We’re All in This Together: Growing as a Writer

We all grow as writers as we move along on our writerly journey. When we look back on the things we wrote a year, five years, or ten years ago, we can tell how much we’ve grown. What is one thing that you’ve done to help yourself grow as a writer that you would recommend to someone else?

Sue Heavenrich

Blogging about science and nature at Archimedes Notebook http://archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com/

Reviewing children’s books at Sally’s Bookshelf http://sallysbookshelf.blogspot.com/

The most important thing I’ve done over the past couple years is take my desire to write picture books more seriously. For me, that meant taking some online courses and a class on children’s literature at the local community college. It also meant “homework”: reading – and reviewing – as many picture books as I could. I keep a book log where I jot notes about the picture books I read. Sometimes I draw their storyboards or type out the complete text. I also post book reviews on my blogs and on Susanna Leonard Hill’s awesome Perfect Picture Book Friday posts…. which meant “thinking beyond the book” to activities and other ways to connect children with literature.

Vivian Kirkfield

Writer for Children – Reader Forever

www.viviankirkfield.com

Forty years ago, I wrote a bunch of picture book stories for my own children. Ten years ago, I decided it was time to resurrect one of them. I even made a dummy with charming illustrations my daughter-in-law had drawn. My niece had worked for Random House briefly and had a contact there, so, knowing NOTHING about their submission guidelines or how submissions work for most publishing houses, I sent this glorified dummy to an editor at Random House. The editor kindly sent me a lovely personal rejection (and my dummy back – even though I hadn’t enclosed an SASE). The one thing that stands out to me that I didn’t do then that I should have was: HAVE SOMEONE ELSE READ YOUR WORK!

The one thing I’ve done that has helped me the most and that will continue to help me grow as a writer is: JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP. This is crucial for several reasons:

  • Objective feedback from people who are studying the craft of writing
  • Helpful suggestions to make your stories stronger
  • Advice and information about writing resources, submission opportunities, conferences and classes
  • Support and encouragement

I’m now part of three critique groups that exchange manuscripts on a regular basis. I look forward to each exchange, not only because I get great feedback on my stories, but also because I learn so much about writing by critiquing the manuscripts of others! So, if you are not part of a critique group already…go and find one! You’ll be glad you did!

Carol Munro

www.carolmunrojustwritewords.com

Freelance writer since 1996

Set goals and stay focused.

Have you seen the blinders owners put on horses to keep the horses’ attention front and center? I imagine myself with those blinders every time I think I’m about to stray from my focus for this year, which is to read picture books, write picture books, and study how to write better picture books. I’ve been tempted often — and easily.

I mean, what does it matter if I take a workshop about writing chapter books? It’s about writing, so it can’t hurt, right? But is there a picture book writing workshop I could do instead? For sure. In fact, I recently took “Revising – and Reimagining – Your Picture Book Manuscript,” presented by Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson. I learned techniques I can apply to every manuscript I’ve written to immediately improve them.

And is it terrible if I write stories or poems for grown-ups when I meet to write with friends? Probably not, but where should my focus be? Picture books! So far this year I’ve completed nine new PB manuscripts.

See? Instead of swerving into chapter book territory, or writing for adults when I meet with my writing group, I put those blinders on and stayed on track.

I’m loving my blinders. Get some for yourself.

Romelle Broas

Children’s Writer

www.romellebroas.blogspot.com

www.Romellebroas.com

Joining a critique group and sharing my work with fellow writers is one of the most important things I’ve done for my career as a writer.  I used to be afraid of critiques.  I didn’t want to know what others think of me and my work. I was afraid of the truth. It took me a while before I got the nerve to join a critique group.  As it turned out, what I was most afraid of is what helped me take my writing to the next level. Now, I am the first to snatch up an opportunity for a critique. When I look back at when I first joined a critique group, I was appreciative of the kind words/positive feedback. But now, I crave the truth! Please don’t sugar-coat my critique. I want you to give it to me straight! What didn’t work? Topic overdone? Was it boring? Of course, my critique partners are never blunt. They have a knack of telling the awful truth in a very nice way. After all, they are writers.

Learning my story’s weaknesses helped me become a better writer. Besides, It’s better to learn that my story sucked from my peers than from an editor or agent, don’t you think? Here are my top 3 reasons I find critique groups valuable:

  • Receiving feedback will help you to be more analytical of your own work.
  • A critique may give you a new perspective on your story with questions that surface.  Many times this can help move your story forward or take an alternate turn for the better.
  • A second pair of eyes can help you identify mistakes or flaws you may have overlooked.

I was amazed at how helpful the writing community is. They have a genuine interest to help each other grow as writers. So, take advantage of that and join a critique group!

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and YA Writer

www.marcieatkins.com

I’ve been writing for a long time, and I’ve taken lots of classes in graduate school and on my own, but nothing has transformed my writing more than submitting regularly to my critique group and being a part of various writing communities.

First of all, when you finally find your tribe—picture book writers, nonfiction writers, YA writers, middle grade writers, poets—whatever your niche, there is a group for you. Sometimes those relationships are formed online, sometimes they are formed in person. But nothing in my writing life is more vital to me than my writer friend connections. We share our collective knowledge and that has lead me to many, many opportunities. In all honesty, most of my freelance writing projects have come to me because a friend recommended various jobs to me.

Secondly, my critique groups are a huge part of making me a better writer. I am a part of three critique groups. Having deadlines for these groups keeps me writing. The more I write, the better my writing becomes. Developing a dialogue about how to make my writing better has also made me a better writer. I have grown tremendously as a result of being active in critique groups.

We’re All in This Together: Artists Dates

Julia Cameron suggests that creative people go on an artist’s date—something to fulfill your creative soul. Is there something you do regularly or some outing/event/field trip you’ve done (maybe even only once) that has refilled your creative energy?

Romelle Broas

Dental hygienist by day, writer by night, mother all the time.

Author of Casey Chameleon and Tummy Monster

www.romellebroas.blogspot.com

I live on the California coast with stunning views and vibrant colors. The California life begs to be experienced outdoors. I do a lot of biking, running, and hiking which allows me to take notice of the little things in life that I would have otherwise ignored if I were busy doing other things. What I love to do is capture the beauty in pictures. I never leave home without my camera. I’m not a professional photographer by any means. I just love to take pictures. Many times the pictures I take provide me with inspiration for stories. They serve as story idea sparkers. It’s an exercise my 4th grade teacher taught me. She would put up a picture on the board and tell me to write the story behind the picture.  My photos definitely keeps my creative soul happy. So when I’m not writing or if I have writer’s block, I will go outside and take a picture of whatever delights me. Here is a picture I took recently. Maybe it’ll spark an idea for you.

 

Copyright 2014 Romelle Broas

Copyright 2014 Romelle Broas

 

Vivian Kirkfield

Writer For Children – Reader Forever

www.viviankirkfield.com

Please don’t laugh – every night I have a small bowl of ice cream (to feed my inner child) and a BIG bowl of popcorn (to keep from eating a BIG bowl of ice cream) while I watch a movie or classic TV series with my hubby (to unwind from the day). Simple. Inexpensive. Refreshingly Effective. During the day, I read picture books and visit and comment on blogs and Facebook postings that inspire me when I need to take a break from writing and revising. And now that the weather has blossomed into spring, I’m walking through the countryside every day, listening and looking and finding new picture book stories around every curve in the road.

