On Monday, President's Day, I wanted to get to writing ..but the day kept taking on a life of its own and I never really got around to doing much of anything with it. I received a really nice phone call in the afternoon tho from Aaron Reynolds (Chicks and Salsa; Buffalo Wings; Tiger Moth series) as I had emailed him a couple of weeks ago and just pummeled him with questions - and he said it would be so much easier to chat than to email! I agreed. So when I finally had some free time after dinner I got him on the phone and we talked and talked. He had a lot of good input and advice and answered all of my questions that I had for him. He spoke of his OVER 300 rejection letters...oy vey.

He was encouraging yet realistic, which is the best way to be.

Wednesday I brought home an armful of picture books to mull over- but was also getting sick. So that night by the fire, struggling to stay awake, I pored over the picture books, taking note of their contents and publishers, what made them work, what I did and didnt' like, and made notes. I also organized some thoughts and titles, etc in my notebook.

Yesterday I ended up staying home sick and didn't get anything accomplished- even though, once again, I intended to all day! Funny how life gets in the way of my plans...

In our conversation on Monday, Aaron recognized that I had done my homework. And I'm glad it shows. I feel as if I have had a small education this past month or so from when I began this journey because of all I've been reading and gleaning and gathering. I now feel like I have to get to the hard part- the part that's all on me- the writing-the-children's-book part. But that is the fun part too!

I came into work at the elementary school library this morning, in a sea of picture books, and once again thought to myself- how can something that appears to be so easy to write be actually very difficult? Before I knew what I know now, I had NO idea of the rigorous process each of these authors - some one-hit, some not so much - has had to go through. It gives me much more of an appreciation and respect for these books we have here on our shelves. Ah, to write a picture book AND get it published AND on someone's shelves - not an easy task; not an easy task at all.
I've been collecting some motivational quotes, and I feel they pertain to this exciting new adventure so I thought I'd post them here in case they might be helpful to someone else too.

"The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one."- Mark Twain (Amen and amen.)

"The risk it takes to remain tight inside the bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom." Anais Nin

"What we think or what we know or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."

"You can't cross a sea by merely staring into the water." - Rabindranath Tagore

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas Edison

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." - Ronald E. Osborn

These are good reminders that breaking through and into a new project isn't easy, but it is possible and the fear and trepidation that I feel are completely normal!

I've been reading lots of books on writing children's books and getting them published- and I feel fortunately like most of them are saying the same thing. I like that consistency. I did indeed finish a very rough draft of a story the other night, (thinking up an ending is always the toughest part for me) and now I'm laying it out in a dummy book fashion to see what goes where on each page. This is the fun part! And fortunately, I love to edit. The hardest thing by far for me is to get it all done on paper- beginning, middle and end. But once it's there, reworking it is a love of mine.

Aaron Reynolds called today - woohoo - I get to pick his brain about becoming a published author as he is! I'm waiting for an uninterrupted opportunity to call him back. It was very nice that he called.


Today has been fun. I've been online trying to tap various resources to get ahead in my game a bit here- something I don't have the time to do on a school day. (Being home today makes me realize how much I love being home and would love to be doing this on a regular basis and just spend my days writing!) There's a wealth of people and information out there- it's wonderful to have it so readily available at the touch of a laptop.

I'm trying to get out of this small rut I'm stuck in. And today has helped push me a bit further along in my journey by getting some good advice by experienced folk who have once been where I am, and have taken their journey road a lot further. They've been encouraging and given me some solid stuff with which to work, and I now see some more steps I can take to proceed. For that, I am thankful.

I think what I need now is time. Well, let's face it, I'm not going to GET any more time, but what I need to do now is MAKE time - carve it out of my schedule- to work on this. That's do-able. I feel like I have enough things to work with - ideas, titles, resource books, how to books, helpful websites. But when push comes to shove, if I want this for me (if God wants this for me) I'm the one who's going to have to put pencil to paper and make the words come out.

I feel more motivated now than I did this morning, I have more direction than I did this morning, and I can see a little further up the road. So all in all, it's been a good day.

Do you have 5 minutes?

The how-to book for writing for kids said if you have 5 minutes - if you have any time, really - write. Just pick up a pen and paper or hit your computer and WRITE. Apparently, the more you write the better you get at ...writing.

Fortunately, this is a thing I love to do. And I love to do it both ways- via keyboard, and via pencil and paper. The story I'm trying to sketch out at home I'm doing totally by hand writing it - eventually I will need the control over which text goes on which page, etc. I feel I have more control when I use pencil and paper- there's something to be said for that old method. It can't not work because the power went out or the hard drive crashed. It's easily saved as long as you don't throw the paper away. And hopefully the file folder you left it in is still on your desktop, literally, when you get back to it.

