Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blue Moon

There's going to be a blue moon tomorrow night on New Year's Eve. This doesn't happen very often and I posted about it here on my other blog.

I love a full moon, it is so strikingly beautiful!

Sounds like a good time to start writing a story.

I've been busy with everything and haven't written much this month, but I'm ready to get back into writing.

An idea came to me, but it's not a children's story. I'll keep you posted about it if my idea actually develops into something.

We will be enjoying our cabbage on New Year's Day. It's been a family tradition for years. When I was young, Mom put a silver dime in it. The one who found the dime in their serving of cabbage would come into money in the new year.

I hope everyone has a very happy New Year! Maybe we should put our heads together and make some writing resolutions.

My resolution: Don't give up! I will keep writing until one of my stories is published!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Warm Winter Wishes!

I wanted to wish all my snowbound friends . . .

before I show you some pretty snow pictures.

one of our maple trees

our apple trees

bird house

grape vines and blackberry bushes . . . brrrr

Catawba trees

our poor little doe

down by the creek

down by a neighbor's barn

our holly tree

our lovely sycamore tree

It's still snowing!

Here's hoping the electric doesn't go out from the weight on the lines.

I've been bad, except for my column, I have taken a short break from writing during December.

I'm hoping I'll be full speed ahead in January. I'm still waiting to hear about my submitted MG. Don't you just hate the waiting.

Be careful out there. If you don't need to go anywhere, stay home and read a good book, or better yet, write a good book!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Coffee Table Books

It's snowing outside! Our first real snow. I've been kind of down lately, and seeing the snow falling from the sky perked me up.

This is the time of year I put out my Christmas coffee table books. These aren't your usual books you see piled on the table for guests to read (unless you have a lot of little kids, that is). As you can tell I love collecting children's books. I pick them up at yard sales.

Would you ever guess that I write for children?

and here are a few more to pick from. . . I love the illustrations in these books.

Here they are in a nice neat stack. Which book would you choose to browse through while waiting for Santa's visit?

Sip on a nice cup of hot chocolate, relax and read for a while.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Borders express

To make a long story short. . .

My husband and I went to Town Center Mall on Saturday.

I looked over and saw Borders express!

"Oh, honey," I said. "Let's go see if they have Christmas Traditions."

Yes! I found it on the shelf with the other Christmas books! There it is, second from the left.

I was so excited to see the book. We just had to take pictures. Needless to say, we got a few looks from a few people. But I didn't care.

These pictures were taken with my husband's cell phone. We met a very nice lady and when she found out what we were doing she offered to get her son's camera and take pictures with it. I'm a little shy, it was her and my husband's idea, but I finally agreed. She went out into the mall and came back with the camera and her husband took the pictures.

We talked for a long time. She said my husband would make a great agent. I don't have their pictures yet, but I gave them my email address and they are going to send them to me. She said she had an idea for a children's book but didn't know if she'd ever try to write it or not.

It was a great! I found my book and met a very nice family all in the same day.

Just received the pictures took by my friends I met in the mall.
Here's one they took of me and my husband.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Writer's Thankful List

I am thankful I stopped thinking about it and started writing.

I am thankful God gave me the imagination needed to be a children's writer.

I am thankful to have the time to put my thoughts into words.

I am thankful I write a column for children.

I am thankful I had a short story published in an anthology.

I am thankful I belong to a writer's group.

I am thankful to be surrounded by books.

I am thankful to have my writing friends to encourage me each day.

I do not have an agent, I do not have a publisher, and none of my children's stories are published yet, but . . .

I am glad my thankful list is larger than my do not have list, and that brings a smile to my face.

Comment and let us know what brings a smile to your writer's face, so we can smile, too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Advice From Famous Authors

Online College recently posted Words of Wisdom: 101 Tips from the World's Most Famous Authors.

I thought I'd share with you a few of my favorites:

John Steinbeck
- I've always tried out material on my dogs first. Make sure that above all, you are happy with your work. . . and see if the dogs stay awake.

Sounds like good advice to me :)

Jessamyn West - Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary.

I agree!

Margaret Atwood - Don't be afraid of failure. A ratio of failures is built into the process of writing. The wastebasket has evolved for a reason.

My wastebasket near my computer is a nice big one and is usually full on trash day :)

Annie Dillard - Writing sentences is difficult whatever their subject. It is no less difficult to write sentences in a recipe than sentences in Moby Dick. So you might as well write Moby Dick. No matter what, write.

If you like writing recipes, I guess you could always incorporate them into your storyline :)

James Patterson - I'm always pretending that I'm sitting across from somebody. I'm telling them a story, and I don't want them to get up until it's finished.

That sounds like a very good idea to me!

Agatha Christie - The best time to plan a book is when you're doing the dishes.

Maybe I should go do those dishes now, instead of waiting until later :)

Malcolm S. Forbes - Failure is success if we learn from it.

I think we can all learn from our failures.

Helen Keller - Find the joy in small accomplishments. I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

All of your short stories could add up to a great novel!

Ralph Waldo Emerson - Believe in yourself. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.

I think this is something you must do to persevere. If you don't believe in yourself, why should you expect others to believe in you.

I enjoyed these quotes, I hope you did too.

Which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


You know how I am always writing about the waiting game. Nathan Bransford just did a post titled "Waiting is the Worst Part." It was good to see that someone else hates to wait, too.

I've been busy editing, again!
Seems like that's all I do lately, but I don't mind. I love going through my manuscripts and 'trying' to get it just right.

I think my middle grade is finally ready to go out into the world. I changed the title again. It has went from being "The Family Treasure" to "The Honeysuckle Mystery" to "The Family Secret."

It has been critiqued by my writing group, but it is amazing what you miss when you do a final once over. I thought I'd caught most mistakes, but I've come to the conclusion that you never catch all your mistakes. I hope the publishers understand this, too, and don't throw it to the slush pile for little grammar errors.

I single spaced it and ran it off on the printer, read through it and made changes. I printed it again. This time on the back side of my 'chicken scratched' copy to save on paper. (I used to drive my writer's group crazy when I did that, but now I've found that some of them are doing the same thing).

I read it again and still found errors. How could I have missed these? I had the letter '2' at least twice where I should have spelled it out. Had 'mom' capitalized when it shouldn't have been. Took out a few 'he said' and 'she said' tags, etc., that I could do without. I checked for consistency, in one place the dad had blue eyes and in another place he had dark eyes. I guess he could have had 'dark blue' eyes, but I changed it anyway.

And should I mention the double spaces after sentences? I guess that's what I get for being from the generation that used typewriters. We were always told to double space after a sentence. It is a habit very hard to break. I did the 'find' search for double spaces and I cannot tell you the number of double spaces it found after my sentences. "Oh, my goodness," as Shirley Temple used to say.

