Thoughts

The Underdog?

 

By Larissa Juliano

 Katy finished up the side streets. So traffic could move in and out around the city.
Then she went home to rest. Then…and only then did Katy stop.
~Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

            Desperation. Not wanting to give up. Does my work matter? Am I enough?

What is this feeling? The feeling that can’t seem to contain these words and images and ideas that I want to shout from the rooftops? Or, how Katy can’t sit still as the snow piles on, until finally the Highway Department gives her the go-ahead! Go Katy, go! Is this what authors feel when they decide…they DETERMINE, I am going to make my words KNOWN… I am going to plow the snow! Desperate? Vulnerable and brave for sure….and most definitely, accessible to others. Because that is how I feel when I write…excited and eager, but really super vulnerable.

Writing is so personal. Whether it is a poem depicting elements in a season, or short stories about motherhood, descriptions of nature and the thoughts and associations that go along with it. Funny? Funny is HARD to write. Is it really funny, or just to me? What about writing that is weird, dark, scary or morbid?

Words come from our hearts to our minds to our fingertips to people’s eyes. Our innermost thoughts that most often WE don’t even understand, become available for the world to see- and we choose to do that! This is not our diary tucked under our pillow from the emotional middle school years…Writing for the world and sending our sketchy, fractured, awesome, manuscripts means opening ourselves up in such a different way.

Through this experience of being an indie author (and an aspiring traditionally published author)- I have gained such a deeper sense of empathy for writers and what it means to expose ourselves and hope for some kind of response- any response really! Acknowledgment perhaps that our work is getting noticed. Am I plowing enough snow? Did I make a difference?

Boy, the market is competitive. So many ridiculously creative, ingenious and innovative authors – like, where do they get their ideas from? How to compete? I suppose ultimately, as I’ve shared on previous posts, if our writing touches peoples lives in some way- whether it’s our family, our kids, students, friends, and more…if a child feels like they connected to your story, that their voice was heard, that they saw themselves in your story- well, that is what keeps me going. 🙂

PS- I totally could’ve referenced Mike Mulligan by Virginia Lee Burton as well, and Maybelle. And The Little House. LOVE HER.

She is a master at supporting “the underdogs”.

 

 

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Developing Memorable or Quirky Characters

Absolutely loved this post on kathytemean.wordpress.com

Such great advice for writers in all phases of their writing journey!!!

 

Writing and Illustrating

You know I have mentioned the Children’s Book Academy and their upcoming Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books interactive e-Course, but I thought you might be interested in reading an excerpt from one of the topics studied in class and provide some inspiration, to start out the New Year, right.

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Developing Memorable or Quirky Characters

by Dr. Mira Reisberg

In all plot-driven stories, the main character is called the protagonist (or hero) and is usually the age of the reader. The other characters are either supporting characters – a best friend, family members, or a companion animal are usually the closest supporting characters – or villains of different degrees (mean school kids are less villainous than the robbers in one of my favorite books, Dav Pilkey’s Dog Breath, and have more of a potential to change). However, whoever your characters are, it is essential that they be interesting, especially…

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Honey, what did you read at school today? by Larissa Juliano

Nerdy Book Club Post!! So amazing. Can’t wait to share more with this amazing community of readers and writers.

Nerdy Book Club

“The idea of the extraordinary happening in the context

of the ordinary is what’s fascinating to me.”

-Chris Van Allsburg

When I share stories with my children and students, I pay attention to what makes their eyes sparkle…I want to know what makes them feel intrigued and which literature will imprint on their minds as they ride home on the school bus and share about their day around the dinner table. What initially hooks a child as they step into a library, a bookstore, a cozy reading nook?

Illustrations…of course.

But let’s talk about what goes into the writing once the story is being shared. In my experience, enthralling (does not have to be a best-seller, but just thoroughly enjoyed in your story time!) children’s literature has many of the following:

  • Engaging characters (obviously!)

These are books that make kids smile…witty dialogue, vulnerable and authentic emotions, relatable family dynamics. My kids…

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Sources of Information versus Sources of Inspiration

I am obsessed with soooooo many of this fabulous teacher’s ideas and cannot wait to try some of them in upcoming writing workshops and presentations about my literature inspirations, mentor texts, and more. LOVE. ❤️❤️❤️

Crawling Out of the Classroom

We are well on our way into our informational writing project. I explained with our first work with informational writing, I wanted to make sure to find ways to give more power over to my students as we began one of our final writing projects of the school year.  When we were working on our wonder writing, I saw the power of asking students to choose and analyze and learn from their own mentor texts. For so long, I have seen the power of mentor texts to turn children into better writers. But, only recently, have I begun to realize that if I really want to teach my students to become lifelong writers, then I need to teach them how to learn from the writers they are surrounded by in their lives.

