Tag Archives: Marci Flinchum Atkins

Focus. Write. Squirrels!

There’s a new post in Marcie Flinchum AtkinsWe’re All In This Together. This month we answered this question: What is one thing that you’ve done to help yourself grow as a writer that you would recommend to someone else?” If you’re a writer, hop over to WAITT and see what Marcie, Vivian Kirkfield, Sue Heavenrich, Romelle Broas, and I have to say.

I talked about staying focused. That’s a tough thing for me. If you follow astrology, you’ll understand when I say I’m a Gemini. I love projects, and it’s easy for me to start many and finish few. So to stay on target with my writing, I need to remind myself of my goals.

Every. Single. Day.

Mmmm…good omelet.

Oh, sorry, I’m having breakfast as I write this. Got distracted. (Focus, Carol.)

In the 12×12 online community of picture book writers (best place ever for PB writers), our challenge is to write one new manuscript per month. So far this year, by staying focused, I’ve written nine. Two of them include squirrels. Maybe because I’ve also renewed my focus on photography (pun unintended), and squirrels in our yard have been a subject for me. Check out this baby (an eight week old, I’m guessing).

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He fell asleep in the nook of my arm.

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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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This is my favorite picture book. Wait. This one is my favorite. Uh, no. Here, this one. This is …. um.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins has posted this month’s edition of “We’re All in This Together.” I joined Donna L. Sadd, EW Clark, Liz Garcia, Vivian Kirkfield, and Marcie in discussing our favorite picture books. What are your favorites? Have you read ours? Take a look.

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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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April Activity and Fave PBs

Have I met my goals for the month of April? Yes and no. Not many picture books read (only 17), though I did find six I love (and four I didn’t like at all, which will not be named here).

  • A CHRISTMAS TREE FOR PYN by Olivier Dunrea, 2011, Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers Group)
  • AN ANNOYING ABC by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley, 2011, Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children’s Books)
  • THE ICIEST, DICIEST, SCARIEST SLED RIDE EVER by Rebecca Rule, illustrated by Jennifer Thermes, 2012, Islandport Press
  • LITTLE BIRD by Germano Zullo, illustrated by Albertine, 2012, Enchanted Lion Books
  • THE LONELY BOOK by Kate Bernheimer, illustrated by Chris Sheban, 2012, Schwartz & Wade (Random House Children’s Books)
  • THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS FLY SOUTH by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, 2012, Clarion Books
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One of my picture book drafts is about this creature, Periwinkle the Elemoose, created by my artist friend
Lucy Mueller Young.
Ain’t she a darling little sweetheart?
(c) 2013 Photo by Carol Munro

And while the month was full of appointments, yard work, and planting the garden, I did find time for lots of writing for clients and myself (yay!), which includes two new picture books drafts (double yay!) and some guest blogging. I also edited one manuscript and submitted two.

Marci Flinchum Atkin’s We’re All in This Together blog series continued with two posts this weekend about Books that Impact Writers. What are my two favorites? Go here and scroll down.

One final thing. If you read an earlier post, you know I love ONE by Kathryn Otoshi. My friend Alayne Kay Christian will soon post an interview with KO on her blog. Stay tuned. I’ll post the link so you can read how this gutsy and talented woman publishes her own books with such outstanding quality.

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Maybe it’s not really about time

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(c) 2010 Photo by Carol Munro

This week’s topic in Marci Flinchum Atkin’s We’re All in This Together series on her blog: How do you make time to write?

It’s a two-parter again, and you can find it here on Saturday and here on Sunday. (The complete series is archived here.)

My contribution is included in Sunday’s post. Perhaps I didn’t precisely answer the question that was asked, because after writing my bit, I realized it doesn’t have all that much to do with having the time. Rather, it’s deciding you are going to do it and – well – doing it. No excuses.

If you want to write and can’t find the time, you don’t really want to write. Sorry, but be absolutely honest with yourself.

Oh, you do want to write. Okay, then, are you a list maker, one who loves to cross off completed tasks? Then put writing on your list, and be specific (i.e., write 1,000 words on the novel OR finish the short story I began last week). If you’re a fanatic about scheduling your life on a calendar (paper or electronic), book an appointment with yourself for an hour of writing. Whatever your style, when you schedule showers, work, chores, appointments, picking up the kids, date night, calling your mom, be sure to include time to write. If you don’t actively consider fitting it into your life, you’ll never have time for it.

What stops you from writing? Is it time? Or is it simply you?

Happy attitude adjustment hour. Now go write.

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