One Writer’s Journey

August 2, 2018

Plastics: What Does Being a Writer Have to do with Single Use Plastics?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:27 am
Tags: , ,

Admittedly, the link isn’t something I had given a ton of thought until my writing buddy Jeanie Franz Ransom tweeted about National Geographic’s Planet or Plastic.  She just happened to tweet this as SCBWI members from around the world are heading to LA for the summer conference.  I have no clue how many people attend but it is massive and lasts four days.

Four days of disposable water bottles, plastic straws, utensils and all those name badge covers.  And I’m not picking on SCBWI.  It is an amazing organization.  This was just the event that happened to launch me into thinking about all that plastic.

Expecting SCBWI or any writers organization to solve the problem is ridiculous.  But as writers attending these events we can have a huge impact.  How?  Here are six suggestions.

  1.  Bring a refillable water bottle.  On the plane.  You can’t take it on full of water but you can take it empty and fill it at your destination.
  2. Don’t take straws.  If you simply have to have a straw, pack paper straws.  Don’t like paper straws?  I have a stainless straw that travels with my Yeti cup – car trips only.
  3. Do not take plastic utensils.  When we were cleaning out my dad’s house, I scooped up an old set of mess kit utensils that hook together.  You can also buy gorgeous bamboo sets that come with a spoon, fork and chop sticks.  These are going to go on my Christmas list and live in my purse.  I’m serious.
  4. At the end of the event, turn in your name badge cover.  It sounds like something small and unimportant but seriously.  A 1000 person event is 1000 little plastic name tag covers.  Turn it in so they can reuse it.
  5. All that leaves are my beloved pens.  I say this because I have just discovered pens that I love.  Ah, well.  Time to explore Cross pens that I can refill.  There are also some lovely bamboo pens.  I even spotted a bamboo fountain pen.  I can’t see traveling with that but if you eliminate the water bottles, straws, utensils and name badges?  There’s a lot less guilt involved in that pen that will last you a month.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we children’s writers worked together to drive this movement forward?  Think of all those little minds we can warp to our environmental ways.


May 21, 2018

Writing Events: Why Do You Go?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:25 am
Tags: , ,

This week, I’ll be posting about the Kansas-Missouri SCBWI writing retreat this past weekend.  First things first, it was an amazing event.  While there, someone asked me about my priorities in going to a writing event.  Do I go to meet agents and editors or my fellow writers?

Short answer:  Both

Medium answer: I never pick an event if I’m uninterested in the editors or agents but I also take full advantage of the opportunity to network with writers.

Long answer: If you have the opportunity to attend an event with Karen Boss from Charlesbridge, go.  Do not hesitate.  Hock the silver.  Just go.  Everyone came away knowing how to improve their manuscript whether it was picture book, middle grade or young adult, fiction or nonfiction.  She is a dynamic teacher.

But the editor/agent is only one opportunity.  Because of my membership in SCBWI, attending events, and meeting my fellow writers, I have work published through:

The Institute of Children’s Literature



Writer’s Digest

Writer’s Market

Young Equestrian Magazine

This may not look like much, but tally up my sales to each of the above and I estimate it would be 75% of my work.  I didn’t make these sales because I met an editor or agent at an event.  I made these sales because I met a writer.

One writer asked if any of us were interested in writing how-tos for our fellow writers.  She sent our names to her editor.

Several times an author has told me about a sale to a particular magazine or newsletter. After hearing about these experiences, I pitched and made sales.

Another time a writer gave me the name and e-mail addy of her editor.  I sent my application directly to the person who would do the hiring.

Yet another time I met a writer who later became an editor.

Not once have I made a sale to the big name editor or agent.  I haven’t given up, but I also keep my eyes open for those other opportunities.  You never know when you will meet someone who knows a guy or gal who is key to your next writing venture.


