This is the third annual Random Acts of Publicity week, founded by Darcy Pattison as a way to promote favorite books or favorite authors.  I’m focusing on three Colorado picture book writers, all of whom have reached out a hand to help me in my own budding career (and their books are great!).  In fact, I am so convinced that you will love the books too, I am giving away all three as a prize package.  To enter, you must:

  • Be a follower of this blog – if you are a new follower, let me know how you follow (email, Google Reader, Networked Blogs, etc.)
  • Leave a comment on this post by midnight ET on Friday, September 9th.  To keep the promotion love going, in your comment, please leave the title of at least one picture book published within the last five years that you love. = 1 point
  • Tweet about the contest = 1 point
  • Like this post on Facebook = 1 point
  • Blog about the contest = 2 points

In your comment, let me know how many points you have.  I’ll announce the winner on Saturday, September 10th. Now, onto the books!

TOO MANY PUMPKINS, by Linda Arms White.  This book is a modern classic and, along with the equally delightful TOO MANY TURKEYS (2010), is perfect for this time of year as we approach Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Find out how the heroine and hero, respectfully, turn their bumper crops into something fabulous.  Linda gives generously of her time to the Rocky Mountain SCBWI chapter.  She worked with me for six months through the mentorship program, and my WIPs improved immeasurably.  I am a much better writer as a result of working with Linda.  For others interested in working with her, she is a co-owner of the Children’s Author’s Boot Camp, and also offers manuscript critiques.

STELLA UNLEASHED, by Linda Ashman.  Linda is a master of writing picture books in rhyme, particularly those for older children (4-8).  I should know because I took her “Crimes of Rhyme” workshop, so I commit fewer of them now.  We own many of her books, and this one is our current favorite. (Although her latest – NO DOGS ALLOWED – is on its way to us as I write this, and we eagerly await it).  Who can resist a story told in a set of poems about a dog who chooses first her family, then her name, and then creates all kinds of entertainment and chaos for her family – as all dogs do.  Other favorites of ours are COME TO THE CASTLE, WORLDWIDE MONSTER GUIDE, and M is for MISCHIEF.  I worked with Linda at the Big Sur in the Rockies workshop, so I can also vouch for her manuscript critiques.  They can be invaluable, especially if you write in rhyme.

TOO PICKLEY, by Jean Reidy.  This book is a must for anyone with toddlers who are picky eaters (and what toddlers aren’t?).  My son used to say things like, “This bread is too crusty,” so I knew this book was for him.  I met Jean at the RMC-SCBWI conference last year, and she has graciously agreed to come on the blog later this fall for the How I Got My Agent Series.  If you have a fussy dresser (which I also do), check out TOO PURPLEY.  Jean does writing workshops and talks, and is also part of the Skype an Author network.

Comment (see rules above) to win a prize pack with a brand new copy of TOO MANY PUMPKINS, STELLA UNLEASHED, and TOO PICKLEY

Categories: Authors, Autumn, Children's Books, Dogs, Giveaway, Picture Books, Poetry, Rhyming, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Reposted on October 25, 2010 to include lots of new information and links

So you’ve finally written your masterpiece and you’re ready to submit.  How are you going to find the perfect editor or agent for your paranormal, dystopian, steampunk, urban fantasy novel?

If I learned one thing at the Big Sur in the Rockies conference, it’s that a large part of the acquisitions process for both editors and agents is a “gut feel.”  They not only think your story will sell, but they love it themselves.  That’s why you do yourself a big disservice by submitting it to an editor/agent that can’t stand paranormal, dystopian, steampunk, urban fantasy novels.  Tastes can vary widely even among editors and agents within the same publishing house/agency.  But how do we find out whose taste is whose?

