My husband is a vocabularist. I don't even think that's a word, but that is what he is. He loves to use odd, old, funky, unusual words and phrases. I have a notebook on my nightstand to write down the vocabulary he uses, because I love to look back and have a good chuckle. His interjections are the best. When he hits his thumb with a hammer, he says "Sweet Mother McCready!" If something is surprising, he will say "Sweet Land o' Goshen!" He calls our children 'vermin' in a very loving way. Some days they are 'miscreants' or 'ne're-do-wells'. Luckily, our kids know their dad well, and also enjoy his vocabularist status.
Once, after reading a book on the importance of teaching kids vocabulary, I decided to shake things up a bit around the house. Instead of hollering, "Time for PJ's!", I changed it to "The hour has arrived to don your nocturnal attire!" My children said, "What?", and then got their PJ's on. This continued for months, and always brought a smile. We encourage them to be creative in their descriptive word choice, and we discuss words that fit any situation best. Building vocabulary is not just a subject reserved for school.
My oldest daughter wrote a paper for her college English class. She used the word 'plethora' and her professor made a big deal of it in front of the class. A fine example of excellent vocabulary choice in writing, he said. She was surprised, and responded with "Sweet land o' Goshen! Thanks!"
Learning to navigate the world of publishing is like learning to survive in the wild. You can take your skills with you, but you never know what you'll actually find when you get there. My writers group got a taste of survival skills this past week. Sandra Brug, a wonderful poet and storyteller, has recently learned that her picture book Soccer Beat was going to be re-released in paperback form. She learned this after sending a letter to her editor at Simon and Schuster requesting information about having the ebook rights returned to her. She was considering launching a personal ebook release. Instead of returning the rights to her, they decided to relaunch the book, which has been out of print in America for years. Needless to say, Sandra was thrilled. So at our meeting this week, we were discussing when her book would be available again. She'd received an email from the editor stating that they didn't know yet when it would be coming out, but when it did, it would be in a print on demand format.
Maurene Hinds, another excellent writer and writing teacher, pulled out her Droid and looked up Amazon. Sure enough - Soccer Beat by Sandra Brug will be released on September 21, 2012. That was in just a few days! We found it interesting that the editor didn't even know when it would be released, even though it was already in pre-order standing at Amazon. And Sandra wasn't even told! This news has obviously sent Sandra into a sudden blitz of blogging and linking and promoting.
Writers, we live in a whole new world. Information can drag for months and even years,or suddenly shift in a matter of moments. No more steady plodding through the writing and publishing process. Now we live the jumps and jerks and waits. Who knows what might happen next?
I highly recommend Soccer Beat by Sandra Brug. My sons and I fell in love with Soccer Beat when we checked it out from the library years ago. A few weeks later, my roommate stranger at my first ever Big Sky SCBWI conference was Sandra Brug. What a wonderful surprise connection! The rest for me is writing history.
My husband and I love to go for drives. We have lived in Montana now for ten years, and we are doing our best to see all the parts we can. Yesterday, we decided late in the day to go exploring in a canyon pretty close to home. We drove up the South Boulder River south of Cardwell.
Our air right now is extremely smoky from all the fires blazing high in the mountains. The smoke added quite a foreboding feel to the spectacular scenery. it settles in among the pines, making silhouettes, and eerie movement.
I was reminded how important creating a vivid setting is in my writing. Sometimes I get so caught up in plot crafting and character deepening, that I forget how easily the setting can influence both. How would my character feel about the smoke everywhere? Would they sense the foreboding? What could that be foreshadowing?
Along the drive, we did see some pretty remarkable sights. There were high mountains, layers of trees stretching for miles, rocky cliffs, and meandering rivers. We live in an incredibly varied, beautiful place. We also saw two bull moose and a cow, a bunch of white tail deer, four wild turkeys, and a pair of pheasants. How would my character have responded to those sights? The towering rocky cliffs, or abundant wildlife? So much of what our brains view as common, the reader's brains need to absorb as vital.
So today I'm thinking about setting. Have I used it to the fullest extent? Have you?
In honor of the back to school season, I'm giving you a play! On the 'My Plays' page of my website is a document frame where you can read The Great Outlaw Heist, and then print it for your drama club or classroom. This play is great for kids in 2nd - 4th grade. Costuming is simple, the set can be as creatively wild-westy as you choose, and the casting is flexible.
When I produced this play, the kids loved the lasso scene. They got to lasso each other! Very fun! There's nothing like seeing kids excited about performing and sharing their talents with each other. Drama is an amazing avenue to learn things about kids that you never knew before.
Please pass this website offering on to any teachers you know. We teachers are always looking for classroom plays. I can't wait to hear about all the productions of The Great Outlaw Heist!
Writing for children is a passion - along with reading kid's books, writing plays for kids, and teaching kids how to write!