24 Carrot Writing would like to wish our readers a restful, peaceful and restorative holiday season. May you laugh boisterously with family and friends. May you reflect quietly on your growth and what you have accomplished this year. May you dream extravagantly about the coming year and the creative goals it holds. And through it all, may you embrace the time away from your work, even as you nurture creative sparks your heart.
We will return in January, rested and ready to set SMART goals for a productive new year.
See you then!
Amanda, Annie, and Kelly
By Kelly Carey
I don’t have a great singing voice. A high school choir teacher once told me that if I agreed to go to study hall instead of his class, he’d give me an A. My family begs me not sing around birthday cakes, and I mouth the words to hymns in church because I’m pretty sure God would prefer it that way.
I’m shushing my voice.
If I did this in writing, my stories either wouldn’t exist, or they’d come out flat and false and would never resonate with any reader, anywhere, ever. And yet, much like I have learned to hide my voice when it comes to singing, I think many of us have been taught to silence our voice when it comes to writing.
It happens gradually like a drip, drip, dripping until our unique way of speaking, of phrasing things, of reacting, and arranging words drowns under 20,000 leagues of edits from teachers, society, peers, and finally our own internal critic.
I do understand the idea that you need to know the rules of good writing before you can break them. We wipe out slang and colloquialism for proper grammar and impressive SAT level vocabulary. Academic writing peels out the voice of the unique individual and cushions it with research, and MLA formatting, and data, and flow charts, and the desire to match a professor’s rubric.
Society and peers place expectations on us that can alter our voice so that we comply with popular opinions, norms, and accepted practices. Layer over that our fear of sharing our inner thoughts; concerns that our experiences and feelings are solo outliers; a belief that no one would understand; and a dread that our voice might be met with raised eyebrows, confused stares, or worse and BAM we mouth the words instead of writing them down.
I think we are all born with these beautiful voices, but somewhere along the line, we zip our lips and head to study hall.
The gifted writers in our community don’t go to study hall – they sing LOUD! They don’t worry about a choir teacher giving them an F, a chuckle at a birthday party, or the way the guy’s neck hair in front of them in church stands on end – they just let their writing voice sing.
Examine what happens in that split second of time between a thought popping into your head and the thought becoming words on a page. How much pummeling does it take before you write it down? Do you hear your high school English teacher? Are you thinking about how your mother will react? Worried about what a co-worker will think? Are you editing it for an agent, editor, or potential reader? All this before it makes it to the page and suddenly your wonderful true to you thought is a diluted pile of boring mush.
The idea that you should dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening – it’s not quite as easy to apply when it comes out write like no one is reading. Let’s flip it to say: write like everyone wants to read!
Write loud in your voice! No need to go to study hall – you got this! And we want to hear it!
by Annie Cronin Romano
The holiday season has arrived. When my children were young, one of our favorite activities to do was cuddling on the couch reading holiday picture books. Sometimes there were old favorites; other times they were the latest arrivals at our local library or bookshop. This post is a mix of holiday classics and newer arrivals to the shelves. Hopefully you'll find a few titles to add to your "must read" list (links are included with the cover images). Please share your favorite holiday picture books in the comments!
SANTA MOUSE, by Michael Brown, illustrated by Edfrieda DeWitt
MR. WILLOWBY'S CHRISTMAS TREE, by Robert E. Barry
PICK A PINE TREE, by Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis
RED AND LULU, by Matt Tavares
CHRISTMAS FARM, by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Barry Root
OSKAR AND THE EIGHT BLESSINGS, by Richard Simon & Tanya Simon, illustrated by Mark Siegel
THE TREE THAT'S MEANT TO BE, by Yuval Zommer
HANUKKAH BEAR, by Eric A Kimmel, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
OLIVE, THE OTHER REINDEER, by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh
SEVEN SPOOLS OF THREAD: A KWANZAA STORY, by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Daniel Minter
DASHER, by Matt Tavares
THE TREES OF THE DANCING GOATS, by Patricia Polacco
Happy Holidays from all of us at 24 Carrot Writing!
Welcome to our annual holiday gift list! We have asked our guest bloggers and contributors about their favorite 2019 writing and illustrating things. Because they are always fabulous, they have provided a fantastic list of practical, frivolous, and fun gift ideas. Happy shopping!
Jamie Tan is a Senior Publicist at Candlewick Press and has her MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College. Before working at Candlewick Press, Jamie worked in events and marketing at several independent bookstores. You can find her on Twitter @thejamietan.
