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Success—How Do You Measure Up?


What does ‘success’ mean to you? For some, success might be measured by the number of manuscripts that they finish in a month, by how many words they write a day, or how many rejections they get each year. Or it might be measured by how many manuscripts they sell or how much money they make. And for others it may be more personal.

Whatever means you use to measure your success, it needs to help you move forward in some way. And different things work for different people. Let’s look at a few ways used to measure success.

Amount of time spent writing each week. Whether you count the number of hours spent writing, or the number of words you write, you need to write to be a writer! The more you write, the better you get at it. Success comes with time spent writing.

Tip: Combine your time spent writing with time spent reading books in the genre that you write. You will increase your understanding of children’s books and writing them, and increase your success level.

Tip: Do what works best for you. Someone once said, “If you don’t write every day, you will never succeed as a writer.” Every piece of advice that I read said that you need to write every day. I rebelled! My family came first, and I would write when I could—and succeed!

Then I read something in a writing magazine that validated me as a writer. It said to compare how important your writing is to something else that you love to do. Then spend the same amount of time writing as you spend doing that other thing. I loved my job as a nurse. I was working two days a week. I knew that I could spend two days a week writing if I put it on the calendar. Once I started, I usually exceeded that. And if ‘life happened’ and I didn’t get those two days in, I didn’t let it get to me.

Number of manuscripts completed. A finished manuscript is a huge success! You’ve stuck with it! You’ve written a story with a beginning that catches the reader’s attention, an exciting middle, and you’ve tied everything up at the end. Success comes with following through, all the way to the end.

Tip: All manuscripts start with a first draft. Finish your first draft, all the way to the end, resisting the urge to go back and edit before you’re finished. Then pick the one(s) that you just can’t stop thinking about to polish and revise!

Tip: If you don’t already belong to a critique group, join one now! Having another pair of eyes and ears is invaluable, and you can learn from other’s experiences.

Number of rejections received. Some writers count success by the number of rejections they’ve received. Some even set a goal of getting so many rejections per year! Rejections mean that you’re sending your work out. They mean that you’ve been finishing what you’ve started!

Tip: Make a list of places to send your manuscript, so that when you receive a rejection, your manuscript won’t sit in the drawer until you decide where to send it next.

Tip: After a manuscript receives three to four rejections, take another look at it with fresh eyes. Is there some place where you can revise and make it better?

Manuscripts sold and money made. Some writers measure their success by the number of manuscripts they’ve sold or how much money they’ve made. It’s good to celebrate those accomplishments! But instead of celebrating each small success, some writers may feel disappointed that their success is not bigger. Having your work accepted by a magazine or a publisher is a huge success, no matter how big or small the sale! It validates what you do and encourages you to keep on!

Tip: Celebrate each success, big or small! Enjoy a day off with your family or friends. Or just have a piece of chocolate!

More Tips for Success:

*Set realistic goals. Start with something small. Starting with small, attainable goals will give you a sense of accomplishment, and keep you from getting discouraged.

*Don’t get discouraged if you fail to meet your goals. Do the best you can. Life happens. Just pick yourself up and start again!

* Celebrate! Once you’ve accomplished your goal, reward yourself with a small treat—a piece of candy, an outing with friends or family, or some time to yourself.

*Re-evaluate your goals and set the bar a little higher. Re-evaluating and setting higher goals along the way will give you a push to work toward that higher goal, and one day you’ll be celebrating that book acceptance!

Decide what ‘success’ means to you.
Some things that make me feel successful as an author are these:
When I see a child enjoying a book that I’ve written.
When I ‘connect’ with students at an author visit.
If another writer is encouraged by something that I said.

My favorite quote, and one that I truly believe in, is this:
Many years from now it will not matter what my worldly possessions had been. What will really matter is that I was important... in the life of a child.


Some definitions:
Success:
favorable or desired outcome
Success: achieving whatever in this life will bring you joy, satisfaction and meaning
Success: (insert your own definition here)
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New Year's Goals for 2017


With a nudge from one of my writing groups I’ve finally made my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017. Only I’m calling them my ‘Goals for the New Year.’ It sounds better, more ‘do-able.’ I think the mentality of making a resolution for the new year is more of ‘how long will it take until I’ve broken it.’ With setting goals, it’s more likely to be something to shoot for.

Once again, I tried to set goals that are attainable. Something to reach for, but something that I know I can do if I really try. So here goes!

