12 X 12 Member Miranda PaulI am so delighted to introduce you to my friend AND our June 12 x 12 featured author – Miranda Paul.

In many ways Miranda and I have “grown up” together in the picture book world, beginning with joining communities, searching for and securing agents (Miranda with Karen Grencik and me with Erzsi Deak), then taking on leadership roles by forming writing communities (Miranda with Rate Your Story and me with 12 x 12).

We are both originally from the Midwest (Miranda from Wisconsin and me from Michigan), share a passion for both writing and helping other writers, and enjoy sneaking contraband wine into the hotel during conferences. 🙂

But Miranda and I are also different. How? Well, that is the focus of Miranda’s post, probably the first where someone has advised you NOT to think about writing or to think of yourself always as a writer.

And, with the welcome advent of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, I’ve found myself applauding the movement while also worrying a little — what can a white, blond, American woman from the Midwest contribute to this discussion/community? Luckily, Miranda has answers. Read on folks!

One lucky 12 x 12 participant this month will win:

They can have an RYS PRO free membership for the rest of 2014  (= 12 anytime submissions for a free critique rating plus access to monthly editor/agent interviews and other exclusive Bonus emails)

OR one SPEEDPASS  (A rating + comments on any manuscript under 2,000 words – within 7 days or less!)

OR 1 full MS critique by Miranda, for PBs only, under 2,000 words

Lucky you guys!! 🙂

The Bigger Picture: Beyond Writing

Last fall I attended a retreat, to work on a picture book biography of an influential American poet. I split the time between the beautiful nature trails and my cozy cabin, where there was a shared journal in which I could leave a message for future visitors.

I waited until the last morning to write anything in the book. I wanted what I wrote to be true to my voice and what I believed about writing, and helpful to other writers.

This is part of what I wrote:

beware

of being

only

a writer.

Before you scream, “ONLY a writer?!” let me explain.

In the quest to get published, we often focus on “being only a writer.” We hope to quit our non-writing jobs. We back away from non-writing community projects we’ve volunteered for in the past. Sometimes we neglect our families or non-writer friends. We invest time, energy, and money in becoming “official” writers. (And we spend too much time pondering if we’re qualified to put that title on our business cards.) We shamelessly self-promote our books, sometimes to the point of embarrassment or annoyance, even though we claim that we don’t want to.

Here’s the thing: You’re a writer.

But…what else are you?

You are unique.
More than one thing should define you.

We all are unique.
More than one thing should define us.

Simply put, we’re…diverse.

comp_ling_and_tingThe generation of kids growing up right now is more diverse than the books and lifestyles we expose them to in literature and media. They don’t define themselves into single categories like grown-ups tend to, or aspire to be only one thing—at least, not until our culture prompts them to figure out where they fit.

As a member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign team, I’ve been asked versions of these questions a lot lately:

“As a white writer, what can I do about the diversity gap?”
“Should/can white writers even write diverse books?”

Let’s study those questions. They both involve a preset notion that writing is the only way to contribute. To which I say:

beware

of being

only

a writer

Don’t forget that we are also educators, parents, or librarians. We are book readers, book buyers, and book promoters. Some of us are editors, agents, or book sellers. We might be SCBWI volunteers, committee members, organization leaders, and event coordinators. We aren’t “only” one thing. And that’s great!

We have immense power to balance the scales and get all kinds of books into children’s hands. That power begins with our role as listeners. Listening helps us understand and support children and adults who have had diverse experiences. As supporters, we become good role models and foster new relationships. Our networks and groups begin to be more diversely integrated. As groups, we become doers, or change-makers.

We can support an underrepresented writer by inviting her to speak on a panel or visit a school. We can place free copies of already-published diverse books on park benches or pull books from the isolated “multicultural” section and face them out more visible locations. We can create promotional tools, like this:

Grace Lin Diversity Cheat Sheet

Examples of ways in which we can promote diverse books and authors include recommending titles or creating graphics that can be printed and displayed online or in bookstores. The strategy is to try not to separate or isolate “diverse” books from just “books.” Credits: Miranda Paul, #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, and Grace Lin (Full “Cheat Sheet for Selling Diversity” is available for download here.)

The many things we do—beyond writing—shape us as writers. Don’t forget to live first, write second!

