Marketing Monday – NEW Writing Contest… #FicFest


Marketing Monday –
NEW Writing Contest…

There’s a NEW Writing Contest on the horizon. AND this one is for everyone. When I say everyone, I mean… E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E!

Picture Books…

Mid Grade…

Young Adult…


It’s called #FicFest. It’s getting some shout outs across social media.

What is #FicFest?

#FicFest is an online writer’s contest which helps put manuscripts in front of literary agents. This contest, unlike most, is open to manuscripts in ALL genres (including those usually excluded such as Paranormal Romance or Erotica) in the categories of Picture Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult.

#FicFest mentors are structured into fifteen (15) teams. Each category that I listed has three teams. Each team is comprised of a team leader, and two (2) team members. Once the submissions open, each team will choose three (3) finalist manuscripts and one (1) alternate manuscript to advance to the agent round. This means that an equal number of manuscripts for each category will move to the agent round, guaranteeing that one category does NOT overpower another when it comes time for the agents.

45 manuscripts total move to the agent round, with 15 manuscripts being held as alternates in case one of the main finalists drops out of the contest for any reason. This is one of the things we stress in promoting #FicFest because most contests are overrun with Young Adult. In many contests, they may advance 40 manuscripts to the agent round, but the problem lies in the fact that 30 of that 40 are all Young Adult. That won’t happen with #FicFest.

Nine manuscripts from each category will make their appearance in the agent round. No more, no less. NINE each. Let me stress this one more time. In the agent round, you will have 9 Picture Books, 9 Middle Grade, 9 Young Adult, 9 New Adult, and 9 Adult. Everyone gets a fair chance.


Have I got your attention now???

Tiffany Hoffmann is the brains behind this contest. All I can say is… WOW! She is a great leader and I can’t wait to see the entries.  😀  Did I mention I’m a #FicFest PB Mentor!!!!

Keep a look out on her website  and blog  for updates, the AGENT ANNOUNCEMENT, and so much more!

Here are some SAVE THE DATE dates to be on the look out for:

  • March 20, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EST
    Guidelines & Theme Reveal
    (Host Blog)
  • March 27, 2016 @ 7:00 PM EST
    Meet the Team Leads & Their Members!
    (Team Lead Blogs & Host Blog)
  • April 3, 2016 @ 6:00 PM EST
    Agent List Announced
    (Host Blog)
  • April 17, 2016 @ 7:00 PM EST – 10:00 PM EST
    Q & A with Team Leads & Host
    (Twitter – Using #FicFest)
  • April 24, 2016 @ 12:00 AM EST – April 25, 2016 @ 11:59 PM EST
  • April 26, 2016 – May 3, 2016
    Teams will chose their finalists/alternate
  • May 4, 2016 @ 10:00 AM EST
    Finalists/Alternate Reveal
    (Team Leads Blogs)
  • May 5, 2016 – June 30, 2016
  • July 8, 2016 @ 12:00 AM EST – July 14, 2014 @ 11:59 PM EST
    Agent Round

What do you think about #FicFest?
Are YOU planning to enter?
If you are, which category will yours be?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!

  • Did you enjoy this post? Feel free to LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT on this post.
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Tuesday Tips – Why Critique Groups Are Important

Why Critique Groups Are ImportantWhy Critique Groups Are Important

You’ve spent hours, days, and years (yes, I said years – even with picture books) on a manuscript.

You’ve gone over it a gazillion times. You finally push yourself back from the computer and declare it ready.

But is it?

You’ve grown accustomed to your characters, their subtle and outlandish flaws, their quirks that make them – them! You have mapped out your setting and know every stone and corner in your story’s world. You know the conflict everything is a part of and everyone one is going through. So can you really “see” your story now???

Chances are, No.

This is where a second (or third or fourth or ???…) set of eyes can come into play. BUT do not get your best friend or your mother or someone close to read it and tell  you what they think. Although there is nothing wrong with them reading it.   😉   Get a group of your peers to look over it.

A critique group is just that… a group of your peers who are willing to give feedback. You, in return, give your opinion on their story too. They are also someone who is pursuing a career in writing and will be able to look at your material more critically than someone who isn’t in the field.

Some people are leery of doing this. They have heard of ideas being stolen. Harsh criticism on work to where the writer is left in tears. There are hurt feelings and deeper scars when it comes to trust.

BUT, BUT, BUT!!! There are people out there (AMAZING people) who are willing and lovely, and who will send out positivity into you and your work. It may take a few tries to find the right people in which you click with. You may have to weed out and resow with new people when a few don’t work. That is part of the process though. When you do find the right people, something will click! You will see that there are brilliant people who will push you further than you thought you could go. They will help your skills improve and the end result will be your career will begin to take shape.

What Should You Look For?

  • Look for someone who is like-minded.
    You want someone who has goals similar to yours. Are you wanting to get published? Find an agent? Just get some words down? Find people who will push you (and you push them) to the next level.
  • Genre.
    A lot of people think if you write a book, you can critique anything. Nope, nope, nope. I tell people it’s like dogs…
    A Chihuahua is a dog, a Lab is a dog, and a St. Bernard is a dog. (yes)
    Would you give them the same food? (no)
    Would you give them the same amount of medicine? (no)
    Do they take up the same amount of room? (no)
    The same amount of upkeep? (no)
    The same is true with your writing. Sure board books, picture books, early readers, chapter books, mid grade, young adult, and new adult are ALL children’s writing. BUT they are different writing styles, how you approach the subject matter, IF you approach the subject matter, word count, and on and on.
  • Rhyming and non-rhyming
    Oh how I love rhyming, but my own critique group will tell you it’s not my strong point. (hahaha, I try.) Rhyming is very tough to do, to keep it within certain parameters, to not force the issue, to not do something just to make it fit, to not write it badly. There are some wonderful people out there that can do this though. Study their work if you choose to do this. Make sure your critique group is on board with you on the rhyming bit too.
  • Time commitment.
    Are you wanting someone who is only going to put 10-15 minutes of thought into a critique or are you wanting more in depth feedback? Line by line or overall thoughts? Nitpick or over-easy remarks? The more in depth someone goes, the more time they will need to spend on your work. (Which they hope you will do the same with theirs.) Make sure it is something you are comfortable with and are able to do.

How To Get Started?

Put a call out or scan around and see if someone else is already looking.

Set up guidelines: What you expect from each other. Turn around time. What needs to be said when sending work. HOW to send work.  etc. The more specific you get, the better your expectations will be.


Honestly, I’ve been in a few critique groups. Some have been better than others. I have made some great, great, GREAT friends along the way too. I hope this helps ease your mind about critique groups and helps show how to get the ball rolling too.

Let me know what you think about critique groups?
Are you in one or more?
What have been the benefits/set backs?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!

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Marketing Monday – 4 Ways to Build “Word of Mouth”

4 Ways to Build Word of Mouth

4 Ways to Build ‘Word of Mouth’

On my 12 Ways to Marketing Yourself with Little to No Money, I mentioned “Word of Mouth” as one way to market yourself. This is and isn’t the cheapest form of marketing. I’m confusing, aren’t I.   😉   It’s totally free, because you are not paying someone to talk about you. Or begging them. Or demanding either. It’s NOT free, because of the time you’ve invested to develop yourself into someone who people trust and look to for advice.  *The Ah-Ha moment!*

So HOW can you become someone who is trust worthy?

1. Be consistent  – If you are blogging, have certain days/times you blog.
– Content stays the same. Don’t say or do one thing and not back it up.

2. Do your research – Make sure what you are saying can be backed up.
– Go through and practice what you are talking about to make sure it works.

3. Share generously – Let people know what you have found out. Blog or post or tweet about things.
– You don’t have to charge for everything. Give people tidbits, something to build on.
– You can create loyalty and respect by helping others.

4. Offer services – Once you have built up enough knowledge and trust with your community, you can offer more indepth help.
– Don’t push your offers though. Let it come through naturally.

By building up what you have to offer, it will create trust, because people will notice that you do what you say and it is working. They will begin to talk about you and share what you are saying. And you won’t have to tell them to do it. They will do it because you have proven yourself over time.