1—Finish one awful picture book first draft every other month, with 3 ready-to-go picture books by the end of 2017. This will be the most challenging, but also fun. And, there is an underlying goal here—to keep a regular schedule of writing.

If I’m not picky about how good my writing is at the start, I’m more likely to write something. And the more I write, the better I get at it. I’m hoping that one of those ‘awful’ first drafts sticks in my head and won’t let go until I get it right! The ‘awful’ picture book drafts are what most of us start off with when we begin a new book. Then many revisions later, it starts to shape up, and finally becomes a great book.

2—Work on more picture books in verse. With A HIPPY-HOPPY TOAD (formerly A Toad in the Road) I got a taste of how much fun it is to work with the language of a picture book, through the verse. It’s more than just a story. It’s how much fun it is to read the words and phrases out loud, too. I want more of that! Whether it’s in rhyme or not.

3—Submit some of my poems to magazines. I have poems that I wrote for picture book collections that were ‘left-over’ when the books were finished. I think there must be some place for them. It would also give me a sense of accomplishment to see my work published in another place for kids to read.

4—Create a facebook author page, and update my website. Having a separate author page on facebook would give readers someplace to look for updates on my writing and author appearances, and my books. It also would be a separate place for me to share other children’s author news and book signings.

5—Read blogs written by children’s authors, editors and agents more often, and check in to twitter more consistently. If I put it on my calendar, I’ll most likely do it.

6—Read 10 picture books a month (easy-peasy), and one grown-up book, just for fun! It’s taking the time to read more of the adult novels that I want to read that’s the challenge here. I had my cataract surgery last year, so it should be easier to do now with better eyesight. I’ll put it on my calendar…

7—Start thinking about what I can do for A HIPPY-HOPPY TOAD. My picture book comes out from Schwartz & Wade in Spring of 2018. The publisher does a lot for my book, from sending it out for reviews ahead of publication, to putting it in their catalogs and on their website and getting it into bookstores. But there are also things that I can do to let my readers, my friends and hometown know that I have this awesome book coming out. This is not my strong point, by far. So I need to look at the lists of advice from my friends who are published children’s authors, check online for information, and ask my publisher if they have suggestions.

I think my 2017 writing plate is full! But who knows what’s to come down the road as we start another new year! Wishing you all a Happy 2017, with goals to keep you on track!  Read More 
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Reminders for 2017!


I’m sitting here at my computer, and my desk is a bit cluttered. I have—

A tiny toad. He’s looking at me, reminding me that I have something wonderful to look forward to in spring of 2018! That’s when my next picture book, TOAD IN THE ROAD, comes out from Schwartz & Wade. Right now, Toad is my reminder that I can succeed if I keep working at it.

A tiny fox. He’s my reminder that I need to keep working on the story in my head that won’t leave me alone!

My calendar, to keep me on track, reminding me of deadlines and times when I need to take a break to do other things.

My never-ending ‘to-do’ list! This reminds me of the things that move to the back of my mind when I’m wrapped up in what I’m working on. Things to do like answering emails, blogging, making phone calls, critiquing other writer’s manuscripts, and checking websites and newsletters. And things like eating lunch, doing laundry, paying bills, making appointments, family time and books to read!

I also have a postcard that sits on my desk. It says “Believe, dream, will…and put it in the hands of God.” A quote from Dr. Norman Vincent Peale that reminds me to keep on dreaming, believe in myself, and work to achieve my goals and not give up.

I have a small wooden heart that hangs on a knob above my desk that says “Creative clutter is better than idle neatness.” My excuse for my messy work area.

On a shelf is a quote from Winnie the Pooh that says “I am a bear of very little brain and long words bother me.” Something that I thought was appropriate for a writer of picture books.

And another quote that says “Many years from now it will not matter what my worldly possessions had been. What will really matter is that I was important... in the life of a child.”

(I love quotes…)

These things will most likely remain on my desk throughout 2017. They’re important reminders. They keep me focused. I hope you find little ‘reminders’ to keep you focused, too. Keep them in your peripheral line of sight as you work toward your goals in the new year. And 2017 is just around the corner! I wish you much success in 2017!  Read More 
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You Seriously Just Might Be a Children's writer...


A couple of weeks ago my blog post was a list of fun ‘quirks’ that potential children’s writers have. But every children’s writer knows that there’s a lot more behind writing a children’s book than all the fun we have once it’s finished. Today I thought I’d look at some of the more ‘serious’ qualities that children’s writers have.

