One Writer’s Journey

September 30, 2009

One of My Reviews

Making this post a quickie today — the kids are out of school on Friday so I have to make the most of my work days this week.  More so than usual, I mean.

Here is a link to my round up review that ran in the Post-Dispatch this weekend — four top notch books for readers of all ages (If the World Were a Village, Something Wonky This Way Comes, The Green Dragon Codex, and Coffeehouse Angel).

I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite but I am always a sucker for fantasy.

My son has already made off with everything but Coffeehouse Angel. What can I say?  They put pink on the cover.

–SueBE

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September 29, 2009

Dealing with the Downs of the Writing Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:00 am
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As you may have read here on “One Writer’s Journey,” the release of the first issue of 21st Century Family was postponed.   As accustomed as I’ve gotten to rejection letters, this felt worse.  Maybe it was because I had to let the writers know.

nails

This time around my Rejection Jar simply did not cut it.  Fortunately, I had a new bottle of nail polish in just the perfect color for the occasion.  Instead of following my usual practice and painting easily concealed toe nails, I did my finger nails instead.

Does this mean that I gave up on writing that day?  Nope.  I’d paint three nails and then get back to work, stopping every 20 minutes or so for a little more polish.  I’m not saying I accomplished anything amazing, but I did make progress.

When he got out of school, my son saw my nails.

“Wow.  What went wrong?” he asked.

When I told him, he patted me on the back.  “I’ll get my homework done and we’ll play a computer game.”  What can I say, he knows me.  And he knows that Lego Indiana Jones can pretty well make my day.  Who doesn’t like smiting the bad guys?

So for days when your usual rejection plan doesn’t cut it, have a back up in mind.  I’d recommend a few bottles of appropriate nail polish and a computer game or two.

–SueBE

September 28, 2009

Too Many Cooks. . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:22 am
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You’ve heard the saying, “Too many cooks spoil the soup.”
Too many goals are no better.  I didn’t ruin anything, but I didn’t make a heck of a lot of progress on anything either.   A little progress on a large number of things is much less impressive than a lot of progress on one or two things.
Here’s what I did accomplish:
Did the interview for the Q&A article.
Wrote interview questions for another article and solicited almost all of the interviews I need.
I came up with a really good outline for another article and started doing the background research.
Finished my reading for the book review.
Did some more historic research for one picture book.
Worked on the rewrite for the other.
Sent in the magazine article.
Because my husband will be having surgery this month, I’m not really sure what I’ll manage to accomplish but there are things that need to be done vs those that I simply want to do.  You know, things editors are waiting for vs things they aren’t.
So here are my goals for next week and the month of October.  I’ll mark the things I want to work on this week in red.
Finish writing the Q&A article.
Finish all three interview based articles.
Write the book review round up.
Write and submit a solicited craft project as well as pitching several more.
Write my two talks for the Missouri SCBWI conference.
Finish the historical research for the picture book.
Finish rewriting the second picture book.
Rewrite the chapter book.
Start working on another picture book – this is the one I want to have ready for a retreat in 2010.
My son has Friday off this week, my husband will be scheduling his surgery and one of the cats will most likely be having surgery too.  This week and this month will be challenging!
–SueBE

cookingYou’ve heard the saying, “Too many cooks spoil the soup.”

Too many goals are no better.  I didn’t ruin anything, but I didn’t make much progress on anything either.   A little progress on a large number of things is much less impressive than a lot of progress on one or two things.

Here’s what I did accomplish:

  • Did the interview for the Q&A article.
  • Wrote interview questions for another article and solicited almost all of the interviews I need.
  • I came up with a really good outline for another article and started doing the background research.
  • Finished my reading for the book review.
  • Did some more historic research for one picture book.
  • Worked on the rewrite for the other.
  • Sent in the magazine article.

Because my husband will be having surgery in October, I’m not really sure what I’ll manage to accomplish but there are things that need to be done as well as things I simply want to do.  You know, things editors are waiting for vs things they aren’t.

So here are my goals through the end of October.  I’ll mark the things I want to work on this week in red even if they are things I don’t intend to finish.

