It's only February, and I'm already wondering how I will make it through the cold and snow. And I don't even live in the northern reaches of our fair state. My balaclava is off to the Yoopers. Wait, I need to put that back on--my nose is cold.
But while I am sitting at the computer, huddled in my wool sweater, scarf around my neck, feet stuffed inside shearling slippers, this is a good time to reflect on how to avoid cabin fever. I've got a plan.
First, build yourself a fire and make s'mores. I find that to goo-ify the inside of the marshmallow and put just the right level of singe on the outside, tossing old drafts of my novel onto the logs creates the perfect inferno.
Next, without having to venture through the latest snow-plow pyramid at the end of the driveway to get to the library, load about 20 children's books onto your Kindle, for research of course. Be sure to include all the current award winners so that you can read their genius prose and sob about how you will never measure up and how big a hack you are. So cathartic--trust me.
Last, at least once a week, wrap yourself in a camo Snuggie, stare out the window at the happy little winter creatures galavanting about with such abandon, and come up with a little writing exercise about them. Here's my latest: I am so grateful not to be a stupid squirrel hanging upside down from the screen on someone's bedroom window in order to scavenge his (oh yes, I could tell) dinner from the eaves under a walnut tree.
Uh-oh. Looks like the bonfire needs some more fuel. Off to toss in that draft that my crit group skewered.
Sincerely, Jennifer Whistler Editor
Kiddie Litter by Neal Levin
Correction: In the November 2010 issue of The Mitten, Kiddie Litter's caption was omitted. It should have read, "Goldilocks and the Three Beers." Our apologies to Neal.
|Newsletter Logo Contest Winner|
Congratulations to Elizabeth McBride. She sent in the winning entry for the newsletter logo contest. Her design suggestion will make its official debut in the May issue of the newsletter. For her efforts, Beth has won an SCBWI-MI logo padfolio and a one-year extension to her newsletter subscription. Thanks to everyone who entered.
Hugs and Hurrahs & Opportunities Columns Editor:
|To subscribe to the SCBWI-MI Newsletter, contact:
1013 N. Pleasant
Royal Oak, MI 48067
or email her here.
SCBWI-MI newsletter subscriptions are $10 for one calendar year ($15 for non-members).
CHARACTER ARCHETYPES FOR TEEN ROMANCE
PART II--FEMALE ARCHETYPES
by Mindy Hardwick
Good girl loves bad boy. Captain of the baseball team loves the school's artist. What do these familiar character types have in common? They are all archetypes. What is an archetype? An archetype is a universal element of character that an audience is predisposed to recognize. All of our memorable characters have their roots in an archetype framework. For example, Lucy in The Peanuts is a Boss archetype while The Beast in Beauty and the Beast is a Lost Soul archetype. Understanding character archetypes is helpful because it can help inform us how a hero or heroine thinks, feels, what drives him and how he reaches his goals. And, most importantly, an archetype gives our reader a character they will recognize!
So, who are these teen archetypes?
The Boss--She takes charge and makes things happen. She is outspoken, resourceful, and persuasive. The Boss values getting ahead, but when it comes to her own personal relationships, she is a loss. Like her male counterpart, The Chief, The Boss is the captain of the debate team, captain of the basketball team, AND the school body president. She has little interest in other girls, and won't be caught gossiping about the latest boys or fashion.
The Seductress--The seductress is a survivor. She can turn on the charm whenever she wants. The girls hate her, and the boys love her. But, the Seductress never gives away her heart. Instead, she uses her charm to control others. She's clever and manipulative and may seem more like the villain than a heroine--unless you remember this girl is trying to survive. She's learned early on that appearances were the most important thing to getting what she wants, and will do nothing to stop at getting what she wants.