 

Donna L Sadd

http://donnalsadd.wordpress.com/blog

A trip into the woods always brings my levels to full, but I don’t have much access, so I go with the next best thing…a daily three-mile walk. Though I share this walk with my hubby and two dogs, it’s a meditative time where sneakers hitting the pavement create a rhythm that lets my mind soar. There’s also something extremely powerful in witnessing a sunrise that inspires me and gets the creative juices flowing for the day.

I’m also attending the WOW Writer’s Retreat in July that I hope will supercharge my creativity. It will be my first writer’s retreat!

Alayne Kay Christian

Author of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa”

http://www.alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com

Represented by Erzsi Deak, Hen & Ink Literary Studio

For longer getaways, I love road trips (a passenger). I also enjoy a good beach vacation.

For quick creative rejuvenation, I might sit by the fire, or relax in the spa, or go sailing, or sit on the dock by our sailboat. I love the nights at the marina. I like to lie on the dock and stargaze. You can actually see the Milky Way by the lake. I also enjoy time with friends in good conversation and laughter. Spending time in nature always feeds my soul. I am happy to just sit in my yard or take a walk and listen the birds sing. When I really need to get away from it all, I journal, I meditate, or I listen to relaxation/self-hypnosis type of recordings.

Following are the links for the place I buy the recordings and a couple links for specific topics. There are tons of recordings. I think most of the links are for MP3 downloads – those are less expensive. If you can find it on CD, you can probably find it as a download, and if you can find it as a download, you can probably find it as a CD.

This  is the link for the website.

This link is for a great stress/worry/negative feelings release. I have heard this one and like it a lot.

This one is also great for releasing negative emotions. It is called Simply Sailing. I also like this one.

I have not heard this one, but discovered it today. It is for overcoming writer’s block. 

This is a page that has a bunch of creative visualization recordings. I have not heard any of them, but based on descriptions, most of them sound pretty good.

This page has a bunch of recordings for relaxation. I have not heard any of them but based on descriptions, many of them sound pretty good.

This page offers a lot of free stuff. I don’t have any experience with them, but thought “free” why not share.

 

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and YA Writer

www.marcieatkins.com

One of the things I find frustrating about my season of life is that I feel like I have little time for indulgence. I work full-time, write in the margins of my time, and still want to have time to see my kids. For me, sometimes, artist’s dates feel indulgent. In fact, I wrote a whole post a few years back about how I was an artist date rule-breaker. But after reading these posts, I think it’s important to note that artist’s dates don’t have to be expensive or elaborate or time-consuming. These ladies have given several examples that could be worked into my life.

Something I’ve been doing lately that’s really inspired me is taking trips to different historical sites in Virginia with my daughter. She’s fascinated by history that she’s studying this year. I’m using it as a great excuse to learn a little, get inspired, and maybe get a few writing ideas along the way. I didn’t set out to turn these into artist’s dates. I started to do this because I wanted to spend some time with her and enrich her education. It was a bonus that they turned out to be self-satisfying for my writer soul too.

Montpelier--James and Dolley Madison's home

Montpelier–James and Dolley Madison’s home

 

Your Artist’s Dates

What do you do for artist’s dates? Simple and inexpensive are fabulous. Tell us in the comments.

We’re All in this Together: Rituals and Routines

Do you have a writing ritual or routine? Is there a certain place you sit down to write? Do you have to have a certain thing to drink? A particular time of day?

If you do, how do you think it helps you as a writer? If you don’t, tell us how you’ve learned to power through.

 

Elizabeth Parker Garcia

Children’s Writer

I work best late at night when my daughter is asleep and I’m tired enough that my internal  critic doesn’t have strength to get in my way. When I have vacation time, this can mean writing from 11:00pm until 3:00am if I am lucky. I find I end up with more pages than I’d get during the same amount of time in the day. I think I get in my own way when I am more awake and I hesitate too much. Writing late at night also helps because it seems like I am able to connect the little sensory bits that I’ve stored away during the day.

 

Romelle Broas

Dental hygienist by day, writer by night, mother all the time.

Author of Casey Chameleon and Tummy Monster

www.romellebroas.blogspot.com

If I had a writing routine, it would be at my home office in the morning at 8:30AM when the kids are at school. Just me and a cup of hot chai or green tea latte and my computer in front of me. Unfortunately, I don’t have a writing routine because of my schedule is erratic. I write when I can and that could be between innings at a baseball game, while waiting in the parking lot for my kids to get out of school, or when I get a break at work. I don’t mind. Inspiration could strike at any time of the day. When it does, I am always ready to jot my idea down on a piece of napkin, sticky note, or receipt. The great thing about not having a routine is that it encourages me to look for the nuggets of writing time. It has trained my brain to think on the go. That’s what drives creativity is anyway- spontaneity!

 

Amie Rose Rotruck

www.amieroserotruck.com

I’ve always been puzzled by writers who go other places to write.  I’ve tried writing in coffee shops, libraries, the usual places and I actively HATE them.  It just doesn’t work.  Too many things around me and I usually can’t get comfortable, both physically and mentally.  I have to be at my desk at my computer in my office.  I recently redesigned and decorated it, so it’s quite nice.  I can look out in our backyard, which has a lot of trees, and sip a cup of REAL tea (ie, loose-leaf of the Darjeeling or Earl Grey or English Breakfast persuasion).  I’m also fond of cookies, but I really should avoid them!

Writing in the morning is another one of those writer cliche’s that I simply cannot do.  I’ve always written best in afternoons or evenings.  These days I try to get in a few words while my husband gives my daughter her bath.  I have incentive to get a lot done then because if I don’t, I feel I need to write after I get her to sleep.  If I’ve done it during bathtime, though, then I can go downstairs after she’s asleep and watch tv and crochet or sew guilt-free!

Robyn Campbell

Writing laugh out loud books for boys and girls

Robyn Campbell’s blog

My writing takes me all over the place. We live on a farm so I am blessed with a wide array of writing material and writing places. I write on top of my horse (pen and notebook, no laptop), in the barn (I have a desk in there), out on the pool deck, in the woods, in our gardens (vegetable and flower), in the sun room, and finally, in my office. I move around because I love the variety of smells, sounds, even tastes, and they all end up in my stories. I could never write in one place. But I know some writers need that. We’re all different. Thats what makes life so interesting. I think the thing that really matters is our stories and how we portray our characters. As long as our readers love our stories. As long as I know that I know that I wrote the absolute best book I could, then I’m happy. We’re so very lucky to be writers. Isn’t it just the best job in the world?

 

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and YA Writer

www.marcieatkins.com

I do most of my writing at 5:00 AM, before I go to my day job, and before the rest of my house wakes up. However, I can write just about anywhere. I drag a bag with me wherever I go, so I’m always prepared. I’ve never really felt like I could have too many rituals because if I did, I feared I’d never be able to write on the go. I do find that having a daily time and place has been productive for my writing, and I view the other times I write as “bonus” times. I like to have either a hot cup of green tea or a cold can of Diet Dr. Pepper. Chocolate is also delightful, though I don’t usually eat it at 5:00 AM. But the bottom line is, I tend to write whenever and wherever I can.

The one thing I’ve learned is that as a writer, you have to find what works for you. It doesn’t matter that JK Rowling wrote in a coffee shop. If doesn’t work for you, then don’t do it. If using a timer, or leaning over the kitchen counter, or jotting down poems in the car while your kid practices soccer, or holing yourself up in a laundry room work for you, then do it!!

Don’t buy into the excuse that “I don’t have xxx, therefore I can’t write.”

Just try out different things and see what clicks for you.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re All in This Together: What’s So LOVELY About Writing for Children?

It’s a month of love. February: when we’re supposed to celebrate the ones we love and buy them expensive flowers and chocolates. Some of us would rather have books (at least Sue and I would). I asked our WAITT group the following question in honor of Valentine’s Day.

What is your favorite part about being a children’s writer? We are a mix of published and unpublished writers, but I know it’s not about being rich and famous. What is it about writing that keeps you writing? What do you LOVE about writing for children? 

 

Carol Munro

www.carolmunrojustwritewords.com

Freelance writer since 1996

When I first began writing picture books, it was when I was immersed in reading them to one of my sons. I loved them as works of art that combined the literary with the visual. I loved the stories they told. I loved that writing picture books was so challenging.

For me, it was all about learning the craft. Until recently. Something shifted, and now I feel I’m more focused on what story to tell rather than telling a story well. Craft is still important, and while I always had the audience in mind, now it’s more in the forefront of my conscious as I come up with ideas and decide which to write.

So what do I love about writing for children? The children.

Sue Heavenrich

Blogging about science and nature at Archimedes Notebook

http://archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com/

My favorite thing about being a children’s writer – it gives me a great excuse to read kid’s books! Don’t bother with the sampler box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day – just give me a gift card to the nearest bookstore. Oh … you mean the reason I love to write! That would be to get kids off the couch and out the door to build a catapult for snowballs or blow soap bubbles in below-freezing weather. It’s science!

Robyn Campbell

Writer of giggilicious books

RobynCampbell.com

I write for the children. I want to make sure they have wholesome, giggilicious books to read. There are so many kids who don’t want to read and that’s a sorrowful thing to me. I figure if I can write stories that will make them love reading, then I’ve definitely done my job. Boys need books. They don’t read stories with girl main characters as much as girls are willing to read stories with boy main characters. So, I want to write some funny stories with boy leads to give these children something to cherish. I write for girls too though! Ha. It all comes down to a love for children mixed with a love to tell stories. Shake those things together and you’ve recipe for a really good read!

Amie Rose Rotruck

www.amieroserotruck.com

I’ve always loved putting things together.  Jigsaw puzzles, Legos, Ikea bookshelves, stained glass.  I’m fond of reorganizing and am never happier when I have a new purse in which to put things.  Something about finding just the right place for things gives me a sense of accomplishment, peace and excitement.

I’ve found over the years that nothing pleases me more than then what I call the “Ahah!” moment in writing.  Usually it doesn’t happen when I’m actually writing, but just thinking about a project.  For example, when I was coming up with a plot summary for “Bronze Dragon Codex,” I first needed a character.  Upon the recommendation of my future editor, I read the latest Dragonlance novels to look for a minor character that I could use as a main character in my book.  I read 7 books and none of the characters jumped out at me.  Finally, in book 8, I found my character: Tatelyn, whose brother was killed by a zombie dragon animated by an evil sorceress.

Tatelyn leaped off the page at me.  What I found so interesting about her was the fact that her brother was killed by the animated corpse of a GOOD dragon, not an evil one.  I wondered how that would affect her impressions of all dragons. Then I wondered about a good dragon who had reason to hate humans … and Simle was born.

Here is why I love working in worlds that I know well.  Because I knew the original Dragonlance stories so well, I was able to bring elements of those books into my own.  I won’t go into detail so people won’t be spoiled for the book, but it was like finding pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  The more I planed the story, the more pieces fell into place.  I find that I enjoy fitting the “existing” pieces into my work than creating new ones.  It’s a fun game that shows up a lot in work-for-hire, but I also encounter it when working on my own work.

These days I’m particularity fond of writing historical fantasy (sometimes steampunk, sometimes not).  I get the same thrill from finding some piece of history: a legend, a map, an event, an anecdote that just simply BELONGS in my story.  The best moment I ever had was driving do a writer’s retreat and all of a sudden a folktale sprung to mind that just fit perfectly in the sequel for “Thread.”  I just started laughing, it was just too perfect.  It was magic.  And that magic is why I keep writing.

Alayne Kay Christian

Author of  “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa”

http://www.alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com

Represented by Erzsi Deak, Hen&ink Literary Studio

I have a variety of things that motivate me to write, but they all add up to my loving devotion to the craft.

  1. The stories come to me. I believe they come to me for a reason. Given that belief, I have no choice but to write them.
  2. I love watching my characters come alive and seeing them solve their problem or reach their desired goal. This is great motivation to write. It is like seeing a movie in your head and wanting to know how it ends.
  3. More motivation comes from the dream that my characters and their stories will live on in a book for children and sometimes adults to enjoy. I’m also driven by the dream that in the process of enjoying my books, people’s lives might be touched in some way.

MY STRONGEST MOTIVATOR. . . .

I often relate manuscript submissions to fishing. One of the reasons I do this is because writing and striving to get my manuscript accepted gives me the same drive that I have when I fish. I have a t-shirt that might help demonstrate what writing means to me.

One More Cast

When it comes to writing, I have this internal drive that I truly can’t explain. If I were a better artist, I would have created a new version of my t-shirt by putting the skeleton behind a computer. And the caption would have been “One More Story” or “One More Submission.”

Maybe it’s my stubborn, type-A personality that drives me to “prove” I can do it. Maybe it’s the desire to re-experience what I did with my first picture book’s success that keeps me going. Maybe it’s the peace that I receive from losing myself in the writing that makes me love it so. Or it could be my internal knowing that this is my destiny. One thing I’m certain of is that just like I don’t give up fishing when I catch a fish, I will never stop writing no matter how many manuscripts I sell. And just as I don’t give up fishing when I spend a peaceful day on the lake without one fish to show, I will never stop writing because of rejections. I guess that could be called true love.

Donna L Sadd

VARIED POSTS FROM A GAL WHO WANTS TO BE A WRITER WHEN SHE GROWS UP!

http://donnalsadd.wordpress.com/blog

That’s an easy one…I LOVE writing for children because I can be a kid everyday!

 

EW Clark

YA & MG novelist

ewclark.net

 

I think this is a hard question — by that I mean I don’t think my answer is very good!  I love writing for middle grade and young adult readers because I think it’s such an interesting time — so many things are established or resolved (or unresolved!) at those ages, that determine a lot of what happens to people in adult-adulthood, determines a lot of what kind of people they become.  But it’s also, of course, just where my voice is … just where I’m most at home.

Vivian Kirkfield

Writer for children – Reader forever
http://www.viviankirkfield.com

With young children, everything is new again. What fun it is to see the world through their unjaded and innocent eyes. I love writing for kids because they are so appreciative of something that is funny or beautiful or sad or silly.With a little encouragement, five-year olds will invent amazingly creative stories…but what most love best is to sit for hours, listening to you read one book after another. They are like sponges, soaking up the words and images. And that’s why I love to write for them. Oh, and I get to wear jammies every day.:)

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and YA Writer

www.marcieatkins.com

I want to write the stories that kids will remember for a long time. There are  books that I read as a kid that I still remember so vividly: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, CHARLOTTE’S WEB, Shel Silverstein’s poetry. They comforted me when I went through an illness that kept me out of school for a month. They kept me company when it was too dark to play outside (and we didn’t have TV). They kept me busy on vacations where there was nothing to do but sit on  the beach and read. I  remember reading through our elementary library as a kid in Thailand. I remember Paula Danziger and Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary and so many more.

Now I see my own kids falling in love with books so much that they’re becoming part of our everyday language. We call our preschooler a “naked mole rat” when he goes to take a bath because we love NAKED MOLE RAT GETS DRESSED by Mo Willems. My son has been making up new verses for IF IT’S SNOWY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR PAWS by Kim Norman. They sing TRUCKERY RHYMES by Jon Scieszka.

I write for children because I want to write the book that a kid wants to hear again and again. I want to write the book that keeps a kid up past her bedtime because she’s reading with a flashlight.

That means, I must spend some more time writing. I have much to do.

 

We’re All in This Together: Writing Goals for 2014

Last month our WAITT members talked about accomplishments for 2013. This month, it’s time to look forward. We are sharing at least one writing-related goal for 2014 and how we are going to get there. I can’t wait to see what these ladies accomplish in 2014!!!

Sue Heavenrich

Archimedes Notebook

The beginning of the year seems like a great time to focus on “new beginnings”. But it’s not beginnings I need to focus on; it’s endings. So one of my goals this year is to get stories finished and sent out the door. And that means revision. Which is why this past week I’ve been participating in ReViMo – a week of focusing on revising manuscripts.

That’s just my first step. The next is to take those revisions to my critique group for feedback – which means further revisions. Then comes the scary part: sending them out into the world.

Now, time to commit some numbers to this goal. I want to submit 6 new manuscripts this year. That means spending a month finishing something I started during PiBoIdMo or (later this year) from the week of writing nonfiction picture books (aka: WOW). And then another month to revise and get feedback and revise. To keep myself on track I’ve taped a 3X5 card to the wall near my desk. It’s got 6 boxes- each just the right size to write in the name of the story and the first place I submit it…. starting with the story I’m revising today.

Amie Rose Rotruck

www.amieroserotruck.com

My goal is to get back to writing my OWN stories.  Not just writing.  Writing my OWN stories, as in I create the world, the characters, the history, the maps, everything.  Why does this need to be specified in those terms?  I am, I must admit, a bit of a Fangirl about certain things.  This has been a bit of a double-edge sword in my writing career.  On the one hand, it lead to my first and second published books, which certainly is good for my resume and getting my name out there, plus showing to potential editors that I can work to a deadline (well enough for the same publisher to hire me again).  For both Bronze Dragon Codex and, to a lesser extent, Young Wizards Handbook, I had the chance to write and play around in a world (in those cases, the world of Dragonlance) that I’ve loved since I was in middle school.  That took up most of my time from 2005-2009, interspersed with working on only two other books: my Hollins thesis (Thread) and a middle grade novel (written mainly to see if I could write a book within a year that wasn’t a work-for-hire).  I then took a break after my daughter was born, and resumed writing seriously in 2012.  During 2012, I auditioned for two book-packaging company projects, as I kept hearing about ideas that I really wanted to work with.  Thus, when I acquired an agent in early 2013, I was somewhat embarrassed and appalled to realize that I only had ONE book of my own that was in publishable shape.  I’d gotten seduced by the fun of writing work-for-hire (which I often describe as writing fan-fic and getting paid for it) and the absolute high of actually being PUBLISHED, even if it wasn’t 100% “mine.”  After I acquired my agent, I focused on working on a sequel to Thread and also began another project, as I felt the middle grade novel needed some serious revision and didn’t seem to be the type of thing my agent would be excited about.  But.

Last summer I found out that my favorite movie of all time was running an author contest for someone to write a prequel novel to the movie.  Once again, I found myself with a chance to write and play in a world that I loved with the chance of it leading to publication (I’ve never quite seen the point of fanfic writing, as why write something that you’ll never legally be able to publish?).  I spent most of the latter half of 2013 working on my contest entry, neglecting my “own” worlds yet again.  I don’t regret doing that at all and I am still VERY excited about the contest and really, really, REALLY hope I win.  But while I wait for them to select a winner, now is the time to start building my own portfolio, as it’s quite embarrassing to have been taking my writing career seriously since 2001, semi-seriously since 1992, and only have one polished novel to present to an agent.  Do I regret taking on work-for-hire?  Absolutely not, since I love it.  However, to grow my career, I do need to create something new, not just hang out in someone else’s playground.

So, goal: complete and polish one new novel that I can present to my agent.  That, and finish excavating my office so I’m not writing in complete chaos!

Carol Munro

www.carolmunrojustwritewords.com

Freelance writer since 1996

I’ve set two major goals for myself for 2014. First, I’ll study craft and improve my skills. I’ll spend time at conferences, workshops, and seminars, online and on location. And I’ll write-write-write, revise-revise-revise, polish-polish-polish. Second, before year end I will have an agent. I want to find someone I can count on as a partner in my writing career, someone who won’t pull punches with me if I try to pass off mediocre for polished, someone who’s respected in the industry and is a knowledgeable professional.

I’ll achieve both these goals by maintaining focus, evaluating my progress on a bi-weekly basis, reviewing what still needs to be done for me to be successful. An eye on the prize kind of thing.

There’s so much to learn about working in the picture book industry. I think it’s important to focus on one aspect at a time. In 2012 I studied the industry itself, learning about the publishers, their submission guidelines, their catalogs. The eye opener? How closed the doors were to unpublished and unagented writers. In 2013, I decided I needed to read a heck of a lot more picture books, and I wanted my first kid-lit contract. I read 500 picture books (being a Cybils judge helped me achieve this goal), and I sold a story to Highlights.

Do I think setting goals works? You betcha! If you aren’t setting goals, do it.

Do I think I’ll meet my 2014 goals? You betcha! If not, what the heck am I doing here?

Life is short. Go get what you want! I mean it.

Donna L Sadd

Varied Posts from a Gal who Wants to be a Writer when She Grows Up!

http://donnalsadd.wordpress.com

My writing goal for 2014 is the same as it was last year…to learn the craft. I graduated Mira Reisberg’s The Children’s Book Academy, and am currently taking Susanna Leonard Hill’s awesome Making Picture Book Magic course. Additionally, I joined Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 at the Gold level this year and, hopefully, plan to begin submitting a few manuscripts as well.

I will be attending Kristen Fulton’s WOW Picture Book Writer’s Retreat, GA in July, and Pat Miller’s NF 4 NF- Children’s Writing Conference Nonfiction for New Folks, TX in October.

I also try to participate in every writing challenge that I can to practice my skills and because the camaraderie spurs me on. Currently, I’m doing Shannon Abercrombie’s Start the Year off Write and am doing daily poetry posts to my blog for Kat Apel’s Month of Poetry (#MoP14).

I’ve included links because it’s not too late to get involved, and the courses are ongoing.

Alayne Kay Christian

Author of  “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa”

http://www.alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com

Represented by Erzsi Deak, Hen&ink Literary Studio

I have tons of goals brewing in my head. However, there is one thing I am certain of. . . . For me to be as successful as I want to be this year, I need to get focused and stay focused on what is most important to me – my writing. How am I going to achieve that goal? Currently, I am evaluating my time by asking myself, “What things am I allowing to steal me away from my craft?” But even when I am done evaluating my time and freeing up more time to write and edit, what will keep me focused? I need a plan. And I have one. I plan to take advantage of some of the fantastic forms that Marcie Flinchum Atkins offers on her blog. As a life coach, I know quite a bit about setting smart goals and little tricks for holding myself accountable. I’m not so good at organization. But Marcie has created forms that will give me a shortcut to getting organized, setting my smart goals and remaining focused on them. Here are a few links that will lead you to the forms and some thought provoking posts on organization and goal setting for writers. Thanks for sharing, Marcie!

