Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and prosperous 2012, both personally and professionally.

Thanks for the support and encouragement over the course of the last year.


Monday, December 19, 2011


I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Between various obligations, preparing for and celebrating the holidays and goal planning/organization, I will be off-line for the better part of the next couple holiday weeks.

May you have a blessed holiday season and may 2012 bring all you wish for, both professionally and personally.

Thanks for visiting and see you in the new year!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing Tips

WWC member, Doreen Pendgracs, has a writer's blog with tips for freelance writers and authors. This week's post called the "Reluctant Writer" features guest blogger, Margaret Anne Fehr and offers tips on how to motivate yourself when writing about topics for which you lack passion or interest. Take a look and share your thoughts at:

Monday, December 5, 2011

CONTACT: Donna McDine, Editor-in-Chief, Guardian Angel Kids Ezine
For Immediate Release

Children’s Ezine Guardian Angel Kids: Faith – December 2011 Issue

When you think of Christmas, what comes to mind? The smell of cookies baking in the oven and the refreshing aroma of pine trees? Twinkling lights, fancy packages, and crowded stores?

This month our theme for Guardian Angel Kids is Faith. Why not take a few moments out of your hectic schedule to stop, sit down with your child, and talk about the real meaning of Christmas? Let's remember that the celebration is about the birth of a Savior, Jesus Christ. We celebrate His birth because of our faith in Him (See Luke 2:4-19).

As you navigate the crowded malls, bake holiday treats, and wrap garland around the tree, I hope you'll make this issue of GAK a part of your celebration by sharing all the articles, stories, poetry, and artwork in our December issue with someone special.

Diligence the Dragon by Kevin Scott Collier
Video Special for a Journey of Hope the Angelfish by Kevin Collier

“Have Faith, Not Fear” by Cathy MacKenzie – faith conquers all.
“Share Your Joy,” by Guy Belleranti – Joyful sounds and helping hands make a perfect blend.

“Have Faith,” by Carol J. Douglas and illustrated by Julie Hammond – put aside impatience and faith will bring results.

“Katie’s Mountain,” by Marion Tickner and illustrated by Kathleen Bullock – the difference between faith and wishes.

“Bands of Color,” by Karin Larson – the religious and multicultural beliefs about rainbows.

“7 Simple Tips to Relieve Holiday Family Stress,” by Dorit Sasson – Embracing the simplistic holiday lifestyle brings balance.


Draw and paint an angelfish with Painting Board

Featured Games from Books

Visit Guardian Angel Kid today and and enjoy a child safe and ad free Ezine.

We also invite you to stay connected with Guardian Angel Kids through our Facebook Fan Page

Please feel free to drop Editor-in-Chief, Donna McDine an email at and let them know what you think of Guardian Angel Kids and what you'd like to see in the future. They aim to please.

The Guardian Angel Kids Ezine staff and contributors look forward to your visit. Thank you for your time and interest.

Thank you.

Donna McDine
Editor-in-Chief, Guardian Angel Kids Ezine

Monday, November 28, 2011


I'm on a mission to determine if I am over thinking what I believe I should accomplish each day or under achieving. I know there are day-to-day happenings in life that affect each of us as writers. I also know we must be able to brush some aside at times to accomplish anything. It seems I start each new week knowing what I want to accomplish, setting out to do so with grand intentions and then continue to let life get in the way.

Granted, I've been dealing with a significant amount of family illness and extra work, but who doesn't at one time or another? I know I am either setting my goals too high and thus making them unattainable (which then often leads me to just give up for the day), or I am caving to the daily responsibilities far too often.

So, for any of you willing to share...can you give me a definitive idea of how much time per day, on average, you spend on writing? On writing-related activities such as market research and marketing current projects? Also, please indicate whether you are a full-time writer or if you must balance writing time with another full or part-time job. Another factor to consider in this mix is whether or not children (or a spouse) at home play a role in time considerations.

Thank you, in advance, for any and all information you can provide to help me figure out a doable schedule to balance writing, family and work. I think seeing what other writers find realistic will help me gain some perspective and foster more creativity, and I thank you for your input.

Monday, November 21, 2011


"Take chances, make mistakes. That's how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave."
Mary Tyler Moore, American actress

Wow...were more true words ever said? I believe these words apply to all aspects of life though most definitely in terms of writing. It is only through the practice, the chances we take and the mistakes we make that we become better writers.

Practice today and everyday. Happy writing!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Addicted to Books

I'm many of you out there have piles of books around your house?

I've decided I have a hearty addiction to buying books...oodles of books! I love hard cover and bought only that for years. I've lightened up a bit and purchased some soft cover as well given the expense involved in hard cover--though I still prefer to read hard cover.

I was doing some rearranging this past weekend and realized how very many books (in stacks, shelves and baskets) I have that remain unread. I still have high hopes of SOMEDAY reading them all though can't seem to cure my habit of adding to my collection when I'm wandering through book stores.

How about you? Do you have stacks of books yet unread as well?

Monday, November 7, 2011


A few weeks ago, I blogged about a new book I purchased, STRENGTHS FINDER 2.0. While I've not gotten very far in terms of reading the book, I did take the test. I found out my five main strengths are the following: Consistency, Harmony, Empathy, Discipline and Developer.

