ReviMo 2015 Is Just Around the Corner!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

ReviMo 2015 - January 11-17th
Come and revise picture book manuscripts with us!

I'm so pleased to announce the ReviMo Guest Bloggers for 2015:

*Renee LaTulippe
*Rebecca Janni
*Kara Lareau
**Wednesday Pause with Meg**
*H. Joseph Hopkins
*Joe Berger
*Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Wanna connect with ReviMo Revisers? Join the ReviMo Group on Facebook!

Looking forward to revising with you all!

Petite ReviMo November with Kidlit 411

Friday, November 14, 2014

It’s time for PETITE REVIMO! So that means that it’s time to break out those manuscript drafts that you’ve written and look for that diamond in the rough! We all know that revising can be a daunting task, but if you revise using the proper tools, it can be less so.

The team at KidLit411 has some tools to make your revision task a little easier.

First, check out our page on Revisions, which gives great links to self-editing and revision articles and checklists.

Do you have a manuscript that needs non fiction research? KidLit411 has a section that has everything that you may need regarding your nonfiction revisions, with one simple click. Try here.

Are you revising a picture book manuscript? We’re sure you have plenty of ideas from Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo! Any resource you may need from picture book word count to help with formatting your manuscript before submission can be found here.

But what if you’re revising that novel you started during NanoWriMo? We’ve got lots of resources that you can use for your Middle Grade novel right here. (Don’t forget to check out our YA and NA pages, too!)

Make sure you find critique partners to look over your work and give additional revision notes. We have a page on Critique Groups and a Facebook page where you can connect with other writers looking to swap manuscripts, our Kidlit 411 Manuscript Swap.

The bottom line is- don’t revise alone! Let’s gather in the ReviMo Facebook group for revision support and guidance and also head on over to KidLit411 for resource help!

Happy Revising!

The KidLit411 Team

Thank you so much Elaine! 

More about the Kidlit411 Team: 

KIDLIT411 founder, ELAINE KIELY KEARNS is currently chasing the dream as a published author. Armed with a master's degree in Education and working from her home office, she spends her time perusing the internet for golden nuggets of information about children's writing and creating her own picture book and middle grade stories.

SYLVIA LIU is the other half of KIDLIT411, keeping the site running, adding links, and overseeing the illustrations and ILLUSTRATOR SPOTLIGHT. She is a writer and illustrator. She is the winner of the 2013 LEE AND LOW NEW VOICES AWARD and her winning manuscript, A MORNING WITH GONG GONG, will be published as a picture book. 

Petite ReviMo October - Revising through Research

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Revision. When it boils down to it, we all have slightly different approaches to revising our crappy drafts. Sure, there are common threads…all the components that go into good writing. There are tons of awesome checklists and resources for revision that certainly make our task a bit easier. (Here’s a new favorite of mine developed by Elizabeth and Gregory Cowan.) But, none of that matters if we don’t have a stand-out concept with emotional resonance. I’m sure you’re wondering: How can I revise that?


Your research can lead you down many different avenues. I’d like to cover three of them today.

Picture Books with Similar Concepts or Themes

Identify what is at the heart of your book, and look for similar themes and concepts at the library. What are you writing about? Perhaps your story has the theme of overcoming fears. What kind are they? Are they specific to starting school, meeting new people, or interacting with dogs? While looking up subject titles on Goodreads and Amazon is a great start, you will want to delve into them more. Bring them home and get to know them. Analyze plot, concept, theme, structure, character, and voice. What works for these books? What doesn’t? How is your manuscript different? What makes the books stand out? How can you make yours differ even more? How can you mix it all up and create something that has not been done yet?

Picture Books with 5 Star Concepts

These are books that may not have the same theme as your manuscript. They are simply books that you immediately think: “This idea is so unique!” or “There is nothing else like this out there!”

Analyze the concept in depth:
What about it do kids relate to? What makes it different than anything else out there? Does it remind you of another story? If so, how did the author create something unique? How does the author use voice to enhance the concept? Does the main character drive this story in a unique way? How did you personally relate to this main character? Apply what you learn to your own manuscript.

Picture Books that Speak from the Same Point of View (POV)

When analyzing this category, it is important that you first know the point of view basics. Ann Whitford Paul covers this well in, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS: A HANDS ON GUIDE FROM STORY CREATION TO PUBLICATION. If you have not read this book yet, it is a must. Even if you have, Chapters 3-5 would be an important revisit during your revision experiments.

From which POV did you write your story? Third Person Narrative Voice, First Person, Second Person? Furthermore, which voice and tense did you use?

Now look at some of your favorite picture books. Even better, look at your current favorites. What works in today’s market is very different than what worked 10 years ago (and in many cases, even 3 years ago.) Which POV, voice, and tense do your favorites use? How can you use the “mentor text”, as Marcie Flinchum Atkins calls it, to help you with your current work in progress?

After analyzing your point of view, you may discover that you need to try writing it from a new POV. Don’t let that drag you down! Revision is the ONLY thing that will lead you to your final draft. Happy revising!

