8

I have spent months on this picture book.  I'm not writing here what it's about because I'm not completely comfortable with that... but I'm feeling really good about it.  I have many picture books in the works, actually.  But this is the one that has called out to me the most to complete. I think it's there...  I'm letting it rest awhile and I'll take a look again before actually pressing that "send" button for the query letter to go out.  But I think it's pretty close to being ready. But the query letter!!!  UGH!      

So much anxiety with it, you know?  When the letter is done, and I hit send... well, that's it. Either that editor it's going to is going to like it and request the manuscript or... well.... she will not like it, won't request it and won't ever see the manuscript to even give it a chance.  YIKES!

So the query has to be good.  REALLY good. And it's causing me more anxiety than all the writing and the revision of the actual manuscript did.

So I went to my friends at 12 x 12 and SCBWI..... still waiting for a response...  need some encouragement and guidance.  This is a big step. So in my 'spare time' this morning, I looked for all kinds of resources on writing query letters, especially for picture books.  I thought I would share some of those with you as I wait for a response from my friends at 12 x 12 and SCBWI:

Query Letters for Children's Book Fiction

Picture Book Query

Anatomy of a Query Letter

Children's Book Publishers - How to Wow Them With a Perfect Query Letter

Writing a Picture Book Query

There's many more sources, but these are what I ran across today.  Please share with me any other sources  you have found useful and I can add them to the list! As an end note, I found this handy bit of advice on Harold Underdown's site:

One Last Piece of Advice

Once posted, forget about it for at least three months. Begin writing something new. Stalking the postman will not make editors read any faster. Moreover, whatever it says on their websites about when you will receive their answer, plan to wait a minimum of six months. In some cases, it takes twice that long. A short note of enquiry, or a postcard after six months, is permissible. While you wait, take comfort in knowing that most writers feel a sense of inadequacy when it’s time to write a query letter. Join the club!

Okay... I guess I'm not the only one!  Well that helps! (a little)

5

I've done some more reading over the week.  My favorite thus far is The One and Only Ivan (winner of the 2013 Newberry Award).

Ivan is amazing to say the least! I was taken in by the first few pages.  How did Katherine Applegate come through with such vivid thoughts to portray the mind of a gorilla? The story is fictional, of course, but is based on a true story.  There is a real gorilla named Ivan (living at Zoo Atlanta).  Ivan really did live for twenty-seven years alone in a cage. And there really was a public outcry from children that gave Ivan the opportunity to live more contentedly at Zoo Atlanta.  The majority of the rest of the story is imaginative fiction but an absolutely spellbinding tale.   The recommended ages for this book are 8-12  but I think there are lots of 6-7 year olds who would love the tale being read aloud to them and plenty of animal loving kids and adults older than twelve who would thoroughly enjoy the tale.  I certainly did!

In picture books, my favorite was everything I read by Margaret Wise Brown (Big Red Barn was adorable and my son leaned in intently to see that baby mouse and count the chicken eggs!) and A Pet For Petunia by Paul Schmid.  I could really imagine a real child going through the same experience and I wonder to myself...what fantastically funny incident led Paul to write this book?! It left me eager to read his other books as well. I believe there is one featuring a porcupine...

I've also finished Unglued (great timing, by the way, as I was truly challenged at every corner this past Monday or so it seemed..and I kept muttering this mantra in my head, "I will not become unglued... I DO have a choice... coming unglued will not change anything... I Do have a choice.... help me here God.. don't let me come undone."  It worked.  At least for that day.  And that's a BIG step in the right direction.  That book will go on the READ AGAIN pile!

So since it is still the month of PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) my mind constantly races for ideas.... whether it be a title or a concept of a picture book I may write one day... and sometimes messing with titles is fun.  So what do you think?  Maybe someone should write The One and Only Ivan: Unglued in the Big Red Barn with Petunia.  I think it would make a smashing hit!  🙂  But I have other tales to tell so I'll leave that one to someone else and get back to working on my own....

Have an amazing day and, if  you have time, pick up a cute picture book to read and put a smile on your face  🙂

2

I knew about Nano (National Novel Writing Month) which is held in November each year and challenges to write a novel in one month, or 50,000 words which, according to the website, is doable even for an active person.  Do they know what I do in a day??  (laughing incredulously).  Well, I tried Nano once.  I don't recall how many words I accomplished that year, but it certainly wasn't close to 50,ooo and I wasn't as busy then as I am now!Someday, maybe, I'll bring out that YA I started years ago, and attempt Nano with it again.  Or maybe just be content with adding a paragraph a week. That may be more like it.

