2019 Blogs

February 5, 2019
The polar voltex swept through my state in January and left bitter cold temps and icy roads. Thank goodness the ground hog didn't see his shadow on the 2nd of February! I am looking forward to an early Spring.
On December 27, 2018, my niece gave birth to a boy, her second child. Rory Chasteen arrived too big to fit into his newborn outfits. A healthy, albeit chunky, child, his life is blessed with a loving mother and father, and older sister.
I mentioned Rory because his life is a new beginning, full of promise and opportunity.
Each January I feel a sense of a new beginning in my writing. What stories will jump on my pages? Will this be the year I land an agent? Is this the year my next book gets published? 2019 is a year full of promise and opportunity.
Author Tara Lazar hosts StoryStorm in January, and I'm glad I participated. Each day an author or illustrator posted wonderful stories and ideas on how to discover Picture Book ideas. I wrote my ideas down in a doc. file, and from time to time will visit this file and see which story I want to tell. Out of the 30 ideas I have, two seem promising.
The first year I did this, then called PiBoIdMo, two of my stories were published, CALAMITY CAT by MeeGenius, and the short story, THE MYSTERY OF THE GHOSTLY THIEF, by Guardian Angel Kids. Two out of 30. The more ideas you have, the better chance to come up with one that sells.
I entered a couple of cute holiday contests in December and received a consulation prize from Gayle C. Krause for my Rock Star Santa entry, a critique of a query letter. I've written hundreds of query letters, yet when I read Gayle's critique, I was blown away. She took what I thought to be a decent query letter and turned it into a fantastic one. It helps to have another set of eyes checking your work, and that is why I am so glad to belong to a critique group, the SCBWI Scribes, one that I am now the network representative.
We met last night at the Chatham, Illinois library. Fantastic writers and illustrators, every one. Juli Caveny offered to take photos of each of us for our author pages, social media sites, etc., and she did an amazing job. At our January meeting, I gave everyone an assignment, write 6-10 author interview questions. We shared a few during the meeting and then traded questions with each other, by a secret drawing. Next month our assignment is to answer these questions, either about a book we have published or a work-in-progress. When done, we will each have an author interview ready to post when our books come out. And thanks to Juli, we have a professional photo to include with our interview.
I've been struggling with the first few pages of a finished manuscript. I had the first page recently critiqued by a guest agent for a blog post, and made several changes she suggested, but still felt my piece needed improvement. After I shared the pages with my writers group last night, the final pieces of the puzzle clicked. I now have a first sentence that I love, and small changes in wording has given me a polished first chapter that works. We had time for 3 other critiques and I think each author left the meeting satisfied with the advice offered.
Super Bowl Sunday is not my thing, so I was grateful for the webinar the Indiana SCBWI offered featuring Tara Lazar. Again, I learned so much. Tara was generous in sharing what works for her, and what doesn't, and she gave advice on marketing, school visits, author notes and writing PBs. This hour and a half session passed too quickly, but I'm grateful for what I learned.
Although I haven't written anything new yet this year, I've worked on several of my manuscripts, polishing and improving, and I submitted to a few agents. I'm satisfied with what I have accomplished.
So, my January was spent finding new PB ideas, polishing my query letter and first chapter, connecting with writer friends and sending out submissions. Here's to a new year and new beginnings, new promises and opportunity. Will this be my year? I'm counting on it!
Debra Daugherty