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).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Year in Books

Here's my reads for 2014 in the order that they were finished. What did you read?

1. Heven is Paved with Oreos by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
2. Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles
3. Odessa Again by Dana Reinhardt
4. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
5. Crown of Midnight by Sarah j. Maas
6. In the After by Demitria Lunetta
7. The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
8. Jinx by Sage Blackwood
9. Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
10. The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale
11. Teardrop by Lauren Kate
12. The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
13. City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
14. Prophecy by Ellen Oh
15. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
16. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
17. Lady Thief by Kay Hooper
18. Infinite by Jodi Meadows
19. Dangerous by Shannon Hale
20. Reboot by Amy Tintera
21. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
22. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
23. Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
24. Altered by Jennifer Rush
25. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
26. Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
27. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
28. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
29. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
30. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman
31. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
32. Frostbite by Richelle Mead
33. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
34. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
35. Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
36. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
37. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
38. The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
39. The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
40. The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
41. Pivot Point by Kasie West
42. The One by Kiera Cass
43. Free to Fall by Lauren Miller
44. White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout
45. Breathe by Sarah Crossen
46. Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout
47. The Finisher by David Baldacci
48. Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
49. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
50. Numbers by Rachel Ward
51. The Chaos by Rachel Ward
52. Infinity by Rachel Ward
53. Made for You by Melissa Marr
54. Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
55. Unfriended by Rachel Vail
56. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
57. Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre
58. The Iron Trial by Holly Black
59. This is Your Afterlife by Vanessa Barneveld
60. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
61. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
62. Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
63. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
64. The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Saturday, August 23, 2014

SCBWI Summer Conference Day 2

Keynote: Justin Chanda - The State of the State of the Industry
I have been to a number of state of the industry talks but it was worth hearing one given by Justin Chanda. He made us chuckle and out right laugh as he drove home the idea that it is impossible to write to trends because the trends that you need to write for have not become trends yet. Favorite quotes: "The industry follows the readership as they get older, but they also get born." "We are in a cyclical business and trends and undeniable and unpredictable." "Our job is to create great books. Let the trends take care of themselves."

Agents Panel - What Hooks Me
There was a lot of great information shared by the agents on this panel. I wrote down one quote from each agent that explains what they need their first thought to be when reading a manuscript or query in order to request that manuscript.

Sarah Davis - "I'm hooked by ambitious writers."
Steven Malk - "Classic."
Erin Murphy - "Authenticity." 
Alexandra Penfold - "I want to feel."
Rubin Pfeffer - "Potential."
Linda Pratt - "I need somebody on a page."
Laura Rennert - "Character driven page turner."

Keynote: Aaron Becker - Some Adjustments Were Made Along The Way: One Artists Journey
Aaron Becker shared his journey in creating Journey. He talked about the importance of taking risks, recognizing what you need to be happy, and finding SCBWI.

Breakout: Bruce Coville - Plot, Character, and the Emotional Life of a Story
Bruce Coville
Bruce Coville's breakout focused on the intersection between plot and character. "How can you care about what happens if you don't care about who it happens to." Bruce Coville made his point by telling us a story and even jumping up on a care to share some of that story's storytelling energy. According to him, there are two storytelling energies. The male energy is is action, adventure, instant. The female is relationship, reaction, and language. The best book puts their two energies together to make "A good story, well told."

Meeting Regional Attendees
In order to take a conference home with you, it is important to try to find members of your local tribe. On Saturday, the three New England RT members at the conference; Kathy Quimby Johnson, RA Northern Region, Denise Ortakales, Regional IC (Illustrator Coordinator) and me, ARA Critique Group Coordinator, grabbed a spot by the pool to meet some of ours.
Stacy Mozer, Kathy Quimby Johnson, and Denise Ortakeles
We met some members from around New England and also attracted some former New Englanders who are now living other places in the world but who still think of themselves as New Englanders at heart.

Kathy Quimby Johnson talking to New England Members.
We hope we will see them again at local events.

Keynote: Maggie Stiefvater - A Thief & Artist: Stealing Stories from Life
Maggie Stiefvater talked about how to make fantasy what you know by stealing the soul of your character from real people. If she steals the soul well, and adds new details, she creates a new noise. She calls this "Solving for x." The character then becomes better than real, it becomes hers.

