One Writer’s Journey

April 2, 2018

My Books: Which Is My Favorite?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:32 am
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Last week, Twitter pinged me to let me know that I had a notification and I clicked through to find the above tweet.  Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen wanted to know which book was my favorite. No way I could answer this in a tweet so I promised to blog about it today.

First things first, I think it is fairly situational.  It just depends.

The Ancient Maya was my first so clearly it is my favorite.  My academic background is anthropology and then history. An ancient culture was a perfect fit and I’ve always had a thing for the Maya.  Always.  When I took a Smithsonian class on superheroes, we had to design a hero based on an ancient god.  The one I chose was, not surprisingly, Mayan.  In this book, I loved having the opportunity to bring people from so long ago alive for young readers.

Black Lives Matter has been such an important book because it has found its way into so many schools.  Although one reviewer described the book as irritatingly neutral, I worked hard to achieve that neutrality.  I wanted the facts about police shootings to speak for themselves.

But I also love What Are Race and Racism? because that book allowed me to explore the biology of race for young readers.  Hint: There is no biological basis at the genetic level.  Race is a social construct that has and continues to impact lives because of the choices we as human beings make.  I just hope that somewhere a class will read this book and learn at least that much.

Hidden Human Computers is a favorite because through it I was able to write, with Duchess Harris, about the lives of inspirational women. Women who didn’t wait for someone else’s permission to do science that mattered.

I love The Dakota Access Pipeline because it combines so many topics that fascinate me – anthropology, history, science and environmentalism. And it is such a vital and timely topic.

I have been very luck in that so many of the books that I’ve written touch on vital topics. Depending on the day I’ve had and the topics that I’ve been considering, my favorite book will shift.  I’m a lot like that with food too.  Oh, coffee.  My favorite.  Mmm, tacos.  I love tacos.  Baba ganoush – love it!  My tastes and interests vary greatly whether we are talking books, food, knitting, music, art, movies and more.  But that’s the great part of being a nonfiction writer – I get to explore so many topics.

What’s my favorite?  Ask  me three weeks in a row and you will probably get three different answers but each will be true when I give it.



September 5, 2017

Book Spotting: Letting a Fellow Author Know You’ve Seen Her Book

Photo by Susan Ahearn

Last week I spent some time walking on air.  One of my students “sighted” Black Lives Matter at her local library and sent me a photo.  It’s great to know that my book is a part of special displays and librarians are working to put it in young reader’s hands.

Given how great this made me feel, I’m going to make a point to do this for other writers.  I’ll be taking photos of books and audio books at my local library.  We now have separate floors for adults and children but I spotted some of the children’s books upstairs in a “Check Me Out” display put together by the librarians.  Given that our phones double as cameras, this is going to be super easy to do.

But I’m also going to post book covers on Twitter whenever I check something out.  My planned tweet will be something like “Thanks to @SLCL for stocking books by Missouri authors! Checked out and on top of my TBR pile.”  Why tag my library system?  Because books that don’t circulate enough get remaindered.  With libraries serving so many functions they no longer have the space to act as long-term storage for books that may circulate once a year or so.  Checking it out helps but so does letting other readers know I’m excited about the book and where I got it.

I recently read an article that discussed the fact that millennial may well be the salvation of our library systems.  They are used to having free access to media online.  But they’ve also discovered that they can’t find everything they want online so they are turning to another free source of media – the public library.

Why not help get the word out about the great authors I know and the great books I am reading.  Thank you to Susan Ahearn who sparked this.  Check out my twitter feed (@SueBEdwardslater today to see what book/Missouri author I tweet.


February 10, 2017

#MSWL Day: Boom or Bust?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:20 am
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twitter-1138522_1920Were you one of the many writers checking out all of the #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) tweets?  I planned to leave the feed up all day, stopping in to check every once in a while and read the latest posts.  But that plan went out the window when I got home from yoga and saw 400+ new tweets.

With so much being posted, I knew there was no way I could read it all.  So I’d scan the new posts when there were 20 or 40 but when I’d come back and find another 100 or more I simply refreshed the feed.