Thank you so much Carrie! Love your take on this. :)

More about Carrie Charley Brown:
Carrie Charley Brown juggles ideas every day as a children’s writer, teacher, blogger, and mom. She believes success is possible with the next best idea. She is constantly researching by reading TONS of picture books, and currently serves as a CYBILS Fiction Picture Book Panelist. You can learn more about Carrie, and many other amazing authors, on her website: Carrie On…Together!, or follow her on Twitter and You Tube.

Petite ReviMo September!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thank you for joining us for Petite ReviMo September! We are going with an oldie, but goodie, the Choose Your Own Revision Adventure from our ReviMo Classroom Style 2014.

These are the wonderful tips all our ReviMo Classroom Style guests gave us! Some of you joined us for ReviMo Classroom, but some of you haven't seen this yet, either way, I hope these tips light a revision fire for you!

Click to enlarge and print!

Also, I'm curious, do you find yourself pantstering or plotting these days? I used to be more  of a pantster, but have become more of a plotter.... Verrrry curious. Let me hear it! And thanks for joining us revising!

ReviMo 2015!!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

First off, I'm pleased to announce the ReviMo 2015 - Revise More Picture Books Week will be January 11th-17th! Guest bloggers, prizes and more details to be announced later!

ReviMo History: Summer 2013, I had a rough draft file FULL of (poopy) stories. I was writing (poopy) drafts and revising each month with Julie Hedlund's 12x12 Picture Book Challenge. I'd written 7 (poopy, noticing a trend here? :D ) drafts in 7 days with Paula Yoo's NaPiBoWriWee  I was gearing up for Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo, when I had a thought; someone needs to do a revision challenge. My next thought was, why not me? And so ReviMo was born...

This year I'm hoping that ReviMo will be just as inspiring and exciting, but I'm going to work smarter not harder as I seem to have less time, all the time. I think we all know how THAT goes!

I've been so blessed in my writing journey. I've met a lot of supportive, kind and generous souls along the way. Thanks kid lit peeps!

Good stuff coming up:
Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month (coming up in November!)
AND ChaBooCha Lite, Chapter Book Challenge starting TODAY! Best of luck ChaBoCha'ers!

Hope you'll join us for ReviMo!


Writing Process Blog Tour

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Two weeks ago (sorry I'm so pokey, Penny!) I was tagged by Penny Parker Klostermann for the Writing Process Blog Tour. Penny writes picture books and poetry for children. She was named runner-up for the Barbara Karlin Grant in 2012 with my story, MARS NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. My debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON, is coming from Random House Children’s Fall 2015. THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON is the tale of a ravenous dragon who swallows more than his belly can hold. Penny is a very sweet lady who hugs her favorite picture books.

Participating in the Writing Process Blog Tour means answering four questions and then tagging fellow writers who will join the tour. Here are the four questions and my answers.

1. What am I working on? I have several manuscripts in the works, but my favorite is a fairy tale that critique mates and a professional editor have said is lyrical, lovely and that it stuck with them after they read it. Pretty big kudos in my opinion! I'm excited to polish it and research where to submit it!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? Hmm, that's a tough question! As a writer trying to get published it is key to write something fresh and new. This is something I strive to do. How do I do it? I listen to the funny things my kids say, I watch the world around me for fresh and funny things and I let my imagination run amok. Hopefully this will make my stories stand out from the crowd

3. Why do I write what I do? In elementary school art class we wrote a fable, drew the illustrations and made it into a book. I LOVED it! Ever since I have loved writing and drawing and have dreamed of being an author. Right now I'm focused on writing picture books, but I have some middle grade and young adult novel ideas swimming around in my head (and written in various notebooks!).

4. How does your writing process work? I am not always in the mood to write, but if I am, I'll mull over a story until something clicks and then I either write out a draft on paper or type it up on the computer. Or if I have a story I love that isn't working I mull that over until I find a fix. If my creative juices aren't flowing, I can sometimes jump start them. Typically typing up the text of a favorite picture book is a surefire way to get my brain going and then I'm off. Sometimes typing up a favorite picture book inspires revisions on a story, sometimes it gives me a whole new idea. My kids (Speed, 2 years old and Peep, 4 years old) say a lot of funny and interesting things that sometimes turn into a picture book. 

To jumpstart revisions I ask questions that come from Ann Whitford Paul's book
Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication. Right now I'm studying Linda Ashman's book, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books
and that fuels my revisions too! 

There are also two sites that I use for critiques for others and also for my own stories: 
Picture Book Critique Questions from Writing on the Sidewalk and
 How to Critique a Picture book from ebooks4writers

I won't be tagging anyone, so I'll list some more helpful kidlit links. Here you go!

Great picture book writing class, Susanna Leonard Hill's Making Picture Book Magic

Julie Hedlund's 12x12, awesome picture book writing community

Highlights Foundation Workshops and Retreats - The most amazing writing workshop experience!

Fun writing challenges:

My very own ReviMo - Revise More Picture Books, revise crappy drafts every day for one week.

PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month, write down 30 picture book ideas in 30 days.

NaPiBoWriWee - National Picture Book Writing Week, write 7 drafts in 7 days.

RhyPiBoMo - Rhyming Picture Book Month.

Petite ReviMo May Day 2 - Doris Stone

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


What Do I Know About Revision?
by Doris Stone

When Meg asked me to write a blog post, my first thought was what do I know about revision?

Hmmmm. I hate it. I love it. It’s a pain. It’s bliss. I avoid it. I avoid it. I avoid it. But then, I sit down and do it.

I hate revision. It means I’ve made mistakes and my brilliant masterpiece, sucks. It means dissecting my story and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It also means critiques. Yikes…critiques are scary!

I love revision. It means my tale is on paper. Sure, there are flaws but there’s hope too. My tale has a beginning, middle and end. I no longer fear that it’ll be lost in the fickle gray matter inside my head. (Not to say it won’t be lost in the jumble of files on my computer or in the disorganized mess I call, my office.)

Revision is a pain. It means reading my work over and over, one word at a time, aloud. It also means dragging out my dusty thesaurus. But wait, this is where revision is bliss. This is where I leave my story and find a distraction. Sometimes I clean my house, really clean it from top to bottom. Other times I read a good book, or start a new project and sometimes I just take to walking and walking and walking (think Forest Gump). Whatever I do I put some distance between myself and my work in progress.

I forget my revision and let my mind wander. Revision is bliss when I avoid it. I avoid it, avoid it and avoid it.

Then, one day I see a flash in my mind’s eye. It may be a word or a character that I needed for that story. Which story was it? What was it about? Did it have a title? My gray matter can’t recall it or even remember what it was about. I dig through the pile of papers on my desk. Not there! I pull up the file on my computer titled, “Stories needing revision.” There it is!

I sit my keister in the chair and revise. It’s breezy- easy!

I send it off to my critique group. That, as I said earlier, scares the beejeebers out of me. Why? Because I know they will want me to revise it.

Thank you Doris!!

Doris has spent her life surrounded by children. She's been called friend, babysitter, mother, teacher and "Nana". From everyday experiences she crafts stories. Her hope is they will enhance lives of youngsters and help them understand and enjoy the world around them. Doris is the creator of the Fearless February 28 day 28 minute Challenge.

Petite ReviMo May Day 1 - Marsha Diane Arnold

Monday, May 12, 2014

by Marsha Diane Arnold

I thought my life was perfect. I’ve lived on three acres of paradise in the Northern California hills for thirty-five years. I’d even made peace with dying here, overlooking the little forest filled with oak, madrone, and manzanita, redwoods and rolling hills beyond.

But I’ve had to revise. We’re selling our home on McGregor Lane (yes, the perfect address for a children’s writer) and moving to Florida. In the writing world this might be known as a “full rewrite.”

Revising our stories is not as difficult as revising our lives, but the two have much in common.

Change demands a lot from us. We procrastinate, whether it’s our life or our story. So, I am grateful for Meg Miller’s ReviMo challenge to keep us on track.

There are several types of revision. Here are three:
  1. There’s the revision that comes when you know it’s needed. In life, it might be “I need to loose weight.” In your writing world, it might be “I need to get rid of that character.” To loose the weight you need to physically get moving. To loose the character you need to mentally get moving.
  2. There’s the revision that your critique partners say is needed. How much we should listen to others partially depends on whether we are a beginning writer or a seasoned author. As we grow, we’ll become more discerning with other’s critiques. Still, it’s always a challenge to know which path to travel in a story. There are so many options.
  3. There’s the revision that an editor says is needed. If it’s an editor who’s deciding on whether or not to accept your manuscript, that’s one thing. One editor may want you to change your story, while the next would find it perfect as it is. If you’re satisfied with your story, wait until several editors tell you revision is needed before revising.
If it’s an editor...or illustrator...who’s bought your manuscript, that’s another thing. The illustrator of one of my upcoming books requested I cut a number of lines in an already under 300 word manuscript. These are words I thought would make for great reading aloud. But this illustrator is one of the best in the field and I felt her images could tell the story without my words. So I revised, a.k.a. cut, them out.

Besides the usual things writers do - writing, blogging, developing e-courses, and visiting schools - I do manuscript consultations.

Often I find the beginnings of stories need revision. Some beginnings meander the reader into the story rather than dropping him in. Dropping a young reader into a story is almost always more exciting than meandering him in.

Often the endings need revision. Rather than a neat, to the point ending, some writers prefer to go on and on, hanging onto their story like a toddler afraid to let go of a parent.

Often the middle needs revision. Oh, let’s face it! Usually everything needs revision after our horrible, sad, first draft. I often advise writers to look again at the progression of events. Sometimes cutting events or switching them around will make the story smoother. Logical progression can be forgotten in the early drafts. Another thing that always helps is tightening. If there were a rewriting mantra, it might be, “Tighten, tighten, tighten.” (It sounds more humane than, “Cut, cut, cut,” doesn’t it?)

