Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity

by Heather Harris Brady

Quite some time ago there was a SNL skit where Al Franken (as Stuart Smalley) had a regular affirmation: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it people like me.”

I think as writers we all need to say that to ourselves at times because there’s no sugar-coating it, this writing thing is a hard slog! Here are two TED videos that might boost you up, should you need boosting at the moment 🙂 If I had a WordPress.org account I could embed them, but since I don’t the links will open in a new window.

egilbert

 TED Video One: Your Elusive Genius

TED Video Two: The Drive to Keep Creating


 

Rock the Drop – Surprise a YA reader today!

by Heather Harris Brady

This information is forwarded from the Cynsations blog:

In conjunction with Support Teen Literature Day, top young adult authors, editors, teen lit advocates, and readers will “Rock the Drop” by leaving their books in public places for new readers to discover and enjoy.

In recognition of the readergirlz’s seventh birthday of promoting literacy and a love of reading among young women, our fans and followers are also encouraged to donate YA books (or time, or even monetary contributions) to seven very worthy literacy philanthropies.

The groups include: First Book, The Lisa Libraries, Girls Write Now, 826 National, Room to Read, Reading is Fundamental, and World Literacy Foundation.

For this year’s Drop, we are also teaming up with Justine Magazine and I Heart Daily to help spread the world and build enthusiasm for this always-enjoyable kick off to spring reading season!

A nationwide effort of authors, publishers, librarians, educators, and readers

In its sixth year, Rock the Drop is part of a massive effort by librarians, young adult authors, educators, publishers, and avid readers to spur reading on a nationwide scale. The day aims to encourage teens to read for the fun of it.

Operation Teen Book Drop aims to reach a large number of teen groups,” rgz diva Melissa Walker said. “We’re thrilled to be celebrating our website’s seventh birthday with this fun, festive day!”

How to support Rock the Drop:

About Support Teen Literature Day

In its sixth year, Support Teen Literature Day is April 17, 2014, and will be celebrated in conjunction with ALA’s National Library Week. Librarians across the country are encouraged to participate in Support Teen Literature Day by hosting events in their libraries. The celebration raises awareness that young adult literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today’s teens. Support Teen Literature Day also seeks to showcase award-winning authors and books in the genre, as well as highlight librarians’ expertise in connecting teens with books and other reading materials.

About readergirlz

readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Award for Innovations in Reading. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy.

The Science of Character

This post is reblogged from Terri Eichholz’ excellent Engage Their Minds. Not only is it great to consider where our readers are concerned, but also in terms of fictional characters!

Engage Their Minds

image from letitripple.org image from letitripple.org

“Instead of asking students what they want to be, we should be asking them who they want to be.” 

I wish I could give attribution for the above quote.  It was something I saw on Twitter a few weeks ago, and it resonated with me.  The film called, “The Science of Character” delivers a similar message, except the question is, “How do you want to be?”

My 5th grade GT students study the “Dimensions of Character.”  This 8-minute film, “The Science of Character,” says everything that I hope they will learn from this year.  It stresses that you have the power to develop your own character – and that you can also shape the character of other people.  The video cites brain research that supports these ideas, and also cites Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets.

The video asks the audience to think…

View original post 201 more words

Common Core: Creating Supplemental Materials

Community_Box_Library_in_Bangladesh

by Heather Harris Brady

Since it’s a major goal of mine to have my books become part of the educational process I think a lot about creating supplemental materials. These materials (questionnaires, worksheets, fun activities and even LitTrips) are another way for writers to reach out to teachers and guides. I know companies like Scholastic do a lot of this for their books, but if you are doing a lot of your legwork there’s resources to help.

Common Core Seven-Step Short Guide to Creating Text Dependent Questions

Complete Guide to Creating Text Dependent Questions

Checklist for Evaluating Question Quality

Professional Development Module: Understanding Text Dependent Questions

Photo: Wiki Commons
 

New Lucky Agent Contest!

Reposted from Writer’s Digest Blog:

Welcome to the 14th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing contemporary middle grade fiction, this 14th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, March 18, 2014.)

WHY YOU SHOULD GET EXCITED

After a previous “Dear Lucky Agent” contest, the agent judge, Tamar Rydzinski (The Laura Dail Literary Agency), signed one of the three contest winners. After Tamar signed the writer, she went on to sell two of that writer’s books! How cool! That’s why these contests are not to missed if you have an eligible submission.

