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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: encouragement, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 173
1. The Adversity of Creation


Rejection educates. Failure teaches. Both hurt. Only distraction comforts. And of these, only distraction can lead to destruction. Rejection and failure can nourish us, but wasted time is a tiny death. What determines whether we will succeed as creators is not how intelligent we are, how talented we are, or how hard we work, but how we respond to the adversity of creation.

How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

The post The Adversity of Creation appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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2. wisdom from whitney of reality TV

Photo and window box by Vicky Lorencen

Photo and window box by Vicky Lorencen

It’s okay. You can admit it. Reality TV is a guilty pleasure for a lot of people, and by people, I mean me, of course. But duh, it’s definitely not a go-to for deep insight. Well, not typically.

This week I caught “My Big Fat Fabulous Life.” Starring Whitney, a young, sassy, dance-loving woman, the show focuses on her challenges and triumphs while living with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which has caused Whitney to gain a dramatic amount of weight.

In this episode, after Whitney performed at the National Museum of Dance, she addressed the audience and said, Don’t wait until you have the confidence to do something that scares you. It’s doing the scary thing that gives you confidence. Maybe that seems simplistic or obvious to you, my Pumpkin Praline Muffin, but it’s borderline brilliant as far as I’m concerned. And sure, while Whitney applied her wisdom to dance, but it doesn’t take much of a leap (or grand jete’) to see how it could work for writers.

I’ve long ascribed to the adage “attitude follows action.” But I’m going to adopt a new one a la Whitney–“confidence follows action.”

And now, for the confession portion of this post –writing picture books scares me. They seem so simple. And maybe they are for you. But me? Hardly! So then, my muse (Edna) keeps dealing me these story ideas she knows I can’t resist. (That chick does not know the meaning of mercy.) Well, I’ve got news for Edna. I’m going to channel my inner Whitney and write my way to confidence. So there!

Ready to make a deposit in your confidence bank? Take action this week. G’head and do what makes your right eye twitch and your palms go clammy. You’re going to be amazing, my Butter Pat! I’m confident of it.

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it. ~ J.M. Barrie


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3. #IWSG - Insecure Writer's Support Group Post -

Another month has flown by and it's time for the writer's in the Insecure Writer's Support Group to post about our insecurities.

In the words of our fearless leader, Alex Cavanaugh...

When posting for IWSG day, remember to stay on topic – either post about your insecurities, struggles, or challenges or post something of encouragement for other writers. Most important – be sure to visit other IWSG members! This day is about coming together for support and encouragement.

We are still trying to get the IWSG site listed as one of Writers’ Digest’s Top 100 Best Websites for Writers! Please email them at writersdigest@fwmedia.com, subject line 101 Websites, and suggest the IWSG http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

Don’t forget we have a Facebook group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

The co-hosts for November are:

We need co-hosts for December 2 and January 6! If you can co-host, please let me know.

Please visit fellow #IWSG members today!

Thanks and let’s rock it on November 4!

Today, I'd like to chat offering words of encouragement. I know I have allowed myself one too many times to second guess my path of writing when I don't get a good old, "way to go!" from someone that is riding the roller coaster ride of writing and publishing. 

A simple act of giving a few words of encouragement go a long way. When you share your positive words of someone's accomplishments or struggles, watch them stand a wee bit taller when you offer your encouragement. 

Something as simple as saying...

"good job" 

"I'm here for you" 

"I like how you are developing this scene, may I offer a suggestion" 

will often change a person's self-doubt to a positive. Try it, today and everyday and brighten someone's day!

Thanks for visiting and commenting. You have certainly brightened my day! 


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters ~ December 2015 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Pre-Order Today

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Historical Fiction 1st Place, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Honorable Mention Picture Books 6+, New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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4. Two Articles to Sustain Your Writing Life

corrales totem

For years I’ve been linking to posts I hope encourage and inspire you. But I came across two posts in one week that zinged me like nothing else. They were everything I needed to hear at this phase of my writing life. I hope they are also an encouragement to you.

The Deepest Gift :: Marion Dane Bauer

Early in my career I came to understand something important: the number of books published, the number of awards garnered matters very little. What matters is the day-by-day process of sitting down to write, of honing my skill, of mining my truth.

Dear Polly, Should I Just Give Up on My Writing? :: NYMag.com (a heads up: this post contains “language”)

And when your hungry ego grabs the wheel and drives you off a cliff, forgive yourself. But then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and repeat these words: I AM AN OLD NOBODY AND I LOVE WHAT I DO.



