12 x 12 new banner

It’s time to giveaway November’s prize! November’s winner gets to choose between two amazing courses: The Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions or How Make Money as a Writer.

And the lucky winner is…

DANI DUCK!!

Congrats! Please contact me at JulieFHedlund (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize.

Use one of your PiBoIdMo ideas and crank out that December draft! Write those drafts and revise, revise, revise for your chance to win December’s prize.

Categories: 12 x 12, Giveaway

Share

Marcie ColleenI am always excited to introduce our monthly featured authors, but this month, I am jumping-out-of-my-skin excited. Why? Because today I get to bring you one of my first and best writing friends. Marcie Colleen began 12 x 12 in its inaugural year in 2012. She first appeared on my blog in March, 2012 as part of the Tuesday 12 x 12 series spotlighting pre-published authors. She came on again in July, 2013 in the “How I Got My Agent” series. And today, she appears once more, this time as an author with multiple book contracts from major publishing houses.

November was a big month for Marcie. First, Scholastic announced their acquisition of THE ADVENTURE OF THE PENGUINAUT (which by the way was her FIRST 12 x 12 PB draft in January, 2012!!). And if that wasn’t enough, her book LOVE, TRIANGLE (Harper Collins, Balzer & Bray) was sold at auction in a two-book deal with FIVE editors vying for the deal! Her story inspired ME so much I figured it couldn’t fail to inspire all of you – especially those of you who are “just writers.” PLUS, one lucky 12 x 12 participant will win a picture book critique from Marcie at the end of the month. So please help me give the warmest of welcomes to my dear friend and now PUBLISHED author, Marcie Colleen!

*squeal of a live microphone*

Ahem, ahem. Is this thing on?

Hi, fellow 12x12ers!

I am so glad that Julie asked me to be the 12×12 December Featured Author because I have a little Public Service Announcement that I would like to make.

December can be a fun, festive time. It’s a time of celebration as we look at the achievements of this past year. Yet we also look to a crisp clean slate labeled “2015” which is full of possibility.

But if you are even a tad insecure about your journey to be a picture book writer, this time of year can be unnerving.

You know what I am talking about. You are at some nice holiday gathering and the following scene happens…

RANDOM PARTY GUEST:                   What do you do?

YOU:                                                      I am a picture book writer.

RANDOM PARTY GUEST:                   Oh, do you illustrate?

YOU:                                                      No. I’m just a writer. (Sheepishly gulp your wine)

(end scene)

Painful, right? Can you relate?

Recently, Publisher’s Weekly ran a story about a debut picture book which sold for six figures in an eight house auction. Wowee! Holy smokes, right??

As writers, we need to allow stories like this to give us hope. However, the conversation on 12×12’s Facebook page quickly turned to “Well, it’s an author-illustrator project. If only I could draw.” And the sad trombone played as the lowly “just writers” sheepishly hung their heads and opened a bottle of wine.

This year I am making it my personal mission to end the “just a writer” response. Let’s not tolerate this talk moving into 2015.

Instead, I would like to provide you with a new script I have written. It’s my little holiday gift to you. Enjoy.

RANDOM PARTY GUEST:                   What do you do?

YOU:                                                      I am a picture book writer.

RANDOM PARTY GUEST:                   Oh, do you illustrate?

YOU:                                                      No. I am a writer. Words are my paint. I am a wordsmith. I dabble in puns like Tammi Sauer. I use brushstrokes of rhyme like Lori Degman.

I build worlds with various combinations of only 26 letters, like Aaron Reynolds, Mac Barnett and Tara Lazar.

I sometimes twist familiar worlds with my own imagination to create something fresh and new like Corey Rosen Schwartz or Jon Scieszka.

With only black text I can conjure a character so life-like they jump right off the page and into the hearts of those who read it. Like Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Susanna Leonard Hill and Doreen Cronin.

