Never give up is the message author Diane Z. Shore shared with pupils at Belvedere Elementary School on April 10.
Shore, who has written for 18 years, said she had 385 rejection letters and about four years of sending her work to publishers before she finally had a publisher say yes. Now the Marietta, Ga., resident speaks at schools across the United States.
During her presentation to fourth- and fifth-graders, she taught the group different methods that create good writing, such as the use of hyperbole, alliteration and onomatopoeia.
Shore writes picture books, chapter books, early readers, poetry, short stories, games/puzzle pages and nonfiction, according to her biography. She shared with students a piece she wrote about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the first Ferris wheel.
How many people did the first Ferris wheel – created by George Ferris – hold? She asked children this question and as the numbers rose from 100 to past 1,000, the youngsters became loud with excitement as they awaited the answer.
The first Ferris wheel held 2,160 people, she said, and was 26 stories tall. At the time, the tallest building was 22 stories tall.
“Each car could hold 60 people,” she told them, adding that rides lasted 20 minutes.
Children later asked what happened to the original Ferris wheel. She said it was ultimately sold for scrap metal and the cars were used as housing during the Great Depression.
Shore told the pupils how she got started in writing, and it involved making up a story for her 2-year-old daughter. It took until her daughter was in the sixth grade for Shore to get published. After her first round of rejection letters from publishers, she said she took writing classes and learned how to write a poem.
She began to write poems that followed the beat of songs, such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, and poems that had hidden pictures in them.
The first thing she learned about writing is that you should write about what you know. With that in mind, she wrote about stuff her children went through, such as show-and-tell at school.
Vivid verbs and colorful words are a writer’s friend, she said.
“(Writers are) always trying to paint pictures with words,” she said.
Gracie Willis, 9, waited in line after the presentation to have Shore’s book If Kids Ruled the School signed by the author.
“I liked hearing about how Bus-A-Saurus Bop was created,” she said.
The fourth-grader said she also writes stories and once wrote a poem about a rabbit. When asked what was the most important thing she learned from Shore, she replied, “Never give up.”
“You can be anything you want to be as long as you don’t give up,” Shore said.
For information about getting published, visit www.stonesoup.com. The Web site accepts entries from children ages 8 to 13.