Petite ReviMo March Day 1 - H. Joseph Hopkins Pt 1.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thank you for joining us again Joe!! I still wanna hear more about living on a boat! :)


Use sensory words to describe the pictures in your head: words that trigger memories of

tastes, and smells.

We know our world through our senses: what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Use sensory images to help the reader picture in his/her head what you have pictured in your head.

Sight: use words that tell what the reader might see in the scene. For example, imagine a night in which the electrical power gone out and the main character is enveloped in blackness. Describe how he/she keeps lighting matches to search for candles. Does he/she keep glancing out the window hoping to see lights from neighboring houses?
Sound: what is the soundscape in the scene? Is there an unexpected silence because the TV and stereo no longer play and the refrigerator no longer hums? There is no whirring sound from the electric washer.

Touch: what might one feel in the scene? One summer morning I awoke on a sailboat. I felt dewy wetness on my sleeping bag. My fingers came away wet from the cabin wall. Water dripped the shrouds that hold the mast in place and pooled on the deck. The wet anchor line glistened in the morning sunlight. Dew covered every surface. What a pleasure to finally grip a steaming cup of coffee.

Taste: As a college student drives back to campus after Thanksgiving weekend, what does she remember: the thick creamy mashed potatoes smothered with too much butter? The combination of savory ham and sweet turkey swimming in brown gravy? The pudding creaminess of pumpkin pie and whipped cream?

Smell: As the homicide detective steps into the empty apartment, what assaults his nose? Unattended dog or cat droppings? The repulsive scent of stale beer and cigarettes? The burning sensation in the nose that goes with smelling blood?

Useful Resource:

Children’s Writer’s Word Book, by Alijandra Mogilner & Tayopa Mogilner, published by Writer’s Digest Books. Cincinnati, Ohio. Now in it's second edition. You can locate the Word Book at [Or link above].

Next to my MacBook computer, the Word Book is the tool I use most when writing for children. It is studded with useful information and it is easily gripped in the hand and used.

The Word Book contains:
Word lists grouped by grade, Kindergarten through grade 6 and middle school (more than 50 pages)
Thesaurus of listed words, plus synonyms (232 pages)
Reading levels for synonyms
Alphabetical list of words (50 pages)
Plus extensive advice & tips on word usage

For example: In your story of Mrs. Readighrin’s kindergarten class field trip to the desert museum on the hottest day of the year, one of the coolers slips out of place and it’s lid falls open. Glancing inside Mrs. Mrs. Readighrin discovers that the ice cream treats are beginning to melt.

Time for a change of plan. Perhaps the ice cream should be eaten immediately and the sandwiches saved for later

But you want to picture Mrs. Readighrin as a teacher who wants her class to discuss ideas and agree on a course of action. She will not make such a decision without consulting the children.

Your next sentence is “Mrs. Readighrin wonders, ‘will the kids agree to eat the ice cream first?’ ”

But is the word “agree” one that kindergarteners would understand and read?

You snatch up your Word Book and look at the alphabetical word list in the back at. Oops, “agree” is listed as a second grade word. Too high for even Mrs. Readighrin’s precocious kinders.

Next you find “agree” in the thesaurus and discover that “like” and “love” are kindergarten level synonyms for “agree.” You also look up “same” and find that it is also a kindergarten level word.

So now you could revise your sentence using either “like,” “love,” or “same,” to indicate that the children agreed to eat the ice cream first.

You might write, “The kids would like eating the ice cream first.

You could even write, “The kids would love eating the ice cream first,” because “love” is also a kindergarten word.

Thank you Joe, you're a fount of great revision information/inspiration!

H. Joseph "Joe" Hopkins lived for many years on a houseboat on the Columbia River in Portland OR. Joe came to writing through a series of happy accidents after retiring from life as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). Joe's picture book, The Tree Lady, illustrated by Meg McElmurry, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2013 and has won numerous awards from librarians and groups interested in biography, sustainability, environmental science, and the lives of independent women. The Tree Lady is a picture book biography of Kate Sessions, an independently minded woman who spent her life bringing plant color to San Diego and Balboa Park in Southern California. Reactions by reviewers children and parents have been uniformly positive and passionate. Sales have been brisk and The Tree Lady has reprinted three times.  Contact Joe at


Debra Shumaker said...

Ooh, I'll have to check out the Children's Writer's Word Book. And Joe, I LOVE the TREE LADY. I'm working on several bios myself. Thanks so much for this pos!

Elizabeth Brown said...

Wonderful! Thank you Great info and resources.

pathaap said...

Great ideas - I need to check out the Word Book!

saputnam said...

Great advice, Joe! I keep my dog-eared copy of the Children’s Writer’s Word Book next to my computer where I can easily reach it.

Cheryl Secomb said...

I found this post so helpful. Excellent advice. Thank you!

Kristi Veitenheimer said...

Thanks for the tips on finding appropriate words. I have the Children's Writer' Word Book; now I need to start using it!

Jarmila V. Del Boccio said...

Thank you, Joe, for helping us to understand how to use those handy resources. Great post!

Alexia Andoni said...

Sounds like a great resource. Thank you!

Gabi Snyder said...

Thanks, Joe, for the great advice on using sensory words!

Maria Laso said...


Lori Mozdzierz said...

Thanks, Joe. Appreciate the resources.

Kathy Halsey said...

I gotta get this word list book. And I adore the Tree lady. I have typed it up as one of my mentor tests.

Joanne Roberts said...

Thanks, Joe. I've used the Word Book for years. It's been a valuable resource for my magazine stories.

Thanks, Meg. I dropped everything today to revise my last rejection for a new market. Thanks for forcing me past my pity party and spurring me to action.

Juliana Lee said...

I love the idea of the word book. I rely too much on the Word Document Tools tab. Having a book will help me look at alternatives.

Nicole Popel said...

Love your story, Joe, about being a PB writer after your Sp and Lang. days. I just purchased the Tree Lady book and plan to read it later today.

Sue Frye said...

Oh, I so enjoyed reading this, Joe! I am very visual and that sometimes interferes with understanding procedures, but you made the above example crystal clear, and I can't wait to pick up a copy of the Word Book. Thank you!

Maria Marshall said...

Thanks. Joe. I just got the word book and am excited to use it in today's revisions. I appreciate the mini tutorial.

Kaye Baillie said...

I am glad to get some encouragement about senses - have been meaning to incorporate these things in my writing, but keep forgetting!

Tina Cho said...

Good reminders. Thanks, Joe. I own the Word book and will have to get it out!

Nat Keller said...

Thanks for the great tutorial Joe. I think my next investment will be purchasing that book!

deborahhwilliams said...

Thanks, Joe! Your post really makes sense(s)!

Shirley Johnson said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing the resources.

Tracy Molitors said...

Thanks, Joe. Great advice, as usual!

Hazel Grace said...

I enjoyed it a lot. If any one want children's book you can visit here. The direct link of Amazon is here. There is a free book for everyone. You can check it. Thanks.