Keynote: Megan McDonald - Writer, Wrestler, Stutterer, Spy: Finding Your Voice As A Writer
Megan McDonald's keynote was about finding your splinter. Favorite quotes: "Write the truth of the story and see where it takes you." "Start with the common place and ordinary." "If you listen to your own voice, unknown friends will come and find you."

With all these amazing information under my skin, I left the conference to go and upstairs and write but the activities weren't over yet.

2014 Poolside Gala Tomie DePaola's 80th Birthday Bash - A Night in Old Italy.
Before attend the LA conference, I had no idea how much writers like to party! The theme was A Night in Old Italy and costumes were encouraged.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SCBWI Summer Conference - Behind the scenes and Day 1

This summer more than 1200 people from 20 countries descended on the Hyatt Century City Hotel in Los Angeles for the SCBWI International Summer conference. For the first time, I was one of them.

Behind the scenes
As an ARA (assistant regional advisor) from New England, my conference started on Wednesday with a pre-conference dinner at Stephen Mooser's house. I met many of the RT (regional team) members that help to run SCBWI around the world.

Stephen Mooser
The job of the RT is to provide support and community to the local regions. On Thursday we met and told stories about things we are doing and shared things we could be doing. RT members are volunteers who balance the work in their regions with their own writing and families. They're a pretty amazing group.

In the afternoon we had more training as RT members and as conference volunteers. We also had a chance to meet all the people in the SCBWI office that support us and put the conference together.


Conference Day 1
The next morning I tried not to feel overwhelmed in a room as big as a sports stadium. There were about the same amount of people as at the New York conference, but somehow this conference felt bigger, grander.
Conference Ballroom

Fortunately I found my New York conference tribe.
Kim Sabatini, Jodi Moore, and Stacy Mozer
After an always entertaining welcome from Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser, the conference began with the march of the conference faculty. Each person gave one word of inspiration to the room of attendees. Some of my favorites were enthusioserverence, lacuna (an unfilled space or gap), rhema (utterance), and fluffernutter (a sandwich with peanut butter and marshmallow).
Conference Faculty Dancing In

Keynote: Meg Rosoff - Warning, Peter Rabbit May Be Harmful to Your Health
Meg Rosoff shared a realistic version of the story of Goldilocks to make a point about storytelling. Without imagination it would be a sad tale of a girl lost in the woods who gets eaten, a tale told brilliantly, but still horrifying. There are people in the world doing actual studies on the harmful affects of fairytales on young minds. But Meg Rosoff reminded us of the importance of imagination and the fact that, "no story we make up can be stranger than the truth."

Breakout: Lamar Giles - The Incredible Shrinking Novel - Writing the Synopsis
Lamar Giles
Author Lamar Giles learned the importance of writing good synopsis the hard way, when he lost the chance to have his book turned into a movie because he was unable to write one (by the end of the day). Since then he has learned to approach synopsis writing mathematically, recognizing that if a synopsis needs to be written in one page at 12 point font, it would equal 40 lines. He gave tips for how to shrink the novel into those 40. Some key points: don't squeeze in every character, include all major events and spoilers, don't include dialogue, scene description, or even character description.

Keynote: Judy Schachner - Thinking in Pictures: My Storytelling Process
After lunch, Judy Schachner took us through her storytelling process, becoming her characters by switching accents in the middle of sentences as she turned from Bostonian to Raccoon. She shared a strategy for brining her characters and settings to life, which she called her bibles. Each one was full of magazine cut outs, quotes, sketches, pieces of fabric, and anything else that made the character or setting real.

Keynote: Stephen Chbosky - How to Write Your Timeless Classic (or Die Trying)
Stephen Chbosky was not there to share his process, he was there to motivate us to write our novel. Some of my favorite quotes, "It is not up to an editor or agent to tell you who you are." "Inspire yourself to be better than you've ever been." and "If you do it for you, you do it for the world."

Breakout: Megan McDonald - Creating and Shaping A Believable Character
Stacy Mozer and Megan McDonald
As a third grade teacher and the mom of a daughter who just finished third grade, I spent my year with Megan McDonald's characters as my students explore her Judy Moody and Stink series. I was thrilled to meet her in person. Megan McDonald IS Judy Moody and Stink, since both characters are taken from aspects of her childhood. "Your character comes from your own wants and dreams. They can do what you can't." Megan spoke about how to use your own life without retelling your life. She called it, "flipping facts." She was the youngest in a family of girls so Judy is the oldest and has a brother. She also showed us how giving your character an object and then thinking about the backstory to why the character has that object can add depth to your character. Using an example from the first Judy Moody story, she explained that when she had Judy want to get a Hedda Get Betta doll she created a character who wanted to be a doctor, who collected bandaids, and whose hero was Elizabeth Blackwell. By figuring out what the character wants and why, the character starts becoming real.

