I’ve got some very busy writer friends! They’ve been writing and getting published and having book signings and I’ve been…hmmmm.

I wish I had something scathingly brilliant or outrageously adventurous here as a reason for not writing as much as I’d like to write, and not getting myself published (and therefore, not having book signings). But I think we all know what happens to me in the summer. And oh! I am planning Juniorette’s wedding that’s coming up next month, so there’s a good excuse.

Okay, I’m not really planning the wedding; Juniorette’s done most of the work. But I’ve had to think about wedding stuff  a lot and I think that counts for something. Anyway, the point today is picture books and all my friends who have books on the shelves in bookstores and libraries (or books you can order):

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Lisa Lowe Stauffer’s Two By Two is a board book adventure about a couple of mischievous monkeys on Noah’s Ark. And oh my goodness, I love the wordplay in this book and I know your little mischievous ones will, too! Lisa’s been busy with book signings, and she’ll be in my neck of the woods in October for a workshop!



indexTina M. Cho is celebrating a book birthday with her picture book, Rice From Heaven. I could say more about this book (and Tina) but she says it so much better here, at Tina’s Tidbits. Please go give it a read and then give her book a read, too! I can’t wait to get back to my hometown library and get this one. (Yep, Tina, your book is in the Gwinnett County Library system!) It really is a small world, after all!


And then there’s Heather L. Montgomery, whose two books are coming out in October, I think. But they’re available now: Bugs Don’t Hug AND Something Rotten, A Fresh Look At Roadkill. And every time I read these titles, I’m conflicted. I feel a little like “Come on, Heather! Ick!” but I also feel a little like “Oooh! I can’t wait to read about stinky roadkill and bugs!”

Yep, Heather knows how to make anything compelling! And I’m not the only one who thinks so–Heather is super busy right now on school visits and book expos and I don’t know what all. (But you can find out when you visit her website. You might even be able to get her for your school because seriously, Heather Montgomery can rock a school visit!)

Didn’t I tell you I had some busy friends? And I have some more friends who have been busy writing novels so stay tuned! Meanwhile, I’ve got a porch swing and salty breeze waiting for me to get busy with a wee bit of a nap because I’ve worked kinda hard on this blog post. Plus, I thought up something that Juniorette needs to do, wedding-wise. (She’ll thank me later, I’m sure.)






January Wrap Up

file00025755561I don’t have a lot of accountability these days.

My original and hard-working critique group broke up, my second critique group didn’t work for my schedule, writer friends moved away…even Mister Man, who, if we’re being perfectly honest refused to read any of my writing but would listen to me talk about it as long as there was food involved, up and left me. And so it’s pretty much up to me, what (or if)  I write.

Then I thought about you, dear writer friends. You can be my accountability! And then you can say, “Oh, yes, Cathy, that sounds fabulous!” Or, “Really, Cathy, you can do lots better than that.” Maybe even, “Sounds good to me, pass the garlic rolls.”

And so here I go:

I finished 30 ideas with Storystorm! It’s a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I did it.

I made a goal over at Goodreads to read 50 books this year, and for January, I read four books. (I didn’t make my reading goal last year but whee! It’s January and I’m on track. So far.)

I talked to my Lovely Agent about 2017 and the direction we could go. I have Stuff To Do; I haven’t quite started on that stuff yet.

I wrote up…let me count that again…yes, um…one, er, one story and sent it out into the world. It seemed like a big deal at the time, y’all.

I had an SCBWI writer’s workshop–awesome author Heather L. Montgomery presented–and it was well-attended and lots of fun! (P.S. She was here doing quite a few school visits and kids LOVE her, so if you want a science geek author for your school, contact Heather!) The first of the year is busy in my position at SCBWI; lots of organizing, lots of emails, lots of planning, but I got it all done. That’s probably why I didn’t get much writing done. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket.

Oh! I finally finished my latest Darakwon book! Whew! I had started it back in the spring, I think, so yeah, it was beginning to be like The Song That Never Ends.

You know, I wasn’t feeling very accomplished twenty minutes ago, but I feel a bit better, now that I see my January Wrap Up. All things considered, right?

So how about you? How’s your January started? Brag a little, whine a little, and pass the garlic rolls. You’re with friends here!