I now have to read through the descriptions of each personalized strength as well as the ideas for action provided. It will be interesting to see if my beliefs and thoughts are in line with what the test indicated and how I can apply these strengths to my writing life and goals. The idea is to focus on one's strengths rather than weaknesses and how to improve them, so I am hopeful I can find something useful to apply to my upcoming goals and objectives for 2012.

Please share if any of you have taken this test and found it useful or not at all helpful and the reasons why either is true. Thanks so much!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween today, All Saints Day tomorrow and All Souls Day Wednesday!

To all of you brave enough to tackle NaNoWriMo...good luck! I'm envious of your commitment and hope to be in a position to do so next year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Become a Freelance Writer: Interview with Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach

Ready to start a freelance writing business but you don't know how?

Have you been looking online for someone or something that will help you?

Then find out more about the Working Writer's Club in this interview with the club's founder and president, Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach.

The Working Writer's Club might be just what you're searching for!
Q: Suzanne, as the founder and director of the Working Writer's Club what is the first thing you would like people to know when visiting

A: I'd like visitors to know that our club is all about helping freelance writers learn to write better, make more money, and live the writer's life they've always dreamed of living.

Q: Having created your own successful freelance writing career you know what it takes to build momentum. What is one of the most critical steps a writer needs to take consistently to develop their own freelance writing career?

A: The most critical step is to develop your goals - you have to KNOW what you want before you can figure out HOW to get there. Yet, this is the one thing that so many new writers don't take the time to do - or at least they don't take enough time to do it well. They may think that "write a novel this year" is a goal. But actually, I think of a goal as something even BIGGER than that. Writing a novel is an action step toward a goal rather than a goal itself. To get to the goal, consider WHY do you want to write a novel? What do you want this novel to do for you or your career? Your answer to that question is closer to your goal (or at least one of your major goals).

Q: What advice would you give to a newbie in freelance writing? And the intermediate freelance writer that has seen some success, but seems to be in a holding pattern at the moment?

A: Whether you're a newbie or an intermediate freelance writer - or even a very experienced, successful writer - continue to learn from other successful writers.

Join our club or another organization for writers. Then take an active part in whatever group you join. Next, develop a focus for your writing and create no more than 3 major writing/career goals for yourself that you hope to attain within the next 12 months.

Also, constantly evaluate what you're doing to see if it's getting you closer to your goals. If it isn't, then change what you're doing.

Q: By becoming a member of the Working Writer's Club what can a freelancer expect?

A: Well, for one thing, you can expect us to help you create a focus for your writing career or your writing business. And, we can help you create no more than 3 major goals - so you'll get really, really clear about WHAT you want, WHERE you're wanting to go, and then we'll help you stay focused so you take the steps to attain your goals and build your writing career and/or your writing business.

Q: With the wealth of freelance writing information available on the Internet what makes the Working Writer's Club unique?

A: I think the one thing that makes the Working Writer's Club unique is that we're not out to get you into our club so we can sell you a bunch of other high priced programs or products. We just want people who love to write and want to build a business or a career around writing to join our club and make use of all the resources, information, training, networking and support they'll receive for just $9.99 per month. I think another unique thing about the Working Writer's Club is that we all genuinely have fun helping each other be more successful.
Visit the Working Writer’s Club today and explore all they have to offer.
Thank you for your time. We look forward to your visit.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Woman Caves

We are in the process of adding an office for me to our home. I've been visiting with my critique group about how excited I am to finally have my own space to read and write and just be. The sheet rock is being hung as I type! Now, I need to figure out what I want to do in terms of desk, book shelves, furniture, etc. I thought I'd see if there are things I am not thinking of by asking you (whomever is willing to comment:-)) if there are must haves for you in your office/work area. It is exciting to plan yet a bit daunting as I want to create the perfect space. If you have something special you feel necessary to a functional and effective office, please share!

Thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to provide.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Follow Your Heart"

I recently read some comments Steve Jobs made about following one's heart. He said he read a quote when he was 17 that said something like, "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right."

He talked about how, since that day, he looked in the mirror each morning and asked himself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"

He said whenever the answer had been no for too many days in a row, he knew he needed to change something. He says...

"Your time is limited...Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition...Everything else is secondary."

I think this is terrific advice, regardless of the path one takes in life. As writers, it is utterly important to have the courage to follow one's own inner voice. Life is too short. Love what you do and follow your heart.

Monday, October 3, 2011


On the advice of the very wise Kristi Holl, I've recently started reading Richard A. Swenson's MARGIN. Swenson states, "Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits." He discusses the state of the lives of many, that of "marginless living," in that the day to day activities and obligations zap the margin right out of our lives. Thus far, I've read only the first chapter but can tell that it is going to be money well spent. On the very first page, I came across the following which is so definitive of daily life, especially so for busy parents trying to find that ever-elusive balance. It brought me some clarity, and I hope it will you also.

"Marginless is fatigue; margin is energy.
Marginless is red ink; margin is black ink.
Marginless is hurry; margin is calm.
Marginless is anxiety; margin is security.
Marginless is culture; margin is counterculture.
Marginless is the disease of the new millennium; margin is its cure."

