Monday, March 18, 2019

The Write-Mentor Post You've Been Waiting For!

Wowzers! Time is zooming by! Soon, you and I might become that perfect “Write-Mentor
Match” you and I have hoped for. (We’ll be the PB & J, the Big Mac and fries, the bacon
and egg, salt -n- pepper … or any analogy that fits well with coffee! ;) )

And as a potential mentee, I know you have questions. This is the post that I hope answers
them. (If not, drop me a mss, either here or through Twitter-verse etc. Ultimately, I’ll update
this post with any answers that can help everyone.)

Why I Chose to be a Mentor:

My own mentors have always held those sweet spots in my heart. I remember every
personal message, every “push” in the right direct, every subtle (and not so subtle) hint that
a mentor has given me along my writing journey.

I’m thrilled when they tell me my work is “ready” and I work harder on a revision or a WIP
when they suggest I try something different.

Mentors are golden. They are the voice whispering in my ear and the note in my in-box
reminding me that another opportunity, or idea awaits.

I want to be that person for you.

My History:

This is my first year with Write-Mentor, but I’m bringing years of background with me. Like
many of you, I’m a writing machine. I’ve been writing since I was little and have been
encouraged by all the best role-models along the way. I enjoy writing everything but am
devoted to writing stories for children.

I taught English/Language Arts for more than half my career. (Most of my own writing came
from ideas I workshopped with students.) In my “spare” time, I’m a regional rep. for SCBWI-
IL and I’m part of the planning team for a bi-annual summer retreat called Words in the
Woods. Over the many years of my involvement with SCBWI, I’ve met other authors, agents,
editors and publishers that have greatly contributed to my understanding and insights into
the kidlit world.

What I’m Looking for:

First and foremost, I am only looking for writers who are working on pictures books, chapter
books, or middle grade novels. If you write YA or adult, we have some other great mentors
in the Write-Mentor program for those.

Whether your story is intended as a PB, chapter book or middle grade novel, what really
makes me ooh and ahh most are books with fun and gutsy characters, and I love a MC
with flaws. I’m someone who will root for the underdog and cheer when they pull themselves
up. I want to be with them as they overcome or solve their problem, with or without help.

I’d like to see more strong female leads and boys who aren’t afraid to take a stand for what’s
right. Don’t be afraid to personify. Magic realism, in all forms is a selling point for me.
Toasters to tadpoles, the more unique the better! (I’m a fan of writing about small creatures

If a story has a STEAM (or STEM) tie-in, I’d love to see it. I want to read books that will
inspire children-- provide "windows" to the bigger world. The teacher in me (25+ years)
also gets excited when I find stories that are “mirrors” for my students -- possibly your
potential audience. (And as your mentor, we might even take parts of your story for a
test-drive with student readers.)

When it comes to genres (specifically for middle grade), I tend to read realistic, fantasy or
sci-fi most, but if you have a mad-genius or creative problem solver/puzzler as a MC in a
mystery, you might have me hooked! (I’d die to read a fantastic, modernized Nancy Drew
for a MG audience!)

Some of my favorite kid-lit authors include:

Maurice Sendak (PB) (A dated reference, but still my favorite)
Kathi Appelt
Katherine Applegate
Andrea Beaty (PB)
Ame Dyckman (PB)
The Fan Brothers (PB)
Dan Gemeinhart
Alan Gratz
Oliver Jeffers (PB)
Adam Rubin
Brian Selznick
Sarah Weeks

I hope that answers some of your questions. I'm looking forward to being the Write-Mentor
for you!


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Whew. It's been a while....
Welcome back! 
As part of my writing goals for 2016, I have great plans in store to update and revitalize my blog/website. Until then, enjoy this short story I have written as an entry in Susanna Leonard Hill's Valentiny Writing Contest:

Juliann L. Caveny
Word count: 213

Reggie Rat twitched his nose. It was Valentine’s Day!
“Hurry,” his mother called, “you’ll miss the bus!”
Reggie grabbed a large bag and raced out the door.

His friends, Doogie Dagu and Henry Hamster sat near the front.
“Sorry, Reggie. There’s no room.” Henry pointed at the decorated boxes.
Reggie scanned the rows. Gertie Guinea sat alone.

“Sorry.” Gertie sniffled. “Allergies.”
Reggie didn’t want allergies! He sat the bag between them.

In the classroom, the students chittered. Everyone was excited!
Reggie placed his bag near the other treats. The party didn’t start until noon.
He slumped into his seat and waited.

“Party time!” Ms. Vole’s whiskers twitched.
Students grabbed their treats.
Reggie looked at his bag. It was dirty and dingy. He slid it into a corner.
            Henry brought sugar cookies.
Doogie handed out chocolate hearts.
Marty Mouse made cream-cheese cupcakes. 
Treats towered on desks.

