What’s New at School? Free Webinar! More Posts! (+ a #Giveaway!)

badge final 4x4-brighter heartYou know how it goes, every year when school starts back up students want to know what has changed, what’s the same, and who is going to be around. Same thing happens with Kidlit Summer School, right? So we thought we’d fill you in on some exiting changes! For the first time ever, we are offering a week of PRE-Kidlit Summer School posts. For this awesome week of inspiration, five members of our KLSS Faculties from our first two years have volunteered to share their winning strategies for getting into the writing groove. Look for posts NEXT WEEK from Jen Malone, John Claude Bemis, Rebecca Petruck, Kristine Asselin, and Tara Lazar! Their wisdom will pave the way for  you to get psyched and excited about writing. Then we’ll take the week of July fourth off for these great ideas to percolate, and hit the books with enthusiasm on Monday, July 11, the first official day of Kidlit Summer School 2016!

Now … we want you to sit back and pretend you just heard the tell-tale buzz of the loudspeaker followed by the principal’s voice, because we’re about to make a big announcement:

OUR PRE-REGISTRATION WEBINAR with Editors Aimee Friedman and Caroline Abbey has been scheduled for this WEDNESDAY night, June 29 at 9:00 pm EST!

Here is a little information about our fabulous guests:

authorphotoAimee Friedman is an executive editor of middle-grade and YA fiction at Scholastic, where she has worked for fifteen years. Her projects include the New York Times bestselling middle grade series Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski; The Secret Language of Sisters, the YA debut of New York Times bestselling adult author Luanne Rice; and of course The Boy Project and The Boy Problem by acclaimed middle-grade author Kami Kinard. Aimee is also a New York Times bestselling author of novels for young adults; her most recent book is Two Summers (Scholastic/May 2016). She lives and works in New York City. Find out more about Aimee on her website aimeefriedmanbooks.com

 caroline abbeyCaroline Abbey is a Senior Editor at Random House Children’s Books. Her publishing experience also includes serving as Senior Editor at Bloomsbury Children’s Books. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Hamilton College where, over the course of many writing workshops, she discovered she loved editing more than writing.  When not editing, Caroline loves drinking milkshakes and learning random facts about anything and everything. One of her forthcoming projects is a fabulous chapter book series by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.

IF you are pre-registered for KLSS 2016, you will receive an email Sunday, June 26 with a link to a Google form where you can submit questions for Aimee and Caroline to answer. They will answer as many questions as we have time to ask in the hour long session, so if you have a burning question for a fantastic children’s book editor, take advantage of this opportunity! (If you are not pre-registered, click HERE to join the fun.)

Okay, you can put down those hands! We know you have more questions and we’re getting ready to answer them. 😉

You were probably wondering how to watch the webinar, right? Just keep an eye on your email inbox. You will receive a link that will allow the first 200 of you to join us live on Wednesday night. The email with this link should arrive on Wednesday.

What happens if you can’t join us Wednesday night or if you happen to log in after the first 200? No worries! The webinar will be recorded and all pre-registered students will receive a link via email that will allow you to watch the recording at your convenience this summer.

Next question? If you can’t watch the webinar live can you still submit a question? Yes! All pre-registered students will have an opportunity to ask a question.

Did you hear that? It’s the loudspeaker again. Time for another announcement!

This Contest had Ended. A winner will be drawn from all comments left before midnight June 27 and will be announced at the end of Kidlit Summer School. Thanks to all who helped spread the word! 

All you have to do to enter is share a link to this post on any social media platform and leave a comment about where you shared this information. We will draw a winner from the comments.

rotem-jenne-webinar-screenshot-e1437061579759 (2)

Win a free online brainstorming session!

What will the winner receive? A free 30 minute brainstorming session with KLSS Administrators Kami Kinard and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Winner will be announced at the end of summer school and will have until September 30, 2016 to schedule the session.

Don’t forget to leave a comment and share the news! See you on Monday!