But this year I am doing PiBoIdMo!  PiBoIdMo is Picture Book Idea Month. This is the fifth year for PiBoIdMo. That's obviously why I haven't heard of it before.  I haven't really written in over 4 years or more.  How I didn't know about it the first year, I'm not sure.  But I am glad to know it now.

Immediately, upon finding out about PiBoIdMo, I got very excited, registered, and pulled out my( still blank) Ideas and Images journal I obtained from a SCBWI conference many years ago. It was perfect for the newly inspired me!  And I wrote in the numbers 1-30 over two of its pages......  So the idea is that through the course of the month, which is November which has 30 days, the picture book writer comes up with at least 30 different ideas for a picture book (I already have 5 listed besides the one I've actually spent a little bit of time starting this past week).  In addition, Tara Lazar (founder of PiBoIdMo) will be putting up daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other professionals from the kidlit world!  I am so inspired by this.  It was really perfect timing.

So I have opened the cupboard in my sitting room that has been closed since the cupboards were built.  Inside, I found very dusty folders and notebooks I've not looked at in quite sometime.  It was really sort of humorous (and maybe a little sad) as I glanced through folders with started manuscript titles not remembering half of them!  I mean, sure memories came back after reading through a few lines, but I honestly hadn't remembered starting half of them!  So it will be interesting, I'm sure, taking more time to sort through and read through them all again.  I'm sure, this many years later, I will have a totally different perspective on many of them if not all of them!

I also found my notes from SCBWI conferences and other related sources.  Right now, sitting at the top of the pile on my desk, a notebook lies open displaying the notes from the Katherine Patterson talk.  Here are some of the things I wrote that Katherine said:  "I can never be Jane Austin or Tolstoy, but neither can they be me." (So true!) "I am the only person that can tell my stories." (Yep!) "We must bring out what we fear and what we care mostly about." (I must remember this).  Katherine ended her talk that day by exclaiming, "Go Home and Dare!"

So I'm daring.  I'm not sure what will become of all this but I am grateful to you, my followers, for making me feel that maybe, by following me or reading this blog from time to time, that you must think I have something to say, something worth reading.  I appreciate that.  I don't give myself enough credit, or so I'm told.  You help me do that.  So thank you, dear reader, for giving me encouragement to go out and dare!  And now it's time to do a little more looking into those past manuscripts and notes... maybe a new idea for a picture book will emerge and I can add more to my list!  They come up in the most unusual places....like sitting and watching a little old man filling his car up with gas at Sam's Club 😉

I thought I'd write a bit today about writing.

I've always loved to write.  I can remember and writing being my first loves from as far back as... well, as far back as I can remember.  Reading was an escape for me and I suppose writing was and is as well.  But I know the 'dream' started in 5th grade.  Mrs. Allred, my ultimate favorite teacher of all time and I suppose this is one of the reasons why, read aloud my story that I had shared with her to the class.  It was a story that was highly influenced by my love of Little House on the Prarie and featured a young girl riding through the prarie to save her younger brother who was suffering from the same illness as her recently deceased mother.  I believe the name of the story was Mary, The Serious Child and may just be laying around here somewhere tucked away with a few other childhood memories as well as my 'humerous' rendition of the three little pigs.

Mrs. Allred praised my work and encouraged me to continue my interests in reading and writing...though she prefered me not to do so during Social Studies! What can I say?  Learning about Brigham Young and Salt Lake City did not do much for me.  I moved away from the praises of Mrs. Allred in Heber City, Utah halfway through my 5th grade year and kept my writing to myself for the most part for the remainder of my school days (though one English teacher did enjoy chuckling at the absurd stories I could make up with spelling words), only keeping the dream alive in the corners of my mind.

Only after early retirement from teaching Learning Support type classrooms in the public schools for ten years did I finally consider making the dream real.  I took two correspondance courses through the Institute of Children's Literature, read lots of books on the subject and joined SCBWI.

Over the course of several years, I completed two manuscripts for early chapter books and worked on several still incomplete picture book manuscripts.  I was just beginning to dive into really figuring out how to send those manuscripts off into publishing land and began a young adult manuscript that I had been pondering over for quite sometime when I found out God was blessing (HUGE surprise) us with our third child.  At that precise time I wasn't exactly thrilled nor sure it was a blessing and my writing got railroaded with nausea, fatigue, and then diapers and more fatigue and, well, life.

But,  now with my blessing of 3 1/2 years, I am grateful for God's amazing ways. He is, indeed, a blessing despite God deciding to do things His way instead of my way.  I'm so glad He does that!  However, I still long to write!!!  So here I am, trying again.  A bit with this blog and maybe one day soon, I'll dust off those manuscripts and do a bit (okay, a LOT) of revision and get busy on some new ones again.  I actually have one thought in mind... but I'm not sharing.  I only have a thought and barely four or five sentences written!

