Saturday, November 6, 2010

Combining Blogs

Hi everyone. Just wanted to let you know that I am combining my two blogs.

From now on, I will  be posting about my writing on my regular blog, Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

You will be able to read there about other aspects of my life here in West Virginia, too. In addition to writing, I also love photography and crafting. I have lots of recipes and crafts I have posted about on my other site that you can click to from my sidebar.

I am going to leave my writing links, my writer's blog list and my old posts here. Feel free to come and check them out as often as you like. But, I hope you will come and visit me at my other blog, and if you are not already,  become a follower over there at my other Blackberry Patch.

Like I mentioned above, I will be posting about writing over there, too. So, don't forget about me, I am still going to write and try to get my stories published.

If any of you have a link to this blog from your blog, you may want to change it to link to  Writing in the Blackberry Patch.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


It has been so long since I last posted!
I have not dropped off the face of the earth, I am still here.

We have been picking black walnuts and hickory nuts! The walnuts have been husked (the hard and messy part) and dried. They are now waiting to be cracked. We are cracking the hickory nuts, we may be lucky and end up with around 3 quarts when we are finished. I love hickory nuts. When I was a child they were the only nuts we gathered, seems like now a days people don't want to fool with them because they are so small. We're getting good at the cracking, though, and are getting many half nuts in our jar.

My husband went through a health scare. He has to be different than most people, he has LOW sodium! But, it got too low and, without warning, he passed out and had a small seizure. The doctor put him in intensive care and took all kinds of tests. He passed them all with flying colors except the blood sodium was very low. We never knew low sodium could be such a problem. He has always craved salty, crunchy things to eat. His body was telling him something. I guess we should listen to our bodies.

Our writing group has more or less disbanded. There didn't seem to be any use to continue our meetings when only one or two of us were able to show up. But, I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will start meeting again soon. I need writing buddies!

I am currently editing my MG manuscript, The Family Secret, so I can start sending it out again. I think it is about ready.

I received a rejection email from Candlewick on my picture book I submitted.

I have not yet received any response from Sourcebooks on Lucy of Tupper's Hollow. I did email Mr. Lynch about a month ago and he said he would follow up with me shortly. I am still waiting.

I am working on writing our family history. I am anxious to get it finished.

That just about catches everyone up on what has been going on here in the hills of West Virginia.

What's up where you live?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Check Out This Contest

If you are a writer, go over to The Bookshelf Muse and check out her contest.

The drawing is on the 29th, so hurry.

The prizes are:
5 - 1st page critiques
2 - 1st chapter critiques

and a special drawing for:
a 3 month mentorship with her!

I don't know about you, but I would love to be one of the lucky winners. My work could always use a little free critique.

Those second set of eyes are helpful in finding things that you or I can miss.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Starting All Over Again


I regret having to type this post.

I am starting all over again with my MG manuscript, The Family Secret.

I was signed on with a publishing company, but due to unforeseen circumstances I chose to be released from my contract.

They are downsizing from releasing approximately 24 books a year to 6-8. My manuscript was being pushed back to a 2014 release date. Since no work had been done on my manuscript, I chose to be released from my contract. The publishing company allowed all their authors the opportunity to take this option.

It was a tough decision, but one I felt I should take, so now I start all over again with The Family Secret. I have decided to edit it a little more before submitting it to other publishers.

Wish me luck.

A note to my WVWriter friends. I have changed the header on my blog!

It should look familiar to you. It is the covered bridge at Cedar Lakes, WV where the WVWriters annual writer's convention takes place every June. It is located just a few miles from where I live and we took a ride there Sunday for a little rest and relaxation. Go to my other site for more pictures.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Between The Pages

If your life was a book, what would be between the pages?

Most of the readers of my blog are writers, but what else makes up your life? What would be between the pages of your book?

I am a writer, but I started on this journey just recently. I have been writing for only a few years.

Because of my mother, I was interested in crafts and sewing from an early age. I remember her getting craft kits in the mail and I helped her make Christmas decorations with them. . . a Styrofoam Noel sign, tubular plastic Christmas ornaments with scenes inside them. We also made Santas from Readers Digest magazines. We made necklaces from the pages of magazines. We cut the long strips into a triangle shape and rolled them up. We shellacked them and put them on a string for a long necklace.

I remember Mom's treadle Singer sewing machine. She was a very talented seamstress. I started sewing when in Home Economics class in junior high school. I made dresses, swim suits, pant suits, ponchos and eventually my wedding dress. After getting married and having kids, I spent many hours behind the sewing machine making Halloween outfits. My boys enjoyed being Popeye, dinosaurs, clowns, pumpkins and Frankenstein. I have also tried my hand at quilting. I am not that good at it, but that is okay. If I don't hand quilt it, I tie the finished product. I am an impatient person and like to see quick results.

So that is a small peek at what I like to do.

In looking at my list of interests, I find that they are not all that different than writing.

My interests all require an imagination.
They require patience.
They require persistence.
They require a little bit of God given talent.

Put that all together, though, and you can succeed at what you like to do, and that includes writing!