Reggie glanced around the room.
Gertie sat in front with not one cookie, cupcake or candy. Tears welled in her eyes.
Reggie tiptoed closer.
            “Allergies?” he asked.
She nodded. “Mold, hay and…” she sniffled, “gluten!”
Reggie scurried away and returned with his bag. Seeds spilled out.
He scooped a handful onto Gertie’s desk.
“NUTS!” She beamed.

Reggie smiled.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Reading From Cover-To-Cover: The Joy of Discovering End Pages

During the month of March and ReFoReMo (Research for Reading Month) I gathered hundreds of picture books to pour over in search of the perfect plot, the resounding rhyme, and the “ratatatat” of the repetition that I needed in my own text.

An unexpected joy of having those hundreds of picture books lying around my house is that they all have such BEAUTIFUL artwork! (I could wallpaper rooms with those wonderful illustrations!)

Of course, I have my favorites,but instead of pulling for purely aesthetic reasons, I thought I’d post those that stand out because of their ability to go above and BEYOND the pages. I’m talking about the picture books with fabulously adorned, intentional and purposeful END PAGES!

Here are a few of the highlights I stumbled upon this past March as I read from cover-to-cover:

End pages can be filled with repetitive images--character, symbols, words--added for emphasis or to build on theme.

FARM written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper
farm cover.jpgfarm endpages.jpg

In My Heart.jpgin my heart endpages.jpg

SWIRL BY SWIRL written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated byBeth Krommes
Spirals end pages.jpg

DANGEROUS written and illustrated by Tim Warnes
alligator end pages.jpg

ROCKET WRITES A STORY written and illustrated by Tad Hills
rocket reads endpages.jpg

THE VERY INAPPROPRIATE WORD written by Jim Tobin and illustrated by Dave Coverly
inappropriate word endpages.jpg

HOW THE LIBRARY (NOT THE PRINCE) SAVED RAPUNZEL written by Wendy Meddour Illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown
Rupenzell endpages.jpg

Front and end matter can add more details and information in a nonfiction picture book:
THE RIGHT WORD  Written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet
the right word cover.jpgthesaursu ends.jpg
thesaurus endpage.jpg

Maps help the reader orient around the setting of a story:

A WALK IN LONDON written and illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino
walk in london cover.jpgwalk in london endpage.jpg

THE THREE LITTLE ALIENS AND THE BIG BAD ROBOT written by Margaret McNamara Illustrated by Mark Fearing
endpages space.jpg

HAVE YOU SEEN MY DRAGON? written and illustrated by Steve Light
Wheres my dragon front page.jpg

THE WALL written and illustrated by Peter Sis
Wall cover.jpgWall endpages.jpg

And the end pages can be used to advance the plot or give background information not provided in the text alone.

ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR by Laura Gehl illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
one big pair endpages.jpg

MADDI’S FRIDGE written by Lois Brandt and illustrated by Vin Vogel
Maddies fridge cover.jpgMaddies fridge endpage.jpg

robot endpages.jpg

AGAIN! written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
dragon endpages.jpgdragon more endpages.jpg

HIAWATHA written by Henry Wadworth Longfellow and illustrated by Susan Jeffers
(This is by far, one of my favorites. Notice the back story of the death of Hiawatha's mother...)
hiawatha cover.jpgendpage hiawatha.jpg

title page hiawatha.jpgendpages hiawatha.jpg

As a junior high teacher, I’ve noticed many middle grade and young adult books have adopted this trend. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, written by Jay Asher, uses the end pages to include the all-important map that takes our main character on a journey of discovery.

I have a wonderful idea for the end pages of my WIP. (I hope my future illustrator has the same idea!) Once you start noticing the important role these illustrations play in the story-telling, it's hard to look at a book without them. Use them in lessons, discuss them with your readers, and flip back to them when you need that extra direction. Whatever you do, don't skip them! 

I’d love to hear what books that you’ve discovered that have interesting/important end pages. Please share them in the comments section of this post!


Thursday, April 02, 2015

It's April -- a tribute to e.e.cummings

It’s April
and i don’t write poetry
any more
  by Juliann L. Caveny

Displaying 20150402_214659_resized.jpg
After the whirlwind month of March (in which I read and devoured hundreds of picture books in quest of dozens that would become my mentor text for writing--ReFoReMo) I have entered April with yet another picture book in my hands to review and savor. This narrative nonfiction biography, enormous SMALLNESS by Matthew Burgess, was published in March 2015!

enormous SMALLNESS
is a book 
about e.e.cummings,
my writing idol,
my mental-mentor,
my favorite poet
in the whole

I ordered this book
it's bought and paid for
it is 

I read it
and reread it.
and hugged it
many times
and will again


Why? you ask.
You don’t write poetry.

i don’t write

any more
than i don’t write
picture books.

but I wrote
three picture books

last March
& one poem