This week I’ll celebrate a birthday of sorts. Not my actual birthday, though today is my sisters …Happy Birthday, AC! But this coming Thursday, June 15 will mark one year, to the day, that my first picture book manuscript was written. I had been struggling with the desire to write for years, although at times I couldn’t identify the urge. I started with a novel. Eesh… then for a while most of my reading was Lifestyle/Parenting Blogs… I tried my hand at that too. It took me entirely too long to realize that I was completely avoiding the genre that called out the loudest to me. If I’m honest, I probably ignored the internal call to write picture books for six months before acquiescing myself to the idea. Even then I waited for the inspiration but to bite. Then one day, while traveling home from a business trip, enjoying the summer sunshine and the quiet car… BAM… it happened and Nathan’s story was born. In fact, I remember being so overwhelmed with excitement and inspiration that I started talking out loud to myself and did so for the rest of the drive home. For the next few days, I was completely preoccupied with the story, until I finally sat down and on June 15 put in on paper. The preoccupation hasn’t lessened, and my desire to write has only grown. It’s been a wonderful year. It’s been a stressful year. I’ve been fortunate to make some exciting connections and have bigger, more exciting adventures on the horizon.
I love the original draft of Nathan’s story, and I can still recite it in its entirety. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that it could be a poster child for’ Everything You Shouldn’t Do When You Write a Picture Book’. I literally made every mistake in the book. The ones I didn’t make, I can promise you I made in the second draft. The Original, as I’ve affectionately named it, rhymed with no reason or method to it, opened with a terrible cliché, had almost no conflict, and his mother was the protagonist. It held no character development, no story arc, a preachy-theme and too many words. It was a hot mess. Thankfully I’ve learned a lot, though I still do love the mess. What I love more, however, is where the story stands now.
My birthday present to myself, and to Nathan is a contest. Rate Your Story, a website that allows its members to submit stories to editors and authors for feedback, hosts an annual contest open to members and non-members alike. (I’m not a member, but I’ve love to hear from you if you are!) The 2017 RYS contest opens for entries from July 15th-July 31st and I do believe he’s grown up enough to enter. I’ve enjoyed the experience of sending my kids off to school for the first time, and I hope this contest is no different. I have a month to make sure his uniform fits, his hair is trimmed and there’s no food on his face. My opener is cute, there are no rhymes, he is his own hero and I finished in just under 500 words. His mom only makes a cameo and no longer has any speaking lines, though his younger sister shines in a lovable supporting role. He’s met two freelance editors, and been through eight different critique partners! It’s not always easy to read feedback on my work, but I’m so grateful for every bit that I’ve received. I think my boy is as ready as he’ll ever be.
Another thing I’m treating myself to this summer is learning more about the world of Non-Fiction Picture Book writing. As a science and history buff, it seems obvious that I would enjoy this style of writing but I’ve not yet exposed myself to this side of the industry. Thanks to some guidance and encouragement, I’m signed up for a weeklong on-line seminar called WOW-NonFicPic, hosted by Kristen Fulton. This will almost certainly be something I expound upon here as I learn more… that’s the point of all this blogging, after all. I’ve included the link to both the contest and the seminar below in case you want more information.
Thanks for reading, come back anytime!