One Writer’s Journey

May 22, 2019

Reading Writers

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:39 am
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How many books do you read at the same time?  I used to be the kind of person who read one book, start to finish, before starting another.  Now, I generally have two books going at once – a print book and an audio book.  That said there are exceptions to the rule.

  • If I realize I need to get something read for book club.  Then I put aside the non book club book to finish the one I will need to be able to discuss.
  • If I have a stack of picture books or graphic novels to read.  Sometimes I will put aside the novel I am reading for a day and focus on these much shorter books.
  • If I am researching something.  Then I will read my research materials during the day and my “fun” book before bed.

How can I read several books at a time?  It helps when they are different types of books but I have found that often my print book and audio book overlap in some way.

I have to admit that when someone claims to be a writer but they are someone who doesn’t read, I am suspicious.  In my opinion, and this is not a humble opinion, you cannot write without being a reader.  In spite of this, I encounter “writers” who simply do not have time to read.  Others tell me that they won’t read because they do not like anything that is being published.

Reading is 100% essential so that you learn the parameters of your genre or type of book. It is also one of the best ways to study good writing craft.  What better way to know what works for the reader than to be a reader yourself?

Step 1.  Read.

Step 2.  Write and read.

Step 3. Rewrite and read.

Because reading is essential all along the writing journey.




May 21, 2019

Creative Commons: Finding Copyright Free Images

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:37 am
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Whether you are blogging or creating PDFs for your students and you need a graphic, it is easist to work with copyright free materials.  Copyright free means that something has no copyright restrictions.  It is public domain or available for anyone to use.  It is something that no one should be making money when someone else uses it.

Under the Creative Commons system public domain items are CC0.

Unfortunately, the problem can often be in finding the images you need.  Most often I use Pixabay.  Most of the people who upload material on Pixabay are photographers or graphic artists.  That means that when you search something like “ape,” “monkey,” or “dinosaur fossil,” you are trusting the person to know the difference between an ape and a monkey as well as which prehistoric reptiles were dinosaurs and which were not.

But I was reading Jane Friedman’s newsletter, Electric Speed, and came across the Creative Commons Search or CC Search.  This is sponsored by the nonprofit behind the CC license itself.  At the time, the search will only find images but the goal is to broaden it to also search audio and text.

Although the search is limited to images the images come from a wide variety of sources, among them museums and other scholarly organization s including:

Flora.on sponsored by the Portuguese Botanical Society

The World Register of Marine Species

Geograph Britain and Ireland

The Rijksmuseum

There are also sources like Deviant Art but with a number of museum and academic organizations there will be carefully curated materials.  As with anything found online, proceed with caution and check your sources.

That said, I am looking forward to having a slightly easier time finding some of the picky, specific images I need to illustrate a scientific or natural point.

You can also modify your search, narrowing the source, the type of license available and more.  Definitely something to check out as you look for the images you need.




May 20, 2019

Social Media: Pick and Choose

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:04 am
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An editor or agent is interested in your book. They ask what you would be willing to do to promote it.  You point out that you blog and that you have a LinkedIn account.  When the next question comes, you cringe.  What about Facebook and Twitter?  Instagram or Snapchat?

My advice to you?  You probably can’t take full advantage of every type of social media.  After all, you only have 24 hours in any given day and seven days a week.  You simply won’t have the time to do everything.  You will have to pick and choose.

You may not want to hear this but promoting your own work is essential.  To do this effectively in this day and age when young readers, parents, teachers and librarians all use social media, you too will have to have a presence somewhere.

Look at what types of social media you already use.  Take some time to study how other authors use these platforms.  Do you see something that would work for you or your book?

Promoting your work on social media will take time.  And I don’t just mean the hours that you will need to post on Facebook or tweet.  No matter what type of social media you choose it will take time to build up a following.  Because of this, it will take time to effectively spread the word about your own work.

That is part of the reason that it is important that you NOT volunteer to use Twitter if you hate Twitter.  Not only will you have to use it every day, you will have to use it for weeks and months to build an effective following.  Do you really want to put that much time and energy into something you hate when you could actually use other social media that you enjoy?

Don’t say no but do take the time to wisely pick and choose what you might do to promote your work.  It will take time and you might as well enjoy it!



May 17, 2019

4 Things to Study in Screen Plays

Recently Writer’s Digest published a blog post about studying screen writing and what you can learn by reading specific Oscar winning screen plays.  Their post was intended for people who are studying screen writing. I’d like to expand on this – study screen writing and screen plays no matter what type of fiction you write.  Because there is something to learn whether you write picture books, graphic novels, or young adult mysteries.

Here are four things you can learn by reading screen plays.

The Three Act Structure.  Stories frequently consist of three acts – the beginning (introduction), the middle (body of the story), and the end (or resolution).  While fiction writers in general are aware of this, among the first to realize the importance may have been screenwriters.  In her Plot  Whisperer book, Martha Alderson pulls examples from both books and movies.

