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1. Hey all you REAL book lovers out there . . .

Books are not dead. Check out this fun video by Type Bookstore in Toronto!

The Joy of Books

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2. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

However you say it, have a wonderful holiday season with the ones you love. Wishing you peace, joy, and happiness. AND much writing success in 2012!

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3. Failure and Hard Work Equal Success

"Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price."
~ Vince Lombardi

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."
~ Colin Powell


Maggie Stiefvater author of the best-selling series Shiver failed to get into a creative writing class in college because she was told that her writing wasn't promising enough. Thankfully for readers, that didn't stop her. Many writers believe that they need a writing degree in order to purse a career as a writer. According to Maggie no formal degree is required. What is required? Many hours of hard work.

Shannon Messenger's (one of the founding members of WriteOnCon) inspirational post on the hard work and failed draft attempts that finally got her first novel published.
20 ways to NOT write your first book

Inspirational video by muscleprodigy.com. Great quote from the narrator, "You will always pass failure on the road to success."
Failure Before Success

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4. It's December Already?

I can't believe July 30 was my last blog post. How have you been?

Here's what I've been doing:

1) Surviving the new school year. It amazes me how much homework a third and sixth grader can have each day. You'd think they were in college. AND it amazes me how much I'd be helping them. I feel like I'm back in school with all the book reports and writing happening this year. Thank God my hubby helps them in the math department. Not my strongest subject for sure.

2) Taking online writing classes. Well, I actually am back in school. I took my first online UCLA writing class this summer with the UCLA Writers Extension program, Writing the Young Adult Novel with Beth Ann Bauman. I just completed a fall quarter class, Novel Planning: Writing Order out of Chaos with Lynn Hightower. These classes just keep getting better and better. I've been pushed and stretched to places I'd thought my writing couldn't go. Each class is seriously tough, but worth it. I've got an edgy novel pretty much figured out. I never thought I'd want to write a novel, but I've never been more excited about a writing project and I'm putting my all into it. I'll be enrolling in the winter quarter soon. If you don't hear from me for a while again, you'll know why.

3) Attending sporting events. Hockey and football. I've been chauffeuring my boys to practices and games nonstop. We even attended our first Baron's hockey game a few weeks ago on free jersey night and hope to attend a OKC Thunder games soon once the NBA games get going again. Whew. It's a good thing I like sports being in an all-boy family.

4) Adding a new family member. In August, the Rogers' added a very cute furry addition to the family that we adopted from the Bella Foundation. Our oldest son, Big C named our new Chiweenie puppy, Lucky. "Mom, I hope he brings us luck," he said. Big C even wrote an essay about him for his English class. I was one proud mama when he brought home an A. I'm hoping this streak of good grade luck will continue.

Here's Lucky... Isn't he a cutie?

5) Experiencing Earthquakes. In Oklahoma. During November, Hubby and I were jolted awake at 2:15 a.m. by our first earthquake, a 4.7 one Saturday night. Then the next night, the biggest earthquake in Oklahoma history, a 5.6 rocked our house for a minute. Our youngest son, Little C came running down the stairs in a panic asking us what was happening. Big C slept right through it. Then another night we had a 4.7 earthquake during a tornado and flash flood watch. I felt another small one a few days ago. We are expecting the volcano to erupt any minute now.

Well, that's just a small serving of what's been on my plate lately. How are you? Writing lots? Taken any great writing classes lately? I'd love to hear all about it. Display Comments Add a Comment
5. Encouragement for Beginning Writers and a Pep Talk from a Viking

Are you a beginning writing in need of encouragement? Be sure to watch this cool vimeo video message that's been floating around on facebook by David Shiyang Liu. 

Ira Glass on Storytelling

Also, what writer doesn't need a pep talk? And a funny one at that. Check out my writing/illustrator friend, Ingvard the Terrible's (Sean Asby) blog. You may just see yourself in this one like I did. Uh, huh. Sometimes I am guilty of stinkin' thinkin' How about you?