(And if you do decide to write a “diverse” book, I encourage you read this article.) comp_big_red_lollipop

One of the jacket flaps for my 2015 books lists that I like to garden, swim, and scuba dive. The other mentions my zest for recycling and rummage sales, and some of the projects I’ve worked on while traveling internationally. They’re purposefully not about me as a writer. Think about it—what kid wants to flip to the back and read,

The author is an agented writer. She writes every day. When she’s not writing a book, she’s reading her kids’ book aloud at schools, promoting her book, or blogging about writing and helping other authors become writers.

Go out and celebrate the diversity in your own life and in others’. Do things that you love to do. Try a few things you’re afraid of. Take yourself out of your comfort zone. Talk less, listen more. Be passionate, be generous, be adventurous, make a difference.

Whatever you do when you’re not writing—it matters.

Miranda Paul credits her productivity to a lack of cable TV and smart phone, as well as easy access to an “Internet OFF” button. She has lived in and/or traveled through more than a dozen countries, including The Gambia, where she met the subject of her debut picture book, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of The Gambia (Lerner/Millbrook, 2015). Over the past fifteen years she has worked a number of paid and volunteer jobs ranging from International Student Coordinator to elementary school Spanish teacher to poop-scooping zookeeper. She loves learning rules, then breaking some, and helping other writers do the same. Visit her at www.MirandaPaul.com, http://mirandapaulbooks.blogspot.com, or http://www.RateYourStory.org. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is hosted at www.diversebooks.org.

 

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

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195 Comments

  1. I knew I’d love learning more about Miranda! I was so excited hearing about #WeNeedDiverseBooks on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday and following some of the Twitter happenings and blog posts.

    Thanks, Julie and Miranda, for sharing fun facts about yourselves and your wisdom!

    • I’m responding quickly because I have to go fly kites with the kids! Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Don’t know about wisdom, but honesty—for sure! 🙂

  2. Wow – great post and a great take on the topic.

  3. MickiGinsberg

    Thanks, Miranda, for your illuminating post and for showing us ways to incorporate diversity in our books. Definitely worth printing out. (I did!).

    • Wow, I got printed! (That’s like the biggest compliment an article-writer can get.) So glad to hear it was of worth to you, because that’s the goal.

  4. jdewdropsofink

    I’ve used Rate Your Story twice since hearing about it and it’s been extremely helpful.

    • Thank you! We love hearing that. The judges work really hard and try to be honest and encouraging at the same time. Good luck with your writing!

  5. Yes, yes, yes. Let’s first and embrace diversity in our own lives! Terrific post.

  6. Thanks for pointing out that diversity is best handled through inclusion. It was a great thinking point for teaching children’s literature and writing it. I will be considering this during my revisions and drafting this month (and future months).

    • So glad you used the word inclusion—because that’s what #WeNeedDiverseBooks is about – inclusion. A handful of people immediately see it as an exclusive thing, that the message is trying to push people out or dictate what writers should write, which is not the case. Good luck with revisions. Future months – and years, right? 🙂

  7. shiela fuller

    “Try a few things your afraid of. Take your self out of your comfort zone.” That’s exactly why I started taking my writing more seriously last year. And I am so much more. Thank you.

    • I believe we grow as humans, not just as writers, every time we leave our comfort zone. It’s really a sign of our times how unfortunately comfortable we’ve become!

  8. Inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Love the ‘If You Liked’ suggestions and the ‘Cheat Sheet’! You are a great motivator, Miranda!

    • I can’t take all the credit, though! Grace Lin (who is amazing!) made the Cheat Sheet and the If You Like model is something that many bloggers use – and Ellen Oh and other #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign team members have inspired many of these suggestions. I just made the graphics for them, and contributed a few suggestions of my own.

  10. Great post! One way for blondes, brunettes and redheads to write about diversity is to immerse oneself in life and it’s hard to avoid. Miranda, your advice about a writer’s role as a “listener” is awesome. Listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart. Diversity is all around us. Partake! It’s greaaaat to quote Tony the Tiger. LOL!

    • Keila, thanks for responding! We’re all more than our hair color (or skin color, or able-bodiedness, or gender), and the more we listen to each other, the more we’re able to write from the heart rather than our eyes. Partake!

