Looking For Silver Linings and Finding Puppies and Webinars…

by | May 18, 2020

Hellooooo out there!!

Do you wake up every morning and forget for an instant that we are living in the midst of a pandemic?  I often do and it can be so jarring. The other day I heard that 80,000 people have died from COVID-19 just in the U.S. And by the time you read this that number will have grown still more.

So what does a writer do? This writer looks for a silver lining. Or two. I hear that many pet shelters are virtually empty. One of my brothers is trying to adopt another dog and he tried five times before he and his family were picked. Now it’s families being chosen, rather than the animal being chosen. At least 200 people applied to adopt this single dog!!

Another silver lining? Juvenile book sales, especially of non-fiction, are up. People (kids and adults) are reading in the pandemic.

A more personal silver lining is that I’ve been attending more webinars on writing. So far I’ve attended about a dozen webinars about everything from how to write a successful query letter with Erin Clyburn (Jennifer De Chiara agency) and work-for-hire assignments (where you get assigned a book topic rather than pitching yours) to  more craft-based topics like finding the emotional heart of your story and identifying the “big idea” in your non-fiction work.

The latest webinar I attended a few nights ago featured Illinois author Kate Hannigan talking about “Finding Your Jam,” which was basically about her own experience figuring out what kind of kidlit writing she enjoyed most, from picture books to non-fiction and graphic novels. One appealing story she told about herself is how she always imagined she’d write funny books, but every manuscript she’s submitted to her agent in that category gets the response, “so what else are you working on?” In other words, I appreciated that she shared her failures with us as well as her successes.

Kate was a delight to hear from, especially because she has so much energy and has done so many different kinds of writing. The way her face lit up when she talked about finding a nugget (ie when she learned about Kate Warren, a female Pinkerton detective, and when she learned about Belva Lockwood, a little-known advocate for women’s rights) made me feel energized to keep going. She made finding ideas seem like a treasure hunt!

Webinars are always available, of course, but prior to COVID-19, I tended to dismiss them, thinking I needed to spend less time learning about the craft and more time just writing. But it’s not that simple; there can be a balance. It can be equally useful to hear other authors talk about their work. And every webinar I’ve been to, even those where I think I already know the topic, I take away a good tip or two. Also, I used to be intimidated by listening to other authors talk about all their success, but I’ve come to realize that I, too, can sound knowledgeable. Somehow the voice in my head telling me I could never do what they do is quieting and I can imagine myself in their seat. So webinars are good for that too, to help me imagine the day I host one as a speaker.

I think this observation about webinars can apply to many other fields, not just writing children’s literature. Have you discovered useful webinars that energized you, either about work or home projects? Speaking of which, if anyone has a good source for learning how to cut your own hair, I’d love to hear about it!

Hellooooo out there!!

Do you wake up every morning and forget for an instant that we are living in the midst of a pandemic?  I often do and it can be so jarring. The other day I heard that 80,000 people have died from COVID-19 just in the U.S. And by the time you read this that number will have grown still more.

So what does a writer do? This writer looks for a silver lining. Or two. I hear that many pet shelters are virtually empty. One of my brothers is trying to adopt another dog and he tried five times before he and his family were picked. Now it’s families being chosen, rather than the animal being chosen. At least 200 people applied to adopt this single dog!!

Another silver lining? Juvenile book sales, especially of non-fiction, are up. People (kids and adults) are reading in the pandemic.

A more personal silver lining is that I’ve been attending more webinars on writing. So far I’ve attended about a dozen webinars about everything from how to write a successful query letter with Erin Clyburn (Jennifer De Chiara agency) and work-for-hire assignments (where you get assigned a book topic rather than pitching yours) to  more craft-based topics like finding the emotional heart of your story and identifying the “big idea” in your non-fiction work.

The latest webinar I attended a few nights ago featured Illinois author Kate Hannigan talking about “Finding Your Jam,” which was basically about her own experience figuring out what kind of kidlit writing she enjoyed most, from picture books to non-fiction and graphic novels. One appealing story she told about herself is how she always imagined she’d write funny books, but every manuscript she’s submitted to her agent in that category gets the response, “so what else are you working on?” In other words, I appreciated that she shared her failures with us as well as her successes.

Kate was a delight to hear from, especially because she has so much energy and has done so many different kinds of writing. The way her face lit up when she talked about finding a nugget (ie when she learned about Kate Warren, a female Pinkerton detective, and when she learned about Belva Lockwood, a little-known advocate for women’s rights) made me feel energized to keep going. She made finding ideas seem like a treasure hunt!

Webinars are always available, of course, but prior to COVID-19, I tended to dismiss them, thinking I needed to spend less time learning about the craft and more time just writing. But it’s not that simple; there can be a balance. It can be equally useful to hear other authors talk about their work. And every webinar I’ve been to, even those where I think I already know the topic, I take away a good tip or two. Also, I used to be intimidated by listening to other authors talk about all their success, but I’ve come to realize that I, too, can sound knowledgeable. Somehow the voice in my head telling me I could never do what they do is quieting and I can imagine myself in their seat. So webinars are good for that too, to help me imagine the day I host one as a speaker.

I think this observation about webinars can apply to many other fields, not just writing children’s literature. Have you discovered useful webinars that energized you, either about work or home projects? Speaking of which, if anyone has a good source for learning how to cut your own hair, I’d love to hear about it!

PUPPY UPDATE: For those of you with enquiring minds, my brother just picked up their new puppy three days ago, a little black-and-white, mid-size mix that they named Winnie. They are all in love with her!

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