If you've read MARGIN and can speak to the benefits you reaped, please share.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Strengths Finder

I recently purchased a book by Tom Rath called STRENGTHS FINDER 2.0. I've heard of a test by the same name given to college age students to help them determine their path in life and was intrigued when I saw the book. I believe the book offers the assessment as well as much information to help one "have the opportunity to do what you do besst every day." His theory is that "from the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths." It is an interesting theory. Now I am trying to decide if I move this book to the top of my reading pile or finish the others first. Have any of you either read this book or taken a Strengths Finders Assessment? If so, would you kindly let me know your thoughts on it's merits, so I can decide whether to do so myself sooner rather than later. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I woke this morning quite frustrated with my day ahead as there is very little time for writing or any writing related activities. I turned to the beautiful Power Thought Cards by Louise L. Hay that I received recently. I found one that helped my mental state and thought I'd share it with all of you in case you are suffering from the same.

The front of the card says: "I let go of all expectations."

The saying on the reverse reads: "I flow freely and lovingly with life. I love myself. I know that only good awaits me at every turn."

Enjoy your day and find the good that awaits you. I plan to do the same.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day

Enjoy the rest this Labor Day should bring you. Recharge your batteries and take off full speed ahead tomorrow.

Happy Labor Day to all!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Muse Online Writers Conference

Registrations are now being taken for this year's Muse Online Writers Conference. This conference is like no other I have ever seen. There are numerous ways to gain information, "meet" with and pitch to editors and publishers and learn so much from the great variety of sessions. If you have never researched the conference or The Muse It Up Club, I urge you to do so. The conference is free which is amazing in and of itself but astounding when you see the amount of information and networking gained. Check it out at

This year, the conference is being held October 3-9, 2011, and registrations are being taken until September 25. Don't let the sheer volume of possibilities overwhelm you. Pick and choose what works for you and be ready to be enlightened.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Writers on the Move

Have you heard of Writers on the Move? Taken directly from the website...

"Put your writing career in motion with Writers on the Move. Promote your platform, yourself, and your books! We utilize a number of marketing strategies to increase visibility, readership, and subscriber lists."

To learn more, visit or contact Karen Cioffi at and put "Writers on the Move" in the subject line.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Working Writers Club

I am a member of the Working Writers Club (for more information, please go visit Suzanne Lieurance is a Working Writers Coach, and she is phenomenal. I encourage you all to check out her site and join. You won't regret it.

Recently, I won a prize in the club. It is a beautiful set of Power Thought Cards by Louise L. Hay. I wanted to share the one I pulled out to read today as I think it is one many of you will enjoy. If you have never seen these Power Thought Cards, they are beautiful little two-sided squares with messages of inspiration. The front of this one says:

"Every Thought I Think Is Creating My Future."

The message on the back says:

"The Universe totally supports every thought I choose to think and believe. I have unlimited choices about what I think. I choose balance, harmony, and peace, and I express it in my life."

Isn't that a beautiful affirmation? I think it is a terrific way to start a new day.

Thank you, Suzanne, for the wonderful prize, and thank you, Ms. Hay, for the beautiful words of inspiration.

For more information on Louise L. Hay or her Power Thought Cards, visit her website at

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kick in the Rear

"Dreams will get you nowhere, a good kick in the pants will take you a long way."
-- Baltasar Gracian

I read this quote this morning in something I had recently received and had to giggle. While I do think dreams are of utmost necessity as they can and do guide our direction, a good kick in the buns does help considerably. I have a dear friend (thank you, Donna!) who provides me with a good virtual slap and/or kick in the pants when needed, and I know full well it does take me a long way. Thought I'd share this today in case anyone else needs a virtual "kick in the pants" as well.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I am sure a great many of you subscribe to and receive Children's Writer newsletter, but I wanted to point out something in the most recent August 2011 newsletter in case you missed it. There is an article by Veda Boyd Jones entitled, "The Wisdom of an Oklahoma Cowboy." The entire article is well worth reading if you have not, but she closes her article with some very simple, yet profound, words by Will Rogers.

"If you want to be successful, it's just this simple: Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing."

Isn't this the heart of the matter with regard to writing, or any given career for that matter? Love what you are doing and believe in yourself. Very inspiring, indeed!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vocation Advice

I want to share a YouTube link with you that was recently sent to me. It is a video with Anne Rice discussing vocation advice and self-doubt. I found her very inspiring and hope you do too.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Choose to Write

In my reading quest, I recently started reading PAGE AFTER PAGE by Heather Sellers. Early in the book, she discusses the importance of choice. She says one can make that choice and needs to do so.

In Ms. Sellars words, "You pick. That's all you have to do. You have to pick. And then support that choice with every fiber of your being--aka stop complaining."

Sounds simple, doesn't it? Just choose. Choose to write. Put writing first (or don't but accept that without complaint) and make time. Just do it.

