We've decided to shake things up this year for our annual writer's gift list. Instead of telling you what we like, we've asked our wonderful guest bloggers (aka gift elves) to share with you their illustrating and writing must haves. We are thankful for the excellent content these guests have provided to 24 Carrot Writing over the last three years. And they are doing it again - providing practical, fun, and sometimes frivolous ideas to add to your holiday gift list. At each author's favorite things, you will also find their newest books, because we all know books make the best gifts!
Kate Narita is the author of 100 Bugs! A Counting Book . When she's not out and about driving, teaching or cheering on her two teenage sons, Kate lives, writes, and hikes on a small mountain in central Massachusetts. Read more about Kate at www.katenarita.com.
Always on Sue Gallion's gift wish list are new fun or funky pencils. "That's the souvenir I get when I travel, too. A new or newly sharpened pencil can give me a tidbit of inspiration. Little notebooks to stash in my purse or around the house are always a favorite of mine, too."
And speaking of sharpening pencils, here's a one-of-a-kind gift for any writer or illustrator -- and yes, she has one on her desk. It was a gift she bought for herself a year ago.
Sue Lowell Gallion writes for children because she is passionate about children, reading, and any combination of the two. Her picture books include Pug Meets Pig, illustrated by Joyce Wan and Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat received. Her upcoming books are an early reader series, Tip and Tucker (March 2019), written with children’s author Ann Ingalls and illustrated by Brazilian illustrator Andre Ceolin. Read more at suegallion.com.
Kate Messner says, "For bullet journaling, I love the medium-sized Leuchtturm 1917 notebook with dotted pages. An index, numbered pages, and terrific feeling paper make me happy to check on monthly and daily goals.
I have a new favorite for everyday research, note taking, and brainstorming, too -- the F64 Expedient Notebook from Kyokuto. This one has reliable wire rings so it'll open flat on a desk along with a sturdy front and back cover so it's easy to hold in one hand while taking notes in the field.
Kate’s books have been New York Times Notable, Junior Library Guild, IndieBound, and Bank Street College of Education Best Books selections. Her newest novel, Breakout was inspired by a real-world prison break. Visit Kate's katemessner.com to learn more.
Matthew Cordell- "Probably the one big thing I've started using this year is a fountain pen for drawing. I used to think fountain pens were not able to use waterproof inks, and assumed they weren't of much use to me. I need my drawing inks to be waterproof, since I paint the finished drawings with watercolor paints. But thanks to several fountain pen-loving friends, I've found a bunch of waterproof inks that are safe for fountain pens, as well as certain pens that draw with a very irregular line, much like a dip pen nib. The pen I use almost daily is a 9018 Hero fountain pen with a Fude nib. I've been traveling a lot this year, and it's so nice to have a pen and drawing book that I can take out in the field. Traditional dip pens are not quite so travel friendly, and this had long been a obstacle for drawing out and about.
Matthew won the 2018 Caldecott Medal, as well as the 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book, for Wolf in the Snow. Congratulations, Matthew! Go to matthewcordell.com to learn more. For truly special gifts for the art lover on your list visit Matthew's Etsy store: etsy.com/shop/MatthewCordellArt
Melissa Sweet has illustrated over 100 books as well as many toys, puzzles, and games for eeBoo. She has won several awards for both her writing and illustrating. Her most recent book is Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White. Read more about Melissa at melissasweet.net.
Alison Goldberg is the author of the picture book I Love You for Miles and Miles, illustrated by Mike Yamada. The board book edition releases December 31, 2018. Her newest book, Bottle Tops: The Art of El Anatsui is set to release winter 2020. To learn more about Alison visit her website at alisongoldberg.com/
Tami Charles' list is short and sweet:
1. Ginger tea with honey
2. Four Seasons by Vivaldi
3. Large sticky-note chart paper for plotting
Former teacher and debut author. Tami Charles writes picture books, middle grade, young adult, and nonfiction. Her 2018 titles are Like Vanessa and Definitely Daphne, and her picture book, Freedom Soup, debuts with Candlewick Press in fall, 2019. Read more at tamiwrites.com
Nancy Tupper Ling draws her inspiration from the multicultural background of her family and the interwoven fabric of familial culture which is, on the surface, seemingly everyday. Read more at www.nancytupperling.com/
Allison Pottern Hoch is obsessed with all things by Obvious State. "I have several of their posters and they now have this gorgeous line of journals at a reasonable price and I pretty much want all of them.
