Monday, October 24, 2011

I Got A Feeling!

Hello Everyone!

I got a feeling that tonight's going to be a good night!

I am in such a great mood!! I am so happy and proud to announce that my picture book story, Jungle Jam, won the Lucky Clover Picture Book Writing Contest!

I submitted this story back in the summer and just received an email this week saying that my story won! I am so happy and it couldn't have come at a better time. What a way to boost my motivation! Along with bragging rights (yeah!), I receive a full professional critique by Christie Wright Wild! Thanks again Christie!

To further motivate me, (it's been a slow Fall so far!), I am also participating in PiBoIdMo this November through fellow blogger Tara Lazar's Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). This is a month-long challenge, and at the end, the goal is to have 30 stories drafted or completed. Whew! It's going to be an interesting month, but I'm look forward to it!

Until next time!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Submission Time!

It's been a couple of weeks since I last blogged and I wanted to send out a quick apology. While it has been a busy time, I am trying to commit to a weekly post at a minimum! So thank you to all those who have been reading and following my journey. I promise to keep the posts coming and keep the material as fresh as possible!

So back to my life as a writer!

I attended a seminar in the summer, which included a critique for one of my stories. I received the critique back last week and all in all, I fared pretty well. The critiquer left five comments, four of which were adverb related and the last one was that they liked my ending. Personally, I was pretty proud that my story didn't get bruised too badly and that it still came back more or less intact. 

After some minor revision, I can honestly say that my manuscript is ready to submit! I guess what they say is true: only you will know when your story is complete!

Now the next hurdle begins. Who do I submit to; an agent or directly to a publisher? 

Until next time...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Leap of Faith

A couple of weeks ago, I learned of an upcoming writers conference being held in nearby Ottawa. After reviewing the itinerary, I could clearly see that this conference was going to give me an incredible opportunity to schmooze with the pros and possibly get a one-on-one critique from a major literary powerhouse. 

An opportunity I can't pass up, right? 

Maybe. Hopefully. But maybe not. 

When you attend these conferences, in my opinion, you need to be able to present your best work, completed and in it's final draft. If I were to get the chance to meet and discuss my work with an important editor or publisher, I wouldn't want to spoil the opportunity by presenting amateur unfinished drafts. 

I currently have a portfolio of six "completed" PB stories, all of which have been critiqued and revised at least a dozen times. I have worked on them for a couple of years, and even left them to stew a bit, revisiting them at a later time when I could see a possible change. Surely they must be ready by now?

I know this is not an uncommon fear as I often hear fellow writers worry about the status of their stories. There always seems to be some sort of nervousness and protectiveness about revealing their work to others. But eventually, I know, you have to be able to let your literary child go off to school and wait to see if they come back with a gold star. 

Fingers crossed!

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." — Albert Einstein

Monday, September 12, 2011

Can Clutter Be A Good Thing?

There's something about organizing that gets me in a great mood!

This past weekend, I spent an entire day going through closets and drawers and getting rid of anything we haven't used in a while. My husband, a notorious pack rat, loves to hang onto all things sentimental - or not. I will admit, he does have everything neatly put away, but there's just so much of it! So every time we (I) decide to do a"clean sweep" of our house, he gets anxious watching his "precious" items go. (A quick disclaimer: I would like to point out that I am NOT getting rid of anything personal or sentimental but I don't think that grade school sweats or high school homework falls under the "precious" category!)

I do admit, I am a self professed organizational geek.  I like order, I like structure and I like getting rid of excess things cluttering up my house. I am a minimalist almost to a fault - almost! So while sitting in the bottom of my spare closet, rifling through elementary school jackets (really?!?!), I thought of what it would be like to walk on the wild side and become a clutterer or worse, UNorganized. It's a far cry from the person I am, but maybe it would be good for me. Luckily, I don't actually have to do anything quite so drastic! The thought, however, did inspire a new PB story about an organized girl named Amy:

Amy loved to plan and organize. In fact, she would plan and organize everything in her "BIG BOOK OF ORGANIZATION". She would track what she needed to do that day or week or month. She would plan what she would have to wear to school, color coded of course! And she even would organize how her day would be structured, down to the hour. But when Amy's book suddenly goes missing, she must figure out how to go through her day without any order, and learns that sometimes, life is best lived without a script.

