Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review of STORM SONG by an Adorable Four-Year-Old

Click HERE for a YouTube review of STORM SONG by four-year-old Lola. She will make you smile, Big Time. She has a bit of trouble saying my last name (correct pronunciation is VEE Oh), but that's quite OK. She's given my book a million stars!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Storm's a Comin'!

Just popping in to tell you that my book,
is on sale this month for $1.00 in the Kindle Store. Grab your copy today!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Writing Step-by-Step Directions

Brrrrr....It’s cold outside! Many people who live in warm places, such as deserts and tropical islands, have never felt the cold or seen snow. Do you think you could teach someone how to build a snowman (or snowwoman)? If there were no pictures of snowmen, do you think you could WRITE instructions to help someone turn snowflakes into snow people?

Snowflake to Snowman: Step-by-step
1. Find books at the library or school about cold weather.
2. Read about snow.
3. If there’s snow where you live, go outside and look at the flakes falling on the ground. Write down notes about what you see to help you remember what you discover about the snow. How does snow feel on your hands? Does it have a smell? Is it heavy? Make a snowball. How is it different from snowflakes.
4. Go inside where it’s nice and warm. (You might need a cup of hot chocolate!)
5. Pull out a snowy-white piece of paper.
6. Write numbers all the way down the page.
7. Next to each number, write down instructions on how to build a snowman. Even if you’ve never built one before, fill the page with all of the ideas you can imagine from the books you’ve looked at about snow and your own memories from studying the snow outside.
8. Read everything you wrote on your page aloud. Did you remember to write down everything you should do to build a snowman?
9. If there is still snow on the ground, bundle up and go outside. Have fun following your step-by-step snowman building instructions.
10. Finish building your snowman with a big smile. (Snowmen like to smile, too.)
11. Go back inside where it’s nice and warm. You might need another cup of hot chocolate. With marshmallows.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Write in 3-D!

Hello from Margie!

What draws you into a story?
The plot?
The characters?
The best is when authors surprise you. Anyone can create a tough football player or a bratty sibling, but the best characters are those who do the unexpected.

How about a football player who also loves collecting seashells? How about we take it one step further and say he really collects the shells for his little sister, and he would do anything to make her happy? See what we did? Not only did we learn something interesting about this character, but we also learned just what kind of brother he is.

Let's tackle the annoying sibling.
Picture a five year old who always barges into his big sister's room. All he wants to do is mess with her stuff. She doesn't like this at all. One day, he runs in and the big sister is crying on her bed. Instead of going through her things, he climbs onto the bed, cuddles with her, and tries to make her feel better. We see this is a sibling who cares. Know what else we learned? He's probably not that bratty. He just wants to be with his big sis.

The goal is to make characters that care or like different things. You want to show your readers all the different angles of this person. Kind of like a 3-D movie. In 2D, we only see so much, but put on those 3-D glasses, and it's a whole new experience.

Want to give it a shot? Go for the GOAL!

Below are some plain characters. Can you add something interesting and unexpected to spice them up? 

1.     A boy who gets straight As and collects bugs

2.     An cranky neighbor who doesn't like people walking on his grass

3.     A race car driver

4.     A teacher

5.     A rich actor


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hurray for Snow Days!


Grab a pencil.
Study the photo below. (Yep, that's ME. I LOVE the snow!!)

Put yourself in my shoes (or snowshoes or boots). Answer these questions in writing:

Where are you?
What is the weather like? What's the forecast?
How did you get there?
What are you thinking?
How do you feel? (warm, cold, happy, excited, anxious)
What happened to your gloves?
What are you holding in your hand?
What will you do next?

Now, pick a starting place from your answers above and begin your story. If you get stuck, see if you can head out into the snow. Hopefully, the snowflakes will offer up some inspiration.

: )

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sarah Somebody Won the Giveaway

Will the Sarah who posted:  Would love to win it. It has been on my to read list far too long already get in touch with Ellen Jensen Abbott (ellenjensenabbottATgmailDOTcom)? YOU WON WATERSMEET!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What is Alliteration?

What is alliteration? Simply, it's a string of similar sounds at the start of several words in a sentence.
Why use alliteration? Mostly, it makes reading more musical and flowing, which is fun for friends to follow!

When I'm writing or editing (fixing and improving something I've written), and I'm looking for more interesting or unusual words to use, I will often choose words to create alliteration.

