The Writers’ Rumpus 2018 Review

Frog chorus imageRacing through the mall
Voice croaking like a frog
Wishing you were home sweet home
Perusing your favorite blog!

Is it my imagination, or does time move faster the older we get? It seems like just yesterday I wrote Before We Close the Book on 2017, and here I am, writing the final post of 2018. While I’m excited to see what new posts our Writers’ Rumpus authors have in store for 2019, the wonderful posts from 2018 deserve another look. Once again, I’m awed by the amazing breadth of material covered by our talented contributors. I felt like a kid in a candy store, but I selected 18 posts for this review, one from each of our authors. The good news is that you don’t need to limit yourselves at all! You can access any post, any time, by author or topic of interest. Let the Writers’ Rumpus 2018 Review begin!

#1: CLEAN UP YOUR WRITING WITH THE HEMINGWAY APP
by Alison Potoma
 on September 21, 2018

Hemingway1Alison Potoma had me at “Hemingway,” the master of clean, crisp, compelling writing and subject of many of my high school papers. Alison, a clean, crisp, compelling (Sci-Fi) author herself, explains how simple and satisfying this app is to use. Here’s an excerpt:

The Hemingway Editor is a handy-dandy tool that is easy to use and can help edit and improve your writing. I think it is worth it for the adverbs and passive voice (advice) alone.  The online editor is FREE! Which is my favorite kind of app. 

#2: INTERVIEW WITH PICTURE BOOK AUTHOR AME DYCKMAN & GIVEAWAY
by Amy Courage
on November 30, 2018

BOY + BOT COVER-smallAmy Courage, a writer of picture books and middle grade and The Daily Mermaid blogger, yields delightfully candid responses from picture book author Ame Dyckman in this interview. Here’s an excerpt that typifies Ame’s unique brand of humor:

AC: What do you like best/worst about the creative/writing process?
AD: The best part about the creative/writing process is getting COMPLETELY immersed in an idea or a story. The worst part is that when I’m COMPLETELY immersed in an idea or a story… I often burn dinner and laundry. (Some weeks, we hafta order emergency pizza—and underwear!)

#3: 3 WAYS TO ADD WORDPLAY TO YOUR WRITING
by Kirsti Call
on August 21, 2018
cowpunsTalented picture book author Kirsti Call (who co-coordinates ReFoReMo with Carrie Charley Brown) has an amazing gift for wordplay. In this post, she shares three extremely useful tips to help our stories sparkle with clever puns. Would you believe Kirsti came up with all these outside-the-box puns based on COW?!?

deja moo, udder disaster, holy cow, till the cows come home, cowmooflaged, cowincidence, amoosed, cow jumping over the moon, over the moon about their friendship, cry over spilled milk, cowtastrophe, cower, coward, mooooved

#4: PURPOSEFUL PAGE TURNS
by Kim Chaffee
on March 9, 2018

71gL6l44HILAuthor Kim Chaffee knows a thing or two about writing compelling picture books, both fiction and nonfiction. In this instructive post, Kim illustrates how purposeful page turns can help give a picture book that “re-readability” quality we all seek. Here’s an excerpt:

Some page turns happen because it’s the end of a scene or a moment. Some happen to provide a break in the tension. But a purposeful page turn is different. It can be a cliffhanger, a set-up, to add surprise and engage the reader toward a satisfying payoff.

#5: PAUL CZAJAK, CHILDREN’S AUTHOR AND CRITIQUE BUDDY EXTRAORDINAIRE
by Carol Gordon Ekster on October 2, 2018
PaulatbookfairwithmonsterbksPicture book author Carol Ekster is a huge supporter of the children’s writing community and often interviews other authors. In this post, Carol interviews author Paul Czajak, who is guaranteed to provide a good laugh. Here’s an excerpt:

CAROL GORDON EKSTER: Paul, can you tell us how you came to writing and about your path to publication?
PAUL CZAJAK: Hey Carol! First off let me say thank you for the wonderful intro! If there is anything that I like more than talking favorably about myself it’s hearing someone else do it for me.

#6: WORLD BUILDING: THE MAGIC
by Dana Neunighoff
on June 26, 2018
The Legend of KorraThis post is part of a three-part series Dana Neunighoff shares on the art and craft of world building. Dana is a science teacher and prolific writer whose young adult fantasy stories are masterfully detailed, and we benefit from her willingness to teach us. Here’s an excerpt from this post, the second in the series:

The scientist in me sees magic as its own form of science. To create a system, I must know how it can be used and how it can’t. Who can wield it and how do they make themselves stronger? Do they train at a magic school? 