What are your other interests?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Labor Day

Thanks to Karen Jones Gowan, we're having a Labor Day Bloggerhood BBQ.
Go check it out! I'm bringing an apple cobbler. I just picked the apples off of our tree and it's in the oven as I type.

Also, my September column is posted now at Two-Lane Livin's site. It's about school days of long ago and I included my recipe for peanut butter chews. . .ummm, ummm. When I was a kid in grade school, it was one of the goodies the cooks made.

I hope everyone has a nice Labor Day weekend. Maybe now that summer is coming to an end, our lives will become less busy and we will have more time to write. Between our vegetable garden and my blackberry vines, I haven't had much time to write this summer. I picked and sold 201 quarts of blackberries this summer. I also gave a few away, made cobblers and crumbles and ate lots while I picked!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's About Time

I finally emailed my picture book manuscript to Kaylan Adair of Candlewick Press.

I had until Sept 15th to send it to her.

Amazing Miss Maizy is now titled Miss Gracie and the Shiny Black Crows.

It has changed a lot since I first put the words on paper.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I still have not heard from Sourcebooks about my manuscript, Lucy of Tupper's Hollow. I sent it to them in June. It has only been two months, but it seems like it has been a lot longer.

I've started putting together The McMillion Family History. I have wanted to do this for a long time and look forward to writing it.

I think I will call it That's Okay, We'll sit the Coffeepot on it. Everyone in the family tells me that was a favorite saying of my Grandpa McMillion. He died 6 months before I was born, so I only know him from pictures and recollections of older family members.

In addition to family trees, pictures, names and dates, I will fill it with info about the everyday lives of our family. I'm going to write about our food customs and traditions (with recipes), superstitions and special abilities of family members (my grandma was a very superstitious person and my grandpa had special abilities. . . such as stopping bleeding and blowing the heat out of burns), their occupations, military records and much more.

I have found some old obituaries from the 1800s that tell a lot about the person. One tells how this lady will be remembered for her beautiful thick black hair, which came to be known by family and friends as "McMillion hair" (My mother had thick, wavy, dark hair).

There is so much we can learn from these early records.

Another one tells how this man loved to go to auctions and that he loved to work in his apple orchard, and farmed and raised sheep and cattle. I was lucky enough a few years ago to find the cemetery that this long ago Uncle was buried at in Cana, VA, and the path leading to the cemetery was lined with apple trees!

Has anyone ever written their family history? Any suggestions from anyone?

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm Still Here

Hi everyone. I just thought I'd drop by and let everyone know that I have not dropped off the face of the earth.

Summer has been so busy and I have not been able to keep up with my blogging like I would like to.

I had a bad case of tendinitis in my right arm, which after four visits to the doctor and treatment with what he calls the hammer, I was cured of.

My berry patch, bless her heart, survived freezes in the spring, a hail storm and weird weather to give us lots and lots of berries. I have picked around 160 quarts so far this summer and they are still coming on! I picked 12 quarts yesterday and have to go out again today to pick the rest. The patch has more stamina than I do. I try to pick every other day, but lately I haven't been able to pick them all at one time, so when that happens, I pick every day. I'm out in the hot sun about four hours at a time. I trudge inside with purple fingers carrying trays of berries. But, I love my berry patch. One of my favorite memories as a child is of picking berries with my mother, my aunts and my grandma.

My last Aunt on my mom's side of the family just passed away. We tried to make it to Florida to see her one last time, but she passed away just as we crossed over the Florida state line. We went down there on Monday and got back home on Wednesday night. We had never driven to Florida before. . . believe me when I say it is a long ways from up here in West Virginia, especially when you drive it without a stop over. Aunt Irma was brought back to her beloved West Virginia to be buried. We will miss her very much! I was always asking her questions about family. She'd tell people, "Watch out what you tell Janet, she'll write it down."

I haven't been writing much, but have slowly started back. I am editing my picture book again, so I can send it to Candlewick before the Sept 15th deadline. I sent in Lucy of Tuppers Hollow in June and am anxiously waiting for a response. I am still writing my columns for Two-Lane Livin' Magazine. My column is called Fun Facts For Kids.

I hope to be back to blogging on a regular basis soon.

Hope all of you are having a nice summer and are having a great time writing. Anyone have any good writing news to report?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How do you like to edit?

I like to edit.

My favorite way to edit is to print a chapter off at a time (or entire manuscript if it is a picture book), and read over it. I find so many more errors on the printed page than on the computer screen.

When we're going places, my husband usually drives, so I will take my printed pages with me and edit while in the car.

Or, like this morning, I will take it with me when I go for a walk and read and edit while I walk. It is especially nice early in the morning before the sun gets too hot. Just remember to watch your step! It makes the walk go a lot quicker, too. Getting out in the sunshine is much better than sitting and staring at the computer.

My pages I took with me this morning are filled with lots of chicken scratches. I am now ready to retype it on the computer.

How do you edit?

On another topic. I recently celebrated a birthday.

My son presented me with this. . .

