This is the blog of children's book author and elementary school teacher, Stacy Barnett Mozer. I blog about my own writing journey, the journey of other kidlit authors, my classroom, and talk about books. Thanks for stopping by. Your thoughts are always welcome (and encouraged).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Twitch

Nice Mommy/Evil Editor, Anglea James, has a great post this week called, "What can Twitter do for your pitch?"

In a nutshell, she recommends practicing your pitch (or twitch) on twitter to take advantage of the 140 character limit. By limiting the number of characters you can use, you have to get rid of the garbage and get down to what really matters.

She says, "But what I’m getting at is that it’s important to be able for authors to refine your book to its purest hook. The conflict, the angst, the info that’s going to make a reader, editor or agent want to pick it up to read, go find an excerpt, request a full or keep reading your query letter."

(One side note: She clearly states that one should never actually send this twitch TO an agent of editor directly. Too tacky.)

So, my twitch: 10yo Zoey would do ANYTHING to save her parent's marriage. But can a carsick mosquito-phobe survive a cross country camping trip?

How'd I do? Would you read it?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Results of Critique

In my last post I wrote about handling critique. Now I have to face reality... My WIP is a quiet story about two sisters who go on a camping trip, not an epic journey across America.

* Great dialogue
* Well developed family relationships
* Beautiful setting description
* Interesting supporting characters
* Well-written small moments

* Main character isn't distinct
* It's an adventure story without much adventure

How did this happen?
Well, the story is based on a camping trip I took with my own family in 1982. While I changed some characters, introduced new characters, and changed the motivation behind the trip, I had so much fun researching the real trip that I forced the story line into the setting instead of allowing the story to take its own path. My story map was an actual map made on mapquest.

What to do now?
Take to re-plot, rethink, and get to know my character a bit better. Why is she on this trip?

And then?
And then I can decide if this is a story I need to tell or if the book is just a memory best written for my own family.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Handling Critique

How do you handle critique? Do you go back and change everything based on the advice? Do you give up on the project or completely rip your work apart? Or do you take it with a grain of salt and realize that everyone has different tastes?

I tend fall someplace in between. When I am critiqued, I listen carefully to both what the critiquer is saying, and to what they aren't saying. Sometimes facial expressions and tone give you better feedback then the actual words. After listening, I ask questions. Some questions are based on their feedback. Others may be things I want to know about the manuscript that weren't said.

Once I've collected all of the feedback, I take some time to process everything I've heard. Sometimes I have an immediate plan of action. Other times it takes a few days before I decide what to do. In either case, the process helps me make decisions about my manuscript that I am comfortable with.

And, while it usually leads to weeks of careful revision and the loss of many words, the manuscript keeps getting better... which is the whole point, isn't it?

Thursday, March 5, 2009


If you are still wondering whether or not to get a twitter account, visit #queryfail. Initiated by agent Colleen Lindsay of Fineprint Literary Management, agents from different agencies used twitter to post some of the worst lines from queries they have actually received.

Even if you don't learn anything by reading it (and if you are an unpublished writer looking for an agent, try to learn something), reading through the ridiculous and downright peculiar things people have written should brighten your day and hopefully make your own query look a lot more promising.

For more on the agents who were on twitter today visit Colleen Lindsay's Blog.

For myself, I can't wait until they do it again. Even if it did mean that I opened twitter today to find 202 unread messages.

Monday, March 2, 2009

First Chapter Woes

For me, writing the first chapter is the hardest part. That doesn't mean that my first chapters don't turn out well eventually, but if I had a counter on the amounts of times each part of my manuscript faced revision, I would probably find that my first chapter takes the majority of my revision time.

Here is some I've liked or used:
- Start with the most exciting moment.
- Start with something shocking.
- Write the book then delete chapter one (and sometimes two).

Here are some web links about creating first chapters:
Writing the First Chapter
19 Articles about First Chapters
All Kinds of Writing
Children's Books: Writing Great Beginnings

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What next?

This week I've been struggling with what to write next now that revisions are done (for now) on my NaNoWriMo project. The hardest part, at least for me, is deciding between the old, the very old, and the new. Fortunately so far the decision has been made for me. Not by someone external, but by the story itself screaming at me in my sleep. So, come on characters, wake up and scream at me. Please!