How creatives sabotage themselves

You may remember one of my previous blog posts Self-Doubt and Pep Talks.

Have a great weekend!

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6. And The Book Giveaway Winner Is...

Gwen Hooks

Congrats for winning a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Teenagers!

Gwen's name was randomly drawn from an OU (University of Oklahoma) baseball cap by my oldest son, Big C. Gwen, I will be contacting you soon to mail you your copy.

Thanks to everyone who entered and spread the word!

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7. My First Time Being Interviewed

Check out my first time on the flip-side of an interview with author, Susan Meyers. Thanks Susan!

Quickie Interview: Kim Rogers (and Giveaway!)

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8. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Teenagers Book Giveaway

I received my copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Teenagers scheduled for release on July 26th. In it you'll find my stories, Stacy's Secret and The Substitute and many other inspirational stories.

Want to win a copy?

To win you can do one or more of the following:

1. Follow this blog

2. Comment on this blog post. (Should have added this in the original post. Sorry!)

3. Blog about this book giveaway

4. Tweet about this book giveaway

If you do one of the above you get one entry. If you do two, you get two entries. And so on.

Open to all U.S. residents. Contest deadline is Friday, July 22nd.

Please spread the word. Good luck!

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9. Write a Novel This Summer

Overwhelmed with the thought of writing an entire novel? You can do it! Check out Camp NaNoWriMo where you can find online support, tracking tools, and a serious deadline to help you write the rough draft of your novel in just a MONTH this summer.

2011 Camp NaNoWriMo sessions take place in July and August. Like you need to add more to your crazy summer filled with work and vacations and all the the things you do. Right? And if you're a mom like me—trying to write amidst taxiing kids to camp, the pool, and just plain keeping them entertained and from saying, "Mom, I'm bored." Well, there's always the original NaNoWriMo that kicks off in November. Either way, you'll have that novel written by Christmas.

Hope you're staying cool this summer. To all my American friends . . .

Be safe where you are!

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10. Story Acceptances

My two stories, The Substitute and Stacy's Secret have been accepted for publication in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Teenagers. Yay! The book is scheduled for release on June 26, 2011.

As soon as I receive my copies, I'll be having a book giveaway. Be sure to check back!

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11. First Blogger Award

With all the awful news of the past week . . . moving onto positive news.

 I received my first blogger award from my Big Sur buddy, Cynthia Cheng! She said she enjoyed reading my blog. I enjoy reading hers, too. Check it out at Read is the New Black. Don't you love her blog design? Here's yet another advantage of attending writing workshops and conferencesthe awesome friends you meet.

Thanks Cynthia!

So I'll pass this on to a few of my other favorite blogger friends . . .


If you are a blogger do you want to award some of your favorite blogger buddies, too? Here are the rules from Cynthia's blog:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share seven facts about yourself.
2. Pass the award along to buddies whose blogs epitomize said theme.
4. Contact those buddies to award theme.
5. Rules 1-4 are optional. You can adhere to them only if you wish to.

Below are seven random facts about myself. Probably more than you ever wanted to know. Right?

1. I've lived overseas for five years in two different continents and traveled to many countries.
2. I've taught English in South Korea.
3. My writing is sporadic. I don't have a set time or place. I like varied locations like the library, home, or at a coffee shop where I used to write with a friend. We chatted waaaay too much and never got much writing done, so now we just meet for lunch.
4. I don't like peanut butter. Yuck.
5. I (along with my hubby) was in a boat crash in Venice. Through a seriously thick fog, a tugboat emerged heading directly for our water bus. My hubby had a detailed plan of which window we would jump from if we collided and took on water. He told me to, "Get ready." When we crashed head-on, it sloshed our boat, jostled us around, and jacked up the front end of our boat. Luckily, we didn't have to leap into that scary, murky-green water.
6. I'm addicted to Riesen chocolate (that I hide) and caffeine free Diet Dr. Pepper in an ice cold can.
7. I once won an individual amateur curling competition on a ski trip in Austria. I really don't know how I pulled that off. It was definitely beginners luck.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend (if you live in the U.S.)  and be safe where you are!