And on that same white paper, with the Times New Roman text, I can inspire like Alexis O’Neill, explore like Kate Messner, comfort like Eileen Spinelli, quiet like Deborah Underwood, tug at the heart strings like Ame Dyckman, and have kids and parents alike rolling on the floor like Michael Ian Black.

After all, BJ Novak helped us all see the power and value in words when he did all of this in The Book with No Pictures.

My 300-500 words in 12 point font on white can sell in a multi-house auction with comparable money to an author-illustrator’s deal.

Even without illustrations. Even if I am a debut. Like Marcie Colleen’s Love, Triangle that had a five house auction and ended up with a very nice two book deal from HarperCollins.

To answer your question, I do not illustrate. My words inspire illustrations. I come from a long tradition of storytellers.

I am a picture book writer.

(end scene)

Got it?

Now, all of my lovely former “just writers,” go celebrate. You’ve done well. Finish 2014 strong and see you in the New Year. Raise that glass of wine to those who have gone before you and those you will someday join. No more sheepish gulping.

*drops mic*

Bio:

Marcie Colleen is proud to be just a picture book writer. She is an inaugural member of 12×12 and her debut, The Adventure of the Penguinaut (Scholastic, 2016), was her January manuscript in 2012. This past November, Marcie sold Love, Triangle in a five house auction to Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins as part of a two book deal. Marcie is represented by Susan Hawk/The Bent Agency. She lives in Brooklyn, NYC with her husband—Lego artist Jonathan Lopes—and their mischievous sock monkey. To learn more, visit her at www.thisismarciecolleen.com or follow her at @MarcieColleen1.

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Agents, Authors, Friendship, Giveaway, Goals, Guest Blogging, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Publishing, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Share

12 x 12 new banner

How DID we make it all the way through November already? As much as I love the holiday season, I’m always a little sad when the end of the 12 x 12 year is nigh. Another year of writing, bonding, supporting, and communing ready to go on the books. But WAIT! We have one more month to go, and it’s going to be a great one, starting with December’s featured author (be sure to come back tomorrow for some special inspiration).

Despite having announced that I did not plan to write any new drafts for the remainder of the year, one of my PiBoIdMo ideas grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. I wrote a complete draft on the plane to London, where I went to conduct research for a different book. Between coming up with 30 ideas for PiBoIdMo, writing a draft of one of them, completing a major revision on one of my earlier manuscripts and enjoying a hugely productive week of book research in London, I think November was my most productive writing month in 2014 (so far)!

How about you? Did you get your draft or revision done this month? Let us know in the comments and in the Rafflecopter. Remember one lucky 12 x 12 member will win their choice of The Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions or How to Make Money as an Writer. Note: There is a Cyber-Monday sale on both of these courses underway at the moment that will expire at the same time as the Rafflecopter. If you decide to purchase either to get the deal and then you win, you’ll get a full refund. :-)

Here is what you need to do to check in for a chance to win your choice of:

The Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions or How to Make Money as a Writer

  1. See the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post that says “Ultimate Guide to Picture Book Submissions” at the top.
  2. Click on the “Comment on the Featured Post” button. It will reveal the task, which is to comment on the featured blog post. Commenting on the featured post is mandatory and gets you one point even if you didn’t complete a draft in November. If you haven’t yet commented, click here to do so. Then you click ENTER on that option in Rafflecopter, which will then open the next two options.
  3. Click on the “Wrote a PB Manuscript” button. This will ask if you completed a PB draft in November. If you did, click ENTER, if you did not, move on to the next step.
  4. Click on the last “Revised a PB Manuscript” button. This will ask if you revised a PB in November. If you did, click ENTER. If not, move on to the next step.
  5. Submit your entry. Rafflecopter will track your points.

You have until midnight Eastern on December 1st to enter your results. Rafflecopter will draw a winner and I’ll announce it on the blog on December 2nd.

