Saturday, December 31, 2016

Storystorm! Jot the PB Ideas Down

Storystorm, formally PiBoIdMo is ready to start!

Click here to sign up at Tara's sight and get ready to weather the storm of ideas that are developing in your head.

I have joined. If you write picture books, I hope you do, too.

What can you lose?

You can't lose anything, but you can gain picture book ideas that may just be the one that an agent or publisher is looking for.

You can also gain (by writing down an idea every day during January) prizes which include professional consults, signed books, original art, writerly gadgets and gizmos.

Never won anything, you say. Don't ever say never. I have won prizes before and so can you. But more importantly we will win knowledge in the field of writing for children, and we all can benefit from that.

In January, Tara will have helpful posts on her blog daily by  professional authors, illustrators and experts in creativity.

 You have until January 7th to officially register on Tara's site. But don't delay, do it today.

Are you a picture book writer?
Do you want to be a picture book writer?

I would love to hear if you are going to enter or not. Let me know by commenting.

Even if you don't join StoryStorm, and you love to write for children, you can visit her site each day to read some wonderful and learning blog posts.

Happy writing in 2017!

Let the storm begin!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Keeping Busy Writing

December is coming to a close and we soon will start a new year.
Hopefully, a new year filled with writing, reading and getting our work out there for the world to see.

December has been a very busy place at our house.
I haven't been blogging much.
Santa is liable to leave me a lump of coal in my stocking.

Let's just hope it is a pretty lump of coal!    

I have been writing the weekly column for the Ripley Senior Center for a number of months now. I was asked to take over when their regular columnist stepped down for a while.
I try to make it interesting for everyone to read and people have been telling me how they enjoy reading it each week. Along with conducting craft classes there every Wednesday with my cousin, it is part of my small contribution to the center.

I am still writing a monthly column for kids in Two-Lane Livin', a regional magazine in our area. The magazine goes out to approximately 18,000 households each month.

I enjoy writing for the magazine. It is a challenge each month to come up with something new to write. I like to keep my articles informative, fun and interesting. I always learn something new when I research for new topics to write about.

You can click on this link and read online copies of the magazine.

I kept my new years resolution for about half of the year. But, I tried to do my research and send out my stories to publishers that I felt my work really had a chance at being published. I think that is one of the most important factors in getting published. We need to send our work out to the right place.

Have any of you had any luck in the past year at getting your stories published? I'd love to hear of your success in the comment section. Let us all celebrate with you!

I hope in the coming new year I will have good news to share with you about my writing.  

No matter how you celebrate it -
I wish you all a very happy holiday season. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Critique Groups

I  belong to a critique group, and I look forward to our weekly meetings.

We have such fun!

Uh, oh. I shouldn't have used that exclamation mark. According to one of our members, we use entirely too many of these in our writing. And, we use too many semi-colons.

We currently have eight members that come on a regular basis.
Our latest member writes mostly poems.
We have three other members who are very good at poems, but they also write short stories.
We have a member who writes novels.
One who writes novels, memoirs, children's stories, and columns.
One who writes essays and columns and is thinking about writing her memoir. She is a retired English professor and author of four books, including “The Confident Writer,” a grammar-based college textbook. Boy does she know her grammar, and she tells it in such a way (usually with humor), that makes it easy to remember.

I write picture books, middle grade books, chapter books, poems, Appalachian, columns (newspaper and magazine) and novellas.

We look forward to our meetings and try not to miss any.  We gab about this and that at the beginning. We bring extra copies of our material with us to give out to each member.We also bring our tough layer of skin, because this is when the reading and editing begins.

We mark on our copies of the story or poem and we make suggestions.

And, I almost forgot to say that we give each other support and encouragement.

At our last meeting, I was a little down. I had been bringing my novella to our meetings for critique. I said that I didn't think there was much of a chance of getting it published, because publishers weren't exactly tripping over top of each other in their rush to obtain novellas.

One of our members said, "Yes, they do. I read a lot of books that contain two or three novellas."

I had never thought of that. My two novellas would go perfect together in one book. The first manuscript takes place in 1908 when a young couple gets married and it ends with the birth of their first child. The second manuscript takes place in the early 1940s. The main character is one of the daughters of the couple in the first manuscript.

Since then I have been writing, writing and writing on my manuscript--really giving it a once over.

If you don't belong to a critique group, I would suggest you join one.  Every manuscript needs a separate set of eyes to look at them.

I love critique groups and I think you will too.

Do you belong to one?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Busy Summers

It never fails, every summer I get behind on my blogging and my writing.

Summer is so busy around my house, we don't even find the time to go on vacation.  But, next year we are going to cut down on our garden. That will help out a lot.

The garden and the potato bugs took over our life this year. Did you know that potato bugs also love to devour tomatoes? Well, take my word for it, they do!

We have been canning spaghetti sauce, freezing what little berries we have, digging drain ditches, planting grass seeds and trying to keep up with the fast growing grass. And, next week we will begin freezing corn!

I often wonder how some writers manage to go to the summer conferences, participate in the great events that are online during the summer months, and continue to write.

I am continuing to write, though, just on a much smaller scale than I would like.

I am thankful for the monthly column I write for kids for Two Lane Livin' magazine. It makes me keep a deadline and find time to write each month.

