My First Guest Blog

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A fellow writer and blogger, Nutschell Windsor, asked me to be a guest on her Wednesday Writers Workspace column.  I happily accepted and will be featured June 6th!  I am very excited.  This is my first guest post.  She sent me a list of questions to answer and requested some specific pictures to share on the blog.  I really enjoyed the experience and hope to guest blog more.

For a preview of what the column has in store, check out last week’s link on her blog, The Writing Nut: http://www.thewritingnut.com/category/wednesday-writers-workspace/.

This specific column asks the writer about her workspace and how she writes (time of day, place, rituals, etc.).  It’s a peek inside a writer’s creative process, if you will.  Is there anything you’d like to know about my workspace or process?  Send me your questions in the comments section and I’ll be happy to share.

Young Writers Workshop

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I write for children because I hope to inspire or teach something to our future.  Through my words, I aim to make a difference in a little person’s life that may somehow then inspire change that will then impact that child to realize their full potential or make the world a better place.

Inspiring children to write their own stories would be the most fulfilling outcomes of being a children’s author.  The Young Writers Conference does just that.  I discovered this amazing writer’s program for my then 7 year-old daughter this past summer.  She was just a year shy of the 4th grade cut-off, but was able to enroll in the summer camp anyway.  

Since then, I have had the pleasure of meeting with Julie and Rena, founders of the program, and had the great opportunity of auditing a school conference during the year.  It is a fantastic day-long program, put on by the students, that features guest speakers – writers of all genres (authors, song writers, screen writers, journalists, etc.) in workshops meant to get kids writing.  The caliber of speakers is outstanding and inspiring in itself.  The content that the kids take away from the day is priceless.

I have the great honor of presenting a workshop at the end of March at a conference being held in Redondo Beach.  I can’t wait to hear what the kids think of my session.

YWC just went social.  In the coming weeks, they hope to create a network of online resources for kids to explore the power of writing every day, year-round, on a multitude of social media platforms they are already familiar with. Check them out on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Young-Writers-Conference/116968335092730.  

Are You A Writer?

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Check out a great post on Write To Done’s blog today: http://writetodone.com/2012/01/26/is-your-writing-career-missing-this-single-most-crucial-element/.

It’s the kick in the butt, motivational push I needed today to stay focused, on track and in action towards my writing goals.  Ask yourself how badly do you want to be a writer?  Then, just start doing it!

Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles

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I attended a great workshop last weekend by CBW-LA (The Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles.  It was entitled “Finding Your Write Path.”  It was a 3-hour session, designed to get you organized and motivated to meet your 2012 writing goals.  Nutschell Windsor runs the group and led the session.  She offered fantastic worksheets, as well as comprehensive handouts on the publishing and children’s literature industry.  It was a wealth of information that I will put to good use.

Although the handouts were worth attending in itself, I took away the most value from the worksheet exercises we did in the session: Writing Reflections (when you started writing and why you want to be a writer); A Writer’s Contract (signed by all in attendance); My Writing Commitment (a schedule and hours of when we’ll commit to writing each week) and My Writing Goals.  Nutshell explained how we have a far greater probability of achieving our goals (and realizing our writing dreams) if we write them down.  Going through the exercise of putting pen to paper, and taking time to formulate those goals, schedules and timelines was helpful.  It was also motivating and inspiring.  I left energized and ready to take on my writer’s goals, no matter how lofty they may seem to others.  Being together with 20 other writers doing the same thing gave me confidence that maybe I am not so crazy after all.

Check out The Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles  on Facebook and Meetup (www.meetup.com/Torrance-Childrens-Book-Writing-Group/).  If you are an aspiring children’s writer, I highly recommend this group.

Secrets of a Freelance Writer

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I recently read “Secrets of a Freelance Writer” by Robert W. Bly and had an epiphany: I am a writer.  I have been successfully running a marketing consulting business for the past 6 years.  As I read Bly’s book, and he outlined the various writing markets out there for commercial writers, I realized that I have been doing commercial writing in my current business.  That got me thinking and I made a decision.  I am transitioning my marketing consultancy into a writing consultancy for companies, and because I have been issuing out work in this area for years, I have a honed skill set and robust portfolio of samples to show for it.

This slight tweak to my existing business is so easy that I am dumbfounded that I didn’t think of it sooner.  It is such a simple change that I can make towards my writing.  Although it isn’t children’s writing (or at least not yet), it gets me into a writer space, allowing me to continue to perfect my skills while gaining experience, not to mention contacts.  Ideally, it will also open up my time to work on my children’s literature projects at the same time.

I am so energized by this realization that it has opened me up to change in general, welcoming and embracing any opportunities that may come my way.  It has fueled my mindset and I know this will impact my creativity as I write each week.

What small changes can you make right now in your life to take you one step closer to your writing dream?

No Time Like The Present

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Happy New Year!

It’s a new year and with that, a whole new set of goals.  I am focused on expanding my writing career this year and have decided that there is no time like the present to get started.  You don’t get anywhere without taking one step at a time and I intend to do just that.  I am starting with several small goals for the month:

1. Network: I am talking to anyone I know who might be able to help me connect with writing projects and letting them know that I am available.  I am a big believer of stating your intention to the Universe.  It can’t help you if you don’t ask for what you want.

