Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Okay, folks. Right there, in four sentences, you've got VOICE, BELIEVABLE TEENSPEAK, and ME, SERIOUSLY HOOKED.

Opening Paragraph: "One Monday morning, a couple years before my cousin Mike shot me in the forehead with an arrow, my eighth-grade homeroom teacher brought two cartons of raw eggs to school.

Second paragraph: "Who can tell me what these are?" Mrs. Domino said. She was wearing her second-hottest skirt, the one with the cherries on it. Score."

Okay, folks. Right there, in four sentences, you've got VOICE, BELIEVABLE TEENSPEAK, and ME, SERIOUSLY HOOKED. I mean, this character is a guy who can tell a story. Arrows; eggs; a teacher's second hottest skirt--there is just no way you are not going to read on. And when you do, you will find that this character--Jerome Hancock--is the voice in Heidi Devine's head. And just why is he in her head? Because he's taking part in SRPNT (Soul Rehabilitation for Nefarious Teens, Deceased), which means he's got a soul in his care, and how well he tends that soul will determine his fate.

The above is from the fab blog Middle Grade Mafioso, and even though the book DEVINE INTERVENTION is not MG, today is the inaugural "A Day for YA" on MGM. 

Read the full post HERE!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Kidlit Authors need to know about Common Core State Standards

With the adoption and transition to the common core standards, teachers across the country are going to be looking for new ways to cover these more detailed student learning objectives.  This is an opportune time for authors to get their books in teachers' hands, which equates to greater sales, more opportunities for speaking engagements, and longevity.  Having a curriculum guide that accompanies your book sweetens the deal for  most teachers.

What is a curriculum guide?  A solid curriculum guide includes all the necessary components for teaching a novel in an engaging way, while still reflecting the Common Core Standards.  The most useful guides are those that are explicitly tied to the standards; pull out key, grade-appropriate vocabulary; offer a wide assortment of engaging activities for students to be involved in; contain thoughtful and spiraled discussion questions; and have at least one writing prompt.  What's most helpful to a teacher--who is juggling so much already--is to give them handouts and activities they can plug directly into their curriculum.


Why is it important for an author?  Teachers love teaching new novels, but any new work requires hours of preparation on the part of the teacher.  A teacher has to divide up the reading of the chapters, create engaging chapter questions, uncover examples of various literary techniques, and develop at least one in depth, holistic assignment with a solid assessment.   All of this work needs to reflect the standards (in most cases the Common Core Standards) and fit into a certain time period.  Needless to say, teachers simply don't have the time to teach new novels too often.

How do I create one for my book?  Starting in January 2013, the creators of my Curriculum Guide for DARE TO DREAM...CHANGE THE WORLD, Nicole Boylan and Erin Fry, will be posting a blog series right here on my blog where they will talk about the importance of the CCSS, and the basics of curriculum guides.  You can check out some of their samples and model your guide after theirs.  Or you can contact them and let them help you out.


Nicole Boylan is a former teacher who came out of the classroom to pursue her passion for writing curriculum.  Erin Fry has taught middle school for over a decade. She is currently both a teacher and a middle grade author (represented by Jill)--her debut novel, LOSING IT, came out in September and a second novel is due in 2013. They've both created standards-based curriculum and assessments for many years, working for companies such as Teachers' Curriculum Institute and Aspire Schools.

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards by all but five states has further ignited their passion to create engaging and meaningful curriculum.  They are intimately familiar with the CCSS and have begun working with authors who wish to have standards-based curriculum guides for teachers to use in conjunction with their books.   If you are an author who might be interested in having curriculum or discussion questions created for your book, they'd love to talk with you.  Currently, they can be reached at commoncorespecialists@gmail.com.

Nicole and Erin are working on Curriculum Guides for many of the most important kidlit authors writing today. For a free download of an example of one of their Curriculum Guides click HERE.


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