Spunky Kid--She is a cheerleader who is always grinning. She likes everyone and everyone likes her. She loves to be part of a team, and always puts the group ahead of herself. She's the girl all the boys think of as a pal, or little sister. The Spunky Kid is reliable and has a strong sense of humor. She might be the girl next door who is always willing to lend a hand. She's the first one to sign up for the volunteer clean-up-the-school-courtyard parties, and is the one who is cheering everyone on. This girl is loved by her parents and her home life is steady and stable.
Free Spirit--This girl is high-spirited and energetic. She may be just a bit impulsive and sometimes others call her meddling, although she'll tell you that she had good intentions! She has a strong sense of individuality and often can be found inspiring everyone's mischievous ways. The Free Spirit loves pranks, and can often be found leading the pack in practical jokes, and fashion.
The Waif--The Waif often has experienced trauma, but has managed to keep her spirit pure and in-tact. The Waif is trusting and a child at heart. She wants more than anything to have a home, but instead you might find her living in a teen homeless shelter. Although The Waif appears to be innocent, she is often very intelligent. The Waif stands apart as an observer and sees other things people miss. This is the girl who quietly brings in cans of food and places them in the empty box when no one else has remembered.
The Librarian--The Librarian is efficient and serious. She's a perfectionist, and may come from a family where her best defense was to keep her nose buried in a book and show her intelligence. She rarely fits into the mainstream due to her incredible intelligence, and can be found in a science classroom with the answers to every question. She's very rarely found at a school dance or on a date.
The Crusader--The Crusader is a fighter. She's more committed to a cause than her family or friends. Courageous and persuasive, this girl can be found planning walk-a-thons, canned food drives, and standing up to a bully. She doesn't date much because she's too busy saving the world, and believes that if it's not her fighting for her mission then no one will!
The Nurturer--The Nurturer is always taking care of everyone around her. She makes sure everyone else is happy before ever thinking of herself. She's a great listener, and others depend on her in a moment of crisis. The Nurturer is the girl in the neighborhood who is mothering the younger ones. If she doesn't have younger siblings of her own, she's down the street, helping out with the mother of three. Teachers depend on her as the peacemaker, and her classmates always call on her to settle a dispute.
Archetypes are not meant to be character formulas. We can't just lift an archetype off the page and insert it into our stories as this would result in dry and flat characters! However, archetypes can be a way to bridge the story world for our readers. So, the next time, you are writing a story, ask yourself how you might use a character archetype to help give recognizable shape to your characters.
Some examples of characters and their predominate archetypes:
The Librarian-Dewey Kerrigan-The Green Glass Sea, by Ellen Klages, Hermione in Harry Potter
The Crusader-Katniss-Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, or Tally in Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, Pretties, and Specials
The Free Spirit-Stargirl in Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Bad Boy-Danny-Grease
The Warrior-Edward in Twilight by Stephanie Meyers-Edward's integrity and commitment to not turn Bella into a vampire makes him fit the Warrior Archetype
The Best Friend-Ron in Harry Potter Series
The Professor-Artemis Fowl in Artemis Fowl Series
Mindy Hardwick is a member of the Western Washington chapter of SCBWI. This article first appeared in their newsletter, The Chinook, and is reprinted with permission of the author. It also appeared in Children's Writer, The Institute of Children's Literature newsletter, in August, 2010.
SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver
A NOTE FROM OUR FEARLESS LEADER, LIN OLIVER
Editor's Note: As you may have noticed, SCBWI has gone through a number of changes in the last few years. The international organization has revamped its website, expanded resources to help members improve their craft and their understanding of the industry, become more vocal in support of copyrights and other legal issues, and improved a host of services for its 22,000 members. The following letter from Lin Oliver, Executive Director of SCBWI, is another example of providing guidance.
Just for the sake of clarity, we thought it would be good for us to articulate the SCBWI policy towards self publishing. Many of you have asked if it is appropriate to have sessions containing information on self-publishing, and we hope the following will provide you with concrete criteria for making this and other self-publishing decisions.
The following spells out our current position:
- We are committed to preparing our pre-published members for publication, to meet the standards of quality that are represented by traditional publishers.