  • Finish writing the Q&A article.
  • Finish all three interview based articles.
  • Write the book review round up.
  • Write and submit a solicited craft project as well as pitching several more.
  • Write my two talks for the Missouri SCBWI conference.
  • Finish the historical research for the picture book.
  • Finish rewriting the second picture book.
  • Rewrite the chapter book.
  • Start working on another picture book – this is the one I want to have ready for a retreat in 2010.

My son has Friday off this week, my husband will be scheduling his surgery and one of the cats will most likely be having surgery too.  This week and this month will be challenging!

–SueBE

September 27, 2009

Launch of 21st Century Family Magazine Postponed

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 9:28 pm
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Sad news today from publisher Bob Mehsikomer:
“We have been told to table the Family Magazine until revenues can be achieved to properly launch the publication.
“In today’s economy it’s important to be on target budget wise.
“I can’t say when things will resume, I can only hope some advertisers come forward . Sorry, but keep your head up. I am working on this end.”
What does this mean? The publisher has full text and most of the photos for the first issue but needs additional advertising dollars to launch. When this happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Until then, I hope everyone keeps writing.
–SueBE

Sad news today from publisher Bob Mehsikomer:

“We have been told to table the Family Magazine until revenues can be achieved to properly launch the publication.

“In today’s economy it’s important to be on target budget wise.

“I can’t say when things will resume, I can only hope some advertisers come forward . Sorry, but keep your head up. I am working on this end.”

What does this mean? The publisher has full text and most of the photos for the first issue but needs additional advertising dollars to launch. When this happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Until then, I hope everyone keeps writing.

–SueBE

September 25, 2009

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:26 am
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mummyWhere are you going to find a serial adventure started by Jon Scieszka, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, who will then be followed by M.T. Anderson, Natalie Babbitt, Calef Brown, Susan Cooper, Kate DiCamillo, Nikki Grimes, Shannon Hale, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), Steven Kellogg, Gregory Maguire, Megan McDonald, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, Linda Sue Park, Katherine Paterson, James Ransome and Chris Van Dusen?

No place other than the Library of Congress newly updated site, read.gov.  The premier of both the story and the site will be at the National Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, on the National Mall.

“The Exquisite Corpse Adventure,” as the serial adventure story is called, isn’t necessarily about the grim or macabre.  Cadavre exquis is the French term for a surrealist technique in which phrases or images are added to a single work without each person knowing what their predecessor has added.  Find out more in the September Wise Guide to the Library of Congress.

Looking at the list of those involved, I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with!

–SueBE

September 24, 2009

Science and Science Fiction

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:20 am
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moonI’ve had the great fortune to be chatting with Doug Richards.  Doug  has a masters in molecular biology.

What does that have to do with writing?  Specifically with writing for kids? In addition to writing for National Geographic KIDS magazine, Doug writes science fiction.  He loved reading it when he was a kid and he wants to give young readers today great books that open up the world of science.

Doug must be doing something right because his books, THE PROMETHEUS PROJECT – TRAPPED and THE PROMETHEUS PROJECT – CAPTURED, have both been listed on Missouri State University’s list of Best New Books to Engage Students in Math and Science.  Check out the full 9 page list here .

For my part, I’m always impressed by authors who can combine fiction with a strong nonfiction element, who can teach without seeming to preach for their cause.  Check out some of the books on this list to see how these authors do it. Me?  I’m starting with a series called The Prometheus Project.

Still not convinced?  Considering that you are reading this, you might be interested in Doug’s article, “Once a Knight is Not Enough,” about the importance of the Web for science and education.  It is on the website of The Naked Scientists (a science radio program through England’s BBC.  You can also check out an interview Doug did for “This Week in Science.”  His bit starts at minute 31 on the podcast.

Read and listen and then think.  How can you pull your passions for the world around you into your fiction?

–SueBE

September 23, 2009

National Punctuation Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:59 am
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!        ()        ;         :        ?        !        ()        ;         :      ?

Finally, a holiday just for writers.   Today is National Punctuation Day.  Check it out here.  There are not only t-shirts (. . . an ellipsis is not when the moon moves in front of the sun), and a baking contest!

How can you not love a holiday that excuses your burning need to correct punctuation mistakes while munching a question mark shaped cookie?

–SueBE

!        ()        ;         :        ?        !        ()        ;         :      ?


September 22, 2009

Being a Beginner

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:20 am
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This week I joined the church choir.  In school, I was a soprano.  Now I’m sitting with the altos.  About half way through practice, the choir master asked how it was going.

“In college, I ended up at a party where I was the only English speaker,” I said.  “It was a lot like this.”

But my first choir practice reminded me of what it felt like to be a new writer, too.  So much information, so many names, so many buzz words and everyone knew what is going on except me.

If you’re a beginner and you’re feeling totally overwhelmed, take a deep breath and relax.  Now pull on your very best filter.  Only pay attention to the information that relates to what you need to work on most.  When I was a new writer, that would have been my writing.  Get comfortable with the terms.  Learn how they relate to you.  Work on your writing or whatever your greatest need is.  When you see solid improvement in your #1 area, you’ll have sorted out the selection of jargon that applies to that topic and you’ll know what’s going on.  This knowledge will give you a foundation for additional writing know-how.  Things will be much less confusing when you loosen up your filter a little bit at a time.

Now I’m off to grab my sheet music and plink through the anthem.   I’m not going to focus on anything but the notes the altos need to sing.  Little by little I’ll work it out.

–SueBE

September 21, 2009

Monday: Meeting Goals when Life Intrudes

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:29 am

I think the title above will tell you what you need to know how I met my goals for the week.  The universe is having a real belly laugh at my expense.  “Goals!  She dares to make goals?”

Here are the goals I set for the week and how I did with each:

  • Find a few resources for my historical research after meeting the other goals or frying my brain in an attempt to meet them.
  • I did this while I was home with sick kid.
  • Work on the quick rewrite of the other picture book which require a very small amount of research.
  • Again, I got the research done but only got about half way through the redraft.   Finishing may require dummying the book.
  • Rewrite the chapter book.
  • Ha ha.  Didn’t even come close to this one.
  • Cut 200 words from the article and fine tune it.
  • I did it!   I like my new hook, but my conclusion still feels weak.

Instead of meeting my goals, I had a sick kid home from school for two days, he shared the virus with me so I was down for a day and spent half a day at the vet with a sick cat.  Translation:  I had only one full work day.  The good news is that I got responses on some queries and have four writing articles to work on.

The goals I would like to set for this week are:

  • Find a few periodical resources for my historical research to add to the books I already found.
  • Finish the rewrite of the second picture book.
  • Rewrite the chapter book.
  • Rewrite the conclusion on the magazine article and get it out.

The goals I have to meet for this week are:

  • Do the interview for a Q&A article.
  • Write interview questions for another article and start soliciting interviews.
  • Write the questions for a second interview based article and start soliciting interviews.
  • Do the same for a third interview based article.
  • Work on next book review round-up.

Hopefully I’ll have some time for the first set of goals too!  Again, I’m good at meeting deadlines for my editors but not so good at the others.  Will have to put a bit more effort into it this week.

Happy Writing!

–SueBE

September 18, 2009

Take Yourself Seriously as a Writer

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:31 am
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Sarah Hodon posed an interesting question recently on her blog, “Adventures in Writing.”  In a post titled “When Did You Start Taking Yourself Seriously as a Writer,” she pointed out that we can’t expect editors and agents to take us seriously, if we don’t take ourselves seriously.

Do you take yourself seriously as a writer?  This can mean:

  • Having a work area that is yours and yours alone.
  • Making sure that you get uninterrupted work time — which may mean not answering the phone.
  • Writing, if not daily, on a regular basis.
  • Writing while letting your spouse take the kids to soccer.
  • Taking time to get together with your fellow writers.
  • Taking advantage of opportunities to improve as a writer — this can mean attending a conference or a critique group.
  • Introducing yourself as a writer without apologizing in any way, and that includes saying “but I haven’t sold anything yet.”

Do you take yourself seriously as a writer?  Sarah’s right.  You have to before the rest of the world will do the same.

–SueBE

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