The Hero’s Journey.  The importance of this form in story telling may have first been discovered by Joseph Campbell who studied ancient stories and found that throughout time they consist of certain types of characters and certain plot points.  You have heroes and mentors.  You have a call and a climax.  To read more about this and how it applies to writing check out The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.

Humor.  So often I see editors asking for books with more humor including books that deal with serious issues.  One of the screenplays on this list, The Apartment, was cited not only for being funny but also funny while dealing with the “unsavory.”  Loved the use of that word. Casablanca was also noted for its often humorous dialogue.

Characterization.  Speaking of Casablanca, another reason it made the list was for fully realized characters.  Even the cameos presented characters who were given an opportunity to shine.  There are no stock characters here so if you feel like your secondary characters come across as flat, check out this screen play.

Check out the post from Writer’s Digest, download the various screen plays and get to work.  It is time to make those manuscript shine!


May 16, 2019

Naomi Shihab Nye: Young People’s Poet Laureate

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:26 am
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I’m not going to lie.  When I found out that Naomi Shihab Nye had been selected by the Poetry Foundation as the next young people’s poet laureate, I did a little dance.  I may have even squealed and jumped up and down.  Maybe.

The purpose of this position is to “raise awareness that young people have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.” Past recipients of this award include Jacqueline Woodson and Margarita Engle but Nye is the first Arab-American to be chosen for this honor.

As is the case with many poets, not all of Nye’s work is for young readers.  Nor is all of her work poetry.  Thus the list of her work that I’ve included here is partial and incomplete but is composed of her poetry, picture books, essays and novels for children and young adults.

  • Baby Radar, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2003. Picture book.
  • Benito’s Dream Bottle, illustrated by Yu Cha Pak. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. Picture book.
  • Come with Me: Poems for a Journey, with images by Dan Yaccarino. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2000.
  • Habibi. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.  Young adult novel.
  • Is This Forever, or What? Poems and Paintings from Texas. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2004.
  • Lullaby Raft, illustrated by Vivienne Flesher. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. Picture book.
  • A Maze Me: Poems for Girls (poetry; for young adults). New York: HarperCollins, 2005.
  • Never in a Hurry. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.   Essays.
  • Nineteen Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, New York: Greenwillow Books, 2002.
  • Sitti’s Secrets, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. New York: Macmillan, 1994.  Picture book.

If you don’t already know her work, visit your local library or place an order with your local independent book store.  It will definitely be worth your while.

For more on Nye, her work and her appointment, check out this story at School Library Journal and this article by the poetry foundation.



May 15, 2019

Sue Bradford Edwards: Finding Me Online including Amazon

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:29 am
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I realized that I haven’t posted anything about my online presence in quite a while.  If you are interested in finding out more about me and my work, you stop by any or all of these locations.

The Muffin. This is the blog for the Women on Writing community.  I am one of about fifteen women who blog about various aspects of being a professional writer.  I also teach Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults through WOW.  You can find out about my class here.

PrayPower4Today. This is a blog about prayer and faith.  Lori Strawn, Ruth Williams and I started working together on another prayer website.  We loved writing about prayer and faith but when they quit paying us we split off and formed our own blog.  Ruth is a great one for telling it like it is but also seeing what is good in the world.  Lori has a knack for poetic prayers.

Twitter. I tweet about writing and positivity.  And books. I tweet on average twice a day and retweet another two or three things.  What I’ve had to eat?  Where I’m shopping?  Unless it is writing related or really odd, I tend to keep those things to myself.  I will retweet humorous book related or writing related items.

Amazon.  The best way to see all of my books in one place is to visit my author page on Amazon.  Yes, you can go to Amazon and search my name but when you do that you get an odd variety of sponsored books as well including Gene Autry and Bonanza videos as well as fantasy novels.  I read a lot of fantasy but Gene Autry and Bonanza?  I don’t get it.  

My website.  This has my bio as well as information about my books and my class.  Am just now noticing how out of date this is.  Holy cow.  I think I’ll be printing this off to update things.  

Share your own links below so that we can all gain some followers!


May 14, 2019

Lion Forge: Merging with Oni Press within Polarity

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:20 am
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As I work on my first graphic novel, I have to admit that I’m closely watching changes in graphic novel publishing.  Last Wednesday, it was reported in the New York Times that Lion Forge and Oni Press are merging within Polarity LTD.  Just what this is going to mean for the authors and graphic novels already under the Lion Forge umbrella remains to be seen.

I’m hoping to for good things.

Lion Forge has always focused on producing “comics for everyone.”  Unfortunately there have already been at least nine layoffs between the two companies.  As reported by Publisher’s Weekly, several of those people are POC, queer or both.

It is also unknown at this time whether the two, Lion Forge and Oni, will continue to operate as seperate lines or whether one or both will be merged into existing lines.  At this time, Lions Forge is listed as a Polarity company but Oni is not.

PW and the Beat list the following personel among those laid off:

  • Jasmine Amari, Lion Forge editor
  • Andrea Colvin, v-p, editor-in-chief of Lion Forge
  • Amanda Meadows, Lion Forge editor
  • Melissa Meszaros, Oni publicity director
  • Scott Sharkey, Oni staffer
  • Christina “Steenz” Stewart, Lion Forge associate editor
  • Desiree Wilson, Oni editor Desiree Wilson, publicity director

Oni Press publisher James Lucas Jones will become president and publisher of the combined Lion Forge/Oni Press.  He had this to say to PW. “In an increasingly competitive marketplace, where the business of comics and graphic novels is rapidly evolving, this merger is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our two companies to pool our resources for one goal: to create the finest comics and graphic novels for everyone. We want to build on our strength as a go-to destination for creators.”

How will this impact the graphic novels and comics produced by Oni and Lion Forge?  I have no idea.

For more on this story, check out the article at PW and also the article at The Beat.


May 13, 2019

Field Trip! Literature and Writing in the Wide World

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:59 am
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If any of you are in St. Louis, Missouri, make time to head to the St. Louis City library headquarters on Olive for the Print to Pixels: How Words Changed the World exhibit.  It runs through June 2.

The exhibit traces the history of print from cuneiform to modern printing — there is even a 3-D printer working away at one end of the exhibit. A time line the length of the library’s main gallery traces the development of paper and other medium on which text is printed as well as the printing process itself.

For me the highlights included getting to see cuneiform, Balinese books printed on bamboo strips that are gathered into a fan, illuminated texts, a King James Bible and several antique type writers.  They even had one there that doesn’t feature the qwerty keyboard.

There is also a functioning letterpress run by Firecracker Press.  They print note cards, journals and posters that are offered for sale.  They also have hands on workshops from 1 – 2 on various Saturdays but these dates and times are not on the library website.  I would call for dates and times if you are interested.

Younger people who have never used a typewriter will likely appreciate the table of typewriters at one end of the hall.  Visitors are encouraged to type a letter that will then become a part of the display.

The exhibit is super informative but it is also billed as interactive.  That, in my opinion, is a stretch.  But then I’m used to the interactivity of the Magic House and various exhibits at the Science Center.  Call it interactive and my expectations are high.

Still it was definitely worth the trip.  One thing that surprised me was the reaction the invention of the typewriter.  This was seen as a ground breaking innovation that would allow people to become their own publishers.  Given that at one time books were so expensive and time consuming to produce that they were chained to library shelves and you’ll understand that this was a very big deal.

Not sure how I will use this is a story but I am noodling it over.


May 9, 2019

A Writer’s Impact: Changing the World

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:36 am
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As I read through my e-mail, I spotted an ad for a book that promised to tell you how to write your own book that would change the world. Hmm.  Maybe people who write for adults think that they will come up with the single idea and book that will alter the very world on which we live.

Then again, maybe people who write for children and teens think that way too.

Maybe I’m just the odd writer out.  Because the books that ultimately shaped my future were written my Marguerite Henry. I was a horse crazy kid but there was no earthly way I was going to have  a horse.  Heck, my parents would even let me take riding lessons.  But I read every one of Henry’s books I could get my hands on.

When I was a fairly new writer, Tamara Duncan came to a critique meeting.  She was the new editor of Young Equestrian magazine.  She needed writers.  How does a horse crazy kid with little hands-on horse experience break in to a horse magazine?  I wrote a profile of Marguerite Henry.  Duncan needed breed profiles, the history of the breed and info on the breed itself, and I wrote those.

These weren’t my first sales but it was the first time I made consistent sales to one market.  This was where I learned to pitch multiple ideas to an editor, to work back and forth together on a piece, and to take “no, we can’t use this” as the simple, straight-forward rejection it was meant to be.

Do we really know which book is going to be the one that opens up a new world for a reader?  In which book will they see themselves and be willing to believe that change is possible, that they deserve something more, or that there are other ways to look at the world?

Write to change worlds, certainly.  But first write a darn good book.  That is what will pull your reader in.  Only then can your work open their world in some way.



5 Minutes a Day: Resurrecting Your Writing Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:29 am
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Five minutes a day. Although it may not be the ideal amount of writing time, it is all you need to squeeze in an effort to write.

I proved this to myself the last few weeks with my brother-in-law in one hospital and my father in another across town.  Then there are the fruit trees we bought before all of this started.  Getting them in the ground at the community garden was a must. And I had bought herbs for my own garden.

Some people can simply not write for months at a time.  Busy planning a wedding.  Getting ready to move.  New baby.  And those are all good reasons not to write.

But for me it isn’t really an option.  But how do you write when your life is full to the brim.  You do it in five minutes a day.

And the first step is believing that it is possible both to find five minutes and to doing anything worthwhile in five minutes.

Most of us can find five minutes if we give ourselves permission.  Five minutes in the driveway before you enter the house after work.  Five minutes after breakfast.  While one of my writing friends is waiting for her kids, she sits in the car and writes on her phone.  I keep a small notebook in my purse.

But can five minutes a day add up and become anything worthwhile?  I did it for a month and drafted 5400 words on a middle grade novel.  Not tens of thousands of words but a lot more than I would have done otherwise. So what could you do with 5400 words in one month?

Tune in on Fridays for more “Five Minute a Day” posts.




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