- We are committed to educating our members about self-publishing scams and predators, companies that do not offer appropriate services and charge unknowing authors and illustrators for services they can't or don't provide.
- We are committed to educating our members about the pros and cons of self publishing so they can make an educated choice. There are instances where self-publishing is a legitimate choice. However, we want our members to enter into that choice armed with full knowledge and appropriate expectations.
- SCBWI will continue to track the changes in the current state of publishing and apprise our members of new opportunities for them to prosper and advance their careers, whatever those opportunities may be.
- SCBWI does not oppose conference sessions which contain information on self-publishing, provided they present an accurate description and are not used as sales tools to solicit business.
Hope this is helpful.
by Wendy BooydeGraaf
Page After Page:Discover the Confidence and Passion You Need to Start Writing and Keep Writing (No Matter What!) by Heather Sellers
Writer's Digest Books, 2005.
Start the year getting inspired by Heather Sellers' Page after Page, a book about writing and the writing life. Heather Sellers teaches creative writing at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and her book reads like an entertaining writers' workshop. While not specifically for children's writers, Page after Page's inspirations often reach back to childhood for writing material.
With out-of-the-box chapter headings like "The Rents," "Compost," and "How to be Unpopular and Why," Sellers engages the writer within. Sage advice such as finding your own literature parents--a writer mom and a writer dad--to influence your work is kooky but helpful. My literary parent picks are Katherine Paterson and Stephen King. Just imagine their influence, not to mention the fun watching them interact with each other. A favorite chapter is "Dare to Suck," in which Sellers encourages us to write even when the writing is terrible because the actual writing will make us better writers and better people in the end.
Writing exercises follow each chapter, along with reminders to do them on paper, not in your head. On her website, Page after Page is listed as the "book for people who don't do the exercises in writing books." I confess she got me there, but after several reminders in the book, I did do several exercises on paper and gleaned a few story ideas in the process.
The best feature of this book is its ability to meet you where you are. Open the book at any point and read a bit. Then do the writing exercise. Page after Page will get your creativity flowing so you, too, can write page after page.
Wendy grew up in Canada as the youngest of six sisters, and found out the only way to be heard was to write.
|THE MUSE UNION|
by Monica Harris
My muse joined the local 612 Union and we're currently in contract negotiations.
I want her to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
She wants a five-day work week and a yearly three-week vacation.
I expect her to deliver complete plots, well-developed characters, and a potpourri of sensory vocabulary.
She states that my requests are beyond the regulatory muse job objectives and she is only required to deliver ideas.
I'd like a steady supply of inspiration to get me through my project.
She demands regular cigarette breaks, a two-hour lunch, and a comprehensive health care package.
I want my muse to pat me on the back when I've done well.
She points out that she's not my mother and I should get over it.
I'd like my muse to pick me up when I'm feeling low.
Anyone know an impartial arbitrator?
Monica and her Muse have been in heated negotiations for months, with no compromise in sight.
MICHIGAN SCRIBBLERS BLOG IS UP AND RUNNING--TAKE A LOOK!
If you haven't checked out SCBWI-Michigan's newest blog, what are you waiting for? Illustrators can improve their skills and add to their portfolios by participating in bi-monthly themed challenges. The inaugural challenge was It's a Nightmare Before Christmas. The current theme is There's No Place Like Home.
Share your voice, your vision, your fabulous artistic talents with other accomplished illustrators. Illustrate the theme, post the art and your contact info to the page, and wait for feedback via email or Facebook. Please make sure you're up to date on your membership with the SCBWI organization, and then email blog creator Lori Taylor
here for quick and easy information on how to post. To learn more, visit www.miscbwiscribblers.blogspot.com.
Check the Scribbler Blog regularly because, like you, we too are a work in progress.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
by Cathy Bieberich
From the beginning of time, or at least my time in SCBWI, I have only missed one conference. And, if Barack Obama hadn't been speaking at my daughter's graduation, I might have thought twice about missing that one.
