Monday, September 28, 2015

Writer's Block

Writer's block - do you ever get it?


I have had it a couple of times - at least!

I have been working on a new middle grade novel, a sequel to one of my other ones I have written. I started on it a couple years ago - at least!

I let it set for a long time, and then recently brought it out, dusted it off and started writing again.

It is moving along at a slow pace. I took it to my writer's group and we put our heads together and came up with ideas on what, when and where.

I write a monthly column for kids. I usually come up with ideas pretty easy. I like to have the subject matter have something to do with the month or time of year.

This gives me more leeway than you think.

One of my April topics was the Pony Express (established in April 1860). Did you know February was National Blah Buster month? You would if you read my February 2011 Column. And, I love giving kids fun crafts and easy recipes to try.

But, for some reason, I was coming up blank for November's column. I have already written about turkeys, how the pilgrims celebrated, that November is National Peanut Butter Lover's Month, the history of pulling on the wishbone, food ate by the Pilgrims and how you (children) can help with the meal, National Novel Writing Month and PiBoIdMo (writing for picture book writers), and how writing letters helped establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday (the many letters that Sarah Hale wrote to presidents) and presidential pets and Tad Lincoln's beloved turkey named Jack.

I thought and thought and thought.
I came up with different ideas and started to write - but nothing clicked. Nothing clicked.

One night when we were walking, I asked my neighbor for ideas. She came up with some good and some not so good ideas. One of her ideas had merit, so I gave the topic a try. It didn't click.

Then an idea popped into my head. I did a little research and found out some interesting fun facts that I turned into a column I thought my readers would enjoy.

What is the topic?
You will have to wait until November to find out. But, like I told my neighbor, it is very different from her suggestion -- very, very different.

Mark Twain's suggestion:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

My suggestions:

Brainstorm, just write and see what comes, write on paper, try a new place to write,  have an idea book - write down ideas whenever they come to you - go to them when you are stumped as to what to write about and googling is always an option. But, my most important suggestion is never give up.

What are your suggestions?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rejection - But, with a personal note

In November of last year, I sent a PB manuscript to a publishing company. I had submitted to them before and knew I would get notified in a timely manner, (usually before 3 months), if they wanted my manuscript or not. I had also researched what they published and my manuscript fit them to a T!

Since then I have been waiting patiently (if that is what you call crossing my fingers when the phone rang and constantly watching my emails). I was that sure my manuscript had a chance.

I even did a no-no. I did a follow-up email after waiting around four months. But, it wasn't so bad. They promptly got back with me and said it had been sent to the owners for a decision. So, I continued to wait.

One day, during the course of my waiting, I checked out my stats on my author blog, I saw where someone from the publishing company had visited my site. (My heart and hopes soared) They are checking me out, I thought.

Saturday, after arriving back from our family reunion, I checked the mailbox. There was my SASE waiting for me. That was not what I had hoped to see.

But, on the bright side, it was a personal rejection signed by the Editor in Chief.

She thanked me for my patience during their evaluation (9 1/2 months), they had given it their thorough consideration, but were afraid they decided to pass due to limited publishing slots available each year. Again, saying she was sorry and apologizing for their delays.


Oh, well. I'll do more research and send it off to another publisher.

 Also, I have another PB manuscript out there that I sent to another publisher after careful research. This one also fits them to a T.

 Keeping my fingers crossed.

What is new with your writing and submitting?


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Back to Writing

I've taken a needed, but much too long, break from writing this summer. Aside from writing my monthly articles for Two-Lane Livin' Magazine, I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to write something new again.

This morning I decided I needed to send out at least one of my  manuscripts. So, I planned to work on my cover letter and zip it out to the world.

The picture book I chose is one of my very favorites that I have written. It has went through many, many changes over the years (yes, I said years). It has been critiqued many times (by my critique groups, a professional critiquer and Rate Your Story).

This past June, it placed second in the annual West Virginia Writers writing contest. I can't complain about coming in second, because one of my middle grade novels placed first!

I thought this would be a piece of cake. It has been edited many times and placed in a contest, so it should be ready to submit. But, I decided to look at it one last time. I opened up the manuscript from my computer and took a look.

Was it ready?

No! I found many small changes I felt I needed to make - and, a couple of big changes.

Hopefully, these changes made it an even better manuscript than it already was.

My advice - never give up on your stories, never think they cannot be improved, always keep an open mind and let suggestions simmer and consider them all.

And - do not get in a hurry. Leave your stories for a while and then come back. I bet changes will pop out at you.

When you have did all you can do and you believe in your story - cross your fingers and zip it out to the world.