I, along with most traditionally unpublished authors, ask themselves every New Year: “Will this be the year I get a literary agent and/or published?”
© Forrest Davis
I think it’s a fair question full of hopes and goals that should be fed daily and never left to doubt. After all, hope fills the heart and mind with action. The kind of action needed to move a writer (or anyone) forward with their dreams being fulfilled and their goals being reached. It doesn’t happen all at once. We must build upon it day by day, week by week, month by month, and often year by year.
An essential step to take is perfecting your craft. I’m excited to be attending a SCBWI Nuts & Bolts Workshop in Tucson this month to sharpen my writing skills. That usually leads to helping the writer complete their manuscript.
The next largest step is the submission process. You’ve worked hard on your manuscript, revising it many times, having critique partners make valuable suggestions. You edit, revise, complete, and hit the “Send” button. Then it’s out of your hands. Or is it? That’s the time to start on a new story, or edit another one. But most of all, it’s time to have faith in your work.
Children book writers often write books for young readers that are full of hope and dreams coming true. Why shouldn’t the child within the writer anticipate and believe the same for themselves?
Your input: What are your goals and dreams for 2018?
This time of year is no doubt the busiest time of year. There are Chanukah and Christmas gifts to buy and wrap. Though online shopping has become a favorite for me, it can still cause my eyes to glaze over—plus one needs to scoop up the packages before the porch pirates do! Then there are cards to sign and send. Many of us sum up the year in a family newsletter. Let’s not forget holiday parties. It just all takes time and energy.
For the writer, it’s easy to throw up your hands and say, “I’m too pooped to write.” I’ve done that before. But this year, I’m fitting some writing time around Christmas festivities. I find the Christmas carols calming and inspiring.
Most of all, this season is the time I spend with myself as a child. You read correctly, and I know that may sound a bit weird, but for me it isn’t. So many good and loving memories of family and warm laughter.
Childhood holiday memories fit in perfectly with writing for children. Children never take a break from being children, and I should never take a break from being a writer for children.
Don’t get me wrong, I have taken plenty of time to prepare for Christmas this year and I’m looking forward to spending time with family, friends, fun, and festivities!
Your input: Do you put a wrap on writing during the holidays? Or do you write around it? If you are not a writer, what usually gets put on hold during the Christmas or Chanukah season?
Autumn is slowly coming to Tucson, AZ. So far, November is way too “hot” for autumn, even hitting 90 this year! October was also unseasonably warm this year— much too warm,
November brings the cooler, crisper morning air (mid-50s for lows) that feels so good after a long, hot summer (and fall). Even if the afternoon Tucson temps are record-breaking warm-hot they’re not as intense as spring-summer. And even the leaves turn color and fall in Arizona,
But when the temps cool down to the 60-70’s for the highs, I find it to be refreshing writing weather. I love writing children’s books with a cup of hot coffee. I seem to think a little more clearly in the crisp air.
The coffee warms my body, while the writing warms my heart. J
And of course pumpkins still abound!
Your input: Do you prefer to write in warm or cool weather? Or, if you’re not a writer, do you prefer warm or cool weather?
Picture book author, Susanna Leonard Hill, is holding her 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest. This will be my first time entering. Please read my entry, Jack O. Lantern, down below, if you dare! So ignore the shadows, invite the monsters, and gather the candy corn for my first ever Halloweensie story (99 words) entry!
Jack O. Lantern
by Lynn Rogalsky
Jack O. Lantern loved Halloween. Jack collected spooky creatures to love.
He found Monster and gave it a monstrous hug.
Jack’s black cat, Shadow, brought home a new friend.
A crow Jack named Candy Corn, because the bird squawked, “Corn, corn!”
The four went trick-or-treating. Jack loved getting candy and seeing all the pumpkins.
At one house a neighbor asked Jack what the O in his name meant.
“Orange. Orange-you-glad we’re here?” Jack’s smile lit up the whole front porch.
Everyone handed them all the candy. Jack wondered why.
“You’re frightful—you have seeds stuck between your teeth!” said Monster.