May 18, 2018

Writing Retreat: See You on Monday

It has been a while since I got to go to writer’s retreat.  As much as I love events that focus on writing, retreats are my favorite.

A big part of it is that I get my own room.  I know – it sounds trivial, doesn’t it?  But I’m an introvert who works at home.  I’m used to a certain amount of time without other people around.  Workshops, conferences, and retreats are great for all the ideas and information that come my way, but they are also tough because of the amount of time I’m around other people.

But at this particular event participants get their own rooms.  This means that I can go in my room and work without interruption.  If I don’t care if someone interrupts me, I can prop my door open.  There are also plenty of public places where you can situate yourself if you want to chat.

Pacing yourself is hugely important for an introvert at an event.

Other than that, I’d recommend that you take Judy Blume’s words of wisdom to heart.  Most of us go to an event knowing that we need help with something specific.  It might be the pacing of a manuscript or knowing how to approach an editor.  Get the help you need but don’t forget to just listen.  There is so much wisdom to be had if you poised to hear it.

And if you aren’t hearing what you need?  Ask questions.

Pacing yourself doesn’t just mean spending time in your room.  It also means interacting with your fellow participants.  I’ve worked for Children’s Writer newsletter and RedLine Editorial because of connections that I made at writing events.  Get to know people and you will have connections that can help you get your foot in the door.

Have a great weekend and next week I’ll share some of what I learn this weekend.



June 10, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:23 am
Tags: ,

retreat adviceI am on the road today with my writing buddy Stephanie Bearce.  We are journeying over the river (I think there’s a river) and to the land of wide open fields and windmills to the Missouri SCBWI Advanced Writers Retreat.

That means that my boys have to hold down the fort without me.  Poor boys!  Alas, I don’t really feel sorry for them because I’m looking forward to a great weekend with my fellow writers.

Later gators!


May 14, 2015

Conferences and other Writing Events

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:08 am
Tags: , ,

MissouriKim Piddington, the Missouri Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Regional Advisor, is always planning something new to benefit the writers and illustrators of Missouri.  Here are a few upcoming dates.  For more information on each as it comes available, check out the Missouri SCBWI calendar.

The 2015 Fall Conference will be held09/25/2015 – 09/26/2015 at Lindenwood University’s Spellman Center.  Speakers include author/illustrator EB Lewis, agents Brianne Johnson(Writers House) and Kirsten Hall (Catbird Agency), editors Connie Hsu (Roaring Brook ) and Kate Sullivan (Delacorte).

Retreat dates, for events to be held at Conception Abbey, are as follows:

  • June 10-12, 2016
  • September 16-18, 2016
  • April 28-30, 2017
  • September 15-17, 2017

No editors or other speakers have been lined up yet for the retreats but Kim has already sent out several e-mails and is hoping to have details soon.

Mark your calendars and get ready to learn something new about writing and illustrating for children.


April 27, 2015

Writing Events: I just came home from the Missouri SCBWI Writing Retreat

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:18 am
Tags: , ,

retreat adviceI’m just home from another wonderful Missouri SCBWI writer’s retreat.  After I take a few days and process all that I learned, I’ll be writing up some blog posts to share a few tidbits with all of you.

Until then, here are some basics to keep in mind if you are planning to attend an event.

Be sure to actively participate.  Even if it is a writer’s retreat, don’t just lock yourself in your room.  Writing is such a solitary business.  If there are sessions, participate!   Lock yourself in your room during the writing periods.

When you take part in critique sessions, be sure to listen.  Every critique group works a bit differently from every other.  Listen and get a feel for a how the group leader does things before you jump in.

Have a good time.  Part of having a good time at something like this is going into it with a flexible set of expectations.  When you do, you’ll be able to take advantage of the opportunities before you.

Now off to process some of this new knowledge.


April 23, 2010

And They’re Off . . . Is a Retreat Right for You?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:17 am
Tags: , , ,

This is going to be a short post because I’m leaving for my retreat at Missouri’s Trout Lodge.  Friday Evening to Sunday afternoon spent with Charlesbridge editor Randi Rivers and just over 10 other writers.  Hurray for me!