I should probably do more creative "I have 5 minutes" writing than just this. Like thoughts, feelings, smells, sights and sounds. But sometimes I'm thinking I"m not going to have to get that detailed for a picture book, so why put forth the effort? (lazy, lazy, lazy.)

I have a page full of story titles in my writing notebook. But then I get scared after that. It's like I want to hand them over to someone else and say, "Here. Here's the title I want, but I am way too scared to actually start WRITING this story." Is that fear of failure? Perhaps. The writing of the story is the hard thing, and that thought was affirmed in a book about writing that I read last night. The actual writing of the story is the nose-to-the-grindstone part, the gritty, hard work part, the this-is-no-fun-the-ideas-aren't-coming part of it. And THAT's what I'd rather avoid.

I do feel like this is all falling into my wheelhouse tho. The reading, and the writing. I was encouraged to read that reading helps, and is a natural complement to writing. The more you want to write, the more you''ll want to read. Yahoo! I LOVE to read. Maybe now I know why? (maybe cuz it's effortless and easy?) Could it be that this is all clicking together finally for once in my life? I really have no idea, but as I figure it out, or as it figures ME out, I'll be sure to bring it here and let the world know.

Beginning of the Journey

Well, this is my first blog. And I can't say I really think anyone is a totally avid random blog reader, or particularly cares about my personal blog. So maybe we blog creators only do it for us, anyway. But, the reason I'm here is to record what happens along the way of this incredibly journey I've been called to start on. Whether or not anything comes of it remains to be seen, but if it does, I want to have every step of the way recorded somewhere. And if anyone wants to tag along, follow along and just generally be a part of the fun, you are more than welcome.

This will hopefully be a place to record events, thoughts, feelings, and emotions felt during this process of starting from scratch and trying to get a children's book eventually published. I want/need a place to come record it all, because in the writing about my writing, there is healing and hope and encouragement to continue.

I've always been somewhat of a writer, but a very unpublished one. And that's always been fine with me. It seems what I've written has blessed others by the inspirational quality and content, and the light on life perspective I aim to shed. I've always gone by the rule of "have an event happen- see a life lesson in it - write a short story about it." That's pretty much been my recipe for writing all my adult life, and it's worked.

There are times I realized I have just GOT to get stuff out of my head and down on virtual paper, because the thoughts and story it's forming won't leave me alone til I do. And the writing process is always fun - taking the actual details and weaving them together into something I can use and share.

But I've always had an experience to write about. This is different- thinking of ideas for fiction children's literature (specifically picture books.) I have a head full of titles, but not as many ideas ( I thought it was supposed to work the other way!) But I start with the titles anyway and write them all down. I've recently been reading some good books on getting started writing children's books, and it says to revisit your own childhood. So, I got a few more good ideas from that and from anecdotes my mom shared with me about her growing up years. The other day I saw a title that had something to do with a witch, and I suddenly remembered, "Oh yeah! When I was growing up, my cousins used to always tell me that a witch lived next door to them, and I can remember that eerie feeling of looking out of my aunt's dining room window, hoping Mrs. Witch Neighbor would pass by HER window and I could see her pointy hat..." Now, THAT should be good stuff for a story somewhere along the line!

In order to muster my courage to start out on what seems to be a pipe dream (of getting a children's book published), I keep going over my very short list of writing successes that have come my way. I also felt it was important to get them down somewhere for posterity, and for credentials should I ever need them...

1. When I took a babysitting course in high school at our local hospital, my essay at the end of the test won the prize for best essay.

2. When I submitted my manuscript for speaking at Christian Women's Clubs, it came back to me with NO EDITING NECESSARY, except to re-work the joke I had at the beginning to break the ice. I had heard of gals writing and re-writing their testimony before getting accepted to speak, so to have it sent back with the A-OK stamp of approval on it FIRST TIME THROUGH told me something. That was years ago...we'll see what happens now!

3. I posted one of my older stories on Facebook this week. I got two very nice, and timely, comments from friends, that read, "Beth - Wow - you really have a gift to put things into words. I can't wait to see your first book! What a blessing - thank you for sharing." and "Beth -- you could write for Oprah magazine! Excellent, well-written, colorful, vivid inspirational story! Very impressive! You should publish this..." Wow, If only I could.....

So, I am finding writing for 6, 7 and 8 year old minds to be much more challenging at the present time. Because they don't want a life story of how I can take this experience over here and see the spiritual connection in it and relate it to my faith over there. They want something much different - something entertaining with a slight lesson perhaps, complete with illustrations I can't draw.

This is gonna be a lotta work. But you're welcome to come along and see how it goes.