For example, instead of writing: " pretty, nosy cat" you could write, "cute, curious cat."
Instead of writing: "my friend mixed tomato sauce" you could write, "my sister stirred spaghetti sauce." If you go overboard with the alliteration, you'll end up with tongue twisters, which are really hard to read out loud without making mistakes.

Here are a couple of examples:

"If Stu chews shoes, should Stu choose the shoes he chews?" and "Santa's short suit shrunk."

You can read more tongue twisters here: http://www.funenglishgames.com/funstuff/tonguetwisters.html

While you're at it, check out a book called The Spaghetti Slurping Sewer Serpent. It was written by a friend of mine, Laura Ripes, and it's filled with tons of "S" alliteration.
Now try writing some alliteration and tongue twisters yourself!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Writing That Cracks, Sizzles, and Pops!

We love to describe things as the holiday season approaches, but too often we're stuck with the same bunch of adjectives that don't really make us feel anything. 

For example, you may love Grandma's apple pie, but how do you describe it? “Yummy!” 

How about those fancy lights outside? “Beautiful!” 

Dad's turkey? “Delicious!” 

See what I mean? All those words SOUND like they mean something, but we don't truly see or taste what you do. 

Let's think of some ways to really capture a moment, food, sound, or image. Our goal when describing something is to make the other person know EXACTLY what you mean, even though he wasn't there.

What's a great way to do this? By using our five senses! If you rely on these, your reader will never wonder about what you really mean.

Here are some examples where we turn drab to fab. Notice how the drab doesn't describe, while the fab gives examples on how to make the details pop.

 DRAB                                                                            FAB

yummy -- creamy, spicy, greasy, bits of apple dancing in my mouth

delicious -- oozing chocolate, melted caramel, cinnamon topping crumbling on my lips

beautiful -- sparkling, multi-colored, glowing red and blue, reflecting in the snow, twinkling glass

loud -- crackling fire, cackling children, ear-splitting violin playing, leaves crunching under feet

You try some now. What word(s) do you use a lot? Amazing? Cool? Awesome?
Try to rewrite some sentences to give us an idea of what things look, taste, smell, sound, and feel like.


- Margie

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gobble, Gobble, PLOT!

We'll talk turkey in just a minute! First, an announcement:

The winner of Ellen Jensen Abbott's WATERSMEET novel is Sarah. Sarah, your comment was posted on November 19th: Would love to win it. It has been on my to read list far too long already. Please email Nancy: info(at sign)nancyviau(dot)com and give your full name and address. WATERSMEET will arrive at your doorstep soon.

Let's move on with a turkey-inspired tip. Take it away, Alison!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we all look forward to a great meal that day. When you hear about a new book from a friend or librarian, you look forward to reading it, too. Everyone loves reading about interesting characters, but the actions or "plot" characters experience is also important to create great stories. Actions (big and small) drive the plot in a story forward and keeps readers reading. Character actions might be huge, like facing an evil wizard, but other actions might be something small, but equally important to a story, like earning a special badge in Cub Scouts.

Let's gobble, gobble this fun way to help PLOT a story:

Imagine a character you are writing about or choose one of your favorite book or movie characters. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz is the example used below for this exercise.

1. Use crayons or paint to make a turkey handprint on a blank sheet of paper. Let paint dry.

2. Write the character's name and what they want in the center of the palm of your handprint.
Dorothy wants to go home to Kansas.

3. On the thumb and each finger, write an action for your character which will help create an exciting and interesting story plot.
You can draw more feathers on your turkey to add as many actions as you can imagine

Five actions for Dororthy in Wizard of Oz
Runs away from home and tornado
Lands in Oz
Meets a good witch, a scarecrow, tin man, and lion
Arrives at the Emerald City
Defeats the Wicked Witch

4. Keep in mind what your character wants. (Example: Dorothy wants to go home to Kansas)
Now, write a story using the plotting actions you've imagined for your own character or write new story for a favorite character from books or movies.

Gobble, gobble! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Not Sure How to Create a Fantasy World? Build It!

Drum roll, please .... Ellen Jensen Abbott is here! Ellen is celebrating the release of THE KEEPER, the last book in her trilogy. Fans of the first two, WATERSMEET and THE CENTAUR'S DAUGHTER, are itching to get their hands on THE KEEPER. Hurry up and get your copy, readers!! This one will sell out fast.
Ellen is an expert at world building, so I thought it might be interesting to hear some tips from her on how to build a fantasy world from scratch. Take it away, Ellen!

