Monday, February 28, 2011

How To Be A Happy Writer

1. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. They have their own path to publication and you have yours. So what if they sold something to a big publisher. How long have they been working toward that goal? If you’ve only been writing for a short time, don’t be impatient. You must pay your dues. If you learn all you can about writing, work hard enough, and want it bad enough, publication may come when the time is right. And that might not be NOW. It could be a few years away or twelve . . . Plus, comparison can lead you down a path to jealousy. Don't go there. You'll save yourself some grief and keep your self-confidence in check.

2. Be patient. See number one.

3. Exercise. Taking care of your body will help take care of your mind. You’ll have more energy to crank out those words like a writin’ fool on a caffeine high without the side effects.

4. Give sadness the boot. Writers have the tendency to get down. When you are feeling blue, take a walk, have lunch with a friend, go shopping, eat chocolate (highly recommended), listen to your favorite music.

5. Find the right fit for a critique group or partner. Nothing will karate-kick your writing into gear more that finding other writers who support your passion and like you and your writing. You can find them online, at writing conferences, or in a local writing group. You may have to try a few to ensure the best fit. The right people make all the difference. They are your fellow word ninjas.

6. Write. Many people who say they are writers only talk about it. Tie yourself to the computer and put in your writing hours, Mister.

7. Don't let anything stop you. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door or shoot the stink eye when anyone walks into the room--even your needy cat. And do it . . . NOW. You are not getting any younger. Don't wait until your kids grow up, you move to a bigger place with an office, or you have some sort of degree to deem yourself a writer. If you write, guess what? You are a writer. Be self-motivated. Be courageous. Be FEARLESS. Just DO it.

8. Enjoy the world. Yes, you need to write, but you also must enjoy life. Not only does this make you an interesting writer, it makes you a fun person, too. Volunteer. Take a class. Go to a museum. Take a trip. Have a romantic date night with your significant other. Do a friends' night out. Hang out with your human kids and/or furry ones. They will forgive you for the stink eye.

Want more tips? Check out Nathan Bransford's Ten Commandments of a Happy Writer.

Keep writing!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Highlights Workshops For Spring 2011

Interested in children's writing workshops? Check this out from the Hightlights Foundation . . .

This spring, the Highlights Foundation has three exciting new workshops to help you meet your writing goals. Our faculty members are children's literature professionals. They have been where you are now, and they know just what it takes to get your writing off the computer and into the hands of eager young readers. Take a look at the first-time offerings below and see our other 2011 workshops at

Learn to Self-Edit and Revise

Harold Underdown, longtime editor and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, will introduce writers to proven techniques for self-editing and for revising with the help of others, from checklists to reader response theory to critique groups. Through lectures, hands-on work, and model critique group sessions, participants will gain objectivity, learn to give more focused responses to manuscripts, discover a variety of techniques for self-editing, and explore big-picture revision down to copy-editing. How to Revise on Your Own and with Others (March 10-13, 2011) is limited to twelve participants.

Intensify Your Middle-Grade Novel

Shape and intensify your novel in progress through group critiques, targeted writing exercises, and consultation with novelist and editor Rich Wallace. Rich is known for his award-winning novels for young adults; but much of his recent work has been for this younger age group, including his novels Sports Camp and War and Watermelon, and his two series, The Winning Season and Kickers. This exciting new workshop will focus on developing age-appropriate (and realistic) dialogue, internal monologue, action, and the all-important narrative voice. Writing Novels for Middle-Graders (April 7-10, 2011) is limited to twelve participants.

Write for the Ear and the Eye

Short works, whether picture books, short stories, easy readers, chapters, or poems, require the ability to jettison the verbal baggage that can bog down a story. Children's writer Juanita Havill and writer/editor Susan Pearson will show you how to write with precision and economy and how to revise with ear and eye. You'll analyze exemplary "short" works for children and young adults, learn how to create taut plots and to link episodic chapters by means of an overarching plotline, and analyze and put into practice techniques for self-editing. Time to Be Brief: Taking the Time to Write Concisely (May 19-22, 2011) is limited to twelve participants.

The Highlights Foundation keeps workshops small so you get the individual attention your writing deserves. To apply and secure your spot, or for more information, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192 570-253-1192, e-mail, or request an application online.

Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops take place near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. You'll stay in your own cozy cabin, surrounded by 1,300 wooded acres and hiking trails. Workshop fee includes individual cabins; all meals (provided by a top-notch chef); airport pickup service, if needed; and an intimate teaching setting at the homeplace of the Founders of Highlights for Children.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Misconceptions About Picture Book Writing

Misconception #1: Since picture books are written for younger children they are the easiest to write and sell.

Picture books are DIFFICULT to write. Every word must count and many editors are wanting shorter picture book manuscripts. Try fitting a coherent story into 500 words or less. AND your story must be truly fantastic to rise above the slush pile. Also, a published author/friend of mine said that a picture book is approximately a $150,000 investment for a publisher. No wonder the competition is crazy-fierce and rejections are a plentiful. Yowza.

Why does everyone think it's easy to write a picture book?

Picture Book Manuscripts: Why Most Fail to Sell

Misconception #2: My kids, neighbors, mom, and cats LOVE my picture book, so it must be good.
Dude, not so fast. Have you seen those people on American Idol who don't make it to Hollywood? Cringe-worthy stuff. I'll bet their mamas said they were good, too. 

Unrealistic Expectations? Unrealistic Expectations, Party of Four?

Misconception #3: If I write a picture book, I have to find my own illustrator.

Um, NO.

Picture Book Manuscripts and Illustrations

Guide to Literary Agents

Happy writing!