I know these type of errors are little things, but I'm amazed I didn't find them earlier.

I think it's time to send it out, my house is suffering. You see, I love writing, but I hate housework. My house looks like a poor abandoned soul that has been neglected and left to gather dust and clutter. It's a good thing we don't have company.

Do these little things drive you crazy when you edit. Do you find things that you think someone else must have typed in your manuscript when you weren't looking?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Wait Goes On and On. . .

One of the hardest parts about writing is the wait.
You write something and it could be years before you see it in print. I like instant gratification, I guess I'm into the wrong profession.

I had submitted a story to Cup of Comfort for Couples. The deadline has been extended twice. The first one only a few weeks. We were to be notified at the end of October, then an email stated that we would be notified by November 10th - 15th at the latest. Now I get an email stating that the development schedule for Cup of Comfort for Couples has been changed again. After being closed to submissions, it has now been opened for submissions again. You have till April 20th to submit and deadline for selection is now June 15th.

It's a wonder I have any hair left after pulling it out with all these delays.
I guess for all the people who procrastinated with submitting, this is good news. You now have time to submit.

My story Lucy of Tuppers Hollow is still away. After waiting 6 months, I inquired.
The reply I received apologized for the delay and he said he would find it and read it and I would hear from them by the beginning of the following week. (This was a while back)
I waited patiently for the email, and at the end of the following week, I did receive an email. He said 'our staff is still evaluating your manuscript. We will be in touch with you shortly.' That was over a month ago.

My question is, do you think any of us will arrive at our goal to be published before our hair turns completely gray? or before all our hair is pulled out?

Is anyone else out there as impatient as I am? Probably not.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Remembrance

In remembrance of Veteran's Day. . .

Go to and until November 13th you can search their military records for free!

They have copies of draft cards from WWI, WWII, the old mans draft of WWII and lots more records you can search through. I have copies of my grandpa's draft card from WWI and from the old mans draft of WWII. You can find lots of info about them on these cards.

You only have a few days to do it for free. Type in names and see what comes up. Go check it out and good luck!

For those of you new to my site, go here and see last year's post on Veteran's Day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I am From . . .

Sherri over at Sherri Tales had a blog post about 'I am from' poems.
I liked it so much that I wrote one, and I plan to write more.

Now, first of all, I am not a poet. I like to write poems and have written many, but most of mine are rhyming poems, which seem to be out of favor now a days. I wrote this poem yesterday and took it to our writer's group meeting last night. We have two members who are very good poets. Max, one of the poets, told me this was a "keeper." This meant a lot to me coming from someone who is very good at writing poetry.

I Am From Appalachia
by Janet F. Smart

I am from Appalachia,
from hills and hollows
and Grandma's front porch
with quilt covered gliders
cotton soft and squeaky.

I am from dirt roads
rutted from cars
that rumble past and
leave billowing clouds of dust
to scatter in the breeze.

I am from summer vegetable gardens
plowed in early spring
with Uncle Romey's horses,
whose long manes and straight rows
flow behind them.

I am from thorny blackberry patches
spread over hillsides
and gnarled grapevines hanging from trees
waiting for eager young hands
to grab hold and swing.

I am from close knit families
living in houses built by
strong hands and loving hearts
and cousins playing in yards perfumed
with the scent of roses and lilac bushes.

I am from time gone by
when fireflies dotted
dark country skies and
families left their doors open
for a visit from a night breeze.

I am from Appalachia
and I dwell in the shadows
of the rugged hills
where I walk in footsteps
left by my ancestors.

Well, that's it.

I've come to a decision as to what I am going to do in the near future.
I am going to continue writing my column for Two - Lane Livin' magazine (I love doing this) and I am going to send out my picture books to publishers. While I am waiting for an answer from the publishers, I am going to work on writing our family history. I think I will write these type of poems about different aspects of my family and include them in the family history manuscript.

Writing my family history is one of the things that got me started writing. I have learned a lot in the past two years and I want to continue where I left off.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Big Read - To Kill a Mockingbird

Jackson County is participating in The Big Read this month. It is provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The book picked for Jackson County was To Kill a Mockingbird.

I was on the court house lawn a few weeks ago when the event was kicked off. It rained, but people still came. There was a story telling contest, someone portrayed Atticus Finch and gave a speech on the courthouse steps, they gave out free copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and there were free refreshments. And anyone who wanted to feel what it was like for Scout to be in a ham costume, could step into a cardboard ham and get their picture took.

There's been activities all month at both county libraries and this week Mary Badham, who starred as "Scout" in the movie will be visiting. She will visit both high schools on October 26th and hold a program at a church gymnasium on Monday, also. All the events are free.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week they are having free showings of the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the Alpine Theatre in Ripley. The Alpine is the old theatre in Ripley that has been restored.

If nothing happens, Charley and I plan to go to the movie on Friday night.

It has been an interesting month celebrating Harper Lee's book.

Friday, October 16, 2009

scary characters

It's October and Halloween will soon be here.

Let's make a list of scary children's characters.

Penguin took a poll and at the top of their list of scary characters was the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia. I hate to admit it, but I've never read the book, so I'll take their word for it.

How about these for scary characters:
  • the Wild Things
  • Cruella de Vil of 101 Dalmations
  • the Big Bad Wolf of Little Red Riding Hood
  • the Wicked Witch in Wizard of Oz
  • the flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz
  • the Witch in Hansel and Gretel
I know it's a medal winner and I know I'm in the minority, but I'm not crazy about Where the Wild Things Are like most people. The monsters are horrible looking and I don't like the character telling his mother, "I'll eat you up!" It amazes me sometimes how some books become so popular.

I know I've only scratched the surface. Add to my list and tell me your favorite scary children's characters.

Would you like to write a scary story? Go here for some spooky story starters.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Fair Update

I didn't sell very many books, but I had a real good time at the Book Fair.

Granny Sue, a member of my writing group was there and I met another blogging friend, Matthew, of Appalachian Lifestyles. And I made a new friend, Cali Davidson Frye, who writes children's books. I also got to meet Fran Cannon Slayton who wrote When the Whistle Blows.

I wish I had taken more pictures.

There was a huge space where there were tables and tables of used books for sale.
There were many local publishing companies with their books for sale. Authors were there to sign their books and there were workshops you could attend. And best of all, this was all free to the public!

Believe it or not, I only bought one book at the used book sale. There were just so many to look at and I didn't have a lot of time to spare and the check out line was sooo long. Some people bought boxes and boxes of books!