What do you do to build up Word of Mouth?
What are some people in our industry that you talk about?
What services have you used because of Word of Mouth?

***As a side note: I do offer services.   🙂   Picture Book Critiques & Platform Building Consultations. Just if you are interested.***

Until next time…

Happy Writing!

* Don’t miss one post! Email sign-ups are over here —>
** Did you enjoy this post? Feel free to LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT ON THIS POST.
Easy, peasy buttons found  below.
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tidbits related to the kidlit industry. Click  ~HERE~  to be directed to my
Newsletter sign-up page.
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#summersparks DAY 7: Inspiration Station by Susanna Hill


Summer SparksInspiration Station
by Susanna Hill



We’ve all been there.

Staring at that blank page, watching our precious writing time tick away, unable to come up with




. . . never mind a whole story!


Doesn’t the muse realize we’re on a schedule?

Our day jobs demand attention.

There is laundry and vacuuming to be done.

The kids will be home soon.

There will be ballet and scouts and flute lessons.

The guinea pig cage is due to be cleaned.

There will be homework and dinner and baths and bedtime.

If we’re going to write, this is our chance!

Think, darn it!

But somehow, the harder we try, the tighter our brains lock up until we’d be hard-pressed to write down a reasonable grocery list.

We all lead busy lives.  Our writing time is precious and we can’t afford to waste it.  So how do we get the words flowing when they seem determined to stay dammed up?  Where do we go for inspiration?


Inspiration Station, of course!


Check out the destination board for story sparkers of all kinds!


Track 1: Departing for the Recollection Connection

Mine your memories:

  • Think back on your own experiences. What are some of the amazing/fun/scary/thought-provoking/silly/disturbing etc. things that happened to you when you were little? Make a list. It will be there for you to refer to when you need a topic.
  • What important people or relationships would your childhood not have been the same without?
  • What sports/activities/interests/hobbies did you participate in?  (Little League, ballet, piano lessons, archery, science camp, tae kwon do, etc…)  Did you like them?  Hate them?  Learn anything valuable about yourself from them?
  • What family events do you look back on?  Camping trips? Family vacations to Europe or the beach or the Grand Canyon?  Holiday happenings and the surrounding traditions?  Weddings or family reunions?  Moving to a new home?


Mine your children’s/grandchildren’s childhoods and experiences:

  • What kinds of things have your kids or grandkids gone through?  What have they triumphed at?  Achieved? What have they struggled with?  Coped with?  Overcome?
  • If you’re a teacher, pastor, doctor/nurse, or other professional who works with children, what kinds of experiences have your students, patients, clients, etc. had?


Track 2: Departing for Observation Station

All day, every day, you have the opportunity to keep your eyes and ears open.

  • What do you see on your way to the grocery store?  A robin’s nest?  A road being paved?  A child wobbling along on a two-wheeler for the first time?  A stray cat?  A street musician?  A spooky old house?  A leaf shaped like a star?
  • What do you hear on your way to work?  Two children arguing over a seat on the bus?  A mother explaining to her toddler why he can’t eat candy for breakfast?  A little girl talking to the pet hamster in a cage on her lap?  The rich song of a saxophone from just inside the subway station?
  • How would a child see the things you’re looking at? or interpret the things you hear?  How could these little pieces of life become a picture book?  What new, fresh angle could you look at them from? What could you combine them with?


Track 3:  Departing for Communication Station with connections to Bookburg, TV Town, Movieville, Musicport, and News Street

Inspiration is all around us in the work of other creatives.

  • The stories we read in books, or watch on TV and at the movies, are all potential sparks for our own ideas.  What would we have done differently?  How would the story have worked if this happened instead of that?  What if the main character had been a trombone-playing giraffe instead of a rebellious teenager?  What if the story had taken place on Mars instead of in New Jersey? Fairy tales and nursery rhymes are good sources here.
  • Song lyrics and music can also inspire us through the associations they have and the moods they evoke.
  • News articles in the paper, in magazines, and online are a steady source of potential inspiration, for example, the story of Owen And Mzee, the hippo and the tortoise who became inseparable friends after the Indonesian tsunami, or Jerrie Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world.