Research.  All of the editors and agents at the Big Sur workshop agreed that writers hurt everyone – including other aspiring writers – when they blindly send manuscripts to editors and agents without regard to their guidelines and preferences.  Sorting through hundreds of submissions takes away valuable time and often causes them to close the doors on unsolicited manuscripts.  So let’s do the research and take the time to submit only to editors/agents we think will be truly interested in our work.  With all of the information available online, there is really no excuse to skip this all-important step.  Here are six ways to research publishers, editors and agents.

1.    Company websites – Start by searching the websites of the publishers and/or agents you think might be a fit for your book.  Publishers put their booklists, submission guidelines (if they take unsolicited submissions), and sometimes a list of their editors on their sites.  Most agency websites state very clearly what types of books they represent and how to submit, often down to specific agents.  Take the Andrea Brown Literary Agency as an example.  Their website includes a list of their nine agents, the types of manuscripts each agent is looking for and her representative deals.  Why send a picture book to one of the agents that only represents MG or YA when just a few clicks will point you to one of their agents who does?  They are trying to help us target our submissions. Think Jerry Maguire and help them help us!

2.    Social Media – This includes everything from Facebook, Twitter, (see #3), MySpace, blogs, industry networking sites, etc.  Most big publishing houses and literary agencies have a presence on these sites, as do individual editors and agents. You can pick up a great deal of insider information by following them.  I’m continually amazed, too, by the number of editors and agents who give of their time by providing tips and feedback to writers via their blogs.  Some even host contests where you can “win” a critique or a chance to submit to a house that’s otherwise closed to unsolicited submissions.  Besides the biggies like Facebook and Twitter, here are a few social networking sites that connect readers, authors, illustrators, editors and agents, plus a couple of agent/editor blogs that are very helpful (see my blogroll for more).

•    JacketFlap
•    Children’s Book Insider
•    LibraryThing
•    Goodreads
•    Kidlit.com
•    Nathan Bransford

3.    Twitter – If you commit to participating in just one social media site, make it Twitter, which is an absolute gold mine of information.  Many agents and

Comic courtesy of http://www.inkygirl.com

editors and TONS of writers utilize Twitter.  Following key people in your genre will lead you to other websites, blogs and industry announcements, including who is editing which books and why.  Even better, you’ll make “friends.”  I am in awe of how much information I’ve gleaned and how many awesome people I’ve “met” since I joined Twitter.  Are you a Twitter newbie?  Check out this Twitter Guide for Writers from Inkygirl and this post from Elizabeth Craig on how writers can use Twitter. Here are a few other reasons to love Twitter:
•    Tweetchats – live chats where the tweets are focused on a particular topic.  Good ones for children’s writers are #pblitchat (picture books), #kidlitchat (all kidlit genres) and #yalitchat (for young adult writers)
•    Tweetups – Real life, in-person gathering of people who follow each other on Twitter.  I went to my first one at the SCBWI conference in New York.  It’s a great way to meet people and make contacts.
•    Lists – You can create lists on Twitter to categorize people you follow.  I have a kidlit list, and agent list, and editor list and so on.  This way, you can quickly filter tweets by topic.  Even better, most “tweeps” make their own lists public so you can follow their lists too.

4.    Join industry organizations and attend events – Writing is a mostly solitary pursuit, so joining writing associations and groups can help get you out there networking and meeting other people in the business, including editors and agents.  Since joining SCBWI, for example, I’ve attended regional and national conferences, writing workshops, and “schmoozes.”  I’ve had the chance to get my work critiqued by some big-name agents and editors at these events.  Meeting them in person helps me remember what kind of books they like.  I also read their monthly newsletters and the annual “Edited by…” list they make available to members.  All of these events, tools and resources have accelerated my growth as a writer.