The post Two Articles to Sustain Your Writing Life appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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5. writers can learn a lot from a dummy

Collage by Vicky Lorencen

Collage by Vicky Lorencen

Back in the late 1900s, there was a clever public service announcement encouraging seatbelt use. It featured crash test dummies and the tagline “You can learn a lot from a dummy.”

Fast forward to, well, right this very minute. When I hear the word dummy, I think of a mini mock-up of a picture book, not a badass mannequin.

Some of my friends write picture books exclusively. (If you must know, I admire/loathe them all. Blast their bundles of talent! Promise not to repeat that, okay?) While, I, on the other cramped hand, write picture books illusively. Meaning, I get a won’t-go-away idea. I do my best to puzzle the idea into a manuscript and then tinker with it until it begs for mercy. Then rinse and repeat. It is never easy or pretty. But, Seuss help me,  it brings me a perverse, inexplicable delight when I finally pin that butterfly of an idea to the board. Making a dummy helps me get to that point.

Whether you and picture books are going steady or you only hang out when the mood strikes,  dummy-making may be wise for you too.

Smart dummy pointers . . .

  • Do not waste a nanosecond worrying about your inability to draw. Dummies are designed to be tools, not  objets d’art.
  • Illustrators need a dummy. Writers need a dummy. All God’s children need a dummy (more or less).
  • If your picture book word count needs a serious count down, making a dummy can really help. You can easily see which words are keepers and which are just leftovers. Aim for 500 or less–a whole heap less.
  • Dummies will also tell you if your cute or clever idea is robust and active enough to sustain a 32-page page-turner.
  • For a tip-top primer on how to make a dummy, visit this blog post from picture book author extraordinaire Tara Lazar.
  • At a recent SCBWI event, I picked up this cool trick from masterful picture book author Kelly DiPucchio. Once Kelly has a decent draft, she prints it and cuts out each line, then uses an existing 32-page picture book (any one will do) to check her pacing. She paperclips or lightly tapes her lines into the book to see how well her story fits the format. If not, she can tailor and tighten or expand.

You simply must be convinced of a dummy’s brilliance by now.

And so, my little cummerbund of cuteness, my bon vivant of brilliance, do you dare devise a dummy? Indeed, I hope you do.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. ~ Steve Jobs

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6. The Best Gift My Husband Ever Received for Pastor Appreciation Month (and a Giveaway for Your Pastor!)

by Sally Matheny

Best Gifts for Pastor Appreciation Month
My husband answered the call to pastor his first church in 2004. Eleven years later, we’re still serving the Lord alongside the same sweet family of believers. Nestled in the foothills of North Carolina, you’ll find our little church bursting at the seams with some of the most compassionate and generous people.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Perhaps some of you are contemplating ways to bless your minister. Be sure to post a comment at the end to enter the drawing for a gift card for your pastor. And just in case you don't win, I’ll share some suggestions including the absolute, best gift my husband ever received for Pastor Appreciation Month.
Read more »

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7. So Wow. The Simple Show Podcast


I’ve been a fan of Tsh Oxenreider since 2009 (which is pretty much forever on the Internet). Back then, I was just about ready to jump into this thing called blogging, but I wasn’t sure how to begin. My dear friend Jamie Martin sent me a “how to” link that led me to Tsh’s blog, The Art of Simple. I’ve been faithfully reading ever since.

About four years ago, Tsh started a podcast called The Simple Show, which has kept me company through numerous runs and cleaning days and afternoons walking the dog. And perhaps last summer, as I listened while taking the dog on one more lap around the block, I cooked up some things I’d say to Tsh if I were ever on her show. Which was utterly ridiculous. Tsh and I had interacted some in her blog’s comment section and a few times on Twitter, but that was pretty much it.

So imagine my surprise when September brought an email with a podcast request. “No worries,” Tsh said, “if you’re not interested.”

I was most definitely very over-the-top interested. I hope you’ll listen in!

The post So Wow. The Simple Show Podcast appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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8. The Then and The Now: Reflections Over Chicago


Monday night I sat on a plane, alone with my thoughts, as Chicago ran beneath me. Here I was flying across the country to speak about one of my books.


The gal full of yearning who seventeen years before had started a novel on a summer afternoon, who had no idea it would take twelve years and hundreds of rejections and ten manuscripts to finally break in, the gal who, if she knew, wouldn’t have had the courage to keep trying.

What would my twenty-four year-old self think of this moment?

This certainly wasn’t my first school visit or the only one that’s required a plane, but somehow that didn’t matter. From the quiet of my window seat, the sheer distance of my journey felt overwhelmingly grand.