Organize Your Writing Life Posts

Goal Writing Posts

 

 Vivian Kirkfield

Educator – Parenting Speaker – Author

My main goal for 2014 is to get my work out there. As I read blog posts written by successful authors, I observe that most of them have been plugging away for MANY years…studying the craft, making time for writing (BIC=butt in chair), revising and submitting. You know what they say about the lottery…if you don’t play – you can’t win.

For 2014, I am (as American Idol judge Randy used to say) IN IT TO WIN IT! And winning it doesn’t necessarily mean getting a book published (although that would be lover-ly). It means doing whatever it takes to make my writing the best it can be and seeing to it that agents and editors SEE it.

The steps I plan to take to climb this ladder (will one of you please keep it steady?) are

  • Participate in writing challenges (like January’s Start the Year off Write and ReviMo and November’s PiBoIdMo)
  • Participate in 12×12 at the Golden Book level and make better use of the Forum than I did last year
  • Participate in Rate Your Story at the Pro membership so that I can get feedback on manuscripts
  • Take Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic class next month
  • Continue my involvement with my two critique groups that each exchange manuscripts once a month
  • Continue participating in FB groups like Sub Six
  • Continue blogging once a week with Perfect Picture Book Friday and an additional 2 days each month for Goal-Busters and Will Write for Cookies (David Seow in the spotlight for January…Jane Yolen, Emma Walton Hamilton and so many more in the months so come.)
  • Make multiple bowls of popcorn with an ice cream cone chaser every night while watching a movie classic with my husband
  • Gratefully accept all the encouragement and support this incredible community doles out!

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and YA Writer

One of my goals this year is to spend more time in revision. I write across multiple genres, so I have a multitude of revisions I need to do. Here’s the plan:

1) Revision of an older middle grade novel. I will be working through THE PLOT WHISPERER and really dissecting it.

2) Revision of a newer middle grade novel. This first horrible draft is DONE. I’ll be a attending a revision workshop in March to work out a plan for revision for it.

3) Picture Book Revisions

* First, I made a list of the current drafts I have and what the status of each. Here’s a post where I talked about how I’m doing that.

* I’m participating in ReviMo, which ends today. However, the posts will still be archived, so if you are looking to revise picture books, I’d head there.

* I’m participating in a picture book workshop in June.

* I’m involved in 12×12 (which you still have a little bit of time to sign up for, if you’re interested). I’ll be doing revisions and new drafts this year.

Your Turn

What is one writing-related goal YOU have for 2014? Leave us a note in the comments. I can’t wait to see what we do in 2014!

 

Top 10 Posts for 2013

Here are the top 10 posts of 2013 on my blog! Thanks for following, commenting, and sharing this year with me!!!

1. 10 for 10 Mentor Texts for Word Choice

2. What to do about To Do Lists

3. Mentor Text Lesson: OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner

4. Picture Book Month Day 10: A PIG PARADE IS A TERRIBLE IDEA by Michael Ian Black

5. Keeping Track of Submissions

6. Mentor Text Lesson Plan: ONOMATOPOEIA

7. Mentor Text Lesson Plan: STONE BENCH IN AN EMPTY PARK selected by Paul B. Janeczko

8. We’re All in this Together: Rejection Post #1

9. Mentor Text Tuesday: Laminate the Text

10. Mentor Text Tuesday: Scavenge the Books

We’re All in This Together: Celebrating 2013

The WAITT group is so inspiring to me when I see how hard they are working on making their writing better and getting it out into the world. We are celebrating 2013 and all that we have accomplished this year.

What is one writing-related thing that you accomplished in 2013? What steps did you take to accomplish this? 

EW Clark

Novelist, Young Adult & Middle Grade

ewclark.net

I wrote a middle grade novel, LOOSE, and revised it, changing it from first person to close third.  Because I knew this revision would be a huge undertaking, I decided to print it out and totally rewrite it.  I have a tendency to over-write.  In revising this way, I saw huge chunks that felt too dull or repetitious — and I threw them out!  It was WONDERFUL!   I netted a 30% shorter MS, but I bet I cut closer to 50%.  Then I read it on my e-reader as my critique group (the heart of much of my writing improvement in the almost 4 years we’ve been working together) read it.  I made other significant changes as a result of those reads.  The final product is much more suspenseful, creepier, and better plotted.  It is with my agent now and my fingers are crossed — it’s the best novel I’ve written so far, and I am hoping, hoping, hoping!

 

Vivian Kirkfield

Author – Educator – Parenting Speaker
www.viviankirkfield.com

All writers – love to write. Most writers – love to see their work in print. Few writers – love to submit. No writers – love rejection.

I wrote for many years, but never submitted ANYTHING because I was: a) afraid of rejection b) foolish c) ignorant of how to go about it d) too busy with other responsibilities and obligations e) all of the above
The answer is ‘e’ – all of the above.

How did this change? I: a) participated in Susanna Leonard Hill’s writing prompts and holiday contests, b) joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12,  c) took part in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo d) connected with this incredible kid lit community (including SCBWI, Sub Six and my 2 fantastic critique groups) , e) all of the above
The answer again is ‘e’ – all of the above!

The one writer-related thing I accomplished in 2013 was to SUBMIT – 11 manuscripts to 12×12 literary agents, 3 or 4 manuscripts to Rate Your Story, many entries to contests like Cheerios, Susanna’s holiday contests and other blogger’s events, 1 manuscript for professional critique, several manuscripts directly to small publishing houses. AMAZING! From no submissions to more than two dozen! The steps I took were to participate, join, interact and connect with others who had either done it (and knew how and could teach me) or who wanted to do it (so I wouldn’t feel so alone).
Thank you everyone! Happy Holidays – I’m looking forward to a wonderful 2014!

 

Lori Degman

Children’s Author

www.Loridegman.com

I think the biggest writing-related thing I accomplished in 2013 was creating and teaching an adult workshop on writing in rhyme.  The Ela Public Library, in Lake Zurich, IL, had a writing series called, So You Want To Write For Children?” and I did my workshop, Nail Your Rhyme, Every Time, in April.  I had never taught a class on writing rhyming picture book stories, but I’ve been writing them for years, so I thought it would be a breeze to teach. As I started preparing, I realized I didn’t know very much about rhyming poetry.  I knew how to write in rhyme but I really didn’t know any of the related terms – and there are a lot!  So, before I could make my powerpoint presentation (which ended up having 100 slides), I had to do a lot of research.  In the end, I learned a lot and the workshop went well. Phew!

 

Alayne Kay Christian

Author of  “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa”

http://www.alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com

Represented by Erzsi Deak, Hen&ink Literary Studio

 

I imagine people are sick of hearing about it, but I have to say that my biggest accomplishment in 2013 was fulfilling my dream of achieving representation by literary agent Erzsi Deak from Hen&ink Literary Studio. http://henandink.com/index.html

 

The steps I took to accomplish it were as follows:

  • I set a goal to submit six different manuscripts to agents in 2013. By the time I signed with Erzsi in November, I had sent out 37 submissions for 9 different manuscripts. I subbed to 5 editors and 22 agents.
  • I started Sub Six, so I would have some company while moving toward my submission goals. We encouraged and supported each other all year long as we worked toward our goals. It also helped to hold me accountable by sharing with the group each time I made a submission. https://www.facebook.com/groups/SubSix/
  • I did lots of research on agents.
  • I joined 12 x 12 with the gold level membership, which offered an opportunity to submit a picture book manuscript to one agent each month. I lucked out, and Erzsi was the June 12 x 12 agent. I lucked out a second time because Erzsi asked to see more! http://www.juliehedlund.com/registration-for-2014/
  • I joined the Agent/Editor Discussion groupwhere we discuss agents and editors; submissions and acceptance or rejections; and share information about agents and editors. https://www.facebook.com/groups/299530846844884/
  • I continued (and continue) to improve my skills by increasing my knowledge about writing.
  • I got lots of great advice from my fantastic and smart critique partners.
  • I wrote and edited my butt off (I only wish the butt had really leftJ).
  • And I had friends and family with lots of crossed body parts wishing me luck and supporting me all the way.
  • Although there were times that I felt like throwing in the towel, I never gave up.

Robyn Campbell

Robyn Campbell’s blog

In 2013 I finally realized my dream of being published. I was one of the authors in the Crock of Charms anthology. The anthology is near and dear to me as I was responsible for rounding up a few of the authors to be included. I also had an article (however short) to be accepted by the SCBWI Bulletin. It should be in the next edition. So ever so slowly I’m beginning to realize my dream. The steps I took to accomplish these two achievements are very simple. I write every day. No matter what. I don’t care if it’s a sentence. I also keep my eyes open which is how I found out about the Crock of Charms. In 2014 I will have an agent. I just know it! I’ll keep writing and honing my craft so when the time comes I’ll be ready!

 

Donna L Sadd

Varied Posts from a Gal who Wants to be a Writer When She Grows Up!

http://donnalsadd.wordpress.com

After self-publishing my children’s picture book, LUCCI- The No Smoochie Poochie, on Amazon in January 2012, I spent the better part of that year ‘building my author’s platform’.  I picked my head up in December to realize that my writing had taken a back seat.

This January, I vowed to focus solely on my writing and learning the craft. The best thing I did was join Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12. I took a bronze membership because I didn’t have stories to submit to agents, but joining this vibrant, smart and sharing community alone, opened all sorts of doors to me!I joined my first critique group with other 12×12 members; learned oodles from authors’ guest posts; discovered classes, like Picture Book Academy of which I am now a graduate; followed other children’s book writers blogs; joined contests, like Susanna L. Hill’s; participated Kristen Fulton’s WOW Nonfic Pic and Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo; and got accepted into another critique group of more experienced writers. I even revised LUCCI, which will be up any day now.

 

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and YA Writer

www.marcieatkins.com

2013 was the YEAR OF REVISION. I spent a lot of time revising. I still have so much to learn and many more projects to revise, but I know I’m a better writer at the end of 2013 than I was at the end of 2012.

* In 2012 I drafted 12 picture books through 12×12. In 2010 and 2011 I participated in the Picture Book Marathon. So I had loads of picture book drafts. Some horrible. Some with a lot of promise. I still joined 12×12 in 2013, but I was less concerned with drafting every month and really concerned about revising at least one manuscript each month. I did a lot of extreme revising that involved cutting, sorting, drawing (not illustrating, but stick figures for my knowledge), and color-coding. I learned a LOT. I still have a lot to learn. But several of my picture books have benefitted from my extreme revision.

* I accomplished a big revision of a middle grade novel. I took Cheryl Klein’s Plot Master class and learned a lot about what was working and not working. I’m also signed up to take a novel revision retreat in the spring, so I know that will help even more.

2013 was also a YEAR OF SUBMISSIONS. I sent a lot of various manuscripts out. I sent out short stories, book proposals, picture books, my middle grade novel, and my YA novel. I’ve learned a lot from the process. I’m thankful for the very kind and very specific rejection letters I’ve gotten. Specific is good in my book because then I can know exactly what wasn’t working for that reader.

* 12×12 has helped with the picture book submissions because I’ve had a community who is committed to picture book writing and submissions.

* I joined Alayne’s Sub Six group where we hold each other accountable and encourage each other in submitting.

* I kept track of all my submissions including a submission spreadsheet and an agent spreadsheet (which includes possible people I want to submit to as well as who I’ve already submitted to).

* Knocking on all these doors led to some freelance work, several articles, and a 1st place contest win for Children’s Writer Newsletter.

 

Your Turn

What did you accomplish in your writing life in 2013?

We’re All in This Together: Picture Books We Want to Read Over and Over Again

PBMBADGE-AMBASSADOR

Many of our “We’re All in This Together” contributors are picture book writers, readers, parents, grandparents. Most of us love picture books in some aspect of our lives. Since it is picture book month, I thought I’d ask them to answer the following question:

What picture book, for you, is the perfect picture book—the one you wouldn’t mind reading a hundred times because you think it’s so brilliant? Why is it the perfect picture book?

I hope their answers will send you running to the bookstore (or bookshelf, if you have these titles) to read some of them over and over again.

Donna L Sadd

Varied Posts

From a Gal Who Wants to be a Writer When She Grows Up!

http://donnalsadd.wordpress.com

sick day for amos mcgee

A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE

by Philip C. Stead

Illustrated by Erin Stead

Roaring Brook Press, 2010

My choice of the perfect picture book is A SICK DAY FOR AMOS McGEE. I have indeed read it many, many times and each time it literally brings tears to my eyes. It says volumes about friendship without saying much at all. It’s a very quiet book but its message stays with the reader for a long while. Before I bought a copy for myself, I had a library copy for several weeks, and I was drawn to read it over and over again. The illustrations of Amos and penguin, tortoise, elephant, rhinoceros, bird and owl are breathtaking, and my young godson and I have sat with this fine book for hours. It’s a perfect read for bedtime or spending quiet moments together. There’s something quite magical about A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE!

Carol Munro

 www.carolmunrojustwritewords.wordpress.com

So far this year, I’ve read nearly 450 picture books.

  • Some were not very good, and as a PB writer striving to get published with many online friends doing the same, I have to wonder how these got into print and onto shelves. Really.
  • Most were written well and illustrated beautifully. Just plain old good books.
  • And some of them floored me. They compelled me to read them again and again, lingering over each page – and okay, yeah, caressing them – then closing and hugging them. Don’t tell me you’ve never done this.

So when Marcie asked us to tell about our favorite book, I thought, impossible. I can’t pick a favorite, but here’s one I want to share with you.

 

christmas tree for pyn

 

A CHRISTMAS TREE FOR PYN

by Olivier Dunrea

Philomel, 2011

A CHRISTMAS TREE FOR PYN is a father-daughter story. I’m a sucker for father-daughter stories. Pyn and her dad live in a mountaintop winter wilderness (the story has a folklore feel). They are lonely together, separately mourning the loss of Pyn’s mother. The relationship is dysfunctional (she must call her father by his name), but Pyn’s persistence for them to have a Christmas, and their search for the tree, breaks through her father’s protective veneer.

my father's arms are a boat

 

MY FATHER’S ARMS ARE A BOAT

by Stein Erik Lunde

Illustrated by Oyvind Torseter

Enchanted Lion Books, 2012

And now I must mention MY FATHER’S ARMS ARE A BOAT. Here, a father and son mourn the very recent death of the wife/mother. It’s a sad book with stark illustrations that will warm your heart. You’ll gasp at the perfection in the writing.

Curiously, each of these books mentions a red bird. Pyn’s dad gives her a red bird made by her mother to put on the top of their tree. In the second book, the boy has left crumbs for the red birds and tells his dad, “Granny says the red birds are dead people.”