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12. Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak

I can't believe I'm blogging about tornadoes AGAIN. This time the tornado outbreak was in my neck of the woods in Oklahoma yesterday. It was a scary afternoon for sure.

Before the weather turned severe, I was at my hairstylist and was the last haircut of the day. They cancelled the rest of the days appointments due to the high risk or tornadoes. My hubby came home from work early since the meteorologists were telling people to stay off the highways during the late afternoon to evening hours. Then, we picked up our kids early from school. And it wasn't long until the weather turned violet and tornado sirens began to blare.

Our previous home had a tornado shelter. Since our current home does not, we headed to the kid's school (along with our neighbors across the street) that was opened up as a public tornado shelter. Most schools built in Oklahoma after 1991 are equipped with safe roomsreinforced above ground shelters able to withstand high winds.

As I type this, CNN is reporting a tornado on the ground in Sealia, Missouri. This is just days after the F5 tornado tore a path of massive destruction through Joplin and, according to one report, destroyed seventy-five percent of the town.

Here's some stories on recent tornadoes:

Joplin Death Toll at 116 Making It Deadliest Tornado in Nearly 60 Years

Tornadoes, storms kill 6 in Oklahoma and Kansas

My prayers go out to everyone affected. There's a three-year-old boy still missing in the town of Piedmont. If you are a praying person too, please keep him and his family in your prayers.

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13. 5 Things I Admire About Published Authors

Whether at conferences, workshops, writing groups or book signings, you’ve probably met several published authors. I’ve met many great authors in my journey as a writer and wanted to share with you the traits of  the ones who've impacted me the most.

1. They are humble. 

2. They give back. They invest in new writers, mentoring them, encouraging them, speaking to them at workshops and conferences.

3. They comment on aspiring writers facebook posts. It’s not all about them and promoting their books. They care about others, too.

4. They don’t promote their own agenda. They are careful what they say publicly about politics and religion or say nothing at all. They respect everyone’s opinions.

5. Their writing rocks.

 I’m most likely to buy books from these types of authors. How about you?

2 Comments on 5 Things I Admire About Published Authors, last added: 5/23/2011
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14. Famous Writers on Failure and Success

Lessons on Failure from Joyce Carol Oates

The Fringe Benefits of Failure: J.K. Rowling Harvard Commencement Speech

J.K. Rowling on Fear, Depression, and Failure


"Talent is a dreadfully cheap commodity, cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work and study
–Stephen King

"When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself."
-Isak Dinesen

"Failure is success if we learn from it."
-Malcom S. Forbes

Be responsible for your own success. "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go."
-Dr. Seuss

Stay the course, even when it feels like you aren't making progress. "One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night."
-Kahlil Gibran

"Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience."
-Paul Coelho

"Success is blocked by concentrating on it and planning for it… Success is shy – it won't come out while you're watching."
-Tenessee Williams

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15. Tornadoes Across the South

As someone who lives in tornado alley, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the south affected by tornadoes last week. This was the second worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history.

I've been through a few tornadoes myself. Although I've never lost my home, I know the fear of hearing tornado sirens blaring, having to seek shelter in a bathtub with my family, and wondering if a tornado would hit our house as we waited for a violent storm to pass.

In 2007, my story, A Safe Haven (about one of my tornado experiences and how our neighbors took care of us) was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul People Who Make a Difference: The Headlines You'll Never Read and was later reprinted in Hometown America.

For more information on the recent tornadoes:

Tornadoes Leave Destruction Across South

Obama ramps up recovery help for tornado-hit south

Some ways to help:

Seven Ways to Help Tornado Victims

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16. Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers Workshop

This workshop sounds great! From an occbww email:

This summer, July 11-15 we will proudly present the ninth Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers Workshop, in the exquisite Oregon coast town of Oceanside. At this time the class is three-quarters full. If you care to join us, probably it would be a good idea to sign up soon by using the registration form at the site.