Interested in joining in all the frightening fun? Simply write a 100 word Halloween story for children using the words monster, candy-corn, and shadow.
For all the details, go to Susanna’s website by clicking the link above or here: https://susannahill.com/2017/10/27/the-7th-annual-halloweensie-contest-aahhhrrrooooooooo/.
Manuscript revisions are something I look forward to spending time on, rather than dreading. Maybe I’ve trained myself to realize your first or rough draft is not as hot as you think it is. It’s far from perfect and always needs a LOT of work.
I try to catch as many “mistakes” as I can before even showing my manuscripts to any of my critique partners or for-hire editors. Actually, it’s almost as a courtesy to them. Their time is valuable, plus I want to make sure they’re seeing my best work, even if it’s not a bona fide done product.
That brings up another side to revisions: revising your revisions. When I get suggestions back from my critiquers, I’m always excited to see what they have to say, see if it rings true with my vision, and then jump right into revising. Or is that, jump “write’ in! I love it, because revising manuscripts gets messy and is oh so fun. Maybe I just like marking up my stories with ink.
One of my messy revisions on my manuscript.
A struggle usually ensues as I revise my revisions. Most of what my critique partners recommend is valid and I must therefore find a way to weave their suggestions into my revisions to make it a stronger story. It may mean more research or rethinking the beginning, ending, conflict, or all the above. But, it will be a better story once I add my spin to it.
Beware, true revisions are hard work. They’re necessary and a must if you desire to be published. And keep in mind, once an agent and editor takes on your project, they’ll be sending you revision suggestions of their own!
You input: Do you enjoy or dread revising your manuscripts?
So far, this year has been a hazy dream that is slow to shake.
When health issues arise, the writer often feels an obligation to keep on writing, revising, and producing new ideas. I’ve often been able to do that through the years.
But at times, some health situations are too serious, too fatiguing, and catch one off guard that writing is not possible in the normal vein. It is during these times that the writer must rest and find new strength to heal. Do not feel guilty or feel like you have abandoned your craft.
I have found my characters will wait. They even tend to encourage me to rest and let them relax as well. Often they appear stronger themselves. Strong enough to help me mend myself, along with the story that my characters live within.
What I’m finding is that though my life feels a bit dry and colorless now, it will bloom again and burst full of color. From the fog to a colorful life – full of writing, ideas, and renewed health. In fact, I know it’s not that far off, it’s just within sight. I’m already catching glimpses because the creative mind never stops.
Your input: When a health problem has you lying flat, how do you help yourself to heal? When you’re too weak or fatigued to write, how do you maintain your writing in-between life?
I credit my loving Dad, Albert, with raising my brother and me to respect everyone no matter their color, race, creed, or religion. My Dad served his country and was a wonderful provider for our family as a house painter contractor.
I also credit my Dad for my love for animals, especially dogs. I remember
My Dad, Albert.
when he brought two dogs into our home that he had rescued. The first was our first family dog, Poppy. The second one was a fuzzy puppy he brought home in his lunchbox. He had found the little pup abandoned in the house he was painting. I named him Teddy.
My Mom, Evelyn, holding Teddy who my Dad rescued and we adopted.
Perhaps what I sense strongly in my heart about my Dad was how he encouraged me to follow my dream of being a writer. Because of his inspiration, my writing career began in Journalism. That led to my internship and job as News Producer at Tucson’s ABC-affiliate, KGUN-TV, in which I did some feature reporting and wrote news copy for the 10PM newscast. He helped shaped that influence, because many of my memories are of him reading the local newspaper while watching the news on TV. I guess my Mom did as well.
Though my Dad took off for Heaven before I discovered my desire and passion of writing for children, I know he’s behind me 100%. He always has been from childhood to adulthood. I know he’d love the fact that many of my picture book manuscripts feature animals. He’d be amused and pleased.
So, I say Happy Father’s Day to my supportive, fun-loving Dad who always had me as the apple of his eye.
Your input: On this Father’s Day, how has your Dad shaped your life?