by Annie Cronin Romano
At 24 Carrot Writing, we believe in the importance of rewarding yourself with "carrots" when you achieve a writing goal, be it finishing an outline, brainstorming book ideas, querying agents, or honing your craft through writing exercises or research. Back in March, I posted a blog sharing some writing-themed carrot ideas (see "Give Yourself a Carrot"). Now, as the holiday season is upon us, here are some more creative suggestions to add to your own wish list or as possible gift ideas for your writer friends. Included are a few repeats from my spring suggestions and some new discoveries!
Like working jigsaw puzzles? White Mountain Puzzles has a few jigsaws with a literary flair. This "Reader's Paradise" puzzle will keep you busy with 1000 pieces of literary atmosphere.
Love candles? There are candles out there perfect for writers and book lovers alike.
Check out the options at Gone Reading and
fill the air with writerly aromas.
Check out Red Bubble for a variety of items perfect for any literary enthusiast! They have more than just bookish items, but you can search by keyword to find the perfect gift for writers and readers! Their phone cases are particularly creative.
Book-shaped saucers and plates abound at Gone Reading. When you're settling in for a writing session, this cozy cup and saucer will help get you in the "write" mindset! (Sorry. I couldn't resist!)
At Uncommon Goods, you'll find an array of gifts for writers, from literary scarves to story cubes. This writing prompt book, "642 Things to Write About," got positive reviews from those who purchased it. And all writers know that sometimes we need a little idea boost to get the ink flowing.
If you're looking for clever t-shirts or mugs with writer-ly or bookish sayings, you'll find them at Cafe Press. You'll also find some other unique gift ideas, like this tongue-in-cheek writer's clock.
Want some bling? At The Writers Store, you'll find vintage typewriter necklaces and bracelets. A perfect nostalgic gift!
Many writers like to decorate their laptops, notebooks and journals with stickers that reflect their personality. Find some unique ones at Red Bubble and Cafe Press.
Need some liquid courage to get you through a rough patch in your revision? Celebrating a full request? If Irish Whiskey is your thing, check out Writers Tears, available at Walsh Whiskey Distillery
and other online liquor retailers.
Don't go for the hard stuff? Steele Wines might have what you'd
prefer. Their "Writer's Block" label is available in several varietals, including Malbec, Roussanne (shown here), and Pinot Noir. And
if you're still waiting on that first royalty check, their prices
won't break the bank either! Cheers!
At Lithographs.com, they make literary-themed gifts ranging from tote bags
and t-shirts to posters, scarves, and even temporary tattoos! With over 200 titles
to choose from, including classics, contemporary, children's, and young adult,
you're bound to find a beloved favorite.
I hope you've found some treasures to add to your holiday list.
Or maybe you've discovered some future carrots to reward your
achievements as you meet your writing goals in the coming New Year.
And remember the best gift you can give yourself...
All of us at 24 Carrot Writing wish you a
happy, healthy, and creative holiday season!
~By Amanda Smith
November 22, 2016. For real! If your household is anything like mine, you are probably in the middle of pie making, turkey prepping, house cleaning, and all things Thanksgiving. I love this time of year. It has pie! But also, it is a time to reflect on all the good in my life, all the things that fill my heart with gratitude. And as a writer, my soul sings its very own list of writing thank yous.
I am thankful for books. Physical paper and ink books. The feeling of a book in my hands. The rustle of the pages. The dusty, inky smell. The covers. The words. The negative space. The illustrations. Thank you for books!
I am thankful for readers of said books. For fellow book lovers. For children piled on couches, spilled on carpets, sprawled in bean bags, reading, giggling, and delighting in books.
I am thankful for writers of books and their fabulous stories, both on page and in real life. My heart overflows with gratitude for the greater writing community, for the support and education they offer. SCBWI, The Writer’s Loft, Unlikely Story, Blue Bunny Books and Toys, local libraries, online groups, workshops, craft talks, meet-ups, book clubs: Countless opportunities to grow, learn, connect, and share.