Angela Burke Kunkel's debut picture book, DIGGING FOR WORDS: JOSÉ ALBERTO GUTIÉRREZ AND THE LIBRARY HE BUILT (illustrated by Paola Escobar and published by Random House/Schwartz & Wade) releases in Fall 2020. To learn more about Angela, visit her website at https://www.angelakunkel.com/
Jarrett Lerner is the creator of the EngiNerds series, and is currently juggling seven different upcoming book projects. He is using LOTS of Post-it notes to keep himself organized and on schedule. To learn more about Jarrett visit his website at https://jarrettlerner.com/
In addition to Lizzy and The Good Luck Girl (Running Press Kids, 2019), Susan is the author of The Upside of Ordinary and numerous picture books. To learn more about Susan, visit her website at https://www.susanlubner.com/.
Tania de Regil:
Honestly, the greatest thing I’ve learned this year, both in my writing and illustrating, is letting go! I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true. No one should worry about what people are going to think or say about their work, so I remind myself every day that I do this because I love it. In more technical aspects, I started using the Schmincke watercolors and they are fantastic!
Tania de Regil is an author and illustrator from Mexico City who made her US debut this year with A New Home/ Un Nueva Hogar (Candlewick Press, 2019). To learn more about Tania, and browse her online print shop for some lovely Christmas gifts, visit her website at https://taniaderegil.com/books/
Lisa is a children's librarian and author of 16 WORDS: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND "THE RED WHEELBARROW" (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2019) which has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and is
A Junior Library Guild Selection. Lisa's second picture book HOUND WONT GO (Albert Whitman & Co.) launches spring of 2020. To learn more about Lisa visit her at lisarogerswrites.com.
Studio Goodwin Sturges is a boutique artists agency dedicated predominately to children’s trade publishing. They look for artists who have a real sense of a child’s world and how to dynamically depict it. To learn more about Studio Goodwin Sturges please visit them at: http://www.studiogoodwinsturges.com/.
Kelly Carey is a co-founder of 24 Carrot Writing and her debut picture book, HOW LONG IS FOREVER? launches from Charlesbridge in April of 2020. To learn more about Kelly visit her website at http://www.kcareywrites.com/.
Lori Mortensen is an award-winning children’s author of more than 70 books and over 350 stories and articles. Recent releases include AWAY WITH WORDS: THE DARING STORY OF ISABELLA BIRD and IF WENDELL HAD A WALRUS. Visit her website at www.lorimortensen.com.
Ileana Soon is an illustrator/visual development artist who grew up in Borneo before making her way to Los Angeles where she currently lives and works. NIGHT TRAIN is her debut as a picture book illustrator. Learn more about Ileana at http://ileanasoon.com.
Two things I cannot live without as an agent (and the only things that keep me organized) are:
1. Sharpie Pens. They are the best fine-point pens out there, and anyone who has seen my handwriting knows that a nice clean black line means a lot to me! I use them to hand-address the envelopes when we do promotional mailings. I realize that the fact that I hand letter 250 addresses 3x a year makes me crazy, but the fact that they can withstand that kind of abuse is proof positive that they are awesome!
2. A nice college ruled small notebook with a thick, sturdy cover. I write everything in my notebook. From keeping a to-do list (complete with boxes to check!), to taking notes in meetings or conferences, to jotting down story ideas, to score-keeping my family rummy games, it’s got everything in it. It’s my travel companion and life line. Let’s not talk about what would happen it it was misplaced! Right now, I’m using this one from Madewell.
Christy T. Ewers is one half of the agenting team at The CAT Agency, where she represents illustrators and author/illustrators in the children’s industry, along with her mother and partner, Chris Tugeau, who founded the agency in 1994. The CAT Agency is a boutique agency that believes in the hands-on approach in representing a diverse group of talent from all over the world.
Rachel Lynn Solomon:
I'm always cold, so my favorite writing accessory has to be these adorable writing gloves from Storiarts. They come in a variety of bookish patterns and make lovely gifts for author friends -- or for yourself!
Rachel Lynn Solomon is the author of the YA novels You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone, Our Year of Maybe, and the forthcoming Today Tonight Tomorrow (6/16/20), all from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. You can find her online at rachelsolomonbooks.com and on Twitter @rlynn_solomon.
My favorite way to keep track of my daily writing tasks, is this day planner by Day Designer. I love the roomy pages, with designated to-do list space, for each day. It also features tabs, and a month overview and has plenty of extra note pages to jot down monthly goals. It comes delivered in a beautiful box, which makes it an ideal no-wrapping- required gift.
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