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 on: June 17, 2015, 07:33:33 AM 
Started by judyr - Last post by judyr
So far I've had no success in making my short fiction even remotely decent. The word count restrictions force me to leave too much out. I'm looking into nonfiction for magazines, but the research part terrifies me.

 on: June 16, 2015, 04:52:19 PM 
Started by judyr - Last post by Cat
Yeah, I have a hard time with short fiction. I tend to discover a multitude of fascinating subplots that I can't wait to work in, and my ms explodes into book shape.

 on: June 15, 2015, 03:23:49 PM 
Started by judyr - Last post by salex
I don't really think of it as changing paths, but I started with non-fiction. Then, when my book was published, I had a passion to write fiction. I am now writing both fiction and non-fiction. I enjoy the variety, and quite frankly non-fiction is easier for me to get published in a magazine than a story. It takes me a long time to write a short story because my word count is always over what they want. I'm working on that though.

 on: June 15, 2015, 07:38:01 AM 
Started by judyr - Last post by judyr
Thank you all for sharing your experience and encouragement. Have any of you ever decided to change genre or take a different path to pursue publication? It's always hard for me to figure out what to do next. I like to work on something new while I'm revising or subbing. Unfortunately, what to work on seems hinged on what's not been accepted yet. How do you decide?

 on: June 14, 2015, 01:54:12 PM 
Started by judyr - Last post by salex

I think "taking too long" is a relative term because what is too long for me is not too long for someone else. So when I really look at this business--and writing books is a business as well as a labor of love--it does take too long to go from idea to published--if you can find a publisher that is. Mikki and Okami are so right. Hanging in there is sometimes hard to do, but we persevere.  Both Mikki and Okami are inspirations for me. They have worked through very difficult times and have still come out swinging.

This year has been one of reconsideration for me. The loss of my daughter put my writing at the back of my mind. Yes, I still managed to finish my ICL novel course, and came out of it with a tween novel that is sold. But for new projects--Nada. I haven't even been able to work on promoting my PB. The energy, inspiration, drive, commitment--whatever you call it--seemed to dissolve in my grief and my life centered around my two grand daughters and their lives. So there are many forms of burn out. What I am trying to say, is that even though I felt "used" up, the ideas kept flowing. I'd hear something, see something, or experience something and my first thought would be "This would be a great story."

While I cannot say that writing will be my priority, it is part of me and I will continue to do it. That is the question, I guess, we must all ask ourselves--is writing a part of me? If it is, then burn out is not an issue. We don't burn out, we take a respite like Okami did to get back our strength. I know I am at a different point in life than most of my WR friends. I'm retired. My kids are grown. I don't have to worry any longer about making a fast buck to survive. I made sure of that when I sacrificed my writing career 25 years ago for a steady paycheck to help put food on the table for our 4 kids. But I have the same goals as everyone else on WR--writing for publication.

I've been lucky in that endeavor so far. Both books I worked on as part of my ICL courses were picked up by small publishers, I crowdfunded my picture book, and several of my articles and stories have been published. But like Susan, I still have writing goals. I, too, want to be published by a company where I am not expected to do all the marketing. I want to see my books in hard copy not just as ebooks. I want to see a kid choose my book to read at the library. So if any part of my goals are to be realized, I have to hang in there. Please do the same. I want to read your books just like I've read Mikki's. I want to read Okami's Gabriel. I want to feature them on my blog and shout your success to the world. Keep writing because your perseverance through it all is inspiring.

 on: June 13, 2015, 04:09:43 PM 
Started by judyr - Last post by SusanUhlig
Even as someone who has published a lot in magazines, and has done some books, I still have writing goals I haven't met. I want to sell a book to a big publisher. Each work I do, whether it gets published or not (and I have quite a number) teach me more about writing.

And every time I think about giving up and quitting, I always come back to, but "this is what I want to do."

I also used conferences and workshops and newsletters and books to encourage myself.

 on: June 12, 2015, 09:08:12 PM 
Started by judyr - Last post by Okami
It's been a LONG road to sell my first book, Fancy, and it was worth the wait, but my post-debut plans are sketchy at best.

For some here, 10 years isn't that long, but for me it is, and especially because unlike most writers I know, I don't have other tangible skills, and so in many ways I'm forced to make this at least ONE of my careers.