These conferences are group therapy sessions for right-brained key losers and people who listen to the voices in their head. They are also, however, great opportunities for writers to learn more about their craft as well as spend time working on their latest masterpiece.
The SCBWI-MI Fall 2010 conference, Fantasy to Reality, was pivotal for me. Not only did I see Vicky Lorencen in fairy wings, and find myself strangely drawn to Gail Flynn's magic wand, I was able to attend two incredible breakout sessions.
The first, Darcy Pattison's novel workshop "Hero's Journey," was extremely practical. I have never been one to do a plot analysis prior to writing a novel. In Darcy's workshop, we used a blank chart to dissect the various plot points of our works in progress (or WIP). Darcy took the time to carefully explain what each step of the hero's journey was, and how it should look in our own novel. She stressed that most authors don't take the time in the beginning of their novel to establish their main character's ordinary life. They are too quick to jump into the inciting incident, thereby leaving their audience with a lack of connection to the main character. Although I've read The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structures for Writers* by Christopher Vogler several times, I've never applied it in such a practical manner. By looking at the plot events and pairing them with the protagonist's inner and outer conflicts, I discovered that my own WIP was a long way from being ready to submit.
I also attended Susan Chang's plot workshop. Attendees submitted a plot outline prior to the conference. Susan chose several outlines to critique according to the genre as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the outlines submitted. This workshop was not for the weak at heart. We learned that without a strong foundation, there is no novel. This means that your character arc is at least as important as your action plot. Also, if there is one element in your plot that is unbelievable, or one character that is weak, your novel will collapse. Susan asserted that an author must make a plot outline as he/she revises. If the plot doesn't make sense or flow in an outline format, then an editor won't even look at the first three chapters. Once the novel is in the outline format, an author should look for a strong foundation. You should also make sure that you don't have too much information in your basic frame. Susan's final piece of advice was that the plot should grow from the main character.
Now, just to put the value of these workshops in perspective for you, here's an interesting tidbit. Recently, I began taking courses toward my Master of Fine Arts. And what were some of the assignments I wound up doing in my first class? You guessed it: the very same exercises I had just completed with Darcy Pattison and Susan Chang. Just think--Master's level instruction at bargain basement prices. If that's not reason enough to hit up an SCBWI-MI conference, then I don't know what is.
Cathy is on her own hero's journey toward publication of her first novel. She insists that the work she did in these two workshops has helped in her current negotiations with a potential agent.
*Editor's Note: Darcy used several tools, including Vogler's book, in her breakout session.
The Mitten wants to know:
What do you take home
from a conference?
Charlie Barshaw, Ruth McNally-Barshaw, Cathy Bieberich, Vicky Lorencen, Groom Matt Faulkner, Bride Kris Remenar, Monica Harris, Jennifer Whistler
When Kris Remenar attended the SCBWI-MI's Fall 2008 conference, where Matt Faulkner was a presenter, little did either expect to meet their future spouse. The two exchanged vows on December 18 in Lake Orion. Sure beats a travel mug as a souvenir!
Lori McElrath-Eslick, just one of SCBWI-MI's talented illustrators, took home these four sketches (and many others) from the SCBWI-MI Fall 2010 conference. Thanks for sharing your vision, Lori.
Cute couple taking notes
|HUGS AND HURRAHS|
Ruth McNally Barshaw's Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School is this year's selection for Grand Rapid's "One Book, One City for Kids," a citywide reading program for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. There will be an "Oodles & Oodles of Doodles" party at the Grand Rapids Main Library on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. and at the Cook Library Center on March 25 at 4:00 p.m. She will also be at Pooh's Corner Bookstore on March 14 at 3:30 p.m. for a reception and book signing. For all the details, go to http://www.onebookforkids.org/programs.html. That is one impressive announcement, Ruth!