It is for $50 and I am now doing a happy dance. So many books. . . any suggestions?

Monday, June 21, 2010

West Virginia Folk Festival

I went to the West Virginia Folk Festival in Glenville, on Saturday. I was invited by Granny Sue to read in the Story Telling Tent.

I'm glad I accepted her invitation. My husband and I had a wonderful time.

I read excerpts from some of my stories I had written.

My favorite part was when some of the children present helped act out my story, Maizy and the Shiny Black Crows.

These children had a great time portraying Maizy and the farmer.

Even the adults got in on the act. I didn't know my husband was such a good actor. I think he missed his calling. Not only did he do a good Maizy, I also learned he can sound just like a crow. The other man, Hugh, did a great job as the farmer.

We also talked about superstitions and folklore. I read a piece I had written called, I Admit It, I Am Superstitious and read a small excerpt from Lucy, which deals with superstitions.

People in attendance added to the conversation, telling about their own superstitions and folklore.

It was hot! But a rain cooled the air just before we left to go back home.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More Writing Workshop Info

I attended a picture book workshop conducted by children's author, Cheryl Ware. But if you are not a picture book writer, please read on, I think the information will help you with any genre of writing you choose to write.

Here is a group picture of the attendees of her workshop. Cheryl is the tall lady in the middle, I am in the pink shirt beside of her.

I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop. She came with a pile of picture books to share with us. She read a few of her favorites.

She told us something that I think is very hard to do. She said to find the holes in the market - find what hasn't been written. I think this applies to all genres of writing, don't you?

She showed us some books that she stated when she first saw them, she didn't think they were the greatest. But when she read them to small children, they loved them!

They shouted out answers when she read the text to them!
They became involved in the reading!
They wanted it read over and over again!

I think that is what we want to accomplish with any of our books. We want our reader to become involved with the story and for them to want to read it over and over again.

One of her favorite books : THE DOT
If you write picture books, but haven't read this one, go to the library and check it out.
It is so simple, yet so good!

Some very good advice from her:

Start your story on a day that something is different in their life.
Ending should be expected, but a surprise.

As you can see, I think you can take this information and apply it to whatever type of writing you do, whether it be for adults or children.

Some of Cheryl's published books are:

Flea Circus Summer,
Venola in Love, and
Venola the Vegetarian

Her stories introduce you to Venola May Cutright, a spunky 11 year old girl.

I hope you read something from this post that will help you with your writing.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Behind The Scenes of a Publishing Company

There's a big red wall at Candlewick Publishing Company.

They have an office dog.

There is a tray on Kaylan Adair's desk. . . the top tray has very urgent papers, the middle tray has urgent papers and the bottom tray has somewhat urgent papers.

And then there is the SLUSH Pile. . . Ms. Adair's definition of a SLUSH Pile is - Things That Are Not Solicited. Sorry, they do not currently accept unsolicited manuscripts.

On Tuesdays they have Production Meetings.

On Thursdays they have Picture Book Meetings.

On Thursday mornings they have a Cover's Meeting.

When searching for an illustrator for a picture book, they narrow it down to three choices, then they show their choices to the author.

Sketches arrive.

Final Art arrives and they spread them out on a table. Everyone gathers to look at them. They are scanned and put into layouts.

Kaylan has worked on more than 100 titles.
She looks for well written stories with interesting characters, strong unique voice and lots of heart.

She says for a Picture Book it takes 2-3 yrs from signing the contract with the author until the book hits the shelf.
For a Novel it takes 18months to 2 years. It all depends on how smoothly everything goes.

I attended her workshops at our writer's conference over the weekend. Those attending have until Sept. 13, 2010 to send a manuscript to her.

Now, all I have to do is decide what to send her, write it really, really good and then keep my finger's crossed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Writer's Conference Almost Here!

The West Virginia Writer's Conference is this weekend!

I must be thinking about it a lot, because I dreamed about it last night.
It wasn't a dream I would repeat before eating breakfast, though. I'm a little superstitious and I didn't want it to come true.

Did you ever have one of those dreams where everything went wrong and you couldn't wait to wake up?

I was a mess in my dream. I arrived there late, didn't remember to register, forgot my manuscript I was going to bring and phoned home and asked my son to find it on my computer and bring it to me (that's a laugh, I would probably still be waiting on it after the conference was over).

Was I glad when I woke up. And I've already had breakfast, so I don't have to worry about it coming true. I'm really not that superstitious, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

I still haven't memorized my pitch and probably won't. I'll have it all typed out and with me (unless I forget it) so I can glance at it when I'm having one of those senior moments.

I hope the ringing in my ear is gone by the weekend. I've had it for almost a month now and finally went to the doctor on Monday. He said I have alergies, lots of fluid in my ear (which he thinks is what is causing the ringing) and has me on three different medications. It sounds like I have a swarm of insects singing in my ears!

I think the way I am right now, I would make a good character to write about in a story. The funny lady with the ringing ears that is driving her and everyone else around her crazy.

