In between dipping gingerbread toes into warm cups of cocoa, 24 Carrot Writing's guest bloggers, contributors, and active founders have conjured up the 2023 Writer's Holiday Wish List!
While we cannot wrap up a book deal, or tie a shiny bow around a starred review, we are sharing the special items that make our creative endeavors happier, more successful, and wonderfully productive. We hope you find ideas you want to share and maybe a few carrots for your next month of goals.
If folks are asking for gift ideas, this is the post to send them.
Kirsten is the author of WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane, illustrated by Tracy Subisak (Calkins Creek 2020), A TRUE WONDER: The Comic Book Hero Who Changed Everything, illustrated by Katy Wu (Clarion 2021), and THE FIRE OF STARS: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars Are Made Of, illustrated by Katherine Roy (Chronicle 2023). Learn more about Kirsten at KirstenWLarson.com.
Cathy Ballou Mealey is the Boston based author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Sterling 2019), SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press 2021) and MAKE MORE S'MORES (Sleeping Bear Press 2023). Learn more about Cathy here.
Carol's two most recent titles are SOME DADDIES (Beaming Books, 2022) and TRUCKER KID (Capstone, 2023). You can find out more about her books and writing life at https://carolgordonekster.com.
KIRKUS said of Ellen Mayer’s new picture book GIFT & BOX, “This story is absolutely the full package” (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2023). This book for ages 3-7 years makes a perfect gift for the upcoming December holidays. To learn more about Ellen, visit her at www.ellenmayerbooks.com
Lindsay H. Metcalf is a former journalist who writes nonfiction and poetry for children. Her latest book, NO WORLD TOO BIG: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change (Charlesbridge, 2023) is a poetry anthology from the team behind the award-winning NO VOICE TOO SMALL (Charlesbridge, 2021). OUTDOOR FARM, INDOOR FARM (Astra Young Readers 2024), illustrated by Xin Li, is forthcoming in the spring of 2024. Learn more at lindsayhmetcalf.com and @lindsayhmetcalf on social media.
Nancy Tupper Ling is a children’s author, poet, book seller and librarian. Basically, she
surrounds herself with books! Occasionally, she creates a few books of her own, including her latest, ONE PERFECT PLAN: THE BIBLE'S BIG STORY IN TINY POEMS, plus THE STORY I'LL TELL, DOUBLE HAPPINESS, THE YING-YANG SISTERS, MY SISTER, AILCIA MAY and FOR EVERY LITTLE THING with co-
author, June Cotner. Visit www.nancytupperling.com to learn more.
Kelly is a 24 Carrot Writing co-founder and an award winning children’s fiction author. Her picture book, HOW LONG IS FOREVER? (Charlesbridge, 2020) was named a MUST READ by the Mass Center for the Book. To learn more about Kelly visit here.
Amanda Smith is a co-founder of 24 Carrot Writing. Her poems can be found in the Writer's Loft Anthologies, Gnomes and Ungnomes: Poems of Hidden Creatures (December, 2023) and Friends and Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children and in the upcoming anthology Bless the Earth (Convergent Books, 2024). Learn more at AmandaSmithWrites.
Kristi Mahoney is a children's book writer from Massachusetts. Her debut picture book, ALPACAS MAKE TERRIBLE LIBRARIANS, will be released by Gnome Road Publishing in Fall 2024. Kristi is a regular contributor to 24 Carrot Writing. She can be reached at www.kristimahoneybooks.com.
Megan is the author of TWINKLE, TWINKLE, WINTER NIGHT (Clarion, 2022) and the DIRT & BUGSY early reader series (Penguin Workshop, 2023). She is a 24 Carrot Writing regular contributor. To learn more about Megan visit her here.
Annie Cronin Romano is one of the co-founders of 24 Carrot Writing and is a published picture book author. In addition to her love of kidlit, she also writes adult fiction, works as a bookseller at an indie bookstore, and is a literary associate with Olswanger Literary. Learn more about Annie at www.anniecroninromano.com.