This month, I am choosing to read in hopes it will incite my creativity to finish the current projects on which I am working. What are you choosing to do?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reading Month

I have designated July "reading month." I've been working on a few things and have been spinning my wheels a bit. I took a look at the piles of books and magazines I've accumulated and ignored and decided July, with all the running to and from activities and family vacations, would be a great time to tackle the pile. While we are now several days into July, I've not been as productive in my reading quest as I'd like though have plowed through several magazines in my pile. Many of the books awaiting my perusal include PAGE AFTER PAGE by Heather Sellers, THE SLIPPERY ART OF BOOK REVIEWING by Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards and LIVING WRITE by Kelly L. Stone.

Do you have any other suggestions I should add to my list? I always enjoy hearing what others find helpful so please share if there is a book that has been particularly useful to you.

Thanks and enjoy the remaining days of summer.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July!

Celebrate your independence in all walks of life. Enjoy your day and remember those who fought for our independence.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Use Your Mind

"It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well."

Wise words by Rene Descartes. I found this so inspiring this morning when I read it. Very often, a good mind is wasted for one reason or another. Other times, one cultivates his/her mind to the fullest potential. This morning, reading the above noted words, I re-affirmed my commitment (despite the summer mush brain I seem to currently have going on!) to use my mind and use it well. Can you commit to the same?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I was sitting in the orthodontist's office this morning waiting for my kids to finish their appointments. I started reading a great book called SECRETS OF SERENITY: TIMELESS WISDOM TO SOOTHE THE SOUL. There were many wonderful snippets of inspiration, but here are a couple I found especially notable.

"Life is not always what one wants it to be, but to make the best of it as it is, is the only way of being happpy." Jennie Churchill (English Editor & Playwright)

"Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced." Soren Kierkegaard (Danish Philosopher)

The second struck me particularly because, as writers, it is that reality we experience which gives us a solid foundation on which to create stories, characters and plot lines. It is often too easy to look at the path of life as problematic, especially in difficult times, but thinking of it as a reality to be experienced on the path to happiness seems very serene and inspiring to me.

Experience your life's reality and use it to create a masterpiece. Happy writing!

Monday, June 13, 2011


While reading the May/June 2011 issue of Writer's Digest recently, I came across a list of best websites for writers. For those of you who do not subscribe (though I strongly suggest you do) to Writer's Digest, I wanted to pass along a few of the most noteworthy in my opinion in case you haven't stumbled across them yet. is reportedly a great place to find an agent. is a directory of paying freelance markets. has tons of great information. has hundreds of market listings. gives great advice on real submissions. is a must for writers which even has great info for nonmembers.

Go to for subscription (and a bunch of other valuable) information.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Editorial Staff Changes

Here is a great site full of information regarding editorial staff changes that Harold Underdown compiles from various sources. If you have not seen this before or recently, you may want to check it out. I found some very helpful information.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Get Busy

"Nobody got anywhere in the world by simply being content."
-- Louis L'Amour

What amazing words! As we start this new week (and I try to find the balance between writing and kids at home for the summer), strive to be the best you can be. Don't be content to sit back and just get by. Work hard during your work times and enjoy the relaxing times as well for it is only in taking care of oneself that one can push past the content to accomplish the great many things he/she is meant to achieve.

"Oh, the places you'll go" by not simply "being content."

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Children's Writer Contest

Have you seen the new Children's Writer Contest information?


The rewards are publication in Children’s Writer,
cash prizes, winners’ certificates, and valuable
training in disciplined writing.

If you like writing for children and contests, read on . . .

We constantly hear from editors that the vast majority of the manuscripts they receive are rejected because they were not written to the editor’s specifications. Few editors will consider a story or article that does not meet their specs—precisely.

Writing contests also have exact specifications. That’s why we encourage writers—all writers, new ones and old pros too—to enter contests. They’re excellent professional training experiences and, if you win, they can get you published and pay healthy prize money.

The winners in this contest will be published in Children’s Writer, the monthly newsletter that goes to almost 1,300 children’s book and magazine editors in North America. Along with the winning pieces, we’ll publish an article about the top-ranked entries and their authors. There are also cash prizes. The cash prizes alone are a lot of good reasons to write a piece and enter.

Current Contest: Poetry

The contest is for a single poem, collection of poems, or verse story for children of any age, to 300 words. Entries may be serious or humorous, and take any poetic form. Winners will be selected based on quality of verse—including rhythm, meter, word choice, wordplay, imagery, and the use of other poetic devices (rhyme, alliteration, assonance, or others). Above all, the winning entries will have appeal for young readers.

Entries must be received by October 31, 2011. Current subscribers to Children’s Writer enter free. All others pay an entry fee of $15, which includes an 8-month subscription. Winners will be announced in the March 2012 issue. Prizes: $500 for first place plus publication in Children’s Writer, $250 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth, and fifth places.

Now warm up your computer and write a $500-winning poem or verse story!

The contest rules are important. Please read them carefully.

Obtain Official Entry Form or make online submission
You may submit your entry either online, using our safe and secure entry page, or by regular mail. If you choose to submit online, you'll need to complete your manuscript and save it to a file on your computer.

If you need to pay a reading fee you will be directed to the payment section first.

Children's Writer Subscribers (online submission):
To submit a free entry online, you will need your Children's Writer account number, which is located in our email to you or on your Children's Writer mailing label in the name/address block. For subscribers who are students, it is the same as your student number. Please Click Here to continue.

You will be directed to the Free Entry section.

Non-subscribers (online submission):
If you do not subscribe to Children's Writer, your online entry is welcome. Please click here to continue.

You will be directed to the section requiring the payment of a $15 reading fee.

For Mail-in Entries:
To submit manuscript entries through the mail, please click here to obtain an entry form.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring SCBWI Dakotas Conference

I attended the Spring SCBWI Dakotas conference this past weekend in Sioux Falls, SD. It was a terrific conference with great speakers and many kudos go out to Chris Rylander (RA) and Mary Scarbrough (ARA) for organizing such a great conference. Presenters were Kerry Sparks, Agent; Chris Rylander, Author; Jacqueline West, Author; Emilia Rhodes, Editor. There was also a breakout session in which one could take in a first pages sessions with a panel of authors or hear from Nathan Gassman, Art Director at Capstone. While there was a great deal of information shared and many lessons learned, there were a few nuggets of information I thought many of you could benefit from as well.

Kerry Sparks, Associate Agent at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, represents picture books, middle grade and YA. She was a wealth of information and said a really good hook is essential as well as anything that makes you stand out.

Chris Rylander is the author of the newly released MG novel, THE FOURTH STALL. I purchased my copy at the conference and am anxious to read it as I've heard wonderful reviews. Chris is one cool guy, and it is a blast to listen to him speak. He's learned a great many lessons throughout his writing and publication process and says the driving force behind publication is to be obsessed (though not creepy:-)) and be persistent (but not hound). I couldn't agree with Chris more when he says you must "commit yourself and give it everything you've got."

Jacqueline West is the author of THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE, a MG fantasy series, that sounds awesome. Volume One: The Shadows debuted in 2010. I look forward to reading my autographed copy of that as well. Jacqueline discussed the challenges in writing a series and said it is imperative to consider deadlines, plot construction, character development and the recap.

Emilia Rhodes is an editor at Alloy Entertainment. She discussed YA trends and said publishing is highly subjective, so it is all about finding the right person with the same vision for your particular project.

Thank you all for your words of wisdom and expertise. I believe I can speak for all when I say I came away from the conference with a renewed sense of motivation and focus.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Daily Dose of Inspiration

Don't follow your dreams; chase them.
- Richard Dumb

I saw this quote this morning, and it seemed particularly meaningful on this sunny post-Easter morning. I'm not sure about all of you, but we've had our share of Spring rain, clouds and all around nasty weather, all of which has affected my attitude and motivation. Yesterday and this morning, however, seemed a new start to Spring. The sun was shining, the birds chirping and the hint of a rainbow was evident in the morning dew. Rainbows always inspire me and, coupled with the above quote, made me feel like chasing new inspiration and a productive writing week.

Join me in the chase, won't you?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Writer Self-Image

I started reading Kelly L. Stone's LIVING WRITE: THE SECRET TO INVITING YOUR CRAFT INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE a long time ago but, for a variety of reasons and projects, haven't gotten back to it in some time. I picked it up this morning to browse through what I've read thus far and in what direction the book heads next. I found some highlighted words that really hit home.

Ms. Stone discusses the writer's self-image and the importance of a positive image of oneself as a writer. She further suggests that it is essential to have a positive self-image as a writer to bring writing into one's daily life as a habit. I couldn't agree more. If one views oneself as a writer, one is more apt to live and work as a writer.

Per Ms. Stone, "To create a successful Writer Self-Image, you have to behave like a writer by writing or taking some action toward your writing dream every day." Do you? I know I try to though fail miserably some days. Other days, I do very well at focusing on the tasks at hand. Do you suppose the difference is in how I view myself and my time on those days of less productivity? I am a firm believer in self-image playing a role in my level of productivity whether it be in writing or any other avenue pursued. I, for one, would do well to focus more on the positive when working toward accomplishing my goals. Ms. Stone made a firm case for the need to control and understand the emotions underlying the why in why we write..."whatever your reason for writing, whatever your why, the emotions underlying that why are integral to your Writer Self-Image."

Learn and understand your why if you haven't already. I know doing this will help me tremendously as will finishing this book.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Writing Life

I've just started reading PAGE AFTER PAGE by Heather Sellers based on a recommendation I read. Thus far, I've read only the first two chapters but came across a wonderful nugget of inspiration this morning I wanted to share.

Ms. Sellers says, "My writing life was, and is, in every hour of my life."

Seems simple, doesn't it? As writers, we write. We read, we study, we market, we network, and we write. But, as I read the words above, I realized how much I compartmentalize my writing. I designate certain times of certain days to be "writing time." I work around the same obligations every other writer does but realized I often switch off the writer in me while focusing on the other parts of life--kids, husband, work obligations, household chores, etc. Every now and again, something will hit me during these non-writer times that I make note of, but, all too often, my writer self is not paying enough attention and, therefore, misses what could very well be wonderful story opportunities and ideas.

So, from now on, I am going to focus on leaving that switch on at all times to be in that writing life "in every hour of my life."