After Conference Learnin’

1-IMG_5349Gosh, I’ve been busy bidding (and losing and then having to bid again) and writing and reading and revising ever since I returned from Springmingle, our SCBWI Southern Breeze region’s spring conference. But that’s fine with me. I’m always so energized by a conference–I can’t wait to get to work. And I can’t wait to put all my new learnin’ to work!

I’ll try to get around to sharing a few great tips from a couple speakers but for now, you can check out the learnin’ I grabbed at a PAL Panel. (PAL stands for Published and Listed in SCBWI so these are members with serious experience under their writing belts.) Heather Montgomery and Sara Lynn Cramb packed a lot of information into a panel discussion on alternate streams of income for kidlit writers and illustrators, and so I pulled a few of their ideas and shared them over at the Muffin in “Learning Something New.”

Honestly, they could’ve written a book on the subject. And come to think of it, maybe they will!


A Gift Idea For the Writer

Have you ever noticed that the writing process includes a ton of road metaphors?

While writing my last post for The Muffin, I literally came up with a dozen phrases I could’ve used. It was a good reminder for me, that writing is a journey. Sometimes, yes, it can be a short little trip from idea to words on a page to publication. But more often, it takes time to produce, to polish, to sell.

2015-11-07 12.11.47Lots of time. Lots of words. And in this world of hurry-up and multi-tasking, time is something of a premium. Still, if you want premium publication, I think you have to be prepared to put in the time, and to give yourself time. It can take a while, The Publication Path, First to Last Draft, as my friend and author, Heather Montgomery shared at a recent writer’s workshop.

Maybe this holiday season, you can give yourself the gift of time: time to think, time to write, and time to appreciate the journey. Because as the song goes, “the road is long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to who knows where. Who knows where?”

But when you get there, oh, boy. It’s worth it. (Just ask any writer.)

It’s a Blog Party! With Cake! (Okay, No Cake, But Lots of Good Writing Stuff)

Lisa tyre bookAs promised, I mixed up all the names of those who commented to win Lisa Lewis Tyre’s Last in a Long Line of Rebels and out popped…hold on a tic. I also promised to share writing gems from the SCBWI conference I attended. So those who didn’t win today would still win, so to speak.

And as it happens, Lisa Lewis Tyre is hosting a Writer Wednesday Blog Party wherein we’re invited to link up over there with our writerly wisdom. So stand back whilst I multi-task, writer style:

From Kaylan Adair, lovely editor at Candlewick, I learned much about the middle grade reader. Honestly, most of my manuscripts are middle grade, so you’d think I’d already know much about the middle grader, and from an instinctive place, I do. But it was nice to have an in-depth look at middle graders and what makes them tick. If you’re writing for middle graders, consider Kaylan’s best tip: find the “flawed” heart of your middle grade protagonist. These characters are almost always good kids who are flawed in some way; they want to do the right thing but often make the wrong choices (which they come to regret). Many middle grade stories don’t quite work because they’re missing “heart.” Bottom line: You’ve got to have heart, flawed though it may be, to have a compelling middle grade story!

From Heather Montgomery, author of How Rude, Real Bugs Who Won’t Mind Their Manners (Scholastic 2015), I picked up a few tips on breaking barriers in non-fiction. But I can sum it all up in Heather’s favorite mantra: Don’t do boring! There are so many different approaches to non-fiction now, but you won’t find the stodgy styles of our youth. Read a dozen or more of the latest non-fiction books out there, including Heather’s books, and find out how writers are dialing up the excitement level if you want to tackle this hot publishing trend.

From Kami Kinard, author of funny middle grade books, including The Boy Problem, I got some great ideas about incorporating unconventional formatting into a manuscript, namely her first tip: The text box is your friend. And I could barely concentrate on what she was saying after that, I was so eager to get back to one of my manuscripts that had all kinds of opportunities for unconventional text boxes! But if you want to understand more about her ideas, read her books. They’re chock-full of unconventional and fun formatting.

So, how’s that for writer gems and multi-tasking? And if you want even more writing wisdom, join us at Lisa’s place!

Oh, d’oh. Almost forgot to tell you who won Last in a Long Line of Rebels. It was Debra (and P.S. you’re gonna love it, doncha know!)