What is the difference between a retreat and a workshop or conference?  Is it just the overnight stay?

To me, a workshop means writing exercises and hands on.  A conference features more speakers and less actual writing but there may be some.  Often there is a choice of sessions.   or retreat can include writing exercises, presentations and writing time.

But it depends on how your organizer uses the terms so read the details carefully. With the Missouri SCBWI, a retreat is a small overnight event.  That means almost 48 hours with an editor and no more than 15 other writers.  It is an intense learning experience with serious one-on-one time with the speaker.  You learn in the one-on-one session and the group sessions and then you go off and apply what you’ve just learned to your own work.  A lot of us rewrite what we worked over with the editor.  Sometimes we apply the lessons to something else as well.  Either way, we spend some serious time writing.  All in all, it is a real growth experience.  In part, it is because we figure in writing time.  Also, it small.  Finally, it is limited to SCBWI PAL members.

Is this the event for everyone?  Nope.  A new writer would probably be overwhelmed by the information and the intensity, but, having chatted with several other writers, all PAL members, who regularly attend, it is just this intensity that we crave to take our writing to the next level.

Whether you are an experienced writer or a new writer, there are writing events to meet most every need.  Before you sign up for an event, read the brochure.  It is just like studying a market to find the one that is right for you and your work.  Do your research, come prepared and, if you’ve chosen the right event, your hard work will pay off.


January 4, 2010

Missouri SCBWI Event: Retreat with Editor Randi Rivers

Missouri SCBWI Presents

The Writer’s Revision Retreat


Charlesbridge Editor Randi Rivers


Novelist Kristin Nitz

April 23 – 25, 2010

Trout Lodge YMCA

Potosi, Missouri

“There is no great writing, only great rewriting.”
– Justice Brandeis
Authors love to write. We all adore the excitement of a new idea and the thrill of exploring a new character. It’s the agony of editing that we hate.
With the help of editor, Randi Rivers and novelist, Kristin Nitz, you will learn how to face that monster called revision.
You will spend a full weekend analyzing and revising your toughest project. Charlesbridge Editor Randi Rivers will meet one-on-one with you
to suggest revisions that will make your manuscript stronger. Both Kristin and Randi will give workshops on how to improve your writing. You
will also have time to make changes and meet with Randi a second time to go over your revisions.
Novelist Kristin Nitz will work with you to draft a query letter to an editor and help answer your marketing questions. It will be a weekend full of
writing, rewriting, and encouragement.

Staff Bios:

Randi Rivers

Charlesbridge Editor

Randi Rivers started her publishing career in the Los Angeles area, working as an associate editor for three motorcycle magazines. While living in California, she co-wrote a sketch comedy show and a play, both of which were produced onstage. Randi joined Charlesbridge Publishing in 2000. Currently an editor, she acquires and edits eight to 10 children’s books per year. She enjoys editing both fiction and nonfiction. Her favorite topics are nature, science, social studies and anything that tickles her funny bone.

Kristin Wolden Nitz


Kristin is a longtime student of the query letter and regards them almost as a separate art form. She regularly shares her insights on cover letters and query letters with students at the Institute of Children’s Literature. Her short stories and articles have appeared in Cricket, Highlights, Hopscotch, and Boy’s Quest. She’s written nonfiction books for Lerner and Pearson Education. Her second novel, Saving the Griffin, is on the master lists for
the 2009/10 Kentucky Bluegrass Award 9 grades 3-5) and the Georgia Book Award.


