December KidLit Notes

Dear Kidlit Writers,

This month has had it all: winter storms, a rain-slush interlude, and two deep-freezes. The December weather seems a fitting metaphor to how writing has been for me this month; I started on a 300-words-per-day goal for my manuscript, and for a while, the words piled up like the snow outside.

Then: holiday demands. Work insanity. Sick kids. The slush of life, the inevitable freeze. But my community keeps me moving forward…there will be friends waiting in January to hear more pages, and I’ve received news of acceptance to a workshop in March that will be so valuable to my project. So, little flurries of hopeful news and small bursts of writing continue to carry me through the month, and it’s a great reminder: it all adds up.

Gina, Sheryl, Lorna, Nanci (via FaceTime) and I gathered in the conference room on the 9th to swap words and thoughts. Lorna earned the award for gnarliest drive (she lives down past Afton!) and Nanci dealt with a mouse issue (later remedied by one of her family dogs) while we critiqued.

Sheryl brought a WIP that she’s been struggling to get just right. We had fun doing a group brainstorm about the “rules” of her character’s world, and thinking of all the “what ifs” for plot and character. For me, this kind of free-wheeling brainstorm is so much easier to do with someone else’s work, and I’m making it a goal to incorporate more of this into my own process.

Lorna’s new chapter, “The Bear,” had us on the edge of our seats, and cheering for all her hard work in revision. Lorna’s been feeling discouraged when reading published work, but the evidence of what she’s observing and adding to her own work reminds us that reading feeds our writing, so it’s important to do both.

We talked about considering what each chapter does for the whole of the work; what does it contribute, and how does it move the story forward? Nanci reminded us to be okay with cutting big pieces of our work: it’s part of writing! She keeps a file called “cutting room floor” that helps her take things out even when she really loves them.

Gina brought a query letter she’s written, and we discussed some of the do’s and don’ts of the query. Two tips shared were to be specific about why you’ve chosen to query this agent, and to hook them with a question or quick summary of your work. Good luck with submissions, Gina!

Nanci has been busy working on her 3rd book, which she said is changing drastically. We wish her luck with the manuscript, and with her rodent roommates.

Quote of the evening:
“We’re storytellers. You’re telling a story. Never forget that.” -Nanci

-Podcasts (subscribe on iTunes): 10-Minute Writer’s WorkshopKidlit Drink Night (Nanci’s book, Swing Sideways, is mentioned in Episode 13, KidLit Holiday Gift Guide!)
What a Novel Looks Like Before it’s A Novel – JH Writers Facebook page

Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias- Sheryl recommends as a way to see identify what’s working and where you can rely on elements of structure to help your story along.

News & Celebrations:
* New Night for Kidlit Critique: We will now meet every second Thursday of the month, same time (6-8 p.m.), same place (Center For the Arts Conference Room). Join us on January 12th! Bring 4 copies of up to 4 pages, double spaced, to share.

Interested in writing a post for JH Writers? Click here for submission guidelines.
* Sheryl’s second picture book and Nanci’s second novel are due out May 2nd, 2017. Cover shots below…congratulations!

Happy holidays, and happy writing!
Nanci & Melissa

Sheryl Haft’s second picture book, due out May 2, 2017.

Nanci Turner Steveson’s second novel, due out May 2, 2017.