On another note, I am very lucky! I only live a few miles down the road from our annual West Virginia Writer's Conference. It takes place in beautiful Cedar Lakes.

I will be attending several workshops given by Kaylan Adair of Candlewick and Cheryl Ware a children's writer from West Virginia.

Wish me luck, silent ears and calm nerves when I make my pitch.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I've Been Busy

I've been busy lately and haven't had the chance to post as much as I would like.

I have been writing and rewriting on a manuscript I'm pitching at the West Virginia Writer's Conference next weekend. I am beginning to get a little burned out.

So, I've had to stop and relax every now and then.

We've been to see the Moth Man!

We're in the process of watching 3 families of robins hatch, grow up . . .

and venture out into the big world on their own.

We've survived a ferocious hail storm . . .

and a graduation.

We've been walking up country roads to hidden cemeteries. . .

and took time to enjoy a visit from the Ice Cream Truck!

All I want to do now is just sit and relax for a while under the apple trees. . .

because on Friday I have to cook for a church dinner and on Saturday we have our Family Reunion! And next weekend is the West Virginia Writer's Conference!

So, what have you been doing lately?

Friday, May 21, 2010

I Have a Tagline!

We had a meeting last night of the Appalachian Wordsmiths.

It was nice to see Granny Sue again, it had been a while since she had been able to attend a meeting. She's not only a great storyteller, but a wonderful poet and we got to read a couple of her most recent poems.

Max was also there with a copy of the book Coal Country. He has a poem titled, Mountain Travesty, in it.

And before the meeting was over, between the three of us, I have my Tagline for Lucy of Tupper's Hollow!

My Tagline is Appalachia 1908, superstitions, secrets, witchcraft, mountain healer and young love coming of age against a rich back drop of mountain culture.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Keep On Writing

As many of you know that follow my blog, I try to inspire people to keep writing.

It may seem funny for a beginner like me to try and inspire someone to keep writing. Many of you probably think, "who does she think she is anyway?" Well, I guess I think I am someone who, just like a lot of my readers, wants to get my stories published. I want children to be able to read my books and get enjoyment from them.

I think the hardest part of writing is not giving up!

So many times, I've thought of quitting. So many times, I have said to myself "It's time to go on to something else. You've piddled around with writing enough."

Well, for some reason, I have stuck with it. I am not sure why, but I keep pecking at the computer keyboard. I keep going back to my stories and making changes until I think they are good enough.

I am a member of CBI Clubhouse. There is a click to The Fighting Bookworms over on my sidebar. And even if you are not a member, it is a great place to go to and look around. There are lots of articles that you can look at without being a member. If I were you, I would bookmark it and go back on a regular basis and look around, and if you do, you will learn lots of useful things about writing.

They have a free e-book download on there now that is titled, "The Greatest Children's Writing Success Secret."

Here is a little of what it says. It goes along with what I am always saying on my blog.

It states in it that many successful writers over the years were not, when they started, wizards at crafting query letters, or marketing savants with their fingers on the pulse of the children's book industry. But, they became those things.

Their secret was: They changed their mindset.

They didn't think they could become successful writers. They didn't hope they could sell a book. They didn't wish to someday get published.

They sat down to write each day with a burning desire to succeed. They knew they would become successful. They expected to sell their book. They were certain that they would get published.

Through their thoughts they built their careers.

So try it. It is kind of like the movie where the man builds the baseball diamond in his cornfield. The voice kept telling him to build it and they will come.

Say to yourself. . . write it and they will read, speak it and they will listen, send it out and they will accept it.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Last year I did a post titled Just Wondering. It was about the mailbox. In the post I asked if anyone ever received good news in their mailbox, or if they just received rejection letters.

According to most of the comments, people only received rejections in their mailbox. I agreed with them.

Well, I have changed my mind about the lowly mailbox. I now give it a star rating!

I received my signed contract today from 4RV Publishing for my middle grade manuscript titled, Family Secret!

I have been bursting at the seams to announce this for a couple of months. It is now official. I have the contract in my hands.

I am anxious to start the process of turning the manuscript into a book and getting it in the hands of children.

Don't give up. If I can do it, you can do it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pitch Session

Hi everyone. I thought I would do a little pitch session for the WVWriters annual conference.

When? June 11,12, 13, 2010

Where? Cedar Lakes, WV (about 30 minutes north of Charleston off I-77)

Price? If a member of WVWriters ($20 for a year's membership) it costs $120 for a 3 day pkg. If not a member it costs $140.

Why? Lots of reasons why. It's going to be a great one this year. Pitch sessions with Peter Lynch, Editorial Mgr. at Sourcebooks, Inc., Christine Witthohn, founder of Book Cents Literary Agency and Kelly Mortimer of Mortimer Literary Agency. Workshops with Kaylan Adair, Associate Editor of Candlewick Press. If you go to her workshops, you will receive a validation to submit a full manuscript for consideration. If you check out their site, Candlewick is not accepting submissions otherwise, so this is a chance to submit to them.