Keep on writing!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: 12 x 12, Giveaway, Goals, PiBoIdMo, Travel, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Share

Kid Lit for HaitiLater today, I am jetting off to London for book research, but before I go, I want to tell you about a wonderful organization started by the father of a dear friend and fellow author, Kim Tomsic. Kim lives here in Boulder and is one of the most generous spirits I know, and she has worked long and hard to put together this fabulous auction for kidlit authors. Needless to say I didn’t hesitate to contribute a couple of items, and I hope you will all consider bidding and/or donating to this wonderful organization. I’ve included information about the charity and the auction verbatim from Kim since time is short. There is a LOT more information on her blog if you are interested. Happy bidding! :-)

About the charity (from Kim)

My father started this charity after he helped build a community center in 2009/2010 in Pignon, Haiti (a community with a water poverty index even lower than that of Calcutta, India). After he built the community center, he continued volunteering in Haiti and couldn’t help but notice the lack of medical care—one hospital he visited had a total of four doctors for the entire city. It didn’t take long for my dad to have his big idea—to form a charity to provide scholarships for Haitian students who want to go to medical school to become a doctor or nurse.

The terms of the scholarships we provide for the Haitian students require the student to remain in and work in Haiti for a minimum of five years upon graduation. We hope this will be a step in helping Haiti become a self-sustaining nation. Our scholarship students were hand selected from a pool of bright individuals who had no funds for school, because they’d lost either one or both parent in the 2011 earthquake; or they come from a family with a monthly income of less than $30/month (if you’d like to learn more about Christila—a young lady who my Colorado student-volunteers support—click here)

What is Kid-Lit for Haiti?

Kid Lit for Haiti is an online auction found at www.kimscritiquingcorner.blogspot.com. The auction features talent donated by authors, illustrators, editors, art directors, and agents.  100% of the proceeds goes toward scholarships for the students supported by the 501c3 Nonprofit organization called The Friends of HaitiInc.

What kinds of things are included?

Manuscript critiques, Mentorships, Signed Books, Advanced reader copy books, Portfolio reviews, Book club set, Social Media Consultation, Membership in 12×12, and access to Julie’s online course: How to Make Money as a Writer.

Who is participating?

Melissa Manlove, Editor from Chronicle Children’s Books—manuscript critique (2000 words = up to five of your picture books critiqued!!!)

Jennifer Rofé, Agent from Andrea Brown Literary Agency (ABLA)—Five Page PB, MG or YA critique

Denise Vega,award-winning author/teacher/mentor— picture book critique

Denise Vega, awardwinning author/teacher/mentor—critique of first fifteen pages of YA or MG

Denise Vega, award-winning author/teacher/mentor—set of 8 books to use for book club or classroom

Denise Vega, award-winning author/teacher/mentor—set of four novels in hard coverMelissa Manlove, Editor from Chronicle Children’s Books—manuscript critique (2000 words = up to five of your picture books critiqued!!!)

Jennifer Rofé, Agent from Andrea Brown Literary Agency (ABLA)—Five Page PB, MG or YA critique

Denise Vega,award-winning author/teacher/mentor— picture book critique

Denise Vega, awardwinning author/teacher/mentor—critique of first fifteen pages of YA or MG

Denise Vega, award-winning author/teacher/mentor—set of 8 books to use for book club or classroom

Denise Vega, award-winning author/teacher/mentor—set of four novels in hard cover

Tricia Lawrence, Agent at Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA)—Fifteen page MG or YA critique

Julie Hedlund,author/creator/social media guru—offering 2015 Silver membership in 12×12

Julie Hedlund,author/creator/social-media guru—course How to Make Money as a Writer

Kate Messner, award-winning writer/teacher/TED talk celeb—signed ARCs (advanced reader copy) ofboth of her Jan. 2015 publications

Dan Lazar, Agent at Writers House— critique of three chapters (up to fifty pages!)

