What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'Darcy Pattison')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 7 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Darcy Pattison, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 86
1. A Few of My Favorite Books

It’s hard to believe but we are getting ready to close the book on 2015.  So today is the last blog installment for 2015 TeachingAuthors, but we will be back after a short break.  We will ring in the new year as we begin blogging again on January 4.  So stay tuned.  By then, we will all be back at work.  And some of us (ahem, me) should also be back at the gym…   

It seems fitting to end our blogging year with a series on great books.  It may not come as a surprise that my favorite books are nonfiction.  But this year I’ve read lots of nonfiction picture books.  I’ve found many that I’ve admired.   The three I want to mention today are not new books.  But they are books that I’ve read over and over and admire the craft of good writing every time. 

The first one I want to share is Thank You, Sarah: The Woman who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson.   It is the story of Sarah Hale (author of Mary Had a Little Lamb) and her 38 year campaign to get Thanksgiving declared a national holiday on one specific date.   Finally Abraham Lincoln did so.  The story of Sarah Hale is a great example of what one woman of grit and determination can do.  That powerful story combined with Anderson’s brilliant storytelling ability makes this book informative, funny, and charming.  Matt Faulkner’s illustrations fit the cheeky attitude of the text.   

 Next is Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.  This true story tells of the amazing feats accomplished by Bass Reeves, a man born into slavery who became a deputy U.S. marshal in Indian Territory.  Over three decades Reeves arrested more than 3000 outlaws.  His little known story is one of a true hero of the Old West.  This powerful story combined with Nelson’s choice of voice and storytelling style makes this book really special.  From the first word to the last word the reader is drawn into the world of heroes and outlaws in the lawless Indian Territory.  R. Gregory Christie’s illustrations add to the feel of the time and place. 

Another of my favorites is Wisdom, The Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and other Disasters for over 60 Years by Darcy Pattison.   This is a biography of completely different kind, not of a person but of one single albatross-named Wisdom-who just happens to be the oldest bird in the world.   This story includes how scientists tracked Wisdom who against all odds-even survived the Japanese tsunami.   Pattison’s storytelling ability gives readers a powerful glimpse into the world of blue sky and rolling sea as one amazing bird (still) continues to survive and hatch her babies.  Kitty Harvill’s beautiful illustrations are a perfect compliment to the time and space of Wisdom’s world. 

Oh, how I love a great true story!

On a different note, teachers may be interested to check out a National Handwriting Contest for students in K-8th grade.  It seems like a great way to encourage students in this area.   For more information about the details and how your students can participate:  National Handwriting Contest

Carla Killough McClafferty

0 Comments on A Few of My Favorite Books as of 12/18/2015 3:57:00 AM
Add a Comment
2. I Want a Dog by Darcy Pattison

PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz: A Highlights Foundation Workshop

Join Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison in Honesdale PA for a spring workshop, April 23-26, 2015. Full info here.
  • "This conference was great! A perfect mix of learning and practicing our craft."Peggy Campbell-Rush, 2014 attendee, Washington, NJ
  • "Darcy and Leslie were extremely accessible for advice, critique and casual conversation."Perri Hogan, 2014 attendee, Syracuse,NY

Today launches two new books for me.

9781629440118-ColorPF-alt.indd 9781629440323-Case.indd

How the Stories Started. For years, I’ve taught writing. I teach everything from kindergarteners to advanced novelist, gifted-and-talented kids to reluctant writers. I’ve developed techniques for helping people write stronger and they usually involve either revising or prewriting. In schools, it’s hard to get kids to revise; they see it as torture to copy out a perfectly good essay again. Too often, it’s an exercise in handwriting instead of real revision. So, I started flipping the process and putting more emphasis on prewriting. A rich prewriting environment gives a student a better chance at a good first draft (which is often the only draft). A single prewriting activity isn’t enough; instead, you want a rich environment with multiple ways of thinking, discussing and drafting about a topic.

Everything I’ve learned about teaching writing an opinion essay to kids is instilled in these two books in just 500 words (Dog) and 750 words (Cat). Cousins discuss the type of dog/cat they want for their family. They use about ten criteria (and another 5-6 criteria are suggested in the back matter) to decide what breed of dog/cat is best. Then, they write an opinion essay. And because all writing should have a real world effect and be successful, they get the dog/cat of their dreams.

Characters. I knew that I wanted to write something helpful to teachers about writing essay; however, first and foremost (as always) I wanted to write a fun STORY. The relationship between cousins Dennis and Mellie was important to develop. Each has a different family life, so their priorities on a pet differed drastically. Creating interesting characters helped ground the information in a story.

Research. Do you research topics for a fictional story? It was crucial for these two stories that I had the facts right about the dogs and cats. The American Kennel Club (AKC) regularly publishes information on the most popular breeds of dogs for a particular year. I used the latest data from 2013 and decided to feature the top 20 breeds of dogs: in order of popularity – Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers, Boxers, Poodles, Rottweilers, Dachshunds, French Bulldogs, Doberman Pinschers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Siberian Huskies, Shih Tzu, Great Danes, Miniature Schnauzers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pomeranians, Australian Shepherds.

Then, it was a juggling act to slot each breed into a criteria for deciding for/against a breed. I used the Animal Planet’s Dog Breed Selector Tool as a beginning point, and filled in with research on each breed. Many dogs are friendly; some dogs are better at being a guard dog than others. Each criteria needed a matched pair, one dog included by the criteria and one breed excluded by the criteria. It was impossible to satisfy every breed enthusiast, but the AKC went through the manuscript and approved the way the breeds were described.


For the Cat Lovers. I was pleased with the story and sent it around to a couple editors. One was very interested, but eventually rejected the story, saying, “A dog story just isn’t for me. I’m just a cat lover.” That weekend, I wrote the companion book, I WANT A CAT: My Opinion Essay. It went through a similar process using the Animal Planet Cat Breed Selector Tool, and generous input from Joan Miller, Chair of the Cat Fancier’s Association Outreach & Education efforts.

The CFA statistics say these are the top 20 cat breeds, in order of popularity: Persian, Exotic, Maine Coon Cat. Ragdoll, British Shorthair, Abyssinian, American Shorthair, Sphynx, Siamese, Devon Rex, Norwegian Forest Cat, Oriental, Scottish Fold, Cornish Rex, Birman, Burmese, Tonkinese, Siberian, Russian Blue, Egyptian Mau

I was unfamiliar with some of the breeds, so Miller’s input was invaluable–thanks, Joan!

Illustrator: Ewa O’Neill

These are debut picture books by European illustrator, Ewa O’Neill. She’s got an eye for color and design! A dog-lover, she studied the twenty dog breeds and twenty cat breeds to create active, interesting collection of pets.

Free on Kindle for 5 Days

Amazon allows certain promotional events and I’m happy to say that I WANT A DOG: My Opinion Essay will be a free Kindle book from February 8-12. Get it during these five days and spread the word to your friends.

