I am a firm believer that once you set an intention, especially one pertaining to writing, a path appears before you. So I love the story today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author, Joanne Sher, has to tell about how she ended up in our community. Like all good stories, it involves determination, overcoming hardship, and finding mentors who help you while you get your hands steady on the wheel. I hope you find the story as uplifting as I did. Please welcome Joanne!
I love my computer: It’s where all my friends live.
For the last decade or so, I’ve wanted to be a writer. But only in the last year did I decide to write picture books. And it all happened because of the Internet. NO – really.
You see, I’d been writing devotionals and short stories, a nonfiction book, and even made a bit of headway on a novel – but I wasn’t engaged. I dabbled in writing, but not with passion – at least not regularly.
But then a couple friends I’d met through two different organizations whose primary presence is online (American Christian Fiction Writers and FaithWriters) offered to give me $900 (YES – you read that right!) to go to a writers’ conference. My husband is on disability – and has been for over ten years now. I’m a stay-at-home-mom with a ten and thirteen-year old. Needless to say, money doesn’t grow on trees. So I can honestly say there is no way I could have afforded a conference if it weren’t for my friends. (By the way – one of the “donors” had never met me in person!)
So I researched (on the Internet, of course!) writing conferences, and ended up attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in May of 2013. It was a wonderful experience (where I had a chance to meet the lovely lady who helped me get there :D) – and I took a four-part practicum on picture book writing (led by the lovely Pam Zollman) that woke a desire in me to write for young children.
So once summer was over (had to spend time with the kids, yanno), I started searching the Internet for information on picture book writing. First, I found the Kidlitosphere, which sent me scanning hundreds of children’s lit blogs. And I discovered Tara Lazar and her WAY fun PiBoIdMo, which I dove into last November with reckless abandon (ended up with 47 picture book ideas). And one of the guest posts during that month was…wait for it…
Julie Hedlund. And on that day, my fate was sealed. I WOULD learn as much as I could about picture book writing. I WOULD write twelve picture book drafts in twelve months. I signed up the very first day that I possibly could.
And here I am, halfway through the challenge, and what do I have to show for it? Eight picture book drafts. Incredible resources – both human and material – to keep me motivated, on the right track, learning, and growing in my writing skills. A sense that I am writing what God WANTS me – what He has led me – to write. People who GET ME. Incredibly talented folks who probably realize by now that I’ve never met a picture-book-writing challenge I haven’t at least tried. (Can you say Start The Year off Write? ReviMo? RhyPiBoMo? Debut PB Study Group? Summer Sparks? PPBF?)
Does it matter that 99.9% of the people and resources that have helped me get to this point disappear when I turn off my computer? (You DO believe that, don’t you?) I don’t think so. Cuz though I would LOVE to meet these folks face to face, their impact on my life – on my writing journey – is no less important. I still have a lot to learn, and I’m not ready to send my babies out into “the real world” yet, but with the help of 12 x12 in ALL its facets, I will some day.
Joanne Sher is a Jew by birth, a Christian by rebirth, and a children’s writer by gift. A native Southern Californian, she now lives happily in West Michigan with her husband and two school-aged children. In addition to writing, she is also a freelance editor, the blogger at at the FaithWriters blog, and posts monthly at Jewels of Encouragement, The Barn Door, and Internet Cafe Devotions. Visit her at www.joannesher.com or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.
Categories: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, Perfect Picture Book Friday, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Writing · Tags: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, Joanne Sher, Julie Hedlund, Kidlitosphere, Pam Zollman, Perfect Picture Book Friday, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, ReViMo, RhyPiBoMo, Summer Sparks, Tara Lazar, Writing