Track 4:  Departing for Location Station

Places we visit can inspire us.

  • quaint New England fishing villages
  • the Rocky Mountains
  • the beach
  • Central Park
  • the San Diego Zoo
  • the Mississippi River
  • New Orleans
  • the Swiss Alps
  • the redwood forest
  • Norwegian fjords
  • a General Store that smells like licorice and orange soda
  • the circus
  • the Museum of Natural History
  • a dusty used book shop
  • Grandma’s homey kitchen, etc…

All of them have stories to tell, or could be the home for a story you have to tell.


Track 5:  Departing for Population Station with a quick stop at Occupation Station

People we meet/see are full of inspiration!

  • a boy in New York City wearing a Chicago Cubs baseball cap
  • a girl with one red knee sock and one striped knee sock
  • a dog riding on the front seat of a taxi cab
  • a postmistress who gives out lollipops
  • a school bus driver with purple hair and a tiny dragon tattoo behind his left ear
  • a nurse with roller skate sneakers
  • a girl who only speaks in rhyme, etc…

Different jobs people do can also give rise to ideas.

  • How do people become sanitation workers, tugboat captains, crane operators, or window washers?
  • How could someone with an unusual occupation fit into a story? Or BE a story?


Track 6:  Departing for Imagination Station

One of the most powerful idea generators is our own imagination.

Play the “what if?” game.

  • What if a shark and a train had a competition to see which one was better.  Oh, wait.  That’s been done 🙂
  • What if a dinosaur came to dinner?
  • What if it was upside down day?
  • What if a bear got on the school bus?
  • What if you found a magic penny?
  • What if your mom was a spy?
  • What if a kid became town mayor?
  • What if the family dog could talk? (Uh… I guess that’s been done too )
  • What if ponies grew on trees?

Whatever you can think up, there are lots of ideas here!


Track 7:  Departing for Creation Station

Some days, none of the other stops on the line are going to work.  Maybe your toddler was up all night teething, or you had a fight with your spouse over whose turn it was to make sure the garbage can lids were on tight enough to keep the raccoons out (no, of course that has never happened at our house ).  On those days, try one of these tried and true methods for getting words flowing:

  • Other people’s work – type out a picture book you love.  The act of typing will get your synapses firing and before you know it, your own words will be flowing.
  • Start writing anything – what you’ve done so far today – what you hope to do this summer – your opinion about a movie you saw or a book you read recently that you liked/didn’t like – what you would say to someone you’re currently mad at or worried about – a list of flower names or Crayola crayon colors or birds or animals – a recipe for vegetable soup – anything – just start writing.  You’ll be surprised at what might suddenly start to take shape in your brain.

Writing Prompts:

Need some actual writing prompts? Try one of these:

  • What is the saddest thing that happened to you when you were a child? Did you lose a grandparent? A pet? Have to move away from a beloved neighborhood or school?  Write about it for 10 minutes – everything you can think of.  Details of the time and place, who was there and how you felt.  Everything you can remember.
  • What moment in your childhood made you steaming, hopping, gut-busting mad?  Did your brother put a dent in your brand new bike? Did someone make fun of you when you couldn’t spell “environment” or solve a math equation? Did your best friend lie to you?  Write about it for 10 minutes – everything you can think of.  And remember that anger is usually a secondary emotion caused by hurt, insecurity, sadness, or fear.  Think about what the underlying cause of your anger was.
  • What is your fondest childhood memory? Something that made you deeply happy?  Or a moment when you achieved something or triumphed over something?  Or a moment you shared with someone special? Write about it for 10 minutes – everything you can think of.
  • What is something you saw or heard today that made you wonder? If it made you wonder, chances are it would make a child wonder. How can you make it into a story? Write about it for 10 minutes.
  • What news headline did you notice today that might make a good story? Write about it for 10 minutes, including what intrigues you, questions you might have to research a bit, and possible ways you could shape the story.
  • Spend 10 minutes writing about a place that has meaning to you. Describe it in as much detail as you can. If your reader were there, what would she see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste? What activities might she do?
  • Spend 10 minutes describing an interesting person (real or imaginary) in as much detail as you can. What does he look like? What are his personality traits? What does he do? Who does he love? Make your description so vivid that your reader would recognize this person if she saw him on the street.
  • Ask yourself, “what if?” and think up the silliest, or the most outrageous, or the scariest, or the sweetest, or the most mysterious scenario you can.