Lindsay Eland, award-winning author, RA for the RMC SCBWI, mentor—offering critique

Stephen Mooser (!!!!),award-winning author and co-founder of the SCBWI—signed book

Stephen Mooser (!!!),award-winning author and co-founder of the SCBWI—critique

Ingrid Law, Newbery Honor winning author—offering two signed books

Matt de la Peña, award-winning author—offering two signed books

Giuseppe Castellano, Art Director at Penguin Random House, award winning illustrator, SCBWI mentor –Giuseppe is offering an illustrator’s portfolio review

Giuseppe Castellano, Art Director at Penguin Random House, award winning illustrator, SCBWI –he is also offering an illustrator mentorship in which he will work with an illustrator to bring one illustration from sketch to final–offering in-depth critiques at each stage (via email or on-line face-to-face platform.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi, critically acclaimed illustrator, and now author-illustrator–signed and doodled copy of any book she has illustrated PLUS social media platform critique

Six Separate Critiques on the first 10 pages of your PB, MG, or YA Manuscript

Help spread the word and WIN signed books in the process!

Please support #KidLitForHaiti by sharing on Twitter or Facebook  (you can find a share-icon button at the end of the blogpost.) Then place a comment at www.KimsCritiquingCorner.Blogspot.Com indicating where you shared–ONE LUCKY WINNER will receive some fabulous SIGNED Books!!! Help us spread the word!

How to bid:

See Kim’s blog

When does the auction open and close?

The auction is now open! Items have varying closing dates. Please check each item for respective closing date (ranging from December 11, 2014 to December 16, 2014).

Tell me more about the charity Kid-Lit for Haiti supports

Visit: www.kimscritiquingcorner.blogspot.com for the full details.

Categories: Children's Books, Picture Books, Publishing, Writing · Tags: , , ,

Share

12 x 12 Member L. Michelle Quraishi

Believe it or not folks, this is our last Tuesday 12 x 12 post for 2014, and what a great one to capture the spirit of our community as we roll from 2014 into 2015. Today’s author, L. Michelle Quraishi, brought tears to my eyes because I saw myself in every part of her journey. I suspect all of you will see yourselves too. Dreams deferred, crushed. Climbing out of the rubble to take hold of them again. (Side note: WHY do so many people get clobbered in college, at the very time teachers should be encouraging young writers the most – UGH!). Then of course, once free of the rubble, a community stretches out its hands. Please welcome L. Michelle Quraishi!

I always thought that what I needed in order to write was an audience. So much writing in me never makes it onto the page unless there’s someone out there waiting to read it. I write MORE when I have a deadline connected to a real person. I joined 12 x 12 because it offered readers and deadlines—a ready-made audience to stand-in for the nurturing agent and editors I have yet to meet.

As a child, finding an audience was easy. My mom typed my stories before I could write them myself, on a real old-fashioned clackety-clack.

© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My teachers glowed and encouraged when I set pages in their hands. My great-grandmas wrote back to every letter I ever sent them, letters that survived fire and flood, still tied up in bundles in my garage. By the time I was old enough to get in trouble for speckling my dad’s typewriter with white-out (I’ve always loved revising ;-) ), Creative Writing classes and literary journals gave me an outlet and an audience.

And then came college. I loved college, but nobody cared about my writing anymore. I applied and was accepted to the Creative Writing Department, which included the remote but enticing possibility of working with Toni Morrison, an opportunity lost that I’ll never cease to regret. Nothing in my young life as a writer had prepared me to swim with the big fish, and a freshman semester with a scathing graduate student in fiction seminar sent my writing voice scuttling to hide under a rock. I dropped out of Creative Writing and instead majored in English with a focus on children’s literature, to spend three years reading and writing about the children’s books I treasured.

