The Writers’ Rumpus 2019 Review

With so many wonderful Writers’ Rumpus posts to choose from, it’s always a delightful challenge to decide which to include in my annual review. The posts selected for this year’s review highlight the breadth of topics addressed by our talented 2019 contributors, with an enticing snippet from each. If a particular post captures your fancy, just click on the red date and you’ll be brought right to it. The blog is so easy to navigate, you can easily access any post – from 2019 or earlier – with a few taps of your keyboard. Without further ado, let the Writers’ Rumpus 2019 Review begin!

1) STAY ORGANIZED WITH QUERYTRACKER

I like to stay organized. Initially, I had a beautiful spreadsheet made in Numbers. It included headings such as: Date, Agent, Response Time. All of my notes were meticulously tracked (okay, I did my best), but in addition to querying, I was doing all of the heavy lifting. I don’t know about you, but staying organized takes time and energy.

2) MG BOOK REVIEW: THE GRAVE DIGGER BY REBECCA BISCHOFFempty-grave

THE GRAVE DIGGER (out Oct. 29, 2019!) is a middle grade historical mystery with a decidedly creepy bent. Twelve-year-old Captain Cooper is an ingenious inventor and a somewhat middling student with a surprising side hustle: at night, Cap works with his father and his father’s shady pal Lum, digging up corpses and selling them to nearby medical schools for dissection. Lum’s got connections, see? And he knows where to sell the bodies at top rates.

3) MEET #KIDLIT DEBUT
PICTURE BOOK AUTHOR, KIM CHAFFEE

CAROL GORDON EKSTER: Kim Chaffee joined our SCBWI critique group a few years back and was an instant shining light in her dedication to the craft, her talent and personality. I’m so excited to interview her here for her debut title which released on April 2nd, Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon.

4) BUILD YOUR WORLD USING INKARNATE

For years, when I first thought of a world, I would sketch the world in a notebook–everything from the countries to the cities. They were basic outlines, with messy mountains and haphazard rivers. They worked for awhile, but I dreamed of the day I could have a gorgeously drawn map. Recently, I found a website where I can build myself a professional-looking map. Inkarnate provides writers and creators with the tools they need to make their own map.

5) BOOK REVIEWS: CANDLEWICK PRESENTS KLASSEN AND BOMBOLAND

Imagine a child receiving this enticing boxed set. Furoshiki, the ancient Japanese art of wrapping gifts in beautiful, carefully folded fabrics comes to mind since the act of opening a well-designed package adds drama and an element of surprise. Similarly, the carefully made sturdy slipcase for Hat Box with its beveled edges and smooth creamy surface promise a treasure within.

6) INTRODUCING THE FIRST DEBUTS FROM NEW IN 19!

I’m so honored to be part of the group of debut picture book authors known as New in 19! And it’s here! 2019 is finally here and so are the first three books debuting from our group. I’m thrilled for these amazing authors and illustrators and I can’t wait for you to read their stories!

7) THROW AWAY YOUR WRITING
TO-DO LIST

There’s so MUCH to do and so LITTLE time and I can barely get my normal everyday stuff done let alone my writing responsibilities! I’ve had to give myself permission to focus on the kids and worry less about the writing. Yet, the writing beckons to me.  I can’t let it go. So when I listened to Brooke Castillo’s podcast, Throw Away Your To Do List, I knew I could apply it to my writing life.  Here’s how it works:

8) 8 BOOKS THAT BROKE THE RULES BRILLIANTLY

Before you bend or break the rules of writing for children, the generally accepted strategy is to learn the established rules first. But however these authors and illustrators dreamed up these groundbreaking book ideas, they executed them brilliantly. While none of these books are new, they deserve special recognition.

#9: ON THE WINGS OF MG:
TO CHINA AND INDONESIA

This July, two middle grade books took me on a journey to new countries with beautiful and authentic description of setting. As Jennifer Baker said at a recent NESCBWI conference, “How writers describe setting affects motivation and the telling of the story.” It is the author’s job to look past stereotypes to the beauty in foreign places and write the setting to celebrate that beauty.

10) REVIEW: HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE DARK #YA NOVEL
BY KATHLEEN GLASGOW51sCZGkPPKL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

People always say, “I loved that book. I couldn’t put it down.” But get this…I loved this book because I had to put it down. I was so invested in the main character Tiger Tolliver’s life on more than one occasion that I had to walk away and grieve with her. Thank God this was fictional. There are a thousand teens experiencing tragedy and trials like Tiger’s each and every day. I only hope they are as resilient as this main character. Maybe reading this story will bring them courage.

11) WRITERS’ RUMPUS GLOSSARY
OF PUBLISHING TERMS

Every field has its own jargon — words, terms, and acronyms that sound like a whole special language. Publishing is no exception. What’s a newbie to do? Or a not-so-newbie who’s still learning the language? Fear not! Here is a handy glossary of terms used in publishing and in the wider writing community. Thanks to all the 12×12’ers, Rumpus Writers, and others for suggestions

12) BLOG MASH-UP:
REFOREMO THINK QUICKreadingforresearch2019

The free online education offered during Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo) challenges writers to read picture books for writing research. Each weekday of March features an educational online guest presenter who discusses mentor texts from a new perspective.

13) A LAUNCH DAY ODE TO MY EDITORTheArrivalofSomeday_hc_c.jpg

Sure, authors get acknowledgement pages to wax poetic about all the many, many people who help turn a manuscript into an actual book, but sometimes an editor needs a dedicated shout-out all her own. This is mine to Alyssa Miele at HarperTeen, who is probably already cringing with embarrassment as she reads this first paragraph. (Ask me if I care—I have no chill about my fandom of her.)

14) HOW MEMORY CAN INSPIRE FICTION

The funny thing about memory is that it’s not always accurate or even complete. We remember moments, not whole days. Memories are often like snapshots, not movies that can be replayed. If you’re a writer, these snapshots—even if they aren’t complete pictures—can be a jumping off point for your fiction.

I hope you enjoyed the Writer’s Rumpus 2019 Review and wish you all a happy, healthy, creative New Year. If there are any blog posts you’d like to mention, from Writers’ Rumpus or elsewhere, please feel free to share in the comments section. Thank you!

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