HOW TO SUBMIT

E-mail entries to dearluckyagent14@gmail.com. Please paste everything. No attachments.

WHAT TO SUBMIT

The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of contemporary middle grade fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with each entry.

Please note: To be eligible to submit, you must mention this contest twice through any any social-media. Please provide a social media link or Twitter handle or screenshot or blog post URL, etc., with your offical e-mailed entry so the judge and I can verify eligibility. Some previous entrants could not be considered because they skipped this step! Simply spread the word twice through any means and give us a way to verify you did; a tinyURL for this link/contest for you to easily use is http://tinyurl.com/kva3w9j. An easy way to notify me of your sharing is to include my Twitter handle @chucksambuchino somewhere in your mention(s) if using Twitter. And if you are going to solely use Twitter as your 2 times, please wait 1 day between mentions to spread out the notices, rather than simply tweeting twice back to back. Thanks.

WHAT IS ELIGIBLE?

Contemporary middle grade fiction. This means any middle grade set in our present world and time — mainstream, thriller, romance, mystery, adventure, humor, etc. What the agent judge will NOT consider as part of this contest is stories set outside our present world — sci-fi, fantasy, historical, steampunk.

CONTEST DETAILS

This contest will be live for approximately 14 days—from March 4, 2014 through the end of March 18, 2014, PST. Winners notified by e-mail within three weeks of end of contest. Winners announced on the blog thereafter.
To enter, submit the first 150-200 words of your book. Shorter or longer entries will not be considered. Keep it within word count range please.
You can submit as many times as you wish. You can submit even if you submitted to other contests in the past, but please note that past winners cannot win again. All that said, you are urged to only submit your best work.
The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA’s publisher, F+W Media, Inc.
By e-mailing your entry, you are submitting an entry for consideration in this contest and thereby agreeing to the terms written here as well as any terms possibly added by me in the “Comments” section of this blog post. (If you have questions or concerns, write me personally at chuck.sambuchino (at) fwmedia.com. The Gmail account above is for submissions, not questions.)
PRIZES!!!

Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com ($50 value)!

MEET YOUR (AWESOME) AGENT JUDGE!

Christa Heschke is an agent with McIntosh & Otis. (Find her on Twitter, and see her blog, Neverending Stories.) Christa graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children’s Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade, young adult and new adult projects and is currently building her list.

Apps Part II

image

by Heather Harris Brady

In my last post we talked about using online apps to be more productive. I’m going to get a little more in-depth today on using apps while you’re writing.

I write a lot of historical fiction (using my ipad), so I’m constantly jumping around to fact-check. I use UX Write as my word processor, partly because it was cheap and partly because it can deal with .docx files.

UX Write also has a nice working relationship with Dropbox. As you can see from the above graphic, when I’m in UX Write I can choose my working files (under ipad) or jump into Dropbox where I store my historical research.

image

Inside Dropbox I organize my research by writing project, noted above as Missfits 2 research. It’s worth noting that I do not ever save manuscripts or writing-to-be-published on any of the cloud services because I have a deep-seated skepticism of their privacy policies.

In addition to my Dropbox research library I also create mood boards and character inspiration boards on Pinterest (pinterest.com). Anything that isn’t conducive to either Dropbox or Pinterest I save in kippt (kippt.com).

I’m not receiving any kind of compensation for any of the services listed. They just happen to work for me, maybe they can help you out as well.

Getting more done with online apps

523px-Amelita_galli-curci

by Heather Harris Brady

Whether you’re a writer, a teacher, a student we all need more time, amirite? When it comes to finding reasons not to write I suspect we’re all experts. Not that we need any help when there are so many things to do as a writer these days – build the platform/online presence, stalk research agents, participate in critique groups, on and on. I can say that I’m working on it at least, trying to find ways to streamline things to make as much time as possible to procrastinate write. Here are few (mostly free) online tools worth a look, besides Google Drive:

Images from quotes

http://pinstamatic.com/#quote

http://www.recitethis.com/

Picture editing and social media photo adjustments

http://www.picmonkey.com/

http://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/seo-tools/favicon-generator-crop-images/

http://www.autreplanete.com/ap-social-media-image-maker/#twitter

http://timelineslicer.com/

http://www.photovisi.com/

Infographics

https://infogr.am/app/#/home

https://magic.piktochart.com/

Dictation

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dragon-dictation/id341446764?mt=8

To Do Lists

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/teuxdeux/id384291782?mt=8

https://www.wunderlist.com/en/

http://fanzter.com/products/streaks/

http://astrid.com/

If you’ve found something great let us know in the comments! Happy Valentine’s Day readers –

Photo credit: This is a press photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948. According to the library, there are no known restrictions on the use of these photos.

Jingling your way to a query

roses1

by Heather Harris Brady

It’s been gray here for what seems like weeks, so I needed to post this picture. The fact that I am languishing in the leech-infused quicksand swamp of query-writing turns everything another shade darker. I think about queries all the time. One night while we were watching a few TV shows with the kids it dawned on me just how many older sit-com jingles are a form of query. Take, for example, Gilligan’s Island (RIP Professor):

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle
With Gilligan
The Skipper too,
The millionaire and his wife,
The movie star
The professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligans Isle.

So this is the talel of the castways,
They’re here for a long, long time,
They’ll have to make the best of things,
It’s an uphill climb.

The first mate and the Skipper too,
Will do their very best,
To make the others comfortable,
In the tropic island nest.

No phone, no lights no motor cars,
Not a single luxury,
Like Robinson Crusoe,
As primative as can be.

So join us here each week my freinds,
You’re sure to get a smile,
From seven stranded castways,
Here on “Gilligan’s Isle.”

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/gilligansislandlyrics.html

And of course, the Brady Bunch:
Here’s the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls.
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother,
The youngest one in curls.

Here’s the store, of a man named Brady,
Who was busy with three boys of his own,
They were four men, living all together,
Yet they were all alone.

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow
And they knew it was much more than a hunch,
That this group would somehow form a family.
That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.
The Brady Bunch,

That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.
The Brady Bunch.

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/thebradybunchlyrics.html

There are even examples written with the show’s voice:
Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.

Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.

Well the first thing you know ol Jed’s a millionaire,
Kinfolk said “Jed move away from there”
Said “Californy is the place you ought to be”
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Hills, that is. Swimmin pools, movie stars.

Well now its time to say good by to Jed and all his kin.
And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly droppin in.
You’re all invited back a gain to this locality
To have a heapin helpin of their hospitality

Hillybilly that is. Set a spell, Take your shoes off.

Y’all come back now, y’hear?.

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/beverlyhillbillieslyrics.html

Can you guess this one?
Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days.

And you knew who you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men,
Mister we could use a man
Like Herbert Hoover again.

Didn’t need no welfare state,
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days.

Middle Grade Crafts: Bookmarks

bookmark1_mgmysteries    bookmark2_mgmysteries

by Heather Harris Brady

Since it’s the holidays I thought I would post a quick little craft middle graders can easily make for their teachers or other special people this holiday. These bookmarks are stretchy, so they will work on many sizes of books. You can use any regular elastic, but the fold-over type comes in lots of pretty colors and it’s shiny on one side.

Here’s what you need (for each one):

  • 20″ of fold-over elastic (You can find this on etsy or ebay, usually for less than .79 cents per yard)
  • Decorations: We used paper flowers, buttons, beads and rhinestones.

Instructions:

  1. Fold the elastic in half, shiny side out, and tie a knot in the top about 1.5 inches down.
  2. Arrange your decorations. The ones shown are little stacks of paper flowers, and a button on top.
  3. Sew through the stack of decorations with a needle and thread, making several passes through to hold it securely.
  4. Find the rough center on one side of the bookmark. Sew the decoration onto the bookmark, again making several passes through to hold it securely. Cut and knot the thread.
  5. We finished them with a few heat-set rhinestones, but if you don’t have a rhinestone setter you can sew or glue on more beads, sequins, etc.

Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Using Google Earth.

litrip1

by Heather Harris Brady

I could actually change this post to second grader, because second graders are tooling around Google Earth too! Regardless, one of the first assignments elementary ipad users receive is to find their house on Google Earth. Authors can use it to enrich their user experiences by mapping the travels of story characters.

In my lit trip, above, I have travel paths marked for my two main characters, as well as a ship that plays a key part in the story. On key destinations I have embedded photos of special items my characters encountered along the way:

paris1878

If you click on the pushpins you can see the images. You can download and view my entire lit trip here. You do need to have installed Google Earth first though.

If you’d like video tutorials on any of these IT posts please send me a request in the comments. I’m keeping them short on purpose, but I can always add more!