  11. I loved your wonderful “If you liked…then read this next” posters. It’s so nice to get to know you, Miranda. Thanks for reminding us that living comes first and writing comes second. We forget that sometimes totally absorbed by our computer screens, writing goals, and how long it takes to write, revise, revise. Thank you, Julie, for highlighting Miranda!

    • Thanks, Lori. I come from a family where there is more than one person with a compulsive or addictive drive in their personalities, and it’s important for me to remind myself not to get so absorbed in the writing part, I forget the living part. So glad you liked the posters, too! We’ve got some plans for the campaign to circulate these, and people can email in suggestions.

  12. Miranda! This post is phenomenal. Thanks for making me think a little differently about diversity and my writing and how I can help share diverse books.

    • Phenomenal! Now I can be satisfied and call it a day. I love whenever people make me think differently. Thanks for reading this, Kirsti.

  13. Marcie Colleen

    What an absolutely brilliant and inspiring post! Thank you, Miranda! Xo

  14. Such great advice Miranda – we need to embrace and share our diversity and to be sure to live fully. Can’t wait to read your books!

  15. Great post, Miranda! I recently had a critique at a Highlights workshop, and Joy Cowley pointed out places where I had added a Spanish word in my manuscript simply to add a Spanish word, not to help the story. Busted! Your dragon story poster is a good reminder not to go overboard when we write about characters from diverse backgrounds.

    • That’s the joy of editors, and collaboration. Getting more eyes on your MS allows for that other perspective, no matter what the book is about. And Grace Lin gets credit for the Diversity Cheat Sheet, not me!

  16. Thanks Julie for doing this interview. Miranda, you certainly gave me things to think about and I love the cheatsheet for selling diversity – we writers really can make a difference.

  17. Thank you for helping us to be well-rounded artists. Very inspiring. I will remember to be more than a writer. 🙂

  18. Wise words, Miranda. Being “just a writer” would make it difficult to ever get an idea, find inspiration, or make settings and characters come to life.

    • Yes – those ideas often come when we’re living…not writing. (I’m sure you know that, and have notebooks all over the place, right?)

  19. Thank you Miranda and Julie. Diversity is such an important concept in all aspects of our life. Colour of skin should not preclude contribution, cultural diversity does not always equate to ancestral singularity so we can all contribute our experiences to enrich the greater collective humanity. I am a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, step mother, foster mother, adoptive mother, single parent, divorcee and the survivor of life struggles that affect children of every nationality. I am now a writer and my whole life journey will go into everything I write. My past is equally important in adding to this great colourful bundle that is me. I have in my ancestors Scottish, Irish and English people, as well as Koorie(Australian Aboriginal people), Spanish people,Chinese people, south African people and who knows what else (I haven’t finished my search yet). We are all human and that is such a wonderful diversity to belong to. 🙂

  20. I’m so glad the ‘diversity in kid lit’ conversation has continued and thank you, Miranda for being an active force behind the movement. Great article, and wonderful answers to the question, ‘What can I do to help?”

    • Andrea – you’re welcome. But really, thank YOU for being on the front lines, getting kids to express their creativity in diverse ways. You’re an active force in the community and a role model in showing kids that art is fun, powerful, and unifying!

  21. Excellent post, Miranda. I love those ideas for marketing books-rather than focusing on the ethnicity, focus on the plot/adventure/theme.

  22. All very good points. We can teach our children to appreciate diversity in activities, friendships, reading material, foods, and the arts. And we can start by modeling diversity in our own lives.

  23. Excellent, excellent, excellent, excellent. Thank you so much, Miranda! I will be keeping this post close at hand.

    • Thanks, Beth. I know you’ve been part of the diversity conversation for some time, and I think it’s wonderful to know so many authors with a vision of children’s books that can be more inclusive. There are kids who need those books as mirrors, and many who need them as windows.

  24. Fantastic post, Miranda and Julie! Yes! 😀

  25. Debra Shumaker

    This is just such a great post. Thanks ladies!

  26. Pamela Courtney

    Wow, Amanda! This was the best. I love what you’re doing. Inclusion is so important. So glad I read this.