I know I missed a lot that way but I wasn’t too worried.  Toward the end of the day, I searched on a few key words.  #MSWL PB.  #MSWL picture book.  #MSWL  STEM.  #MSWL nonfiction.

As I found posts that interested me, I took a screen clipping and pasted them into a Word document.  All in all, I ended up with 9 leads.  Specifically, I was looking for picture books and nonfiction.  If I was looking for an agent who does young adult, I’d have had pages and pages and pages of tweets to go through.

There are three ways to see what a particular editor or agent wants.

Go to Twitter and read their feed.  This can be tough if it is someone who posts very often.

Go to Twitter and search #MSWL (agent or editor name).   This can be helpful if your target agents posts often.

Go to Manuscript Wish List.  Once there, search for your agent or editor of interested.  On their profile page, in the center column is a button that says “See my latest #MSWL tweets.”  Guess what?  Click it.  I’ve yet to figure out just how the tweets are arranged.  Not by date.  Not by reversed date.  Skim them and see if this agent still looks promising.

You can also like tweets as they are posted.  Then you go to your twitter profile and click likes.  Everything you liked is going to come up which might be a problem if you like a lot.

If you find a recent tweet that jives with something you’ve written, mention it in your query letter.  This is another way to show your agent or editor of choice that you’ve done your research.

Good luck!


February 3, 2017

Online Housekeeping

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:28 am
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android-1869510_1920Not long ago, one of my writing buddies reminded all uf us to change the copyright dates on our web pages.  With the New Year, they all needed to be updated to 2017.  It took me a few days, but I finally got around to it.  First things first, I was shocked to realize my site designer hadn’t included a copyright.  That meant that while I didn’t have to update what was there, I did need to make this addition to every page.  Fortunately, it didn’t take long.  While I was at it, I poked around and found several other things to update.

It’s easy to let what we have online stagnate, here are nine things to check and update if need be now that we are a month into 2017.

The copyright notice on your site.  Yep.  I already talked about it above, but do check.

The book list on your website.  What has come out in the past several months that you haven’t yet added?  I had to add both my November 2016 and January 2017 releases.

Class dates.  If you teach a class, like I do, you probably list start dates on your site.  Check them.  I refuse to admit how out of date mine were.

The photo you use on Facebook.  Do you have an author page on Facebook? If so, is it time to update your photo?

The banner you use on Facebook.  Again, check your Facebook author page.  My banner is my first book.  I’m still trying to decide.  Keep it or change it to my most recent release?

The “about” section on Facebook.  I know, I know.  While your udpating Facebook, you could have thought of this one on your own, but did you?  It doesn’t come up on the main screen so I tend to forget about it.

Twitter.  Your Twitter account also has a photo, a banner and profile information.  Does something need to change?

Blog.  Again, look at your profile.  And check the graphics.  My blog includes graphics for several different programs I participated in that are over and done with.  Obviously, I put them there.  Now I need to make them be gone.

LinkedIn…Do I really need to list it all?  Go have a look around and see what is out of date.  I bet there’s something!

It looks like a lot but if you can do one online destination today and another tomorrow, you’ll be done in less than a week.



January 30, 2017

#MSWL: One Tool to Help You Find an Agent

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:13 am
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Do you wish you had a crystal ball that would tell you what potential agents really want to see?  If yotwitter-848528_1920-croppedu have a Twitter account, you do.  All you have to do is search #MSWL.  If that doesn’t look familiar, it should.  It stands for Manuscript Wish List.  Agents and editor use this tag to help writers find the clues that will lead them to the right agent.

Sometimes what they ask for is pretty general.  “Still looking for middle g
rade and young adult novels.”  Other times it is much more specific. Janine O’Malley recently asked for books that foster empathy and compassion.  Another tweet asked for commercial fiction that handles family secrets with compassion in the vein of Tell the Wolves I’m Home.  

If you have a market to place, be sure to sign into your twitter account and check out the postings on February 8, 2017.  That’s the next Manuscript Wish List Day.  Throughout that day editors and agents will tweet about their dream manuscripts.

