Mini PB Challenge Results

Threadcakes 2D 004

Well, I almost did it.

Last week I challenged myself to write one picture book for every day my kids were away at camp. Which sounded pretty ridiculous at the time, given how much other work (mostly house chores) I also had on my plate.

But, in the end, I managed to write 4 1/2 PB drafts. Not a bad result if you ask me, especially considering how stumped I’ve been with the category lately.

As for that pesky half draft. Well, it just did not want to get written.

I started with an idea. I thought I knew exactly how I wanted the story to go. But once I started writing, something else entirely came out onto the page (yes, I still draft PBs in a notebook, then type them later).  So I decided to go with the flow and finish this new version, then go back and try again to get the version I had in my head out onto paper. But then neither of them wanted to cooperate. It was like I was stuck (still am stuck) unable to move to the “right” version until the “odd” version is done, but unable to find an ending for the ‘odd’ version…

I don’t know how to fix it, but for now I’m closing the notebook and walking away from that draft. It may never get any longer. Or maybe in three months I’ll pick it back up and know exactly how to finish it. But for now, I’m going to focus on my other drafts.

I’m already working on revisions on the four whole books. Some of my online critique group has taken a look, and I’m getting ready (mentally and physically) to send them to my in-person group when we meet in two weeks. I don’t know if they’ll ever make it to Bri, let alone past her, but at least I’m writing PBs again.

Which makes my challenge a bit fat win! (At least until/unless someone tells me these drafts are beyond saving.) Although, really, all writing is a win, even if it never makes it to print. All a part of the practice it takes to become a master of the craft.

And besides that, I feel like I learned a lot this week about PBs, so tune in next week to see the first of several PB posts based on realizations made during my mini-challenge.

What about you? Did you challenge yourself? Did you come out ahead? Let me know in the comments…

Ambitious or Just Ridiculous?

And speaking of ridiculous, have a parrot pushing a baby carriage.
And speaking of ridiculous, have a parrot pushing a baby carriage.

For the past two weeks (seriously, has it only been two weeks? Eep!) I’ve had to put my writing on hold as I re-assumed my job as a Full Time Mom for the summer. I’ve still been squeezing in critiques, but otherwise writing has pretty much been a no-go.

But this week (I’m writing this early) all three kids will be going to day camp, and my time will be my own. Sort of. I actually have a ton of household-y type things to do that have to be done sans kids (like painting the upstairs hallway, painting the downstairs hallway, ridding the house of no-longer-played-with-toys, etc.)

And I still have to squeeze in crits and keep on top of my YA WIP (revising as crits come in). But, since I’ve been struggling so much with picture books lately, I decided to issue myself a challenge: write one new PB draft a day for the 5 days of camp.

You see, I have a whole spreadsheet of ideas, but I never seem to get around to writing them. And PBs have been positively stumping me lately. Don’t let their length fool you – they are hard to write. (Okay, actually they are easy to write. GOOD picture books, on the other hand, ones that are marketable, and fresh, and amusing, with memorable characters and interesting stories, that kids and adults will want to read over and over again, all in under 500 words with lots of room for illustrations? – *they* are hard to write.)

Hopefully by the end of this week I will have five new starting drafts. It’s probably an impossible challenge (especially with what else is on my plate right now), but even if I only get one done, I’ll still be ahead of where I was at the start of the week.

I’ll check in next week and let you know how my challenge went.

What about you? Do you set unreasonable writing goals for yourself? Want to join me in my PB-a-Day mini challenge? Let me know in the comments!

Birthday Musings

birthday cupcake

It’s that time of the year again. Time for me to reflect on my writing career and how it’s progressing.

And I have to say, it’s going pretty well. This time last year I never would have guessed I’d have a book in stores already!

That’s right, in the past year, I not only got my first book contract, but I wrote the book (including baking, decorating and photographing 40 cakes) and had my first book actually published (if you know anything about the usual pace of things in publishing, you’ll know this alone was a minor miracle!)

Not only that, but promo for FUN WITH FROSTING meant I got to do two television appearances, a cake demo, and a book signing – not to mention hosting my first-ever book launch party (to give you an idea of the joy of this: when I was a wannabe actress my daydreams were filled with Oscar acceptance speeches, since aspiring to be published they’ve revolved around planning book launches).

It’s been a fabulous year for my career. And, while time is quickly running out on my dream to get a fiction book published before I hit 40, hopefully the next year brings me at least a book contract, as well as a bucket full of inspiration!

Hope this year has been as good for your writing as mine has!

Rejection and the Agented Writer

How rejections make me feel.
How rejections make me feel.

After several years of querying, it’s easy to think getting an agent means the end of rejections. I mean, sure, you know that not all novels get picked up by publishers – if you’ve been making friends with other writers you probably even personally know a few who didn’t get published until their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or who-knows-how-manyth novel. But, if you’re at all like me, you probably also think that that won’t happen to you. Your book is too good, your agent is so excited, you are going to be the exception!

And maybe you will be.

But more likely you won’t.

I’m not trying to depress you, just be realistic. The only actual statistic I could find online said less than 1% of books submitted to editors get published. 1%! Now, I’m not sure how accurate that is, or whether it included unsolicited manuscripts (my guess would be yes), but even if the number is 5 or 10 or 15% of agented submissions – heck, even if it’s 50% – that’s still pretty low.

Which means you still get rejections.

My agent saves mine up, and delivers them all at once, which in a way is good – I don’t have to hover over my computer at all hours of the day (although, let’s face it, I know she’ll contact me right away with an offer, so when I’m on sub the chiming of my inbox still sends me tripping over my own feet to check). And reading a whole slew of rejections all at once can be disheartening, (especially when a rejection is nothing but praise, followed by the comment “too close to one on my list” *sob*).

I recommend copious amounts of chocolate and adult beverages while reading.

And it’s not just publishers that can reject you. Your agent can, too. Don’t worry, Bri and I haven’t parted ways (although my nightmares may try to convince me differently), but just because your agent signs you for a book doesn’t mean they’re going to like everything you write. Like my most recent PB.

But I trust Bri, and she says a book won’t sell, well, then it’s back to the drawing board.

The good news is, you can learn a lot even from an unpublished book. My writing will be stronger. And I’m loving my YA WIP. I can’t wait to show it to Bri (I have to wait, though, until it’s as good as I can make it). And Bri’s helping me fix up another PB, to replace the one she turned down.

So, yeah, rejection sucks. Wallow. Drown your sorrows in chocolate. But keep writing. Because, as J.A. Konrath says, “There’s a word for a writer who never gives up… published.”