  27. Wonderful post Miranda!

  28. Outstanding post. Someone after my own heart. I have a few years on many of you, so my life is very diverse and I have other passions. My blog is about diversity. And, I am so glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a smart phone. More people need to read this post!

    • I know your blog, Patricia! You’re doing great work. And I like you even more now that I know we’re the low-tech-phone junkies. 🙂

  29. Fantastic post. Thank you!

  30. What a wonderful and inspiring post, Miranda! As usual, thought-provoking. I appreciate the “if you like this, read this next” pictogram.

    • Thanks, Romelle! I really think that the pictogram (as you call it) is a powerful selling tool. As Lin Oliver wrote today, echoing some of these same thoughts, we need to make sure that diverse books and authors are supported in the marketplace.

  31. Terrific post, Miranda! I loved it when you said in your article, “Children needed both ‘mirrors and windows.’ Mirrors in which they can see themselves, windows in which they can see the world.”

    • That is a quote from Lucille Clifton, my professor, as I mention in the article. It’s humbling and empowering every time I remember my beginnings in poetry and writing for children. I was blessed to learn from one of the best.

  32. Fabulous post. Lots of nuggets to ponder. Love the idea of being more than a writer!

    • Thanks, David! I always find that the most interesting people to talk to aren’t defined by one thing. It’s easier to find common ground with people that way, too.

  33. Great post, Miranda. You made some great points about being more than a writer. Thanks, also, for all your hard work at encouraging diversity in books.

    • Thank you. The hard work gets a little easier every time I see a big company jumping on board, such as iBooks did today by putting up a Celebrate Diversity section in their children’s bookstore!

  34. This is a great post, and I appreciate the book recommendations! Too true that we’re not just writers.

  35. Excellent reminder that life is what we are writing about so we have to experience it from all different avenues. And yea to Rate Your Story, which I’ve used.

    • And even though we try to experience it from all different avenues, there will always be someone who’s seen it differently. That’s why we need diverse books, so we can read about each other’s!

  36. Absolutely FABULOUS post – and reminder. I am so much more than a writer. Thanks, Miranda AND Julie!

  37. Thanks so much, Miranda. Looking forward to meeting you this fall in Maryland and sharing some wine as well as thoughts.

  38. Thanks for showing how we all can get involved, Miranda. I buy books for our school’s elementary library, and I would love to have more diverse titles to offer.

  39. I <3 Miranda's post! So important to remember that diversity isn't just about cultural or ethnic identity. Kids with disabilities or special abilities, from broad socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. also need windows and mirrors.

    • Yes, Cathy! The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is very inclusive, and concerned about all kinds of diversity. I often focus on ethnic identity in response to writers who ask me questions, because many of them who ask are hung up on this idea of skin color being the only way in which children are underrepresented in kidlit. You are absolutely right, and watch the campaign for some good recommendations on books about kids with disabilities or special abilities, etc.

  40. Great post! You made some great points that actually made me stop and think.

  41. Beth Anderson

    As a former ESL teacher, I am a strong believer in and lover of diversity to my very soul! Thanks for sharing an inclusionary way to pitch a story.

  42. Sheri McCrimmon

    What an awesome post Miranda! Live first, write second – love this! New perspectives can enhance/grow hearts and minds. The more diversity/perspectives offered, the greater our understanding.

  43. I have a relative who is an actress and teaches acting. She tells her students to use the time between acting jobs to LIVE THEIR LIVES! It is the experience of living your life that allows the actor to be true to a character and I believe for the writer to be true to their stories and the characters in those stories. Thanks for echoing this advice Miranda!

  44. Terrific post, Miranda!

  45. Great post! I couldn’t agree more that we can’t only be writers. Living life is what gives us the seeds for writing.

  46. What a thoughtful post, Miranda. Your thought about sharing books that feature diverse characters is just as valid as writing them was so encouraging to me because I had been feeling much like Julie did. And the idea that we are human beings first and writers second is priceless. Long ago when I had been working late into the night on an illustration for a book I had the distinct impression that a Voice of Wisdom was speaking to me when I suddenly heard a question. “What do you remember?” Without a second thought I answered “The good times I’ve had with people.”. This understanding that I am not my work has stayed with me my whole life.

