I re-read my January Accountability Post to see how I did in adhering to what I had set out as goals for February, and to my relief I found that I accomplished much that I intended.
Usually when I do these month-end wrap-ups, I wonder what I could have accomplished if I had worked harder. In February, I think I did work harder than usual (although perhaps there’s still room for improvement) and I did accomplish a fair bit, but had to cut back in some areas such as reading and commenting on others’ blogs. This writer’s life is such a balancing act, isn’t it? Lately, the side of the seesaw on which the writing is sitting is heavier than the blog-interaction side. To get to where I want to go this year, it seems that has to continue, but I will try to keep up the connections I have made. You are all such a valuable part of my life.
Okay, let’s take a look at what I did in February and what is on the docket for March, shall we?
12×12: I honestly thought I wouldn’t get a picture book draft written in February, but with just a few days left in the already truncated month, an idea galloped into my consciousness and got itself written — mostly on the notepad of my iPhone while I had a snack during an errand run. One writes when one can. It is a VERY rough draft, but the point is that a picture book draft is now in existence and ready to be worked on as time permits.
An extra facet of 12×12 this year is the encouragement to revise previously-written drafts, and I did that, as well, in February. I received a manuscript evaluation on a picture book that has been in the works for quite some time. The evaluation basically said, “you’re getting there, but you’re not there yet” and asked some excellent questions that I’m in the process of working through and answering as the revised story takes shape.
Writing: As I said in my January accountability post, my main focus in February was on finishing the first draft of my novel for adults. Note: when I write “adult novel” it seems to indicate that I’m writing something risque. That is not the tenor of the novel at all — I merely use that term to differentiate it from my usual writing for kids. This is a project dear to my heart, and it is so good to be giving it a chance to blossom. I did finish the first draft of the novel in February, as well as much of the work necessary to prepare the novel for the class I will be embarking on in a couple of weeks. There is still a great deal of work, revision, plot-wrangling, to be done, but the bones of the story are there.
One added delight on my February writing path was a letter from a publishing company in the United States indicating that one of my hymn texts, “By the Well, A Thirsty Woman,” will be included in a new hymnbook that will be released in October. What I find particularly exciting about this is that I didn’t submit anything for consideration, the selection group for the book saw my hymn in More Voices, a publication of Wood Lake Books and the United Church of Canada, and actively pursued it. That was so affirming for me as a writer!
Blogging: I have discovered in my blogging over the past year and a bit that one of the joys in my life is doing interviews with people. Two of my favorite interview subjects were featured this month, one in an ongoing series, one as a celebration of a well-deserved honor.
I’m grateful to Emma Walton Hamilton for the privilege of serializing the lengthy interview I did with her for the Children’s Book Hub in my Thursdays with Emma Walton Hamilton blogposts. I realize these posts are long and take a time commitment on the part of the reader, but what Emma has to say each week is well worth the time.
In my third interview with my delightful and talented cousin, Beverley Brenna, we celebrated her most recent YA novel, The White Bicycle, being named a Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association. Thank you to all who joined in this celebration with us. If you haven’t read Bev’s trilogy about Taylor Jane Simon, a girl with Asperger’s Syndrome on the brink of adulthood, I strongly urge you to read these books.
And now for March:
My focus will continue to be on the novel-for-adults as I look ahead to beginning Cheryl Klein’s online course in plot structure, which begins on March 14th. To prepare for that, I will be doing some reading about plotting and structuring a novel, including an excellent book recently sent me by a writer friend, Jordan E. Rosenfeld’s Make a Scene. I will be devouring this book, which looks to be exactly what I need at this stage of my novel project. I also plan to read James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure and Orson Scott Card’s Characters & Viewpoint. That should keep me going for the next couple of weeks, don’t you think?
I am signed up for Becky Fyfe’s Chapter Book Challenge, although because of time and energy, my participation may be restricted to learning as much as I can, to be put to use in the future. I do have a project to work on as time permits.
A couple of ideas are clamoring for attention for 12×12 as well, so the possibility exists that I’ll get a first draft picture book written in March.
I look forward to continuing the blog series of excerpts from my interview with Emma Walton Hamilton. There will also, at some point in March, be an interview with debut picture book author Susan Verde, whose book The Museum, with illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds, will be released this month. I met Susan at the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference last summer, and I’m excited that she’s agreed to this interview.
I also have another series up my sleeve, a tie-in to the Emma series. Other regular blog posts will continue, if time and energy do!
Now, I feel as if I should get to work…
What do YOU have planned for March?