While I don't have spouses, kids or aging parents to watch over, I'm also not this "Free-wheeling single" people my age are forever typecast as.

Not going to rant, just stating a fact that puts my experience in perspective.

"Gabriel" isn't out yet, and there's still a LOT to do before it is, and since I'm with a small press, a lot rests on me.

I just couldn't afford the outside editing that every indie author pretty much preaches you need to get your book to pro level, and my editor gets the book in a way perhaps the many agents I queried didn't, and in exchange for that and not having to have panic attacks about the printing costs if I were foot the bill for EVERYTHING.

I've been working on my crowdfunding campaign that if funded would allow me to hire a really great illustrator, and a stretch goal after that would be proudcing an unabridged audiobook version, and while limited funds on my part don't help, I try to see this as a opportunity to have more creative control than I would at a larger publisher.

As much as the saying "One book doesn't make you a writer" is true, quantity without quality doesn't get you far, either. Cry Embarrassed

But there are things larger publishers (and I don't just mean the BIG 5) can do that small presses can't, unless they have some wider connections, wider distribution in offline bookstores, some level of promotion on top of what we do ourselves, access to events and networking opportunities we may not be able to set up ourselves (unless we can afford to travel on our own dime and/or hire a publicist)

Something I think authors who rant on and on about how however we publish we still have to "do it all alone", forget or just don't take into account is that
when it comes to the children's/YA market in particular, print books still matters for one, and despite what some indie authors claim, the printing costs alone are steep for the average writer, especially if they don't work 3+ jobs and/or have moral/financial support from family, partner or spouse, and if your book has illustrations (either a picture book, graphic novel, or a nonstandard format novel like my book "Gabriel" might be if I can crowdfund the illustrator I really want to bring Gabriel's world to life visually) that ups the expense even more, and that's not necessarily including cover design.

Unlike Mikki, I DID burn out, more than once, as long time regulars on WR know only too well. I've had many a breakdown, and while some of what I said and did during those breakdowns I'm FAR from proud of, I want you to know that it's OKAY to feel frustrated, Fancy.

If you didn't care it wouldn't affect you, and you have to CARE about what you do to survive in this business.

Don't let it stop you indefinitely, but sometimes you do have to take an easing off period, I had to do that recently but taking a semi-hiatus from my blog, and outside my commitments for "Gabriel" (being under contract and all) I had to pull all other novel writing on hold, I hated doing it because it's so hard to build up momentum, especially in my niche of animal stories, but if I didn't step back, I'd have drove myself mad, and I'm not exaggerating.Grin

My last "Letter From Editor" feature touches on that-

The hardest part for lots of writers in the beginning, myself included, is building that forsake email list!

I get that having a platform before you ever sell anything is important, that doesn't mean it's EASY for me to build one. I think the hardest part of being in Children's publishing is relating to parents, partly because my family life wasn't ideal (though not abusive) and despite arguments to the contrary on my last post here on the subject-

It can be an additional challenge for some writers, and that's on top everything we have to do besides "write, write, write" and "read, read, read."

I just find it hard sometimes to relate to I know we joke about never thinking about "the parents" when we write, but we do have to face them on some level, and that's hard for me, not just because I'm not a parent myself.

Despite the controversy I sparked on this thread-

I'm just speaking my truth with what I experienced, I don't let it stop or me, and I try not to dwell on it, but it is hard, and I can only speak for me, even if no writers here feel that, I know I can't be the only one. But I won't dwell on it here, again just being honest about my experience.

On the other, not everything can/should take 10+ YEARS of our time, and despite my animosity to the concept of "patience" I can say in all honesty I'm glad I didn't rush "Gabriel" to publication, but finding the right beta-readers was TOUGH.

I know the general consensus is learn from anyone and everyone, but it's HARD to gleam usable feedback from people who don't what you're trying to do on some level, especially if they don't read or write it themselves.

It is hard to be "patient" when you know you don't have infinite time to make things happen.  I don't mean to sound negative, but it's a valid point, and I think authors today have it harder in some respects than those before us, because while we have more flexibility and options in some ways, when you can't afford the best of those alternative options (Going back to the whole "Just do it!" vs. "Do it right" argument) you still feel stuck.