One of my favorite words is “verisimilitude.” It’s a long word and seems like it would be hard to remember but it simply describes something that seems true. Verisimilitude is always my goal when writing a story. Even if I’m writing a story about a centaur—a mythological creature who is half man, half horse—I want that centaur to seem real.
In fantasy, the challenge of making a story seem real is particularly hard. Not only do writers often have characters like centaurs, they have totally made-up worlds! Those worlds are fun to write about, but to make them seem real, to give them verisimilitude, you have to do some extra work. Below are some of my favorite tips for creating verisimilitude in your story—whether it’s set in this world or another. 

Tip 1: Draw it! It helps to have a clear image of a place or a character in your story. I often get out my crayons or colored pencils to draw a picture of some part of my story. Sometimes I cut out pictures from the newspaper or print pictures from the internet if they help me see a place or a person better. I hang my drawings and clippings on my bulletin board in my office so I can see them when I write.
Tip 2: Map it! Like drawing a character or a place, I find it very helpful to draw a map of where my characters live. In my fantasy trilogy, The Watersmeet Trilogy, I mapped out the entire land, complete with mountain ranges, rivers and villages. But I’ve also mapped out the apartment where a character lives or the street she lives on. These maps help me make sure my characters are headed in the right direction whenever they leave one room and go to another! (Note from Nancy: I couldn't upload Ellen's maps. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, she'll show you these, and believe me, you will be amazed.)
Tip 3: Look it up!  There are all kinds of cool books out there that can help you build real worlds for your characters to live in. If you’ve never been to Arizona but your character takes a trip there, you can find guide books to Arizona in your library and on line. The books will tell you what kind of animals your character might see, what kind of plants grow in the desert, and what the weather might be like. If you’re going to the desert, you want your character to remember his water bottle! 
Tip 4: Schedule it! I am writing a story right now about a girl who is in ninth grade. Every day she goes to school and follows a schedule. If I change the schedule every day or if she goes to no class but math, my readers are going to think my story is not very realistic, so I have to draw up a set schedule for her. Similarly, in Watersmeet, The Centaur’s Daughter, and The Keeper, I kept a calendar of my character’s adventure. I needed to know how long it took her to travel between the Obrun Mountains and Giant’s Cairn so that the next time she made the journey I could have it take the same amount of time. If it took too little time, I would hurt my verisimilitude. 
Tip 5: Name it! For any writer, a good baby-naming book is critical! All of your characters have to have names and believe it or not, you can run out of them. I keep two baby naming books on my desk at all times. When I’m writing fantasy, I can’t use familiar names. (Who ever heard of a centaur named Bob?) But I use pieces of names and connect them to come up with new names that still sound like they could be real. 
Tip #6: Write it! Sometimes you just have to write out a scene to discover what you want/need to know about it. When I’m writing, I let myself make lots of mistakes and try out different plot lines or characters or places until I find the one I’m happy with it. This means I throw out a lot of pages, but I’m learning the whole time I’m writing. And I can always go back and fix up the mistakes later.

Thank you, Ellen. Those are wonderful tips!

WITty kids and writers everywhere, are you ready to build a world by building verisimilitude? Get out your pencils and draw one of your characters or sketch a map of where that character lives. You may discover a whole new part of your story. 

And guess what?
Ellen is giving away a copy of WATERSMEET
so you have the chance to get started on this great trilogy!
Just comment below OR email me: 
We will pick a random winner next Thursday, November 21.
About WATERSMEET: (Perfect for 5th grade and up) From her birth, Abisina has been outcast—for the color of her eyes and skin, and for her lack of a father. Only her mother’s status as the village healer has kept her safe. But when a mythic leader arrives, Abisina’s life is ripped apart. She escapes alone to try to find the father and the home she has never known. In a world of extremes, from the deepest prejudice to the greatest bonds of duty and loyalty, Abisina must find her own way and decide where her true hope lies.
About the trilogy: Readers follow Abisina as she leaves her village to search for her father and for acceptance. On her journey, she discovers the whole land of Seldara: the dwarves of the Obrun Mountains; the fauns of the western forests; the centaurs of Giant’s Cairn—some friends, some foes. When she reaches Watersmeet, she thinks she’s found the home of her dreams where all of Seldara’s folk are welcome, but soon Watersmeet’s existence is at risk and Abisina finds herself outcast again. Can she save the home she loves? Can she unite the land against a gathering evil? Can she embrace her destiny and become the Keeper of Watersmeet? 