Maybe just maybe it will be something that you’ve got in your files.  You won’t know until you do that search — #MSWL.




December 1, 2016

Twitter: A Game of Roulette

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:20 am
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rouletteSocial media and marketing are two book related things that closely resemble roulette.  You know that there’s a small chance that you may win. You have to believe this or you wouldn’t bother to play.  You place your bet, making the pick you think will be a winner, and then you spin.  Where that bouncing silver ball will land is anyone’s guess.

I’ve been fiddling around with Twitter since some time this summer.  I have an account (@SueBEdwards) and for months I would post about once a week.  I knew that wasn’t enough but between blogging and having an author page on Facebook, the thought of finding enough brilliant articles and blog posts to post more often than that was daunting.

Then someone said something that caught my attention.  People view their Twitter feeds on their phones.  They don’t want to do a lot of lengthy reading.  This is the place for quirky quips and visuals.  Thus the escalation of the selfie.

I’ve taken one selfie in my entire life.  One.  Where to point the camera (aka phone), how to angle my big fat head . . . ack!

But I can do visual.  I’m actually getting pretty handy at snapping photos of other things with my phone.  And I can always visuals online that  draw attention — in a good way, people!  In a good way!

I am now ten days into posting daily images.  I’d love to say that I’ve caught the hang of what will be popular and what won’t.

A post about the SCBWI Winter Reading List (no image) brought 426 impressions (seen by) and 12 engagements (took an action).

“What I’m Reading” plus the cover of Anything but Ordinary Addie by Mara Rockliff with a link to my review brought 218 impressions and 6 engagements.

“What I’m Reading” plus a photo of my reading pile and compliment for my local library system complete with their twitter name, 540 impressions and 15 engagements.

These are my three most popular posts to date in spite of the fact that I once strayed into politics (hot button issue? not necessarily) and once posted about professional gaming.  Given the number of people who game, I thought that would be a hit.  Not so much.

Suffice it to say, that although I see trends — post something you can link to an organization — I am definitely still trying to figure out what will be popular and what won’t.




November 7, 2016

Agents and Editors Looking for Manuscripts

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:17 am
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twitter-848528_1920-croppedWish you knew who wanted your particular manuscript?  At least once a week, more often two or three times, I stop by twitter and read the #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) posts.  Sunday night I learned that:

Dial’s Ellen Cormier would like to find a YA with a character who slips into or back into “disordered eating behaviors” without realizing what is happening because it isn’t the full disorder. (post)

Sarah Davies, founder of Greenhouse Literary, would like:
A Cambodian writer who writes YA or MG. (post)
YA fantasy with its roots in non-Anglo Saxon culture.  (post)

Hannah Fergesen of KT Literary would like a YA with a main character who grew up with the Voodoo religion.  (post)

Lauren Spiellier of Triada would like a novel that deals with the events in Flint, Michigan.  (post)

I have to say that there haven’t been a huge number of posts lately, but this is a great way to find a lead.  Maybe your non-Anglo Saxon fantasy isn’t YA but MG.  Davies is interested in MG so this might still be a solid lead.

Don’t have something about Flint but you do have something about a pipeline poisoning a communities drinking water?  Then you might still want to query Spiellier.

These are not the only topics that these agents want but their requests can help you gain some insight into their interests, passions, and preferences.  Don’t let a good opportunity pass you by!


September 19, 2016

MSWL Day: The Best Thing About Twitter

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:04 am
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twitter-848528_1920-croppedYes, I participate in social media.  Yes, I get why it is important.  But I also see it as a great big, gigantic time suck.  That’s not someone with a straw that you hear.  That’s social media sucking down your time.

But, like I said, there are also pluses and one of the big ones for Twitter is #MSWL Day.  For those of you who aren’t twitter savy, MSWL stands for Manuscript Wish List. On manuscript wish list day, editors and agents post about the dream manuscripts they would love to receive.

Here are some of the tweets I spotted on the last #MSWL Day (9/13) that are relevent to children’s writers.  I’ll provide a link to each complete post.

Hannah Fergesen Amelia Peabody-esque YA series brimming over with archaeology and murder (Tweet).

