Friday, June 29, 2012

Great Summer Reads for Kids and Young Adults

Roller Coaster, by Marla Frazee
This picture book captures the roller coaster experience perfectly! I have used it in writing workshops for elementary school students as a model for using emotion and sensory detail to write about an experience.

Kid Vs. Squid, by Greg Van Eekhout
This wild, wacky book is the perfect beach read for seven- to ten-year-olds who love adventure and humor.

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
Okay, technically this book takes place in November, but it does involve beaches and ocean. This book has a unique story concept, cool folktale elements, and absolutely gorgeous writing. The fabulous Maggie Stiefvater lives in Virginia, in case you didn't know.

Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi
A gritty, raw, post-apocalyptic adventure set in a futuristic version of the American Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts. Very compelling!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Congratulations to Richmond Young Writers!

And a big THANK YOU to all who voted for them in the Greater Richmond Chamber ‘s i.e.* inaugural startup competition. Lana wrote about this group and the competition in her May 30 post (see below). In case you missed it, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported in their Tuesday edition (Business section, 6/12/12) that Richmond Young Writers is among the 15 finalists. They are going for a $10,000 prize and six months of free space. A panel of veteran entrepreneurs will hear a presentation from each finalist who will describe their organization and business plan. Each finalist must also demonstrate that their start-up is located or will locate in the Richmond area and has been in business for less than a year. The Richmond Chamber will announce the winner on June 21 at the Richmond Center Stage downtown. Bravo Richmond Young Writers! We’re rootin’ for ya!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reflections on my first BEA

I had the great fortune to be invited by my publisher, Tiger Tales, to represent them at this year's Book Expo America in New York. The Book Expo or BEA is an annual trade show for publishers. It is where they all gather under one (ginormous) roof to showcase their new and forthcoming titles to potential buyers, reviewers, bloggers and fans. In short it is the annual Super Bowl for book geeks like me. In between row after row after row of publishers' kiosks, I rubbed elbows with publishers, authors, book buyers, and a larger than life Captain Underpants character. As an author, it would have been easy to feel intimidated by the vast number of books that were represented there; but I chose instead to draw on the excitement of so many people who were so passionate about books and consequently, I had an absolutely wonderful time.
The highlights of the event for me were:
  •  Meeting the publishing staff at Tiger Tales who made me feel wanted and welcomed.
  • Autopraphing WITH ALL MY HEART for well over 100 people.
  • Seeing Lana's forthcoming title FREAKLING on display at the Candlewick booth.
  • Enjoying a dinner party with the Tiger Tales family at a charming Greek restaurant.
  • Watching my daughter, Delaney, get so excited about books.
  • Meeting so many wonderful book lovers.
  • And of course meeting MO WILLEMS!!!
Even though I was a relatively new and unknown author in a very big pond; for a few hours I got to feel like a rock star! Of course this week I'm back to yard work and taking out the trash, but the memories remain! I will cherish the memories of my first BEA for years to come, and I want to publicly thank my wonderful publishing team at Tiger Tales for making it happen!
To see more pics from BEA, visit my site at Brian Rock Writes For Children

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

To Make a Long Story Short: Writing a Synopsis That Sells

I recently completed my first middle grade novel and am writing my submission documents (query letter, outline, synopsis). So I was delighted to attend the panel on writing a synopsis presented last Thursday, May 31, at the Children’s Museum by James River Writers, hosted by Bill Blume. Panelists were Michelle Brower, agent with the Folio Agency and Stacy Hawkins Adams, author and columnist. It was well worth my time. My post today summarizes their presentation. Both Brower and Adams agreed that a synopsis is a professional document rather than a creative one and should show the movement of your book without a lot of detail. This means your synopsis should be no more than three pages long, should use a professional font (e.g., Times New Roman, 12 pt.) and should be double-spaced. The synopsis is a longer version of the text you envision on the back cover of your book and should be written in third person, even if you write your book in first person. Use your writer’s voice and proceed as if you are writing a short story, with a beginning, middle and end. Yes, include the ending! An agent reads your synopsis to find out what happens in your book. If your book has humor, suspense or other story-building elements, be sure to include those, too. Focus on your main character, hooking the reader with the first sentence and include how this main character changes from the beginning to the end of your book. Don’t recycle sentences from your book or from your query in your synopsis. Each document should be unique. A particularly useful idea is that the synopsis should be written before you write your first chapter because it then serves as an outline for writing the book. This may not fit with your writing style but if it is, give it a try. I’m going to keep that last point in mind in writing my next novel. I will use the tips and instructions I learned from this presentation in writing the synopsis for my current novel. I am confident their advice will give me a strong, ready-to-go synopsis when I send out my queries. Keep these points in mind and you will have ‘a synopsis that sells,’ too!