2. Regular Blogging: I am working on a calendar of topics for myself to keep me posting regularly.  This exercise will not only keep me writing, but also will (hopefully) open me up to growth in areas that I want to learn about.

3. Read: I have a stack of “writing” books on my shelf that I have been wanting to read.  I will begin attacking at shelf this week.

What are your writing goals for the year?

Finding an Agent

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I took 4 months off from writing and am now diving back in.  I started the summer by finishing my picture book manuscript (critiqued and polished and ready to go).  I took the summer off while I was busy with the kids and family.  September hit and it was back-to-school chaos.  Now that the dust has settled and before holiday madness sets in, I am getting back to work.

The first item on my to-do list is to find an agent.  Now that I have a manuscript done, there is no time like the present to find representation.  So, here I go.  I am starting with Writer’s Digest (such a great resource) and also making a list of all my favorite books that fall into the same category as mine, so I can investigate their representation.  I have a file on “finding an agent” that is glaring at me.  So much to review…

In the meantime, I have some other projects brewing that I desperately need to pay attention to.  My creativity is crying desperately to be put back to use and again, there is no time like the present!

I also have an urge to try some new things for my platform.  I have been reading so much about the importance of this (especially as I search for an agent), and with my marketing background, I have lots of ideas and opportunities ready to be seized.

So, here I go – diving in.  Here’s to smooth waters…

Stories From My Heart

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About two years ago, when my eldest daughter was 5 and my second child was 3, we settled into a bedtime routine that ended with mommy (me) telling my daughters “a story from my heart.”   They (we) cherished this time and they eagerly looked forward to what mommy would come up with each night.  I would rack my brain, trying to come up with something clever and interesting off the top of my head.  I learned quickly that the simplest stories, where the action took place in their world, were the ones that they enjoyed the most.  They loved fantasy elements, magic and fairies where anything happened.  I could make anything up and they just went with it.

I don’t know why, but we (I) stopped telling those stories about a year ago.  Then, just this week, my eldest (now 7), asked me to tell her a “story from my heart” as I was putting her down to bed.  She asked “Why don’t we do that anymore?”  “I don’t know,” I replied, and then settled onto her bed and began to make up a story.  She asked me again for one the next night, and so the routine begins again.

I forgot how challenging it was to come up with content so quickly off the top of my head.  I am a thinker and, as a writer, need to plot out my story sequences.  However, there is no time for that with this exercise.  I forgot how fun it was to make up whatever I wanted, because I knew my kids would go with whatever I told them.  I forgot how much they love anything, even if I am censoring myself as I am telling the story, thinking, “This is terrible.  Where is this story going?”  I forgot how much the exercise gave me each night in the area of creativity and story ideas.  Because the stories were created out of my kids’ every day worlds, they were often fodder for some great picture book ideas that I could use to develop later.

Taking up this practice again has reminded me of some basic writing tools that are worth stating:

– Kids love stories about their world.  It is all about them.  The more details (names, places, etc.) resemble their every day life, the more tickled they become.

– Children love surprise.  Whether it is magic, fantasy or a twist at the end, finding some element or hook that takes them off in a new direction tickles them.

– Spend time with your readers.  This is obvious and easy for parents with kids, but it isn’t always easy.  I sometimes use my kids to bounce material off of, but I hadn’t realized that they could help me with my creative process so actively.  They often inspire the stories, but this exercise is more direct.

– Practice makes perfect.  We should take any and all opportunities to hone our storytelling skills.  These bedtime stories are making me a better writer, giving me instant feedback as to what my readers like and don’t like so much.

As a mom, I am  touched that my “stories from the heart” meant enough to my daughter to want to rekindle them.  As a writer, I am grateful for the lessons.  Our children always have so much to teach us.  How about that for writer’s inspiration?!

Young Writers

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I had the privilege of attending the Young Writers Conference (www.youngwritersconference.org) at El Rodeo Elementary School today in Beverly Hills.  I participated as a special guest, observing as a potential guest speaker at future conferences.  I recently connected with this group after seeing a banner on a local elementary school in my neighborhood.  After some research online and an encouraging conversation with one of the co-founders, I enrolled my 7 year-old in the 1-week summer camp at the end of this month.  During our conversation, the co-founder learned I was a writer and invited me to check out the conference for 8th graders today.

In existence for 14 years, this conference is a young writers dream.  It is meant to inspire and encourage 4th – 8th graders in their writing pursuits – whether it be blogging, novels, picture books, screenplays, songs, journalism, sports columns, travel magazines….  After experiencing the conference first-hand, I am impressed with all that the conference does to achieve its objective.  It is well organized and managed down to the last detail – online registration, speaker networking and student materials.

I left inspired and hopeful after hearing familiar start-up stories from many of the speakers.  I found community among the guest speakers and fellow writers.  I gained new tools for my own writing and ideas for my own speaker workshop.  I’ll have the chance to audition for a spot next March.

I share my experience today because it is another way that writers can stay involved with their craft, while providing oneself with opportunities for networking and giving back.  I am thrilled to discover this writing related activity that has the potential to fuel and energize me, connecting me to the readers I joyfully write for.