De grote vissen eten de kleine, Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569)

De grote vissen eten de kleine, Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569)

I never stopped writing, but my failure to connect to an audience in college put Maleficent’s enchantment on my writing ambition, cursing it to a deep sleep. Ten years of my young adulthood were dedicated to writing about education, as I struggled with the dilemmas urban teachers face in underfunded schools, and took solace in my classroom library of picture books.

 

Louis Sußmann-Hellborn (1828- 1908): Dornröschen - Mutter Erde

Louis Sußmann-Hellborn (1828- 1908): Dornröschen – Mutter Erde

I stopped teaching to stay home with my children, writing in scraps and corners of time stolen from each day. Then, when my youngest turned two, I could see the time looming when the financial contribution I’d been making to our family—childrearing—would have to be replaced with something else. And at that moment in 2012, I determined that the something else would be my writing. Somehow, I would learn to make my way as a writer in the world again. It was my daughter’s promise to grow up that rousted my ambition from sleep.

I went to the Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference at Book Passage, three years in a row. There I learned about SCBWI, and have attended every local event since. Heard about Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo, where I read about 12 x 12, and joined this year for the first time. All along I thought that it was audience I needed. Turns out, what I really needed was community.

I’ve been mostly quiet here in 12 x 12, and feel pretty shy about sending this little essay to Kelli. But I also get pretty choked up when I think about how 12 x 12 has transformed and enlivened my writing life since I joined. I wanted to share my gratitude for those badges, the “Well, done, Michelle,” the thoughtful feedback on 250 words, Query Corner and Pitch Perfect, and the support of my online critique group.

Long ago, I locked myself into a tower where my writing dreams withered. And I rescued myself, too. All it took was putting my hand on the doorknob, and turning it. But when I opened the door, all of you folks at 12 x 12 were right there waiting for me, and you welcomed me as if I already belonged. Thank you.

Born to a Pakistani father and American mother in California, L. Michelle Quraishi was raised in Half Moon Bay, CA, on a balanced diet of donuts and liverwurst, Madeleine L’Engle, and sitar music. She now lives in Walnut Creek, finding inspiration for her books in goddess lore, brain science, animal behavior, her children, calculus and kung fu. Inspired by Julie Hedlund’s How to Make Money as a Writer course, she’s just started work on her author website. You can also find her on Twitter or check out research for her new novel about Baba Yaga in middle school on Pinterest. When she’s not busy making up stories, Michelle blogs at amomnextdoor.wordpress.com, folds origami, collects rainwater in jars, pickles green beans and keeps knives in dangerous places.

 

Categories: 12 x 12, Childhood, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

GrinchThe subtitle of this post could be, “Everything I know about life I learned from Dr. Seuss.”

But in particular, I’ve had this verse from THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS running through my head today. In this scene, the Grinch is standing with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, puzzling.

It came without ribbons.

It came without tags.

It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled ’til his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. 

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.

What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Allow me to explain. See, I subscribe to philosophy that if you ask people for something, you should give something in return. Particularly when it comes to online interaction, social media, etc. When I launched each of my books, I asked people to post reviews in various places. In exchange, I entered everyone into a raffle to win prizes of various kinds.

I know many, if not most, of those same people would have provided reviews even without anything in return, but it made ME feel better to show my appreciation in a tangible way.

This week, I announced to the members of the 12 x 12 picture book writing challenge that wanted to offer four scholarships to the challenge in 2015 — two for writers facing financial need and two for writers coming from racial, ethnic, religious, or other cultures that are underrepresented in children’s literature. I asked them to donate to the cause. Normally I would put together a big campaign with prizes and other benefits, but it’s mid-November and I simply didn’t have time.

All four scholarships were completely funded within 36 hours! No huge social media campaign. No prizes. No external rewards whatsoever. Just a couple of emails and internal Facebook group posts and people stepped forward.

Now I’ve always known 12 x 12 (and kidlit folks in general) are generous and supportive. But the speed with which this happened, no questions asked, floored me. Needless to say I am incredibly grateful to be a part of such a community. So here is a tribute to “The greatest writing community on earth.”