At the conference, you can post samples of your prose and poetry on the writer's wall. Attendees vote for their favorite. Go to the Awards Banquet on Saturday night and see if you won.

Go here to get all the info.

Check out all the links to see the workshop schedule and presenter's bios.

I've went all out this year. I sent in 5 entries to their writing contests. I sent part of one of my manuscripts to Kaylan Adair to be critiqued by her. I also scheduled a 5 minute pitch session with Peter Lynch. I'm not sure what manuscript I'm going to pitch to him yet, but I have a while to figure that out.

I figure, if nothing else, it's good experience. I may fall flat on my face, but you never know unless you try.

Go ahead and check out the site. If you don't live too far away, think about attending. It's fun and you meet a lot of neat people who like to write.

Any suggestions on giving a 5 minute pitch?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Book Signing

I went to a book signing yesterday at our local hospital.

Dr. Morad practiced general surgery at Jackson General Hospital in Ripley, WV for 37 years until his retirement in 2001. As it says on the inside flap of the book. . . He practiced medicine with his heart and was dearly loved by his patients. He was a devoted and dedicated physician. He will always call Ripley his home and the people of Jackson County his family.

He was a wonderful and compassionate person and doctor who cared for his patients.

His book is A Memoir. I arrived there in time to get the last hardback copy of it. I think people came out of all the hills and hollers of Jackson County to see Dr. Morad and obtain a copy of his book.

I have not finished reading it yet, but have read many sections. I am thoroughly enjoying the book.

I checked and it is listed on

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Inspiration

Our preacher actually inspired this blog post.

He spoke this morning about people going around saying they are the best.
"I am the best church member, the best Christian, etc."

Well, you know, some people are like that.

And then you have the people who want to be the best church member or the best Christian.
There's nothing wrong with that. Everyone should strive to be their best.

But no matter what you do or what you strive to do, you should put your whole heart into it.

Even though we want to be, we may not ever be the best children's writer or best novelist.

But whatever you want to do or be, just put your whole heart into it and do your best. Then you won't ever have any regrets or wonder if you could have written the next best seller.

That is all you can ask of yourself. And if after you do that, you are the best children's writer or the best novelist. . . then great!

Remember the story about the ant and the rubber tree plant.

Oops! There goes another rubber tree plant.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Figuring Out Where to Send Your Work

Okay, I admit it. I wrote a list of goals at the beginning of the year and I'm not living up to the #1 on my list.

My goal was to send out at least one story a month to publishers. Sure I'm sending out my column each month to Two-Lane Livin' magazine. But that would be cheating if I counted that, wouldn't it?

I have to keep pounding it in my head that a story can't get published if you don't send it out.

Don't worry about getting those rejections in the mail. . .they build character.

Don't worry about waiting on the mailman everyday only to get a mailbox full of bills and junk. . . that gives you the much needed exercise your legs need. It gives you a break from sitting at the computer and typing your stories.

I must confess that I love to write. I'm sure that's not news to you. But I hate stopping and searching for publishers to send my stories to. It is time consuming going back and forth from your Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market and their sites on the internet looking for a publisher who still accepts unsolicited manuscripts and would just love my writing.

Don't we all wish we had an Aladdin lamp to rub and the perfect publisher's name popped out for our manuscripts?

That would solve a lot of our problems. Oh well, I've got work to do. I've got to send out some stories before the end of the month and I have to get our garage cleaned out before winter hits again.

Maybe I could write a picture book about a scared and cold little car whose only wish in life is to be able to squeeze inside it's master's garage. But, I don't think that would sell.

Join me in sending out something this month. When you've mailed out a submission, come on over and let me know and we can all celebrate together. Or if you have already mailed out one this month, come on over and brag about it. You deserve to celebrate!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Looking At Things In A Different Way

Writer's get discouraged, but we must write on!

Our writing group has dwindled down to only two people attending since the beginning of the new year. I am discouraged, but will write on.

We will keep meeting and I am hoping that my fellow friends and writers will soon return. There's nothing like having a group of friends who understand the frustrating ups and downs of writing. I love and need feedback from other writers. I don't know, maybe this is teaching me to be more independent. However, I like being a member of a group. They keep me motivated.

They keep your spirits up when you receive a rejection letter by saying, "Hey, that's great, that means you're submitting."

On another subject. . .

Here is a little imagination and some pictures to go with it.
Maybe this will lead you to look at the pretty little flowers in a different way, too

Dandelion blankets
spread about my yard
shining like the morning

Dandelion puffballs
stand against the sky
glistening like the full

Dandelion seeds
float across the heavens
sparkling like the evening

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where do the Words Come From?

I read all the time how people have trouble writing an entire novel without editing as they go. I have that problem, also.

But I started out as a children's picture book writer and my biggest problem is writing enough words to meet the word requirements of MG and YA.

I am now editing a manuscript, which I have been told because of the ages of the main characters, it should be considered YA and not MG. Well for it to be YA I need to have close to 40,000 words. I don't have nearly that many words, but I really love my story. I am currently editing it to add words. My first step in doing this was taking each chapter one by one and writing down the amount of words I had in each chapter. I'm working on the shorter chapters and trying to add more detail to them. I'm accomplishing this, but still am far from the required amount of words needed. At this point and time if I could get 30,000 words, I would be happy. I would be ecstatic!