Once you have the basics of writing and storytelling under your belt, always listen to yourself more than your critiquers (those outside or inside your head). And always listen the most to your story because it’s your story that should be in charge.

Whether rewriting the story of your life or the story on the page, listen to the heart of it and take one step at a time. The heart of your life. The heart of your story. It won’t lead you astray.

Would you like to see a master revising? I was lucky enough to attend the brilliant and prolific Jane Yolen’s Master Class last October. Julie Hedlund was also in attendance; she recently posted a blog and short video of the experience. In the first part of the video, Jane is revising lines she’d quickly spewed out of her head. It’s fun and eye-opening to watch a master at work.

Thank you Marsha!!

The media has called Marsha Diane Arnold a "born storyteller" and a "magician of literary innovations." Her literary pathway began with the much-loved, award-winning newspaper column "homegrown treasures." Soon Marsha was writing for kids' magazines and in 1995 came her first book, Heart of a Tiger, for which she won the Ridgway Award for Best First Book by a New Author.

Other awards include Smithsonian Notable Book for The Pumpkin Runner, Junior Library Guild Selection, IRA Distinguished Book, and state Children's Choice awards for Heart of a Tiger, Kansas State Library's 150 "Best" Books for The Bravest of Us All, Notable Social Studies Book for The Chicken Salad Club, and a Family Choice Award for Hugs on the Wind. Roar of a Snore was twice selected for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and her early reader Quick, Quack, Quick has sold over half a million copies. Her stories have been called "wacky," "whimsical," "inspiring," "beguiling," "heartwarming," "uplifting," "great read-alouds," and "a must-have for all libraries".

Friday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 5 (Final Day!) - Choose Your Own Adventure!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thank you all so much for joining us for ReviMo Classroom Style, it's been wonderful hearing about your revisions and seeing your comments. Thank you so much, guest bloggers, what lovely insightful posts!!

Today we're going to switch it up and do a Choose Your Own (Revision) Adventure! These are all the tips from our ReviMo Classroom Style guests, made into a fun graphic for you. :D

Click to enlarge and print!
Happy writing and revising! And now.... Teachers, if your class/student revised this week, enter for your class/student to win fabulous prizes!

To Enter:
1. Click the +1 by "We Revised".
2. Click the green Enter button. VoilĂ ! You are entered. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 4 with Meg Miller

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Once I write something, it's hard for me to go back and revise it. My eyeballs don't want to read it and my brain tries to tell me that the story is finished. This doesn't actually work for writing! I make grammar mistakes, part of my story is unclear, my story doesn't flow, or sometimes I need to add detail to add spice to the story.

Fortunately there are some tricks to get a new perspective on a story and jump start revisions! 

Tricks to jumpstart revisions:

1. Read a story you really enjoy, this helps get you into story writing mode.

2. Pretend your story is a movie and watch it in your head. Is it interesting? Does it make sense? Are there some details you can add to make your story more clear?

3. Have someone else read your story out loud. This is a great way to get a fresh perspective on your story!

Happy revising!

Meg Miller is a writer and an artist. She stays at home with her two kids who are 4 and 2 years old. Her husband is an engineer at a car company. They have two chickens, Macaroni and Doris, who each lay an egg a day. A dog who doesn't lay eggs, but likes to herd chickens. :)

Wednesday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 3 with Lisa Rivard

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I love being a writer. When I can, I stay in my pajamas all day and write. I get my ideas from all over the place.Things will just pop in my head. For example, last week a fairly cute groundhog made its way to my porch. What an adorable little critter! I kept thinking to myself, wouldn't he be cute in a picture book! What could he do? What is his problem? Where could the story take place? Does he have friends or family? My mind just starts to wander and begins to construct a story that I can see in my head. When I have new ideas, I put them in a fish bowl on my desk so that I do not loose the idea in a busy day and then never come back to it. 

But what I have figured out is that writing is a process of discovery. I do not always produce my best stuff when I write my first draft. As I mentioned in the video, I often have to write and then walk away from my piece for awhile. I stuff my pieces in a drawer and save them for the perfect moment to take them out and breathe life into them. It is exciting to revisit pieces with new ideas. 

Recently, my new book was released. It is called Melvin Fargo Writes to Argue and Persuade. With that story, it just came to my head and I made very little changes. But it is a topic that I am very comfortable with. Another story I am working on has taken months to revise. I am constantly changing the characters, the plot, everything! It is just fun to make the changes and see what I can do to make my writing better each day.

Lisa Rivard was raised by her parents in New Baltimore, Michigan, Along with her two sisters. Throughout her life she has enjoyed working with children in many different
capacities including as a teacher, coach, and principal . She earned her degree from Michigan State University and her administration degree from Oakland University. Most recently Lisa completed a PhD in instructional technology from Wayne State University. Currently, Lisa is employed as a Language Arts Consultant and assists regional schools in developing effective literacy plans. It has been Lisa's lifelong dream to become an author of
children's books. For more information about Lisa, please visit her website

Tuesday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 2 with Jane Feber, Secondary

Monday, April 28, 2014

Teachers and Secondary Students
by Jane Feber

Click here for Elementary Student post!

Writing is not my strong suit; I’m more of a right brain kinda’ gal. I learn most when I am able to apply skills and concepts. Thus the ideas that are in my books are all activities and strategies aimed at engaging students in the learning process.

As with all of the teacher resources I have written, it’s the creative, hands-on activities that are the highlights of each book. Yet the publishers are intent on the front matter – the introduction, rationale behind the book, and the directions on how to use the book.

When I was a contributing author for Pearson, my editor, after reading my first draft, took me out to dinner to discuss my pieces. What I thought was concise, my editor informed me lacked voice. After a long dinner conversation, I was told that I had so much voice in my speaking and needed to learn to transfer this voice to my writing.

At this point I became cognizant of the elements that form good writing. I became more aware of sentence structure. As I read I began looking for introductory elements – participle phrases, subordinate clauses, and prepositional phrases. I began to realize that quite often a short sentence can pack a powerful punch. I learned to better develop my ideas using research as a basis. All of these elements are modeled in good writing by well-know authors. The more I read and became aware of how proficient writers used these elements of good writing, the better I became at using them in my own writing.

I have now authored four books all published by Maupin House/Capstone. I continuously refer to my books as I gather activities to share activities for presenting to teachers. As I read through the front matter in each book, I can see the improvement in my writing style. I learned that the more you read and observe the traits of proficient writing, the better writer you become. Writing is most definitely a recursive process. The more you write, the better writer you become.

As a middle school language arts teacher for 36 years, Jane Feber’s innovative approach to instruction has earned her several awards including the AMLE Distinguished Educator Award, the Gladys Prior Award for Teaching Excellence, Florida Council of Teachers of English Teacher of the Year, Duval County, FL, Teacher of the Year, and the NCTE Edwin A. Hoey Award. Jane was a National Board Certified Teacher and is also the author of Creative Book Reports: Fun Projects with Rubrics for Fiction and Nonfiction, Active Word Play, Student Engagement is FUNdamental, and Engage Striving Students in the Common Core Classroom published by Maupin House/Capstone. You can contact Jane through her website at

Tuesday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 2 with Jane Feber, Elementary

For Elementary Students
by Jane Feber

Click here for Teachers and Secondary Students post!
Noun/verb, noun/verb. These simple sentences just have to be put to rest! It’s time to teach students, at an early age, how to become more proficient writers. Once students have mastered the basics: end punctuation and writing simple sentences, it’s time to teach them how to acquire a more mature command of the language.

To do this, I begin with word choice. Most all teachers do an activity similar to this. Give students a simple sentence The boy ran and have them rewrite it by changing the verb – The boy sprinted. After doing an activity such as this for a while, show students how to turn a simple sentence The boy ran into a more visual picture by adding more descriptive words and phrases. The boy ran then becomes Upon seeing the bear through the corner of his eye, the boy sprinted through the forest over fallen trees and brushy scrub. Melissa Forney, in her book Razzle Dazzle Writing, has several great activities to help students show not tell.

Another activity to follow this one is to have students create flip books where they begin with a simple sentence then lift the flap of the flip book to embellish the sentence.

Below is how one student embellished the sentence He was depressed about his grades.

-- -- -- -- -- --             -- -- -- -- -- --             -- -- -- -- -- --       

Another activity to assist students with embellishing sentences can be done through a series of mini-lessons. Before the lessons, instruct students to trace their footprint, cut it out, and trace it to create six footprints that they will cut out and number from 1 to 6. You will provide mini-lessons as students embellish their sentence one step at a time.

 For the first mini-lesson, students will write a noun/verb sentence after the mini-lesson on nouns and verbs. Brian P. Cleary’s books A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What is a Noun? and To Root, to Toot to Parachute: What is a Verb? can be used to create this mini-lesson. Students will then use footprint #1 to write a noun/verb sentence. For this lesson the noun can be their name. (Jane traveled.)

The second mini-lesson will be taught on adjectives and adverbs. Again Brian P. Cleary’s books, Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What is an Adjective? and Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What is an Adverb?, can be used for this lesson. These books can be shown on the document camera to illustrate the use of adjectives and adverbs. Students will then take footprint #2 and rewrite their noun/verb sentence adding an adjective to the noun and an adverb to the verb. (Curious Jane traveled slowly.)

The third mini-lesson will be on prepositional phrases. Brian P. Cleary’s book Under, Over, By the Clover: What is a Preposition? can be used for this lesson. Once students are familiar with prepositional phrases, they will use footprint #3 to add a prepositional phrase to the subject of sentence #2 and a prepositional phrase to the predicate of sentence #2. (In the summer curious Jane traveled slowly across the country.)

Once the three footprints are completed, students will then be taught the comma/conjunction rule and how a comma and a conjunction can be used to form a compound sentence. Again, Brian P. Cleary has a book called But and For, Yet and Nor: What is a Conjunction? that can be used for this lesson. Once students are familiar with how to use a comma and a conjunction to connect two sentences, they will then, on footprint #4, write their previous sentence (#3) and add a comma, conjunction, and a new noun/verb sentence. (In the summer curious Jane traveled slowly across the country, and the car broke.)

Students are now on their own to write footprint #5 where they will add an adjective and an adverb to sentence #3 as they did in sentence #2 and complete footprint #6 by adding the prepositional phrases as they did in sentence #3. You are now reinforcing what was taught previously by having students complete sentences #5 and 6 by themselves. (In the summer curious Jane traveled slowly across the country, and the old car broke down.) (In the summer curious Jane traveled slowly across the country, and in the mountains the old car broke down near a cliff.) This activity allows students to write more mature sentences. This activity can also be used to describe characters in stories, events in history, and processes in science. Example Volcanoes erupt. Shield volcanoes erupt slowly. Shield volcanoes in Hawaii erupt slowly down the mountain. Shield volcanoes in Hawaii erupt slowly down the mountain, and the land changes. Shield volcanoes in Hawaii erupt slowly down the mountain, and the scenic land changes slowly. Shield volcanoes in Hawaii erupt slowly down the mountain, and the scenic land around the volcano changes slowly over time. This activity, Step by Step, can be found in Student Engagement is FUNdamental by Jane Feber published by Maupin House/Capstone.

As a middle school language arts teacher for 36 years, Jane Feber’s innovative approach to instruction has earned her several awards including the AMLE Distinguished Educator Award, the Gladys Prior Award for Teaching Excellence, Florida Council of Teachers of English Teacher of the Year, Duval County, FL, Teacher of the Year, and the NCTE Edwin A. Hoey Award. Jane was a National Board Certified Teacher and is also the author of Creative Book Reports: Fun Projects with Rubrics for Fiction and Nonfiction, Active Word Play, Student Engagement is FUNdamental, and Engage Striving Students in the Common Core Classroom published by Maupin House/Capstone. You can contact Jane through her website at

Monday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 1 with Dr. Bena Hartman

Thursday, April 24, 2014


by Dr. Bena Hartman

Ever wish you had a ‘do over?’ I mean, if you could turn back the hands of time, what one thing would you do differently? If you’re anything like me, you have lots of things you would like to press rewind and ‘do over.’ Here’s one of mine: I wish I had said, ‘thank you’ to my eighth-grade teacher Mrs. Kukick when she told me: “You’re a wonderful writer.” But instead of saying, ‘thank you,’ like I should have, I brushed the comment off because I didn’t feel like I was—in my heart or in my mind. Little did I know at the time that she had planted the seed of my writing career through those four—simple—words.

Fast forward 10 years and the effect of Mrs. Kukick’s words can be traced in a journal that I kept as a classroom teacher. And eight years later as an assistant professor as I continued writing through the articles I wrote about African American children’s literature.

Although I haven’t taught for quite some time, when I dug deep into myself I heard the echoes of Mrs. Kukick and it was then that her words took full bloom. Because of my passion for learning, both of my books Jasmine Can: Creating Self-Confidence and September’s Big Assignment share a literacy theme and describe protagonists that navigate their way through life as a struggling and reluctant reader. Both books have received awards including: The Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, The Eric Hoffer Montaigne Award, the New York Book Festival Award, and the Purple Dragonfly Award.

The encouraging words uttered by Mrs. Kukick have been reinforced and expressed by others. For example, I’ve had the honor to present abroad in Rize, Turkey, and in the U.S. at places like the Michigan Reading Association Conference and the Keystone State Reading Association Conference in Pennsylvania. I’ve also presented locally and across the country in a host of elementary and middle schools, and at a mix of bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Schuler Books. I am currently working on writing my first novel and write book reviews for the Michigan Reading Journal. With all my various writing projects, keeping my website up to date has turned out to be an ongoing work in progress.

I plan on pressing the pause button to carve out extended periods of time to write summer of 2014. To that end, I’ll close where I began. To Mrs. Kukick, and all other teachers who have labored day in and day out helping students reach their greatest potential in life, thank you and may you continue to stay the course.

Thank you Bena!


Award winning author Bena Hartman was a former classroom teacher in Prince George’s County Maryland, and an assistant professor of reading education at the University of South Florida and University of Pittsburgh. She has several published articles on the use of African American Children’s Literature, and two published children’s books: a picture book called Jasmine Can: Creating Self Confidence, an honorable mention for the Purple Dragonfly Award, and a chapter book entitled September’s Big Assignment—a Gold Medal Winner for the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Montaigne Award for most thought-provoking books of the year, and the New York City Children’s Book Award. Her future projects include a picture book about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech, and a novel that uses air as the narrator to the story.

Petite ReviMo April Day 2 - Michelle Lynn Senters

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


by Michelle Lynn Senters

I admit it.

Revision is my least favorite part of the writing process. I much prefer to remain in the delicious euphoria of having written the perfect first draft. Can’t I dwell there just a moment longer before I am whisked away into reality?

Thankfully, my critique group is adept at handling the delusional temper tantrum of a 44 year old writer. They appeal to my sensibility and love for words well-written. They pry the manuscript from my clenched fist, take up their pencils, and kill my little darlings. This is all in the name of good literature, of course, and I am better for it.

Nevertheless, after months of revisions and blinding attention to each word and detail, I am left emotionally detached from the story and the characters I once loved. The euphoria is long forgotten and I tire of a story read too often. Divorce is imminent.

At this point of the process, I have two choices. I can succumb to temptation of the garbage can or I can breathe new life into the manuscript. Because I am as stubborn as I am idealogical, I choose the latter and who better to breathe in new life than children?

Dramatic retelling of the "Three Little Pigs"


In the business world, it is unthinkable to introduce a new product or service without market testing and research. Movies, toys, cereal, technology, and thousands of other products are tested by those who represent the intended recipient. Children’s books, however, do not follow this format. Although the intended audience is the child, their opinions are not typically sought after during the writing or publishing process.

After years of teaching, writing, and storytelling, I have come to deeply value the opinions of children. They are painfully honest in terms of likes and dislikes in story and intuitively understand what makes a story magical.

Michelle shares her story, “Stay in Bed, Sleepyhead”. Students act out the 
wind and rain which causes little Tommy Joe to hide beneath the covers.


Find your age-appropriate audience. Read to your children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Befriend the local librarian and volunteer during story hour. Adopt a public school, daycare, or after-school program and serve as their resident storyteller.

Understand that storytelling is a performing art. It is a skill that gets better with practice. Watch youtube videos of storytellers. Google “storytelling” for comprehensive “how-to” guides. Practice. Start with a published book you know well.

Prepare your manuscript. Pre-published picture book writers must alter their manuscript to help children visualize the story. Add details about the setting, character, and plot that would normally belong to the illustrator. Appeal to the senses as you introduce the characters and set the scene.

Add props and costumes where appropriate. A few select props or costume pieces (scarf, hat) can powerfully illustrate your story. Elaborate costumes or handling too many props will only serve as a distraction. If possible, draw simple pictures on a whiteboard to give the illusion of setting.

Memorize as much of the story as possible. Don’t read the story, tell the story. It is not necessary to memorize the manuscript word for word as the students are not critiquing grammar, stylistic devices, or punctuation.

Become a “Storyteller”. A storyteller serves as an additional character to the story: the Narrator. Use facial expressions and hand gestures. Use different voices for characters. Be purposeful in pacing, pauses, volume, and emphasis to effectively increase tension and bring a satisfying resolution. Observe the listener’s responses and adjust accordingly.

Engage the audience. Encourage students to participate in story, as appropriate. Students may participate as actors or join the storyteller in repetitive or rhythmic lines.

Talk about the story afterwards. Ask questions to determine comprehension and fondness of the story. If you explain you are revising your work and want to make it better, children are more than happy to oblige with honest answers and plentiful suggestions. Did you like the book? Why or why not? Was it interesting? What was your favorite part? Was there anything you didn’t like? Have you ever experienced anything like our character did? What does this story remind you of? What happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story? Can you imagine this story in a book? What would the illustrations look like? What does the main character look like to you?


Ask yourself the following questions to determine the effectiveness of your story.

Overall engagement
What was the physical response of the children?
What parts were they most engaged?
Were there any parts they appeared distracted?
Did the children “oooh”, “ahhhh”, gasp, and laugh in all the right places?
Did they lean in to listen and watch you with wide eyes?
Did the children seem to like the story?
What were their favorite parts of the story?
Were there any parts they didn’t like?

Response to Character
Did the children identify with the actions and feelings of the main character?
Did they empathize with the character’s struggle?
Did they express relief or joy when the crisis was resolved?
Did the children relate stories of similar experiences after the storytelling?

Understanding of Setting
Could the children explain the setting if asked?

How was the pacing?
Were there any parts that felt too fast or went to slow?
Did anticipation build to keep the children engaged?
Did the children have a physical/emotional response to the climax and resolution of the story?
Did the students express confusion at any point?
How did the students respond to the conclusion of the story? Spontaneous clapping? Silence? Confusion if it was the end? A request to tell it again?

Your Response
How did you feel about your manuscript before the storytelling experience?
How do you feel about your manuscript afterwards?
What went well?
Is there anything you would do differently (re: storytelling) next time?
Is there anything about your manuscript you plan to change after this experience?
What was your favorite part of the day?


You are more than a writer. You are a storyteller. Dust off your pre-published manuscripts and put them in front of children. The experience will not only inform your writing, it will breathe new life into your story. More importantly, it will breathe new life into you.

Thank you Michelle!

