The Children’s Book Academy

Image courtesy of Mira Reisberg at the Children's Book Academy

Image courtesy of Mira Reisberg at the Children’s Book Academy

Six weeks ago, I told you about an online class that I was taking to hone my skills as a picture book writer. I thought the class was fantastic!

For those of you who are interested in improving your writing/editing skills or learning more about how to get published, I highly recommend taking a class with Mira Reisberg and her team at the Children’s Book Academy. The information she covered was extensive, and the material was well thought out. I think the biggest draw is Mira herself. She is incredibly kind and generous with her time and her knowledge. She loves teaching, and it truly shows in the interaction with her students.

Learning through online classes

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/MariuszPrusaczyk

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/MariuszPrusaczyk

Last week I started an online class for writing children’s picture books. It’s a mentored 5 week class that teaches you how to write, edit and revise your books. Not only does it help you hone your writing skills but it also promises to teach you how to craft a query letter to send to literary agents and publishers.

Originally, I was going to use my existing manuscript for this course, but at the last minute, I decided to use a story that I had started but never finished. It’s tentatively named “Charlie” and is about a little dog who can’t find his pal. So, he ventures out to find him. My goal over the next 5 weeks is not only to create a first draft of this story, but also to revise/edit it to the point where I can submit it to an agent or publisher. It’s a fairly lofty goal considering I’ve spent many months on my 2 other books.

My first SCBWI conference

SCBWI Spring Spirit Conference

SCBWI Spring Spirit Conference

Back when I was mulling over a career in writing, I had been advised to join the SCBWI, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I joined because I trusted the person who gave me that tip. Unfortunately at that time, all I did was read the newsletter they sent out. Though the cost to join was not high, I didn’t get anything out of it. After a year, I dropped it. I had not taken the time to seek out what value SCBWI could bring to me.

Now that I have entrenched myself in this endeavor, I have rejoined and am making a concerted effort to make use of the networking advantages as well as workshops and conferences. A few weekends back, I attended my first SCBWI conference. The conference, “2015 Spring Spirit,” was put on by the California North/Central region of SCBWI. It was fantastic!

Being that this was my first SCBWI conference, I had no idea what to expect. I went into it with my “growth mindset” and sought to learn as much as I could and hoped to make some new friends who also wrote children’s books.

Changing up your work environment

Photo courtesy of http://www.canstockphoto.com/lightwavemedia

Photo courtesy of http://www.canstockphoto.com/lightwavemedia

I wrote a good portion of this week’s blog while sitting at Panera Bread with 3 people I had just met. This was my first meet-up for writing and it’s called “Shut Up and Write.” The premise is to dedicate a certain amount of uninterrupted time to writing. In this case, it was an hour.

Prior to coming here, I wondered if I could really get any work done in a public place. In school, I had never been one of those people who could study in a noisy area. I always found a quiet, out of the way spot in the library or an empty classroom where there would be complete silence and no distractions.

There are multiple reasons why people gravitate to public areas to do their work:

  • Some crave the interaction with other people.
  • Some need to get away from the distractions at home.
  • Others may need the Wi-Fi available.

For me, I needed a venue outside my home to get away from the distractions of my dogs and the chores that never seem to go away. Plus, I thought it would be interesting to see if sitting with other writers would motivate me to write for one solid hour.

Going down the rabbit hole

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/vicnt

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/vicnt

Have you ever heard of the expression “going down the rabbit hole?” It’s when you start off on a quest towards a goal and then get sidetracked by something which causes you to change direction multiple times along the way. Eventually you end up somewhere you didn’t expect, typically without having satisfied the original purpose of the quest. A classic example is when you surf the Internet. You start off with something in mind but pretty soon it’s 2–3 hours later and you still haven’t found what you were originally looking for (nor, I might add, are you even still looking for it!).

How my holiday tradition led to writing

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/Massonforstock

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/Massonforstock

Tis the season to be merry which means it’s time to get cracking on those holiday traditions. Each year I watch as friends and family scurry about getting ready for the holidays. Some bake cookies or build gingerbread houses while others compete to have the best lit house on the block.

Traditions are typically passed from generation to generation. Though there are some people, like my friend Kris, who create their own so they can share and spread the joy of the season to their loved ones.

I tease Kris and call her “Cindy Lou from Whoville” while proclaiming myself to be Scrooge or the Grinch. Every year she works on converting me … so far I’ve been able to resist!