Inspiration is all around us. You can find it – I promise!

All aboard! 



Susanna is the award winning author of nearly a dozen books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis (A Book List Children’s Pick and Amelia Bloomer Project choice),No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild selection), Can’t Sleep Without Sheep (a Children’s Book of The Month), and Not Yet, Rose (a Gold Mom’s Choice Award Winner.)  Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, and Japanese, with one hopefully forthcoming in Korean.  Her newest book, Alphabedtime!, is forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, in Fall 2015.  She teaches Making Picture Book Magic, an online writing course, and is available for picture book manuscript critiques. She lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley with her husband, children, and two rescue dogs. 





Face Book
Making Picture Book Magic (online writing course)
Picture Book MS Critique Service


Susanna is giving away one of her pbs!
Enter THIS RAFFLECOPTER HERE if you have qualified by being PRE-REGISTERED, completing the CHALLENGE, and take the PLEDGE.


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
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

www.Wednesday… KidLit TV


KidLit TV, which will launch in the fall, will be the online video resource for the greater KidLit Community.

So why am I telling you about this web site now? There has been a FB group created for KidLit TV. This group will be your place to post videos or links to videos! Share your book trailers, news videos, interview videos, school visits, book signings, how-to advice on everything from creating awesome picture books to making animated presentations. You can also share others that you have found helpful, even if you have not created them. This is your video group in the KidLit world. 

I spoke with Julie Gribble, the creative brains behind KidLit TV and here’s what she had to say about it:


Our exciting new venture, KidLit TV, will leverage our experience with other forms of media to help parents, teachers, and librarians learn more about the world of children’s literature. It will feature interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators and will be an online visual resource for the greater KidLit Community.
The KidLit TV website and YouTube channel will be launching in fall 2014!

Remember the FB Group Page I mentioned earlier. There is a ‘soft’ launch going on TONIGHT! Julie and I will be online at 8 pm est to answer your questions and take suggestions.
If you haven’t received an invite to the virtual launch, let me know you would like to be invited. We’ll have to be friends on fb. You can friend me on my page. Also here is the page for the KIDLIT TV FB GROUP PAGE.

Hope to see you all there. Now, get those videos going!




Only three more days to sign-up for


There’s a line up full of great advice, story sparks, and some prizes scattered throughout.

So go to this JUNE 1st POST to SIGN-UP!

***Sign-up is June 1st through June 14th.  You MUST comment on the June 1st post, complete the challenge, and comment on the last post to be eligible for prizes.***

Thinking Thursday: How to Critique

So you written a story and would like a fresh pair of eyes… in exchange for you doing the same.

ideasBUT how do you critique a story?

While there is no Do THIS and DO THAT instructions, I have found people give the same advice and this is what I tend to do when critiquing a picture book manuscript:

  1. Read the story through twice
  2. Put it down for a day
  3. Read story out loud, while making notes
  4. Read again to myself, while making additional notes (if any)

What notes do I make you may ask?

  • flow pattern
  • pov shift
  • grammer
  • spelling
  • suggestions on how to improve
  • comments on what I think (love this line, etc)
  • add or delete word(s) or phrase
  • anything I think will help improve the manuscript

How do I format my critique? I like to think of  it as a sandwich. You get two pieces of bread and then the good stuff in the middle.
The first piece of bread is me giving some basic instructions and an overall feel of the story. *I make a point to stay positive. FIND something you like*
The middle is where I include my notes, suggestions, and comments. *This is the meaty part. Yes, there will be constructive criticism here, but you are wanting it to get better. VERY rarely will you run across something that is absolutely ready with nothing to comment on*
The last piece of bread is where I go into  my overall comments of the story. I may also comment about marketing, submitting possibilities, and other things that may pop into my head.

