February's Inspirational Quote

"One Hour at a Time"
~ Laurie Wallmark.

Dear Laurie,
You might not recall saying this and perhaps I won't remember the specifics but you are our inspiration for the rest of February and maybe even March.

You and I were on the phone and talking about how hard it is to write a novel and as usual I was whining and feeling sorry for my long-a$$ journey. And you told me about how you were working and how busy you were so you wrote your novel one hour at a time. Astounded I said, "You wrote your novel one hour at a time?" And you said, "Yup." And I thought, "Wow... ... ..."

Often times we think we need - or I think I need - huge chunks of time set aside so I can write. Do you do that too? What if we gave ourselves one hour of each day? If it turns into two, well then fine, but if not, at least you still had your One Hour at a Time. So that is the motto of the month, thanks to ours truly, Laurie Wallmark.

We love you, Laurie!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks one year since that rainy April evening when we all first met to form the Hunterdon County Children's Writer's Group. So, I wanted to say...

I also wanted to thank all of you because without you, there wouldn't be the HCCWG.

Also, I think we must all give a special blogger round of applause for our wonderful and talented facilitators. They didn't ask to lead a group. They, like you, wanted to join a group on April 16, 2007. But with the group of 60 eager people, they rose to the challenge. So, please join me in saying, THANK YOU to Cathleen, Jeanne, Laurie, Leeza, Pat, and now our newest facilitator - Tina. Thank you ladies, from the bottom of this writer's heart, thank you!

WRITING EXERCISE NUMBER I - They Say Fairies Live Here... Don't worry, there is still time to get your Fairy stories in by the May 1st deadline. We have received a few. Please check them out under Writing Exercise I in the comments section. And be sure to leave yours. It does not have to be a perfectly developed story. It can be 50 words... 100 words... And it is fun. It is writing for writing's sake. So no pressure, no stress.

But now it's time for WRITING EXERCISE NUMBER II - and this one's meant to make you think in just one, single sentence... If you can't do this with one of your own stories, see if you can do it with one of your favorite children's stories published by one of your favorite authors. Here is the challenge... Can you tell your story in just one sentence? One sentence, simply stating the main character, his/her problem, and the resolution. Sometimes it's easier if you use the words When.... then.... until....

Here are a few to get your started...

Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton (PB)
When Russell the Sheep can't fall asleep, he tries several techniques that don't work, until sleep finally comes.
One Hungry Monster by Susan Heyboer O'Keefe (PB)
When (the boy) feeds one hungry monster, he must feed all ten, until he finally figures out how to settle his now chaotic home.
The Big Wave by Pearl S. Buck (MG Novel)
When Jiya's left orphaned after a tsunami claims his family and village, he must choose between living a poor life with love, or a rich life without love, until he ultimately chooses his own path and discovers spiritual wealth out ways financial wealth any day.

Stating your story in its simplest form will put you once again in touch with your original message. It is then easy to build on that simple statement. When it becomes too convoluted, so does your story. It's a good idea, once you have encapsulated your story into a single sentence, to print it out and clip it to the top of your computer, or on a bulletin board. So, as you start to complicate things, you can glance up at it and remember to stick with your simple sentence. That's not to say that our stories can't change and develop, but once we lose touch with the simplicity of our statement, it will begin to show up on our pages.
So, give it a try... Write you story in one sentence and post it in the comments section.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Sheri ks, ks


Sheri said...

OK so here's mine. I know you know I mostly write novels, but here is one of my PBs...

Princess Madison hates wearing formal gowns, but wants to please her mom, the queen, so she designs a dress to make them both happy...

In this example I used 'but' and 'so' instead of 'then' and 'until.'

Patricia said...

Bravo, Sheri ... with your "keep it simple" exercise/message. Here's mine ...

Edward travels from a distant planet to attend school on Earth, but when he finds himself a target of bullies, he fights back in his own way.

Sheri said...

Pat, I think you really encapsulated your story perfectly in one sentence and made it enticing that I would want to read it from that one sentence.

Do you think it opened your eyes towards a re-write, showed where your story, perhaps, strayed from your sentence, or maybe wasn't as strong as your sentence?