Janet Ruth Heller's essay, "Writing from Passion," appeared Oct. 28th on Her Circle Ezine, an online magazine for women. The essay discusses her writing career, including the inspiration for her picture book, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Sylvan Dell, 2006). To read Janet's essay, click on http://www.hercircleezine.com/?p=2457.
But wait . . . that's not all: Janet's poem "Pheasants Pace" was published in December 2010 in Berry Blue Haiku, an online journal for kids; her poems "Secrets," "Scar," "Your Dark Eyes," and "June Poem" were published in December's Paper Wasp: A Journal of Haiku; and her poem, "Picking Raspberries: Learning Perspective," appeared this fall in Wisconsin People & Ideas, and also in Encore in 2011. You're obviously still writing with passion, Janet!
Sarah Perry's picture book manuscript, Pajama Girl, was the grand prize winner for the Meegenius Contest. She received an ebook deal with Meegenius, and an Apple iPad!
In December 2010, Valerie Scho Carey's picture book, Harriet and William and the Terrible Creature (illustrated by Lynne Cherry, published originally by Dutton in 1985, and named a Children's Book of the Year by the International Reading Association and the Children's Book Council), was reissued in a new paperback edition by Create Space. It's good to see that the Terrible Creature lives on!
Lisa Rose Chottiner had two winning entries in www.LiteraryMagic.com's recent short story and poetry contests. Her short story "Cooking with Endangered Animals" took second prize, and her poem "Ain't No Dr. Suess" took third prize. Oh, the places you'll go, Lisa!
(Note: Events and opportunities are not necessarily sponsored or endorsed by SCBWI-MI. We try our best to list only high-quality notifications through reputable sources. Please confirm all information with the source whenever possible. )
Highlights' Chautauqua Writer's Workshop Scholarship Deadline: The workshop runs from July 16-23, 2011. For more details on the workshop and on the scholarship, go to www.highlightsfoundation.org.
For those who were not fortunate enough to attend the 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference January 28-30, you can follow the official blog, http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com. Rather get tweets? Use the official Twitter hash tag #NY11SCBWI. Enjoy it vicariously!
In honor of the 2500th anniversary of the running of the first marathon, the theme for the 2011 Networks Weekend is "Pace Yourself for the Big Race." What is Networks Weekend? It's an opportunity to informally meet up with others who love children's books as much as you do. You do not have to be an SCBWI member to attend, in fact, we encourage non-members to come and learn more about us. For information on scheduled locations around the state, visit www.kidsbooklink.org, or to host a Networks gathering, email Pat Trattles by clicking here.
Artifactory will host an event featuring local poets and historical notes by Tom Dietz, Curator of Research, on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at 1:30 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum in the Mary Jane Stryker Theater at 230 N. Rose St. in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Tom Dietz will be master of ceremonies and will summarize interesting aspects of area history related to the poems and the collections of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. Poets who will read their work are Bonnie Jo Campbell, Joe Heywood, Elizabeth Kerlikowske, Kathleen McGookey, Jennifer Sweeney, Nina Feirer, Bob Post, LaTricia Phillips, Jared Randall, Deborah Gang, Aaron Leis, Brooks Eisenbise, Marion Boyer, Marie Bahlke, Elaine Seaman, Jill Marcuse, Susan Ramsey, and Janet Ruth Heller. Many of these writers have published books of poetry and fiction. Co-sponsors of Artifactory are Friends of Poetry and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Tom Dietz at 269-373-7984.
Harold Underdown will be working with the Highlights Foundation to offer a unique revision workshop. He will introduce proven techniques for self-editing and for revising. The goal is not so much to revise a manuscript (though participants will) but to increase their ability to revise on their own or by working with other writers--thus reducing their need for help from workshops and critiques! Harold will be joined by children's book editor Eileen Robinson, who runs F1rst Pages. Harold and Eileen will be drawing on their experience working in-house as editors and running their Kid's Book Revisions workshop to help writers to think like editors.
