For fun, I decided to enter Susanna Leonard Hill's holiday contest. I had to write a 250 word or less story about a holiday hero. When I finished, I had almost a 500 word poem, so I cut out some verses to stick to the word count. Here's my 242 word poem, PUP'S HERO:
One Christmas eve on a bleak winter day,
A straggly little puppy went astray.
With twelve pups in the litter, this dog knew
No one would miss him. Oh, what could he do?
He raced down the street, bumped into a cat,
Who snarled and hissed, “Go away, doggie, scat!”
“Sorry,” he whimpered. “I’m lost and I’m cold.
Can you help?” he asked. “I’ll do what I’m told.”
Crunch, crunch. A stout man in black boots appeared.
Nearby, a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
“Ho, ho!” the man said, “At last, you are found!”
The pup blinked and his tearful eyes grew round.
The man scooped pup in his hands, and then cat.
Once in the sleigh, he took off like a bat.
Over the rooftops, the reindeer did fly,
Pup tilted his head and stared at the sky.
Pup found himself next to cat by a tree
Covered in lights, ornaments dangling free.
“Who saved us?” pup asked cat, cleaning his paws.
“Goodness! Haven’t you heard of Santa Claus?”
Cat smiled and purred as the children came,
While pup wagged his tail and smiled the same.
Loved, hugged and petted, pup let out a bark.
“I’m home. I’m happy, not cold in the dark.”
The next Christmas Eve, dog leapt to his paws,
Jumped in Nick’s arms and said, “Dear Santa Claus,
You saved my life and that’s what heroes do.
When I grow up, I want to be like you.”
August 27, 2018
I did it! I submitted my middle grade manuscript, VOTE FOR MAC, to #PitchWars hoping to find a mentor to help me polish my story. Since the mentors won't be announced until October, I have a bit of a wait.
I have been writing. This month I wrote 3 PBs, WHERE'S CALAMITY?, a 2nd in a series? to CALAMITY CAT; THE GREAT ZOO ESCAPE, a search and find book, and MY GRANDPA'S BARN. The latter reminded me of my grandfather who passed away when I was five. I still have many loving memories of him.
I posted blogs about MY GRANDPA'S BARN on my other two websites, https://authordebradaugherty.wordpress.com and ddaugherty329.wixsite.com/authordebradaugherty, and would like to share it on this page, too.
Here it is:
Last week I watched a webinar about writing picture books and there was a discussion on where to find ideas. One of the presenters said ideas are everywhere, which is true, but sometimes I fail to see them.
While scrolling through either twitter or Facebook, I don't remember which, I came upon the title of a book that intrigued me, GRANDPA'S TRACTOR by Michael Garland.
Immediately, my thoughts turned to my own grandfather. I was five when he passed away, but I have vivid and loving memories of him. He wore a pocket watch and my brothers and I loved to listen to it tick when he'd hold it up to our ears. I remember crawling in his lap whenever he sat in the easy chair. When I fell and hit my head, he gave me a silver dollar to help me feel better.
He was a farmer and I loved exploring his old red barn. Sometimes I'd find newborn kittens. Other times, there'd be baby piglets with curly-Q tails nursing in one of the bins.
My brothers and I spent so much time in the hayloft, my parents hung a sheet in the loft to make us think there was a ghost haunting the barn. This phony spook didn't keep us out or stop us from moving the bales of hay around to make forts.
Michael Garland's book gave me the idea for MY GRANDPA'S BARN. The words came easily, and in just a couple of hours I had a great first draft. I just had to close my eyes and picture the sights, smells and sounds from when I was a child following my grandpa into his "office."
The child in my story, with the nickname Squirt, could be either a boy or a girl. He or she visits his/her grandparents and is told Grandpa has a surprise for him/her. As the child follows the grandfather through the barn, he/she encounters several barn animals, and wonders if they are the surprise.
By using the five senses, sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing, I hope to draw the reader into the story, to make the child's experience, and my memories, real to them.
Writing this story was a blessing to me, as it reminded me of my grandfather's love, and life on the farm.
As a writer, the search for ideas never stop. I hope my next one will be as satisfying as this one.
Well, it's time to get back to writing! Until next time.
August 17, 2018
When my niece, Olivia, visited last Sunday, she wanted to write. She's 6 years old and starting first grade. Yet, she's smart enough to sit at the computer and type her stories. She sounds out her words, so she spells school s-c-o-o-l, but she's amazing. I like to think I've played a part in her love of writing.
Olivia and her cousins have been my sounding board for many of my picture books and middle grade stories. Several of my characters are named after them. The stories become more personal to me and the children love to hear their names when I read to them.
My nephew, D.J., also writes stories, and he does his own illustrations! He's 8 and starting 2nd grade. D.J.'s stories are about dinosaurs, dragons and fairies where Olivia is writing about singing sheep. Their imagination will carry them far.
Reading to children from a young age is important. It opens their minds to possibilities. Olivia's and D.J.'s parents read to them from an early age. I'm sure that's why Olivia has tested high on her reading skill. On Sunday she read a chapter from my WIP middle grade novel, and I didn't have to help her with any of the words.
