Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pot-O-Gold Awards: Author Platform Includes Websites

The Pot-O-Gold "Blogger" Award is now the Pot-O-Gold Award, for blogs, authors, books, and websites.

Today I'd like to share a "new" changed-up (edited and completely revised) feature with you, the Pot-O-Gold Awards! This month, the Pot-O-Gold Award goes out to the following people for the following four categories. Welcome to the NEW Pot-O-Gold AWARDS!!!

BLOG: All News, No Schmooze
  • All News, No Schmooze (News and Notes for Busy Children's Book Writers) by Laurie Wallmark. It is super simple and straightforward. Nearly every day for the past 5 years (since May 2009), Laurie has linked to powerful articles in the kidlit industry. If you haven't heard of this blog, it's worth putting on your blog reader radar. I've learned many things from Laurie's links.
AUTHOR: Jane Yolen
  • Jane Yolen. And why not? She's my Maurice. One of the founders of SCBWI. 330+ books to her name. If you are a children's writer and you have not heard of Jane Yolen, you might not actually be able to call yourself a writer at all. Seriously. If you haven't heard of Jane Yolen, get thee to a library! Some of my favorite books of hers are much older than her How Do Dinosaurs... series. Owl Moon, Where Have All the Unicorns Gone, Welcome to the Ice House, Color Me a Rhyme, Dinosaur Dances, Miz Berlin Walks, Raising Yoder's Barn, and many many more, including middle grade novels.
BOOK: Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae 
  • The book award always goes to a book I actually bought. WHY I BUY! It won't have a summary, be a review, or include a lesson. It's simply why I bought this book. I think it's interesting. I'm picky when I plunk down the dough. Aren't you? I'm curious about why people buy the books they do and thought you might enjoy reading why I buy the books I do. 
  • This book was one of the first picture books I ever bought, long before I ever had any children of my own. I remember standing in a bookstore in the mall, reading over several different picture books. This was cute and fun to read, with great illustrations. But the selling factor? It touched me. I felt I was a better person for having read this book. We ALL can dance, ....? And I do love to dance! What a great message that truly does not hit you over the head.
WEBSITE: Jackie Urbanovic
"...If you’re not sure what your platform-building priorities should be, think about your long-term goals, or where you want to be in 1-5 years. This can quickly become a paralyzing task, so keep it simple. For instance, if you envision having several books published in five years, but you don’t yet have a website, then a platform priority would be establishing one. If you want to grow your reach online, becoming involved in social media or writing online articles (or a blog) is a common step. 
Here’s what I use as a general rule of thumb for platform-building priorities, specifically for new and mid-career writers: 
1. Establishing or improving your website and/or blog. Sometimes this means investing a little money in design or development...." ~Jane Friedman (TweetSpeakPoetry.com)
  • I'm quite positive Jackie Urbanovic invested some money in her website. Since Jackie is an author and an illustrator, her art is easily able to give her website a more personal flair. Here are a few positive things about her site that could be incorporated into yours as well. The navigation links to other pages on her site are fun with arrows and handwritten fonts. Her picture is displayed and is a clear quality image, including a fun border. Her books' main character, Max the Duck, visits the pages too! Her name is prominently displayed in a bold and legible font at the top of the home page. It is color coordinated and has a nice subtle background image of paper texture to go along with the notepad theme. Way to go, Jackie. Not only do I love your books, I also love your site design!
Who would YOU like to see receive the Pot-O-Gold Award? 

Hope you enjoyed the Pot-O-Gold Awards and come back next month on the 30th to see who earns the coveted spots for blog, author, book, and website. Thanks!

Keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Writers Who Run: The Tortoise and the Hare

Are you the tortoise or the hare and which is better? I think all of us are sometimes one and sometimes the other. Perhaps there's a middle ground? I like to think so.

Are you the tortoise or the hare? || overcoming writing fear | how to face your running fears | dealing with anxiety in your writing career | how to overcome anxiety for runners

THE "fearful" TORTOISE

In writing:

  • 10 revisions for one sentence
  • taking a YEAR of "letting it sit" before you submit
  • only writing two new mss (for picture books), or two chapters (for a novel) in a YEAR
You're taking a little TOO much time.