Monday, April 4, 2011

SCBWI Dakotas Spring Conference


Here is the link for more information on the Spring SCBWI Dakotas conference:

It looks to be a great conference for writers and illustrators alike. Follow the link above for more information about the conference and speakers or to register. Conference speakers include Jacqueline West (NYT Bestselling Author), Kerry Sparks (Levine-Greenburg Agency), Emilia Rhodes (Simon & Schuster Associate Editor), Nathan Gassman (Capstone Publishing Art Director) and Chris Rylander (Author).

I hope to see you all there!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Life as a Writer

Today, I finished the oft quoted WALKING ON ALLIGATORS. If you've followed this blog at all, you know I've enjoyed many of the quotes and passages very much. This last passage, however, speaks volumes. It is a nod to grabbing the writing life NOW. It reminded me of something my aunt told me long ago..."Life is not a dress rehearsal."

In today's passage, Susan Shaughnessy says the same thing. "The curtain is up. We get no second chance to write what might have been written today...If writing is to be part of your life, the time to write is now."

Take your chance; live your life as a writer. Make it your destiny. I plan to do the same.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Please Stand Up

This morning, I read a passage in WALKING ON ALLIGATORS that discussed having a vision as well as the importance of the person with the vision standing up and having faith in that vision. Susan Shaughnessy discussed the importance of standing up for your vision despite sometimes being surrounded by people that don't support or understand your vision. Standing up can mean opening yourself up to criticism and discomfort, but, as writers, this is what we must do. She goes on to say, "In a vision, you visualize yourself as the person you want to steadily become. If that person is a writer, standing up means writing. It means writing every day."

So, I charge the writer you visualize yourself to be. Stand up (or sit down!) and write. Write despite any criticism or lack of understanding directed at you. Just write! Today, tomorrow and each day thereafter. I plan to do so.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Save the Date

The Spring SCBWI Dakotas conference has been set for Saturday, May 14, 2011. More info to come, but, for those of you in the vicinity, it is always a great conference.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Way to go, Chris!

Chris Rylander is the Regional Advisor for our SCBWI Dakotas group. I had the privilege of meeting him at last year's Spring Conference. His book, THE FOURTH STALL, is now available. Below is what I read in the EXPRESSION ONLINE SCBWI International Newsletter this morning. Way to go, Chris!

. Bravo!! Chris, Kristy, Bridget

* Chris Rylander (SCBWI Dakotas) - New spin on an Old Story - "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" meets "The Sopranos"---that's how publisher Walden Pond Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, bills Chris' first children's book THE FOURTH STALL. According to Andrea Johnson in the Minot Daily News, Minot native Chris said his idea for his book came from a lot of different places. "Part of it was that I just thought it might be kind of cool and fun to put a kid-friendly spin on organized crime, and that it had a lot of potential for action and humor, two things I never could get enough of as a reader," said Rylander, who now lives in Grand Forks and works for Noridian. <>

Chris has been an SCBWI member since 2008. Here's an excerpt of Paul Michael Murphy's interview of Chris in Murphblog:

Murphblog: I’ve seen the book described as "The Godfather for kids". . . What made you think of it and did you run into any problems that might explain why less courageous writers . . . have been reluctant to bring the world of organized crime into children’s fiction?

Rylander: . . . I thought to myself how fun it might be to take organized crime and put a kid-friendly spin on it. There were some challenges, sure, like trying to walk the line between the right amount of violence and having the kids use severed horse heads as pillows and everything. But in the end, I always just asked myself this question: "Is there enough blood and gratuitous violence in this scene?" And if the answer was "no," then I simply added more. And I think it turned out pretty well. One dead body per page is usually a pretty good rule for children’s books. No, but seriously it was a challenge to get that part just right---because I didn't want to soften it to the point where it was cheesy. But I also didn't want to glorify grade-school gang wars. <>

Monday, February 28, 2011

Novel Retreat

1--you have always wanted to write a novel for the Middle-Grade or YA market, but have not carved out the time to get it done AND / OR
2--you have a draft of a novel written, but are looking for ideas and strategies to revise and strengthen it and a committed group of like-minded writers to help you with the process AND / OR
3--you would like the chance to meet with two different agents to pitch your novel and gain critical feedback regarding this W-I-P in particular and the children’s market, in general,

you are the perfect candidate for A Novel Journey: A Novel Retreat Series in 3 Acts.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at

And if this series of retreats is not right for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please feel free to forward the information to them.

Happy writing! Happy traveling!

Nancy (aka N. L. Sharp)

If this applies to any of you out there, I encourage you to learn more. Nancy is wonderful, and this would be an incredible experience. I wish I could attend!

Rhythm & Rhyme

Do any of you write in rhyme? I am working on final edits on a PB I have and need some work on the rhythm and rhyme. I've received some wonderful articles from Margot Finke and have all of her books to read and study; however, I also wanted to see if there are other helpful books/articles/websites out there I should explore. If you have something to share, please do. I'd be most grateful to you for helping BEDTIME KISSES see the light of day on a book store shelf one day.