I want to tell you about the book I did buy at the used book sale for $2. It is a writing book and I love it. It has so much good advice. It is titled, Writing From Personal Experience.

One of the chapters is titled, Is It Funny? I've always wanted to write humor and this chapter was full of useful tips and ideas, such as, write about whatever you find absurd, be simple, be bold, be brief. Humor is about brevity and less is definitely more. Be direct and cut the clutter. One of the things that makes people laugh is the truth. The truth with a curlycue at the end! Another thing that makes people laugh is the unexpected.

The book is about writing from personal experience, but in my opinion it has good advice for any type of writing you might do.

I am already looking forward to attending the Fair next year and being a little more prepared next time and making the most of it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

West Virginia Book Festival

The West Virginia Book Festival will be October 10-11 at the Charleston Civic Center.
I'll be going to it on Saturday. It will be the first time I've attended it and I'm looking forward to going.

They have a huge used book sale, book signings, vendors and exhibitors, programs for children and teens, story tellers, poets and much more.

The hours are from 9am to 6pm on Saturday and Noon to 6pm on Sunday.

The West Virginia Writers will have a table at the festival. Anyone who has a book published and is a member of WVWriters can bring their books to sign and sell.

I will be there on Saturday at 12 noon with copies of Christmas Traditions. If any of you live in the area, come on by and say hi. I would love to see you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Writing Exercise

Mary from Mary's Writing Nook posted a writing exercise from her writing group.

You were to write a story starting with this sentence:

I knew it was a mistake to travel by ---- when . . .

Fill in a mode of transportation such as a tricycle, red wagon, truck, motorcycle, etc.

She told me to use red wagon. Here is my story.

I knew it was a mistake to travel by red wagon when I saw the bull in the cow pasture glare at me. He snorted and pawed the ground. He shook his head and swished the flies off his back with his long black tail.

My short legs shuffled across the field. I wiped the sweat from my face and watched the bull out of the corner of my eye. He snorted again, lowered his head and pawed the ground with his sharp hooves.

"Why did I take the short cut home from the store?" I muttered to myself.

I picked up my pace and I streaked across the field. The wheels of my red wagon sailed over the bumps behind me. I raced toward the nearest tree. My hand let go of the wagon handle and grabbed hold of the sturdy oak limb. I scrambled up the tree just as the bull ran underneath me.

"Na, na, na, na, na," I shouted to the animal below.

I shouldn't have done that. He took aim and charged toward my red wagon. His horns slid between the open slats and he flung it over his head. It twirled in the air and landed with a thud. The eggs and bread, smashed and shattered, fell to the ground.

Content with his rampage on the red wagon, the bull turned and lumbered across the field. I climbed down from the oak tree and looked at the mess. I reached into my pocket and counted my change. Pulling my red wagon behind me, I returned to the store taking the long way this time, and bought more eggs and bread.

My little red wagon and I traveled down the winding road, around the cow pasture, toward home.

Now, it's your turn. If you would like to do this, fill in the blank with a mode of transportation and write a short story.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Troublesome Words

I just submitted a story to Cup of Comfort for Couples. They've extended the deadline if anyone thinks they might have a good story to submit. The good thing about it is you don't have to wait forever to know if Cup of Comfort accepts your story or not. You will be notified by October 31st.

I read and reread my story a lot. I did a lot of editing. I got input from a friend of mine who is very good at writing and editing.

Words I used to have to find and delete were that, just and but.

I still have to look for those words while editing my stories. Now I have discovered a few other words I have trouble with and never realized it.

Pronouns! You know what I'm talking about. Them, We, They etc.

We (who? you and the family?)
Them (who? family and friends, comments?)
They (who? parents, friends?)
He (put in name)

I found I need to be more concise. More clear.

So, after I fixed the story being submitted to Cup of Comfort, I pulled up my middle grade manuscript and checked it out.

was everywhere! Of course you can't take them all out. A lot of they's had to be left in, but I was amazed at how many could be changed into something more clear and concise. Now I am going back and looking for them, we, he, it etc.

It's easy to do. Go to Edit and Click on Find.
You might be amazed at what you discover lurking in your manuscript.

What are your troublesome words that slip into your stories?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hard Work and the Pleasure it Brings

We've been working a lot around the house lately. And it gives me pleasure to see the results.

We now have freshly painted metal chairs to sit on the porch in.

We now have clean siding on the front of the house. And, we have taken off the shutters and cleaned out all the wasp nests.

We had to work hard, though, to enjoy the pleasures it brought us.

It's the same with writing. You can't enjoy the pleasures of getting published, seeing your name in print or winning contests unless you work at it and don't quit.

I have thought about quitting before. I've said "Why do I do this?" "I don't have a chance in getting published." "I'm not good enough."

And, you know, I may not be good enough yet. That's why I must keep writing and some day I will be good enough. Wonderful publishing deals don't come overnight.

They come with the little steps and pleasures you accomplish along the way. Such as winning 2nd place on the Writer's Wall at a writing conference or honorable mention for your picture book in a writing contest. Little things help keep you going. Such as an unexpected 2nd place in a local poetry contest for amateur poets. . .

And finally seeing your name in print with a story you wrote two years ago. . .

So, keep writing and some day our hard work and little steps toward publication will pay off.

My favorite quote. . . "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."

Don't quit and you and I will enjoy the pleasures that our hard work brings us.

Monday, September 21, 2009

And the Winner Is . . .

I want to thank everyone who commented on my post for a chance to win a copy of Christmas Traditions.

I also want to thank all of you for your congratulations. It really means a lot to me!

Congratulations to Becky of Twisted Fencepost!

I hope you enjoy the book, Becky. My email address is on my profile page. Email me your address and I will mail it out to you.

Thanks again to everyone.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Comment for a chance to win!

Look what I received a few days ago.
This is my contributor's copy they sent me in the mail.

Here is my story on page 36! It's nice to see your name in print.

I haven't read all the stories yet, but I have read a lot of them. They are very good and they will give you ideas to start your own Christmas traditions in your family.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon.

I'm going to give away a copy of the book to one of my commenters. All you have to do is comment on this post by midnight Sunday and your name will be put in the drawing for a copy of the book. If you follow this blog, your name will be put in twice. But, you have to comment for a chance to win.

Good Luck!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Two Lane Livin'

If you have not yet noticed, I've got a link to a regional monthly magazine called Two Lane Livin' on the side bar. It is available in print and online.

The magazine, which just celebrated their 2nd anniversary, has a 16 county coverage region.
It is a free magazine if picked up at one of their 500 distribution locations, or can be subscribed to for $29 a year. They currently print and distribute 15,000 copies.

Starting with the October issue I will have a children's column in the magazine! It will be called Fun Facts for Kids.