In running:
  • running once a week
  • not making any progress after 6 months
  • taking 3 months off just because it's winter
  • never entering a race b/c you're afraid you'll come in last, or like my first race, people will walk faster than your slow jog (for reals, people were passing me left and right in that cold and hilly 5k)
Get over it, girl! Step up the pace!

THE "anxious" HARE

In writing:
  • Hurry up and get published, even if it means bad illustrations.
  • Hurry up and submit, even if it means the story isn't ready.
  • Hurry up and get an agent. I'm worthless without one.
  • Hurry up and write the story, even though I haven't researched anything at all.
In running:
  • Hurry up and sign up for the 10k race, even though you've never ran a mile - ever.
  • Hurry up and get your 20+ miles in for the week, even if you're only injured a little bit.
  • Hurry up and do 2 extra speed drills for the week, even though you just did one this morning.
Yes, slow and steady always wins the race. But, really, there is a thing as being too slow. It's called inaction. I guess that would be speed zero. Too fast can cause injuries too. We really do want to submit, get an agent, and get published, but it does take time. So hurry up and do you're true homework. SWEAT. Crank out the words. Put in your miles - slow and steady - with the occasional speed workout of agent submissions. 

But when the time comes to slow down, KEEP MOVING. That's called being patient. Perseverance. Marathon runners have to pace themselves. You can't sprint a marathon. And you can't sprint publication for yourself. Your agent/editor/critique partners will be your coach. Listen to them. But never stop running and never stop writing. And if you're injured, pick yourself up and go slow, but don't stop. 

QUESTION: Where are YOU in the spectrum? What's holding you back and what moves you forward?

Live the dream and keep on keepin' on...

Friday, March 28, 2014

High Five #30: Poisoned Author Makes it Big

Piggy backing off of my last event, it's High Five 14:14 time with week 3 of 14 debut picture book author interviews in 14 weeks. Here’s a big HIGH FIVE congratulations to Jennifer Young for her debut picture book, which also won the rhyming category of Spring 2011 for the Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest (deadline for Winter 2014 is fast approaching - Monday March 31). Awesome!!! Get ready for FIVE questions and FIVE great answers!

MeeGenius Books
Title: Poison Apple Pie
Author: Jennifer Young
Illustrator: Lara Apponyi
Publisher: MeeGenius
Release date: March 2012
Word count: 638
After Winka’s wand cracks she quits her witch job in fairy tale land and searches for a new job. But when she turns to her broken wand for help it leads to disaster.   
Question ONE: So, Jennifer, what are three of your favorite picture books? 
  1. Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
  2. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  3. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Question TWO: I see you have a couple classics in there. Nice! I have to say, I also love the movie "Cloudy..." What is your bedtime routine like with your children? How do books play a part in that?

I have three children. I have a son who is ten, and two daughters that are seven and three. My son enjoys tv time, shower and then bed (no more picture books, but he loves the Weird School Series). My seven-year-old daughter just got into chapter books. So at night she’ll read a chapter to me, at times. And my three year old enjoys picture books before bed. We don’t always get a chance at night, but during the day works for us too. Her favorite one(s) right now are the books by Laura Numeroff. If You Give a (Mouse a Cookie) series.

Question THREE: I love learning how different families incorporate literacy into their lives. Our children benefit greatly from it. How might teachers use your book in the classroom?

In Poison Apple Pie, Winka the witch searches the newspaper, a job fair and a career bulletin board to find the right job for her. One way teachers could use Poison Apple Pie in their classroom would be to first discuss different types of jobs available. Then, supply a handout where the student could draw what type of job they see themselves doing in the future. Have them make a list of responsibilities they must do for the job they selected.

Question FOUR: Sounds like fun. Your book could make a great opening activity for a unit on jobs, community, or goal setting. Perhaps YOU could create a few handouts for teachers and make them available on your website. Was your road to publication anything like Winka's road to employment? 