A memory from L.M. Montgomery‘s journals came to me. In 1927, after publishing over a hundred short stories and thirteen novels, she received a letter from Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, who thanked her for “the pleasure her books had given [him].” And Maud responded in a way that makes me tear up every time I read it:

I took the letter with me to Lover’s Lane and read it — read it not to myself but to the little girl who walked here years ago and dreamed — and wrote her dreams into books that have pleased a statesmen of the Empire. And the little girl was pleased.

Flying over Chicago on Monday night, I held a silent celebration with my former self. And that young woman who dreamed so many years ago was pleased.

The post The Then and The Now: Reflections Over Chicago appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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9. This Day: Wisdom from Simply Tuesday


“…part of living well in ordinary time is letting this day be good. Letting this day be a gift. Letting this day be filled with plenty. And if it all goes wrong and my work turns to dust? This is my kind reminder that outcomes are beyond the scope of my job description.”

The post This Day: Wisdom from Simply Tuesday appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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10. Six Years of Working Hard and Believing

winter apples

As much as I love blogging, I’m not always sure other people are listening in. A few weeks ago I got an incredible email from blog reader Linda Jackson that reminded me what I do here does indeed connect with readers, sometimes in very big ways.

Hi Caroline,

Since that day I received an email from Amazon stating that May B. was a book of the month then saw your WOW Wednesday post on Adventures in Children’s Publishing, I have been totally inspired and motivated by your story. I don’t know if you know this, but I have a list of authors on my website under a tab titled Inspiration, and you are at the top of the list. What has inspired me most was your post Plow to the End of the RowAnd today I want to share with you that I have plowed to the end of the row, which is quite fitting seeing that the main character in the manuscript that finally landed me an agent actually has to work in a cotton field. 

After six years of working hard and believing, 200+ queries, 4 manuscripts (one of them rewritten multiple times, once from scratch), 4 R&R’s from agents, 7 pitch contest wins, I finally got “The Call” today.

So, that’s my story, and I wanted you to know how you influenced it…which is why I will ALWAYS BUY YOUR BOOKS! Interestingly, after reading your post on Working Hard and Believing, I remember thinking, Lord, please don’t let that happen to me. I could never survive 200 queries. When I read about Kathryn Stockett and her five years of querying, I said I could never do that. And when I read that Becca Fitzpatrick re-wrote the same manuscript for five years and even trashed it and rewrote it from scratch, I said I could never do that. have done ALL that and more. The manuscript that I queried forever and rewrote forever is still NOT the one that got an editor/agent’s attention. I had to write something new. We never know what we can survive until we have to survive it.

Thanks for being an inspiration,


I’ve been sitting on this email for weeks, waiting to hear where Linda’s book landed. Here’s the official news from Publisher’s Marketplace:

Mississippi-native Linda Jackson’s BECOMING ROSA, a coming-of-age tale set in Mississippi in 1955, about a young African-American girl who dreams of a life beyond the cotton fields, to Elizabeth Bewley at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2016, by Victoria Marini at Gelfman Schneider/ICM (World English).

Congratulations, Linda! Your story has thrilled me down to my toes and has inspired me to keep plowing. Now, readers, go out and congratulate the remarkable Linda Jackson.

The post Six Years of Working Hard and Believing appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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11. don’t go minding my heart

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You’ve had them. Those dreams of days that exist solely in your mind’s eye. You imagine how you’ll feel, what you’ll say or do as soon as the thing you’ve longed for a long time flips from fantasy to reality.

Then, that magical day arrives, and in a blink, you realize your mind’s eye was playing tricks on you.

It was like that for me earlier this month when my dream agent Erin Murphy offered to represent me. I was near tears, but then a surreal calm covered me. Not at all what I expected.  I always assumed I’d hang up the phone and do a squeal/jump/cry combo. (Just picture it!) But I didn’t. I sat alone in my office in stunned silence.  I’ve heard from friends who’ve had a similar experience.

Why? Well, I’ve pondered on that.

My best guess is that when your brain has been standing guard over your dream-holding heart for many years, it takes a bit before it can stand down and let your heart be happy. Your mind cares so much about your safety, it goes deaf to the cries of your heart that’s saying, “This is great news! Let’s celebrate!”

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Thankfully, it only took about 24 hours before my mind unlocked my heart and I was free to be both grateful and giddy (yes, I even skipped down the hall with happiness).

Now, I know there’s still lots of work ahead, no guarantees and more opportunities for rejection, trail and error, and failure. My mind will still be busy watching over my heart, but for now, I’m delighted to enjoy this milestone.

Let me encourage you to celebrate your milestones too–sending out a submission you’ve spent many months (maybe years) preparing, making the shift from beer to champagne rejections (that is a big deal!), selling an article to a magazine you admire, getting that beloved book contract or whatever achievement makes your heart smile and your dear, overworked mind nod in agreement.

Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead. ~ Nelson Mandela



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12. There is No Schedule


If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know my friend  J. Anderson Coats says a lot of things that resonate with me. She’s the one who gave me my favorite piece of writing advice and came up with that great cow-through-a-colander writing metaphor.

During a recent email exchange with my Class of 2k12 friends, Jillian shared this:

A writing career is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. You’re not on a schedule. There is no schedule.

That first part, I’ve probably heard it a thousand times. But the second part? It felt like a revelation. It’s true that when you’re on deadline you most certainly have a schedule, but otherwise, the writing life is wide open.

So you know what?

  • If there’s no schedule, someone else isn’t going to beat you to the punch. What you’re working on now will not somehow be replaced by someone else’s (faster) efforts.
  • The market isn’t in charge of your story. You are.
  • For you published folks, you will not be forgotten if you somehow don’t get to keep some “regular” publishing schedule. Yes, your readers might age out, as they say, but there are always new readers to take their place and earlier books to introduce readers to the new ones, whenever they happen to be published.
  • Unless you’re contractually committed, you can write whatever you want whenever you want.
  • And there’s what author/illustrator Ruth McNally Barshaw (my niece’s former Girl Scout leader!) posted on Facebook a few days ago:

Repeated themes I heard at the writer-illustrator conference in LA: Slow down. Take time to do your best work. When you think it’s done, set it aside to assess again later. Build on what you borrow. Be courageous — do work you find important, no matter what others say. LIVE so you’ll have a rich portfolio of experiences to draw and write from. What gets your next book published isn’t luck, desperation, a magic shortcut, or networking with stars; it’s your hard work, your being ready to jump at sudden opportunities, and your connections with friends. #SCBWI14

Here’s to approaching your writing with freedom in the days ahead!




The post There is No Schedule appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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13. Finding God's Presence--Daddy, I Love You

When I first met Nan Jones at a Christian Devotions writers’ conference several years ago, I immediately sensed the fragrance of her love for Christ.Over the years, I’ve watched Nan consistently cling to that love and put her faith into action.
She is an author/speaker who “uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the Presence of God in their darkest hour. Her devotional blog, Morning Glory, has become a place of community for Christians to find encouragement in God’s Word and comfort in His Presence.” 
She has been published in several anthologies as well as the online inspirational sites Christian Devotions, and Inspire a Fire. 
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas will release her debut book, The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife June 30, 2015. Blessed to be a beta reader, I can say this book is wonderful. You’ll hear more about that in an interview I do with Nan later this summer.
Nan also features as a guest blogger on several sites and I’m delighted to have her guest blogging for me this week

Finding God's Presence ~ Daddy, I Love You 

by Nan Jones

The pitter-patter of tiny feet echoed through the hallway, running gleefully towards her dad.

"Daddy! Daddy!"
Daddy sat his briefcase by the door just in time to receive a leaping toddler into his strong arms. Father and daughter hugged, exchanging glances that reflected their adoration of one another. Hearts raced. Faces smiled. Eyes gleamed.

The child relaxed in her daddy's arms. She placed her chubby little cheek next to her father's and quietly whispered, "Daddy ... I love you, daddy."

The one the child had been seeking, she found.

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14. Unexpected Joy


If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it.
―Mary Oliver

The post Unexpected Joy appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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15. Two Words You Don't Want to Hear & One Book You Really Should Read: Interview with Author, Venita McCart

"It's Cancer"
“It’s Cancer”—Finding Help and Hope on the Road to Recovery was recently released by Straight Street Books. There’s a great need for this book because statistics state one out of every two men, and one out of every three women, will hear those two words no one wants to hear. "It's cancer."
While statistics sound cold and clinical, this book is not. Rather it is full of hope, encouragement, and helpful guidance.
I am delighted to have the author and cancer survivor, Venita McCart, as a guest on my blog this week. Venita and I became friends a few years ago and I’ve eagerly waited for her to write this book. Not only does it offer help for those diagnosed with cancer, but it is enlightening and beneficial for the rest of us to read.
In “It’s Cancer”—, Venita shares her own experiences as well as those of others. The back copy reads, “Come alongside patient survivors as they successfully overcome the obstacles of weighing treatment advice, managing caregivers, establishing attainable goals, realigning expectations, and embracing a new normal during and after cancer. Grapple with the tough questions about suffering, death, and heaven. Learn the value of being your own advocate, accepting setbacks, choosing gratitude, and developing a closer relationship with God.
As the founder of Faith Force Cancer Support Ministry in Illinois, Venita continues to validate the realities of cancer while offering strategies for finding inner joy and peace. I’m delighted to have her share with us today.

