Monday, September 26, 2011

Honing my craft

I figure, any artist or writer would probably say it takes time to perfect (if perfection is even possible) a craft.  Thus, things like practice, education, exposure, inspiration, etc. help an artist find their voice in their craft.

For a writer, of course, it is important to become very familiar with aspects of writing (tenses, points of view, grammar rules, so on).  I have taken classes in writing and have attended workshops, but my newest endeavor for honing my craft is reading the book "Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication" by Ann Whitford Paul.  This book was recommended to me by a few of my fellow critique group members.  I have been reading it thoroughly in attempts to get as much out of it as possible.  So far, this book has been a review for me, as well as an introduction to some concepts that are new to me.  I especially like how the author gives book examples to illustrate points she is making, and I really like the hands on activities she includes at the conclusion of each chapter.  I've already come up with a few book ideas while reading her book!

If you are hoping to write a Picture book or a Picture storybook, I too would suggest picking up this book.

Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication
By Ann Whitford Paul

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Change

I created this blog two days ago, as you know, to document my path to publishing.  But, I wanted to replay a scene for you that happened to me about 2 hours ago:

"Hey, let's get the mail," I said to my fiancĂ© as we walked from our apartment's communal fitness room.  We made our way through the gate, as we always did, each time we checked the mailbox.  But, this time was different.  He slid his mailbox key in and pulled out the mail.

The bright orange manila folder stood out to me like an African horned cucumber in a basket filled with apples.  I could easily identify an envelope that I myself had enclosed as a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope that writers include in a manuscript submission whenever they want their manuscript returned to them after consideration from agents/publishers).  I had a collection of those same types of envelopes in a file deemed "rejected manuscripts".

"Oh great, another rejection," I think to myself.  I slide my index finger under the envelope's sealed flap.

Then, I pull out a stack of papers, "my returned manuscripts" I think. 

The bright yellow letters of the Highlights logo stand off the page, bright red oblong rectangle and all.  I notice a lot of writing in this letter, so I run my eyes over the text:

"Thank you for your material which you have prepared for us.  We are delighted to accept this material and would like to set forth our agreement in this letter" (Cully, 2011) says the letter, signed by Highlights Editor in Chief.

I scream!  I jump!  I dance in the grass beside our mailbox!  I run to my fiancĂ© and jump on him, hugging him closely.  "It has happened!"

It has finally happened.  Highlights has accepted TWO of my poems, and I am besides myself in excitement. 

I am soon to be a published poet.

And because of this, I realize I must change the mission of my blog.  No longer is it "my path to publishing", but "my path to publishing children's books."  Because, as soon as I return this contract, I will be published. 

I'm that much closer!  Publishing in magazines is a way to build a name and a publishing history which increases my chances of having a Picture Book manuscript accepted, and I'm that much closer.

Here's Highlight's website:

What next, what next, what next?!  :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators

In this post, I thought I'd talk a little about the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).  This is a GREAT resource for those starting out on the path to publishing children's books.  This organization offers so much information about the children’s book publishing business.  Although you have to purchase a membership, if you are serious about publishing, it is a beneficial investment. 

Check out the website:

Through this website, you can find out about the region that serves where you live, upcoming conferences (around the world), as well as information about speakers and school visits, possible funding opportunities for writers and illustrators, classes, and an entire library full of resources.  It was through SCBWI that I was able to find a critique group that has helped me strengthen my writing and critiquing (which is very important to the process of revision) skills.  I have already attended two conferences, and I plan to attend many more as they come up, which I plan to talk about in later blogs.

Okay.  Done with my "sales pitch".  But in all seriousness, the SCBWI is something that I believe in.  I certainly feel that it is something that has moved me closer to my dream of publishing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Onward I Go

I have officially entered the blogosphere!

I don't think anyone knows how hard it is for most people to publish a book, until he or she actually makes an attempt to publish.  I mean, since there are so many books out there, it must be easy, right? 

Oh.  So.  Wrong. 

Let me just say, publishing is no easy feat!

From as far back as I can remember, I have wanted to be an author.  I remember being so excited whenever we had an assignment to write a story!  I would lose myself in the assignment, and eagerly anticipate the next time I'd have a chance to create a new character to turn in for a grade.  And even when I didn't have a writing assignment, I'd sit at my in-home computer for hours and write, just for fun.  All in all, writing is, and always has been, a great passion of mine!

Within the last couple of years, I have tried to take this passion even more seriously.  I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (also known as SCBWI), joined a fabulous critique group with a number of incredibly talented ladies, and have sent out several manuscripts.  But to no avail!  I have yet to be published.

That's why I have started this blog.  This blog will be a way for me to document my progress in this business.  A way to share what I've learned, and hopefully a chance to learn more.  A chance to talk about things I've done, inspirations of mine, and road blocks I've hit on my publishing journey.  And lastly, a chance to just write, because of course, practicing a craft is the only way to get better at it. 

So again, thanks for joining me on this journey!  Hopefully it is one that will end with my name in print! :)