I am thankful for Appalachian Wordsmiths, my weekly writer's group. It encourages me to continue to edit and to come up with something new to bring each week.

Now, if I could just continue to submit during the summer.

How about you? Do your summer chores/activities cut back on your writing time?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Picture Book Writing

I attended workshops over the weekend about writing picture books for children.

Marc Harshman - He is West Virginia's poet laureate and a picture book writer. And, he is a very nice person! Click here for his amazon page. Though I notice that there are a few books missing that he has written, including two of his latest, Mountain Christmas and One Big Family.

 Marc Harshman

Anna Egan Smucker - She is another West Virginia author who writes picture books. Click here for her Amazon page.

Ashley Teets - An illustrator from West Virginia. Click here for books on Amazon that she has illustrated.

One of Ashley's suggestions was to write with a lot of verbs.
We also did a drawing exercise where we closed our eyes and, with a crayon, made a doodle on a page. Open your eyes. Look at the picture from all angles. Draw a picture from your doodle. It just may be an inspiration for a new manuscript.

I drew a picture of a tortoise in a hurry. His head was stretched way out and he was really getting down the road. I see a picture book here. Harry, the Tortoise in a Hurry.  :o)

Anna, who always writes her first drafts in pencil, says to think in pictures.
Leave a space or draw a line when you think there will be a page turn.
Make sure enough happens in your story.
Try different ways to tell your story.

All of her books, except one, were sent out to publishers without using an agent!

I took the advantage of seeing these authors and got a few of my books autographed by them.

What am I going to do now?

I am going to go over my picture books - again.
I am going to make sure that my words (500 or less) provide enough opportunities for the illustrator to do his or her job.
And I am going to make sure there is enough going on in my story.

Hope you enjoyed my post.
Now get out your pencil and paper and write - or doodle.

Do you have any suggestions on writing picture books?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

It's Time for the West Virginia Writer's Conference

The year has flown by.

It is time for the West Virginia Writer's Conference held at Cedar Lakes, West Virginia.

It will take place June 10, 11, and 12th.

As usual, workshops that I want to attend overlap with each other. If only I could become two and attend two workshops at the same time.

I write mainly picture books and middle grade.
But I also love historical fiction and non fiction.

Hmmm, on Friday I need to choose between a picture book workshop with Anna Smucker and a workshop on historical fiction with Matthew Null.

On Saturday, I need to choose between a workshop on marketing by Michael Knost , Magazine Writing (Goldenseal) or go to a children publishing panel.

And I usually don't attend on Sunday, but there is a workshop that I would really like to attend that morning.  

Visual Story Telling for Children workshop with Ashley Teets.
The description for this workshop is:

 A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: The Art of Book Illustration and Visual Storytelling-- Want to write a children's book with illustrations?  Learn about the process of illustration, working with an illustrator and how a picture becomes a thousand words, literally. Also discover the best ways to pair your text with illustrations so as to present an aesthetically pleasing and successful flow of material for the reader. View children's books in the "raw form" and original artwork that eventually becomes the catalyst for delivering content to audiences. Bring your children's book manuscript for review and feedback!

After reading this, I think I have just made up my mind. I will be attending on Sunday.

Also, Cathy Teets of Headline Books will be offering pitch sessions on each day of the conference for authors with finished manuscripts seeking a publisher.

Time is short. Time to get ready.

I need to run off a poem and prose piece to put on the Writer's Wall.

I need to get my item (set of four scrabble tile coasters) ready for the silent auction table.

I need to run off copies of my picture book manuscripts to take (just in case).

I need to decide what I am going to bring for the snack table.

Are you going to a writer's conference this year?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Great Month of Learning

It has been a great month of learning.

I participated in Vivian Kirkfield's challenge of writing a picture book in 50 words or less. Out of around 130 entries, I won 6th place with my entry!

I have been participating in ReFoReMo!

ReFoReMo = Reading for Research Month

We have been studying different types of picture books and using them as mentor texts.

What kind of picture books are there? Let's see . . .

how to picture books
historical picture books
non fiction picture books
wordless picture books
low word count picture books
concept picture books
rhyming picture books
fractured fairy tales
alphabet and counting books
informational picture books
animal stories

etc. etc., the list could go on and on.

What type of picture books do you like to read?
What type of picture books do you like to write?

I took a plunge and wrote a 'how to' picture book this month. I am still working on this one. Lots of editing to be done.

Unlike what some people think, writing a picture book is hard.
Writing a short story (less than 500 words), means  each word has to be splendid. Each word has to be important to the story. Take out those meaningless words. Take out those boring words. Do not describe too much, let the illustrator have room to shine.

Children are special!

Make your book special!

Don't hide your words. 
Put them onto paper and share your stories with the world.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

More Publishers

Below are a few more publishers that accept manuscripts from writers without an agent.

Holiday House accepts unsolicited submissions. 

Kane Miller is another one.

I have sent to Ripple Grove Press before.

Click on their name above and go take a look at their guidelines and books that they publish. If you have any manuscripts that are a fit for them, give them a try.

 An update on my submissions. I sent in two in January and one in February. And, I just sent in my entries to the annual WVWriter's Contest.  

How about you? Anyone sent in any submissions?

 Good luck if you have!