Moe Ferrara is on the lookout for MG and YA fantasy and science fiction (Tweet).

Stephanie Stein wants YA and MG fantasy where the magic is 100% essential to the story (Tweet).

She is also on the look out for YA and MG with snarky, sassy characters (Tweet).

Jill Corcoran wants picture books, MG and YA. She wants story and voice that leave her with a feeling of peace and love.  And yes, she got that all into one tweet!  See it here (Tweet).


There were more but these were the ones that caught my attention.  Read the tweet.  Read up on the agent.  Maybe one of them will be right for you and your work.



May 31, 2016

Social Media: The Down Side

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:47 am
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wwwSocial  Media for Writers.

How to Use Social Media.

Social Media, the Author’s Way.

Everywhere I turn, there seems to be someone telling me how important social media is for me as a writer.  They’re willing to tell me how and why and just how little time it will take.  And I have to admit that I’d bought into it.  I blog — obviously.  I’m on Facebook.  And I recently joined Twitter.

Maybe it’s because I added one thing and then another, but I never realized just how time-consuming it could be.  But last weekend we were out of town.  Yes, where we were staying had wi-fi.  I should have been able to get on, but our particular room was one of a block that gets iffy reception, especially when the place is booked solid and every room has a device or two linked in.

I knew I was going to have some time to myself and I had looked ahead at my deadlines so I had my laptop with me.  I had already drafted the next three chapters of the NASA book but this was a really rough draft created before the present outline with our editor and publisher.  Needless to say, I lot had changed.  Instead of trying to find a place I could get on and check my e-mail or Facebook, I popped open my laptop and got to work.  Ninety minutes later, I had a draft of Chapter 5.  Sure, there were a couple of blanks that I could only fill in once I could Google but I had a solid draft.  The next morning, I had an hour to myself and before everyone got back I had drafted Chapter 6. Again, there were blanks but still.

Two chapters drafted in a couple of hours.  Yes, I had bit and pieces already written, but I think a lot of what I accomplished was thanks to the fact that I could check e-mail.  I could pop over to Facebook.  No one could IM me.  That’s a big one for me.  If it pings, I have to look to see if it is something I need to read immediately.

I’m going to try an experiment this week.  School  is out, people are home, swim season has started.  My writing time is at a premium.  I’m going to write for several hours this week after closing down my internet connection.  I have a feeling it will be time well spent.


May 4, 2016

Twitter Abuse

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:35 am
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Twitter abuseNot too long ago, I finally gave in and joined Twitter.  I wanted to check out the Manuscript Wish List (#MSWL) but the new site was still under construction.  The old site was not being updated.  If I wanted to see what was what, I need to birdie up and Tweet.  Now that I’m on, I follow a few of my writer buddies and some of the authors I like.  I also still check out #MSWL but I’ve already spotted a trend that disturbs me.  Twitter Abuse.

I don’t mean people slamming someone whose tweet they don’t like.  That happens, I’ve heard about it, but I haven’t witness it.  What I’m talking about is lazy people not using a resource the way that they should.  For a week or so, I wondered if I was the only picky pill but then a user named Jackson tweeted “…please stop saying ‘I have xyz’ or ‘is an agent looking for xyz’ in #mswl.  It’s a resource for you to browse. not an advertisement.”

If you aren’t familiar with it, #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) is a tag that agents and editors use when they are looking for something specific . . . well, somewhat specific . . . as specific as agents and editors ever get.

Peter Knapp wants middle grade with heart.  Genre is less important.  Heart is what “wins [him] over.”  Click here for full tweet.

Molly O’Neill is on the lookout for a YA novel about a gap year.  She specifies YA vs NA.  Click here for full tweet.

Liz Kossnar is much more specific.  She wants a picture book that shows the development through time of an artist.  Click here for full tweet.

That’s how #MSWL is supposed to be used.  It isn’t a place to post your manuscript description in the hopes that an agent will fall in love.  It isn’t the place to ask what young readers interested in X should be reading.  It is a tool for writers to use in researching agents and editors.

Fingers crossed that it remains a useful tool for those who need to use it.



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