It came without agents.

It came without books.

It came without editors, pitches or hooks.

The leader allowed the truth to take wing.

Goodness, she thought, isn’t tied to a string.

Goodness, she knew, is the heart of the thing.

Not my best work, but the sentiment is there. :-)

THANK YOU to all 12 x 12 members – those who were able to contribute and those who contribute in hundreds of countless ways every day – all of which make a difference.

You have warmed the cockles of this girl’s heart. <3

 

 

Categories: 12 x 12, Charity, Friendship, Picture Books · Tags: , , , , ,

Share

12 x 12 new banner

Kelli here. Beat me with a wet noodle for not posting this earlier! I’m so sorry, but prizes are better late than never right?! Our October Featured Author, Laura Gehl, is giving away a picture book critique to one lucky 12 x 12 member.

And the lucky winner is…

DEBBIE AUSTIN

Congrats! Please contact me at JulieFHedlund (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize.

Alright, show your thanks for all the picture book ideas in your head and write at least one of them down this month! Write those drafts and revise, revise, revise for your chance to win November’s prize.

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Giveaway · Tags: , , ,

Share

12 x 12 Member Lisa Venditelli KarmelWOW did the story from today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author, Lisa Venditelli Karmel, resonate with me! I, too, have suffered the pain of seeing one of MY books published by someone else – more than once in fact. What kept me going were encouraging words from my writer friends and the fact that inspiration for new ideas is all around. The fact that the 12 x 12 community (and of course the lovely Renee LaTulippe) could do the same for someone else is SO gratifying. This is what it’s all about folks! Please help me welcome Lisa.

I am an artist and an author/illustrator. I’ve been working hard the last couple of years taking classes, joining SCBWI, critique groups, and 12 x12. I felt that I was making steady progress albeit slow at times. I have several stories in progress. One story I thought was really unique and humorous. People in the biz told me so, but I had to work more on the writing. So that is what I was doing.

Then one day a friend wrote me an email asking if it was me they should congratulate. It sounded like my story was getting published. Huh?! My stomach spun and flipped. Was someone trying to get a hold of me? Then my stomach sank like a rock. Someone else was getting “MY STORY!” published. I was devastated. I paced. I shouted. I cried. What can I say? I’m Italian. With the support of my writer friends I learned it has happened to others. You hear everything people have to say to make you feel better – proves it’s a great idea- it means you are on the right track-you politely say “thank you”. But you still hurt. Do you really believe it? At least not right away. You know the expression “you had to kill your darling”? Well I had to bury the whole family.

Luckily, through 12 x 12 and Julie’s testimonial, I had just signed up for Renee LaTullipe’s online class, the Lyrical Language Lab. It started about a week after that happened. The class got me to busily focus on other things and move on. I have learned SO much from Renee. She is a very giving teacher. Her feedback is spot on and plentiful. The course was challenging at times for me and I was working long hours at it. But I can already see the improvement in my writing. I am not so afraid of the rhyme and it has definitely improved my prose. I may not participate in all the “goodies” 12 x 12 has to offer, but it has been a wealth of information, encouragement and guidance through the publishing world.Illustration by Lisa Venditelli Karmel

I guess I’m the eternal optimist. I did hear that the most successful people tend to be optimists because they don’t give up. So I’m hopeful about that. The expressions “shake it off” and “rub dirt in it” really do have some validity. I still can’t even look at the title of my old story without my stomach sinking a bit, but it is a little less painful every time. I am starting to believe all the kind, encouraging support my friends gave me and I thank them. Most importantly, I am still working and you should too!

Lisa Venditelli Karmel is an unpublished author/illustrator and fine artist. She is a part-time professor of Fine Art. She went to RISD for her undergrad, but got away from illustration and stories until the last few years. She received a Masters of Fine Art at Mills College and has shown in many galleries across the country. Having her boys and sharing books with them rekindled her love for picture books, especially humorous ones. You can visit her website and blog at LisaVenditelliKarmel.com. Her fine art can be viewed at Lisavenditelli.com.