Read more »

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16. Step by Step, Word by Word


Twenty-three years ago this summer I backpacked down the Grand Canyon’s Kaibab Trail with seven kids from my youth group and came up Bright Angel a week later. Each day we packed our gear at three in the morning so we could begin our hike before the heat kicked in full blast. By the last morning of the trip, I was utterly spent. The steep climb out of the canyon left me feeling like maybe I wouldn’t make it. Maybe I’d be stuck on that trail forever.

I stopped moving about a half mile from the canyon’s rim, unsure how to muster up the strength to keep going. It didn’t matter I could see the end. Getting there felt near impossible.


That’s when I experienced a simple act of kindness that has lived with me ever since. My youth sponsor, Jim, told me I wouldn’t finish alone. We’d make it to the top together, one hundred steps at a time. Step by step we counted, resting after every set. While before the half mile had felt unsurmountable, broken down in tiny bits with someone else to walk beside me, it was doable. It was accomplishment and gratitude and so much celebration.

As I near the end of a complete manuscript overhaul in the midst of first-round edits (the second time I’ve re-written this book, by the way), I’ve thought a lot about that moment. I’m a few weeks out from my deadline, and honestly, I’m not sure of the words needed to make it to the end. Right now my focus must be each tiny writing moment, where the story moves forward, step by step.

Friends, I need an extra dose of courage and a second wind, if you have any to offer. Things will be quiet around here until I’ve turned my work in.



The post Step by Step, Word by Word appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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17. mindfulness and the writer’s mind

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You’ve heard of mindfulness, yes? Okay, so maybe you’ve “heard” of it, but your understanding is a tad fuzzy. If I give you a link to a delightful introduction via the lovely Anderson Cooper, can I trust you to come back to Frog on a Dime to read the rest of this post? Oh, you know I can never deny you anything. Okay, my little gum drop, have a look.

You’re back! [Trying not to look surprised] So, this mindfulness-ness thing, now you know it’s really about being aware, about being present–about being. Am I a pro at that? Oh, you little snickerdoodle. You do know how to make me chuckle. All I know is practicing mindfulness is a good, life-enhancing thing that I believe can and will enhance my writing (and yes, yours, too).

I came up with a squatty list of ways mindfulness may do you (and me) good as a writer:

  • Mindfulness improves your ability to focus. Instead of being a mind-wandering writer, you can be present for the project at hand (literally on the keyboard).
  • Mindfulness makes you aware of life’s simplest moments–waking, showering, eating, walking, breathing. Relishing and being present in even the mundanity (sure, that’s a word) of every day enriches the way you are able to translate simple, sensual experiences into words for your readers.
  • Mindfulness may unplug writer’s block – when you’re blocked, it makes you stressed and being stressed keeps you blocked. Mindfulness helps to calm and center you so the ideas can flow. Because who among us wants to be wordstipated?

No doubt, this is not an exhaustive list. Let me hear your ideas. I am aware. I am present. I am ready to listen. I am headed to the kitchen . . . (see, I need more practice).

Want to know more about the benefits of mindfulness? Here’s some fine information from the good folks at Harvard Medical School. Enjoy.

I am a human being, not a human doing. ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

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18. 48 of the most important hours in a writer’s life

Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

Doodle by Vicky Lorencen

There are a plethora of important days in a writer’s life. (Pardon my use of plethora, but it’s such a keen word.) But, in my book, there are 48 hours that stand out from the rest. They are far from the most fun, but a lot hinges on how we choose to handle them.

Day 1 – The First 24 Hours at Ground Zero

You receive a rejection letter or slam into a serious setback. I know there are some who say it’s best to roll with it. Rejection is knit into a writer’s life and there’s no point becoming unraveled by it. I commend you for your ability to be cavalier, but I can’t manage it myself. The times I’ve tried only came back to chomp me. Stuffing the sadness caused tears to erupt at the oh-so-wrong times, so I’m better off taking 24 hours to wallow and be a wreck.