Free on KOBO and Apple: I WANT A DOG and I WANT A CAT will be free for your iPad or Kobo reader on February 13-17. Check the iBookstore and KoboStore then. Sorry, a Nook version is not available. You can also find ebook copies at MimsHouse.com – Dog and MimsHouse.com – Cat.
Both books are available in paperback and hardcover.

Coming Fall, 2015: My Crazy Dog: My Narrative Essay

Add a Comment
3. nine picture book topics to avoid

By Leslie Helakoski Boyds Mills Press

By Leslie Helakoski
Boyds Mills Press

While we’re still knee-deep in winter, it helps to have something GREAT to look forward to. Here’s what I high-as-a-snowbank highly recommend . . .

Children’s book author Darcy Pattison and children’s book author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski will co-lead a unique workshop, PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz at Highlight’s Foundation in Honesdale, PA on April 23-26, 2015. Join them and learn how to make your story rise above the fierce competition.

For a taste of what’s to come at the PB&J workshop, here’s a wisdom-filled article written by Darcy and Leslie . . . 

When people think about writing a children’s picture book, clichéd topics pop up. These classic themes are based on universal childhood experiences. It’s not that these topics are taboo. Instead, they are so common that competition is fierce. As they say, children’s publishing is a bunny-eat-bunny world.

Here are the top 9 topics to avoid. Also listed is a children’s book, published within the last 5 years, that is a fresh take on the topic. If you are considering writing a picture book about one of these topics, it will be a harder sale unless you can find an original way to approach it.

1. First Day of School. Everyone wants to get kids ready for the first day of school, and it’s hard to find a fresh approach.

Updated title that works:

Dad’s First Day (July, 2015), written and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.

2. Tooth fairy. People have 32 teeth, and losing baby teeth in early elementary school is a universal experience. The tooth fairy often has a place in a family story, which makes it a perennial topic for a children’s book.

Updated title that works:

The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy (2013) by Martha Brockenbrough, illustrated by Israel Sanchez.

3. Christmas/Halloween. Major holidays are often the focus on children’s books.

Updated Titles that Work:

Christmas Parade (2012) written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton.

Smudge and the Book of Mistakes: A Christmas Story (2013), by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Stephen Costanza.

 4. Wanting a pet. From gerbils to dogs, cats to chinchillas—humans love their pets. It’s a natural topic for a children’s book.

Updated titles that work:

I Want a Dog: My Opinion Essay (2015) by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Ewa O’Neill.

I Want a Cat: My Opinion Essay (2015) by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Ewa O’Neill.

5. Dealing with a disability. With today’s cultural emphasis on diversity (#WeNeedDiversity), libraries are looking for stories with disabled characters.

Updated title that works:

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay (2015) by Cari Best, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

6. Visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Who buys books for children? Grandparents! And of course, grandparents want to encourage a close relationship with their grandchildren. Do this topic with humor and honest emotion and you’ll have a winner.

Updated titles that work:

How to Babysit a Grandpa (2012) by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish.

How to Babysit a Grandma (2014) by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish.

 7. New baby in the family. Young children often have to move over and make room for a new sibling. Books helps them work through the complicated emotions when a new baby arrives

Updated title that works:

You Were the First (2013) by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin.

8. Barnyard stories/rural nostalgia. The rural roots of America are ever-present in children’s books. One of the first things kids learn is the sounds made by farm animals. From there, chickens and pigs rule!

Updated title that works:

Big Pigs (2014), written and illustrated by Leslie Helakoski.

9. Bedtime stories. Kids who are read to become better readers. What better time to read than bedtime? And if the story ends on a quiet note that encourages the kids to go to sleep faster, parents will love you.

Updated title that works:

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (2012) by Sherry Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lictenheld.

Not convinced that you should avoid these topics? Then put on your A-Game! Because the competition for children’s picture books about these topics is fierce. Yet, if you write a fantastic story about one of these topics, it might just become a classic.

Add a Comment
4. Oldest Bird in World: Name her Chick

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison

Award Winning Book about the Oldest Bird in the World

Last year, I wrote this book about the oldest bird in the world who was on Midway Atoll when the Japanese tsunami struck. It’s an amazing story of survival that just won’t stop. At the age of 62+, she is about to hatch another chick. Yes! A mother at 62+

From Wisdom, the Midway Albatross’s Facebook Page comes this exciting news:

SEABIRD ALERT: Name my new chick and make a difference too!

Thanks to a dedicated Facebook friend of mine, were are going to have a contest this year to name my soon to born chick!
** And this year, I am sincerely hoping that the USFWS_Pacific Region and The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument will work with me on this endeavor **

Here is how it will work:
- Once the winning name is selected, a $500 DONATION will be made on behalf of my newborn AND the name of the person who comes up with my newborn’s name — which me and my crazy beautiful partner will select. (Unless the person selected chooses not to have their included)

Regarding the donation:
- The $500 donation will go directly to Friends of Midway Atoll NWR a non-profit organization

AND … wait for it …
- My dedicated Facebook friend will also make 2 additional donations directly to:

- the Kure Atoll Conservancy, AND

- an organization (yet to be named) which supports TERN ISLAND in French Frigate Shoals, Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Note: On DEC-16-2012, a freakish weather event (possibly a tornado) struck the camp at Tern Island, causing extensive damage to the facilities at this needed camp. Fortunately, the one intrepid employee and four tenacious volunteers were unharmed!

** the fun part is this: we won’t know the actual amount of these 2 additional donations until the name is selected!

This naming contest is open to everyone; and leave your name choice as a comment on Wisdom’s Facebook page.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Did you know that albatrosses have an 8-foot wing span? In this video, shot at the 2012 Audubon Summer Camp, kids compare their arm span to Wisdom’s wing span.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Teacher resources:

Add a Comment
5. Writing Craftily

     Asking me about my favorite writing books is like asking me about my favorite movie. I mean really, how can one have a favorite movie? I probably see as many movies as Roger Ebert.  I have to categorize my favs: war/adventure: The Great Escape; comedy: Annie Hall, Airplane, Blazing Saddles; musical: Cabaret, All That Jazz: too bloody to fit in a category: Godfathers I & II, Donnie Brasco, Good Fellas, Pulp Fiction. Also anything with Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep or Johnny Depp. (Yes, I paid money to see Joe and the Volcano in a theater.)

   When it comes to my favorite writing books, I pare it down to three categories of one or two books. (Aren't you relieved?)

   Inspirational books. Marcia Golub is a woman I would love to have as a next-door neighbor. Anyone who can write a book called I'd Rather Be Writing about how those of us without nannies, housekeepers and writing retreats in the Caribbean manage to write anyway, is someone who has my number. Lesson taken away from Marcia' book:  if you have a family and a writing career, you're always going to feel conflicted. Get over it. Oh and don't bother also trying to live the Martha Stewart life (even Martha Stewart doesn't live the Martha life without a platoon of assistants.) Alas, Marcia's book is out of print. I'd loan you mine...but then I don't loan books. (I never get them back.)

   If you have been following this blog for awhile, you probably know that my favorite book after Charlotte's Web is Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I re-read Bird by Bird on a continual basis. (All right...I keep it in the bathroom for moment of "unavoidable delay.") Anne is funny and profane (for those of you who object to the occasional profanity in your how-to books, this might not be for you.) Anne taught me two important lessons: 1) first drafts are always crappy. That's why there are second, fourth and seventy-fourth drafts. You aren't going to get it right the first time. 2) You don't sit down to write with an entire story arc in place, any more than you would sit down to eat one of those 64-ounce-steak joints (finish it and it's free....and you have probably just had a coronary so the point is moot). The title Bird by Bird is Anne's shorthand for writing only what you see before you right this minute. Don't worry about that elusive center section, or that fuzzy ending. Write what you see clearly now.

     Craft books.  Darcy Pattison's Paper Lightening: Pre-Writing Activities That Spark Creativity and Help Students Write Effectively was written with the middle school writer in mind. Therefore, it is perfect for me, when I find myself with big story problems I can't solve myself.  There are exercises here for developing characters, settings, plots, dull language....you name it, Darcy and Paper Lightening can solve it. I have always wanted to teach a full-year class just to have the pleasure of sharing all of Darcy's common-sense suggestions and solutions. However, since I am currently relegated to teaching six session workshops, Paper Lightening is my atlas to writing sanity.

     Craft books for kids:  The classic book I hand a student who wants a book "that tells me how to write a book" is Marion Dane Bauer's What's Your Story: A Young Person's Guide to Writing Fiction.
Although this is geared to a slightly younger crowd than Paper Lightening, it was my fiction writing bible in the Vermont College MFA program (and not just because Marion Dane Bauer was one of my four mentors.)  Unlike Paper Lightening, which is designed to be a textbook, Bauer's book can be read and understood without teacher assistance.

    My six-session workshops can be problematic. It is not reasonable to expect any student, adult or child (and I teach both) to complete more than a rough draft in such a short time. I focus on writing exercises that are fun and have the possibility of  "growing" into a larger work. Ralph Fletcher has written more books on writing with kids than I can count, but my favorite is the one he has written for teachers, Craft Lessons. Fletcher takes students Pre-K through middle school through the components of fiction writing. The exercises and lessons can be used as stand-alone lessons. Each exercise is tailored to the skills and understanding of that particular age. My kids' workshops are for grades 4-8, so this is perfect for me. And if you like this book, check out the rest of the Ralph Fletcher bookshelf; you won't be sorry.

    Tune in Wednesday when I share my favorite writing exercise that I did not learn from any of my favorite writing books!

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

3 Comments on Writing Craftily, last added: 2/23/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
6. How Well Do You Know Your Characters?

My swimmer will see the world
differently than your detective.
But how?
Last fall, I attended a revision workshop led by The Muffin’s very own Darcy Pattison. One of the things that Darcy emphasized was that we not only include plenty of details in our writing, but that we include the right details in our writing.

As I picked through my manuscript, something hit me. Yes, I had enough detail for the reader to experience the setting, but I hadn’t chosen the details that my character would most likely notice. I’m a very visual person with an acute sense of smell and am easily distracted by sound, thus I had sight, smell and sound covered.

What was missing were the kinesthetic details, details that focus on movement and how things feel to the touch. My character is a swimmer who is always being told by his teachers to be still. Clearly, I needed to work motion details into my story, because these are the kinds of things that my character would notice.

As I started working attention to motion into my story, I realized that my character may not see the world in black and white, but he would definitely see it in terms of constricting stillness vs glorious motion. That’s just how he’s wired.

Another character that I’ve been working with is a flashy girl who lives in a circus. She does everything with a certain flash and pizzazz so that is how she divides things – allowed to use her pizzazz vs not allowed to use her pizzazz.

A character who can speak to wolves notices more to do with scent and sound than do her fellow humans.

The character who is an incarnation of Persephone is still giving me fits. Obviously, she’s going to be tuned into plants and the natural cycle, but I’m not sure how it will color her perceptions of those around her.

Do you know your characters well enough to know how they see the world? What details would they notice that you would overlook? What is their good vs their bad? Remember, you are answering this for your character. If her answers too closely resemble your own, you might have a bit more work to do.


Read more of SueBE's writing at her blog.

2 Comments on How Well Do You Know Your Characters?, last added: 3/13/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
7. 2014 Cover Revealed: The Girl, the Gypsy & the Gargoyle

MIMS HOUSE: Great NonFiction for Common Core Prewriting for the Common Core

The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world. At 62+, she hatched a new chick in February, 2013. Read her remarkable story. A biography in text and art.

Here’s the cover of my new book that will be out in March 2014! Wahoo! Only 90 days or so till you can read it.
And for your pleasure, here’s the recipe for Cranberry Tea Punch that we always have during the holidays.

Cranberry Tea Punch

1 cup sugar
2 cups Pineapple
4 cups Cranberry Juice Cocktail
4 cups brewed tea (I use Luzianne Decaf)
Cinnamon stix, cloves.
I also like to float slices of lemon and orange.

Warm it up and have it close while you read a book.

Add a Comment
8. Guest Post – Erika Wassall – Rivisions

Jersey Farm Scribe here on the Road to Revising! 

erikaphoto-45Pen down.

You’ve DONE IT!!! 

That’s right folks, you’ve written not only a beginning, but a middle and an end.

And it feels SooOOooO gooOooOood.

First… and please, don’t forget this step… give yourself credit. What you have done took talent and boatloads of commitment. You completed something most people only dream of even starting.

Get yourself a celebratory coffee/chocolate/wine/cupcake!

And then what?          

First things first:     DO NOTHING

WHAT? But I’m all giddy!! I want it to be perfect IMMEDIATELY!

Our manuscripts are worth the wait! Taking a step back for at least a week or two, sometimes as much as a month if I can stand it, gives a powerfully different perspective. Simone Kaplan Talks Revisions from RevIMo has some wonderful insight on this topic.

So it’s been a few weeks, and we’re ready to get started. 

Read the manuscript completely, OUT LOUD. 

While beneficial for any manuscript, this is especially important when writing for children. Forward Literary Agency has a thought provoking post by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg on its usefulness.

How does it feel rolling off the tongue? Is the dialogue natural? Are there inconsistencies or awkward spots?

Circle them, maybe jot down a note or two. But don’t linger! Come back later to play with them. For now, give it a cover-to-cover out-loud read.

And then, remind yourself, that’s YOUR BOOK you just read.


The Nitty Gritty

Now it’s time to get dirty! I scour over my manuscript looking for whole sections, concepts, sometimes even characters that can lift out.   It’s amazing what I’ve found.

Darcy Pattison has an excellent post about her experience cutting down an already short picture book manuscript, when she realized she was telling the WRONG character’s story!

When in writing-mode, we allow the heartbeat of creativity to take us over; an important part of the process for sure.

But then it’s time to go back over every page, paragraph even word, and say, what happens if I remove this? Do I miss it? Do I really NEED it?

And that means… yup… we all knew it was coming: 

Killing Your Darlings

A well-known saying that is for some, (like me!) often feared.

While this could easily be an entire post, Lisa Spangenberg words it so simply by saying “Style should serve the purpose of the text, not the writer’s ego.”

Sometimes our Darlings are pinnacles of style and make our manuscripts absolutely SING.

Other times?   -   Not so much. 

The couple week step-back is helpful here.

Sometimes I’ll no longer understand why I was so attached in the first place! Or I’ll realize with that Darling, I was writing for ME, not my audience or the story itself. Then it’s time to break out the strikethrough!

Easier said than done of course 

But hey. We’re writers. We knew this wouldn’t be easy.

Which brings us to our next step:

Call in the Troops! 

Good critique partners/groups are undoubtedly worth their weight in GOLD.   No one is good at everything. It’s beneficial to have multiple people critiquing your work, some good at grammar, some at emotion, word count, consistency, etc.

Kid lit has a wonderful article on the tricky balance of What a Great Critique Partner or Group Means.

Keep in mind, being OPEN to anything is great. But you can’t, and shouldn’t take all the advice you are given.

Kathy Temean herself put it best when she critiqued one of my manuscripts and told me, “Always remember that it is your story and you should follow the vision that you have.”

Let people point out things to consider. DO consider them. But remember that they are critiques, NOT corrections.

The revision list is endless. But I’ll wrap up with this category:

Personalize Your Process

Maybe you’re good at word count, but struggle with getting to the conflict quickly, or excellent at character development, but overly descriptive.

Write down a physical list of your sticking points. It gives you something to refer to. AND you’ll find yourself increasingly aware of these concepts as you’re writing.

Here’s a few that might make it to your list: 

Keep age in mind: Josh Getzler, agent and founder of HSG, in Agent Q & A: Revisions by Operation Awesome says that it’s one of the most frequent revisions he suggests. He often has to give direction on matching the age of the reader, with character age, plot, tone, etc.

Check your opening: If someone only saw the first 100 or 300 words, would they be HOOKED? Like Erin Harris, agent at Folio, mentions in that same Q/A article, this is where you’re selling yourself and your manuscript the MOST. If you’re not immediately hooked, perhaps you started in the wrong place.

Put lists in your list: Bruce Coville, author of the Unicorn Chronicle series, talks about how he keeps a list of words he knows he overuses so he can search for them later, in Cuppa Jolie’s great Wednesday Whip Tip.

And again, never forget that what you’ve already accomplished is something to celebrate! 

As Erin Bartels discusses here, patience is really the name of the game.

Not easy. But worth it, because your manuscripts deserve to be treated right!

Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Erika for another great post.

Talk tomorrow,



Filed under: Advice, article, How to, Process, Writing Tips Tagged: Darcy Pattison, Erika Wassall, Revisions

3 Comments on Guest Post – Erika Wassall – Rivisions, last added: 4/30/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
9. #610 – Saucy and Bubba: A Hansel and Gretel Tale by Darcy Pattison

saucy and bubba.

Saucy and Bubba: A Hansel and Gretel Tale

written by Darcy Pattison

Mims House       1/20/2014


Age 8 to 14


“In this modern-day Hansel and Gretel story, Saucy and Bubba struggle to get along with Krissy, their alcoholic stepmother. One freezing night, Krissy locks Saucy out of the house and Saucy must sleep in the barn. In a desperate move, Saucy and Bubba run away to their aunt’s house—except Aunt Vivian isn’t home. Trying to take care of Bubba for several days forces Saucy to take charge of her own life and accept a terrible sacrifice in order to find safety for herself. This is the simple story that weaves through the tangled threads of family and


“Saucy Dillard loved gingerbread days.”


Since Saucy and Bubba’s mother died, daddy has been very lonely. He hired Krissy to babysit the two kids, and then fell for the young alcoholic woman. Daddy married her and has been googoly-eyed for her ever since. Stepmom gets away with her actions because her hubby is in denial of the problem, preferring to blame his oldest child. That is more than enough to topple any eleven-year-old girl. Add acting as Bubba’s guardian—self-appointed—in charge of his happiness in addition to his safety, and the recipe for disaster more than doubles.

Saucy and Bubba would make a good story for social work students. It covers the same ground without the dryness of an adjunct text. In addition to alcoholism, the story involves child abuse and neglect, a mean stepparent, an absentee father, and runaway children. Pattison also throws in a possible pedophile, just in case there is not enough social angst. The pedophile is nothing more than bait, used to unite Krissy and Saucy in battle. I was surprised Saucy told Krissy the problem, given her justified fear of the woman, but the two make an insurmountable team—possibly because they are so similar—while rescuing Bubba from danger.

Saucy and Bubba is a dysfunctional family drama. The father, who I think is the biggest problem, is an absentee father, not because he is gone a lot as a long haul trucker, but because he overlooks most all of what his new bride does to his children, preferring to blame the eldest child instead of the real problem, his wife. In regards to Krissy leaving the kids on an outing (to get gas), going to a bar (getting drunk and driving home) and never picking them up (they walked home in the cold and dark), he says to his oldest, eleven-year-old Saucy,

“Krissy isn’t the problem. You are. Next time, you stay put.”

The best part of the story is during the runaway. All that before then is set-up. The kids have such a long way to go they must take a greyhound and then walk several miles. Bubba is but seven-years-old, naïve, and trusting. He nearly becomes the victim of the same pedophile, twice, all for the want of a cookie. He is also a genius with numbers. The two run into a few colorful characters, like the young teen working the bus station soda counter. He advises Saucy to take care of herself first before trying to care for another. In the end, he is spot on and that is exactly what Saucy must do to save her entire family. The ending did surprise me, but it is a great solution and the best for Saucy. If only all family problems could be solved so easily.

How is this A Hansel and Gretel Tale? Pattison uses several elements from the original story. Krissy is the wicked stepmother—and the evil gingerbread witch. Bubba is Hansel, using white stone as markers to follow home. Just as in Hansel and Gretel, the father abandons his kids, but instead of leaving them in the woods, he ignores the problems and leaves the kids with the cause.

Middle grade and older kids who like family dramas will enjoy Saucy and Bubba. There is enough angst to sell the story and enough heart to keep the reader interested in what becomes of the two kids. I still do not understand why Pattison had Saucy run and hide near the end, after she was so close to everything she worked for, but it did add one more element of suspense and force the father to open his eyes, maybe for the first time since marrying Krissy. Oh, well, there’s the reason. Pattison is a formidable writer whose work has been translated into numerous languages. Saucy and Bubba is another winner in a long line of winning stories.

SAUCY AND BUBBA. Text copyright © 2014 by Darcy Pattison. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Mims House, LITTLE Rock, AR.

Purchase Saucy and Bubba:  A Hansel and Gretel Tale at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryMims Houseyour favorite bookstore.


Learn more about Saucy and Bubba:  A Hansel and Gretel Tale  HERE.

Meet the author, Darcy Pattison, at her website:    http://www.darcypattison.com/

Find other Pattison books at the Mims House website:   http://mimshouse.com/


New in 2014 by Darcy Pattison

Aliens, Inc. Book 1: Kell, the Alien

Aliens, Inc. Book 1: Kell, the Alien

Aliens Inc. Book 2: Kell and the Horse Apple Parade

Aliens Inc. Book 2: Kell and the Horse Apple Parade

Aliens Inc. Book 3: Kell and the Giants

Aliens Inc. Book 3: Kell and the Giants









Also by Darcy Pattison, Click Title for Review

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

Desert Baths

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub

11Ways to Ruin a Photograph



saucy and bubba
copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 5stars, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: alcoholism, children's book reviews, darcy pattison, family drama, family dynamics, Hansel and Gretel, middle grade novel, Mims House, runaways, Saucy and Bubba: A Hansel and Gretel Tale, wicked stepmother

Add a Comment
10. 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph

Awkward Family Photos

11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph, written by Darcy Pattison.

Holidays mean family photos, right? This children’s book shows the extremes to which a kid can go to avoid those photos. The difference is that this girl has a good reason.

THE STORY: “11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph”

When her father goes soldiering for a year, a girl decides that without Dad at home, it’s not a family photo album. Though her beloved Nanny is in charge of the album that year, the girl makes sure that photographs of her never turn out well. It results in some awkward family photos! Photos are blurred, wind blows hair in her face. April rains bring umbrellas to hide behind. Halloween means a mask. This poignant, yet funny family story, expresses a child’s anger and grief for a Dad whose work takes him away for long periods of time. This story for kids is a tribute to the sacrifices made by military families and to those who care for children when a family needs support.


In conjunction with “The Help” movie (www.thehelpmovie.com), TakePart.com (www.takepart.com/thehelp) recently sponsored three writing contests: a recipe contest, an inspirational story contest and a children’s story contest. TakePart is the digital division of Participant Media which aims to bolster a movie’s audience with a message of social change. THE HELP movie campaign emphasized the role of stories in people’s lives. After winning the contest, the story was made into a children’s book.
Notice: This site and the story are not endorsed by or affiliated with TakePart, LLC or the motion picture “The Help” and or its distributors.



THE AUTHOR: Darcy Pattison

Author Darcy Pattison

More on Darcy Pattison
Resources, teacher’s guides and more.

  • Add a Comment
    11. Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

    Wisdom, the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Kitty Harvill

    Children’s Picture Book: Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

    The oldest wild bird in the world, documented with banding, is Wisdom, the Midway Albatross. When the Japanese Tsunami hit on March 11, 2011, her nest was in the path of danger. This is her amazing story of survival of manmade and natural disasters for over 60 years.

    • She has survived manmade disasters: longline fishing, plastic pollution, water pollution, and lead poisoning.
    • She has survived natural disasters: predators, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis, including the Japanese earthquake.

    At 60+ years old, she’s still laying eggs and hatching chicks. Among the birds of the world, this albatross, its ecology and life are amazing. It’s a story of survival and hope amidst the difficulties of life.


    • “Wisdom’s story makes my heart soar.”
      Kirby Larson, author of Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival and Winner of the Newbery Honor for Hattie Big Sky.
    • “On December 10, 1956, early in my first visit to Midway, I banded 99 incubating Laysan Albatrosses in the ‘downtown’ area of Sand Island, Midway. Wisdom (band number 587-51945) is still alive, healthy, and incubating again in December 2011. While I have grown old and gray and get around only with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as on the day I banded her. . . remarkable true story. . . beautifully illustrated in color.”
      Chandler S. Robbins, Sc.D, Senior Scientist (Retired), USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.
    • “As both a seabird conservationist and a mom to young kids, I highly recommend Wisdom, the Midway Albatross. Wisdom’s true story of survival is exciting and artist Kitty Harvill brings her to life in illustrations that are beautiful and accurate. Having worked to protect these magnificent creatures, I find it wonderful to be able to share their story through this book!”
      Jessica Hardesty Norris, Ph.D., Seabird Program Director, American Bird Conservancy
    • “It’s marvelous! I LOVE it! And I got a lump in my throat, tears! And I’m a biologist! Your book is beautiful, meaningful, simple, elegant………thank you for caring, thank you for sharing this story!”
      Kim Rivera, National Seabird Coordinator, NOAA Fisheries, Deputy ARA, Protected Resources Division, Alaska Region



    We wish to thank the following photographers for their amazing photos, the basis for much of our artwork. Thank you for making this book possible.

    12. Review of the Day: Wisdom, the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison

    Wisdom the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years
    By Darcy Pattison
    Illustrated by Kitty Harvill
    Mims House
    ISBN: 978-0-9798621-7-5
    Ages 4-8
    On shelves now

    If I had a better knowledge of my nonfiction children’s history then I might be able to tell you the exact moment that biographies of individual animals took off. Technically we’ve seen them for years, in books like the Newbery Honor winning Rascal (which is considered nonfiction in spite of some creative liberties) from 1963. The picture book animal biography feels comparatively new to me. I think they may have existed in spurts here and there but in the last ten years there’s been a veritable explosion of them on the scene. This is a very good thing. When done well a good animal bio can provide insight into an otherwise unapproachable species, foster concern beyond our own human lives, and give a glimpse into the wider natural world. True to life incredible journeys of wild animals are difficult to tell, though. If the animal is truly wild then how do you extrapolate its life without relying on fantasy and conjecture? Wisdom: The Midway Albatross offers at least one solution to that question. Add history to facts to the glorious innovation of banding wild animals and you have yourself a bird bio that’s easy to distinguish from the flock.

    The life of your average everyday laysan albatross is not often a happy one. Particularly if you have had the monumentally bad luck to have been born around 1950. Having survived the trials of growing up, avoiding sharks, and even a 1952 tsunami, one little albatross lived and was banded by research scientists in the year 1956. After that time she had to survive tropical storms, delicious looking floating plastic and fishing lines until she was caught again (by the same scientist, no less) in 2002. Having survived all that, was she capable of living past the Japanese tsunami of 2011? Pattison follows the bird’s life closely, ending her book with facts about Wisdom (calling her “The Oldest Bird in the World”, which would have been my choice of title) as well as info on your average laysan albatross, and useful websites for further reading.

    It’s more than just the story of one small bird and more than just some informational text about the life cycle of an albatross. Under Pattison’s hand Wisdom’s tale takes on an almost epic cycle. You start out thinking that this is just your average animal adventure and by the end you’re wondering how much we even understand about the natural world. If a lucky albatross, avoiding every seaborne calamity on record, can live at least to the age of sixty-one and continue to breed and brood, what other animals are blessed with such longevity? If there’s any problem at all it might be that Pattison repeats the refrain of “Somehow Gooney survived” almost too often. The temptation to do so is understandable but I worried that the momentous weight of that survival didn’t feel quite as powerful when heard so often.

    While Pattison is known for her other books in the children’s literary sphere, artist Kitty Harvill’s work remains largely unknown. A wildlife artist and conservationist, Harvill’s watercolors in this book serve the words more than the other way around. They leave a good amount of space for the text, avoiding the pitfalls of some artists unfamiliar with the picture book world that slap white space and text on one page and an image on the other. One point that made me curious was how Harvill chose to deal with Pattison’s suppositions. We can extrapolate Wisdom’s life by knowing both our history of the region as well as the perils facing the bird’s kind. And while the author utilizes the word “somehow” very cleverly in the phrases that explain that she survived, Harvill accompanies these with images of pairs of birds. In many cases one albatross will fall prey to fishing lines or plastic treats while the other abstains. But since we are not specifically pointing to one of those birds and calling her “Wisdom”, the book gets away with it (and, I should note, never really shows any birds dying of sharks or storms, etc.).

    It’s a book with a very small press, one going by the name of Mims House. When independent publishers create children’s literature the results are invariably mixed. In this particular case I was encouraged by the writing (and my familiarity with the author), the art to a certain extent, and the design. Though paperback, the paper quality is not bad. However I was a little disappointed in the font and layout. Though the text is expertly laid onto the images, weaving in and out of the pictures with ease, the font itself looks like something you might find in a child’s school report. I’m not entirely certain whether it’s the style or the size or a combination of the two, but whatever the case it’s a misleadingly poor element in what stands as a rather cool informational text.

    I don’t usually go so far as to praise the blurbs of a book, but in this case. I’ll make an exception. Some clever soul not only thought to get the wise words of Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson (who penned her own nonfiction picture book Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina Friendship and Survival) but also retired Senior Scientist Chandler S. Robbins. Now it sometimes doesn’t take much to get a scientist to blurb a picture book and normally my eyes glaze over about the time we see a degree appear, but in this particular case Robbins is an exceptional get since he’s the very guy who banded the bird back in 1956 in the first place. His words have an almost philosophical ring to them as well. He says at one point, “While I have grown old and gray and get around with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as the day I banded her.” Truth. Stranger than fiction.

    As I mentioned before, had I been in charge of this book I would have gone whole hog and named it “Wisdom: The Oldest Bird in the World” or something along those lines. As it stands, Pattison has uncovered one heckuva story. I can say with certainty that no child has ever walked up to my library’s children’s reference desk asking for nonfiction albatross books for pleasure reading, but for those kids assigned animal bios (it happens), easy nonfiction reads, or just books on birds in general, I now know exactly what it is I’m going to want to hand them. A keeper, you bet.

    On shelves now.

    Source: Galley sent for review.

    Like This? Then Try:

    • Mama by Jeanette Winter
    • Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa illustrated by Ed Young

    Other Blog Reviews:


    • Happy Nonfiction Monday! Jean Little Library has today’s round-up. Head on over to see what’s hot.


    Finally, here’s a video where you can see Wisdom herself feeding her chick.

    0 Comments on Review of the Day: Wisdom, the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison as of 1/1/1900
    Add a Comment
    13. Word of Mouth: Random Acts of Publicity 2012

    Welcome to the 4th Annual Random Acts of Publicity, where we spend a week talking about a friend’s book or a favorite book.

    Coming on Thursday, September 6: WIN A MARKETING CONSULT FOR A FRIEND!
    Susan Raab of Raab Associates (http://raabassociates.com/) has kindly offered 10 FREE marketing consults.
    The catch? You can’t enter.
    You can only enter your friend’s name. See the posting at 12:01 a.m. September 6 for full details–you’ll have 24 hours to enter.

    Today’s Buzz is all about social media and how authors must use social media in order to market books. But the basics of book marketing is a simple thing, Word of Mouth (WOM). All social media can do it amplify or simplify it. You still need to Talk about a book. This week’s Random Acts of Publicity focuses on that very task. How do you Talk about a book? Let’s talk about it. And to do that, I’ll talk about two books.

    The classic book on buzz is The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited: Real-life Lessons in Word-of-Mouth Marketing by Emanual Rosen, Doubleday 2000, 2009.

    It’s interesting to compare this classic with the social media specific book, The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace, by Ed Keller and Brad Fay, Free Press, 2012. Both books signal their stance with their titles: they believe in WOM. And I recommend them both, if you are interested in this topic.

    It’s so easy–and sometimes, fun–to get sucked into learning a new social media platform. I particularly love learning the ins-and-outs of something like this, I want to be the expert, the one in the know. And I forget the reason to use social media.

    No, it’s not to market books. That book-marketing-first attitude is exactly the wrong way to go. Instead, social media is a way to connect with people. I learned very early in my career that it was hard to find writing peers locally, that I had to find them online. Of course, while we are there–as small business people (the definition of every author)–we want to sell books, too. It is these competing goals that hold us all in tension. But there are ways to Talk about books in such a way as to encourage WOM.

    In the modern book marketing campaign, we often “seed” the market with information about a book. Here are some ideas to think about.

    1. Scatter seeds widely. Social media is perfect for this mandate, because we often have friends in far-flung places. Friends have moved, you’ve made friends with other professionals online, you keep track of people you only met when you traveled to a conference. The wider the seeding the better.
    2. Strong seeds. The most fruitful harvest comes when you seed by putting a book in your friend’s hands. It’s why you should never discount the intensive mailings that your publisher does on your behalf. It’s why you should rejoice when your publisher hands out galleys at a conference.
    3. Stories. As book writers, we should understand this, yet I fear we don’t: people respond strongly to stories! When your book comes out, you should sit down and write a dozen stories to tell about the book, about writing it, about various topics in the book, about your inspiration, about heartaches in getting it published, about joys in getting it published–and so on. Write them down. Seed the blogosphere with the stories in the guise of guest posts.
    4. Talking points. Please don’t be boring when you talk about your book or someone else’s book. Instead, give surprising, different, interesting, outrageous, funny (especially funny!), or sad stories or pieces of information. Write out a list of the funniest scenes in the book, the saddest scenes, etc. How can you best tell someone about the book? What combinations of scenes would make it sound the most exciting? Or, create a list of 5 Talking Points: a tidbit about the author, the scene that made you laugh out loud, the place where you wanted to throw the book across the room, a memorable line, and a quote from someone about the topic of the book. In other words, be deliberate about Talking about the book.
    5. Be ready to Talk and share. Carry the book around. Copy an image of the book onto your desktop (or make it your screensaver for a while). Then, when you have an unexpected chance to share, you’re ready. Maybe there’s a coloring page that you can share, or some other Bling. Look for it, gather it, be ready.
    6. Think about who you are Talking to. Individualize the Talk you are planning for the audience. For my best friend, CM, I am aware that she doesn’t like profanity, so I’m careful to vet books I recommend for her. For teachers, you want to always think about what will help them in the classroom. There’s no reason not to make your Talk specific for your friend.
    7. The biggest word of mouth comes in social situations. When you eat at a restaurant, you talk about the food, other places you’ve eaten and gather info for later Talk. Social media can act that way, too, if you don’t shove a book down someone’s throat. Authors, let your Friends do that talking for you. Friends and Fans, step up and Talk.

    When you BLLuRT about a book, be sure to post something about that on the Facebook page!

    Add a Comment
    14. I Am an Author: Random Acts of Publicity

    Welcome to the 4th Annual Random Acts of Publicity, where we spend a week talking about a friend’s book or a favorite book.

    Question: What is the Random Acts of Publicity thing all about? Here’s a story to help explain it.

    I am an author and more than anything, I want a blockbuster book. I work hard. I read books about writing better. I write every day, revising and revising and working to improve plot, characters, setting, and voice. I take risks in my writing and really, I know that some of it is really great stuff. I participate in critique groups and help others to get their books published and still, I am always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Or, wait, I do have a book coming out, but it’s with a small company and I don’t know if it will get noticed in “today’s crowded market”; or once, I signed a contract with a publisher who went bankrupt and it took me forever to get my rights back; and once, the publisher said they would send me a contract, but after six months of waiting, they backed out. I am a typical author, just trying to write a story that readers will love.

    I want my books reviewed and praised well. Can you help me?
    No, you can’t.
    I can only help myself by changing my attitude.
    I am looking at myself too long and too hard.
    Let me lift up my eyes and look around. Look at someone else for a change.

    Oh, there’s dozens of other writers who are working hard, just like me!

    You just want your book reviewed and praised? You just want to connect with readers, too?
    Well, sure, let me read your book.

    Wow, this is a good read!

    Let me tell someone about this book. I can’t wait to tell CM about this one!

    That is what Random Acts of Publicity is all about. Lift up your eyes and look around. Read a great book. BLLuRT (Blog, LIKE, Link, Review, Talk about a great book.) Tell someone about that great read–and report what you’ve done on the Facebook page.

    Add a Comment
    15. What I've Been Reading

    I promised I'd tell you some of what I've been reading. Just recently, I've been exploring Darcy Pattison's NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS, Uncommon Ways to Revise.  I had the opportunity to attend a retreat last weekend presented by Darcy. It was a great jumpstart for my novel in progress. Darcy had tons of tips, insider info on the writing business, and lots of encouragement. Just what I needed! Darcy has an amazing website and blog. If you are children's author or want to know more about children's books, I'd advise you to stop by. She has a wealth of info there.

    I also studied two books Darcy suggested, SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS and THE FIRST FIVE PAGES. Both are writer how-to gems.

    As for what children's literature have I been reading--well, I just finished James Treadwell's ADVENT. This is the first book in a trilogy of the Arthurian legend, and it is masterfully written. But it's a YA book for sure. Quite an interesting modern take on the ancient legend.

    A favorite picture book I read this summer was PETE THE CAT AND HIS FOUR GROOVY BUTTONS. Simple, sweet, and funny. What more could you ask for in a picture book.

    0 Comments on What I've Been Reading as of 9/21/2012 4:24:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    16. Join my HUGE, ginormous, fantastic BOOK giveaway!

    Welcome to my latest children's book giveaway!  To celebrate the release of my 2 latest books, "Desert Baths" and "The Tree That Bear Climbed", I am having a fun coloring contest.  This time I am giving away 4 of my children's books, published by Sylvan Dell Publishing!

    The books include "Desert Baths", "The Tree That Bear Climbed", "Prairie Storms", and the award-winning "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!".

    Here are the rules:

    1. Choose ONE of the coloring pages in this post to download and color.  You may color it or have a child color it.  Crayons are fun, but you can also use glitter, paint, etc.  Use your imagination!

    2. POST your finished coloring page on your blog, Facebook, Flickr or Instagram, with a LINK back to my blog.  Then leave me a comment here with the link to YOUR coloring page so we can all see your lovely masterpiece.  (You must do this step in order to qualify.)

    3. You have until midnight Central Time Zone on Friday, October 12th, 2012 to post your coloring page link as a comment.

    4. The winner will be drawn RANDOMLY from all entrants, and their name will be posted on my blog on Monday, October 15th, 2012. (Please be sure I have a way to contact you via email.)

    5. This contest is open to residents of the continental US only.

    Here are the coloring pages.  Choose one:


    2 Comments on Join my HUGE, ginormous, fantastic BOOK giveaway!, last added: 9/29/2012
    Display Comments Add a Comment
    17. Quilting a Verse Novel -- With Thanks to Darcy Pattison

    As I've mentioned here before, I'm fascinated by the visual representation of stories. Attending Darcy Patison's Revision Retreat in 2009 introduced me to the idea of a shrunken manuscript -- a condensed printing of an entire book that is then laid out so you might see the story from beginning to end.

    The idea isn't to read it in this state (which is single spaced and microscopic) but to get an overall sense of where the story stands. With the entire manuscript before you, you can determine what's working and what needs work. 

    There are a limitless number of ways a shrunken manuscript can be used. Grab a few markers, create a key, and use it to determine:
    • story strands
    • changes in voice for stories told in multiple points of view
    • instances of conflict
    • the story's movement through dialogue, thought, and action
    Darcy's activity nicely paralleled the work I'd just completed before her retreat: the final drafting of May B. As I'd never written a verse novel before (and had only read two before trying!), the idea of a quilt unfolding square by square -- or poem by poem -- was largely what kept me moving forward. I trusted that certain themes and ideas would resurface as I wrote, just as certain patterns emerge as a quilt takes shape.

    I've just finished drafting another historical verse novel and have kept this quilt concept in mind. On Wednesday I'll show you how I've used it in revision.

    Confession: I know nothing about quilting. It's the metaphor that counts.

    11 Comments on Quilting a Verse Novel -- With Thanks to Darcy Pattison, last added: 10/4/2012
    Display Comments Add a Comment
    18. A Verse Novel Quilt With Two Points of View

    My most recent verse novel manuscript is told in two voices. Without giving too much away, I'll say it's a story of friendship forged in the midst of hostile circumstances. For most of the story the friends, Alis and Kimi, aren't together.

    Working with author Darcy Pattison's idea of a shrunken manuscript, editor Cheryl Klein's idea of a book map, and my verse novel as quilt metaphor, I created what you see below.

    After finishing my initial draft, I "quilted" the division of voices within the story. You've probably noticed the same thing I have: Alis's voice dominated this draft.
    With the second draft, I added more opportunities for Kimi to speak, but it's still pretty heavily dominated by Alis. 
    With the third draft, Alis is still the voice heard most often, but Kimi's poems have increased, and the blending is better. Notice in the first two drafts I ended with a dual voice poem. I figured as it's a story of friendship, things had to end that way. But now I'm not so sure. I start the manuscript with Alis making her way in the world and end in a similar place. I feel like this is the best way to tell her story and Kimi's, too. 

    Of course, this is all subject to change. I've taken the story as far as I'm able alone. As my critique partners respond to this draft, I'll be curious what they have to say about this aspect of the story. And I plan to quilt the story in terms of sub-plots before it goes to my agent next month.

    Are there any visual techniques you use during revision?

    3 Comments on A Verse Novel Quilt With Two Points of View, last added: 10/8/2012
    Display Comments Add a Comment
    19. 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph by Darcy Pattison

    National Veterans Awareness Week United States Senate Resolution 143 November 11 to November 17, 2012 The resolution calls for educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans. Veterans Day “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to [...]

    Add a Comment
    20. Q&A with Kathleen Rietz, illustrator of Desert Baths

    ……………………… Kathleen Rietz Illustrator, Desert Baths with author Darcy Pattison ……………….. Please welcome to Kid Lit Reviews a prolific children’s book illustrator and fine artist Kathleen Rietz. She is here to chat with us about herself and her new book with Darcy Pattison titled Desert Baths. Hi, Kathleen, let’s start off with what first interested [...]

    Add a Comment
    21. Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison

    5 Stars Desert Baths Darcy Pattison Kathleen Rietz Syvan Dell Publishing 32 Pages      Ages 4 to 8 ………………….. Inside Jacket: As the sun and the moon travel across the sky, learn how twelve different desert animals face the difficulty of stay clean in a dray and parched land. Explore the desert habitat through its animals [...]

    Add a Comment
    22. Marketing for Professional Writers Intensive Debuts at 2012 SCBWI Winter Conference

    Where will you be on January 27, 2012?
    I’ll be in New York City, hoping that the weather is warm!


    Registration opens today for the 13th Annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators International Conference. SCBWI will hold its first Marketing for Professional Writers intensive on Friday, January 27, 2012 which, along with a Marketing for Illustrators intensive that day, kicks off a jam-packed conference weekend. The Marketing for Writers intensive brings today’s market leaders together to talk trends and marketing tactics in social media, websites, ebooks, mobile & games, apps, book trailers, publicity, working with publishers, Amazon, the education market and more.

    The 13th Annual SCBWI International Winter Conference is held January 27-29 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City and brings together publishing professionals, including agents, editors, publishers, and other experts in the field to conduct workshops, panels and presentations for writers and illustrators. It’s a unique networking opportunity designed to help new and published writers and illustrators have their careers soar to the next level.

    Registration opens at 10am Pacific Daylight time on October 17th .
    Watch for conference announcements and updates at: http://www.scbwi.org and follow us on Twitter #NY12SCBWI and Facebook http://scbwiconference.blogspot.com/.

    Book Trailers and Social Media Events

    I’ll be speaking about book trailers and social media events.

    Available August 15

    As the author of the ebook, The Book Trailer Manual, I’ve studied what works and what doesn’t for book trailers. Drawing from a wide variety of research about video marketing, I’ll dispel some myths and make solid suggestions on the content of your book trailers.

    Drawing on the experience of Random Acts of Publicity, especially the Random Acts of Publicity event on Facebook, we’ll discuss social media for special events. The Random Acts of Publicity saw about 500 people join us in promoting their friend’s books for a week.

    Register Now for the Marketing Intensive and the SCBWI Winter Conference

    Add a Comment
    23. Groundhog's Day Coloring Page

    Enjoy your FREE downloadable Groundhog's Day coloring page, featuring a scene from the book "Prairie Storms", written by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by me, and published by Sylvan Dell Publishing.

    If you have not checked out my website in a while, click HERE.  There, you can find more coloring pages and check out books I have illustrated, as well as new books coming out in 2012.  You can also "like" the "Prairie Storms" fan page on Facebook.

    1 Comments on Groundhog's Day Coloring Page, last added: 2/5/2012
    Display Comments Add a Comment
    24. Alternate Publishing: Niches

    This week, I’ve let writers tell their own stories of alternate publishing. Today, I tell my story. This is part 8 of 8.

    Alternate Publishing Series TOC

    How to Write Revise a Novel

    In 1999, I started teaching the novel revision retreat, unknowingly kicking off a fad in writing retreats of addressing a whole novel, not just a chapter of a scene. I became known for the shrunken manuscript technique, which enables writers to “see” their entire novel at once. The success of the retreat was gratifying, with many writers seeing their debut novels come out and establish their careers.

    novel revision by darcy pattison

    Novel Revision Retreat in a Book: Uncommon Ways to Revise

    There was always a workbook, but it was a work in progress for about eight years. Then, it was time to look for a publisher for it. But here’s the problem: most publishers go for the beginning writer market. It makes sense. For every 1000 writers who set out to write an entire novel, about 100 make it. Of those, perhaps 10 will realize the need for revision and perhaps one would actually buy a book about revision. The market was small and publishers like Writer’s Digest couldn’t successfully publish it.

    But given my built in audience and the buzz surrounding the retreats, I thought I could publish it and make money doing it. I established Mims House, a niche publisher, named after the Historic Quapaw District house where I have my office. From the Blue House, I published, NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS: Uncommon Ways to Revise. As expected, it hasn’t sold thousands, but it has sold hundreds–over a thousand copies–and continues to sell at a steady pace, intermingled with spikes when I teach a retreat and participants go home and tell friends about the book. (Word of Mouth is still the best way to sell bo

    Add a Comment
    25. Prairie Storms

    Prairie Storms

    by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Kathleen Rietz
    32 page picture book
    hardcover ISBN: 978-1-60718-129-3
    paperback ISBN: 978-1-60718-139-2
    English eBook ISBN: 978-1-60718-149-1
    Spanish eBook ISBN: 978-1-60718-159-0

    Prairie Storms by Darcy PattisonWhere the land is flat, the sky’s dome becomes a blank canvas for storms. In this lyrical book, experience a year of prairie storms from the point of view of native wild life who must shelter, hide, escape, disappear, endure and withstand those storms. Watch the sand hill cranes avoid the tornado, the red fox thrill to a soft evening shower, the earless lizard shimmy as it disappears beneath the burning sands of summer, the cougar dodge hail stones, the bald eagle shed sleet and the bison face into the teeth of a blizzard and stand defiant. Each month features a storm typical of that season and a prairie animal in its normal habitat. The prairie biome or ecosystem is explored through its weather, especially its storms. Told in lyrical prose, this story is a celebration of the grasslands that dominates the center of American lands.

    Prairie Storms

    Resources for Press

    Coming August, 2012, Companion Book: Desert Baths

    Watch the vulture bask in the morning sun, the roadrunner kick up a cloud of dust, the javelina wallow, and the bobcat give her cub a licking with a rough tongue in Desert Baths. As the sun travels across the sky, learn how twelve different desert animals face the difficulties of staying clean in a dry and parched land. Explore the desert habitat through its animals and their habits of hygiene. Told in lyrical prose, this story is a celebration of the desert lands of the American Southwest.
    Read more about Desert Baths here.

    Add a Comment
    View Next 25 Posts