#7: HOW NOT TO FORMAT YOUR MANUSCRIPT
by Marianne Knowles
on March 13, 2018

GoodFormat_CenteredMarianne Knowles is a writer of middle grade and young adult Sci-Fi and the leader of our local critique group. She is also an editor, and we should all heed the formatting advice Marianne provides in this incredibly useful post. Here’s an excerpt:

In my day job as an editor in educational publishing, the formatting of a sample manuscript can determine whether I hire a freelance writer or editor, before I even read a word. If a freelancer hasn’t mastered the basics of producing a clean Word document, I don’t have time to work with them.

#8: WORDS WORTHY OF THE NEWBERY
by Marti Johnson
on June 22, 2018

IVAN_COVER_LargerIn this charming book review of THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, middle grade/young adult writer Marti Johnson reminds us we should re-read the books that impress and captivate us. Marti points out that Katherine Applegate breaks the rules by narrating this story in the gorilla’s voice, but his words are heartbreakingly memorable. Here’s an excerpt:

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN offers a rich first person narrative.  This story could not have been told in a human voice. It wouldn’t have carried the same emotional depth.

#9: PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHIES
by Marcia Strykowski
on May 11, 2018

biog31Marcia Strykowski is a talented author of middle grade novels and writer of picture books. She is also a librarian: who better to introduce us to a list of beautifully written and illustrated picture book biographies, all recently published. As Marcia points out, these aren’t just for young children! Here’s an excerpt:

 At my library, patrons of all ages check out these books. One adult recently told me he found it an excellent way to learn about famous people—past and present—without spending precious time reading a full biography on each person. 

#10: LET’S GET SERIOUS ABOUT LAUGHING
by Paul Czajak on October 9, 2018

PositiveWeirdCirriped-smallAs I mentioned earlier, picture book author Paul Czajak knows how to make us laugh. In fact, I consider him the King of Picture Book Comedy! So when he writes a post about ways to add humor to our stories, it’s guaranteed to be a fun and helpful read. Here’s an excerpt, written in Paul’s unique style:

Lots of people tell me I’m funny. Okay, some people tell me I’m funny. Fine, my mom tells me I’m funny. Either way, putting comedy into your writing isn’t an easy thing to do.  But when you do it and it’s done right, it’s a winner because kids love to laugh. 

#11: CREATE YOUR AUTHOR/ARTIST WEBSITE!
by Joyce Audy Zarins on December 7, 2018

Kim Chaffee 2Joyce Audy Zarins is a young adult writer and artist with a beautiful website of her own. In this extremely helpful post, she graciously highlights Kim Chaffee’s website and Kirsti Call’s blog. If you’ve been noodling around the idea of starting a blog or website, this is a must-read. Here’s an excerpt:

As a professional, or someone starting to make headway in publishing, you need visibility. You could either find a website designer, or you could create a site yourself. Don’t think you can? Think again.

#12: ON MAKING THINGS BETTER 
by Sarah Lynne Reul on August 17, 2018

Pet The PetsSarah Lynne Reul is a talented picture book author/illustrator who generously shares her techniques in her posts. In this one, Sarah describes the artistic process behind her third book, PET THE PETS. Here’s an excerpt:

But mostly, I find, my work progresses in tiny baby steps, a series of small decisions, chosen one at a time, like when my optometrist flips through different lens options: Which one is better – one, or two? A or B? This one, or that one?  

#13: DARE TO CHANGE YOUR POINT-OF-VIEW
by Laura Fineberg Cooper on October 26, 2018

The Book ThiefAs a writer of children’s books and English teacher/tutor, my posts gravitate toward teaching grammar rules and elements of writing. In this post, my goal is to encourage writers to experiment with POV. First, I explain and illustrate 1st, 2nd, and 3rd (Omniscient and Limited) POVs, and then highlight wonderful books that break the standard POV mold. Here’s an excerpt:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak offers the most daring POV I’ve yet encountered. Death, the narrator, believes himself to be omniscient, but has a fascination with the main character’s penchant for “stealing” books. He alternates between dream-like fugues and a unique way of describing events. 

