3 Tips for Pacing in Picture Books

DSCF6518adjusted Yesterday there was a Twitter chat on pacing in picture books (#PBPacing) with kidlit agent Jodell Sadler. She imparted some great tips on how to make your picture book text shine through what she calls the five Ps: ‘Pacing, prosody, poetry, play and performance’. She describes pacing as, “…the interplay of art and words, the slowing and speeding of the text to enhance story emotionally.”

3 tips for Pacing in Picture Books

  1. Be aware of page turns. Whether you make up a mock PB or a table in Word, think about where your page turns will be and how those page turns affect pacing. If you’re not sure how many pages a PB should have or how the page layout works, Tara Lazar (picture book author and founder of PiBoIdMo) has a great post on picture book layouts (seriously, bookmark this post!) Jodell says of page turns, “Page turns are integral. They offer surprise, new scene, and interactivity to your book…”
  2. Consider the sound of your words and the rhythm of the text. This is called ‘prosody’. It can make a huge difference to the read-aloud-ability of your PB. Practice reading your PB aloud and listen to the rhythm. This is just as important for prose PBs as it is for rhyming PBs. Jodell says, “We can write long and drawn out, especially if we add description or we can select key objects and place + add in rhythmic description and really juju up our efforts faster.”
  3. Great repetitive lines can enhance your PB. One point Jodell made that stood out to me was using the rule of 3s with repetitive lines. She said to repeat the same line 3 times, then have a break. The repetitive line can serve as a pacing marker in your story. If the 3 repetitions denote setbacks in the story arc, then having a break for the climax demands attention from the reader. Jodell says of of repetitive lines, “Kids love to join in.” 

Jodell has lots more great tips on her website Pacing Picture Books.

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Interview on Emily Moreton’s Blog

Annabeth and the Wolf

Annabeth and the Wolf

Last week I interviewed author Emily Moreton on my blog; this week she is interviewing me on hers. I talk a little about my writing and how I came to write ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’, as well as answering questions on time travel, the one thing I’d want with me on a desert island and my dream travel destination. Pop on over and check it out.

Interview on Emily Moreton’s blog.

Don’t forget you can find ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’ here or at most online bookstores. You can also read it, along with Emily’s story, as part of the anthology Torqued Tales.

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Aphrodite (short story)

I’m posting this short story for J.A.Mes Press’s Rebirth anthology. The idea is to post a short story around the theme of ‘rebirth’, whether that means traditional forms of rebirth or more supernatural ideas, such as vampires or werewolves. All proceeds from the anthology will be going to a charity to benefit stroke patients.

Aphrodite

Title: Aphrodite

Author: Jo Hart

Word count: 565

Book: Yes

Cyprus buzzed with early morning trading. Usually Danaos would have been right in the midst of it, bartering with the goods ships from Rome, but this morning he strode towards the temple. If this didn’t work he feared his wife would be dead by morning. What would he do then, with three young ones at foot and no mother to tend to them?

A handmaiden of Aphrodite led him to the stone dais that housed the six foot statue of the beautiful goddess. Danaos knelt before it with clasped hands.

“Oh beautiful Aphrodite, help us in our hour of need.”

To his surprise a woman, more beautiful than any woman he’d ever laid eyes upon, stepped out from behind the statue. Her pale skin glowed under the flickering flames of the lanterns. Golden ringlets tumbled over her shoulders and reached nearly to her knees.  Her pink lips resembled a cupid’s bow and the rest of her face was smooth and unblemished. The curves of her body dipped and swelled in perfect proportion. With a jolt, Danaos realised this woman was the exact likeness of the statue before him.

A soft smile appeared on her lips, “Yes, I am she.”

Danaos bowed low. “My lady, Aphrodite. It is an honour to be graced with your presence. Please, I beg of you to save my wife.”

“Do you love her? Love is my specialty and I can only help if your love is true.”

“I love her with all my heart. And my children love her as dearly as any child loves a mother.”

She walked full circle around Danaos, studying his form.

“You are a beautiful man,” she noted. “I appreciate beauty. Such a strong masculine form and thick golden locks.” She ran a hand through his hair and over his broad shoulders. “Tell me, do you love your wife so much that you would you do anything to save her life?”

“Yes! Anything.”

“Would you trade your human life for one of immortality and become the companion of Aphrodite?”

Danaos hesitated. This would mean leaving his wife and his children. But the children needed their mother. His wife’s family would ensure his wife and children were cared for when he was gone, of this he was sure.

“I accept your terms. I will become your companion.”

Aphrodite smiled. She came around behind Danaos and laid gentle kisses in the crook of his neck. “This might hurt a little. Don’t panic. It will be over soon.”

Two fangs penetrated his neck. The piercing pain subsided as soon as the fangs withdrew. A dribble of red blood ran down Aphrodite’s white chin. Danaos felt the world around him turn black.

When he woke he felt different. Stronger. Healthier. Hungry.

“You’re not a god,” he mumbled, still a little drowsy.

“I am vampyr,” she said. “Pretending to be gods is less frightening to humans and comes with added benefits. We appreciate the sacrifices.” A sadistic grin twisted her beautiful features. “And now you are vampyr, too.”

“What about my wife? We had a deal.”

“She is alive and well. Vampyr saliva has healing properties. I never break my word.”

Danaos sat up. His previously tanned skin now appeared paler. He wondered what other changes had occurred during his transformation. “What exactly does being a vampyr entail?”

Aphrodite licked her lips and laughed. “You have eternity to find out.”

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Author Interview with Emily Moreton

I’m pleased to have author Emily Moreton on my blog today. Emily is one of my fellow authors from the Torqued Tales anthology and has over 30 published short stories to her name. I found we have lots in common (we both spent our uni days studying Primary Teaching and writing fanfic and we both had our first stories published in charity anthologies for victims of natural disasters).

torquedtalesfemme

Welcome to my blog, Emily, it’s great to have you here. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing?

I’m mostly a short story writer, because I get bored once I know how what I’m writing is going to end. I’ve tried to write a novel a couple of times, but usually by 40,000 words, I know what’s going to happen next, and then it stops being fun!

Most of the characters I write are military or ex-military, which is odd since neither I nor anyone I know has been in the military (well, my grandmother was an OWL during WW2). I’ve always been interested in fighter jets though; my parents took me to several air shows when I was a kid, and many time to see the Red Arrows, so I suppose that’s where that one came from. I even wrote about a Red Arrows engineer once, though I’ve never submitted it anywhere for publication.

 How long have you been writing for?

I’ve pretty much been writing all my life, and making up stories for just as long. My sister and I loved let’s pretend when we were kids, and writing was always my favourite subject in school. When I was in university, I got into fanfic, and also started writing a novel, and I’ve been writing regularly ever since… so, wow, that’s well over a decade now!

Can you tell us (without spoilers) what your story is about in Torqued Tales?

A Stranger Brought is a modern lesbian take on Rumplestiltskin, which I still cannot spell without at least three attempts! It’s about Tia, a young street artist who paints Kelly, and gets a date along with payment. The date goes really well, and Kelly promises to call… But if I tell you more, then there’s nothing for you to read about!

 I loved your take on the Rumplestiltskin fairy tale. What inspired you to write ‘A Stranger Bought’?

I started off at university training to be a primary school teacher, specialising in English, and as part of this, I bought a lot of children’s books, one of them a really lovely book of fairy tales. When I saw the call for fairy tale related stories, I dug out the book again and looked for one that’s not so well known – like Rumpelstiltskin. I started by taking out the parts of the fairy tale that I don’t like, including the love interest testing the heroine by making her spin straw from gold, and her offering to trade her first born for the trick, then got to thinking about what a modern version of spinning might be… from there, it was a short step to Tia the street artist. Throw in some magic, and there you have it.

 Do you have any writing advice for aspiring authors?

Get into a fandom and write fanfic! Sounds like odd advice, but fandom got me writing regularly, taught me how to write within confines like a prompt in an exchange, or the canon of a particular episode. Writing for challenges and exchanges taught me to write to deadlines, and also got me used to sharing my stuff in public. It also helped me build up a community of other writers to be part of, and even got me over my embarrassment about writing sex scenes (true confession: I used to write them while looking away from the screen, and avoided proof-reading them for months).

 (Note from Jo: I completely agree with Emily! Fanfic is a great way to hone your writing skills and get used to sharing your work and dealing with critiques of your writing.)

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just submitted a story about a young trans girl coming out in school, and now I’m working on something for an anthology of stories about writers, publishers etc – that one’s a sort of urban fantasy, about a printer who finds a hot, naked print devil in his shop one morning.

Thanks so much for stopping by and telling us about yourself, Emily.

If you would like to read Emily’s Rumpelstiltskin story ‘A Stranger Bought’ you can find it on Torquere Press’s website (you can read a free sample), Amazon and other online bookstores. You can also find ‘A Stranger Bought’, along with my Red Riding Hood story ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’, in the anthology Torqued Tales

Emily Moreton published her first short story in 2007, for a charity anthology in aid of victims of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, she has published over 30 erotic short stories, mostly m/m and f/f. In 2011, she had a story accepted into the anthology of best speculative lesbian fiction, and in 2013 was part of an anthology nominated in Goodreads’ M/M Romance Members’ Choice Awards.