You might be a children’s writer if…

You have patience—

Writing for children takes a lot of patience. Most likely, the story starts out in your head. You finally get it down on paper at about 2,500 words. Then you realize that a picture book is more likely to be between 300 and 800 words! Many revisions later you finally have a nice tight story, ready for a publisher to snatch it right up.

You send it out, and wait—months, sometimes longer, before you hear back from the editor. Many rejections later you finally find the right editor who loves your story! After more revisions it’s finally finished, ready for the illustrator. Who takes a year or more to finish the artwork. You wait for the physical book to be put together, for reviews to come in, for your author copies to arrive…. Lots of patience, but totally worth it!

You can handle rejection—

There are many types of rejections. There are form rejections—a printed card or letter simply saying it’s not right for them, a letter signed by the editor saying it’s not right for them, a letter signed by the editor telling you why it’s not right for them (encouraging because they took the time to give you feedback!), or a letter signed by the editor saying it’s not right for them but asking to see more of your work (don’t pass on this!). And of course, there’s the rejection that you don’t receive, from a publisher that says ‘if you don’t hear from us after three months, we are not interested.’

You believe that children are intelligent and deserve your best effort—

Children’s writers see their readers as intelligent human beings, who soak up knowledge from the world around them. And they drive you to tell the story that opens their imagination, and that will captivate them!

You like to interact with children—

You enjoy being around children and love to hear what they have to say. Their perspective on things opens your own imagination, and helps you to see the world around you in a new way.

You have a sense of humor—

Your sense of humor lets you laugh and not take life too seriously. Things like—
“You’re pretty! I like your gray hair and wrinkles.” Or
“Are you more than 80 years old?”
don’t bother you at all!

Your ‘casual’ reading includes author, editor and agent blogs as well as books, magazines and newsletters about writing for children—and lots of children’s books!

Because this is your introduction to learning how to write children’s books well, and you don’t settle for less.

You attend events such as author appearances and book fairs—

Your love of books and writing spills over into your social life. You’d rather be here than at the amusement park.

You value what you do over how much money you make—

Sometimes you wonder why you do all of this work with no guarantee of publication. But you just can’t seem to stop. Stories pop in out of nowhere, and follow you everywhere. The objective is much more than the money you make, which is probably less than minimum wage when you figure in all the hours spent before your book is published. But all it takes is one child who loves your book, and you know why you do it.

If you have these qualities, combined with any of the quirks of my previous post, I’d suggest that you seriously consider writing for children!  Read More 
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Here’s Your Sign!

Spring is on the way—the signs are all around us! The grass is getting green again, daffodils and hyacinths are blooming. Birds are singing! You can’t miss the signs.

But sometimes the signs are not quite as visible. A late winter snow storm or some cold winds might hide them.

Like looking for spring in March, as writers we sometimes look for a sign to let us know that we’re on the right track. A sign to show us that we should keep going! Or a sign that tells us where to go next. The signs are there, but sometimes we have to look a little harder, and believe a little more, to see them.

As a new writer I wondered if I was wasting my time writing stories for children. Was I really any good? Or was I just kidding myself. So far I had kept my writing life a secret between myself and my husband. One day I picked up a copy of the Writers Market Book at the library. As soon as I took it to the check-out desk, my secret was out! The librarian happened to be a writer, and invited me to a writers' critique meeting—sign #1.

As uncomfortable as I was sharing my writing with strangers, I went to the meeting. I made lifelong friends and got lots of encouragement there—sign #2. I started to submit my work to children’s magazines and had a poem and a short story accepted.

Sometimes even rejection can be a sign! A sign to get out of my comfort zone and move ahead. I had written a short story that I loved. I sent it to every children’s magazine I could find, and they all rejected it! But I still believed in it—sign #3. I sent it to Little Golden Books—and they liked it. One of the Family was my first published picture book.

Do you need a sign? Like Peter Pan or Winnie the Pooh, sometimes you just have to believe in yourself a little more to see it.

2016 is Leap Year—is this your sign?

Is this the year for you to take that ‘leap’ and really sit down to write your poem, short story, picture book or novel for young readers? Do you have stories already written? Maybe you’ll leap forward and join a critique group to get feedback from other children’s writers! Check your local library, or your local chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) for critique groups for children’s writers.

