Sunday, March 4, 2018

Staying On Track

2018 is moving quickly! It's a little hard to believe that spring is around the corner, but I'm glad for it. Honestly, January and February are some of my least favorite months. Cold weather, little sunlight, no holidays = blech.

Plus, this semester I'm teaching more classes than I ever have before. With my time more limited, it's easy to get behind in my writing if I don't set specific goals for myself. To keep myself on track this semester, I've come up with a lot of techniques.

My calendar is pretty obvious. I've done this for years now and I swear by it. At the bottom I write down all of the big tasks I want to work on during the month and then I use sharpies and various stickers as rewards. Probably the biggest motivation is that I HATE when I have a completely blank day. It happens, but I'm very motivated to minimize those days. Listening to audiobooks helps. :)

I also have a weekly Pusheen (!) planner from my friend Kathryn. I write down all my writing & life tasks on it each week. It's so satisfying to mark them off. :)

Finally, Kathryn recently got me this unicorn "chore" chart! Ahh! Yes, it's technically for little kids, but I. Don't Care. I love it, and I've been using it to keep track of my progress on larger goals (like finishing a novel revision).

More than likely, I'll come up with some other methods soon. Whatever it takes!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

2018 Goals!

It's time again to list my goals for the year. Every year I try to challenge myself, but also set goals that I can accomplish without help from other people (like agents or editors). Hopefully I've done a good job with the goals this year. So, without further ado...

2018 Writing Goals:

  1.        Finish YA contemporary novel and start querying in early 2018!
  2.        Complete Story Genius and read comp books for new novel
  3.        Start a first draft of new YA novel in May
  4.        Revise MG fantasy novel during the later summer months
  5.        Begin revising new YA at the end of 2018
  6.        Write at least one PB manuscript and revise others
  7.        Attend 1-2 SCBWI conferences
  8.        Read more novels this year than I did last year

      Hmm, I can't tell if this is a good challenge or totally insane! But I *think* I can do it, and if that's the case than it means I usually can. Now I just need to get started!

S    Speaking of which, here's my calendar page for January. Given that I took on extra teaching this semester, I'm pleased with the amount I accomplished. Hopefully it'll continue throughout the year! 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

End of Year Wrap-Up!

Somehow it’s already time to say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018!

In terms of writing, I’d say this has been a pretty great year. I attended conferences and workshops, made new friends, and started new projects. I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made and I’m really looking forward to working on some new projects next year.

I took a break from updating the blog to focus on writing so here are my calendar updates from the last few months (just to keep me honest)!




And, without further ado, it’s time to look back at the 2017 goals I set at the beginning of the year and see how well I did. *deep breath*

1)  Continue querying


2)  Finish the revision on my new YA manuscript by the end of March


3) Finish another round of revisions by mid-summer.


4) Finish further round(s) of revision by the end of 2017.


5) Attend 1-2 SCBWI conferences


6)  Go back to Highlights for a retreat


7)  Write a new PB


Phew! Yeah, I think I did pretty damn well this year! I have a feeling that 2018 is going to be another really productive year and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish!

Image result for happy 2018 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

September Fun!

September was a BUSY month! Now that it's fall, it's also "conference season" in the writing world. I had an event every week, but still managed to fit in time to work on my YA and PB revisions.

I started off the month with a bang when I went with my good friend Kathryn to Jennifer Maschari's book signing for THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU. Jennifer is such a kind, wonderful person and an incredibly talented writer. Plus, I was in heaven because the book has a unicorn theme running through it which meant we got unicorn cupcakes!

The following weekend was the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference in Cleveland. I look forward to this conference every year because 1) it's terrific and 2) I get to hang out with old friends and make new ones. I learned some new revision techniques from Linda Sue Park and received positive and helpful feedback on my latest PB. Definitely a successful conference. :)

The Central-Southern SCBWI members at the conference :)

Brett Duquette's lunch keynote

A session on the "recipe for success"!

Highlights friends together again!

My Central-Southern Ohio SCBWI chapter hosted an agent workshop the following weekend with Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary. It's always a little nerve-wracking when you're the one hosting an event rather than attending, but the event was a big success. Danielle is a wonderful presenter.

Finally, I wrapped up the month with our September SCBWI meeting. Natalie D. Richards, YA writer and board member, gave a fast-paced talk about suspense and pacing in our writing.

I also added another fun element to my productivity calendar. I found some adorable stickers so I now get to add one every time I accomplish something "big"--i.e. hitting my writing goals, finishing a book, or attending an event. I'm pretty proud of the number of stickers I got!