I began writing Poison Apple Pie in January of 2011. I lost count on revisions but I’ll share the titles it went through before final submission. In order from start to finish: Winka’s New Job, Winka the Witch, Winka’s Wand (my least favorite) and then finally Poison Apple Pie.

Before I sent my manuscript to MeeGenius in the fall of 2011 I had received two rejection letters. The one from Ladybug Caraus Publishing. It was the typical generic letter. But the one I received from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky Imprint was my first rejection with an editor’s note, yay! I was happy to receive it. It said, "Although I felt your manuscript was unique, the picture book market has become our most competitive."

The reason I sent my manuscript to MeeGenius was because they were hosting a picture book contest and it was free to submit. Even though Poison Apple Pie made it to the final round it was not a winner but they decided to publish it on March 23rd 2012.

Question FIVE: Awesome! I love the title you landed on. Much better than Winka the Witch, the title that won the contest in 2011. What are some writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication? 
  1. Join a critique group or as many as you like.
  2. Critiques may hurt your feelings at first but you’ll learn to love them. Even the brutal ones because they’re the most helpful.
  3. Join a writer’s group. Here are a few: Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12, SCBWI, and CBI Clubhouse. 
    • Also, in November Tara Lazar has a picture book idea challenge where you write one idea down a day for the whole month of November. It’s called PiBoIdMo. I know I left out a lot more but the ones I listed I’m a member of (or at least was at one time).
Thank you so much, Jennifer, for sharing with us. Congratulations, and HIGH FIVE!

Jen: It was an honor to be interviewed on your blog Christie. Thank you for the opportunity! Before I end, I wanted to share with everyone that I had send Poison Apple Pie to Christie back in 2011 because of her contest section on her blog and she did the most fabulous critique on it. Christie, thank you again for all your help!

If you crave "beginner" success stories as I do and receive inspiration from reading how they did it, please, by all means visit the other interviewees and read their stories, too! See you tomorrow for a little tortoise and hare inspiration...

Keep on keepin' on...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Nine Days Left, Including Today - It's Contest Crunch Time

Only 9 days left to get those manuscripts in for the WINTER Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest, even though technically it's already spring. Yea for spring! Deadline is Monday, March 31.

Winners will be announced on April 22.

It's not too late to enter. Just follow my blog via e-mail, then follow the directions and e-mail me your ms. Good luck!!!

Free entry. Win bragging rights, gain confidence, and receive a critique! Winners are not chosen randomly. May the best story win!

Now go write, or revise... Can't wait to see what you've got!

And come back on Friday for another great High Five interview.

Keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Writers Who Run: Overcoming Defeat

We all encounter pain. We must endure it. If we don't we'll never see the sunny rainbow after the storm.

How to rise above the pain || overcoming writing rejections | overcoming running injuries | overcoming defeat

Writers get discouraged, receive rejections, have bad reviews, face writer's block, and more. Runners face discouragement, get injuries, have slow runs, lose races, and more. Let's face it. Life is hard. But we must rise above the pain and endure to the end. Else how will we ever see our dreams fulfilled?

Writing Discouragement


Several weeks ago, I had a "review" of one of my mss come back LOW, so low it made the limbo look pleasant. This is a ms I have been working on and revising for well over a year. My knowledgeable and respected critique group said it was submission-ready.

But a 4 out of 10 ain't ready! Pain and doubt and discouragement seeped in. I almost cried. It's not every day one little opinion of one little person (or organization) cracks the tough skin of a writer.

We are tough. We have to be so that the scratches won't hurt us. Apparently, on that day, that review was more than a scratch, it was a slashing gaping gash. After several minutes passed in agony, I remembered other critiques that ms had received prior. A 7 and an 8. My, I am good, after all. The story has merit and quality.

I'm not a loser writer and I can find a home for it one day. Must. Keep. Polishing. The pain of one bad critique is much like the pain of a bad knee after a run.

Running Discouragement


A couple weeks ago, I hurt my knee somehow. Felt fine during the run, but afterward? Not so much. I hobbled for a couple days, then decided to give it another go. Not smart. Made it worse. Actually hurt then.