This means that instead of choosing all of the mentor texts for my students, I needed to do…

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Gifts for Writers: Holiday 2016 Edition

Love this post! Had to share. Thank you to Tara Lazar!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

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Once again it’s time for Santa to load up his sleigh—and good little writers everywhere will be hoping to discover inspiration in their stockings. These are the lovely trinkets, thingamabobs and tasty tidbits I’ve found that may tickle the fancy of that children’s writer you know (wink, wink, that’s you). I’ve also asked kidlit friends to suggest gifts. Plus, please feel free to leave a comment with your own holiday picks. Also remember there are many more selections on my Things Writers Like Pinterest board.

Of course, I wish publishing contracts for you all!

You get a book, YOU get a book, YOU ALL GET A BOOK!!!

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BUILD-ON-BRICK MUG
selected by Tara

brickmugAvailable via ThinkGeek

Every writer needs a good cuppa while they’re compiling their next masterpiece. A morning chai allows me to think through what I want to accomplish for the day. Taking time to stop and ponder before committing pen to paper is always a…

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Who are we writing for?

 

“I like you the way you are…
but you’ll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap fastened.”
~Corduroy by Don Freeman

 

Every time I read this story, it brings tears to my eyes. Sweet, innocent Corduroy so desperately looking for a button, but really looking for friendship and a place to call home. Isn’t that what we are all looking for in life? Don Freeman captures the innocence of a teddy bear symbolizing a universal desire in life to feel accepted and safe.

Time and time again, I read stories and converse with my students about the author’s message…what are they trying to share between the lines? Friendship? Acceptance? Tolerance? Bravery? Overcoming Obstacles? All of the above? Think of the famous “Pigeon” books by Mo Willems… Ultimately, Pigeon is searching for empathy and someone to comfort him and listen to his needs.

This is the essence of what I try to thread in my stories…in between the lines. All the story elements that make a story – a story- but infused together in a way that ultimately give children a voice on how to make the world a better, kinder place. Through Archway Publishing, I was given this opportunity. After half a dozen notebooks filled with ideas, brainstorming sessions with my family, countless emails to agents and publishers – this deep desire and longing to put my words into print made me feel restless.

And I was beginning to feel jealous. Jealous that my words were not being shared when I felt so strongly that they would make my students smile. It seems selfish but it was a clear indication to me that I was ready to take my notebooks to the next level…Through an incredible supportive husband, family and Archway Publishing team- they made my aspirations come true! Sounds cheesy, but there is such gratification in having your words put into print, a shiny hardcover, the spine imprinted with your name, ready to have gentle fingers turn the page. A bedtime story on the laps of our parents never goes out of style. The way my Archway team understood my vision and made me realize that it was obtainable created such a trust and bond between us for which I will forever be grateful.

Being a library and reading teacher gives me the wonderful privilege of sharing countless tales with hundreds of students every day. Teaching in a low-income, rural district has shown me that these very students are never given opportunities to travel outside their community. I write to inspire. To connect. To tug at heartstrings. To give children a voice. To satisfy my own wanderlust. My pencil (keyboard) is filled with endless stories, words, and destinations that transport children to wherever their imagination will let them go.

I like to sprinkle poignant quotes from literature to inspirit a sense of connection between authors. Authors have such big hearts. We want…NEED… to connect with people (the restlessness!) and feel like maybe the character we create on the page could be our reader…someone lonely, or sad, different or stuck – and pray that our message will penetrate into their beautiful minds and let them know that it is all going to be okay. And no matter what our circumstances, for a few short hours, stories can inspire us and show us that there are people out there who love us just they way we are.

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My favorite…

Kindness in November

I’ve organized these groups and clubs throughout my teaching career, and wanted to show their description that I provided to staff and families. Try one at school or home! Please follow my website for updates…

People Power

This literature focus explores the power of EMPATHY, POSITIVITY, KINDNESS, and BRAVERY in characters and how it changes lives.  I create posters of the above character traits and then ‘debate’ which fits best for the literature. Students can reflect on their  OWN ‘inner powers’ through their own backgrounds and life experiences…which naturally produces thoughtful discussions. I really love to let them share how they interpret the story and I validate their feelings…any thoughts on literature are our OWN innermost reactions, and they are all valid, important, and authentic...one of the best parts of being with our younger readers…no filter!!

My top ten favorite books about kindness….for all ages.  There are so many I wanted to share, but these ones in particular tug at my heartstrings. And they also exemplify and portray a sense of innocence in the characters which makes them feel more relatable to our young readers.  (PS- I think there are 13…and I will probably edit this post three more times thinking of 100 books I forgot to mention….seriously. Authors have such good hearts…) 

Please contact Larissa if you would like her to share one of these workshops/programs with your school, library, or small creative writing group! This is my passion.