What suggestions do you have in finding more to write about?

I'm adding more detail to what I already have and that is helping, but what are some ideas on finding more chapter ideas? My story takes place in the early 1900s in rural WV. I have a lot of detail and description in my story letting the reader know what life was like 100 years ago. The story is based very loosely on my grandparents life and I've taken tidbits of info I knew about them and weaved a story around those details. All fiction, of course.

I don't know, maybe I'm not cut out to be a novel writer, maybe I'm always going to be stuck in the picture book genre. But what's funny is that when I write picture books I have to go back and cut out what is not needed, not add more. With picture books, the fewer words the better. They want you to take out that description and take out those extra characters which add so much to the longer stories.

I hear there is a genre now called Tween. Does anyone know the criteria for that category?

Any suggestions on how to add more story, more details and more words to those MG and YA manuscripts?

Help, please!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writing Stories and Getting Ideas

I love writing stories and getting ideas.

Usually writing picture books requires a lot of writing and editing as other stories do, but this week an idea came to me and I wrote.

I read picture books a lot and it seems that the simplest ideas and short texts are very popular. I sometimes tend to get wordy and go into too much detail. This story, however, has only two main characters and it is rhyming. I know, I know they say don't submit rhyming books! Editors don't want to see them! Well, I did it anyway. Unfortunately, writers can be stubborn.

Children love rhyming books and you see them on the shelves all the time. I tried to write this story so the publishers would not cringe, wad it up and throw it at the trash can! The rhymes were right on, there were no "almost rhymes" (which editors don't like to see), but I had to work on the rhythm a lot. That's where I have most of my trouble, getting the rhythm just right.

I used to think if I got the syllables the same, it was right. Wrong! I'm learning that syllables and rhythm are two different things entirely.

I almost gave up on it and quit. But, I didn't! I put it aside a few nights ago, went to bed and started fresh the next day. I didn't think I could do it, but I finally got the rhythm right (at least I think I did). I also emailed it to a poet friend of mine and asked about the rhythm. She offered a couple of very good suggestions and brought a smile to my face. After reading it aloud again and again (thanks, hubby, for being my sounding board), I also changed a few boring verbs to better verbs and I am happy with the end result.

It is short and sweet (only 221 words), but I have faith in it.

Did a story or idea ever come to you and you just loved the result.? Thought it was meant to be?

This is one of those stories. I really like it, now let's hope the judges do, too.

I also rewrote one of my older picture books and entered it into the WVWriters Competition, too. One of the things I did was take out characters that didn't need to be there (Even though I loved those characters). This is another one of my manuscripts that I think is meant to be. I also added a concept to the story, I added the days of the week.

In all, I sent out five entries to the WVWriters Competition. Wish me luck that at least one places. We'll find out in June.

I think, in the meantime, I will send out my new picture book to a publisher, also. I haven't sent to publishers lately and I have to remedy that situation.

Anyone been sending out stories lately? Anyone been cutting and slicing and getting rid of clutter? Anyone been inspired with an idea? If so, go for it. It may be your next accepted piece.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Reception and Reading of Poetry

Last night my husband and I drove down the WV Turnpike to Concord University. We drive the turnpike all the time in the summer when we go on vacation, but yesterday was absolutely the worse trip on the turnpike I had ever been on.

It is one of those highways where the speed limit keeps changing, the lanes keep changing from two to three and back to three again, curves and steep hills abound and crazy drivers are all around.

We survived the turnpike and arrived about one half hour before the reception and reading of the poems began.

My poem got accepted in the winter edition of Holler. Mr. McKenna was in charge of the reception and he was so nice. The reception was in the State Room at Concord.

I stepped forward and volunteered to read my poem first. I must be getting better, I wasn't nervous at all. I told a little about myself and my writing and read I Am From Appalachia.

Afterward Mr. McKenna posed for a picture with me.

Eric Fritzius was a familiar and friendly face in the audience. He is a member of West Virginia Writers. Here we are in front of the refreshment table.

Concord University has a beautiful campus. When we walked out to the parking lot last night we took a picture of the 48 bell carillon. Isn't it pretty lit up at night?

We had a good time. Wish you could have been there.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

I heard the peepers! Oh, what a sweet sound.

The crocus have sprung from the earth!

They were a sight for sore eyes!

The robins flew overhead!

What more could you ask for on a beautiful day in March?

It was even pretty enough to sit outside on the porch and watch for the mailman.

I am going to enjoy this while it lasts, because I am sure the cold and snow will return and cover the crocus and chill the red breasted robins.

Have you seen the first flowers or robins of spring?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Writing, Writing, Writing

I have been writing a lot lately. Mostly editing and adding words to my manuscript Lucy of Tupper's Hollow.

I love this story, but it needs to be made longer and that's what I've been doing for the past week, going through it chapter by chapter and adding more content.

