Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Closing Out the Holidays and the Year - Schmoozey Style!

Ah, yes – the holidays.  We’re all pretty much over them, right?  But we here at Schmooze Central would be remiss if we didn’t at least briefly recap the great fun we had with guest speaker Ann Whitford Paul back on December 11th, even though, at this point, 2013 is so last year.

In keeping with our guest speaker’s predilection for picture books (and to perhaps nudge you toward putting her latest book, 'Twas the Late Night of Christmas on next year’s holiday gift list), we give you the following:

 ‘Twas the Schmmoze before Christmas; we welcomed a guest.
The Schmoozers all gathered, the best of the best.
We made some announcements; we intro’d ourselves.
We donated kids’ books to fill up bookshelves.

And – lo – did we treasure guest Ann Whitford Paul.
She’s an author, a poet…she’s quite on the ball.
She spoke of the music that picture books feature.
The Schmoozers were rapt, a flock ‘fore our preacher.

As Ann read some samples, techniques came to light.
We tried to discern what each author got right.
We questioned, we scribbled, we all had a snack.
We even wrote poems – Ann gave us the knack.

Then some went to Swingers for grub and more fun.
While others went home, to a daughter or son.
But no one left giftless at the end of the night.
Ann taught us:  Make music whenever you write!

And here are a few specific gems Ann shared with us (consider them stocking stuffers or Hanukah gelt…or “fill in the small item pertaining to your holiday here”…we’re All Inclusive at Schmooze Central):

  • Ann’s “music of picture books” theme relates to ALL books. You can have the greatest plot in the world, but if the text isn’t musical, your story won’t get to a publisher.
  • The rhythm of the writing has to echo the words.  Sad words need a sad rhythm.
  • You don’t have to study poetry formally, but you DO need to be familiar with poetic concepts.  Such as:
o      Alliteration = repetition of consonants (lovely lizard).
o      Assonance = repetition of vowels (fat cat).
o      Consonance = repetition of the first and last letters (tick, tock).  

  • Repetition does add “music,” but don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with a tongue twister.
  • Picture books need to show change – a character accomplishes a goal (or decides it wasn’t worth accomplishing).  He or she needs to arrive somewhere NEW.
  • Pay attention to the names you give your characters; try assonant names rather than alliterate ones (which, FYI, editors hate!).
  • The truly fun part about writing is – once you have your story, you get to play around with all the different ways you can tell it.  (HINT:  You may want to NOT use your first ideas/choices.

Charlie and Karol with Schmooze guest, author Ann Whitford Paul

Ann's book for folks like us!
Now, a few last notes for the poor folks who missed this terrific Schmooze:

Ann invited all Schmoozers to join her e-mail list and subscribe to her blog, which features awesome writing tips, info on what Ann’s up to and the occasional entry written by her cat, Mr. Darcy.  

Click here http://www.annwhitfordpaul.net/ to sign up.

At Ann’s urging, we also held a book drive benefiting Project BookBag. 

Find out more about them and how to donate books here:  https://www.facebook.com/projectbookbag.org.

Schmoozers' donated books!

That about wraps up 2013, kids! 

Next up Schmooze-wise we’ll be meeting on Wednesday, February 12th for “I Know What Boys Like” where we’ll explore the idea of “boys books” and ask questions like:

            What the heck is a “boy book” anyway and should you write one?
            What are some of the best “boy books” out there?
            Is gender specificity even a good thing?

Lastly, keep your eyes peeled to this blog for a recap of last month’s funfest – “Happy New Year…the Failure Schmooze,” coming soon.

Until then, keep passing the open windows,

Charlie & Karol


  1. Thanks for this recap--it sounds like it was an amazing Schmooze! And your "'Twas the Schmooze Before Christmas" poem is a beaut!! Nicely done!!!

    Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Everything! Really looking forward to next month's topic! :D