GUEST BLOGGER: Robyn Campbell – I Always Wanted To Be A Writer

Hi Everyone!

Today I have a great story for all of you who are wondering… “Am I the only one?” When it comes to your writing, if you are on the right track, if you think a head of yourself (GOSH! I do this!!!!!), and a good presence of never letting go of your dreams, remember where you came from and where you are heading.

Thank you so much Robyn for sharing your story. I must say, I saw A LOT of myself. The first story I ever wrote was about 10 pages long. It was a picture book. 😦 And of course I thought it was the best thing in the world. Hahahaha. I’ll share my story below.

Hope you all can see the ray of sunshine that comes from this post.

Thanks again Robyn!!!

Best wishes,

~Tracey

 

 

I Always Wanted To Be A Writer

Robyn Campbell

by Robyn Campbell

I always wanted to be a writer, but life got in the way. Life is, six boys and one girl, a farm, hubby, and horses. (Hubby is only way down on that list, because he doesn’t require too much hands on help.) Then came the homeschooling. It was really through the kids that I decided to make my dream a reality.

So. I sat down and wrote my first picture book. Oh man! I thought it was the best story I’d ever read. I thought the first publisher I sent it to would snap it up. And I would make a million or two. Yeah! I was one happy mama! Woohoo. (I’d already spent a million or two in my head.) And no. You don’t wanna go in that place. It’s scary man.

On a sunny Tuesday morning, fast forward to me walking down to our mailbox, hopeful, whistling, full of anticipation. There was a letter in that box. It was from the publisher. I tried to look through the envelope to see how much the check was written for. (Yeah really.) I was like super dumb!
I raced back up the driveway, only to think I might have a heart attack. (Our driveway goes STRAIGHT up.) Note to self: never race up that thing again!

I hollered, “The check has arrived and I see a lot of zeroes.” Of course, I saw the zeroes in that scary place. My head. You don’t wanna go there. *shakes head*

I ripped into that envelope and shook the paper so the check would fall out.

Robyn looked perplexed. “Hmm. Where’s the check?” So I thought it must be taped to the paper.

You DO know what happened next right? Tears were shed. Squalling Robyns shed lots of tears, I gotta tell you.

It was a form rejection.

“Bbbut. It’s the best story ever written.” Robyn snorted.

In about a week, I reread my masterpiece. I’d already been online learning about picture books, snooping around my pal Susanna’s place, and basically realizing I was kinda dumb to think my first story would be picked up by the first publisher and I would sell it for millions. Sheesh. Could there ever be any person more brainless than me, back then?

Well, when I read my glorious bestselling story, I realized one important thing. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING!!!!!! That thing was a mess!

That was when I made up my mind to learn all I could. And that’s the motto of this way sad story peeps. Learn all we can. We have the entire world at out fingertips. Write, read, repeat. That’s taped to my computer. You know what else is taped beside my computer? That story. It reminds me of how far I’ve come. I know I’m always going to learn stuff, even after I’m published. But I’ve come a long way baby! Thanks for reading my way sad story. Now go and write that masterpiece! 

You can find Robyn Campbell:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorswrite
Blog: http://robyn-campbell.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robyn.campbell.587

Thinking Thursday: How To Make Time To Write by: Dani Duck

Hello everyone. 🙂

I have had people ask me the question – HOW CAN I FIND TIME TO WRITE? HOW DID YOU FIND TIME TO WRITE WITH THREE LITTLE ONES?  Well, my guest poster today, Dani Duck, has some great, helpful information on how you can make the time to write and get on the road to see your dreams come true.

So when DID I find the time???? Here are a few places that worked for me:

  • Naptime
  • Ball practices
  • Wrestling practices
  • EARLY morning
  • Late at night
  • In the doctors offices
  • And anywhere else the opportunity became available

Dani has some great ideas. So read on, take notes and follow through to your goals!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don’t forget to leave a comment or questions. We love to know what you think. 🙂

Happy Writing,

~Tracey

 

How to Make the Time to Write
by: Dani Duck

 

I have a 2.5 year old and ever since my son David came into my life I’ve not had enough time to do anything. The good thing about having a child is it changed my perspective on a lot of things, and taught me to focus when I did get a bit of time. I’m writing this article for all those people out there who say, “I don’t have the time to write”. WRONG! You do have the time – you’re just not using it correctly.

 

1. Change Your Way of Thinking

 

You are wasting your time. I know this because I do it too. Don’t worry about it, just about everyone does. In order for you to stop wasting your time, you have to realize you’re actually wasting (or misusing) your time. You say you have no time to write? You are reading this article instead of writing right now (no, don’t stop reading this now there is more helpful info to come). There are thousands of things we consciously or unconsciously decide to do things other than writing. You do have time to write, you just have to take advantage of the time when it comes!