What are your thoughts?

PS. I want to emphasize that this story was LOOSELY based on me and is very exaggerated.... Lol!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Birthday Blues

I celebrated my birthday this past weekend and turned the big 3-2.  I have to admit though, it was a grumpy day.  I was in a terrible funk and I couldn't shake it. I felt like I was one of those cartoon characters that walked around with storm clouds over their heads.

All week long, everywhere I turned, I was constantly being questioned about my birthday plans. The pharmacist, my doctor, the LCBO clerk, even the MasterCard customer service rep.  "What are you gonna do, where are you going to go, do you have any big plans." Questions seemed to be flying at me from every direction and by the time the actual day arrived, I was all riled up and in a terrible mood.   

I was really feeling pressured to do something big, and prove that my birthday had been an event. I don't know why this was making me pissy, but it was. It wasn't that I was against celebrating, or that I harbored any sad feelings from past birthdays. It had nothing to do with anything that deep. It had more to do with the questioning. 

So much so, that I started to write about it.....and as I wrote, a story about a grumpy child named Carl emerged. Unlike most kids his age, Carl didn't want to know the whys and whats about anything and everything. And he especially hated when people would ask HIM the questions. This story has humor as Carl is asked the most bizarre of questions,and his frustrations quickly build. 

I hope to be able to finish this story based on my own personal frustrations. (Come on, did someone really just ask me THAT?!?!) After all, doesn't real life make the best scripts? 

PS. After I ran those storm clouds away, I went out and had a great time celebrating my birthday.... if I can only do something about all those questions!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Art of Storytelling

As a writer, I am on a constant quest to perfect the art of story writing and storytelling. This past weekend, however, I had a rare glimpse at a natural storyteller in her element. 

Wanting to entertain my squirmy toddler, my husband's grandmother, Nonna, sang a tale to him. He sat mesmerized for a few moments, but like most toddlers, nothing held him still for very long. 

She had laughed, and told me that she had learned that particular song when she was a young girl helping her mom, as her dad was off at war, and she had three younger siblings to help care for. 

She then went on to tell me stories of her past, and I realized that Nonna had lived an entire lifetime of incredible circumstances, long before we ever knew her as our beloved Nonna. Her memories were recounted like a fairy tale, as she described the many hardships she endured, but also her romance with her valentine, her husband, Valentino. Her eyes would light up when she described some funny moments of local villagers, or some scandalous  gossip that occurred more than 75 years ago. 

I couldn't believe all that she had been through, and while it is not my place to tell her tale, I am forever grateful to her for sharing her memories. Her story is definitely remarkable and she truly knows how to tell a story. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New Look!

Hello to Everyone!

I am so excited to reveal the new and improved look for my blog Baby Bear Ink! A great shout out and thank you to Diana at Custom Blog Design for all her help!

Make sure to click on Join this Site to follow me!

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Thank you for your support and I look forward to hearing from everyone!


Friday, August 19, 2011

What a Week!

The last few days have been truly amazing and full of outstanding literary inspiration. 

Last night, I went to see the movie, The Help, an incredibly moving story about injustice and perseverance, written by Kathryn Stocketts. This afternoon, I watched the J. K. Rowling story, about the famous author's life. Both movies were phenomenal, but what amazed me the most were the back stories. 

J. K. Rowling is best known for her Harry Potter series, and anything she now writes is most likely transported right to the store front window displays. But when she first started submitting her manuscript, she was faced with rejection after rejection. It took 12 rejects before her first book was accepted, and even then, her agent advised her not to quit her day job because children's books don't make money. Last I heard, she is now richer than the Queen of England. 