How do you rise up above that kind of pain? You take time off. You go slow. You baby it with ice and muscle rub and plain old simple walking. I'm almost above the storm clouds. I'm starting to see the silver lining.

Does it hurt to stop what I love? Yes! Does it hurt worse knowing I have a 10k race coming up in two weeks? Yes! Will I rise above the pain? Yes! That means looking at the pain head-on. Acknowledging what needs to be done.

Slowing down, if that's what it takes.

Will I rewrite my story? Maybe. Will I finish my race last? Maybe. But one thing's for sure, I am a writer who runs. And I will rise above the pain. I will make every story and every run the best that I can. And the next day I'll make it even better. I will take time off when necessary. I will fulfill my dreams. And so will you.

What pain have you had to rise above recently?

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, March 21, 2014

High Five #29: Another Debut Success Story Falls From the Sky

This is week 2 of the High Five 14:14. 14 interviews with debut picture book authors in 14 weeks. If you missed last week's interview with Romelle, you can still read her story. Also, be sure to check out how to be an engaged writer, once you read today's interview.

Today's debut author is Kirsti Call. Happy HIGH FIVE for your debut picture book. Congratulations!!!

Title: The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall
Author: Kirsti Call
Illustrator: Lisa Griffin
Publisher: Character Publishing
Release date: December 15, 2013
Word count: 516
"How many times do you try before you give up?" wonders little Plink. He's a raindrop who can't seem to fall, no matter how many times he tries. Learning to do things isn't always easy and sometimes it takes the support and love of others to succeed. 
Question ONE: What are three of your favorite picture books? I know, I know. Only three?!

1. Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos
2. The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathmann
3. Leonardo, The Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Question TWO: Monsters and babies. Maybe you'll write a baby monster book one day. Do you feel like you have an extra special bond with your children because of books?

I have five children. My oldest and youngest are boys and I have three girls in the middle. They are 12, 10, 8, 6, and 3 years old! Reading is part of our daily life. I keep books in every room and in the car.  If we have a spare moment, or we are waiting for the older kids in car line, I read to the younger kids. All of my kids would listen to me read for hours if I could! Night time reading parties are the best--I feel like I’m sharing something important with my kids and learning how to be a better writer at the same time!

Question THREE: I love that dual action of reading/sharing and learning at the same time. My kids are 7 and 9 and a lot of times when I read at night, they're busy doing other things at the same time. Like drawing, playing with stuffed animals or Legos, or playing DS games. So, how might teachers use your book in the classroom?
 
My book is peppered with fun facts about the water cycle, cloud formation, and the science of rainbows (among other facts), offering an age-appropriate introduction to science. It includes activities, supplementary material, and a glossary.  Teachers can also use the story of Plink who fails and keeps trying despite getting bullied and feeling discouraged.  Persistence is an important skill for kids to learn.

Question FOUR: Sounds fun! I love books that have facts peppered throughout. Persistence is indeed an important skill for kids to learn. And here's the juicy question...what was your road to publication like? I hope you have a juicy answer.

I told this story to my kids when we were stuck at Home Depot trying to order cabinets for 5 hours!  It was raining outside and in a desperate attempt to entertain them, I told them the story of Plink.  They liked the story, so I wrote it down about 3 years ago.  It was my second picture book manuscript and after joining a critique group and showing it to them, I submitted to two publishers. I was blessed to get a contract with Character Publishing 6 months later.  I only got one rejection with this story, but I’ve had dozens or maybe even hundreds of rejections on other stories, since.  I’m now submitting to agents and publishers, hoping to find homes for many other stories.  I’ve got 24 in various stages of revision and 7 that are submission ready right now :)

Question FIVE: That's an amazing amount of stories. I probably have 24+ in idea stage. And maybe 7 submission ready. My children love to help me come up with stories. Unfortunately for me, those ideas are never marketable. What are your top three writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?

1.  Write. Revise. Submit. Repeat.
2.  Don’t give up.  Rejections are just proof that you are a real writer!
3.  Research your publishers and agents. If your story is really polished, there will be someone who loves it!