 

2. Get Healthy

 

This might seem completely out of place, but I think it’s necessary! I’ve found, over the years, that even when I’ve had time to work I haven’t wanted to work. Often when I didn’t want to write it was because I didn’t have the energy to write. After having my son my exhaustion just got worse. I found with a better diet and more exercise that I had more energy and more focus when I went to write. Cutting down on sugars/carbs, cutting out processed/fast food, and eating more veggies has helped me a lot. Not all diets work for everyone, but I found those three things helped me the most.

 

3. Give Something Up

 

In order to get anything in life you have to give something up. How much of what you do is more important than writing? No one expects you to give up your entire life, but could you spend a night or two away from the family in order to progress your writing career?

 

Exercise: Choose any day where you will be doing your regular routine. Write down everything you do in one day (the more detailed the better). Be sure to write down the amount of time that everything takes. Read over the list of things at the end of the day. Which of these things were really necessary and which could you have replaced with writing?

 

4 Write in Bits

 

You might not always have time to write long passages. When you can’t find a large block of time to write, practice writing in bits. Make it a habit of taking a small notebook with you everywhere. If you only have a couple of minutes jot down the description of a single character, write a few lines of dialogue or summarize a scene. Every paragraph and sentence adds up over time!

 

5 Find Pockets of Time

 

Maybe you couldn’t find time to write after you wrote down your regular routine. Maybe you didn’t do the exercise. In either case I’ll list some times where you could add in some writing:

 

Morning Pages – Write first thing in the morning

Evening – Write in the evening before you go to bed (stay up a bit past your kid’s bedtime and work). Night Time– Keep a notebook by the bed at night if you wake up often. Some dreams are the perfect story starter.

Public Transportation – If J.K. Rowling can do it, then so can you!

Supper – Write while you wait for supper to cook

While You Wait – Be it the waiting room or in the parking lot waiting to pick someone up

Take Breaks – Take a 20 minute break to write any time of the day!

 

6. Plan Ahead

 

When you have very little time to write you learn to plan ahead. The more organized or detailed your plan the better. What’s Up Wednesday has helped me immensely with organizing myself. Basically every Wednesday I make up a schedule for what I’m going to write during the week. You can check it out here: http://www.jaime-morrow.com/2013/06/whats-up-wednesday.html If you can write out your schedule do so! You will be more likely to follow through if you write things down. If you don’t write things down, at least try to think about what you should be writing while doing things like brushing your teeth or taking a shower (showers are awesome times for thinking about things).

 

7. Don’t Give Up

 

It doesn’t matter how well you schedule or how perfectly you think your writing is going. There will be a time where you have writer’s block. There will also be times when your writing will be interrupted (or you wont even be able to get started). In these times it’s easy to be extremely hard on yourself. Don’t do this! Accept there will be times where you can’t do everything. Just because your schedule is ruined for today, this week, or this month it doesn’t mean that the following days will be the same. Start over and keep moving. You deserve the chance to have your voice heard! Just keep at it and you will reap the benefits.

 

 

Dani Duck

 

Blog: http://daniduckart.blogspot.ca/

Website: http://artistobscure.carbonmade.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/duckgal

Twitter: https://twitter.com/daniduck

 

SCBWI member:

Tips On A Tuesday: Twitter Stalking: The Dos and Don’ts by Stacy McAnulty

Hello everyone!

Today I’m hosting Writer extraordinaire – Stacy McAnulty. Stacy is giving us some great information on TWITTER. Have you tweeted anything lately or are you a stalker.   ;0)  I love the hashtag hints that she shares. I, myself, need to put these to use more often.

Thanks so much Stacy for sending this in.

Please post questions and comments. We always love to know what you all think.

Happy writing,

~Tracey

Twitter Stalking: The Dos and Don’ts
By Guest Blogger @stacymcanulty

Stacy McAnulty

My mother joined Facebook about 2 years ago and she has yet to post a single word. I call her a Facebook Stalker. She loves to see what’s going on with friends and grandkids. She gets on a few times a day, but she doesn’t feel the need to ever update her status.

Now as writers, we often hear that we need to build an online presence. We aren’t supposed to be like my mom. We’re told the world wants to know what we are eating, thinking, and reading (and maybe even writing). But I’ve met plenty of writers that aren’t comfortable sharing this much of themselves. And I’ve met plenty of writers that just aren’t that interesting (yours truly included). But I believe social media can still be part of a “quiet” writer’s life. You can be on Twitter without being ON Twitter.

