Reprinted with permission from the SCBWI-Southern Breeze Newsletter, Winter 2015
Y’all, my middle grade manuscript has been nominated for the 2014 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award! The award is given annually to the manuscript deemed most promising for publication from among manuscripts submitted for individual critique at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Annual Conference in Los Angeles.
I feel very honored to be nominated for an award named after a woman who personified the spirit of the organization to which I owe much gratitude in my journey so far as a writer.
From the SCBWI website: “Sue Alexander was the first member to join SCBWI and was vitally involved with the organization from its inception to her death in 2008. Her responsibilities for SCBWI included, among others, serving as Chairperson of the Board of Advisors (33 years), managing the office (20 years), coordinating — with Lin Oliver — the August conference in California (25 years), and coordinating the Golden Kite Awards (25 years). She was the author of more than twenty-five books for young people, including World Famous Muriel; Small Plays for Special Days; Witch, Goblin and Sometimes Ghost; Sara’s City and award winners Lila on the Landing; Nadia the Willful; and Behold the Trees. In addition to her books, she wrote stories for magazines and for the Los Angeles Times “Kids’ Reading Room” several times a year. Sue passed away suddenly on July 3 at her home in West Hills, California. She was 74.”
I’m so grateful to my supportive, understanding family and friends, to the SCBWI family of writers, illustrators and industry professionals who teach us at the regional and national conferences, and to my Smith classmate Emma Dryden of DRYDENBKS who gave me a loving, yet hearty, shove in the right direction when I felt so far afield.
Meet Magnolia. She’s the bookish cat in the family, not to be confused with the cat burglar cat of the family. She’s also now in a magazine called Scratch and it’s not even about cats even though it sounds like it should be. It’s a fantastic new digital magazine from Jane Friedman and Manjula Martin on “Writing + Money + Life” that digs deep into the real nitty gritty, revealing what happens at the intersection of finance with all the other aspects of writers’ lives. This particular article featuring my writing space is in the most recent issue in a tongue in cheek piece called “Real Writers’ Houses.” So, go sign up and enjoy many fantastic articles on making a living while also working at your craft.
Sometimes, when you take yourself seriously, and you are really, really lucky, good things can happen. I’m so very excited to have been selected for a Creative Residency this Fall at the beautiful Hambidge Center! Situated on 600 acres in the North Georgia mountains, it’s one of the first artist communities in the United States. I look forward to writing with a view of the forest, streams, meadows, waterfalls and hopefully rare salamanders!
It’s not my intention to post items that I consider to be too personal in nature on this blog or on any social media outlet. But this subject also has to do with my writing and my current work in progress, so I’m going to make an exception. I lost my best friend of 11 years this week, my dog pictured above. She was a dog’s dog, and I miss her terribly. She was one of the main inspirations for my middle grade novel, and her loss has me wanting to double down on my efforts to see the work published, in her honor. She was amazing and noble and intelligent, and athletic and cuddly – just the best dog there ever was.
Writers get plenty of advice. It’s available on Twitter and Facebook and blogs, magazines and journals and books. It comes from all directions – other writers, editors, agents, PR folks, social media experts, my mother, my 8 year old, and more. I’m a particular fan of lists, like Best Blogs For Writers To Read in 2012, so much so that I made it into one: The Virginia Quarterly Review‘s 14 Writing Prompts. I do regular check-ins at places like Query Shark and closely follow my favorite hashtags on twitter like #editortips and #MGlitchat.
I’m fairly new to writing, about a year in now, so all of these things have been essential for me to understand the process and business of publishing. I have learned so much in a short amount of time. Now, however, I’m going to take the advice of a vlog I watched during the WriteOnCon online children’s writer conference, wherein publicist Meredith Barnes suggested that writers not blog about writing. Instead, she says, blog about things that you find interesting. I love this advice. I have way more interest in subject than process. Besides, the things that interest me greatly just so happen to be the things I’ve written into my novel. So from here out, I’m blogging anew. Expect a lot of animals. And learn about kind, genius people such as John Bartlett and the brilliant designs he’s created to help the animals.
Sometimes when I think how good my book can be, I can hardly breathe.
So I participated in National Novel Writing Month this year, wherein one writes 50,000 words between Nov 1st and Nov 30th. If you reach the 50K word count, the NaNoWriMo team counts you a winner. To prove it, they give you this awesome winner widget to show off. The self-respect you earn is all on you.
I’m not going to lie, it was a life-changer. I’ve not had that much fun exploring a new activity since I can’t remember when. I wrote every morning at 5am before I started my day job, my parenting job, my life job or anything else except for a huge cup of coffee and letting my dogs out to pee. I highly recommend it for anyone who was ever wondering if they could write a book.
Love books? Write one!