I also got this mug set for my birthday. Swoon! "
Allison Pottern Hoch is a writer and event coach with over eight years of experience in marketing, publicity, sales, and event planning. She’s worked with veteran authors, celebrities, and debut authors. For more information on her workshops and coaching services, visit http://events.pottern.com
Pat Zietlow Miller:
"Item No. 1. Library socks from Out of Print.
You might ask how socks help my writing process. Well, they make my feet happy, and when my feet are happy, so is the rest of me, which leads to better writing. I own these socks in several colors and wear them several times a week."
"Item No. 2. The book On Writing Well by William Zinsser.
This is the writing book that makes me nod vigorously along as I read it. He get so much right about how to write well. The title says its for writing nonfiction, but I say it’s for anyone who writes anything."
Editor, Rob Broder reminds us of the greatest gift you can give the writer in your life: TIME. In the midst of all the holiday celebrations, writers still need time to figure out that plot point, listen to that character, and follow their muse. "I go for walks... or a run. And I think. I think on the story. Pushing all outside everyday life thoughts aside. And I think on the story. Play it over and over. What part isn't working. Why isn't it working and how do I get there, to make it work and make it flow. Think, think, think.... until something comes to me. Kind of like a mindful children's picture book walk."
Rob Broder is editor and co-founder of Ripple Grove Press. His debut picture book Paul and His Ukulele launched Fall 2018. To learn more about Rob, click here and here for more on Ripple Grove Press.
24 Carrot Writing co-founder, Annie launched her debut picture book Before you Sleep: A Bedtime Book of Gratitude this year in October. Her second book Night Train hits shelves Spring 2019. To learn more about Annie, anniecroninromano.com.
Last, but not least, are a few of our favorites:
Searching for the right way to express yourself? Francine loves these additions to your typical thesaurus, available at Writers Helping Writers.
Annie featured these dishes a few years ago, and we still love them. Don't miss the Open Book Dinnerware collection through the Library of Congress gift shop.
Kelly grabbed a store logo tote when a new local indie bookstore opened. It was a perfect carrot – and she even asked the owner to sign it! This year she is planning to take it back to book signings at the store so she can ask visiting authors to add their autographed to her tote. The Silver Unicorn Bookstore tote is available on their website, but you can visit your own local bookstore and grab a tote!
And finally, a small gift from us: Melissa at Literary Book Gifts.com reached out to us in 2018 to tell us about her new line of literary gifts. We think you'll love the t-shirts and totes she has to offer. Enter the custom promo code 24carrotwriting20 at checkout and receive 20% off anything in the store, no minimum. The best gift of all? That code never expires!
Please remember to support your local independent book store or order online through Indiebound.
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and our last-minute preparation lists grow from one or two quickly scribbled Post-its into full-fledged Gantt charts, 24 Carrot Writing would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for joining us on the creative journey—for sharing the twists and turns of the creative life on a road scattered with goals and carrots! This week, may you claim snatched moments of solitude amidst family, friends and feasts in order to pamper yourself, write or sketch a little something just for fun, or maybe just have a quiet chat with a family member you see all too infrequently (and who might have an interesting story to tell if asked the right questions!).
We are thankful to have such warm, supportive individuals who cheer us on and share the highs and lows of the writing and illustrating journey. Thank you!
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!
Francine, Annie, Kelly and Amanda
Guest Blog by Susan Lubner
Please welcome picture book and middle grade novel author Susan Lubner to the 24 Carrot Writing blog. We are excited that Susan is joining us as a guest blogger to share the process that brought her latest middle grade novel, Lizzy & the Good Luck Girl (Running Press Kids, 2018) from idea, to completed manuscript, to its launch onto bookshelves this month.
A funny thing happened to me after I sold my middle grade novel Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl. After I posted the good news on Facebook in July 2017, a writer friend congratulated me and said, “Boy, you work fast!” A little more than a year had passed since we had taken the same eight-week writing workshop together. I explained to her that I had started the book before the workshop. I didn’t mention that at one point I wondered if I’d ever finish it. But her comment got me thinking… how long had it actually taken me? And what were some of the strategies I used that finally got me to the end?