Michelle Lynn Senters is a writer, speaker, and teacher. She is the founder of and Arise Ministries for Single Mothers. She holds a BA in Elementary Education and a MA in Integrated Teaching Through the Arts. Learn more about Michelle and her thoughts on faith, life, writing, and kid-lit at  

Petite ReviMo April Day 1 with Angie Karcher

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hello ReviMoers!
RhyPiBoMo is in full swing and together, we have focused on the poetry connection to writing rhyming picture books and how rhythm and rhyme enhances our writing. Now, it’s time to focus on the picture book part and revision is the key, especially in a rhyming book.

Meg has done a great job of sharing all the important components of revision. I personally think that writing a rhyming picture book is one of the most difficult things a writer will ever do, if done well! So, it makes sense that revising a RPB will be more intense, more difficult and more rewarding when complete!

You have all your usual necessities, as with revising any picture add in some new rhyming antics and that check list of what to do is growing by the minute.

I created a friendly, colorful, Post-it graphic to help you get started. I thought it might look less daunting this way. There are lots and lots of revision check lists out there but I never seem to follow the list in order.  My graphic is quite a bit less rigid, but it should still get you where you want to go!
Click to enlarge, print and/or save!

Start at the top left of the board, and work your way down and over to the bottom right…
The Orange Post-its are significant because these involve rhyme and poetry revisions.
You must do everything you always do when revising! No exceptions!

But now, you get to add in the orange Post-its too...Those orange Post-its will begin to transform your manuscript into glorious shades of golden, lyrical voice, hues of yellow, rhythmic meter and brilliant, burgundy rhyme. When it begins to glow perfection like a late, fall sunset then, and only then, may you sit a while and reflect proudly at all you have created.
Then have it critiqued again! Ha! Ha! Thought you were done didn’t you!
Thank you Angie! Happy revising everyone!

Margo Dill Guest Post - Petite ReviMo March, Day 2

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Revising the First Page or Chapter
By Margo L. Dill (AKA Editor 911)

Post after post has been written on opening lines; award-winning children’s author Richard Peck does an entire workshop on them. Agents and editors preach at writing conferences and on their blogs that it’s important to catch the reader from the first word, and they reveal they often don’t give a manuscript more than a few lines before they make a decision on it. Readers are known to use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon to read the first few pages and decide whether or not to buy the book.

So, this means that yes, the first few sentences of your picture book or the first chapter of your novel really are that important.

I have just as much trouble with chapter one, the opening scene, or that first line as anybody. In my first published novel, Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg (middle-grade), I completely rewrote the opening chapter before submitting it to publishers for the third time. I revised the first chapter from my main character, Anna, receiving a baking lesson from her ma while soldiers walked by on the street to Anna, her siblings, and Ma running for the cave in the back of their yard while Yankee shells flew over them. After the change, I received a book contract.

My next novel coming out on March 18, a YA titled Caught Between Two Curses, went through so many first chapter revisions I lost count—mostly because my critique group and a slush pile read at a conference let me know that something just wasn’t right. Finally, I got the right combination of characterization, action, and plot, and I received a publishing contract from Rocking Horse Publishing.
The first words are important!

So how do you revise the same first words time and again and also know when you have it ready to go? Try these few tips:
  • Ask beta readers or critique group members to read your first part and offer suggestions. What works for them? What doesn’t? Is there any place where they would have stopped reading if they didn’t know you personally? Are they confused or notice any awkward parts?
  • Take the feedback and start a new file. Leave the chapter or beginning they read alone with the rest of your manuscript. Work on the first lines by themselves in a separate file, incorporating their suggestions and your gut feelings.
  • If time permits, do this twice, starting the story two different ways in two different files. Then ask readers to read again and answer those same questions above. Hopefully this time, they won’t have much feedback except, “Great job!”
Why the separate document files? 
This is just a mind game. If you write different versions in separate files, you don’t feel like you’re replacing everything you’ve already done, and you’re just trying something new. If you, your critique group, or beta readers like either of the new beginnings, then you just cut out the old and put in the new.

The crucial thing to remember is that the first lines are worth spending extra time on—it’s the window to the rest of your book. If readers aren’t willing to open that window farther, you’ve lost them, and that’s not something any writer wants to do.

Thank you Margo!

Margo L. Dill is a children’s author, speaker, freelance editor, and writing instructor living in St. Louis, MO. She owns her own editing business, Editor 911, where she works with writers to revise, edit, and proofread their manuscripts. She is the author of Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg (Oct. 2012, ages 9 to 12) and the soon-to-be released Caught Between Two Curses (March 2014, ages 14 and up). She teaches online novel writing courses through WOW! Women on Writing ( .To find out more about Margo or to contact her, please go to

Caught Between Two Curses by Margo Dill will be out from Rocking Horse Publishing on March 18. This is a young adult novel that tells the story of 17-year-old Julie Nigelson who is caught between two curses--one put on her family years ago by a scorned lover and the other, the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs. While Julie tries to figure out her own love life, she's racing against time to save her family from the curse once again.