Looking for more? Go over to Ellen's website: http://ellenjensenabbott.wordpress.com/.

Have a fantasy-filled, fantastic week!
: )


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gobble Up a Quote Sandwich!

Hey all!  

Today we're going to talk about sandwiches! Cheese, turkey, pizza burgers. Yum! Oops. That was my stomach talking. Today's blog is about QUOTE sandwiches. I know, I know. They're not delicious at all, but they will totally help you ace those pesky standardized state tests.  

Quote sandwiches are used in Open-Ended Questions (aka OEQs). Those questions can be found after a reading passage. In the questions, you're asked to go back to the passage to support your answer. Still with me? Check out these paragraphs  below about Welsh corgis (taken from http://www.thewritesource.com/studentmodels/we-corgi.htm).  

Since Welsh corgis are so intelligent, they are easy to train. One of the jobs they are good at is herding sheep and cattle. Welsh corgis are also very loyal companions for people of all ages.

The Welsh corgi’s small size means it doesn’t take up much room as a pet. Its average height is 10-12 inches, and an adult dog weighs approximately 25-30 pounds.

Welsh corgis are also known for being bold but kind, friendly, and alert. They are friendly to all, good with children, and rarely aggressive. 

Let's look a this sample OEQ about the passage. 

Why would Welsh corgis make great pets? Use evidence from the passage to support your answer. 

The “evidence” is the quote, and now we get to the good part. How to make it into a nutritious word sandwich! Think of a real sandwich. There's a top piece of bread, a bottom, and then the yummy goodness in the middle. That's how we have to think of our quote too. The top part will introduce the quote, the middle will be the quote, and the end will sum up what the quote means (or why it's good). 

Check it out as I answer the OEQ from above. 

            Welsh corgis would make great pets for many reasons. As the passage states, “The Welsh corgi's small size means it doesn't take up much room as a pet....Welsh corgis are also known for being bold but kind, friendly, and alert. They are friendly to all, good with children, and rarely aggressive.” As you can see, a Welsh corgi would not need much space in the house. Also, since they are good with children and kind, they would be ideal in any family. 

See what we just did? We introduced our evidence (the quote in blue). Then, we stated our quote from the passage (in red). Finally, we explained the quote (in green). 

There you have it, the three layers of the quote sandwich. Now, I'm off to get some real turkey to munch on!
~ Margie

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Is This a Happy Blog? A Hoppy Blog? A Blog Hop?

It’s a Blog Hop!

What’s a Blog Hop? It's where children's book authors answer identical questions and then invite a few more authors to join in. (We're supposed to ask three. I asked two. I hope the Blog Police don't come after me. *looks around nervously*)

Jody Jensen Shaffer tagged me, and I will answer the questions in a second. First, it's my pleasure to introduce Jody. Please read her bio below, and then go to her website to find out more. Next, RUN to the bookstore to buy her wonderful books.

Jody is the author of 14 published and forthcoming books for children and numerous poems and magazine stories. She has written celebrity biographies and books about animals, science, and social studies. Her work has been published in Highlights High Five, Highlights Hello, Babybug, Humpty Dumpty, Turtle, Pack-o-Fun, Clubhouse Jr, COLUMBIAKids, and coming soon in Highlights. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary. You can visit Jody at http://jodyjensenshaffer.blogspot.com.

Here are my answers to the Blog Hop questions:

What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m deep into rhyme and going cross-eyed over perfect meter and stanza length. Why? I’m working on the edits for my next picture book, City Street Beat, and my editor wants these edits done by the end of next week. The other books I have in my muddled, rhyming brain must be put on hold for a bit, but I can't wait to get back to them. There's one with an interactive component that's keeping me up at night.
How does it differ from other works in the genre?
Mine differs from other rhyming picture books in that it has an unusual rhyme scheme and an abundance of onomatopoeia (sound words).  
Why do you do what you do?
I stink at Math.
What is the hardest part about writing?
The hardest part is having a terrific idea but not being sure about the best way to get it down on paper. I want to love it! I want my agent to love it! And I want it to sell, so children have the opportunity to love it! That’s not asking too much, is it? * sigh *

Now, I get to tag a few more authors. Please read their bios below and take a minute to HOP over to their blog posts!