5.    Use Market Guides – Even with the Internet, having a few good old-fashioned market guidebooks at your fingertips is essential.  Here are a few to consider:
•    Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market
•    Guide to Literary Agents
•    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books
•    Writer’s Market (includes all publishing, not just children’s)

6.    Find out who edits or represents books that you like or that are like yours – This one is a little trickier, but it is often possible to find out who edits which books by Googling, “Who edited X by So and So?”  Sometimes, too, you can find this information on the author’s website.  Often they thank their agent and/or editor.  If you think that editor or agent would like your manuscript, you can now say why in a query letter.  Here are a few great sources for this information, although some, like Publisher’s Marketplace, charge a monthly fee.

  • Literary Rambles — Casey McCormick’s blog has a MUST READ Agent Spotlight series.  Always check to see if she’s covered the agent(s) you are submitting to.  Casey combs the web to find as much material on each agent as she can, and it’s FREE.
  • Publisher’s Marketplace — For $20/month you can find out who agents represent, which editors have published certain books, who represents specific authors, etc.  They also have daily e-newsletters that you can sign up for covering recent deals in all genres.
  • QueryTracker.net — Here you can look up agents and editors, see how many queries they have gotten and what their responses look like (assuming the agent/editor reports them).  You can also find out what genres they represent, submission guidelines and client information.  You can also track queries sent at the site.  The basic service is free.
  • AgentQuery.com — Comprehensive searchable database of literary agents in all genres.  You can search by agent, genre, or by agency.  The site also has great resources on writing query letters.  Best of all, it’s free!
  • AbsoluteWrite.com — Besides providing a treasure trove of resources for all types of writers, the AR Forums provide lots of scoop on agents and editors based on writers’ experiences.  There is a whole “Beware” forum to help authors identify and avoid pitfalls in their searches and relationships.
  • Publisher’s Weekly — They have a section completely devoted to children’s publishing.

So let us go forth and first do the research, then submit to a targeted list.  Good luck and happy submitting!

Done your research and now you’re ready to query?  Go visit Angela Ackerman at The Bookshelf Muse for tips on “Personalizing” Queries using the info you’ve gleaned from your research.

Any other resources you can’t live without?  Leave them in the comments!

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, Publishing, Social Media, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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My brother was a boxer as a kid.  One of the first things his coaches taught him was how to take punch.  If you’re going to take one in the gut, you have to harden your belly to reduce the impact.  It might still hurt, but probably not enough to bring you to your knees.  Hopefully you can work through the pain to make your next move and stay in the fight.

Critiques are like that.  As writers, getting feedback on our work can be like taking that punch – it hurts sometimes.  But if we’re not willing to take it, we can’t even enter the ring.  Nobody – and I do mean nobody – is so gifted a writer that s/he can birth a masterpiece with no input from others.  Yet, many writers are so in love with and so protective of their “babies” that they can’t even hear feedback, much less incorporate it into their work.

At the Big Sur in the Rockies workshop, author Alane Ferguson said it best.  Sometimes she comes across writers who are so unwilling to consider revisions “it’s as if they think they are channeling God’s words.”  To which she said she always wants to respond, “Honey, God is not that bad of a writer.”

Because critiques are so critical to the writing process, we spent most of our time at the workshop in small critique groups, each led by a professional author, editor or agent.  The experience was invaluable because the only way we can see our words as others see them is to share those words.  We need to hear from people whose very selves are not stitched to the paper with those words.  All of the faculty at Big Sur stressed that the best way to improve your writing is to: 1) write; 2) get feedback; 3) revise; and, 4) repeat the whole process multiple times.  They urged us all to be more flexible with our words.  Add some, cut some, change some.  They are not set on a stone tablet.

So, how can we “get over ourselves” enough to use the golden nuggets of feedback we get from critique groups?  Here are the top things I took away from the Big Sur workshop, both in the comments from the faculty and from my own experience in the critique groups.