I am thankful for agents who stay up ‘till the wee hours of the night to read through thousands of queries and countless manuscripts, who represent their clients with integrity, and who generously offer advice and help. Thanks for having our backs. I am thankful for editors who are industry gatekeepers. Thank you for your passion to bring quality books to young readers. Thank you for pushing us to write our very best.
I am thankful for my writer inner-circle: My fellow 24 Carrot Writers and my critique partners. Thank you for your honesty, accountability, and faith in my writing ability when I don’t feel it. Thank you for coaxing me out of my comfort zone and inspiring me to be brave with your own stories of bravery. I am thankful for my husband who supports me on this crazy adventure, who gives me the space to follow the stories in my head, and who gently prods me when I procrastinate.
I am thankful for the lessons learned upon this road: Lessons about submissions, synopsis writing, formatting, new software. Lessons about digging deeper, setting goals, upping the ante, balance, characters, and story arcs. Lessons about my voice, my growth, and who I am.
I am thankful for creativity, imagination and STORY. For the empathy and understanding that grows through sharing stories. I am thankful for hope: the hope that our stories will help shape and grow children into healthy, compassionate, confident adults. The hope that imagination will always have its place in a pragmatic world. The hope that one day my stories will touch a child’s heart.
At 24 Carrot Writing, we are also thankful for you!
What are you thankful for?
Happy Thanksgiving all!
by Kelly Carey
I've been a part of book club with a group of friends for years. I’m sure many of you have too. You gather and chat about a book you have all read. It’s fun and social, and you end up reading some books you might not have picked up otherwise. But, we always read adult books. Recently, I joined a new type of book club, and I want to encourage my children’s writing friends to do the same.
The wonderful Julie Reich at The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA started a KidLit Book Group. This group of writers gets together monthly and discusses a YA or MG novel. We look at the book not as readers, but rather as writers, looking for techniques of craft that we can apply to our own work.
There are many things that can be learned by examining a YA or MG novel with other YA and MG authors. First, you may be startled to find that we can be tough on the writing of successfully published, acclaimed writers. Hearing someone offer a negative critique of character development, or point out plot holes, or question different literary devices used in telling a story – of a published author – makes me think a bit more cautiously about how I interpret criticism of my own work. For every book clubber who liked a book, there seems to be an equal number who dislike the book. This will be true of your own manuscript. So take heart. Don’t rush to your manuscript and make immediate changes after every bit of advice. Instead, listen to the feedback, look for trends and consistency across critiques and then apply your own writing sensibility to the information before you make changes. Hearing folks offer feedback on a published novel in your KidLit book group will give you the courage to defend your own work.
While being in a KidLit book group can help you become less sensitive to critiques of your own manuscript, it can also allow you to really understand the feedback your manuscript is getting. When your KidLit book group is talking about character or dialogue, you will hear how the comments are framed. What do people say when they like a character or feel engaged in a story? You will have lightbulb flashing moments when you recognize that similar comments were made about your own manuscript. You will hear a book group member say why they liked or disliked a scene, and you will recall the same phrasing used to offer feedback on your own work. Being able to examine the feedback directed at someone else’s writing will give you a comfortable distance before you then consider the ramification for your own work. It’s a nice, easy stroll to the heart of a problem that your own writing may suffer from when you hear it discussed in someone else’s writing.
This is not to say that a KidLit book group is all about the negative. It's not! The most inspiring, I-can’t-wait-to-get-my-fingers-typing moments are when you feel emboldened to write because you have been uplifted by the talents of other writers. When the group gets excited about a book, and gleefully discusses the expert use of sentence structure to control pacing, or the introduction of a subplot to add tension, you start to feel your hands itch. I imagine this is how a painter feels when presented with jars of wet paint and fresh brushes. You will be inspired by the creativity in front of you. When you look at the tools another author has used, you will want to reach out and grab them and try those techniques for yourself.
