Tag Archives: Printz

Three Things Friday


We’re just gonna have to change TTT until I’m not teaching so early Thursday mornings.

I’m reading a book and loving it. It’s called The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith. Smith won a 2015 Printz Honor for  Grasshopper Jungle.
Have you read either book? What do you think?



Have you submitted work to a contest, or a publisher, or an agent lately? How about to a critique group? Or just to a friend to get a “first impression” of your work?
It’s tough, no matter whether your “critic” knows what he or she is doing or not. If he/she does know what to do, what to recommend, did you really want to know what someone thought of it? Or did you just want a pat on the back.
I think most people truly involved with writing may know what they’re saying. They may not always know how hurtful it can be. On the other hand, if you gave the materials up willingly, hopefully, you need to take their ideas into consideration.
Here are two people with writing ability and knowledge who have interesting takes on the process:
“Listen carefully to first criticisms of your work. Not just what it is about your work the critics don’t like — then cultivate it. That’s the part of your work that’s individual and worth keeping.” ~ Jean Cocteau
“I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers.” John Berryman
This year I was  excited to be able to work as a judge for book awards again. As you might imagine, one of the most difficult aspects is ranking the books you read yesterday to the ones you read six months ago.
Therefore, I present Cheryl’s Rubric of Amazingness! I have ten sections, and for each section I award up to ten points. It’s not a perfect system (for instance, this year I had a three-way tie at 94) but it works for me.
Quality of storyline
-Is there a strong arc? Is there an opening, a point of no return, etc, etc.?
-Is the climax effective? Is it in the correct place?
-Is the first page strong? Does the story start in the correct place?
-is the ending strong? Is the story problem resolved? Is it cut off early to force room for a sequel?
Character arc
-does the character change and grow?
-is the character’s motivation known?
-is the character likeable?
-is the character relatable?
Character voice
-is it unique?
-is it recognizable?
-is it realistic?
Secondary characters
-are they fleshed out?
-do they have their own arcs?
-are they cliche?
-is it realistic?
-is it appropriate to the characters?
-is there some that should have been eliminated? (Hellos, goodbyes, etc.)
Storytelling (suspense)
-is the story original?
-do I want to keep reading?
-do I feel the way the author intended for me to feel?
-does it flow smoothly?
-does the arc rise organically or is it forced?
-is there enough/too much time spent in each part of the storyline?
Genre Specific Questions:
(This example is for fantasy, romance or coming-of-age novels would have different questions)
-Originality of world and magic
-Is there a cost to magic?
-Is the description woven in, or is it info dumped?
Quality of writing

-are there incorrect dialogue tags?
-are there adverbs where there should be stronger verbs?
-do the metaphors work? Are they awkward or forced? Are they appropriate for the character?
-are the descriptions strong? Are they overly loquacious? Is there a strong sense of place?
-is the setting strong? Is there a “feel” for the area? Is the town/country unique and defined?
Grammar and editing
-purple prose
-poor grammar/spelling
-run-on sentences
-variation of sentence length, musicality of prose
-sentences that all start the same way
-overuse of phrases
-recycled images
NOTE FROM CAROL–So you could use this as you write your own books.


Filed under CLW

Why Do I Have to Have Such a Good Smeller?

That’s all I am going to say about THAT!

This week has so many possibilities that are wonderful. Here’s what my Libra horoscope says for today:
You’re still having fun, even if the weather is nasty — you just feel lifted by something welling up within you. It’s a really good time for you to appreciate just how great you really have it.

And my Chinese horoscope (or whatever those are called) says this for today:
Even if you’re willing to start from the bottom today, you may well be aiming too high. Your grand vision and plans could be a little too much for some people today. In matters of the heart, keep your feelings to yourself this evening. Your loving emotions might not be conveyed properly.

Neither says: You did not win the Caldecott, Newbery, Printz or Coretta Scott King awards.
Neither says: You didn’t win The Laura Ingalls Wilder award or The Golden Kite or the Margaret A Edwards award.
Neither says: You thought it was announced today but it’s announced next week. Still–IF–What?! Next week?

But what about writing for awards?

Every year, every year for some time, I have been sad when I haven’t gotten a glance from the NBA or some other big award committee.
But last year, towards the end of 2012 when I read something from a reviewer who said that WAITING was a good book and had garnered strong praise but would never get any notice from any of the BIG committees nor the small ones (and the writer named a committee I had never heard of that wasn’t including WAITING on its list of finalists), I decided “This is it. From now on, I write for me only. I write what I love. And I am not going to care about anything else except that I do the best I can and I write as a writer. Like Stephen King.” Stephen King, I have to admit, is one of my heroes.

What’s different about my statement than what I have said or done in the past?
I have always written for myself.

Write the commercial book, people have always said.
Don’t write literary work, it doesn’t sell. It may even work against you.
Don’t write sad stuff, it’s not profitable.
Write plot driven books.
Write what sells.
Don’t talk about God.
Or death.
Or faith.
Write a fantasy.
Write a paranormal.
Write anything but what you’re writing.

I have always written the book I want to write.
Every year I’ve felt sad that I haven’t sold more or made this list or had sold movie rights or starred in my own picture.
I’ve written what I have written because the words came from my heart.

Cait said to me this morning, “WAITING meant so much to me.”
A book written from grief and pain and wondering if I was valued by the God I love.
I told her, “I would have never written that book, Cait, if it hadn’t been for you.”

Since last year I have decided to rejoice in whatever I write.
And that’s what I intend to do.

I may be a little sorry I don’t make a lot of money or don’t make the special lists or bring in the awards or get to be the start of my own sitcom.
But I will never be sorry for the words I have chosen to put to paper. And I will never be ashamed of them.

And no matter what you write, neither should you.


Filed under Uncategorized