The first day ended with a diversity panel and PAL booksale. I was so excited to meet Karen Avivi, the  author of the book Shredded and the winner of the SCBWI Spark award. Karen is a fan of my blog, Sporty Girl Books and even gave us a shout out during a magazine interview. Make sure to check out more about Karen on Sporty Girl Books.
Karen Avivi and Stacy Mozer

It was an amazing first two days. Summaries of days 2 and 3 will be coming soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Summer Book Recommendations for Middle Graders

We are very lucky at my school to have our local librarian, Kathy Jarombek, come to give the third - fifth graders a list of great summer reads. Here are the books the Perrot Library recommends for this summer:

DOLL BONES by Holly Black
DREAMER WISHER LIAR by Charise Mericle Harper
FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo
ODD WEIRD AND LITTLE by Patrick Jennings
OPERATION BUNNY by Sally Gardner
ROOFTOPPERS by Katherine Rundell
ZANE AND THE HURRICANE by Rodman Philbrick

I can't wait to get started reading! What would you add to the list? Any middle grade books you want to read this summer? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

How fast do you read?

My friends are always commenting on how fast I read. According to this test, I am extremely fast. At 1000 words correct per minute with 100% accuracy, I am only 500 words correct per minute less than a speed reader. 

How fast do you read? Do you think the speed a person reads matters?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Playing in the Sandbox

This weekend I joined my agent Linda Epstein and a number of her other clients at Glen Cove Mansion for a day of writing, critiquing, and practicing craft (while getting to know some really amazing people).

One of the topics of conversation was online presence, which was a timely topic for me since my domain name stacybarnettmozer.com was lost today due to a Google glitch. Instead you can now find my website at stacymozer.com and while this blog is mostly for writers and adults to read, the website will be my author page where I can put content for kids about my books.

And the best part about it - until I sell a book, it won't need updates. So let's hope I have to update it very, very soon.

Yes, I am holding someone's teeth.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Making the Most of Feedback - From Kids

As a writer who is also a teacher and a mom of the age group I write for, I often read my work for kids. But kids aren't always the most reliable sources of information. While they can be brutally honest, they also get out of being descriptive by telling you they like things they don't. Here are a few tips to getting honest feedback from kids.

1. Give them permission to hate it
If you are reading to kids, make sure that they know it is okay not to like what you are reading to them. Make sure that they understand that you want their honest feedback because it will make your writing better. Sometimes that's all it takes for them to tell you want they really think.

2. Reactions speak louder than words
Do they laugh at the right parts? Do they groan when you want them too? Kids can control what they say (for the most part) but their reactions come naturally. Make sure to watch and listen when you are reading. I always know when my words have fallen flat when my class starts fidgeting.

3. Be specific
Don't just ask, "So what do you think?" Ask questions about your characters and plot. The more specific you are, they more you'll know if they have been following you. Ask questions such as, "If there is one thing you would change about what I just read, what would it be?" 

4. If you have to explain it, something's missing
As in any critique, make sure not to justify your work. Listen to what the kids have to say. If there is something they didn't understand, don't explain it. Think of ways to clarify the idea in your writing.

No matter what kids think of your writing, remember that information is for you, not for the agent or editor you query. For more query writing tips, make sure to check out this recent post by Chuck Sambuchino that includes advice from my agent, Linda Epstein.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resolution

The end of 2013 was a very busy time for me. Here's what I have been up to:

1. I wrote a new novel, revised it, and sent it off to my agent. Yipee!

2. I started a group blog called Sporty Girl Books and have been posting on that blog twice a month.

3. I started a new school year which came with a whole slew of common core related changes. 

4. I continued my work as New England Critique Group Coordinator and started at least six new groups for writers in the NE area.

5. I coached my daughter's soccer team (for more on that you can read my last post on Sporty Girl)

The one thing I let go in all this has been this blog. I am therefore resolved in 2014 to go back to posting twice a month. 

What are you resolved to do this year?