Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We have Libraries People

While working in the library this weekend, trying to find perfect comps for my next query, I heard a young girl ask her mother one simple question. All of a sudden I had a story idea. The kind of idea that hits you with full illustration ideas, at least three ‘problems’ to overcome and a funny/silly ending. I immediately scribbled the idea down in one of my handy notepads (seriously, don’t leave home without one). I am itching to work on this now.

I’ve been talking to other writers lately from my crit group, 12 x 12, and such. One thing I have found astonishing is very few talk about regular trips to the library. The library is where you can sit close to the help desk to hear what children and parents are looking for. The library is where you can see what books make the librarians get excited (This weekend was the classic Paper Bag Princess and The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash).

The library is where I study openings, character introduction and building, themes, just read *for FUN*. Remember those days of fun reading rather than study? Let’s get back to our roots people. Libraries are FREE, they opened doors for us as children, and they are full, floor to ceiling, of the greatest treasures. BOOKS! And you never know when you’ll hear one simple question that will inspire you to think of amazing, over the top, and creative answers.

Happy writing.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Finding Honest Critiques

Finding Honest Critiques

This year I have joined a number of groups where I can get solid, honest feedback from other writers.  My picture books are by no means perfect and we cannot grow and learn without someone there to teach us. Even though we all have different writing abilities we can all help each other.

Is this the blind leading the blind? Yes, and it works.  When you look at your own work, you already know the tone you want to convey.  The feeling, the emotion, the point to the whole thing.  But the thing is, if others don't get it, you need to rewrite. 

There are phases you go through in the loss critique process.

1. Denial- No, you just don't get what I am trying to say.

2. Anger- What do you know? This is perfect.

3. Bargaining- What if I change this one word? Then do you get it?

4. Depression- I am NEVER going to make it as a writer.  I'm hopeless

5. Acceptance - I must rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite to make this work.

Having someone point out your errors suchs  sucks. But our eyes are trained to skim when we know most of the content. It is a proven fact that we miss more of our own errors than we do on works we've never seen before.  Its true, I read it on the internet.

Just remember that no one is trying to bully or bash your work.  If they are then you need to find a new critique group or partner. We writers want other writers to succeed.  Does that mean we don't get jealous?  Hell no! I totally say, "Why wasn't it me to get an agent?" Then I remember-because this work must not be ready yet/right for them.

If you are willing to put in the work, write, study, write, rewrite, cut words, and keep writing, then you can make it.  Just don't give up! If you dream of being published then keep that dream alive.

Friday, January 10, 2014



This year I completed PiBoIdMo. Please say this word out loud so people around you can laugh... go ahead... I'll wait.

This was a wonderful kick in the rear  motivational tool for me. I had a ton of ideas.  Some of them were actually good.  Some, well, ahem, some will stay in file 13, labeled under 'Seriously What Was I Thinking?'.

By months end I had over 40 ideas.  Some were related and were consolidated.  I had a few rough drafts and one very solid draft that is already on draft three...maybe four.

For all you writers out there, even though the month is over you can create your own little PiBoId day, or week, or weekend.  I swear by making goals and/or lists and then getting to work.  Try it this weekend.  Create two or three lumpy concepts that you can begin to mold into something wonderful.  Take that first step.  Pick up a pen.  Have fun with it.

My Writing Journey

My journey to writerdom started years ago.  I planned on being an instant hit.  Since I'm not famous yet you can see that it wasn't as easy at I'd hoped.

Two years ago I made a goal. By 2014 I'd either have an agent or a work being published.  With this goal looming over me I wrote often.  On my lunch brake, in the car (as a passenger of course), evenings, weekends, in between meetings.

I attended my first SCBWI conference in spring of 2013 and realized... dang... I still have far to go.  Many drafts and two critique groups later I've entered contests and done well.  Not great but well. and I went to a second SCBWI conference.  Here I received one on one feedback from a successful author who has 60 published books of her own. She liked my work, tore some of it apart and then made me feel like I was ready for this.

More stories, critiques, drafts, ideas on napkins while scarfing down tacos, dozens of rejections which I proudly keep as proof of my efforts, reading so many writing blogs my eyes are permanently fuzzy. Finally, it happened.  Someone loved my story.

This year I have my first picture book under contract and I am working with an Editor. I reached my goal. 

So now what? Well, that part is easy. Write some more. The more I write the more I realize I love writing.  Even when my hair is on end and my eyes burn, when words hover just out of reach.  I love it.  As an added bonus, researching means *MORE BOOKS TO READ*.  Is the life of an author great or what?

I continue with my journey, enjoying even the steeper trails, and I hope that this is the first step towards more stories for children.  Picture Books, MG, and YA.  I love them all.  From Fat Cat on a Mat to Divergent. The Saddle Club and Captain Underpants. American Girl and The Familiars. I can't chose one. Books open up doors to other worlds and, hopefully, I can open doors for others into new worlds, old worlds, fantastic worlds.  The possibilities are only a pen and paper away.