Thanks and happy writing!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Isn't this the truth? I read this recently and added it to my list of meaningful quotes posted near my computer work space.

I hadn't before really thought of it this simplistically, but, as writers, it is so true. Knowing what we want to write isn't enough; we must actually write. Wanting to write isn't enough; we must actually write. Very well said!

Let's write, shall we?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! On this start of a new writing week, I wanted to share some words of inspiration. It is sometimes daunting to look at what needs to be accomplished and the time constraints in which to complete said tasks. I often find comfort in the words of others and wanted to offer a few I find helpful in gaining the perspective and balance required in life.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
C.S. Lewis

“All great achievements require time.”
Maya Angelou

“We write to taste life twice.”
Anais Nin

“Never give in and never give up.”
Hubert H. Humphrey

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Dr. Seuss

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Highlights Workshops

I received this information in an email recently and wanted to pass it along for any of you who may not have seen it. I've never been but understand that Highlights workshops are well worth the time and money invested. I hope to get there one day.

This spring, the Highlights Foundation has three exciting new workshops to help you meet your writing goals. Our faculty members are children's literature professionals. They have been where you are now, and they know just what it takes to get your writing off the computer and into the hands of eager young readers. Take a look at the first-time offerings below and see our other 2011 workshops at

Learn to Self-Edit and Revise
Harold Underdown, longtime editor and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, will introduce writers to proven techniques for self-editing and for revising with the help of others, from checklists to reader response theory to critique groups. Through lectures, hands-on work, and model critique group sessions, participants will gain objectivity, learn to give more focused responses to manuscripts, discover a variety of techniques for self-editing, and explore big-picture revision down to copy-editing. How to Revise on Your Own and with Others (March 10-13, 2011) is limited to twelve participants.

Intensify Your Middle-Grade Novel
Shape and intensify your novel in progress through group critiques, targeted writing exercises, and consultation with novelist and editor Rich Wallace. Rich is known for his award-winning novels for young adults; but much of his recent work has been for this younger age group, including his novels Sports Camp and War and Watermelon, and his two series, The Winning Season and Kickers. This exciting new workshop will focus on developing age-appropriate (and realistic) dialogue, internal monologue, action, and the all-important narrative voice. Writing Novels for Middle-Graders (April 7-10, 2011) is limited to twelve participants.

Write for the Ear and the Eye
Short works, whether picture books, short stories, easy readers, chapters, or poems, require the ability to jettison the verbal baggage that can bog down a story. Children's writer Juanita Havill and writer/editor Susan Pearson will show you how to write with precision and economy and how to revise with ear and eye. You'll analyze exemplary "short" works for children and young adults, learn how to create taut plots and to link episodic chapters by means of an overarching plotline, and analyze and put into practice techniques for self-editing. Time to Be Brief: Taking the Time to Write Concisely (May 19-22, 2011) is limited to twelve participants.

The Highlights Foundation keeps workshops small so you get the individual attention your writing deserves. To apply and secure your spot, or for more information, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192, e-mail, or request an application online.

Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops take place near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. You'll stay in your own cozy cabin, surrounded by 1,300 wooded acres and hiking trails. Workshop fee includes individual cabins; all meals (provided by a top-notch chef); airport pickup service, if needed; and an intimate teaching setting at the homeplace of the Founders of Highlights for Children.

Please feel free to share this e-mail with others who might have an interest or to include the information in blog posts or through other social networking forums.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Character Chart

It has been some time since I've taken the opportunity to explore sites I've book marked. Today, I popped into Verla Kay's Website for Children's Writers and Illustrators. I found an extremely in depth character chart that Verla Kay has posted as something that worked for her. I'll share it here below, but please take the time to go explore Verla Kay's website if you have not. There is a tremendous amount of information and knowledge to be gained.

A Character Chart for you ...

Verla Kay has designed a character chart that "worked for her." Here it is. She hopes it works as well for you as it did for her.

Character's name _______________________ Sex _________ Age_______
The date the story starts _______________________________________________________
Importance of the date _______________________________________________________
Birthdate of character _______________________________________________________
Physical appearance _______________________________________________________
Hair _______________________________________________________
Eyes _______________________________________________________
Teeth _______________________________________________________
Facial features _______________________________________________________
Body type _______________________________________________________
Flaws/assets _______________________________________________________
Mannerisms _______________________________________________________
Posture _______________________________________________________
Speech _______________________________________________________
Movements _______________________________________________________
Habits _______________________________________________________
Personality _______________________________________________________
Basic attitude _______________________________________________________
Self-image _______________________________________________________
Yearnings-dreams _______________________________________________________
Fears-apprehensions _______________________________________________________
Code of ethics _______________________________________________________
Sense of humor _______________________________________________________
Special talents-skills _______________________________________________________
Hobbies _______________________________________________________
Likes _______________________________________________________
Dislikes _______________________________________________________
Favorite things _______________________________________________________
Colors _______________________________________________________
Music _______________________________________________________
Clothes _______________________________________________________
People _______________________________________________________
Books _______________________________________________________
Art _______________________________________________________
Foods _______________________________________________________
Places _______________________________________________________
Movies _______________________________________________________
TV programs _______________________________________________________
Sports _______________________________________________________
Activities _______________________________________________________
Medical History _______________________________________________________
Blood type _______________________________________________________
Overall condition of health _______________________________________________________
Past injuries-illnesses _______________________________________________________
Mental health status _______________________________________________________
General history _______________________________________________________
Education _______________________________________________________
Religion _______________________________________________________
Family _______________________________________________________
Financial situation _______________________________________________________
Profession/grade _______________________________________________________
Marital status _______________________________________________________
Other relationships _______________________________________________________
Surroundings _______________________________________________________
Environmen _______________________________________________________
Positive traits _______________________________________________________
Negative traits _______________________________________________________
Important events/dates in character's history:
Day: _________ Date:_________ Event: _________ (repeat as many times as necessary...)

