About This Blog

Children's literature: reading it, writing it, and loving it!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kid Lit Writng Contest

I know I've been as silent as a slithering slug when it comes to blog posts the past couple of months. It's summer. Life is a bit crazy. Too crazy. I miss writing. My husband misses me writing. I get a little crazy when I don't write. That said, this post is of little help as it's not really a post, and what little I'm writing here doesn't actually count as writing - at least not the kind that relieves my crazies.

I've decided to enter the first 200 pages of my middle-grade novel in a contest, and part of entering the contest is mentioning it twice on some form of social media or blog. So if you're a writer of middle-grade fiction and have an unpublished novel, check out this contest: http://tinyurl.com/pwbds3q

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

So You Want to Write for Children?

Since I've come out of the closet - that is, since I began to actually tell people that I write - countless folks have told me that writing has always been a dream of theirs, but they didn't know where to begin. Check out this excellent blog post by Laura Backus of Children's Book Insider on how to begin. She focuses on children's writers, but it's applicable to all genres.

Start Here: Writing for Children, Step One (via http://writeforkids.org)

by Laura Backes, Publisher, Children’s Book Insider     If you’re reading this article, you probably want to try your hand at writing a children’s book. And if you clicked on this post because of the title, you most likely have no idea what…

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Social Responsibility or Write What Sells?

Part of writing is reading. "Read what you write," is the saying among authors. I've heard it and read it hundreds of times. This is okay with me, since I thoroughly enjoy kid lit.

My first, as yet unpublished novel, is a middle grade fantasy adventure for girls, so I read a lot of middle grade fantasies. The book I am now working on is quite different. It's for older teens, and it's not a fantasy. It's a story about grief, pain, and relationships. Over the past year, I've followed the writers' rule. I've been reading teen fiction that covers the same theme.

I've learned a few things from the books I've read, but I've also been disappointed. Sickened may actually be a better choice of words to accurately describe it. What I didn't know, and what I'm pretty sure most parents don't know, is that some of these seemingly innocent books have graphically detailed sex scenes in them.

It's made me think about my responsibility as a writer. Do I even have a responsibility or should I simply write what will sell? That's a question each writer has to ask his/herself, but personally, I've come to the conclusion that I'm okay if I don't hit the bestseller list. I have a social conscience. I care about the kids for whom I'm writing. I'm not writing just to sell. I'm writing to encourage another generation. I'm writing to give them hope. I'm writing to tell them that they are stronger than they think, braver than they know. They can stand up against the tide and be who they were created to be.

I may not ever hit the New York Times' Bestseller list, and that's okay with me as long as my words bring hope, encouragement, and strength to someone in the next generation.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

So You Want to be a Writer? WRRBJ!

I had no idea what I was getting into when I applied for an on-line writing course several years ago. I thought the road to publication was fairly simple: write, send it to a publisher or two or three, one of them accepts my brilliant piece and voila! I'm published. End of story.

If only it was that simple. If only it was that easy. If only I knew then what I know now, I'd do it all over again.

I can't count how many would-be writers have talked to me over the past few years. They're full of enthusiasm and the same blind optimism that saturated me way back when. They've never read a book on writing, taken a class, listened to a lecture, or attended a conference and neither had I at that point. They want to glean from me, from my vast experience. The problem is that I don't have vast experience. I'm still a novice. These eyes that look up to me like baby birds waiting to be fed feels a tad overwhelming.

So, here is my basic advice to those who have the desire to write but don't know how to take the first step - WRRBJ:
* WRITE! This is the first and most important thing I can encourage you to do. Pick up your pen, your notebook, your tablet, your PC, your scraps of paper and write!
* RESEARCH the writing craft. There is SO much to learn, and there are blogs, websites, and books galore that address every aspect of writing, publishing, and marketing. A few books that I've found very helpful and encouraging are: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves; Create Your Writer's Life by Cynthia Morris; and Write Away by Elizabeth George.
*READ like a writer. Read books in the genre in which you want to write. Read with a critical eye. What works? What doesn't work? Why? What made this a bestseller? Why isn't this a bestseller?
* BUILD a public presence before you submit your book to a publisher or agent. Use Twitter, Facebook, and a blog to build a fan base. Editors and publishers will check our your website/blog. If they like what they've read, they'll want to know more about you before offering you a deal (or so I've been told).
*JOIN a writers' group. This is essential to maintain your stamina in this highly competitive field!

Anyone can write, but to build a writers' life, to be published, and to actually sell your work takes determination and tenacity. It takes humility to listen to others as they criticize your work and not become defensive but be willing to make changes. It takes a willingness to learn and to grow. It takes time, and it most definitely takes patience.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Destroy Checklist. Check.

I'm a planner and a doer. I make lists, and I check things off. Oh, that feels so good - to start the day with a list and to end the day with a check mark by everything on that list. Change the sheets. Check. Bake muffins. Check. Make out a menu and grocery list. Check. Clean storage area. Check. Find a publisher...Write the next ten pages of My Boyfriend The Jerk...

Some things aren't quite so easy to check off the list.

I haven't written much since Thanksgiving. I'd like to blame it all on the holidays and on the busyness of my job during the month of January, but it wouldn't be the truth, at least not the whole truth. The whole truth is that I've been avoiding it.

Six months ago, I submitted my first novel to an editor at Viking Children's Books. I did not expect her to accept it. I'd met with her at a writers' retreat, and it was obvious that she didn't like my story. It was a far cry from the type of book she typically chooses, but everyone at the retreat was invited to submit their finished work, so I did. And I recently got the answer I expected. At the same time, a writer-friend of mine hybrid-published a nonfiction book (semi-self-published/semi-traditional). I followed her progress: the book signings and school visits, the continual self-promotion. I was exhausted just hearing it all. And somewhere in there, I read a blog that sealed the publication-disillisionment deal for me. The author wrote that after she had reached the end-all goal of every writer (that of being published), she did the book signings, school visits, and interviews, and all she could think about was how much she wished she was home, writing.

It all made me ask myself, do I even want to be published?

I honestly don't know anymore.

What I do know is that I need to toss my writers' checklist in the bonfire. I need to switch gears, take my eyes off the goal and begin to savor the journey: enjoy the people I meet and the friendships I make; treasure the creative process; have a blast getting to know my characters, spend time with them, learn all that I can about them before I put them in my story.  It will take discipline on my part - to focus on the journey instead of the goal. It's not who I am. I do goals. I plan. I map a route and stick to it. This is a little scarey. I don't know where I'm going to end up, but you can be sure of one thing: I'm going to have fun getting there!

What about you? What goals do you need to chuck in the fire in order to enjoy the journey?