 

 

Week 1 Pop Quiz

badge50Now that Week 1 is over, it is time to review what you learned and take a Pop Quiz!

While you’re reviewing, reward yourself with some Summer School Swag. In case you didn’t know, you can now get Kidlit Summer School swag from the PiBoIDMo Cafe Press shop! Neither we nor Tara profits from any of these sales, and in fact, $3.00 of every purchase goes to Reading is Fundamental. These funds will be used to purchase books for kids who need them. Thanks to Tara Lazar for making the PiBoIdMo shop available to us and thanks again to Zach OHora for creating the fabulous Kidlit Summer School logo!

Pop Quiz! Take this quiz to see if you learned the basics during the first week of Kidlit Summer School!

 

  1. In her post Walking Around in Your Character’s Shoes, Kathryn Erskine advises writers to think about:

a) the kind of shoes your character wears

b) how your character walks

c) where your character has walked before

d) how your character acts

e)All of the above

 

  1. In her post Do Looks Matter? Aimee Friedman asks authors to consider:

a) using physical descriptions to illuminate something deeper about character

b) not going overboard when adding physical descriptions

c) thinking about specific colors when painting a picture of your character with words

d) using the comparison technique to introduce physical traits

e) All of the above

 

  1. In her post Hug the Mean and Nasty, Kami Kinard indicates an author should think about these things when creating Villains (and antagonists):

a) giving them admirable qualities

b) showing their humanity through the eyes of a pet

c) helping the reader understand what motivates them

d) evoking sympathy for them

e) All of the above

 

  1. In her post, Let the Main Character Drive the Bus, Rebecca Petruck suggests that:

a) plot is what lays bare your MC

b) plot is the cattle prod that forces the MC to make decisions that reveal strengths and weaknesses

c) authors should look for actions their MC will resist

d) writers check out Save the Cat

e) All of the above

 

  1. In her post Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, You are Your Characters After All, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen suggests we:

a) look to ourselves to find qualities for our characters

b) look to our families to find inspiration for great characters

c) the best stories feature a main character who is a reflection of the reader

d) look past the surface appearance to see who your character is deep down inside

e) All of the above

 

  1. In her post, Dear Writer: A Letter Writing Exercise, W. H. Beck points out that:

a) It can be helpful to write letters from the point of view of our characters

b) letters give our characters voice

c) letters help us understand our characters’ motivations

d) Cecil Castellucci’s interview is helpful to characterization

e) All of the above

Aimee Friedman: Do Looks Matter? Painting a Vivid Physical Portrait of Your Character

Aimee Friedman

Aimee Friedman

I’m an editor and an author, so I live on both sides of the desk. (And, on both sides, I’ve grown very familiar with the joy and struggle, the road-blocks and the breakthroughs, that go into telling a story). But most of all, on a fundamental level, I am a reader. Being a reader is what led me to these professions, and it is what sustains me — as a writer, as an editor, and well, as a person.

As a reader, I come to a story craving a sensory experience; I believe most readers do. I want to hear the crunch of leaves, smell the pine, taste the burnt marshmallow, feel the bark of a tree. That is the work of the writer, after all: to build a world up, piece by piece, so that the reader is fully immersed. And, in this world, I especially want to see everything. The surroundings — the campfire, the mountains — but, crucially, the characters.

Who is sitting around this campfire? Just as I need the characters’ voices and actions and desires to come alive for me, I need to have a strong visual sense of the characters, so that they exist vividly in my mind’s eye.

Aimee had to think of unique physical characteristics for her MC in Sea Change.

Aimee had to think of unique physical characteristics for her MC in Sea Change.

When asking an author of mine for a revision, one of my first requests will often be for a physical description of the protagonist. Ideally, I’d like such a description for every character, but the more minor players can be sketched with a less precise pencil. However, the main character — our inroad into the story, our compass — is most vibrant and fully realized for me if I can picture them clearly, and early on.