Michelle Houts lives and plays on a family farm in Ohio. She shares her days with three children, the farmer of her dreams, cattle, hogs, a whole lot of barn cats, and a dog the size of a small horse. She enjoys reading, cooking and hiking any place that has hills because where she lives it is very flat. Michelle recently acquired a one-room schoolhouse built in 1894. With restoration underway, she dreams of turning it into her writing space. Michelle’s debut middle grade novel The Beef Princess of Practical County (Random House) received the 2010 International Reading Association Children’s Book Award for intermediate fiction and the 2011 Nebraska Agricultural Children’s Book of the Year. Michelle’s next two middle grade novels The Practical County Drama Queen (MuseItUp) and Winterfrost (Candlewick Press) will be released in 2014. Visit her blog: www.michellehouts.com/wordpress!

Linda Bozzo is the author of over 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. She enjoys writing fiction as well as nonfiction for children. Many of her fiction stories are inspired by her love of dance. Linda is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She enjoys presenting her writing journey to both children and adults. Linda lives in New Jersey with her family where she can visit the Jersey shore and enjoy the culture of New York City. You can find Linda online at http://www.lindabozzo.com. Blog: Writerlinda.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Let's Dress Up Words!

Hi there, WIT followers. 
It's Alison Formento. I'm happy to meet you!

Halloween is coming soon and we’re busy getting our costumes ready for the big day. Do you have a costume parade in your town or at your school? Wigs, hats, special clothing, masks, make-up and more are used for dress up October 31st. 

Words can be dressed up, too. 

Look at this photo:
Here’s one way to describe it:

A devil walked by. She was followed by a musician with a violin. 
Let’s dress up those same words in a new description of the scene.
A short, red devil had an evil smile on her face.
The nervous classical musician followed close and held tight to his prized violin.

Now, write down what you’re going to be for Halloween and what you plan to wear for your costume. 
Example: Clown with wig and bow tie. 
Dress up your costume with more description this time: 
I plan to be a clown. I’ll wear a crazy rainbow wig, a floppy polka dot bow tie, and giant shoes as long as my arm.

Find out what your friends and classmates are wearing and write out a description of their costumes, too. Use these costume descriptions to create your own fun and spooky Halloween story.
~ Alison 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Write On, Columbus!

Columbus Day is coming!

Did you know that Columbus was a writer? He wrote Columbus's Book of Privileges. It tells about all the favors he thinks are due to him and his heirs by the Spanish Crown. He felt he should be rewarded for his  accomplishments, especially for finding a new route to the West Indies. (Just for fun, ask your teacher:  Did he really discover America?)

Back on topic...

With dear (sort of clueless) Columbus in mind, I'd like you to think about accomplishments. You know, stuff that you've done, or someone else has done, that deserves recognition.

BUT WAIT -- we shall not be pompous like Columbus! (Yes, you should totally look up pompous in the dictionary. It's a great word.)

I want you to write about one of your classmates. Write one paragraph. It doesn't have to be very long. Don't sweat over it. I won't be giving you a grade. Just try to answer some of these questions. And THINK!

Who am I writing about?
How do I know this person?
What has this person accomplished?
Why is this an important accomplishment?
What are my feelings about his/her accomplishment? Do I feel it's a worthy accomplishment?

Have a wonderful holiday weekend.
Accomplish something.
; )

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Let's Put a Twist on Rhyme

Hi EverybodyI

Lori here.
I write in rhyme - most of the time (but not always), so I thought that’s what my first WIT post should be about.  One easy way to practice writing in rhyme is to take a familiar nursery rhyme and change some of the words to create a new one.  The reason it’s easy is because the rhythm (or meter) is already set up, so you don’t have to create a new one.  Usually, the hardest part of writing in rhyme is making it read smoothly and, if the meter isn’t just right, it won’t read well.  

Here are two examples of nursery rhymes I changed: 

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mary had a little lamb,
whose fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb was sure to go.

Mary Had a Little Pig

Mary had a little pig,
whose tail was pink and curly.
And everywhere that Mary went,
They called her piggie Shirley.

Little Boy Blue

Little Boy Blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep's in the meadow,
The cow's in the corn;
But where is the boy
Who looks after the sheep?
He's under a haystack,
Fast asleep.

Little Boy Blue

Little Boy Blue,
Come play your flute,
The pig’s in the meadow,
All chubby and cute;
But where is the boy
Who looks after the pigs?
He’s under a fig tree,
eating some figs. 

Here’s a list of Nursery Rhymes to get you started:

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

Hey Diddle Diddle

Humpty Dumpty

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Jack and Jill

Little Bo Peep

Little Miss Muffet

Old Mother Hubbard

Star Light, Star Bright

This Little Piggy

Give them a twist!

- Lori

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Punctuation Station

Tuesday, September 24th, was National Punctuation Day. Did you know that?

What is YOUR favorite punctuation mark? I'm partial to the semi-colon; however, a plain old comma makes me swoon, too. And don't even get me started on the Oxford comma or series comma. I can't live without it.

A N Y W A Y...to continue...

It's time to stop at Punctuation Station!

This quiz is from SoftSchools.com, and it's especially made for those of you who are in the 4th Grade. If you are in 3rd or 5th, or any other grade, give it a go! But ...
Some of these questions seem easy but may not be! (Helpful Hint:  Don't rush.)

Follow THIS link to the quiz.

Later, Punctuation Geniuses!
~ Nancy

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Back to School, Back to Basics!

I know you're busy writing and creating wonderful stories for your teachers, but let's take a sec to review the all-important CAPITAL LETTER RULES, ok?

But a list of rules is boring, so just practice using capital letters by filling in the blanks. Careful, I may try to trick you!

always capitalize the first letter in a ________________. (<--Fix that sentence!)

What pronoun always get capitalized? _________       (_______ know you know this one!)

Write your name using proper capitalization. _____________________.

Write your nickname using proper capitalization. _________________.

Fix what is wrong:  captain jack sparrow, president obama, and nancy viau had lunch at salads-to-go in denver, colorado.

Where does SpongeBob SquarePants live? __________________________

Name a school club. ________________________

What is your favorite color? _____________________________

Name a gaming system. _____________________

Fix what is wrong:  a deer, turtle, and a dog named kitty met julia at the bus stop on richwood road.

One more. Fix what's below. Hurry! These lower case mistakes are making me nutso!

i will be signing copies of my books:  look what i can do, storm song, and samantha hansen has rocks in her head at the princeton book festival (saturday, september 21), the warwick book festival (saturday, september 28), and the collingswood book festival (october 5). i hope you stop by!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WIT is Back! ...

Hello, WIT readers!

I have some fun in store for you because this blog is about to go through a bit of a change. Change IS GOOD, right? (The correct answer is YES!) Don't worry, the focus of WIT will remain the same. The posts will still be kid-friendly, short, and hopefully...um...witty.

But, beginning soon, a few of my famous friends will take over a Thursday post now and then! Pretty cool, huh?

Drumroll, please. (This is the part where you tap your knuckles on your desk really fast!)

MEET ALISON FORMENTO! Alison is the author of the award-winning picture book This Tree Counts! and its abridged board book This Tree, 1, 2, 3. From Booklist: "Teachers and parents will welcome Formento's 'going green' tale." Other titles include These Bees Count! (2012), These Seas Count! (2013), and her debut young adult novel, Twigs (2013). She loves visiting schools and libraries, and donates a portion of her book sales to AmericanForests.org.

MEET MARGIE GELBWASSER! Margie is a freelance writer who has written for a variety of magazines. Her first novel, Inconvenient (2010), was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens. Her second novel, Pieces of Us (2012), is told using four points of view. It deals with cyberbullying, abuse, family relationships, and how one teen's actions affect the other three. When not writing, Margie loves being a mom to her six-year-old boy, hiking, dancing, cooking, and watching bad television.

MEET LORI DEGMAN! Lori Degman is a teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students by day and a writer of picture books by night, weekend and school holiday. Her debut picture book, 1 Zany Zoo, was the winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. Her second picture book, Cock-a-Doodle Oops! will be released by Creston Books in 2014.

And of course, ME!
NANCY VIAU is the author of the picture books Look What I Can Do!, Storm Song, and City Street Beat (forthcoming in 2014). Her middle-grade novel, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head, was published in 2008. Nancy lives in New Jersey, but often travels to elementary schools where she channels her inner eight-year-old and creates enough of a ruckus to inspire students to write.

So, until next week, sharpen those pencils, and perhaps try these warm-up exercises:

Practice your ABCs...backwards.
Practice writing in cursive...with the opposite hand.
Practice those keyboard strokes...with your eyes closed.
Simply impress your teachers with your witty personalities and excellent behavior.

Later gators,
: )
Nancy, Alison, Margie, and Lori

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Three, Two, One, Blastoff!

Stay tuned for WIT to return Thursday, September 12th.

In the meantime, get busy with that classwork or  homework. Your teacher told me you have some....


Thursday, June 6, 2013

H is for Hiatus!

