Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Picture Book Mentorship!

Around a month ago, I saw a link on one of my Facebook writing groups for something called Writing with the stars. It was a mentorship program where hopeful writers would have the opportunity to apply for three different authors who they would like to mentor them. I was sooo excited to apply! What an amazing opportunity!

The process included telling a little bit about myself, writing why I was applying to my specific mentor, listing writing education completed, describing my writing strengths/weaknesses, and also submitting one of my unpublished picture book manuscripts. After submitting, I counted down the days until the winners would be announced. Well, that day was today! And lo and behold, this morning I found out that after 850 writers applied, I was among the 22 that were accepted! I am so full of gratitude and just can't wait to start working with my mentor, who is Paul Czajak, author of the adorable Monster and Me Series! His website is http://paulczajak.com/.  I so look forward to learning all I can, improving my craft, and as always, keep on writing!

Ps. I'm learning more and more that there are so many wonderful opportunities waiting out there if you just apply to them. I'm also noticing that I'm finding out about most of these opportunities through my online writing groups and my picture book twitter network. So, all you writers out there, stay connected! I try to post opportunites I've discovered on my twitter account, so find me at @debbiedayauthor. Join writing groups for your area, look out for contests - they are happening all the time! (In fact, I just found out about this one and I can't wait to submit). And then, APPLY. Just remember that you'll never get any further in your pursuits if you don't even try. So, go out on a limb and put yourself out there!

Stay tuned for more soon!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

More exciting News!

Tonight was a good night to be a writer. :) After finishing up face-timing with my awesome writing group, I checked my email only to discover that one of my poems will be published in another anthology! (Woooohoooo!)

The poem is called MOVING WEST and it will be featured in the upcoming anthology MANIFEST WEST through Western Press Books. The anthology explores women's diverse experiences of living in the west. I submitted a poem that describes some thoughts and feelings I had moving to Wyoming from Maryland not even a year ago (A DRASTIC change, as you'll read). I actually had never before attempted to write a free-verse poem until this one, but it was a lot of fun and I'm so glad they accepted it! Just goes to show, if you put your stuff out there, you never know where it can end up, so do some research about whose looking for what you write and then, submit your work!

I retain all rights and have permission to publish it any way I like. As such, I'm going to share it with you right here. Enjoy!

Moving West
By Debbie Day

We leave the east, with its swarming cities, dripping hot woods, and waterways.
The wetness and green is squeezed out dry with every rotation of our minivan tires.
We arrive at our new town, nestled under the Wyoming Mountains. Endless yellow
plains, parched and rocky. The silence carves a hole in my stomach for the wind to
blow through. The neighbors tell me it’s a great place to raise kids, though they keep
to themselves.  I take my children to the empty parks, barren walkways. Cactus grips
the broken cement. We stare at the Platte River dug into the red rock. An owl swoops
across the water that glistens against a decorated sunset like we’ve never seen the sky
before. Pale sunrises whisper each morning, the smell of hollowness.  Every day I wait
for something I can’t hear. The lost train bids goodbye, briefly passing through, entering
into sand, brush, nothing. My husband loves it here. I wonder if we’ll stay long. I think
of fireflies in the east, the wall of beach trees curtaining the sky, the nosy old woman
downstairs, the screams through the ceiling, waiting for Daddy as he sits in five rows of
stagnant cars. Laughter awakens me. I look out the window at my children playing in the
front yard. Beside the vacant road, they jump sprinklers and zig zag with bicycles, garbed
in melting popsicles. A gush of air opens the door. An invitation. I step out to greet the
strange quiet. A loneliness, a ghost from a distant memory, a peace I’ve never known.

YouTube Inspiration

I had writing inspiration hit in a little bit different way recently and I wanted to share my experience with you!

So my brother sent me a link to an extremely popular YouTube video with literally hundreds of millions of views. I watched this thing and I couldn't believe it was so popular! But I tried to think about what made it so appealing. First of all, it targeted grade-school kids. The illustrations were very simplistic and dorky, in a funny way. It had a very catchy tune and rhyming words. It also was funny because one of the characters kept getting irritated by another nonsensical character.

Next, I tried to think about writing my own story with that same formula - dorky, rhyming, catchy, somebody getting irritated by a silly character... Well, lo and behold, I came up with a unique idea that turned out pretty good!

Most times, I read other picture books to glean ideas and inspiration, but for some reason, by looking at an animated song, I got a whole new perspective and some fresh ideas that I don't think I could have gotten in any other way.

So maybe give it a try! Find a highly viewed YouTube video targeted at the age group you write for. Watch it and try to determine why it's so popular. Then use that same formula to create your own unique story and see what you come up with!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Random Writing News

Thought I'd post some updates on my writing life, since it's been very busy lately:

  • My motivation meter has gone up a great deal these last few weeks. I’ve created five new picture book manuscripts, four more poems, and an essay to submit to a magazine all in the last month or so. It’s been so fun to create completed projects! I’ve also been reading a lot of great writing websites and have been picking up so many good tidbits. (Let me know if you want to know which sites have been particularly helpful). 
  •  A few of the said “learned tips”: if your goal is to publish a book, it’s good to have some credentials under your belt for when you start querying. Try getting published in any way that you can - by a magazine, as a part of an anthology, or by a smaller publishing house. Try entering your works in a local or national writing contest. Take some writing classes, attend online webinars and go to writing conferences. All these little awards, classes, and publications show agents that you are a serious writer and they will look good on your query letters.   

  • So, here’s me following my own advice: I’m going to start submitting more of my works to children’s magazines. I’ve submitted a couple already, but hope to make this a new trend! I have found a couple smaller publishing houses that look like a good fit for a couple of my manuscripts, so I plan to submit soon! I’ve been entering several different writing contests lately and am always on the lookout for more ways of getting my work out there (a great way to hear about contests is joining an online writing group for your area – they usually list legit contests on their website). I’ve been watching webinars and listening to podcasts at writersdigest.com and SCBWI, and am really excited to participate in a local writing conference hosted by my state-wide writing group this summer.

  • One of my new year’s resolutions is to stay off the computer while my kids are awake. So far, it’s been a great change and I feel like it’s helping me to be a better mom and writer by focusing on one thing at a time. (You'd be surprised how much you can do in just a couple hours of no distractions). Hope I can keep it up all year long!

Here’s to an exciting new year of creating lots and reaching goals!