I actually consider Facebook my personal social media account and Twitter is my professional social media account. In Twitter, I follow agents, editors, authors, and organizations devoted to writing. I’ve learned about contests, conferences, and classes. I’ve also discovered agents’ and editors’ wish lists. I’ve seen an agent ask for a Middle Grade novel featuring a protagonist in a wheelchair. This is a very specific example. Usually you’ll see something more general like a call for YA featuring male friends or New Adult that takes place in the Midwest.

How to get started on Twitter. An account is free. You can search for people to follow within Twitter and most authors, agents, and editors advertise their Twitter handles on their websites. (My Twitter handle is @stacymcanulty)  Once you started following literary folk Twitter will make assumptions about your preferences and suggest more literary people.  Unlike Facebook, a Twitter user does not need to “allow” you to follow them.

There is a downside to stalking @mydreameditor (I made this up, fill in your dream editor’s or agent’s name.) Hearing about @mydreameditor’s pet goldfish or love of petunias adds a familiarity that is not appropriate in query letters. A query letter should be treated like a resume’s cover letter. Being someone’s Twitter follower does not make you buddies.

Twitter Do’s
Do follow agents and editors that you admire and hope to work with some day.
Do follow authors that you enjoy.
Do follow Heinz Doofenshmirtz because he’s funny.
Do keep an eye out for hash tags of subjects that interest you. (You can search for these or they may come up in your trends on the left side of the screen.) I like these:  #iamwriting #pubtips #queries #askagent #mglitchat
Do remember that anyone can see your tweets. Your ex, your boss, your agent, your critique partners, your children, your book-buying audience.
Do read the books your @mydreameditor is raving about. Use this information to see if you are a good fit (and if he/she is a good fit for you).
Do reach out to other writers—established an emerging—and tell them that you love their work.  Or congratulate them on their success. Or tell them that you can’t wait to read their next novel.
Do use Twitter to virtually travel. You can follow happenings at Book Expo or ALA or Comic Con without even booking a flight. You can see what’s hot even before the bloggers fingers hit the keyboard.

Twitter Don’ts
Don’t harass a potential agent or editor on Twitter. Don’t even pitch to an agent or editor on Twitter unless it’s a contest (for example #pitchmadness).
Don’t promote your books or blog or website endlessly. This is just in bad taste.
Don’t use personal information learned on Twitter in a query. I actually heard an agent say that an author mentioned the agent’s love of bubble baths in a query. That’s creepy!
Don’t post anything you don’t want the world to know.
Don’t use Twitter as your only research tool. When information is fast and furious, it can easily be wrong. An editor may post the wrong e-mail for a contest (so double check a website or blog) or an organization may screw up results. Also, on occasion Twitter accounts do get hacked.

Twitter is making the publishing world smaller—and hopefully more accessible to us all. Use this up-to-the-second knowledge as a tool.  Be sure to stalk wisely and keep it professional.

Stacy McAnulty
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stacymcanulty
Website: http://www.stacymcanulty.com
Blog: http://stacymcanulty.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-McAnulty/162735670417271

Monday Marketing: Five Things You Should Never Do When Marketing Your Book by: Margo Dill

Hello All:

I HAVE FINALLY FOUND MY CALENDAR!!!! *golden light shines on said calendar as angelic voices sing in the background* Now, to catch up on all of the posts I have missed. A million and one apologies to my guest bloggers and all my followers. So without further ado, you all will be getting more than the usual two posts this week. YAY! So be prepared to have some great information coming your way.

Today I have Margo Dill on my blog. She is going to share some thing you SHOULD NOT DO when marketing yourself and your books. Whew! Glad to get that out there. I know #2 was (and still can be) a biggie for me. But I am learning to toot my own horn and get my name and my books out there.

Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. We always enjoy hearing what you think.

Happy Writing,

~Tracey

 

Five Things You Should Never Do When Marketing Your Book
By Margo L. Dill

Margo Dill

 

My first book, a middle-grade historical fiction book titled Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, came out from White Mane Kids in October 2012. (By the way, you should check it out here: http://margodill.com/buy-finding-my-place/, but after you’re done reading this post first, or course.) To say I’ve learned a lot about marketing in a very short time is an understatement. Everyone talks about how quickly the world of publishing is changing; well, so is the world of marketing. Authors that marketed a book even three years ago are going to have to change their ways for future books. So, I’m here to help, thanks to Tracey!, and am going to share these five things you should NEVER do when marketing a book:

  1. Keep Your Book a Secret

If you don’t tell people you wrote a book and it’s out, no one else will. Okay, so maybe your mom and your spouse (if he/she is hoping for some royalty money)—but no one else. I understand that it’s hard as an introverted writer to shout from the rooftop that you’ve written a book, but that’s exactly what you need to do. When someone asks: “What’s new with you?” Say, “I wrote a book.” Most people will then ask you about it. Put it on your Facebook page, your website, and your Pinterest board. Practice in the mirror, “I wrote a book.”

  1. Worry You are Offending or Bothering Someone

Other writers do not worry about this at all. Every chance they get, they are sending out newsletters, handing out business cards, writing about their books on Facebook, and sharing reviews on Twitter. You have to do this, too. Listen, if someone is offended and thinking, You know, Margo is a real blow-hard. She is always talking about that Civil War book of hers, then that person can un-follow me or de-friend me. I won’t even notice; and honestly, I don’t care. I make sure that I support other writers and share a lot of information and books, too. So when I want to talk about my books, I’m going to!

  1. Buy Ads in Print Magazines

I apologize to anyone who has a print magazine. I do not think print is dead. I write for a newspaper. But as an author, you’re wasting your money if you buy an ad in a print magazine. You are better off spending money on some bookmarks you can hand out personally when you talk about your book. Really. VERY FEW people buy a book because they saw an ad about it in a magazine. VERY FEW. How many books would you have to sell to make enough royalties to cover the cost of the ad? Now, if someone wants to interview you or pay you to write an article and mention your book, say YES!

  1. Bribe Reviewers

Although I’m a reviewer and would love to be bribed (with wine), obviously you cannot do this. So many people are trying to get reviewed by big name newspapers, and this is going by the wayside. Instead, ask people to read your book and write a review on Amazon if they have time. Find bloggers who have a good following and ask them for a review. This is the new way to go. Don’t send a newspaper book reviewer your book with a box of chocolates. Really, it won’t matter.

  1. Spend All Your Time Marketing and Not Writing

Some people love marketing as much as they love researching. Actually some writers will do anything to not have to write. . . but one of the best ways to increase book sales is to have another book out there. If readers like your first book (series or not), they might just pick up your second or third book, too, because they like you as an author. So, find time to write, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. Your first book serves as a marketing tool for the rest of your work!

 

I’d love to hear your tips! What’s worked for you or hasn’t? (And don’t forget to check out FINDING MY PLACE at http://margodill.com/blog/buy-finding-my-place –I’m not annoying you now, am I?)  

Finding My Place

Thinking Thursday: The Trick To Discovering Ideas by Rena J. Traxel

Hello all.

Today MY Guest Poster is Rena Traxel. Ever wonder where to get your ideas. Read on to see what she has to say and get those juices flowing!

Leave a comment or ask a question and we will get back to you. 🙂

Best wishes,

~Tracey

 

The Trick To Discovering Ideas

by: Rena J. Traxel

Rena J. Traxel

A lady new to writing recently asked me where do you get your ideas? I replied everywhere. The trick is finding an idea that sparks the “what if”.

She told me she was looking at a beautiful painting. And thought now there’s a story. But what do I write? she asked. I replied that’s for you to discover. Is she sad or happy? Why does she feel that way? The more questions you ask the deeper you will get. The trick is to not censor yourself. Let the ideas flow no matter how ridiculous they are. Write them down and sort through them later.

If you sort through those ideas later and find none of them are begging to be turned into a story. Start over again. Go for a walk. Look at the people around you. Ask what is their story? Read the newspaper ask yourself what is the story behind this article. The trick is to be open to ideas. They can come from pretty much anywhere.

 

Rena J. Traxel can be found tapping away on her glowing scheming machine. She writes for kids and teens and occasionally for adults. She loves math and solving problems about as much as she loves her pets! For more tips check out www.renajtraxel.com

Rena loves connecting with other writers and readers. Look her up on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/renajtraxel  or on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/renajtraxel

Tips On Tuesday – 7 Important Things To Know If You’re A Children’s Writer by: Marsha Diane Arnold

Hello everyone.

I must apologize. I have lost my calendar of all of my guest bloggers. *boo-hoo* LUCKILY Marsha Diane Arnold remembered when her date was and has graciously reminded me. 🙂

A HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY TO YOU MARSHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I hope all of you get some great tidbits of things she is sharing. Please leave a comment or question and we will get back to you!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best wishes,

~Tracey

7 important things to know if you’re a children’s writer

by: Marsha Diane Arnold

Marsha Diane Arno

My birthday was this month, a bit of a milestone birthday. It was July 7th. 7/7. In honor of that birthday and the fact that I’m still flapping around in this big wonderful children’s lit world, I shall share 7 tips, 7 things I’ve learned or things that have been reinforced since I entered the children’s publishing fray in the early 1990’s.