What an in depth sketch, Verla Kay. My hat is off to you!

You can find Verla Kay at

Monday, January 31, 2011

Great Start is this for a great start for a new writing week?

"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great."

Wise words by Zig Ziglar passed along from Suzanne Lieurance recently.

It is, very often, difficult to take that leap and get started on something new. The fear of the unknown can cloud and squash the motivation and excitement before it gets rolling. Don't let it. Just start!

Have a wonderful and productive writing week.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Good Reading

This morning, I was catching up on some blog reading I'd been neglecting a bit. I came across some wonderful things and would like to direct your attention to two. It will be time well spent.

First, Virginia S. Grenier shares 12 pieces of writing wisdom on her blog, The Writing Mama, You can find it at

Next is a monthly ezine by Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards called Voice in the Dark which I had not heard of before. There are book reviews (one is the book of a dear friend, Donna McDine, for her book THE GOLDEN PATHWAY which is what drew me to the newsletter in the first place), interviews (Donna's is there as well--way to go, Donna!), articles and columns, fiction, etc. It is jam packed with goodies and is very easy to subscribe if you chose to do so. Follow this link for the January/February issue Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Learn by Doing

I realize I quote WALKING ON ALLIGATORS very frequently; however, it continues to speak to me on so many levels. The following quote from Sophocles sparked very pertinent words by Susan Shaughnessy.

"One learns by doing the thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try."

Ms. Shaughnessy follows these words with a discussion about how action teaches. "Steady writing, writing every day, proves whether or not you can do what you want to do." She goes on further to say something that was a major a-ha moment for me.

"Delay is the trap that few writers wriggle through. But some do. Will you be one of them?" I thought I was the queen of procrastination but, sooner or later, I would get around to accomplishing what I set out to do. But, you know what? I haven't! I spend so much time thinking about doing it, organizing myself and my life so as to make time to do it, but I never wriggle through that delay. There is never any more time to actually DO IT (unless I want to rise far earlier than I already do, that is).

I've come to realize just how there will always be something getting in my way. Planning and organizing for an upcoming vacation, work obligations, kid activities, a great book I can't put down, etc. The list goes on and on. It took a light bulb going off in my head thinking about how quickly summer will arrive (despite the current frigid sub-zero temps), and kids will be out of school for that set of excuses to start clouding my day. My time is now. I'm going to take it and run. If you have some great ideas of time management and taking the bull by the horns to just do it, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I was reading a bit of Susan Shaughnessy's WALKING ON ALLIGATORS this morning as it has been a while since I have. I was thinking about organizing my week and day as the kids are home today with school closed for a snow day. Susan's very pragmatic words spoke clearly to me today. I am very guilty of waiting for the most perfect, opportune time to write and/or tackle writing related activities and do frequently get side tracked when something messes with my best laid (and well-intentioned) plans. Here is what she wrote:

"Are you waiting until your life 'settles down' to write? Lives don't settle down...Writing is accomplished in the midst of all the activity and emergencies of an ordinary life."

So true, so true! I, for one, am very guilty of waiting for the perfect time, with no distractions, no kids, no laundry, etc., getting in the way. But, you know what? There is NEVER a time with nothing to do, nowhere to go. We must, as writers, carve out the time needed and take it, chores be damned.

So, join me today in committing to following Susan's words:

"Don't wait to write until your job becomes less stressful. Don't put off your dreams until the day when tranquility comes along and gives you permission to write. Write anyway."

I will. Will you?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pondering Goals

Happy New Year! Best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous new year to you all!

As I sat pondering my new goals for 2011 this morning, I was catching up on some blog reading. Kristi Holl posted a wonderful set of questions that got me thinking. Kristi suggested really spending some time this week pondering several questions, even journaling about them, to help set reasonable goals which one can attain. I wanted to share them with you in case some do not follow her blog (though, if you don't, you should!). Here is what she suggested this morning:

Take plenty of time to journal these questions this week:

How did I do on my 2010 goals (if you had any)?
What habits contributed to successfully completing any of the goals?
What situations/events/habits got me off track this year?
What worked for me in the past to get back on track?
What non-writing goals (in the areas of health, relationships, day job) would support the success of my writing goals?
What can I do to make the writing more fun (which motivates you to work on your goals)?

I am deep in thought about all of these and know I will set much better goals as a result. Thank you, Kristi!

To read more of Kristi Holl's wise words and thoughts, go to