‘Spring Ahead’—is this your sign?

Spring is just around the corner. Last week-end those of us on daylight savings time had to set our clocks forward one hour. It was time to ‘Spring Ahead!’

Have you revised until you’re satisfied that your manuscript is the best that it can be, and are you waiting for a sign that says ‘This manuscript is ready! Send it in!’? Check out the publishers online, both magazine and book publishers, and get it out there. If you’re a member of SCBWI, check out the SCBWI Work-in-Progress awards and submit your manuscript. You’ve nothing to lose! Just make sure that you get it in before March 31st.

Are you a poet? Lucky you, April is National Poetry Month! Is this your sign?

For lots of information, inspiration, and writing challenges check out Angie Karcher’s blog for RhyPiBoMO, Rhyming Picture Book Month. Read the daily blog posts by authors, editors and agents about rhyme and rhyming picture books. Follow the links to even more poetry fun.

Next check out the Reading Rockets website for video interviews with children’s poets, booklists, books on poetry, activities and more.

In June SCBWI Missouri celebrates ‘Critique Across Missouri.’ Members will be hosting critique groups at different locations across the state. Non-members are welcome, too! Keep your eye on the SCBWI Missouri website for upcoming information and locations.

So Here’s Your Sign! Wherever you are in your writing, just take a leap and spring forward!  Read More 
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Finding ‘Voice’ in Children’s Picture Books

We went to our grandson’s Kindergarten celebration the other day. When it was over he gave me a big hug and said, “You smell like you guys’es place.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but the smell of an older relative’s house when I was a young child came to mind. Then I thought of the building where our granddaughters’ gymnastics classes were held and how it smelled like sweaty socks. I hoped I didn’t smell like either of those! But I think I was ok, since he gave me a loong hug.

Later that night I started thinking about voice, and how in the same way that you sometimes identify certain places with smells, you identify certain authors and their characters by ‘voice.’

When I think of Robert Munsch, I always think of his humor and use of onomatapoeia— ‘Varoooooooooommmm,’ and ‘blam, blam, blam, blam, blam!’

When I think of the Frances books by Russell Hoban I can’t help but think how the voice of Frances comes through in the short rhymes that she makes up when she’s thinking or talking.

No one can write about farm animals quite the way that Doreen Cronin does. And the voice of Steven Kellogg is unique, whether he’s writing about a snake eating the wash or bringing characters to life as in Johnny Appleseed or Pecos Bill.

Voice is the way that only you can write.

Laura Backes says in Writing-World.com— “Voice is like a fingerprint; it makes the story uniquely yours.” Click on the link to read Laura’s post on voice.

Voice is probably the least ‘teachable’ part of writing a picture book. Because it’s not really taught, it’s a part of you already. You just have to ‘find’ it.

The way to do that is to write. Write spontaneously, without thinking about a polished manuscript. Write your first drafts, and don’t go back until you’ve finished. Don’t stop to correct grammar, or to fix story or develop your characters. All of that comes later, with revision. The more you write, the more your ‘voice’ will come through.

Here are a few more books to look at—

THAT BOOK WOMAN by Heather Hensen is told in a narrative, Appalachian voice.
ONE THOUSAND TRACINGS by Lita Judge
HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODIGHT? and other ‘Dinosaur’ books by Jane Yolen
LILLY’S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE by Kevin Henkes

Read more about Finding Your Voice at —

Highlights Foundation blog for children’s writers.

Lee and Low Books

Live Guru  Read More 
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Ten Twisted Tongue Twisters for Writers


If children’s writers only wrote books and stories it still would not be an easy job. But we do that and so much more!

We read—we read children’s books and magazines, books and newsletters about writing for children, author websites, blogs for children’s writers, children’s editor, agent and librarian blogs, and material for research on that picture book we’re writing.

We do market research—we search to find out who publishes books in the genre that we write (and we read those books), we search to find out what publisher is looking for the specific kind of book or story that we’ve written, we search to find out where and how to submit our manuscript to that publisher, we search to find out how to write a good cover letter or query letter, we search to find out what topics are wanted most by editors, teachers and librarians.

We attend meetings with our critique groups, because writing is a solitary job and we need feedback, and encouragement and direction—and understanding. We share each other’s rejections and we rejoice in their acceptances. We keep in touch with other children’s writers by email for the same reason.