  47. Thanks for the post this month Miranda. Fantastic! The power we children’s writers have individually and as a community is amazing.

  48. It’s like not thinking about yourself as “just a mom.” You’re right that it’s important to be inclusive in so many ways, including bringing “all” of our selves into the room when we’re talking or writing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  49. I am working on a diverse MS right now, and Miranda’s point of not separating diverse books really made me stop and think. Thank you. And yes, it’s good to remember that you are more than a writer.

  50. Miranda is awesome! I got to spend some time with her at a picture book retreat and was very impressed. She’s going to help change the world. <3. Great post!

  51. Kimberly Cowger

    Thanks for this reminder Miranda! Now I can stop feeling guilty about all the different hats I seem to wear!

  52. What a great post! Such great prizes! YAY! 😀

  53. Kathy Cornell Berman

    Great post Miranda. Thanks for pointing out that being “just a writer” is not enough. If we wish to be effective and affective writers we have to live our lives to the fullest. We need balance as well as diversity.

  54. Nice post, Miranda. Thank you. I always feel better after I get away from writing or illustrating for a bit to do something else. It gives me a new energy. I just love RYS. I have the basic, but would love the pro membership! I need to polish up some of my manuscripts and get them over there for great feedback.

  55. Thank you Miranda for your diverse books campaign and for this post. It really resonates with me.

  56. Thanks Miranda! I always thought that I lacked focus but now I think I’m diverse.:)

  57. Thanks for the great advice, Miranda. So easy to get lost in our careers that we forget all the other cool people we are!!!

  58. Thank you so much for this inspiring post! You’ve given me a lot to think about. I think I’m going to hang your quote on the wall in my writing room: “The many things we do—beyond writing—shape us as writers. Don’t forget to live first, write second!”

  59. Thanks, Miranda, for the fantastic advice! What we do outside of writing feeds our writing. When we feel uninspired, it might just be that we need to get out into the world and go on an adventure or, like you suggest, try something we’re afraid of!

  60. Nice reminder that what we do outside of writing matters, too! Lovely interview. Thanks!

  61. Love the cheat sheets for the diversity campaign–and love breaking rules. Pretty much loved everything you said, so I think we’ll have to be new best friends. 🙂

  62. I meant to comment on this earlier, but I’ve been out there living life. 🙂 This is such good advice, Miranda, and something I have to sometimes push myself to remember because I DO tend to spend most of my spare time writing – or reading.

    You should be proud of your part in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks. It’s shocking, actually, that we even need to support booksellers in selling a book like Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. I read it with my son, along with Starry River of the Sky. Both fantastic books for ANY reader who likes adventure stories with a lot of heart.

  63. Miranda,
    YES and YES.
    So enjoyed your “only a writer” and spent time in my yard today. Finally, it seems to be recovering from severe draught two years ago. But my flower garden was simplified to make time for writing this year.
    And, yes, we are diverse, wearing many hats and many colors. I’ll admit I felt a sting, when I read the words in a recently subscription that stated only people of color should submit. Yes, we do need diverse books, books written in other languages, too, and, I hope, to the exclusion of none.

    I’ve bookmarked #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

  64. Melanie Ellsworth

    Thanks, Miranda. It’s good to be reminded that all the other roles we play feed into our writing and are just as important as our writing. I enjoyed your article, “Writing ‘Multicultural’ Literature.” Terry Ferish and Maria Padian did an interesting workshop at the NESCBWI conference this year entitled “Our Characters in the World.” It was a thought-provoking look at how a writer might write about a culture other than her own.

  65. Thanks for all the great advice Miranda! Very enlightening!

  66. Great advice! This is why I love this community!

  67. Gee whiz, I don’t know how this post past by me, but thank goodness for the 12 x 12 check in because it was eye-opening, Miranda. Thank you. :0)

  68. Thank goodness for Julie’s reminder to get my butt over here – how did I miss this post? #toomuchgoingonIguess!
    Miranda, you’ve outdone yourself with all the golden nuggets you shared. I LOVE the cheat sheets – you have a gift, dear lady, you definitely have a gift. 🙂

  69. This is fantastic! What an important reminder to have to better ourselves and work in the process of eliminating the “only a writer” focus.

  70. Michele Norman

    Wonderful advice. Thank you.