You’ll linger over the pages of these two books. And yeah, you’ll hug them.

P.S. I post my favorites of the books I read each month on my blog, if you’d like more picture book recommendations.

 

Wordless:

FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO by Molly Idle, 2013, Chronicle Books

JOURNEY by Aaron Becker, 2013, Candlewick Press

UNSPOKEN: A STORY FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Henry Cole, 2012, Scholastic Press

 

Words and pics:

A CHRISTMAS TREE FOR PYN by Olivier Dunrea, 2011, Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers Group)

MY FATHER’S ARMS ARE A BOAT by Stein Erik Lunde, ill Oyvind Torseter, 2012, Enchanted Lion Books

IN THE TREE HOUSE  by Andrew Larson, ill Dusan Petricic, 2013, Kids Can Press (Corus Entertainment Company)

LITTLE PIG JOINS THE BAND by David Hyde Costello, 2011, Charlesbridge

SOPHIE’S SQUASH by Pat Zietlow Miller, ill Anne Wilsdorf, 2013, Schwartz & Wade Books

 

EW Clark

Young Adult & Middle Grade novelist

ewclark.net

arm in arm

 

ARM IN ARM IN ARM: A COLLECTION OF CONNECTIONS, ENDLESS TALES, REITERATIONS, AND OTHER ECHOLALIA

Written and illustrated by Remy Charlip

My favorite picture book of all time is Arm in Arm, a Collection of Connections, Endless Tales, Reiterations, and Other Echolalia, written and illustrated by Remy Charlip, first published in 1969.  I am SURE I’ve read it more than 100 times, both in my own childhood (my hardcover edition fell apart long ago) and to my stepdaughters and son.  What makes is so great is that it’s rewarding on many levels — it rises to meet you in a new way each time you reread it.  It’s in no way a conventional narrative — it has tiny plays, VERY short stories, koan-like explorations of single ideas, many, many, many visual puns, and is beautiful and richly imagined.  It takes its title from this exemplary portion:  Two octopuses got married and walked down the aisle arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm.  This is illustrated with the happy couple, tentacles entwined, dressed in traditional Western wedding garb.  It makes me happy every time I read it, and it has made my children happy, too, in their turn.

 Vivian Kirkfield

Author – Parenting Speaker – Educator

http://www.viviankirkfield.com

Trying to pick my favorite picture book is like trying to choose the most beautiful star in the sky…there are so many amazing stories that I have read hundreds of times and look forward to reading them over and over again.

caps for sale

CAPS FOR SALE

by Esphyr Slobodkina


Here is the ONE classic that I would HAVE to have if I were marooned on a desert island with a young child: CAPS FOR SALE by Esphyr Slobodkina. Published in 1940 (yes, this book is actually older than I am!), it is a super read-aloud, interactive (before interactive was a household word) boldly illustrated, cause-and-effect folktale.

chick o saurus rex

CHICK-O-SAURUS REX

by Lenore and Daniel Jennewein

Simon & Schuster, 2013

And, here is the ONE new picture book that I could read over and over again…and my 5-year old grandson has proved that children also want to hear it over and over again: Chick-o-saurus Rex by Lenore and Daniel Jennewein. Published this year, the book’s anti-bullying theme is timely and timeless. Little Chick will be every young child’s hero and the bold, bright illustrations and clever text are appealing to reader and listener alike. 

Liz Garcia

Children’s Writer

Dear zoo

DEAR ZOO

by Rod Campbell

Little Simon, 2007

DEAR ZOO by Rod Campbell is a book I read from time to time with my daughter. She loves to interact with the picture flaps. Though the ending is predictable, that’s part of the charm. Kids like looking for something to love that is “just right.”

goodnight gorilla

 

GOOD NIGHT, GORILLA

by Peggy Rathmann

Putnam, 1994

We also enjoy GOODNIGHT GORILLA by Peggy Rathmann for similar reasons. To me, this is a true picture book where the illustrations do much of the work of creating the story. There is always so much to observe. Rathmann creates and interesting feeling for readers who may giggle while observing things that the main human characters don’t see.  The peaceful colors and words make this one a perfect bedtime book.

 

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and YA Writer

http://www.marcieatkins.com

baby bear

 

BABY BEAR SEES BLUE

by Ashley Wolff

Beach Lane Books, 2012

I first fell in love with this book when I read it to my son. It was the perfect book for his age–not too long, breathtaking illustrations, a satisfying story. It sustained his attention, and just as important, it was a book I was willing to revisit over and over again. I never get bored of this book.

As a writer, I also fell in love with this book. Allison, one of my writing friends, and I, refer to this book as the “perfect picture book.” It’s flawless. Still trying to perfect my own picture book writing, I often study other texts intensely (for more on how I do this, see this guest blog post). This is one of those texts that I studied, typed out myself, analyzed the page turns, and gaped in awe how much is accomplished in so few words (only 280).

Your Turn

What I loved about putting this post together was that it had me running to the library to check out books I hadn’t read. In fact, I ordered A CHRISTMAS TREE FOR PYN from my local library after Carol recommended it. When the library handed it to me, she kind of hugged it, waxing poetically about how beautiful the book was. (Librarians like that? They’re my kind of people).

I know many of you also have favorites. So, tell us, what is your idea of a perfect picture book? Leave us a note in the comments. I can’t wait to go to the library again.

We’re All in This Together: Favorite Writing Quotes

We’re All in This Together is back! I asked everyone if they had a favorite writing quote that they put near their computer or nearby to inspire them.

I hope you will be inspired by reading all of the quotes.

EW Clark

YA novelist

ewclark.net

I don’t!  What I do have — often, anyhow — is a stack of books that I refer to based on whatever I’m writing.  I do a lot of research for my books.  Right now I’ve got a ton of stuff about New Zealand on my desk and in a stack on the floor next to it.  So although I don’t have anything that’s motivational per se, I do have a lot of visual reminders to keep me focused!

Sue Heavenrich

http://archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com/
One of the quotes taped above my desk:

“The world isn’t flat. It’s deeply corrugated. And some of the best stories lie hidden in the corrugations.”  (from journalist Paul Salopek who, this past January, began a seven year journey on foot from Ethiopia to Patagonia to follow the footsteps of the first migration of humans across the planet 60,000 years ago.

Vivian Kirkfield

Author – Parenting Speaker – Educator

www.viviankirkfield.com

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading is good for him.” – Maya Angelou

I love this quote because it embodies the importance of creating an atmosphere of joy and love when reading to young children. So many parents stress out about what book or type of book their child should be reading/listening to. Picture book, chapter book, comic book, magazine…who cares!