Is your protagonist blond? If so, what kind of blond? Pale as milk, or the color of sand? If she’s dark-haired, how might you describe the shade of brown? Is she tall, slim, full-figured? Is her nose snub? Does she wear glasses? What color are her eyes?

Needless to say, there are endless physical descriptors that can go into the introduction of a main character. The key is to not go overboard — you don’t want to lose the reader with a dense paragraph that details everything from the shape of the character’s face to her toe ring. A couple of evocative details go a long way. Also, these descriptions can be broken up and dispersed. An opening paragraph can show us the length of her hair; later in the chapter, we can learn her skin is freckled.

There are a variety of ways to introduce this physical description, rather than a plain “Mary was willowy and dark-skinned” or “I have curly red hair.” (though these work fine as well!). There is the comparison technique: showing one character in contrast to another. “Unlike her best friend, Jane, who was pale and petite, Mary was willowy and dark-skinned.” Right away, we have a visual: not just of Mary, but of Jane. The world is that much closer to being fully built. One can also drop a physical description in casually, almost sneakily. “The boys all called me ‘Carrots,’ so I came to hate my curly red hair.”

A writing teacher once advised me to never show a character looking in a mirror as a pathway to describing him or her. “Sue went into the bathroom and gazed at her hazel eyes.” But I think there are worse narrative sins — I think leaving out a visual of your character entirely leeches more life from a story than using this mirror technique.

Of course, there are arguments to be made against giving physical descriptions. We are taught, after all, that looks don’t matter: it’s what’s inside that counts. But the best physical descriptions illuminate something deeper about the character. For instance, perhaps a pudgy-cheeked character is resentful because he doesn’t bear any resemblance to his tall, chiseled other brother. Does your character wear contact lenses because she felt self-conscious about the glasses, and wanted to be perceived in a different way?

There is also the compelling argument that giving a visual description of a character can have a distancing effect on the reader — that he or she won’t be able to see themselves as easily in the story. That their imaginations can’t roam as

The Year My Sister Got Lucky

How do sisters look alike? Different?

freely. But let’s give readers more credit than that: their minds will always work to fill in the blanks, even if there is a physical description on the page. Before the movies came out and Daniel Radcliffe took up residence in our heads, I’m positive that my visual of Harry Potter was very different from that of my friend’s visual, even though we both knew he had black hair, round glasses, and a scar on his forehead. That’s the magic of reading. We enter the world conjured by the author, but no two people will picture it quite the same.

Can a story be enjoyed and reread and cherished if there aren’t physical descriptions of the characters? Certainly. In The Great Gatsby, we’re never really told what Daisy looks like — we only know she is beautiful and wealthy, and that is somehow enough. Like all “rules” about writing, this one isn’t hard-and-fast (I like to ignore my writing teacher’s advice about mirrors, after all). It’s ultimately about what works best for your specific story, for your process, for your characters. Sometimes the power lies in not knowing precisely how a character looks (take the wonderful Wonder, for instance, which is all about the character’s appearance, and yet not at all). Other times, you’ll want to spell it all out (take the enticing first paragraph of Gone with the Wind). Each writing experience will be different — as different and quirky and unique as the characters that populate your stories. And I look forward to reading about them.

Aimee Friedman is an executive editor at Scholastic, where she is fortunate enough to edit such titles as the New York Times bestselling series Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski, and, of course, the acclaimed The Boy Project and The Boy Problem by Kami Kinard. Aimee is also a New York Times bestselling author of YA novels, including Sea Change. She writes for middle-grade readers under the pen name Ruth Ames. Aimee lives, writes, works, and searches for the perfect iced latte in New York City. Check out her website HERE and you can follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/aimeefriedman.

 

GIVEAWAY: Aimee is giving away a signed copy of her book Sea Change! At the end of #KidlitSummerSchool one name will be drawn from all who comment on this post. 

 

And don’t forget the Webinar tomorrow night at 9:00 pm EST. You can find details HERE