I love that 3rd tip. There WILL be someone who loves it, I am sure. It's all about being in the right place at the right time. Thanks so much for sharing some of your story and insight with us today. Debut authors always give such an inspiration to the rest of us. Thanks!!!

Come back next week for another great debut success story!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Writers Who Run: Getting Engaged

Having trouble making commitments because you can't seem to get started? If you feel that what you want to do is simply too big, then don't fully commit right away. Coax yourself into it. Let me explain.

How to make a commitment to your writing | how to fight procrastination | just do it | make a running commitment

You want to get married to the love of your life. But you're afraid to elope tonight. That's okay. You don't have to jump in right away to get what you want right now. You don't have to commit to when you'll tie the knot, or where, or how, or what you'll eat and who to invite.

But if you want to be with your special someone for the rest of your life, then you need commit to getting engaged. You know you're going to tie the knot - eventually. You're doing something. You're saying yes. It's still commitment.

Congratulations on your engagement! So how do writers and runners get engaged?

First, what are the commitments we want, but are afraid to get engaged with? These might be commitments to revise that story/chapter, to run 3x a wk, to sign up for a race, write a new book or story, or some other goal you may have.

Here's how to get engaged.

Just showing up is how you say, "Yes!" You don't have to go far. You don't have to go fast. You just have to "go." Showing up is always half the battle. It's how you'll convince yourself to get started.

Don't have time to run six miles? Don't feel like running at all? Just tell yourself you'll do ONE mile. Don't have time to revise your whole story? Can't decide which one to revise first? Read both stories aloud, then go with your gut and pick one. Decide on one sentence to change. You're sucked in now because you have started the journey by being engaged in the work.

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, March 14, 2014

What's Your Story, Anyway? How Did You Get Your Picture Book Published?

I just finished my PB 14:14 challenge, where a group of bloggers united to read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days. It was cosmic. If you missed it, you can still study our list of nearly 100 books, all of which were published within the last 10 years. And since it's 2014, and I apparently love the number 14 this year, I thought it would be neat to continue on in that theme.

Usually, on the 5th of each month, I share an interview with a debut picture book author so we can all learn how it's done and give us hope and inspiration for our own work. I ask 5 questions. The last time I did this was May of 2013, due to going to school for web design. Now, it's back with a bang. And bigger and better than ever, or at least more often, that's for sure. Beginning today, Friday March 14th, I will be posting a new debut picture book author interview each Friday for the next 14 Fridays through June 14th (okay, you got me, it's actually Friday the 13th in June). Anyway, buckle up and visit often. It's going to be a wild ride!

Romelle [pronounced:  RO-mah-lee] Broas Guittap will start us off on this fabulous journey. Her manuscript, Artsy-Fartsy Spider, won her a critique in the Spring 2012 Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest. You can still enter the 2014 Winter contest. Deadline is March 31. Romelle now has more than one book published, though Artsy-Fartsy Spider is not yet one of them. Without any further ado, please welcome Romelle with a big HIGH FIVE congratulations for her debut picture book!
Picture
Title: Casey Chameleon
Author: Romelle Broas
Illustrator: Lydia F. Ferron
Publisher: Flying Books, Ltd.
Release date: October 2012
Word count: 450
Have you ever seen a pink chameleon? "When I'm tickled, I turn pink," says Casey. What you don't want to see is Casey turning red! Casey thinks someone has stolen her special feather and she finds herself turning red with anger. Can she manage to find her true colors? 
Question ONE: What are three of your favorite picture books? Just three mind you. 

ONLY three? That's like choosing your favorite son or daughter. Here goes:

1) The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
This is my first introduction to what is called breaking the 4th wall and I didn't even know it back then when I first read it to my son 13 years ago. I loved the book for its ingenuity and charm. What I enjoyed most about this book is that it always made my son giggle.

2) Prudence Wants a Pet by Cathleen Daly
This book is so funny! The pacing of the text and the illustrations are brilliant. The stick figure drawing adds to the humor of the book. I adore Prudence and her persistence to get a pet. She doesn't come across as whiny or spoiled, but rather sweet and clever.

3) Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
It's absolutely adorable. In this book Mr. Tiger lives in a town where everything is very proper. Then his instinct gets a hold of him and he lets loose. Mr. Tiger transforms from a personified creature to a true tiger. I love its message of staying true to yourself. Peter Brown did a fantastic job relaying this message in a humorous and fun way.

Question TWO: Now I really need to read your book #3. So, how often did you read to your children when they were younger? Do you feel like you have an extra special bond with your children because of books?

I have two boys. Ages 11 and 13. When they were younger I read to them at bedtime and just before nap time. It was a very special time for us. Now that they're grown, they read to themselves. But books are still a part of our routine. We go to the library 3 times a week and

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Story Element #8 PATTERNS: The Rain Came Down by David Shannon

Today, I'll be sharing Element #8, Patterns. The lesson I'm sharing will be taught through the book The Rain Came Down by David Shannon (Blue Sky Press, 2000).

Story Element #8: Patterns || The Rain Came Down by David Shannon | picture books | story craft

There are multiple ways to utilize patterns in picture books.
  • repetition
  • the rule of three
  • question and answer
  • morning to night
  • rhyming patterns
  • refrains
  • comparing opposites
  • lists
  • building/escalating 
  • beginning/ending
  • daily, weekly, monthly
This book uses refrains, escalating action, and beginning/ending as patterns to tell the story of a rainy day gone bad until a refreshing event lightens the mood. It is simple, yet classically delightful.

The first page says, "On Saturday morning, the rain came down. It made the chickens squawk."

On the next spread, the action escalates. "The cat yowled at the chickens, and the dog barked at the cat. And still, the rain came down." And we are introduced to the refrain. Then the dad yells at the dog and wakes up the baby and the mom yells for everyone to get quiet, but the rain continues. 

A cop stops by to see what's the matter, his car blocking the traffic, and the story moves half a block away where the escalation continues. "And still, the rain came down." So now we see the impatient lady yelling at the taxi driver to hurry up and he honks his horn and the truck driver yells back, then the ice cream truck makes the music go louder, and the beauty shop lady rushes out and bonks into the barber, and on and on it goes. Pretty soon, everyone is yelling at someone. "And still, the rain came down."

Finally, the cop goes back to his car. "What is all this ruckus about?" he says. "And then..." You guessed it! "...the rain stopped!" This is the middle of the story. The story arc matches that of the shimmering rainbow that has now beautifully emerged "across the rooftops." The conflict rises, rises, rises, now we'll watch it gradually descend back to normalcy until we feel the arc of the rainbow wrapping up the rest of the story.

The baker and the pizza maker decide they'd rather be cooking. The barber gives the painter a shave. The lady from the taxi goes to the beauty shop to get her hair done. The boy and the girl get extra scoops on their ice cream. All because the rain came...and left. The final page shows the family with their baby and dog having a picnic in their backyard. The beginning circles back around to where the story started. 

I hope today's lesson has helped you see another example of patterns in picture books. If you'd like to know more, check out Carol Hurst's long list of picture books that utilize patterns.

Assignment: Look at one of your own ms wips and think about how you could better utilize patterns to make it better. Then go read 10 picture books and look for patterns. Then go back to your ms, and work on it some more. Happy writing!

Keep on keepin' on...


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Writers Who Run: Know Your Quirks

When you run, how's your posture? When you write, how's your voice?

How to Deal with Your Quirks || writing and running weaknesses | critique groups

When I run, I tend to stick out my left thumb like a hitchhiker. When I notice it, it feels quirky. I want to correct it. I make the conscious effort to make two open fists and place each thumb on the crease created between the index finger and the middle finger. I think about being even, methodical, and relaxing that quirky thumb muscle.

When I write, I tend to use passive verbs in my first drafts. Through each new rewrite, I am more aware of the sloppy language and create stronger verbs, stronger phrases, and a tighter plot. I must be conscious about my quirks, and over time, I will conquer them.

