Tag Archives: Alayne Kay Christian

From Beyond the Grave.

Happy 2015, everyone!

I began my new year with a party — drinking good wine, eating delicious food, chatting with old friends and making some new ones. It’s said that whatever you do on the first day of the year reflects what you’ll be doing throughout the year.

But I can’t party every day. Well, yes. I could. But there are bills to pay.

So over the next few days, I got things ready for business in 2015. I created documents to keep track of my writing and reading and client work. I reviewed goals I had set in previous years and set some new ones. I analyzed where I’d submitted manuscripts, researched editors and publishers’ catalogs, and made notes about where and what to submit this year. I created a new Excel document that would help me work more efficiently and submit manuscripts more wisely (which took more than three hours of data entry).

And then my hard drive said, “Tink. Tink-tink. Tink.”

Gone. All that prep work for the year, and everything else I had on that hard drive, gone.

It made me wish I worked in a field where computers weren’t necessary. I wished I wasn’t so dependent on technology. I wished I wasn’t a writer.

So right then and there, I quit. I shut my laptop. I declared myself Not-A-Writer.

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(c) 2014 Photo by Carol Munro

 

It was like a death. I felt hollowed. Empty and echo-y and silenced.

I stayed dead for about a day, then I put my party pants back on, drank some good wine, and got back to the business of writing. Because a writer’s gotta write, right?

One of the things that brought me back was Facebook. Or more accurately, the community of writing friends I have there. Yes, YOU. You saved me. Thank you.

Thank you, Julie Hedlund, Kelli Panique, my co-Elves, and 12×12 (which is open for 2015 membership now through February 28).

Thank you, Elaine Kiely Kearns, Sylvia Liu, and KidLit411 (celebrating a one-year anniversary now with a party full of prizes, but the best gift of all is the wealth of info for all kidlit writers all year long).

Thank you, Alayne Kay Christian and Sub Six. Thank you to my fellow Cybils judges, to Tara Lazar and PiBoIdMo (just named one of the top 10 blogs for writers), to the other online groups I belong to, and to the writers who are not only my friends on Facebook or face-to-face, but also in my heart.

You all brought this writer back.

And hopefully, soon, a techno-wizard will bring back the contents of my hard drive.

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CYBILS winners, WAITT words, & 12×12 warning

I’m popping in here at my blog to tell you about three things.

First: The CYBILS Awards were announced yesterday. YAY! The winner for Fiction Picture Books is MR. TIGER GOES WILD by Peter Brown. For a list of winners in all categories, go here.

Second: The February post for We’re All In This Together on Marcie Flinchum Atkins’s blog is there for you to read. This month, writers (Sue Heavenrich, Robyn Campbell, Amie Rose Rotruck, Alayne Kay Christian, Dona L. Sadd, EW Clark, Vivian Kirkfield, Marcie, and me) commented about why we write for kids.

Third: Don’t forget! If you’re interested in writing picture books, you have until February 28 to sign up for the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge (which is soooo much more than a challenge). As 12×12 founder Julie Hedlund says, it’s “the accountability of a year-long writing challenge coupled with the support of the most generous and talented community of writers on the planet (no exaggeration!)” And I totally agree. Three membership levels. Pick one and GO!

Happy Valentine’s Day weekend!

 

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More about goals

It’s January, so it’s goal-setting time. I’m pretty excited about that because setting goals last year proved successful for me. Yeah, some aspirations fell into that dusty place behind the desk, but that’s fine. I think most of us tend to over-do it, inspired by the spirit of the season and peer pressure. So I don’t beat myself up for those lost goals. I consider it the angel’s share, and I focus on my successes.

This month, over at Marcie Flinchum Atkins’ We’re All In This Together, Sue Heavenrich, Amie Rose Rotruck, Donna L. Sadd, Alayne Kay Christian, Vivian Kirkfield, Marcie, and I talk about writing goals for 2014, and how we expect to achieve them. Go check it out. There are links to resources that may help you.

My goals for 2014? I mentioned them in the previous post, but here’s the formal list:

  • Write at least one new PB manuscript per month.
  • Revise at least one PB manuscript per month.
  • Submit at least one PB manuscript per month. (Being a GOLD member of Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge will help me achieve these first three goals. If you’re writing PBs, think about joining 12×12. You have until 2/28/14 to join, then the door to this BEST thing you can do for yourself slams shut. Go. Now. Really. Stop reading this blah-blah-blog and sign up.)
  • Continue to read lots of picture books. The focus is on books that are the best examples of the craft and to better understand what’s going on in the industry (what gets published).
  • Study craft. Take classes. Attend workshops and conferences. Improve skills.
  • Sign with an agent. Not just any agent. I’m very particular about whom I’ll choose as my partner in this business.
  • Give back to the community. Last year, I volunteered at the New England SCBWI spring conference, as a Cybils judge, and as a forum moderator for the 12×12 challenge. I’ll probably do the same this year (though I’m off to a rough start in 12×12, having been too sick to spend much time in the Forum these last two weeks). I’m also coordinating an NESCBWI workshop for PB writers that will be held in March, and I’ve taken a leadership role with my SCBWI crit group. Lastly, I’ll continue to share my favorite PB reads on my blog each month.

