Adultish Grime Antidote

Sometimes, life is just too adultish.  Mortgage payments, dinner parties, grocery shopping, careers, taxes (yikes!), saving for college.  Oh it just zaps the kid right out of a person!  Thank goodness for the little whirlwinds in my life that help bring me back to the wonderful world of tomfoolery and bodily sounds and the smells that go with them!!


These aren’t the whirlwinds I meant, but they help too!

During the month of January, I have been feeling especially adultish 😦 and this required a very  seriously unserious intervention by the best team of silliness masters and imagination gurus south of the Sears Tower (yes, Sears!).  I needed help brainstorming.

Recently, I participated in my first live webinar, Unlocking the Mysteries of Chapter Book and Middle Grade Series Writing led by Eve Adler editor for Grosset and Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Random House.  This was made available through KidLit College.  (Be sure to bookmark this one!) One of the nuggets I took away from this was though you only submit one story at a time, you should have 2 or 3 more in the series waiting in the wings, of at least your imagination. Not entirely new information, but one I had been avoiding. Because I have been stuck, right here in that spot! I did feel a sense of relief when she said two or three more ideas on your own should be enough.  After that, agents, editors, fans, etc will help supply story lines.

The chapter book I have written lends itself to series.  But the problem was, I couldn’t think of one single bit of mischief my adorable and highly curious MC with a powerful imagination could get into.

I’m still writing a MG story in verse, that leans toward the serious side and my brain was stuck in neutral there.  Yet, I want to have a vision for the next writing project so I have something new to work on when revisions start for my current project.  I also want to be ready should an agent or editor say, “This is delightful.  Have you thought about series?  What ideas do you have for the next two or three stories?” (oh, it’s a decadent dream to have until the harsh reality of the vacant inbox hits).  What was it Oprah once said? Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.  Well, I don’t want to be caught unprepared, so  I staged my own intervention during dinner!

Incredible happenings spewed forth! Complete with up-out-of-their-seats demonstrations.  One idea spun off into other ideas, unfathomable mayhem, and a delightful (ahem) scene with a toilet.

At least three ideas came out of it plus illustrations created by my two lead silliness experts.  But, really, the best part of the whole thing was the imprint it made on my little whirlwinds, calling it one of the best nights they’ve had in a long time.

Don’t have little whirlwinds of your own? Borrow some! Babysit your niece, nephew, or for your good buddy.  This is an everyone wins situation!

Enjoy shedding the adult grime.  It accumulates pretty quickly without regular doses of fun.  Happy writing!

Out of the Drought

Dust Bowl

When it rains, it pours and when it dries up, it’s like the dust bowl.  I am sure you are familiar with it. When writer’s block hits it can feel like you are enveloped in a thick cloud of dust and you can’t find your way out.  Yet, if you stay put, the dust settles around you, packing in, making it difficult to move forward.

After the dust

Some call it a muse, or inspiration.  I don’t know what I call it, but I’m feeling the need to write again.  Right now.  And my fingers aren’t moving fast enough.  Since I’ve stepped away from my blog during the drought, I figured I would start here.

The cause of droughts:

  • sick children (like one having his tonsils and adenoids out, then finally gets back to school and the other comes down with a monster cold!)
  • rejections
  • don’t have the right snacks in the house
  • my character falls into a plot hole and likes it down there
  • gray skies
  • the oncoming needs of the holiday season
  • reading your work and saying, “I wrote this garbage?”
  • your favorite writing spot has become overwhelmed by college kids whose procrastination is catching up with them and you can’t find a single seat at the cafe where the muse flows best
  • reading your work and saying, “This is so good, why can’t I find an agent who thinks so too?”
  • can’t find matching socks
  • and many, many more.  What’s yours?

What I did during my drought:

  • sucked it up and wrote anyway, though not very much, and not very well, but had to keep going
  • critiqued others’ writing
  • received critiques from others
  • cleaned off my husband’s desk and usurped it for Christmas central.  He said it felt like his desk was Ukraine.  I guess that makes me Russia!
  • started using Twitter.  Still trying to get the hang of it all. (By the way, @sususanti1871).
  • Read.  A lot 🙂
  • Found some great online resources (see below)
  • Joined on online course, to try to stir things up.

The key is – keep at it.  The flood gates will open again.

Resources I found that might interest you:

National Novel Writing Month

Query letter help from Chuck Sambuchino – What to include in bio portion

Pitch University

Twitter guide for authors and illustrators

Online course about pacing for picture picture books

Affordable online workshops

Jill Corcoran’s query formula

If you have an online resource that you treasure, please share it in a comment.

Gotta get back to writing now.  Hope you do too.