Archive | July 2011

So You Want to Write a Children’s Book

Peter Carver’s book is a mere 124 pages. It could easily get lost on the bookstore shelves, but that would be a shame.

So You Want to Write… overflows with practical information for both writers and illustrators.

Carver’s bite-sized chapters for writers include Why are You Writing for Children? and Waiting for the Reply. (His advice…keep writing.) For illustrators: Working as an Illustrator and Getting Hired. For both: How to Find a Publisher and Should You Get an Agent?

While it is most appropriate for the novice, beginners and experienced professionals alike will benefit from the lists of organizations, government cultural programs and grants, etc.

I glanced at So You Want to Write… at the Write! Canada conference in June. Although I was there to pitch my idea for a children’s chapter book, I decided against purchasing the book.

I reconsidered, however, when the leader of a workshop I attended recommended it. As an acquisitions editor, she had given us a lot of practical advice on writing for children. When she recommended Carver’s book, I knew it would be a good idea to take a second look. And I’m glad I did. I’ve read it and am now looking forward to checking out many of the resources.

If you’re looking for an easy read that makes the industry of children’s books more accessible, this is for you.

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When I’m Gone

We’ve all lost someone close to us. And often it makes us think Am I ready? My youngest is 21. Yet my will still names a guardian for her. Would my loved ones know where to find the important papers? Do I know where they all are? Would those left behind know who to contact in the event of my death?

Kathleen Fraser address these issues as well as many others in her book When I’m Gone. It contains not only useful information, but space to fill in personal details. Fraser covers the topics you’d expect–documents and records; health and medical care; finances–but she also touches on things that might never cross your mind–pets; computers, TVs and other electronics; your favorite things. And that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Most of us are too busy living to think much about our death. Plus, we don’t want to dwell on the inevitability. When I’m Gone makes it easy to gather our information and our thoughts without becoming morbid. It assists readers to think about what’s important to them and determine what arrangements still need to be made.

The lighthearted, whimsical illustrations help when dealing with such a sensitive subject. It will also help your loved ones…when the time comes.

I purchased my copy some time ago and am just now getting around to filling it out. I hope my family doesn’t need the information for many, many years, but I do want to know I’ve done my part to make it easier on them.

And now, back to the topic of living…

Refresh

What a wonderful title!

I’m refreshed just looking at the cover. Slices of grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime overlap one another.

Funny how I came to purchase this book…Ron Hughes, the author, came up to me at the Write! Canada conference and handed me the bookmark for Refresh. “Shameless self-promotion” he called it…tongue-in-cheek of course. “If I find a $10 chicken,” I teased. (Suffice it to say, the lady who runs the bookstore is a chicken farmer.)

You guessed it. I found the chicken–and bought the book. I’m so glad I did.

The subtitle of Refresh is 19 Ways to Boost Your Spiritual Life. Lessons such as Pray, Study Your Bible, and Worship are to be expected. But I’m personally thankful that the first two chapters stress the importance of quiet, not just external, but internal quiet as well. When I’m not talking (it does happen from time to time), my mind is still going a million miles an hour.

I’m just learning the benefit of telling the many ideas that flit around my brain to sit down and wait their turn. I’m also learning to enjoy the outdoors, where I can enjoy a sense of peace, where my computer and my housework aren’t constantly calling. At least, it they are, I can’t hear them.

Each brief chapter of Refresh begins with a dramatized Bible story written in the first person.  The story is followed by a look at what exactly the lesson is and how it applies to us. The chapters also include potential pitfalls and words of encouragement.

Refresh is not a book to rush through. It is a book filled with lessons we must drink in, apply, and allow to change our lives.

Joshua

If an author leaned over to you at lunch and asked if she could send her unpublished manuscript to you for review, I bet you’d jump at the chance…especially if that author was one of your favourites.

That’s what happened to me at the writers conference in June. What an honour!

Shortly after I returned home, Joshua by M.D. Meyer arrived in my inbox. I started reading right away. Having read Lewis, another book in the series, it was like returning to Rabbit Lake for a second visit. The people and places seemed familiar.

Like most people, I enjoy a nice story with a happy ending. However, too often, novels are too tidy, too idyllic. No matter who we are, we’ve likely encountered tragedy and heartbreak of some kind. And I, for one, want a work of fiction to authentically reflect the human condition. I want to care about the characters. I even want to experience the whole gamut of emotions.

Wow! What a ride it was reading Joshua! One thing’s for sure: No-one will accuse M.D. of writing about two-dimensional characters in unrealistic situations. On the contrary, her very believable characters are often in far-too-realistic situations. From Martha, the take charge, faith-filled grandmother to Cynarra, the courageous, heartbroken eight-year-old to Joshua, the lone stallion with a tragic past, readers will come to know and care about each one. And if they’re like me, they’ll cry, gasp, and even get “the warm fuzzies” on occasion.

A skilled author grabs your attention and keeps you on the edge of your seat as effectively as any movie director. Yet, the author does so without the advantages of a soundtrack, dramatic lighting, and award-winning actors. If you want to dive into a compelling story, keep your eyes open for the release of Joshua.