Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Deadlines Are Awesome!

This past weekend, I discovered that the deadline to turn in a manuscript for a conference review was the date to be 'received by' instead of the date to be 'postmarked by.' 

At first, this was not good news (i.e., extreme panic), but after 4 hours of revisions during the wee hours of the morning (I couldn't sleep anyway), I finished version 6 of the story and had it formatted and ready to be mailed the next day. 

The deadline turned out to be the path to unleashing creativity and honing my story to a much finer point. I simply could not miss the deadline. 

So, next time you think there is no time (did i mention I also had unexpected house guests) to get that revision or query or cover finished and submitted, get inspired and just do it. The dead of night could be your best time to work on meeting deadlines!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Picture Books - Keep Them Coming

I heard an editor at an SCBWI conference several years ago say that she read children's books above and beyond the manuscripts she reviewed. She went to the library and checked out books (old and new) to be reminded of what is timeless and what is up and coming. 

Hearing that, I've elected to do the same. Nearly every Saturday, I visit one of our branch libraries and choose from among new and classic picture books to review. Yesterday, I chose several new books including Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, The Monster Returns by Perter McCarty, and Red Sled by Lita Judge. All great stories with varied illustration styles. I noticed each story had at its core a theme of helping others. Classic. I hope to incorporate that to a greater degree in the picture book story I'm working on now.

Want to look for more underlying themes? Check out this list of favorite books compiled in 1999 and then updated in 2007 by TeachersFirst. Find your favorites and see if they appeal due to an underlying and connecting theme.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Marketing - Be the Reader

Marketing is not my cup of Earl Grey. As soon as I open my mouth, I have visions of all the overbearing sales people I've ever met mocking me. However, I realize it's nutty to write for publication and never talk about it. I'm not a hermit. I just like to write.

So, what to do? Be the reader. 

I've started sitting on the floor with a picture book and thinking about color and text choices. I'm spending time (minutes) on particular characters and/or characteristics on each page like a child would do.

Olivia by Ian Falconer is a good book to try this with. Black, white, and splashes of red tell the story in addition to words. I love it. The words and illustrations focus the attention, but also let an active imagination wonder what will happen next.

When I became the reader of my books instead of the author, the marketing monkey got off my back.