On blogging

I just attended a zoom call with area children’s writers and illustrators to discuss blogging. When I’d first heard about the call, I didn’t think I wanted to attend because I’m not a typical writer-blogger. I don’t only blog about children’s writing and children’s books. I blog for me, about whatever strikes my fancy. I didn’t think I’d have anything to offer the discussion, but at the last moment decided to attend.

I’m glad I did. Because while there are many different approaches to blogging –sites, content, focus, etc.–there is no right or wrong way to blog. As I shared in a breakout room discussion, the only way to blog “incorrectly” is to stress about the blogging. My philosophy is that if it’s not enjoyable, why bother?

For instance, I happen to (among many other things) enjoy goats. They never fail to bring a smile. So this right here? This is an example of a successful blog post.

Lucky me!

Life’s a particularly hard row to hoe these days. BUT. Today is a very good day because I just finished making congratulatory phone calls to the applicants who’ve been accepted into the Michelle Begley Mentor Program. There’s much joy that comes from being the program coordinator, and a big piece of that joy is getting to be the bearer of good news. Woot! I do love spreading happiness.

 

And now I think I’ll take the doggo out for a walk in the sunshine.

Lucky, lucky me.

Inspirational aftermath

Image by Alison Innes from Pixabay

I spent this weekend at the SCBWI-Rocky Mountain Chapter’s fall conference. Two days filled with 240 creative people and lots-o’ conversations. I took copious notes (which became less lucid as the weekend wore on) and felt many pings during motivational keynotes and informative breakout sessions. It was an awful lot of extroverting for an introvert who needs alone-time to refill her well.

On Sunday morning while I was conversing with several women, someone confessed to being at a point of overwhelm. We all agreed it was getting more difficult to process what we were learning. I said, “By the time I left last night, I was almost crying.” A woman replied, “I did cry.”

I’m past the crying stage, but am still refilling my well. I hiked alone this morning and spent some of the day in a patch of sunshine with a middle-grade novel. I’m slowly coming back to myself and hope to resume writing in the next day or so. In the meanwhile, I’m like a candle that burned brightly and is now a slightly different shape/different writer as a result of the experience.

Conference Wrap-Up

          

I’m coming out of my RMC-SCBWI conference-induced fatigue,
and wanted to share some morsels 
before the passion and meaning behind the words grow too dim.

Bruce Coville gave our keynote speech on Saturday morning.
My favorite line:  "The blank page is hard, not because nothing’s
there, but because everything is there.  The whole world."

He ended his talk (titled The Art of the Heart: Writing True for the Child)
with this: "Let us not take joy, let us give it.  Let us give it courageously."

Just a short while later, I had my one-on-one critique with him.
He read the first 10 pages of BIRD BRAIN.  
Good news: he thinks the voice is strong.
Not-as-good news: I need to rework the opening pages to set them in a scene
rather than exposition.  I kind of knew that, but had a secret hope he’d love it as is!
(Major thanks again to  for helping me out of a slump so I could get those
pages ready for submission!)

One of the few sessions I was able to attend (due to responsibilities), was Social Media 101.
Drew Shope, of Thrive Social Media, is a 25-year-old social media guru who convinced me to start tweeting.
I’m having fun thus far but fear the Undisciplined Time Suck.
(I’m @TracyAbell)

I attended Elizabeth Law’s session on First Pages.
The overwhelming message of the day was Slow Down the Action.
(This is what was said regarding my first page from FRAMED, too.)
Of course, during another session, editor Kate Harrison and agent Elena Mechlin
both said they like a story that gets going immediately to pull them in.

(L-R Moderator Bobbi, Elizabeth Law, Elena Mechlin, Kate Harrison, Rotem Moscovich)

My favorite Elizabeth Law line of the weekend came in response to a question.
Q: If an editor or agent suggests revisions, is it appropriate to ask for clarification?
A:  No, work in the dark.  Spend a lot of time.  Hope you get it right.
(The answer is, Of course!)

I had a wonderful time and bonded with Bruce Coville.
When my critique time was up, I thanked him.
He said, "You betcha!" then said with considerable dismay, "I sound like Sarah Palin."
That’s all it took.  We were off and running (next writer hadn’t yet shown up).

It was a wonderful, exhausting weekend.
But next year, I hope to scale back on conference-day duties so I can fully enjoy.

(Local writers Stephanie Blake and Jeanne Kaufman yukking it up)

                

Everybody Needs a Mentor

          

I’m back home after my fourth meeting
with my mentor, Claudia Mills.
And I just want to say,
if you ever have the opportunity to participate
in a SCBWI-sponsored mentor program,
do it!

Claudia isn’t just an ace at pacing and tension,
unafraid to tell me when I’ve struck the wrong note,
but also a mentor who is generous with her praise.

I practically float home after sessions with her.
She not only makes me feel good about what I’ve accomplished
but also fills me with a steely determination to meet her expections.
I never, ever want her to regret the compliments she’s given me and my writing.

And because so much of this journey is spent alone, in my head,
I’m going to be bold and link to Claudia’s blog post from today
in which she said insanely nice things about my writing.

You know, for those days when I’m feeling delusional.

Check out your local SCBWI chapter to see if you have a mentor program.
If not, maybe you can get one started.

Because every writer needs a Claudia in her corner.
                 

Two on a Tuesday

             

ONE:
Heading off this morning to meet for the first time
with my new mentor, Claudia Mills.

She’ll be working with me to revise CLOSE TO HOME,
a MG I love and want to see published.

I’m grateful to the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI
for instituting this new mentor program.

TWO:
Zippy convinced me to buy hot meats bird seed.
Huh?!

Sunflower Meats, hot chili peppers, and safflower oil.
Supposedly, birds don’t mind the heat but squirrels do.

Zippy thought we’d get a greater variety of birds
if we offered hot meats rather than plain old safflower seeds.

But so far….
no takers.

On the plus side, I haven’t seen any squirrels with pained expressions, either.

(And so you don’t think we’re completely heartless,
we have one of those squirrel corn-cob-thingies available for gnawing).