This was a great month...but I'm also happy to slow down a bit in October. ;)

Friday, September 1, 2017

August Calendar!

Another month, another calendar! Wow, I can't believe it's September 1st today. It's always bittersweet when September comes. Part of me loves September because this is my birthday month, but it's also the end of summer...which is a bummer.

I'm extremely grateful for the time I had over the summer to write. I hit my summer goals and I'm looking forward to working on revisions for my YA this fall. I'll keep updating on how it goes. :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Whole Novel Workshop Magic

I just returned from attending the Whole Novel Workshop at Highlights and I can truly say that attending was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my writing. There aren’t enough exclamation points to express how wonderful my trip was…though I’ll probably use a lot trying to describe it!

Cabin 14

Inside: so adorable!!

Of course, this is Highlights and if you’ve been there before (or have heard someone talk about it) then you know that I could easily fill a blog post (or five) with exuberant descriptions of the cabins, forests, and food. (The FOOD!!!) And all of that was just as mind-blowingly fabulous as the last time I was at Highlights in 2013. But what makes this place so magical goes far beyond any of that.

It is the people.

They are the magic.

My mentor, Nancy Werlin, was incredible. She believed in me and in my book, but she also challenged me to make it better. She pushed me to think more deeply about my characters and asked questions that I never would have thought to ask myself. Although revision can be difficult, I knew I was in safe hands. Nancy loves my main character, and hearing her talk so exuberantly about Ellie made me love my character more than I had already. It also encouraged me to keep going!

Nancy and I the last morning (and YES, I am wearing my magical fairy writing crown!)

All of the faculty were out-of-bounds amazing. I loved listening to their lectures and getting inspired to take their suggestions and apply them to my book. Each person gave their time and expertise to help us. It was clear how much they want us all to succeed. 

The other attendees were equally wonderful. People always say that it’s hard to make new friends as an adult, but that does not apply to Highlights! In just a week I made friendships that I know will extend for years to come. Maybe it’s because we’ve all reverted back to our childhood summer camp selves, except we’re surrounding by people with the same passions and interests as us! J

Debbi and I celebrating our 3 year friendship anniversary in person!

Debbi, Carol, and I--one of my favorite photos!

Dale, Christie, John posing with me

Three Ohioans and one (grumpy) Michigan fan! LOL!


All of these people gave me one of the most precious gifts a writer can receive: self-confidence. The ups and downs of this journey can take a toll. It’s easy to feel small and trampled. But having others believe in me reminded me to believe in myself.

 And that is the magic of Highlights.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

June and July Wrap-Up

Wow, summer has flown by!! I'll admit that I haven't done a stellar job of updating this blog during the past few months, but I promise that's not because I haven't been busy! After the rush and excitement of finishing a first draft in May, I filled the rest of my summer with lots of other fun events. :)

I started June by attending the fabulous Indiana SCBWI conference. Sometimes great things come in small packages.

Beautiful views from our hotel/conference center at an Indiana State Park

Swan family in the early morning! 

 Everyone there was kind and supportive and the faculty members were spectacular. I particularly loved the picture book session with Tammi Sauer. Hearing her advice really motivated me to keep working on my picture books.

Absolutely gorgeous gardens there as well. I was in heaven!

I spent the rest of June working on my current novel: BRITISH BOYFRIEND COURSE. I’m attending the Whole Novel Workshop at Highlights in August (yesssss!) and I needed to revise that novel before sending it to my mentor. Between that, teaching my summer class, and back-to-back-to-back kid’s birthday parties, June was FULL.

My son and I are shooting webs here, haha!

We had fun with the food.

In July, I had a few more deadlines for upcoming critiques. Our SCBWI group is holding a workshop with agent Danielle Chiotti in September so I needed to get my work ready for that. I also revised a new picture book for a critique at the Northern Ohio SCBWI conference later this year.

Beyond that, I’ve been reading and reading and reading. Middle grade fantasies and YA contemporary. Work from friends and attendees to the Whole Novel Workshop, lots of picture books,  plus a new craft book called STORY GENIUS. It’s been a little strange to take a break from writing this month, but it’s also been freeing.

I can’t wait to go back to Highlights in a few weeks. There will be time for writing lessons and critiques with my fellow attendees, along with lots of hard work revising BBC. And, of course, I’ll be spending time with friends--old and new--and eating lots of seriously scrumptious food there. Whoo-hoo!

And here are my calendars for June and July. June is a little pathetic after such a productive month in May, but there was a lot going on that month.

And July... I was more consistent this month at least. All of the green, yellow, and orange is related to reading!