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How Book Culture Failed Me

How Book Culture Failed Me

Since the crossover appeal of the Harry Potter series took the publishing world by storm, the children’s lit market has exploded with books written thematically for children that are advanced enough for adults. It’s a wonderful time to be a young reader, with so many book options and discovery methods available to them. As a writer of children’s fiction, I’m reading more in that category now than I ever did as a young teen.

I had thought that was because there were so few conceptually advanced books around for middle-grade readers in the mid-‘90s, but I’m now discovering something far more insidious: the book culture in my town failed me as a young reader.

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Get Thee a Writing Community

Get Thee a Writing Community

When the clock struck 12 am, NaNoWriMo officially came to an end. Even though I “rebelled” a bit this month with that agent submission, I managed to write 50,000 words and won. Yay me!

Giving would-be authors an incentivized deadline is one of the great gifts of NaNo, but for me, it’s not the most important one. I treasure the community of NaNo above all else: the write-ins, the camaraderie, the “being in the trenches” with fellow writers who are on the same journey I am. That’s why it’s so important to use NaNo, or any other gathering or conference, to cultivate your own writing community for the long haul.

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Dancing in the Rain

Dancing in the Rain

There will only ever be one “first submission for my novel” to a literary agent (full manuscript or otherwise). Last week, I achieved that milestone.

At the conclusion of my Pitchapalooza win a few weeks back, an agent contacted me and wanted to see some material for my (as-yet-unfinished) book. She gave me a list of items to prepare as a book proposal to showcase the story and my writing ability before the full manuscript is completed. She gave me three weeks.

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The Authentic Me

I’ve been writing the (new) first draft of my novel for a little over a month now, and I’m in the second week of NaNoWriMo, which I’ve done and won twice before. The journey has been an unexpected one: I keep telling myself that it will get easier, that I’ve already proven I can burst through a first draft. That’s not truly the case, though. I’ve never written under these particular circumstances, and I feel my path is less one of getting that first draft written and more one of discovering myself and my writing process. I’m finally at a place where I am casting aside preconceived notions of what I (feel I) should be doing. I am instead embracing the Authentic Me.

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Pitchapalooza: A Single Snowflake’s Success

On October 25, 2015, The Book Doctors brought their nationwide Pitchapalooza tour to the Montclair Public Library in Montclair, NJ. Described as an “American Idol for books,” Pitchapalooza gives 20 randomly-chosen attendees the opportunity to pitch their book before a panel of industry professionals–in one minute or less.

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Embracing Pure Imagination

Embracing Pure Imagination

Yesterday was my deadline for beginning to write the next draft of my novel, after months of re-plotting, restructuring, re-everything. I wasn’t quite ready to sit down and do it: the task of writing actual manuscript words, facing the reality of having to actually execute the story in my head, felt incredibly daunting. The night before, I was frozen in fear.

Then yesterday morning, the universe gave me a gift: I woke up singing “Pure Imagination,” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

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Writing My Own Ticket

Writing My Own Ticket

One thing I miss about commuting into Manhattan for work (the only thing I miss, really) is the train ride. Some people have their best thinking/brainstorming moments while walking, in the shower, cleaning up around the house, but for me, it’s “passengering.” Sitting still while in a moving vehicle (nothing to trip over, that way!), staring out the window, watching the world rush by. There’s something about that movement that frees my brain to whirl as rapidly, rushing from concept to concept, connecting thoughts and creating epiphanies as quickly as the window view passes from tree to tree.

This past week, I visited family in Indiana, and—as a starving artist who needs to finish her novel before even having the chance to get paid for the effort—I went the long, less-expensive route of taking a train there: Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited line that runs from New York City to Chicago. I would be getting off in South Bend, merely 1 1/2 hours from the train’s final stop. The trip length would total 17 hours going, 18 coming back: I would have lots of brainstorming time!

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Dark Clouds and Silver Linings

Dark Clouds and Silver Linings

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

~Maria, The Sound of Music

At the end of August, a Facebook TimeHop post from three years ago popped into my NewsFeed: a picture of my right foot in a walking boot with the caption, “My rockin’ new style for the next few weeks.” I was struck by two things: an amazement that the event that so drastically changed my life was three whole years ago, and a snarky observation that I was so optimistic then, not yet knowing the hell this injury would put me through.

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Keep Looking Up

Keep Looking Up

Ever since I was young, I shared a love of astronomy with my dad. Looking at the stars was a way to see beauty in the world, organization amid the chaos, possibility in spite of all prevailing notions of “this is right and true.” Stargazing allows for us to feel big and small at the same time: we are just a blip on the universal radar—our everyday banal troubles are self-created and unimportant—yet we are precious; we are significant. We have yet to find life elsewhere in the cosmos. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but it does show that it’s not a common commodity, and we should cherish ours all the more.

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Facing My Fears

Facing My Fears

You can’t hide forever from the thunder;
Look into the storm and feel the rain.

~Josh Groban, “Brave

I recently said goodbye to a comfortable job editing and proofreading at the United Nations to follow my dreams: To Write. To spend the best hours of my day working on my material and my message to the world. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the support of a loving husband, which makes this path easier than it is for most.

But that doesn’t make it easy.

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