  1. Mind your defensiveness.  Watching others in the critique groups, I noticed that when someone got very defensive, it was usually over an issue that was very important to the direction of the work, and one that almost all of the other critiquers agreed upon.  That person would then sometimes spend the rest of their valuable critique time defending her choices (words).  It made me wonder if I did that too.  Upon reflection, I realized I did.  So take note: the points that make you feel the most defensive are probably also the ones you most need to hear.  Force yourself to shut up and listen, or you’ll miss the good stuff.  Nobody is holding a gun to your head forcing you to make changes, but upon reflection you might find some serious kernels of truth to the suggestions you receive.  When you start thinking, “They just don’t ‘get’ it,” or “So and so doesn’t recognize my genius,” or “S/he doesn’t know what s/he’s talking about,” that is precisely when you need to stop talking and start taking better notes.  You’ll decide later after you have more distance whether the feedback makes sense, but if you tune out or talk over it, you’ll miss a huge opportunity to evaluate your work.
  2. Pretend everything is true.  Nancy Mercado, editor at Roaring Brook Press, said she had one author that used to get riled up every time he received her edits.  They always spent lots of time wrestling over them.  Then one day he called her and said, “For two weeks, I decided to pretend everything you said was true.”  He revised the manuscript according to her suggestions and found that the vast majority of them made his work better.  I’ve tried this myself, and in the process I discovered another benefit.  Because I only “pretended” the comments were true, it gave me the emotional distance I needed to give them a fair chance.  That distance gave me the ability to evaluate whether they genuinely worked for my manuscript or not.
  3. Give it time.  Everyone on faculty warned us against racing home to make revisions based on feedback received over the weekend.  You need a bit of a “waiting period” while your brain comes to grips with the suggestions.  Waiting gives you that all-important distance you need to decide what is true for your work.

Writers can be tender, sensitive souls.  Squeezing our hearts onto the page makes us a bit touchy when it comes to taking even the most constructive of criticism.  Yet, we can also be egomaniacs.  Let’s face it: one of the thrills of writing is the omnipotence that comes with pulling the puppet strings on our characters’ lives and worlds.  Taking feedback doesn’t take that power away.  If anything, it strengthens that power.  Even if we decide not to use the feedback, the simple act of considering it will make our work stronger and more true because it gets us closer to what we really want to say.

Believe me, because I know how to take a punch.  My brother was 4 years older than me, and he had to practice on somebody. 🙂

Categories: SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , ,

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Reposted on October 25, 2010 to include lots of new information and links

So you’ve finally written your masterpiece and you’re ready to submit.  How are you going to find the perfect editor or agent for your paranormal, dystopian, steampunk, urban fantasy novel?

If I learned one thing at the Big Sur in the Rockies conference, it’s that a large part of the acquisitions process for both editors and agents is a “gut feel.”  They not only think your story will sell, but they love it themselves.  That’s why you do yourself a big disservice by submitting it to an editor/agent that can’t stand paranormal, dystopian, steampunk, urban fantasy novels.  Tastes can vary widely even among editors and agents within the same publishing house/agency.  But how do we find out whose taste is whose?

Research.  All of the editors and agents at the Big Sur workshop agreed that writers hurt everyone – including other aspiring writers – when they blindly send manuscripts to editors and agents without regard to their guidelines and preferences.  Sorting through hundreds of submissions takes away valuable time and often causes them to close the doors on unsolicited manuscripts.  So let’s do the research and take the time to submit only to editors/agents we think will be truly interested in our work.  With all of the information available online, there is really no excuse to skip this all-important step.  Here are six ways to research publishers, editors and agents.

1.    Company websites – Start by searching the websites of the publishers and/or agents you think might be a fit for your book.  Publishers put their booklists, submission guidelines (if they take unsolicited submissions), and sometimes a list of their editors on their sites.  Most agency websites state very clearly what types of books they represent and how to submit, often down to specific agents.  Take the Andrea Brown Literary Agency as an example.  Their website includes a list of their nine agents, the types of manuscripts each agent is looking for and her representative deals.  Why send a picture book to one of the agents that only represents MG or YA when just a few clicks will point you to one of their agents who does?  They are trying to help us target our submissions. Think Jerry Maguire and help them help us!

2.    Social Media – This includes everything from Facebook, Twitter, (see #3), MySpace, blogs, industry networking sites, etc.  Most big publishing houses and literary agencies have a presence on these sites, as do individual editors and agents. You can pick up a great deal of insider information by following them.  I’m continually amazed, too, by the number of editors and agents who give of their time by providing tips and feedback to writers via their blogs.  Some even host contests where you can “win” a critique or a chance to submit to a house that’s otherwise closed to unsolicited submissions.  Besides the biggies like Facebook and Twitter, here are a few social networking sites that connect readers, authors, illustrators, editors and agents, plus a couple of agent/editor blogs that are very helpful (see my blogroll for more).

•    JacketFlap
•    Children’s Book Insider
•    LibraryThing
•    Goodreads
•    Kidlit.com
•    Nathan Bransford

3.    Twitter – If you commit to participating in just one social media site, make it Twitter, which is an absolute gold mine of information.  Many agents and

Comic courtesy of http://www.inkygirl.com

editors and TONS of writers utilize Twitter.  Following key people in your genre will lead you to other websites, blogs and industry announcements, including who is editing which books and why.  Even better, you’ll make “friends.”  I am in awe of how much information I’ve gleaned and how many awesome people I’ve “met” since I joined Twitter.  Are you a Twitter newbie?  Check out this Twitter Guide for Writers from Inkygirl and this post from Elizabeth Craig on how writers can use Twitter. Here are a few other reasons to love Twitter:
•    Tweetchats – live chats where the tweets are focused on a particular topic.  Good ones for children’s writers are #pblitchat (picture books), #kidlitchat (all kidlit genres) and #yalitchat (for young adult writers)
•    Tweetups – Real life, in-person gathering of people who follow each other on Twitter.  I went to my first one at the SCBWI conference in New York.  It’s a great way to meet people and make contacts.
•    Lists – You can create lists on Twitter to categorize people you follow.  I have a kidlit list, and agent list, and editor list and so on.  This way, you can quickly filter tweets by topic.  Even better, most “tweeps” make their own lists public so you can follow their lists too.

4.    Join industry organizations and attend events – Writing is a mostly solitary pursuit, so joining writing associations and groups can help get you out there networking and meeting other people in the business, including editors and agents.  Since joining SCBWI, for example, I’ve attended regional and national conferences, writing workshops, and “schmoozes.”  I’ve had the chance to get my work critiqued by some big-name agents and editors at these events.  Meeting them in person helps me remember what kind of books they like.  I also read their monthly newsletters and the annual “Edited by…” list they make available to members.  All of these events, tools and resources have accelerated my growth as a writer.

5.    Use Market Guides – Even with the Internet, having a few good old-fashioned market guidebooks at your fingertips is essential.  Here are a few to consider:
•    Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market
•    Guide to Literary Agents
•    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books
•    Writer’s Market (includes all publishing, not just children’s)

6.    Find out who edits or represents books that you like or that are like yours – This one is a little trickier, but it is often possible to find out who edits which books by Googling, “Who edited X by So and So?”  Sometimes, too, you can find this information on the author’s website.  Often they thank their agent and/or editor.  If you think that editor or agent would like your manuscript, you can now say why in a query letter.  Here are a few great sources for this information, although some, like Publisher’s Marketplace, charge a monthly fee.

  • Literary Rambles — Casey McCormick’s blog has a MUST READ Agent Spotlight series.  Always check to see if she’s covered the agent(s) you are submitting to.  Casey combs the web to find as much material on each agent as she can, and it’s FREE.
  • Publisher’s Marketplace — For $20/month you can find out who agents represent, which editors have published certain books, who represents specific authors, etc.  They also have daily e-newsletters that you can sign up for covering recent deals in all genres.
  • QueryTracker.net — Here you can look up agents and editors, see how many queries they have gotten and what their responses look like (assuming the agent/editor reports them).  You can also find out what genres they represent, submission guidelines and client information.  You can also track queries sent at the site.  The basic service is free.
  • AgentQuery.com — Comprehensive searchable database of literary agents in all genres.  You can search by agent, genre, or by agency.  The site also has great resources on writing query letters.  Best of all, it’s free!
  • AbsoluteWrite.com — Besides providing a treasure trove of resources for all types of writers, the AR Forums provide lots of scoop on agents and editors based on writers’ experiences.  There is a whole “Beware” forum to help authors identify and avoid pitfalls in their searches and relationships.
  • Publisher’s Weekly — They have a section completely devoted to children’s publishing.

So let us go forth and first do the research, then submit to a targeted list.  Good luck and happy submitting!

Done your research and now you’re ready to query?  Go visit Angela Ackerman at The Bookshelf Muse for tips on “Personalizing” Queries using the info you’ve gleaned from your research.

Any other resources you can’t live without?  Leave them in the comments!

Categories: Children's Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Social Media, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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Nancy Mercado, executive editor at Roaring Brook Press and a faculty member at Big Sur in the Rockies, said she sometimes receives submissions where the writing is great, the hook is good but the “voiciness” isn’t quite right – at least for her.  I like that – voiciness.  Kind of the writer’s answer to Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.”  People can sense when it’s off, but they can’t always say why.  Kind of like listening to a recording of your own voice I guess.  Mine always seems to sound like the grownups in the Charlie Brown T.V. specials.  But I digress…

Voice.  We all have one in real life.  As writers, we must find a way to translate that voice to the page.  That voice is the one thing that makes us unique from all other writers.  Polished writing, strong characters, compelling plot, good pacing, satisfying ending – all of those things are important, but without a unique voice to take the reader on that journey, editors and agents are likely to take a pass on that piece.  Furthermore, they want to “hear” your voice from the first line on the first page.  Andrea Brown, president of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, said there are only so many universal themes in literature.  They’ve all been used – over and over again.  She stressed that there is no such thing as a fresh idea, only a fresh voice.  Elana Roth of the Caren Johnson Literary Agency, tweeted this on #kidlitchat last night: “Hook gets me to request [the manuscript]. Voice gets me to sign it.”

It can be difficult for pre-published writers to project voice because it requires confidence, authority and authenticity, three things that are hard to come by while you’re piling up the rejections.  Trust and patience are also factors, however.  After a while (so I’m told), your voice will make its appearance on the page if you keep writing.

If there is a “dark side” to voice, it is that by its very nature, voice is personal.  Some people will love your voice; some people will hate it.  I think of writers like Cormac McCarthy.  He has a definite, unique, and compelling voice.  Just don’t ask me to read any of his books.  His voice doesn’t “speak” to me.  Does that make him a bad writer?  Uh – obviously not.  It just means that much of success in publishing comes from getting your work to an agent or editor that hears your voice, loves it and wants to share it with the world.  Researching agents’ and editors’ tastes before submitting is essential (that will be the subject of my next post).  However, we must avoid writing in a voice we think editors and agents are looking for because it will lack authenticy and they will recognize that right away.  The best we can do is to find our own voices and be as true to them as possible.  The rest will follow.

So how do we cultivate voice as writers? Writing, writing and more writing.  In the meantime, all writers of every genre should read agent Nathan Bransford‘s brilliant post on voice from last week.  It’s certainly the best I’ve ever read on the subject.  There is great insight in the comments too.

Writing voices are, to put it in Julia Roberts’ words from Pretty Woman, “slippery little suckers.”  Once you find yours, hold on tight!

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Comic courtesy of http://www.inkygirl.com

Andrea Brown, president of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency won the award at the Big Sur in the Rockies workshop for giving the funniest advice on queries:

“It should be like a skirt.  Long enough to cover everything, but short enough to be exciting.”

As we writers know, sending a great query letter is every bit as important as sending a great manuscript.  Maybe even more, since the query letter often dictates whether your manuscript will even be read.

Here are a few other tips I picked up on queries over the weekend besides the obvious ones like avoiding grammatical errors and typos.

  1. State the genre, length and targeted age range of your story immediately after the salutation.  Then go straight to your story pitch.
  2. Keep queries short and to the point. Andrea advised taking all the adjectives and adverbs out of your letter.  They should be action-oriented.
  3. Don’t editorialize. Making a statement like, “this is sure to appeal to…” does not belong in a query letter.  HOWEVER,
  4. It’s okay to compare your book to other popular books on the market. Just MAKE SURE THAT STATEMENT IS ACCURATE.
  5. Don’t state the obvious. If you’re submitting to them, they know you’re looking for representation.  If you included a SASE, they’ll see it.  They’re smart people.
  6. If you are submitting to multiple agents, let them know. If they like your submission, the fact that you have sent it to others might move yours higher in the priority list.
  7. You can say that you have other manuscripts, but only query/pitch one.

These tips are just a tiny slice of the advice we received on queries, so rich was the workshop on all aspects of the craft and the business.  I’ll post more about the workshop as the week progresses, so keep checking back.

In the meantime, consider this piece of advice from Andrea on how to improve your writing:

  1. Read
  2. Read More
  3. Keep Reading
  4. Write
  5. Write More
  6. Keep Revising

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In just a few short hours, the Big Sur in the Rockies children’s writing conference will kick off.  I’m nervous and excited, but I’m also ready.  I’m proud of the work I’ve done these past couple of weeks, and I’m ready to expose it to the light of day.  I haven’t had any professional feedback on my work since the SCBWI conference in January, and it’s what I need now to take my work to the next level.

Since I anticipate spending a great deal of time this weekend indoors and seated, I took Rocky for a hike this morning.  The poor dog is neurotic from lack of exercise due to his convalescence from his surgery last week.  It’s actually very inspiring to exercise with a dog.  He knew big fun was coming, and he was beside himself with excitement.  A dog doesn’t think, “Ugh, I’ve been sitting on my ass all week so this workout is probably going to blow chunks.”  No.  Everything in his body language indicated he was thinking, “Oh, we get to go for a hike today?  Yay!  Yay!  Yay!  Please take me a very long way!”

Anyway, the hike was good for me too.  It helped clear my head and gave me some much-needed separation from my work.  Also, I saw my first bluebells of the season.  That seems like a good omen.

AND – at least now Rocky is sleeping for a reason other than boredom.

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If last week’s theme was NaPiBoWriWee, and the week before that was Unclutter Your Life in One Week, then this week is preparation for the Big Sur in the Rockies conference this weekend.  I couldn’t resist attending because it takes place here in Boulder, and it will give me the chance to workshop two manuscripts in very small groups with the prominent agents, editors and authors on faculty.  I’ve put aside the new shiny pennies that I wrote last week, and now I’m revising a few manuscripts that are more polished and that I think have the most promise.  One of them is one that I had critiqued at the SCBWI New York conference in January, although the current iteration bears little resemblance to the version I took with me to New York.  I’ve made dozens of revisions since then, and it’s gotten a lot stronger.

Yet, when I opened it this morning and read it and the latest critiques I’ve gotten, I couldn’t help but get the first few lines of Shakespeare’s sonnet #130 in my head.  Because although I truly love and believe in this story, when I compare it to those of the masters, I can’t help but think:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, then black wires on her head.

(Although I won’t go so far as to say it has reeky breath!)

I am very nervous about this weekend.  I really, really want to get some positive feedback – some sense that I am headed in the right direction.  So I continue to labor over my love, and at the end of the week I’m going to slap some lipstick on that lady, get her some highlights and hope she passes muster!

Because:

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Categories: Children's Books, Poetry, Publishing, Rhyming, SCBWI, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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