I am very excited! It does not pay, but I feel this will be a great experience for me and help me in my pursuit of becoming a published children's writer. I will have to come up with ideas and meet a deadline every month.

Wish me luck!

Go to the site and look around, it is a very good local magazine.

For those of you who live in WV, go here for the distribution locations throughout the state.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oh, No!

Reading Rainbow
will end it's 26 year run, due to lack of funds!

It was the 3rd longest running children's program in PBS history, behind Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.

I loved Reading Rainbow! Just like any children's writer, I dreamed of some day having LeVar Burton read a book written by me.

Go here to see a list of books featured on Reading Rainbow.

The recession has hit home.

John Grant, head of content at the "Rainbow's" home TV station told the National Public Radio, Inc. "The series resonates with so many people." The show's being canceled, he says, because no one will put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show's broadcast rights.

Oprah, where are you when we need you? In the name of your Book Club you could donate the money needed to keep Reading Rainbow on the air.

It was a wonderful show that will be missed by children and parents alike.

Good bye, Reading Rainbow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vote for Books!

Go to First Book and vote! before September 30th!

Of course, I would love for you to vote for West Virginia, but that's OK, just so you vote.
You can go back and vote every day.
The state that wins will receive 50,000 new books for children in need.
What a wonderful program, putting books into the hands of children who may not otherwise get one.

Spread the word. Tell your friends to go vote.

West Virginia is currently (at the moment I'm typing this) in 4th place.
They ask you to type in the book that got you hooked on reading.
After you go over and vote, come back here and tell us what book got you hooked.

I remember getting hooked in Jr. High School when I read Christy by Catherine Marshall.

So, what book got you hooked on reading?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Unique Ideas

Hi, just thought I'd let you know that I'm still around.
I've been busy editing some of my stories and keeping busy with lots of other summer things. You can check out my other blog for what's been going on around our house.

I'm really giving Amazing Miss Maizy the once over.
I've put it on the SCBWI forum for critiques and at our last Wordsmith's meeting Susanne and I also worked with it. I want to really be satisfied before sending Miss Maizy to publishers again.

While glancing through the Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market I read some interesting tips from the publishers. Some said:

they wanted picture books with fresh approaches. . .

they wanted something outstandingly different. . .

they wanted something unusual, original and well written. . .

they were always interested in a new twist on time-tested subjects. . .

and one of them said - "if it is not letter perfect, we do not want to see it." I guess I'll have to make a note not to send anything to them.

and another said, "you should find a reputable agent and have him/her submit your work." I guess I'll have to cross them off my list of possible publishers, also.

So I think writing a picture book and getting it published is easy. You just have to make it outstanding, unusual, original and/or put a new twist on the subject. We should be able to do that, along with making it letter perfect.

So let's everyone put our heads together and come up with a unique idea for a story.

How about . . .

an elephant who wants to learn to water ski

crafty critters - a non fiction book about smart animals

a ghost who was afraid of the dark

I'm sure you can come up with ones better than mine.

Let's have fun and add to the list. Can you add a unique, original and outstandingly different idea for a story?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Writing Goals

My writing goals are:

1. I want to be published. I want to see my name after an article, column, book etc.
I guess you could say I've accomplished this because the anthology with my story in it is going to be published in September. I also had an article published in our Sunday Gazette a few weeks ago.

2. I want to have one of my children's stories published.
This is my dream and I have not accomplished this yet. I have some PBs that I really feel strong about and a couple of MGs that I love. I'm still editing one of them, though, and the other has been out to a publisher since March and I haven't heard anything from them yet. I need to take time out from writing and submit my PBs. It is so time consuming to look up and find the right publishers that will accept unagented material that I keep putting it off. And you know, nothing will happen to your stories if they are in your computer's hard drive or on your desk. They will only gather dust.

3. I would like to get a personal rejection letter. It may sound funny that my goal is a rejection letter, but I am tired of getting those form letters or notes with not so much as a signature on them. It would be nice to get a personal one with words of encouragement scribbled on it.

4. I would like to be called a writer. Most people don't think of you as a writer unless you have been published and unless you are getting paid for your writing.

5. I understand that in the beginning you may have to write for little or no compensation. That is OK, it will give you the experience you need and it will give you (hopefully) a following and name recognition. But eventually my goal is to get paid for my writing.

It seems like most of my goals center around getting published. But that is my dream. And it would be nice to get paid for it, also. I know I will not get rich from writing, but I would like to make some money.

I have decided that until my children's writing takes off I will also try to do other things, like sending in articles to newspapers and/or magazines. Writing short stories for anthologies, entering contests (which I have already been doing) and any other writing endeavor I can think of.

I have decided that you have to go after what you want. You can't just sit there and expect good things to come to you. You have to get brave (which is hard for me to do) and submit, pitch your ideas and write, write and write. You are not a failure, unless you don't try. If you get rejected or your ideas get put down, you have to get back up and start again.

What are your goals? Have you already met some of your goals?

Do any of you have suggestions on getting your feet wet in the writing world? I'd love to hear your comments and ideas.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Writing Info

From the comments on my last post about the mail box, it seems that maybe I was right, most good news seems to come via email, not snail mail. But, there are a few exceptions.

Thanks for your input.

I browse the internet looking for sights about writing.

I recently found this sight. It's called the Dabbling Mum.

On the bar at the top of their sight click on Writing.

I'm stilling looking around, but so far I have found many good articles. The nice thing about it is that the information is all in one place, you don't have to go looking everywhere.
The topics include anthologies, book writing, fiction writing, general writing, getting paid, grammar, magazine writing, prompts, queries and success stories.

The Recipe Section is also interesting.

If you get the time, (which is hard to come by when you're trying to write and do everything else that needs to be done around the house) go take a look. You just might find some information you've been looking for.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Just Wondering

A few questions about the mailbox.

Should we take it off it's pedestal?

Should we take away it's star status?

We sit and wait patiently for the mail each day.
We hope to receive good news from our submissions out their in the publisher's slush pile.

But, regarding my stories, the only news I have received in the mail box is bad news.

To put it bluntly . . . REJECTIONS!

How about you? Have you ever received good news in the mail box?

I received the good news about my story that's being published in September via e-mail!

So, I have a question for my readers.

If you have had a story published, did you receive the news in your snail mail box or in your in box of the computer. Or did you receive the good news via your telephone?

Even if you haven't been published yet, tell us your opinion.

Should we be checking our in box more often than our mail box?

Inquiring minds want to know. Is it good news when our mail box is empty?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Free Books!

I can't take credit for seeing this first, I saw it on another blog.

But go here to get a free book while they last. No purchase is necessary, there are three to choose from.