Categories: 12 x 12, Books, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Share

12 X 12 Member Kaye Baillie I am delighted to bring you another installment of the “How I Got My Agent” series focused on picture book authors. It’s especially rewarding when these stories come about as a result of 12 x 12 submissions. AND, I adore Kaye Baillie’s description of Liza Fleissig and Ginger Harris as having a “zesty attitude.” Truer words might never have been spoken. :-) Please welcome Kaye!

How long had you been writing before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

In 1998 I’d had enough of being a personal assistant. I decided that what I really wanted to do was write for children so I began a Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing. My favorite subject was definitely writing for children. Towards the end of that year I got married. Then early the next year we moved house and by the end of the year had our first daughter. In 2002 our second daughter was born and I’d have to say, I struggled to get my Diploma finished which I finally did in 2005 via distance education.

I was fortunate that in 2001 and 2004 I had two educational leveled readers published which are still selling to this day. But I really wanted a trade book published. I dabbled with stories and submissions for many years and have to admit I wasn’t really putting in the effort required so had no success. In 2011 I decided to get serious. I began entering competitions, writing more and submitting to publishers more often, going to workshops and seminars and trying to immerse myself in the children’s book world. I was getting some results of highly commended or first prize in competitions and favorable feedback from some Australian publishers for my picture book submissions.

Then in 2013 I discovered a Writer’s Digest Webinar. Hmmm, access to an agent I thought. This could be a good direction as submitting directly to publishers is proving to be unsuccessful. The Webinar was on picture books and the agent running the Webinar would critique our submissions. Well I was shocked when the Agent replied how much she loved my story and would I consider reworking the ending and resubmitting to her. Absolutely! I did this and waited, and waited and waited. She kept in touch with me, each time saying that she would be discussing my story at the next staff meeting.

This went on for months with me nudging in between. In February 2014 I told the Agent that I would now like to submit to agents through Julie’s 12×12. In early April the Agent told me that she would not take on a new author but that one of the other agents in the agency would like to talk to me. I was excited again although still waited to speak to the next agent. Now we were into April. I decided to submit to Ginger Harris of Liza Royce the same story that the Agent had liked. Two things happened at once. The earlier Agent came back to me with an offer of representation AND Ginger had also made an offer.

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

The information on the 12×12 site each month is terrific. I read all links about the agents and Google them also. I also look at the agents through Twitter and try to find out as much as I can about what books they have represented and sold.

The dreaded questions: How many queries? How many rejections?

I ducked across to my Excel spreadsheet and would say that over a four year period, I submitted 9 different manuscripts to publishers in Australia, which totaled about 70 queries. Each of the 9 stories would usually be sent to the same list of publishers. Most of the rejections were standard form letters with only several offering encouraging feedback. After receiving encouragement from the Agent through Writer’s Digest, this is when I really focused on finding an Agent instead of the submission process I had been taking.

Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books?

Not really. I have had discussions with three agents in the last few weeks and two of them wanted to see more of my picture books. There was no mention of other genres.

How did you know your agent was “the one”?

Well, to continue on from what I said above, I had the unexpected dilemma about what to do with two offers at the same time. My gut was telling me to go with Ginger and Liza. I was impressed with their swift offer of representation, their friendly style and zesty attitude. We discussed who might be a good publishing fit for my story and I straight away felt like I would be in good hands. I also felt that Liza Royce Agency would be accessible and that we would have regular communications.

If 12×12 helped you in any way during your agent search/development of craft, can you tell us how?

