Seven Stories. Seven Days. (Day 5)

I’m a teacher and I write for children.  For the first time ever, I’m trying to write seven picture book drafts in seven days.

Day 5

Today, I didn’t bother with the 5 am alarm as I don’t need to go to work.  I had an outline for a story about Winter Solstice Celebrations and I was able to get a draft done by 9:40 am! Yay!

Will this draft become a book one day?  Too early to tell.  For now it feels like it has potential but I might look at it next week and decide it is in need of a complete overhaul. One of my next steps will be to read mentor texts by picture book authors who have written on the same subject.  Do you know any books about the winter solstice celebration?  Let me know in the comments.

Five drafts done!  Two more to go.  Maybe I CAN write seven stories in seven days…

Curious about my debut picture book? It’s titled Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker

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Seven Stories. Seven Days (Day 3 and 4)

For those new to my blog, I am a teacher and a picture book writer.  This is my first ever attempt to try and write seven stories in seven days.  Not a difficult task, you say?  But when this has to fit in around work, family and other responsibilities…not as easy as it sounds. (At least for me.)

Day 3.  Slept through my 5 am alarm.  No time to write before work.  The reality is that today just getting myself to work is the challenge.  And I actually left my lunch at home so I was stuck with the emergency granola bar in my purse.  But it was enough.

Later that day, I was able to write a little.  Is it a story I wrote?  Well, calling it a story would be a stretch.  Maybe its more of a poem.  Actually calling it a poem is a stretch too so maybe it is more of some ideas loosely tied together that my end up becoming a story one day.  I wonder if I’ll ever be able to write anything good again.  So I’d say I took a dip on day 3.

Day 4. Didn’t get up at 5 am but started writing by 6 am and today, I have what I can actually call a first draft of a story.  It seems I have turned the tide as this draft might even have potential.  But I could change my mind about that when I re-read it tomorrow.  We shall see.  This one is called The Rainbow Snake.

So tomorrow is Saturday.  You would think that on the weekend, I ought to be able to write a story each day with no work to interfere, so there is hope for me to complete this challenge.  Stay tuned.

Oh, and just in case you’re curious about picture books I’ve already published, you can check out my debut picture book here

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Seven Stories. Seven Days. (Day 2)

Yes!  I woke up with the alarm.  5 am.  It took about 5 minutes to get out of bed and then I was at my computer ready to go.  Day 2.  Story number 2.  Trying to write seven picture book drafts in seven days.

And 45 minutes later, I have a draft.  A draft that needs a LOT of work.  Might not even be a viable story.  But I have something to work with.  A starting point.  And perhaps there will be potential…

Tentative title: Caterpillars Don’t Belong on Jungle Gyms

This title will probably change.  I almost never keep my original title.

Five more stories to go!

Seven Stories. Seven Days.

Seven stories in seven days.  Is it even possible for someone who works full time?  Well, I’m about to find out.  I started today (May 1st) and for the next week I will be writing a picture book draft each day.  Let’s see how I do.

By the way, I did do a little pre-planning with a few ideas up my sleeve on what I might write about. So at least when I get up each day, I have a writing prompt.

Day one.  Planned to get up at 5 am.  Alarm went off but didn’t wake up until 5:40 am.  Wrote a draft titled Blue Heron Gets Hungry.  It is very rough.  But it is a draft.  Maybe it can be polished into something great!  Time will tell.  And now it is 9:15 pm so I better get to bed soon so I can get up and write draft number 2.  I’ll let you all know how I get along.

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Also, check out my debut self-published picture book Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker

Kid Lit Love: A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu and Christina Forshay plus a bonus interview with the author

Hello Readers and Lovers of Picture Books!

Since I have a newfound appreciation for book reviews, I’m on a mission to post one picture book review each month of a book I love.  All the picture books I review in 2018 from this point forward will be the books of 12×12 members! So here is February’s book: A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu with illustrations by Christina Forshay.

This book, published by Lee and Low Books,  is the winner of the New Voices Award!

I was expecting to appreciate this book, but honestly, the writing and illustrations just shine beyond what I had imagined.  I plan to use this as a mentor text for myself as a new writer and would recommend it for other new writers out there.