Guest Blog by Susan Lubner
One morning I accidentally locked myself inside a large dog crate with my Standard Poodle. He was pleasantly surprised. Me? Not-so-much surprised, and there was nothing pleasant about it.
There was the time back in the 1990’s when I thought I had phoned a women’s clothing boutique by the name of Definitely Wendy. A who’s on first type of conversation ensued. “Is this Definitely Wendy?” I asked. “Yes. It’s definitely Wendy’s,” the woman replied. I asked if they had any wraps in stock. (I was hoping for cashmere or at least a blend.) “We have pita wraps,” she told me. I thought she said Peter wraps. I’d never heard of that designer. “What are those like?” I asked. She said, “You can get them however you want…lettuce, tomatoes, pickles…” (As a sidebar…I never knew that that Wendy’s served anything but burgers!)
Then there was the day last spring when I showed up at a meeting wearing my fuzzy slippers (did I tell you that the meeting was at a construction site?) Embarrassed, I apologized for leaving my house so absent-mindedly only to have someone point out that I was also wearing my sweater inside out.
I have a knack for finding myself in situations like these. And it runs in my family. My mother had oodles of her own humorous and seemingly preposterous stories and situations to tell and retell.
In the first book of my new early reader chapter book series, Drag and Rex Forever Friends (November 2023) there are three stories, each with three chapters. My characters, Drag and Rex were created with real qualities of real somebodies…great friends with very different personalities…a truth seed! But then of course, there’s the fictionalized fact that one is a dragon and the other a T-rex. And that’s just the beginning. Their qualities are exaggerated greatly, and I made up other characteristics. Still, they started with that truth seed.
In the first story, an impulsive Drag cannot help himself and gobbles up something meant as a surprise for someone else. (There may have been that time I was bringing a fresh baked loaf of bread to a friend’s house for dinner and by the time I arrived there was only half a loaf left.) I use that same truth seed in the next story, and again in book 2 (Sweet and Silly, Fall 2024) each time in entirely different ways, with completely different storylines. That seed of truth…that I ate half a loaf of bread on the way to my friend’s house… is unrecognizable in each book. Yet it was used to successfully “sprout” a variety of fictionalized scenes.
Even if you have never locked yourself in a cage with your dog, we all have truth seeds. What are yours? And which ones should you catalogue?
It’s possible you already keep a diary or maybe you have one and don’t realize it! It may be that your truth seeds can be found in your many photos… fabulous trips, numerous family celebrations, your happiest moments with friends. Maybe you have compiled a list of your favorite quotes? Or poems? Or restaurants? Or maybe you keep track of the titles of all the shows you plan to watch (or have watched) or the books you want to read (or have read). Is there a common theme to all of these titles?
Some people keep track of goals or dreams (as in the kind you have when you are sleeping). Do you have a collection of coins or stamps or seashells and a special memory attached to some of them? Perhaps you have several of these things?
There’s no right or wrong way to use your truth seeds. Maybe a setting is fleshed out from that special beach you captured in your photo? Maybe your opening scene starts with the crazy dream you had last night or the coincidence you experienced two weeks ago? How many different ways can that setting, or scene or character be written? Try it. See where it takes you…it just may kickstart your next story.
In the end, it’s very possible that your manuscript will turn into something that doesn’t even resemble that first planted seed. That’s the fun and beauty of fiction. But the seed will sprout and grow and maybe even blossom. It will serve you well! And that’s the truth.
Susan Lubner is the author of three picture books (Abrams Books for Young Readers) and two middle grade novels, LIZZY AND THE GOOD LUCK GIRL (Running Press Kids/Hachette Books) and THE UPSIDE OF ORDINARY (Holiday House). To learn more about Susan visit her at https://www.susanlubner.com/. To order a copy of DRAG & REX click here.
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