Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Things You Never Say to an Editor--at Least Not Before You Have a Contract

My grandchildren loved it!

That line is one of the standing jokes you hear at writer's conferences. Never tell an editor that your children or your grandchildren or your students or your mother loved your manuscript.

But AFTER it's published, you can crow all you want. And guess what......

My grandchildren loved it!

My grandson took it to his science teacher (notice the subject wasn't social studies, my target audience) and she loved it. The class had just finished their unit on space, so they used the script on John Glenn. The class loved it. Now they are working on costumes and learning lines to turn it into a play they will perform for the PTA. And hopefully the PTA will love it!

Am I a proud grandma or what?

Yesterday's Question: Why do you love Reader's Theater?

I love reader's theater because kids love it, because teachers love it. And I love giving those students and teachers a creative way to explore history.

I'll be in Texas in March to see the newest addition to my son's family. I have seven grands now. While I'm there, I'm looking forward to visiting Mrs. Gill's fourth grade class. In the meantime, they have been following my blog tour. Each day I've posted answers to a few of their questions. They were full to bustin' with questions. I'm trying to answer as many as possible.

Questions from Mrs. Gill's Fourth Grade Class

Have you ever had writer's block?
Yes. I've found that going for a walk or working in the yard usually helps. My ideas sort themselves out while I'm doing other things.

When do you take a break from writing?
I don't like sitting at the computer for more than about an hour or two at a time. So I take short breaks to stretch or snack.

Have you won any awards for your writing?
Not yet. But knowing that you liked my book is like getting an award.

Did all the school work help you become a writer?
Yes. It sure did.

Do you use a dictionary when you write?
I do. I actually have several different kinds. I have a regular dictionary, a rhyming dictionary, a describing dictionary and a reverse dictionary for when you can't quite think of the right word. I have a Children's Writer's Word Book that tells me what words children learn at different grade levels. This is especially helpful when I'm writing for lower grades. I might want to say "The explorer was courageous." That's fine for a fourth grade reader. The word book tells me that "courageous" is a fourth grade word. But if I'm writing for a younger audience,"Bold" is a second grade word that means almost the same thing. So I might change my sentence if my goal is for second grade readers to be able to read the sentence by themselves.

What skills do you need to become a writer?
You must be willing to experiment with stories and play with words. You must be willing to accept help and constructive criticism, but you must trust yourself, too.

What's your favorite book that you have written?
I think my favorite might be the one that's coming out later this year. It's a book of devotions for eight- to twelve-year-olds. It's called Sing, Shout, Dance: Thirty Days of Praise. I'm looking forward holding that one in my hands.

What made you become an author?
I was a pretty shy kid growing up. Even as an adult, I am slow to voice my opinions about things. Writing is a way for me to express myself, my thoughts, my ideas, to find my own voice.

What age did you start writing?
I started keeping a diary when I was eight. As a teenager, I wrote in a journal regularly. I did that for most of my life. I started writing articles and essays for adults when I was about forty. I started writing stories for children about ten years ago.

Have you ever thought about modernizing a fairytale?
I have thought about it, but I haven't tried it yet.

When do you plan on writing another book?
I'm working on two other books right now. One is a historical fiction chapter book. The other is a nonfiction picture book.

Today's Question (the last one): Which explorer fought off a crocodile with her boat paddle?

Tomorrow I'll announce the winners of the three books I'm giving away. Be sure to stop by and see if you won.

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