We attend programs and events featuring other authors, to learn from their advice and experience, and just because we love children’s books. Sometimes we are the ones sharing our writing experiences. And sometimes we talk to children in schools and libraries about books and writing.

We volunteer at events and conferences with organizations for children’s writers like SCBWI.

We maintain an author website, and have a presence on the web on facebook, twitter and other sites. And we blog.

We also have families, other jobs and other commitments. As much as we love what we do as a writer, sometimes other things take priority for a while. The past month or so has slowed me down just a bit, so I’ve decided to re-post one of my past blogs today. I hope you have fun with it.

Ten Twisted Tongue Twisters for writers

Do you have a problem overcoming overuse of alliteration in your children’s stories? Do character names trip off your tongue like “Tiny Tommy Turtle?” Do your titles rock to the rhythm of “Rita Raccoon and the Rattletrap Rattlesnake”?

Well, here’s your chance to change all that! Take some time out and try these ten twisted tongue twisters and see how fast you reform.

One weary writer whiting out his writing.

Two choosy teachers choose children’s chapter books.

Three free critiques.

Four cool quick facts.

Five fine poets refuse to pursue prose.

Six short stories on a short shelf.

Seven spelling checkers checking spelling errors.

Eight easy-reader writers writing easy-readers.

Nine nice novelists notice no mistakes.

Ten tongue-tied typists typing in italics.

by Peggy Archer, originally published in OUAT magazine
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Pre-Conference Prep—Are You Ready?!

2013 Missouri SCBWI Fall Conference

Ok, so you’ve signed up for that conference for children’s writers, and you’re psyched! One more week—are you ready? You’ve got paper/ pencil/ e-tablet, the conference schedule, directions to the conference facility, someone to watch the kids…. But are you really ready?? Here are five things to do ahead of time to get the most out of your conference experience.

#1—Read! If you haven’t done this already, now is the time to start!

• Read the conference website once again to make sure that you haven’t missed anything. Check the time. Are you in the same time zone? What time is check-in? Make sure to arrive a little before the conference starts to have time to pick up your packet, get something to drink, talk to friends, and find a good seat.

• Read the speaker bios on the conference website, but also read about them online. Check their blogs, tweets, facebook page. You can often find past interviews with the speakers online, too. In the case of an editor or agent, find out what books they’ve represented, what books they like and what they’re looking for.

• Read the speakers’ books—books that they’ve written, edited, represented, or books that they like or recommend. Check them out from your local library or look for them at your local bookstore.

#2—Prepare what to say if you’re asked about yourself as a writer, what you write or what you’re working on.

• Do you write picture books, non-fiction, middle grade novels or novels for teens? What about magazines? Are you a new writer, or have you been working at it for awhile? Decide what to share about your writing self with others you meet.

• What is your current project? Do you have something ready to send out? If so, prepare your ‘elevator pitch,’ in case an editor or agent should ask about it. You have about 60 seconds, or the time it takes to ride an elevator to the next floor, to leave a good first impression of your work, and leave them asking for more!

#3—Be ready to network! You may have an outgoing personality, or perhaps you’re more on the quiet side. But this is the place to meet others like yourself, with the same struggles and goals.

• Talk to others to get the most out of your conference experience. Talk to the person sitting next to you. Talk to people who you don’t know at lunch. You’ll be surprised what you take away from meeting other writers and illustrators. And you may just make some friends for life.

• Wear your nametag throughout the conference. I like to see name tags because I’m not always good at remembering names, and it’s nice to be able to call someone by name later if I forget.

• One of my personal experiences: I met my critique members at an SCBWI conference. We were all looking for a group of ‘serious’ children’s writers, and found that we lived within a 2-hour time span from each other. We agreed to meet in the middle, at a library, and have been meeting every other month since then for ten years. And even though I recently moved out of state, I continue to meet with them through Skype.

• Another personal experience: More than once I sat next to an editor who gave me their business card and invited me to submit my work.

• Yet another personal experience: By talking to others during breaks I met published authors who were not speakers and picked up writing tips from them.

• And finally: I met other struggling writers and learned how they organize their day to find writing time.

#4—Make a list of questions. Think about what you want to learn from the speakers, from your critique, and from the conference in general. Speakers need time to eat, go to the bathroom, re-group and just plain breathe! So be sure to ask your questions during the times allowed, such as at the end of your sessions, during a Q&A panel discussion, or during your critique time.