#1 “Writing is a moral act. What you write has a real effect on others, often to a rather surprising extent.” So says Alexander McCall Smith, author of 60 plus books including the popular No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. No, he’s not a children’s author, but if he believes writing for adults is a moral act, then how much more must it be in the children’s writing world, a world where we’re writing for developing minds and young spirits seeking guidance. So, whatever you do, write the stories that care for the heart.

#2 Treasure your editors. I’ve had some fabulous editors in my time; I am so grateful for them. When two of my editors left publishing, I was like driftwood being tossed in a rough sea. It has taken a long time to right myself, with an agent who believes in my work and now a new editor. So when you finally get your dream editor, sing a song of thanksgiving.

#3 Treasure your writing partners. Before we went our separate ways, my first writing group was known by some editors as “that famous Sebastopol writing group.” We were each starting out in the children’s lit world. We went through rejections, successes, and learning together. Without their support, I may never have been published. I’m in two new writing groups now, one in-person and one online. When you find the right writing group for you, sing a second song of thanksgiving.

#4 Patience is a virtue. Patience is useful when waiting for answers from editors, for contracts, for checks, and for that best-selling book we all hope for. Publishing remains a relatively slow industry. Most other professions would not put up with the time lag we do. Patience is a good quality for writers to possess.

#5 Listen to your internal authority. There are so many external authorities, so many tips and blogs and advice to read. These can be a distraction; writers need focus. Yes, tips and advice can be important and helpful to your progress, but beware. You can spend every minute of your day reading and studying other’s advice and forget about what your true work is – to create wonderful stories for young readers. Beginners need guides and rules, but once you’ve graduated from school and had a bit of experience, remember that your truest authority is you. Listen to your internal authority, your inner voice, and realize that the most important question is, “Does it work?”

#6 Persevere. As I tell students when I visit schools, “It only takes one YES to be on the way to where you want to be.” I had 13 rejections for my first book, Heart of a Tiger, before I got that one wonderful “yes” from an editor who loved my story as much as I did.

Study a fast running stream. When the water hits a rock, it doesn’t stop and sulk in a puddle. It looks for a way around. You should do no less. Persevere.

7) Stop comparing. I’m still learning this one. It’s so challenging, but it’s the healthiest way to pursue your writing dream. Along with this is the understanding that no matter what type of story you write, there are bits and pieces of you in your stories. Treasure those bits and pieces. They are what make your story unique.

So, go be unique. Listen to your inner voice. Persevere, be patient, be polite, and be pure. And may the luck of the 7s be with you.

Bio:
Marsha Diane Arnold has been called a “born storyteller” by the media. She has authored eleven picture books ranging from the soulful Ridgway award winner Heart of a Tiger, to the Smithsonian Notable The Pumpkin Runner, to the uproarious starred review Roar of a Snore, which was also a Dolly Parton Imagination Library selection. Her latest picture book manuscript was just bought by Neal Porter Books. Marsha also has a digital storybook, Prancing Dancing Lily, about a spunky dancing cow who travels the world. The trailer and links are at: http://fatredcouch.com/Prancing_Dancing_Lily.

Marsha travels nationally and internationally as a speaker and writing workshop leader for schools and conferences. She has taught aspiring authors privately, with the Institute of Children’s Literature, online with Mediabistro.com and the Picture Book Academy, and on faculty for writing workshops. Her e-course, Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books can be found at the Picture Book Academy at http://www.picturebookacademy.com/writing-character-driven-stories.html.

A Few of Marsha’s Books:

Dancing Prancing Lilly

The Pumpkin Runner

Heart Of A Tiger

Links for Marsha:

  1. Marsha’s website – www.marshadianearnold.com
  2. Like Marsha on Facebook: MarshaDianeArnoldAuthor http://on.fb.me/17Su4kn
  3. Follow Marsha on Twitter: @MarshaDArnold
  4. Marsha’s blog: Storymagician Blog at http://bit.ly/RCjmFO
  5. Marsha’s Prancing Dancing Lily app: http://fatredcouch.com/Prancing_Dancing_Lilly
  6. Want to do more with The Pumpkin Runner? Here’s what one elementary school did – StoryMagician
  7. Writing Wonderful Character Driven Picture Books with Marsha Diane Arnold – Picture Book Academy
  8. Audio/Video Interview about Prancing Dancing LilyProgressive Dairyman