The instructors for the workshop will include five established children's book authors (between them, specializing in YA and middle school novels, picture books, non-fiction, magazine pieces, and poetry), two children's book editors from major houses, and one children's book agent. Summer Workshop 2011 promises to be our best yet because:

- The instructor-student ratio will be a maximum of one to seven
- Each day you will meet with an instructor for at least one comprehensive consultation
- You can have one-on-one informal meetings with instructors each day as well
- Every student who wishes can have an anonymous first page manuscript critique by all eight instructors in front of the class
- We will offer at least twelve instructional lectures on various aspects of writing and publishing
- There will be two evening presentations by instructors
- Out-of-class consultations with instructors are available
- There will be at least three guest lectures/writing workshops
- There will be two wonderful parties (quite appropriate for friends, partners, spouses, children)

If you are ambitious to publish a children's book (or simply adore children's books) this is the workshop for you. It will allow you to connect directly with authors, editors, agents who are active in the children's book business. If you go to the website and look under Evaluations, you'll see that it's received extraordinarily high praise.

The course is available for graduate credit.

For complete information we welcome you to visit our website at www.occbww.com

There's a generous refund policy (described at the website) if you decide to register now and then later on change your mind.

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17. The Future of Publishing

Wow. Check it out . . .

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18. UCLA Writers' Program Cyberhouse: Free Online Open House

A friend from the Big Sur Writing Workshop told me about online writing classes presented by the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. She's taking classes on campus and highly recommends them.

For those of us who don't live in LA, UCLA Extension is having a free online open house on May 3. You need to register by April 29th.

For more information you can check out the UCLA Extension web site at WRITERS' PROGRAM CYBERHOUSE: A FREE ONLINE OPEN HOUSE.

I've registered and am planning on taking a few online courses. You may want to check it out, too.

Hope to see you there!

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19. Lee & Low Announces 2010 New Voices Winners

Who's Lee & Low?

One of the few minority-owned publishing companies.  http://www.leeandlow.com/p/about_us.mhtml

From the Lee & Low Newsletter . . .

Each year the New Voices Award is given to one or more unpublished authors of color for a picture book manuscript. We're pleased to announce our 2010 recipients:

Winner: Jane Bahk, Juna's Jar

Juna's Jar was inspired by Bahk and her husband's shared childhood experiences of collecting and playing with large empty kimchi jars. Bahk will receive a prize of $1,000 and a standard publication contract.

Honor: Muon Van, Village by the Sea

Village by the Sea is based on the fishing village in Vietnam where Van's family lived for generations. Written for her father, Village by the Sea captures his memories of home in spare language and evocative images. Van will receive a prize of $500.

Past winners of the New Voices Award include Bird, Seaside Dream, and Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds.

For more information visit Lee & Low's New Voices page.

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20. Misconceptions About Picture Book Writing

Misconception #1: Since picture books are written for younger children they are the easiest to write and sell.

Picture books are DIFFICULT to write. Every word must count and many editors are wanting shorter picture book manuscripts. Try fitting a coherent story into 500 words or less. AND your story must be truly fantastic to rise above the slush pile. Also, a published author/friend of mine said that a picture book is approximately a $150,000 investment for a publisher. No wonder the competition is crazy-fierce and rejections are a plentiful. Yowza.

Picture Book Manuscripts: Why Most Fail to Sell

Why does everyone think it's easy to write a picture book?

Misconception #2: My kids, neighbors, mom, and cats LOVE my picture book, so it must be good.
Dude, not so fast. Have you seen those people on American Idol who don't make it to Hollywood? Cringe-worthy stuff. I'll bet their mamas said they were good, too. 

Unrealistic Expectations? Unrealistic Expectations, Party of Four?

Misconception #3: If I write a picture book, I have to find my own illustrator.

Um, NO.

Picture Book Manuscripts and Illustrations

Guide to Literary Agents

Happy writing!

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21. Highlights Workshops For Spring 2011

Interested in children's writing workshops? Check this out from the Hightlights Foundation . . .

This spring, the Highlights Foundation has three exciting new workshops to help you meet your writing goals. Our faculty members are children's literature professionals. They have been where you are now, and they know just what it takes to get your writing off the computer and into the hands of eager young readers. Take a look at the first-time offerings below and see our other 2011 workshops at http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/pages/current/FWsched_preview.html.

Learn to Self-Edit and Revise

Harold Underdown, longtime editor and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, will introduce writers to proven techniques for self-editing and for revising with the help of others, from checklists to reader response theory to critique groups. Through lectures, hands-on work, and model critique group sessions, participants will gain objectivity, learn to give more focused responses to manuscripts, discover a variety of techniques for self-editing, and explore big-picture revision down to copy-editing. How to Revise on Your Own and with Others (March 10-13, 2011) is limited to twelve participants.

Intensify Your Middle-Grade Novel

Shape and intensify your novel in progress through group critiques, targeted writing exercises, and consultation with novelist and editor Rich Wallace. Rich is known for his award-winning novels for young adults; but much of his recent work has been for this younger age group, including his novels Sports Camp and War and Watermelon, and his two series, The Winning Season and Kickers. This exciting new workshop will focus on developing age-appropriate (and realistic) dialogue, internal monologue, action, and the all-important narrative voice. Writing Novels for Middle-Graders (April 7-10, 2011) is limited to twelve participants.

Write for the Ear and the Eye

Short works, whether picture books, short stories, easy readers, chapters, or poems, require the ability to jettison the verbal baggage that can bog down a story. Children's writer Juanita Havill and writer/editor Susan Pearson will show you how to write with precision and economy and how to revise with ear and eye. You'll analyze exemplary "short" works for children and young adults, learn how to create taut plots and to link episodic chapters by means of an overarching plotline, and analyze and put into practice techniques for self-editing. Time to Be Brief: Taking the Time to Write Concisely (May 19-22, 2011) is limited to twelve participants.

The Highlights Foundation keeps workshops small so you get the individual attention your writing deserves. To apply and secure your spot, or for more information, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192 570-253-1192, e-mail jo.lloyd@highlightsfoundation.org, or request an application online.

Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops take place near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. You'll stay in your own cozy cabin, surrounded by 1,300 wooded acres and hiking trails. Workshop fee includes individual cabins; all meals (provided by a top-notch chef); airport pickup service, if needed; and an intimate teaching setting at the homeplace of the Founders of Highlights for Children.

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22. How To Be A Happy Writer

1. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. They have their own path to publication and you have yours. So what if they sold something to a big publisher. How long have they been working toward that goal? If you’ve only been writing for a short time, don’t be impatient. You must pay your dues. If you learn all you can about writing, work hard enough, and want it bad enough, publication may come when the time is right. And that might not be NOW. It could be a few years away or twelve . . . Plus, comparison can lead you down a path to jealousy. Don't go there. You'll save yourself some grief and keep your self-confidence in check.

2. Be patient. See number one.

3. Exercise. Taking care of your body will help take care of your mind. You’ll have more energy to crank out those words like a writin’ fool on a caffeine high without the side effects.

4. Give sadness the boot. Writers have the tendency to get down. When you are feeling blue, take a walk, have lunch with a friend, go shopping, eat chocolate (highly recommended), listen to your favorite music.

5. Find the right fit for a critique group or partner. Nothing will karate-kick your writing into gear more that finding other writers who support your passion and like you and your writing. You can find them online, at writing conferences, or in a local writing group. You may have to try a few to ensure the best fit. The right people make all the difference. They are your fellow word ninjas.

6. Write. Many people who say they are writers only talk about it. Tie yourself to the computer and put in your writing hours, Mister.

7. Don't let anything stop you. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door or shoot the stink eye when anyone walks into the room--even your needy cat. And do it . . . NOW. You are not getting any younger. Don't wait until your kids grow up, you move to a bigger place with an office, or you have some sort of degree to deem yourself a writer. If you write, guess what? You are a writer. Be self-motivated. Be courageous. Be FEARLESS. Just DO it.

8. Enjoy the world. Yes, you need to write, but you also must enjoy life. Not only does this make you an interesting writer, it makes you a fun person, too. Volunteer. Take a class. Go to a museum. Hang out with your human kids and/or furry ones. They will forgive you for the stink eye. Take a trip. Have a romantic date night with your significant other. Do a friends' night out.

Want more tips? Check out Nathan Bransford's Ten Commandments of a Happy Writer.

Keep writing!

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23. Devastation in Japan

I am heartbroken by the news images covering the devastation in Japan in the aftermath of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Japanese people and everyone affected by this awful tragedy.

Here are some great ways to help: 

Six Ways You Can Help Earthquake and Tsunami Victims in Japan

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24. Big Sur Fiction Writing Workshop March 2011

I'm feeling energized and inspired after attending the Big Sur Fiction Writing Workshop in Seaside/Monterey, California on March 4 - 6. The workshop is offered twice a year by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency in conjunction with the Henry Miller Library.

My husband came along, too. Even though he's not a writer, he was able to join me for all the meals and cocktail parties. What a blast! He even fessed up to having some fun himself and got in some much needed nap time. The lazy bum. I absolutely LOVE meeting and getting to know new people. These types of events nurture my social butterfly side. I'm still pumped!

This is one of the best investments I've made in my writing thus far and my twelfth conference. If you're looking for constructive and useful feedback on your manuscripts, a big helping of encouragement, and networking with new friends, this workshop is for you! Here's the scoop:

Panels. The weekend consisted of three agent, editor, and author panels. They shared the latest trends in publishing, their pet peeves, what types of manuscripts they are wanting, and the books they've published. One surprising tidbit Andrea Brown shared is that most of their sales from last year came from picture books even though the market has been soft for these books. She said that Good Night Moon would not sell in today's market as kids of the 21st century are more sophisticated and savvy readers.

Critique groups. Writers were split into two critique groups each depending on genre. The groups consisted of four to five peers and were facilitated by one of the faculty members. I loved both of my critique groups. Our leaders did a fantastic job! One group bonded so well we were sad when the workshop ended. I'm thankful for email and facebook. So happy to keep in touch with many new amazingly talented writing buddies!

Time to revise. After the first critique groups, we were given several hours to revise before we immersed ourselves in the second and final critiques. Because of the excellent feedback from my groups and the short stint of time (I'm a deadline oriented person) I was able to revise several manuscripts for the better. Now that I'm at home, I'll be revising and revising and REVISING some more. One published picture book author told us she revised a picture book manuscript 200 times before she finally got it right. FOR REAL.

Private query critique from a faculty member. Query writing is tough. My private meeting with a fabulous agent allowed me to get some valuable feedback on my query and manuscripts. It was an incredibly positive experience.

Meeting agents. Attending Big Sur gave me the opportunity to meet and hear several agents speak. It was great getting a sense of their personalities and what types of works 

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25. Chicken Soup For The Soul Finalist

Just found out Friday that I have a second teen Chicken Soup for the Soul story in the finalist round for upcoming books. I'm shocked! They've published several of my stories, but I'm always stunned when positive writing news comes my way. I'm sending the second contract off soon. Fingers crossed these stories make the final cut.

I love writing anthology stories. Cup of Comfort is another publication I've published with. Unfortunately, they are retiring these books.  If you're interested in writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul, check out their writers' guidelines on their website and possible book titles.

Have a great week!

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