Kathryn Stocketts became obsessed with her manuscript, as each rejection only fueled her determination to get The Help publicized. Her book was infamously turned down 60 times before becoming a best seller. And last night I sat in a darkened theatre watching the big screen version. Incredible. (I have attached a link from a fellow blogger where an interview with the author should inspire any writers that feeling down on themselves:"

It is common to hear trends and wishlists from the literary powerhouses, but it's hard to ignore the potential for hidden gems that set themselves away from the pack. One can only hope to create that type of magical jewel. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What's In a Title?

I recently finished writing a new picture book story.  The details of the story came to me out of the blue, and I pretty much wrote the first draft in about twenty minutes (if only it could always be this easy!)

I spent some time editing it, and even had some trusty little ones do the proofreading (thanks M & G!). But when I started thinking about the title, I couldn't quite pick the right one.

First impressions are everything, and a title is a story's first chance to impress. It has to intrigue readers to pick up your book, or in my case, entice a publisher to put my ideas to print. It also needs to be memorable, so that when you're done reading, you'll remember it long after putting it down.

The trick to creating a great title is to reveal a little of what the story is about, letting your reader both anticipate and expect an engaging story. Even though it's popular to say that you can't judge a book by its cover, many do — myself included.

I can't deny that a good book involves an incredible plot with a captivating ending. But, in my opinion, the real secret to picking a great title is to make you want to pick up that book and start reading.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It Can Happen Anywhere!

It is no secret that I have been experiencing some serious writer’s block. I knew I was thinking about it too hard because no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t think of anything to write. I tried writing exercises, word play, you name it; I was blocked.

Fast forward to yesterday: I had just given Luca a bath and couldn’t get over how long his hair had gotten...again! It seemed that I couldn’t cut it fast enough! I laughed to myself, thinking how his hair was going to be very high maintenance (much like mine was at his age –and still is!).

I don’t know how but I then started thinking of a fictional character and here’s what I came up with:

Its picture day and (character) has a problem. Her hair is uncontrollable and refuses to be tamed. With the help of her family, they attempt to contain and fasten her hair to make her camera ready. Her hair strains and whines against the elastic bows and ties, but stays put..... Or does it?  A story for anyone who has had to deal with their own unruly ‘do and eventually give up and accept their hairy situation.

Bestseller? Maybe....maybe not!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Onwards and Upwards!

I attended my first Webinar yesterday held through Writers Digest. It was an intense and interesting 90-minute session on the craft of writing picture books. 

During this webinar, I learned about technique and structure, and what the industry is currently looking for. It was a great course, and one that I would definitely recommend to any aspiring children's writer. But as the speaker kept talking, and clicked through each slide, I quickly began to realize that the stories that I have written have managed to break all or most of the industry "do's and don't's". 

Well...isn't that just great?

I can admit that I was feeling pretty down on myself throughout the day (my husband can attest to my crankiness!). All my hard work and time spent editing, and money spent on professional proofreading, it seemed like such a waste. The picture book industry's editorial calls have changed, and unfortunately, not in my favor.

But then I remembered that the type of books that have become staples in my house mainly rhyme, or have no central character, or even a conflict. They venture a little off the beaten path, and seperate themselves from the standard beginning-middle-end type of books. They are quirky classics.

My ego is not that big, and I know that if I want to be published, I will have to go back to my stories and revise, revise, revise (if not scrap and begin again). But when my son handed me my "dummy" book containing one of my stories, and asked me to read it to him (again), I felt my spirits rise.

After all, I had at least one fan.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hello to me!

It's ironic that I begin my blog with a serious case of writer's block. As an "A-type" individual, I don't begin my writing process without proper research, planning and organization. But now that I have all that out of the way, all my ideas seemed to have flown out the window. Could it be a creative block, or just plain p-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n? I think in my case, it's probably the latter. So rather than make this a long note, I think I'll just sign off and get back to my pen and paper. Ciao ciao.

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