October KidLit Notes

In October, I remembered the purpose of our group. It was the second month in a row that I didn’t have any work to share. I have been pouring my available creative energy into my family and the start of a busy year in our newly reconfigured K-5 elementary school library, and there has not been a moment or an ounce of brainpower left at the end of most days.

Primm, another parent of really little people in our group, has also not been doing much writing, but she has been thinking about it. For the first time in years. And as impossible as it seems to write in between loads of laundry, trips to the grocery store, and monitoring sibling rivalries, she said; “When I’m here, it seems possible.”

And that’s why we gather. To cheer each other on. To say, thinking counts. Reading counts. Daydreaming counts. No one in our group is at their leisure, sipping coffee and watching the words pile up. But we gather with a common purpose: to make it seem possible. And hopefully, the seeming turns into a reality, and words make it to the page.

Joanna reminded the group of the benefits of joining the international Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Membership is by chapter (ours is Rocky Mountain) and is $95 the first year, $80 to renew each year after. You’ll receive a print publication, lots of great online information, an informational-e-mail, and news about amazing conference opportunities in our region, all over the country and world throughout the year. Joanna attended a recent Denver conference, and really enjoyed it.

Joanna will celebrate the publication of her first nonfiction picture book this spring via a small press, and has been recently involved in reviewing the illustrations for her words. She shared the first pages of a YA historical fiction novel and asked us to consider its POV. She had drafted in 3rd person, but recently tried a rewrite in 1st, which we all felt worked beautifully, giving the historical context an immediacy and intimacy that is very compelling.

Patricia brought pages of a contemporary fiction YA novel with mythological influences and the “heavy” (but important) topic of alcoholism. Gina’s YA work in progress is currently in epistolary (e-mail) form, and also deals with loss and grief. All of us feel it’s important for these books to be written, for tough topics to be addressed on the pages of YA literature (see the John Green article below). From a craft standpoint, Joanna reminded us that it’s really important to balance the external force of loss with an internal tension and resulting action from the character – what do they want?

Stay tuned for new ideas in the new year from our growing KidLit group; pop-up writing sessions, mini-retreats, and much more! Remember to register for this year’s Jackson Hole Writer’s Conference (registration opens November 15). There will be a YA/KidLit track, and the usual fantastic lineup of editors and agents.

Whether you’re just “working on getting started on working on something” (Primm) or you’re polishing off a novel, you’re welcome to join us for our next KidLit Critique group, Thursday November 9, 6-8 pm in the Center for the Arts conference room. Happy writing!

Nanci & Melissa

Links for inspiration: