Research Site and Instagram

Research Site

I have a number of nonfiction writing projects going on right now. I found myself trying to organize the sites I go to often in the research process. For most projects, I often start with Google and Amazon to find out what books are already out there, but there were places that I went to consistently no matter the project.

For about a year, I’ve been using a private Google Site to curate these links and use them myself. However, I thought it might be helpful to put it out there into the world so others could use it as well.

Link to Research Site

If you have suggestions or favorite sites you think need to be included, comment below or email me with suggestions. It’s a work-in-progress.


I’ve been on Instagram for awhile, but I’ve never been very active on it. I got inspired last weekend to post a little more often. I’ve decided my Instagram (for now) is all about showing daily ins and outs of a writer’s life. Feel free to follow me over at my Instagram page.

Writing Process Blog Hop

My critique group friend, Alayne Kay Christian, tagged me in a blog hop about my writing process. Hop over to her blog to read her post, then hop back here to read mine.

1. What are you working on?

I’m always juggling multiple projects. Here are a few of the things I’m working on at the moment:

* Picture book revisions on multiple picture books

* Finishing revisions on a middle grade magical realism mystery

* Beginnings of a middle grade contemporary novel

* Articles and essays at varying stages of development

* Research for a non-fiction picture book

* Querying agents


2. How does your writing process work?

Like I said before, I juggle multiple projects. I typically make a to-do list of all of the things I need to do for the week. It will involve writing (drafting), revisions, research, submissions, blog writing. I work off this list. When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is the main project, which at the moment is finishing revisions on the middle grade magical realism mystery. As the day goes on, I’ll work on various projects off the list.

I find that I rewrite a LOT. I might do dozens of rewrites on something. My picture books morph and get revised a LOT. I’m a big fan of Scrivener for my novel writing, so I do a lot of color-coding and connecting threads on the corkboard feature. I color-code by hand with markers and highlighters and colored pens. And I really like to print out things and physically mark on them. I know some people do all of their revising on the computer, but I just can’t do that.

3. Who are the authors you most admire?

I’m a huge fan of Kate Messner. She was a teacher and now she is a full-time writer. She organizes Teachers Write, an online writing community for teachers who want to write more in the summer. She also has published in multiple age groups from picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, and teacher resources. In several years, I would love my publishing credits to be in multiple categories too.

I also greatly admire Katherine Paterson because she wrote many of the books that made up my childhood. But also because she wrote while raising four children. If she did it, then I can do it too. She also knows what it’s like to feel at home in another country besides your passport country, so I feel like we share some commonalities with that.

I could go on and on. There are so many authors that I admire. So many that have shaped my desire to be a writer and so many that serve as current role models in the business.


Tag, you’re it!

I’m tagging E.W. Clark.

We’re All in This Together: Surprise! Things You Didn’t Know About the Writing Life Post #2

What is the hardest thing you didn’t know you’d encounter as a writer?

Why did that thing surprise you and how did you handle it?

These were questions I posed to our WAITT writers. Take a look at yesterday’s post also for more surprises about being a writer.


EW Clark

YA / MG Novelist

Ever heard of Zeno’s paradoxes?  One illustrates the impossibility of completing an infinite number of tasks:  to get to a destination, you have to get halfway there, then halfway between that point and the destination, halfway between that … and so on and on forever.  The point is that if you’re always going halfway, even though your margin gets tiny, you never arrive at the end.

That’s how being a writer can sometimes feel, in a way that surprised me. I’ve been a writer all my life, and I knew how to get an idea to a complete draft.  But when I decided to devote myself to it, and really go for it — I was just surprised by how infinite the steps are.  It’s not just because revision is hard, and the publishing world moves slowly, but also because my goals keep changing.  I mean — first my goal was to revise really really well, and then my goal was to find an agent.  Each of those steps felt so huge!  And now the goal for that novel is finding an editor to fall in love with it — then the goal will be awaiting publication — then seeing if anyone notices — and then doing the same with the next novel (which I sent to my agent in June!).

Diana Wynne Jones said something like, “I always wanted to write the perfect novel, the novel I wanted to read as a child.  I’ve never quite done it, but I keep on trying.”

That’s part of what I mean — the game of reaching for some kind of ending, a completion, in this, well, it’s hard.  I’ll keep, I hope, getting closer — closer and closer — but I’ll never ever be done.  I’m not complaining — this is what I’ve chosen, and I’m so happy to be where I am, so happy to be doing what I’m doing — but it was a bit of a shock, I will say, when I realized that writing “THE END” on that last page didn’t mean quite that at all!


Vivian Kirkfield

Educator – Parenting Speaker – Author

Picture Books Help Kids Soar


We all have fears. Acknowledging them and then finding ways to cope with or overcome them is what life is all about. I’m afraid of the water…but I’ve walked under the ocean with a Jules Verne-type breathing apparatus on my head. I’m afraid of heights…but I’ve gone skydiving. However, my biggest fears were public speaking and meeting new people! Standing up in front of a large audience has always brought on the classic anxiety/panic attack symptoms…sweaty palms, a racing pounding heart and a feeling that my mind is totally blank and I might pass out. Having to walk into a room where I didn’t know anyone or go somewhere I had never been before, would often cause me to cancel plans or refrain from making them. I never realized that becoming a writer would force me to confront these terrors of mine.

After my parenting book was published, I knew that if I wanted the book on shelves in libraries, bookstores and people’s homes, it was up to me to get it out there. I took an online Build Book Buzz class with Sandra Beckwith (can’t say enough great things about her and the course) and I learned what I would need to do. But could I? I’ve come a long way in the last few years in regards to these terrors of mine. I’ve walked into libraries and bookstores and asked if they would like to have my book on their shelves. I’ve done book events and parent/teacher workshops and presentations. But when I flew to Singapore (my first international flight) in May to speak at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content, I took a giant step. To be honest, it has been the support and encouragement I’ve received from this entire kid lit community that gave me the courage to take that leap of faith.


Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Children’s and Young Adult Writer

I think that the thing that’s surprised me the most is that every writer struggles with inadequacies. I’ve been writing seriously for many years and have yet to land an agent or a book deal. I wonder if I’m doing something wrong. I write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and submit and submit and submit. I’ve had nibbles, great rejection letters, requests for rewrites—things close enough to the edge to make me keep writing.

But I know that I’m not alone.

I have friends who have agents and have written brilliant books but haven’t yet gotten book deals. I have friends who are multi-published who still have to go through the worry of the “next book” not getting published. I have friends who’ve published dozens of books who are still getting rejections.

We’re all in this together.

Everyone struggles with something. There is no “easy” road. Almost every road is paved with hard work. And frustration. And rejection. And few guarantees.

The thing that surprises me the most about this writing life is that no matter what level you get to, there will still be struggles to face. Feelings of inadequacies to overcome. We have to love the process of writing—the inkling of an idea or image, the months of wiggling that idea or image into story, the even more months of shaping and reshaping that story into understandable words. Because once it leaves the safety of our hands, we can’t predict what will happen next.


Now, you tell us:

What is the hardest thing you didn’t know you’d encounter as a writer?

Why did that thing surprise you and how did you handle it?

Feel free to share in the comments.

We’re All in This Together: Surprise! Things You Didn’t Know About the Writing Life Post #1

What is the hardest thing you didn’t know you’d encounter as a writer?

Why did that thing surprise you and how did you handle it?

These were questions I posed to our WAITT writers, and I love their responses. One thing you’ll see as a common thread–writing is not for the faint of heart. There is hard work–learning the craft and learning the business. And there is struggle. But we still write.

Carol Munro

Freelance Writer, Editor, Workshop Leader

Well, this feels like confession time. The thing I didn’t expect to encounter is how the fear of success –not failure, but success – would get in my way.

It wasn’t until I looked back at my actions – such as getting requests from editors for something else I’ve written and not following up – that I realized I was sabotaging my success. It took some soul searching to figure out why.

There were many reasons, but I won’t get into them. Instead, here’s the most important thing I learned: What made me stop fearing success was changing my reasons for wanting to be published. Now it’s about the work, learning about the craft and improving my writing. It’s about playing with imagination and the satisfaction of creating something I like. It’s about wanting to share my writing with others who’ll get a kick out of it. Whether I get a book published or not, doing the work is my success.


Lori Degman

Author of 1 Zany Zoo and Cock-a-Doodle Oops!

One thing I found out, after publishing my first book, was how hard it is to sell subsequent manuscripts!  I really thought, once my book was published, editors would want my other stories – NOT!  I especially thought the editor of my first book would want the sequel, especially since I like it so much more than the first one – NOT!

I was also surprised by how much self-promotion you need to do and the fact that it doesn’t always increase sales.

On a positive note: when I first began writing, I had never heard of SCBWI so I didn’t know what an amazing resource it is and how supportive and generous the kidlit community is!


Donna L Sadd

Author of  LUCCI- The No Smoochie Poochie

When I set out to be a children’s writer, I wanted to do rhyming stories most of all. I’ve always thought myself to be a very good rhymer, until I started having my rhyming picture book stories critiqued. Many critiques said the meter or rhythm was off.

I set off to learn more about the ‘scansion’ of a poem. The hard thing is that I absolutely cannot grasp stressed and unstressed syllables. I know how the poem reads, but it won’t be obvious for readers so this all has to be ‘perfect’, as you’ll hear folks in this business say all the time.

I have a rhyming story that I adore, so I finally paid to have it edited, and am working with that editor to improve my skills. I know it’s just a matter of time before it all ‘clicks’ for me.


Alayne Kay Christian

Author of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa”

My answer will cover the first three things that popped into my head. I don’t know if they are the hardest things I’ve encountered, but they are in my head, so here goes. . . .

1. The “500 words or less” rule for picture books.

Everything that I had read prior to writing my first book, and even some courses I took, all stated picture book word counts should be 1,500 or less. When I went to my first SCBWI conference and heard “500 words. 500 words.” being repeated at every turn, I was shocked. Since then, I have tried to create shorter stories. And I am enjoying the challenge. However, I refuse to let the “500 words or less rule” rule me. Some stories are just meant to be a little longer.

2. There is a LOT of competition out there.

Can you believe that when I first started out, I was so naïve that I didn’t realize this? Well, I was. I was locked up in my creative world, unaware of what was happening around me. One thing that I was painfully aware of was celebrity authored picture books. It felt unfair to me that fame seemed to be a free ticket to publication. Recently, one of my wise friends commented that celebrity books help support the publishers so that they can afford to take a chance on some unknown authors. I like that positive twist. As far as competition, I handle that by getting to know my competition and enjoying them as friends. Over the last several years, I have made friends with many writers and published authors, and I feel like we are family. As this series says, “We’re All in This Together.” And that is a good thing.

3. Writing/publishing is a super-duper subjective game.

Doesn’t it stand to reason, if I love my story that everyone will love my story? That’s what that naïve writer from my past started out thinking. So, how does this experienced author handle the knowledge that everyone does not love my stories? I let it roll off, and keep on keeping on. And I continue focusing on doing what I love. I write, and I write, and I write. . . .


Stay tuned until tomorrow when more writers talk more about the hardest thing in their writing life or what surprised them the most.

Now, you tell us:

What is the hardest thing you didn’t know you’d encounter as a writer?

Why did that thing surprise you and how did you handle it?

Feel free to share in the comments.