It’s been a busy month for me as I finish up final edits on four manuscripts. I won’t go into the messy details that got me into this way of writing because I have other news to share.
The annual CYBILS Award (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) season is upon us and I’ve been chosen as a Round 2 judge in the Middle Grade Fiction category. Nominations in a variety of picture book, MG, and YA categories begin on October 1st and continue through October 15th. Anyone can nominate at http://www.cybils.com/.
After all the nominations are in, the Round 1 judging panel takes over narrowing the list to a select group of books. The Round 2 judges begin there work on January 1st reading every finalist selection (I’m hoping I’ve read a few by then). The award winners are announced on Feb. 14, 2016. I can’t wait!
About a year ago I was asked to write a short piece for the great folks at CHILDREN’S BOOK INSIDER: WRITE FOR KIDS. I wrote the page, sent it off, and that was that. Many other educators did the same and they have compiled all this advice into an e-book.
You can get your own free copy by visiting http://writeforkids.org/educators and giving them an email address to send the eBook. Here’s the teaser blurb:
The eBook is packed with great advice, specifically geared toward teachers (and ex-teachers) who want to write children’s books. (Not a teacher? No worries — you’ll still find a treasure trove of writing advice that you’ll really enjoy.)
If you don’t get a copy, I can at least share my piece. It’s right there on page 44:
Writing a Children’s book. It’s a journey I knew nothing about five years ago. I had many misconceptions and it took me this long to do things the right way. Here are the roadblocks to avoid that will hopefully bring you success in your journey.
- DOING THINGS TOO QUICKLY. I wrote my first story in about three months and thought by the next year I’d be seeing it on the bookshelf. That was the teacher coming out in me; always meeting that next deadline or getting to the next meeting on time. Get it done and check it off. Well, relax. Sit back and write your story. Let it sit for a month. Read it again for first revisions. Let it sit for another month. Revise again. Next get a few people to critique your story. Preferably not teaching mates or family, they’ll be too nice. Revise again and again and again.
- YOU THINK YOU KNOW HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL.Take a class, get reading the many fine blogs out there, or check out the great books available that will teach you how, and of course join Children’s Book Insider and SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).
- CRITICISM. You should be ready for this one because as a teacher you are constantly under the radar by students, parents, and administrators. Your writing will be no different. Take each piece of advice and let it simmer for a few days. No one wants you to fail. The people I have met and worked with only served to make me a better writer.
- DON’T STOP READING. In fact read more, especially in your chosen genre. You’ll learn many things about plot and character development from the many gifted children’s authors active today.
- IT’S NOT A VACATION. Yes, you may have a summer free from grading papers, piling up in-service credits, or planning curriculum, but be prepared for that time to be filled with writing, revising, reading, and networking. Also, after living in the teaching world you may have a hard time adjusting to the fact that writing is a solitary endeavor. You’ll be alone with your thoughts 90% of the time. What will push you forward is your love of writing and connecting with an age group you’ve been around so much. My entire professional adult life has been spent teaching, mentoring, and now writing to the MG group. Creating a great middle grade story is hands down the hardest job I’ve ever had!