Thursday, August 31, 2017

Critique Partners Chat

By Janie Reinart & Kathy Halsey





Now for a light-hearted change of pace, Ohio writers, critique partners, and fellow GROGgers, Janie  and Kathy, chat and share their thoughts about the writing life with you. Grab a cup of tea and lets go.  

 
Kathy & Janie

What the best part of being a writer? What’s the hardest part?

Janie: The best part is the magic of getting into the writing zone, encouraging emergent writers of all ages, taking classes, learning new things, and the kid lit community! The hardest part is the hurry up and wait nature of this business.

Kathy: The best parts for me are: the thrill I get when beginning a first draft with a shiny new idea, the joy writing has added to my life, and the friendships I’ve made along the way.The hardest part of writing for me is revision and knowing what the nugget is with nonfiction.


As writer friends who’ve known each other for 4-plus years, what do you see are each other’s writing strengths? 

Janie: I want to be a librarian like Kathy when I grow up. Her resource and author knowledge base is amazing as you would expect. Kathy is the Grammar Queen and my go to person for all things punctuation. She is amazing at networking. The characters in her stories are charming as is her voice. Kathy is wonderful at dialogue. She also knows when to cut words.

Kathy: In a past life, Janie was a consummate storyteller. This experience makes her a good resource for plotting ideas/problems. Listening to her read a story aloud is pure gold, too. Janie is a rhymer, where I am not. She can help with rhyme schemes, cadence, and lyrical language when I need help. She is a kind critiquer, but finds the issues that need work in my WIPS.


You are both grandmas or as Kathy likes to say “glam-mas.” What has reading to your grands taught you about picture books and writing?

 
Clara said,"This is not a good book. There are no pictures."

                                    


Janie: We start them early and encourage book reading as they grow. My little grands love humor, page turns, and lines that repeat so that they can "read" along. 

The older middle school and high school grands like to do book chats with me. We share what we are reading and talk about our favorite parts of the story. When Hannah was in the 5th grade, we read Matilda together, saw the stage performance, and then watched the movie. Hannah liked the book and stage renditions best.

Nana and Tobin.

Kathy: With grandson Tobin, my first, I read bagfuls of books to him constantly. He really attended to humor and crazy plot twists. The more we read, and the older he got, the more he refined his taste in books. I poured over his favorites to see what elements drew him in. I found that books I might admire for language or other sophisticated elements were not what he craved. Plot, suspense, and humor were key in his choices. So even though I am a pun/word nerd, I am paying more attention to plot and surprises. 

Tobin recently said, "Nana you are a writer, so I am going to be a writer."  He created a three page book about his model planes. Tobin had a cover, printed the text himself, and asked his Nana how to spell unfamiliar words. Then he and his dad stapled it to complete a proper book. He titled in and promptly tried to sell it to me. From the mouth of a 6.5 year old, "Nana, I know you got $20 in your wallet." 
I retorted, "Tobin, why don't you just dedicate the book to me instead?"


You’re both submitting to agents/editors now. What are your tips to keep motivated?

            



Janie: I am encouraged when I get a 💚  at twitter pitch parties. I keep sending manuscripts out into the world, because they won't do me much good sitting on my computer.  Entering contests are another way of keeping it going. A writer has to follow their passion. Our critique group listens to the good, the bad, and "crickets".  You have to be stubborn enough to keep going no matter what.


Kathy: I like envisioning the future to keep me subbing. I imagine my signature as I sign books for readers or what the illustrator could do with my manuscript. I believe in subbing sprints to keep from fatigue. This July I was a subbing machine. In August, I’ve been refining work. I keep a calendar w/important sub dates from conferences I’ve attended and upcoming twitter pitch parties. I highly recommend Sub It Club and Sub Six for companionship and accountability. Most of our critique group are all subbing, so we prop each other up and share our ups and downs.  

Sometimes you  read aloud to each other in your weekly google hangouts. Share some recent faves and why you like them.

Janie: I focus on picture books. Ninja Baby by David Zelster made us laugh out loud! "Things were going perfectly until...her parents brought home a Kung Fu Master. (aka a baby brother) And their is a surprise ending. 
My favorite part: "What's your secret?" she asked him.
He just looked at her.
It was like listening to the wind in the bamboo."

Another picture book that made us laugh is Charlotte and the Rock by Steven W. Martin. "Charlotte Gray wanted a pet. She didn't care what kind of pet...even a pig would do." Charlotte's parents bought her... a pet rock. It wasn't what Charlotte had in mind, but she tried to remain positive."