I know for me, the one sentence pointed out where my story is weak and doesn't reflect the sentence - the part about 'so she designs a dress to make them both happy' - that is not strong enough in my story as stated in the sentence. So it pointed out, for me, where I need to work...

Thanks for participating!

Laurie said...

For those of you who are attending the NJ SCBWI conference in June (you are going, aren't you?), this is a perfect exercise to prepared for the pitch session. If you can boil your book down to one sentence, then you can build it back up to a one minute pitch.

By the way, last weekend at the Eastern PA SCBWI Pocono Retreat, Jill Santopolo of Laura Geringer Books emphasized that when she looks at a picture book, she always looks for the one sentence "germ" (her word) of the plot and theme.

Sheri said...

Cool Laurie and you are so right! They do love those one sentence gems, don't they? Don't we all?

But hey... where's yours??? Do Rivka in one sentence. Or how about Gus. I love Gus. I'd love to re-visit him here, teleporting or no teleporting...

LEEZY said...

When Tooth Fairy Tim goes broke, he tries yet fails time and time again to make money, until one day — with the help of some jolly songsters — he discovers that the root of his inner happiness will also save his job.

LEEZY said...

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank YOU Sheri, for all that you have done with the group. You don;t have to thank me at all. I'm happy to be part of this family

(C'mon everybody, sing…)
(Deep breath)

(And many more!!!!!)

This group rocks - hey maybe we can add the 'i' in to HCCWG, to mark the anniversary and celebrate our illustrators who choose strive to be authors also.

Patricia said...


Without a doubt, this exercise helped me to see the need for a rewrite (my critiques certainly helped, too).

This is the story I want to write. Let's see what I can do.


Patricia said...


I loved your anniversary message and song to Sheri. You are adorably funny.

Diana Lee said...

for Charlemagne to the Rescue, a picture book

Timid goldfish Charlemagne lives up to his kingly name and gains self-esteem through helping his friends adapt to a new environment.

Sheri said...

Leeza LOVE all your double entendres! Very clever indeed! And a very marketable sales pitchy sound to it too!

And that's fine about a name change to include illustrators. So we are now HCCWIG... Oh and thanks for the song. Lovely singing!

Pat - I am so glad! It really helped me too. It just makes it so clear like you've been bonked on the head with an apple...or a bowling ball...

Diana - Yay for Charlemagne! And thanks for playing, too! Nice, clean little nugget.

Keep 'em coming everybody...

LEEZY said...

okay, here goes ....

They say fairies live here. Some say they've seen them late at night, dancing in the moonlight. Some say...

… they’ve heard mischievous whispers among the trees when the breeze has already fallen to sleep.

Tuh! What do they know?

I know more than what they say. You see reader, I caught one once — you know, a real fairy.

“Oi!” it snapped and nipped my finger.

I shook the fairy free and watched, as it tumbled and bounced in the air, then recompose itself. But, it didn’t attempt to run away.

How positively odd, I thought.

“You have teeth?” I puzzled, sucking the tiny ball of blood that had appeared at the top of my pinky. “I’m not quite sure why I wouldn’t think you have teeth. You should have teeth. Silly me.”

“Yes, I have teeth, you imbecile!” the creature retorted. “Don’t you know it’s rude to grab?”

And with a dismissive grunt, the fairy dusted off its wings with exaggerated arrogance.

My so-called captive — who by now, seemed rather agitated and a bit flush in the cheeks, and really not a captive at all — continued brushing off each arm with a swooping, sweeping motion. Once satisfied with brushing and sweeping, the fairy threw me an angry look, puffed a big huff and folded its arms.

“Oh,” I said. “Sorry. I truly didn’t mean to offend you by grabbing. No, no. No offense meant at all, I promise you that little friend.”

And that reader, was my second mistake of the day, when I captured a real fairy.

One should never assume a real fairy is your friend.

... and exactly 250 words!!!!!! Woo hoo!

Sheri said...

GO Leeza! And in the word count. cool!

Yeah, fairies can be a bit mean... with those pointy ears and pointy teeth - not all sugar and honey, are they?