Critiquing is like writing though. You get better with practice. BUT even someone who is new can see things that others may overlook. The best thing is to take the plunge, jump in feet first, and enjoy the water.

Let me know if you have some other great tips when critiquing.
ALSO… I offer a critique service for non-rhyming pbs. You can click on the tab at the top of this post to read what my fees are and how to contact me.



SUMMER SPARKS Writing Challenge sign-up is still on going. Click HERE to comment on the correct blog post to be eligible to win some great swag!

Happy writing!


*Don’t miss one post. Email sign-ups are over here —>
**Please LIKE and SHARE this post. Easy, peasy buttons below.  🙂

www.Wednesday: KIDLIT411.COM

Are you struggling trying to find information on the internet about children’s writing? Let me direct you to a great resourceful website that is FULL of information:




I spoke with the owners,  Elaine Kiely Kearns &  Sylvia Liu, about the website. It is so full of information and I wanted to give some great highlights. They mention the following interviews:

Good interviews:

Debbie Ridpath Ohi- Author-Illustrator-
Jodell Sadler- Agent-
Drew Daywalt – Author-


AND here are some of their Most Popular Pages: Most visited

Submissions: Agents & Editors –
Contests & Awards-
For Writers- Picture Books-

As you can see not can you find things about agents and editors, and writers and illustrators, but you can find contests, links, and you can learn more about the writing craft, tips, and and … okay, I’m getting tired here. GO! Click on the picture link above to go check out the website!!!



Only 4 more days to sign-up for the SUMMER SPARKS writing challenge!


Let me know what you thought about this website! Are there others you would like seen highlighted here? Do YOU have a resourceful website and would like to be highlighted?

Happy Writing!


*don’t miss one post. SIGN-UP for email updates over here —>
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www.Wednesday… 12×12 and Julie Hedlund




I wanted to remind everyone about this great writing challenge.  ^^^^^ Yep, that one. The 12×12 Writing Challenge is currently underway aaaaaand it’s not to late to join in. Buuuuuuuuut time IS running out! Friday, February 28th, is THE LAST DAY to register to officially participate in this years’ challenge.

What Is It About

12×12 is all about writing. You have 12 months to write 12 picture book first drafts. Seems pretty easy, right. *cue evil laughter in the background* Believe it or not, writing is hard, life gets in the way, and sometimes your muse takes a vacation without telling you.
With the 12×12 writing challenge you get the added benefit of a community of writers who all are trying to do what you do… in the same genre! You can bounce ideas off of each other, ask questions, express concern, post exciting details, and rant. hahaha. Even when someone else is asking a question, it may trigger an idea with you and you are off and running with an idea yourself.  The group is mixed with newbies, mid-range, and experienced writers. This is an added benefit. You get experience, you get the ones digging in, and you get the ones who are struggling and may see something in a different way that you haven’t thought of.

How To Join

You can click on the 12×12 picture above or click here.  There are 3 different levels and different fees that go along with them.

What To Do After You Join?

W-R-I-T-E! Put your butt in that chair  (BIC)  and get to business! That is part of the job description. You have to write, type, scribble, BLEED those words out and get them down.
There is a forum with 12×12 as well as a Facebook page where you can ask questions, post events, introduce yourself, find critique groups, post the first 250 words of your ms, and MORE!


Why am I posting about something that someone has to pay for? Because I use this challenge myself! This is my 3rd year doing 12×12 and I believe the motivation and people keep me accountable and moving in the right directions.
Does it work? Yes, if you put work into it.
Will it guarantee a sale? No, that is up to you. YOU have to work at this writing business. YOU have to research publishing houses. YOU have to submit and get those rejections. YOU have to not get discourage and decide that YES, THIS IS WHO I AM AND WHAT I WANT TO DO!
But… you will have a whole slew of people behind you. Rooting you on! And enjoying it when that sweet success does happen. 🙂

There are other writing challenges out there too. I participate in quite a few. hahaha. I like challenging myself to become a better writer. How about you?