Do you know your weaknesses, your quirks, and how to deal with them?

When you run, do you throw your left foot out first, does your right elbow lift higher, do you stick out your left thumb like a hitchhiker, breathe in through your mouth, stomp down on your right foot harder at the heel, slump your shoulders, breathe too heavy?

When you write, do you say "just" too much? Do you start every sentence with "I, A, or The"? Do you overuse commas, exclamation marks, or semicolons? Do you tend to use a lot of passive verbs, cliches, -ing and -ly words?

We can stand tall, despite our quirks. We can run strong, despite our weaknesses. We can write well, even when it's hard. We are writers who run and runners who write. Embrace THAT quirk, but never erase it.

Choose one quirk today and focus on a fix to make yourself a better writer or runner.

What will YOU run or write this coming week?

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

High Five: 2 Announcements

right_hand_print_benji_p_01
HIGH FIVE was one of my blogging features that went by the wayside last year while I was studying to become a web designer. And now that it's 2014, the year of cosmic things, I thought I'd bring it back with a bang. What? You don't know what HIGH FIVE is? By all means, take a peek at some wonderful insights from these 27 amazing debut picture book authors.

Announcement #1: Get ready to hear some more! On Friday, March 14th, I'm kicking off the comeback for HIGH FIVE with 14 weeks of awesome interviews. It will be a challenge for me to get everyone lined up in time, but it'll be worth it!

Announcement #2: The WINTER Lucky Clover Picture Book Contest is still accepting submissions through March 31st. So you still have 3 and a half weeks left to get those submissions in. Guidelines can be found on the contest tab above. What do you win? Bragging rights, exposure, and a critique of your ms from yours truly.

Have a great day and keep on keepin' on...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Writers Who Run: Destination Procrastination

Welcome to my fresh, new feature, Writers Who Run! If you're a writer, and you don't run, stick around anyway for my personal (and embarrassing) confession about my problem with procrastination.

How to Avoid Procrastination || lost writing opportunities | long runs | writers who run | the importance of setting goals

Every year for the last few years, I have signed up to run in a BIG 10k race, the biggest in the southeast. The Cooper River Bridge Run has 40,000+ runner/walkers each year. It's always the last weekend in March or the first weekend in April. I try to plan two races a year, my spring 10k, and a fall half-marathon. For those of you who don't run, a 10k is 6.2 miles and a half-marathon is 13.1 miles. But that's not important here.

What is important is the reason WHY I challenge myself to run these races. It's to give me more of a reason to run more regularly. I love how I feel when I run. I love the cadence of my feet hitting the ground. I love the solitude of nature and the wind blowing in my face (unless it's like today and it's 35 degrees out). I love the challenge of going further, or faster, or stronger each time. What I don't love is being inconsistent. Because that means I run a lot LESS.

Why do I bring this up? Because that 10k is looming right in my horizons. And I have run less than 10 times since Thanksgiving. I'm a procrastinator. I'm not proud of it. Good intentions alone won't get me to the finish line. And they certainly won't beat last year's time either.

And the writing analogy? I failed to meet a writing deadline because of procrastination. I thought I would have more time. Wrong! I lost out on an amazing chance to submit my work for an incredible writing opportunity. Just like I plan to run 2 races each year, I plan to attend a writing conference once a year.

Attending annual writing events gives me encouragement, camaraderie, and new knowledge and strength. But I had better not procrastinate on registration, like I did for this missed opportunity. Regret is not a good feeling. But running is. And so is writing. Good thing registration doesn't open up for another few months because that means I'm still on the ball!

If I can find a way to balance my writing life, my running life, and my personal life, then maybe I won't procrastinate so much. I know you don't like losing out on writing opportunities. And I know you don't like skipping that long run you've worked so hard for.

That's why I started a Facebook group, Writers Who Run, so we can share our love of both passions, and help each other get through hard times, give tips for writing, as well as running. Next Saturday, I'll let you know how today's run went, and what I learned about writing in the process.

What do you do to prevent procrastination? 
What do you do to balance your writing life with everything else? 

Keep on keepin' on...