Posts Tagged ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’

I taught poetry residencies for the Maryland State Arts Council’s Artists-in-Education Program for over ten years to students from kindergarten through grade twelve. It was a wonderful, but exhausting, experience. The first thing I wrote on the board when I walked into the classroom was: “”Poetry excites the senses!” And then, I’d write my name.

Because of the limited number of words a poet has to express their ideas, they must choose wisely. In my opinion, the wisest way to express yourself and grab a reader is to use sensory language. I used to had out a list of sensory words for all five senses, then I’d have the students read aloud the smell and/or taste words. I still hand out that list to prose and poetry writing workshops I teach – whether young writers, college level courses, or adults.

Why? Because a writer needs to be observant. He or she needs to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the world around them, and use that information to enrich their writing. Readers can more easily become immersed in your world when they can identify with the sensory experiences your characters are having.

Again, I’m going to link to writing friend Steven R. Southard’s blog, Poseidon’s Scribe where he discusses another way for writers to think like Leonardo da Vinci: Sensazione.

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Hands-on learning is far more important than hearing someone else’s experiences.

Just like it’s easier to learn to knit with yarn and knitting needles in-hand than reading about the process or even watching a video; it’s easier to find your most productive writing process through trial and error.

Steven R. Southard has the second in his How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci series up on his blog, Poseidon’s Scribe. It’s an interesting take on da Vinci’s thinking and how to apply it to writing.

I recommend taking a look at this post which encourages writers to not trust Wikipedia and other peoples’ experiences, but to try things out for themselves. Or as Southard puts it: “test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.” Here’s the link to the article for your reading pleasure.

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I find myself reading with interest a blog post by Steven Southard. Steven has a story in the Hides the Dark Tower anthology due out from Pole to Pole Publishing this fall. (An anthology I highly recommend. It contains some thought-provoking and fabulously-written stories).

Of course, the minute you include Da Vinci, I’m already interested. An artist, inventor, and scientist, Da Vinci is one of my favorite creators from the past. I had the good fortune to see some of his art, up close and personal, this August in the Queen’s Gallery in London. Smaller in scale than you might imagine, nevertheless his black and white sketches were intricate and accurate.

So what in the world does this have to do with writing? The first (of seven) Da Vinci principles Southard examines is curiosity. I’m an advocate of curiosity – in fact, I think it’s one of the most important things a person can possess. We sometimes forget the wonder and curiosity of childhood, when we should be holding on to them for dear life.

For your reading pleasure, here’s a link to Curiosita.


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JenniferReed Thanks to children’s book author, Jennifer Reed, for stopping by and answering a few questions.

VWC: How did you find a publisher for your first book?
JR: My very first book was for Chelsea House Publishers, an educational publisher. I queried them about doing work for hire books and they accepted, offering me a chance to write/publish a book on the Love Canal in upstate New York.

VWC: How did you find a publisher for “The Falling Flowers”?
JR: I submitted many query letters and proposals to various publishers for several years. Because The Falling Flowers takes place in Japan, where I lived for three years, my focus was on multicultural publishers or publishers that produced multicultural books. Shen’s Books, now part of Lee and Low accepted my story.

Flowers-cover VWC: What book that you’ve written is your favorite, and why?
JR: The Falling Flowers because it was based on an experience I witnessed while in Japan. It’s about the love between a grandmother and her granddaughter and I had such a close bond with both my grandmothers. Also, it’s my first published picture book.

VWC: You’ve written many non-fiction books, do you enjoy research?
JR: I love research. It’s not only fun but I learn so much about my topic and other topics as well. My passion is American history.

VWC: Are any of the magazines you mention in your website bio still being published (Wee Ones and Crinkle)?
JR: Crinkles is still in publications, and so is Highlights, Boys’ Life, Hopscotch – all the magazines with the exception of Wee Ones, which was my own publication for 8 years, are in publication today.

VWC: What advice do you have for writers trying to get a children’s book published?
JR: Read tons of children’s books, know the markets, write from your heart and not what is trendy and seek out as much information as you can on the children’s publishing industry. I got my Master’s in children’s writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts and realized the caliber of people I was working with and competing with in the industry. There are many talented people writing for children and young adults, but only a few ever get published. It is not easy writing for children!

leonardocover VWC: Any advice for non-fiction book writers?
JR: Start with magazines first and try to get your nonfiction published there. Many book publishers want to see that you’ve written and published nonfiction in magazines before hiring you to write a book. Know how to cite your research properly and don’t think that a subject written about before is outdated. My book on Leonardo DaVinci published by Enslow is popular and well-read book.

VWC: What projects are you working on now?
JR: I am working on two middle grade historical fiction novels, and several picture books.

VWC: Who was your favorite author as a child?
JR: Laura Ingalls of course. I grew up in very old homes in Massachusetts and loved history, so I loved her books about her life as a pioneer girl.

VWC: Who is your favorite author now?
JR: I don’t really have a favorite author. I’ve worked with many well-known authors through my Master’s program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and I love different authors for different reasons. But I can’t say I really have a favorite.

VWC: When is your favorite time of day to write?
JR: Morning usually because that’s the only time I have to write. I work part time as a teacher and nights are usually dedicated to family. I am awake, refreshed and ready to write in the mornings!

VWC: What was the most valuable piece of advice given to you?
JR: Never give up on your dream to write and publish! It’s easy to quit and most people do, especially when they see rejection letter after rejection letter. I’ve wanted to quit a lot too and at times, really doubted my ability to write. But nearly thirty books later, well, I just know perseverance is key to success in this business.

VWC: And now, the final and most important question – What’s your favorite kind of cookie?
JR: Chocolate Chip with Walnuts.

For more information on Jennifer Reed and her books: www.jennifer-reed.com
And you can find her books on Amazon.

Thanks, Jennifer, for stopping by. Watch Whimsical Words for more Monday Guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and occasional weekend, Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a marvelous Monday – Vonnie

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