If you've been following this blog, you know that it's time to say GOOD-BYE for the summer. 
Summer is the time to recharge. Time to move away from technology. Time to have fun...OUTSIDE!


Turn off your computer, put on your sneakers, and make some memories. These memories will turn into ideas for stories. I promise.

I'll see you back here September 12, 2013. Bring a pencil. You're gonna need one.

: )

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just a Flag, a BEAUTIFUL Flag!

So, last Monday was Memorial Day. What did you do? Go the shore, maybe? Have a picnic? Watch a beautiful sunset?

In case you're wondering where this holiday came from, read THIS. http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html.

Now, let the writing begin. Make a list of every word you can think of when you see this flag.

Is there a story in there?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hold the Phone, I Mean the Homophone

First of all, let it be known that I find these little buggers, known as homophones, fascinating. Words that sound the same but have different meanings? How cool is that!

HERE's quick quiz from Using English.com to brush up on your homophones. Try it out. It's pretty grate/great!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Mean Ol’ Schoolmarm Moment...…

I just love the Mean Ol' Schoolmarm.
See her picture HERE. She's a little scary, right?

Today she's talking about how to use either or neither, and she has made it easy to understand by explaining it like this:
“Either” has a positive meaning.
“Neither” has a negative meaning.

The use of either or neither is tricky and Mean Ol' Schoolmarm has a sure fire way to make sure your sentence is correct. So, please read the rest of her post (HERE) and study a few more examples.
Then, try adding these words to your writing!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Will Write for Cookies

Looking for a giggle this morning?
This is from an interview I recently did, and I thought you'd enjoy the questions and my silly answers.

Did you have a conscious moment when you realized you wanted to write stories with nature themes, or did it just sort of happen?
Sort of both. Take cookies, for example. They are in the pantry and since I (consciously) love them, I’ll eat a bunch. It just happens. Nature is all around, and since I’m an outdoorsy person who loves science and the natural world, I can’t help but write about it.

What's the most fun or rewarding thing (or both) about being a children's author?
I can act like a kid and no one can say it’s not part of my job.

More here:

Have a SWEET day!
; )

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hey Kids, Call Your Parents in for THIS post.

...because THIS post is for them.

Below is a link to an article by Samantha Parent Walravens of the Huffington Post. She talks about how parents can help kids become better writers.

The title of the article is: "Ten Tips to Help Your Child Become a Better Writer" and it is good advice. I give it my ALL CAPS STAMP OF APPROVAL.

Parents, read on and take notes!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

See Ya Later National Poetry Month

Hey there, kiddos!

Remember the shoe prompt from last week? Cathy Ballou Mealey was inspired by that photo of the sneaker, and by the cover of LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!.
LOOK what she came up with:


The eggs hatch. The chicks grew.
They peck, and flap and squawk.
One day they launch into the blue
And join their feathered flock.

by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Pretty sweet poem to end our month long celebration of poetry! Be sure to visit Cathy's blog!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Romp Around the Prompt

Take a look at this photo:

List a few words that rhyme with SHOE.
List a few words that rhyme with WALK.

Try to write a rhyming poem that contains four lines.
Make the first and third lines rhyme with SHOE,
and the second and fourth lines rhyme with WALK.

Send them to me via the email on www.nancyviau.com. I may post one on my website!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Storm Song Celebration!

To celebrate the release of my second picture book, STORM SONG, which came out THIS WEEK (Wah-HOOO!), I'm challenging you to write a weather-related story or poem.

STORM SONG is filled with onomatopoeia or sound words. Here are a few lines from the book: (That cute illustration is by French illustrator Gynux. He did a wonderful job bringing my characters to life.)

Raindrops beat 

A steady sound--

Tat. Tat. Tap.

Pitter, pat, POUND!

But other types of weather can inspire us to make noisy or not-so-noisy stories and poems using onomatopoeia, too.

For example, what sounds might you hear on a snowy day, a windy day, or even a sunny one? Can these sounds be words? What if you heard hail or thunder? Or icicles cracking and falling from the roof? What word would describe a soft cloud as it roams across the sky?

Now, put on your weather gear, be inspired, and get to work!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Acrostic Poem Day

April is National Poetry Month, but you knew that already, right?

I bet you've had some experience with creating Acrostic Poems. They can be as hard or easy as you like, and they're pretty fun to do!

Check out this activity on readwritethink.org:  Acrostic Poems.

I picked SPRING as my word and this is what I came up with:



Thursday, April 4, 2013

It's Not Easy...

