Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The Dragon Has Swallowed a Knight!

Hear ye! hear ye! 

For this day, my Good Lady, Penny Klostermann is visiting 
The Storyteller’s Scroll with a message of good cheer about her crafted picture book, There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight. I met Penny at The Poets’ Garage and she’s a fabulous rhymer. 

Verily, it is so! Good morrow, My Lady, ‘tis most splendid thou hast agreed to visit.

1.   Can you give us a snapshot of your work, other than There Was An Old Dragon, which is currently overtaking bookstores with a fierce roar!

Along with picture books, I also enjoy writing poetry. I have to admit that I'm not very good about submitting my poems for publication. I have files of them, but have submitted only a few. My first published poem came out this past spring The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations for National Button Day (November 16th).  

I have several picture book manuscripts out on submission and many more manuscripts that I'm polishing. I did start a new story last week. I'd been thinking about it for years. It was inspired by a true Show and Tell story from my teaching days. 

2.   Since you have a teaching background with older elementary kids, what draws you to the pre-school age group? Do you have any plans to write for older readers?

     Actually, I spent most of my teaching career in elementary. I 
     taught Pre-K-5th grade. I’m drawn to picture books because they are
     such a unique form. The marriage of text and art is something very
     special. It’s exciting to me that someone will take my text and bring
     another half of the story.

         As far as writing for older readers, I have thought about it and jotted
         down a few ideas, but that's as far as I've gotten. I spend my time
         studying picture books and perfecting my manuscripts. I know if I 
         want to write for older readers that it will be a whole new learning 
         curve . . . but maybe someday.

3.   Could you tell us what resources or writing classes have helped you in getting just the right formula for Dragon?

I have to give the most credit to my critique group, the Picture Bookies. There are eight of us. Four are in the US and four are in the UK. I have been with this group since I starting writing seriously. Their feedback was invaluable as I worked on Dragon.

As far as classes, Susanna Leonard Hill's, Making Picture Book Magic, is wonderful. It's a great roadmap for writing a manuscript. For me, her class has been such a useful tool. I refer to the class materials as I'm writing, and then find a way to stray away from the roadmap and take my story "off-road" to give it a unique element or twist.

Although I’d already written Dragon when I took this class, I’ve found RenĂ©e LaTulippe’s class, The Lyrical Language Lab, very helpful, as I think about the language in all picture book manuscripts I write.

I follow a slew of blogs, but if I started naming them I know I'd leave someone out. I think we're lucky to have so many blogs filled with writing tips. Whether it's a review of a book or an interview with an author or another writing-related subject, I find nuggets to file away and apply to my work.

4.   With my Rock Star Santa book, I sat down and wrote a rough draft in a half hour. How long did it take you to write There Was An Old Dragon?

My rough draft took about two hours. And when I say rough, I mean rough :-) It started out as a poem for a poetry challenge. I saw promise and tweaked it over the next two years.

5.   Any advice for aspiring picture book writers that think creating a parody manuscript is easy? I would think that it is actually harder to make the story fresh and original.

A special challenge when writing a parody is finding a way to make the story stand out. I wanted to give a nod to the original yet change it in a unique way? I do think it's hard to make it fresh and original so I asked myself, "What can I do that hasn't been done?" I feel I did this in a couple of ways but most especially with my ending. As far as I know, there is not another “swallowed the fly” parody with an ending like mine. 

6.   Do you work on more than one picture book manuscripts at a time?

Oh yes. Right now I have three at the forefront. For me this works because I can switch projects when I'm stuck. That way I always have something to work on.

7.   What’s next for you, my good lady? Any new stories in the pipeline?

I have another picture book coming out Spring 2017. The title is A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE. It's about a well-meaning chef who accidentally cooks up ingredients essential to famous fairy tales—Snow White's apple, Jack's magic beans, and Cinderella's pumpkin. This makes the happily-ever-afters a bit challenging. Ben Mantle will be illustrating this one, too. I can't wait to see his illustrations. 

        Verily, we thought it might be fun to play 

Two Truths and a Lie
        Penny has listed three events. Two are true, and one is a lie.

         1. I spent many days of my childhood on a clippity-clopping horse 
             that loved to trot almost as much as the knight's clippity-clopping

         2. I revised much of this manuscript while singing in the shower to 
             the traditional tune of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.

         3. At one point, I mentioned to my editor that I had moved a baby 
             crow from the danger of my street to the safety of my yard. 
             This story made its way to Ben Mantle and the crow made it 
             into the illustrations.

         How many of you can guess which is the falsehood?

         Thanks so much for stopping by to visit with us. Adieu, My Good Lady
         and much success in your writing endeavors.

       There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Fly  
can be purchased at

Texas Star Trading Co.-signed copies

        Thank you so much for having me, Gayle.

        You are very welcome, Penny.