Kathy: I read a mix of picture books and middle grade. Currently I’m a fangirl for THE JUMBIES by Tracey Baptiste (MG) a creepy tale steeped in Caribbean lore. It gives the feel that CORLAINE did. I appreciated and rooted for main character Corinne and the world-building Tracey used to create this story with its multiple layers.  

Picture books I’ve dipped into recently include BEN AND ME: AN ASTONISHING LIFE OF BEN FRANKLIN By HIS GOOD MOUSE AMOS. Don’t overlook classic stories - this one by Robert Lawson with a quirky POV. 

Another recommendation with POV in mind is THE CATAWAMPUS CAT by Jason Eaton. With the genius of Gus Gordon’s illustrations, this PB is a perfect marriage of pictures and words. COOKING WITH HENRY AND ELLIEBELLY by Carolyn Parkhurst is a hoot that you’ll want to read aloud.

Share something others may not know about your critique partner.

Janie: In her thirties, Kathy studied ballet, jazz, and modern dance. Kathy performed with the University of Dayton's dance ensemble and Sinclair Community College's dance ensemble. Kathy says,"Now my fingers do the dancing on my keyboard writing stories."
 
Kathy's dancers body.
Kathy: Janie is quite musical and has a wonderful voice! She sang a solo at Sagrada Familia Basílica in Barcelona with her church choir! Amazing, right?









Singing is the best way to pray.
Thanks for stopping by and getting to know us.

.

 

37 comments:

  1. Thanks for inviting us in for tea and talk. What fun!

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    1. Hi Sue,
      Glad you stopped by. It is always thrilling to connect kids with books❤️

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    2. Hey, Sue. Janie and I had fun writing this. TY for your comment.

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    1. Hi Andrea,
      Don't you love our grandchildren pictures 😊 We obviously think they are adorable. Thanks for stopping.

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    2. Ty, Andrea for being here and commenting. It's fun to lighten up on the GROG every now and then.

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  3. Fun to learn more about you both. Great book recommendations, too!

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    1. Lori,
      We were crying we were laughing so hard with the funny ones. 😂

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    2. Lori, can't wait to share your newest book here, too. We GROGgers have fun!

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  4. Nice job. You two talented writers are fortunate to have one another as friends and critique buddies. All the best!

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    1. Hi Pat, Glad you stopped by for the tea party❤️.

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    2. Why, TY, Pat. We are also fortunate to have shared satires w/you over the years beginning w/WOW.

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  5. Thank you, Janie and Kathy, for tea and chat :) You ladies shared some fun and fab mentor texts! Love the grands! I'm blessed to be in a critique group with the two of you. Keep the MOJO flowing ladies!

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    1. You our dear Charlotte, add the mojo to our group. Don't you just love the grands' stories?

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    2. Hey Beautiful Charlotte,
      We are so lucky you are in our critique group.❤️ Your comments are always spot on! TTYL

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  6. You two are a hoot-n-a-half! Or maybe two full hoots! Great interview. Love the pics! Now, gotta go dance on the keyboard so that my stories will sing....

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    1. Awesome, Jilanne😊 You got this!

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    2. Jilanne, glad we made you laugh.

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  7. It's nice to see interviews with talented, hard-working writers who are doing their best to get to the next step. Published or not, everyone has wonderful advice, experiences, and skills to share. I appreciate learning more about your journeys.

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    1. Thanks, David😊 It takes a village on this journey. Write on!

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    2. Thanks, David, fir stopping by. We all have something to share.

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  8. This was such a fun post to read! Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I love this! So nice to get the inside scoop about you two. I can see why you both good friends and critique partners.

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  10. Patty, it's such fun to have friends on our writing journey! Your one of them.

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  11. Patty, It is wonderful to follow your journey and see your book babies ❤️

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  12. I tsur wis great to see your books, Patty, ditto.

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  13. Thanks for such a fun post. I really enjoyed "seeing" how much fun you to have with life, with writing, and carrying it over to us.

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    1. MaDonna you have to find the joy in each day😊

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    2. MaDonna, joy is infectious. I have down days, but I surround myself with energetic, positive writer folks, like Janie. Hugs and joy to you.

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  14. Great post! Loved learning more about you two! <3

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    1. Elaine, we are glad you came by to read our post! Ty for KidLit411.

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  15. Elaine, Thanks for stopping. We do love sharing picture books with our grandies and each other😊

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  16. I just now saw this. How delightful. I loved your back and forth. Two classy ladies I call friends.

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  17. Sherri happy to be counted as your friend.❤️

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