My biggest concern is that we'll reach a point that those with limited finances can't start (or build up) their author career because the bar for quality is ever increasing, and I'm not saying we should lower our standards as writers or readers, but I fear we won't find a middle ground between 100% professional and overly amateurish, and despite places like Fiverr and Elance, nor every part of producing a book is easily outsourced on one's own when you're being your own publisher, however you define that.

All that said, I often play this song on repeat on really hard days-

Hang in there, and feel better.
Taurean W.

P.S: You can learn more about my book at-
www.GabrielAndRum.com (it's sparse now, but more content will come soon)

You can also check out my character videos for "GABRIEL" here-

Okay self-promo over. Grin

 on: June 11, 2015, 10:03:23 AM 
Started by judyr - Last post by Fancy
Did anyone here take years to get published? What did you do to prevent the feeling that you're wasting your time, or taking the wrong path to reach your goals? I'm not burned out in the sense that I don't want to write. I'd like to write a series with characters I've already established, but it seems foolish when I haven't found a home for the first title. How do you decide what to do next?
This is a great question and Mikki's is a great answer. Thank you both for the inspiration to keep going!

 on: June 11, 2015, 04:32:51 AM 
Started by jfields - Last post by jfields
Children's Writers eNews
June 11, 2015
"The Write Words to Read"
The Institute of Children's Literature
Editor: Jan Fields -- author@janfields.com

"I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in."
-- Robert Louis Stevenson
1. News
2. Online in Rx
3. At the Writer's Retreat
4. What's New at Kristi's?
5. Market
6. Cool Site
7. Essay
8. Good News
9. Note to subscribers
1. New Writing Contest! Check it out below.
2. In the Rx
First Person Fabulous
Want tips on how to approach writing in first person, check this out.
3. Are You On The Writer's Retreat?
June's discussion of the month is "Working Through Burnout" -- all through the month, we'll be talking about this important topic. Though writing can be a joy, the business side is definitely harsh. How do we keep working when the whole thing is starting to burn us out?
4. What's New at Kristi's?

Friday June 5: "Success Without Self-Promotion?"
Do you want to modify your approach to self-promotion? Dial down the marketing, and focus on your work.

Tuesday, June 9: "Writers Running on Adrenaline"
Many frantic, overworked writers run on caffeine and adrenaline--not healthy or productive in the long run. There's a better way.

5. ICL Early Reader Mystery Contest
$500 Grand Prize. Mystery for children 5-7. Word Count: 700 or less.
Enter online by July 18, 2015. Fee: $15 (every entry receives eBook: POWERHOUSES OF CHILDREN'S PUBLISHING)
6. Revision: Time to Make Your Writing Better
Suzy Leopold at the writing Grog has some great tip on revision, something all writers need to fall in love with. Check it out!
7. Stuck on Observation?

Those readers who have taken or are taking the Institute writing course are probably familiar with the assignment that requires you pay attention to a child. Some people are completely freaked out by this. Paying attention to a child can get you arrested! Parents will want to have you stoned! So I wanted to write some suggestions about how to pay attention to a child without freaking people out.

First, you're almost certainly already paying attention to children. Children are kinetic little things, and it's human nature to turn out attention to the moving object in any room. It's wired into our brains. In fact, it's wired into the brains of just about every creature -- when something moves, look! So when you're in the doctor's office, if a kid races by, you look. When you're in the grocery store and a kid is climbing the shelves, you look. When you're in the library and a kid is swinging from his mom's arm to get her attention, you look. So you're already looking because it's part of being human -- it's just purposeful looking that you probably haven't done much.

So, if you want to ease into it, I would suggest you go to a location where it's not going to be considered weird if you write things down. The library would be a great spot. After all, you already go there a lot, right? Right? I mean, you're a writer and it's a library -- perfect match, right? If it's not...well, going there is going to be good for you all by itself.