I say, allow yourself to free-fall into the velvet bean bag chair of despair. Lie on your back and let the tears collect in your ears until it sounds like the ocean. Ask a musical friend to set that sadistic, frozen-hearted rejection letter to music–in a minor key. Eat your weight in whatever sweet or salty concoction delights you. Imagine the source of your angst tethered to a termite colony wearing only plywood underpants. Get those toes curled deep in the Quicksand of Certaindoom. Hand your friends and family this form too:


My name is: _________________________________________________________
(I suggest using your real name here, not your pen name. Make it easy on the first responder.)

Emergency contact: __________________________________________________ Genre type: (PB, MG, YA)
(e.g., Agent; Nearest Living Author Friend; Ben and/or Jerry)

While you are waiting for the Emergency Contact to arrive, follow these five simple steps:

Step 1 Check to make sure I’m breathing.
This step is especially if you found me face down in the area rug. Wave a Lindt truffle next to my nose to revive me.

Step 2 Do NOT apply logic.
Even small doses of logic have been known to be toxic at this point.

For example, these seemingly sensible words will NOT help:
“You’ve only tried two editors, right? You can try more.”
“Maybe it’s not you. Maybe the editor was just having an off day.” Liar.
“There’s always next year.”
“It’s not the end of the world.” Yes. Yes, it is the end of the world. The sun will not come up
tomorrow, no matter what that Annie girl says.

Step 3 Do NOT offer compliments, such as, “Well, I really liked your story.”
I don’t care. Your opinion doesn’t count right now. It will tomorrow (provided there is a tomorrow), but not now.

Step 4 If I look like I’m trying to put on a brave front, induce tears.
Force me to re-read the rejection letter out loud in front of a mirror so I can see how pitiful I look. Offer generous amounts of Kleenex.

Step 5 Apply ice cream to the site of the babbling in liberal doses.

To the rejected writer: Be sure to write your kind first responder a thank you note. That is, when you feel like writing again.

Day 2 – The Next 24 Hours at Resurrection Central

Today is the day you get on with it. Attitude follows action, so act like you’re bouncing back and you may actually believe it. (Besides, if you spent the first 24 hours wisely, you won’t want to curl back into the fetal position.) You’re now ready to stretch and stand up straight. Breathe. Wash your tear-streaked, Hershey’s Kiss encrusted mug. Pull on a fresh pair of big girl panties. Put on real I-can-be-seen-in-public clothes. Open your laptop. Pop open a file filled with half-finished projects. See what’s going on in there. It’s likely there’s something you like. Maybe even love. Type. Type again. Type some more. You see there, my little Puffalump? You’re going to be okay. I will too.

If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces. ~ Shane Koyczan

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19. Overwhelmed with Gratitude


I’m not sure thank you adequately expresses my appreciation for those of you who read here, but those are the only words I have. I hope you sense the weightiness and heart behind them:

Many thanks to those of you who read this post and wrote Amazon reviews for May B., Blue Birds, and Over in the Wetlands. It took time and reflection as well as true interest and love on your part, and I am so grateful.

Thank you for the bolstering words many of you left (including the lovely gift from my neighbor pictured above) when I let you know I needed some encouragement to finish my first-round edits. I’ve returned to your comments many times these past weeks. They kept me working to the very end.

When I started blogging six years ago this month, I had no sense of the rich and enduring connections I’d make as a result. For those of you who have been here from the beginning or have joined in sometime afterward,

thank you,

thank you,

thank you.

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20. Returning to Creative Spaces


For three years now I’ve had the privilege of returning to an old adobe house in Corrales for a writing retreat. The home is lovely and spacious with creaking wooden floors in some rooms and uneven brick in others and the gorgeous curving lines adobe lends to everything. It’s so very New Mexican, just being there inspires me.

There’s something grounding about going back to the same creative space year after year. This chaise is where I finished first-round edits on Blue Birds two years ago. It’s the same spot where this year I put in a twenty-five hour mad dash to the end of a new set of first-round edits, punctuated with breaks for meals and sleeping, a bit of conversation and this movie.

monday deadline

I was able to immerse myself in my work in a way that doesn’t happen often at home, surrounded by like-minded women who understand the joy, the discomfort, and the privilege of the writing life. And once, after our time together had passed, I was able to enter the real world again refreshed and with a renewed sense of why what I do matters and the purpose behind it all.

I hope you, too, find spaces that speak beauty and inspiration into your own creative endeavors.


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21. Three Quotes to Keep You Writing When You Feel You Don’t Know How


Two weeks ago at my writing retreat when I was nearing the end of my manuscript and wasn’t sure how it would all come together, my friend Uma Krishnaswami shared these quotes with me. They are paraphrases in the spirit of the original, things she reminds herself of in the uncertainty of the work. They’ve encouraged me, and I hope they’ll do the same for you.


Whatever moves you, write that story.
— Norma Fox Mazer

Write the book you don’t know how to write.
— M. T. Anderson

Trust that you will become the writer that the next revision needs you to be.
— Sharon Darrow

I’m beginning to understand that I’ll find my best writing only when I’m courageous enough to move toward the impossible and unknowable.

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22. time for the spring cleaning giveaway!

Take your pick!

Take your pick!

It’s time. As much as it pains me, I must purge my bookshelves a bit. Because I’m your fan, I want to share my purgings with you. Huh. That didn’t come out right, did it.

Moving on–we have a resource for non-fiction writers, one for picture book attempters,  a practical book for any writer and (yes, there’s more) a set of brilliant middle grade novels by masters of the genre. And you thought this was going to be an ordinary day. Silly you!

Lean in and I’ll tell you how you can be a winner of the Spring Cleaning Giveaway: simply comment on this post and let me know which book (or books), you’d like to win. Then, I’ll draw names on Friday, April 17 at Noon. Easy sneezy.

Here’s what’s on the menu (and good luck deciding!) . . .

The Magazine Article: How to Think It, Plan It Write It by Peter Jacobi

This book was published in the late 1900s (makes it sounds really outdated, doesn’t it). What it lacks in advice about online research, it more than makes up for in how to add substance, depth and honesty to your work as a non-fiction writer. Plus, it’s Peter Jacobi. He’s amazing. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, do. He’s a true orator. And can that guy write. Oh, my. Did I mention this book is signed? I almost hate to part with it.

Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books by Uri Shulevitz

This is a classic. If you write (or aim to write) picture books, you simply must have this book. It’s a treasure. And yes, I am willing to share it with you. Is that love or what?

Writer’s First Aid: Getting Organized, Getting Inspired and Sticking to It by Kristi Holl

I met Kristi ages ago at a Highlights Foundation workshop. This lady knows her stuff. While this little volume looks demure, it can be a real kick in the pants.

These fine middle grade novels, I’m offering as set. You can study them for craft, enjoy each as a fun, quick read and then share them with a child you love.

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events, No. 2: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
  • Lost in Cyberspace by Richard Peck
  • Hank Zipzer, The World’s Underachiever: Niagara Falls, or Does It? by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
  • This Gum for Hire by Bruce Hale

Have you made up your mind? Don’t wait too long. Leave a comment by Noon on Friday and hopefully you’ll be a winner. Regardless, you are a fine person and there are plenty of kids who would be happy to sit by you at lunch. Remember, don’t slouch.

With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy? ~ Oscar Wilde

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23. Classroom Connections: LOVE TWELVE MILES LONG by Glenda Armand

Last summer at SCBWI‘s national conference, I struck up a conversation with another attendee while standing in a winding sandwich line. It was absolutely my pleasure to befriend a fellow former teacher turned author, someone who also writes historical fiction and picture books and has even tried her hand at verse. That night I bought a copy of Glenda Armand’s Love Twelve Miles Long, a beautifully moving story. I’ll let Glenda tell you more.

genre: historical fiction
setting: Maryland, 1820s
age range: 6-11
teacher’s guide
Glenda Armand’s website

This poignant story, based on Frederick Douglass’s childhood, tells how his mother, a slave, would walk twelve miles at night for a brief visit with her son. Soothing text describes how she overcomes the monotony and loneliness through songs (joyful and sad), the solace of prayer, and love. Emotional paintings capture moods, especially the joy of reunion that wipes away weariness. — Horn Book

Starting with the boy’s elemental question, “Mama, why can’t I live with you?,” the words and pictures tell the family separation story in all its heartbreak and hope. — Booklist

Share this with young readers as a series of homilies on dreams and a family love strong enough to overcome any adversity. — Kirkus Reviews


Please tell us about your book.

Frederick Douglass was born a slave, escaped and went on to become a great orator and writer who championed the cause of freedom for his fellow African Americans. In his autobiography, Douglass showed the cruelty of slavery from his unique perspective as a former slave. It is a testament to Douglass’s remarkable life that President Abraham Lincoln called this former slave, “my friend Douglass.”

Love Twelve Miles Long takes place long before Frederick Douglass has become famous and successful. The setting is a farmhouse kitchen on a Maryland farm. It is evening and 5-year-old Frederick’s mother, Harriet, a slave who lives on different farm on their master’s plantation, has come to visit. The story allows the reader to peak in on mother and son as they share a few precious moments.