Happy reading!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I'm Back

Sorry it's been a while since I last posted.

We've been on vacation and I had a lot of catching up to do when we got back.

We had a wonderful view from our lodge room on the 7th floor at Pipestem State Park.
If you want to read more about our vacation, go here to my other blog.

This view should inspire anyone to write, don't you agree?

But, since we returned I've been busy in our garden . . . and in the Blackberry Patch!

I named my blog Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch, because in the summer time I literally spend day after day in my blackberry patch. If I want to do any writing I have to do it down there among the vines.

Here are my purple fingers fixin' to pluck a few ripe berries.

Now, I think it is the perfect time for me to get out my picture book about picking berries and edit, edit and edit.

What have you been doing?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

When The Whistle Blows

If you saw one of my comments the other day, you will read that I won an advance copy of Fran Cannon Slayton's book When The Whistle Blows.

I was so excited. I emailed her immediately to give her my address.

She answered promptly. She said she was on a book tour, but she would tell her husband to mail it to me.

I got it in the mailbox yesterday!

I emailed her back and let her know I had received it. She promptly got back with me and thanked me for letting her know I had received the book. She said her book tour was going great! I had asked her if there were many differences in this book and the final published version. She said there were some, but they were fairly subtle.

She is so nice and I don't think being published has went to her head at all. I wish her the best on her book tour and with her book When the Whistle Blows.

I am reading it now and so far I love it. I love the language she uses and her style of writing.

Go here and find out all about Fran and her book.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Last Night's Meeting

Appalachian Wordsmiths met last night. It had been so long, I was starting to have withdraw symptoms.

It was good to see everyone again. Five of us were at the meeting last night. Two of our regular members couldn't make it. If you're reading this post, "We missed you!"

It was good to catch up on all the news and happenings. After we did that, the ones who brought material read aloud and we discussed the stories and marked up our copies to give back to them.

Last night I read a newspaper article I'm working on and one of my picture books that I am continuing to edit.

I have sent this PB out many times, but only once since I did it 'right.' I have blogged about this before, my having a hard time keeping description out of picture books. I rewrote the story and took out all the beautiful descriptions that you are supposed to leave to the illustrator, and I love it. I tried to do all the right things. I started out with action, used lots of descriptive words such as swoosh! swished, cracked, boomed, splashed, & splattered to make it exciting, and it is (in my opinion) a good story.

I tossed copies to everyone and said, "What's wrong with this?"

My writing friends found a few things wrong. Yea!

Now onto the revisions and sending it out again! I really have faith in this one story. I'm going to keep sending it out until (hopefully) I find a publisher who wants to take a chance on it.

What have you been doing? Anyone have a manuscript out there?
Are you in the middle of revising one of your stories? Do you have a work in progress?

We're all in this journey together. Share your stories, your ups and downs, let us cheer each other on and help each other along the way.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What Is Your Hardest Part?

What is your hardest part about writing?

Is it the waiting? The editing? Getting the ideas to flow? The rejections? The research?

This urge to write came over me a few years ago. The inspirations came and I just wrote and wrote.

Along with writing children' s books, I also write the occasional short story.

I recently read a post about researching your market before submitting to avoid getting those dry, impersonal rejection letters on a story that you thought was great and sparkled with imagination.

Well, I usually do all the research. That is the part I dread the most. I have a number of stories, but stopping to do the research such as looking into books like the Book Markets for Children's Writers 

and then going on line to their web sites and getting the most recent information about them is hard and sometimes heartbreaking. You think you've found just the right publisher for your manuscript, you go to the submission guidelines and find out that they are not accepting unsoliciated stories at this time. They are only accepting submissions from agents and they will not respond if not interested. So here starts the waiting game. How long do you wait before you assume they are not interested?

While waiting you can write or edit your other stories. Read, read and read books that are in your writing genre. . .

and continue to submit your other stories to publishers.

I sometimes wonder if it is worth it. I think, there are other things I could be doing, like keeping the house clean. But then I think back to that long list of writers and their numerous rejection letters on books that finally sold. I think back on the quote from Richard Bach that says "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."

So I forget the house work and ignore the people who think writing a child's book is child's play, and stick with it.

Now that I've got all this off my chest, what is the hardest part for you as a writer?

Is it the waiting? The editing? Getting the ideas to flow? The rejections? The research?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Check is in the Mail

We've all heard the saying 'The check is in the mail."

Well, I got my check in the mail for my short story that is going to be in the book Christmas Traditions.

It's only $75, but it's the first compensation for my writing. So, I guess that makes it official, I'm an author!

Come September, I can hold the book in my hand! Then, it will seem very real.

Now, if I can just get one of my picture books or MG stories published.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's Over Until Next Year

Cedar Lakes was the place. . .

for the West Virginia Writer's Conference.

It was fun! I was only able to attend classes on Friday, but next year I'm going to make sure I have nothing else planned for the Conference Weekend and attend classes on both Friday and Saturday.

One of the best parts was that I met some very nice and talented writers.

One of the classes I attended was called "The Business of Writing."
Susan Reinhardt was the instructor of this class.
She is a humor columnist for the Asheville Citizen Times, a radio personality and author of: Not Tonight Honey, Not Til I'm a Size Six, Dishing With the Kitchen Virgin, and Don't Sleep With a Bubba Unless Your Eggs Are in Wheelchairs.
I enjoyed this class very much. One of her suggestions she passed along to the class was to - Build Your Resume. You can go for the gusto and send your writings to the New York Publishers first, but it's best to start out little. Send articles to newspapers and magazines. Create an audience and following for yourself.

When writing an inquiry letter the first and most logical thing is to get the person's name right. Then list your best accomplishment at the beginning of the letter. Describe your work, demonstrate that it has conflict and plot. In your description show that you're a good, creative writer. Include a short bio and don't forget the SASE!

I took a quick photo of her at the end of the class.

There was a writer's wall in the Assembly Hall at the Conference. Writer's attending could post a page or two of prose or poetry. An assigned number was put on your paper and it was posted for attendees of the conference to read and then vote on their favorite. I posted a section of my novel "Lucy of Tupper's Hollow" and ...

Winners were announced at the Banquet on Saturday Night. I didn't win anything in the Writer's Contest, but I am very proud of this. The people voted on it, and a big smile came to my face when they announced my name.

Boyd Carr is a poet, essayist and philosopher. He is also the official WVWriter's Conference Artist In Residence. He sat one over from me at the Banquet on Saturday. Two years ago he did a sketch of me when I was at the conference. After I got my award, the lady next to me pecked on my shoulder and said "Turn around, he wants to sketch you."

