August Accountability Check In

This has been such a good month, with the creative juices flowing. I’ll detail what’s happened after the “read more.”

It’s been good this month to focus my blog on different things than usual, with my Monday series about access to books for kids and my Friday series looking at some lesser-known middle grade novels. The middle grade series will wind up tomorrow, then it’s on to September. (If you missed it, my preview of September was posted yesterday.)

And now the continuing saga of my progress in writing:

First up: 12×12 in 2012. I’m 8 for 8. I wrote a draft based on one of the ideas I had back in November during PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Ideas Month). If it’s going to take its place in my planned picture book series, it’s going to need a lot of work, but the basics are there — beginning, middle and end. There are four months to go in 12×12. It’s interesting to ponder what might be written in those four months.

As I said in both my post about the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Conference, and my July Accountability post, I came home from the Hamptons with a fierce eagerness to work on my middle grade novel, to make it the best it can be, thanks in no small part to the encouragement I received from the wonderful Kate McMullan who was our workshop leader. I’m sure all the “Ten Agains” would agree with me that she gave us so much in the course of those five days that we will be in her debt for years to come. I suspect that the best way we can repay her is to produce books that will make her proud, and that’s what I’m working toward. My novel has now been through two revisions since I returned home, and is currently being checked thoroughly by a pair of fresh eyes (thanks, Wendy!) before I send it for manuscript evaluation.

I’ve done some work on a chapter book — after a couple of false starts, I wrote eight chapters only to realize that the main character was not particularly likeable, and I was painting myself in to a corner with the plot. So, I began again from scratch, and I think it’s going better this time.

However — last week I had a nudge to do some further work on my novel for adults (when I write “adult novel” I’m concerned that people will think I’m writing raunchy material. I’m not, it isn’t — but I need to call it something to differentiate it from the writing I do for children.) In the last six days I have added greatly to the first draft (first draft being a bit of a misnomer for a book that has been through various iterations since the project was begun on July 25, 2010). It is quite a shift of gears to go from writing about an eight-year-old female main character in the chapter book to a seventy-year-old male main character in this novel, but it’s exhilarating to see this project taking shape. I hope to take this project with me to the second half of the Stony Brook Southampton Arts Summer next year. I also have other hopes for this project — we shall see what unfolds.

Under the broad heading of “professional development” I participated in WriteOnCon, the online conference for children’s writers. As I did last year, I found it beneficial, particularly Emma Walton Hamilton’s critique of picture book query letters, Molly O’Neill’s words about working on the craft of writing, and the discussion with editor Liesa Abrams and agent Jen Rofe.

And we added 10 new members to our Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group for children’s writers, illustrators and editors. We now have 172 members — think we can get to 200 by our first “birthday” on December 8th?


What about you — how has your August been? Are you ready to turn over that calendar page and see what September holds?


(and a quick p.s. — as with all the posts in August, comments on this post will give you a chance to win a copy of Emma Walton Hamilton’s Raising Bookworms.)


16 thoughts on “August Accountability Check In”

    1. Children’s books and Grown-ups books. That could work! 🙂

      Now the thing is to get all this new work finished and out there and doing something!

  1. You’ve certainly done an awesome job keeping all cylinders going. Way to go, Beth!

    August was August, a month of decisions made and September and October should, hopefully, be months of seeing some of the work bear fruit.

    1. Thanks, Angela!

      Best of everything on bringing your work to the fruit-bearing stage. I know you have an exciting project underway with the publication of NeverLove. Good luck!

  2. You have accomplished a great deal these last few months, Beth. Sure wish I could join you at the conferences! I am going to work on my non-fiction PB ideas in the Fall, and especially concentrate on the “middle” and “endings” of my WIPs. I struggle with those parts of the story. So now, I need to look for a good source to teach me…Children’s Book Hub, perhaps? Maybe it’s time I join…

    1. As you know, I heartily endorse the Children’s Book Hub as an ongoing educational and resource experience.

      For specific help with middles and endings and the writing process in general, you might do well to consider doing an online course on picture book writing. I, of course, always think immediately of Emma’s Just Write for Kids, but there are other courses out there as well. Emma’s can be taken at any time; Mira Reisberg’s course is likely filled by now; Anastasia Suen has a picture book intensive starting September 5th.

  3. Wow, Beth, I am impressed at all the work you’ve done in so many different genres. As always, you are an inspiration to those of us who are just starting out.

    1. Thanks, Kirsten. I am impressed with what you do while raising two active, eager-to-learn boys, and managing a household. I have the gift of time and freedom to write at any time of the day. It makes a difference.

    1. Thanks, Pat! Of course, after it has gone through the manuscript evaluation, there’ll be lots more to do with the middle grade before it’s ready to make its way out into the world!

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