A Morning With Grandpa follows Mei Mei, who is eager to learn tai chi from her Grandpa while he is practicing in the garden. Mei Mei has her own unique style, performing the movements with youthful enthusiasm.  Then Mei Mei teaches Grandpa the yoga she has learned at school.  The stretchy poses are a challenge but Grandpa is a willing participant.

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The book celebrates relationships with grandparents and the joy of being physically active together.  Sylvia expertly uses similes and metaphors in a child friendly way, introducing emergent readers to the richness of language.  A truly beautiful picture book to share with a child.

I had the fortunate opportunity to interview Sylvia Liu for this post. Here are my questions along with her answers.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?
I love how everything that happens or that I read about is fodder for my writing. And I never feel guilty when reading for pleasure, because I can justify it as doing writerly research.
 
What is the most difficult thing about being a writer?
 
How difficult it is to write really well. How do writers get to the point where their writing is so seamless that the reader forgets they are reading and just becomes immersed in the story? I’m still trying to learn that.
 
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
 
Keep actively learning your craft, which means finding mentors, teachers, and critique partners to give you feedback on your work. Take writing classes and read craft articles and books. And never give up – remember, only you can tell your stories in your own way.
 
What do you hope readers will take away from your book, A Morning With Grandpa?
 
It’s never too late to learn a new skill and to spend time with your loved ones.
 
Which books are on your reading list?
 
I’m writing a middle grade cyberpunk novel, so I’m reading a lot in the genre, from classics in the adult arena (William Gibson, Phillip K. Dick) to recent MG and YA novels like Armada, by Ernest Cline and the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.
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Have you got a picture book you love? I hope you’ll post a review.  Amazon and Goodreads are great places to post.  Let’s spread the love around!

Little Steps

I wasn’t sure if I should share this news here but I’m bursting with excitement so here goes….I’m hopeful that there’s an exciting change on the horizon for me.

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So right at the beginning of January, I came across a publisher’s wish list for picture book manuscripts.  It felt like my lucky day as two of the items on the wish list matched one of my manuscripts.  I sent my query and a few days later, I received a request to read my manuscript!  I’m told that it takes around 6 weeks to hear back about a manuscript so I don’t expect to know anything for awhile but cross your fingers for me! It is the first time ever I feel like I actually have a chance to become a traditionally published author.

I’d love to give more details but it is really still a very long shot so it may come to absolutely nothing but right now, there’s hope!

Hope with me, okay?

Writing Success in 2017

Resolutions have never been a thing I’ve really believed in.  The problem is that they’re too easy to break and the result is I finally end up feeling badly after I haven’t met the goals I’ve set out to achieve.  So instead of resolutions, I give you my success stories of 2017…

  1. Joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 picture book challenge
  2. Posted 4 stories in the 12 by 12 forum, received feedback and revised.
  3. Joined my first ever online critique group.  Love my new critique partners and hope we can keep it going into next year.
  4. Watched every 12×12 webinar at least once.
  5. Submitted short stories to three contests:  Vivian Kirkfield’s 100 word story contest; A. LaFaye’s 50 word short story contest; and Susannah Leonard Hill’s 250 word holiday short story contest
  6. Won the 50 word story contest by A. LaFaye with my story Friendship Soup!! She sent me a hardcover copy of “I Want My Hat Back” by Jon Klassen.
  7. Participated in the summer reading challenge by Rena Traxel; read 43 new-to-me picture books during July and August.
  8. Self-published my first ever picture book: Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker
  9. Revised several manuscripts this year. Revise. Revise. Revise.
  10. Wrote a total of ten picture book drafts this year.
  11. Did my first ever preschool visit as an author.
  12. Got Scrivener so that I can better organize my writing and start working on MG and early chapter books.
  13. Joined Tara Lazar’s Storystorm.
  14. Joined CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers).
  15. Submitted an entry to SCBWI’s Work in Progress writing contest.
  16. Submitted picture book manuscripts to publishers and received two surprisingly kind rejections.
  17. Submitted entries to CANSCAIP’s writing for children competition.
    What are your success stories of 2017? I encourage you to make a list.  You may surprise yourself as I did!

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    Here’s me reading to my outdoor preschool group.