He is such a sweet guy and a real character. I secretly hoped he would sketch me this year, and I got my wish.

I was disappointed I didn't win anything in the Writing Contest, but I was not alone. Many others that entered did not win.

So, maybe next year. And in the meantime I'll write and write and write some more.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

WVWriters Conference

It's almost here. The West Virginia Writers Conference will be June 12, 13, & 14.

I have registered for Friday classes and the Banquet on Saturday.

For more information about the conference you can go here.

It takes place every year at Cedar Lakes, WV, which just happens to be only a few miles down the road from where I live. My family reunion is on Saturday, tho, so I will miss out on Saturday's classes. Next year I'm moving our reunion to another weekend!

It's a beautiful place to have a conference. You can stroll around the grounds, walk among the cedars and the small lakes or walk across the covered bridge. You can gather around the campfire at night and you can enjoy nightly entertainment. But, best of all, you can attend classes on writing and poetry.

You can enjoy the company of people who share your same dreams and ambitions. Rub elbows with published authors and bid on items at the silent auction table. This year I'm donating a hand made teddy bear for the silent auction. He has his own writing tablet and pencil.

At the banquet on Saturday night, presenters will announce the winners of the WVWriting Contest.

If you can't make it this year, maybe we'll see you next year.
Send in stories for their annual writing contest in the spring and maybe you'll win 1st, 2nd, 3rd or honorable mention.

Only 1 week from tomorrow! WVWriters Conference at Cedar Lakes, WV.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Getting It Right

Did a song ever get in your head and you just couldn't get rid of it?

Or, since we are writers, did you ever get a story in your mind and you couldn't get rid of it.

That's what's happened to me lately. A while back I joined in the 7 picture books in 7 days challenge. The first story I wrote was my favorite one and I pulled it up from the computer yesterday and started to work on it.

I loved the story. It's a funny tale about someone leaving the barn door open and all the animals getting out. The boy and his mom have a time getting them back in before a storm hits.

Well I wasn't happy with the second half of the story. So I worked and worked on it. When I went to bed last night I still had that story on my mind and I couldn't turn off my brain and go to sleep. I kept thinking about the last part and how I was going to get it right.

We have our monthly writers meeting tomorrow night and I thought to myself, I'll read it there and ask for suggestions.

Well, that didn't help. I still couldn't get the story out of my mind, no matter how hard I tried.

I guess it was meant to be, when I got up before the crack of dawn to get my husband off to work, the new second half of the story came to me.

I got my handy dandy tablet, which was by the bed, and jotted down notes before I forgot what came to me in the middle of the night.

It worked! After hubby left for work, I stayed up for about a half hour and pecked on the computer the new second half of the story. I ran it off on paper and read and scribbled changes to it on the way to Sunday School.

I'm pretty happy with it, but I'm still bringing it to our meeting for some expert critiques! The group I belong to is very good at editing.

Did you ever get a story in your mind and couldn't sleep until you got it right?

I find when inspiration hits, it's best not to fight it. Take advantage of it and who knows, it might end up being your best story yet.

Then get some well deserved sleep.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just Checking In

I haven't been writing much lately. We've been very busy at the house.
My son and I took three days and cleaned our outside storage building.
It was such a mess! Birds try to build huge nests inside, but we manage to stop them before they lay any eggs. You would think they were eagles with all the mess they make.
That's what started our cleaning spree, taking out remnants of a nest. My son does wood working in the building and he hadn't cleaned it up since making my other son and his bride a cedar chest for their wedding present.

We are getting carpet in our bedroom today. We spent hours and hours last night moving everything out of the room. In addition to the heavy, solid wood furniture, the clutter was the hardest thing to remove. We slept on our mattress in the floor last night.

I have been working on one of my picture books.
I finally figured out how to write it the way publishers want picture books to be. I really cleaned it up and took out the descriptions that I loved. It's the one about scarecrows and I described each one to a tee. Well, you're not supposed to do that, you're supposed to leave that up to the illustrator.
It finally sunk into my hard head and I figured out a way to re write it. I left out the descriptions and started it with action! It is so much better now and I have submitted it to a publisher.
But, I sent it a few months ago to a writing contest before I made the changes. Wish I could resend it, but alas, it's too late for that.

I love the story and I'm glad I finally figured out how to word it right.

It's one of the hardest things for writers to do.
Get rid of those words we love.
But, it's one of the best things we can do for a story.
Cut and slash words if they are not needed!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? Your Inspirations?

"I keep little notepads all over the place to write down ideas as soon as they strike, but the ones that fill up the quickest are always the ones at my nightstand." Emily Logan Decens

"A notepad by the bedside accounts for half the earnings of my livelihood. If it weren't for bedtime, half my novels would still be stuck at dock." Ever Garrison

Like the quotes above I try to keep a notepad on my nightstand.
Many times I've gone to bed and a thought or idea came to me.
Many times I've thought "Oh, I'll remember that when I wake up and write it down."
But the thought, upon awakening had dissolved and disappeared into the woodwork.

I suggest if an idea comes to you, and you don't have that notepad by your side, get up and go get one and write it down. It may be just the thought that opens the dam, the thought that ends writer's block or the thought that makes that page you've been working on sparkle and shine.

I tell you this from experience. Keep a notepad by your bed, in the car, in your purse. Keep a piece of paper in your pocket when you go for a walk. That idea you scribble down may just be the beginning of your next book or story.

My favorite book I've written came from a writer's prompt.

The prompt was to open the book you are currently reading and use the first sentence of the book and start writing a story.
I wasn't currently reading a book, but I looked around me and on the floor near my desk was Christy by Catherine Marshall. The story starts with this sentence . . . Only my father saw me to the Asheville station that Sunday morning in 1912.

I cheated a little, I changed the sentence slightly and wrote. . . Only my parents watched me get married that Saturday afternoon in 1908. It was the beginning of my book Lucy of Tuppers Hollow. The story is loosely based on my grandparents who married in 1908. It is a very descriptive story about the life of a young married couple at the turn of the century in rural Appalachia. I've labeled it as a MG, but I think YA would be a more suitable category, since the main character, Lucy, is 17.

I am so glad I wrote this story, even if it doesn't ever get published. It is, in my imagination, what life may have been like for my grandparents. It is filled with everyday chores, superstitions, and the simplicity and hardships of that era.

Where do you get your ideas and inspirations to write? Do you keep a note pad by your nightstand? Have you been inspired by a favorite book to write a story? Have you ever used writer's prompts?

What do you do to get the creative juices flowing? Your comments could help someone.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Children's Book Week!

Today is the first day of Children's Book Week!

More information can be found here.

Today is the day to start revising and editing one of those books you wrote in the 7 picture books in 7 days challenge last week.