  71. What an eye-opening reminder to embrace all those other things we are in addition to being writers. I needed to read that because I am definitely guilty of having a one-track mind lately (okay the last two years!). Thank you for your thoughtful, spot on words of wisdom.

  72. Thanks for sharing Miranda! Great thoughts!

  73. Thanks for sharing! Great thoughts!

  74. You put a smile on my face Miranda! Thanks for the great advice.

  75. Thank you Miranda and Julie! Can’t wait to buy the two diverse books you recommended!

  76. We can’t be effective writers without rich experiences so I agree with your idea. I especially liked your comment,”Leave books on a park bench.” Who knows what hands and hearts will pick them up. I tried to join RYS but it said on the website you are not taking in new members at this time. Hope to be able to join soon. Thanks for the great words of advice, Miranda.

  77. Wonderful post Miranda. As a parent of young ones, a writer for young ones, but really just as a person trying to do good things – I love the “talk less, listen more.” Such simple, but priceless advice!

  78. Thank you for sharing this wonderful advice Miranda! You are so right by saying we shouldn’t totally lose ourselves in writing, but should keep active in other interests as well. I also appreciate your thoughts on diversity.

  79. Oh, Miranda, I really loved this. I am belatedly arriving at the understanding that as a writer my job is to wring every last drop of myself onto the page. But, as you point out, I first need to be drenched in life…..

    Thank you for a thought-provoking post.

  80. Kristen Schroeder

    For someone who is still getting used to calling myself a writer, your advice was unexpected yet insightful. This writing gig can become all consuming but we need to feed our creative souls or risk burning out. Love RYS too. Thank you!

  81. “We aren’t “only” one thing.” This is soooooo true. Every time I try to choose and be one thing, that one thing squirms out from beneath me and screams “NO!, NO! No!, you are something else too, something more.”

    THank you for this reminder and insight into creating.

  82. Thank you Miranda. Good advice and very thought provoking and encouraging.

  83. Such an inspiring post! Thank you, Miranda, for all your exceptional advice!!

  84. It’s so easy to get obsessed with writing–craft and story both invite such a deep, deep dive. Thanks for the reminder to come up for air, back float every once in a while, climb out of the water and do something completely different.

  85. I love this, and thinking about diversity in books has given me some ideas for stories that have to do with diverse families.

  86. I loved Miranda’s article. I’ve kind of lost myself in my drive to do more than just survive in these economic hard times. I lost a lot of my need to express myself in doing something creative. The great thing is that my motivation to express my creativity hasn’t completely died. It was just sleeping. As far as expressing diversity, I say do what your heart feels like doing. Anything less, and it won’t be “real.”

  87. Thank you Miranda! Great advice!

  88. Very interesting concept – that diversity doesn’t mean only variety in race,religion,culture, etc., which are the obvious things, but also includes differences in viewpoints, interests, agendas, passions, and all the things that makes each one of us unique. Thanks for this!

  89. Thank you for the “with it” presentation of how we should be regarding and thinking about diversity in children’s books today.

  90. I like comment about promoting the story rather than the fact that it has multi-cultural characters.

  91. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. If we limit ourselves to only one identity, task, “hat,” it would be very dull indeed. Thank you for giving us permission to embrace all aspects of ourselves, and celebrate our own rich diversity and uniqueness. The references you provided are invaluable. Thank you for taking the time to write this honest, straightforward, and incredibly meaningful post.

  92. Melanie Lucero

    “Live first, write second.” I love that! And it’s so true! The best ideas come when I’m out doing “non-writer” things. And I have to admit, I really want to hear more about the poop-scooping zookeeper experience :)…

  93. I love the idea of enjoying life and allowing creative ideas to flow from our experiences. Thank you so much for the reminder, Miranda!

  94. Janie Reinart

    Love live first, write second! Excellent advice. Thank you for a lovely post!

  95. Barbara Scheer-Hochheimer

    Waving hands from the other side of the ocean, from the Old World. What an inspiring post!! Have to reread and to rethink about it. Will check out your links. Don’t know why I almost missed this post. Thank you!

  96. Thank you for reminding me that a diverse life live is filled with stories to share.

  97. Oh my gosh, Miranda! Confession: I let this post sit in my inbox while my busy life swept me up into a vacuum of other to-dos. Little did I know, that my inbox held gold! After a busy teaching year, I am rediscovering myself as a parent, friend, wife, individual, and yes, a writer. I am redefining these roles and your post helps! Thank you so much!

  98. I love what you have to say, Miranda. I’ve been saying no to many things lately because I’m trying to stay focused on meeting my writing goals. However, I am trying to keep a balance, being more than only a writer. It’s a delicate balance. And I nearly jumped out of my seat and cheered (I would have if I’m not totally exhausted at the moment) at your comment that diverse books shouldn’t be segmented. How can something become mainstreamed when we don’t mainstream it?

  99. Great post Miranda. Love the examples of “Frog & Toad” and “Ling & Ting” books. Reminds me to think of the here and now and not just when I was a little girl too some very long time ago.

  100. Angela Turner

    After being a teacher in public schools for 28 years, I took a year off to care for my father. I have been able to reignite interests that had sat by the wayside for quite some time. Writing was one of them. But I also see that it is important for whatever career I am doing to not be so focused on it that I lose the other things that are “me”. Thank you for this reminder.

  101. Thank you for an interesting article.

  102. Robyn Campbell

    ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How did I NOT read this????? I ALWAYS read the featured author. *sigh* Glad I decided to check after doing the monthly check-in. Great advice, Miranda. I’ve been so busy. But I need some ME time. It’s hard. But worth it! Thanks Julie for having Miranda over. *waves peace sign*

  103. LOVE RYS, oops.. but i think i forgot it this month!

  104. I had a son in 2014 and I don’t think I could ever call myself “Just a writer” since that. I also don’t think I also draw, but I couldn’t say I’m just an illustrator/writer. I like to do too many things to get stuck with that. On the same token I would be upset if the back of my book said that I was a homemaker, housewife or mom as my only major role before becoming an author/illustrator. I think that trivializes the journey we go on to become writers, and also trivializes the position you’re in before being a writer or illustrator! I’d rather people make something up about me than have a boring bio. Thanks so much for this post, because it’s certainly given me something to think about.

  105. HilleryRubens

    Thank you for your insightful message 🙂 It’s so true…and so many of our ideas come from outside of “writing.” And thank you for RYS…I love that site! It’s so helpful 🙂

  106. Until this post, I was the brunette wondering what my role would be. Thanks for the assist. I also just recently wrote a blog post for 12×12 on balance. I had lost mine but now it is found. The nonwriterly life is important. I love your author bio example. Thanks Miranda.

  107. Thanks Miranda and I like the comment that if we’re not writing we’re reading – too true.

  108. Thanks for the great tips. I know of one kids’ magazine that really seeks stories about various cultures and ethnic groups. I have been nervous and felt ill-equipped to come up with much for them, being a freckly brunette from the Midwest. However, I love the mission of their publication. Perhaps, it’s time to give it another try!

  109. Ahh, so very true…To try not to be JUST a writer…it’s hard not to neglect other things.

  110. Thanks so much for the thoughtful post. You are correct. Each of us has a special set of experiences to offer.

  111. Was just chatting to my 17 year old last night about this very topic of diversity and a picture book idea I have!! She encouraged me to write it down before I forget it…and now, so have you 🙂 Thanks for a timely and wonderful post!!

  112. RogueAnthropologist

    I love love love this post. I’ve always been the type to fall into many categories, so it’s nice to hear a reminder that this can be an asset, and I would add that it’s not just because of different ways of reaching kids but the unique influences and inspirations various parts of our lives can have on our writing itself. Thank you for celebrating our diversity and multiple passions, Miranda!

  113. Great post. There’s a lot to consider when talking about diversity.

  114. Cathlin Parker

    This really got me thinking…I’m glad to have some ideas on how to promote diversity, and also glad to say I’m a writer, but I’m not only a writer!

  115. Lori Mozdzierz

    Outstanding post, Miranda!

  116. You have given me so much food for thought, Miranda, and the permission to promote my uniqueness, while observing the same in others. Looking forward to seeing you at the retreat next week!

  117. This post really got me thinking-first about my next story and second about stepping away from my writing for a fun adventure with my family. Thank you Miranda!

  118. Great info…thanks! Still waiting to be able to join RYS…can’t wait for an opportunity to become a paying customer!

  119. barbara kupetz

    A wonderful post! I especially enjoyed the “if you liked ” posters. Thank you for nudging us to think more about the books we choose and write.

  120. Ellen Sirianni

    Inspiring post!

  121. So true. We need to take time to “fill the well” so we can be writers. I also definitely see myself as part of the larger KidLit community and do what I can to help other writers.
    I love the way you alter your author bio to reflect different parts of you. I’m going to remember that!

  122. Great advice! I really enjoyed this post!

  123. What a great post! This really gave me something to think about! Thanks!

  124. So true! Being more than a writer is so important.

  125. Diversity is fundmental to creativity. Creativity is fundmental to your soul. By experiencing diversity we feed our souls and our writing. Thank you!

  126. Thanks, Miranda and Julie! I just added “beware of being only a writer” to my collection of inspiring and thought-provoking quotes near my workspace. Also, “Remember to live first, write second.”

  127. Thanks for a great post. You give a lot of great advice.

  128. Thanks for the great post! When I’m choosing books as gifts for my children and their friends, I am always heartened when I find books with characters who look like them (or have similar backgrounds) and/or can introduce them to another person’s background/perspective. It was exciting to read your ideas for encouraging this sort of richness in children’s literature.

  129. Wow, what a great post! I really like your take on diversity. And your “Beware of being only a writer” really hit home for me — time to revisit some of my other passions as well. Thanks for your insight!

  130. Hands down! Best post this year!!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your insights. It is true, I am not just a writer, I’m a writer with lots of diverse passions, interests and dreams!

  131. Powerful, important message… all about balance and diverse interests… thanks!

  132. Maria Marshall

    Thank you for an inspiring and necessary post. It is too easy to be swallowed by the writing or other areas of our lives (Children & family needs, work, parents…). I love your message about diversity. Wonderful, inspiring, and honesty inducing post. Thank you, again.

  133. Sandy Belford

    Something I have thought about from time to time. Very inspiring message. Lots to think on. Thank you.

  134. Thanks for another great post!

  135. Miranda~ Thanks so much for your service with Rate Your Story. I have used it a couple of times and it is very humbling! I just submitted again today and can’t wait to see the feedback from some of the best in the writing field!

  136. Heather Kelso

    Thank you so much for your inspiring words and for Rate Your Story. I have sent off my PB ms and looking forward to getting some feedback.

  137. Thanks so much for your Rate Your Story service–I so appreciate it! I, too, hope to address the issue of diversity in my PBs in an authentic and meaningful way!

  138. Fantastic post. Will be referring back to it as a reference often. Thanks, Miranda!

  139. Great reminder. Thanks Miranda.

  140. Lots to think about. Thank you for getting the creative juices flowing.

  141. Wonderful post, Miranda. Thanks so much!

  142. This is one of the best and most relevant posts that I have read lately. How true, that we are so much, by just being ourselves. In order to write, we must live. Thanks Miranda.

  143. Great post! Thank you for sharing!

  144. Great piece and so true!

  145. thank you Miranda for an INSPIRING and FANTASTIC post!

  146. Some good thoughts on diversity. Thanks

  147. Thank you for the post. Good words of advice!

  148. Great points! Terrific to get to “know” you through this post!

  149. Miranda, Amazing post and a super important topic!!! Thanks for sharing your advice!

  150. Johannah Wirkki

    What an amazing, thought-provoking message. Vivid illustration, re kids and what they look for when they read the back flap. Thank you so much for this post, Miranda.

  151. Wow. This is awesome. I *love* that perspective of our individual diversity is a good thing. Great point about the author bios, too. We are each many things, and that’s awesome!

  152. A great reminder to live first and then write about all the great things you’ve done. Those events inspire you. I love that diversity means just selling them in the mainstream books and making it normal

  153. I love it when a post make me think beyond the obvious. Thank you for your thoughts on diversity and the diverse writer 🙂

  154. Sorry for the late check-in. I was traveling. As you know, I am a big fan of #weneeddiversebooks I love you your “if you liked this” then “read this” It made me think of books I know if a different way. I love when I find new ways of looking at my old favorites.

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