• First, ask yourself: What are my goals for the conference? What do I want to ‘take home’ with me when the conference is over? Are you looking for writing tips, feed-back on your manuscript, someplace to submit your work, or something else? Then, consider what you need to do beforehand to get what you’re looking for.

• Do you have specific questions that you’d like to have addressed in one of the sessions that you’ll be attending? If so write them down. There is usually time for questions at the end of the talk, or if there’s time, you can ask the speaker immediately following their talk.

• If there is a speaker panel assembled for Q&A, this is the perfect time to ask general questions and get feedback or opinions from all of the speakers.

• If you’re getting a manuscript critique, make a list of questions to ask at your face-to-face time with the person doing your critique. Is there something that you’re not sure about in organizing your manuscript? Do you have questions about places in your writing? Are you wondering about the marketability?

#5—Organize ahead of time! Don’t wait until the last minute to think about what to bring with you. Start getting things ready now!

• Get your note-taking tools together! Bring a pad of paper or two, a portfolio or something to write on (you won’t always be at a desk or table), extra pens or pencils (in case one breaks or runs out of ink, or you lose one), or an electronic device to take notes on. Bring a highlighter to use with handouts, and to highlight your personal schedule on the program that you’ll receive. DO NOT record the speakers presentation without permission, and DO NOT take pictures of power point slide presentations. These are the property of the speaker.

• Bring a shoulder bag or tote bag with lots of room! One with several pockets is ideal, with room for writing tools, books, handouts, wallet, keys and business cards. Leave your purse at home! You’ll want to have hands-free to be able to check out the freebies and handouts, browse books at book sales or displays, pick up your lunch, etc.

• Bring some money along for purchasing books—books by authors and books on craft and marketing. Authors are always happy to autograph their books, and there is usually time set aside for autographing.

• Plan to dress casually. Bring a sweater or jacket in case the room temperature is too cool. On the other side, you might want to layer your clothes in case it’s too warm.

• If you signed up for a critique, bring a copy of your manuscript along, just in case you need to refer to it.
• Bring business cards with your name, website, email and contact information on it to share with others you meet. You can print these inexpensively from your computer at home.

• If you are a published author, bring along business cards, promotional postcards or brochures to have in case someone asks for them. At many conferences there is a table where these can be left out for attendees to pick up. It’s an opportunity for editors, agents, teachers, librarians and readers to find out more about you and your books.

I hope these tips help you to enjoy your next conference even more! I’ll be attending the Missouri SCBWI Fall Conference for children’s writers & Illustrators, Seeds of Success, on September 6-7th. I’m getting organized little by little! I’ve been reading about the speakers who will be there and I’m looking forward to reading their books, which I just brought home from the library.

I hope to see some of you at Seeds of Success next week-end!  Read More 
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Happy New Year’s Resolutions!


I personally think the official new year should start a couple of weeks into January. By then you’ve made your new year’s resolutions and know which ones you’re going to keep. You’ve got your Christmas decorations put away, probably, except for the ones you didn’t see. Holiday visits and parties are over, and you’re ready to settle back into a routine.

As for those new year’s resolutions—how about changing it to ‘new month’s’ resolutions? That way we get to start over, fresh each month! So January is only half over. Here are a few of my resolves that relate to writing.

Read a book, other than a picture book, each month—by making it a resolution I give myself permission to stop everything and read! I read Glen Beck’s THE SNOW ANGEL, and Richard Peck’s A SEASON OF GIFTS. So check that one off for January.

Write at the very least three days a week—this means working on a manuscript of some kind, and does not include blogging or other writing related things. Ok, I’m going to blame this one on the holidays. I’m giving myself a chance to make up the work these last two weeks. I think I can do that. ReviMo is helping me with that, too. (Click on the picture on the right for some great inspiration).

Submit something to a publisher, be it a book manuscript or something to a children’s magazine, once a month—I have two great manuscripts ready to go. I also have quite a few poems polished. So I just have to get them out in the mail. This is a ‘can do.’

Taxes: have them ready by the end of February—that’s a tough one, since although I keep my records and receipts all in one place, I neglect to log them on my computer throughout the year. I am one of those people who is organized by having everything in neat piles, or spaces. It takes me a day or two to organize and categorize everything for the past year! I think I’ll add a resolution—

Organize my writing expenses, mileage, etc. monthly—ok, that can work since this is still January!

