Wrapping It Up

July has been quite the busy month for me and my family.   We've been busy with loan papers and other important paperwork involved in the selling and purchasing of a home, the joys of juggling two cars among 3 people that need them, planning on the upcoming school year and planning, packing and enjoying church camp, a family camping vacation and scout camp among many other things!

 My Writing World

I've kept up with my writing goals!

  • Do the best I can to put in ten hours a week (absolute minimum) into my writing - the ten hours does have to include my blog writing time, book writing time and the time I take to read other blogs (about writing and the topics I write about), check for information, etc. on the SCBWI site and the 12 x 12 Challenge forum, critiquing, etc.
  • I have posted 12-15 posts this month on the blog (My goal is 12-15:  I posted 15 counting today) including some book reviews here and here.
  • Part of my ten hours is of course spent on writing besides the blog!  I have worked quite a bit on a manuscript that I sent in for a professional critique.  I mentioned this in my post on Point of View in chapter 3 of Writing Picture Books.  I have gotten some really good feedback on what I have revised thus far.
  • I also formed a new critique group and am looking forward to getting to know my critique partners better and seeing what they write!
  • And the most amazing thing of all  - I got an answer to that query letter and yes, while I' m not trying to get my hopes up too high... I DID at least get a request for the manuscript!  (imagine me doing my happy dance here) 🙂

My Book World

  • This hasn't been going quite as well as my writing time.  Mostly because my reading time is at night/bedtime when I am more likely to get interrupted by my teens wanting to talk.  They certainly don't get up at 5:30 in the morning to talk to me but they do tend to wander in to my room at 9:30 or 10:00.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does take away my natural reading time.
  • I have been reading a few really good books actively:  Engaging Today's Prodigal and The Graveyard Book (my current Newberry Medal read) are my own selections for 'older' reading while my picture book world has included titles such as Help! A Story of Friendship,  Bluebird Summer, and Grandma's Purple Flowers. My youngest son has also taken the notion for me to read a chapter book to him- it wasn't my pick- but he seems to be enjoying Geronimo Stilton's "I'm Not Too Fond of My Fur".
  • I was able to start Grain Brain as my husband convinced me I needed to while I was away at Potter County.  It's full of good solid information thus far.

Our Homeschool World

There hasn't been much going on in this area for my youngest.  Of course we read every day and that's the most important thing to do.  But our lessons haven't happened because things just keep getting in the way.

I took the week my son was away at Church Camp (St. Tikhon's Summer Church Camp in South Canaan, Pennsylvania)  to work on his lesson plans for next year.  All 180 days have been planned with exactly what he needs to do each day - with the exception of physical education because we have a few things to look into before decisions are made on that.  I plan on writing up a post about this very soon!

Our Food/Health World

This part of our world is a little tricky in July.  It does require some thought and planning with all the camps and vacation, etc.  I think I have finally nailed a good routine as far as our general menu planning goes for days at home - more on that in a month or so- but planning for time away does pose a few problems sometimes.  Summer camp was NOT a problem though.  The people who prepare the meals at St. Tikhon's are WONDERFUL and they cook a lot of the food for the kids from scratch which is amazing since they cook for so many kids.  I only had to supplement a few things for my son this year.  There were some meals that didn't need any tweaking on my part or theirs at all.   Scout camp is quite different.  Unfortunately, the majority of their food is prepackaged processed items and I needed to plan an entire menu and provide food for all that he needed.  Family vacation with my family is a little stressful trying to balance what other people are serving with what I need to supplement.  Trying to figure out what I need to bring to ensure that we have enough to eat without bringing a lot of food that has the potential to be wasted is tricky- but certainly doable.

Other Parts of Life

July didn't allow much time for other parts of life other than what I've mentioned due to camps, vacation and lots of paperwork and decluttering (and selling things on online garage sales!).  The other highlights of course were the week in Potter County, PA which I posted about here.  And closing on our new house!!  WOOT!  (which happens today by the way!)

So How Was Your Month?



As I go around my house in attempts to declutter and minimize in preparation for the big move coming in August,  I'm also trying to declutter my email.

It is ridiculously overwhelming at how many emails I get in both my personal email and the one I reserve to 'writing' only.  On Mondays, it's tenfold.  That's the day I get all the blogs I follow that I have selected weekly emails only. So......  as much as it kills me to have to hit that unsubscribe button, I have been doing it a bit more.  I know there is NO WAY I'm going to be able to read all these emails.  I usually end up hitting delete anyway after a week or two of it sitting there still unread.

So for the past two Mondays, instead of using my morning time (30-60 minutes that I get by forcing myself to get up early) to work on my writing, I sit and read blog posts and determine -  "Is this blog really benefitting me?  Do I really get something out of this person's writing?  Is it someone I enjoy interacting with or do they give me information that will truly contribute to my days/time?" If not, well - I'm sorry.

It really does make a difference though.  It's so much easier to glance at my email in the morning and determine if there is something truly important there that I need to attend to - like seeing the response to that query letter right away - WHICH I DID!!!  And a request was there!!!  Now I need to keep it decluttered waiting for a response to an actual submission!


So I'm sitting here biting my lips.... a horrible habit of mine.  It's stress I suppose.....  though sometimes I just do it whether I'm consciously aware of stress or not... and I'm not usually aware that I'm biting until it's called to my attention by my dear husband or children.  Sigh.

I'm reading comments about this letter and reading more sources on how to write a good query letter.  I'm also trying to print out those sources but apparently my computer and printer had a fight and aren't speaking.  🙁   They let me print out the comments from SCBWI and 12 x 12 but won't let me print the blog posts I just found on The Query Letter by Kathy Temean.  I like to have certain things printed out so I can more easily spread these things out in front of me and go back and forth as I use things as references....   I suppose that's what all the windows are for on the computer, right?  Yeah, well, as much as I blog here, I am still what they call technology challenged.  I can not seem to manage going back and forth between windows.  🙁   Plus, the internet seems extra slow today....probably due to the weather here.

Ah well......  I shall persevere.  My silent writing time will probably end soon so I shall make this post brief....include a link to that wonderful source on writing query letters above (it's a site someone recommended on 12 X 12 and is actually her first of several posts on the topic) and attempt once more to edit and rewrite this letter!  Someone pray for me....oh, and send chocolate....  😉


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)