Finally, so much of writing can be a solitary business, including reading in our genre (something universally recommended in the KidLit industry). A KidLit Book Group is a way to take a lonely component of your writing world and make it a social group activity. You will be gathering with other writers to look at books--folks with a similar passion, discussing from a unique perspective the books we love. It's a wonderful way to get to know each other, understand our reading and writing likes and dislikes, and even find new critique partners.
For the nuts and bolt of how it works, I can only share how my KidLit Book Club functions:
* We pick a host for every month. The host is responsible for selecting three options of MG or YA books for the group to read.
* The group then votes (you will like this type of voting – every option will be a good one!) and picks the book for the following month.
* We meet for two hours and the host provides the refreshments.
* As a way of starting our discussion, we go around the table and allow everyone to give their overall impression of the book and what they liked or disliked about the writing. This is really all you need to get going. The points folks will bring up in their share time will spur on other discussions and questions and before you know it a two hour book group will have passed and you will have spent it in a productive and completely enjoyable way.
Find a coffee shop, a café at your independent book seller, or a room at your local library and invite MG and YA published and pre-published authors in your area to join your KidLit Book Group. It could be the start of a wonderful new endeavor.
by Francine Puckly
For a few years now, I’ve been contemplating hopping on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon. I’ve held off for a number of reasons. First, I compose my initial drafts longhand, pen to paper, which makes tracking word count a bit tricky. Second, it’s No-School-November, a month in which school administrators conspire against writers by slotting in numerous half days or complete days off for everything from parent-teacher conferences to elections to holidays. The final reason, not to be taken lightly, is that immersing myself in an international phenomenon with social media chats, blogs, and the like would most likely make me less productive when I hear that hundreds or thousands of other people are writing faster than I am.
That said, I had been researching my next book on and off for six months and had muddled over the plots, subplots, characters and setting. I was ready to tackle the next novel, and I desperately wanted to have a large chunk of the book on paper before the holiday season hit. There were no good excuses not to dive in.
I decided to customize a NaNoWriMo challenge. As a longhand writer, I determined how many pages I could write in one day. I created a monthly calendar with the goals written in, first by week then by day, with an overarching monthly goal as well. Those goals were all well and good, but I knew I couldn’t go it alone. I’ve tried that. When things get tough, I fall off the writing. First one day. Then another. Then another.
Instead, enter my accountability partner. Now, I probably should have asked her first before I made her my partner, but since we’ve been having weekly phone chats and setting goals together for three or four years, she gladly accepted the appointed position. I asked nothing of her except to receive daily texts stating that I had completed that day’s goal.
Only eight days into my challenge, her presence has saved my writing day three or four times already. My energy is flagging. Small (and big) crises that have hit my life this week would have been excuses to adjust my goals. But my accountability to her is priceless. She responds to every text, congratulating me, encouraging me to keep going. It’s a beautiful thing to be on this journey with her.
If you have aggressive goals for a future project, don’t go it alone. Ask a trusted colleague to be your accountability partner. Everyone benefits from having a cheerleader who understands the game. And the flip side of that, offer to be someone else’s rock for their project.
Hold someone’s hand. Or ask someone to hold yours. You’ll be amazed at the “impossible” things you will accomplish when someone’s waiting for you to check in.
Thanks to all who joined our Trick and Treat party! We loved every writing tip and trick that our newcomers shared on our 24 Carrot Writing Facebook group! From writing in your character’s diary to playing word games to spark writing creativity, the tips and tricks were creative and helpful. Keep them coming!
And now without further ado, the winners…
Nancy Sondel won the signed copy of Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s FISH IN A TREE.
Noel Csermak won the signed copy of Anna Staniszewski’s POWER DOWN, LITTLE ROBOT.
Kristi Liberty Mahoney won A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE, signed by Wendy Mass.
And Julie Reich won the signed copy of Jen Malone’s THE SLEEPOVER.
Congratulations to all the winners!
~Annie, Kelly, Francine, and Amanda
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