The workshop is limited to twelve writers. Information and an application form can be found at www.highlightsfoundation.org. Or you may phone Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192, or e-mail Jo by clicking here, to request an application. For more information, you can visit
Harold's website, Eileen's website, or the workshop page of the Highlights Foundation website.
Crescent Moon Press's acquisitions editor Heather Howland is now accepting young adult submissions for their new line, which will launch summer 2011. They are looking for fantastic books with strong romantic elements in novel and novella-length submissions. Heather is looking for submissions with "plots she can lose herself in, heart wrenching romantic elements, writing to swoon over, and enticing characters she can't wait to psychoanalyze." For more information, click on www.darkangelwritingandreviews.com.
Silver Moon Press is looking for middle grade stories of mystery, adventure, and suspense during a significant historical period. They do not accept fantasy, sci-fi, or historical fiction containing either element. For guidelines, visit www.silvermoonpress.com.
Girls' Life Magazine is currently interested in original stories with fresh views on friends, school, relationship, and family issues pertaining to the younger, modern day teen demographic. Submit query by email by clicking here. Guidelines can be found online at www.girlslife.com.
Young Rider Magazine is interested in 800-1,000 word "horsey interest" realistic
stories. They prefer funny stories, with a bit of conflict, which will appeal to
the 13-year-old age group. They accept queries and may commission stories.
See guidelines at www.youngrider.com.
Literature for Kids is a brand new paying e-zine for stories, poetry and book reviews. Go to www.literature4kids.com for more information. (Editor's Note: As is the case when submitting to any start-up, submitting to this e-zine means taking a chance on its success.)
Guardian Angel Kids is a paying children's e-zine. For their 2011 theme list and guidelines go to www.guardian-angel-kids.com.
The Children's Writer Kindergarten Story Contest: The topic is family life or school for the kindergarten-aged reader (5-6). Entries must be received by February 28, 2011. Current subscribers enter free. All others pay an entry fee of $15, which includes an 8-month subscription. For more details, visit www.thechildrenswriter.com.
The Writers-Editors Network 28th Annual International Writing Competition: The categories are Nonfiction (published and unpublished), unpublished Fiction, Children's Fiction, and Poetry. It's open to both members and non-members. The deadline is March 15, 2011. Go to www.writerseditors.com for further information.
The 80th Annual Writer's Digest Competition: There are ten different catergories. The grand prize is $3000 in cash and a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York.
Please go to www.writersdigest.com for information.
The Brighton COW (Community of Writers) Contest: We will run four short story competitions in 2011. The deadlines are the end of February, May, August and November. Our main writing competitions have an open theme with a 3,000 word limit. There are three prizes to the top three winning writers of £100, £50 and £25. There will also be the opportunity for the stories to be published on our website as well as being recorded for broadcast on Brighton's Coastway Hospital Radio, which provides music and entertainment to a network of Brighton hospitals. The competition is just four pounds to enter, via PayPal or cheque, and the competition is open to writers worldwide. Stories can be submitted online along with payment or by post with a cheque. We will notify all entrants of receipt of their story. Each entry will be judged impartially and be read at least twice in full before judging decisions are made. We are planning some fun free-to-enter contests, too. Visit our website at www.brightoncow.co.uk for more information or to enter. You can also email Andrew Campbell-Kearsey by clicking here.
FEATURED BLOGS: "School Visits"
Alexis O'Neill, columnist for the SCBWI Bulletin's "The Truth About School Visits," has launched a new site to help children's authors & illustrators navigate the fun, but often confusing, world of doing school visits and public appearances. Explore by clicking on http://schoolvisitexperts.com.
Tanya Anderson, former editorial director at Darby Creek Publishing, has started a new company called School Street Media. They offer a new school-visit program, Author Visit Match, in which authors and illustrators can be found by educators wanting to book school visits. They offer a 50% discount for all SCBWI members. Click here http://schoolstreetmedia.net for more information about the company. Visit www.authorvisitmatch.com for information about the "matchmaking" service.