Emily lives in Bristol, UK, with her cat, where she works as a data analyst, studies towards her PhD, and tries not to sleep through Sunday morning archery class.

Follow her on facebook: http://facebook.com/emilyj.moreton; or at her blog: http://emilyjmoreton.wordpress.com

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No ‘E’ Challenge Share Day

aprilchallenge

Ready to share your paragraphs from the challenge? It was a tough one this round.

Here’s a reminder of the challenge: No ‘E’ Challenge

If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late to jump in and have a go!

Be sure to check closely for those pesky Es. I had a few sneak into mine and I had to revise!

I chose the frog picture for my prompt:

A tiny frog sits on my hand. “Croaaaak!” it says. It hops off my hand and into a patch of grass, looking for a tasty snack of fruit fly fairy floss or mosquito muffins. It spots its lunch: a tasty bug with black and brown spots. Hop. Hop. Stop. Hop. Hop. Caught! My child’s hand wraps around its slimy body. A lucky black and brown bug is not a tasty snack this morning. A tiny frog is still hungry. “Don’t worry, froggy,” says my child. “I’ll find you a yummy biscuit from Mum’s pantry.”

Please feel free to share your paragraphs in the comments below. If you don’t want to share, tell us about how you found the challenge. Was it challenging writing a paragraph with no Es?

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The Lonely Wish-Giver

The Lonely Wish Giver cover

Yesterday I mentioned I got a surprise email about the release of the GrammoWriMo novel The Lonely Wish-Giver.

What is GrammoWriMo?

During NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November I took part in a Grammarly initiative called GrammoWriMo. The premise was for a large group of (750+) writers to write a novel together during NaNoWriMo.

How did that work?

I don’t envy the organisers, but it was really well executed. Before the month began they put out a couple of surveys to the authors to come up with an idea/theme for the novel. There were questions on what gender the main character should be, what the supporting character would be like, what genre the novel should be, what tense it should be written in, etc. From this survey Grammarly put together a main premise and 30 chapters were divided up and given a group of authors each. I was in the group for chapter 29.

Can too many authors spoil the book?

It was an interesting experience. I’ve worked on a group novel before where each author wrote a separate chapter (The Life and Times of Chester Lewis), where we got to read what all the previous chapter authors had written before adding our own. This was different, as within our chapter group we were assigned one day out of the month to add to our assigned chapter and we had a small word limit to work with (just a few hundred words). The hard part about this was that every chapter group was working the same way and although we could read what had so far been written in the previous chapters, they weren’t yet complete (though each chapter had a general overview of what would happen plot-wise so we had some idea how it would play out).

The other thing I found difficult was when it came to my part (I was given a day about halfway through), I wasn’t left with anywhere to go by the previous authors as they’d already written to the conclusion of the chapter! After consulting our Grammarly team leader, I was told we could go fill in earlier parts of the chapter as long as we didn’t delete what another author had written. This worked well for me because I had felt there needed to be more focus character development earlier in the chapter and I was able to go back and explore that with my snippet.

I bet you’re thinking it’s starting to sound a bit messy by this point? To a degree it was.

Pulling it all together

Obviously with so many different writing styles and different writing skill levels, it wasn’t completely cohesive at this stage (though having the plot summaries for each chapter helped keep the story on track). There were plenty of plot holes where strands of story from one chapter never appeared again in later chapters. But then came stage two.

The Grammarly staff put a call out for editors and I put my hand up and became the editor for my chapter. We were given directions to make sure the chapter itself was cohesive and that the chapter worked cohesively with the novel as a whole. I was given certain points from earlier chapters that needed to tie in to our chapter (especially as ours was basically the final chapter, with chapter 30 as more of an epilogue). At this stage my part of the chapter had actually been shifted to chapter 28.

There was a call for titles and a survey to pick the best one.

Then a call for a cover and another survey to pick the favourite.

After our edits, the novel fell to the Grammarly editors (including putting it through their Grammar checker) and we authors were left to wait.

Release Day!

Yesterday the novel was finally released with the exciting announcement that all proceeds would be going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation to tie in with the theme of the novel.

So what’s it about?

The story follows a wish-giver named Audra who questions her purpose. She leaves her wishing fountain in search of other wish-givers (and herself), accompanied by a man who long ago gave up on wishes. While she is gone she learns her fountain is in danger from a rogue wish-giver.

Intrigued?