12×12 gives incredible background information on top agents, who we are fortunate to have an opportunity to submit to. I think this is a golden opportunity for authors. Being able to choose between agents each month is not only a privilege, but also is a great learning device that made me think about the differences within agencies and between agents. It is so important to find the right fit and to understand what an agent is looking for. Being able to read discussions and posts from other members leads to wonderful opportunities where we can follow links on craft development. 12×12 really showed me what is possible and then it was up to me to follow those leads.

Has your writing process changed at all since signing with an agent?

As I have only just signed it is hard to say, but I am thinking about my story which the Agent chose to represent and am now using that as a benchmark for future work. I definitely feel that I have to work more solidly and regularly and that ‘Children’s author’ is my actual profession. I will also be preparing to meet deadlines and to put my writing first rather than allowing ‘daily grind’ duties to take over my day.

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

I would say that 12×12 is a glowing opportunity. There is support, shared knowledge and opportunity for authors. Through 12×12 you will learn about agents that you may not have known about (which is what happened to me.) I would also say to learn about pitches and queries. I don’t think they are as complicated as I had thought and once you have them under control, they are easier to send out.

Do you think your platform (blog, social media) helped you find your agent?

Not really. I think it’s in the query and the manuscript. I have used Twitter for a few years and still like it but it did not play a part in me finding an agent. I have a website which I think is a good thing to showcase what you’ve done. Facebook is a nice way to communicate with peers but I don’t think it’s helpful to find an agent. I don’t blog.

Tell us something that is on your “bucket list.” Something you’ve dreamed of doing all your life but have yet to accomplish.

Probably finding the right hairstyle is something I’ve been trying to achieve my whole life and have failed. Something that I have dreamed of doing for many years though is taking a long long train trip across beautiful country-sides and having my own private compartment and I get to dine in the old style dining carriage. I would gaze and write and sip fine wines.

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

I am working on a picture book about one aspect of World War I and I have just come up with a cute idea for another picture book. I seem to have two stories on the go lately as I want to keep up with the 12×12 challenge. I also will be fine tuning my manuscript for Liza Royce agency so they can start submitting – gosh, can hardly believe I’m saying that.

I’m also off to the SCBWI conference in Sydney in July. One of the master-classes I’m taking is run by Connie Hsu of Roaring Brooks.

 

 

 

Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, Authors, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Queries, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Share
Signing at Boulder Bookstore!

Signing at Boulder Bookstore!

This week was filled with the stuff of dreams. Signing books in some of my favorite stores, reading MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN to children of all ages, “playing” with illustrator Susan Eaddy and showing her around Boulder/Denver, and being surrounded by friends and loved ones. Most of all, I am grateful I was able to share all of this with my children.

Quotes on Gratitude

“Today I choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills my heart, the peace that rests within my spirit, and the voice of hope that says… all things are possible.” — Unknown

“There is no joy without gratitude.” — Brene Brown

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Gratitude list for the week ending November 8

  1. Susan and I got to present and/or sign books at four of my favorite local bookstores — The Tattered Cover, The Book Bar, The Boulder Bookstore, and The Bookies! You can pick up signed copies of both MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN and A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS at all of these stores. Go Indies!!
  2. Being able to share my home and town with Susan in exchange for the wonderful time she showed me in
    Look Mom, Face Out!

    Look Mom, Face Out!

    Nashville

  3. GOOD NEWS on a new manuscript! Much excitement and the thrill of possibility
  4. My daughter knocked her singing solo out of the park at the 6th grade choir performance. So proud!
  5. So many friends and family came to our signings and events – an honor
  6. Doing a school visit with one of my in-person critique partner’s fourth grade class! She’s an amazing teacher and writer!!
  7. Boulder put on its best in terms of weather – gorgeous all week
  8. Dinner at Ten Ten Brasserie
  9. Seldom do I engage in retail therapy, but since I was showing Susan around… :-) I found a few great things for myself.
  10. The right to vote

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Children's Books, Family, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, My Love For You Is The Sun, Picture Books, Poetry, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share
Powered by WishList Member - Membership Site Software