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 25, 2012

Writing - An Art of Patience

Have you ever seen a little kid write? They speed through in order to get to their favorite part - writing the words THE END. Often those two words take on such meaning that they cover all the remaining space on their paper. I've seen young writers spend more time writing The End then they did writing the rest of their words.

One of my first jobs working with third grade writers? Making sure they never write The End again.

Writing is a process. A process that takes a very, very, very long time. From idea to completion can take weeks, months, even years. And when you want to be a published writer, not only are you waiting for yourself, you wait for a lot of others.

Waiting for your critique group to finish their critique.
Waiting for an agent to respond to your query with a request.
Waiting for response to your partial or full.
Waiting for an agent to say "yes."
Waiting for your contract.
Waiting to share the news.
Waiting for your agent's editorial letter.
Waiting for your agent to tell you you're ready for submission.
Waiting for editors to respond to submissions.
Waiting for an editor to say "yes."
Waiting for your contract.
Waiting to share the news.
Waiting for your editor's editorial letter.
Waiting for your editor to accept your revisions.
Waiting for that final book birthday that turns you from writer to published author.

Is your head spinning? Mine is.

My point and my advice, learn patience. And make sure to find a group of writers to support you through this process. You will be doing a lot of waiting, but waiting is a lot more fun when you are waiting with friends.

Blog post update: My friend, the talented author Sarah Darer Littman, recently sent me a song to get me through the waiting. Here it is:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Cleaning

It's Spring, which means it's time for Spring cleaning. While I'm cleaning out the closets and shelves for the things I don't use anymore, I've decided it may also be time to clean the messiest area in my world - my document folders.

I'll admit it - when it comes to drafts I am a hoarder. I'm pretty sure I still have every version of every story I've ever written. Each time I think of deleting a document or throwing out a hard copy I hesitate. What if I need an idea from it later on? 

I'm getting to a point where the drafts have become meaningless. I have so many versions I wouldn't even know where to look for an old idea. 

Hmm. Maybe I don't need to delete them, I just need a better filing system!

What do you think? Should I continue hoarding or press delete? What do you do?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Productive Praise

Some writers keep their words to themselves until that first draft is written. I take the opposite approach. When I am dreaming up a new idea or getting started on a project, I talk, I share, I expose myself to criticism. 

I need feedback. I want to know how other people experience my words. I don't necessarily change based on criticism, but I store the feedback and evaluate it, and use it when it fits. 

But sometimes, especially now that I am at the end of a project, I don't mind it when a critique partner says, "You did a great job, Stacy and, based on the journey I've been with you in the various incarnations of this story, you have become a fine writer." No comments in the margins, no red marks, no suggestions. Just a bit of support to think back on as we start to put this story out into the world. 

At a recent workshop I attended on giving feedback, we discussed the merit of the words, "Great job." Do they really mean anything? But if those words come after months (or years) of watching a manuscript grow from an idea to a truly completed piece, I think saying, "Great job," isn't just okay, it's productive. It means that after all the toil and strife, you've finally gotten it right. That's helpful to know too. After all, as writers we have it in us to revise forever. At some point we need that great job to help us put the work down.

What do you think of the words, "Great job?" What kind of feedback do you like to get on your writing?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We have a winner!

Thank you to Cindy Rodriguez for participating in my class' writing contest. They enjoyed your story and score it a 12 (the highest they can receive on the CMT). They felt it was fun and it made them laugh. They liked your choice of exotic animals. They could really picture it in their mind. In fact, they would like to see it made into a picture book.

So what has Cindy won? She can either send in five pages for critique (from me or one of my third graders) or we will send her a copy of one of their favorite books. Those of you who haven't won may want to look at this list to see what third graders are reading.

Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid)
Origami Yoda
Darth Paper
The Littles and the Lost Children
How to Train Your Dragon
The Chronicles of Narnia
Dork Diaries: A Not So Talented Pop Star
My Life in Middle School
Rule of Three
Swiss Family Robinson
LuLu and the Brontosaurs
Eye of the Storm
Bigger than a Breadbox
The Puppy Place: Buddy
The Runaway Dolls
The Kane Chronicles
Sun and Spoon
A Mouse Called Wolf
The Twits
Gulliver's Travels
This Mistmantle Chronicles
The Witches
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Marty McGuire

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's Contest Time

Actually it's testing time. Next week my third graders will start taking their first Connecticut Mastery Test. In 45 minutes they will have to write a story with an interesting introduction, elaborated middle that builds suspense, a resolution, and an extended ending.

So today we are challenging you to do the same.

The rules: 
- You must write to the prompt.
- You may only take up to 45 minutes (including 5 minutes of planning time).
- Your story can be no more than 700 words.
- Your writing MUST be appropriate for third grade readers.

Writers of all ages may apply.

Post your stories in the comment section of this post before 7 am Eastern Time on Monday, March 5. We will read the stories on Monday and determine the winner. The winner can either chose a critique of 5 page from me (or from one of my third graders if you'd prefer) or we will send you a favorite middle grade novel chosen by the class.

Are you ready? Here's the prompt:

Imagine you are walking down the street when suddenly you feel a tug on your shoulder. You turn around and see a baby elephant. Tell a story about what happens.

Remember, only 45 minutes including planning time. We're looking forward to reading your stories.