I want to get it good enough so I can start submitting it to publishers.

If you noticed on my sidebar, the poem I submitted to Holler got accepted and it is in the Winter 2010 edition of that publication! Since I don't really consider myself a poet, that email was a surprise and made me very happy. I've been invited by them to a reception and reading of poems on March 18th. I figured, why not, and emailed them that my husband and I would attend.

The deadline for the WVWriters Spring Writing Competition is drawing near, I have to decide which stories I will submit to the contest.

The convention is going to be great this year, they are having a lot for children's writers.

There will be pitch sessions with Peter Lynch of Sourcebooks, Inc. and one on one children's book critique sessions with Kaylan Adair of Candlewick Press.

You can go here for more information on the WVWriter's Annual Conference at Cedar Lakes.

I'm looking forward to the conference this year.

Soon, I hope to announce about something else I've written being accepted. So stay tuned, I'll hopefully let you know about it in a few days.

Keep writing and sending in, that's the only way to succeed at being published.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Barn Prompt

I love old barns!

I take pictures of them all the time.

Many of my followers have works in progress. But for those of you who do not have anything you are currently working on, I thought I would post this picture of an old barn to give you inspiration.

Use your imagination, which is one of the best tools a writer has.

I can see the makings of a poem.
I can see the start of a mystery.
I can see a short story set in the past.

It can provide a descriptive setting for a historical fiction MG novel.
It can inspire a barnyard picture book.

Have fun, and if you have the time. . . write about the barn, or include it in your work in progress.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Writing Picture Books

We took a trip to Parkersburg last week and I went in Borders. I checked out with this book.

I love it! Here are pictures of the table of contents. Click on the pictures and you will be able to read it.

There are quotes throughout the book, the one in the prologue reads:

I love revisions. Where else in life can spilled milk be transformed into ice cream?
---Katherine Patterson

My son wonders why I keep revising my stories. He thinks the first draft should be the final draft. But completing the draft is only the beginning of the writing process.

I am still reading this book and I have learned a lot from it. I am using her advice and going over my picture books I have already written and revising them yet again.

She mentions the 6 Ws:
Who is your main character? The main character must come on the scene first.
What does your character want? What is the main character's problem, goal or conflict?
When is your story taking place? Give hints indicative of the time period.
Where is your story taking place? City, country, suburbs, farm, etc.
What is the tone of your story? By careful selection of words, you let them know if it is going to be sad, happy, serious, etc
WOW! Whether it be with a word or a phrase, early in the book you must hook the reader

As you can see by the table of contents above, the book covers a lot of territory. Some people think writing a picture book is easy, but it is far from it. You have to pick the right story and the right words.

Every word only has to be perfect ---- Ursula Nordstrom

The book has a section on Rhyming Books. Children love poetry, but publishers want the rhythm and rhyme to be perfect. Every word must move your story forward and the rhyme pattern must be consistent. Unless you are very good, this is hard to do and the editors will be sending your manuscript into the slush pile never to be seen again.

The first line of a poem is a hawk which won't let go of its prey. ---Gabriel Preil

If you love writing picture books, create a fabulous first line and start writing.

If you are serious about writing picture books, I recommend this Hands-On-Guide.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Writing Goals

Have you been keeping your writing goals this year?

If you noticed, I've put on the side bar of my blog what I've done so far in January and February of this year.

I have kept my first goal of sending out at least one story a month to publishers.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. I got an email today asking for the full manuscript of my story The Family Secret. The editor was very interested.

This is a first for me and I am very excited.

So, it's like I've always said, and told myself many times, our stories aren't going to get considered by publishers if they remain on our hard drive and we don't send them out.

So get out your manuscripts from the deep recesses of your computer and submit. What have you got to lose?

This weekend will be a good time to stay in out of the cold and write, another snow storm is on the way.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow and Edit, Edit, Edit

We had a quick blizzard come through last night and it almost caused our writing meeting to be canceled. But Granny Sue and I met and I'm so glad. I've written a story to submit to Erma Bombeck's Writing Competition and the deadline is January 31st. I needed input! And did I get it. My draft has chicken scratch all over it. Thank you, Susanna, for your advice.

She's great at editing. I helped her with a couple of her poems. I'm not very good at poetry, but I actually had a few good ideas to give her. One of them would make a good picture book.

It's snowing again and we put out more seeds. We love watching the birds! My husband is celebrating putting up the suet in our maple tree without falling over the rails of the deck.

It looks like the birds are fighting over the seeds. They've gorged their selves today!

The cardinals are my favorite!

Anyone else feeding the birds? Or editing?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Inspiration

I turned on the local news show this morning. It told a story about a remarkable young lady. Go here to read about Andora.

She is a 12 year old prodigy of sorts, but not of math or music. She is gifted in writing.

On her blog profile she says she is a 12 year old author and teacher.

If you have children who might be interested, have them go to her site and check out everything there. It also directs you to her personal blog and her book blog.

In her book blog, in addition to reviewing books, she has a post that gives tips on writing a book review! Go to her profile and click on Andora's Book Club.

Her goal is to reach out and inspire other children who don't like to read. She started reading chapter books at age 3 1/2 (Bug Inspector). Her first love is historical fiction.

She has already published 3 books:
Flying Fingers,
Dancing Fingers,
Yang in Disguise

Go to her site and look around. She's not only an inspiration to kids wanting to write, but adults as well.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Contests Are Fun

Contests are fun to enter and if you are talented or lucky enough to win, it gives your ego a boost. Here are a few contests that you might want to know about.

I went over to Sherri Tales and she blogged about a fiction contest Highlights is having. But you have to hurry, it ends January 31st.

Erma Bombeck's writing competition is now open. There is a humor and human interest category. It also ends on January 31st. I'm not a very good humor writer, so I don't know if I'm going to be able to come up with a story to submit or not. But I may give it a try.

There is no entry fee for the above contests. But there is prize money offered. If you think you've got a story to enter, go ahead and give it a try.

The WVWriter's Annual Writing Contest
is also accepting entries now. There is a fee for this writing contest. This contest is also open to children. There is no fee for children this year.
You have until March 15th to enter this contest.

I think contests are fun. Some may be in a different genre than you are used to, but you may find out that you are good at it.

I've won an honorable mention at the WVWriter's Competition before. It was with one of my picture book manuscripts.

Have any of you ever entered a writing contest before? Any of you win?

By the way, my January column for Two-Lane Livin' has been posted on line and if you go here, you can read it. Go to the right hand column on that page and click on Fun Facts for Kids and it will take you to my other columns from the previous months.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Painless Writing

What is painless writing? What is painful writing?

Painless writing is when the words flow from your mind onto the paper and keyboard.

Painful writing is when you pour your heart and soul into your work, only to get it rejected. Or worse yet, after months of waiting, not even receiving a reply.

Painless writing is writing for free, because you love to write.

Painful writing is writing for free, while spending money for books of the craft, conferences, contests, reams of paper and writing classes.

Painless writing is the wonderful, encouraging and understanding writing friends you meet.

Painful writing is when family and friends just don't understand. They don't understand the work and time involved, they don't understand that writing for children isn't easy, they don't understand what an accomplishment it is to get published (no matter how small the publication) or they don't understand how hard it is to get your story picked out of a huge slush pile of stories.

What is the purpose of this article? It is to say that writers need to be tough and persevere the times of painful writing until the painless writing overcomes and our goals are met.

And also to show you a book I purchased at the WVUP Bookstore when we went there on Wednesday to buy my son's college books for next semester. It was only 9.99, so I bought it. They also had books titled Painless Grammar and Painless Vocabulary.

It is filled with writing challenges called Brain Ticklers, examples, tips and web site addresses for further information on topics in the book. It takes you here . . . click on writing advice for lots of helpful information. Plus there are many more site addresses where you can go for helpful information.

To help your writing to be a little less painful, go here for character traits and go here for descriptive words.

Of course, the most important thing of all is writing the story everyone is wanting to read, the story that hasn't been written yet and the story all the publishers are looking for. So, write down your list of goals and write, write and write.

What is your definition of painful or painless writing?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Writing and Cold Weather

It is so cold. It is so snowy.

We were going to have our first writer's meeting last night in over a month and had to cancel because of the bad weather, and I was so looking forward to it.

I didn't have anything to share with the group until the last minute. I woke up yesterday morning with a story on my mind. I laid there for a while, not wanting to get up, but gave in and reached into the drawer of my end table and drug out my writing tablet and pencil.

I kept writing until I had a very rough draft of a short story.

It's called The Unlocked Door and it needs a lot of work. Maybe by next Monday it will be ready for my writing group to critique.

What's your weather like? I think Global Warming has decided to take the back burner for a while. We've got snow in the forecast for the entire week with temperatures dropping every day.

I guess it's a good time to stay inside and write. . . or read, whichever you prefer.

It's also a good time to feed the birds and watch our feathered friends brave the cold.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lists and Writing Resolutions

Some people are list makers and some people are not. Which are you?

I tend to fall into the non list maker category. But when I do make lists, I usually get things done. When I see that list staring me in the face, I will do at least some of the items on it. It feels good to be able to mark off my accomplishments.

So, my first New Years Resolution is to make lists!

In my earlier post I said I was not going to give up until I got a story published.

Well, I think I need to be more specific with my goals, if I am to succeed.

1. I will send at least one story a month out to publishers. Those publishers aren't going to come to my house and read my stories, that's for sure.

2. I will get paid for my writing. I love to write, but since my husband just retired, I would also love to be able to contribute a little money into our budget.

3. I will submit to WVWriter's annual contest and, hopefully, place 1st, 2nd or 3rd in one of the categories.

4. I will write, write, write until I'm good enough for publication!

I'm going to run off this list in LARGE PRINT and tape it on the wall behind my computer screen. I will stare at it everyday and hopefully be able to put a check mark beside of each one before the year is over.

Have you made any resolutions this year?