I know I'm bragging, but I am so proud of these children. It's nice to think I won't be the only member of my family with published books. I'm sure Olivia and D.J. will join the ranks of published author when older. I can't wait to read what they dream up!
Keep writing for the love of it!
April 22, 2018
It's been a while since I've blogged, but my excuse is I've been writing. And it's been too cold, and I've had other projects on my agenda and I have been procrascinating, etc. Take your pick. All are true.
I've never seen a winter like this one. It's like it didn't want to leave. Snow one day, 65 degrees the next, then come the weekend, snow, sleet and ice. In April! On Easter Sunday three inches of snow covered the ground. It was gone the next day, but still cold.
Yesterday the temp reached 65. It was also the day I did an author presentation at the Tri-City Public Library in Buffalo, IL. I had no idea until the day before that I was to speak. I thought it was a booksigning, meet the author event. I quickly typed out a "lesson plan" on the process of publication, starting with the "sit your butt in the chair" and write to the marketing that comes after the book is published.
This is the day the weather should have been cold as the turnout was low. Everyone were working in their yards, and I can't blame them after the long wait for a good day. My nephew and his wife and two children attended, and they made up half my audience. It didn't matter. I was grateful for the chance to make a presentation. It was my first public speech.
The library staff appreciated my time and effort, and told me they enjoyed what I said and taught them. And I've been asked to come back and help with their youth program this summer.
This is the basics or outline I used when I spoke:
THE WRITING AND PUBLISHING PROCESS
by Debra Daugherty
WRITE (While writing, attend writing conferences, join a writers group, join SCBWI – The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, watch webinars on writing, start a social media presence – a blog, twitter, Facebook, etc. and read books in the genre you write.)
(PANTSER or PLOTTER?– Do you just sit and start writing or do you outline and know what goes in each chapter and how the story ends?)
REVISE, REVISE, REVISE
EDIT, CRITIQUE, REVISE, REPEAT
QUERY - Send letters and sample chapters to agents and/or publishers.
Basics of a one-page Query letter:
INTRO – List word count, age and genre (picture book, middle grade, YA), sub-genre (Humor? Mystery? Suspense? Romance? Etc.)
BRIEF SYNOPSIS or PITCH – Tell what the story’s about without giving the ending away. Entice the agent or publisher to want to read more.
AUTHOR’S BIO – Tell something about yourself and your writing experiences.
CLOSING – Thank the agent/publisher for their time. Offer to send more pages/chapters upon request.
NEXT STEP – OFFER OF REPRESENTATION from an agent who will then pitch your manuscripts to publishers or a CONTRACT OFFER from a publisher. – Take time to study the contract and voice any changes you want or concerns you have.
PRE-EDITS – Heavy revision per publisher’s guidelines – example: watch for ly words, (go easy on the adverbs), eliminate words like surely, very, so, etc.
CONTENT EDITS – spelling check
LINE EDITS – POV (point of view) changes, words added, tenses corrected, sentences changed or rearranged.
PROOFING EDITS – The format is changed, including spacing, titles, scene breaks.
GALLEYS – The final read through – last chance to find and fix errors.
COVER ART – Sent for your approval.
PUBLISHED! Your book is now available for purchase either at bookstores or online
MARKETING - Now you need to market yourself and your book with school visits, appearances, book signings and constant online presence.
In my Photo Galley you can see a picture of me at the library with my great-nephew, DJ, and great-niece, Anna. DJ is going to be the next writer in our family. He just turned eight, and when I visited him two weeks ago at his home, he showed me the book he is writing. He had several typing papers stapled together and had handwritten the start of his story about a dragon and a fairy. He even drew illustrations on his pages!
Hopefully, DJ listened and took in some of what I said yesterday at the library about the steps to publication. And my nephew, Dylan told me he enjoyed my talk as he saw I was passionate about writing.
And truthfully, I have been writing and submitting. I've written a new picture book story about a ballerina sheep and just finished a 27,000 word middle grade novel about a boy and his bulldog who runs for mayor. The dog story took one month to write, although I only worked on it 15 days of that month. The story flowed from my fingers and was fun to write. I can envision it as a series, with more stories of the dog's adventures.
And since January, I have been diligently submitting my work to agents and publishers. Query letters are sometime harder to write than the actual novel.
Thank heavens for my writers group. At the March meeting I shared the first 2 chapters of my dog story, and one comment from Juli changed my entire plot. I had been concentrating on the dog, and her comment was, "What does the boy want?" Although I started writing as a pantser, by the tenth chapter I had worked out the outline and ending to my story. Even then I waivered and added chapters as I went along, as the characters seemed to dictate me to do. (I believe that sometimes my characters tell me what to write.) The final project gave me a happy feeling, and a hopeful one, too. This is the book children will enjoy and connect with.
Another note about my writers group. Thanks to SCBWI's grant for programs, I was able to invite Alexandra LaFaye to do a presentation. This noted author gave each of us advice on the opening pages of our works-in-progress.
Even though I have procrastinated at times, I still feel like I've accomplished a great deal since this year has started.
So, it's time for "Butt in chair" revisions.
Write for the joy of it, as I do.