I did write 7 picture books, but they need A LOT of work done on them.
It's not easy writing a GOOD picture book.

If you didn't participate in the challenge, maybe pick this week to start on a new children's book or submit an already finished children's book.

Writing the story is the first task, it can't be published if you don't send it in. Make sure the story is ready and research the publishing companies. Send your story out to the one that best suits your story. . . and follow all the guidelines they set forth for submissions!

Good Luck!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

What Is a Mother?

Katherine Nelson Davis

A mother is someone to shelter and guide us,
To love us, whatever we do,
With a warm understanding and infinite patience,
And wonderful gentleness, too.

How often a mother means swift reassurance
In soothing our small, childish fears,
How tenderly mothers watch over their children
And treasure them all through the years!

The heart of a mother is full of forgiveness
For any mistake, big or small,
And generous always in helping her family
Whose needs she has placed above all.

A mother can utter a word of compassion
And make all our cares fall away,
She can brighten a home with the sound of her laughter
And make life delightful and gay.

A mother possesses incredible wisdom
And wonderful insight and skill -
In each human heart is that one special corner
Which only a mother can fill!

Happy Mother's Day!

Alabama football coach Bear Bryant used to remind his players. "Be sure to call your mom." Then he added wistfully, "I wish I could call mine."

My story that is going to be published in the Christmas Traditions book in September is about my mother's old santa hat, which she wore on Christmas. It was tattered and worn and I now have it and wear it on Christmas. She gave of herself all her life, she loved Christmas and she loved her children and her grandchildren, and I miss her very much.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm Getting a Little Behind

I've been trying to write 7 picture books in 7 days.
I started out with a bang. Three books in three days!
Monday was a dry well, but last night I finished another one.
So, I have written four.

In desperation, I asked for help over on my other blog.
I needed suggestions for book ideas.

My sister commented "it can't be that hard to think of subjects for children's books"

That is the misconception most people have about writing for children ---"How hard can it be?"

Children's books have been around for years. Every conceivable topic has been written about. The writer needs to come up with a unique twist to a topic. Writing it in a way that makes it seem fresh and different, even though the subject has probably been written about 100 times already by other authors.

Publishers, especially now a days, are looking for something that will sell. They are looking for something a parent will pay good hard earned money for. They are looking for a book a child will want read to them over and over again.

Sometimes, I think too hard. My brain feels like mush right now. My imagination seems to have gone with the wind (Hey, I think I just got an idea for a story). I may not write 7 stories in 7 days, but I'm trying.

I took a somewhat easier route last night and wrote a concept book.
It was an A B C Book. But in doing so, I still needed to make it a little different than the ones already out there. I already titled it, but I did get an idea this morning from one of my blogger's suggestions for a story, and incorporated it into the title.

Even when your imagination takes hold and soars, you still have to convey what you want to say in the least amount of well chosen words as you can. Unlike novels where you can embellish and write and describe to your heart's content, a publisher wants picture books to be under 1000 words, even under 500 words! So you have to choose your words wisely and kick out any unnecessary ones, no matter how attached you are to them.

"How hard can it be to write a picture book?"

"Very Hard," if you want it to shine and stand out among the thousands of others being submitted every year.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Picture Book Writing Tips

Well, one down and only six to go.

I've drafted my first picture book in the challenge. Now to my housework.

I'm far from an expert, but I like to browse the internet, read articles and books and find out all I can about the craft of writing.

Here are a few tips on writing picture books to help us all in the challenge:

Don't Focus on how your main character looks. Leave that to the illustrator, unless it is integral to the story.

Leave the illustrator space to create the pictures. ( This is hard for me. I want to put in all the colorful and fun descriptions. We need to leave that up to the illustrator. Don't write anything that doesn't need to be written).

Pick your character's name well.

Use the following to help your story:

Onomatopoeia (sound words)


Rhyme (But, if you use rhyme,it has to be perfect!)


Examples of sound words:

Baa Baa, Bam, Bang, Beep, Boing, Boom, Bubble, Buzz, Burp, Babble
Cheep, Crash, Click, Clatter, Cluck, Chirp, Crackle, Clang, Crunch, Cuckoo
Ding, Dong
Fizz, Flutter
Gurgle, Gobble, Gargle, grr
Hiss, Honk
Moo, Meow
Oink, Ouch!
Plunk, patter, poof! plop, pop! pow, plunk, purr,
Ratatattat, rattle, rumble, ribbit
Screech, sizzle, sniff, snort, splatter, splash, squish, snap, swoosh, sputter, splat
Thump, tick-tock, tweet, twitter, tinkle
Whack, whizz, woof, wham! whir,
Yelp, yowl
Zoom, zing

Run the list off and add more words of your own.

I have a fabric covered bulletin board where I slip tips and story ideas, calls for submissions, and such behind the criss crossed ribbons. It sits by my computer for easy reference.

While writing your stories, you can post writing tips, examples of sound words, etc. on the board to help your creative juices flow.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

National Picture Book Writing Week - May 1-7

I felt a little crazy, so . . .

I took the challenge to write 7 picture books in 7 days.

The basic rules are to write 7 complete and separate picture books in one week. Each picture book must have a clear beginning, middle, and end. There is no required minimum word count because picture book lengths can vary from 50 words to 2000 words, depending on the genre.

Unlike what some people think, writing a picture book is not easy. It is difficult and challenging to write a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. Every word has to count, every image and every action has to speak volumes while still being kid friendly, fun and appropriate for the tone of the book.

Go to to read all of the rules and become a part of this challenge.

She will be posting every day a blog of picture book writing tips and encouragement.

What have you got to lose? A little sleep, maybe.

Along with the gray hairs you might gain from this adventure, you may also get the start of a wonderful picture book.

Good Luck!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Good News!

I am so excited. I received an email this evening telling me that one of my short stories will be published in September!

Helen Polaski is editor and compiler of several anthologies.

Some of them are:

The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings
The Rocking Chair Reader: Memories from the Attic
The Rocking Chair Reader: Coming Home
Classic Christmas: True Stories of Holiday Cheer and Goodwill
A Cup of Comfort for Weddings
Forget me Knots From the Front Porch

She informed me that my story "The Old Santa Hat" has found a home in the Christmas Traditions book as the tenth story. The book will be out in September!

My story was selected to continue to the last round over a year ago. She informed me then that she sent in 85 stories and that the office would cut approximately 10-15 stories depending on space, content, need, etc. She stated she had no control over the final cut.

I waited patiently for 13 months. But, with the email I received tonight, the wait was worth it. In September, I am officially a published author.

As I stated before in my posts, getting published is not quick and easy. You need patience and persistence.