The retreat will be held at the lovely Trout Lodge YMCA in Potosi, Missouri.
This peaceful setting, beside a lake with tree-covered hills, is a wonderful inspiration for writing. All rooms have two double beds and their own bathroom.
All meals and lodging are included in the cost of the retreat. Private rooms are not available for this retreat.
A special part of this retreat is receiving one-on-one feedback from an editor. You will be asked to submit the first ten pages of your novel, or one whole picture book by February 1st. Randi will read your manuscript and meet with you to go over any changes she recommends.
You will also have the opportunity to work on additional projects in a small critique group. You will receive more information about the small groups upon registration.
This retreat is limited to members of SCBWI who are on the PAL* list (*published and listed).  There is a retreat in July that is open to all writers published
or unpublished. To keep the retreat intimate, there will be only 14 participants. Please register early to reserve your spot. Registrations will be
accepted on a first-come first-serve basis.


3:00 – Check-in begins
5:00 – Opening remarks and introductions
6:00 – Supper
7:30 – 9:00 Session one – Randi Rivers
9:00 – 10:00 Social time
8:00 – Breakfast
9:00 – 10:30 Critiques with Randi and meetings with small critique groups
10:30 – 10:45 Break
10:45 -12:00 Session Two- Kristin Nitz and finish critiques with Randi Rivers
12:00 – Lunch
1:30 – 4:00 Writing and revision time
4:00 – 5:30 Session Three- Randi Rivers
6:00- 7:00 Supper
7:30 – 9:00 Revision and writing time
9:00 – 10:00 Social time
8:00- Breakfast
9:00 – 10:30- Session Four-Kristin Nitz and revision meetings with Randi
10:30-10:45 – Break
10:45- 12:00 – Small-group critique meetings and revision meetings with Randi
12:00 – Lunch
1:00 – Wrap up and Good-bye

Registration Form:

_______ Yes! I am a PAL* member of SCBWI
(and yes, we do check!)
Name _____________________________
E-mail _____________________________
Phone _____________________________
________ enclosed is my check for $335.00
Cost of the retreat is $335.00.
This includes all sessions, overnight accommodations, and all meals.
Check payable to: Missouri SCBWI
Mail check and form to: Stephanie Bearce
18 Quiet Brook Ct. St. Charles, MO 63303
You will receive e-mail confirmation of your registration and instructions for submitting your manuscript.
*PAL membership of the SCBWI means published and listed. To register yourself on PAL simply login to SCBWI and update your profile information. Only people on the PAL list will be accepted for participation in this retreat.
Questions? Contact

Missouri SCBWI Event: Agents Day

Missouri Society of Children’s Book Writers

and Illustrators Presents

Agents Day

March 20, 2010

St. Charles Community College

Andrea Brown Agency
Erin Murphy Agency
Jennifer De Chiara Agency
The author/agent relationship is full of questions…
  • Do I need an agent?
  • How do I get an agent?
  • What does an agent do?
If you have been wondering about agents, and how literary agencies work, this conference is for you!
Agents from three different companies will tell you exactly how their agencies work. You will also receive instruction in networking and creating an on-line presence for your work. Plus, you will enjoy a fun session to spark your creativity.
You will also have an opportunity to participate group critique forum where an agent will give their opinion of the first 500 words of your manuscript.
Faculty Bios:
Ammi-Joan Paquette–
Joined the Erin Murphy Literary Agency as an associate agent in early 2009. She works from her home in Massachusetts, and only accepts queries via referral or from attendees of conferences she has attended. She represents all forms of children’s and young adult literature. At this time she is particularly interested in creative nonfiction, sports-related projects, novels that explore religious topics, “big-feel” character-driven picture books, and anything that tickles her funny bone. She would love to see a great mystery. She is also the published author of THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING FAIRIES (Tanglewood, 2009).
Kelly Sonnack– (This is the updated information; Kelly has replaced Jennifer Rofe for the day.)
Kelly handles all types of children’s literature for the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, including picture books, middle grade, YA, graphic novels and nonfiction.  Kelly looks for  humor, stories that stretch the imagination and voice in both picture books and middle grade.  Her YA preferences include literary YA and character driven stories.  Some of Kelly’s sales include Steve Watkins’ DOWN SAND MOUNTAIN (Candlewick), Merrily Kutner’s ALPHABET MAGIC (Roaring Brook) and Jin Pyn Lee’s THE ELEPHANT AND THE TREE (Running Press).  Before becoming an agent, Kelly was an acquisitions editor under the Academic Press imprint of Reed Elsevier and then agented children’s and adult work for three years at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
Stephen Frasier –
Is an agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Agency in New York City, a full-service agency which handles both children’s and adult books. At Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, Stephen edited such creative talents as Mary Engelbreit, Gail Gibbons, Michael Hague, Ann Rinaldi, and Daniel Pinkwater. A graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, he has a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in Boston, MA, and has written children’s book reviews for The Christian Science Monitor, Five Owls, and Publishers Weekly
Lynnea Annette —
Is the Regional Advisor for the Missouri SCBWI and a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. She works to help new writers learn how to connect with editors and agents using all forms of networking tools. When she has on her writer’s hat, Lynnea spins tales of fantasy and parables of life.
Lynn Rubright —
Is an award-winning storyteller and author. She teaches story telling at both Webster University and University of Missouri -St. Louis. Lynn works to help authors delve into their own history to create captivating stories and manuscripts. Lynn is the author of Beyond the Beanstalk and Mamma’s Window.
9:00 Opening and introduction of speakers
9:10 – 10:00 Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency
10:10 – 11:00 Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency
11:10-12:00 Jennifer Rofe of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency
12:00 – 12:30 Agents’ Panel for Questions
12:30 – 1:45 Lunch
1:45 – 3:00 Lynnea Annette – Building your networking and on-line presence.
3:15 – 4:30 Lynn Rubright’s Creativity Seminar
Critique groups with agents will run consecutively with the afternoon seminars. If you wish to participate in having a critique with an agent, you will need to sign up on the registration form.  Each critique participant will need to bring 9 copies of the first 500 words of a manuscript.  This will be read aloud to the agent and critique group.
Critique spots are limited and will be assigned on a first come first serve basis. Agents will be assigned randomly.

Agent’s Day Registration Form:

Name ___________________________________
Address ___________________________________
Date of Birth: ___________________________________
Phone ___________________________________
Email ___________________________________
Conference Fees
Early Registration – Before March 1
________ SCBWI Member – $90.00
________ Non-member – $110.00
After March 1
________ SCBWI Member – $ 100.00
________ Non-member – $130.00
Agent critique session
________ $25.00
________ $Total Due
Vegetarian or other lunch needs
Phone Registration: 636-922-8233
Fax Registration: 636-922-8686
Mail Registration: Send registration to:.
Or, make check payable to:
St. Charles Community College
4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive
Cottleville, MO 63376
Please include check or credit card information:
(Circle one: MC, V, Discover, Credit or Debit.)
Name on Card _________________________
CC #__________________________________
Expiration Date _________________________
Signature ______________________________

June 8, 2009

What is Your Writing Goal?

goalThis may sound like a silly question, but what is your goal as a writer?  Here are some things to consider.

Do you write just for fun?

Or do you want to sell your writing?

Do you want to publish through a traditional publisher?

Or do you want to self-publish?

In my area, there are events sponsored by Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Missouri Writers Guild and the St. Louis Writers Guild.  Before I could decide which group met my needs, I had to consider my goals. Then I had to look at the goals of each organization. 

Going to an event sponsored by SCBWI and expecting to find information on self-publishing would leave me disappointed.  After all, it isn’t their goal.   They educate writers about traditional juvenile publishing.  If I was writing a piece of historic fiction, I might chose a Romance Writers of America event or a Sisters In Crime event to help hone my YA mystery.   Pick the event that is right for you and you’re more likely to get what you need out of it. 

So — what are your goals? 


Next Page »

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: