This has certainly not been an easy breezy summer for me. I’m continually asking myself, “what am I supposed to be doing now?” There are so many things competing for my attention both in my writing and in the rest of my life. Please don’t get me wrong, this is not a post about being too busy. The alternative scares me, but I do need to buckle down and focus. My way of re-focusing is compiling a to-do list and working through it.
So here goes:
- I accepted an invitation to speak at an SCBWI-PA sponsored event in August.
- I’ve worked on a couple of picture book manuscripts, new and revised, but I feel stuck.
- Looking for a new project to help get unstuck.
For the new project, I’ve logged several hours in the library for the research I started for a historical fiction picture book on a local (local to Long Island) African-American poet. A fellow picture book author suggested the topic during a discussion a couple of months ago. Over the years I have collected several articles and documents on this local poet to satisfy my general curiosity but never thought of him as a picture book subject until that discussion. – Thanks, A.L.
Information Overload – Exposure to or provision of too much information or data.
That is what you can get when research includes genealogy. Dates, places, names, occupations, marriages…
There seems to be no end to the genealogy loops that I’ve entered into.
I’m researching African-American characters from the mid-1700’s for a historical fiction picture book. There are gaps where African American facts are concerned, for sure. Some of that is just due to the fact that African slaves were considered property, not people. For the research that I’m doing, there was a lot of documentation and it has connected two of the largest northern “plantations” on Long Island. It helps that the slave owners were highly influential people. Their records have now become part of history maintained in libraries and museums. This is going to be fun!
It is always amazing to me how fantastic I feel after a writers retreat or conference. Last weekend was a wonderful writing experience for me. I started early on Long Island with a Meet & Greet event with our newly established local Long Island Chapter of SCBWI. That was a fun evening and I got to see some familiar faces as well as some new.
The very next morning I was off to Pennsylvania via ferry from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport Connecticut. Ok, I’m sure that makes no sense to those of you who know the area, but I like to AVOID bridges when I can and this is a perfect way. I live east of Port Jefferson so it makes a lot of sense to me. Since I still read actual maps, I’m happy to plot out a course on my own and let the GPS catch up to me.
Once I departed the ferry, I headed north to Danbury and made a left towards Pennsylvania. Four hours later I arrived. GPS said it would have been the same if I had gone through New York City – Ha! –
Anyway, once I arrived at the Highlights facility. It really felt like home and they work very hard to make it so. Kudos to the entire Highlights Staff, Faculty, and Family for a wonderful weekend event.
The SCBWI Eastern PA Poconos Retreat celebrated its 25th year. Although I don’t belong to the Eastern PA chapter I was made to feel welcome and very much a part of their event.
- I left the retreat knowing more than I did when I arrived.
- I have more writing and industry connections.
- I have more writing courage.
- I have raised my writing bar.
As an SCBWI member, I encourage anyone to attend an event outside of their chapter. You gain a broader network and knowledge base. You get a chance to see new ideas and processes in action.
Go, do, see, write.
Speaking of which, I’ve got some revisions to work on.
This has been a long start of the new year – 2017.
Our family has been working through Alzheimer’s issues with an aging parent.
It is already difficult to watch a parent age without this frightening condition. Add the unpredictability of everything that was once predictable and you have one of life’s oldest jokes. Work hard to learn and understand as much of life as you can, then watch it slip away. You have to savor those moments when we get a glimpse into the mind of the former life. Talk with, smile with, be with that person whatever that looks like – now.
I never set out to write a book about Alzheimer’s but in hind sight I guess that was in the back of my mind. Children can be confused and frightened about the changes in a loved one. I watched my son manage his relationship with my mother when he was five years old. That was twenty years ago and his “matter of fact” attitude was an excellent natural gift for him and me. I tried to address that in my manuscript.
In a few months my picture book is scheduled to be released, but an illustrator has not yet been paired with my manuscript. As a picture book author it is difficult to send off my words, but I think it is harder for me to wait to see how those words are translated back through an illustrator.
I am faithful that the star that guided me to Clear Fork Publishing for my debut picture book will guide my future illustrator as well.
The first real wave of winter hit Long Island this morning. We woke up to find the edges of the lake covered with a thin sheet of ice. I love winter but when it is this cold, it’s best to stay indoors and bake. The Cranberry Scones looked too pretty not to take a photo. I had only one with that cup of coffee.
I’ve spent all day today baking and getting ready for Christmas. That’s a bit removed from the writing that I should have been doing, but at least my mind was thinking about writing.
I spent one afternoon this week with a fellow children’s book author who also just signed a book contract. Discussion about our writing projects was very stimulating to me and will help to keep me moving forward. Amazingly, we each signed with the same publisher. That was such a fun fluke. Neither of us discussed submitting work to that particular publisher, and independently we were both signed. It is a debut publishing for both of us so I really appreciate having a co-author with whom I can share this new experience.
Part of the Christmas display in our home is my collection of Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas”.
I’ve acquired over 30 copies – but usually only display the 20 or so hard back versions. In the collection are a couple other Christmas titles, but I don’t count those in the total number. I guess I’ve always been a book person. I buy at least one new copy a year. Believe it or not, I don’t have any duplicates! Let’s see what I can find this year.
Autumn is turning out to be a really fun time of year for me this year. Harvest season, a time for receiving all the benefits of your hard work – that’s the farmers take on the season. Right now, I’m pleased to be able to reflect on my farm roots. I am quite blessed.
I feel like I should be running around like Henny Penny shouting, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Or Paul Revere and his raiders announcing, “The British are coming, the British are coming!”
Yet, quietly I sit here fumbling to find words for this post. I can’t hold it in any longer, it’s time to get this out in the open.
I just signed with a small publisher in Texas. Clear Fork Publishing will be publishing one of my picture book manuscripts. I feel like I should write that a bit bigger.
I just signed with a small publisher in Texas. Clear Fork Publishing will be publishing one of my picture book manuscripts.
It feels great to share that. I was was sure I was dreaming.
I’m going to not share all the details about the picture book but I will give you all a hint. The story has some connection to the picture below. Stay tuned.
I consider myself a generally patient person. I don’t mind long car rides. As a kid, I don’t think I ever asked, “Are we there yet?” I was having too much fun. The way back in the old family station wagon was cozy with pillows, blankets and stuffed animals. There was always the scenery from the windows. Day or night there was always something to see, even if it was a ton of other cars in a traffic jam. That was not a worry for me, I was just a passenger.
As I’ve grown older, I find that I still do enjoy the journey, as a passenger whether it be a plane, train or automobile.
One area where my patience is not as developed as it should be is waiting to hear back from publishers. I equate the time between sending out a manuscript and receiving feedback like waiting for Santa Claus at Christmas. Waiting for that response makes me feel like my six-year-old self sitting under the Christmas tree next to a big gift wrapped in shiny paper with curly ribbons looking suspiciously like a bicycle – that I’ve been told I can’t open.
Sounds a bit odd if the feedback is a “thanks but no thanks” kind of a comment, but my gift is the acknowledgement. As a writer I’ve worked on a manuscript and gotten it to be the best that I think it can be. I’ve shared it with my critique groups. I’ve revised it , shared it again, put it aside, revisited it, polished it, blessed it and put it out there. After all that work, I proudly accept the “thanks no thanks” response as “we recognize all that you have put in but…”
Being passenger or driver makes a huge difference in the patience factor. As a passenger, the expectation is to be carried from one place to another. As a driver, I am responsible for the trip. So I’m responsible for the outcome as well. That’s why my patience goes from abundant to zero.
As I write this, I have two manuscripts out to publishers, so I’m working on my patience. Combatting my impatience with productivity keeps me from wringing my hands and pacing the floors and eating. I’m working on a new story. I’ve put up some Zucchini Relish and will be canning more things this weekend. As the saying goes, Nunca hierva una olla vista or A watched pot never boils.