I had the great privilege to attend the Boise SCBWI conference last weekend. It was my fourth conference and there were only about 50-60 people there, so it was by far the smallest one I've been to, but it was awesome.
Usually conferences are filled with craft workshops, social media classes, self publishing how-tos, and agents and editors speaking about query letters and acquisitions. They're helpful. I usually pick up some new thing to try and I feel a little bit refreshed by the end of the weekend.
This was different. Though every speaker had a different topic I gleaned one cohesive message from the weekend, and it was truly inspiring.
Basically it was this:
Writing is an art. Learn from others, but remember that in the end it's deeply personal and the only one who knows how to do your art is you. Publishing is a business. People find success in a variety of ways. Learn from others, know your options and then make informed decisions. Every publishing career is different and the only one who knows how you should do it is you.
These messages felt very liberating. The online writing world is full of advice about how to write and how to publish and it's overwhelming sometimes. We have to remember that each of us is different. We all write for our own reasons and we have different jobs and responsibilities outside of writing. There is no one size fits all writing strategy. And there isn't a publishing option that works for everyone. We are unique and our writing journeys will be unique too.
My journey has been feeling very different from the norm lately, and I've worried that means I'm doing it wrong. I'm realizing that's not the case. I'm doing it my way, and my way is what works for me.
I'm grateful for good friends and an amazingly supportive agent (who just laughed when I spilled eggs all over her last weekend!) who remind me why I'm writing and encourage me every step of the way.
Do you get overwhelmed by all the voices in the writing and publishing world? Do you ever need to step back and remember that both your writing and your publishing path are unique?
I haven't been around much lately. There's really only one reason for this.
My two year old has decided to give up naps and is set on using those extra hours to make my life more interesting. He is succeeding.
We call him The Destroyer. He did this (dumping half a box of baking soda and an entire bag of chocolate chips) while I was bringing in groceries.
And this he managed while I was trying to put away the laundry (the rest is just behind him). It is a lovely combination of pancake mix and powdered sugar.
At least he's cute, right?
Well, I have been up to a something, despite my lack of free hours.
Today a sampler of middle grade books called Love Middle Grade Actually comes out on Amazon. It features the first few chapters of a bunch of fun middle grade books, including The Secret Underground.
And it is FREE.
Plus, if you download a copy and find a secret phrase hidden in its pages you can enter to win a Kindle Fire, an Amazon gift card, or some great middle grade eBooks. All the details are inside the book.
Did I mention it's FREE?
To celebrate it's release The Secret Underground will be just $0.99 at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Applefor the next 5 days (ending February 11).
The drawing for the Kindle Fire will happen on Valentine's Day, so go download a copy of Love Middle Grade Actually and enter now.
"Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make you subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." ~Martin Luther King
A few weeks ago some friends were chatting on Twitter about writing goals for the new year. One of them asked what my goals were and I replied, "I'm going to try to write something sometime."
The past few years I've set big word count goals for myself and then I've been super frustrated when I realize I can't make them happen. I'm not going to do that anymore.
In the five years I've been writing, I've realized something about myself and the way I write:
I'm not an everyday writer.
I think just about every book about writing I've ever read has said something like, "You must write every day. If you don't you suck and you will never amount to anything."
I've tried MANY times to become an everyday writer. It doesn't work for me.
Writing does not happen when my kids are home on breaks, when anyone is sick, or when I'm prepping for anything big (holidays, vacation, parties, etc). I write when I have time to write, and that's okay. My books get done eventually.
This year I'm going to embrace the "write something sometime" approach. I'm not setting any lofty goals. I'm going to write when I have time and energy to write and I'm not going to feel guilty when I'm snuggling on the couch, watching Muppets for the millionth time with my two-year-old instead of cranking out a few more pages.
I'm a mother of four who loves gardening, trips to the beach, and books that aren't boring. I write novels for children and young adults. My writing is represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency.