Happy Thankgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!  

What am I thankful for?  That I reprioritized some of my goals and can actually enjoy Thanksgiving. 

As you know, I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo while working on several writing jobs and doing the usual cooking, childcare, etc.   Last Monday the stress slapped me to the floor.  I totally melted down.  It was not pretty. 

As I wrote to one of my writing buddies about it, I realized that the only thing to do was back off on NaNoWriMo and several other non-paying goals.  I am a very goal oriented person.  Thus, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get things done.  This is good in that I finish things.  This is also bad in that I can really put myself under a lot of stress.

What I realized is something that I suspected even in October.  For me, NaNoWriMo is bad.  Not questionable.  Not suspect.  Just plain old bad.  I do not need a whole group of people watching my word total to see if I make a goal or if I am letting down my state and city. 

So, am I failure because I’m not finishing my NaNoWriMo manuscript over the holiday weekend?


I am a success.  Why?  Because I realized that for me, this was a destructive goal.  I can only write so much in one day and still be sane.  If I didn’t have paying deadlines this month, I might be able to pull it off.  But I do, so I can’t. 

This month I will have written almost 10,000 words toward a new chapter book manuscript.  I will also have written 1 round up review, 3 biographies, an article and an essay.  Failure?  I don’t think so. 

So Happy Thanksgiving!   Please give yourself the time to enjoy it!


Book Sale and Craft Fair

Finished one of my educational assignments yesterday and turned it in, and it has already come back with comments.  Efficiency is fine, but I really wouldn’t mind having a single piece off my “to do” list for a solid 24 hours. 

Started my next assignment today but didn’t get much actual writing done as I was setting up a book fair this morning.  Those of you in the St. Louis area, Florissant Presbyterian Church is having their annual craft and used book fair tomorrow.    It is definitely a great way to spend the morning — visiting with other book lovers.  I’ve just wrapped up my lemon glazed cookies for the bake table and am ready to go!


Again with the NaNoWriMo

Somehow today I don’t have any writing tasks on deck except for NaNoWriMo.  I did make some phone calls to track down interviews for a nonfiction piece, and I may read for another nonfiction piece, but no other actual writing. 

As a result, my NaNo count is now up to 5970.  Hurray!   I’m almost caught up.

Of course, my sidekick is trying to take over my story.  For now, I’ll let him.  Maybe it should actually be his story?  ::shrug::  I guess that’s the beauty of the really awful first draft.  Get it down so you have something to work with and you can figure it out later.


Highlights for Children

I just got an e-mail from Highlights.  Every now and again they send their “current needs” out into the world.  If you write young nonfiction, history/world cultures, science or activities, you might want to take a look at this link:

http://www.highlights.com/custserv/customerservicecontent2main.jsp?iContentID=2552&iCategoryID=203&CCNavIDs=3,203 .


More NaNoWriMo

One of the lists I’m on has been discussing how to quiet the internal editor.   In other words, how do you churn out that first draft when you get to a point that throws you — a character you haven’t named, a past event you must refer to but haven’t invented yet, etc. 

I do one of two things.  If I need to leave out a name or something else extremely brief, I type XX as a place holder in my ms.  If it is something more complicated I type myself a reminder in all caps — WHAT COULD THEY DO THAT WOULD BE REALLY FUNNY?  REMEMBER THAT THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED BEFORE THEY STUDIED CASTING.   Something like that.  Then I just plow on.  It must work, because I’ve always got two or three rough drafts sitting on my desk, all containing a series of XX or CAP LOCKED letters to myself. 

Finished roughing out one of the paying jobs today and have my NaNoWriMo piece up to 4570 or so.  I am beginning to doubt that I’ll have a completed draft at the end of the month.  I still plan to reach my projected word count but this piece feels older than the one that proceeded it.  My POV character was supposed to be about the same age, or at least I thought he was, but he feels . . . older.  Not quite tween but pushing it. 

::shrug::  We shall see what we shall see.  I guess that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about.



Just about the time a writing buddy convinced me to sign up for NaNoWriMo, I heard from two editors.  As my husband patiently reminds me, “paying work is good,” even if it does eat into my NaNo time.

Fortunately, I had no intention of making the 50,000 word goal.  Why when your manuscript is a lower level middle grade?   So I set myself a goal of about 14,000 words.  No, I can’t win NaNoWriMo but the suggestion I received to just pad the heck out of my writing wouldn’t work for me.  My first draft is always slight.  Always.  My third draft is usually slight if you ask my critique group about it.

I’m only a bit behind, having made  it to 4000 words at noon today.  Hopefully I can finish a full draft of the book in spite of the paying jobs.  Yeah, I know how silly that sounds.


Missouri 2008 Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference

If you’ve never attended a conference, workshop or retreat but you are interested in writing for children, please look for one in your area.  You may have to travel but it is well worth it.  You’ll meet other people who do what you do and who love it every bit as much as you do.  You won’t have to explain why your house is a mess but you just finished drafting a middle grade mystery.  You’ll even find other people who’d rather get children’s books than clothing for Christmas.

Susan Van Metre of Abrams was the first to speak.  Her session was on notching up the stakes for your character.  Challenge them.  Scare them.  Make them suffer — all within the limits of your reader’s age level, of course.

I missed the second session because I had a critique in the middle of it and didn’t want to get up and leave.  

After lunch agent Elana Roth gave an absolutely hilarious session on the agent/writer relationship.  This woman has a great sense of humor so if you write funny, she’s someone you might consider. 

In that afternoon, I sat in on Leslie Wyatt’s session on plotting.   She gave me some new ways to look at creating a plot and how to test if each action is part of this plot or just something exciting to keep things moving.

Thank you to Missouri ARA SCBWI Stephanie Bearce, Missouri RA Lynnea Annette and the staff at St. Charles Community College for making this a great day!  I know this is brief, but I just had got a five article assignment from a new publisher.  Due December 11.  Time to hit the library and start researching!


Missouri SCBWI Conference

Are you involved in your local Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org) region?  If not, look into it.  Not only does the organization bring great conference, workshops and other events to children’s writers and illustrators worldwide, you will develop an amazing network of fellow writers and illustrators. 

How elsrosese do you explain this?  Missouri Regional Advisor Lynnea Annette and Assistant Regional Advisor Stephanie Bearce put on a great conference this weekend but they gave me flowers!   They say I was helpful but all I did was answer questions.  Not even that many IMO.   But Thank you to two wondrous women who put on a fantastic event.

But these are the kind of wonderful people you will meet at such an event.  New writer?  Unseasoned illustrator?  Not a problem.  That’s where we all started out.  Look into your region of the SCBWI and get involved.  You’ll learn more than you can possibly grasp about children’s publishing and you’ll make some great friends.  More on the conference tomorrow.


Hello world!

This blog will be about my writing and, because my writing often relies so heavily on it, research.  I will also introduce you to writers who inspire me. 

Often we think of writing as a solitary thing.  After all, most of us have to have a certain amount of quiet to write.  But writing communities abound because we take so much inspiration from our fellow writers.  Take a look at NaNoWriMo and you’ll see a writing community in action, each writer spurred on to meet their word count goal this month.

Carol Parenzan Smalley is a writer who constantly inspires me.  She is one of the most prolific writers I know.  This summer Carol wrote four emergent readers for an educational company — one on a team of explorers, one on an endangered anomial species, one on endangered plant species, and one, co-written with her daughter, on pet care.   But that’s not all.  If it was, I wouldn’t be talking about Carol.  She is also working on two books about the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  A picture book and a middle grade novel, the books are part of the school’s 100th anniversary celebration.  Check out this article for more on the project — http://www.ldnews.com/news/ci_10726121.

Signing off.  I need to write my own NaNoWriMo entry for the day, draft an article and revamp the talk I’m giving this weekend at the Missouri SCBWI conference. 

Keep on writing!