When our kids were very young, I would always take paper and crayons along…to the doctor’s office, store, visiting relatives. In a pinch, I could always fold the paper and make a ‘book’ out of it and write/draw a new story. Entertaining, educational and, in many instances, a life-saver.:)

 

Liz Parker Garcia

“You fail only if you stop writing” – Ray Bradbury

“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game’s winning shot . . . and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why . . . I succeed. – Michael Jordan

 

“All writers suffer credibility attacks; learning to ignore them is part of surviving as a writer. Based on the idea that writing is product, not process, the credibility attack wants to know just what credits you’ve amassed lately. The mere act of writing, the fact of which makes you a writer, counts for nothing with this monster. Writing for the love of writing, the sheer act of writing, is the only antidote for the poison of credibility attacks – and the antidote is short-lived and must be readministered.”- Julia Cameron “The Writer’s Life: Insights from The Right to Write”

Amie Rose Rotruck

Author of “Young Wizards Handbook: How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters” and “Bronze Dragon Codex” (as R.D. Henham)

www.amieroserotruck.com

I don’t keep this posted in my writing area, but it’s ALWAYS in my mind.
“Never a day without a line.”
I don’t know who said it originally, but I heard Stephen King say it years ago when I was lucky enough to hear him speak at a museum program.  This is my motto when I’m actively working on something.  I find if I just write a sentence a day, it really keeps me in the world that I’m working in.  However, I’m also prone to NOT following it.  Perhaps that means I should post it in my office!  When I am able to do it, though, it makes ALL the difference in the world to both my writing and my confidence that I am truly a writer.

Carol Munro

Full-time freelance writer

www.carolmunrojustwritewords.wordpress.com

The thing I have on my computer was a quote a friend gave me for my husband. (Yes, I misappropriated it.)
“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”  — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It’s a rather popular quote, so I poked around in the many writers-on-writing books I have for a few lesser known quotes I thought WAITT followers might find inspiring.
“Don’t get it right, get it written.” — James Thurber
“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” — Maya Angelou
“When you sit down to write, tell the truth from one moment to the next and see where it takes you.” — David Mamet

Romelle Broas Guittap

www.romellebroas.blogspot.com

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong” ~Joseph Chilton Pierce

I love this quote because it helps me get out of my rut. There are times when I can’t seem to get any words on paper. This quote helped me realize that it’s because I am thinking too hard. My obsession of getting it right the first time is hindering my writing. This quote helps me to let go of my inhibitions and just write. After all, “writing is re-writing.”

 

Robyn Campbell

RobynCampbell.com

There have been many quotes that I’ve read in my writing life which spurred me onward in my writing but none like this one. It actually comes from Peter Pan, but it encourages me and I hope it encourages others after they read it and then remember it from J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan.
 
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever being able to do it.” -Peter Pan
 
Isn’t that so true? Never doubt yourself, it will only hold you back. 

 

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and YA Writer

www.marcieatkins.com

Near my desk is this quote:

“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

It’s also has a picture of a remote path and the word DILIGENCE is written underneath it. I’ve had it for years. But when I hit obstacle after obstacle, it makes me realize that this is part of the journey.

 

For more Writing Quotes, visit Marcie’s Writing Quote Wednesday posts.

We’re All in This Together: Fear

Does fear sometimes get the best of you in your writing life? If so, how do you overcome fear? Fear of failure? Fear of judgment by others? Fear of not knowing whether you can make the writing do what you want it to do? 

These were questions I posed to WAITT writers on fear. I hope by reading them, you’ll encouraged to overcome fear and just write!

Alayne Kay Christian

Author of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa”

http://alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com/

I handle fear by remaining aware of my feelings. For me, fear is a sneaky little devil. It shows up disguised as another feeling. For example, I might feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or sad. With awareness, I can connect the dots that usually lead from the secondary feeling to an irrational fear.

I haven’t experienced the fear of not knowing whether I can make the writing do what I want it to do. However, I have experienced the fear of not knowing whether I can make my writing do what “they” want it to do. I suppose what I really fear is “my” writing, which I refuse to give up on, will never meet “their” requirements. In other words, will my determination to be true to my own voice prevent me from moving forward in the publishing world? I guess there’s a fine line between fear and self-doubt. By the way, the word never is good kindle for feeding the fear fire.

Okay, this is turning into a true confessions post : Time to move on.

I believe fear is about our belief system, our attitude, our past experiences, and our imagined future. Therefore, I strive to be clear regarding what my true beliefs are. I work to stay out of an imagined future that might never happen and be present in the moment with the joy of being with loved ones and my writing.

Some quotes I like:

“Let go of insecurity – find confidence. Face fears – find courage. Step away from loneliness -find fulfillment.”  – Alayne Kay Christian

“If you fail at something you love, you don’t mind trying again and again.” – Alayne Kay Christian

“Rejections are proof that you are doing what you love. You are always a success if you are doing what you love.”  – Alayne Kay Christian

“Don’t undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It’s because we’re different that each of us is special.” – Brian Dyson

“The game is supposed to be fun. If you have a bad day, don’t worry about it. You can’t expect a hit every game.” – Yogi Berra

“I’d rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate.” – George Burns

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” – Babe Ruth

“Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” – The United Church Observer

“By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Robyn Campbell

Author of tickle your belly picture books and adventurous middle grade stories.

Robyn Campbell

Fear does grab hold of me often. I fear that people will discover I’m a fraud. I really do write picture books and I even have MG novels and a YA idea inside my head. But if writing stuff doesn’t move forward. If my stories do not get read, then I fear I’ll be labeled a phony baloney. I know writers who have left me behind. They have agents. And they’re published too. Yet here I sit. Still plugging along. I keep saying, “I’m getting close!”, when family asks. But am I? I hope so. I don’t fear making the writing do what I want it too. My characters let me mold them and shape them into who I want them to be. But no one wants to be dubbed the phoniest baloney in baloney land. Hmm. That’s a picture book. I gotta write that down. 🙂 I hope someday soon I’ll be able to announce my agent’s name. Until then I’ll plug along. But hey. “I’m getting close!”

Donna L. Sadd

Author of LUCCI–The No Poochie Smoochie

http://www.donnalsadd.wordpress.com/blog

Fear of failing and success held me back in the past, and that’s why I arrived at the party in my fifties. If I feel it, I just push myself to write…anything, a relaxing haiku, a rhyming ditty, a grocery list. If that doesn’t pick me up, I read and then become motivated again.

Immersing myself in the midst of like-minded folks has done a lot to keep fear at bay because I’ve realized that indeed, we’re all in this together, and feeling that I’m not alone gives me courage to keep plugging away. The encouragement of my critique group reinforces that feeling.

When fear does wheedle its way in, I simply remind myself of dozens of writers’ comments left in Facebook groups who have been at this a lot longer than me, and I’m reminded of the learning curve I’ve got to ride before I ‘get there.’

 

Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and YA Writer

http://www.marcieatkins.com

I don’t usually think about myself as being a fearful person. The only thing I have a phobia about is chickens. Yes, chickens.

But fear in my writing life is usually disguised as the “WHAT IFS.”

What if I never get my books published? What if I am sending out the wrong things? What if my query letter is not good enough to snag an agent’s attention? What if no one likes this story but me?

So what?

So what if  IF my work is never seen by anyone else?

Well, too bad. I can’t quit writing. When I go a day or two without writing something, I get cranky. I need to write for me. Even if no one ever reads it.

I had to realize that I loved writing. That’s why I write. I write for the process. Most of what I write will never see the light of day. I wouldn’t want it to. My writing isn’t wasted though.

I can’t NOT write.

If anyone else decides they like it, it’s a bonus. The only thing I should fear is this:

What if I never write anything at all?

That’s something that I fear–that I will get to the end of my life and never have written the stories that I really wanted to write. I don’t want that to happen. So I will get over the WHAT IFs and I’ll keep on writing.

Then I’ve not lived the life I wanted to live. And that’s something to be feared.

 “In the end it all comes down to this: you have a choice (or more accurately a rolling tangle of choices) between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot–and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy. It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice.” 

–David Bayles & Ted Orland ART & FEAR: OBSERVATIONS (AND REWARDS) OF ARTMAKING