Let me know if you are participating in the 12×12 Writing Challenge. Or what writing goals do you have? How are you going to keep yourself accountable and achieve those dreams?
I’d love to hear from you!!!!

Happy Writing!

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Tips on a Tuesday: Writing In The New Year!

Hello everyone.

Tips! I love them. I take them to heart. I try to follow them and incorporate them into my writing. How about you? What do you do to help take your writing further? What do you do to expand your knowledge of the craft? Here are a few things I am doing this year:



There are many challenges out there to push you in your writing, keep you accountable, and find a community of writers. Starting off the year, I am participating in 12×12 Challenge, Start the Year Off Write, and ReviMo. (click on the badges to find out more and participate yourself!)  Eventually PiBoWriWee and PiBoIdMo will come. AND ***SNEAK PEEK! SNEAK PEEK!*** I am working behind the scenes with some colleagues to get a challenge to kick the Summer months off. SO STAY TUNED TO THIS BLOG!


The best thing about participating? The people! Let’s face it writing is an isolating profession. Writing challenges bring people together and brain storm, talk about the craft, and somewhere to have a sound board.


There are some great organizations or groups you can join too. The SOCIETY OF CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITERS & ILLUSTRATORS, The CHILDREN’S BOOK INSIDER, and The INSTITUTE OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE RX are just a few.  These groups share insider information on editors and agents. They also post exciting news such as winners of awards, new sales, and new businesses that are opening in the field. PLUS there are many, many, many groups on FaceBook that you can search for. These groups share support, encourage writing, network about the writing field, and on and on I could go.   😀


The old adage “Write what you know.” is true. So READ what interests you. Read for the entertainment and enjoyment of the piece. THEN read it again… look the format, outline, and white space of the material. Map it out with high and low points. Break it down… even picture books have layers!!! What is the overall theme? What is underneath? Type it out! YES, type it out. You will get a feel on how the manuscript flows, not the end piece, but the actual words. Really dissect the work and get to the bare bones of the material.


  • Read how-to books!!! Yes, MORE reading.
  • Take classes. You don’t have to go to college to do this. There are plenty of courses available online… some are free.
  • Discuss your manuscript with like-minded people. I’m not talking about your spouse (unless they write -and in your genre) or your best friend or your children. Get someone else in your genre to give you an honest critique. Critique groups are a great way to build your craft and make your writing stronger.

So that should give you are great start to begin your writing journey OR to give you a boost on your continued journey. I would love to hear about what you do to give yourself the shot in the arm and get your writing going! Leave me a comment below!!!

Happy Writing,

Getting Help with Your Writing

Now you’ve written a manuscript and went over it with a fine tooth comb. But you still don’t know if it’s ready to submit to publishers. That’s okay. I’m the same way. I want all the help I can get to give myself the best chance at publication. I have found that critique groups are great.

What is a critique group? It is a group of your peers you are willing to look over your text and give you an honest opinion on what they think of it.

How does a critique group work? There are different ways to get a critique. Some will give an overall view of you text. Some will give a line-by-line. Some will delve even deeper and go into plot, character traits, flow, ect. I like to get the last two, but have found that anything is a great help.

Where can you find critique groups? Start at your local library. See if there are other writers around.   ***Trust me, the librarian will know!!!***   If you live in a rural area, turn to the internet! This works well for those who might live in a big city too, btw. There are writers forums on just about every list serve. Yahoo, AOL, MSN. I’ve also found that Verla Kay’s Blue Board is a great tool. There is also the Write 4 Kids Yella Board, SCBWI boards, and Critique Circle. All of these are great forums to find other writers.

Now, be picky about a critique group. Just like with book publishers, you want to match up your writing. It also helps if you can find someone with at least a little bit of experience to be in your group. I’ve also found that you don’t want too many people, but you do need enough to keep the group going. Remember when you get a critique that person will want you to return the favor.

Keep in mind that a helpful critique doesn’t require you to be mean at all. Giving help (and getting help) in a positive way helps make the revising process flow much easier.

Good luck!