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Looking Back at 2014

A DAY AT THE ZOO Board Book
Looking Back…

Today is the last day of the year—2014. Looking back, it was a pretty good year as far as writing goes.

Early in the year I had two board books accepted by Highlights for their new Let’s Grow series! The Let’s Grow series is developed by the creators of Highlights High Five magazine for preschoolers and Highlights Hello magazine for babies and toddlers. My books, A DAY AT THE ZOO and WHEELS GO ‘ROUND are board books written in verse for the 0 to 2 age group. You can click the link here to find out more about the Highlights Let’s Grow subscription.

This was another ‘first’ for me as a children’s writer. A DAY AT THE ZOO and WHEELS GO ‘ROUND will be my first board books published, and also my first books written in verse. It was also my first work-for-hire. I worked with a consulting editor for Highlights, who had contacted me late the year before after reading my poems for babies in my picture book FROM DAWN TO DREAMS, POEMS FOR BUSY BABIES, published by Candlewick.

Working on these books was pretty much my main writing focus the first four months of the year. It reinforced my belief that, Yes! I can write a story for young ‘readers’ in 28 lines or less! And Yes! I can re-write to make my rhyme perfect, no matter how impossible that seems!

Writing poetry with good rhyme and rhythm takes a lot of effort. And children deserve that effort. There were times that I wondered if I would ever come up with just the right word! When that happens, you can do one of three things—

You can give up and quit.

You can ‘settle’ for less than perfect.

Or you can keep trying until you get it just right. Because you believe you can do it, and maybe because someone else believes in you, too.

In March I had another writing first. The education editor at Scholastic Canada wrote to me asking permission to use one of my poems in a poetry collection for grade 3 students. My poem Bandit, from NAME THAT DOG, will be included in that collection, my first poem to be included in an anthology!

That month I also attended a local Missouri SCBWI program on the Common Core and School Visits.

In April I attended the Indiana SCBWI Spring conference and met an editor from FSG who requested that I submit my non-fiction/poetry manuscript, WHAT GREAT TEETH YOU HAVE. Still waiting…

My favorite thing to do as an author is to talk to kids about books and writing, and to talk with the kids who read my books! I spoke to second grade students at Lakeview Elementary school in April, and visited my granddaughter’s Kindergarten class at Providence Christian Academy to read and talk about books. I also joined other Missouri SCBWI children’s authors and illustrators at the MASL (Missouri Association of School Librarians) convention to sign copies of our books.

In May I did a workshop on writing poetry for students in grades 5 to 8 at the Ozark Writing Project (OWP) Youth Conference in Springfield, MO. I saw so much talent in those students!

In June I gave a workshop on writing picture books for the Saturday Writers in St. Peters, MO, and met more great writers.

In September I attended the Missouri SCBWI Fall conference where I helped wherever I was needed. It was a great conference, perfect especially for those of us who write picture books. I was thrilled to present the certificates to those Missouri PAL (published and listed) authors who had books published in 2014. And led a great critique group with picture book writers and illustrators, and learned from them as well.

I submitted TOAD IN THE ROAD, a picture book in verse, to an agent that I met at the conference who was interested in my work. Still waiting…

In October I met author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen at the Spencer Library branch in St. Charles where they gave a presentation to patrons.

November brought the Local Author Night to the Middendorf-Kredell (MK) Library here in O’Fallon where I met up with a friend, and schmoozed with friends who were signing their books. I met some other authors there as well.

December was a big month for Scholastic Book Fair sales. I met teachers, librarians, parents and young readers at book fairs in Columbia, Fenton and St. Charles in Missouri and autographed copies of my picture book, NAME THAT DOG, which is carried by the Scholastic Book Club and Book Fairs.

Writing for children is a lot of things. It’s writing, learning as we go, and sharing what we’ve learned along the way. It takes a lot of patience, and perseverance.

Yes, 2014 was a good year for ‘writing.’ Now it’s time to look ahead to 2015. Happy New Year, Happy Reading and Writing, to all of you!  Read More 
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