It's not easy...

These three words appear throughout my picture book, LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!

Example 1:
It's not easy to cross the path.
My feet are tired. I want a bath.

Example 2:
It's not easy to slither fast.
I slide downhill. I won't be last.

In the world of rhyme, these are known as couplets--two rhyming stanzas--and they're not that hard to create.

GIVE IT A TRY! After all,

Fill in the blanks.

It's not easy to ________________.
My________________.       I______________________.


It's not easy to ________________.
I __________________.       I______________________

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Be a Show Off!

Have you ever heard of SHOW, DON'T TELL?

When you write, you must SHOW the reader what you mean, not merely mention it.

Here's a quick way to improve your SHOW OFF skills.

Make a chart.
In the left column, put the words below. On the right, come up with more descriptive words (or even phrases) that can be used instead. I've started the first one for you, but add at least five more to it.
Make it a contest! Go up against a classmate and see who can be the best SHOW OFF. In other words, who can come up with the most replacements for the word on the left.

NICE         sweet, loving, better than average, forgiving, perfect, friendly, outgoing





Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Invent Your Own Holiday

Last Sunday, some folks celebrated a holiday. What was it?
I'll give you a few minutes to think about it... 
*Sings: "When Irish Eyes are Smiling..."* 

Did you guess St. Patrick's Day?

You don't have to be Irish to enjoy the day! It's fun to celebrate ALL holidays!
Ever wonder how St. Patty's Day came about?
Click HERE for a quick explanation.

So, what's this have to do with writing?
Today, I want YOU to invent your own holiday. Just like the description on the link above, write a small paragraph telling how the holiday came about and what is celebrated. BE CREATIVE.

If I had to invent a holiday, I'd make one called:  National Writing Day!
: )
Write On!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Next Big Thing BLOG HOP

What's a Blog Hop? Well, it's a way for you to discover authors in all phases of their careers and find out some very cool information about them. I was tagged by writer/curriculum guide specialist Marcie Colleen, so that means I have to answer the following questions and tag back to Marcie so you can read her answers. (Read Marcie's fun thoughts about what she's working on HERE. Scroll to March 6th entry.) At the end of my post, you'll see who I've tagged, and I really hope you check out her Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book? LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? I had been watching the animals from my office window (see the frog and turtle from my yard?), and thought, Wow, they work so hard at every task and never give up until they're done. I remembered my own little ones and how determined they were to learn to walk, talk, read, write, jump rope, skip, and so on. That’s when the light bulb went off and I began to write!

3: What genre does your book come under? Picture Book

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? The book is filled with animals from the forest, field, and stream. They are pictured realistically in the book, so it’s hard to imagine a human playing the part of a deer, raccoon, owl, bear, spider, or snake. But … I think it would be hysterical to substitute the Sesame Street Muppets for the animals. Instead of a rhyming picture book, it would be a jammin’ musical filled with outdoor song and dance numbers.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? LOOK WHAT I CAN DO! celebrates how baby animals overcome challenges, whether it’s a young spider spinning a web or a small bird flying from the nest for the first time, and compares them to the littlest readers who also accomplish so much each day. (I wish I had written that very descriptive, all inclusive line, but I didn't! It's from the book jacket.)

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? This book is published by Abrams Books for Young Readers. 

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It was sooo long ago, I actually don’t remember!

Home for a Bunny  -     
        By: Margaret Wise Brown
        Illustrated By: Garth Williams
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? The book has sort of an “old time” appeal to it, so maybe it would be okay if I compared it to one of those beautifully illustrated books from the fifties? HOME FOR A BUNNY by Margaret Wise Brown comes to mind. The text is simple and playful, and the illustrations make you feel like you’re able to hop inside the scene.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? Nature is a big part of my life, so whatever I encounter on my walks and bike rides inspires me. It could be a teeny spider or an enormous moose; the quiet softness of falling snowflakes or the loud boom of a thunderstorm. Oh, and speaking of storms, in April, I’ll be celebrating the release of a second nature-inspired picture book, STORM SONG!
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The book is for the very young, so I hope that preschoolers and kids in kindergarten through third grade come away with the idea that can do anything they set their minds to. It may take some work, but with patience, determination, and the guidance from a loving adult they will succeed.

UP NEXT on The Next Big Thing Blog Hop is Kelly Fineman. On March 20th, Hop, HOP, HOP over to Kelly's blog to see what she's been up to in the last few months!