Now, you go to the library. If you bring your own child with you -- fantastic, you can just go to the children's section, sit down in a chair, pull out a notebook, and begin jotting down a description of the room, the chair you're in, etc (really, this will come in handy some day when you're writing about a library children's reading room). This also gets you comfortable with simply sitting and writing. Once you're settled, then begin to write a quick list of characteristics about the most...um...extreme kid in the room. Everyone is looking at that kid anyway. Now, don't STARE at the kid, just glance his/her way every now and then and jot down a single detail you observed during the glance. That serves double duty, you get the details AND you learn to be observant. Observant people don't need to stare because they're more open to taking things in with every glance. Before you know it, you've got enough details to write your description. Plus, as long as you're making notes, look around the kid -- how are the other people in the room reacting to the kid? How are the other kids reacting? What is the kid's mom doing? All of these things are ALSO part of an interesting description.

Okay, now suppose you don't have your own kid so you don't really want to hang out in the children's section. I mean, I've hung out in our children's section a good bit before I ever actually had a child (mostly reading kid books and taking notes...which, again gives me paper if I see an interesting kid that I want to jot notes about or hear an interesting exchange between kids that I want to note) but I know not everyone enjoys sitting in those little short chairs.

So, you're not sitting in the children's section. Not a problem. Take a seat in one of the cozy spots in the adult section that has a good view of the check out desk (if possible). And begin taking notes about the library itself...the way the desk looks, the look of the librarians, the ceiling tiles, the carpet, how the magazine section is arranged, where they put the movies, really...place descriptions are soooo useful later when you're writing a scene that takes place in a library. EVENTUALLY you'll see a child at the check out area and the child will be worth taking notes on because check out areas tend to be hubs of activity. And since you've been sitting there taking notes when there ISN'T a kid, no one is going to think a thing in the world about you writing notes about the people around you -- even the kids.

Again...don't STARE at the kid. Short glances (but not furtive ones) will let you build your powers of observation and get the details you want. And relax...people look around all the time. YOU look around all the time. This time really isn't any different. Plus, honestly, people only notice folks who LOOK uncomfortable and guilty. People who look briefly at a child and smile slightly do not frighten mothers. My dad adores kids and is constantly looking at the kids around him and smiling (or even laughing) just because he likes kids -- he likes their energy and antics and he always has. He is now in his eighties and not once has he freaked out a parent because he likes kids and looks their way when they're around.

So, choose a place where taking notes isn't weird. Begin your observation before you see any children -- take notes on the place itself. Then when you see a good subject, collect your details by looking briefly (not staring) and noting all the things around the child as well as the child. There is no reason for you to be uncomfortable or guilty. You're simply doing the work writers do -- noting the world around you.

8. Good News

Shirley Raye Redmond: My article, “Osa and Martin Johnson, Globetrotters Extraordinaire” appears in the May issue of THE ELKS MAGAZINE. Originally, I’d researched the topic to write a nonfiction picture book for kids but have not been able to sell it as the editors declared the Johnsons “too obscure.” After multiple rejections, I tweaked the manuscript and sold it as an article for grown-ups.  <https://s.aolcdn.com/cdn.webmail.aol.com/resources/core/images/smile.png>

What's Your Good News? Send to author@janfields.com -- be sure to put "good news" in the subject line since I get a lot of book announcements due to the review work I do. So I don't want your good news to slip through the cracks.

9. For All Subscribers

Many of our eNews issues are being blocked from getting to all of our subscribers. It can be difficult to convince your email provider that you truly want to receive this eNews. Therefore we've created a list of directions to make it easier for you find the exact steps to ensure the eNews always makes it to your inbox.

Please, check out this link http://institutechildrenslit.com/email_whitelist_instructions.htm for specific directions to ensure you get every issue of the Children's Writers eNews.

To Unsubscribe from the email version of Children's Writers eNews, go to
NOTE: I can add you, remove you, or change your address manually and will be happy to do so.
To have your address changed, email author@janfields.com and do the following:
1. TELL ME that it's a change of address for the eNews. I handle a lot of things so if you don't tell me what you want me to do, I may not do it.
2. TELL ME your OLD address as well as the NEW one. I cannot search by your name. I need the old address.
3. DO NOT send me a mass mailing that you sent to everyone in your address book that just tells me your new email. I won't know what you want me to do or if it's really for me at all. And I'll probably just delete it.

 on: June 10, 2015, 04:21:56 PM 
Started by jfields - Last post by Cat
That makes sense. Thanks so much for emailing them! I guess I could have tried that........ . . .

Tsk tsk  Wink

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