What inspired you to write this story?

When I read his autobiography, I was struck by Frederick Douglass’s strong feelings for his mother despite his having spent so little time with her. In fact, he only remembered seeing his mother at night on the few occasions that she was able to walk the twelve miles to spend time with her son. I believed that there was a story in those visits that spoke to the universal bond between mother and child.

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching? 

I read Frederick Douglass’s autobiography while preparing to teach eighth grade US history after many years of teaching in the elementary grades. The passage in which Douglass mentions his mother’s night time visits touched my heart. I could just imagine the love it took for her to walk twelve miles (one way!) to spend time with her son, who lived with the cook who served as babysitter for the slave children who were too young to work.

After reading his other autobiography written later in life, I came up with the way I would tell the story of Frederick and his mother.

I decided to envision Harriet and Frederick in their master’s kitchen, the place where the visits occurred. Then, with pen in hand (literally), I “listened” in on their conversation. There were times when I felt that Harriet was guiding my pen as I wrote. For instance, at one point Frederick asks, “Why did God make us slaves?” After writing the question, I crossed it out because I really didn’t have an answer. But then I heard Harriet’ voice saying, “Let him ask the question.” So I did.

What are some special challenges associated with writing historical fiction?

I love the challenge of writing historical fiction. I like taking events that I know happened to real people (like the visits Harriet paid to Frederick) and imagining things that could have happened (their conversation) and mixing them together to make a story. To me, this makes historical figures interesting, accessible and human. 

My books are introductions to real events and people that I hope invite the reader to find out more about the subjects.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

Love Twelve Miles Long lends itself to many classroom discussions/topics:

  • United States History/African American History/Black History Month
  • Mother’s Day/Families/Mother-child relationships/Love
  • Childhood experiences/Memories/Separation
  • Frederick Douglass/Abraham Lincoln/Slavery/Civil War
  • Dreams/Aspirations/Empathy/Compassion/Esteem/Confidence
  • Realistic Fiction/Historical Fiction

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24. the smartest thing you can do after you hit “send”

You poured your very self, spleen and all, into your manuscript and you’ve sent it off to an editor. Now what? Well, while you wait for a verdict, there are any number of things you could do . . .

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

A Half Dozen Ways to Go Way Wrong While You Wait

1. Revise the manuscript you just submitted–either on-screen or in-brain. The deed is done (for now). Let it rest already.

2. Eat your weight in _____________. Even if it’s kale, uh, still not a gold-star idea.

3. Whine about the editor’s perceived lack of speed on Facebook/Twitter/And So On. These things take time. You know this. You are a marathon runner, not a sprinter. The same is true for editors. Now, do some stretches and drink your vitamin-infused water, Sweet Knees. Go to your Zenny place. That’s it. Breathe. Good.

4. Follow up too soon. You just planted a, oh, let’s call it a pumpkin seed. It will sprout. Trust the process. Fretting, pestering and pacing won’t help. An answer will come, maybe not the one that you want, but it will come (most likely).

5. Check your email 24/7 (a tactic formerly known as Stalking the Mail Carrier).

6. Drive your friends, family, sweetheart, coworkers and critique group bonkers. These are your A team, the folks who will celebrate with you or console you. Do not suck them into your swirling chartreuse vortex of neuroses any more than necessary, or at least evenly distribute your crazy, not unlike chocolate curls on a cupcake. See how pretty?

One and a Half Ways to Spend Your Wait Time Wisely

Jump into something new. Or revisit something old, perhaps a manuscript you were allowing to cool a bit. Can’t stomach the idea of actually writing another novel right now? That’s okay. Write an article. Pen a poem. Do research for your next novel. Interview your new characters. Piece together an outline or road map or even a grocery list of scenes or ideas for your next project. Keep moving.

Reward yourself. Do you know how many well-intentioned, would-be authors are out there with half-scripts fermenting in a folder? Neither do I. But the point is, you finished an entire manuscript. Then you had the audacity to send it to a real editor. What are you, a freak of nature? A Titan? That’s amazing. Reward yourself in a meaningful way. Yes, yes, I’m giving you permission. Why are you still reading? Shoo. Go celebrate you!

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day. ~ A.A. Milne

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25. Iron Sharpens Iron


Saying there is one true path to writing a polished work is folly. There are lots of paths and we create them as we walk. – Linda Urban

So grateful to have finally met Valerie Geary, a friend who has helped me find so many paths and walked with me along the way.

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