How many critique groups are too many? I belong to three - at least I did until February when I told my picture book critique group that I planned to take a break to concentrate on a couple of projects of the non-picture book variety. But I miss seeing them on a regular basis, so I invited them up for our 2nd annual gathering for food, chit-chat, and of course shop talk.
They arrived with food, enthusiasm, and updates from the latest conference. We'd communicated back and forth on our private Facebook page about possible webinars or brainstorming exercises we might use to fill the day, but we kept it casual with no specific plans.
EXCEPT FOR FOOD! (of course.)
Isn't this how everyone's critique group works? Well, we did do some shop talk, but more by far, we encouraged each other to keep going, as we each struggle through different levels of disappointment and discouragement. This business is tough on a person's self-esteem.
Finally we just sort of gave up and did our best not to go into a food coma. Albert helped with that. So here's to all the critique groups out there that meet, however they meet, and accomplish whatever they do. Sometimes it's just a little summer break and that is fine too.
While sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear back from an editor about my manuscript OCTOPUS CAPERS, I got an email from an editor at Page Street Publishing. And I have to say, it kinda blew me away. She was asking if I would submit my manuscript REACH FOR THE STARS: Nancy Grace Roman "Mother of Hubble." I haven't even finished revising this manuscript and wasn't actively submitting it, so you can understand why this request was such a surprise.
Well, it seems that this editor found my blog from the SCBWI website and read a few of my posts and found out about this manuscript. She was highly interested in it. So, what's a girl to do?
I simply replied, "But, of course!" and sent it on it's merry way. Well, there was actually a longer reply and a separate query and submission email, but you get the drift.
And, what do you know? I got a reply thanking me for the manuscript and I should hear something back the next week.
And the response actually arrived just a few days later, so there's some quick turnaround...
Unfortunately, the editor agreed that this manuscript is not quite ready to rock. But it was a very positive rejection and she invited me to resubmit when I had it polished. I was still very excited that she had discovered it on my blog, so what's my take-away? It's that an author blog really can be beneficial. Not only other writers read them. So that's encouraging.
March brings me to my third conference of 2017, "From Dreaming to Doing", the regional conference for Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia. I would not have attended except that I learned a member of my online science critique group was from this region and planning to attend. It was close enough for me and thought it'd be nice to meet Kirsten in person. I looked at the schedule and found a few sessions from which I might benefit if I followed the nonfiction track, so I registered.
If you've suffered coccyx pain (that's the tailbone, folks), like me, you've probably purchased many pillows in an attempt to get some relief when you sit down. By my count, I have bought at least 13 different cushions. Here's my evaluation of each one.
This month was the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference in New York City. I planned to drive along with a critique partner. It would be the first time attending for both of us and we were excited to go. They say the journey is half the fun and we certainly found that to be true. With a winter storm on the horizon we loaded my truck with shovel, de-icer, and windshield scraper, boots, coats, and plenty of water. We wanted to get halfway across Pennsylvania the first day since we were getting a late start to the day. We wouldn't have any weather issues on this leg of the trip, but we knew it would all be a different story when we woke up the following morning.
On my last post I mentioned that I had read Harold Underdown's Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books. I actually read this last fall and starting thinking about his ideas and trying a few suggestions. I am in the submission process for a number of manuscripts, and not really getting any results. I think the first bit of encouragement I've had in a long time was at the WPA-SCBWI Conference last fall, and it got me thinking again about what I had read in Harold's book. Conferences are the place to meet editors.
I read The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books by Harold D. Underdown. This was the third edition and some of this may be out-of-date. This is a list of things that I got from it at this point in my writing career. My knowledge is past the beginning stage of writing, and I know a lot about books in general from my work as a Children's Librarian. So, for me, the greatest gain was about submissions and imprints and tidbits that specifically relate to what I'm writing. I came away with some new ideas about how to approach my submission process, I was encouraged by some of what I read, and I have set some new goals for the year. Maybe some of it will be applicable to others. Turn to the book for the complete conversation about each bulleted item. Most of these are exactly as Harold Underdown wrote them. I hope you'll find something useful as well.
I've attempted these twice now and neither attempt was quite right, but I think third time's a charm. I first attempted to make them for Christmas dinner and are they turned out to be nice for something savory that is just a little beyond the ordinary. Here's what happened:
What an honor to present this program in the library where I used to work!
Sunday, January 15, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm
Wright Memorial Public Library
1776 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood, OH 45419
Fiction writers like to give their characters as much authenticity as possible by indicating where they are from and how they speak. But giving characters proper dialect can be a challenge. In this writers’ study and workshop, author Jennifer Sommer will focus on how dialect is communicated on the page, the history and evolution of dialect in literature, controversies, and best current practices for writers. Registration is requested. Please visit www.wrightlibrary.org.
Jennifer Sommer is a writer who earned her MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University where she presented her Master’s thesis Writing in Dialect in Fiction: a History and Study. Sommer is the former Coordinator of Youth Services at Wright Library and has served on national selection committees for several American Library Association awards, including the Odyssey Award, which recognizes the best audiobook for children and/or young adults, and the Robert F. Sibert Award for non-fiction books for children.
This is an easy snack to prepare for those Rice Krispie treats lovers, and I know a few. The hardest part was decorating. The color and flavoring come from Jell-O. The decorations can be about anything you have on hand. I had Jelly Belly's and chocolate chips to try out different button looks. I ran into a few problems with the decorating icing, which I'll explain in more detail later. Once you know the tricks, this would be a fun project to do with the kids.
I am a writer of Children's and Young Adult books. I received my MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, and am an active member of SCBWI. I also have my MLS in Library Science with an emphasis on children and happily worked as a Children's Librarian for nearly 20 years. One of my favorite activities was reading books aloud to kids, especially to school-aged kids. Like the kids, I enjoy having stories read to me, so I listen to many of my books on audio and serve on audio judging committees.
Another favorite activity is creating fun snacks for library programs, friends, and family. I do that a lot and continually search for more ideas.
I have a tiny brown tabby cat named Gypsy, who originally belonged to my brother and sister-in-law, a very large Russian Blue mix named Bosley from the shelter who has quickly made himself at home, and a new puppy named Prince Albert. He's a Cavapoo, which means he's part Cavalier King Charles and part poodle, and adorable. I am married and live in Dayton, Ohio with my husband Rod.
You can find more detailed information about me by clicking the link below: