New Year – Motivation

New Year Motivation

New Year – Motivation!

Welcome to 2018, y’all!

It’s the time of the year of new-ness. I like to think of it as a turning of the page, a new chapter, a new book. The possibilities before you are endless. There are things out there you want to make better, want to try for the first time. I’m here to tell you to GO FOR IT!

Time is our worst enemy. We don’t know how much is left. If you want to write. WRITE! If you want to draw. DRAW! If you want to go back to school. REGISTER! Reach for the stars.

As many of you know, I detest making resolutions. I always feel as if I’m setting myself up for failure. And ain’t nobody got time for that. So instead of listing things I want to accomplish. I choose a word to inspire me throughout the entire year. Once chosen, I print it out where I can see it every day. Or re-look at when I get discourage. This year my word is…

CHIPS

No, not potato chips. Or wood chips. Or even poker chips. Although poker chips would fit perfectly in my field. As every thing seems to be a gamble!   *laughing*   But the chips of every day life, what you are doing, exposing yourself, and getting things done. This is the quote where I found my word:

JFK quote

So, my challenge to you is how will you stretch yourself this year? Do you like to make a New Year’s Resolution?   *it’s okay if you do*   Do you like to find an inspirational word? Or do you do something different? Let me know in the comments.

~ HaPpY NeW YeAr’S EvErYoNe ~

Until next time…
~t


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Thinking Thursday – Peek-A-Boo! Finding Ideas

Finding IdeasPeek-A-Boo! Finding Ideas

I think the number one question I hear from writers (and students at school visits) is: WHERE DO YOU FIND your IDEAS?

Honestly, there isn’t magic words to mumble or a ritual to go through. It is simple though.

payAttention

Really. See things. Hear things. Experience things. Let your senses lead you. There are thousands of stories surrounding you everyday. You only have to take the time to see them. Hear them. Feel them. Explore them.

I’ve written stories on trees, geese, shapes, frogs, and on and on.

Think like a reader. What would they like to see? To do? To know? What are you curious about?

Once you begin the process of really seeing the world around you, there will be ideas that begin to jump at you. So will be crappy, but some will be great. Some will take shape. While others will slip through your fingers like grains of sand.

I wish there was an amazing piece of advice to give you on this subject! I would use it myself. hahaha.  😀

I guess I would say, experience life. Even though we have similar experiences, we don’t process them the same way. We each have a story to tell.

So get writing!

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT::::
Let me know about your idea process.
Do you know some magical words?
Or have an awesome ritual that works?
^^^ I really want to know!!!  😉
Or do you struggle, like me?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

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5 Ways to Deal with Rejection

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5 Ways to Deal with Rejection

As a writer there comes a time when we all hear the “R” word. It’s an ugly word and let’s face it, we don’t want to hear it. That or the “P” word either. Fine! I’ll say them… Rejection & Pass. *sigh*

So it is inevitable we will all get these. So how do you deal with it?

Sure, sure. Crying helps. So does throwing a righteous fit. But to get anything accomplished you need to move foward.

  1. Step back
    I know I said move forward.  😉  Take a minute (or a day or two or three) to distance yourself from your work. By giving yourself a time out, you help break some of the emotional ties you have. This will help you see things more clearly too.
  2. Look at it objectively
    After #1, you should be able to see your ms with new eyes. Take into consideration who said what. Are they an agent? Editor? Someone you have high respect for? None of the above? All this will determine how much weight what they have said will carry you through to your revisions.
  3. Second opinion
    Seriously. Get several opinions. I have at least three people read over my ms. AT LEAST! Then if more than one is pointing something out, you have more reason to consider what they are saying and why.
  4. Write, rewrite, revise
    Move those fingers. Sometimes the best way to get over rejection is to write. Write something new. Rewrite the whole ding-dang story if you feel the need. Or revise on what people have said. Just get them fingers flying.
  5. Reward
    Yes, REWARD YOURSELF for rejections!!!!!!! You have taken a big step. You’ve gotten your work out there and you are earning your stripes! Celebrate the victories. Each. And. Every. One. Of. THEM! *hint, hint* Chocolate is great!

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know how you deal with rejection?
Let me know about your victories!!! Celebrate!

 

Until next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

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~ HAPPY NEW YEAR ~ from Tracey M. Cox

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~Happy New Year~

Welcome to 2015!

I know many of you are focusing on your New Year’s Resolutions, and I do have a few of my own, but today I like to reflect back on the past year and see where I have grown and what I have accomplished.

  • Platform Building
    My goal for 2014 was to establish myself on the internet and become comfortable with what I stand for. Pre-2014 when you did a search on “Tracey M. Cox” you would find a different author. Now I have at least 2 pages full of articles, videos, social media contact, etc where you can find me. My platform? How to market with little to no money is still in its infancy, but I know the direction it is heading in and I feel confident in where it is going.
  • Better Content
    I’ve done research and feel my output is so much better this year. I hope others learn from me and can pass it forward too. Better content also builds on platform. I hope to be known as a trusted source and someone who loves to bounce ideas off with.
  • Marketing
    THIS was a biggie for me. I’ve learned to toot my own horn. Carry business cards and books with me. Not to be shy about telling others I write AND love it!  🙂  I also am learning the fine line of marketing and being pushy. Nobody wants to be battered over the head and I don’t want to be the person you see and want to run from.  😉
  • Writing
    My writing has improved so much this year. Researching again and again. Critique groups!!!!!!!!! Taking classes. All this, and an open mind, has contributed to my writing this year.
  • Friendships
    I’ve lost some this year. Some by death, others by their choice. I don’t know which is harder. Still, you have to learn to let go.
    I’ve gained some this year. There are some wonderful people I can’t wait to get to know better.
    Then there are the ones who have remained a constant in my life. I’m thankful for all they have given me. I only hope they feel the same about me.

So what is up with this year?

I’ll be keeping up with the same schedule:
Monday – Marketing
Tuesday – Tips
Wednesday – www.
Thursday – Thinking
Friday – Features (when I have some volunteers)
So two to three posts a week.  🙂  I plan on going into better depth and expanding my knowledge on marketing and kidlit. I hope to have a few surprises this year too. *fingers crossed*

What I hope to accomplish past this blog?

  • Learn to use social media more effectively.
  • Get an agent
  • Book contract
  • Work on writing
  • Work on illustrating
  • Books Love & Taters Book Festival (4th annual) to be bigger and better this year

I hope to see you into the year too!

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know what you would love to achieve this year.
What are some things you accomplished in 2014?
How do you plan to build on last year?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

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Tuesday Tips: Get Back to Your Roots. WHY Do You Write?

pencils

 

Getting Back to Your Roots
WHY Do You Write?

Have you ever been asked this question:

Why do you write?

Or more importantly, have you ever asked yourself that?

A fellow writer, Debbie LaCroix, posed this question to herself on her blog and it got me to thinking.

WHY do I write?

For me it is a number of things:

  1. My love of stories since I was a child.
    My papa told me stories all the time. I’m sure most of you have heard of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, or Jack and the Beanstalk, or The Three Pigs, want me to keep on??? BUT you might not have heard of The Three Frogs or The Three Lightning Bugs. Those were my Papa’s stories, those were the ones that I began my writing journey with. (If they do sound familiar, it is because THIS is where Ribbert and Liddil came to be.)
  2. Ideas and concepts that come into mind.
    I find that little things, ordinary things, things taken for granted will turn into an adventure in my head. Then I discover characters and characteristics, and twists with turns, and then -hopefully- the happy ending. It is amazing how many ideas surround us, if we only take the time to listen, look, feel.
  3. Wanting to make a difference.
    The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword.
    Y-E-S! Words can heal, can cut, can reach out, can silence, can make us feel deeper than we ever thought we could. I can’t tell you the times I have shed tears over a character or rooted them on into victory. There are times when I can’t sleep after reading something. There have been times when I would sneak off into my closet to turn the light on because I couldn’t put the book down in the middle of the night.
    Words, books, let us know we are not alone and can close the gap.
  4. The voices in my head won’t hush.
    I admit it. Yes, writers are the only people who can say we hear voices in our head and NOT have people worried about us.
  5. It is like breathing. If I tried to stop, I would die inside.
    This is the most profound statement I can make. I don’t choose to write words, the words have chosen me. People have callings… to be a doctor/nurse, to be a policeman, or a teacher. I have a calling to be a writer and it is my job to do it properly.

Those are some of my reasons. At least the first 5 that came into mind. It won’t be the same for everyone, but then again everyone has their own story to tell.
What are yours?

 

:::Leave me a comment:::

Let me hear WHY you write. Or follow up with your own blog post. Link this post to it and we can follow the journeys of different writers. Don’t forget to visit Debbie’s blog!

 

Happy writing!
~t

 

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#summersparks DAY 14: Hope In Your Heart by Carol Gordon Ekster

Summer Sparks

Hope in your heart
by Carol Gordon Ekster

 

 

Hang in there and have hope in your heart. If you are a writer who has submitted work this could be the day. Okay, maybe not today. It’s a holiday. But maybe tomorrow. There could be a letter in the mail asking you for a rewrite. There could be an e-mail telling you they want to acquire your manuscript. It only takes one such communication to change everything and bring the hope of having your work published. That keeps me going, along with the love of the craft. That must be there. Focus on writing your best story, fine-tuning your words to sing. If you don’t worry about publication, you’ll put your energies where they belong – on the writing.

It’s happened to me a few times– the e-mails and even the letter. “We’re interested. How about rewriting it like this….I’ll take another look if you wish to revise. We want to acquire this manuscript, etc.” And the excitement spills out as happy tears. But it’s the hope of what that will look like…children holding my book in their hands and being touched by my words… that keeps my coming back for more. We must hang in there because this writing process is arduous, at times torturous. And there are so many ups and downs…from the time you hear that good news, until you get the contract, until you see those first sketches and even after your work gets published. Then you’ll deal with issues about marketing, sales, and reviews.

So hope will keep you going for those months, if not years, from this first communication until that manuscript is a bound book. Hope and trust in the process is my mantra and I’m sticking to it, as I wait to see the art work for my third picture book coming out January 1, 2015, as I wait to hear from editors about the many manuscripts I have out in snail mail and e-mail, and as I wait while another book has begun the acquisition process. And with this post complete, I’m off with hope in my heart and trust in the process to work on a revision.

 

Carol Gordon Ekster

Carol's professional photo for books

 

Carol Gordon Ekster was a passionate elementary school teacher for 35 years. Her first published book was, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?-A Story of Divorce, Boulden Publishing, 2008. It was an About.com Readers’ Choice 2012 finalist for Best Children’s Book for Single Parents. “The Library Is The Perfect Place”, was in Library Sparks magazine, 2010.  A picture book, Ruth The Sleuth and The Messy Room, was on Character Publishing’s debut list, 2011 and was awarded the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval.  Her newest picture book, Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You, will be out January 1, 2015 with Pauline Books & Media. Retired from teaching, Carol now spends time in critique groups, doing exercise and yoga, and working on her books. She’s grateful that her writing allows her to continue communicating with children.
 

Carol is the author of:

cover-Ruth The SleuthRuth the Sleuth
&
wais bk coverWhere Am I Sleeping Tonight

 

FIND CAROL GORDON EKSTER

Website
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WRITING PROMPT

Oh, but first I must give you a “spark” to ignite your creative juices. And because it is July 4th, Independence Day, it is the perfect time to think of child’s journey to independence. Maybe think back to your own childhood. Or imagine another child showing off their independence or attempting something they feel they are ready for…probably too early if you want to add that tension in your picture book. Everyone always wants to do things to feel older than they are…unless they’re an adult! So if you’re not too busy barbecuing, get writing…with hope in your heart. Tomorrow may be your day.

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

#summersparks DAY 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic by: Kelly Halls

Summer Sparks

Hello everyone and WELCOME TO SUMMER SPARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kelly Halls is kicking off our writing challenge by blogging about non-fiction. What better way to celebrate? So dig in and get those creative juices going…

IN CELEBRATION OF SUMMER MAGIC

by Kelly Halls

People often ask me why I write the strange books I write. And my answer should be, “Summer magic.” Because growing up in suburban 1960s Houston, magic was all around me. It was not the fictional kind that transformed Harry Potter, but it was magic none the less. And summer brought that magic to life.

Every morning, June to August, I’d fill my belly with cereal and set out to explore with my best friend Craig. At school, I was confined to little girl dresses and the lady-like expectations that went with them. But in the summer, I was truly free. In t-shirts, jeans and sneakers, I’d hike with Craig deep into the woods to build a fort — shade against the relentless heat of the summer tropics.

The quest for the perfect hiding place, revealed creatures looking for the same thing; animals I considered kindred spirits. There were frogs, toads, lizards, salamanders and garter snakes we could touch; there were coral, copperhead cottonmouth and rattle snakes we could not. But accidents happened.

At seven, I slipped my hand into a four inch hole. Deeper and deeper I reached, until my body was flat on the ground, my cheek firmly pressed against the warm dirt. That’s when I felt it — the cool, smooth skin of a living thing at the bottom of the hole. Far too smooth. “Where are the bumps,” I remember wondering, as I gently pulled the creature to the surface. The answer was soon chillingly clear. The bumps — the whole toad was inside the smooth, cool body of the venomous copperhead snake. And I was lucky to be alive. But there was magic in danger averted, too.

Once we found the perfect place, Craig and I made the fort our own. A sun baked cow scull marked its secret entrance. Tiny discarded bottles dangled from scraps of fishing line on branches bent by hurricane gales. A broken shard of ancient pottery became a priceless treasure and the corner stone of our make-shift wilderness kitchen.  Flat stones became shovels to dig deep, damp holes in the ground — secret spaces in which to hide our rations; peanuts and animal crackers highjacked from home in brown paper lunch bags.

As we dug the subterranean pantries, we discovered beetles and earwigs, pillbugs and millepedes, juicy wriggling worms. We never felt the need to dispatch the creatures of the woods, poisonous or not. For us, they were not enemies, they were soulmates — proof of balance in our natural world.

Each day ended when we heard our fathers whistle — two fingered trumpeting that flew through the air to remind us it was time for dinner. Craig would run his way and I would run mine. Then we’d meet after dinner to play four square in the driveway or kickball in the neighbor’s giant front yard. As the light sunk behind the trees, we’d spin, circles in place, eyes turned skyward until we collapsed to watch the dizzy swirl of stars above us.

Once the stars stilled, lightning bugs appeared with bioluminescent beacons. They’d float and turn, rise and fall, each in search of a mate Fueled by the ache to continue their species, they’d herald their enchantment with shimmering green light. And we’d run barefoot, chasing the glow to feign the hope to capture. It was fun to pretend, but trial and error had taught us — fireflies were fragile and far to delicate to contain. The beauty only survived if they did.

None of my explorations were about the hunt. They were the physical manifestations of joy, and kinship with the natural world. They were the celebration of my magical world.

I live far from Texas now. Fireflies don’t visit Spokane, Washington. The winters are too cold to sustain them, even in hibernation. But the memories are as clear today as they have ever been. They are just as clear as the reason I now write the books I do. I loved learning to explore, but I am afraid today’s kids might not know how.

Are today’s kids celebrating discoveries of their own? Or are they lost in a world too busy, too technologically focused, and too far removed from the concept of wilderness to spark the inspiration to explore?

I am afraid of the answer to that question, but I do not surrender. I call instead to people prepared to write nonfiction for young readers. I ask them to remember the magic that inspired their curiosities, and to consider passing it on.

I want kids to know there are rocks to raise, forts to build and secrets to unearth even if the wilderness I once knew has been beat back by urban growth. I want them to know magic is alive and well in their natural world, if they are willing to search for it. We as nonfiction writers can spark the flame. We can build a bridge from the past to the future. We can inspire new questions and the passionate search for answers unknown.

We can keep the magic alive, but only if we celebrate its wonder. So I’m hoping, how I’m hoping, that you will. Long live the magic of our natural world. And long live the writers willing to share it.

Kelly Halls

KellyMilnerHallsNEW2011b

 

Kelly Halls is  a nonfiction writer for young readers.  And it all started in elementary school.

Kelly says:
“When my third-grade teacher in Friendswood, Texas, told me I was a good writer, I didn’t really understand what she meant — that I should be a professional writer.
I’d always been the weird kid – the kid who asked too many questions, the kid who couldn’t stop talking to her neighbors, the kid who couldn’t find a book she wanted to read. But the thought of being a writer at first drew a complete blank.
     High school in California brought my  third-grade teacher’s words back to me, thanks to the high school newspaper.  Journalism was a forum for questions and conversation, and it turned out that elementary-school teacher was right.  I could write.  
     Writing for adults didn’t really work for me.  I got bored, plus I didn’t have that  “killer” instinct to go for the BIG stories, even if people got hurt.  Writing for kids was ideal.  Weird topics.  No mean stuff.  So I started with magazines and newspapers.
Within five years, I’d been paid to write more than 1,500 bylined articles and reviews for publications including 
Highlights for ChildrenAsk!,DigTeen PEOPLEGuidepost for Kids,Guideposts for Teens,  the Chicago Tribune KidNews, the Atlanta Journal Constitution News for Kids, the Denver Post, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Washington PostWriters Digest,BooklistBook Links, The Book Reporter Network, and dozens of others all over the country.
     When editor Tanya Dean Anderson leftGuidepost for Teens to help create a publishing house expressly for reluctant readers, a new phase of my career was born.  Together, we created six critically acclaimed nonfiction picture books that made being “weird” really cool.
     Kids respond, and I know it–thanks to school visits all over the country. I’m living my dream.  I’m not just writing fun books, I’m helping kids know it’s okay to be whoever they turn out to be.
Weird is no longer a bad word once we share a day together. Weird is a destination we share. Weird is a really fun state of mind.

FIND KELLY HALLS:

Website
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WRITING PROMPT:

Think back to your childhood. What was some of the things you enjoyed doing? Did you have any interesting hobbies? Do anything different from the rest of your friends? Write down a list or a paragraph of these things and see if any sparks begin to fly.

 

Kelly will be giving away one copy of …

In Search Of Squatch book

IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH

to those of you who PRE-REGISTERED, COMMENT on this post, and COMPLETE the challenge.

Go to this RAFFLECOPTER LINK TO ENTER into the drawing to win under Kelly’s post!

 

~~~JOIN THE SUMMER SPARKS FB GROUP TO CONTINUE THE DISCUSSION~~~

 

Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
THAT’S A WRAP!
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!