12×12 Challenge 2017

 

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I never win anything…well, almost never. Once, when I was still working as a school librarian, I put in for a raffle for an autographed hockey puck. The puck was signed by Colin White who just happened to be the ONLY NJ Devil player whose autograph I hadn’t gotten that year. I crossed my fingers and waited for the raffle to be called. And wouldn’t you know it….I won! I was so excited to finally have that last autograph for my collection BUT, then I saw one of my second grade students in full-on ugly cry because he hadn’t won. I had to make a split-second decision: pretend I didn’t notice, keep the puck and hope he got over it or hand him over the puck. I chose to give him the puck. And while it made me feel good, I still don’t have Colin White’s autograph and I wonder what that kid has done with that puck 8 years later.

So what does that have to do with writing? Well, nothing, really, but it was my only good story about winning something. Now I have another good story about winning! At the end of last year, I saw a post for a scholarship contest for the annual 12×12 Challenge. For those who are not familiar with the challenge, go here. I decided, “Why not!?” and went for it. I was shocked when I received an email back so quickly from them but that shock wore off when they explained that I had forgotten to attach my manuscript. OOPS! Once I resent it, I figured I was as good as done but, lo and behold, I got an email saying that I was a winner. Check out the announcement here. There was no way I was giving this up to any sobbing person this time!

And, WOW, 12×12 has been great so far! Lots of wonderful people, advice, webinars, and chances to submit to agents. I’ve officially written 5 or 6 drafts so far (I lost count) but I am trying to write one exclusively each month. My February draft is so unique and exciting that I’ve already submitted it out. Fingers crossed! Maybe this will be my year to get back all of that good karma I put out into the world by giving away that puck (or maybe not, since I haven’t had anything go my way since I’ve won the scholarship). Perhaps I should give away a lot more stuff!

 

P.S. If you haven’t already signed up for thewritersmatch.com, the site is really moving along and there are lots of writers there swapping stories as we speak. Check it out and maybe you’ll find yourself a critique partner!

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P.P.S Here’s a picture of Colin White at the White House with George W. Bush. I bet he got an autograph!

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The Writers Match

I used to think that finding a good critique partner was akin to finding a unicorn. (and look at this adorable little chubby buddy)

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Well, it doesn’t have to feel that way anymore! I’m so excited to announce my brand new project:

The Writers Match is dedicated to helping you find that perfect critique partner so you can take your writing to the next level. So, if you are searching for a critique partner or just want some feedback on your work, www.thewritermatch.com is here to help. The best part is that it’s all free! Just sign up, create your profile and start searching for other writers. You may just find your unicorn!

Wild One

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I’m so happy to share that Wild One has finally come in. Wild One is a board book story that I had written about my late son, Owen. I had a friend and talented artist, Karen Gilmour, create the illustrations and then I gifted the book to my husband for Christmas. Let’s just say that I won Christmas this year. Can’t top this sweet book!

My goal for this book is for it to be used as a fundraiser for the wonderful foundation who built my son’s memorial playground: Where Angels Play. They are an amazing organization that brings so much joy to those who most need it. Soon I will partner with them to offer Wild One as well as another board book for sale. Please stay tuned for information on how you can purchase one for yourself. Also make sure you check out all of the great work Where Angels Play has done and continues to do.

These pictures though!:

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Looks so much like our Owen:

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Crossing the Finish Line

“The best kind of happiness is a habit you’re passionate about.”
Shannon L. Alder

PiBoIdMo Winner!

PiBoIdMo is not just about coming up with 30 ideas, although that does help!, it’s about creating a habit. I’ve heard it said that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. PiBoIdMo has helped me cultivate the habit of seeking out ideas and writing every idea, no matter how obscure, down.

 

I finished with 34 ideas and while many may never see the light of day, just the act of writing those sparks has created a life-long habit for me. That’s the key. I look forward to developing some of my PiBoIdMo ideas into drafts and continuing to look for inspiration everywhere.

 

Many thanks to Tara Lazar and all of the people who helped us along with their inspirational blog posts. Looking forward to making every month PiBoIdMo- that will be the best kind of happiness!

NJ SCBWI & PiBoIdMo

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Had a wonderful day yesterday at the NJ SCBWI Fall Craft Weekend. I wish I could have gone both days but I still learned so much from just attending Sunday. I was feeling run down and woefully unprepared but managed to soak in as much as possible and meet lots of people. I had lots of positive feedback for my manuscript and I am so grateful for the opinions and insights from the editors and agents I worked with.

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I’ve also been participating in this year’s PiBoIdMo with the wonderful Tara Lazar. Please check out her site here for more information. While it’s too late to sign up officially, you can still decide to come up with an idea each day for the rest of the month for your own benefit. It’s been wonderful and challenging and I can’t urge you enough to try it for yourself.

Off to write idea #9!

Plot-asaurus Rex

I don’t plot the books out ahead of time, I don’t plan them. I don’t begin at the beginning and end at the end. I don’t work with an outline and I don’t work in a straight line.

~Diana Gabaldon

 

As a writer, I can completely relate to Diana Gabaldon’s quote. Sometimes it’s just a nugget of an idea and I build around that. Other times it’s a character that comes to life and I write about what they are doing. Anyway it happens, I love when I get a spark of a story.

This year’s KidLit Summer School is focused on plot and I’ve been trying to soak it all in while working on my W-I-Ps and balancing summer life with the kids. It’s not easy, to say the least. There is so much good advice happening that if you haven’t checked out Nerdychickswrite.com yet, you’re seriously missing out.

Today, writer Lee Harper talked about plotting with post-it notes which is something I’ve done myself. It works for me because I’m a visual learner and I need to see things in their place. This is helpful when plotting a book with post-its and not so helpful when rearranging furniture in your house.

Me: “Maybe you can just move it there so I can see what it looks like.”

Husband: “It won’t fit there.”

Me: “Just try.”

Husband tries. *grunts* *curses*

Me: “Yeah, you’re right it doesn’t fit there. Oh! How about over here?!”

(This conversation may or may not have happened MANY times)

If you just need to see something in it’s space, then plotting with post-its is for you. Check out this link to see Lee explain it much better than I can.