Attend at least two events for children’s writers this year—maybe I made this one too easy. I’ve signed up for the Missouri SCBWI program on Learning to Work With the Common Core in March, and I just signed up for the Indiana SCBWI Spring conference in April. I know I’ll also attend the Missouri Fall Conference in September. So this one’s a done-deal.

Work on my website and networking—this one is harder for me, so I’m just going to leave it up as a general reminder. I also want to visit other websites and blogs by children’s writers more often.

I’m a list person. So making a list of new year’s resolutions helps me to stay on track. For some people, this can take a negative turn if it bothers you when you fail at keeping a resolution. Here’s a more positive way to look at it.

1—Make your resolutions things that you will likely be able to accomplish. Make some easier, and some a little more difficult. For example, if I say that I’m going to write every day, I know that won’t happen because there is work to do, and I also like to do things with my family and friends, and I know that sometimes other things will get in the way. So I made it three times a week instead. If I do more, then I really feel good!

2—Reward yourself when you reach your goal. Ice cream, a day out, or a movie night works for me.

3—Don’t let yourself feel down if you don’t accomplish your goal. Every day is a new start! Re-evaluate your goals each month and revise them if you need to—we’re familiar with revision, right!?

4—Instead of looking at how much you didn’t do, look at how much you did do. Maybe I didn’t get my three days of writing in one week, but I did write two days, for a long time!

5—If you reach all of your goals too easily, then you probably need to revise them.

Here are a few quotes to leave you with:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” - Zig Ziglar

Happy writing 2014 to all!  Read More 
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Don’t just wait—Do something!


We do a lot of waiting at this time of year! Waiting, and wishing, and hoping. There’s a lot of waiting going on for writers, too.

Some writers wait for ideas. You don’t get very far when you do this. You need to make the ideas come to you. Ok, it’s snowing outside. There are stories about snowflakes, snowmen, kids making snow forts, snowball fights, sledding, skating (let yourself get off on a tangent), and much more. All ideas that came from the fact that it snowed.

Other writers wait for time to write. First their house has to be spotless. Then they cook, shop, garden, iron, organize their closets, alphabetize their pantry, watch their favorite TV show, facebook their friends that they just drank a cup of coffee. You get the picture. Writers who write make time to write. They get up at 4 am or stay up until 2 am. They write in the car, waiting in line to pick up their kids, or at the doctor’s office. Their house might be clean but it’s usually messy. They wear clothes that don’t have to be ironed, and they cook once a week (sometimes for the whole week at once). They DVR their favorite TV show to watch next summer. If something happens and they miss a day, or a week, they jump right back in.

Sometimes waiting can be a good thing. Like when we’ve written a first draft that we love, then put it aside, and wait. We forget about it for a couple of weeks, then take it out and read it again, for a fresh look. Because then we can see that it’s not as great as we first thought. And we revise. Because good writing is re-writing.

So finally our manuscript is ‘done,’ and we send it out to publishers. And we wait, and hope for acceptance. But waiting doesn’t mean that we can’t do something else in the meantime. Ok, maybe we’ll celebrate with a piece of chocolate first, or make the bed. But get ready, and start something new! Pick another idea from things going on around you, or from memories. Make it fresh. How will it start? Who is it about? Where will it go?

Woo-hoo! Our manuscript is accepted! And with it comes—more waiting. Waiting for the contract. Waiting for the editor to send her revision requests. Waiting for an illustrator (in the case of a picture book). Waiting to see their sketches and color prints. Waiting for the cover art, and finally the finished book. Done!

But wait! There’s more. We wait for the reviews, and hope that they’re good. We wait to get our books in the mail. We wait to see it in the stores and libraries, and hope that kids (and parents) like it.

Editors (and agents) wait for us, too. They wait for that manuscript that will make them laugh or cry, and that they just can’t put down. They encourage us when they tell us what they’re looking for, on the web or at conferences. And they help us with revisions when we’re lucky enough to have our manuscript accepted.

Like the season we’re in now, we need to do something while we wait. Whether it’s Christmas or another holiday that you celebrate this season, we all do things while we wait for the day to arrive. We decorate our homes, sing carols and songs, light candles, and do things for others.

Writers write new stories, blog, write, read, write, go to critique groups, celebrate children’s books, write…. and wait.

So Happy ‘Waiting’ Times to you! And Happy Stories to all!  Read More 
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