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, April 29, 2012

May Flowers with New Books

The month of May brings the promise of consistently warm weather and lots and lots of newly published books. Here are the ones I'm excited about:

May 1
Insurgent (#2 in Divergent trilogy) by Veronica Roth
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, Book Three) by Rick Riodan

May 8
City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare

May 10
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

May 22
The Enchantress (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel) by Michael Scott

Have I missed any? 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Because I knew you - NESCBWI 12

I spent most of this weekend in Springfield, MA, at the NESCBWI conference. On the way home, I listened to the soundtrack of Wicked in the car and heard the following words: 

I've heard it saidThat people come into our lives for a reasonBringing something we must learnAnd we are ledTo those who help us most to growIf we let themAnd we help them in return
After listening to it a few times (it's one of my favorite songs on the album) I realized that the words captured my feelings about attending this conference. 

I listened to a keynotes about finding meaning in the mess by Sara Zarr and was reminded that even though I am waiting for the milestone of being published, I can be proud of how far along on the journey I've come. 

Kate Messner gave her TED talk about having the courage to do the things worth doing, and I felt empowered to keep trying and not worry about things being too hard or too overwhelming. 

I spoke to authors about their journey and was reminded that becoming published took time for everyone.

But it wasn't just the keynote speakers, presenters, and authors who came into my life this weekend, it was also the conference attendees. At each meal, in the hallways, at events, and even in the elevator, I met writers. And after talking to them I was reminded that the waiting is not the hardest part. The hardest part is continuing forward after rejection. And everyone I met was doing that, no matter where they were on their journey.

Thank you to conference coordinators Kathryn Hulick Gargolinski and Joyce Johnson and to all the people I got to know this weekend. I probably don't know all of the ways I was touched by this conference. As the song ends:

 Who can say if I've been changed for the better?I do believe I have been changed for the better.And because I knew youBecause I knew youBecause I knew youI have been changed for good

I end my weekend changed for good. I hope many of you were helped by me in return. I can't wait to do it all again next year.

Peer Critiques

Conference Welcome

View from a lost balloon.
Independent Editor Panel 
Faculty Dinner
Wine and CHEESE!
Kate Messner talking TED

See you next year!


Friday, April 20, 2012

A Real Live Heroine

Meet Justine Siegel. Justine is the founder and administrator of Baseball for All, a non-profit organization that advocates both sexes be allowed to play ball. When I researched women baseball players, Justine's name came up over and over. Here's an article about her: Baseball: Making a Pitch for Women.

Hope to see some of you readers at NESCBWI 2012. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why did I write about a girl who plays baseball? - Part 2

I've always liked books about strong girls and women. Women who knew how to stand up for themselves and be leaders in their field or world. Women who fought for their rights, or their family, or for their life. Women like Meg from A Wrinkle in Time, Jo from The Little Women, and Princess Eilonwy from The Chronicles of Prydain. Women like Katniss from The Hunger Games, Kasta from Graceling, Alanna from The Song of the Lioness, and Tris from Divergent.

Women and girls who play baseball are those types of women. They aren't fighting in imagined worlds. They are fighting in real time, in our time, to play the sport that they love.

In February I wrote a post called, "Why write a story about a girl who plays baseball?" Today I'm updating that post with an article called Major League Baseball, Women, Augusta National, and Ball Size from Monday's Chicago Now blog (via @girlbaseball). If you are interested in this topic and what it's like for women playing baseball today, it's a great read.

Who are your favorite heroines? How do they compare with women and girls in the real world?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A happy holiday - or not

Today I was reminded that you can't always count on things working out the way you expect. We had a lovely seder with our family last night. Everyone got along, no big family dramas, food was great, and my son even impressed us all with his reading skills, in both Hebrew and English. Pretty good for a newly turned 9 year old. Tonight we planned to have some friends over for a family friendly seder with props and a Passover Play. The turkey was bought, the table was set, and the scripts were copied. We were all ready.

Then this morning we woke up to not one, but two, vomiting children. I guess they were deep into the holiday spirit and decided to experience a plague first hand. Either way, what was supposed to be a day of shul and friends, turned into... an enormous mess. Plans were cancelled, children felt aweful, and I'm exhausted.

So how does this relate to my writing life? Throughout the years I've been doing this I've made a lot of plans. I was absolutely sure that the first book I wrote was going to be published and that I'd be a big hit by now. Each rejection felt like a knife to the gut, or a day in the bathroom. But the more I've learned, the more I realized that everything that happens is a learning experience that brings around something new. Each rejection is a time to reflect, redirect, and move on.

So no, I didn't have a child friendly seder tonight. But I did get the chance to slow down and spend the day snuggled with my children. We watched movies, read books, and tried to make the best of a bad situation. The great thing about holidays, we always get a chance to try it again next year.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Passover, Easter, or weekend. May your holiday be filled with family and friends and hopefully be healthier than mine.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Outlining to revise

When I start a novel, I'm a pantser. I begin with voices and an idea and then go where the voices take me. And that works well... for a while.

But at some point going with it isn't enough, I have to figure out where the voices are leading and make sure I haven't left anything important unsaid. I have to outline.

I'm sure I just heard a collective grown. While there are writers out there who start with outlines, most that I've met don't. They worry that having an outline will take away their creativity or they get so bogged down in their outline that it hurts instead of helping their process. Here's a couple of things  I do to make it work for me:

1. Revise in Scrivener: Scrivener is an excellent program for outlining. I start by uploading my wip and breaking it up by chapter. It's really easy to do this on a mac. You just right click at the start of a chapter title or number and choose split at selection. Then I skim each chapter and write a short description that usually starts with the word, "Where..." Once I move back to cork board, I can look at all of these chapters and see what I have and what I don't. I rewrite the outline in the notes section on the side and then create some empty chapter folders for things that I need to add. I move anything I don't want to the trash, but that's okay because on Scrivener the trash is still there and can be looking at for ideas at any time.

2. Seek out the Plot Whisperer: The Plot Whisperer is this amazing woman named Martha Alderson who spends a lot of time thinking and writing about creating plots. She maintains a blog and twitter feed  also has books out on the subject. What really helps me is her youtube series. I watched the videos on my iPad while doing the exercises on my laptop. She breaks it down in a way that makes sense and I think anyone can follow the videos and find ways to make their book better.

Do you have any great outlining resources or ideas? Do you outline at all? Leave a comment below: