Write When You Least Expect To – Take 2

Hello again! It’s been a while. And rather than blog my list of excuses for not blogging, let me just say, it’s nice to be back.

After a not-so-restful night of sleep, a morning of exercise and errands followed by an afternoon at the soup kitchen, I predicted that not much writing was going to happen today. But guess what. I was wrong. Because I sat down with my very early morning tea, opened my documents and just did it. I polished my latest picture book and made some significant progress in the restructuring of my novel.

“Write When You Least Expect To” continues to be my best writing advice to myself.

Even sitting down to write this blog post is a case in point.

So for my first post of the new year,  I thought it a perfect time to dig up an old gem from 2011.

Hmmm. Maybe it will be my New Year’s Resolution! Maybe it will be yours!

Write When You Least Expect To

by Jean Reidy    2/18/2011

I do very few things well under pressure. So when I sit down to work on a book, especially a novel, I usually make sure I’ve set aside a large block of time, giving myself a chance to get back into the story, set up achievable goals for words on the page and then actually write those words.

But lately, those blocks of time have become smaller and smaller. I won’t bore you with the details of my busy life – we’re all wishing for 40-hour days these days, right? – but I do know that my time will free up a bit later this year. And I’ve been tempted to say “Well that’s when I’ll work on this novel.”

But I grew impatient. I was anxious to get back into this exciting project.

So for the past two days, I’ve been squeezing in some unexpected writing time. I’ll admit, I was set up pretty well for this experiment with ten pages of my own handwritten revision notes and a marked up manuscript.

One might expect that with a wee bit of time, I’d opt for wee revisions. But honestly, by the time I open up my 150-page manuscript and jump around finding just the right spots for those adjustments, and skip from revision note to revision note, I could have written an entire scene.

So that’s just what I did.

And there was something terribly freeing about opening up a brand new document labeled with a scene title and jumping right in.

I had no sense of foreboding about the task at hand because my expectations were low – I’ll just jot down some thoughts related to this scene. After all, I only have a few minutes. But then my fingers were flying across the keyboard as dialog and setting and metaphors (some were quite dastardly, I’ll admit) flowed with ease. And the delight of getting some work done when I expected to get none, actually inspired me to go beyond the stale scribbles of pressured revisions and take risks with the story. I wrote an entire scene. And just like with my golf game – when my expectations are low I play my best – the writing was surprisingly good.

So try it sometime. Write when you least expect to. The quantity and quality of what hits the page might pleasantly surprise you.

Have you had random writing moments? Tell me about them.

 

 

ALL THROUGH MY TOWN to hundreds of kids!

Today, in my inbox –

Dear RMC Members!

We are excited to share the news that BookBar Denver will be donating over 2500 children’s books by RMC SCBWI authors to local schools!

Don’t blink! When BookBar says they want to get something done, they move fast. This month, BookBar Denver set a goal to get local authors’ books in the hands of needy children so these kids would have something to read over the summer. In order to meet that goal, BookBar reached out to the RMC SCBWI PAL community and allowed authors to apply to have their book selected for purchase in their giveaway plan.

After carefully considering the following: relationship with individual publishers, book publication date, diversity of characters, settings, situations for our diverse community, price, and previous relationships with local authors—BookBar chose 15 RMC SCBWI PAL member titles and purchased an average of five cases of each title (all recorded by Bookscan). Here are the titles they selected:

Author or illustrator

Title

Regan, Dian

Space Boy and the Space Pirate

Fenske, Jonathan

Plankton is Pushy

Wing, Natasha

Night Before Summer Vacation

Cowles, Ashlee

Beneath Wandering Stars

Bertman, Jennifer

Book Scavenger

Jones, Traci

Silhouetted by the Blue

Tuell, Todd

Ninja Ninja Never Stop

Vega, Denise

If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed

Phumiruk, Dow

Maya Lin – Artist-Architect

Cooner, Donna

Can’t Look Away

Feagan, Alice

School Days Around the World

Mills, Claudia

Cody Harmon, King of Pets

Rose, Judy

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco

Crowder, Melanie

A Nearer Moon

Reidy, Jean

All Through My Town

More about their press release and birthday celebration: BookBar will be celebrating its fourth year as an independent bookstore and wine bar in Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood on Saturday May 27th. Festivities will include raffles, literary games and giveaways all day from 10 am – 10 pm. There will be a cake cutting and champagne toast at 8 pm. In appreciation of four years of collaboration with local authors and local schools, and in partnership with RMC SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), BookBar will be donating over 2500 children’s books by local authors to local schools!

These donations will be delivered to Northwest Denver schools the week of May 28th to ensure that children can take a book home for summer break. This is part of a program that BookBar and RMC SCBWI hope to expand upon in order to connect Colorado students with Colorado authors. BookBar is also excited to announce the addition of a 1400 square foot events and gallery space for the whole family. As the store continues to grow and thrive, there is an increasing need for a dedicated event space to serve our growing literary community. This space will include a mini bar / cafe and serve as a book art gallery during non-event hours, featuring local artists specializing in art created from and about books as informative literary showcases. In addition, it will be available for community events and meeting reservations

Congratulations to our selected authors!”

I’m so VERY proud to have ALL THROUGH MY TOWN selected for this project. Thank you, BookBar!

 

I can’t wait for the world to meet TRUMAN!

Here’s my latest news:

Emma Ledbetter at Atheneum has acquired world rights to Truman, a picture book written by Jean Reidy (l.) and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins, about an ordinary little tortoise and the day that everything changes, when he has to find his most extraordinary self. Publication is set for summer 2019; Erin Murphy at Erin Murphy Literary Agency represented the author and Emily van Beek at Folio Jr. / Folio Literary Management represented the illustrator.

 

Tuesdays for Teachers: The Inside Out Quiz

The Inside Out Quiz Author Skype Session

by Ashley Daniels

I am blessed with the opportunity to student teach twenty-six wonderful second graders. One goal I set for myself while finishing my degree was to bring technology into the classroom in a tangible way. With 21st century technology available, I decided to use Skype to present my students with opportunities that would not otherwise have been possible. After hearing about my mom’s class’s Skype session with Jean Reidy the previous year, I knew I could not pass up the opportunity to connect with her, myself. After emailing back and forth a few times, our session’s date and time were locked in place.

I decided to have my class complete an “Inside Out Quiz” during our session. The gist of the “Inside Out Quiz” is for students to ask Mrs. Reidy questions about her own books and website. She must then answer the questions. I chose this option as my students have been focused on asking thoughtful and insightful questions about texts all year long. This would give them an opportunity to continue to polish this skill while interacting with the author who created the material in question.

I began the series of corresponding lessons by first informing my students we would personally Skype with a children’s author. I explained that they would each have the opportunity to try to stump her on her own material by asking her thoughtful questions.  I read my students several of Mrs. Reidy’s books including Busy Builders, Busy Week!, Too Purpley!, All Through the Town, Light Up the Night, and Time Out for Monsters! over the weeks leading up to our session. While I read the books aloud, I would stop and have my students practice their thoughtful question asking. We would discuss the main idea of the text, illustrations, the different illustrators, and how the illustrations went with the text. The books were also available for students to read after completing their morning work. Students would check out the books and reread their favorites.

One week before our Skype session, I had the students work in small groups with me to explore Mrs. Reidy’s website. Students read her “All About Me” sections and then clicked on each of her books to read a little about what others had said about her books. Once they finished, I had each student choose one of Reidy’s books. They then had to browse through the book to come up with their thoughtful question. I challenged students to come up with at least two questions and the corresponding answer. They could be based on the book they chose or her website. All of my students came up with great questions to ask Mrs. Reidy. Once I had the questions, I typed them with my students’ names. I chose the most thoughtful question that each student asked. Now we just had to wait for Tuesday to roll around for our Skype visit.

Before the Skype call, I made sure each student had their questions in hand and had reread the question a few times to refresh their memories. Our Skype session went better than I could have ever planned. Mrs. Reidy is delightful and enjoyable. She began by introducing herself and explained that this was her first ever “Inside Out Quiz” with a class. She asked my students a few questions and then they took turns asking her their questions. Many of the students chose to ask questions about the illustrations. Some of the questions asked included: “What was in the boy’s pocket when he was in the corner in Time Out for Monsters?”, “On your website, what are the three ‘All About Me’ sections called?” and “In Busy Builders, Busy Week who was sticking their head out of the fence on Sunday?” As students asked the questions, Mrs. Reidy answered in an engaging, animated way. She incorporated extra facts about the books that the students asked about. She shared her experiences with the illustrators and captured the student’s attention. By the time all the students asked their questions, half of them really did stump her. The students loved when that happened.

Mrs. Reidy then took the time to answer a few additional questions my students had. After, she gave them encouraging words about the fractured fairy tales they are writing in class. Once the session was over, my class and I debriefed about how the session went. I asked several of the students what their favorite part was. Many of the answers varied including asking their question, hearing additional information about her books, and learning why so many of her books feature turtles. I had each of my students write down their favorite part and then turn the slip in. All in all, Skyping with Mrs. Reidy was a wonderful experience. All of my students enjoyed it and they loved that they were actually able to “meet” a real live author through the aid of Skype.

Ashley Daniels is currently a student teacher and will graduate with her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Toledo in May.  As a future educator, she is passionate about integrating technology, whenever possible, into her lessons and units. She has always had a desire to teach young children. She is continuously looking for new and stimulating ways to incorporate out-of-the-box teaching ideas and methods to engage her students. She believes students learn best when they are interested in the material and can make personal connections to it. She cannot wait to officially begin her life-long career of teaching.

Appearances 2017

Posting new appearances every day!

2/2/17          Colorado Council International Reading Association – Presentation and  Book Signing

2/4/17          WriteOnCon Q&A Session on Picture Book Writing with Scholastic Editor Celia Lee

2/17/17         Mount Lebanon Montessori School Author Visit

3/2/17          Mercedes Benz International School, Pune, Maharashta, India, School Skype Visit

3/7/17          12×12 “Revise to Resonate” Picture Book Writing Webinar

3/9/17          Lake View Elementary, Huntington Beach, CA, School Skype Visit

3/9/17          Euclid Elementary School, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, School Skype Visit

3/28/17        Stranahan Elementary School, Sylvania, Ohio, School Skype Visit

4/6/17          Chaparral Elementary, Albuquerque, NM, School Skype Visit

4/25/17        Jane Long Elementary School, Richmond, TX, School Skype Visit

5/2/17           Stellar Elementary, Thornton, CO, School Visit

5/4/17           Hunters Green Elementary, Tampa, FL, School Skype Visit

5/5/17           Centennial Expeditionary School, Denver, CO, School Visit

5/25/17         Lois Lenski Elementary, Centennial, CO, School Visit

 

All materials © 2018 Jean Reidy. Author website by Websy Daisy. Shelly the Turtle designed by Genevieve Leloup.