May Kidlit Notes

We were thrilled to celebrate two book birthdays this meeting. Nanci’s second middle grade novel Georgia Rules and Sheryl’s second picture book Baby Boo, I Love You are officially in the world! It’s exciting to see the final product of so much hard work and literary love, but it’s even more fun to consider what will happen to those books in the hands of readers. In what ways will children’s lives be changed by the wonderfully boisterous Parker family in Georgia Rules, for instance, and how many kids will beg their parents to read Baby Boo again and again? A book’s publication is truly just the beginning, and we congratulate Sheryl and Nanci on their work.

On the heels of this celebration, Sheryl brought a draft of a story rejected (and not for the first time) to discuss. She read to us from the feedback she received, and we offered ideas for reworking her picture book. It’s wonderful to think about what we can learn from “rejection,” and to find ways to be really open to feedback. At the same time, taking feedback can sometimes feel like being in a spring snowstorm (Mayvember, anyone?) – disorienting, unpleasant, and sure to wilt the tulips before they’ve opened.

It’s a testament to dogged perseverance that there are even books published in the world, and that writers have the gumption to put their words in front of other people. But that’s the point, isn’t it? We write so others will read, because without a reader, the story is incomplete. I guess what I’m trying to say is- keep writing. And share it. Be brave, listen for clues, and trust the sound of your own voice as you revise.

Also critiqued this month: a vividly written poem by Lorna, an edgy epistolary YA voice from Gina, and a character-building scene from my WIP. Nanci guided us through a fast-write activity at the end of our session, taught by kidlit author Kathi Appelt when she visited with TCSD students the previous week. As Kathi says, “Write like your fingers are on fire!” One idea that came from this activity was to try freewriting in the voice of any of my characters if I’m struggling to know how they feel, what they’re thinking, etc. Writing quickly forces you to jump between images and moments that you might not otherwise string together, and can lead to productive surprises.

All of the attendees this month are registered for the JH Writers Conference June 22-24. Are you? We will meet again as a Kidlit group on June 8th, 6-8 p.m. Hope to see everyone for both our group and the conference in June. Make it a productive month!

Happy Writing,

Melissa & Nanci

May Recommended Resources
Check out this video about the recent celebration at JH Children’s Museum featuring Sheryl’s new book!

Don’t miss Nanci’s interview with Corinna Allen on Episode 24 of the podcast, “Books Between.”

The Winged Pen
They have many great posts, but I’m especially enjoying their current Wednesday series, “Mastering Your Craft.”

From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors
A range of posts about books and writing for any lover of Kidlit & YA to peruse.

Nanci Turner Steveson’s second novel, available now!

Sheryl Haft’s new picture book, available now!