#14: BOOK BIRTHDAY FOR THE ART OF THE SWAP
by Kristine Carlson Asselin on February 13, 2018

portraitThis post celebrates the book birthday of THE ART OF THE SWAP, co-authored by Kristine Carlson Asselin and Jen Malone. It’s fascinating to learn how the idea for this historical fiction/time traveling tale came about, as well as how the writing process worked between these two authors and friends.

THE ART OF THE SWAP began as a small kernel of an idea I had five years ago as I toured a mansion in Newport, Rhode Island with my family. Passing the door to the caretaker’s apartment, I mused to my then ten-year-old daughter how cool it would be to be a caretaker for a gilded age mansion. 

#15: SHAPE YOUR STORY, PART ONE: SUMMON THE PRIMARY TEACHER IN YOURSELF by Carrie Charley Brown on July 31, 2018

1. PriscillaCover copy (1)Carrie Charley Brown wears many hats: picture book writer, teacher, mom, and ReFoReMo coordinator together with author Kirsti Call. Her knowledge of picture books is extensive, and her way of breaking a story down to its base elements is easy to understand and emulate. Here’s an excerpt:

The basic story elements covered in first grade are as follows: MAIN CHARACTER, SETTING, PROBLEM, RESOLUTION. Let’s plug in five basic words with these elements so your story arc will begin to take shape: SOMEBODY, WANTED, BUT, SO, THEN

#16: WRITING FOR EVERY CHILD: AVOIDING THE PITFALLS OF ‘THE CHOSEN ONE’ IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE by Dianna Sanchez on October 30, 2018

admin-ajax.php-smallerAuthor Dianna Sanchez, also known as Jenise Aminoff, explains why the heroes she writes about are ordinary characters thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Here’s an excerpt from this entertaining post:

I can’t count the hours I spent staring into a mirror, wishing I had red hair and green eyes like Eilonwy, the feisty princess in Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles.

#17: NOTES FROM BTAF18!
by Rebecca Ketling on September 25, 2018

intro_authorsIn this informative post, reader, writer, and librarian Rebecca Ketling provides a detailed account of her experience at the 2018 Boston Teen Author Festival. Sign me up for BTAF19! Here’s an excerpt:

The Boston Teen Author Festival (BTAF18) opened its doors to more than 600 lit-crazed readers and writers this past Saturday and I was lucky enough to be one of them. 

#18: THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIES OF GETTING LOST IN THE LIBRARY
by Josh Funk
on August 31, 2018
_Lost in the LibraryLast in my 2018 Review is author Josh Funk’s post about his 8th (!!!!) picture book. It’s worth a trip to New York just to see the real Patience and Fortitude, and it’s fascinating to learn how Josh came to write about the famous pair. Here’s an excerpt:

LOST IN THE LIBRARY: A STORY OF PATIENCE & FORTITUDE is the first picture book about Patience and Fortitude, the two lion statues that faithfully guard the New York Public Library.

goodbye 2018 and hello 2019
That’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed this sampling of Writer’s Rumpus posts from 2018. I wish all our readers, writers, and illustrators a joyous 2019, filled with love, laughter, and creativity galore. Happy New Year!!

16 comments

  1. Fantastic post, Laura! I’ll be rereading many of these great topics, for sure (thanks for including one of my posts, too 🙂 ). And what a wonderful illustration choice at the top–LOVE it. Happy New Year to everyone connected to Writers’ Rumpus, whether they be contributors or blog followers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Marcia: so glad you liked it! Your Happy New Year wishes for our readers and writers was absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much!

      Like

    1. Dear Joyce, you are quite welcome. I’m still noodling around starting a website or blog. I’ll definitely let you know if/when it goes live. I marvel at all the wonderful posts on Writer’s Rumpus, and look forward to continued inspiration in 2019.

      Like

  2. Laura,
    Loved reading your Writers’ Rumpus Review! I found it informative and fun! Love the way you highlighted the many things that are needed when writing a successful book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Judy,
      Thank you for reading this – I’m glad you enjoyed it! We are so lucky to have such a talented group of authors contributing to Writer’s Rumpus. Best wishes for a wonderful 2019!!

      Like

    1. Thanks, Kim! I felt like a kid in a candy store – scratch that – make that a bookstore, with so many awesome posts to choose from. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2019!

      Like

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