I am not known to be a patient person, so this part of the process is hard for me.

Good Luck and keep submitting!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ida B

As you can see from my side bar, I've been reading Ida B by Katherine Hannigan. This was her first novel.

I'm a little behind. I was loaned this book last year by a writer friend of mine. She handed it to me and said, "Read this." Well, Cheryl, it took me a while, but I read it.

I'm not a book reviewer, but I thought I'd give you my thoughts about this book. If you follow this blog there's a good chance you are a writer (and reader) of children's books, so here goes.

Ida B. is a very unique girl. She is in the fourth grade and she has a mind of her own, so to speak. Even in Kindergarten she appeared to be very smart for her age. But her and kindergarten didn't agree with each other. She liked to make schedules, she liked to think about things and she liked being called Ida B. But the teacher would have none of that. She insisted on calling her Ida and not telling her when it would be 'time' for all the fun stuff. Ida B. says "Could you tell me now so I can make a schedule?" She wondered if she was in a class for bad children and her punishment included losing her name and never being able to make a plan again. She was so unhappy her parents started to home school Ida B, which made her very happy.

She stayed at home with her dog, her cat, the stream, the mountain, and her trees. She named the trees and talked to them every day.
Her mother gets sick and they have to sell part of their land and she has to attend public school. Needless to say, Ida B. was very unhappy. Her heart became cold and hard and she made herself and everyone around her miserable.

This was the part of the book I was not too crazy about. I found it hard to like her. In my opinion she was a very smart child and should have realized what she was doing would only make matters worse. When her mother was sick and needed her the most, she ignored her and wouldn't have anything to do with her. But that's just my opinion (I guess it's the mother in me coming out) and I guess there wouldn't be a story without Ida B.'s struggle within herself. Right?

I loved the ending chapters when she realized apologizing was like spring cleaning. First of all, you don't want to do it. . . Once you get started, though, you find out that you can't just clean out one room and be done with it; you have to do the whole house or you're tracking dirt from one place to the other. I think there is a lesson there for all of us.

In her own way she not only apologizes to Claire and her parents, but to the trees, the stream and the mountain and her cold black heart disappeared.

The book was well written. I thought the transition before and after she wrote of Ida's short stay in kindergarten could have been better, but other than that she did a wonderful job.
She is very good at description and detail.

I'm not sure if I would have chosen the sub title. . . and Her plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World. It doesn't exactly fit the story.

All in all it was a wonderful first novel for Katherine Hannigan and I only hope one day to do half as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Writing Magazines

I recently wrote a post about writing newsletters you can get sent to you on the web.
Most are very informative and they are free.

Now, I have a question for my readers.

Do any of you subscribe to writer's magazines? If so, which ones.

Which magazines do you recommend?

Here are some I have heard of:

Children's Writer
Writer's Digest
The Writer
Writers' Journal (bi-monthly)

Children's Writer Newsletter of Writing and Publishing Trends ($19.00 yearly)
Children's Book Insider + CBI Clubhouse (monthly newsletter $42.95 yearly)

I would love to have your advice and comments on these magazines and newsletters.

I would like to subscribe to a magazine, but it is hard to choose which one to select.

Maybe your advice can help other readers of my blog who are trying to decide which magazine is the best for their buck.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Writer's Newsletters

I get several email newsletters.

I find these very informative. They are filled with news, tips, contests and advice for the writer.

Some of the free newsletters I receive are from the following sights:

Fiction Factor


Cool Stuff 4 Writers

Publishers Weekly (Children's Bookshelf Newsletter)

Writer MaMa Ezine

And I just recently signed up for a free newsletter at Charlette's Web.
I haven't received a newsletter from her yet, so I can't say what will be in it. But you can always unsubscribe from these if you don't like them.

I know you can sometimes get bogged down with too much email. But, I don't consider these junk emails when they send you informative information that may help you as a writer.

If you like, go to these sights and check them out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Never Give Up!

Failure is not such a bad thing, but giving up is.

I've been downhearted, lately. With the recession and the publishing companies being more selective, I'm thinking I don't have a chance. I'm thinking, why should I continue to submit.

I visit how to sights, author's sights, wanna be author's sights.
I strive to learn and get better at my craft.
I gather tips and ideas. I write and rewrite. I enter contests. I send out manuscripts. . . and I get rejections.
I enter stories to critiques in order to get someone's opinion on my writing. . . to find out if my words have a chance out there in the publishing world. But I need to realize that this is only one person's idea or opinion of my work. I need to realize, also, that when I send to a publisher it is only their opinion of my work. I need to continue to search for the right publisher.

I'm sure many of you do the same thing. We need to not get discouraged and give up. If we give up, we will be more of a failure than if we tried and failed, and then picked ourselves up and tried again.

Until we get published we need to continue to write for our own satisfaction and enjoyment. Someday we will receive a surprise phone call, e-mail or letter of acceptance.

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." Richard Bach

Let's journey together on the road to success.
Let's console each other over the bumps and rejoice with each other over the successes along the path to publication.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Author's Quotes and Edits

I found a couple of quotes I wanted to share with you.

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anton Chekhov

When you are describing
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly
But put it in a hint,
And learn to look at all things
With a sort of mental squint.

Lewis Carroll

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." James Michener

With these quotes in mind, I went to my computer and pulled up my first middle grade manuscript I had written. I was so excited when I finished this story, I couldn't believe that I had put so many words to paper (even though, I believe it was a mere 9000 words).

That story has since been re-written a couple of times. The first time, I added more detail to up the word count. And more recently, after reading everywhere that some editors don't read past the first page before putting your manuscript into the slush pile, I went straight to the exciting part, and now the beginning of my story is what used to be the beginning of chapter three.

With Chekhov's quote in mind, I scanned my manuscript, looking for telling.

Here are some examples I found.

The air was hot, and perspiration dripped from Jan's long black hair. She reached in her pocket for a rubber band and gathered her damp hair into a ponytail.

OK, The air was hot has got to go.

Any suggestions? How about - The hot stagnant air in the attic caused perspiration to drip from Jan's long black hair.

The night air was stuffy and lightning flashed in the distant sky.

The night air was stuffy has got to go.

Any suggestions? How about - Crickets chirped in the motionless air and lightning flashed in the distant sky.

The sound of the rain was deafening as it hit the old tin roof, which was inches above their heads.

How about changing it to something as simple as - The pounding rain bombarded the old tin roof, which was inches above their heads.

I've bared my soul and my writing. Feel free to offer your professional (or amateur) suggestions to an aspiring author who is eager to learn and grow.

We all need to be good re-writers. Sometimes we can see the err in other people's writing more than we can see it in our own.