the setting of the story. (Examples:  The Three Little Hawaiian Pigs and the Magic Shark by Donijee Laird, The Three Little Cajun Pigs by Berthe Amoss. My Old MacDonald in the City)
  1. “After the end” change:  Tell what happened after the story ended.  (Examples:  The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka, Rumpelstilskin’s Daughter by Diane Stanley)

Fast forward many, many years, and I find that the take-off story describes the bulk of my writing career!  My picture book, Old MacDonald in the City, is a take-off on the familiar song, but with the setting changed to the city. Another of my picture books, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys, is a take-off on the jump rope rhyme and also involves setting changes.  And though not strictly a take-off, I wrote my Halloween story, The Witch Casts a Spell, to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.”

For the last seven years my co-author Joan Holub and I have written three take-off series together. Two are based on Greek mythology: Goddess Girls  (Aladdin, ages 8-12) and Heroes in Training (Aladdin ages 6 – 9), and one is based on fairy tales:  Grimmtastic Girls (Scholastic ages 8-12).  Though the plots are more complex, each of the books has as its center an existing myth or fairy tale rewritten in a new and fun way.

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In fact, Joan and I have loved doing take-off series so much that we’ve recently signed on for our fourth. The new series will be based on Norse mythology. The first two books of Thunder Girls (tentative title) will debut in the spring of 2018.

Happy reading and writing!

Suzanne

http://www.suzanne-williams.com

P.S. I’m giving away one autographed copy of the newest book in the Goddess Girls series: Calliope the Muse. Comment to enter for a chance to win. (USA only.) One winner chosen Monday, September 19.

***UPDATE: Congratulations to the contest winner, Lacey L — thanks for reading and commenting on the blog, and enjoy your new book!***

Summer Explorations

Summer is the time to explore. Time for kids to play outside and to dive into the books on their summer reading lists.

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Summer is also time to explore hidden talents and try out dreams. Many teens cherish secret dreams of writing their own stories and novels someday. That someday can be now if they are lucky enough to live near a gifted, generous author like Molly Blaisdell.

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In Molly’s words, “Where is a teen going to learn the truth about being published in a university town deep in the heart of Texas? TEENSPublish is a program to help teens do just that. They join for eight weeks over the summer to write and produce an anthology. We want world-class programming but have a budget for Skittles not visiting authors.  What a great moment when Janet Lee Carey agreed to meet with our group and share some of her insight into writing!  A large screen TV was purloined for a few hours, and it was a paired with a laptop the size of a giant cereal box.  With our technology in place, Janet magically Skyped in on the screen (larger than even life).”

Molly B class 4

It was great to see all the faces. Questions flew. We got right down to the work of taking apart the writing process, talked about using a journal to plan stories and solve story problems. We touched on the necessity of daydreaming. Something writers simply have to do. It’s part of the job!

Molly B class 2

We explored the nitty-gritty of revising. Yes, published authors revise. A lot. Most of us donate to forestry projects in abject apology to the trees.

Janet and tree branches 2016

Plant a Billion Trees Giving Back page

We all laughed about how hard it is to start page one. Most authors fear the blank page. I shared the fact that I edit my page hundreds of times. It is always the last thing I’m desperately trying to perfect. I work on it up to the last possible moment when the book is in galley form and authors are supposed to keep their hands off! Publishers have to snatch it out of my hands. I don’t let go easily. My advice to those who were stuck on the “right wording” for their openings? “Just go ahead start writing. You will, no doubt, go back and change the opening anyway.”

Opening of IN THE TIME OF DRAGON MOON
Chapter One
Falcon Moon – April 1210

         Knife in hand, I crouched under the willow. Father’s dragon skimmed over the river; her crimson scales blazed blood red across the surface. Her searing cry rang through the valley. Dragons live more than a thousand years; their turning eye sockets allow them to look forward and back, seeing past and future, patterns in time we humans can never see. My eyes were fixed on smaller things.
        Today he will tell me. Today I will know.

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After sharing some of my book covers, we discussed the challenges of fantasy. The young writers fired off questions about world building. I could see how aware they were of the exciting and arduous process, and how much they already knew about the complexity of creating new places, societies, cultures, and languages. We discussed the important role research plays in world creation. Fantasy worlds must feel real to the reader. I have shelves of books on life in medieval times for my Wilde Island trilogy. Currently, I’m researching marine life for the undersea scenes in my new work-in-progress. I shared how using songs and symbols can help create a sense of a particular culture or tradition. Another writer said drawing characters helps her begin to imagine the story and the world. During their eight-week course, the class will be creating maps of their fantastical worlds—another helpful way to get into world building.

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It was such a pleasure to visit this group of young writers in College TX. I couldn’t fly down to meet with them in person, but Online Author Visits made it all possible. The hour passed far too quickly. I caught the students’ contagious enthusiasm for all parts of the writing process. These teens are smart, inquisitive, and committed to learning the craft. We all clapped when the time was up.

Molly B class 1

Molly Blaisdell “Our group of young writers with burning questions listened and learned. This interactive interview had an informal vibe that suited teens perfectly. Janet shared her books, her humor, and her best advice. The teens had glowing eyes, nodding heads, and more mojo than ever to produce masterworks.”

Special thanks to Online Author Visits for making this magic hour happen, to author and writing teacher Molly Blaisdell for the Skype invitation to TEENPublish, and to Kendra Perkins, Librarian, Larry J. Ringer Public Library, College Station, TX, for helping the setup and for joining in on the Skype visit.

So, OAV readers, here’s a deal!
FREE SUMMER SKYPE
I’m offering a free Summer Skype to the first OAV reader who pipes up here in “comments.” The secret word is snag as in “I’m going to snag this!” Comment with that word and you’ll snag it. Once snagged, head to my website, click “contact” and email me to set up the Skye visit. Voila!

Summer and Beyond
I’d also love to visit your library, classroom, book group, or writing group to talk about books, the power of story, and the joys and challenges of writing. Hope to see you on my small screen soon!  www.janetleecarey.com

Portrait photos of Janet Lee Carey in Redmond, WA. Grasslawn Park.
Janet Lee Carey grew up in the bay area under towering redwoods that whispered secrets whenever the wind blew. She is the award-winning author of nine novels for children and young adults including her newest release, In the Time of Dragon Moon book three of the Wilde Island Chronicles. Her books highlight the courage of children and teens and explore the challenges of staying true to your values while following your dreams. School Library Journal starred review calls her work, “fantasy at its best–original, beautiful, amazing, and deeply moving.”