Sorry, angels. I expect to reach all these goals this year. I’ll have to share something else with you in 2014. Will you take my great and undying appreciation for sticking with me to my successful end? I thought so. Thanks!

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Love it. Don’t love it. Ewww.

Whew! So far, 134 fictional picture books have been nominated for the Cybils awards. The nomination period for the general public is now closed, but over the next few weeks, professionals in the publishing industry will be making their nominations. Since October 1, I’ve read about 60 books (sincere thanks to the suddenly overburdened folks who manage and deliver books via the Inter Library Loan service), and I have a dozen or so on my short list. Some great books have been nominated, so I’m being very strict about how I evaluate which ones I’ll consider sending on to the final judging process. One little hiccup in the flow of the story, and sorry, not going on the short list. Fabulous illustrations but a story that’s ordinary? Sorry, no. A beautiful story but I just don’t like the art? Not getting recommended.

I compare my short list with the lists of the other four judges in my category. We agree on many books, but I’ve seen books on their lists and wondered, what are they thinking? I’m sure they do the same. This whole process has reinforced what I’ve known all along. It’s all subjective. We’re all judges, and we all have different tastes.

I submitted a manuscript to an agent yesterday. I LOVE this story I’ve told. It’s tender and funny and even a bit scary. It’s been rejected a half dozen times, and I got discouraged. I decided it wasn’t a lovely story. I decided it needed work – work that I put off doing. But I read it yesterday morning and LOVED it. So I submitted it. Everything is subjective. Maybe this agent will love it, too.

That’s my little bit of encouragement to my fellow writers. And here’s some more. Marcie Flinchum Atkins has another We’re All In This Together post on her blog. EW Clark, Sue Heavenrich, Vivian Kirkfield, Liz Parker Garcia, Alayme Kay Christian, Amie Rose Rotruck, Romelle Broas Guittap, Marcie, and I share some inspirational quotes for writers. Go take a look if you’re curious. Or need encouragement.

One more thing, I’ve been participating in Kathy Ellen Davis’s picture book reading challenge, 31 in 31. We pledge to read a picture book each day in October (yeah, not exactly a problem for me!) and post about it on her blog. Every five days, she has a drawing for a book. On day 15, I WON! Eagerly waiting for my copy of OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. Visit the blog to see what we’ve read and  get PB recommendations.

 

 

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Boo!

Heads up. If fear is getting the best of you and your writing efforts, Marcie Flinchum Atkin’s latest post in her We’re All in this Together series may help. I’ve been busy, so I didn’t contribute my thoughts to the series this month, but click here to read what Robyn Campbell, Donna L. Sadd, Alayne Kay Christian, and Marcie have to say on the subject. (And check out Alayne’s blog for details about a writing contest in honor of Grandparent’s Day.)

What do I fear? That when I wake up tomorrow morning, I’ll realize it’s already December! 2013 is moving along so quickly I feel I have to keep one hand gripped to the chair lest I get flung into the deep, dark woods as the time train speeds on. I began to panicky about my goals for this year, feeling like I haven’t accomplished enough, but actually I’m doing pretty well. I’m staying focused, I’m getting new picture book drafts written, I’m submitting work, and the rejections I’m getting are kind and thoughtful and positive. The type of rejections writers like to get if they have to get rejections at all. But still. Ugh.

I haven’t been revising as much as I’d like, though, and I’m trying to catch up on my picture book reading goal (a little more than 500 by year’s end). I love so much of what I’ve been reading lately. Here are my favorites from July’s list.

DETECTIVE LARUE: LETTERS FROM THE INVESTIGATION by Mark Teague, 2004, Scholastic Books
KALI’S SONG by Jeanette Winter, 2012, Schwartz & Wade Books
MOUSE’S BIRTHDAY by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bruce Degen, 1993, G.P. Putnam’s Sons
NAMING LIBERTY by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jim Burke, 2008, Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers Group)
TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR by Jerry Pickney, 2011, Hachette Book Group (Little, Brown and Company)

Not a frightening book in the bunch. Read them for yourself!

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What Surprises You about the Writing Life?

It’s time again for Marcie Flinchum Atkins’ monthly We’re All in This Together blog series. This month: Surprise! Things You Didn’t Know about the Writing Life.

My contribution, along with those of Lori Degman, Donna L. Sadd, and Alayne Kay Christian, can be found today in Part One. Tomorrow, you can read what EW Clark, Vivian Kirkland, and Marcie have to say in Part Two.

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Getting the work done

We’re talking about finding motivation to write over at Marci Flinchum AtkinsWe’re All in This Together blog posts this weekend. Sue Heavenrich, Vivian Kirkfield, Marcie, and I share our thoughts on the blog today. You can find more ideas from Alayne Kay Christian on tomorrow’s post.

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