Monday, September 30, 2019

Cut & Paste

“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”   -- Truman Capote

Sometimes I miss my scissors. 

When I first started writing, part of my revision process involved cutting up parts of my manuscript. I'd lay the pieces out on the dining room table and rearrange them.  The scene where the guy is preparing two plants for breeding, for example, has to go after the explanation of why he's doing it, and a little history of plant breeding should go before that. Then I'd clip all the strips of paper together and go back to the keyboard. 

I know there is the cut and past function on the computer, but that isn't as satisfying as physically cutting the paper, seeing all the parts, not just half a page at a time.  And there's always that annoying glitch when the computer cuts more than you want, or pastes it in a weird place (maybe it's just my computer).

But I think Capote is referring to the idea of brevity and clarity -- using just the right word rather than a string of near misses. This is when you have to "kill your darlings," find your focus, and ask yourself, "What am I really trying to say?"  

It's only when you can answer that question that you can put your scissors away. 

Right now, on my current project, I'll keep the scissors handy. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Teachers - Inspire & WIN!

Ten years ago Vicki Cobb took a group blog INK (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids)  and turned it into an organization dedicated to providing quality nonfiction in the classroom - iNK Think Tank.  There are so many of us it is hard to keep count, but if it is nonfiction, it was likely written by an iNKEr.

My favorite aspect of iNK is the NONFICTION MINUTE, the daily posting of a short, fascinating true story that is sure to get students buzzing. You can learn about the Montgomery bus boycott, Morris code, how to make a 3-D image, or how to take an elephant's temperature. That last one, I wrote. Some of the best writing in children's lit can be found in 400 words or less for free.

To celebrate our tenth anniversary we are inviting you to INSPIRE US!.  Have your students brainstorm what they'd like to read about. Send us your top 3 ideas to:

If one of our award-winning writers chooses your idea, YOU WIN!!! a 20 minute virtual classroom visit with the author. (arrangements made between teacher and author). The luckiest classroom may win 3 author visits!  

Deadline for all submissions is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2019.

Good luck!!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Labor Day, Farmers!

This Labor Day look down at your plate and say thank you to the people who grew that corn, or raised that hamburger.  More than 1 million people work in farming, ranching or other agriculture-related fields in America. Without them we'd be eating weeds.

I'm going to celebrate with a few good books that are new for 2019:

Right This Very Minute by Lisl H. Detlefsen is the perfect reminder that right this very minute a farmer is working to put food on your plate.  It's the perfect read aloud book, too, with its repeated line.  Kids from 2-7 will learn about cranberry farming, dairy farming, ranching, and more. 

Popcorn Country, the story of America's Favorite Snack by Cris Peterson  is a photographic picture book that will have you melting butter before you even finish.  You'll learn the difference between field corn, sweet corn, dent corn, flint corn, Indian corn and popcorn. 

For older readers, check out my activity book George Washington Carver for Kids. I promise you'll discover something new about the guy everyone calls the peanut man.  This book is great for book reports that need a display, too.  There are plenty of options with 21 activities from setting up a welcoming committee in school to crafting a bowl from a dried gourd. 

Those are just 3 of the 2019 ag-related books that should be on a shelf near you. 

Happy Labor Day! YUM!