Interested in seeing what a novel written by hundreds of authors looks like and help raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation in the process? You can get The Lonely Wish-Giver as an ebook from Amazon. It’s only 99c!

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Annabeth & the Wolf Release Day! Plus more exciting news!

ttf-annabethandthewolf185

I’m so excited today for two reasons:

Number 1 - My short story ‘Annabeth and the Wolf‘ got released today. Not only is it part of an anthology, but it is being sold on its own as well, making it my first story release with my name on the front cover! I’ll talk more about the story in a moment.

Number 2 - I got a surprise email in my inbox this morning letting me know that the GrammoWriMo group novel, The Lonely Wish-Giver, I worked on in November (and helped edit) is being released today, too, AND all proceeds will be going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation!

The Lonely Wish Giver cover

It’s a DOUBLE RELEASE DAY!

I’ll talk a bit more about the GrammoWriMo novel tomorrow, but today I want to talk about ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’ as I’ve been bursting to share this one for weeks.

Torqued Tales

‘Annabeth and the Wolf’ features as one of three stories in the anthology Torqued Tales published by Torquere Press (on their page you will see two anthologies with the same title, one with a male cover and one with a female cover–’Annabeth and the Wolf’ has the female cover). The concept of the anthology is fractured fairytales with a GLBT twist.

In ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’, a retake on the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, Annabeth sets off through the woods to her grandmother’s house to meet an unwanted fate, but a beautiful shape shifter she meets along the way has other plans.

You can read a snippet of the story here.

A Little Bit of Background

Little Red Riding Hood has always been one of my favourite fairytales and I’ve been wanting to write a story based on it for a long time. Those who’ve read my past stories know I’m drawn to the fantasy genre and previous stories have seen me write about angels, demons, vampires, trolls and superheroes. When I saw the call for stories for this anthology I immediately got the idea of a Red Riding Hood story with a focus on witches and a shape shifter. It’s my first time writing GLBT characters and I’m really happy with how the characters evolved through the writing process.

Intrigued?

You can pick up ebook copies of either ‘Annabeth and the Wolf‘ or Torqued Tales from Torquere Press. Over the coming days they will also be available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Bookstrand and other online stores. A print edition of the anthology will also become available in the coming days.

Please note: Although this is an anthology of fairytales, the content is for mature readers only.

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The No ‘E’ Challenge

aprilchallenge

Ready for another challenge? This challenge is to get you thinking about word choice and not relying on words you are used to using. It’s about stepping outside your comfort zone and finding new words to enhance your writing.

Here are the rules:

  1. Write a paragraph (or two) based on one of the word prompts or the picture prompt below.
  2. You may not use the letter ‘e’ in any word in your paragraph.
  3. If you are comfortable sharing, come back in 2 weeks and share in the comments of the ‘share day’ post (if you subscribe to this blog–it’s free!–you will know as soon as the post goes live).

Here are the word prompts:

 

Beach

 

School

 

Spring

 

And here is the picture prompt:

DSCF5716

 

Good luck!

 

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Anthology Cover Reveal

Today I got a nice surprise email: the cover for an upcoming anthology featuring one of my stories!

The cover art is absolutely stunning.

torquedtalesfemme

The anthology features fractured fairytales with a GLBT twist and is due for release on the 23rd April.

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World Autism Awareness Day

waad_logo

Did you know today (April 2nd) is World Autism Awareness Day? Autism awareness is something close to my heart.

Some facts about Autism:

1 in 100 children have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Autism is thought to have genetic links (it is NOT caused by vaccines).

Some symptoms include:

  • sensitivity issues (eg: not being able to cope with lots of noise, dislikes being touched)
  • inexplicable meltdowns (often caused by sensitivity issues or inability to cope with change)
  • specific interests/obsessions (which they may talk about non-stop even if you try to change the topic)
  • not using eye contact
  • may not like being touched (or alternatively may have no concept of personal space)
  • may exhibit unusual/repetitive motor movements (eg: flapping arms)

You can find out more here: Autism Spectrum (Australia) fact sheets

Did you know?

My superhero character Spectrum’s powers were inspired by some of the characteristics of those on the Autism Spectrum (hence her name). You can read about Spectrum, including a piece of flash fiction about her, here on my blog: Spectrum. Or, alternatively, in the charity anthology SuperHERo Tales (all proceeds go towards the Because I am a Girl charity).

SuperHERo Tales cover

In honour of Autism Awareness Day on my Facebook page I’m asking everyone to share the titles of books about characters on the spectrum or which have ‘blue’ in the title (as people are encouraged to sport blue for Autism Awareness today). Share some titles in the comments below and I will share them on my Facebook page!

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