I can share my news!! My picture book Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! is being published by Albert Whitman in fall 2020, and I’m thrilled!! I feel so incredibly blessed for getting to do what I love, and I can’t wait to share Ava Gabriela with all of you!
The winter quarter is coming to an end at UCLA Writer’s Extension, and, in a last assignment, we posted our “final chunk” of material we’d written throughout the course. I was again pleased and surprised at how much I’d gotten done; in the week-to-week writing, I don’t see the end result. It’s just another scene here and there, another exploration of character and motive, another development of the plot and world. But in this “final chunk” I’m able to see a tangible result of my hard work.
I took it a step further, just for my benefit, and I put together work from the last two classes, all on my novel, and I was happy: 24,297 words in 83 pages. Wow! This past summer, I still had only had a rough idea of where I thought I was going and two main characters. Now, I have a story! I have scenes. I know where the story is going and, for the most part, how it’s going to end, though I know at any moment, my characters can throw me a curveball. I have not only started, but I’m making PROGRESS. That’s one cool bean! It keeps me motivated seeing the end to the first draft.
Next week (I think) I might start reading it at my critique group.
On another, writing related note, I submitted two leveled reader manuscripts to an editor (crossing fingers and toes!) and read another one I finished at my critique group tonight. Making some progress there, too.
I am hoping the next month goes by quickly so I can get to May, when I’m only teaching online and when my son’s still in school so I can spend my days writing. Instead of one full day of writing a week, I can get at least four; oh sweet promise!
The thing I love about writing conferences is they provide opportunity–opportunity to improve skills, to network, to meet new people, and to showcase your writing. We’re a group of like-minded individuals, at different points in this writing and publishing game, coming together to talk about the craft and the business. It’s wonderful! I usually leave these conferences inspired, ready to re-immerse myself into my project at hand.
This has been true in all the writing conferences I’ve attended, but it’s felt even stronger this time at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) Miami 2012 Conference. Perhaps it’s because I have specific projects in mind, projects to which I’m totally and completely devoted and about which I’m totally and completely obsessed. Or maybe it’s because, like a fellow conference-goer said, anyone who’s writing for kids has to have a more nurturing composition. Or maybe it was because of the fabulous and inspiring line up of authors, editors, and agents. But it was fabulous. The intensive for Leveled/Early Readers, led by Bonnie Bader and Natalie Lescroart, was informative and it cemented my resolution in finishing/polishing my leveled reader MS. I also got some ideas for new stories, so I’m eagerly sketching outlines and notes. To all those who think writing early/leveled readers (especially the first level) is easy: it’s not!
I also loved Jill Corcoran. I came to her blog this past summer thanks to Catherine Ipcizade (who, I might add, is fabulous. She’s the reason why I’m now in children’s writing!) during a children’s writing workshop I took through UCLA Extension Writers’ Program (which, I might add, was also fabulous. Another post for another time.) Anyway, back to Jill Corcoran–her workshop was great and it reiterated concepts I’ve heard before while giving me new “food for thought.” It actually helped to take a look at my current beginning (for my YA project) and realize, I’m not beginning in the right place! I wasn’t brave enough to read aloud today (or rather, by the time I worked up the courage, it was too late), but hearing her lecture and comments was enlightening.
We also got inspirational talks from authors, agents and editors, and I made some new contacts and met some charming new people.
I plan on going to as many of these conferences as I can–it was that good.