So wish me luck... I'm doing well with keeping up with the blog so far but it's not a habit yet and is just a beginning.  I'm hoping to join SCBWI again soon ( thanks to my darling dh who promised to make it a birthday present!  Maybe an early one?) and take a look at those books again...  maybe today, after mixing up a batch of candied pecans and playing with that little blessing I mentioned,  I'll check out a few blogs by children's authors! Do you know of any good ones out there?

Today is going to be one of those 'random' posts where I write about several things.

Yesterday I looked for videos on how to make kale salad.  I found this one on how to make Massaged Kale Salad.  It was a good recipe.  I adapted it a little.  Here is what I did yesterday, though I'm sure I'll play with the added ingredients a bit here and there.

1 bunch kale

1 tsp salt

2 tblsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

A handful of dried cherries

A handful of pomegranite seeds

1/4 cup candied pecans

 

Adding the fruit and nuts is obviously something I can play with but looking at the reds and greens of the kale yesterday reminded me of Christmas and I thought that would make a lovely salad with our holiday meals!  My son (he's 3 1/2) LOVED this salad!  He asked for more 3 times and went around the table stealing ours from our plates!  How awesome is that!

Speaking of Christmas.... I'm starting to think about presents already.  I hate being rushed at Christmas so I try to plan early and at least start shopping early.  Then December can be more peaceful as it should be.

I always get the kids a Christmas ornament.  I'm trying to figure out what they should be this year.  The older kids usually pick out their own now but what I used to do and still want to do with our youngest is pick something representative of the year... something that made that year memorable.  I am really undecided on what to look for for our little one but I have it narrowed down to three choices (IF I can even find any of them!  If you read this list and know of a source, let me know!):   a cement truck, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Linus with his blankie.

My son LOVES cement trucks!  He gets soooo excited when he sees them!  He watches a video on Netflix called Mighty Machines. He has watched the episode on the cement truck so many times!  He can recite what they are saying right along with the video.  We get books from the library every other week and we must always get one that has a cement truck.  He even knows the names of some of the parts (drum, chute, etc.).  He also loves to read other books and several months ago we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  Ever since, any time he wants a snack he tells me "I'm still hungry like a caterpillar"..... how can I say no to that??  🙂  And of course the blankie.  His godmother got him a sweet fuzzy yellow blanket for his Christmation (babtism).  He has been firmly attatched to this thing ever since.  It goes everywhere.  It doesn't look very yellow anymore.  I tried at one point to get a second one but it just didn't happen.  So I'm afraid every time I put it in the washer that the thing will tear, etc. and I try desperately to get him to leave it at home as I'm terrified of losing it!  But Blankie is his buddy.  Blankie sits and has breakfast with us.  Blankie tells me when my son is hungry like a caterpillar sometimes too.  He's part of the family.  So I'm not sure what ornament to look for... I guess I'll look for them all and see what my options are!

Yesterday I wrote about the writing bug and I really took off with it.  I journaled lots of ideas on what to blog about and even wrote a bit for a picture book idea I had.  It was actually a very productive day... just written in bits and pieces here and there.  I guess that's what I need to do to make this work.  Little bits here and there.  There will be no long hours of writing at all as I have other priorities God has blessed me with in this life.  One being that little man I have mentioned so often... and my other blessings... my two older children and my devoted husband.  🙂  So very blessed.  So very grateful.

So off to another day...  lots of things to do!

As I start this post, I am sitting here enjoying my lunch of salmon salad over a bed of baby romaine alongside my tomato cucumber salad and a few candied pecans from the batch I made up this morning.  Mixed all together it is delicious.  My little man, however, does not seem to appreciate it nor his pear today.  I think rest time may occur without his fill of lunch today.  Oh well... he had some healthy snacks earlier and sometimes he just doesn't eat as much as other days.  Most days he is telling me he is 'hungry like a caterpillar' ever since enjoying that wonderful picture book by Eric Carle.

I am really feeling the writing bug.  I'm really working on figuring out how to make it work.  I've been exploring the SCBWI site... trying to determine if the cost is justifiable, as well as exploring other blogs by writers and considering dusting off my old materials.  I did open that cupboard the other day and dig out an unused journal to begin writing down ideas again.  That's a big start for me.  And trying to keep up on here.  I know I haven't written much that is edifying but it's a start... and my mind is turning with ideas and concepts.

I read yesterday that one published author of picture books has two young children and she literally often only spends 5-15 miutes a day in actual writing.  Well.... if she can do it in that amount of limited time, then maybe I can figure it out too.  We shall see!