The first saved document for “Lizzy” was dated October 2014. It included a whole bunch of vague notes and a character with a name I now don’t recognize. By October 2015 I had the start of a disjointed meandering story. In November 2015, I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. I was scared to death.
Turns out that November was a month of firsts for me. NaNoWriMo of course, and I bought an egg timer in earnest. I set limits for breaks. And timed uninterrupted writing sessions. Never before had I given myself a deadline to write anything. And here I committed myself to completing a first draft in a month. I wished November had 31 days.
Thanks to fortitude and my ticking timer, I completed NaNoWriMo. Now I had a much longer disjointed, meandering story that had no ending. Still, I was elated I had something to work with. My main character was nicely developed, an arc was rising. Sub plots had been added. I was excited to dig in and start rewriting. Without a doubt I would find my elusive ending.
By May 2016, with trusty egg timer keeping me focused, and my equally trusty critique partners providing feedback, my manuscript was chugging along. I signed up for that eight week writing workshop. Week six was all about endings and I still needed one. I spent most of the summer using the wonderful info I culled from the workshop; chopping, tightening, and polishing. But when summer ended, my story still had not.
In September 2016, I headed to Sequim, an area in Washington State for a five day retreat with my agency. They dubbed it camp ECLA (Emerald City Literary Agency). Although I am a fourth generation “Maniac”, being from Maine did not negate the fact that I hated summer camp. That four-letter word brought back fearful flashbacks of my eleven-year-old self as a reluctant camper: dark woods; nervous to make friends; being forced to jump into a freezing cold lake; cabins with spiders and flimsy doors that didn’t lock (what if a bear came in?).
Turns out for me adult writing camp is a whole lot better than summer camp in the 70s. My agency-mates who I met for the first time were so friendly and beyond awesome! The cabins had doors with locks (and a kitchen…and a gorgeous view of the lake which I wasn’t forced to jump into!). And the whole time I was there I only saw one spider, and it was pretty small.
One by one I checked off each little box on my get-over-your-idiotic-fears-Susan list I was keeping inside my head. I had one box left to check. I still needed to find my ending.
On an evening just before sunset, my agent and I, each sipping adult-camp drinks, sat outside and discussed my unfinished novel.
“What’s at the heart of your story?” Linda asked me. “What does Lizzy want?”
“A sign that everything will be OK,” I answered.
“What does she really want?” she pressed.
“To feel safe,” I said.
Linda asked for more.
I answered again.
But she wanted more. Deeper and deeper I dug inside my character’s heart.
Until she asked, “What do you want? What’s inside your heart?”
I stopped to think. I always dug deep inside my character to get to the want. I don’t remember ever having to dig inside myself. Sure there were pieces of me in the stories I’d written over the years. My Maine settings, my love for animals. But my stories were only slightly salted with my truths. This was Lizzy’s story, not mine! As the sun was setting and my fear of being in the dark woods was rising, I realized that I couldn’t write that ending until I figured out exactly what Lizzy wanted. The heart of my story was missing. Was it somewhere I hadn’t looked? Inside of me as Linda suspected?
On the flight back to Boston, I thought about the loss I had experienced when I was Lizzy’s age—when my dad passed away. It was different from her experience of losing an unborn sibling. But like Lizzy, during that difficult time, I too had looked to the universe for a sign that everything would turn out okay. It was a way to cope. A way to feel hopeful.
And there it was.
Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl is a story about family, love, friendship, and at its heart, the power of hope. It’s my fifth published book out of dozens unpublished. But writing this book, I learned that sometimes it’s important to step out of my comfort zone to get where I need to go: challenging myself with NaNoWriMo; setting a strict regimen of timed writing periods; attending a retreat that at first gave me pause and taking a hard look inside myself rather than my character to find the heart of a story. All of these were firsts for me. All of them crucial to creating this book.
By early 2017, I had a polished manuscript ready to send off to my agent. I decided to wait until February 14, to submit it to her. Valentine’s Day might be a good sign that she and the right editor would love it.
I wasn’t disappointed.
To purchase Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl go to Barnes and Noble at www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lizzy-and-the-good-luck-girl-susan-lubner/1128113191 or visit Indie Bound at www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=lizzy+and+the+good+luck+girl .
To learn more about Susan and her other books, visit her website at www.susanlubner.com/Home.html .
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