This week I’d like to welcome Janet Squires, the author of The Gingerbread Cowboy, who has agreed to post some of her thoughts on writing. Janet has a special offer plus some tips that should be helpful to all of you. I hope you enjoy todays post, and thanks Janet for taking the time to visit with my followers.
The Gingerbread Cowboy Anniversary Blog Blow Out
I’d like to begin by thanking Velda for hosting today’s Blog Tour post. To celebrate The Gingerbread Cowboy’s Fifth Anniversary, I have something special for her readers:
I will select one name at random from people who comment on this blog tour post to receive a $50 dollar gift certificate to OutWest Marketing, an online store for shoppers who are wild about the west. The Gift certificate will be good for 60 days and include a 10% discount and free shipping so be sure to leave your email contact information.
I was invited to share some thoughts on writing so here goes.
I began my career writing for adults, but I now spend at least half my time immersed in children’s literature. I write for children, blog about children’s books, work as the Library Media Specialist in an elementary school library and mentor authors on the topic of writing for children.
I’m hearing from many new writers who want to bring a stronger ethnic or cultural emphasis to the children’s book market. It’s wonderful to see the growing presence of culturally diverse characters. As a library media specialist, it is my goal to see every child represented in the collection. As a writer, I need to think carefully about how I craft a book.
A successful story will be both universal and individual. What I mean by that is the theme is universal enough to appeal to readers of both genders and multiple social/cultural backgrounds and at the same time individual enough that each reader will identify personally with the character’s trials and triumphs.
Here are a couple of picture book examples:
Brothers — written by Yin, is a story centered on the Chinese and Irish immigration of the mid 1800s. Young Ming arrives in San Francisco’s Chinatown to find that the family store is failing because most of the Chinese customers have relocated to work on the Transcontinental railroad. He’s warned not to leave the safety of Chinatown, but curiosity about his new country sends him exploring and he encounters Patrick, an Irish immigrant. Brothers introduces two cultures that made important contributions to this period in American history through a heartwarming story about the universal power of friendship and the spirit of discovery as exemplified by these two young protagonists.
Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding — is a contemporary story written by Lenore Look. You might ask how a story that reveals, step by step, the details of a Chinese wedding is universal. Granted that the context of the story is going to be unfamiliar for most readers, but the theme is about jealousy and the fear the protagonist, a little girl, has of losing her special relationship with her soon-to-be married favorite uncle. As a consequence, the appeal is quite broad.
In both of these examples, all of my students, boys and girls alike, enjoyed learning something about another time period and/or culture, but all of them understood on a personal level what the stories were really about and could identify with the main characters’ feelings.
I’m sure all of you can think of similar examples. If you can’t, you need to visit your local library or bookstore and catch up on your reading.
Janet Squires began her career writing articles for regional and national magazines and won the Los Angeles Pierce College 5th Annual Writers’ Conference Award for outstanding magazine article. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Women Writing the West (WWW).
Squires has co-chaired Young Authors Conferences, taught writing workshops, provided seminars for teachers, and given presentations on children’s books and the creative writing process for children and adults.
Her picture book, THE GINGERBREAD COWBOY, was declared the Arizona Governor’s 2007 First Grade Book and a special edition of 100,000 copies was printed for distribution to every first grade student in Arizona.
Click on the following for links to her sites.
Don’t forget to leave a comment. Janet will select one name at random from people who comment on the blog tour post to receive a $50 dollar gift certificate to OutWest Marketing, an online store for shoppers who are wild about the west. The Gift certificate will be good for 60 days and include a 10% discount and free shipping so be sure to leave your email contact information.