        Penny is happy to give away a signed copy of There Was an Old 
       Dragon Who Swallowed a Fly.
        Just leave a guess about which statement is the lie in the comments
        below and will choose a winner by September 5th.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

GPS for Your Novel’s Main Character
Gentle Passionate Sassy/Snarky
Had a session with my critique group today, and we discussed how to get into our character’s heads to make their story more believable. This led me to come up with a list of ways to achieve that goal.
1.    Write a daily journal in your MC’s voice for a week. You may find he/she is giving you an insight to their problem. 
2.    Or you may find the solution to something that has been preventing you from moving the story forward.
3.   List the their most obvious traits that make them a complex character and let it come out in their dialogue and attitude.
4.   If that doesn’t work read through your favorite YA novel, or one that is in the same genre as your WIP, and write a few sentences about the protagonist using the following prompts:
a.   What is their problem?
b.   What is their motivation to obtain a solution to that problem, including internal and external motivators?
c.    What traits make them complex (and either help or hurt their quest to solve their problem)?
d.   What conflicts arise because he or she tries to solve their problem?
At the end of this writing exercise, you’ll have a rough road map of the character (and also how the protagonist’s choices influence the plot). Once you see an example, you can begin to develop your own character road map and define the elements that create a living, breathing protagonist.

Good luck!

For a chance to win a free critique of your first chapter by me, tell us how you get into your character’s head? Winner will be chosen by random selector generator.

Enter by August 27th.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Oz, Reimagined

Spelled by Betsy Schow

Puns, fairy tales and snark, oh my!

Spelled is a laugh-out-loud romp through Oz with new and unique characters and new twists on old ones. Schow has cleverly intertwined several Oz characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow) and The Marvelous Land of Oz  (Mombi) with the classic fairy tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. She includes modern pop culture references with fantasy names like Glitter, instead of Twitter, UPS Service -United Pegasus Service, and Hans Christian Louboutin designer heels.

Dorthea, the Emerald Princess, goes on an adventure seeking to put the order of magic that she unwittingly changed by a selfish wish, back to normal. No one ever heard of an Emerald princess with green fire for hair marrying a chimera. And no Emerald princess ever had a smart-mouthed handmaiden, who was filled with more fear than friendship, causing her betrayal. But Dorthea, Rexi, and Kato make this fast-paced, magical adventure a story the reader will not quickly forget. Kudos for humor and magic.

Four stars ****

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Writing Tip - Beware of Repetitive Redundancies.

This was originally printed in the SCBWI Bulletin a few years ago, but in critiquing several manuscripts for an upcoming conference, I thought it might be helpful to repost it on my blog for those who insist on writing repetitive redundancies.

Repetitive Redundancies
By Gayle C. Krause

What kind of title is that? It means the same thing. Exactly my point! Many new writers are absolutely certain that they have assembled together a manuscript adhering to the basic essentials of good writing, combined together with creative imaginings, or true fact, which in my own personal opinion, is exactly the same as stamping it with a negative rejection form before it even gets sent out.

Redundancies are common in the writing of new authors; even some seasoned ones let them slip by. A writer must be aware of words that say the same thing twice. Being a writer in several critique groups, both live and online, I often see simple phrases written by fellow authors, which employ double words that have the same meaning. Sometimes writers, especially new ones, tend to get caught up in the content of their story or article, and fail to realize their wordiness simply destroys the flow. Readers then must reread the paragraph to understand what the writer was trying to say.

Some manuscript doctors suggest you slash and burn, cutting out unneeded words to make the piece more efficient. Although clarity and conciseness is our goal as writers, cutting out our favorite words or passages is not the key, however, checking for a few simple ways to reduce wordiness is.

Redundant phrases are the first place to look. Redundancies arise from three sources:
1.     wordy phrases
2.     obvious qualifiers
3.     using two or more synonyms together

One pair of words most commonly overused is repeat again. Either use repeat, or again, but not both. Below are a few others.

i.e. advance planning, invited guest, old adage, continue on, end result, final conclusion, free gift, identical match, new innovation, refer back, sudden impulse, sum total

It is also the author’s responsibility to choose powerful words for their writing. This technique is referred to as direct writing. They should make their words do their own work and not prop them up with over inflated phrases that don’t really mean anything. These phrases tend to make the piece wordy. Stronger words without supporting phrases make the piece more readable.

i.e. suggestions for replacements of wordy phrases

a considerable number of………………….many
at the present time………………………….now
based on the fact that………………………because
despite the fact that………………………..although
in connection with…………………………regarding

There are numerous strong words, which can replace weak ones or wordy phrases. The use of a thesaurus is essential in writing, and even then some phrases or words still need to be replaced.

            By keeping these few tips in mind as you write, or revise you will pare down verbosity and make your writing stronger, clearer and more concise. A writing style that is crisp and clear will attract an editor’s eye. J

Ratgirl writing sample:

Whoever said the teen years were the best of a girl’s life didn’t come from Metro City. Hell, they can’t imagine what it’s like to be me, living in a sewer tunnel by day, and foraging the forest for food, or scavenging through abandoned mansions at night. Anything I find, that I can’t use to survive this hellhole I trade for money.
And then, there’s the Megamark Guards, who patrol this dying city. I avoid them at all cost. One never knows when they’ll turn on you. I’ve seen them beat up the homeless on a wager, or for sheer entertainment. No, it’s not an easy life.
We used to live in brick houses and modern apartments, but the sun’s savage rays turned our lives upside down. It took a while to get used to sleeping in the day, but night, as dangerous as it is, is the only time we can venture to the surface to seek food or trade our services.

Between the deadly daytime sun, and the vindictive Guards, I spend half my time surviving, and the other half planning how to. If this is the best part of my life, I might as well be dead. Only one thing keeps me alive . . . .